Speeches 1998 - 12 March 1998





Friday, 13 March 1998

Venerable and Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

An old Bishop has come to see the young Bishops, because the young Bishops have come to see the old Bishop. But the same words of St Peter are addressed to all: "Seniores qui in vobis sunt".

1. I am pleased to welcome you at the close of your assembly, jointly organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Congregation for Bishops. I address my warm and fraternal greetings to you, European Bishops who have been appointed in the last five years.

I would first like to express my gratitude for your communion with the Successor of Peter, which you have clearly expressed in many ways, not the least of which was your affectionate insistence on having this audience. The intention was to send you a Message, but that was not enough. In particular, I thank Cardinal Miloslav Vlk for his words on behalf of you all, which confirm your attachment and devotion to me.

I also express my pleasure with the initiative to hold this conference you are attending, because it gives you the opportunity to experience an intense moment of brotherhood, exchange, dialogue and reflection in the light of the experience which grows in each of you during the first years of your episcopal ministry.

2. "Being Bishops in Europe today", as the theme of your congress says, certainly means facing many problems, some of which are very detailed and complex both doctrinally and pastorally. This is made evident by the series of questions you have examined these days in your reports, groups and discussions.

With deep feeling, I would again like to express my spiritual closeness to you and to strengthen you in faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who has called you and made you Pastors of his people in our time, when we are rapidly approaching the third millennium of the Christian era. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever. He walks beside us. Therefore do not let any difficulty upset you. Rather, trust in him who guides the Church on the paths of history, so that she will continue to serve God's kingdom.

3. This meeting has taken place during the year dedicated to the Holy Spirit: the Spirit of Pentecost, the Spirit of your episcopal consecration, the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council. He is also at work in our day, which sometimes presents aspects not only very different from Gospel values but also from the religious dimension that is connatural to the human being. However, despite appearances, the Spirit never ceases to carry out his silent work in the depths of consciences, preparing souls to accept the announcement of the "glad tidings" of salvation in Christ crucified and risen.

This proclamation is primarily our task as Bishops. And it is a great consolation to know that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us, to sustain us in our ministry with the light and strength of his seven gifts. Therefore trust in the Spirit, venerable Brothers, and invoke him with confidence! Implore from him the gift of fortitude, to know how to carry out your episcopal ministry with fearless determination. As the history of the world advances, the believer knows that the triumph foretold in the Book of Revelation is being prepared: "He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations ... and I will give him the morning star" (Ap 2,26).

Sustained by this certainty, deepen your communion in truth and love, persevering with ever new energies in the commitment to evangelization. The Spirit can make your efforts fruitful, even when humanly they may seem destined to failure.

4. Draw strength from assiduous dialogue with God. The Holy Spirit, who "intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Rm 8,26), is the soul of prayer. How can we not feel committed to being Pastors who first of all pray? Venerable and dear Brothers, let yourselves be constantly formed by the Spirit himself in the art of listening to God's Word and of ceaseless communion with him. In this way you will be ready and able to understand deeply the priests, religious, faithful and all the men and women to whom your apostolic work is directed. You will be able joyfully and courageously to offer each one of them answers that come from the Bible, the only ones which can satisfy every person's inner thirst for truth and love.

On my part, as I embrace you and assure you of a constant remembrance at the altar of God, I would like to tell you that I in turn rely on your prayer, in order to fulfil in the best possible way the Petrine ministry entrusted to me. May God strengthen the spiritual bond that unites us, a bond sealed by the Holy Spirit and the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church. United, let us continue to work together with renewed zeal in preparing the People of God for the historic date of the Great Jubilee.

With these sentiments, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to each of you, which I willingly extend to the communities entrusted to your pastoral care.





Saturday, 14 March 1998

To the Monastic Communities of Bethlehem,
the Assumption of the Virgin and St Bruno

1. As your communities meet in extraordinary assembly, I am pleased to extend a cordial greeting to you and to assure you of my fervent prayer on your behalf.

