Speeches 2001 - Friday 14 September 2001

It was not by accident that Saint Gaspar del Bufalo established your Congregation on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. For he saw in the glory of the Virgin the wondrous fruit of the sacrifice of her Son on the Cross. Christ’s Redemption marvellously restores humanity to the splendour which was the Creator’s intention from the beginning; and that splendour must be the goal of every plan and project of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. That is why you must look always to the Woman "clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Ap 12,1). Entrusting you to the loving care of Mary and to the intercession of your Founder, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to the entire Congregation as a pledge of endless mercy in him "who has freed us from our sins by his blood" (Ap 1,5).



Friday, 14 September 2001

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, Bishops of the Catholic Church in Haiti, for your ad limina visit. Full of gratitude to Jesus Christ who gives you the strength and who has judged you worthy of trust in calling you to the ministry (cf. 1Tm 1,12), you have come in order to reaffirm the bonds of communion that unite you to the Successor of Peter. I hope that these moments of meeting with the Pope and his collaborators, supported by an intense prayer of thanksgiving, strengthen the bonds of unity in the heart of your Bishops' Conference and reconfirm you in the gift of yourselves in the service of the people of God. May the Holy Spirit make fruitful your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, so that your missionary enthusiasm may be renewed.

We "give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1,3). With this greeting of the Apostle Paul, I wish to respond to the kind words addressed to me by Bishop Hubert Constant of Fort-Liberté, the new President of your Bishops' Conference, thus sharing your joys and your concerns. When you return to Haiti, tell the priests of your Dioceses, the religious, the catechists, the lay faithful, and most of all the young people, that the Pope prays for them, that he is at their side in the hard battle they face in proclaiming the Gospel and promoting a humanity renewed according to the heart of God! May their faith always be more rooted in the Word of Christ, fortified by the sacraments of the Church, sustained by the teaching of their Pastors! May their hope be unshaken, drawing from the Easter mystery the certainty that the forces of death will never have the last word in history!

2. Your five-year report attests to the turbulent political and economic situation of Haiti. The considerable population growth and the precarious nature of the agricultural and industrial production have produced an endemic unemployment, forcing many people to leave the countryside and move into the city. This exodus damages the ecological balance and weakens the family, the vital cell of society. In this situation, Catholics are called to participate actively in setting up a political plan for development that would contribute to respect for the fundamental rights of all Haitians; let us hope that the international community will know how to show solidarity in this area, to help the populations affected by poverty. If relieving poverty is a major challenge for Haiti, it also creates a challenge about the way in which the Church intends to teach the faith and witness to hope. In reality, the religious sentiment of the faithful needs constant evangelization, because syncretism and the ignorance of Christians offer a favourable terrain for the proliferation of sectarian groups who try to exploit the credulity of the poorest.

Throughout these years of suffering, you have not stopped denouncing all that debases man's dignity in his legitimate search for love, for justice, for truth and for freedom. Thus you have shown your persevering commitment and that of your communities alongside a greatly disheartened people. I invite you to develop more strongly the pastoral charity and missionary spirit which inspire you. Through your constant interventions, your active presence in your Dioceses, always look to the building up of the ecclesial community and the common good of society!

3. In the difficult situation your country lives in, there are many seeds of division. For this reason it is fundamental to make communion ever stronger and more visible. In this regard, I have recalled that its expressions should be nourished and extended in the fabric of the life of each Church, especially in the relations between Bishops, priests and deacons, between the Pastors and the whole People of God, between the diocesan clergy and religious, between the associations and ecclesial movements (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 45). I encourage you to invent new ways for the Church in Haiti to become a home and a school of communion.

Through theological reflection and ongoing pastoral plans, it is up to your Bishops' Conference to foster the growth of this spirituality of communion in your culture, at the service of the building up of truly missionary Christian communities. In inculturation, the Church becomes "a more intelligible sign of what she is, and a more effective instrument of mission" (Redemptoris missio RMi 52). Through ever more intense collaboration among those who work in the Church, give a human face to that pastoral charity that inspires you, and draw your apostolic strength from the source of Trinitarian love!

4. In this perspective, I invite you today to make the promotion of the laity one of your pastoral priorities. You need to give a solid spiritual, intellectual and ecclesial formation to the laity, so that they can to act in public life, directing it to the common good. Confirm the lay faithful in their vocation to incarnate evangelical values in the areas of family, social, professional, cultural and political life so that they do not desert the places where they are invited to bear witness to their faith! I give thanks for the numerous persons who work with generosity and skill in national and international charitable organizations. They are zealous witnesses to the fact that the Church wants to serve the poor ever more and remind us that "there is a special presence of Christ in the poor, and this requires the Church to make a preferential option for them" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 49).

