S. John Paul II Homil. 814

814 On the very first page of the Bible the sacred author shows us this institution: "God created man in his own image; male and female he created them" (Gn 1,27). In this sense, human beings, in the duality of the sexes, are, like God himself and in accordance with his will, a source of life: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gn 1,28). The family is thus called to co-operate in God's plan and his creative work through the covenant of married love between man and woman which — as St Paul tells us — is also a sign of the union of Christ with his Church (cf. Eph Ep 5,32).

2. Dear brothers and sisters: I am pleased to extend an affectionate greeting to Bishop Fernando Prego Casal of Santa Clara, the Cardinals and other Bishops, the priests and deacons, the members of religious communities and all of you, the lay faithful present in such numbers. I offer a respectful greeting to the civil authorities. My words are addressed especially to all the families here present, who wish to proclaim their firm resolve to carry out in their lives the Lord's saving plan.

3. In Cuba, the institution of the family has inherited the rich patrimony of virtues which marked the Creole families of the past, whose members were so active in every aspect of life in society and who built this country without counting the cost in sacrifices and adversities. Those families, solidly founded upon Christian principles, were true communities of mutual affection, joy and celebration, trust and security, and serene reconciliation. They were also marked — like many homes today — by unity, deep respect for their elders, a lofty sense of responsibility, sincere submission to parental authority, happiness and optimism, whether in poverty or in plenty, by a desire to work for a better world and, above all, by great faith and trust in God.

Today, families in Cuba also are subject to the challenges experienced by so many families throughout the world. Countless members of these families have struggled and devoted their lives to attaining a better life, in which fundamental human rights are guaranteed: work, food, housing, health, education, social security and participation in the life of society. The family, the fundamental cell of society and the guarantee of its stability, nonetheless experiences the crises which are affecting society itself. This happens when married couples live in economic or cultural systems which, under the guise of freedom and progress, promote or even defend an anti-birth mentality and thus induce married couples to have recourse to methods of regulating fertility which are incompatible with human dignity. There is even an acceptance of abortion, which is always, in addition to being an abominable crime (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 51), a senseless impoverishment of the person and of society itself. In such a situation, the Church teaches that God has entrusted to men and women the mission of transmitting life in a way worthy of man, the fruit of responsibility and love between husband and wife.

Motherhood is sometimes presented as something backward or as a limitation of a woman's freedom, thus distorting its true nature and dignity. Children are presented not as what they are — a great gift of God — but rather as something to be defended against. The social situation experienced in this beloved country has created not a few difficulties for family stability: for example, material scarcities — as when wages are not sufficient or have a very limited buying power —, dissatisfaction for ideological reasons, the attraction of the consumer society. These and other measures involving labour or other matters have helped to intensify a problem which has existed in Cuba for years: people being obliged to be away from the family within the country, and emigration, which has torn apart whole families and caused suffering for a large part of the population. Not easily accepted and often traumatic are the separation of children and the substitution of the role of parents as a result of schooling away from home even during adolescence. These experiences place young people in situations which sadly result in the spread of promiscuous behaviour, loss of ethical values, coarseness, premarital sexual relations at an early age and easy recourse to abortion. All this has a profoundly negative impact on young people, who are called to embody authentic moral values for the building of a better society.

4. The path to overcoming these evils is none other than Jesus Christ, his teaching and his example of total love which saves us. No ideology can replace his infinite wisdom and power. For this reason there is a need to recover religious values at the level of the family and of society, and to encourage the practice of the virtues which shaped the origins of the Cuban nation, in the process of building its future "with all and for the good of all", as José Martí wanted. The family, the school and the Church must form an educational community in which the children of Cuba can "grow in humanity". Do not be afraid; open your families and schools to the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which are never a threat to any social project.

5. "An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: 'Rise, take the child and his mother'" (Mt 2,13). The revealed word shows us how God wishes to protect the family and preserve it from all danger. So the Church, inspired and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, seeks to defend and to propose to her children and to all people of good will the truth about the fundamental values of Christian marriage and the family. So too, she proclaims, as an unfailing duty, the holiness of this sacrament and its moral requirements, in order to safeguard the dignity of every human person.

