Speeches 2002






To my Venerable Brother Bishop Agostino Vallini of Albano

1. A hundred years ago, on 6 July 1902, Maria Goretti died in the hospital at Nettuno, brutally stabbed the day before in the little village of Le Ferriere, in the Pontine Marshes. Her spiritual life, the strength of her faith, her ability to forgive her murderer have placed her among the best-loved saints of the 20th century. Appropriately, therefore, the Congregation of the Passion (C.P.), entrusted with the care of the shrine where the saint's remains repose, wanted to celebrate the anniversary with special solemnity.

St Maria Goretti was a girl whom God's Spirit endowed with the courage to stay faithful to her Christian vocation even to the point of making the supreme sacrifice of her life. Her tender age, her lack of education and the poverty of the environment in which she lived did not prevent grace from working its miracles in her. Indeed, it was precisely in these conditions that God's special love for the lowly appeared. We are reminded of the words with which Jesus blesses the heavenly Father for revealing himself to children and the simple, rather than to the wise and learned of the world (cf. Mt Mt 11,25).

It was rightly observed that St Maria Goretti's martyrdom heralded what was to be known as the century of martyrs. It was in this perspective that at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I stressed that "this lively sense of repentance ... has not prevented us from giving glory to the Lord for what he has done in every century, and in particular during the century which we have just left behind, by granting his Church a great host of saints and martyrs" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 7).

2. Maria Goretti, born in Corinaldo in The Marches on 16 October 1890, was soon obliged to emigrate with her family, and after sometime they arrived at Le Ferriere di Conca in the Pontine Marshes. Despite the hardships of poverty which even prevented her from going to school, little Maria lived in a serene and united family atmosphere, enlivened by Christian faith, in which the children felt welcomed as a gift and were taught by their parents self-respect and respect for others, as well as a sense of duty based on love of God. This enabled the little girl to grow up peacefully, nourishing her simple but deep faith. The Church has always recognized the role of the family as the first and fundamental place for the sanctification of its members, starting with the children.

In this family environment Maria assimilated steadfast trust in God's provident love, which she showed in particular at the death of her father, who died of malaria. "Mother, be brave, God will help us", the little girl was in the habit of saying in those difficult times, bravely reacting to her deep feeling of loss at her father's death.

3. In the homily for her canonization, Pope Pius XII of venerable memory pointed to Maria Goretti as "the sweet little martyr of purity" (cf. Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, XII [1950-1951], 121), because she did not break God's commandment in spite of being threatened by death.

What a shining example for young people! The non-commital mindset of much of our society and culture today sometimes has a struggle to understand the beauty and value of chastity. A high and noble perception of dignity, her own and that of others emerges from the behaviour of this young saint, was mirrored in her daily choices, giving them the fullness of human meaning. Is not there a very timely lesson in this? In a culture that idolizes the physical aspect of the relations between a man and a woman, the Church continues to defend and to champion the value of sexuality as a factor that involves every aspect of the person and must therefore be lived with an interior attitude of freedom and reciprocal respect, in the light of God's original plan. With this outlook, a person discovers he or she is being given a gift and is called, in turn, to be a gift to the other.

In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte I noted that "in the Christian view of marriage, the relationship between a man and a woman - a mutual and total bond, unique and indissoluble - is part of God's original plan, obscured throughout history by "hardness of heart', but which Christ came to restore to its pristine splendour, disclosing what had been God's will "from the beginning' (Mt 19,8). Raised to the dignity of a sacrament, marriage expresses the "great mystery' of Christ's nuptial love for his Church (cf. Eph 5,32)" (n. 47).

It cannot be denied that today the threats to the unity and stability of the family are many. However, at the same time there is a renewed awareness of the child's right to be raised in love, protected from every kind of danger and educated so as to be able to set out in life with confidence and fortitude.

4. In the heroic testimony of the saint of Le Ferriere, her forgiveness of the man who killed her and her desire to be able to meet him one day in heaven deserve special attention. This spiritual and social message is of extraordinary relevance in our time.

