Speeches 1999 - Monday, 1 March 1999



Monday, 1 March 1999

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome the pilgrim group from St Mary Seminary in Cleveland on the occasion of the 150th anniverary of the seminary's foundation. You have come to Rome to visit the places made holy by the Apostles Peter and Paul and by the martyrs and saints of every age who have borne witness here to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I hope that the prayer and meditation which accompany your pilgrimage will bring you ever nearer to the Lord and strengthen your desire to be worthy priests and generous servants of the saving mysteries entrusted to his Church. May this meeting with the Successor of Peter help you to appreciate more fully the Church's universality and her catholic unity. With affection I commend the whole community of St Mary Seminary to the loving intercession of the holy Mother of God, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Jesus Christ her Son.




March 4, 1999

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am happy to welcome you, the members, consultors, experts and staff of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly. I greet especially Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, President Emeritus of the Council, and Archbishop John Foley, his successor as President. I am grateful for the presence as well of Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales and Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, who have contributed so much to the work of the Council from its earliest days.

This year marks the thirty-fifth anniversary of the document In Fructibus Multis, which responded to the request of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council that the Holy See establish a special commission for social communications: thus, a founding document of your Pontifical Council. The Fathers saw clearly that if there was to be a genuine colloquium salutis between the Church and the world, then a prime place had to be given to the use of the media, which were growing in sophistication and scope at the time of the Council and which have become still more influential in our own day. This is also the twenty-fifth year of one of your Council’s best-known initiatives, the telecast of the Christmas Midnight Mass from Saint Peter’s Basilica, now one of the most widely followed religious programmes in the world. I am truly grateful to all who contribute to this and other such broadcasts, which are an admirable service of the proclamation of the word of God and a particular help to the Successor of Peter in his universal ministry of truth and unity.

These anniversaries highlight the value of close and positive cooperation between the Church and the media (cf. Message for the Thirty-Third World Day of Social Communications, 3). This collaboration will doubtless be taken a significant step forward in the Year 2000, as the grace of the Great Jubilee is carried to the four corners of the earth. The two thousandth anniversary of the Lord’s birth will be celebrated with special prominence in Rome and the Holy Land, but its spiritual significance extends to all peoples and places (cf. Incarnationis Mysterium, 2). I greatly appreciate all that the Pontifical Council is doing to make the media more aware

of the genuine character of the Jubilee as a - year of favour of the Lord -, and to ensure that the celebrations connected with the Jubilee will be broadcast as widely and effectively as possible, and in a way that communicates the Jubilee’s message of conversion, hope and joy.

A vital aspect of cooperation between the Church and the media is the ethical reflection which the Church proposes, without which the world of social communications, potentially so creative, can harbour and spread destructive counter-values. It is heartening to learn that, since the publication of the document Ethics in Advertising, a suggestion has come from people in the media that there be a similar document offering ethical guidance in other areas of communications. In a field where cultural and financial pressures can sometimes blur the moral vision which should guide all human realities and relationships, this task represents a challenge for the Pontifical Council. But it is one that is deeply in tune with the Church’s essential mission to spread the Good News of God’s kingdom.

The Church’s moral teaching is the fruit of a long tradition of ethical wisdom reaching back to the Lord Jesus himself, and through him to Mount Sinai and to the mystery of God’s self-revelation in human history. Without this vision and obedience to its demands there will be neither the understanding nor the joy which represent the fullness of God’s blessings to his creatures. I therefore encourage you to pursue your study of the ethical dimension of media culture and of the power of the media over people’s lives and over society in general. I urge you to continue to promote effective training of Catholics involved in the media on every continent, so that their work will be not only professionally sound but also a commitment to the apostolate. Your continuing cooperation with the various international Catholic media organizations has particular significance in the vast field of the Church’s evangelizing mission.

