S. John Paul II Homil. 1237

1237 3. We are celebrating this feast with hearts still filled with the emotions we felt during the Jubilee period just ended. We have continued on our way, guided by Christ's words to Simon: "Duc in altum - Put out into the deep" (Lc 5,4). The Church expects your contribution, too, dear consecrated brothers and sisters, in order to travel on this new stage of our journey according to the guidelines I gave in my Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte: to contemplate the face of Chist, to set out anew from him and to bear witness to his love. This is a contribution that you are called to make each day, above all through fidelity to your vocation as individuals who are totally consecrated to Christ.

Your first task, then, must be contemplation. Every reality of consecrated life is born and each day reborn in ceaseless contemplation of Christ's face. The Church herself draws her energy from daily beholding the immortal beauty of the face of Christ, her Bridegroom.

If every Christian is a believer who contemplates the face of God in Jesus Christ, you are so in a special way. You must never tire, then, of pausing to meditate on Sacred Scripture and on the holy Gospels in particular, so that the features of the Incarnate Word are impressed upon you.

4. Setting out anew from Christ, the centre of every personal and community project: this is your task! Meet him, dear friends, and contemplate him in a most special way in the Eucharist, celebrated and adored each day as the source and summit of life and apostolic action.

And walk with Christ: this is the way of Gospel perfection, the holiness to which every baptized person is called. Holiness is precisely one of the essential points - indeed, the first - in the programme I outlined for the beginning of the new millennium (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, NM 30-31).

We have just heard the elderly Simeon's words: Christ "is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against ... that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Lc 2,34). Like him, and to the extent that they are conformed to him, consecrated persons also become a "sign of contradiction"; that is, they become for others a salutary encouragement to take a position regarding Jesus, who - thanks to the engaging mediation of the "witness" - does not remain just a historical figure or abstract ideal, but presents himself as a living person to follow without compromise. Does this not seem to you an indispensabe service that the Church expects of you in this era, marked by profound social and cultural changes? Only if you persevere in faithfully following Christ will you be credible witnesses to his love.

5. "A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel" (Lc 2,32). The consecrated life is called to reflect Christ's light in an exceptional way. As I look at you, dear brothers and sisters, I think of the hosts of men and women of every nation, language and culture who are consecrated to Christ by vows of poverty, virginity and obedience. This thought fills me with consolation, for you are like a "leaven" of hope for humanity. You are "salt" and "light" for the men and women of today, who through your witness can glimpse the kingdom of God and the way of the Gospel "Beatitudes".

Like Simeon and Anna, take Jesus from the arms of his most holy Mother and, filled with joy for the gift of your vocation, bring him to everyone. Christ is salvation and hope for every person! Proclaim him by your life dedicated entirely to the kingdom of God and the world's salvation. Proclaim him with that uncompromising fidelity which, even recently, has led some of your brothers and sisters in various parts of the world to martyrdom.

Be light and comfort to everyone you meet. Like lighted candles, burn with the love of Christ. Spend yourselves for him, spreading the Gospel of his love everywhere. Through your witness the eyes of many men and women of our time will also be able to see the salvation prepared by God "in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel".


Sunday, 4 February 2001

1. "Duc in altum! - Put out into the deep!" (Lc 5,4). Jesus' invitation to the Apostle Peter is the dominant theme of today's liturgy for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

1238 I used these same words in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, which I signed during the closing celebration of the Holy Year. In it, after having reviewed the fundamental elements that marked the Jubilee experience, I indicated the guidelines for the Church's life and her evangelizing mission in the third millennium.

"Master ... at your word I will let down the nets" (
Lc 5,5). This is how Simon Peter responds to Christ's invitation. He does not hide his disappointment over the unsuccessful labour of a whole night; yet he obeys the Master: he sets aside his own beliefs as a fisherman who knows his job well, and trusts in him. We know what happens next. Seeing the nets full of fish, Peter realizes the distance between him, "a sinful man", and the one he now recognizes as "Lord". He feels interiorly transformed, and at the Master's invitation he leaves his nets and follows him. The fisherman of Galilee thus becomes an apostle of Christ, the rock on which Christ will found his Church.

2. Today I have the joy of making my first pastoral visit to a Roman parish since the extraordinary event of grace of the Great Jubilee. Your Church is not located far from the place called Saxa Rubra, where in the year 312, according to tradition, the Cross mysteriously appeared. "In hoc signo vinces": these words, well known to you, are linked to those we heard today: "Duc in altum - Put out into the deep". Trusting in Christ leads to sharing the journey of suffering and death with him. But what humanly appears to be a defeat, significantly expressed in the mystery of the Cross, becomes the guarantee of sure and definitive victory.