The recent Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, among other aspects, was marked by a profound appeal for pardon in the context of the celebration of God's mercy. The divine indulgence for human shortcomings is a demanding model of behaviour for all believers. Forgiveness, in the Church's opinion, does not mean moral relativism or permissiveness. On the contrary, it demands the full recognition of one's sin and the assumption of one's responsibilities as a condition for rediscovering true peace and for confidently resuming the journey to evangelical perfection.

May humanity start out with determination on the way of mercy and forgiveness! Maria Goretti's murderer recognized the sin he had committed. He asked forgiveness of God and of the martyr's family, conscientiously expiated his crime and lived the rest of his life in this spiritual frame of mind.

The saint's mother, for her part, pardoned him on behalf of the family in the hall of the tribunal where his trial was taking place. We do not know whether it was the mother who taught her daughter to forgive or the martyr's forgiveness on her death-bed that determined her mother's conduct. Yet it is certain that the spirit of forgiveness motivated relations within the whole Goretti family, and for this reason could be so naturally expressed by both the martyr and her mother.

5. Those who were acquainted with little Maria said on the day of her funeral: "A saint has died!". The devotion to her has continued to spread on every continent, giving rise to admiration and a thirst for God everywhere. In Maria Goretti shines out the radical choice of the Gospel, unhindered, indeed strengthened by the inevitable sacrifice that faithful adherence to Christ demands.

I am especially holding up this saint as an example to young people who are the hope of the Church and of humanity. As we are now so close to the 17th World Youth Day, I would like to remind young people of what I wrote in the Message I addressed to them in preparation for this longed-for ecclesial event: "In the heart of the night we can feel frightened and insecure, and we impatiently await the coming of the light of dawn. Dear young people, it is up to you to be the watchmen of the morning (cf. Is Is 21,11-12) who announce the coming of the sun who is the Risen Christ!" (n. 3).

Walking in the footsteps of the divine Teacher always means standing up for him and commiting oneself to follow him wherever he goes (cf. Apoc Ap 14,4). However, on this path, young people know that they are not alone. St Maria Goretti and the many adolescents who down through centuries paid the price of martyrdom for their allegiance to the Gospel, are beside them, to instil in their hearts the strength to remain firm in fidelity. Thus they will be able to become watchmen of a radiant dawn, illumined by hope. May the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, intercede for them!

In raising this prayer, I am united in spirit with everyone who will be taking part in the Jubilee celebrations during this centenary year, and I send a special Apostolic Blessing, the pledge of an abundance of heavenly favours, to you, Venerable Diocesan Bishop, to the worthy Passionist Fathers in charge of the Shrine at Nettuno, to the devotees of St Maria Goretti and especially to the young people.

From the Vatican, 6 July 2002.





Most Reverend Paul Josef Cordes
Titular Archbishop of Naissus
President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"
President of the Populorum Progressio Foundation

I am pleased to send through you my cordial greetings to the Bishops of the Populorum Progressio Foundation and to their collaborators, who will meet this year in the City of Sucre, Bolivia, to celebrate the Tenth Anniversary of the institution's creation.

Helping the poor is a Gospel imperative, addressed with vigour to all Christians, who are never allowed to pass by their neighbour who has been stricken with misfortune (cf. Lk Lc 10,33-35). In this regard, I note with sadness that, if in some of the developing countries the scourge of poverty strikes a major part of the population, the most abandoned groups of such a society do not have even what is most essential. Because of this, it was my wish to contribute to the lessening of the effects of such a terrible situation with the creation ten years ago of the Populorum Progressio Foundation (2 February 1992), having concern especially for the indigenous population, those of mixed racial background, and the African-Americans of Latin America. It is intended to be a sign expressing my closeness to those who find themselves in conditions of grave privation and who are frequently neglected by society or by the public authorities themselves, often incapable of doing anything for them. This type of institution carries out practical initiatives by which God's love for humanity, especially for the poor, is manifested (cf. Lk Lc 7,22).

