Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 17 June 2000


Saturday, 17 June 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to extend an affectionate welcome to each of you at this meeting which takes place on the eve of the liturgical feast of the Holy Trinity. This year the feast has special importance because it takes us into the heart of the Great Jubilee, whose aim is "to give glory to the Trinity, from whom everything in the world and in history comes and to whom everything returns" (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 55). Contemplation of the mystery of the Triune God thus instils in believers a renewed commitment to know, love and serve God, who calls us to cooperate with him in building a more just and fraternal world.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope you can have a powerful experience of God's love during your Jubilee pilgrimage. Indeed, it is his love that helps us to be faithful to his law and makes us the leaven of authentic renewal in the world.

2. I greet you who are attending the meeting of the World Organization of Former Pupils of Catholic Education. During your studies you have not only had the opportunity to acquire intellectual training but also human, moral and spiritual formation. May you be able to offer its benefits to your children and today's young people, who need to learn reference-points from their elders so that their lives will be happy and full of hope!

I extend a cordial greeting to you, students taking part in the Council of Europe's photography competition on the theme: Europe: a common heritage. You are experiencing the relationships between the continent's various peoples and cultures; by doing so, you are in your own way preparing a fraternal Europe where each person shows solidarity to all and is open to other cultures, so that they can become a common heritage based on the essential values of respect for life and individuals.

3. I now extend a particular greeting to the groups of faithful from the Parishes of St Vitus and Modestus in Burago di Molgora, Sts Peter and Paul in Luino, Sts Faustinus and Jovita in Villalta di Gazzo, Our Lady of the Assumption in Frascarolo, St Blase in Vacri and St Joseph in San Cesareo.

Dear friends, may the marvellous days of your Jubilee pilgrimage, which have brought you to meet Christ, the "Door" leading to new life, and to pray at the tombs of the Apostles and martyrs be a joyful opportunity for each of you to rediscover the love of God and to have a renewed experience of belonging to the great family which is the Church. Enriched by this experience, may you be fervent peacemakers committed to good works in your communities, so that each of your parishes can be a living reflection of the Trinity.

By taking the relations between the three divine Persons as a paradigm of human society, in fact, it is possible to build the civilization of love in which equality becomes brotherhood and unity in a respectful communion between individuals and authority, in generous service to the good of others.

4. I next extend a warm greeting to the staff of the Ferrara agency of Assicurazioni Generali, the Sacred Family Hospital Group of the St John of God Hospitallers of Erba, the Thalassemia Association of Garibaldi Hospital in Catania, the Vinovo Musical Band and the group of faithful from Abbadia San Salvatore.

I hope that those belonging to these groups will bring the riches of the faith to their work and to the life of their associations, in order to live it as a call to grow in mutual esteem and acceptance, and generously to serve the common good. In this way, their time spent together and the needs of their brothers and sisters will become opportunities to bear witness to the love of God which triumphs over sin and divisions, and offers the hope of always returning to the way of goodness.

5. I cordially greet the German-speaking pilgrims, especially the relatives of the late Archbishop Josef Stimpfle, who led the Diocese of Augsburg for almost 30 years. I also welcome the students of the Catholic school in Bremerhaven. Dear young people, I am pleased that you have traveled from northern Germany over the Alps to the South, to visit the tombs of the Princes of the Apostles in the Holy Year. The region where you live your Christian lives is a diaspora. Thus the school you attend is a sort of "training ground" for mature Christian witness. I hope that you can lead convinced Christian lives with strength and courage. I pray God to grant you his help and blessing.

6. I now extend a greeting to the members of the War Academy of Ecuador's Ministry of Defence on the occasion of your visit to Rome in the Great Jubilee year. To cross the threshold of the Holy Door is to express the desire to be ever closer to God and thus to live your lives according to the teachings of the Gospel. May this action, accompanied by works of piety and charity, obtain the graces you need to carry out your family and professional tasks, as you bear witness to your fidelity to Christ and to your membership in his Church.

7. Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust each of you to the motherly protection of the One whom the Church venerates as the eminent dwelling-place of the Holy Trinity, and as I renew my wish that your Jubilee pilgrimage will be fruitful, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.





19 June 2000

Dear Fr Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata!

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the Ordinary Assembly which you are holding these days in Bologna. I greet you all affectionately. In a special way I greet the Director General and her Council, as well as Fr Luigi Faccenda, your founder and the institute's spiritual guide. By your visit you intend to strengthen your communion with the Successor of Peter. I am grateful for this sign of fidelity and love for the Church.

