Friday, 4 May 1979

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

with deep fraternal love I welcome you today.

AS MEMBERS and observers of the Antilles Episcopal Conference you have assembled at the tomb of the Apostle Peter – and together with his successor – in order to celebrate your unity in Christ and in the Church.

Since you come from a Conference that serves so many different nations and peoples of the Caribbean and the mainland, I believe you are in a position to reflect with special interest on the great theme of Church unity. I also believe that the emphasis of the Second Vatican Council on the mystery of the Church as "a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of unity of the whole human race"[1] has a particularly deep meaning for all of you. And because reflection on this theme is both a cause of immense joy and of pastoral strength, I present it to you this morning, asking the Holy Spirit, by whose power the Church is unified in her ecclesial communion and her ministry [2]to bestow on us the grace for which Christ prayed: that we may be consummati in unum[3].

Communion and ministry are indeed two great aspects of the Church’s unity, of which we are the servants and guardians. To see the Church as a communion is to gain insight into the heart of her mystery, and into the identity of our ministry as Bishops, who are called to proclaim that "our fellowship is with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ"[4].

The communion that we promote and foster is a communion of faith in God. We believe in the Father, who out of his infinite love reveals himself, and who through the power of the Holy Spirit gives us salvation in his Incarnate Word. We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his death gathers together in the unity of his Church the scattered children of God[5].

For us Bishops this communion of faith is the basis of our apostolic task of building up the Church by proclaiming the Gospel, each of us finding solidarity with Saint Paul as he says: "For this Gospel I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher... "[6]. Our communion of faith also sheds light on the unity of our ministry, in which, with the universal Church we announce the unchanging message of salvation in Christ. Our communion of faith imposes on us the great responsibility, in which we are sustained by God’s power, of giving to our people the fullness of Christian doctrine. In his last talk on the very day he died, my predecessor John Paul I spoke of this from the standpoint of the People of God, saying: "Among the rights of the faithful, one of the greatest is the right to receive God’s word in all its entirety and purity, with all its exigencies and power"[7].

The unity of the Church is likewise manifested in our communion of love, a love that is greater than our own powers and that is infused into us at Baptism, a love whereby we love God with all our heart and soul and mind, and our neighbour as ourself[8].

Saint Augustine presents us with a great insight of truth when he says: "Loving God comes first as a commandment, but loving our neighbour comes first as an activity" (Dei dilectio prior est ordine praecipiendi, proximi autem dilectio prior est ordine faciendi)[9]. On the basis of this understanding, our ministry takes on new vigour as we reach out to all people to bring them Christ’s love, to put into practice his commandment of love. In the communion of love we find the sustaining force for serving humanity. From the Gospel message we learn to honour man and promote the inescapable exigencies of human dignity, and to help humanity pursue the task of building the civilization of love.

In the expression of the Second Vatican Council, the great unity willed by Christ for his Church is modelled on and finds its source in the unity of the Blessed Trinity and subsists in the Catholic Church[10]. And yet we know that the task of promoting the restoration of unity among all Christians is far from complete. It is a task that we have received from the Lord. Fidelity to Jesus Christ requires that we should pursue with vigour the cause of Christian unity. In our own day the Holy Spirit has powerfully communicated to the world the urgency of this matter: ut omnes unum sint[11]. This goal of the Ecumenical Council is clear, and as Pope, I have stated that "since the moment of my election I have formally committed myself to promote the carrying out of its norms and guidelines, seeing this as one of my first duties"[12].

At the same time we must be willing to commit ourselves to making the effort and to adopting the means which lead to Christian unity. The Council makes detailed suggestions. Of particular importance is the question of examining our own fidelity of Christ: we are constantly called to conversion or change of heart. It is useful today to repeat the Council’s emphasis that “this change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayers for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and can rightly be called 'spiritual ecumenism' ”[13].

It is inevitable, and indeed salutary, that as Christians strive towards the restoration of unity they should feel the pain of existing divisions. As I pointed out in the above-mentioned talk: "A sickness is not healed by giving painkillers but by attacking its causes". We must continue to work humbly and resolutely to remove the real divisions, to restore that full unity in faith which is the condition for sharing in the Eucharist.

Of great importance is the fact that “in every Eucharistic celebration it is the whole faith of the Church that comes into play; it is ecclesial communion in all its dimensions that is manifested and realized”[14]. Sharing in the Eucharist therefore presupposes unity in faith. Intercommunion between divided Christians is not the answer to Christ’s appeal for perfect unity.

