Speeches 2002 - Monday, 11 March 2002




To The Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to Cyprus

I am pleased to learn that you will be present at the Meeting convened in Nicosia, Cyprus, by the Cultural Foundation of the Holy Monastery of Kykkos, Archangelos, in collaboration with the Department of Communication and Mass Media, Cultural Section, of the Panteion University in Athens, and I ask you to convey to the organizers and all taking part the assurance of my prayerful support and encouragement.

The theme of the Meeting, dialogue between religions and cultures, is most timely. It carries with it the challenge to foster practical ways of improving understanding among peoples, and thus forms the basis upon which to face many of the problems burdening the human family at the beginning of this millennium. The tyranny of injustice, egoism and prejudice can only be defeated by a far-reaching resurgence of the human spirit in individual hearts and in relations between the peoples of the world. It is my heartfelt prayer that the Meeting in Nicosia will show that there is no basis, either in theory or in practice, for any discrimination between individual and individual or between people and people; all share the same human dignity and the rights which flow from it (cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration Nostra Aetate NAE 5).

At Assisi, the town of Saint Francis, many leaders of the world’s religions gathered on 24 January last to pray for peace and to commit themselves to serving the cause of peace. They wished to show that genuine religious belief is an inexhaustible wellspring of mutual respect and harmony among peoples; indeed it is the chief antidote to violence and conflict. This is also the message that came from the interreligious encounter involving the three monotheistic religions convened last December in Brussels by the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, on the theme Towards Peaceful Co-Existence and Collaboration Between Monotheistic Religions, and from the declaration ratified on 21 January in Alexandria by Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from the Holy Land.

These events, and the convictions which they expressed, are signs of genuine hope. I am confident that the present Meeting in Cyprus will further strengthen dialogue among religions and cultures as an essential part of the search for peace in the world. I therefore ask the Lord to pour out his blessings upon the participants, and I assure them of the Catholic Church’s irrevocable commitment to this cause.

From the Vatican, 6 March 2002




Monday, 11 March 2002

Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers in Christ,

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

1. With St Paul's greeting to the Christians of Corinth, I joyfully welcome you in the hope of a future rich with brotherly relations and communion.

I am deeply grateful to His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and of All Greece, for sending you to Rome as messengers of peace following the fraternal meeting I had with him when I was on pilgrimage to the Areopagus in the blessed footsteps of the Apostle Paul.

2. Reciprocal personal acquaintance, the exchange of information and a frank dialogue on the ways of establishing relations between our Churches are the indispensable premise for being able to progress in a spirit of ecclesial brotherhood. They are also the essential conditions for establishing the collaboration, that will enable Catholics and Orthodox together to offer a living witness to their common Christian inheritance. This is needed today in our society when the conformity of human life with the Gospel is disappearing, just as one sees declining the acceptance of the value of Gospel teaching calling for respect for the human person and his dignity, created as he is in the image and likeness of God, along with justice, charity and the search for the truth.

3. In the framework of the progress that is taking place on our continent the hour for collaboration has arrived! Keeping in mind the necessity of a new evangelization of Europe that will enable it to revive its deep Christian roots, the Eastern and Western traditions, that are both based on the one, great Christian tradition and on the apostolic Church, must rely on the charism of St Maximus the Confessor who was himself a bridge between the two traditions of East and West, and knew how to follow the practice of sympathos in order to confront the questions of the world. It is also incumbent on us to confront these questions dynamically and positively, strong in the hope that the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, will inspire us to find the solutions.

Our mission is to transmit the Christian patrimony that we have inherited. Thus there is an ever more urgent need for Christians to set an example for society by common behaviour rooted in their faith. They should seek together to find a remedy for the serious ethical problems posed by science and by methods that wish to prescind from a reference to the transcendental dimension of man or even to deny it. In the end it means emphasizing our duty, as the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece and I did last year, to "do everything in our power, so that the Christian roots of Europe and its Christian soul may be preserved intact" (Common Declaration at the Areopagus of Athens, n. 6, 4 May 2001).