Each year this Foundation finances as many projects as possible, through which the overall development of the poorest farming communities may be assisted. Accordingly, between 1993 and 2001, 1,596 projects have been helped, for a total of $ 13,142,529.00 U.S., thanks particularly to the generosity of Italian Catholics, through the good offices of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and through gifts from other benefactors and Church organizations.

It is noteworthy that the particular Churches in Latin America also participate in financing the projects. Besides this, a characteristic of the work of the Foundation is that the persons responsible for approving projects and deciding on the distribution of funds come from the very areas in which the projects are implemented. The Administrative Council is, in fact, composed of six Ordinaries from Latin America and the Caribbean, who are asked to examine and discuss the requests presented.

The social situation is unfortunately very difficult in various parts of Latin America. The States and the particular Churches of these countries, each in its own area of responsibility, must work to improve the conditions of life for everyone, to the exclusion of no one. The underlying causes are aggravated also by the presence of injustice and corruption. Moreover, in some countries the external debt has reached astronomical figures and impedes economic development. For this reason, the Apostolic See feels obliged to call attention to this scourge, which paralyzes energies and the hope for a better future. As I recalled in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, Catholics everywhere must feel themselves called upon to collaborate, since "fraternal charity implies attention to all the needs of one's neighbour. "If one has riches in this world and, seeing his brother in need closes his heart to him, how can the love of God remain in him?' (1Jn 3,17)" (n. 27).

As Christians, the word of God does not exempt us from the strict obligation to offer our help and make it our responsibility to search for true justice. It exhorts us to care for our brothers and sisters who are truly in need. Besides, our role as evangelizers leads us to this, since there is an intimate connection between evangelization and human promotion, and because good works favour acceptance of the Good News. In addition, works of charity towards our neighbour make the preaching of the Gospel more credible.

Most of all, I wish to express my gratitude to all of those who, during these ten years, have worked to set up the structure and activities of the Populorum Progressio Foundation: Bishops, priests and laity. By supervising and ensuring financing, they have made it possible for projects to be correctly managed. Their generous dedication has contributed to making the Foundation more widely known, fostering among the beneficiaries and Christian communities in general trust in God's help and the hope of a better future.

With the assurance of my prayers for a fruitful meeting, I implore the light of the Holy Spirit for the discernment of the best way to continue this important work. I entrust the work of the meeting to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who, under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is venerated throughout the American continent. At the same time, as a sign of the Church's gratitude, I impart to the members of the Foundation and to its benefactors a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 14 June 2002.




To the Reverend Mother Sister Carmela Distefano Superior General

1. I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of your General Chapter on the theme, "Mission: concerned with the charism and looking to the future". It is an event of grace and a strong appeal to deepen your knowledge of the founding charism, to incarnate it in the present historical and social context in the most suitable way.

I greet you, Reverend Superior General, the delegates of the Chapter Assembly and all the Ursulines who carry out their generous apostolate in Italy and Brazil. Continuing on the path you have taken so far, you want "to spread the Kingdom of God through the apostolate of education, social assistance and mission" (Const. 56), attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit who enlightens hearts and minds. You also set out to analyze carefully the challenges of contemporary society in rapid transformation, so as to continue to respond to them effectively, with incisive apostolic action. May God bless your resolutions!

2. Dear Sisters, preserve faithfully all that your foundress, Rosa Roccuzzo, has passed down to you. The whole of her life was marked by an intense inner conversation with God and tender love for the Family of Nazareth. In her tireless service to others she was inspired by the spirit of the Holy Family, as she sought to face with every ounce of her energy the forms of poverty typical of her time; from financial and moral poverty to the poverty arising from the lack of adequate health care.

She wanted to graft her work onto the great tree of the spiritual family of St Angela Merici, whom she presented to her daughters as a true mother in the spirit, a compelling model to imitate. St Angela asked every Ursuline to be a "true and unsullied Virgin and Bride of the Son of God" (Introductory Letter to the Rule of St Angela Merici): an ideal that requires a ceaseless quest of holiness.

