Speeches 1998 - Thursday, 30 April 1998

I wished to dedicate the Message for the World Day of Peace this year, the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to the theme of justice. There is no doubt that promoting labour relations truly worthy of the human person means working to consolidate justice, thus laying the foundations for an authentic and lasting peace.

In this dimension the needs which you are called to answer are numerous. First among them, obviously, is that of promoting employment and fighting unemployment. This latter is always an evil and, when it reaches certain levels, it can become a true social disaster, even more painful when we consider the ominous consequences that it entails for families and for young people.

The high rate of unemployment carries with it serious risks of exploitation. It is therefore necessary to monitor carefully the fairness of salaries and working conditions, to see that the rights to health, rest and insurance are guaranteed. Then, what about the work that mothers do at home for their families? Should we not work with greater concern for a legitimate social revaluation of maternal tasks? I sincerely hope that time is taken to consider these requirements, which have been expressed by many people, giving concrete value to the hard work connected with domestic tasks and the need that children have for the care, love and affection of their parents and especially of their mother.

3. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your dedication and for the proper efforts you are making to safeguard workers' rights. Everyone knows that prudent attention to the legitimate demands of those who are joined in the same profession cannot fail to consider the limitations imposed by the general economic situation of the country.

I am thinking, at this time, of what Italy, Spain and Poland are doing to promote the desired growth in freedom and solidarity. I am also thinking of every initiative aimed at hastening the construction of a Europe that enjoys greater freedom and solidarity. May your commitment strongly encourage a harmonization of the legal systems of your respective countries in the area of work. This will effectively contribute to making the peoples of the continent advance towards that mutual integration which will be advantageous to everyone.

To this hope I join my best wishes for you and your families, as I bless you from my heart.

May 1998




Friday, 1 May 1998

Dear University Chaplains,

1. I am pleased to welcome you to this special audience that is taking place during the congress organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Chapel of La Sapienza University. You represent many famous universities in various European countries. I would like to express to you my appreciation of your generous willingness in responding to the invitation of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for Culture, making it possible by your attendance to hold this meeting of notable pastoral importance.

I thank Cardinal Pio Laghi for the cordial address which expressed your sentiments. With him I also greet the other Cardinals who have honoured this meeting with their presence. The Council of European Episcopal Conferences, the Vicariate of Rome's Diocesan Commission for University Chaplaincies and the Rector of La Sapienza University also deserve a word of special praise for their prompt contribution to carrying out this initiative.

The theme chosen for your work provides an opportunity to study and examine the pastoral guidelines proposed in the document The Church's Presence in the University and in University Culture, and to contextualize it in the light of the new evangelization which has been under way in Europe since the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in 1991.

2. As I said to the European Bishops a few years ago: "The Europe to which we are sent has undergone such cultural, political, social and economic transformations as to formulate the problem of evangelization in totally new terms. We could even say that Europe, as it has appeared following the complex events of the last century, has presented Christianity and the Church with the most radical challenge history has witnessed, but at the same time has opened the way today to new and creative possibilities for the proclamation and incarnation of the Gospel" (Address to Participants in the Sixth Symposium of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, 11 October 1985, n. 1; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 October 1985, p. 1). Our age, so rich in resources in the technologically advanced countries, is proving tragically poor in its goals. Contemporary man, lacking objective reference points and values, is also influenced by widespread scepticism about the very foundations of knowledge and ethics, and frequently withdraws into limited horizons, contenting himself with precarious support.

In these times of relativism, a culture which exalts the individual in an absolute way and does not dispose him to solidarity runs the risk of seeing freedom transformed into the domination of the strongest over the weakest, in contradiction with itself. This jeopardizes personal relations, impoverishes and distorts social harmony and subjects knowledge to the power of a thinking that exploits it.

3. It is the duty of university ministry, whose pulsating heart is the chaplaincy, to establish with patient and confident energy the co-ordinates within which the Gospel can be applied, pointing directly to the absence of a sense of God as the reason for the current disorientation. In fact, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "Once God is forgotten, the creature is lost sight of as well" (Gaudium et spes GS 36).