4. By the masterly way she has preserved her heritage of faith and Christian life, the Orthodox Church of Greece has a special responsibility in all this. During my stay in Athens, I recalled that "the name of Greece resounds wherever the Gospel is preached.... From the apostolic era until now, the Orthodox Church of Greece has been a rich source from which the Church of the West too has drawn her liturgy, spirituality and jurisprudence" (Address to Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and All Greece, n. 3, 4 May 2001). In our responsibility that consists in tending toward the ecumenism of holiness that, with the help of God, will eventually lead us to full communion - meaning neither absorption nor fusion, but a coming together in truth and love (cf. Slavorum apostoli, n. 27) - we must organize our collaboration and work together to make the voice of the Gospel resound forcefully throughout the Europe that is ours where the Christian roots of the peoples must be revived.

5. In this season that brings us to Easter, the Feast of Feasts, which sadly we will not be able to celebrate on the same date, we Catholics and Orthodox are all the same united in the proclamation of the Kerygma of the Resurrection. This proclamation which we wish to deliver together will give people today a reason to live and hope; our will to seek communion with each other will be able to inspire in civil society an ideal of fairminded collaboration.

6. As I thank you for your very kind visit, I ask you to convey my warm greetings to His Beatitude Christodoulos, to the members of the Holy Synod and to all the Christian faithful of Greece.

Repeating again the words of St Paul, that concluded our Common Declaration in Athens, I ask the Lord to direct our way "so that we may increase and abound in love for one another and for all men".

May the grace and peace of God accompany you on your visit and enable you to experience the sincere and fraternal charity with which the Holy See and the Bishop of Rome welcome you!



Thursday, 14 March 2002

Mr. Ambassador,

With pleasure I welcome you to the Vatican and receive the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See. I am most grateful for the greetings you bear from President Kim Dae-jung, and I ask you kindly to convey to him my cordial best wishes. I assure the Government and all the citizens of Korea of my deep esteem, and I offer my prayers for the good of the nation, whose splendid hospitality to me on my visits in 1984 and 1989 I have not forgotten.

Your land, Mr. Ambassador, is at a very delicate stage of relations between North and South, and we must hope that the recent evidence of goodwill and progress, however tenuous, will be allowed to mature and will not be hampered by concerns not directly related to the well-being of the Korean people as a whole. As you yourself have noted, there has been a significant shift on the peninsula as the Governments of Seoul and Pyongyang move towards the reconciliation of the entire Korean nation, whatever form the political settlement may eventually take. This is a difficult and complex process with important implications for the region and the world as a whole.

It is true that in an ever more interdependent world no region can avoid being profoundly influenced by the larger context of global events and relations, but it is no less true that what happens in one country has immediate repercussions on others. Precisely for this reason the international community needs to find effective ways to balance all the forces at work in the international arena, where business, financial and media entities increasingly exercise some of the authority which once belonged exclusively in the area of public and political life.

The shifting configuration of the international community presents a great challenge to diplomacy’s function and mission, the very art which you, Mr. Ambassador, are called to exercise on behalf of your country. Because of changes in the relationship between business and government, for instance, foreign relations and trade often merge. This is perhaps inevitable, but it runs the risk of focussing merely on the economy and reducing relations between nations and peoples to commercial transactions motivated almost exclusively by profit and expediency. Diplomacy needs to uphold its high ideal of serving the integral development of peoples and the common good of the entire human family, as it is intended to do. Diplomacy has a substantial role to play in ensuring that international relations and policies are all based upon a sound and enlightened understanding of the human person and human society such as that found in the founding Charter of the United Nations Organization, and in particular in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In this context, the Catholic Church is present and active in the international forum in order to serve the integral development of peoples, as the Gospel commands. You are fully aware, Mr Ambassador, that at the heart of the Church there lies an ethic of communion between individuals, peoples and their communities and institutions. It is her long experience of such an ethic that gives the Church expertise in the workings of that dialogue and solidarity so necessary at this critical time in history. To speak of dialogue and solidarity is implicitly to echo what I stressed in this year’s Message for the World Day of Peace, to which you yourself have referred: that there can be no peace without justice and no justice without forgiveness. The Catholic Church in Korea is deeply committed to bearing witness to the inseparability of justice, forgiveness and peace, in order to help all Koreans to pursue the path of dialogue and solidarity, which alone will lead to a new era of concord.

