Speeches 2002 - Thursday 11 April 2002


Thursday, 11 April 2002

Mr President,
Your Excellency,
Distinguished Academicians,

1. I am delighted to welcome you on the occasion of the Eighth General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In particular, I greet Mr Edmond Malinvaud, your President, to whom I express my gratitude for his expression of respect on your behalf. I thank Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo and all who coordinate the work of your academy. With your interdisciplinary richness, you have chosen to continue your reflection on the themes of democracy and globalization, thus beginning your research on inter-generational relations. Such a step is valuable for developing the Church's social teaching, for educating peoples and for the participation of Christians in public life in every kind of responsibility for social life.

2. Your analysis also aims at shedding light on the ethical dimension of the decisions that the leaders of civil society and every human being must make. The increasing interdependence among people, families, businesses and nations, as well as among economies and markets - known as globalization - has revolutionized the system of social interactions and relations. If it has positive developments, it also harbours disturbing threats, notably the exacerbation of inequalities between the powerful economies and the dependent ones, between those who benefit from new opportunities, and those who are bypassed. This fact invites you to think about the subject of solidarity in a new way.

3. In this connection, with the progressive lengthening of the span of human life, solidarity between generations must receive greater attention, with special care for the weaker members of society, children and the elderly. Formerly, in many places, solidarity between generations was a natural family attitude; it also was a duty of the community which had to exercise it in a spirit of justice and equity, making sure that each person have his just share in the fruits of work and in all circumstances live with dignity. The industrial age saw States set up social welfare plans to assist families, giving special attention to the education of youth and to pension funds for retirees. It is fortunate that a sense of responsiblity has developed in people thanks to a real national solidarity, so as not to exclude anyone and to give access to a social benefits coverage to all. One can only rejoice at this progress even though it benefits only a small portion of the world's population.

In this spirit, it is first of all the responsibility of the political and economic leaders to do everything possible to ensure that globalization will not take place to the detriment of the least favoured and the weakest, widening the gap between rich and poor, between rich nations and poor nations. I invite people who have the responsibility of government and those who make the decisions that affect society to be particularly careful by reflecting on future long-term decisions and by thinking how to create economic and social balances, by putting in place systems of solidarity that take into account the changes caused by globalization and by keeping these methods from further impoverishing substantial parts of peoples, or even, of whole countries.

4. At the global level, collective decisions must be taken and carried out in a process encouraging the responsible participation of all people, called to build their future together. In this perspective, the fostering of democratic models of government will allow the population as a whole to take part in the administration of the res publica, "on the basis of a correct conception of the human person" (Centesimus annus CA 46), and with respect for basic anthropological and spiritual values. Social solidarity implies putting aside the simple pursuit of particular interests, which must be evaluated and harmonized "in keeping with a hierarchy of balanced values; ultimately, it demands a correct understanding of the dignity and the rights of the person" (ibid., n. 47). Thus it is only right to give great importance to educating the younger generations in a spirit of solidarity and a real culture of openness to the universal and attention to all people, regardless of their race, culture or religion.

5. The leaders of civil society fulfil their mission when they seek above all the common good with absolute respect for the dignity of the human person. The importance of the questions our societies have to face and the challenges for the future should stimulate a common will to seek the common good for the harmonious and peaceful development of societies and the well being of all. I invite the administrative bodies that serve the human community, inter-governmental or international organisms, to support the work of the nations with rigour, justice and understanding, in view of the "universal common good". Thus in a gradual way the modalities of a globalization will be guaranteed that is no longer imposed but controlled.

Actually, it corresponds to the political sphere to regulate the market, to subject market laws to solidarity, so that individuals and societies are not sacrificed by economic changes at all levels and are protected from the upheavals caused by the deregulation of the market. Once again, therefore, I encourage social, political and economic leaders to go further in the way of cooperation among persons, businesses and nations, so that the stewardship of our earth will be at the service of persons and peoples and not just of profit. Men and women are called to leave behind their selfishness and show each other greater solidarity. In its journey to greater unity, solidarity and peace, may today's humanity pass on to the coming generations the goods of creation and the hope of a better future!

As once again I express my esteem and gratitude for your service to the Church and humanity, I invoke upon you the assistance of the risen Lord and wholeheartedly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, your families and all your loved ones.





To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini
Archbishop of Milan

1. I was delighted to learn that the Ambrosian Church and the Order of Friars Preachers are preparing to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Peter Martyr, a Dominican religious who, with his colleague Fra Dominic, was killed for the faith on 6 April 1252, the Saturday after Easter, near Seveso, while travelling to Milan to take up a new mission of evangelization and defence of the Catholic faith.