Marriage, with its character as an exclusive and permanent union, is sacred because its origin is in God. Christians, in receiving the sacrament of marriage, share in God's creative plan and receive the graces they need to carry out their mission of raising and educating their children, and to respond to the call to holiness. It is a union different from any other sort of human society, for it is based on the mutual giving and receiving of husband and wife in order to become "one flesh" (Gn 2,24), living in a community of life and love, the vocation of which is to be a "sanctuary of life" (cf. Evangelium vitae EV 59). By their faithful and persevering union, the couple contributes to the good of the institution of the family and shows that a man and a woman are capable of giving themselves to one another for ever, without their freedom hindering a voluntary and permanent self-gift, since in marriage each personality remains unaltered and the great law of love takes form and grows: each one giving himself or herself to the other in order to give themselves together to the task which God entrusts to them. If the human person is the centre of every social institution, then the family, the first setting for socialization, must be a community of free and responsible persons who live marriage as a project of love, ever more perfectible, and which contributes vitality and energy to civil society.

6. In married life, the service of life does not end with conception, but continues in the education of the new generations.Since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it (cf. Gravissimum educationis GE 3). We are speaking of an irreplaceable and inalienable duty and right. It is true that in the area of education public authority has certain rights and duties, since it must serve the common good. Nonetheless, this does not give public authority the right to take the place of parents. Consequently parents, without expecting others to replace them in a matter which is their own responsibility, should be able to choose for their children the pedagogical method, the ethical and civic content and the religious inspiration which will enable them to receive an integral education. They must not expect everything to be given them; they should assume their mission as educators while seeking opportunities and creating adequate structures within civil society.

Furthermore, families need proper housing and a united home life, so that they can pass on ethical values in an environment favorable to the fostering of high ideals and living the faith.

7. Dear brothers and sisters, dear married couples and parents: I have wished to recall a few essential aspects of God's plan for marriage and the family, in order to help you to follow with generosity and commitment that particular path to holiness to which many of you are called. Accept with love the word of the Lord proclaimed in this Eucharist. In the responsorial psalm we have heard: "Blessed are those who fear the Lord, and walk in his ways! Your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Indeed, thus shall be blessed the man who fears the Lord" (Ps 127:1,3,4).

815 Great is the vocation to marriage and family life inspired by the word of God and modeled on the Holy Family of Nazareth. Dear people of Cuba: Be faithful to God's word and to this model! Dear husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and the families of this noble country of Cuba: In your lives hold on to this sublime model, aided by the grace given you in the sacrament of marriage. May God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, dwell in your homes. Thus will the Catholic families of Cuba contribute decisively to God's great work of human salvation in this blessed land which is your country and your nation. Cuba: care for your families, in order to keep your heart pure!

May Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Mother of all Cubans, Mother in the home at Nazareth, intercede for all the families of Cuba so that, renewed, refreshed and helped in their trials, they may live in serenity and peace, overcoming their problems and difficulties, so that all their members may attain the salvation which comes from Jesus Christ, the Lord of history and of mankind. To him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

I wish to repeat the words of your poet, José Martí: in the course of building their future "with all and for the good of all", the family, the school and the Church must form an educational community where the children of Cuba can "grow in humanity".

At the end of Mass the Holy Father spoke extemporaneously:

I have had the joy of celebrating my first Holy Mass in Cuba here in Santa Clara. We are under the gaze of the image of Our Lady of Charity. We have gathered as a great family, the Church, formed of so many families, which are little churches. God is great and you know he is also your God. The sight of this assembly is very beautiful, and its beauty increases when we see that the bond uniting us is faith. Bring my greetings to everyone and know that, in addition to the memory of this beautiful celebration, the Pope's love and affection are there in your homes. St Joseph, patron of families, and St Clare, for whom this city is named, will be happy with you and will intercede with the Lord. God bless you all!



