Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 15 June 2002


Monday, 17 June 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. It is a great joy for me to meet you again the day after the solemn canonization of the humble Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo. Dear pilgrims and devotees, I greet you with affection who have gathered in Rome in such large numbers for this special occasion. I first of all greet the bishops, priests and religious who are present here. I want to pay special attention to the Capuchin Franciscans who in communion with the whole Church praise and thank the Lord for the marvels he has worked in their exemplary confrere. Padre Pio is an authentic model of spirituality and humanity, two characteristic features of the Franciscan and Capuchin tradition.

I greet the members of the "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" and the representatives of the family of the "Home for the Relief of Suffering", that great institution for the treatment and the care of the sick that came forth from the new saint's charity. I embrace you, dear pilgrims from the noble land that gave birth to Padre Pio, from the other regions of Italy and from every part of the world. By your presence here, you witness to how widespread are devotion to and confidence in the holy Friar of the Gargano in the Church and on every continent.

2. But what is the secret of such great admiration and love for this new saint? He is first of all a "friar of the people", a traditional characteristic of the Capuchins. He is also a saint who is a miraculous healer, as the extraordinary events which are part of his life attest. However, above all Padre Pio is a religious who is deeply in love with the crucified Christ. He even shared physically in the mystery of the Cross during his life.

He liked to link the glory of Tabor with the mystery of the Passion, as we read in one of his letters: "Before exclaiming with St Peter "Oh how good it is to be here', it is necessary first to climb Calvary, where one sees only death, nails, thorns, suffering, extraordinary shadows, abandonment and fainting" (Epistolario III, p. 287).

Padre Pio made his journey of demanding spiritual ascesis in communion with the Church. The temporary misunderstandings he had with one or other ecclesial authority did not put a brake on his attitude of filial obedience. Padre Pio was a faithful and courageous son of the Church and in this situation following the shining example of the "Poverello" of Assisi.

3. May this holy Capuchin to whom so many people turn to from every corner of the earth point out to us the means to reach holiness which is the goal of our life as Christians. How many faithful in every social condition, from the most diverse places and the most difficult situations hurried to ask his help! He knew how to offer them all what they needed most, which they were often groping for without being fully aware of it. He passed on to them the comforting and enlightening Word of God, enabling each person to draw from the sources of his grace through his diligent dedication to the ministry of the confessional and the fervent celebration of the Eucharist.

So it was that he wrote to one of his spiritual daughters: "Do not be afraid to come to the Lord's altar to be fed with flesh of the Immaculate Lamb, because no one will better reconcile your spirit than your king, nothing will warm it more than his sun, and nothing will soothe it better than his balm" (ibid., p. 944).

4. The Mass of Padre Pio! It was an eloquent reminder to priests of the beauty of the priestly vocation. For the religious and the lay people who flocked to San Giovanni Rotondo even at the early morning hours, it was an extraordinary catechesis on the value and importance of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Holy Mass was the heart and the source of his whole spirituality: "There is in the Mass", he used to say, "the whole of Calvary". The faithful who crowded round his altar were profoundly impressed by the intensity of his "immersion" in the Mystery, and perceived that "the Father" participated in his person in the Redeemer's sufferings.

5. St Pio of Pietrelcina presented himself to everyone - priests, men and women religious and lay people - as a credible witness to Christ and to his Gospel. May his example and intercession spur everyone to greater love for God and concrete solidarity with his neighbour, especially those who are in greatest need.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Padre Pio called by the beautiful name of "Our Lady of Grace" (Santa Maria delle Grazie), help us to follow in the footprints of this religious who is so beloved by the people!

With this hope, I cordially bless you who are present here, your loved ones and all who are committed to following in the spiritual footsteps of the beloved saint of Pietrelcina.





1. I have learned with joy that your archdiocese concludes the celebration of the Eucharistic Congress with particular solemnity on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Through Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who will preside at the celebration, I wish to convey my cordial greeting to you, Archbishop Sprovieri, and to the beloved Church of Benevento, so deeply united with the See of Peter. I recall the visit I was able to make to the ecclesial community of Benevento 12 years ago, and as I remember with gratitude Archbishop Carlo Minchiatti, your predecessor, I recall my visit to the new seminary that I blessed.