I greet with affection the catechists, valuable collaborators, inviting them to continue without being discouraged in their irreplaceable mission of educating the faith of the laity and of transmitting sound guidance and evangelical values, primarily to young people. I sincerely hope that they can benefit from a consistent theological formation, to respond fully to their Christian vocation to announce the Truth of Christ the Saviour. May they be authentic witnesses of the Gospel, by their example of Christian life inspired by the charity of Christ, rooted in their ecclesial service, frequently meditating on the Word of God and receiving the sacraments regularly!

You insist on the need to develop a solid pastoral plan for family life in order to respond to the new challenges that the Church in Haiti must face. It is also important to start and carry forward a family pastoral ministry of being close to young people that helps them to discover the beauty and the greatness of the vocation to love and to the service of life. Focusing this pastoral care on the fundamental values of family and Christian marriage, sustain the efforts of priests and pastoral workers, so that they reawaken people to the irreplaceable witness of the family, the fundamental school of social life! May they especially encourage parents to educate their children to a sense of true justice and real love, which consists of sincere attention and disinterested service to others, particularly, the most needy (cf. Familiaris consortio FC 37).

5. In a society marked by egoism, you must give youth your constant pastoral care. They are often tempted to respond with violence, marginalization, exile or resignation to the blatant inequalities that deprive them of prospects for the future and destroy their hope. I hope that you will take into greater account the legitimate questions of the new generations, who should take on the varied heritage of values, duties and aspirations of the nation to which they belong.

I invite you to expand your pastoral programme for young persons in order to help them to develop their interior and ecclesial life, and to build a just, reconciled and solidary society. Transmit to the young people of Haiti the appeal that the Pope addresses to them through you: "Dear young people, you are the present and the future of the society and the Church of Haiti, who is counting on you. Be the salt of the earth, give the taste of the Gospel to your Country, wounded by many years of suffering! Rooted in Christ, who points out the journey of a life given for the salvation of all, witness that a new world is possible. Be the light of the world, shine brighter than the night, like the morning watchmen who announce the coming of the sun who is the Risen Christ" (cf. Message for the XVII World Youth Day, n. 3)!

The Church has always held that education offers an indispensable formation for the healthy growth of the young generations, contributing to make their fundamental human rights respected. "It will never be possible to free the needy from their poverty unless they are first freed from the impoverishment arising from the lack of adequate education" (Ecclesia in America ). To combat the scourge of illiteracy and to ensure for young people a human, spiritual and moral formation, Catholic schools, in the rich diversity of their charisms and educational projects, render an essential service to the life of the Church and of the nation. I thank the educational community for their dedication to the service of the integral development of the young people entrusted to them. I encourage them to continue their noble mission, hoping that the Christian education they promote will cause the fruits of a culture consisting of mutual respect, solidarity and dialogue to mature, in order to reduce the social fractures that impede the full growth of all Haitians.

6. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, convey to all the priests of your Dioceses the Pope's deep gratitude for the dedication of their ministry as pastors, evangelizers and promoters of ecclesial communion. I know that they are attentive to the problems and hopes of their people. I know the difficult conditions in which they must proclaim the Gospel. Support them in the ministry, be close to them, concerned for their spiritual and material life, so that they fulfil their apostolic task with zeal, through an active presence in their parishes and by their simple life!

I encourage priests always to begin again from Christ, to find in him the source of the missionary fruitfulness of their ministry and to respond to the spiritual thirst of the Haitians. Daily personal prayer and meditation on the Word of God must nourish their apostolate. The celebration of the Eucharist must really be the centre of their ministry, as it reminds them that they are ordained to the service of one mission, in communion with their Bishop and in the unity of the presbyterate. It is important that they joyfully bear witness to their increasing unconditional attachment to Christ and to his Church, respecting the requirements of ecclesiastical celibacy which they freely accepted.