God has set an hour for the realization of his salvific design for Christian unity. As we yearn for this hour, in common prayer and dialogue, and endeavour to offer en ever more purified heart to the Lord, we must also wait for the Lord’s action. It must be said and said again that the restoration of Christian unity is above all a gift of God’s love. Meanwhile, on the basis of our common Baptism and the patrimony of faith that we already share, we must intensify our common witness to the gospel and our common service to humanity.

In this context I would repeat the words I spoke during my recent visit to Nassau: "With deep respect and fraternal love I wish also to greet all the other Christians of the Bahamas" – and today I add: of all the Antilles – "all who confess with us that ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God’[15]. Be assured of our desire to collaborate loyally and perseveringly, in order to attain by God’s grace the unity willed by Christ the Lord".

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, this mystery of unity in Christ and his Church must be lived to the full by the People of God; and the basis and centre of every Christian community is the celebration of the Eucharist[16]. I ask you to remind your faithful of the real privilege that is theirs to assemble for Sunday Mass, to be united with Christ in his worship of the Father. Sunday Mass is indeed of primary value in the life of the faithful, not in the sense that their other activities lack importance and meaning in Christian living, but rather in the sense that Sunday Mass sustains, ennobles and sanctifies all that they do throughout the week.

When you return to the field of your pastoral labours, I ask you to assure all the priests once more of my love, and to make every effort to rive, together with them, the unity of ecclesial communion and ministry in all its intensity. The missionaries, still necessary in your lands, have a special place in my heart and in the heart of Christ the Saviour.

I also commend the seminarians to your pastoral care, so that they may learn by experience how intensely personal is the love that they will be called to manifest in the name of Christ the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep by name. And to those who collaborate with you for the cause of the Gospel, in particular the catechists, I send the expression of my gratitude. My special support goes to the Christian families striving to exemplify the covenant of God’s love ande the unity of Christ’s Church.

Before concluding, I make an appeal for the young people of your local Churches. Within the communion of the Church they constitute a sign of the youth and dynamism of the Church herself; they are the hope of her future. Let us do everything in our power so that the young people will be trained in justice and truth and nourished by God’s word, so that rejecting all deceptive ideologies they may live in real freedom as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

To all united with you in the communion of the Church I send my Apostolic Blessing, invoking the intercession of Mary the Queen of heaven and Mother of the Risen Christ.

Je n’oublie point que, parmi vous, plusieurs Evêques sont de langue française et même de départements français d’outre-mer, mais le voisinage, la similitude des problèmes pastoraux, vous amènent à vivre en solidarité avec les autres Evêques de la région des Antilles. Transmettez à vos prêtres, à vos religieux et religieuses, aux laïcs chrétiens de vos diocèses, la pensée affectueuse du Pape, avec son exhortation à former des communautés bien unies, qui sachent approfondir et exprimer leur foi, et se soucient de vivre l’Evangile au coeur de leur vie.

A vous-mêmes, chers Frères, mes voeux chaleureux pour votre ministère et ma Bénédiction Apostolique!

[1] Lumen Gentium, 1.

[2] Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 4.

[3] Io. 17, 23.

[4] 1 Io. 1, 3.

[5] Cfr. Io. 11, 52.

[6] 1 Tim. 1, 11.

[7] Ioannis Pauli I Allocutio ad Episcopos Insularum Philippinarum habita, die 28 septembris 1978.

[8] Cfr. Matth. 22, 37-39.

[9] S. Augustini In Io. tract., 17.

[10] Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 8; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2. 3.

[11] Io. 17, 21.

[12] Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Secretariatum pro Christianorum Unitate Fovenda, die 18 nov. 1978.

[13] Unitatis Redintegratio, 8.

[14] Ibid.

[15] 1 Io. 4, 15.

[16] Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6.



Saturday, 5 May 1979

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

IT IS A JOY for me to have this second visit, within such a short time, from a group of Bishops from India. I welcome you today, as I welcomed your brother Bishops last week, in the love of Christ.

As you gather in Rome for your ad limina visit, you seem to echo the sentiments expressed by all the Bishops of the Church as they assembles for the Second Vatican Council: “Coming together in unity... we carry in our hearts the hardships, the bodily and mental distress, the sorrows, longings, and hopes of all the peoples entrusted to us”[1]. On my part, I embrace, in you, all the beloved people whom you are called to serve.