The anniversary, which this year too coincides with the Saturday after Easter, is an incentive to look with admiration and gratitude at the figure and work of this saint who, seized by Christ, fulfilled in his life the words of the Apostle Paul: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1Co 9,16), and, with his martyrdom, obtained the grace of full conformity with the paschal Victim.

On this special, happy occasion, I rejoice with the Archdiocese of Milan that benefited from his zealous activity, promoted his canonization, preserves his mortal remains and the place of his martyrdom. I cordially unite with the Sons of St Dominic who in him honour their first martyr, an exceptional model for consecrated persons and for the Christians of our time.

2. St Peter Martyr lived his whole life under the banner of the defence of the truth, expressed in the Apostles' "Creed", which he was in the habit of reciting from the age of seven, although he had been born into a family infiltrated by the Cathar heresy, and continued to proclaim "until his final moment" (cf. Bullarium Romanum, III, Augustae taurinorum, 1858, p. 564). The Catholic faith that he had learned in childhood saved him from the dangers of the university atmosphere of Bologna, where going to pursue his studies, he met St Dominic and became his fervent disciple, spending the rest of his life in the Order of Friars Preachers.

After his ordination, he exercised his apostolic activity in various cities of northern Italy, Tuscany, Romagna, the Ancona region of the Marches and Rome itself, primarily through the ministry of preaching and reconciliation. As prior of the convents at Asti, Piacenza and Como, he extended his pastoral care to cloistered women religious, for whom he founded the Dominican monastery, St Peter's in Campo Santo, Milan.

To counter the harm caused by heresy, he took great pains with the Christian formation of lay people and in the capitals of Lombardy and Tuscany, he promoted the associations whose aim was to defend orthodoxy, to spread the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and perform the works of mercy. He later formed a deep spiritual friendship with the Seven Holy Founders of the Servants of Mary, and became their invaluable advisor.

3. On 13 June 1251, while he was prior in Como, my venerable Predecessor Innocent IV gave him a special mandate to oppose the Cathari heresy in Cremona and the following autumn appointed him inquisitor for the cities of Milan and Como and the surrounding regions.

The holy martyr began his last mission that would lead him to die for the Catholic faith. In carrying out the important office, he intensified his preaching, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and explaining the sound doctrine of the Church, while he did not pay attention to the repeated death threats he received from many sides.

His missionary zeal and obedience often took him into the see of St Ambrose, where he expounded the mysteries of Christianity to great crowds and engaged in many public disputes with the leaders of the heretical Cathar sect. His preaching, nourished by a sound knowledge of Scripture, was combined by an ardent witness of charity and confirmed by miracles. Everywhere with unflagging apostolic activity he inspired spiritual zeal fostering a genuine renewal of Christian life.

Unfortunately, on 6 April 1252, while he was on his way from Como where he had celebrated Easter with his community, to Milan where he was going to undertake the mandate entrusted to him by the Vicar of Christ, he was killed by an assassin, hired by the heretics, who at Seveso, in the Farga region, struck him in the head with a sickle and stabbed his companion. This town subsequently took the martyr's name and there one can visit the shrine and parish dedicated to him.

4. St Catherine of Siena notes that with his martyrdom, the heart of this outstanding defender of the faith, burning with divine love, continued to release "light in the darkness of the many heresies". His assassin, Carino da Balsamo, whom he forgave, was converted and later put on the Dominican habit. Remarkable was the widespread, intense feeling provoked by his brutal assassination. Not only did the echo spread through the Dominican Order and the Diocese of Milan but also throughout Italy and Christian Europe. The Milanese authorities, summing up the unanimous veneration of the martyr, asked Pope Innocent IV to canonize him. The canonization took place in Perugia in March 1253, a little less than a year after his death. In the Bull with which he was added to the list of martyrs, my venerable Predecessor praised his "devotion, humility, obedience, goodness, piety, patience and charity", and presented him as a "fervent lover of the faith, its outstanding champion and even fervent protector".

Through the Dominican Order, the devotion honouring St Peter Martyr spread rapidly among the Christian people, as many works of art attest which call forth his undaunted faith, and his martyrdom. A special witness of his enduring devotion is offered by the Shrine of Seveso and the Basilica of St Eustorgius in Milan where since 7 April 1252 the mortal remains of this glorious martyr have been venerated.