I am confident that the dedicated work of your Pontifical Council will continue to encourage and guide Catholics involved in social communications and, specifically in relation to the celebration of the Great Jubilee, will result in bringing this major ecclesial event to the widest possible audience. I entrust you to the loving intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of all our joys: may she who gave the Word to the world teach us to serve humbly and proclaim confidently the saving message of her Son. As a pledge of strength and peace in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh that we might live, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Friday, 5 March 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Welcome to this meeting which you have so desired! Thank you for your visit, which is meant as an expression of your esteem for and devotion to the Successor of Peter and his Magisterium. I am particularly grateful to your President, Prof. Giovanni Conso, for his kind address on behalf of your committee members and everyone present. His words show the praiseworthy efforts made by your association and the zealous way you all put your skills at the service of the cause of peace and the search for better ways to achieve right cooperation between persons and peoples.

To promote the precious good of peace and to safeguard it when it is endangered, you have chosen to be present, through the appropriate diplomatic channels, in the situations most at risk, offering the leaders of nations in conflict scientific and moral information and aid helpful towards an equitable solution to the problems.

2. In our time, scientific progress, achievements in space, the ease and speed of communications, greater knowledge among peoples, the end of the ideologies that dominated the 20th century and ever more complete information about the tragedies they have caused has given rise to a horror of war among large segments of the world population, as well as a deep desire for peace. At the same time, the conflicts which unfortunately still cause bloodshed in various parts of the globe are seen as an offence to personal dignity and a powerful blow to the legitimate aspirations of the men and women of our time.

This sentiment needs to be constantly fostered and encouraged, because it is only by rejecting every form of violence and by sincerely seeking a coexistence in which relations based on force are replaced by the effort to collaborate that the indispensable premises can be laid for building a civilized and fraternal world.

This convinced aspiration for peace is closely linked to the achievement of certain essential conditions for its growth and consolidation, identified in substance with defending human rights, without which the seeds of instability, rebellion and violence inevitably multiply. These rights, which are civil and political, but also economic, social and cultural, concern all phases of human life and should be respected in every context. They form a unified whole, definitely aimed at promoting all aspects of the good of the individual and of society, and should be promoted in a systematic and integral way. In fact, only the defence of their universality and indivisibility can encourage the building of a peaceful society and the integral development of nations.

3. Respect for human rights is closely linked to respect for the rights of God. There will be no future of peace for a society that does not respect God. This is tragically proved by the terrible events humanity has lived through in this century now ending. Wherever atheism was propagated and imposed with force, the desire to eliminate God too often coincided with contempt for human dignity.

This is why every human community that longs for peace must base its social harmony on the acknowledgement of God's primacy and on respect for freedom of worship. Religion responds to a person's deepest aspirations; it determines his view of the world, guides his relations with others and offers an answer to the question of the true meaning of life both personally and socially. Consequently, religious freedom is the heart of human rights and must be held in the highest regard by individuals and States.

4. Ladies and gentlemen, peace is an ideal to be cultivated in the heart of humanity! The effort to overcome the causes of conflicts must be accompanied by the constant action of believers and people of good will so that the culture of peace will grow, especially among the new generation. I am well aware, in this regard, of the many courageous initiatives in which, without personal interest, you work to instil in leaders and ordinary citizens convinced support for projects of reconciliation and fraternal solidarity.

I urge you to continue in this direction, increasing the occasions for dialogue and education in peace in the most varied situations and never letting yourselves be discouraged by the inevitable obstacles. May you be sustained by the word of Jesus, who called peacemakers blessed, promising them a new relationship with God and the joy of feeling part of a humanity which is reconciled and united in the Father's love (cf. Mt Mt 5,9).

With these wishes, as I entrust each of you, your families and your efforts to the One whom the Christian people invoke as Queen of Peace, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you.



Saturday, 6 March 1999

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Academy,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the fifth general assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. I sincerely thank Mr Edmond Malinvaux, your President, for the message he has just addressed to me on behalf of you all. My gratitude also goes to Mons. Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo and to all those who throughout the year have been involved in coordinating your work.