Without a shared standard of objective values, even the cultural convergence on the dignity of the person and the value of life - however widespread - runs the risk of remaining insignificant. Christian truth is attractive and persuasive precisely when it can offer firm guidelines for human life by convincingly proclaiming Christ, who takes the hesitant, vacillating traveler by the hand to show him the way and the goal. Jesus says: "I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,6).

The Christian faith, a free gift of God, is thus a motivated and reasonable option: it seriously answers the authentic needs of the human spirit; it esteems attentive reflection and is not afraid of the rigorous judgement of thorough, critical, examination.

The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Chapel of La Sapienza University fits very well into this context. A gift which attests to the prophetic foresight of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XII, for Rome's university community, as it represents a space with lofty pastoral and cultural horizons.

4. My thoughts now turn to all the chaplaincies present in the universities of Europe, with their long tradition of providing their university communities with moments of religious reflection and an impetus towards the renewal of Christian culture. Your presence, dear chaplains and pastoral workers, is a living witness of a scholarly tradition which is capable of offering concrete answers to present-day needs. I encourage you to continue your efforts and to intensify the apostolic commitment for which you are well-known. The university chapel is a place of the spirit, where believers in Christ, involved in different ways in academic study, can pause for prayer and find nourishment and direction. It is a training-ground for the Christian virtues, where the life received in Baptism grows and systematically develops. It is a welcoming and open home for all those who, heeding the voice of the Teacher within, become seekers of truth and serve mankind by their daily commitment to a knowledge which goes beyond merely narrow and pragmatic goals. In the setting of a modernity in decline, the university chapel is called to be a vital centre for promoting the Christian renewal of culture, in respectful and frank dialogue, in a clear and well-grounded viewpoint (cf. 1P 3,15), in a witness which is open to questioning and capable of convincing.

In this context, the work of university chaplaincies takes on great importance for helping the universities, and young people in particular, to become better informed and better prepared for the Great Jubilee. An international meeting of university teachers and the World Youth Day are both being planned for the Year 2000. These are two highly significant events, and they call for closer co-operation between university chaplaincies on the national level and throughout Europe, with a view to securing a specific preparation and a more effective participation on the part of the university sector.

5. The university chapel, then, represents a suitable pastoral structure for responding to the question of salvation that pulsates in the human heart and surfaces, though in sometimes contradictory ways, even in our time, particularly in the life of young people.

The new forms of university ministry are the specific way in which the Church wishes to have an increasingly effective, competent and respectful role wherever intellectual decisions are made on which the personal and social conduct of future generations will depend.

The evangelization carried out by university chaplaincies is intended to help contemporary man - especially the new generations - unmask the deceptive nature of many cultural surrogates, to overcome the recurring influence of the mute figures of idols, by recovering the interior freedom that opens people to the service of the living and true God (cf. 1Th 1,9).

Taking part in an intense dialogue with the various members of the university and an expert in personalized spiritual care, the chaplaincy thus answers the need for encouraging the commitment to seeking God and witnessing to the faith from both the academic standpoint and that of the Christian communities.

I am convinced that the contributions of distinguished speakers and the exchange of experiences between the various chaplaincies will give a strong impetus to university ministry and encourage a more effective work of evangelization in this important sector of European society.

With these wishes, I again offer my cordial greetings to you and I very gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you as a pledge of success, which I extend to your co-workers and to all those who work zealously in your chaplaincies.

At the end of his address, the Holy Father spoke extemporaneously in Polish:

I would also like to greet the university chaplains from Poland and the other countries of Central Europe. I too could belong to your group, since I am, as they say in sporting terms, an "old boy" or - in academic terms - a "senior".

I hope you will continue to enrich the good traditions of university ministry in Kraków and throughout Poland.

God bless you!

