S. John Paul II Homil. 1268
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you" (Ac 17,23).
Reported in the Acts of the Apostles, these words that Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Athens represent one of the first proclamations of the Christian faith in Europe. If we consider the role of Greece in the formation of ancient culture, we will understand that this speech by Paul can be considered the very symbol of the encounter of the Gospel with human culture.
"To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!" (1Co 1,2). Using these words of the Apostle to the community in Corinth, I greet you with affection, all of you, Bishops, priests and lay Catholic faithful living in Greece. I thank first of all His Grace Nikolaus Foscolos, Archbishop of Athens and President of the Episcopal Conference of Greece, for his welcome and cordial greeting. Gathered together this morning for the Eucharistic celebration, we ask the Apostle Paul to give us his fervour in faith and in proclaiming the Gospel to all the Nations, as well as his concern for the unity of the Church. I rejoice in the presence of other Christian confessions at this Divine Liturgy, who thus bear witness to their interest in the life of the Catholic community and to their common brotherhood in Christ.
1269 2. Paul clearly reminds us that we cannot enclose God in our very human ways of seeing or doing. If we wish to welcome the Lord, we are called to conversion. This is the path put before us, the path that enables us to follow Christ in order to live as he did, sons and daughters in the Son. We can therefore re-interpret our personal journey and that of the Church as a Paschal experience. We must be purified in order to enter fully into the divine will, accepting that God, by his grace, transforms our being and our existence, as was the case with Paul, who was transformed from persecutor to missionary (cf. Gal Ga 1,11-24). Thus we pass through the trials of Good Friday, with its sufferings, with its darkness of faith, with its mutual misunderstandings. But we also experience moments of light, like the dawn of Easter Sunday, in which the Risen One communicates to us his joy and leads us to all truth. Viewing our personal history and that of the Church in this way, we cannot fail to live in hope, certain that the Master of history will lead us along paths known to him alone. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be witnesses to the Good News of Godís love by our words and our actions! For the Spirit inspires missionary fervour in his Church, it is he who calls and sends, and the true apostle is first of all a person who is "tuned in", a servant ready for Godís action.
3. To be here in Athens and to recall the life and work of Paul is to be invited to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth, to put before our contemporaries the salvation wrought by Christ, showing them the ways of holiness and of an upright moral life which is the response to the Lordís call. The Gospel is universal good news which all peoples can understand.
Speaking to the Athenians, Saint Paul wishes to hide nothing of the faith which he has received; like every apostle, he must carefully guard the deposit of faith (cf. 2Tm 1,14). If begins with references that are familiar to his listeners and their way of thinking, and this so that they may better understand the Gospel that he has come to bring them. Paul depends on the natural knowledge of God and on the deep spiritual desire present in his audience in order to prepare them to receive the revelation of the one and true God.
If, to the Athenians, he was able to quote ancient classical authors, the reason is that, in a certain way, his own personal culture had been fashioned by Hellenism. He therefore used his own training to proclaim the Gospel in words that would make an impression on his listeners (cf. Acts Ac 17,17). What a lesson! In order to proclaim the Good News to the men and women of our time, the Church must be attentive to their cultures and their ways of communicating, without allowing the Gospel message to be altered or its meaning or scope diminished. "In the Third Millennium, Christianity will have to respond more effectively to this need for inculturation" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 40). Paulís masterful speech invites Christís disciples to enter into a truly missionary dialogue with their contemporaries, with respect for what they are, but at the same time with a clear and forceful presentation of the Gospel, together with its implications and demands in peopleís lives.
5. Brothers and sisters, your country enjoys a long tradition of wisdom and humanism. Since the beginnings of Christianity, philosophers have taken on the task of "bringing to light the link between reason and religion . . . This opened a path which took its rise from ancient traditions but allowed a development satisfying the demands of universal reason" (Fides et Ratio FR 36). This work done by philosophers and the early Christian apologists made it possible afterwards ó following Saint Paul and his speech in Athens ó for Christian faith and philosophy to engage in a fruitful dialogue.
