Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 20 May 2000

Today it is as if the shrine of Cascia had been moved to St Peter's Square. And you have come to venerate her, dear pilgrims, from every part of the world. Together with her you intend to renew your deepest sentiments of fidelity and communion to the Pope, as she did in her lifetime.

The mortal remains of St Rita, which we venerate here today, are a significant sign of what the Lord accomplishes in history when he finds humble hearts open to his love. Here we see the frail body of a woman who was small in stature but great in holiness, who lived in humility and is now known throughout the world for her heroic Christian life as a wife, mother, widow and nun. Deeply rooted in the love of Christ, Rita found in her faith unshakeable strength to be a woman of peace in every situation.

In her example of total abandonment to God, in her transparent simplicity and in her unflinching fidelity to the Gospel, we too can find sound direction for being authentic Christian witnesses at the dawn of the third millennium.

2. But what is the message that this saint passes on to us? It is a message that flows from her life: humility and obedience were the path that Rita took to be ever more perfectly conformed to the Crucified One. The mark which shines on her forehead is the verification of her Christian maturity. On the Cross with Jesus, she is crowned in a certain way with the love that she knew and heroically expressed within her home and by her participation in the events of her town.

Following the spirituality of St Augustine, she became a disciple of the Crucified One and an "expert in suffering"; she learned to understand the sorrows of the human heart. Rita thus became the advocate of the poor and the despairing, obtaining countless graces of consolation and comfort for those who called upon her in the most varied situations.

Rita of Cascia was the first woman to be canonized in the Great Jubilee at the beginning of the 20th century, 24 May 1900. In decreeing her sainthood, my predecessor Leo XIII observed that she pleased Christ so much that he chose to imprint upon her the seal of his charity and his passion. This privilege was granted to her for her exceptional humility, her interior detachment from earthly desires and the admirable penitential spirit which accompanied her at every moment of her life (cf. Apostolic Letter Umbria gloriosa sanctorum parens, Acta Leonis XX, PP 152-153).

3. Today, 100 years after her canonization, I am pleased to offer her again as a sign of hope, especially to families. Dear Christian families, by imitating her example, may you also know how to find in your fidelity to Christ the strength to fulfil your mission of service to the civilization of love!

If we ask St Rita for the secret to this extraordinary work of social and spiritual renewal, she replies: fidelity to the Love that was crucified. Rita, with Christ and like Christ, goes to the Cross always and only through love. Like her, then, let us turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus, who died on the Cross and rose for our salvation. It is he, our Redeemer, who makes the family's mission of unity and fidelity possible, as he did for this beloved saint, even in moments of crisis and difficulty. And it is he who gives concrete form to the Christian commitment to building peace by helping them to overcome the conflicts and tensions which unfortunately are so frequent in daily life.

4. The saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian women who "have had a signifiant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society" (Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem, n. 27). Rita well interpreted the "feminine genius" by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood.

On the sixth centenary of her birth I recalled that her lesson "is concentrated on these typical elements of spirituality: the offer of forgiveness and the acceptance of suffering, not through a form of passive resignation ... but through the strength of that love for Christ who, precisely in the episode of his being crowned, suffered, along with other humiliations, an atrocious parody of his kingship" (Insegnamenti V/I [1982], 874).

Dear brothers and sisters, the worldwide devotion to St Rita is symbolized by the rose. It is to be hoped that the life of everyone devoted to her will be like the rose picked in the garden of Roccaporena the winter before the saint's death. That is, let it be a life sustained by passionate love for the Lord Jesus; a life capable of responding to suffering and to thorns with forgiveness and the total gift of self, in order to spread everywhere the good odour of Christ (cf. 2Co 2,15) through a consistently lived proclamation of the Gospel. Dear devoted pilgrims, Rita offers her rose to each of you: in receiving it spiritually strive to live as witnesses to a hope that never disappoints and as missionaries of a life that conquers death.

5. I now extend my cordial greeting to the members of the Italian National Federation of the Knights of Labour, who have come to Rome to celebrate their Jubilee. I welcome you all. Dear friends, your activity seeks to improve the economic and social standing of workers. I hope that through your efforts you can always contribute to the common good, to the formation of young people who will have a place in the world of production, to the gradual elimination of unjust inequalities and to the solution of the worrying problem of unemployment.

