Speeches 1998 - Friday, 27 March 1998





28 March 1998

Your Grace,
Dear Brother Priests,
Dear Seminarians,

It gives me great joy to welcome you, the Rector, Staff and Students of the Irish College, accompanied by the Archbishop of Armagh, as you celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the granting of Pontifical Status. I join you in thanking God for all that the College has represented for the Church in Ireland and for the Irish community in Rome since its foundation in 1628, and most particularly in the last half-century. It is enough to recall the names of those connected with the College to have an idea of its rich spiritual and cultural heritage: the founders, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi and Father Luke Wadding; its martyr, Saint Oliver Plunkett; Ireland's first Cardinal, Paul Cullen; and the spiritual writer, Dom Columba Marmion. Their example of holiness and zeal should be an inspiration, especially to you seminarians, as you prepare to make the Gospel better known to the men and women of our time.

Your years in Rome enable you to experience at first hand the universal dimension of the Church and to deepen the bonds of communion which unite you to the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter. Your understanding of the Catholic faith is enriched through the study of philosophy and theology, the discovery of the Christian monuments of this city, and daily contact with Christians from many lands.

As future teachers of the faith, you must be able to face the complexity of the times and be in a position to respond to the fundamental questions affecting people's lives, questions which can only receive a full and definitive response in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 56).

Above all, you must be men of prayer. A deep intimacy with Christ, possible only through spending time with him, is necessary in order to be able to lead others to him. The Seminary years should be a time of faithful meditation on the word of God and active participation in the sacraments and the Divine Office. Especially in the Mass, in which the Irish have always found the spiritual strength to live through the times of greatest hardship (cf. Homily in the Phoenix Park, 29 September 1979, No. 1), you grow in friendship with Christ and receive the inner strength to respond generously to his call.

I pray that the Pontifical Irish College will continue to fulfil its mission to form priests imbued with love of God and zeal for the spread of the Gospel. Remember Saint Patrick's recommendation: Ut Christiani, ita et Romani sitis! Entrusting you and your families to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Ireland, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.






31 March 1998

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. Following the visits of other groups of Bishops of the United States, I now warmly welcome you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Louisville, Mobile and New Orleans. Through you I greet each member of the Dioceses in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers to care for the Church of God (cf. Ac 20,28). In a special way I thank God for the bonds of communion which unite us in the episcopal ministry at the service of his holy people. The Church's experience since the Second Vatican Council illustrates how important the ministry of the Bishop is for the renewal which the Council advocated and for the new evangelization which must be undertaken on the threshold of the Third Christian Millennium. And so I propose to reflect today on some of the more fundamental aspects of this ministry of ours, which comes to us from the Apostles "in a sequence running back to the beginning" (Lumen Gentium LG 20).

2. In your document The Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop, you drew attention to an important truth: the episcopal ministry is a crucial part of God's saving work in human history. It cannot be reduced to "a variation of the common human need for organization and authority" (loc.cit., 1, A, 1). It is in fact by the mandate and command of Christ that Bishops teach "the unchanging faith of the Church as it is to be understood and lived today" (ibid., 1, A, 2). This duty can only be understood and fulfilled in the context of a Bishop's personal adherence to the faith. In fact, the Lord's mandate to his Apostles to teach in his name is not without a connection to a profound act of faith on their part: the act of faith by which the apostles, with Peter, recognized that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God"(Mt 16,16). That same profession of faith in Christ must always be at the heart of a Bishop's life and ministry.

In his Diocese the Bishop declares the faith of the Church with the authority which derives from his episcopal ordination and from communion with the College of Bishops under its Head (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 22). His task is to teach in a pastoral way, illuminating modern problems with the light of the Gospel and helping the faithful to live full Christian lives amid the challenges of our times (cf. Directory on the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 56). In applying the Gospel to new issues while safeguarding the authentic interpretation of the Church's teaching, the Bishop ensures that the local Church abides in the truth which saves and liberates. All this requires that the Bishop be a man of firm supernatural faith and steadfast loyalty to Christ and his Church.