Pope St Pius V wished to dedicate a beautifully decorated chapel to him in the Pian Tower, that is part of the Vatican Museums. There my saintly Predecessor often celebrated the Eucharistic sacrifice. Since 1818, St Peter Martyr has accompanied and supported the formation of Ambrosian seminarians with his heavenly protection, for in that year, a diocesan seminary community took up residence in the ancient friary of Seveso next to the Shrine that commemorates his martyrdom.

Antidote to partial, lukewarm faith and to gap between Gospel and life, Gospel and society
5. Seven hundred and fifty years after his death, St Peter Martyr, a faithful disciple of the supreme Teacher whom he constantly sought in silence and contemplation, tirelessly proclaimed and loved to the point of the supreme gift of his life, urges the Christians of our time to overcome the temptation of a lukewarm, partial, adherence to the faith of the Church. He invites us all to focus with renewed commitment on Christ "to be known, loved and imitated, so that we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 29). St Peter holds up and presents to believers the path of holiness, "the high standard of ordinary Christian living", so that the ecclesial community, individuals and families may always be led in this direction (cf. ibid., n. 31). After his example, every Christian is encouraged to resist the allure of power and riches, to seek first "his kingdom and its justice" (Mt 6,33) and to contribute to the building of a social order that corresponds more and more closely to what is needed to respect the dignity of the human person.

In a society like ours where there is often a worrisome gap between Gospel and culture, a recurrent tragedy in the history of the Christian world, St Peter Martyr witnesses that this gap can only be bridged if the different members of the People of God strive to become "lamps" that shine on their stand, guiding their brethren to Christ, who gives ultimate meaning to human seeking and expectations.

I express the wish that the celebrations planned in honour of this exemplary son of St Dominic may be an occasion of grace, spiritual fervour and renewed commitment to announcing the Gospel with fearless courage and joy constantly renewed.

With these hopes, I impart the desired Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brother, to the beloved Archdiocese of Milan, to those training for the priesthood at the seminary named after the holy martyr, to the Order of Preachers, and to all who entrust themselves to the heavenly intercession of St Peter Martyr.

From the Vatican, 25 March 2002.




Saturday, 13 April 2002

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I am pleased to receive you today, during your ad limina visit which, after a busy time, has brought you to Rome to renew your pastoral commitment at the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and to strengthen your bonds with the See of Peter and his successors, in whom is found "a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity in faith and communion" (Lumen gentium LG 18).

I cordially thank Cardinal Julio Terrazas, Archbishop of Santa Cruz and President of the Episcopal Conference of Bolivia, for his words of respect, affection and support, while he informed me of the hopes and anxieties that you deal with in your generous involvement in the pastoral ministry.
While I meet with the Pastors, with great love, I think of your flock, the beloved Bolivian people who received the grace of welcoming the message of Christ from the first moment of evangelization and who now face the passionate challenge of handing on this message, whole and fruitful, to the generations of a new millennium.

2. In this regard, I am happy to note how the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 has certainly defined Bolivian ecclesial life, with the variety of diocesan and national celebrations that draw a broad segment of the people to participate and stimulate the growth of the Christian life. On this occasion, the Bolivian Church "became more than ever a pilgrim people, led by Him who is the "great Shepherd of the sheep' (He 13,20)" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 1). For this reason, to all the Pastors, priests, men and women religious, catechists and other pastoral workers I repeat what I said to the priests last year: "Today I wish to express to each of you my gratitude for all that you did during the Jubilee Year to ensure that the people entrusted to your care might experience more intensely the saving presence of the Risen Lord" (Letter of the Pope to Priests for Holy Thursday 2001, n. 3).

The rich experience of such a significant moment in the history of the Church and of humanity must not simply remain a memory, but must be the school and stimulus for a new evangelizing dynamism, since "In the cause of the Kingdom there is no time for looking back, even less for settling into laziness" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 15). There is no shortage of important challenges to be faced in your ecclesial communities. I wish to encourage you strongly in your involvement, which often seems to be full of apparently insoluble difficulties, recalling that Jesus himself sent out His own disciples to preach while they took nothing with them (cf. Mt Mt 10,9-10) and that Peter, fully trusting in the Master's words, made a catch as abundant as it was unexpected (cf. Lk Lc 5,6).