For the third consecutive year, you are continuing your reflections on the theme of work, thereby showing the importance that should be given to this subject not only at the economic level, but also in the social realm and for the growth and development of individuals and peoples. The human person must be at the centre of the employment question.

2. Society is subject to many changes as a result of scientific and technological advances and the globalization of markets; all these can be positive factors for workers, since they are a source of development and progress; but they can also pose numerous risks to people by using them as cogs in the economy and in the unbridled quest for productivity.

Unemployment is a source of distress and "can become a real social disaster" (Encyclical Laborem exercens LE 18); it weakens individuals and entire families, making them feel marginalized because they can scarcely meet their basic needs and they feel neither recognized nor useful to society; this leads to the spiral of indebtedness, from which it is difficult to escape, but which calls for understanding on the part of public and social institutions, and support and solidarity from the national community. I am grateful to you for seeking new ways to reduce unemployment; concrete solutions are certainly difficult, since the mechanisms of the economy are complex and are almost always of a political and financial nature. Many things also depend on the norms governing taxes and trade unions.

3. Employment is certainly a major challenge in international life. It presupposes a sound distribution of work and solidarity between all persons of a working age who are able to do so. In this spirit, it is not normal for some professional categories to be preoccupied with perserving acquired benefits, which can only have negative repercussions on employment in a country. Furthermore, the parallel stystem of black-market labour seriously damages a country's economy, since it represents a refusal to participate in national life through social contributions and taxes; likewise, it places some workers, especially women and children, in an uncontrollable and unacceptable state of submission and servility, not only in poor countries but also in industrialized nations. It is the authorities' duty to see that everyone has the same opportunities regarding employment and the work code.

4. Work is an essential element for everyone. It contributes to his personal growth because it is an integral part of his everyday life. Idleness offers no interior motivation and does not allow a person to plan for the future; not only does it bring "loss and great want" (Tb 4,13), but it is also the enemy of a good moral life (cf. Sir Si 33,29). Work also ensures every individual a place in society, through the justifiable feeling of being useful to the human community and through the growth of fraternal relations; further more, it enables him to participate responsibly in the life of his country and to contribute to the work of creation.

5. A considerable number of young people are among those painfully affected by unemployment. When they enter the job market, they often have the impression that they will have difficulty in finding a place in society and in being acknowledged for their real worth. In this area, all political, economic and social leaders are called to redouble their efforts on behalf of young people, who must be considered one of a nation's most valuable assets, to work together to offer them professional training ever more suited to the current economic situation and to formulate a policy vigorously geared to employment for everyone. In this way, confidence and renewed hope will be given to young people, who at times can have the impression that society does not really need them; this will noticeably reduce disparities between social classes, as well as the phenomena of violence, prostitution, drugs and delinquency, which are continually on the rise. I encourage all who have a role in the intellectual and professional formation of young people to guide, support and encourage them, so that they can be integrated into the working world. For them a job will mean the recognition of their abilities and efforts and will open a personal, family and social future for them. In the same way, through appropriate education and the necessary social assistance, it would be advisable to help families experiencing difficulty for professional reasons, and to teach low-income individuals and families how to balance their budget and not to be enticed by the illusory goods marketed by consumer society. Indebtedness is a situation from which it is often difficult to escape.

6. Since employment cannot increase indefinitely, for the sake of human solidarity it is important to envisage a reorganization and better distribution of work, without forgetting the necessary sharing of resources with the unemployed. Effective solidarity among all is more necessary than ever, particularly for those who have been unemployed for a long time and for their families, who cannot remain in poverty and destitution without the national community being actively mobilized; no one should be resigned to the fact that some remain unemployed.