These considerations call to mind Fr Eulogio Carballido Diaz, the generous and beloved pastor who guided this community for 25 years. He loved to make a pilgrimage every year to Saxa Rubra accompanied by many of you to venerate the image of the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, which I myself had the joy of crowning. May the Lord, who one year ago suddenly called him to himself, grant him the heavenly reward prepared for his good and faithful servants.

3. I greet you all with affection, dear brothers and sisters of St Alphonsus Mary Liguori Parish! I especially greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishop of the Northern Sector, Fr Stefano Alberici, your parish priest, his assistant priests and the representatives of the children and the young people, to whom I extend my gratitude for the kind words of welcome offered at the beginning of this celebration. My cordial thoughts also turn to the women religious of the two communities present in the parish: the Franciscan Sisters of Susa and the Little Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

I especially greet you, dear parishioners of St Alphonsus, who have gathered in such large numbers for this Sunday Mass, as well as all the inhabitants of the area, which in these years has seen the growth of new and modern residential centres next to the first rural settlements and those rebuilt after the terrible flood of 1965.

4. "Duc in altum! - Put out into the deep!". What does this mean for you, dear brothers and sisters of this parish, "to put out into the deep" at the beginning of the new millennium? The first residents of this Roman suburb, who migrated here from central and southern Italy, brought with them a simple and sincere faith, with solid religious traditions. Under the guidance of a zealous parish priest, an active and vigilant community was thus built in fidelity to Christ and in solidarity with those who are in difficult straits.

Certainly here, as elsewhere, there have been and are problems and trials. However, together with St Paul, today you too can say that the grace of God in you has not been in vain (cf. 1Co 15,10). The many good seeds sown over the years are bearing abundant fruit. Thanks to the new parish complex opened on 1 October last, your parish now has a suitable place for welcoming and forming the residents of the neighbourhood, with special attention to children and young people.

Therefore, looking at all the good that has already grown among you, I say to you: "Put out into the deep"! Become, as individuals and as a community, missionaries of the Lord's love. Be concerned for every man and woman who lives and works in this area, following the example of your heavenly patron, St Alphonsus, who was ever anxious to evangelize.

5. Broadening our gaze, then, we may ask: what does "put out into the deep" mean for our diocesan community? Does it not mean to set out anew from Christ in order to bring everyone the news of salvation?

In this regard, I know that the entire Diocese is diligently preparing for the convention that will take place next June. I myself have wanted it to be a great meeting that will be useful for drawing up, on the basis of the City Mission experience, the basic programme for a constant "mobilization" in service to the Gospel.

1239 This important time of reflection and sharing will not fail to give a permanent missionary thrust to diocesan pastoral ministry. It will also help to increase sensitivity to the present moment, in which it is possible and necessary to live consistently as Christians in all areas of life, work and service.

6. "I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me" (
1Co 15,10). The words of the Apostle Paul, which we heard in the second reading, show us the right way to understand the value of our efforts: the achievement of what we propose certainly depends on our good will, but it depends above all on the grace of God. The pastoral journey of your parish, like that of the Diocese and of the entire Church, must therefore be essentially a journey of holiness, in the ever deeper following of the One who is thrice holy by antonomasia (cf. Is Is 6,3).

May we be accompanied in this journey of faith, hope and love by the Blessed Virgin, the shining Dawn and sure Guide as we travel the roads of the world and of history. Let us imitate her in contemplation and meditate on the Mystery of Christ in our hearts (cf. Lk Lc 2,51). Let us follow her in persevering and united prayer, in communion with the Apostles and the entire Ecclesial Community (cf. Acts Ac 1,14). Let us welcome her invitation to trust in her Son: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

And you, Mary, Star of the New Millennium, pray for us! Amen.


Saturday, 10 February 2001

1. "Abyssus abyssum invocat" (Ps 41 [42]: 8).

The abyss of death is reminiscent of another abyss: the infinitely greater one of God and his love. The Gospel we have just heard speaks of it: "God so loved the world" - this is the abyss that embraces everything, even death - "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16).

The Father wanted to give his Son, consubstantial with him, for human salvation: what a mystery of boundless love! The prophecy we heard in the passage from the prophet Isaiah is fulfilled for us in this abyss of grace and mercy. In all truth, we can exclaim: "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation" (Is 25,9).