3. Our teaching carries with it a great responsibility since it is "endowed with the authority of Christ" (Lumen Gentium LG 25); yet we must teach and preach with great humility since we are the servants of the word, not its masters. If we are to be effective teachers, we must allow our entire existence to be transformed by prayer and the continuous submission of ourselves to God in imitation of Christ himself. To satisfy the thirst among the People of God for the truth of the Gospel, we Bishops should take heed of Saint Charles Borromeo's words to his priests at his last Synod: "Is your duty preaching and teaching? Concentrate carefully on what is essential to fulfil that office fittingly. Make sure in the first place that your life and conduct are sermons in themselves" (Liturgy of the Hours, Feast of Saint Charles).

Preaching the Gospel message effectively requires constant personal prayer, study, reflection, and consultation with knowledgeable advisers. Commitment to the study and scholarship demanded by the munus episcopale is crucial in guarding "the truth that has been entrusted to us by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (cf. 2Tm 1,14) and in proclaiming it with power "in and out of season" (ibid., 4:2). Since the Bishop has a personal responsibility to teach the faith, he needs time to assimilate the content of the Church's tradition and magisterium prayerfully. Likewise, he should be familiar with helpful developments in theology, in biblical studies and in moral reflection on social issues. I know from my own experience as a diocesan Bishop the many demands that are made on a Bishop's time. Yet that experience convinced me that it is essential to make time, intentionally, for study and reflection. For it is only through study and reflection and prayer that the Bishop, working with his collaborators, can guide and govern in a truly Christian and ecclesial manner, always asking himself: "What is the truth of faith that sheds light on the problem we are addressing?" Thus the Bishop today may need to re-organize the way in which he exercises his episcopal office in order to attend to what is fundamental in his ministry.

4. The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 calls us to redouble our efforts to preach the Gospel in response to the deep-rooted desire for spiritual truth that characterizes our times. This "hour" of evangelization makes special demands on Bishops. In The Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop, you identified the qualities which render a Bishop's teaching effective. Through his pastoral experience, study, reflection, judgment and prayer, he must make the salvific truth his own so that he can communicate the fullness of faith and encourage the faithful in living according to the demands of the Gospel. The Bishop is charged with transmitting the faith he has received; hence he must see his teaching as a humble service to the word of God and the Church's tradition. Being ready to suffer for the sake of the Gospel (cf. 2Tm 1,8), he must proclaim the truth courageously, even if this means challenging socially acceptable opinion. The Bishop should teach frequently and constantly, preaching homilies, writing pastoral letters, giving conferences and making use of the media, in such a way that he is seen to teach the faith and so bear public witness to the Gospel. Moreover, his teaching should be marked by charity, in accordance with Paul's words to Timothy: "the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness" (2Tm 2,24-25).

5. "Tend the flock of God that is your charge" (1P 5,2). Any reflection on your responsibility for the pastoral governance of that part of God's People entrusted to you "as the vicars and ambassadors of Christ" (Lumen Gentium LG 27) must begin from careful consideration of the example of Christ himself, the Good Shepherd, our supreme model. In the recent Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, many Pastors raised questions about the example of their own lives and ministry, knowing that the People of God will heed their voice and respond if their witness is perceived as authentic. In the Synod Hall we heard the call for Bishops as individuals and as a body to become more simple, with the simplicity of Jesus and of the Gospel - a simplicity which consists in being immersed in the essential things of the Father (cf. Lk Lc 2,49).

In order to meet the needs of modern times, Dioceses have frequently developed complex structures and a variety of diocesan offices which provide assistance in the exercise of pastoral government. As Bishops, however, you must be careful to safeguard the personal nature of your governance, devoting much time to knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your Dioceses, the faithful's expectations and needs, their traditions and charisms, the social context in which they live, and the long-term problems which need to be addressed. This means ensuring that the structures necessary today in leading a diocese do not impede the very thing they are meant to facilitate: a Bishop's contact with his people and his role as an evangelist. In the Synod it was pointed out that it is all too easy today for a Bishop to yield his evangelizing and catechizing responsibility to others and become a captive of his own administrative obligations. Since our ministry is always directed to the building up of the body of the Church in truth and holiness (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 27), the exercise of episcopal authority is never a mere administrative necessity but a witness to the truth about God and man revealed in Jesus Christ and a service for the good of all. In order to lead people to the fullness of Jesus Christ we must in fact "do the work of the evangelist" (2Tm 4,5). No other task is as urgent as this.