With you, venerable Brother, I greet the priests, the religious, the members of Catholic Action and of the ecclesial associations and movements, and the whole Christian community which, under your enlightened guidance, faces courageously the challenges of post-modernity. I join with affection those who have gathered in the largest square in the city, for the solemn concluding concelebration and consecration to Christ, the seal of the entire congress. I encourage everyone to offer to "the Lord of lords" a sincere heart and a renewed soul, entrusting themselves to him with firm hope.

2. I know that this intense week of celebrations was observed with many initiatives, following the guidelines and suggestions of the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte. I congratulate you, the clergy, religious and faithful of this ancient particular Church, and hope that you will all continue on the journey you began with the Great Jubilee "not only as a remembrance of the past, but also as a prophecy of the future" (n. 3). Everything must be made to converge on the Tabernacle, the new "tent of meeting" and a very appropriate place to contemplate "until the heart truly falls in love" (ibid., n. 33), the face of the Lord, the sorrowful face of the crucified Christ "which conceals the life of God and offers salvation to the world" (ibid., n. 28); the glorious face of the risen Christ in which the Church, "the Bride, contemplates her treasure and her joy" (ibid.).

I want to repeat to you today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: "Christ is the Redeemer of man!". He who remains the same for all ages (cf. Heb He 13,8) is truly the only Saviour of mankind, for "there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Ac 4,12). Therefore Christian life can only develop starting from him. Every day we must "set out anew from Christ", aiming at a high standard of evangelical life, bringing alive a "true and proper pedagogy of holiness" (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 31).

3. Church of Benevento, gathered around Christ living in the Eucharist! Persevere constantly and generously in the promise of weekly adoration of the Eucharist which you have recently resumed, bringing to life many, well-attended "schools of prayer" to which you can call and welcome the young people who are eager to find in Christ their companion on the journey of life. Make the most of the "centres for listening" and exchanging the faith in the Eucharistic mystery with your brothers and sisters in the faith, mobilizing families so that they take up their responsibility for the difficult but indispensable mission of educating their children in the faith. Redouble your care and your witness of solidarity to the sick and the elderly, the poor and the excluded, involving each one in a crusade of prayer for the triumph of Christ and of his Church.

Church of Benevento! Work to put into practice what I suggested to the entire People of God about the central place of the Eucharist, doing your utmost to restore ever greater fervour to the community celebration of the Sunday Eucharist (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 35), to restore the "Lord's Day" as "the Day of the Church and of the human person" drawing from it a new inspiration of communion for the members of the ecclesial community, who will then be readier to intervene effectively to confront the many forms of poverty in the territory with many programmes of solidarity and concrete charity.

Church of Benevento! Be a true and proper "Eucharistic community" that works to recover those who are "distant", through the daily work of the "chain of messengers". This is a particularly timely initiative for achieving the reconversion of the environment, reclaiming Sannio and Irpinia from the remaining pockets of superstition and inadequate religious practices.

4. Beloved Church of Benevento! May Our Lady of Grace and the many saints who watch over you - from St Bartholomew Apostle to St Januarius and St Barbatus, from St Pompilius to St Giuseppe Moscati and St Alberico Crescitelli, to St Pio of Pietrelcina - help you continue with renewed zeal on your journey of faith and witness to the eternal Christian values. May they obtain for you many holy vocations to the priesthood and to a life of special consecration, so that your children will always have with them those who break the bread of the Word and of the Eucharist!

With these sentiments and wishes, I gladly impart to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the bearer of this Message, to you, venerable Brother, and to the clergy, the men and women religious, the seminarians, the civil authorities, responsible for the future progress of this region, and the beloved community of Benevento the desired Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 1 June 2002.




Friday, 21 June 2002

Your Grace,
Dear Friends,

It gives me great joy to welcome you in the "grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phm 1,3). I am most grateful that you have chosen to pay a farewell visit here, prior to your forthcoming retirement. Your visit is, as it were, a living sign of the close relations which have continued to develop down the years between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church.

In looking back over the past eleven years, during which you have been the Archbishop of Canterbury, my mind focuses especially on the Common Declaration which we signed in 1996.