It is my earnest hope that this visit will give you renewed vigour and strength for your pastoral labours, that you will experience gladness in knowing – in vividly realizing – that all your apostolic zeal is supported by the universal Church. It is shared by the Pope, as one who in the mystery of the Church represents "the chief Shepherd"[2], and endeavours to fulfil in his name a ministry of universal service. In particular, it is my desire to encourage you, my Brothers in the Episcopate – indeed, to confirm you in faith[3], not merely by words or actions, but in virtue of a charism implanted in the Church by her Founder, Jesus Christ, and activated by his Spirit. This, then, is the meaning of our meeting as we gather in unity, as we assemble in the celebration of our ecclesial and hierarchical communion.

I am aware through study, and now through our personal meetings, of a number of the issues that make up your daily solicitude on behalf of the Gospel. I am spiritually united with you as you face – with courage, confidence and perseverance – the various obstacles that beset your ministry, and hinder you in your work of evangelization and service to humanity. With my prayer I follow you in your pastoral work, blessing in particular every initiative undertaken to increase the numbers of collaborators in the Gospel, every effort made to see that students for the priesthood are trained in authentic doctrine and holiness of life.

I express my deep interest in your catechetical programmes, in your education of the youth and in the youth apostolates, in your efforts to defend the sanctity of marriage and to consolidate the unity of God’s people in faith and love, as well as to infuse a missionary consciousness into everyone.

I desire to be close to you, in fraternal understanding and shared concern, as you, on your part, strive to be close to your people in all their aspirations for human well-being and for the fullness of life in Christ. Be assured of my support for what is done in your local Churches – on the part of the clergy, religious and laity – to help the needy, the poor, the sick: to show solidarity, to enkindle hope, and to diffuse the love of Christ’s heart. In all of this, Brethren, I am one with you in the holy name of Jesus.

With the passing of the years and in the face of the great issues of the modem world, as well as before the inscrutable designs of God’s providence for the Church, we cannot but be more and more convinced with the Psalmist of a fundamental principle – the fact that "Our help is in the name of the Lord"[4]. For us, as disciples of Christ, ministers of the Gospel and leaders of God’s people, it is absolutely essential that this principle should become a whole attitude of mind and norm of conduct.

Our help is indeed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! This luminous truth, dear Brothers, is of immense relevance, and it has direct bearing on all our pastoral activity, since all our activity is carried out under the sign of the holy name of Jesus, by the power of his grace, and for his glory alone.

The message that we proclaim is proclaimed in his name – in the name of Jesus, the Saviour of the world. Ours is a proclamation of salvation in him – salvation in his name. This truth is the explicit object of apostolic teaching, being proclaimed by the Apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And today the Successor of Peter wishes to proclaim it anew, to you and with you and for you, and for your people: "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given by which we must be saved"[5].

It is in the name of Jesus that all our ministry is performed. Repentance and the forgiveness of sins are preached in his name to all nations[6]. We ourselves have been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ[7]. Through faith we have "life in his name"[8]. Moreover, the Holy Spirit himself has been sent to us by the Father in the name of Jesus[9]. In a ceaseless proclamation of Christ’s universal mediation and in a solemn and explicit confession of his divinity, the prayer of all generations of Christians is presented to the Father: per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum. In this name there is help for the living, consolation for the dying, and joy and hope for the whole world.

We are called to invoke this name, to praise this name, and to proclaim this name to our brethren. Our whole lives and ministry must be directed to the glory of this name. This attitude corresponds to the will of God; it is in deepest conformity with the Father’s plan to constitute Christ as the head of the Church, "the first-born among many brethren"[10], and the fulfilment of all creation. It is with profound conviction and deep love that the Church addresses her Redeemer with the words: Tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe. The effectiveness of our supernatural mission requires that we act always in the name of Jesus, precisely in order “that primacy may be his in everything”[11].

In this way, dear Brothers, let us face obstacles, confront challenges, accept successes; let us do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus”[12]. And in word and deed let us exclaim: Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam[13].

[1] Message to Humanity, 20 October 1962.

[2] 1 Pt 5 :4.

[3] Cf. Lk 22 :32.

[4] Ps 128 :4.

[5] Acts 4 :12.