Mr. Ambassador, as you assume your high responsibilities within the diplomatic community accredited to the Holy See, I offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission and assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon yourself and the beloved Korean people I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.



Thursday, 14 March 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With great joy I welcome you, representatives of the Group of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of your presence in Italy. I greet the coordinator of the National Service Committee and those who assist him.

I think back with pleasure to the meetings I have had with you in past years: from the first, on the Solemnity of Christ the King in 1980, to our meeting in 1998, during the prayer vigil of the Meeting with Ecclesial Movements and New Communities on the eve of Pentecost. Nor can I forget the contribution of the "Renewal in the Spirit" during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in particular helping young people and families, who from the beginning of my Pontificate I have constantly selected as priority targets for pastoral involvement.

I would also like to thank your directors for wishing to give to the Renewal a definite emphasis on collaboration with the hierarchy and with the leaders of other movements, associations and communities.

2. Yes! The Renewal in the Spirit can be considered a special gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in our time. Born in the Church and for the Church, your movement is one in which, following the light of the Gospel, the members experience the living encounter with Jesus, fidelity to God in personal and community prayer, confident listening to his Word and a vital rediscovery of the Sacraments, not to mention courage in trials and hope in hardship.

Love for the Church and submission to her Magisterium, in a process of maturing in the Church supported by a solid permanent formation are relevant signs of your intention to avoid the risk of favouring, unwittingly, a purely emotional experience of the divine, an excessive pursuit of the "extraordinary" and a private withdrawal that may shrink from apostolic outreach.

3. On this special occasion I desire ideally to bless three projects, which you have launched, that send out groups and communities of the Renewal in the Spirit "from the Upper Room" with generous missionary ardour.

I am referring first of all to your support of the implantatio Ecclesiae in Moldavia, in close collaboration with the "Regina Pacis" Foundation of the Archdiocese of Lecce, establishing a missionary community associated with the Diocese of Chisinau. I greet with affection the pastors of those Ecclesial Communities, Archbishop Cosmo Francesco Ruppi and Bishop Anton Cosa, and the other bishops taking part in this meeting.

Another important project is your work of spiritual guidance in Marian shrines, privileged places of the Spirit, that gives you the opportunity to offer pilgrims ways of deepening their faith and spiritual reflection.

Then there is the "Burning Bush" project which is an invitation to ongoing adoration, day and night. You have wished to promote this appropriate initiative to help the faithful "return to the Upper Room", so that united in the contemplation of the Eucharistic mystery, they may intercede by means of the Spirit for the full unity of Christians and for the conversion of sinners.

These are three different areas of apostolic activity in which your experience can provide a very providential witness. May the Lord guide your labours and make your resolutions bear abundant fruit for yourselves and for the Church.

4. In the final analysis, all your evangelizing activities tend to foster in the People of God constant growth in holiness.Indeed, holiness is the priority in every age, and therefore also in our own time. The Church and the world need saints, and we ourselves become holier the more we allow the Holy Spirit to configure us to Christ. This is the secret of the regenerating experience of the "outpouring of the Spirit", a typical experience that defines the process of growth proposed for the members of your groups and communities. With all my heart I hope that Renewal in the Spirit may be a true "gymnasium" in the Church for prayer, asceticism, virtue and holiness.

In a special way continue to love and spread love for the prayer of praise, the form of prayer that recognizes more immediately that God is God; praises him for his own sake, gives him glory for who he is, long before thinking of what he does (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 2639).

In our time that is so hungry for hope, make the Holy Spirit known and loved. Help bring to life that "culture of Pentecost", that alone can make fruitful the civilization of love and friendly coexistence among peoples. With fervent insistence, never tire of praying "Come Holy Spirit! Come! Come!".

May the Blessed Mother of Christ and of the Church, the Virgin at prayer in the Upper Room, always be with you! May the Blessing I cordially impart to you, and to all the members of Renewal of the Holy Spirit, also go with you!