                                                                        ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER



Saturday, 9 May 1998

Dear Franciscan Youth,

1. I am pleased to meet you on the the 50th anniversary of your foundation and the 20th anniversary of the approval of the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order by my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI. I greet you all with affection. I extend a cordial greeting to the leaders and chaplains. I especially thank your representative for the kind words he addressed to me and for the interesting picture he drew of the spiritual and pastoral activities of Franciscan Youth.

Fifty years after the birth of your sodality you wish to renew the enthusiasm of the beginnings by deepening your knowledge of Franciscan spirituality and values.

The important anniversaries of these days will help you then to reflect on your specific mission within the great Franciscan family, to which you can offer the enthusiastic contribution of your youthfulness, animated by the fervour of your ideals.

2. Francis and Clare of Assisi hold an extraordinary fascination even in our time. Many young people are inspired by them and their example of evangelical life in their fundamental life decisions, sharing in the same ideal of a radical following of Christ. In particular your sodality undertakes, together with the First Order and the Secular Franciscan Order, to "pass from the Gospel to life and from life to the Gospel" (Statutes, n. 3; cf. Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, art. 4). You thus assume the task of conforming your lives more and more to the teaching of Christ, striving to witness to it by word and example. This is the ascetical and apostolic journey that characterizes you as Franciscan youth; it helps you to become adults in the faith, to be apostles in the ecclesial community and to conduct yourselves in society as responsible persons, capable of courageously assuming the role to which Providence calls you.

You are not alone in this demanding journey of human and Christian formation, because Franciscan Youth is by its nature a vocation to grow in fraternity. By following Francis' original insight, you are well aware that a context in which people live as brothers and sisters encourages and spurs each one to open himself to his neighbour, making the most of his own potential. At the same time, he can receive the friendship and support of others. A central element of your Franciscan identity, therefore, is the presence of the brother to be welcomed, listened to, forgiven and loved: in his face you, like Francis, must recognize that of Christ, especially when dealing with those who are least and lowliest.

3. This fundamental vocation to brotherhood, which is characteristic of Franciscan Youth, makes you feel a part of the ecclesial community in which, in a spirit of poverty and "minority", you give a much appreciated humble and obedient service, according to the specific Franciscan charism. Everyone knows how much Francis loved the Church and with what firmness he showed his followers the ideal of total involvement in the ecclesial, diocesan and universal community.

Your Statutes appropriately refer to that type of life when it states that "Franciscan Youth live the Brotherhood as a visible sign of the Church, a community of love and privileged environment in which the sense of Church and the Christian and Franciscan vocation develop, as well as a place where the apostolic life of the members is naturally fostered"; and it adds that they "fully involve themselves in the life of the local Church, in an active and practical way, being open to all ministerial and pastoral possibilities" (Statutes, n. 7).

Thus, Franciscan Youth represents a shining ideal of life, which you responsibly assume through the "Promise". To achieve this ideal it is essential to cultivate a living relationship with Christ through an intense sacramental life and, above all, through constant recourse to the Eucharist, so loved by St Francis of Assisi (cf. Fonti Francescane, nn. 113- 114; 207-209). It is also necessary for you to cultivate within yourselves an authentic spirit of penance and conversion, preparing yourselves to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. It is your responsibility to respond in our time to the appeal that the Lord made to Francis to "repair" his house (cf. Fonti Francescane, nn. 1038; 1334), by effectively collaborating with the Bishops and priests.

In modern consumer society, where it often seems that economic interests prevail, be witnesses to a new and deeper respect for the goods of nature. Be peacemakers (cf. Mt Mt 5,9), promoters of the dignity of every person, so that he will be respected in his reality as a son of God and loved as a brother in Christ.

4. May Mary, invoked by Francis with the evocative titles of "Holy Lady, Most Holy Queen, Mother of God" (Greeting to the Virgin; cf. Fonti Francescane, n. 259), be your model and your guide. May she, docile to the plan of God, obtain light and strength for you from her divine Son, so that you may generously respond to your vocation.