TO CUBA (JANUARY 21-26, 1998)

Camagüey, Cuba

Friday 23 January 1998

1. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rm 12,21). The young people of Cuba join the Pope today to celebrate their faith, to listen to the word of God which is the path leading away from the works of evil and darkness, and thus to clothe themselves in the raiment of light in order to accomplish good works. For this reason, I am pleased to have this meeting with all of you in this great plaza where the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be renewed at the altar. This place, named after Ignacio Agramonte, "El Bayardo", reminds us of a hero beloved by all. Motivated by his Christian faith, he embodied the values by which men and women are distinguished as good: honour, truthfulness, fidelity, the love of justice. He was a good husband and father, and a good friend; in the face of slavery he defended human dignity.

2. First of all, I extend an affectionate greeting to Bishop Adolfo Rodríguez Herrera, the Pastor of this local Church, to Bishop Juan García Rodríguez, his Auxiliary, and to all the Bishops and priests present who, by their pastoral work, inspire the youth of Cuba and lead them to Christ, the Redeemer, the never-failing friend. The encounter with Christ brings about conversion and the singular joy which makes us cry out, like the disciples after the Resurrection, "We have seen the Lord" (Jn 20,25). I likewise greet the civil authorities taking part in this Holy Mass and I thank them for their co-operation in this function at which the principal guests are the young people.

With heartfelt sentiment I address you, dear young people of Cuba, the hope of the Church and of your homeland, and I present you to Christ so that you might know him and follow him with total determination. It is he who gives you life, shows you the way, brings you to the truth, motivating you to walk together in solidarity, happiness and peace as living members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.

3. "How shall the young remain sinless? By obeying your word" (Ps 119,9). The psalm gives this answer to the question which all young people must ask themselves if they wish to lead a worthy and upright life, suitable to their condition. To achieve this, Jesus is the only way. The talents which you have received from the Lord and which lead to commitment, authentic love and generosity bear fruit when you live not merely for things that are material and fleeting, but "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt 4,4). For this reason, dear young people, I encourage you to experience Christ's love, to be conscious of what he has done for you, for all of humanity, for the men and women of every age. Feeling yourselves loved by him, you will in turn be truly able to love. Experiencing an intimate communion of life with him, which should be accompanied by receiving his Body, by listening to his Word, by the joy of his pardon and mercy, you will be able to imitate him and, as the psalmist teaches, "remain sinless".

816 What does it mean to remain sinless? It means living your life according to the moral principles of the Gospel which the Church sets before you. At present, unfortunately, it is easy for people to fall into moral relativism and the identity crisis which affects so many young people, victims of cultural models which are empty of meaning or of an ideology which does not offer high and clear moral guidelines. Such moral relativism gives rise to selfishness, division, marginalization, discrimination, fear and distrust of others. Moreover, when young people live life "their own way", they idealize things from other countries, they allow themselves to be seduced by unchecked materialism, they lose their own roots and long for distractions. Consequently, the emptiness brought on by this behaviour explains many of the evils which beset young people: alcohol, the abuse of sex, drug use, prostitution hidden under different guises, the causes of which are not always and exclusively personal, motivation based on personal likes and selfish attitudes, opportunism, the lack of a serious life project with no room given to a stable marriage; also the rejection of all legitimate authority, the desire to escape and to emigrate, the avoidance of commitment and responsibility in order to seek shelter in a false world founded on alienation and annihilation.

Faced with this situation, Christian youth, longing to "remain sinless" and firm in faith, know that they are called and chosen by Christ to live in the authentic freedom of God's children, which involves many challenges. Thus, welcoming the grace received in the sacraments, they know that they must bear witness to Christ by their confident efforts to lead a life which is upright and faithful to him.

Faith and morally upright behaviour go hand in hand.In effect, the gift received leads to a permanent conversion enabling us to imitate Christ and receive the divine promises. In order to hold fast to the fundamental values which keep them sinless, Christians sometimes have to suffer marginalization and persecution — at times heroically — because of moral choices which are contrary to the world's behaviour. This witness to the cross of Christ in daily life is also a sure and fertile seed of new Christians. A life fully human and committed to Christ requires this generosity and dedication.