The missionary style with which your institute wants to serve every person, without distinctions of race or creed, has developed over the years on the basis of these solid spiritual references.

3. Dear sisters! With prophetic freedom and wise discernment, be daily Gospel witnesses, present wherever need calls, capable of distinguishing yourselves by intense communion and active cooperation with the Pastors of the Church.

Today the great challenge of inculturation asks believers to proclaim the Good News in languages and forms which the people of our time can understand. An urgent mission and vast missionary horizons are unfolding for you too, dear Ursulines of the Holy Family. Like your foundress, be ready to live your lives in service to the poor, develop a real passion for educating the young and spend yourselves generously for others, especially those who are sick and suffering. So many people are still waiting to know Jesus and his Gospel! So many need to experience God's love!

Each one of you, however, knows that to be able to respond to these expectations, in the first place, you must strive for holiness with all your might, keeping in constant contact with Christ in prayer and contemplation. Only in this way is it possible to become his credible messengers, meeting the needs of your brothers and sisters in that simple, forthright spirit which your congregation's great benefactor, Bishop Luigi Bignami, called the spirit of "mountain lilies".

Jesus, Joseph and Mary protect you and help you to achieve your projects of good. May my prayer also be a comfort and support, as well as the Blesisng which I cordially impart to you and to all those you meet in your apostolate.

From Castel Gandolfo, 12 July 2002






To Reverend Mother Maria Floriana Pasqualetto
Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of St John the Baptist and St Catherine of Siena

1. I learned with deep pleasure that the Congregation of the Sisters of St John the Baptist and St Catherine of Siena is holding its General Chapter in July on the theme: "From the structure, a new vitality of the Institute for the good of the Church and of society, in the present and in the future". This important event gives me the happy opportunity to express my spiritual closeness to your Institute and to address a cordial word of good wishes to you and to the sisters elected for the Capitular Assembly. During this meeting, you will reflect on how to open your congregation to new prospects for spiritual and apostolic development.

To do this, continuing on the path you have taken so far, you want to return to the origin of the institute to revisit what you like to call its "structure", that is, the Rule and the Constitutions. You are rightly convinced that the original inspiration of Medea Ghiglino Patellani, who dedicated herself to the integral education of youth in Genoa at the end of the 16th century is still valid today. Thus, from the consideration of your original starting point, you want to draw an inner incentive to set out towards courageous new missionary goals. In this regard I am thinking of your plans for the two Provinces of Italy and Brazil, likewise your family's recent opening to Albania and Bolivia.

2. Young Medea, in her deep attachment to her city, put the new foundation under the protection of St John the Baptist, Patron of Genoa, and St Catherine of Siena: John who points out Jesus, the Lamb of God, and Catherine, an apostolic woman filled with prophetic love for Christ and for the Church. She constantly referred to these two great saints, in whom she saw totally fulfilled her desire to belong to Christ without reserve, and they accompanied the institute in its later development.

Under the expert guidance of the Jesuit, Fr Bernardino Zanoni, the foundress set herself to express in daily life the great "lesson" of the Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola, constantly seeking a wise balance between personal spiritual experience and the demands of community life. Since then, communion lived to the full and the education of young people, with the consciousness of the globality of the human person, have been the heart of your charism.

I am sure that, thanks to the attentive rereading of your history, your General Chapter will be a favourable time for the whole family of the Sisters of St John the Baptist and St Catherine of Siena to take a further step forward, adapting the original Rule of Life to the changed needs of our time, without losing any of its substance.

3. Above all, you should be careful to safeguard "communion", the central element and synthesis of your charism. The foundress laid down dedication to communion at the beginning of the Rule: "They are to live in common, in everything" (art. 1, RP). The word "everything", emphasizes the person's generous belonging to the religious community. At the same time, they mean that activities must never be the result of individual choices but must witness to the breadth of a constant community understanding.