6. In a special way a diocesan Bishop must make every effort to maintain a close relationship with his priests, a relationship characterized by charity and concern for their spiritual and material well-being. In promoting an atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust, he is to be a teacher, father, friend and brother to them (cf. Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops ). In this way the juridical bond of obedience between priest and Bishop is animated by that supernatural charity which existed between Christ and his disciples. This pastoral charity and spirit of communion between Bishop and priests is vital for the effectiveness of the apostolate. Likewise, it must be the Bishop's special care to reach out to young men whom Christ is calling to share in his priesthood through the ordained ministry. Experience has shown that when the local Bishop takes this responsibility seriously, there is no "vocation shortage". Young men want to be called to radical self-giving, and the Bishop, insofar as he is the one principally responsible for the continuation of Christ's saving mission in the world, is the one who can repeat Christ's words with authority: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Mt 4,19).

The relation between the Bishop and members of religious communities should likewise be inspired by his esteem for the consecrated life and his commitment to making the various charisms known in the local Church, again with an eye to inviting young people to live out their baptismal grace by generously embracing the evangelical counsels. Moreover, since the Council we are all more aware of the need to recognize, safeguard and promote the dignity, rights and duties of the lay faithful. It is essential that their service to the ecclesial community, their counsel, and their efforts to bring the Church's teaching to bear on contemporary culture through the transformation of intellectual, political and economic life be appreciated and encouraged by the Bishop and his close collaborators.

7. The aftermath of the Second Vatican Council witnessed the development of Episcopal Conferences as instruments for exercising that collegiality among Bishops which springs from ordination and hierarchical communion. The Conference exists to foster the sharing of pastoral experience and to allow for a common approach to various questions that arise in the life of the Church in a particular region or country. Your recent decision to study the structure and functions of your Conference suggests that you recognize a need to rethink its operations so that they may better serve the pastoral and evangelical purposes that give the Conference its unique meaning.

Among other things, this means that the Episcopal Conference must find a way to be truly effective without weakening the teaching and pastoral authority which belongs to Bishops alone. Its administrative structures must not become ends in themselves but always remain instruments of the great tasks of evangelization and ecclesial service. Special care must be taken to ensure that the Conference functions as an ecclesial body and not as an institution reflecting the management models of secular society. In this way each Bishop will be enabled to bring his unique gifts to bear on the discussions and decisions of the Conference. The Bishop's duty to teach, sanctify and govern is in fact a personal one which cannot be surrendered to others.

8. We can never remind ourselves too often that the Pastors of the Church are personally responsible for passing on the light and joy of the faith. To say this is immediately to confront the question of our own faith and conviction. Your ad Limina visit, with your prayer at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, offers a grace-filled occasion to remember how essential to your witness is your own relationship to Christ and the seriousness of your personal quest for holiness. The vitality of your local Churches and the well-being of the universal Church is first and always a gift of the Holy Spirit. But that gift is not independent of the ardent prayer and self-giving pastoral charity of the Bishops, as individuals and as a body. In our weaknesses we need to be sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit in order to be able to say without fear: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6,68). On the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation, may the Church — the Bride — offer her Lord an episcopal college united and steadfast in faith, ardent in bearing witness to the Gospel of God's grace, and dedicated to the ministration of the Spirit and of God's glorious power to make men just (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 21).