While acknowledging obstacles which keep us from full communion, we determined "to consult further about how the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church is to progress". In recent months we have begun to see the fruits of this spirit of perseverance through the formation of the new International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission, to accompany the continuing work of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission.

I gladly repeat what I wrote in my Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, that "truly the Lord has taken us by the hand and is guiding us" (No. 25). With the hope that is born of the Spirit, let us trust that the initiatives and instruments of reconciliation we have fostered and encouraged will be guided always by the same Holy Spirit, who is ever capable of bringing forth blessing upon blessing.

When we reflect on the dangers and challenges facing the world at present, we cannot but feel the urgent need to work side by side in promoting peace and justice. I know that Your Grace has been very active in trying to sustain dialogue in the Holy Land, bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to seek a lasting solution. May this and all your initiatives for peace with justice find support and bring hope amidst struggle and pain.

Your Grace, I pray that the next phase of your life will offer you new ways to share your gifts on the journey of reconciliation that we have undertaken. Know that you and Mrs. Carey, with the whole Anglican Communion, remain in my prayers. May the Lord abundantly bless you.





To the Participants in the Third Plenary Meeting
of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas

1. Dear ordinary members of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas, I am happy to send you this Message on the occasion of your plenary meeting. I cordially greet you, with a special greeting for Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who presides over the activities of the Pontifical Academies, and with a greeting for the President and Secretary of your own illustrious Academy. I also want to remember the late Mons. Antonio Piolanti, your academy's former President who for many years rendered valuable service to the Church.

With your renewed statutes and honoured by the presence of scholars of international repute, your distinguished Association continues to devote itself fruitfully to the study of the work of St Thomas Aquinas, whom the Church has always insisted on "proposing ... as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology" (Fides et ratio FR 43). At this plenary assembly you have been reflecting on the theme: "The Dialogue on the Good", looking at it from the transcendental perspective that closely examines the relationship of the good with being, and for that reason also with God.

2. Continue on this path, beloved and esteemed researchers. Today, alongside the marvellous scientific discoveries and amazing technological breakthroughs, shadows and gaps still darken the horizon of culture and research. We are witnessing some major oversights: forgetfulness of God and of being, forgetfulness of the soul and of human dignity. This generates situations of anxiety to which we must give responses that are full of truth and hope. St Thomas exclaimed with regard to the pagan thinkers who, deprived of the superior light of revelation, were unable to find solutions to the basic problems of the human being: "Quantam angustiam patiebantur hinc et inde illa praeclara ingenia!" (What great limitations did such outstanding geniuses suffer now and then!) (ScG, III, 48, n. 2261).

It is necessary first of all to return to metaphysics. In the Encyclical Fides et ratio, among the present requisites and tasks of philosophy, I pointed out "the need for a philosophy of genuinely metaphysical range, capable, that is, of transcending empirical data in order to attain something absolute, ultimate and foundational in its search for truth" (n. 83). The discourse on the good requires a metaphysical reflection. Truth has its foundation in being and the good has being as its substance. Between being, truth and goodness, Thomas discovered a real and deep circularity.

3. Through the understanding of the good, we can find the solution to the mystery of evil. Thomas dedicated his entire work to reflection on God, and it is in this context that he develops the 16 questions on evil (De Malo). Following Augustine, he asks himself: "Unde malum, unde hoc monstrum?" (Where does evil come from, where does this monster come from?) In the famous article of his Summa Theologiae on the five ways by which the human intelligence reaches the existence of God, Thomas recognizes as the great obstacle to arriving at the conclusion, the reality of evil in the world (cf. q. I, 2, ob. 3).

Many of our contemporaries ask: If God exists, why does he permit evil? It is necessary to help them understand that evil is the deprivation of the good that should be present, and that sin is man's turning away from God, the source of all good.

An anthropological problem that is so central to contemporary culture can only find a solution in the light of what we might call "meta-anthropology". Hence it is the understanding of the human being as a conscious, free being, homo viator, who at the same is and becomes. In the human being great diversities are reconciled: the one and the many, body and soul, male and female, the person and the family, the individual and society, nature and history.