It is important to create opportunities for dialogue with our contemporaries, using the example of Saint Paul and the first communities, especially where the future of mankind and humanity is at stake. In this way, decisions will not be guided only by political or economic interests unaware of the dignity of persons and the obligations deriving from that dignity. Rather there will be a spiritual element present, reminding people of every individualís high position and dignity. The "areopagi" that today call out for the witness of Christians are many (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 37); and I encourage you to be present to the world. Like the Prophet Isaiah, Christians have been placed as watchmen on the summit of the walls (cf. Is Is 21,11-12), to discern the human consequences of present situations, to discern the seeds of hope within society, and to show the world the light of Easter that illuminates with the radiance of a new day all human realities.
Cyril and Methodius, the two Brothers from Salonika, understood the call of the Risen One: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mc 16,15). Having departed for the encounter with the Slav peoples, they brought them the Gospel in their own language. They "not only carried out their mission with full respect for the culture already existing among the Slav peoples, but together with religion they eminently and unceasingly promoted and extended that culture" (Slavorum Apostoli, 26). May their example and prayer help us to respond ever more effectively to the demands of inculturation and to rejoice in the beauty of the multiform face of Christís Church!
6. In his personal experience as a believer and in his ministry as an Apostle, Paul understood that Christ alone was the way of salvation, he who, by his grace, reconciles people among themselves and with God. "For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Ep 2,14). The Apostle then became the defender of unity, within communities as well as between them, consumed as he was with "concern for all the Churches" (2Co 11,28)!
Passion for the unity of the Church must be a mark of all Christís disciples. "Unhappily, as we cross the threshold of the new millennium, we take with us the sad heritage of the past . . . there is still a long way to go" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 48). But that must not discourage us; our love of the Lord impels us to be ever more involved in work for unity. In order to take new steps in this direction, it is important to "start afresh from Christ" (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 29).
"It is on Jesusís prayer and not on our own strength that we base the hope that even within history we shall be able to reach full and visible communion with all Christians . . . May the memory of the time when the Church breathed with Ďboth lungsí spur Christians of East and West to walk together in unity of faith and with respect for legitimate diversity, accepting and sustaining each other as members of the one Body of Christ" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 48)!
The Virgin Mary, by her prayer and maternal presence, accompanied the life and mission of the first Christian community, gathered around the Apostles (cf. Acts Ac 1,14). With them, she received the Spirit at Pentecost! May she watch over the path that we must now walk in order to move towards full unity with our brethren of the East and in order to fulfil with one another, in openness and enthusiasm, the mission that Christ has entrusted to his Church. May the Virgin Mary ó so venerated in your country and most especially in her island shrines, such as the Virgin of the Annunciation on the island of Tinos, and under the title of Our Lady of Mercy at Faneromeni, on Syros ó lead us always to her Son Jesus (cf. Jn Jn 2,5). He is the Christ, he is the Son of God, "the true light that enlightens every man" by coming into the world (cf. Jn Jn 1,9).
1270 Strengthened in the hope that comes to us from Christ, and sustained by the fraternal prayer of those who have gone before us in faith, let us continue our earthly pilgrimage as true messengers of the Good News, filled with joy at the Easter praise that is in our hearts and wishing to share it with all people:
"Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love towards us;
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever!" (Ps 117).
1. "ĎSaul, Saul, why do you persecute me?í And he said: ĎWho are you, Lord?í And he said: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do" (Ac 9,4-6).
It is as a pilgrim that I have come today to Damascus, to commemorate the event which took place here two thousand years ago: the conversion of Saint Paul. On his way to Damascus to oppose and imprison those who confessed the name of Jesus, Saul, approaching the gates of the city, experiences an extraordinary illumination. On the road, the Risen Christ appears to him; the meeting deeply affects him and a profound inner transformation takes place. From being a persecutor he becomes an apostle, from an opponent of the Gospel, he becomes its missionary. The Acts of the Apostles recalls in detail the event which changed the course of history: "He is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel: for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Ac 9,15-16).
Your Beatitude, I thank you for your kind words of welcome at the beginning of this celebration. Through you I greet with affection the Bishops and the members of the Greek Melkite Church of which you are Patriarch. I warmly greet the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Bishops, priests and faithful of all the Catholic communities of Syria and the other countries of the region. I rejoice at the fraternal presence of the Patriarchs, Bishops and faithful of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. I extend heartfelt greetings to them. I thank the members of the Muslim community who have joined their Christian friends on this occasion.