7. "Basic ecclesial communities" should be the object of special attention on the part of priests. Living truly in the unity of the Church, they are "a true expression of communion and a means for the construction of a more profound communion" (Redemptoris missio RMi 51). Therefore, I invite Pastors to remain vigilant so that these communities be truly missionary, avoiding a timid closing in on themselves and an undue appropriation of identity or partisanship. Giving proof of discernment and of apostolic spirit, they will also show concern to build the Body of Christ and to give a place to all the gifts of the Spirit.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you know how much the holy lives of priests, religious and laity are a powerful witness to young people who want to respond to the call of Christ and offer themselves to serve the Church as priests or religious. The generosity of these young people is a great motive for hope and joy for the Church in Haiti. As those with the first responsibility for priestly formation, you must watch over the acceptance, the spiritual direction and the discernment of priestly vocations. It is necessary to choose with care those who do the work of formation and spiritual directors of the seminary. Helping seminarians to build their lives on Christ, will permit them to become real servants of communion and to remain instruments of the mercy of the Lord among his people, fully aware that "one can never consider priestly life as a simply human affair, nor the mission of the minister as a simply personal project" (Pastores dabo vobis PDV 36). Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, sustain the community of the major seminary with your prayers and your affectionate closeness! In this way, not only will you help it to live its insertion into the particular Church in communion with you, but you will certify and serve the pastoral goal and purpose that should characterize the formation of candidates to the priesthood.

8. Through you, I greet in a special way the Congregations and the Institutes of Consecrated Life present in your country. For many years as witnesses and leaders of evangelization in Haiti, they have made Christ present in the most varied areas, and most of all in education, health care and social advancement. It is necessary to develop the bonds of communion that unite the Episcopal Conference to the diocesan and national organizations of consecrated life, in particular to the Haitian Conference of Religious. I invite you to reflect on the concrete conditions of spiritual support and material assistance of the religious congregations born on your soil, whose charisms correspond to the profound needs of the Church. By allowing the consecrated life to be appreciated, promoted and integrated in the pastoral programmes of your diocesan Churches, you will help the faithful and the pastors to discover its indispensable presence for ecclesial vitality.

9. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of this meeting, I wish to express anew my spiritual closeness to the Church in Haiti. At the beginning of this third millennium, the time has come to bear witness boldly to the hope that is in you, realizing in unity, by your holy lives and your pastoral initiatives, the close bond that exists, in the Easter mystery, between the proclamation of the Gospel and human development. Seeing that in 2004 you will celebrate the bicentennial of your country's independence, I would like to address your whole community: "Church in Haiti, rich in faith and in the dynamism of your Pastors and of your communities, courageous in trials, renew your confidence in Christ the Saviour! To put out into the deep, open your heart to the Spirit who wants to make all things new in you"!

Entrusting all your Dioceses to the protection of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing, that I extend to your priests, religious, catechists, and to all the lay faithful of Haiti.






Dear Cardinals,
Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am delighted to greet you on the occasion of the international Conference on the theme Work as the Key to the Social Question that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has organized in collaboration with several prestigious scientific and cultural institutions. It is a meeting open to experts in the social sciences from universities and research centres, and it intends to highlight the 20th anniversary of the Encyclical Laborem exercens.

I cordially greet all the participants, especially Cardinal François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. I hope that for each of you these days of reflection and constructive sharing of experience will be a good occasion to consider the subjective dimension of work, in the face of the profound economic and social transformations now taking place.

2. In this important sector of social life, we are undergoing a profound evolution that at times has the shape of a radical change. The form of work has changed and its hours and sites have been altered. In the more industrialized countries the phenomenon has taken on such dimensions that the model of dependent work that was carried out in big factories with set hours, already belongs to the past.

Like every major transformation, this too presents elements of tension and, at the same time, of complementarity between the local and global dimensions of the economy; between what is defined as the "old" and the "new" economy; between technological innovation and the need to safeguard the workplace; between economic growth and environmental compatibility.

It would be a serious error, however, to think that the changes taking place happen in a deterministic manner. The decisive factor, the "arbiter" of this complex phase of change, is once again the human person, who must remain the true protagonist of his work. He can and must take responsibility in a creative way for the changes that are happening, to ensure that they promote the growth of the person, of the family, of the society in which he lives and of the entire human family (cf. Laborem exercens LE 10).

In this regard, the emphasis on the subjective dimension of work, constantly referred to by the social doctrine of the Church, is enlightening: "Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another" (CEC 2427).

3. As long as man exists, there will be the free gesture of authentic participation in creation which is work. Work is one of the essential components in realizing the vocation of man who, in fulfilling himself, always discovers that he is called by God to "dominate the earth". Despite himself, he can never cease to be "a subject that decides about himself" (Laborem exercens LE 6). To him God has entrusted this supreme and demanding freedom. From this viewpoint, today more than in the past, we can repeat that "human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question" (ibid., n. 3).

In these days of study you have been able to confirm that certain mechanistic and economistic evaluations of productive activity have been superseded by the scientific analysis of the problems connected with work. Today, compared with the past, these concepts appear to be increasingly inadequate to interpret the facts, because they fail to recognize the absolutely original nature of work, which is man's free and creative activity.