Your monastic family, in its two branches, intends to follow Christ by taking its inspiration from the spirituality of Eastern and Western monasticism, particularly from the wisdom of St Bruno. It is by attentive listening to the Gospel and by following the example of the Virgin Mary that you wish to give yourselves to God through a life of solitude, silence, prayer and contemplation. I encourage you to live fully your offering to the Lord in love for the Church and in fidelity to her laws, as well as in communion with the Successor of Peter and by maintaining trustful relations with the Bishops of the Dioceses where your communities have been established.

2. The Magisterium, particularly the Second Vatican Council, brought to light the central place of contemplative life in the Church: "Institutes completely devoted to contemplation ... will always have an honoured place in the Mystical Body of Christ, in which "all the members do not have the same function" (Rm 12,4)" (Perfectae caritatis PC 7). I myself wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata: "Institutes completely devoted to contemplation, composed of either women or men, are for the Church a reason for pride and a source of heavenly graces. By their lives and mission, the members of these institutes imitate Christ in his prayer on the mountain, bear witness to God's lordship over history and anticipate the glory which is to come" (Vita consecrata VC 8). Therefore I hope that by letting yourselves be transformed by the power of love, you will shine brightly among men as signs of God's holiness. Be faithful to following Jesus in the desert, in his solitary moments with the Father, in order to become worshipers in spirit and truth! People today look for ardent witnesses to the Gospel who will offer them places of spirituality where they can meet and adore the living God, and who will help them to give meaning to their lives.

By following the spirit of St Bruno in solitude and the silence of the desert, you will receive the gifts of peace and joy from the Lord: "There strong men can be recollected as often as they wish, abide within themselves, carefully cultivate the seeds of virtue and be happily nourished by the fruits of paradise. Here is acquired that eye by whose serene gaze the Bridegroom is wounded with love; that eye, pure and clean, by which God is seen" (St Bruno, Letter to Raoul le Verd).

3. At the centre of your consecrated life you wish to give an essential place to the Lord's Eucharist. By celebrating and contemplating this mystery in solitude, you unite yourselves to Jesus' offering to his Father, you commit yourselves to following him and you renounce everything that can hinder the acceptance of his love. By receiving his Body and Blood given as food, consecrated persons are particularly called to become faithful disciples in likeness to Christ, and they unite their unreserved "yes" to that of the Father's loving Son. Thus, by the total gift of their being, they join it to the memorial of the paschal sacrifice offered out of love for all humanity. And they joyfully remember that "frequent and prolonged adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist enables us in some way to relive Peter's experience at the Transfiguration: "It is well that we are here". In the celebration of the mystery of the Lord's Body and Blood, the unity and charity of those who have consecrated their lives to God are strengthened and increased" (Vita consecrata VC 95). In profound harmony with the Eucharist, frequent recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation, with the respect that it implies for the interior freedom of each individual, leads to the purification needed for making one's relationship with God ever more transparent and for growing in fidelity to the commitments made. May the daily meeting with Christ be for

each of you a constant call to holiness, in expectation of the Lord's return!

4. In the likeness of Mary and with her, continually listen to the Word of God, keeping it and pondering it day and night in your heart! This word, an inexhaustible source of spiritual life that sheds the light of Wisdom on human existence, will transform you and enable you to grow. Like the disciples at Emmaus, may you recognize the Risen One on your paths of solitude and say yourselves: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lc 24,32). Familiarity with the Word of God, which nourishes contemplation, enables you to receive light for recognizing the Lord's ways through the signs of the times and for discerning God's designs. In fact, by seeking the will of the Father in order to fulfil it day after day, you are advancing on the paths of Jesus himself, the Son who became obedient to the point of giving his own life so that all might be saved. It is in this obedience that he fulfilled the mission he had received from his Father, who then raised him in glory.

5. St Bruno teaches you to love every human person, without distinction, as Jesus loved him. Your consecration to prayer and adoration also commits you to interceding for the Church and the world. It should be a witness to the Church's love for her Lord as well as a contribution to the growth of God's People. In this way you are sharing in the Church's mission, which is an essential duty for all institutes of consecrated life. The profession of the evangelical counsels makes consecrated persons totally free for the service of the Gospel. "Indeed, more than in external works, the mission consists in making Christ present to the world through personal witness. This is the challenge, this is the primary task of the consecrated life! The more consecrated persons allow themselves to be conformed to Christ, the more Christ is made present and active in the world for the salvation of all" (Vita consecrata VC 72). Dear brothers and sisters, let Christ take hold of you in order to make your contribution to the sanctification of the world!