When you were numbered among the secular institutes of pontifical right on 25 May 1992, you became in fact a new branch on the fruitful millenary tree of the Church. As I join in your thanksgiving to God for the road you have traveled so far, I hope that the General Assembly will be a favourable occasion for you to reflect ever more deeply on your spirituality of total consecration to the Immaculata, following the example of St Maximilian Kolbe, the martyr of Auschwitz.
I am confident that the work of your meeting, supported and guided by the grace of the Jubilee, will strengthen you in your commitment of consecration to God, so that you can be a leaven of wisdom and witnesses to hope in today's world, which is waiting to be transfigured "from within by the power of the Beatitudes" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 10). In this way you will call to mind the mission belonging to every disciple of Christ, which is effectively described by a well-known author of the early centuries in these words: Christians "follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, ... and yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through.... Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.... They are to the world what the soul is to the body.... It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by Christians ... that the world is held together" (Letter to Diognetus, ch. 5-6; Funk, Patres Apostolici).

2. I was delighted to learn that your young institute is spreading to various countries and that there are "Immaculata Houses" in Italy, Luxembourg, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, California and Poland, where, to keep alive the legacy of the martyr Maximilian Kolbe, you are finishing a "Sprituality Centre" at Auschwitz which is meant to offer a message of hope to all who visit that place, the symbol of the most atrocious denials of human dignity perpetrated in the 20th century.

I also know that the "Immaculata Volunteers" work at your side, men and women of all states of life who embrace your spirituality and share the same apostolate. Your institute is distinguished by its Marian charism drawn from the teachings and example of St Maximilian Kolbe, whose love for the Immaculata is well known. He sensed that the mystery of the Immaculata contains the profound synthesis of the misfortune of original sin, the tragic story which ensued for sinful humanity and the divine plan of salvation which culminated in the Word becoming incarnate in the Blessed Virgin's womb. Spurred by this inner certainty, Fr Kolbe urged that the truth about the Immaculata be sown in the heart of every man and woman, so that the Blessed Virgin - as he said - would be able to
establish the throne of her Son in everyone by bringing each person to a deeper knowledge and love of the Gospel. He also observed that when we consecrate ourselves to the Immaculata, we become instruments of divine mercy in her hands, as she herself was in God's hands. And he urged people to let Mary take them by the hand and lead them, walking "calmly and securely under her guidance".

3. Dear Fr Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata! Your daily experience allows you to see with your own eyes how the people of our time are waiting once again to hear Mary Magdalen's announcement on Easter morning: "The Lord is risen!" (cf. Mk Mc 16,10). They need apostles today who will proclaim Christ, man's only Saviour, as was done at the dawn of our faith, and will
vigorously declare that his Death and Resurrection give everyone the possibility to hope and live to the full. May you also be apostles and missionaries!

With Franciscan zeal sow the truth of the Gospel in the hearts and lives of the brothers and sisters you meet in your daily ecclesial service. Your work of evangelization will have an impact on the hearts of those who hear you, if you remain firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. Your apostolate must flow from ceaseless prayer and a fraternal life that is a continuous search for God and his action in the complex realities of the world.
I ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Immaculata and St Maximilian Kolbe, to strengthen you in your zealous intentions and to help you with the ardour of his Spirit, so that the General Chapter you are holding may bring abundant fruits to your institute and to the Church.

With these wishes, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to each of you, to the members of your spiritual Family and to everyone who receives your pastoral care.



Monday, 19 June 2000

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,

1. I am pleased to welcome each of you and to express my sincere gratitude for this visit which you have wished to pay me on the occasion of the second yearly meeting of ROACO. I extend a cordial greeting to Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and President of ROACO, and I thank him for his courteous words on behalf of you all. I also affectionately greet Archbishop Miroslav Stefan Marusyn, Secretary of the Congregation, the Undersecretary and the staff, together with those responsible for the various agencies.

In recent years your work has been increasingly organized to offer a more attentive and immediate response to the requests and urgent needs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, thanks also to the contribution of the local communities, which you have fittingly sought to involve. From time to time their requests have been the object of special sessions of reflection and examination, in order to determine the pastoral priorities and to decide on the support to be given to various evangelization projects.

2. I still cherish a vivid and grateful memory of my recent Jubilee pilgrimages to Mount Sinai, Mount Nebo and the Holy Land, to which I wanted to go as the sign of a return "to the roots of the faith and of the Church", meeting Patriarchs, Bishops and priests, men and women religious, as well as the sons and daughters of the Eastern Catholic Churches.