As you face the rapid changes affecting modern society, be ready to meet the current challenges of economics and globalization, without ever losing sight of the fundamental values of human dignity, solidarity with the weakest, the humanization of labour and the social nature of work.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, I invoke Mary's protection on you in this month which is particularly dedicated to her. Through her intercession and through the intercession of St Rita and St Benedict, may you and your loved ones be granted all the graces you need. I assure you of my prayer for this, as I cordially bless you all.



Monday 22 May 2000

Mr President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican. Once again this year, in keeping with a now well-established custom, a Delegation of dignitaries from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has come to pay a respectful visit to the tomb of Saint Cyril. I thank you, Mr President, for your kind words on behalf of all present.

The solemn ceremony by which your Representation wishes to commemorate Saints Cyril and Methodius, Co-Patrons of Europe, takes place in the ancient Basilica, located near the Colosseum, which preserves the venerable remains of Saint Clement of Rome, the third Successor of Peter, and of Saint Cyril, the younger of the Holy Brothers of Salonika, the Apostles of the Slavs. What noble memories are evoked by the names of these great witnesses to the faith!

Today in particular our thoughts turn to the rich cultural patrimony of Eastern Europe built on the foundations laid by Saints Cyril and Methodius. In fact, these two celebrated brothers made "an outstanding contribution to the formation of the common Christian roots of Europe, roots which by their strength and vitality are one of the most solid points of reference, which no serious attempt to reconstruct in a new and relevant way the unity of the Continent can ignore" (Encyclical Epistle Slavorum Apostoli, 25). The challenge today is for East and West, through a mutual exchange of gifts, to make the "common house" of Europe more and more a place of civilization, brotherhood, solidarity and respect.

These bonds of solidarity between the peoples of Europe take on particular significance in this Jubilee Year, when the Church celebrates the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation of the Son of God. The Great Jubilee is a time of grace and spiritual rebirth, in which all those who believe in Christ are called to take part, sharing their joy with all men and women of good will.

Drawing inspiration from the richness and the power of the heritage left to you by Saints Cyril and Methodius, may the people of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia find fresh inner strength to continue in the great task of building up their country in peace and harmony. With affection I assure you of a special remembrance in my prayers, and I invoke upon your entire nation the abundant blessings of Almighty God.


Monday, 22 May 2000

Your Excellency,
Dear Friends,

1. The annual feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe, gives me the pleasant opportunity to extend a cordial greeting to you who represent the beloved Bulgarian people. Set in the territorial and cultural context of the "old continent", it has much to contribute to the other peoples with regard to traditions, human and spiritual energy and wealth of civilization.

Through you, the members of the delegation that has come to visit the Bishop of Rome, I would like to express my most affectionate sentiments to your compatriots and to assure them of my constant remembrance and fervent prayer that God will grant them all the good they desire.

2. In recalling these two great brothers from Salonika, "sons of the East, Byzantine by nationality, Greek by origin, Roman by mission, Slavs by apostolate", my predecessor Pius XI noted that they spent all their energy in giving themselves without reserve to win people to Christ (cf. Apostolic Letter Quod S. Cyrillum, 13 February 1927: AAS 19 [1927], p. 95).

The evangelizing work of Cyril and Methodius also reinforced among the Bulgarian people the foundations for the growth of their national identity and their openness to meeting other peoples of the continent, to the point that Bulgaria became an irreplaceable instrument in the dialogue between East and West.

The universal dimension of the preaching of Sts Cyril and Methodius and the intense apostolate they carried out so that everyone would come to knowledge of the truth and to share as one in the saving love of God helps us to understand that "all individuals, all nations, cultures and civilizations have their own part to play and their own place in God's mysterious plan and in the universal history of salvation" (Encyclical Slavorum apostoli, 2 June 1985, n. 19).

Their memory reminds us of events that are ancient but not forgotten. A light of holiness and grace, which deeply honours the Church of Christ, still shines today from their imposing figures. Their fearless witness spurs us constantly to seek ways of dialogue and to make plans for unity.

I know that the dear Bulgarian people are determined to face the inevitable difficulties with courage and confidence, and I hope that they will be able to build an ever more serene and peaceful present, from which a future filled with good fruits will spring.

