Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 21 September 2002



Saturday, 21 September 2002

1. Dear Catechists and Priests of the Neocatechumenal Way, I am happy to receive you as you come here today to meet the Pope. With affection, I greet and welcome each of you and through you, I greet the entire Neocatechumenal Way, an ecclesial reality that has spread to many countries and is appreciated by many Pastors. I thank Mr Kiko Argüello, the co-founder of the Way with Miss Carmen Hernández, for his cordial address. With his address, he expressed your faithful attachment to the See of Peter and witnessed to your common love for the Church.

2. How can we fail to thank the Lord for the fruit the Neocatechumenal Way has born in the more than 30 years since it came into being? In a secularized society like ours, where religious indifference is spreading and many live as though God did not exist, there are multitudes who need to rediscover the sacraments of Christian initiation, especially Baptism.

The Way is certainly one of the providential answers to this urgent need. Let us look at your communities: how many have rediscovered the beauty and greatness of the baptismal vocation they have received! How much generosity and zeal they have for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, especially to those who are the most distant! How many vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life have arisen thanks to this itinerary of Christian formation!

3. I have a vivid memory of our last meeting in January 1997, immediately after your gathering on Mount Sinai to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Neocatechumenal Way. On that occasion I told you that drafting the Statutes of the Way was "a very important step that [would] lead to its formal juridical recognition by the Church, and [give] you a further guarantee of the authenticity of your charism" (Address to Neocatechumenal Way, 24 January 1997, n. 4; ORE, 5 February 1997, p. 9).

Our meeting today expresses your joy over the recent approval of the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way by the Holy See. I am glad that this process, which began more than five years ago, has been brought to completion through an intense effort of consultation, reflection and dialogue. I want now to mention in a special way Cardinal James Francis Stafford, to whom I express my gratitude for the commitment and care with which the Pontifical Council for the Laity accompanied the international leadership team of the Way in this process.

4. I would like to emphasize the importance of the recently approved Statutes for the present and future life of the Neocatechumenal Way. Indeed, above all, this norm stresses once again the ecclesial character of the Neocatechumenal Way which, as I said a few years ago, is "an effective means of Catholic formation for society and for the present time" (Papal Letter Ogni qualvolta to Bishop Paul Joseph Cordes, Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity [today Archbishop and President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"], 30 August 1990; ORE, 7/14 August 2002, p. 4).

The Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way also describe the essential aspects of this itinerary, offered to the faithful in their parish communities who want to revive their faith, and to adults who are preparing to receive the sacrament of Baptism. Above all, however, the Statutes establish the fundamental tasks of the various persons responsible for providing this itinerary of formation in the Neocatechumenal communities: the priests, the catechists, the families on mission and the teams responsible at every level. Thus the Statutes must be for the Neocatechumenal Way a "clear and sure rule of life" (Letter to Cardinal James F. Stafford, 5 April 2001, n. 2; ORE, 2 May 2001, p. 5), a fundamental point of reference so that this process of formation, that aims to bring the faithful to a mature faith, may be realized in a way that is in accord with the teaching and discipline of the Church.

5. The approval of the Statutes marks the beginning of a new phase in the life of the Way. The Church now expects of you an even greater and more generous dedication to the new evangelization and to the service of the local Churches and parishes. Therefore, priests and catechists of the Way, you are responsible for ensuring that the Statutes are faithfully put into practice in all their aspects so that they become true leaven for a new missionary zeal.

The Statutes are likewise an important help to all the Pastors of the Church, particularly the diocesan Bishops who are entrusted with the pastoral care and especially, the Christian initiation of the people in their diocese "In their fatherly and careful accompaniment of the Neocatechumenal communities" (Decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, 29 June 2002; ORE, 31 July 2002, p. 11), the diocesan Ordinaries will be able to find in the Statutes the basic principles for realizing the Neocatechumenal Way in fidelity to its original plan.

I particularly desire to address a word to you priests, who are dedicated to the service of the Neocatechumenal communities. Never forget that as ministers of Christ you have an irreplaceable role of sanctification, teaching and pastoral guidance for those who follow the itinerary of the Way. With love and generosity, serve the communities entrusted to you!

6. Dear brothers and sisters, with the approval of the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, we have happily succeeded in defining the essential ecclesial formula of the Way. Let us all thank the Lord for this.

It is now the task of the competent offices of the Holy See to examine the Catchetical Directory and the catechetical and liturgical practices of the Way. I am sure that its members willingly and generously support the directives they will receive from these authoritative sources.

I shall continue eagerly to follow your work in the Church and in my prayers I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, and to you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Monday, 23 September 2002

Dear Confreres in the Episcopate!