4. As well as being an outstanding philosopher and theologian, St Thomas was a master of humanity. In 1980 I defined him as Doctor humanitatis, on account of his characteristic understanding of the human person with his rationality and his condition of free being. In Paris, while commenting on Peter Lombard's work, The Book of Sentences, he discovered the role played by practical reason in man's being and becoming. While speculative reason is ordered to knowing the truth, practical reason is ordered to doing, to directing human activity.

The human person, who has received from God the gift of his existence, has the task of living it in a way that is in accord with the truth thus discovering its genuine meaning (cf. Fides et ratio FR 81).

In this quest the moral question constantly emerges, formulated in the Gospel with the question: "Teacher what good must I do?" (Mt 19,16). The culture of our time talks so much about the human being and knows a great deal about him, but often gives the impression of ignoring what he is. Indeed, the human person fully understands himself only in the light of God. He is the "imago Dei" created by love in the image of God, with whom he is destined to live in communion for eternity.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that the mystery of man finds its solution only in the light of the mystery of Christ (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 22). Following this train of thought, in the Encyclical Redemptor hominis, I wanted to repeat that the human person is the primary and principal way that the Church must travel (cf. n. 14). As they face the tragedy of atheistic humanism, believers have the mission of proclaiming and bearing witness to the true humanism that is manifested in Christ. Only in Christ can the human person be perfectly fulfilled.

5. Distinguished members of the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas, may the power of the Spirit guide your work and make your research effective.

As I invoke the constant protection of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and of St Thomas Aquinas upon each of you and upon your academy, I cordially bless you all.

From the Vatican, 21 June 2002.





Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to send cordial greetings on the occasion of the European Study Congress which the Vicariate of Rome's Office for the Pastoral Care of the University has sponsored in conjunction with the Commission of the Episcopates of the European Union and the Federation of the Catholic Universities of Europe.

The question that is the theme of the Congress - "Towards a European Constitution?" - stresses the importance of the current phase in the process of building the "common European house". Indeed, it seems that the time has come to begin the important institutional reforms hoped for and prepared in recent years, which have become more urgently needed with the scheduled admission of new member States.

The expansion of the European Union or rather, for the process of "Europeanization" of the whole continental area, that I have fostered, is a priority to be pursued courageously and quickly in order to respond effectively to the expectations of millions of men and women who know that they are bound together by a common history and who hope for a destiny of unity and solidarity. It requires a rethinking of the European Union's institutional structures to adapt them to the greater needs. At the same time, there is an urgency to establish a new order to identify clearly what are the objectives of the European construction, the responsibilities of the Union and the values on which it must be based.

2. As she contemplates the various possible solutions to this important European "process" in a way that is faithful to her identity and her evangelizing mission, the Church applies what she has already said about individual states: that she "is not entitled to express preferences for this or that institutional or constitutional solution" and respects the legitimate autonomy of the democratic order (cf. Centesimus annus CA 47). At the same time, by virtue of her identity and mission, she cannot be indifferent to the values that inspire the various institutional decisions. Doubtless, the various decisions in this regard involve moral dimensions since the deliberations that result from them in a particular historical context inevitably lead directly to conceptions of the person, society and the common good from which they sprang and which are inherent in them. On this precise consciousness are founded the Church's right and duty to intervene by making her own contribution, which reflects the vision of human dignity and all its consequences as is spelled out in Catholic social teaching.

In this perspective, the search for and configuration of a new order, which was the aim of the "Constituent Convention" instituted by the Council of Europe at the Laeken Summit in December 2001, should be acknowledged as positive steps in themselves. Indeed, they are geared to that desirable strengthening of the institutional framework of the European Union which can effectively contribute to the development of peace, justice and solidarity for the whole continent through a freely accepted network of obligations and cooperation.

3. However, if a new European order of this kind is to be adequate for the promotion of the authentic common good, it must recognize and safeguard the values that constitute the most precious heritage of European humanism, which has assured and continues to assure Europe a unique influence in the history of civilization. These values constitute the characteristic intellectual and spiritual contribution that has formed the European identity through the centuries and is part of the valuable cultural treasure of the continent. As I have recalled on other occasions, they concern the dignity of the person; the sacred character of human life; the central role of the family founded on marriage; the importance of education; freedom of thought, of speech and of the profession of personal convictions and religion; the legal protection of individuals and groups; the collaboration of all for the common good; work, seen as a personal and a social good; political power understood as a service, subject to law and reason, and "limited" by the rights of the person and of peoples.