To my Venerable Brother Archbishop Luigi De Magistris
Pro-Major Penitentiary

1. Again this year, the Lord has granted me the joy to address this Dicastery. I cordially greet you, venerable Brother, as well as the prelates and officials of the Apostolic Penitentiary and the religious of the various families who exercise the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance in the Patriarchal Basilicas of Rome. I also greet the young priests and candidates for the priesthood who are taking part in the traditional course on the internal forum that the Penitentiary organizes as an ecclesial service. I would like this Message to be read as a testimony to the appreciation that the Pope shows not only for the function of the office of the Pentientiary, which carries out in a vicarious form for him the ordinary exercise of the Power of the Keys, but also for the labours of the Father Penitentiaries, who exercise the ministry of reconciliation in direct contact with the consciences of individual penitents, and lastly, to the dedication with which young priests and candidates for the priesthood are preparing for their most important office as confessors.

2. The mission of the priest is effectively summed up in the famous words of St Paul: "We are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (II Cor 5,20).

On this occasion, I would like to revisit and expand a concept that I expressed during the first audience I gave to the Apostolic Penitentiary and to the Father Penitentiaries of Rome's Patriarchal Basilicas on 30 January 1981. I said then that, "the Sacrament of Penance ... is not only an instrument aimed at destroying sin - the negative phase - but also a valuable exercise of virtue, which is itself expiation, an irreplaceable school of spirituality, and a highly positive process for the regeneration of souls into the "vir perfectus', "in mensuram aetatis plenitudinis Christi' [the perfect man, to the measure of the fullness of Christ] (cf. Ep 4,13)" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 23 Feb. 1981, p. 20). I would like to emphasize the "positive efficacy" of the Sacrament in order to exhort priests to resort to the Sacrament personally as a valid help on their own journey of sanctification, and, accordingly, to make use of it as an excellent form of spiritual direction.

Indeed, one can concretely reach holiness, and especially priestly holiness, only if one resorts regularly, humbly and confidently to the Sacrament of Penance, understood as a vehicle of grace, which is indispensable when unfortunately grace has been lost through mortal sin. The sacrament is a preferred vehicle when there has been no mortal sin and Sacramental confession is the Sacrament of the living, that not only increases grace itself, but confirms virtues and helps to weaken the tendencies inherited by reason of original sin, and worsened by our personal sins.

3. I would say that one of the greatest gifts that the celebration of the Holy Year 2000 obtained for us from the Lord, was a renewed consciousness on the part of many of the faithful of the crucial role the Sacrament of Penance plays in the Christian life, and consequently, an encouraging increase in the number of those who go to confession.

On the path of Christian asceticism, the Lord can certainly direct souls in ways that transcend ordinary Sacramental mediation. This does not, however, eliminate the necessity of recourse to the Sacrament of Penance nor the subordination of charisms to the responsibility of the hierarchy. This is clear in that famous passage of the First Letter to the Corinthians, where the Apostle Paul says: "God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers ...", etc. (cf. 1Co 12,28-31). In the text, the Apostle draws up a hierarchical order of the various institutional and charismatic roles in the structure of the life of the Church. St Paul then confirms this teaching throughout the entire chapter 14 of the Letter, where he set forth the principle of the subordination of the charismatic gifts in the light of his authority as Apostle. Without any hesitation he makes use of the verb I want and speaks in the imperative.

4. But it is Jesus Christ himself, the source of every charism, who in the most solemn way, affirms the indispensable place of the Sacrament of Penance for the life of grace. Our Lord entrusted the Sacrament to the Apostles and their successors: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20,22-23).

Thus it is not in conformity with the faith to reduce the forgiveness of sins to a private and individualistic contact between the conscience of the faithful and God. Of course, sin is not forgiven without personal repentance; but in the actual order of Providence, its remission is subordinate to the fulfilment of the positive will of Christ who tied the remission of sin to the ecclesial ministry, or at least, to the serious desire to have recourse to it as soon as possible, when it would not be immediately possible to make a Sacramental confession.