This is the source and secret of Christian joy which, according to the Lord's promise, no one can take from his friends (cf. Jn Jn 16,23). Isaiah offers us an eloquent image of this deep and definitive joy in the symbol of the banquet: it foreshadows the announcement of the messianic kingdom which the Son of God came to inaugurate. Then death will be swallowed up for ever and the tears will be wiped away from all faces (cf. Is Is 25,6-8).

The time has come for our late Brother, dear Cardinal Giuseppe Casoria, to enter this kingdom definitively. After a long journey on earth, during which he worked energetically as a priest, Bishop and Cardinal, the Lord has now called him to himself to share the destiny promised to his faithful servants.

2. A native of Acerra, Giuseppe Casoria became a priest when he was very young. In addition to his pastoral work, to which he immediately devoted himself with great enthusiasm, he continued to study, earning degrees in theology, philosophy, utroque iure and political science. The juridical field was the one in which he became most deeply involved, through various advanced studies and specializations and through the different offices he held in the Tribunals of the Apostolic Signatura and the Roman Rota, as well as in several dicasteries of the Roman Curia. In particular, he worked for many years in the Congregation for Sacraments, of which he became Undersecretary and later Secretary.

1240 Pope Paul VI appointed him a Bishop at the beginning of 1972 and a year later named him Secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. For over eight years he zealously carried out this task, until he was entrusted with the direction of the dicastery he knew best, the Congregation for Sacraments and Divine Worship. At the Consistory of 2 February 1983 the Pope created him a Cardinal, assigning him the Title of St Joseph in Via Trionfale.

On 21 December last, the beloved Cardinal celebrated his 70th anniversary of priestly ordination. On that occasion, the emphasis was rightly put on what he had primarily been throughout his long life: a soul in love with Christ, whom he always tried to imitate as a priest, serving him with total dedication in his daily work for the Church. In his spiritual testament he wrote: "I openly confess that I have always believed and want to continue believing, with joy and conviction, firmly and without difficulty, all the truths of the Catholic religion taught to me by the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church, in which, just as I have had the grace to be born, so I also hope to live and die". Sustained by these convictions, Cardinal Casoria went to meet death fully resigned to God's will.

Those who were close to him during his last days heard him say: "Every single day of life, even in illness or suffering, is a special gift from the Lord, for which I thank him". And again: "With deep love I offer all my sufferings for the Church, for the Holy Father and for the whole world".

3. "If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (
Rm 6,8).
The passage from the Letter to the Romans from which the second reading of today's celebration is taken is one of the fundamental texts of the liturgical Lectionary. In fact, it is offered to us every year during the Easter Vigil. Let us think of Paul's enlightening words as we pay our last respects to our Brother. How often he must have read them, meditated on them and commented on them. What the Apostle writes about the mystical union of the baptized with the dead and risen Christ, our Brother is now living in the hereafter, freed from the conditions imposed on human nature by sin. "For", as Paul says in this same passage, "he who has died is freed from sin" (Rm 6,7).

The sacramental, but real, union with Christ's paschal mystery opens for the baptized the prospect of sharing in his own glory. Moreover, this already has consequences for their life in this world because, if through Baptism we already participate in Christ's Resurrection, then we can already "walk in newness of life" (Rm 6,4). This is why the holy death of a brother in Christ, especially if he is marked with the priestly character, is always a cause of deep and grateful wonder at the plan of the divine Father, who "has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col 1,13-14).

4. Gathered round the altar, let us thank God for the light that his words cast on the course of our lives and on the mystery of death. To him we confidently pray for our friend and brother.
Cardinal Casoria, who was obliged countless times in his ministry to discern and judge, is now called, as each of us will be, to appear before the judgement seat of Christ (cf. 2Co 5,10). For our comfort, however, the Gospel has reminded us that "God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him" (Jn 3,17).

It is consoling to know that we will be judged by the One who has loved us and given himself for us (cf. Gal Ga 2,20). What a joy to meet the Good Shepherd, whose one sovereign will is that every person may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn Jn 10,10)! So may it be for you, dear brother in Christ, whom today we entrust to the merciful hands of the heavenly Father.

At the side of Christ the Lord, Mary, his Mother and ours, whom we call upon each day to help us "in hora mortis nostrae", is certainly present. "I commend myself to the Blessed Virgin", Cardinal Casoria writes in the testament cited above, "so that she will help me rightly to complete my journey on earth and present me lovingly to her only Son, Jesus Christ".