7. In a business, wealth is not only created by the means of production, capital and profit, but comes first and foremost from the men and women who, through their work, produce what then becomes consumer goods or services. Hence all wage-earners, each at his own level, must have their share of responsibility, working for the common good of the business and, ultimately, for all society (cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis SRS 38). It is essential to have confidence in people, to develop a system that gives priority to the sense of innovation on the part of individuals and groups, to participation and solidarity (cf. ibid., n. 45), and that fundamentally encourages employment and development. The utilization of people's skills is a driving force of the economy. Looking at a business solely in economic or competitive terms entails risks; it endangers human stability.

8. Company directors and decisionmakers should be aware that it is essential to base their actions on human capital and on moral values (cf. Veritatis splendor VS 99-101), in particular, on respect for individuals and their inalienable need to have a job and to live on the fruits of their professional activity. Nor should we forget the quality of a business' organization, the participation of all in its smooth functioning, as well as a renewed attention to peaceful relations between all the workers. I earnestly appeal for an ever greater mobilization of those variously involved in social life and of all unions and management personnel to commit themselves, each in their own way, to serving the individual and humanity through decisions in which the human person, especially the weakest and the neediest, has the central place and has his specific responsibility truly recognized. The globalization of the economy and of employment also calls for the globalization of responsibilities.

9. The imbalances between poor and wealthy countries continue to grow. Industrialized nations have a duty in justice and a serious responsibility towards developing countries. Disparities are becoming more and more glaring. Paradoxically, some countries having natural wealth above or below ground are subject to unacceptable exploitation by other countries in such a way that entire populations cannot benefit from the wealth of their own land or from their work. These nations should be given the opportunity to develop their own natural resources by involving them more closely in world economic activity.

10. The point of departure for a revitalization of employment is an ethical duty and the need for a fundamental change in consciences. All economic development that does not take account of the human and moral aspect will have a tendency to crush the human person. The economy, labour and business are first and foremost at the service of persons. Strategic choices cannot be made to the detriment of those who work in a firm. It is important to offer a job to all our contemporaries through a just and responsible allocation of work. Undoubtedly, we can also envisage a review of the relationship between salary and work, in order to reaffirm the value of manual labour, which is often difficult and is considered secondary. In fact, salary policies should take into account not only a business' productivity, but also its employees. Too large a difference between salaries is unjust, for it devalues a certain number of indispensable jobs and creates social disparities that are damaging to everyone.

11. To meet the challenges that society must face on the threshold of the third millennium, I appeal to the Christian community to give ever greater support to those who are struggling for the cause of employment, and to walk with men and women on the path of an ever more human economy (cf. Encyclical Centesimus annus CA 62).

In this spirit, I thank you for the valuable service you offer the Church by being particularly attentive to social phenomena that are important for individuals and for humanity as a whole. As I entrust you to the intercession of St Joseph, patron of workers, and of the Virgin Mary, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to your families and to all your loved ones.


Saturday, 6 March 1999

I cordially thank all of you who have taken part in the recitation of the Holy Rosary on this First Saturday of March, the month dedicated to St Joseph, husband of Mary and patron of the universal Church. I greet the groups of faithful who have come from Tivoli, Castelfranco di Sopra, Foggia and Naples; the Pro-Life Movement from Cervia, the Lions Club of Andria, the volunteers, assistants and young members of Rome's Casal del Marmo Institute and the children from St Dorothy's School in Montecchio Emilia, with their parents and teachers.

I extend a special greeting to the young university students present here and those who are linked with us through Vatican Radio. Dear university students, I greet you affectionately! We have meditated on the mystery of God the Father's love, of which Mary is the first witness, and we have prayed for the gift of reconciliation and mercy for university students throughout the world. This evening I have the joy of sharing with you the start of the pilgrimage of the Cross in your universities. May you see the Cross as the most eloquent sign of the Lord's mercy, which can give every academic community new enthusiasm for the One who is the foundation and certainty of every journey of intellectual research.