6. By your monastic profession, and particularly by the vows you take and the practice of asceticism, you wish to show in a radical way the primacy of God and of the good things to come. May this total gift of yourselves allow you to be transformed by God's grace and fully conformed to Christ, in fraternal communities where each individual can grow in the truth of his being!

For several years you have been drafting Constitutions for your two branches, in order to discern the call of the Spirit and answer it in obedience. Now that you are preparing to receive the decree of papal recognition for your communities, I encourage you to continue your reflection in a trusting dialogue with the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, in order to give all your members a Rule of Life which commits them to living their vocation to holiness in inner peace and generous self-giving. The Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, the fruit of the Synod of Bishops, will help you to reflect more deeply on the gift you have received from God and to put it at the service of the Church and her apostolic mission.

7. In this second year of preparation for celebrating the Great Jubilee, dedicated to the Holy Spirit and his sanctifying presence within the community of disciples, I ask you to keep watchful vigil among men and to become more and more involved in the new evangelization, in accordance with your own charism lived in communion with the Church. May this favourable time for prayer and adoration allow you further to discover the Spirit as "the One who builds the kingdom of God within the course of history and prepares its full manifestation in Jesus Christ, stirring people's hearts and quickening in our world the seeds of the full salvation which will come at the end of time" (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 45). While entrusting you to the maternal protection of Our Lady of the Assumption and the intercession of St Bruno, I most cordially grant you my affectionate Apostolic Blessing.




Tuesday, 17 March 1998

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

1. I cordially welcome you to the Apostolic Palace and assure you that I was pleased to grant your request for this meeting. This year you chose Rome as the site for your conference, to engage in fraternal conversation near the tombs of the Apostles and to have discussions with representatives of the Holy See.

"Come and see" (Jn 1,39). Jesus addressed this invitation to the two disciples of John who asked him where he lived. Indeed, those responsible for priestly formation are asked always to keep this scene in mind: it is repeated in the same way in vocation stories even in our time. You have the role that Andrew once had with respect to his brother Simon: he suggested and arranged the meeting with Jesus. Then "he brought him to Jesus" (Jn 1,42). You too are called to foster in the young people entrusted to you the beginnings and growth of an interior relationship with Christ. What is studied in theology must become rooted in the heart. Important means to this end are prayer and the liturgy, meditation on Sacred Scripture and the witness of one's own life; in this way candidates for the priesthood become priests.

2. The fact that the Church today is often described as a communio makes us realize that this communio is realized in the most profound way in the celebration of the Eucharist. There it takes place in the consecration of the bread which is broken and distributed. For this reason the daily celebration of the Eucharist and frequent Eucharistic adoration occupy a central place in priestly formation. Everything the priest does in carrying out his daily duties is, in a way, an expression of the Eucharist: Jesus offers himself to men and shares himself with them out of love.

3. In addition to the cultivation of Eucharistic life, fraternal communication is also part of communio.Just as the credo of the Christian is replaced by the credimus of the community, so the adsum of the individual priesthood candidate is replaced by the adsumus of the presbyterate, in which priests, according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, are united to one another "by an intimate sacramental brotherhood" (Presbyterorum ordinis PO 8). The seminary should train the students to see that, despite all the differences, they are sent by their Bishops to take part in the same work. In different tasks they carry out the same priestly service for the people. What Paul wrote to the Corinthians about existing quarrels and threatening divisions is still valid today: "No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1Co 3,11).

4. Our age needs priests who follow the path that leads from a rationalistic conception of what is possible to belief in divine Revelation, from knowledge to wisdom and from speculation to contemplation, in order to communicate all this to men. Almost 200 years ago the theologian and Bishop Johann Michael Sailer followed this path and formed a generation of priests which made a substantial contribution to Church renewal in all German-speaking lands. He prepared a short formula of faith that is particularly significant on the threshold of the third millennium: God in Christ is the salvation of a sinful world.

Dear brothers in the priesthood, while expressing my appreciation of your untiring commitment to priestly formation, I offer the heartfelt wish that you will succeed, as elder brothers in the faith, in leading to Christ the seminarians entrusted to you, as Andrew did his brother Simon. For this I sincerely impart my Apostolic Blessing.