As I renew my cordial wishes for the important anniversaries you are commemorating in these days, I invoke upon you the heavenly protection of Francis and Clare, together with the host of saints and blesseds that crown the entire Franciscan family, and I sincerely impart to you, to your leaders and to your chaplains, to your fraternities and to all Franciscan Youth a special Apostolic Blessing.





9 may 1998

Your Eminence,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to offer my cordial welcome to you all, gathered in the Vatican to take part in the annual study conference organized by the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation on the theme: “Globalization and Solidarity”. My thoughts turn first to Cardinal Lorenzo Antonetti, whom I thank for his cordial words on behalf of those present. With him I greet Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and all of you, dear members of the foundation who have wished to visit me with your relatives. The work of your praiseworthy society is particularly inspired by the Encyclical Centesimus annus, in which I wanted to recall the centenary of the Encyclical Rerum novarum of my venerable Predecessor Leo XIII, who, at a time fraught with problems and social tensions, opened to the Church a new and promising field of evangelization and promotion of human rights. Comparison of the two documents highlights the profoundly different contexts to which these interventions of the Magisterium refer: the first dealt mainly with the “worker question” in a European context; the second, however, turns its attention to new economic and social problems and global horizons. In subsequent years, the latter situation has assumed even more complex dimensions, revealing questions of great importance for the very future of mankind and for peace among nations. In this whole web of new and problematic situations, the Magisterium has not been slow to reassert the perennial principles of the Gospel in defence of the dignity of the person and of human work, accompanying the constant, grass-roots activity of Christians in the social sphere with precise and frequent statements. I therefore congratulate you on your praiseworthy commitment to spreading and applying the Church’s social doctrine, and I am grateful to you for this visit, which affords me a valuable opportunity to become acquainted with the developments of your laudable activity.

2. The theme of your meeting is globalization, which now concerns every aspect of economics and finance. The advantages that a well-regulated and balanced “globalized” economy can bring to prosperity and to the development of culture, democracy, solidarity and peace are known to everyone. However, the harmonization of market demands with those of ethics and social justice must be constantly pursued. This ethical and juridical regulation of the market seems more difficult than ever, since the measures taken by individual States prove increasingly inadequate. It is therefore necessary to work for a culture of norms that not only concern the commercial aspects, but take responsibility for defending human rights all over the world. Indeed, to prevent the globalization of the economy from producing the harmful results of an uncontrolled expansion of private or group interests, it is necessary that the progressive globalization of the economy be increasingly met with a “global” culture of solidarity attentive to the needs of the weakest.

3. As members of various organizations concerned with the economy and work in the promising yet troubling context of globalization, you too are continually called to interpret the requirements of solidarity according to the spirit of Christ and the Church’s teaching. In this way you will be able to witness to God’s tenderness for every person and to promote, together with the dignity of the person, an international co-existence which is more just and fraternal because it is inspired by the perennial truths of the Gospel. In this exalting and difficult task, you are sustained by the word of the Lord, who invites us to see every act of love for our brothers and sisters as an opportunity to serve him: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40). I entrust your good resolutions to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin, who, in “hastening” to respond to Elizabeth’s needs (cf. Lk Lc 1,39), shows us how to be constantly concerned for the needs of our brothers and sisters in want.

With these wishes, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your co-workers, and I willingly extend it to all your loved ones.




Friday, 15 May 1998

Dear Religious of the Society of St Paul,

1. I am pleased to offer my cordial welcome to all of you who, at the end of your General Chapter, have wished to show your affection and to renew your fidelity to the Successor of Peter by this visit. I greet Fr Pietro Campus, the new Superior General, and in thanking him for his courteous words on behalf of those present and the whole congregation, I offer my best wishes that under his guidance your religious family will grow in complete fidelity to the charism of your founder, the Servant of God Fr Alberione, and in generous commitment to evangelization. With him I greet the new members of the General Council and all the religious, who in various parts of the world are offering the Church a remarkably contemporary apostolic service by following Jesus the Teacher, the Way, the Truth and the Life, and by making him known through a careful and professional use of the modern instruments of social communication.