Dear Brothers, with these reflections on your ministry, I wish to encourage you in the grace and vocation that Christ has bestowed upon you. I pray for you as you go about your task of proclaiming the love of God and the mysteries of salvation to all, confident that the Holy Spirit will guide and fortify you. In gratitude for your work in preaching the word of God "with unfailing patience and sound teaching"(2Tm 4,2), I commend you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, that she may sustain you in pastoral wisdom and bring joy and peace to your hearts. To you and the priests, religious and lay faithful of your Dioceses, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

                                                         April 1998





Piazza San Giovanni (Rome)

Thursday, 2 April 1998

1. "Take up your Cross"!

Dear young people of Rome, the theme of today's meeting echoes the words of Jesus proclaimed just now: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Mc 8,34). These words make it possible to appreciate the value and significance of this celebration, in preparation for the Cross.

In fact - as you well know - the World Youth Day Cross which I myself presented to young people in 1984, at the end of the Holy Year of the Redemption, is about to arrive in Rome. After its journeys on the various continents, it is now returning to our city, the centre of the Christian world. Next Sunday, at the end of Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter's Square, a representation of young Parisians will hand it over to some young Italians and in this way preparation will begin for the World Youth Day of the Year 2000 that will take place here in Rome, the heart of the Great Jubilee.

Young Romans who are gathered here this evening, my affectionate greetings to each one of you. With you, I extend the most cordial welcome to the French young people who have come for this important presentation, and to the 500 representatives of the Italian Dioceses. I greet the Cardinal Vicar and thank him for the words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I thank all those who have prepared this festive afternoon and all who are taking part in it, enlivening it with their accounts and their artistic performances. A greeting too, to those who have joined us by radio and television.

2. Thus it is a celebration for the arrival of the Cross, of your Cross! The Cross is first accepted in the heart and then carried through life. We have met today to remind each other of it in this square, between the Holy Stairs which recall Christ's Passion, and the neighbouring Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, where the relic of the Cross is venerated.

Down the centuries, the Cross has been embraced by many Christians: how can we not give thanks to God for this? And you, young people of Rome, you are witnesses of how, during the City Mission too, the message of death and resurrection which comes from the Cross becomes a proclamation of hope that overwhelms and consoles, strengthens the spirit and makes hearts peaceful. How appropriate Jesus' words sound: "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (Jn 12,32) and "they shall look on him whom they have pierced" (Jn 19,37)!

Today we would like to proclaim forcefully the Gospel of the Cross, that is, Jesus who died and was raised for the forgiveness of sins. This saving proclamation which guarantees believers eternal life has never ceased to ring out in the world since the day of Easter. It is the Good News that arrived in this Rome of ours with the Apostles Peter and Paul, and spread from here to so many parts of Europe and the world.

3. Dear young people, we are certainly right to say that the Cross is at home in Rome. In a certain sense, Rome is the city of the Cross: Here, in fact, proclaimed and lived by so many martyrs and saints in the past and today, it has as it were sealed and written the city's history.

The Cross is concealed in the very name of Rome. If we read Roma (Rome) backwards, we say the word "Amor". Is not the Cross the message of the love of Christ, of the Son of God, who loved us to the point of being nailed to the wood of the Cross? Yes, the Cross is the first letter in God's alphabet.

4. Just as it is not foreign to Rome, the Cross is not foreign to the life of every man and woman of any age, people or social condition. In the course of this encounter, you have become acquainted with various persons, more or less wellknown and famous. In different ways they have encountered and are encountering the mystery of the Cross; they have been touched and almost marked by it. Yes, the Cross is written into man's life.Wanting to exclude it from one's own life is like wanting to ignore the reality of the human condition. This is how it is! We are made for life, yet we cannot eliminate suffering and trials from our personal experience. And you too, dear young people, do you not experience the reality of the Cross every day? Then when there is no peace in the family, when it becomes difficult to study, when sentiments are not reciprocated, when it is almost impossible to find work, when plans for having a family have to be delayed for financial reasons, when you must contend with illness, loneliness and when there is a risk of falling prey to a dangerous emptiness of values, is it not the Cross that challenges you?