This specific feature of your charism clearly corresponds to one of the priorities of the new evangelization which I pointed out in my Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio ineunte: that is, "to make the Church the home and school of communion" (n. 43). I wrote in this vein: "Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education" (ibid.). It is true: apostolic service, in which God's glory shines forth, is born of really lived communion.

This regard for communion can guide the Institute's members as they update the Constitutions, with attentive discernment and constant reference to the will of the Foundress who was motivated by her desire to collaborate with "the Holy Work of the Greatest Glory of God, which consists in the particular and universal good of the souls redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus".

To love God and the Church: this ideal of Medea Ghiglino Patellani will inspire her spiritual daughters in their educational service, ceaselessly recalling the fundamental pedagogical principle: the unity of the human person. Thus, faithful to the original charism and docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, they will be able to respond to the challenges of this moment in history with missionary choices that are open to the "signs of the times".

4. Reverend Mother, while I thank the Lord for the generous work that this congregation carries out in the Church and in society, I ask you to make the General Chapter a providential opportunity for a vast relaunching, and, despite all the current problems, persevering on the path you have begun with full confidence in divine Providence.

May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization accompany you, Reverend Mother, and all the sisters, and, from her divine Son, obtain for each one the graces she needs. With these sentiments, as I implore an abundance of heavenly gifts upon the work of the Chapter, I cordially impart to you, to the Chapter Sisters and to the entire Congregation my Apostolic Blessing.

From Castel Gandolfo, 11 July 2002.







Toronto International Airport, Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Dear Prime Minister Chrétien,
Dear Canadian Friends,

1. I am deeply grateful for your words of welcome, Mr. Prime Minister, and feel greatly honoured by the presence here of the Premier of Ontario, the Mayor of the great city of Toronto, and other distinguished representatives of government and civil society. To all I say a resounding "thank you" for welcoming the idea of holding the World Youth Day in Canada and for all that has been done to make it a reality.

Dear People of Canada, I have vivid memories of my first apostolic visit in 1984, and of my brief visit in 1987 to the First Nations in the land of Denendeh. This time I must be content to stay only in Toronto. From here I greet all Canadians. You are in my thankful prayers to God, who has so abundantly blessed your vast and beautiful country.

2. Young people from all parts of the world are gathering for the World Youth Day. With their gifts of intelligence and heart they represent the future of the world. But they also bear the marks of a humanity that too often does not know peace, or justice.

Too many lives begin and end without joy, without hope. That is one of the principal reasons for the World Youth Day. Young people are coming together to commit themselves, in the strength of their faith in Jesus Christ, to the great cause of peace and human solidarity.

Thank you, Toronto; thank you, Canada, for welcoming them with open arms!

3. In the French version of your national anthem, "O Canada", you sing: "Car ton bras sait porter l’épée, il sait porter la croix. " Canadians are heirs to an extraordinarily rich humanism, enriched even more by the blend of many different cultural elements. But the core of your heritage is the spiritual and transcendent vision of life based on Christian revelation which gave vital impetus to your development as a free, democratic and caring society, recognized throughout the world as a champion of human rights and human dignity.

4. In a world of great social and ethical strains, and confusion about the very purpose of life, Canadians have an incomparable treasure to contribute – on condition that they preserve what is deep, and good and valid in their own heritage. I pray that the World Youth Day will offer all Canadians an opportunity to remember the values that are essential to good living and to human happiness.

Mr. Prime Minister, dear Friends: may the motto of the World Youth Day echo throughout the land, reminding all Christians to be "salt of the earth and light of the world".

God bless you all. God bless Canada.







Toronto, Exhibition Place, Thursday, July 25, 2002

Dear Young Friends!

1. You have come to Toronto from every continent to celebrate World Youth Day. My joyful and heartfelt greetings go to you! I have been eagerly looking forward to this meeting, especially when day after day from all parts of the world I received in the Vatican good news about all the initiatives that have marked your journey here. And often, even without having met you, I commended you one by one in my prayers to the Lord. He has always known you, and he loves each one of you personally.