17 March 1998

Dear Cardinal Hickey and Cardinal Keeler,

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. I warmly welcome you, the Pastors of the ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta and Miami. Your visit ad Limina is a time of grace as you pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul who fearlessly proclaimed the Good News of salvation to the point of martyrdom. In entrusting to them your pastoral mission of preaching the "unsearchable riches of Christ" and of making known "the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things" (Ep 3,8-9), may you feel reassured that you are not alone in your task; the Lord provides the strength and the means necessary for you to fulfill his command: "preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mc 16,15).

In my meetings with the first two groups of Bishops from your country, we have reflected together on the reception in your country of the great grace of the Second Vatican Council. In those reflections I referred to two essential elements of your episcopal ministry in the cultural context of the United States. First, because the message we preach is God's wisdom, not our own, everything in the life of the Church must correspond to "the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us" (2Tm 1,14). Secondly, the purpose of our ministry is to lead the members of the Church into a living communion with God and with one another. That communio, according to the Council, is the very heart of the Church's understanding of herself.

In this meeting, I would like to reflect with you on the truth that the pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, for the universal community of Christ's followers, present in and living through the particular Churches, is the continuation in time of the eternal mission of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 2). As the whole Church prepares for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I am confident that you will seek to renew among your communities a vital, dynamic sense of the Church's mission, so that this time of grace may be a new springtime for the Gospel. This is the hope and determination which inspired the recent Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, which issued a compelling call to conversion, communion and solidarity. This same hope and determination inspires what you have written in your own National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, Go and Make Disciples, which is a significant and valid guide in your efforts "to bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus, they freely share it with others" (loc.cit., I).

2. In that document you rightly insist that "evangelization can only happen when people accept the Gospel freely as the 'good news' it is meant to be, because of the power of the Gospel message and the accompanying grace of Christ". Evangelization is the Church's effort to proclaim to everyone that God loves them, that he has given himself for them in Christ Jesus, and that he invites them to an unending life of happiness. Once this Gospel has been accepted as the "good news", it demands to be shared. All baptized Christians must commit themselves to evangelization, conscious that God is already at work in the minds and hearts of their listeners, just as he prompted the Ethiopian to ask for baptism when Philip told him "the good news of Jesus" (Ac 8,35). Evangelization is thus a part of the great mystery of God's self-revelation to the world: it involves the human effort to preach the Gospel and the powerful work of the Holy Spirit in those who encounter its saving message. Since we are proclaiming a mystery, we are the servants of a supernatural gift, which surpasses anything our human minds are capable of fully grasping or explaining, yet which attracts by its own inner logic and beauty.

3. The spirit of the new evangelization should inspire every aspect of your teaching, instruction and catechesis. These tasks involve a vital effort to come to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of faith and to find meaningful language with which to convince our contemporaries that they are called to newness of life through God's love. Since love can only be understood by someone who actually loves, the Christian mystery can only be effectively communicated by those who allow themselves to be genuinely possessed by God's love. Thus the passing on of the faith, according to the Church's tradition, needs to be carried out in a spiritual environment of friendship with God, rooted in a love which will one day find its fulfilment in the contemplation of God himself. Everyone has a part to play in this great effort. Your task is to inspire priests, deacons, religious and faithful to have the courage and the conviction to share their faith with others. By proclaiming the Gospel, Christians help others to satisfy the yearning for fullness of life and truth which exists in every human heart.

4. The parish will necessarily be the center of the new evangelization, and thus parish life must be renewed in all its dimensions. During the parish visitations I undertook as Archbishop of Kraków, I always made an effort to stress that the parish is not an accidental collection of Christians who happen to live in the same neighborhood. Rather, because the parish makes present and in a sense incarnates the Mystical Body of Christ, the threefold munus ("office") of Christ as prophet, priest, and king must be exercised there. Thus the parish must be a place where, through worship in communion of doctrine and life with the Bishop and with the Universal Church, the members of Christ's body are formed for evangelization and works of Christian love. A parish will be involved in many activities. But none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2177). Through regular and fervent reception of the sacraments, God's people come to know the fullness of the Christian dignity that is theirs by baptism; they are elevated and transformed. Through careful listening to the word of Scripture and sound instruction in the faith they are enabled to experience their lives, and the life of the parish, as a dynamic sharing in the history of salvation. That experience, in turn, becomes a powerful motive for evangelization.