2. Your congregation, dear religious, was born of the faith and heart of a great apostle of our time, Fr Giacomo Alberione, who, in view of the disturbing signs of 20th-century dechristianization, felt called to proclaim the Gospel and to serve the Church on those frontiers where the challenges to evangelization are the most complex. He realized that the mass media were a vast mission field, for which it was essential to provide competent professionals, suitable tools, and above all, religious personnel with a high ascetical and spiritual standard. At the heart of this enormous apostolic endeavour he put the Eucharist, from which he knew how to draw inner, spiritual energy. It was in the Eucharistic mystery that he found that missionary enthusiasm which marked his entire life. He succeeded in involving many men and women in his programme of evangelization and social recovery, forming them in ardent love for Christ and in the desire to proclaim him in the modern areopagi.

On the threshold of the third millennium, you are called, after the example of Fr Alberione, to be effectively and appropriately active on the demanding frontiers of communication, to offer a spiritual dimension to the projects and hopes of our contemporaries. This involves the use of modern business practices and new management styles. However, if this activity is to retain its authentic apostolic dimension, it must be supported and animated by generous fidelity to the original charism. That is, every Pauline religious, in harmony with the founder's spirit, must be able to find in an intense and prolonged meeting with the Lord and in the constant rediscovery of the roots of his own vocation the true reasons for his ecclesial and missionary service. What use would modern business methods and powerful publishing equipment be if those who managed them were not imbued with a deep supernatural spirit, in full harmony with the Church's Magisterium?

On his uncertain and frequently difficult way towards truth and complete self-development, contemporary man will find Christ the Teacher if he meets evangelizers who can look at his problems with attention and sympathy, but who are also ready to offer authentically evangelical answers, guaranteed by full communion with the Church and with her Pastors. In this matter your guide and teacher is your own founder, who understood the secret of a modern and effective proclamation of the Gospel. His witness commits you to accepting his prophetic insights with total openness and to following his footsteps in order to continue his distinctive missionary work for the people of our time.

3. Your Chapter is taking place on the eve of the centenary of that "holy Pauline night" which is well-known to you. It was a decisive moment in the life of the young Alberione, who at the time was a seminarian in the Diocese of Alba: during the long prayer vigil in which he awaited the beginning of the 20th century, he understood the special call that the Lord was entrusting to him. At that singular moment in his life "the Eucharist, the Gospel, the Pope, the new century, the new means ... the need for a new band of apostles were so firmly rooted in his mind and heart that later they continued to dominate his thoughts, his prayer, his interior work and his aspirations".

Dear religious, the time we are living in is also providential for you because, with the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 now at hand, every Pauline religious, on the threshold not only of a new century but of a new millennium, must be committed to reflecting on the founder's experience itself and to making his own the ideals that were at the heart of his spirituality and his evangelizing activity. I hope that every project in your communities will be based on that longing for holiness which distinguished Fr Giacomo Alberione. Indeed, "the call to the mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness. A missionary is really such only if he commits himself to the way of holiness: 'Holiness must be called a fundamental presupposition and an irreplaceable condition for everyone in fulfilling the mission of salvation in the Church'.... It is not enough to update pastoral techniques, organize and co-ordinate ecclesial resources.... What is needed is the encouragement of a new "ardour for holiness'" (Redemptoris missio RMi 90).

In the history of many religious institutes, a close comparison between the ideal requirements of their charism and the concrete situations of the apostolate has led to moments of tension and even of suffering. In your work too, the need to establish a functional and at the same time evangelically authentic relationship between the religious institution and modern business methods has caused difficulties. To help you overcome them, I have appointed as my delegate Bishop Antonio Buoncristiani, whom I cordially thank for what he is doing to support you. The time has now come to face and to resolve these difficulties in a spirit of faith, with complete docility to the demands of the kingdom and with constant reference to the Church's Magisterium.