With fraternal affection I greet the Cardinals and Bishops who are here with you; in particular Bishop Jacques Berthelet, President of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Canada, Cardinal Aloysius Ambrozic, Archbishop of this city, and Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. To all of you I say: may your contacts with your Pastors help you to discover and appreciate more and more the beauty of the Church, experienced as missionary communion.

2. Listening to the long list of countries from which you come, we have practically made a trip round the world. Behind each of you I have glimpsed the faces of all your fellow young people whom I have met in the course of my apostolic travels, and whom in a way you represent here. I have imagined you on a journey, walking in the shadow of the Jubilee Cross, on this great youth pilgrimage which, moving from continent to continent, is eager to hold the whole world in a close embrace of faith and hope.

Today this pilgrimage makes a stop here, on the shores of Lake Ontario. We are reminded of another lake, the Lake of Tiberias, on the shores of which the Lord Jesus made a fascinating proposal to the first disciples, some of whom were probably young like you (cf. Jn Jn 1,35-42).

3. The Pope has come from Rome to listen again with you to Jesus' words, which still today, as was the case for the disciples on that day long ago, can set the hearts of young people aflame and motivate their whole lives. I invite you then to make the various activities of this World Youth Day which is just beginning a special time when each of you, beloved young people, listens attentively to the Lord, with a willing and generous heart, in order to become the "salt of the earth and light of the world" (cf. Mt Mt 5,13-16).

Dear young people of Spain and Latin America, I greet you with affection. Do not forget the path of happiness that Jesus proclaims in the Gospel. My affectionate greeting goes to you and the Bishops accompanying you.

I greet also the Portugese-speaking young people, and I wish all of you the happiness and well-being announced in the Beatitudes!

With joy and affection I greet the Italian youth accompanied by their Bishops.

And finally, I greet my fellow countrymen who have come to Toronto from Poland.






Toronto, Exhibition Place, Thursday, July 25, 2002

Dear Young People!

1. What we have just heard is the Magna Carta of Christianity: the Beatitudes. We have seen once more, with the eyes of our heart, what happened at that time. A crowd of people is gathered around Jesus on the mountain: men and women, young people and elderly folk, the healthy and the infirm, who have come from Galilee, but also from Jerusalem, from Judea, from the cities of the Decapolis, from Tyre and Sidon. All of them anxiously awaiting a word, a gesture that will give them comfort and hope.

We too are gathered here, this evening, to listen attentively to the Lord. He looks at you with affection: you come from the different regions of Canada, of the United States, of Central and South America, of Europe, of Africa, of Asia, of Oceania. I have heard your festive voices, your cries, your songs, and I have felt the deep longing that beats within your hearts: you want to be happy!

Dear young people, many and enticing are the voices that call out to you from all sides: many of these voices speak to you of a joy that can be had with money, with success, with power. Mostly they propose a joy that comes with the superficial and fleeting pleasure of the senses.

2. Dear friends, the aged Pope, full of years but still young at heart, answers your youthful desire for happiness with words that are not his own. They are words that rang out two thousand years ago. Words that we have heard again tonight: "Blessed are they ..." The key word in Jesus’ teaching is a proclamation of joy: "Blessed are they ..."

People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him. True joy is a victory, something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory.

You know what came before. It is told in the Book of Genesis: God created man and woman in a paradise, Eden, because he wanted them to be happy. Unfortunately, sin spoiled his initial plans. But God did not resign himself to this defeat. He sent his Son into the world in order to give back to us an even more beautiful idea of heaven. God became man — the Fathers of the Church tell us — so that men and women could become God. This is the decisive turning-point, brought about in human history by the Incarnation.

3. What struggle are we talking about? Christ himself gives us the answer. "Though he was in the form of God," Saint Paul has written, he "did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant . . . he humbled himself and became obedient unto death" (Ph 2,6-8). It was a struggle unto death. Christ fought this battle not for himself but for us. From his death, life has sprung forth. The tomb at Calvary has become the cradle of the new humanity on its journey to true happiness.