3. Even if there are many signs that nourish the hope for an increase in priestly and religious vocations, I know well that this is one of the aspects which greatly compels you to make the proclamation of the Gospel more penetrating, pastoral attention to the People of God more complete and organized, and the pursuit of holiness in all the ecclesial communities rich and flourishing. To this end, you must persevere untiringly in prayer to "the Lord of the harvest" (Mt 9,38), in order that He may continue to bless Bolivia with the precious gift of vocations to the priesthood and all forms of consecrated life. Proclaiming Christ must also mean to make young people hear the echo of His invitation to follow Him on the distinctive path of the priestly life or of special consecration, and evoke the experience of those disciples who "hearing Him speak thus, followed Jesus" (Jn 1,37). This is the goal of the pastoral care of vocations, one of the great needs of our times, of which pastoral care must be "an extensive plan ... involving parishes, schools, and families" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 46). No one can consider himself exempt from this responsibility which "the entire People of God is responsible for" (Ecclesia in America ).

As Pastors you know well the delicate nature of this work, which, while it demands boldness of becoming the mediators of the call of the Master through direct and personal contact, also requires a patient spiritual guidance and the indomitable hope of the sower, who continues in his task while aware of the uncertainty of the harvest.

4. It is likewise necessary to give special attention to the formation of candidates for the priesthood and the consecrated life, since the small number of those called to proclaim and witness to the Gospel does not mean that you may lessen your insistence on the necessary standards for this fundamental mission of the Church. Thus it is necessary that you make available for them a solid theological preparation and a profound spirituality, in order that they understand and joyfully accept the demands of ministry and consecration, proving themselves able to "spend" their entire lives for Christ (cf. II Cor 12,15) and put their talents at the service of the Church, finding meaning and fulfilment to human life.

I invite you, therefore, to continue to instill courage in your seminarians and priests, without being afraid to demand what is required by the Church of her ordained ministers, given the example of the Good Shepherd. I think of necessary priestly fraternity, without any kind of criticism, prejudice or discrimination; of indispensable obedience and communion, without reticence, with one's Bishop, to whom they must give their full readiness to obey with joy and generosity; of a sincere and real appreciation of celibacy and of indifference to material goods (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis PO 14-17). Your pastoral charity will find the way to make these requirements, more than being just difficult renunciations, to be accepted and lived with the joyful heart of one who "on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Mt 13,46). You know how important in many cases is the Bishop's personal, cheerful and fatherly relationship with his priests, by his showing interest even in the little things of daily life that have an impact on the priests' personal and pastoral souls. This is precisely one of the better places for developing the "spirituality of communion" that must characterize the Church of the third millennium (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 43).

5. A great good for most of your dioceses is the presence of many consecrated persons, to whom I express my heartfelt thanks for their contribution to the service of the Kingdom of God in Bolivia.

They give this service in many areas, according to the charism of their Institute, from the direct apostolate in the parishes and missions to educational and health care institutions, or social and charitable assistance. They not only deserve the gratitude of the Pastors, but also a constant encouragement to support and increase their generous commitment, in full harmony with the directives of each particular Church. This will help them to become more fully aware that their contribution to the life of the ecclesial community is not limited to the material effectiveness of their service, but that, above all, they enrich it with their personal and communal witness to the Beatitudes of the Gospel, the presence of their charism, that reminds everyone of the immeasurable action of the Spirit, and gives this most important commitment to contribute in a special way in order that the communities continue to be "genuine "schools' of prayer" (ibid., n. 33).

6. A sign of vitality in many of the particular Churches over which you preside is also the presence of many committed laity, who "carry out their own part in the mission of the whole Christian people with respect to the Church and the world" (Lumen gentium LG 31). Their role is particularly important in those places where it is impossible to count on the permanent presence of priests to preside over the community. Their availability to promote catechesis or to encourage meetings of communal prayer and the reading of the Word of God deserves the sincere appreciation of their Pastors who must get involved in offering an adequate theological, liturgical, and spiritual formation for the tasks entrusted to these men and women.

In this regard, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that such lay dedication does not at times create "the temptation of being so strongly interested in Church services and tasks that some fail to become actively engaged in their responsibilities in the professional, social, cultural, and political world" (Christifideles laici CL 2). In fact, the lay vocation has to play an important role in today's society, in which, as we see also in Bolivia, rapid and profound changes are taking place that require the respect of ethical principles and the guidance of Gospel values, in order that temporal reality be ordered to God (cf. Lumen gentium LG 31). Likewise, no means are to be spared for the ongoing formation of the laity, since they are called to be the primary ones who implement the social doctrine of the Church.