Everything you do to ensure the correct and worthy celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, precisely because it leads the faithful to a deep and transforming encounter with God, builds up the Church in her inner life and as the visible sign of salvation for the world. Preaching and catechesis should emphasize that the grace of the sacraments is what enables us to live in accordance with the demands of the Gospel. Adoration of the Eucharist outside of the Mass permits a deeper appreciation of the gift that Christ makes to us in his Body and Blood in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. Encouragement of frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance increases the spiritual maturity of all parishioners as they strive to commit themselves to witnessing to the truth of the Gospel in private and public life.

5. The strength of parish life in your country can be judged above all from the way families pass on the faith to each succeeding generation, and from the impressive and essential system of Catholic schools that you and your predecessors have built and sustained at great sacrifice. As a priest and Bishop I have always been convinced that ministry to families is an extremely important dimension of the Church's evangelizing task since "the family itself is the first and most appropriate place for teaching the truths of the faith, the practice of Christian virtues and the essential values of human life" (Address at Our Lady of Guadalupe Plaza, San Antonio, September 13, 1987, No. 4). Catholic schools for their part must have a specific Catholic identity, and those who administer them and teach in them have a responsibility to uphold and communicate the truths, values and ideals which constitute a truly Catholic education.

Many of your parishes have committed themselves to winning inactive Catholics back to the practice of the faith and to reaching out to all those in search of the truth of the Gospel. These efforts are a profound expression of the essential missionary nature of the Church which should mark every parish community. I am aware of the complexities of parish life in the United States and of the burden of work borne by priests, deacons, religious, and laity as they face the daily challenge of inspiring God's people to live the Gospel more fully and build a society imbued with Christian values. Be close to all those who work in parishes, sustaining them with your prayer and wise counsel, endeavoring to create in everyone the sensus Ecclesiae, a vivid sense of what belonging to the Church means in practical terms.

6. At the recent Special Session for America of the Synod of Bishops, the Bishops called on all the faithful to be "evangelists of the new millennium", by witnessing to the faith through lives of holiness, kindness to all, charity to those in need and solidarity with all the oppressed (cf. Message to America, No. 30). In living the faith and communicating it to others in a culture that tends to treat religious convictions as merely a personal "option," evangelization's only point of departure is Jesus Christ, "the Way, and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,6), the answer to the question that is every human life. As you lead the Church in the United State s in preparation for the Great Jubilee, help everyone in the Catholic community to understand that we know, love, worship, and serve God, not as a response to some psychological "need," but as a duty whose fulfillment is an expression of man's highest dignity and the source of man's most profound happiness. An essential part of your ministry must be to help all sectors of the Catholic community find greater certainty about what the Church actually teaches, and greater serenity in confronting the many issues which - often needlessly - cause division and polarization among those who should be of one mind and heart (cf. Acts Ac 2,44). As the recent Synod said, all must be encouraged "to turn from hesitant and wary steps, to walk in joy with Jesus on the road to everlasting life" (Message to America, No. 37).

Because Christians have come to know Christ and the liberating force of his Gospel, they have a particular responsibility to contribute to the renewal of culture. In this task, which pertains in a special way to the laity, Christ's followers should not cease to make present in all areas of public life the light which Christ's teaching sheds on the human condition. In contemporary culture there is often a weakening of the sense of the innate dependence of all human existence on the Creator, the capacity of the human mind to know the truth, and the validity of the universal and unchanging moral norms which guide all people in the fulfillment of their human vocation. When freedom is detached from the truth about the human person and from the moral law inscribed in human nature, then society and its democratic form of life are imperiled. For if freedom is not linked to truth and ordered to goodness, "the ground is laid for society to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority" (Evangelium Vitae EV 96). In proclaiming the truths about the human person, human community and human destiny that they know from revelation and reason, Christians make an indispensable contribution to sustaining a free society, a society in which freedom nurtures genuine human development.