Let us make this prayer our own: at this moment, may Mary be the one who leads him into the heavenly homeland to share in the joy of the eternal banquet which God has prepared for his faithful servants. Amen.




Sunday, 18 February 2001

1. "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (Jn 6,63).

We have just heard these words spoken by Jesus at the synagogue of Capernaum after the multiplication of the loaves, which took place near the Sea of Tiberias. They are part of the great discourse "on the bread of life" and prompt us to meditate on the immense gift of the Eucharist: "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever" (cf. Jn Jn 6,51). Jesus is the Eternal Word of salvation, the bread come down from heaven which becomes the supreme gift for the salvation of all humanity, a gift sealed by the sacrifice of the Cross.

By taking part in the banquet of the Word and the Bread of eternal life, we enter into intimacy with the great mystery of Faith. We mystically ascend Golgotha, where the truth that frees and the love that transforms the world triumphed. The crucified and risen Christ welcomes us today to his table and once again gives us his Spirit.

2. "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail". Let us listen again to these words as we commemorate the 1,700 years of the Baptism of the Armenian people. Seventeen centuries ago the word of Christ rang out in Armenia, when the preaching of St Gregory the Illuminator and the will of King Tiridates III, converted to the faith, made that land a place blessed and consecrated by the Spirit. In those days God made his dwelling among Armenians and they became worthy, as the liturgical hymn says, "to enter the tabernacles of heaven and inherit the kingdom".

They were inwardly transformed by the Spirit. And the people were transformed: through the seal of the Spirit an entire nation could begin to call upon, bless and praise the Saviour's name.
It was an alliance which was never reconsidered, even when fidelity cost blood, and exile was the price for refusal to deny it. St Vardan is an example of this, a hero not only of fidelity to Christ when faced with the violence of the Sassanids, but also of the right of every conscience to follow its inner dictates.

3. Dear brothers and sisters of the Armenian people, we are here today to thank you. Thank you not only for those glorious beginnings, but also for a whole history that is steeped in Christianity and almost identified with it. The Bishop of Rome acts as spokesman for this gratitude and expresses it to you as a most beautiful and heartfelt gift. For this event, in addition to celebrating the Eucharist with you and for you, I was very pleased to address an Apostolic Letter to Armenians, in order to stress the value of this anniversary not only for you but for the whole Church.

Thank you, Your Beatitude, for this Eucharistic celebration, which sees us sharing together in the Body and Blood of the Lord and for your cordial words of greeting. Thank you for bringing with you Armenian priests, religious and lay people from around the world. I offer my greeting and blessing to them and to those who were unable to come but are spiritually united with us. Let us also send our kiss of peace and fraternal best wishes to our brethren of the Armenian Apostolic Church, which is celebrating this year of holy memories with great solemnity.

4. Today's celebration invites us to reflect on our roots. History is not the sum total of moments, but a flow of interconnected events. We all carry within us even distant echoes of the faith, culture and sensibilities of generations and generations. We are all called to pass something on to the generations to come.

1242 In looking at Armenians, as at other Christian peoples, we cannot fail to note that the Christian faith has marked the deepest fibres of their self-awareness. The Armenian alphabet was also created to express and to spread the Gospel and to translate the Bible, the liturgy and the writings of the Fathers in faith. Art, social and family life, even public institutions found a sure reference-point in Christian belief.

With the ever stronger influence of secularization in the modern world, it is sometimes difficult to continue to hold fast to this spiritual patrimony which has made you a "Christian" nation.

Faith is sometimes regarded as only a gift and personal search, and not as the common belonging to a people. How can we prevent the social achievements of the modern era from losing the riches of the continuity of a people and their faith? This is the task which today's celebration spurs us to reflect on more deeply.

5. The proclamation of the Gospel was called "illumination", and Gregory, the great saint who made Armenians a Christian people, was called the "Illuminator". With one voice let us thank God for this illumination through Christ, the Light of the world. A light that the darkness could not overcome, even in the dark years of militant atheism.