Equally erroneous is the conviction of those who, while not denying a positive value to the Sacrament of Penance, conceive of it rather as something superfluous, since they suppose that the Lord's pardon would have been given "semel pro semper" (once and for all) on Calvary and the sacramental application of divine mercy would not be necessary for the recovery of grace.

5. In the same way, it is helpful to confirm that the Sacrament of Penance is not an act of psychological therapy, but a supernatural reality destined to produce in hearts the effects of serenity and peace that are a fruit of grace. Even when psychological techniques outside the sacrament might be considered useful, they can be recommended with prudence, but never imposed (cf. by analogy, the warning of the Holy Office, 15 July 1961, n. 4).

As for the specific forms of asceticism to which the confessor might direct his penitent, he can make use of them only on condition that they are not inspired by philosophical or religious concepts that are contrary to Christian truth, for example, those concepts that reduce the human being to an element of nature or, on the contrary, exalt him as being the possessor of absolute freedom. It is easy to recognize, especially in the latter case, a renewed form of Pelagianism.

6. The priest, minister of the Sacrament, will keep these truths in mind both in his contact with each penitent and in the catechesis that he is to give to the faithful.

It is likewise obvious that priests, as recipients of the Sacrament of Penance, are called to apply in the first place to themselves the truths just mentioned with their related practical applications. This will help them in their personal quest for holiness and in the living, vital apostolate that they must carry out above all with their example: "verba movent, exempla trahunt" (words can move, examples draw others to follow).

In a special way, these criteria must guide those priests, who as confessors and spiritual directors deal with candidates for the priesthood and for consecrated life. The Sacrament of Penance is the principal instrument for the discernment of vocations. In order to pursue the goal of the priesthood, one needs the mature and sound virtue that guarantees, in as much it is humanly possible as far as possible, a well-founded possibility of perseverance in the future. It is certainly true that the Lord can in an instant transform a sinner into a saint as he did with Saul on the road to Damascus.

However, this is not the usual way of divine Providence. Accordingly, those responsible for allowing a candidate to continue on his way towards the priesthood must be "hic et nunc" certain of his present suitability. If this is true for every virtue and moral habit, it is clear that it is even more necessary with regard to chastity, since by receiving Orders, the candidate will be bound to perpetual celibacy.

7. I entrust to Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, these reflections, that are now transformed into a heart-felt prayer. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede with her Son so that he may see fit to grant to the Church holy confessors, holy priests and holy candidates for the priesthood.

With this hope, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 15 March 2002





Saturday, 16 March 2002

Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I am glad to welcome you at the end of your Dicastery’s Plenary Assembly, during which you chose to make a fresh start on the basis of the Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in order to make your contribution to the mission of the Church in the Third Millennium (cf. No. 40). Your meeting coincides with the Pontifical Council for Culture’s 20th anniversary. As I give thanks for the work achieved by the members and collaborators of the Pontifical Council over the past 20 years, I greet Cardinal Poupard, and thank him for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of you all.

I thank all of you for working together so generously at the service of the universal mission of the Successor of Saint Peter, and encourage you to be ever more zealous in pursuing your relations with cultures, building bridges between people, witnessing to Christ and helping our brothers and sisters to be open to the Gospel (cf. the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Nos. 166-168). What will actually make that happen is an open dialogue with all men and women of good will. While our backgrounds and traditions differ and we may be believers or unbelievers, we are united by our common humanity and called to share in the life of Christ, the Redeemer of man.

2. The Pontifical Council for Culture was created with the aim of “giving the whole Church a common impulse in the continuously renewed encounter between the salvific message of the Gospel and the multiplicity of cultures, in the diversity of cultures to which she must carry her fruits of grace” (Letter to Cardinal Casaroli, establishing the new Pontifical Council for Culture, 20 May 1982 – cf. Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English, 28 June 1982, p. 7), in line with the reflection and decisions of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, the Fathers strongly emphasised the centrality of culture in human life and its importance if Gospel values are to be absorbed and the message of the Bible is to spread in the realm of morals, science and the arts. In this same spirit, the goal of merging the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers and the Pontifical Council for Culture into one Pontifical Council, on 25 March 1993, was to promote “the study of the problem of unbelief and religious indifference found in various forms in different cultural milieus ... in order to offer adequate support to the Church's pastoral activity in evangelizing cultures and inculturating the Gospel” (Motu Proprio Inde a Pontificatus).