7. Dear Brother Bishops, as we approach the next Christian Millennium, encourage all Catholics in the United States to deepen their commitment to the Church's evangelizing mission. Lead them by your example, your conviction and your teaching. I pray that the Holy Spirit will enlighten you and help you to inspire your people, so that the hearts of the faithful will burn more brightly with love for Christ and a desire to make him better known. Entrusting you and all the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.





1. This is a significant year for the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, for it marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment by my predecessor Pope Pius XII of the Pontifical Commission for Educational and Religious Films. In the years after the Second Vatican Council the Commission served as a clear sign of the Church's increased involvement in the world of social communications and her recognition of the immense influence of the modern media in the life of society. Finally, ten years ago, with the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, the Commission was raised to the status of a Pontifical Council. Each of these steps corresponded not only to the ever greater momentum of the communications revolution, but also to the Church's increasing recognition of the role of the communications media in her mission, as an instrument and as a field of evangelization.

In greeting you, I greet all of those whom you represent, the many who have served over the years on the Pontifical Commission and now the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. With special affection, I greet Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, your President Emeritus, who had a part in much of the history of the Council, and Archbishop John P. Folev, whose dedication you all know.

2. In more recent years, the communications revolution has continued its rapid advance. Today in fact we find ourselves facing an immense challenge, since technology often seems to be moving at such a speed that we can no longer control where it might be leading us. Yet this is also a time of promise, since communications technology can help to break down barriers and create new bonds of community and new kinds of opportunity in a world where human solidarity is the essential way forward. The Church is convinced that modern communications, by enabling a greater flow of information and a greater sense of solidarity between all the members of the human family, can make a significant contribution to the spiritual progress of humanity and thus to the spread of God's Kingdom (cf. Inter Mirifica IM 2).

In a situation as complex as that of contemporary communications, there is a need for careful discernment and effective education, based always upon the recognition of the priority of ethics over technology, the primacy of the person over things and the superiority of the spiritual over the material (cf. Redemptor Hominis ). Your Plenary Meeting this year has considered the theme of ethics in communications, a matter which becomes increasingly urgent as the influence of the communications media becomes ever more pervasive in the lives of people throughout the world.

The Council's recent document on Ethics in Advertising offers a real contribution to this discernment, noting on the one hand the immense potential of advertising in sustaining "honest and ethically responsible competition that contributes to economic growth in the service of authentic human development", while on the other hand calling attention to its possible misuses and their impact on the life of society. It is my hope that this document will prove helpful in promoting reflection and dialogue among professional communicators, aimed at a responsible and constructive contribution to the education of consumers and indeed, the promotion of the common good of society.

3. This year, as the Church reflects on the person and work of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, our thoughts spontaneously turn to the task of the new evangelization which the Spirit both inspires and sustains. Since this evangelization must be "new in method, new in expression and new in zeal" (Speech to the Nineteenth Plenary Assembly of CELAM, Port-au-Prince, 9 March 1983), it cannot fail to have recourse to the most up-to-date and effective means of social communication. The saving message entrusted to the Church in order to proclaimed "to the ends of the earth" (Ac 1,8) must retain all its freshness and appeal even as it is addressed to every new generation and finds creative expression in every medium.

In this regard, it is a very positive sign that the means of social commnunication are increasingly being seen as something more than simply instruments to be used. They are themselves a world - "a culture and civilisation" (Ecclesia in Africa ) - which the Church is also called to evangelize.

The question of the Church's involvement with the world of social communications becomes, therefore, a question of mission which looks to a true inculturation (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 37).

At the same time, the world of social communications is not an isolated sector; while influencing the various cultures, it remains deeply embedded in those cultures. Not only then must the preaching of the Gospel be inculturated in the world of social communications, but in and through that world it must be incarnated in the variety of cultures, ancient and modern, to which a door is being opened by the modern media.

4. To give this witness, all believers in Christ will need a new zeal which can come only from a more ardent faith. In this Year of the Holy Spirit may you be strengthened in your commitment to make the Pontifical Council of Social Communications an apt instrument of the evangelization which stands at the heart of the Church which is missionary by nature and exists in order to evangelize.

Speeches 1998 - 12 March 1998