2. The extraordinary event that took place not far from here was decisive for the future of Paul and the Church. The Apostleís meeting with Christ radically changed his life, because it affected him at the most intimate level of his being and made him fully receptive to divine truth. Paul freely accepted this truth and freely agreed to commit his life to the following of Christ. By welcoming the divine light and receiving baptism, his deepest being was conformed to Christ. His life was thus transformed and he discovered happiness in placing his faith and trust in the One who had called him from darkness into his own wonderful light (cf. 2Tm 1,12 Ep 5,8 Rm 13,12). Meeting the Risen One in faith is truly a light on manís journey, a light which calls oneís whole life into question. On the shining face of Christ, Godís truth manifests itself in a spectacular way. May we too keep our gaze upon the Lord! O Christ, light of the world, cause to shine upon us and all men and women the heavenly light which surrounded your Apostle! Enlighten and purify the eyes of our heart, so that we may learn to see all things in the light of your truth and love of humanity!
1271 The Church has no other light to pass on to the world than the light which come to her from her Lord. We have been baptized into the Death and Resurrection of Christ, we have received light from God and we have been made children of the Light. Let us recall the beautiful exclamation of Saint John Damascene which emphasises the origin of our common ecclesial vocation: "You have made me come into the light by adopting me as your son, and you have counted me among the members of your holy Church which is without stain" (De Fide Orthodoxa, 1)! On our journey, the word of God is a shining lamp; it enables us to know the truth that sets us free and makes us holy.
3. "I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples ad tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands" (Ap 7,9).
This reading in todayís Liturgy, taken from the Book of Revelation, shows, in its own way, the work wrought by Saint Paulís apostolic ministry. Saint Paul played an essential role in the proclamation of the Gospel outside Israel. The Mediterranean lands became the focus of Paulís evangelizing efforts. And we can say that subsequently, in the centuries that followed down to our own time, the immense progress of the proclamation of the Gospel follows in a sense logically from the ministry of the Apostle of the Nations. Down to our own time the Church continues to bear the fruits of his apostolic activity and constantly refers to the missionary ministry of Saint Paul, who became for whole generations of Christians the pioneer and inspirer of all mission.
Following the example of Saint Paul, the Church is invited to look to the ends of the earth in order to continue the mission entrusted to her to transmit the light of the Risen One to all peoples and cultures, while respecting the freedom of individuals and communities, including spiritual communities. The immense multitude of people of every origin is called to give glory to God. For, as Saint Ephraem says, "You have no need to communicate to us the treasures which you give us. You need only one thing: that we open our hearts to carry your good things, by surrendering our will and listening to you with our ears. All your works shine with the wreaths which the wisdom of your mouth made for them when you said: ĎAll this is very goodí" (Diathermane, 2, 5-7).
Like Paul, the disciples of Christ face a great challenge: they are to transmit the Good News by expressing it in a manner suited to each culture, without losing its content or altering its meaning. Do not be afraid to bear witness to this joyful news among your brothers and sisters, by your word and by your whole life: God loves everyone and calls them to be one family in love, for they are all brothers and sisters!
4. This joyful news should inspire all Christís disciples to seek ardently the paths of unity. By making their own the Lordís prayer "may they all be one", they will bear witness in an ever more genuine and credible way. I truly rejoice at the fraternal relations which already exist between the members of the Christian Churches of your countries, and I encourage you to develop them in truth and with care, in communion with your Patriarchs and Bishops. At the dawn of the new millennium Christ is calling us all to come closer to one another in the charity which forms our unity. Be proud of the great liturgical and spiritual traditions of your Churches of the East! They are part of the heritage of the one Church of Christ and are bridges between people of different persuasions. Since the beginnings of Christianity, your land experienced a flourishing Christian life. In spiritual descent from Ignatius of Antioch, Ephraem, Simeon and John Damascene, the names of many Fathers, monks, hermits and so many other saints who are the glory of your Church are still in the living memory of the universal Church. By your attachment to the land of your fathers, by living your faith here with generosity, you too in turn today bear witness to the fruitfulness of the Gospel message which has been handed down from generation to generation.