In this same basilica, the heart of Christianity, I recently had the joy of entrusting to the fraternal hands of His Holiness Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, a renowned relic of the holy Illuminator. Today I will do the same with Patriarch Nerses Bedros XIX. Present among Catholics and Apostolics, the relics of the same saint are the symbol of a close unity in faith and a strong encouragement to unity in Christ. I am sure that, venerated by the Armenian people without distinction, they will increase the communion that Christ desires for his Church. Thus brotherhood will be strengthened in charity. We are not dividing the relics, but, are working and praying that those who receive them will be united. The same roots and a continuous history of saints and martyrs can prepare a future for your people of full participation and a visible sharing of faith in the same Lord.

This is a task to which, dear brothers and sisters, you will not tire of responding faithfully and courageously. May you be supported by the heavenly intercession of your many compatriots who, in the dark periods of persecution, paid with blood for their fidelity to the Lord. I am thinking in particular of the many mothers and grandmothers who, when the Church was forced to be silent, "illuminated" their loved ones with the saving Word and by their own example of Christian life.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, I have had the opportunity to know the Armenian people since the years of my youth, and I cherish a great desire to go as a pilgrim of hope and unity to your homeland. I would like to have made this visit earlier, if only to offer my beloved brother Catholicos Karekin I a last farewell, but the Lord decreed otherwise. I am now anxiously awaiting the day when I will at last be granted, please God, to kiss your beloved land steeped in the blood of so many martyrs; to visit the monasteries where men and women sacrificed themselves spiritually to follow the paschal Lamb; to meet today's Armenians, who are striving to regain their dignity, stability and security of life. With their brethren of the Armenian Apostolic Church and, in particular, with the Catholicos and the Bishops, let us all, Catholics and Apostolics, proclaim once again that Christ is the only Saviour. In him alone is there Life; only his Gospel can restore the past greatness of your people. In your veins flows the blood of saints; the waters of redemption were poured upon your history. Nothing can resist the renewing power of grace.

7. Armenian people, keep your gaze firmly set on Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life! He is the hope that never disappoints, the Light that dispels the darkness of evil. Christ guides your steps: be not afraid!

The Holy Mother of God is protecting you; the Armenian saints are interceding for you, especially St Gregory the Illuminator, whom we will shortly invoke as "the pillar of light for the holy Armenian Church", and "the saving ark of the Armenian people".

The Bishop of Rome and the whole Catholic Church are also close to you. Armenian people, whom today I embrace with affection, go forth in the faith of your fathers and pass its torch on to the generations to come.

And you, Christ our God, grant us all to be worthy one day of entering the heavenly abode of light and to inherit your kingdom prepared for your saints from the beginning of the world.

1243 Glory to you, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and for ever and ever. Amen!


Wednesday, 21 February 2001

1. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant" (Mc 10,43). Once again we have heard Christ's disconcerting words ringing in our ears. Today they have echoed in this square particularly for you, venerable and dear Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood, whom I have had the joy of enrolling among the members of the College of Cardinals. With deep affection I offer you my cordial greeting, which I extend to the many people who have gathered around you. I address a special word of gratitude to dear Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re for his kind words to me, warmly expressing the sentiments you all share.

I next extend a fraternal greeting to all the other Cardinals present, as well as to the Archbishops and Bishops who are here with us. I also greet the official delegations, which have come from various countries to celebrate their Cardinals: through them, I send my respectful greetings to the authorities and to the beloved peoples they represent.

I am delighted to note the presence at the Consistory of Fraternal Delegates from several Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I extend a cordial greeting to them, in the certainty that this thoughtful gesture on their part will foster ever greater mutual understanding and progress towards full communion.

Today is a great celebration for the universal Church, which is enriched by 44 new Cardinals. And it is a great celebration for the city of Rome, the see of the Prince of the Apostles and of his Successor, not only because she is establishing a special relationship with each of the new Cardinals, but also because the coming together here of so many people from every part of the world gives her the opportunity to relive a moment of joyful welcome. For this solemn gathering recalls the many events that marked the Great Jubilee which closed just over a month ago. This morning "Catholic" Rome warmly embraces the new Cardinals with the same enthusiasm, knowing that another important page of her 2,000-year history is being written.

2. "The Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mc 10,45).

The Evangelist Mark's words help us to understand better the profound meaning of an event like the Consistory we are celebrating. The Church does not rely on human calculations and powers, but on the crucified Jesus and the consistent witness borne to him by the apostles, martyrs and confessors of the faith. This witness can also demand the heroism of total self-giving to God and to others. Every Christian knows that he is called to an uncompromising fidelity, which may even require the ultimate sacrifice. And you in particular, venerable Brothers, raised to the dignity of Cardinal, know this. You are committed to faithfully following Christ, the Martyr par excellence and the faithful Witness.