Your fellow students at universities in Buenos Aires, New York, Cz estochowa and Santiago de Compostela are joined with us in prayer. This initiative already directs us to World Youth Day and the World Meeting of University Teachers in the Year 2000. Prepare yourselves, dear university students of Rome, to welcome your peers who will come from every part of the world. With Mary's help, may you be apostles in the university world.

I affectionately greet the university students from Buenos Aires! I thank Bishop Raúl Rossi and the academic authorities. Dear young people: your mission is to encourage your university communities regarding the Great Jubilee, which is meant as an occasion for great spiritual and cultural renewal. I am counting on your cooperation for the success of World Youth Day in the Year 2000. I hope that many of you will be able to experience this day in Rome.

I extend an affectionate greeting to the students of Columbia University in New York, gathered in Notre Dame Church with Bishop Anthony Mestice. You remind me of my recent joyful visit to the United States. I renew my trust in you, and I encourage you in your efforts to be good Christians within your own culture. May the approach of the Great Jubilee prompt you to be ever more faithful to Christ, and ever more active in bearing witness to the Gospel in today's world.

With particular affection I greet the university students of Czestochowa and other academic centres who are joined in prayer, led by Archbishop Stanislaw Nowak at the shrine of Jasna Góra. The sound of your prayer has brought back so many memories to me. I appreciate your active involvement in the university chaplaincy. This gives us hope that the growth of learning and culture in our country will always be rooted in its age-old Christian tradition. I ask that you entrust to the Queen of Jasna Góra the jubilee initiatives of university centres throughout the world, especially World Youth Day, which will be held in Rome next year. God bless you!

Lastly, I extend a greeting to the university students of Santiago de Compostela, gathered in the cathedral and led by Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio. I am grateful that you have participated so enthusiastically in this meeting, offering your witness on the air during the Jubilee Year of Compostela. I assure you of my prayers so that it will be a grace-filled event for the many university students who will participate in the European youth meeting next August. I have great confidence in your commitment to encourage the university to be suitably prepared for the Great Jubilee.

At the end of our meeting, I am happy to impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.





To my Venerable Brother
Bishop Vittorio Bernardetto of Susa

1. I was pleased to learn that this year the Church in Valsusa is celebrating the first centenary of the statue of the Mother of the Lord erected on Mount Rocciamelone. Remembering with gratitude the festive welcome I was given on 14 July 1991 during my Pastoral Visit to Susa, and the profound moment of prayer in the Cathedral of St Justus in front of the triptych that Bonifacio Rotario, a citizen of Asti, carried to that peak on 1 September 1358, I would like to join spiritually in the celebrations by which the entire diocesan community intends to mark this significant anniversary.

A hundred years ago, in spiritual continuity with the ancient act of faith that gave birth to Marian devotion on Rocciamelone, Canon Antonio Tonda, provost of the cathedral, and Prof. Giovanni Battista Ghirardi, encouraged by Bl. Bishop Edoardo Giuseppe Rosaz, thought of erecting a statue of the Blessed Virgin on the highest peak of the western Alps, which was later done with the generous contribution of 130,000 "children of Italy". With this project, imitating the disciple whom Jesus loved (cf. Jn Jn 19,27), the Church in Valsusa showed her desire to welcome Mary "into her home", so that she would repeat to the sons and daughters of this land what she once said at Cana in Galilee: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

Mary's presence has thus made Rocciamelone a centre of evangelization where the faithful, receiving the message of salvation as if from their Mother's lips, can rediscover and experience with new freshness their joy and dignity as adopted children of God. How many things could the image of the Virgin recount! Victories over selfishness and sin, forgiveness given and received acts of reconciliation and altruism which have made the history of Rocciamelone a unique "history of souls" whose chapters are jealously guarded in their Mother's heart.

2. At the foot of the Cross, Jesus spoke those words which amount to a testament: "Woman, behold, your son!" (Jn 19,26). "The Mother of Christ, who stands at the very centre of this [paschal] mystery - a mystery which embraces each individual and all humanity - is given as mother to every single individual and all mankind. The man at the foot of the Cross is John, "the disciple whom he loved". But it is not he alone. Following tradition, the Council does not hesitate to call Mary "the mother of Christ and Mother of mankind"" (Redemptoris Mater RMA 23).