The "Sermon on the Mount" marks out the map of this journey. The eight Beatitudes are the road signs that show the way. It is an uphill path, but he has walked it before us. He said one day: "He who follows me will not walk in darkness" (Jn 8,12). And at another time he added: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn 15,11).

It is by walking with Christ that we can achieve joy, true joy! Precisely for this reason he again repeats the proclamation of joy to you today: "Blessed are they ..."

Now that we are about to welcome his glorious Cross, the Cross that has accompanied young people on the roadways of the world, let this consoling and demanding word echo in the silence of your hearts: "Blessed are they. . ."

(Procession with the Holy Year Cross)

4. Gathered around the Lord’s Cross, we look to him: Jesus did not limit himself to proclaiming the Beatitudes, he lived them! Looking at his life anew, re-reading the Gospel, we marvel: the poorest of the poor, the most gentle among the meek, the person with the purest and most merciful heart is none other than Jesus. The Beatitudes are nothing more than the description of a face, his face!

At the same time, the Beatitudes describe what a Christian should be: they are the portrait of Jesus’ disciple, the picture of those who have accepted the Kingdom of God and want their life to be in tune with the demands of the Gospel. To these Jesus speaks, calling them "blessed".

The joy promised by the Beatitudes is the very joy of Jesus himself: a joy sought and found in obedience to the Father and in the gift of self to others.

5. Young people of Canada, of America and of every part of the world! By looking at Jesus you will learn what it means to be poor in spirit, meek and merciful; what it means to seek justice, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers.

With your gaze set firmly on him, you will discover the path of forgiveness and reconciliation in a world often laid waste by violence and terror. Last year we saw with dramatic clarity the tragic face of human malice. We saw what happens when hatred, sin and death take command.

But today Jesus’ voice resounds in the midst of our gathering. His is a voice of life, of hope, of forgiveness; a voice of justice and of peace. Let us listen to this voice!

6. Dear friends, the Church today looks to you with confidence and expects you to be the people of the Beatitudes.

Blessed are you if, like Jesus, you are poor in spirit, good and merciful; if you really seek what it just and right; if you are pure of heart, peacemakers, lovers of the poor and their servants. Blessed are you!

Only Jesus is the true Master, only Jesus speaks the unchanging message that responds to the deepest longings of the human heart, because he alone knows "what is in each person" (cf. Jn Jn 2,25). Today he calls you to be the salt and light of the world, to choose goodness, to live in justice, to become instruments of love and peace. His call has always demanded a choice between good and evil, between light and darkness, between life and death. He makes the same invitation today to you who are gathered here on the shores of Lake Ontario.

7. What call will those on early morning watch choose to follow? To believe in Jesus is to accept what he says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying. It means rejecting the lure of sin, however attractive it may be, in order to set out on the difficult path of the Gospel virtues.

Young people listening to me, answer the Lord with strong and generous hearts! He is counting on you. Never forget: Christ needs you to carry out his plan of salvation! Christ needs your youth and your generous enthusiasm to make his proclamation of joy resound in the new millennium. Answer his call by placing your lives at his service in your brothers and sisters! Trust Christ, because he trusts you.

8. Lord Jesus Christ, proclaim once more
your Beatitudes in the presence of these young people,
gathered in Toronto for the World Youth Day.

Look upon them with love and listen to their young hearts,
ready to put their future on the line for you.

You have called them to be
the "salt of the earth and light of the world".

Continue to teach them the truth and beauty
of the vision that you proclaimed on the Mountain.

Make them men and women of the Beatitudes!
Let the light of your wisdom shine upon them,
so that in word and deed they may spread
in the world the light and salt of the Gospel.

Make their whole life a bright reflection of you,
who are the true light that came into this world
so that whoever believes in you will not die,
but will have eternal life (cf. Jn Jn 3,16)!

Speeches 2002