The rapid and accelerated period of change in the world calls for the overcoming of the current view of the economic and social system in which human needs, especially, are accorded only a limited and inadequate consideration. In contrast with every other living being, man has infinite needs, because his being and his vocation are defined by reference to the transcendent. Starting from these needs, he tackles the adventure of transforming reality with his work according to a dynamic impulse that always goes beyond the results achieved by it.

4. If the historical forms of work are changing, its permanent foundation certainly does not, that is, respect for inalienable rights.Unfortunately, we risk seeing these rights denied. This is particularly the case with unemployment, which, in the earliest industrialized countries, in an unprecedented way, involves masses of men and women; I am thinking of those who worked in outdated production processes; I am thinking of the young people and of those who live in disadvantaged areas, where unemployment rates are still high.

Then work has a precarious aspect that on the one hand may offer greater job opportunities, but on the other, presents risks and burdens which need to be taken into account, such as the cost of mobility, of professional requalification, and of social security benefits.

In the less industrialized countries there are even more urgent problems: the continuing exploitation of child labour; the lack of recognition of the value of work, especially that of women, in the family and outside it; the shortage of work due to instability in the context of the workforce, especially in situations of conflict, and the fragility of the system of local economic relations faced with the changes due to globalized production.

To deal with these problems, new forms of solidarity must be created, taking into account the interdependence that forges bonds among workers. If the changes in progress are profound, there must be a correspondingly intellegent effort and the will to protect the dignity of work, strengthening, at various levels, the interested institutions.

Governments have a great deal of responsibility, but no less important is that of the organizations who defend the collective interests of workers and of those who provide work. All are called not only to foster these interests in an honest form and through dialogue, but also to rethink their own functions, their structure, their nature and their kinds of action. As I wrote in the Encyclical Centesimus annus, these organizations can and must become places "where workers can express his/her own personality" (cf. n. 15).

5. You, too, scientists and men of culture, are called to make a specific and decisive contribution to the solution of such vast and complex problems, that in some areas assume dramatic dimensions. Studying the various aspects of work within a variety of disciplines, you share the responsibility for understanding the change that is taking place. This means pointing out the advantages and risks that are implied; in particular it means suggesting lines of action to direct the change in the best way for the development of the whole human family.

You have the task of reading and interpreting social phenomena intelligently, with respect for the truth, without having to take into account group or personal interests. We can say that your contribution, because it is "abstract", is essential for the concrete action of economic policies. So do not tire of applying yourselves with patience and scientific rigour to this research. May the Lord help you and enlighten you with wisdom, the gift of his Spirit.

The Church's social teaching will provide you with a reliable guide and reference. I also hope that this social teaching will continue to benefit from your contribution, from the categories and the reflections of the social sciences, according to that fruitful dialogue that is always mutually advantageous.

With these sentiments, while I wholeheartedly invoke upon all the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of her Spouse, St Joseph, a humble and generous worker, I send my Blessing to each of you.

From Castel Gandolfo, 14 September 2001





Saturday, 15 September 2001

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to greet you at the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See. I thank you for your courteous words and would be grateful if you could convey to H.E. Mr Robert Kocharian, President of the Republic, my gratitude for his greetings.

2. I am joyfully preparing to visit your country in a few days to meet the civil authorities and the Armenian people and to join in the celebrations for the 17th centenary of Christianity in Armenia. I will be happy to meet again with the President of the Republic, as I recall the visit he paid me at the Vatican two years ago, and to develop the cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and your country. My visit will also enable me to pursue and consolidate the approach of dialogue and the journey towards unity which was undertaken with the Armenian Apostolic Church, and above all with Their Holinesses Vasken I and Karekin I. I would like to commemorate them by recalling their attachment to the cause of unity, happily continued with His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians.

Through your mediation, I would like to thank the civil and religious authorities who have contributed to the preparation of my impending journey.

3. As you have just recalled, your country has a long history and a long Christian history. After its first evangelization, which tradition claims dates back to the Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus, St Gregory the Illuminator brought about Armenia's conversion to Christianity at the beginning of the fourth century, by converting King Tiridates III, his family and his entire people. "The Baptism of the Armenian community, starting with that of her civil and military authorities, gave birth to a new popular identity that was to become a constitutive and inseparable part of "being Armenian'" (Apostolic Letter for the 1,700 anniversary of the Baptism of the Armenian People, n. 2), making them the first officially Christian people in history. Since then this labour of evangelization has given rise to an original, powerful culture forged in the Christian faith, which Armenians down the ages have found to be an authentic means of safeguarding their identity. Armenia's history has been marked by great suffering, largely due to its location on the borders of great powers, and it has been occupied or annexed time and time again, but its cultural and religious identity has always survived. It can therefore be said that the Christian religious roots of Armenia are a constitutive feature of the nation.