The visit to famous places in the life of Moses, the solemn Mass in honour of St John the Baptist at the Amman stadium, the Eucharistic celebrations in the Upper Room and at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem were unforgettable moments in which "our soul [was] stirred not only by the memory of what God has done but by his very presence, walking with us once again in the land of Christ's Birth, Death and Resurrection" (Angelus, Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, 26 March 2000).

What the Lord allowed me to experience in those days prompts me to urge you and all the Catholic faithful to take the Christian communities of the Holy Land increasingly to heart and to support their needs, so that the names of Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem will continue to stir feelings of gratitude in the hearts of contemporary and future Christians for the ineffable Mystery which came to pass there and for the message of salvation which, thanks to the first communities of believers, spread from that land to the whole world.

3. Because of the Great Jubilee, which the Lord has enabled us to celebrate, significant delegations from the Eastern Catholic Churches have come and will come to Rome to pray with their fellow Catholics at the tombs of the Apostles and to strengthen their bonds of intense communion and brotherhood with the Apostolic See. In this way the universality of the Church, with the variety of her rites and traditions, also becomes visible in Rome.

These concrete expressions of the wealth and variety of the catholicity of Christ's Church are a pressing appeal to pursue ecumenism, an important commitment of the Great Jubilee. As I recalled in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, it is precisely from the ecumenical standpoint that this will be "a very important year for Christians to look together to Christ the one Lord, deepening our commitment to become one in him, in accordance with his prayer to the Father. This emphasis on the centrality of Christ, of the word of God and of faith ought to inspire interest among Christians of other denominations and meet with a favourable response from them" (n. 41).

4. On this particular occasion I invite you all again to make every effort to aid populations divided by fratricidal conflicts or those in the Middle East who are still searching for stable paths of justice and freedom.

The Jubilee urges us to show concrete signs of fraternal charity which open "our eyes to the needs of those who are poor and excluded.... The abuses of power which result in some dominating others must stop: such abuses are sinful and unjust" (Incarnationis mysterium, n. 12). Therefore, the commitment to justice and the search for resources to create a culture of solidarity and cooperation must be important objectives for you all, but especially for the Ecclesial Communities whose fraternal solidarity you convey and visibly express.

In this way, under the prudent guidance of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the organizations you represent are strengthened as effective witnesses to the active concern of the Churches from which they come and a prophetic sign of the commitment of the whole Church. It is by working for justice that peace is built. It is the practice of Christ's commandment of love that anticipates the new heavens and the new earth "in which righteousness dwells" (2P 3,13).

5. Dear brothers and sisters, may I express to you the gratitude of the Eastern Churches for the concrete work of Christian concern you have carried out on their behalf for so many years. In view of the ever more pressing needs, I urge you to expand your hearts to intensify the flow of active charity to which so many people look with trust.

In this year of grace, I hope that each of you will accept with a ready heart the abundant spiritual gifts which the Lord bestows for a life that is ever more generously committed to his service. May the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, to whom I entrust your valuable work for the Eastern Churches, intercede for you.

With this wish, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.




Saturday, 24 June 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. You have come in large numbers to make your Jubilee pilgrimage to this beloved city of Rome. I extend my cordial greetings to you all. In particular, my thoughts turn to the faithful from the Diocese of Ascoli Piceno, who want this pilgrimage to strengthen their close bond of communion with the Successor of Peter. Dear friends, welcome!

I first extend my cordial greeting to your Pastor, Bishop Silvano Montevecchi, and thank him for his kind words on behalf of you all. Through him, I would like to assure the entire Diocese of a remembrance in my prayer: the beloved priests, consecrated men and women, lay faithful and especially those who are actively involved in the life of your Church, the young people, the sick and those who seek the truth with a sincere heart. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, who hails from your region and is the Preacher of the Papal Household, is also here with you today and I greet him affectionately. Lastly, I extend my respectful greetings to the civil authorities of every rank and level who have wished to attend this significant gathering.

By providential design, today's visit to the Jubilee sites is taking place within the framework of the International Eucharistic Congress, whose solemn conclusion will be celebrated tomorrow. May this coincidence strengthen you all in faith and devotion to the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, which the Church keeps as a precious treasure given to sustain her on her journey to the eternal Easter.