3. Your pilgrimage to the tomb of St Cyril occurs in the broader context of the Great Jubilee, an event which recalls the 2,000 years since the birth of Christ. May this period be a witness to a renewed desire for peace, dialogue and collaboration with all, so that understanding between peoples and the exchange of the gifts which God has given them will advance with ever greater intensity!

I thank you for your visit and offer my fervent wishes that your compatriots can persevere in the spiritual and material reconstruction already under way. I entrust these wishes to God and, through the intercession of Sts Cyril and Methodius, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings on you and on everyone you represent.



Monday 22 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to have this meeting with all of you, dear Mexican pilgrims who yesterday took part in the solemn canonization of Cristóbal Magallanes and his Companion Martyrs, of José María de Yermo y Parres, founder of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor, and of María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas, foundress of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart.

The whole Church rejoices with you, for she sees proclaimed the glory of her children, who also belong to your noble homeland, and she can rely on the example of their devotion to the Lord and on their powerful intercession in her needs. By their eloquent witness they proclaim the transforming strength of the love of God and neighbour, the essence of the Christian life, and encourage us to live with renewed fidelity our status as his children, called to bear witness to the faith, to keep hope alive and to practise charity at every moment of our lives.

I affectionately greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, the priests and faithful and, in particular, the women religious who have seen their founders canonized. I welcome you all most cordially to this joyful meeting, which is taking place during the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation.

2. Your presence here reminds me of the unforgettable days I spent in Mexico on the occasion of the four apostolic journeys Providence allowed me to make there, culminating in my visit last year to present the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I placed the life of all the Ecclesial Communities on the Continent of Hope under her protection, so that she might bless them with new and abundant fruits of holiness.

The people of Mexico have always been distinguished by their great love for God, Our Lady, the Church and the Pope, with strong roots in the Catholic faith which, despite the vicissitudes of history, is an integral and fundamental part of your nation's soul. This is why I would like to repeat to you what I said during the Holy Mass at the federal capital's racetrack: "Do not let this light of faith be extinguished! Mexico still needs it in order to build a more just and fraternal society in solidarity.... Bring Christ's word to those who still do not know it! Have the courage to bear witness to the Gospel in the streets and squares, in the valleys and mountains of this nation!" (Homily, 24 January 1999; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 27 January 1999, p. 5).

3. We are observing the Great Jubilee year, which gives us the opportunity to draw near to the infinite treasures of grace and mercy that God has entrusted to the Church. It is therefore necessary - according to each one's particular vocation - to follow Christ radically. He is the way that gave strength to St Cristóbal Magallanes and his Companions to be victorious in martyrdom, to St José María de Yermo y Parres to become the "Giant of Charity", to St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas to submit to God's will with humility and generosity. May their examples and teaching continually instil in you the enthusiasm and the courage to follow Christ with renewed fidelity. You will thus be prepared to face with confidence and hope the difficulties of our time and the challenges of the new evangelization.

4. The states of Jalisco, Zacatecas, Durango, Chihuahua, Guanajuato, Morelos, Guerrero and Colima are the native lands of the new martyr saints. The memory of them and of their generous, heroic commitment lives on, and their glory before God will never fade. These priests, who gave their lives out of fidelity to their priestly ministry, are a shining example for priests today of how to assist the faithful, even at the risk of their own life. Together with them the three lay people are a precious witness of the ecclesial commitment and vocation to holiness that belong to all the baptized and which must prompt us to live in communion of faith and love, especially at the side of those who need us, while always trusting in God.

5. St José María de Yermo y Parres, from the clergy of Puebla de Los Angeles, led a life of prayer and sacrifice, of fervent trust in divine Providence and of heroic charity: his life is an invitation to Christians to follow Christ through love of neighbour by forgetting themselves and, when necessary, by accepting the Cross. In the contemporary world, so in need of brotherhood and solidarity, the new saint teaches us how to establish new relationships in which generous, creative, concrete and dynamic service can foster a new climate of brotherhood in Christ among all.