It is therefore important that every Bishop give special care to developing his responsibility in this area "so [to] gather and mould the whole family of his flock that everyone, conscious of his own duties, may live and work in the communion of love" (Christus Dominus CD 16). The different kinds of associations are good ways of realizing this commitment among the laity and it is therefore necessary to promote them as an authentic "springtime of spirituality" for the Church (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 33). As Pastors you know the inestimable good which the various lay associations, when they follow the "criteria of ecclesiality" (cf. Christifideles laici CL 30), can contribute both to the sanctification of their members and to the evangelizing action of the Church.

7. As in other parts of Latin America, in Bolivia you are also worried about the proselytizing advance of sects, which often use the same religious roots sown in people by the Church in order to separate them from the sower. It is a sad phenomenon that at times relives Jesus' experience when He said: "If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?" (Jn 8,46). Without a doubt, firmness in the faith and full trust in the power of the truth to conquer hearts is a valuable motivation that will inspire necessary pastoral activities. One of these should be the non-stop proclaiming of Christ's message in a style that all can understand, with "a simple style, as is in accord with the goodness of God" (cf. St Cyprian, A. Donato, 2), and in a way that shows all of its power and attraction. We must always learn from Jesus that, through His way of acting and teaching, he evoked the wonder of the people (cf. Lk Lc 4,32).

In the rich Bolivian tradition there is no shortage either of suitable means of expression able to guide a profound lived experience of faith, nor of solid forms of popular piety which can reach the hearts of the people. The simplicity of these expressions must not be confused with a superficiality of faith.

This advance of the sects must be a reason for great concern, especially when it is caused by your not paying personal attention to the faithful, according to their condition, or by not carrying out an evangelization that is aware of the inner expectations of those who long to hear in their hearts the words of Jesus: "Today salvation has come to this house" (Lc 19,9). In effect, experience shows that sects do not thrive where the Church lives an intense spiritual life and is committed to the service of charity.

8. Dear Brothers, you have had to exercise your pastoral ministry in difficult moments for your country, due to a complex social situation, with various conflicts and outbursts of violence. You have accepted to be part of reconciliation initiatives, with the sole goal of encouraging a coming together and a dialogue between the parties in conflict.

In reality, this is only a temporary part of the greater task of carrying out a much more extensive work, that involves evangelization and promotes justice and fraternal solidarity among all citizens.

Through you, I call upon all Bolivian believers, so that, relying upon the faith which they profess and the hope in Christ which animates them, they may become the advocates of a society that is averse to every selfish division, to any form of violence or lack of respect for the rights of the human person, especially the right to life.

9. In concluding this meeting, I invoke upon you and your dioceses the maternal protection of Our Lady of Copacabana, asking her to watch over all Bolivians. Please bring the greeting and affection of the Pope to the homes, communities, and parishes, encouraging them to spread the great values of the Gospel. I repeat today what I said at the airport of Santa Cruz at the end of my pastoral visit to your country in 1988: "I carry all of you in my heart and will keep an unforgettable memory of all of you" (Discourse, 14 May 1988, ORE, 20 June 1988, n. 2).

With these sentiments I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I am happy to extend to all of the sons and daughters of Bolivia.




Monday, 15 April 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. On the day after the proclamation of the six new Blesseds, I am happy to meet again with all of you who have come to Rome to participate in this solemn ecclesial celebration. In this festive climate, in accord with the joyful spirit of Easter, once more we wish to linger in contemplation of the wonderful works that the Lord accomplished in the life and activity of the new Blesseds: Gaetano Errico, Lodovico Pavoni, Luigi Variara, María Romero, Artemide Zatti, and María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado. We want to gain a deeper appreciation of their spirituality and their example to follow them on their generous path to holiness.

2. I address you, Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, and to those who share with you the joy for the beatification of Gaetano Errico, apostle of the merciful love of God and martyr of the confessional.

How great a need is there in our time for those who will proclaim God's gentleness and forgiveness toward sinners, particularly through the Sacrament of Penance. In the secret of the confessional a great mystery is entrusted to priests as I wished to confirm in the Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday. I wrote then: "The Good Shepherd, through the presence and voice of the priest, approaches each man and woman, entering into a personal dialogue which involves listening, counsel, comfort and forgiveness" (n. 9).

To oppose the Jansenists who insisted too much on the justice of God and spread fear and anxiety in souls, Gaetano Errico insisted on proclaiming divine mercy. He never tired of exhorting priests: "If souls come who are full of serious sins, encourage them to get up again, urge them to confidence, tell them that the Lord pardons everything, if they repent from the heart". Even today how strongly does God's merciful love speak to the heart of the human person, encouraging him to overcome evil, suffering, injustice and sin.