2. I am aware of the pastoral initiative that since October has involved all the parishes of your Diocese in an in-depth reflection on the Eucharist and Holy Mass. During this period, under the guidance of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, Eucharistic Weeks have been held on the theme: "Christ, Life of the Soul, Lord of History".

I was delighted to learn of the notable fruits produced at the catechetical and pastoral level in the many Word of God "Listening Centres" set up in families. As many people wish, this experience should be extended for the benefit of those who want to continue growing in their knowledge of the faith. Various ecclesial associations have collaborated on this initiative, which has involved many people in a journey of reflection. This aspect should also be also be developed.

Catechetical work finds its fulfilment in the liturgical celebration, for the paschal event that it proclaims is fully realized in the mystery lived through the sacramental gifts. The Eucharistic Weeks organized in the parishes and vicariates of your Diocese have helped you prepare yourselves intensely to live the Eucharistic dimension of ecclesial life in the concrete situations you encounter each day. Now that the seed has been scattered, the soil must be cultivated so that the liturgy of the Cross, the liturgy of Light, the liturgy of Charity will be better and better known and lived.

Rediscovery of the pious practice of Eucharistic adoration, using the materials prepared by the Benedictine nuns of the monastery of Offida, has introduced you to the prayerful dimension of ecclesial life. In fact, a constant and profound dialogue with Christ, present in a most special way in the Eucharist, strengthens the task of witness and mission, entrusted to every baptized person, according to his state of life.

3. The ecclesial community thus becomes a "meeting tent" in order to open itself then to sharing with everyone: young people, workers, the elderly, prisoners, the sick, the poor, married or engaged couples and consecrated persons.

The time devoted to evangelization and celebration must be followed by a substantial commitment to charity through concrete acts of solidarity. I know that your Diocese has already planned to build a youth ministry centre in Sierra Leone and a home for disabled children in Zambia. New structures have also been opened in your region to aid people with material or spiritual problems. Fearlessly continue to serve the poor who knock at the doors of your heart. It is Christ who comes to visit you in them, in order to give you his grace. A revitalized faith, firmer hope and tireless charity will be the most valuable fruits of your Holy Year celebration.

4. I would now like to extend an affectionate greeting to the members of the Pious Sodality of Piceno, an ancient and praiseworthy Roman confraternity that for four centuries has been working to preserve and spread human and Christian values among the large and active community of people from the Marches in this city. My cordial thoughts also turn to the pilgrims from Holy Spirit Parish in Palo del Colle and Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Civita, from the Eparchy of Lungro and also to the participants in the relay race organized by the recreational club for railway workers in Udine, to the employees of the Cassa di Risparmio of Ferrara, to the Italian Assocation of Barmen and Supporters, and to the Frate Indovino Publishers of Perugia. Lastly, I greet the members of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas, who have gatherd in Rome these days for their first assembly.

Dear friends, may the Jubilee be an occasion for you to renew your fidelity to Christ and his Gospel, so that your Christian witness may have an ever greater impact on society. May you be supported on this journey by the intercession of the Mother of God and of the Forerunner of Christ, who is especially honoured in today's liturgy.

I accompany these wishes with my Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly impart to you present here and to your families and loved ones, with special affection for the sick, the elderly and all who, despite their wishes, were unable to be with us here at today's meeting.

Praised be Jesus Christ!



To the Honourable Emilio Colombo
President of the Giuseppe Toniolo Institute

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the foundation of the Toniolo Institute, I would like to extend my good wishes and greetings to you and to all the members. With heartfelt sentiments, I join in the common thanksgiving to the Lord for the fruitful work done to encourage the presence of Italian Catholics in the world of culture and scientific research. The canonical erection of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and its juridical recognition by the State are, in fact, owed to the prophetic and tenacious activity of this praiseworthy institution, desired by Fr Agostino Gemelli and Mons. Francesco Olgiati and approved by Pope Benedict XV.

My venerable Predecessors have always expressed deep esteem for the Toniolo Institute, whose task is to guarantee that the university of Italian Catholics remains ever faithful to its twofold statutory purpose: scientific research enlightened by faith, and the training of qualified Christian professionals who will be in full harmony with the Church's Magisterium, while respecting a legitimate plurality of views in the scientific field. The Supreme Pontiffs have not failed to show constant regard for the institute's dedication in always seeking to encourage in the academic community the spirit of collaboration and service necessary for productive scientific work, and to respond better to the expectations of Italian Pastors and Catholics.