Dear young people, this is the cost of Christian witness, of a worthy life in the eyes of God. If you are not willing to pay this price, your lives will be empty and you will not have a worthwhile life project responsibly accepted with all its consequences. The Church has the duty of providing a moral, civic and religious formation which will help the youth of Cuba to grow in human and Christian values. This is a duty to be undertaken without fear and with perseverance in an educational effort which calls for time, and the resources and institutions needed for this sowing of virtue and spirituality for the good of the Church and of the nation.

4. "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (
Mc 10,17). In the Gospel which we have heard, a young man asks Jesus what he must do, and the Master, filled with love, tells him how he must "be". The young man presumes that he has kept all the commandments, and Jesus answers that what is necessary is that he leave everything and follow him. This gives a firm grounding and authenticity to values and permits the young man to reach his fulfilment as a person and as a Christian. The key to this fulfilment is found in fidelity, which St Paul referred to in the first reading as one of the characteristics of our Christian identity.

This is the path of fidelity presented by St Paul: "Hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; ... rejoice in your hope, ... practise hospitality.... Bless.... Live in harmony with one another ... associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil.... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rm 12,9-21). Dear young people, whether you are believers or not, accept the call to be virtuous. This means being strong within, having a big heart, being rich in the highest sentiments, bold in the truth, courageous in freedom, constant in responsibility, generous in love, invincible in hope. Happiness is achieved through sacrifice. Do not look outside for what is to be found inside. Do not expect from others what you yourselves can and are called to be or to do. Do not leave for tomorrow the building of a new society in which the noblest dreams are not frustrated and in which you can be the principal agents of your own history.

Remember that the human person and respect for the human person is the path to a new world. The world and humanity are deprived of their life-breath if they are not open to Jesus Christ. Open your hearts to him and thus start out on a new life, a life in harmony with God and which responds to your legitimate aspirations to truth, goodness and beauty. May Cuba raise her children in virtue and freedom so that your nation will enjoy a future of authentic integral human development in an environment of lasting peace!

Dear Catholic young people: all of this is a programme of personal and social life founded on love, humility and sacrifice, which has as its ultimate purpose "to serve the Lord". I wish you the joy of making this a reality. The efforts which are already being made in youth ministry must be focused on the realization of this programme of life. To help you in this, I am leaving you also a written Message in the hope that it will reach all the young people of Cuba, who are the future of the Church and the country. This future begins now in the present and will be fulfilling if it is based on the integral development of each individual, a development which cannot be achieved without Christ, by ignoring Christ or much less by working against Christ. For this reason, as I said at the beginning of my Pontificate and repeated upon my arrival in Cuba: "Do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ". With great affection I leave you this motto and exhortation, asking you to pass it on with boldness and apostolic courage to the rest of Cuba's youth. May almighty God and Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre help you to respond generously to this call!

Now we are going to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ. Christ will make himself present, the same Christ who once looked at a young man and loved him. Each of you must live him today; the Christ who sees you and loves you is present today. Christ is watching. Christ knows what is in each one of us. He knows that he loves us. Praised be Jesus Christ.



TO CUBA (JANUARY 21-26, 1998)

Santiago de Cuba

Saturday 24 January 1998

817 1. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Ps 32,12). With the psalmist we have sung that blessings accompany the people which has God as its Lord. More than 500 years ago, when the cross of Christ arrived on this island and with it his saving message, there began a process which, nourished by Christian faith, has continued to forge the characteristic traits of this nation. The series of this nations's illustrious figures include: that soldier who was the first catechist and missionary of Macaca; the first Cuban teacher, Fr Miguel de Velázquez; the priest Esteban Salas, the father of Cuban music; the renowned man of Bayamo, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, father of his country, who, prostrate at the feet of the Our Lady of Charity, began the fight for Cuba's freedom and independence; Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales, whose statue stands in the plaza where our celebration is taking place today, and whose mother prayed before the crucifix asking that he commit himself wholly and completely to the freedom of Cuba. In addition to these, there are many other illustrious men and women who, motivated by their unshakeable faith in God, chose the way of freedom and justice as the foundation of their people's dignity.