To continue his work, his eminently priestly spirit led to the foundation of the Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and of the Poor, to whom he left the witness of a matchless commitment to the cause of Christ and the poor. Dear religious, daughters of St José María de Yermo, always keep his Gospel traits of humility and simplicity alive in your service of merciful love to your needy brethren and assist them with the same sentiments of the divine Heart. This will help you to keep alive the ecclesial and missionary sense of your charism and the right direction in your social and spiritual apostolate for the poor.

6. St María de Jesús Sacramentado Venegas was born in the state of Jalisco. After a childhood lived in family surroundings where, despite problems, an intense spiritual atmosphere was fostered, she was led by God to Sacred Heart Hospital in Guadalajara, where she joined other devout women who dedicated themselves to the care of the sick. There, as a skilled and self-sacrificing nurse, she did all she could in the service of health, and, after being elected Superior in 1921, she devoted herself to strengthening the new institute, imbuing her sisters with love for the Church and souls, for privations and sacrifices. She did not shrink from the religious persecution but, on the contrary, promoted new foundations in various states of the republic. Her spiritual life was nourished with constant prayer, the reception of the sacraments and filial devotion to the Virgin Mary, all within the strictest obedience to the Rules of her institute.

Her message retains all its timeliness. Indeed, the firmness of her faith, her boundless trust in God and her untiring love to the point of forgetting herself made her a consecrated women worthy of imitation. She knew how to strengthen the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where she extended her self-giving, after the example of the Good Samaritan, to those who, as she said, "in body and in soul have a greater resemblance to the suffering Christ". With a life like hers, devoted to doing God's will above all else, one can live in peace and serenity, human aspirations that are so necessary for contemporary life. Fortunately, Mexico is now experiencing a springtime of vocations to the religious life; its pioneers are people of the stature of Mother María de Jesús Sacramentado.

7. Dear Mexican pilgrims, yesterday you took part in an extraordinary event: the canonization of 27 of your compatriots during the Great Jubilee. Return to Mexico with the commitment to renew your fidelity to God and the Church, to bear a courageous witness to Christian life always and everywhere, to collaborate in the new evangelization so that Christ may be known and loved by all Mexicans. Also defend the cause of life, of the family, of the poor and of the needy.

May the intercession of the new saints help you in this mission; may you be accompanied by the motherly protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of Mexico and Empress of America. May this Apostolic Blessing, which I affectionately impart to you and willingly extend to your relatives, friends and loved ones, be a pledge of heavenly favours.



Monday 22 May 2000

I am grateful to the Rector for his words to me. I affectionately greet Cardinals Juan Sandoval and Norberto Rivera, the Archbishops and Bishops present and, in particular, the Rector and students of this college which welcomes us to this festive meeting today, the day after the canonization of 27 saints of your country, the beloved land of Mexico.

I feel very much at ease in your home, which I have visited twice. The first time was in December 1979 and the second in November 1992 for its 25th anniversary. Being with you makes me feel close to your Dioceses and places of origin and, at the same time, enables me to relive the unforgettable pastoral visits I have made to your beloved country.

I would like to thank the superiors for their work of guidance and spiritual direction for the student priests, as well as the women religious, the Sisters of the Poor, Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who, together with the lay staff, silently make it possible for this priestly community to live as a family where a sound and happy climate of brotherhood prevails.

I hope that this college will continue to foster a suitable atmosphere for furthering and broadening your academic and spiritual formation, so necessary for the priestly ministry, which is the primary reason for your stay here.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe, Queen of your beloved nation and Mother of all Mexicans, intercede for you with her divine Son and always accompany you with her caring presence and motherly tenderness.





Dear Italian Bishops,

1. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2Co 13,14).

In these words of the Apostle Paul I extend a fraternal and affectionate greeting to each of you. In particular I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, your President, the three Vice-Presidents and the General Secretary, Archbishop Ennio Antonelli. I warmly thank them for all the work they do with diligent and inspired commitment in service to your Conference. Special thanks go to the two Vice-Presidents, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi and Bishop Alberto Ablondi, whose mandates end with this assembly.

I accompany you with prayer and am spiritually close to you in the days you are preparing to spend together at Collevalenza, sharing episcopal fraternity and your common concern for the Church of God in Italy. I also want to thank you for the congratulations and sentiments of communion that you expressed to me for my 80th birthday.