From that moment, no one on earth would any longer be "an orphan". Well aware of this, the Church has never stopped drawing beneficial consequences from Mary's "motherhood". In particular, she recognized at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council that the Virgin of Nazareth's participation in the work of redemption made her for the Christian people "mother, model ... a pre-eminent and unique member of the Church" (cf. Lumen gentium LG 53), attributing to her intercession a universal dimension in space and time: She is Mother to all and Mother for ever. The goal of her mission is to reproduce in believers the features of her first-born Son (cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, n. 57), bringing them at the same time to recover ever more clearly that image and likeness of God in which they were created (cf. Gn Gn 1,26).

The faithful know they can count on the heavenly Mother's concern: Mary will never abandon them. By taking her into their own home as a supreme gift from the heart of the crucified Christ, they are assured a uniquely effective presence in the task of showing the world in every circumstance the fruitfulness of love and the authentic meaning of life.

3. May the centenary therefore become a privileged opportunity for this diocesan community to adore "the wise plan of God, who has placed within his family (the Church), as in every home, the figure of a woman, who in a hidden manner and in a spirit of service watches over that family 'and carefully looks after it until the glorious day of the Lord'" (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus, Introduction).

An important initiative, in the context of the celebrations, will be the peregrinatio of the venerated image to all the parishes of the Diocese. I warmly hope, as was formerly the case in 1948 at the end of the Second World War, that thanks to the practical cooperation of priests, religious and the whole ecclesiastic community, this event will be a privileged moment of evangelization, formation and Christian commitment. May the journey of Our Lady's statue through the various Vicariates be a favourable time to celebrate the mystery of Christ in union with his Mother and help to increase faith, hope and charity in the peoples of Valsusa!

Recalling the marvels wrought by the Lord in the People of God, may the Virgin inspire in the faithful a deep desire for contemplation and praise, which will increase their zeal and open the heart of each one to the material and spiritual needs of his brethren.

May the Blessed Virgin's example foster a deep love for Sacred Scripture and prompt a readiness to do the Lord's will. May the peregrinatio be a time of grace and of fervent celebration of the sacraments of Christian life. Reconciled with the heavenly Father and nourished with the Body and Blood of the Lord, may Christians gathered round their Mother receive an abundant shower of gifts from the Spirit, which will make them apostles of the third millennium and authentic witnesses of the risen Christ in the family, the workplace, school and every other context in which people are striving to build the civilization of love together.

4. I would like to entrust you, venerable Brother, the priests, religious, families, youth, the sick and all the faithful to Our Lady of Rocciamelone, who for centuries has accompanied the Church in Valsusa with her constant protection, so that the whole diocesan community, supported by the heavenly Mother's love, can follow Christ with renewed dynamism and witness to him with a zealous life and works on the threshold of the new millennium.

As pledge of these hopes, I affectionately impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

From the Vatican, 8 March 1999.




Monday, 8 March 1999

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. The echo still resounds from yesterday's celebration, at which I had the joy of beatifying Vicente Soler and six companions, Manuel Martín Sierra, Nicolas Barré and Anna Schäffer. This morning I am again delighted to extend an affectionate welcome to all of you, dear pilgrims, who have come for this solemn occasion. Your impressive numbers show how the teaching and example of these authentic disciples of Christ, witnesses and spiritual masters, have made a deep impact on the souls of many people, leaving in them an indelible and fruitful memory. Let us give thanks to God!

2. Today I have the pleasure of welcoming the members of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, as well as the other pilgrims who, in the company of their Bishops, have come to Rome from Andalusia, where the eight new blesseds were martyred, and from other parts of Spain.

Speeches 1999 - Monday, 1 March 1999