With all your compatriots, without distinction of community, continue tirelessly your efforts to build a society marked by fraternity, justice and solidarity, where everyoneís human dignity and fundamental rights are recognized. In this holy land, Christians, Muslims and Jews are called to work together, with confidence and boldness, and to work to bring about without delay the day when the legitimate rights of all peoples are respected and they can live in peace and mutual understanding. Among you, may the poor, the sick, the handicapped and all those hurt by life be always brothers and sisters who are respected and loved! The Gospel is a powerful element in the transformation of the world. By your witness of life, may people today find the response to their deepest aspirations and the foundations for social coexistence!
5. Christian families, the Church looks to you with confidence to pass on to your children the faith you have received over the centuries since the time of the Apostle Paul. By remaining united and open to all, by always defending the right to life from conception, be homes of light, in full conformity to Godís plan and the true requirements of the human person! Give significant time to prayer, to listening to Godís word and to Christian education; in them you will find effective support to tackle the difficulties of daily life and the great challenges of todayís world. Any faithful and consistent Christian life requires regular participation in the Sunday Eucharist. The Eucharist is a privileged gift where communion with God and others comes about and is proclaimed.
Brothers and sisters, do not tire of seeking the face of Christ who shows himself to you. In him you will find the secret of true freedom and joy of heart! May your hearts be filled with the desire for genuine fraternity with all! By placing yourselves enthusiastically at the service of others, you will find meaning in your life, because Christian identity is not defined by opposition to others but by the ability to go out of oneself towards oneís brothers and sisters. Openness to the world, with clarity and without fear, is part of the vocation of the Christian, conscious of his own identity and rooted in the religious heritage which the richness of the Churchís witness expresses.
6. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I shall give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them our of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Fatherís hand. I and the Father are one" (Jn 10,27-30).
These are the words of todayís Gospel, by which Jesus Christ himself shows us the admirable dynamism of evangelization. God, who in many and various ways spoke to our fathers by the prophets, finally spoke by his Son (cf. Heb He 1,1-2). This Son, one in substance with the Father, is the Word of life. It is he who gives eternal life. He came so that we might have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn Jn 10,10). At the gates of Damascus, when he met the Risen Christ, Saint Paul learned this truth and made it the content of his preaching. The wonderful reality of the Cross of Christ, upon which the work of the worldís Redemption was wrought, became present before him. Paul understood this reality and consecrated his whole life to it.
1272 Brothers and sisters, let us lift our eyes to the Cross of Christ to find the source of our hope! In it we find a genuine path of life and happiness. Let us contemplate the loving face of God who gives us his Son to make us all "of one heart and soul" (Ac 4,32). Let us welcome him into our lives to inspire us and bring about the mystery of communion which embodies and makes manifest the very essence of the Church.
Your belonging to the Church should be a sign of hope for you and your brothers and sisters, which reminds us that the Lord meets everyone on their journey, often in a mysterious and unexpected way, just as he met Paul on the road to Damascus, surrounding him with his brilliant light.
May the Risen One, whose Resurrection all Christians celebrated together this year, grant us the gift of communion in charity! Amen.
"Let us give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds" (Ps 107,15).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. With great joy I have returned to this island dear to Saint Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, and always dear to the Successor of Peter. This visit concludes my Jubilee Pilgrimage following in spirit the history of salvation, from the homeland of Abraham, to Sinai where God gave the Ten Commandments, to the Holy Land where the great events of our redemption took place. And now in the footsteps of Saint Paul, I have come back to you, dear people of Malta.
The Apostleís arrival on your shores was dramatic. Saint Luke has told us of the stormy voyage and the helplessness of the crew and passengers as the ship went aground and began to break up (cf. Acts Ac 27,39-44). And we have heard of their deliverance: "Once we had come safely through, we discovered that the island was called Malta" (Ac 28,1). In Godís providence, Malta was to receive the Gospel in the earliest days of Christianity. "Let us give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds" (Ps 107,15).