2. I would especially like to express my heartfelt approval and personal gratitude for the spirit and dedication with which you lead and guide the celebration of the Great Jubilee in your particular Churches and in pilgrimages to Rome.

On this journey of faith and conversion, which the Lord is abundantly blessing, two particularly significant events are now at hand. The first is the International Eucharistic Congress, which will be celebrated from 18 to 25 June and represents in a certain sense the peak moment of this "intensely Eucharistic" Holy Year (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 55).

The second is World Youth Day, scheduled for August, at which we want to entrust to Catholic young people throughout the world the mission of witnessing to Jesus Christ in the century and millennium opening before us, the same mission that so many Christians fulfilled in the 20th century, even to the shedding of their blood.

I repeat to each of you, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, and to the faithful in your care my invitation to share the joy and grace of these events with me and with the Church of Rome. I also express my deep appreciation and gratitude to your Conference for all your diligent and generous collaboration in preparing for them.

3. The principal theme of your assembly concerns the pastoral guidelines which you intend to offer the Churches in Italy for the coming decade: you will thus be able to determine the most appropriate and effective ways to continue and strengthen the work of the new evangelization, which is certainly a pastoral priority for Italy, as it is for many other nations with a great and ancient Christian tradition, but which are threatened by currents of secularization and dechristianization.

The City Mission, held in Rome in preparation for the Jubilee, and similar initiatives already or now being carried out in many other Italian Dioceses show how the paths of evangelization can be followed in practice. Moreover, they offer significant models for missionary activity that makes the most of all the human and spiritual resources of the People of God.

For some time now the Church in Italy has been involved in a Christian-oriented cultural project which provides the coordinates and directions for an evangelization that reaches individuals, families and communities in the social and cultural areas where their convictions and life decisions are formed, with special attention to guiding the changes under way and not to being surprised or marginalized by them. The communications media provide your Conference with a very important tool for evangelization, which I hope will be further strengthened: the media offer Italian Catholics the possibility of being present each day in the exchange of opinions and the presentation of behavioural models, a presence which is indispensable today in the society of "global communications".

4. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I fully share your concern for the beloved Italian nation, which is facing a difficult turning-point in its history. In these circumstances, it is more necessary than ever for it not to lose that heritage of faith and culture which is its principal wealth.

You therefore have my convinced support in your efforts to encourage the family based on marriage, the true pillar of social life in Italy. In view of the serious and persistent fall in the birth rate, which threatens the future of this nation, it is particularly important that the Ecclesial Community's formation work converge with political and legislative decisions in promoting the acceptance of human life and respect for its inalienable dignity.

I also cherish, dear Brothers, a happy memory of the great National Assembly of Catholic Schools, held in St Peter's Square on 30 October last, in which, together with a multitude of young people, parents and teachers, we asked for full scholastic parity and the adoption of a new outlook, "which will regard not only Catholic schools, but the various scholastic initiatives that can be fostered in society, as a valuable resource for the formation of the younger generation, on condition that they have the indispensable requirements of seriousness and an educational purpose" (Address to National Assembly of Italian Catholic Schools, n. 3; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 December 1999, p. 8).

Together with the family and education, employment is rightly at the heart of your concerns and mine. The serious imbalances that persist in Italy in this regard, penalizing some regions in addition to young people and women, should be addressed by making the most of the great capacities for initiative found in this country, in the light of the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.

Dear Italian Bishops, may the Lord always enlighten and support your pastoral service and grant you the joy of seeing your Christian communities grow strong in faith, active in charity and capable of a courageous missionary witness. As a pledge of all this, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your Churches.

From the Vatican, 22 May 2000.




To my Venerable Brother
Berhane-Yesus Demerew Souraphiel
Archbishop of Addis Ababa
President of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Episcopal Conference

In this time of trial, I am particularly close to all the Bishops of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Episcopal Conference and to those entrusted to their pastoral care.

As the conflict grows worse and innocent people, already hungry and deprived, are forced to leave their homes and land, I cannot but ask those in power to spare them from more suffering and to resume respect for the territorial integrity of your countries. I pray daily to the Lord that men of good will may return to dialogue through respect for the principles of international law, and allow themselves to be led by the spirit of divine wisdom, so that they may be instruments of peace.