[6] Cf. Lk 24 :47.

[7] Cf. 1 Cor 6 :11.

[8] Jn 20 :31.

[9] Cf. Jn 14 :26.

[10] Rom 8 :29.

[11] Col 1: 18.

[12] Col 3 :17.

[13] Ps 115 :1.



Saturday, 5 May 1979

Beloved Young People,

1. My fatherly and joyful welcome to you, dear boys and girls, who attend the organizations of the Salesians and of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, gathered here to meet and listen to the Pope, representing also all the children and young people who belong to the religious associations, schools, vocational centres, cultural, recreational and social groups, inspired and directed by the Sons of Don Bosco.

To all of you present here, to all your friends and companions, to all Salesian youth, who for over a century have been continuing their ardent and courageous march along the paths of the world, goes my affectionate greeting, charged with emotion and hopes: you are the hope, the expectation of a more just, more dignified, and more peaceful future. The Pope regards you with intensely promising feelings and good wishes which, through you, are extended to the whole of mankind. I thank you for this grand manifestation of affection and, in return for such irrepressible enthusiasm, address to you just one greeting: Long live Salesian youth!

Faithful to the spirit of Don Bosco, a great saint and outstanding educator, you wish to pay homage to the Successor of Peter, confirming to him the faithfulness of your love and your service, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the canonization of Domenico Savio, a boy of the Oratory of Valdocco, the favourite pupil and precious fruit of the work of formation of Mamma Margherita's son.

You are engaged, throughout this year, in a broad series of initiatives, both in the various local centres and on the national scale, to give new and vigorous impetus to youth associations of Christian inspiration and to widen the educational system of Don Bosco, applying its basic criteria, its key-principles, to the requirements of modern times.

You expect from the Pope a word of guidance and encouragement for this renewed youth action in Italy and I am here with you, in the first place, to invoke the wisdom of the Spirit of the Lord on this important initiative, which is so dear to the Church and to her Pastors.

2. The first indication I wish to offer you is an invitation to optimism, hope, and trust. It is
true that humanity is going through a difficult phase and that we often have the painful and
heartfelt impression that the forces of evil, in so many manifestations of associated life prevail. Too often honesty, justice, respect for man's dignity are obliged to mark time, or even succumb. Yet we are called to overcome the world with our faith (cf. 1Jn 5,4), because we belong to him who, with his death and resurrection, has obtained for each of us victory over sin and death, and has made us, therefore, capable of a humble, serene, but certain success in overcoming evil with good.

Dear young people, we belong to him, to Christ, and it is he who is victorious in us. We must
believe this deeply, we must live this certainty; otherwise the difficulties that continually
arise will have, unfortunately, the power to gnaw insidiously within our spirit, giving rise
to discouragement, acceptance, and supine adaptation to the arrogant sway of evil.

The most subtle temptation that today afflicts Christians, and the young in particular, is
precisely that of renunciation of hope in the victory of Christ. The prompter of every snare,
the Evil One, has always striven to extinguish the light of this hope in the heart of every
man. Christian struggle is not an easy way, but we must follow it, aware that we possess an
inner force of transformation, communicated to us with the divine life which has been bestowed on us in Christ the Lord. By virtue of your witness, you will make it understood that the highest human values are undertaken in a Christianity lived consistently, and that the faith of the Gospel does not propose just a new vision of man and the universe, but bestows above all the capacity of bringing about this renewal.

In this connection, I recall to you the words addressed to the young by the Council Fathers at
the conclusion of the Ecumenical Council: "The Church looks to you with confidence and with love... She possesses what constitutes the strength and the charm of youth, that is to say, the ability to rejoice with what is beginning, to give oneself unreservedly, to renew oneself and to set out again for new conquests."

Without certain hope in Christ's victory in you and in the world that surrounds you, there
can be no optimism; and without optimism that serene gaiety which is characteristic of the young cannot exist. There are still too many young people, today, who have already renounced youth

3. The Pope's second suggestion for you and for all those in charge of your human and
Christian education, concerns the urgent need, felt nearly everywhere, of the revival of
sound models of Catholic youth associations.

It is not a question of creating militant expressions deprived of ideal impetus and based on the force of numbers, but of animating real communities, instilled with the spirit of kindness, mutual respect, and service, and above all made compact by the same faith and by one unique hope. The present generation of the young, even when they avail themselves of the comforts offered by the consumer civilization, feel that such prodigality conceals an illusory fascination, and that they cannot stop at the hedonistic experience of materialistic opulence.