2. Gathered at the Floriana Granaries, around the Altar of the Lordís Sacrifice, the Bishop of Rome joins you in praising the Most Holy Trinity for your witness to the Gospel down the centuries. True to your father in faith, the Apostle Paul, you are known throughout the Church for your devotion and missionary zeal. Malta has a magnificent Christian heritage of which you are rightly proud, but that heritage is also a gift which implies great responsibility (cf. Lk Lc 12,48).
In his Second Letter to Timothy, Saint Paul reminds his co-worker to "remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead . . . if we endure with him we shall reign with him" (2Tm 2,8). These words were taken to heart by the two sons and the adopted daughter of Malta whom I have beatified today. The whole Church rejoices with you that, among the host of holy men and women from all walks of life in Maltese history, these three have been chosen for special veneration and imitation. From heaven they accompany us on our pilgrim way on earth, and through their prayers before the throne of God they help us to scale the heights of holiness which they attained by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
3. Since his death in 1962, shortly before the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Blessed George Preca has been renowned for his holiness both in Malta and wherever the Maltese have settled. Dun Gorg was a pioneer in the field of catechetics and in promoting the role of the laity in the apostolate, which the Council was to stress in a particular way. Thus he became as it were Maltaís second father in faith. Embracing meekness and humility, and using to the full his God-given talents of mind and heart, Dun Gorg made his own the words of Paul to Timothy: "You have heard everything that I teach in public; hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others" (2Tm 2,2). The Society of Christian Doctrine which he founded continues his work of witness and evangelization in these islands and elsewhere.
1273 Not far from here the young seminarian Gorg Preca heard the prophetic words of a priestly mentor: "Gorg, when you grow up many who fear God will gather around you. You will be a blessing for them and they for you". Today the Church in Malta calls Gorg Preca "Blessed", for she knows that he is for her a native source of light and strength. In his writings on meekness Ė his book L-Iskola tal-Manswetudni and his Letter Ė Dun Gorg urges his fellow Christians to follow the example of the Crucified Lord in forgiving every offence (cf. Lk Lc 23,34). Is not this message of mutual respect and forgiveness especially needed today in Malta and in the world? Yes indeed, the meekness of the Beatitudes has the power to transform the family, the workplace and schools, the towns and villages, politics and culture. It can change the world! "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Mt 5,5).
Magister, utinam sequatur evangelium universus mundus (Divine Teacher, may the whole world follow the Gospel): the prayer of Blessed Dun Gorg perfectly mirrors the missionary mandate of the Lord: "Go therefore and make disciples ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you"! (Mt 28,19-20). During the year of the Great Jubilee the whole Church experienced anew the eternal freshness of the loving mercy of the Father who sent his only Son for our salvation. Was it not Dun Gorgís ability to communicate the freshness of the Christian message that made him the great apostle that he was? Is this not what Malta needs today: clergy, religious, catechists, teachers who passionately proclaim the Good News of what the Father has done for us in Christ? At the dawn of a new millennium, the Church looks to you, Malta, to be still more ardent in living your apostolic and missionary vocation! The whole Church looks to you!
4. The Servant of God Ignatius Falzon also had a great passion for preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith. He too put his many talents and his intellectual training at the service of catechetical work. The Apostle Paul wrote that "each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2Co 9,7). Blessed Nazju was one who gave abundantly and cheerfully; and people saw in him not only boundless energy but also deep peace and joy. He renounced the worldly success for which his background had prepared him, in order to serve the spiritual good of others, including the many British soldiers and sailors stationed in Malta at the time. In his approach to them, few of whom were Catholic, he anticipated the ecumenical spirit of respect and dialogue, which is familiar to us today but which was not always prevalent at that time.
Ignatius Falzon drew his strength and inspiration from the Eucharist, prayer before the Tabernacle, devotion to Mary and the Rosary, and imitation of Saint Joseph.These are fountains of grace from which all Christians may drink. Holiness and zeal for Godís Kingdom flourish especially where parishes and communities encourage prayer and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. I urge you therefore to cherish your Maltese traditions of piety, purifying them where necessary and strengthening them with sound instruction and catechesis. There would be no better way of honouring the memory of Blessed Nazju Falzon.