A widespread culture of the ephemeral, which gives value only to what appears beautiful and gives pleasure, would like to make you believe that the Cross should be removed. This cultural trend promises success, rapid promotion and self assertion at all costs; it is an invitation to sexuality lived irresponsibly and a life devoid of interests and respect for others. Open your eyes wide, dear young people; this is not the way that leads to joy and to life, but the path that sinks into sin and death. Jesus says: "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Mt 16,24-25).

Jesus does not deceive us. With the truth of his words, which sound harsh but fill the heart with peace, he reveals to us the secret of authentic life. By accepting the condition and destiny of man, he overcame sin and death and, rising, transformed the Cross from a tree of death into a tree of life. He is God-with-us, Christ is God-with-us, Emmanuel, (Mt 1,23), who came to share our whole life. He does not leave us alone on the cross. Jesus is the faithful love that does not abandon us and knows how to turn the night into the dawn of hope. If the Cross is accepted, it generates salvation and brings peace, as is evidenced by the many beautiful testimonies given by young believers. Without God, the Cross crushes us; with God, it redeems and saves us.

5. As you know, all this is possible through the sacrament of Baptism, which binds us intimately to Christ, dead and risen, and gives us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love who was born from the paschal mystery and is poured out in abundance on those who strengthen their Baptism with the subsequent sacrament of Confirmation. In Piazza San Giovanni, a few steps from one of the world's most famous baptisteries, I would like to recall that living one's Baptism means accepting the Cross with faith and love, not only for its value as a trial, but also for its inseparable dimension of salvation and resurrection.

This is why it is right that we are celebrating today in this square in front of the cathedral of Rome, as we wait for the Cross. In the heart of the City Mission - whose theme is "Open the door to Christ your Saviour" - we would like to shout to every one who lives in our City: "Take up your Cross!", accept it, do not let yourself be crushed by events, but conquer evil and death with Christ! If you make the Gospel of the Cross your life project, if you follow Jesus all the way to the Cross, you will find yourself fulfilled!

Dear young people, at the end of our evocative meeting, take up your Cross and carry it as a message of love, forgiveness and missionary commitment through the streets of Rome, through the various regions of Italy and to every corner of the world.

May Mary, who stayed faithfully at the foot of the Cross together with the Apostle John, guide you; may the many Roman saints and martyrs protect you. I too am close to you with my prayer, as I affectionately bless you all.

The Holy Father then spoke extemporaneously:

When I saw these banners, these flagthrowers, I immediately thought of Siena. But the Cardinal then told me that they are not from Siena but from Rome. At a certain point I thought: perhaps St Catherine of Siena is coming to Rome, perhaps the Pope has not behaved well and she has come once again to correct him like a son, but it looks as though he is not so bad.

And in the end, even were St Catherine to come, with so many young people I would not be afraid.

Praised be Jesus Christ! Happy Easter! Goodbye until Sunday!




Saturday, 4 April 1998

1. I cordially greet you, the leaders of Renewal in the Spirit in Italy and, through you, I greet all the Italian charismatic communities, extending an affectionate thought to those who will participate in the solemn convention on the Holy Spirit, organized by you in Rimini from 30 April to 3 May next.

We are meeting in the year that, within the framework of preparation for the Great Jubilee, has been dedicated to the Holy Spirit, to invite Christians to rediscover the presence and wonderful works of the Spirit in the history of salvation, in the life of the Church, in the world and in the life of every disciple of Jesus. It is a year that you members of the Renewal are called to live with special intensity and commitment.

The Catholic charismatic movement is one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, which, like a new Pentecost, led to an extraordinary flourishing in the Church's life of groups and movements particularly sensitive to the action of the Spirit. How can we not give thanks for the precious spiritual fruits that the Renewal has produced in the life of the Church and in the lives of so many people? How many lay faithful - men, women, young people, adults and the elderly - have been able to experience in their own lives the amazing power of the Spirit and his gifts! How many people have rediscovered the faith, the joy of prayer, the power and beauty of the Word of God, translating all this into generous service in the Church's mission! How many lives have been profoundly changed! For all this today, together with you, I wish to praise and thank the Holy Spirit.