After the enormous upheavals at the beginning of the last century that culminated in the tragic events of 1915 and the dispersion and exile that followed, your country resumed its national life before attaining its independence 10 years ago. As you underscored, the road is long for a people who aspires to find its proper place in the concert of nations through closer cooperation with its neighbours and constructive international relations for its economic, social and cultural development. The Holy See encourages all peoples in their legitimate aspiration to prosperity and freedom. They should remember their duty to participate with patience and tenacity in building the nation while looking to the common good. Nor does it ever tire of calling them to initiate dialogue with their neighbours, so that they can foster a just and lasting peace among them and harmony among the nations. The Holy See does not doubt the Armenian people's capacity to achieve these legitimate aspirations.

4. Your presence gives me the opportunity to greet the members of the Catholic community resident in Armenia gathered round their Pastor, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Catholic Armenians, associated with his predecessor His Beatitude Jean-Pierre XVIII Kasparian. I will be happy to be able to meet the Catholic faithful, to pray with them and, as the Successor of Peter, to encourage them so they affirm ever more their faith in fidelity to their Baptism and to the heroic witness of so many of their brethren. May they also contribute to the ecumenical dialogue and, with all their fellow citizens, to the well being of the whole nation.

5. Welcome, Mr Ambassador, at the moment when you are beginning your mission as representative to the Holy See, and accept my cordial wishes for its success. You will always find welcome and understanding among my collaborators to help you to carry out your noble mission.
I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon Your Excellency, your family, your associates and upon the Armenian people.


Saturday 15 September 2001

To the Sisters of Saint-Paul de Chartres

I am pleased to receive you and offer you a warm welcome. On the occasion of your 45th General Chapter, when you are preparing to elect a new general council, you wanted to meet the Successor of Peter, showing your filial attachment to him and your keen sense of the Church. In assuring you of my spiritual closeness during your chapter, I gladly call upon the Holy Spirit to grant that you may imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul, your holy patron, to share in the new creativity in charity that I hoped for at the beginning of the millennium. May contemplation of the face of Christ, the source of all apostolic fruitfulness, encourage your fidelity to your founding charism and make your missionary commitment more dynamic, especially among the most deprived!

Since the time of your foundation in 1696 by Fr Louis Chauvet, you have always wanted to maintain your fidelity to your charism by being especially dedicated to the service of youth and of the poorest. Your desire to be conformed totally to the Lord himself has impelled you to seek his countenance in the faces of those with whom he chose to identify himself. Today on five continents, your presence in the field of education and health care and with social outcasts is still today an eminent sign of the "folly" of Christ's love for all people and a courageous appeal to work for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Today on all continents, the young are living in difficult situations, influenced by materialism, cultural changes, family divisions, violence in all its forms, the lack of moral and spiritual standards. In your educational missions, together with the lay people who collaborate in your institutions, it is important that you offer a scientific, human, moral and religious training of high quality, thereby giving young people the chance to build up and structure their personality and to overcome the problems they encounter, enabling them to envisage a more peaceful future. Do not be afraid to suggest the path of faith and to pass on joyfully the Lord's call to the priesthood or to the consecrated life. It is also important that adults help young people to discover the beauty of that specific call which is Christian marriage. They expect their elders to show them the paths of holiness.

While your General Chapter offers you the occasion to be spiritually renewed in order to set out anew in hope, I encourage you to root your consecration in Christ, the One consecrated to the Father whose loving, saving presence you are asked to show, demonstrating by your whole life the happiness of being consecrated totally to the sequela Christi. In the mystery of his death and Resurrection, Christ revealed to humanity the truth about God and about man, inviting each believer to join in the dynamism of the Easter mystery to bring the Gospel to the world. Careful to respond to the new challenges you will have to face with confidence and comforted by the prayer of the elderly sisters, learn to spend each day with Christ who takes us from death to life! Let him renew you, "to build with the help of his Spirit fraternal communities, to join him in washing the feet of the poor, and to contribute in your own unique way to the transfiguration of the world" (Vita consecrata, VC 110)!

As I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows whom the Church invites us to celebrate today, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, which I extend to all the sisters of your congregation, to the lay people who work with you and to everyone who benefits from your apostolate.

Speeches 2001 - Friday 14 September 2001