2. I am pleased to be here today in this distinguished Archdiocese, which counts St Anthony Mary Claret among its Pastors. First of all, I offer cordial greetings to Archbishop Pedro Meurice Estíu of Santiago de Cuba and Primate of the nation. I greet as well the other Cardinals, Bishops, priests and deacons who are committed to furthering the kingdom of God in this land. I likewise greet the men and women religious and all the faithful present here. I wish to extend my respectful greetings to the Vice-President of the Council of State, to Minister Raúl Castro and to the other civil authorities taking part in this Holy Mass, and I thank them for their help in organizing this event.

3. During this celebration we will crown the image of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. From her shrine, not far from here, the Queen and Mother of all Cubans — regardless of race, political allegiance or ideology — guides and sustains, as in times past, the steps of her sons and daughters towards our heavenly homeland, and she encourages them to live in such a way that in society those authentic moral values may reign which constitute the rich spiritual heritage received from your forebears. With gratitude, we turn to her, as did her cousin Elizabeth, and say: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lc 1,45). In these words lies the secret of the true happiness of individuals and peoples: to believe and proclaim that the Lord has done marvellous things for us and that his mercy is from generation to generation on those who are faithful to him. This conviction is the force which inspires men and women to commit themselves selflessly, even at the cost of sacrifice, to the service of others.

Mary's example of readiness to serve shows us the path to take. With her, the Church fulfils her own vocation and mission, proclaiming Jesus Christ and exhorting us to do what he says, building a universal brotherhood in which every person can call God "Father".

4. Like the Virgin Mary, the Church is Mother and Teacher in the following of Christ, who is light for the nations and the dispenser of divine mercy. As the community of all the baptized, the Church is likewise the place of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation, opening her arms to all people so that she might proclaim to them the true God. By serving the faith of the men and women of this beloved people, the Church helps them to advance on the path of goodness. The evangelizing efforts being carried out in different places, for example, the missions in districts and towns which have no churches, must be sustained and promoted so that they may increase and serve not only Catholics but the whole Cuban people, so that everyone may come to know and love Jesus Christ. History teaches that without faith virtue disappears, moral values are dulled, truth no longer shines forth, life loses its transcendent meaning and even service of the nation can cease to be inspired by solid motivations. In this respect, Antonio Maceo, the great patriot of the East, said: "He who loves not God loves not his country".

The Church calls everyone to make faith a reality in their lives, as the best path to the integral development of the human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and for attaining true freedom, which includes the recognition of human rights and social justice. In this regard, lay Catholics — holding to their specific role as lay persons so that they may be "salt and leaven" in the midst of the society of which they are part — have the duty and the right to participate in public debate on the basis of equality and in an attitude of dialogue and reconciliation. Likewise, the good of a nation must be promoted and achieved by its citizens themselves through peaceful and gradual means. In this way each person, enjoying freedom of expression, being free to undertake initiatives and make proposals within civil society, and enjoying appropriate freedom of association, will be able to co-operate effectively in the pursuit of the common good.

The Church, immersed in civil society, does not seek any type of political power in order to carry out her mission; she wishes only to be the fruitful seed of everyone's good by her presence in the structures of society. Her first concern is the human person and the community in which the individual lives; she is well aware that actual people with all their needs and aspirations constitute her primary path. All that she claims for herself she places at the service of people and society. For this reason Christ charged her to bring his message to all peoples, and for this she needs sufficient freedom and adequate means. Defending her own freedom, the Church defends the freedom of each individual, of families, of different social units, which are living realities with a right to their own sphere of autonomy and sovereignty (cf. Centesimus annus CA 45). In this sense, "Christians and Christian communities are very much a part of the life of their respective nations and can be a sign of the Gospel in their fidelity to their native land, people and national culture, while always preserving the freedom brought by Christ.... The Church is called to bear witness to Christ by taking courageous and prophetic stands in the face of the corruption of political or economic power; by not seeking her own glory and material wealth; by using her resources to serve the poorest of the poor and by imitating Christ's own simplicity of life" (Redemptoris missio RMi 43). This is a constant, permanent teaching of the social Magisterium, what is called the Church's social doctrine.