2. You are an ecclesial movement. Therefore, all those criteria of ecclesiality of which I wrote in Christifideles laici (cf. n. 30) must be expressed in your lives, especially faithful adherence to the Church's Magisterium, filial obedience to the Bishops and a spirit of service towards local Churches and parishes.

In this regard, I have learned that recently the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference approved the Statutes of your movement and wished to present the Renewal as "a comforting experience of Christian life, worthy of being indicated for its fervent encouragement of numerous ecclesial communities". Very eloquent words, which confirm how the path you have chosen is one of communion and close collaboration with the Bishops. And, in today's world, confused by extreme relativism and subjectivism, this is the best guarantee of remaining faithful to the Truth.

One of the Church's most urgent tasks today is the formation of the lay faithful. "The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one's vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfil one's mission" (Christifideles laici CL 58).

Therefore, this must be one of your priorities. In today's secularized world, which offers models of life devoid of spiritual values, it is a task which is ever more urgent. Faith dies when it is reduced to custom, to habit, to a purely emotional experience. It needs to be cultivated, helped to grow, at both the personal and the community level. I know that Renewal in the Spirit does all it can to respond to this need, always seeking new forms and ways that are better suited to the requirements of people today. I thank you for what you do and I ask you to persevere in your commitment.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, welcome the Holy Spirit into your hearts with the docility with which the Virgin Mary welcomed him. Always allow yourselves to be surprised by God and shun complacency with his gifts. May the Spirit, the interior Teacher, strengthen you in faith and make you ever more conformed to Christ. In this world, so often permeated with sadness and uncertainty, may you have the courage to co-operate with the Spirit in a new, great outpouring of love and hope for all mankind.

I hope that your convention in Rimini, in this year dedicated to the Holy Spirit, may become a milestone on your journey towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. May the fire of the Spirit be kindled in the hearts of all who will take part in it!

I conclude with the words of St Paul: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Ph 1,9-11).

I expect you all in St Peter's Square on 30 May next for my meeting with ecclesial movements and new communities. I am certain that you will not miss such an important gathering!

To the whole Renewal in the Spirit in Italy, my affectionate paternal Blessing.





Tuesday, 7 April 1998

1. Dear young people, I offer you all a cordial welcome on the occasion of your International UNIV Congress. In particular I greet the leaders and organizers of the meeting. Our meeting is taking place during Holy Week and it is an appropriate occasion to turn our gaze to the paschal mystery.

This year, in accordance with the preparatory phase of the Great Jubilee, is dedicated, as you know, to the Holy Spirit. Let us invoke the Paraclete Spirit together, so that he may assist the work of your congress on the theme: "Human progress and the rights of the person", and grant that you may all be authentic witnesses to Jesus and courageous workers for social renewal.

In order fully to achieve all this, it is necessary to act on two fronts simultaneously: to be converted, that is, to remove the evil from your own life by gradually improving yourself, and to share with others the fruits of divine grace through acts of concrete solidarity. These are the presuppositions for effectively respecting the rights of each person.

2. The rights of the person are the key element of the entire social order. They reflect the objective and inviolable requirements of a universal moral law which is based on God, the first Truth and highest Good. It is precisely for this reason that they are the foundation and benchmark of every human organization and only on them is it possible to build a society worthy of man, rooted firmly in the truth, structured in accordance with the demands of justice and animated by love.

Faced with the many forms of oppression existing in the world, the Church does not hesitate boldly to denounce abuses of power. She continues to struggle for justice and charity as long as there are forms of injustice in the world; if she did not do this, she would not be faithful to the mission entrusted to her by Jesus. When the person is at stake, Christ himself moves believers to raise their voice in his name. In his name and in every place, the Church does not cease to recall that the primacy of human dignity over every social structure is a moral truth that no one can disregard.

3. "Human progress and the rights of the person". Why is the Church so energetically involved in the field of human rights? The answer stems from an assertion that is dear to me: man is the first way that the Church must take in fulfilling her mission.

Speeches 1998 - Friday, 27 March 1998