You are, therefore, in continual quest—to live it is already to respond to the Christian
vocation—of the true value of your life, of your personal responsibility. Now, in this quest, it is not possible to proceed in isolation, precisely because of the individual's frailty which is exposed to the most varied attacks. In adhesion to a group, in the spontaneity and homogeneity of a circle of friends, in constructive comparison of ideas and initiatives, in mutual support, the vitality of that social renewal to which you all aspire can be established and preserved.

You young people aim at the precious goal of community implementation. of conversation, of
friendship, of giving oneself and of receiving, of love. Youth associations are flourishing
again: the Pope exhorts you to be faithful, clear-sighted, and resourceful in this effort to make these societies more and more far-reaching. It is a pressing invitation that I address to all those responsible for the Christian education of youth, that is, of the men of tomorrow.

4. Where will you find the strength, dear young people and friends, to sustain your
optimism, to give your associations a soul? Domenico Savio, on the occasion of the
proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, on 8 December 1854, before the
altar of Mary—as Don Bosco testifies—renewed the promises of First Communion, saying
among other things: "Mary, I give you my heart, see that it is always yours; Jesus and Mary,
always be my friends." Beloved sons, here is where to get the strength for your programmes of renewal: Jesus and Mary. They are not only models, they are friends: even more, they are
part of your life. You belong to them; they belong to you. It is a question of knowing it and
believing it.

Jesus is the Messiah of every age, also of this promising eve of the twenty-first century. He is the Man of hope, the Man who is the cornerstone of humanity. He is the One who reveals and accomplishes in us the divine prophecies of personal and social liberation. He is the Liberator, the Man-God of our salvation. Your youthful commitment of life, in all its expressions, in study and in work, in family and in society, must lead you to recognize inwardly and proclaim that Jesus is he who establishes the value, the joy and the hope of every man. Have the intelligence and the courage—the Church and the Pope ask it of you—to make your lives an acclamation and testimony to Christ our salvation.

A word about Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, to whose loving patronage
God himself willed to entrust, through her obedient "Yes", the fate of the whole of mankind.
The Son assigns to her the motherly task of imploring individual and collective salvation for

Dear young people, the revival, in the present time, of true Christian values such as
brotherhood, justice and peace, is entrusted once more to the intervention and motherly
pedagogy of Mary. For today, too, Mary is Mother of divine grace, she is Queen of victories.

5. And I conclude these words of mine with an invitation to Christian fortitude, a virtue
which in quite a particular way is suited to the young. Be intrepid witnesses to the Risen
Christ and never retreat before the obstacles you meet along the path of your lives as

Optimism, union, fortitude: that is my wish for you. Once more, I am grateful for your visit,
which has given me such joy.

Extending my greeting to all those who have accompanied you here, and especially to
members of the Superior Council of Salesians and of the Daughters of Mary Help of
Christians and to your parents and relatives, I invoke on you all the outpouring of heavenly
favours and joys, while I willingly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.




Saturday, 5 May 1979

And now I am really happy to address a special greeting to participants in the Meeting on the Family Apostolate, which is taking place here in Rome these days, and especially to my dear Brothers in the Episcopate who are taking part in it.

I thank you for this visit, beloved, which, if it offers you the possibility of tightening your ties of faithfulness and communion with the Successor of Peter, gives me the opportunity of talking briefly on a subject of vital importance for the society and the Church of our time.

The Meeting of these days on the Family Apostolate certainly concerns a focal aspect of the lives and responsibility of the baptized. Its topical interest is confirmed doubly, both from a positive and from a negative point of view. On the one hand, in fact, you anticipate, at least partly, the subject of a specialized ecclesial event such as the future Fifth Synod of Bishops, which will deal precisely with "The functions of the Christian family in the modern world". On the other hand, serious reflection on the subject is required by the mere fact that the psychological, social and ideological climate of today has often considerable disturbing effects on marriage and family life.