Expressly, it will be necessary to recognize and safeguard the dignity of the human person and the right to religious freedom in its threefold dimension: individual, collective and institutional.

Moreover one must make room for the horizontal and vertical dimensions of the principle of subsidariety, as well as for a vision of social and community relations founded on an authentic culture and ethics of solidarity.

4. Multiple are the cultural roots that have contributed to reinforce the values just mentioned: from the spirit of Greece to that of Roman law and virtue; from the contributions of the Latin, Celtic, Germanic, Slav and Hungarian-Finnish peoples, to those of the Jewish culture and the Islamic world. These different factors found in the Jewish-Christian tradition the power that harmonized, consolidated and promoted them. By acknowledging this historical fact in the process leading to a new institutional order, Europe cannot deny its Christian heritage, since a great part of its achievements in the fields of law, art, literature and philosophy have been influenced by the evangelical message. Not giving in to a temptation to be nostalgic or to be content mechanically to repeat past models, but being open to the new challenges emerging, Europe will need to draw inspiration with creative fidelity from the Christian roots that have defined European history.

Historical memory demands it; but also and above all, it is essential to its mission. Europe is called today to be a teacher of true progress, to spread a globalization of solidarity without marginalization, to take part in building a just and lasting peace within it and in the world, to bring together different cultural traditions to give life to a humanism in which the respect for rights, solidarity and creativity will allow every man and woman to fulfil his/her noblest aspirations.

5. A challenging task lies ahead of European political persons! To be fully equal to it they will need to know how to give to such values the deeply rooted transcendence that is expressed in openness to the religious dimension.

This will also allow them to reaffirm the non-absolute nature of political institutions and public authorities due to the fact that primarily and quintessentially the human being "belongs" to God, whose image is indelibly stamped on the nature of every man and woman. If this were not to take place, there would be a risk of legitimizing the orientations of agnostic and atheist laicism and secularism that lead to the exclusion of God and of the natural moral law from the sectors of human life. The Continent's civil coexistence has suffered from this tragic experience - as the history of Europe has demonstrated.

6. In this whole process the specific identity and social role of the Churches and religious confessions must also be recognized and safeguarded. Indeed, they have always played and still play a determining role in many ways, in inculcating the supporting values of coexistence, proposing answers to the fundamental questions about the meaning of life, fostering the culture and identity of peoples, offering Europe what helps to give it a desirable and necessary spiritual foundation.

Moreover, they cannot be reduced to being merely private bodies; they operate with a specific institutional density that deserves to be appreciated and accorded juridical recognition, respecting and not jeopardizing the status that they enjoy in the ordering of the Union's various member states.

In other words, it is a question of reacting against the temptation to build a European coexistence that excludes the contribution of the religious communities with the riches of their message, action and witness. Among other things, the process of building Europe would lack important energies for the ethical and cultural foundation of civil coexistence. I hope, therefore, - in accord with the logic of a "healthy collaboration" between the ecclesial community and the political community (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 76) - that in this process the European institutions will be able to enter into dialogue with the Churches and religious denominations on regular terms, accepting the contribution they can certainly offer by reason of their spirituality and commitment to the humanization of society.

7. Lastly, I would like to address the Christian communities and all who believe in Christ to ask them to undertake a vast and coherent cultural action. Indeed, it is urgent to show - with strong convincing arguments and magnetic examples - that founding the new Europe on the values that shaped it in the course of history and which are rooted in the Christian tradition will benefit all, regardless of their philosophical or spiritual tradition, and serve as the solid foundation of a coexistence that is more human and peaceful because it respects all and each one.

On the basis of these common shared values it will be possible to achieve the forms of democratic consensus required to outline, even at the institutional level, the programme for a Europe that may truly be the home of all, and in which no person and no people feel excluded but all can feel called upon to contribute to the common good, on the continent and throughout the world.