5. Born in Italy of a Maltese father, Sister Maria Adeodata Pisani came here at the age of nineteen, and spent most of her life as a splendid figure of Benedictine religious consecration in the Monastery of Saint Peter. I know that some of the Sisters of the Monastery were not able to come here, but are following this ceremony on television. To you, dear Sisters, I send a very special blessing on this happy day.
Prayer, obedience, service of her Sisters and maturity in performing her assigned tasks: these were the elements of Maria Adeodataís silent, holy life. Hidden in the heart of the Church, she sat at the Lordís feet and listened to his teaching (cf. Lc 10,39), savouring the things that last for ever (cf. Col Col 3,2). Through her prayer, work and love, she became a well-spring of that spiritual and missionary fruitfulness without which the Church cannot preach the Gospel as Christ commands, for mission and contemplation require each other absolutely (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, NM 16).
Sister Adeodataís holy example certainly helped to promote the renewal of religious life in her own Monastery. I therefore wish to commend to her intercession a special intention of my heart. Much has been done in recent times to adapt religious life to the changed circumstances of today, and the benefit of this can be seen in the lives of very many men and women religious. But there is need for a renewed appreciation of the deeper theological reasons for this special form of consecration. We still await a full flowering of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the transcendent value of that special love of God and others which leads to the vowed life of poverty, chastity and obedience. I commend to all consecrated men and women the example of personal maturity and responsibility which was wonderfully evident in the life of Blessed Adeodata.
6. On the Vigil of Pentecost the Archdiocese of Malta will inaugurate its Synod Assembly and in Gozo Bishop Cauchi has begun a new pastoral visitation. It is my fervent hope that these and other initiatives will help to foster the Second Vatican Councilís vision of the Church as a communion of the whole People of God, a vision which the "new evangelization" demands of Maltese Catholics. Within this communion there are different roles and ministries, but all are called to work together to advance Christís reign of justice, peace and love. Through the intercession of the new Beati, may the Church in Malta move confidently into a new era of unity and shared responsibility between clergy, religious and laity. This will give Maltese Catholics the fresh start which will enable them confidently to enter the new millennium, harvesting the rich spiritual fruits of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Malta, Malta! You have received so much through the ministry of Saint Paul and the witness of Blessed Dun Gorg, Blessed Nazju Falzon and Blessed Adeodata. As you move into the future, be faithful to the legacy they have left! Follow Christ with undivided heart, and never be afraid to speak up for the truth that saves and the values that lead to life! May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate, accompany and protect you always, so that you will never fail to "give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds" (Ps 107,15).
Viva l-Beatu Gorg Preca!
Viva l-Beatu Nazju Falzon!
1274 Viva l-Beata Adeodata Pisani!
Remarks at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration:
Dear President De Marco,
Bishop Cauchi, Bishop Depasquale,
Dear People of Malta and Gozo,
May the Lord reward you for your kindness and love!
I wish to thank you for your devoted participation in this liturgy. With prayer and song we have shared in the great joy of the Church in declaring Blessed two sons of these Islands and a nun who spent the major part of her life here in exemplary consecration.
When you return home, take the Popeís blessing to your relatives and neighbours who have not been able to be here.
In particular, I wish to mention with affection and solidarity some categories of people who are not present here physically but who have certainly been united with us in spirit.
1275 A cordial remembrance of the inhabitants of the Island of Gozo, which I have not been able to visit this time.
I send a special greeting to the Nuns belonging to the six cloistered religious communities. I know that they pray for the Pope every day. Dear Sisters, I thank you and ask you to continue to be the spiritual pillars of the Church.
I remember and feel very close to the elderly. To the sick I say: have hope and be strong! You can contribute so much to Christís work of redemption, by uniting your sufferings to those of the Crucified Lord.
Now, with particular warmth I greet the inmates of the Corradino Corrective Facility. I know that it was your great desire to have, together with your relatives and friends, a visit by the Pope in memory of Saint Paul, the prisoner Apostle. But this has not been possible. I embrace you all, spiritually, and I invoke upon you abundant divine graces. God bless you all!
Again today, we hear sad news from the Holy Land of terrible violence even against innocent young people. We must all intensify our prayers for peace in the land of Jesus.
Ikun imfahhar Gesý Kristu! [Praised be Jesus Christ!]
S. John Paul II Homil. 1268