Sincere fidelity to the primacy of religious life over every other demand will help to solve the problems that have arisen in recent years and to identify the necessary norms for supervision, mobility and professional training required by the new conditions. Through a widespread recovery of religious zeal, the members of the Society of St Paul will be able to seek and to find, in a spirit of dialogue and brotherhood, suitable solutions for the desired apostolic renewal in accordance with the founder's instructions. The unity of your congregation will make a valuable contribution to this, while respecting the responsibilities of each individual Province.

4. As the theme of your General Chapter, you have chosen a saying that was dear to Fr Alberione: "The world is your parish". Your founder saw the apostolic dimension of his sons as closely connected with the ministry of the Successor of Peter whose "parish" is, in fact, "the world". In November 1924, he wrote: "We must be the faithful interpreters of the Pope's words and addresses. We do not claim to be anything else: and God will give us the graces to do this.... It is not up to us to advance theories: we will stay close to the Pope; we will strive to follow the Pope's direction faithfully". For the same reason, he wanted that "in the Pious Society of St Paul, in addition to the three usual vows, a fourth be added, that of fidelity to the Pope as well as to the apostolate".

We can certainly say that total harmony with the Magisteriums of Leo XIII and St Pius X, the two great Pontiffs who with their wise activity promoted the renewal of the parish in its pastoral and social commitment, was the norm which inspired Fr Alberione's exceptional apostolate. He was particularly drawn to the renewal of catechesis and liturgical life, in addition to being interested in the Church's social teaching and the first steps of the biblical movement: he wanted to offer all this through the apostolate of the press and the other means of social communication.

I hope that reflection on the theme chosen by your Chapter will not only strengthen your harmony with the founder's charism, but will commit you to adopting and living all the deep motives that were at the root of his apostolic insights, to contribute with renewed enthusiasm and confident hope to evangelizing the Pope's immense "parish", in constant communion with the local Churches and the universal Church.

5. Dear brothers, your General Chapter, which begins a new phase in the life of your institute, is closing in Easter time, the time of mission. My hope is that at this moment you will not only be able to hear the call of the Lord who sends you out again into the whole world to proclaim the good news of the Gospel to every creature using every means (cf. Mt Mt 28,19), but also the invitation humbly to walk the way of the disciple, in order to follow Christ generously, even to the Cross. I hope that all the congregation's Provinces can be open to new horizons of brotherhood, communion and fruitful apostolate.

With these wishes, I entrust you to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin, and to the prayers of Bl. Giaccardo and Ven. Fr Alberione, while as the pledge of a new and abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, I affectionately impart a special Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your confrères and to the entire Pauline family.





Friday, 15 May 1998

I greet you all with joy on this, your first annual pilgrimage to Rome. I have been kept informed of the plans for the Center and I share your satisfaction that much progress has already been made.

On the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony last September, I expressed my hope that the Cultural Center would be an enduring witness to the profound relationship beetwen faith and culture. The new evangelization to which the Church is called on the eve of the Third Millennium calls for a sincere dialogue with the cultures which daily shape people’s attitudes towards the mystery of our human destiny and of our relationship to God. The Church knows that the ability of the Gospel to shed light upon these fundamental questions can serve as a powerful force for the development, purification and enrichment of every culture (cf. Centesimus Annus CA 50-51). She likewise knows that the way of life and the concerns emerging from a people’s culture act as a providential stimulus to Christians in their efforts to understand more fully and to proclaim more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason, I am confident that the Cultural Center will be instrumental in helping many people come to a greater understating of the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition and its relevance for the critical issues facing American society today.

I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome will be a time of spiritual renewal and that it will strengthen your love of Christ and his Church. To you and all the benefactors of the Center, as well as to your families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

Speeches 1998 - Thursday, 30 April 1998