5. In recalling these aspects of the Church's mission, we give thanks to God who has called us to be part of his Church. In the Church, the Virgin Mary has a unique place. An expression of this is the new crowning of the venerated image of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Cuban history is marked by wonderful displays of love for the patroness of Cuba, at whose feet the figures of humble natives, two Indians and a Black, symbolize the rich plurality of this people. El Cobre, where the shrine is located, was the first place in Cuba where freedom was won for slaves.

Beloved brothers and sisters in the faith, never forget the great events connected with your Queen and Mother. With the canopy of his family altar, Céspedes put together the Cuban flag and went to prostrate himself at the feet of Our Lady before beginning the battle for freedom. The brave Cuban soldiers, the "Mambises", bore on their breast the medal and "medida" of her holy image. The first act of liberated Cuba in 1898 was when the troops of General Calixto García knelt during a solemn Mass at the feet of Our Lady of Charity for the "Mambisa Declaration of Independence of the Cuban People". The various pilgrimages of the image through the towns of the island, heeding the desires and hopes, the joys and sufferings of all her children, have always involved great displays of faith and love.

From this place I wish to send my greetings also to all of Cuba's children who, in whatever part of the world, venerate Our Lady of Charity; together with all your brothers and sisters who live in this fair land, I place you under her maternal protection, asking her, loving Mother of all, to unite her children once more through reconciliation and brotherhood.

6. Today, following the glorious tradition of love for the our common Mother, before proceeding with her crowning, I turn to her and together with all of you I call upon her:

818 Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre,
Patroness of Cuba!
Hail Mary, full of grace!
You are the beloved Daughter of the Father,
the Mother of Christ, our God,
the living Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Your name, O Virgin of Charity,
evokes thoughts of the God who is
recalls the new commandment given
by Jesus,
819 invokes the Holy Spirit:
love poured into our hearts,
fire of charity sent on Pentecost over
the Church,
gift of the total freedom of the sons
and daughters of God.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your
womb, Jesus!
You came to visit our people
and wished to remain with us
820 as Mother and Lady of Cuba,
throughout its pilgrimage
along the paths of history.
Your name and image are sculpted
in the mind and heart of every Cuban,
both within and outside the country,
as a sign of hope and a focus
of fraternal communion.
Holy Mary, Mother of God and
Mother of us all!
Pray for us before your Son Jesus Christ,
821 intercede for us with your maternal heart,
filled with the Spirit's charity.
Increase our faith, enliven our hope,
augment and strengthen love in us.
Shelter our families,
protect young people and
little children,
comfort the suffering.
Be the Mother of the faithful and of
the Shepherds of the Church,
the model and star of the new
822 Mother of reconciliation!
Gather together your people
scattered throughout the world.
Make the Cuban nation a home
of brothers and sisters
so that this people will open wide
its mind, its heart and its life
to Christ,
the sole Saviour and Redeemer,
who lives and reigns with the Father
and the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.

823 At the end of Mass the Holy Father announced the creation of the new Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa:

I have had the joy of celebrating Holy Mass with you all in this plaza dedicated to Antonio Maceo. By your presence here you too have given visible proof of the Church's perseverance and growth in this beautiful land, an expression of her rich vitality. In this regard, I have the joy of informing you that, to further the Church's activity in Cuba, I have decided to establish the Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa and to appoint Bishop Carlos Jesús Patricio Baladrón Valdés, until now Auxiliary of Havana, as its first Bishop.

I would like to encourage the priests and faithful of this new ecclesiastical jurisdiction to commit themselves, like living stones around their Shepherd, to building this particular Church which is born today. Dear Bishop Baladrón, consider the great importance of the mission that is now entrusted to you, and with all your might proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to your diocesans, calling them to the Eucharist and the other sacraments, so that they may grow in holiness and justice in the Lord's presence.

Before imparting the final blessing, the Holy Father spoke extemporaneously:

I want to thank you for this warmth, the warm weather but also the human warmth, the warmth of your hearts. I would like to offer the final blessing of the Mass to this people, to this Church which is so warm.

S. John Paul II Homil. 814