In expressing keen appreciation of the consistent commitment with which the Toniolo Institute, even in particularly difficult moments, has been able to maintain unchanged the principles which inspired the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, while effectively serving the cause of culture and the Gospel in the Italian academic world, I hope that it can meet the challenges of the new millennium in fidelity to its great tradition, by combining full adherence to the Church's Magisterium, scientific rigour and far-sighted initiative.

With these sentiments, as I invoke from the Heart of Christ abundant Jubilee gifts of grace and holiness for you, Mr President, and for the members of the Toniolo Institute, I entrust you all to the motherly protection of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and impart to everyone a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 24 June 2000.



Thursday 29 June 2000

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ep 1,2).

Venerable Brothers,

1. It is with great joy that I thank His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Holy Synod for sending you to Rome for the Feast of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul. Your presence adds greatly to the joy of the Church of Rome as she celebrates her Patron Saints. The exchange of visits between Rome and Constantinople for our respective feast days has become an established custom and helps us to maintain ecumenical contacts in a spirit of prayer and fraternal consultation.

For the feast of Saint Andrew in 1979, I was able to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate and confirm the Catholic Churchís desire to continue on the path which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, will lead to unity among all those who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour. For the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in 1995, I had the privilege of welcoming to Rome His Holiness Bartholomew I, when we, like the brothers Peter and Andrew, gave each other encouragement in the following of the One who is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14,6).

2. Our meeting today is taking place during the celebration of the Jubilee Year. I take the occasion to express my deep gratitude to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for having sent delegations to the two main ecumenical events of the Roman calendar of the Year 2000, namely the Solemn Opening of the Holy Door of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, and the Ecumenical Commemoration of the Witnesses of Faith of the Twentieth Century. For her part, the Church of Rome willingly responded to the appeal of His Holiness the Patriarch for a Vigil of Prayer in preparation for the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The heart of the Jubilee Year is the universal call to reconciliation and peace. Together, Catholic and Orthodox Christians must create a future of more intense cooperation and brotherly love, leading to the full communion which is the Lordís will for us. The prophetic words of Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I in their joint Declaration of 1967 should be our constant inspiration: "The spirit which ought to inspire these efforts is the spirit of loyalty to the truth and of mutual understanding, with the effective desire to avoid the grievances of the past and every form of spiritual and intellectual domination" (Tomos Agapis, No. 195).

3. In the search for more fraternal relations between the Churches, the importance of a purification of memories makes itself felt at every turn. Tragic events of history have left a sad legacy in the minds and psychology of Catholics and Orthodox. I entrust to the mercy of God every such action not in harmony with Godís will for which sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have been responsible. Let us, together, in the Third Christian Millennium write a new history in a spirit of brotherly love, respect and cooperation.

4. Within a few days the Joint Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches will meet in plenary session. I shall accompany the work of the Commission with my prayers. It is my earnest wish that the dialogue may resume its normal course with new energy and commitment.

Dear Brothers, I thank you again for your visit and ask you to convey to His Holiness the Patriarch and to the Holy Synod my sentiments of deep esteem and respect. May the Lord grant us to grow always in mutual love. May he guide our steps on the way to full communion.


Friday 30 June 2000

To the Society of the Divine Word

1. In this year of the Great Jubilee, as the whole Church rejoices in the Word made flesh two thousand years ago, I warmly greet you on the occasion of the Fifteenth General Chapter of the Society of the Divine Word, which takes place as you celebrate the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of your foundation. In particular I welcome the new Superior General and General Council, and I assure you of my prayers as you undertake your lofty responsibilities. I join you and all the members of the Society in giving thanks to God for the impetus given to the Church's mission down the years through the faithful witness of your religious consecration and your missionary activities.

2. Led by the Holy Spirit, Blessed Arnold Janssen with four companions opened a house at Steyl to train priests for foreign mission work; and this led to the emergence of the Society of the Divine Word, whose priests and brothers, consecrated to the Lord's service through the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, "go forth into the whole world to carry out the task of preaching the Gospel and planting the Church among peoples or groups who do not yet believe in Christ" (Ad Gentes AGD 6).