8. In this perspective it is legitimate to expect a great deal from the Catholic universities of Europe. They will not fail to develop a comprehensive reflection on the various aspects of such a stimulating problematic. Your Congress can certainly make a valuable contribution to this research.

As I invoke God's light and comfort upon the involvement of each one, to you I impart a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 20 June 2002.




Thursday, 27 June 2002

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

1. I am especially pleased to offer each one of you a cordial welcome, expressing my gratitude for this courteous visit on the occasion of the annual meeting of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches (ROACO).

I cordially greet Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and President of ROACO. With him I greet the Secretary, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliņ, and the Congregation's staff as well as the heads of the various relief agencies. Thank you all for your active participation in the Pope's concern for the Eastern Churches.

As I notice that, despite present difficulties, the generous commitment of the agencies you represent is not diminishing, I would like to repeat what I said in my Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen: "Western communities will make it their duty above all to share, where possible, service projects with their brothers and sisters in the Eastern Churches, or to assist in bringing to a successful conclusion all that the latter are doing to help their people (n. 23).

2. At this moment I recall my recent visit to Bulgaria and, particularly, to Plovdiv where I beatified the martyrs Fr Pavel Djidjov, Kamen Vitchev and Josaphat Chichkov. Like so many others who often remain unknown, these genuine witnesses of Christ have the merit of having kept alive the torch of faith during the rigorous winter of atheism in the last century, and of handing it on, more alive than ever, to the generation that followed.

Their beatification was not only the high point of my whole pilgrimage, but the clearest and most luminous seal on the esteem and affection that binds me to the noble Bulgarian people. I invite you to pray God for them to grant them long days of progress, prosperity and peace.

I wish to point out to you those beloved Christian communities so that you may have them even more at heart and continue to sustain them in their need. Above all I urge you not to disappoint the expectations of the young people, to help Christian families and to favour in every way the formation of candidates to the priesthood and to the religious life.

3. The special attention with which the Apostolic See follows the developments of the situation in the Holy Land and, more generally, the continuation of the state of tension in the Middle East, impels me strongly to recommend to your concern your brothers and sisters in the faith who live there. I am certain that your efforts, also through the traditional collection for the Holy Land, will bring concrete signs of Christian solidarity to those tormented regions, from the most varied parts of the world. I am likewise persuaded that your beneficial action will meet with a grateful response from the pastors and faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches and of the Latin community of the Holy Land. That blessed land, in which the Saviour was born, lived, died and rose, is a world heritage of spirituality and a treasure whose value is beyond compare.

The pilgrims who go to the Holy Places every year are well aware of this. After praying and coming into contact with the Gospel in the unforgettable setting of those sites, they return to their communities enriched by an extraordinary experience. They have realized that alongside the shrines there lives an active community of believers who consist of faithful who belong to various rites, with traditions that have their roots in the typical plurality of the Church of the early centuries.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, your commitment is to respond ever more attentively and rapidly to the needs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, seeking the ready involvement of the local communities. With special sessions for reflection and study meetings, you help to plan your contribution and to identify pastoral plans in accord with the recognized priorities of evangelization, charity and education. I congratulate you, and I desire to encourage you to continue with generosity and farsightedness on the path you have undertaken, that will yield great good for the whole Church.

In this very important process, you have the Congregation for the Eastern Churches beside you. It sustains the various initiatives you promote in the fields of education and knowledge of the liturgy, and the commitment to formation and practical pastoral planning.

It is also the Congregation's duty to meet the needs of the seminarians and priests, men and women religious and lay people who are sent to Rome by their bishops and superiors to complete their spiritual and pastoral formation, to learn about the various ecclesial realities and to finish their advanced studies in the ecclesiastical disciplines.

May the ecclesial communities of the East, helped by the Congregation for the Eastern Churches and by ROACO, live a more and more intense evangelical life and a renewed apostolic zeal.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, strengthen you in your good resolutions. May she support you in your effort to combine with your charitable words, charitable deeds, expressed in many signs of solidarity and brotherhood.

I too am close to you with my affection and prayers, and cordially impart to each one of you present here a special Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to your dear ones, to the Churches you belong to, to the agencies you represent and to all who benefit from the initiatives you are involved in.

Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 15 June 2002