My duty, therefore, is to praise and stimulate every initiative aimed at safeguarding, educating and promoting first the awareness and then the practical fulfilment of the commitments belonging to the reciprocal relations between Christian families and the ecclesial community. I am glad to repeat to you, because it is universally valid, what I already said at Pueblo to the Bishops of Latin America: "Make every effort to ensure that there is pastoral care for the family. Attend to this field of such primary importance in the certainty that evangelization in the future depends largely on the 'domestic church' ". Likewise the recent document of the Italian Episcopal Conference on "Evangelization and the Sacrament of Marriage" expresses itself well when it affirms that "the family must be not only the object of the responsible action of the various structures of civil society, but it must become a responsible collaborator" (n. 117). For this to happen, an efficacious education to complete maturity, human and Christian, of married couples, of the children, and of both together, is necessary.

In a world in which the supporting function of many institutions seems to be failing and especially the quality of town life is deteriorating in a dreadful way, the family can and must become a place of real serenity and harmonious growth; not, indeed, in order to isolate itself in forms of proud self-sufficiency, but to offer the world a luminous testimony that the recuperation and complete advancement of man is possible if the latter has as its starting point and frame of reference the healthy vitality of the primary cell of the civil and ecclesial fabric.

The Christian family, therefore, must change more and more into a community of love, such as to make it possible to overcome, in faithfulness and harmony, the inevitable difficulties of everyday life; into a community of life, in order to give rise to, and cultivate joyfully, precious new existences in the image of God; into a community of grace, which will constantly make the Lord Jesus Christ its own centre of gravity and focal point, in such a way as to make the commitment of each one fruitful and to draw ever-new vigour in the daily progress.

My most cordial approval and encouragement go to you, who dedicate yourselves in such a specialized way to such fundamental problems, with the hope that your labour will really be advantageous, in view of a real impact of families renewed in Christ for a new dynamism of the Church and for the general well-being of human society.

The fatherly Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly impart to you all and to those who support your precious work, is a sincere token of these wishes.



Monday, 7 May 1979

Brothers and Sisters,

As for my revered predecessors, for me, too, the solemn swearing in of new Guards is a welcome opportunity for a first familiar meeting with them, with members of their families, and with representatives of the Old Guards Association.

So I bid a hearty welcome to you all, particularly to the recruits who have just been sworn in, to their parents and brothers and sisters; and I congratulate the Commanding Officer and the whole Swiss Guard on their new members.

The years which you, dear young friends, pass in the service of the Pontifical Guard, are years which you give to the Church. The undertaking of this service is for each one of you at the same time a personal profession of faith in the Church and in Christ in the person and mission of his visible representative, the Pope, for whose protection and defence in the course of history Guards have already even laid down their lives. The day of your swearing-in, 6 May, is also dedicated to reverent and grateful remembrance of them.

Christ teaches us, as I recently stressed in my Encyclical "Redemptor Hominis", "that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-giving and in service" (n. 21). Love and self-giving should also determine your future service as Guards. The faithfulness, to which you have committed yourselves through the oath, concerns in the first place conscientious performance of the tasks and duties you have nobly undertaken. Ultimately, however, your promise of faithfulness to Christ himself, who lays upon us in following him the responsibility of demanding from ourselves, and of doing precisely, that which corresponds to our respective vocation.

May your love for Christ and for the Church fully develop and grow in depth in your service in the Swiss Guard. Faithfulness in the many little daily duties will make you capable also of carrying out your great personal life task according to God's will with the same dedication and reliability as a responsible and staunch Christian. For, as Christ assures us, "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much" (Lc 16,10). May God help you in this with his enlightening and strengthening assistance of grace and with the Apostolic Blessing which I willingly impart to you, dear Guards, and to your dear ones.

For this first meeting with young recruits of the Swiss Guards, now bound to the person of the Pope by the oath taken yesterday, I wish to add a few words in French. I wish to tell you, dear Sons—and this expression "Son" expresses all my affection—how happy I am to be able henceforth really to rely on you. You have the task of watching over the Holy Father: well, the Holy Father tranquilly trusts to you! He thanks you for dedicating to him some years of your lives, and he promises your parents present here to look after you.

I am grateful to you for contributing to create, around me and my collaborators, an atmosphere which, while maintaining the necessary order, makes it possible to receive visitors in a way that is at once simple, agreeable, and dignified.

You are the heirs to a great tradition of faithfulness to the Church and to the Holy See. That was a point of honour for those who preceded you. I hope that it will be the same for you and that you will be fully happy and proud to do so. To each of you and to your families, my fatherly Blessing and my very cordial wishes.