Handing on the Gospel message in today’s world is particularly arduous, mainly because our contemporaries are immersed in cultural contexts that are often alien to an inner spiritual dimension, in situations in which a materialist outlook prevails. One cannot escape the fact that, more than in any other historical period, there is a breakdown in the process of handing on moral and religious values between generations This leads to a kind of incongruity between the Church and the contemporary world. Seen from this point of view, the Council’s role as an observatory is particularly important. On the one hand, it can identify developments in different cultures and the anthropological questions to which they give rise. On the other, it can envisage possible relations between the cultures and Christian faith, in order to suggest new ways of evangelising that live up to the expectations of our contemporaries. In fact, we have to reach out to people where they are, with their worries and questions, to help them find the moral and spiritual landmarks they need to live lives worthy of our specific vocation, and to find in Christ's call the hope that does not disappoint (cf. Rom Rm 5,5), as we follow the method used by the Apostle Paul at the Areopagus in Athens (Ac 17,22-34). Clearly, nothing takes us further in dealing with people than taking their culture seriously. There is no better way to communicate and evangelise.

3. Among the great stumbling-blocks of our day are the difficulties families and teachers face as they strive to pass on to younger generations the human, moral and spiritual values that will enable them to be men and women who will want an active role in society and to live a life worthy of their dignity as persons. In the same vein, handing on the Christian message and its values, which help people to be coherent in the decisions they make and in the way they live, is a challenge that all ecclesial communities are called to take up, especially in the field of catechesis and in the formation of catechumens. In other ages – in Saint Augustine’s time, for example, or, more recently, throughout the 20th century, when one could use the contributions of so many Christian philosophers – we learned to base what we said and the way we approached evangelisation on sound anthropology and sound philosophy. In fact, it is only when philosophy opens up to Christ that the Gospel really will start to spread to all nations. Everyone involved in running educational systems now urgently needs to make a serious study of anthropology in order to understand who the human person is and what he or she lives by. Families really need to be backed up by educators who will respect their values and help them to reflect on the fundamental questions young people are asking, even if this seems to go against what contemporary society proposes. In every age there have been men and women with the prophetic courage to make the truth shine forth. This same attitude is still needed today.

The phenomenon of globalisation, which is a cultural fact of life today, is at once a difficulty and an opportunity. While it has a tendency to obliterate the specific identities of different communities and to reduce them to folklore memories of ancient traditions bereft of their original meaning and cultural and religious value, globalisation also helps to break down barriers between cultures and gives people the chance to meet and to get to know each other. At the same time, it obliges national leaders and people of good will to do their utmost to ensure that what is proper to individuals and cultures is respected, to guarantee the good of persons and nations, and to practise brotherhood and solidarity. Society as a whole is facing formidable questions about man and his future, especially in areas like bioethics, the use of the earth’s resources, and decisions on economic and political issues, so that the full dignity of human beings may be recognised and they may continue to play an active part in society and be the ultimate criterion for society’s decisions. The Church in no way seeks to take the place of those who are responsible for public affairs. She does hope to have a place in these debates, to keep people’s minds open to the light of the full meaning of what it is to be human, something that is etched into a person’s very nature.

4. The Pontifical Council for Culture must continue its work and offer its help to bishops, to Catholic communities and to all the institutions that desire it, so that Christians will have the means to witness to their faith and their hope in a consistent and responsible fashion, and so that all people of good will may be involved in building a society that fosters the integrity of every person. The future of the human person and of cultures, the proclamation of the Gospel and the life of the Church depend on it.

May you contribute to a new awareness of the place of culture in the future of the human person and society, and in evangelisation, so that men and women may be freer and use their freedom in a responsible way! As you end your meeting, I entrust your mission to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to everyone who works with you and to your loved ones.

Speeches 2002 - Monday, 11 March 2002