I want to assure you that the Holy See will continue to ask the international community to help in the search for conditions which will allow a cease-fire and the flow of humanitarian aid.

Africa has a right to peace and solidarity, especially your two countries, heirs to a rich tradition of Christian culture, who for long lived together in mutual respect and harmony.

I greet you all affectionately in the Lord, and I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace in our Risen Saviour.

From the Vatican, 23 May 2000




To His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir
Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites

Having been informed of the unfolding events in your country, I wish to express my solidarity to you and invite all Christians to join in solidarity with the peoples of South Lebanon who fear for their future because of the situation which has developed in recent days.

I feel compelled to remind all leaders of the grave duty to respect the rights of individuals and peoples, and not to commit acts which could threaten the lives of individuals as well as the harmony between the communities.

I pray to God to enlighten minds and hearts so that all the civilian population will be spared new massacres and the sovereignty of each country will be guaranteed so that everyone can look to the future with great hope.

As a pledge of comfort, I send my Apostolic Blessing to Your Eminence and to all the Christian faithful, asking God to shower an abundance of his favours on all Lebanese.

From the Vatican, 24 May 2000.



Thursday, 25 May 2000

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to welcome Your Excellency for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Congo to the Holy See.
I was touched by your courteous words and I cordially thank you. Through you I would like to greet President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, whom I will have the pleasure to receive in a few days. I extend my cordial wishes to the Congolese people, and I pray that God will inspire them with sentiments of brotherhood and mutual understanding so that they may all live in peace and security, and build a reconciled society marked by solidarity.

2. In your address you told me of the efforts in your country to re-establish a lasting civil peace and to enable all citizens to enjoy their fundamental rights in freedom. I am delighted with the progress made in the search for understanding among all the nation's children, such as the agreement to a cessation of hostilities signed a few months ago, which has led to a noticeable improvement in security. However, to reinforce the state of non-belligerence so that the true and lasting peace which the Congolese people desire may be achieved, it is necessary to encourage a dialogue that excludes no one and to banish once and for all the recourse to arms as a way of solving political conflicts.

The path of harmony among all the Congolese, which your country has taken, is also a path to democracy, which requires the defence of public freedoms and the fundamental rights of the individual and of human communities. Total respect for these rights and freedoms is the surest way to create harmonious relations among the citizens of the same nation beyond internal divisions, and thus to build a State governed by law that guarantees to everyone, particularly the young and the weakest, a stable place in social life and the possibility of living in dignity. In fact, "failure awaits every plan which would separate two indivisible and interdependent rights: the right to peace and the right to an integral development born of solidarity" (Message for the World Day of Peace 2000, n. 13).

After so many years of suffering, a true peace can only be achieved if the entire country commits itself with ever greater courage and determination to the ways of reconciliation and forgiveness. The start of the new millennium is a perfect occasion for working to give justice to the innocent victims of the conflicts, to eliminate the violence that enables some to dominate others and to create a new culture of solidarity.

3. For her part, the Catholic Church, which has also been harshly affected by the violence, is firmly committed to pastoral care that can help people to be reconciled to one another and foster interior healing. I am pleased to know that your country's authorities also wish to give her ever greater assurance of freely exercising her mission. By tirelessly putting herself at the service of peace and brotherhood among men and by seeking to develop a greater awareness of the indispensable universal moral values for dealing with the current situation, the Church fulfils her mission to evangelize, shares her hope in the future and takes part in building society.

Moreover, in the face of the serious threats which mortgage the future of young people, Catholic Church hopes to make an effective contribution to their human, spiritual, moral and civic formation through her educational programmes, particularly her schools. It is essential, in fact, that the new generations be patiently and persistently taught justice, peace and fraternal respect, so that they can acquire a taste for what is just and true, and firmly resist the temptation to resentment and violence.

4. Please allow me, Mr Ambassador, to extend my affectionate greetings through you to the Bishops and the Catholic community of your country. I know the hardships they have borne with all their compatriots, and I thank God for their courage and fidelity to the Gospel. They are witnesses to what Christ accomplishes in the human heart to make everyone messengers of love. In this Jubilee year, I invite them to be artisans of peace and reconciliation with ever greater confidence, showing their brothers and sisters that God has neither forsaken nor forgotten them.

Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 20 May 2000