Your service to the Church is also expressed in assisting and collaborating with the Successor of Peter, in order to lighten the burden of a ministry that extends to the ends of the earth. Together with him, you must be strenuous defenders of the truth and guardians of the heritage of faith and morals which originated in the Gospel. You will thus be reliable guides for everyone and, in the first place, for priests, consecrated persons and committed lay people.

The Pope counts on your help in serving the Christian community, which is confidently entering the third millennium. As true Pastors, you will know how to be alert sentinels defending the flock entrusted to you by the "Chief Shepherd", who is preparing for you "the unfading crown of glory" (1P 5,4).

3. Beginning today a very special bond links you with Peter's Successor, who by Christ's will - as has been rightly recalled - is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful" (Lumen gentium, LG 23). This link makes you, in a new way, eloquent signs of communion. If you promote communion, the entire Church will benefit. St Peter Damian, whose liturgical memorial occurs today, says: "It is unity that makes the many parts into a single whole, which brings different human wills together in a framework of love and harmony of spirit" (Opusc. XIII, 24).

1244 The "many parts" of the Church are expressed in you, whose experiences have matured on various continents and in various services to the People of God. It is essential that the "parts" you represent should be gathered into "a single whole" through love, which is the bond of perfection. Only in this way will Christ's prayer be fulfilled: "that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (cf. Jn Jn 17,21).

From the Second Vatican Council to this day, much has been done to enlarge the areas of individual responsibility in the service of ecclesial communion. There is no doubt that with God's grace it will be possible to do even more. Today you are proclaimed and created Cardinals so that you will dedicate yourselves, to the extent of your responsibility, to increasing the spirituality of communion in the Church. For it alone, "by prompting a trust and openness wholly in accord with the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God, supplies institutional reality with a soul" (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 45).

4. Venerable Brothers, you are the first Cardinals to be created in the new millennium. After having drawn in abundance from the sources of divine mercy during the Holy Year, the mystical barque of the Church is preparing anew "to put out into the deep", to bring the message of salvation to the world. Together let us unfurl her sails to the wind of the Spirit, examining the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, to answer "the ever recurring questions which men ask about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come" (Gaudium et spes, GS 4).

The world is becoming ever more complex and changeable, and the acute awareness of the existing discrepancies creates or increases contradictions and imbalances (cf. ibid., n. 8). The enormous potential of scientific and technological progress, as well as the phenomenon of globalization that is extending to ever new areas, require us to be open to dialogue with every person and every social institution, with the intention of giving to each an account for the hope that is in us (cf. 1P 3,15).

However, venerable Brothers, we know that to face these new tasks effectively, it is necessary to foster an ever deeper communion with the Lord. It is precisely the red colour of the robes you wear that reminds you of this urgent need. Is that colour not the symbol of ardent love for Christ? Does that bright red not symbolize the burning fire of love for the Church which must nurture within you the readiness, if necessary, to bear the supreme witness of bloodshed? "Usque ad effusionem sanguinis", says the ancient formula. In looking at you, the People of God must be able to find a concrete and shining reference-point that will spur them to be truly the light of the world and the salt of the earth (cf. Mt Mt 5,13).

5. You come from 27 countries on four continents and speak various languages. Is this not a sign of the Church's ability, now that she has spread to every corner of the globe, to understand peoples with different traditions and languages, in order to bring to all the message of Christ? In him and only in him can we find salvation. This is the truth that today we would like to reaffirm together. Christ walks with us and guides our steps.

Two hundred years after the birth of Cardinal Newman, I seem to hear ringing out the words with which he accepted the sacred purple from my Predecessor Pope Leo XIII: "The Church", he said, "has nothing more to do than to go on in her own proper duties, in confidence and peace; to stand still and to see the salvation of God. Mansueti hereditabunt terram, et delectabuntur in multitudine pacis (Ps 36,11)". May the words of this great churchman encourage us all to grow in love for our pastoral ministry.

Venerable Brothers, gathered around you to share in this joyful moment are your relatives, friends and the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care. Together with the entire Christian people who are spiritually present, they are praying fervently to the Lord for your new service to the Apostolic See and to the universal Church.

Mary, who, in accepting the divine messenger's invitation, was able to reply promptly: "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38), extends her maternal mantle over you. The Apostles Peter and Paul and your patron saints are interceding for you. And my fraternal remembrance in prayer and my blessing accompany you.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1237