From this Society there came men like Blessed Joseph Freinademetz who devoted himself with exemplary zeal and evangelical creativity to the service of the Gospel in China, and the Blessed martyrs Father Ludwik Mzyk, Father Alojzy Liguda, Father Stanislaw Kubista and Brother Grzegorz Frackowiak, who gave glory to God with the supreme sacrifice of their lives .As his spiritual testament from a death-camp Blessed Alojzy bequeathed to his beloved Society an eloquent declaration of the dignity of every human being, created in God's image and likeness: "People may treat me as something base, but cannot make me base .Dachau can rob me of all my rights and titles; the privilege of being a son of God no one can take from me .Forever I shall repeat: 'God will always be and remain my Father .'" The martyrs are the glory of your Society, and the surest sign of the efficacy of his grace, manifested in the spirit and rules which govern the life of your communities.

3. The divine word which you are called to speak in the world is the word spoken first by God in the moment of creation when, after breathing into the primeval darkness, emptiness and chaos, he brought to birth the light and fullness and order of Paradise (cf. Gen Gn 1,2-3).You too are sent into the darkness, the emptiness and the chaos of the world in order to speak the life-giving word. This means in the end that you are sent to speak the Word which is Jesus Christ. When the Word was made flesh, God entered the very depths of human sin and misery; and this divine embrace of our sinful world is made perfect on Calvary's hill. From the Cross the Word of God spoken to all times and places and peoples addresses every human need and every human hope. This is the Word which your Society is called to proclaim: the Word of the Cross, which "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but [which] to us who are being saved. . . is the power of God" (1Co 1,18).This means that each one of you is called, like the Apostle Paul, to live the mystery of the Lord's Cross (cf. Phil Ph 3,10), in such a way that your ministry may be much more than human service and solidarity. It must always be a communication of the newness of life brought by Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. At the dawn of the new millennium, a rapidly changing world calls you to engage in a profound discernment in order to respond more effectively to God's will and to contemporary needs. It is fitting that the Fifteenth General Chapter of the Society has as its theme: "Listening to the Spirit: Our Missionary Response Today".It is the Holy Spirit who must lead your discernment, just as it is the Spirit who must be the hidden power of all your missionary work, leading you into the depths of contemplation from which the herald's testimony springs. It is the Holy Spirit who ensures that Christ's life "becomes your life, his mission becomes your mission" (SVD Constitutions, Prologue).

The urgent task of the mission ad gentes and the "new evangelization" requires that you proclaim Christ the Saviour in many different cultural contexts.It can never be forgotten that there are still countless men and women who have not heard the name of Jesus and who have never had the immense gift of his salvation offered to them.Christ is the only Saviour of the world, the Good News for the men and women of every time and place in their search for the meaning of existence and the truth of their own humanity (cf. Ecclesia in Asia ). All people have a right to hear this Good News, and the Church therefore has a solemn duty to go forth everywhere to proclaim the saving message of Jesus Christ. In this most vital work, your Society has an indispensable role to play in upholding the primacy of explicit proclamation of Jesus as Lord, without which there can be no true evangelization (cf. ibid., 19; Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 22). "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how are they to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without a preacher?" (Rm 10,13-14).

At the same time, inculturation and interreligious dialogue have an important role to play in many of the places where you carry out your missionary activity. Serious and open dialogue with cultures and religions does not dispense from evangelization and should never be seen as opposed to the mission ad gentes. It should also be remembered that this dialogue is what Pope Paul VI called a colloquium salutis (cf. Ecclesiam Suam, 58), not a simple exchange of opinions or points of view, but a "saving dialogue" to which the Church brings the truth of the redemption which God has worked in Jesus. It presupposes in the missionary serious personal preparation, mature gifts of discernment, fidelity to the indispensable criteria of doctrinal orthodoxy, moral integrity and ecclesial communion (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 52-54).

5. In recent times, the Society of the Divine Word has experienced considerable growth, with a good number of vocations in different parts of the world. Your missionary activities have spread in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union, and today the members of the Society, from more than sixty different nationalities, carry out their apostolate in more than sixty countries. Your Society has not been slow to take up the challenge of being present as missionaries in the new forms of culture and communications which characterize modern living (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 37). Convinced that Holy Scripture is a gift which we receive within the Church and is an invitation to communion of life with God, you have devoted significant energies to the fostering of the Biblical apostolate through publications and educational activities. The promotion of justice, peace and social development represents another essential dimension of your mission to share with all people the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8). In all of this, your commitment to the life of evangelical poverty, the primary purpose of which is to "attest that God is the true wealth of the human heart" (Vita Consecrata VC 90), combined with preferential love for the poor, can make your apostolate, which is often carried out among the forgotten of the earth and the marginalized, bear abundant fruit for the salvation of the world.

Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 17 June 2000