3. My warm greetings go to you, Sons of Mary Immaculate, who rejoice with the whole Church for the Beatification of your Founder, Lodovico Pavoni. Following the age-old tradition of Brescia, the new Blessed knew how to develop a method of education that is based on the means of preventive pedagogy such as religion and reason, love and gentleness, vigilance and intelligence.

He succeeded in setting forth a method of instruction and preparation for work that anticipates modern professional schools, introducing reforms that prophetically anticipated the social teaching of the Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII. What was the secret of such intense activity? He recalls it himself: "In a faith that is meditated on, the will and the heart find sure support for putting all our trust in God. A firm hope maintains true humility.... Charity burning in the heart makes us feel strongly the desires of God and the needs of our neighbour".

4. I am happy to greet the Italian pilgrims who have come to Rome for the Beatification of Don Luigi Variara and of the Salesian Brother, Artemide Zatti. I join the joy of the parishes of Viarigi, in the Diocese of Asti, and of Boretto, in the Diocese of Reggio Emilia, for the exaltation of the sons of their land.

5. Finally, I warmly greet the South American pilgrims, particularly from Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Colombia and Argentina, who came to participate with great joy in the solemn ceremony of the Beatification of Fr Luigi Variara, Sr María Romero, Artemide Zatti, all of them Salesians, and of Mother María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado, Argentinian and Foundress of the Third Order Franciscan Missionaries.

Today the great Salesian family adds three new names to the legion of Salesian Saints and Blesseds.

Their lives were not hidden behind the walls of their religious community. Their lives appeared with all their works and reached the many men and women, children and youth who knew them and benefited from their apostolic activity based on the teachings of Don Bosco.

Fr Luigi Variara comes before us enriching the Salesian charism to which he was always faithful, by adding a new dimension as the Founder of the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, with the intention of being one who wipes away the tears of those who are the most marginalized and forgotten of our society. His life invites us to stretch out a hand to everyone, not to despise anyone, to welcome others. Today, Colombia, where he lived and gave the best of himself with the help of divine grace, can find in the example of this witness of Jesus Christ a help to overcome the harsh situation it has been experiencing for many years and to move toward a more fraternal and united society.

6. The religious brother Artemide Zatti sowed in the soil of Viedma, with incessant and joyful activity in favour of the sick, the mercy that Jesus invited us to practice, "I was sick and you visited me" (Mt 25,36). His pleasant personality and his special expertise, together with an unlimited availability, won him the generous appreciation of his contemporaries. Today they have to live in a spirit of readiness to imitate his powerful example and foster in all those involved in the health profession a renewed attitude of service to the sick person who has to be respected in his status as person, with unalienable rights.

Sr María Romero's creative and affective service to the poor is what attracts us. The works that she founded to promote the Christian life of the neediest and to alleviate the state of need in which so many citizens of San José and its surrounding areas live on today and continue to give reason for hope to the neediest with their acts of solidarity for the poorest. May such service that gives great honour to the Church of Christ never be lacking.

7. The populous city of Cordoba, in Argentina, was the privileged witness of the holiness of life of Bl. Mother María del Tránsito Cabanillas de Jesús Sacramentado. Her life was a song of praise for God's wonders that take place in the ordinary events of daily life. Lacking any spectacular manifestation, the new Blessed travelled the path of holiness in each moment experiencing the closeness of Jesus and his invitation to follow him even to the last consequences.

Asking herself seriously about what God wanted from her, she discovered her Franciscan vocation and the inspiration for a plan of religious life that was busy helping women to realize themselves in the experience of faith. She knew how to be firm but patient and understanding as well, embrace the cross with all its difficulties and remain in humble silence even when great humiliations and criticisms hung over her. May her witness be an example for her compatriots who in the present hour have to follow with enthusiasm the life of Christians and citizens without falling into the temptation of discouragement or, what is worse, into a spirit of rivalry or revenge.

8. Dear Brothers and Sisters, what a wonderful company the Lord offers us in the new Blesseds. While we admire their example of holiness, let us make the effort to follow in their footsteps to be in turn courageous witnesses of the Gospel.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of all saints, guide and protect you on your route. May my Blessing go with you, which I warmly impart to those present, to your families and the communities you come from and to your loved ones.

Speeches 2002 - Thursday 11 April 2002