1. With great joy, I cordially welcome you, young Bishops from various countries in the world, meeting in Rome for the annual convention organized by the Congregation for Bishops. With fraternal affection, I greet you with the words of the Apostle: "Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 1,7).

I thank Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re for his courteous words on your behalf, expressing your firm resolve for full communion with the Successor of Peter.

I am also grateful to the Legionaries of Christ for the generous hospitality they have once again offered the participants in the convention.

I express my thanks for the initiative of holding in Rome this meeting for prayer, reflection on and the study of some of the important commitments, challenges and problems that Bishops are called to face.

2. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, your meeting with the Pope today belongs with the purpose of your meeting because you view it as a chance for a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle Peter. In fact, it aims at reinforcing the bond of communion with his Successor, who has received the mission of confirming his brethren (cf. Lk Lc 22,32), as the "perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of faith and communion" (Lumen gentium LG 18).

Last year, at the solemn Mass that concluded the Synod on the ministry and life of Bishops, I said: "Only if a deep and convinced unity of the Pastors with the Successor of Peter is clearly discernible and also the unity of the Bishops with their priests, can we give a credible reply to the challenges that come from the present social and cultural world" (Mass for the closure of the Synod of Bishops, 27 October; ORE, 31 October 2001, p. 2).

For my part, I desire to confirm my affection, support and spiritual closeness to you, and assure you that I share in the desires and concerns of your apostolic service at the dawn of the third millennium which started out with problems but could be rather exciting.

3. At the recent Synod, the figure of the Bishop emerged as a Pastor configured to Christ in holiness of life who spends himself generously for his flock. In the sacrament of Orders, through a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have been configured to Christ, the eternal High Priest, Shepherd and Bishop of souls (cf. 1P 2,25). At the same time, as the Conciliar Decree Christus Dominus reminds us, we are appointed for the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and spiritual guidance for building up the Body of Christ that is the Church (cf. Christus Dominus CD 2).

The effectiveness and fruitfulness of our ministry depends largely on our configuration to Christ and on our personal holiness. In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, I recalled that "all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness" (n. 30). The primary mission of the Pastor is to nurture in all believers a genuine desire for holiness, to which we are all called and in which the aspirations of the human being reach their peak. Our pastoral ministry must aim at this. If holiness is the "high standard" of ordinary Christian living, there is all the more reason that it should shine out in the life of a Bishop, inspiring his entire behaviour (cf. n. 31).

4. Dear Confreres, another priority I want to emphasize is attention to your priests, who are the closest collaborators of your ministry.

Show special affection to your priests and take care of their continuing formation. The spiritual care of his priests is a primary duty for every diocesan bishop. The action of the priest who places his hands in the hands of the Bishop on the day of his priestly ordination, as he professes "filial respect and obedience" to him at first sight can seem a one-way gesture. In reality, the gesture commits them both: priest and Bishop. The young priest chooses to entrust himself to the Bishop and, for his part, the Bishop obliges himself to look after those hands. In this way the bishop becomes responsible for the destiny of those hands he grasps within his own. A priest must be able to feel, especially in moments of difficulty or loneliness, that his hands are held tightly by those of his Bishop.

Moreover, dedicate yourselves enthusiastically to promoting genuine vocations to the priesthood by prayer, the witness of your lives, and pastoral concern.

5. At the heart of your symposium, at the heart of the reflections of these days, is the will to respond in the best possible way to the mission entrusted to you: to communicate Christ to the human person today in the world today. May the passionate ideal of the Apostle who said: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1Co 9,16) be also yours.

Every day we experience that our time, so rich in technical and material means and comforts, is proving dramatically lacking in goals, values and ideals. The person today, bereft of fundamental values, often withdraws into narrow and relative horizons. In this agnostic and at times hostile situation, the mission of a Bishop is not easy. However, we must not give in to pessimism and discouragement, because it is the Spirit who guides the Church and with his life-giving breath, gives her the courage to dare to seek new methods of evangelization, to be able to reach still unexplored areas. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive primarily because it can impress a strong direction upon human life by proclaiming in a convincing way that Christ is the only Saviour of humanity. This proclamation is still as effective today as it was in the days of the early Christians, when they undertook first great missionary expansion of the Gospel.

6. My dear new Bishops, in these days you have been able to listen to the witness of Bishops who are already experienced in episcopal service and to the Heads of the Congregations and Councils of the Roman Curia for a calm examination of some subjects and the practical problems most challenging to the life of a Bishop. I certainly hope that this experience may help awaken in you, on whom the apostolic mandate has been recently conferred, generosity and greatness of soul, giving a new impetus to your ministry.

With you, I remember to the Lord each one of your Churches, your beloved priests, deacons, seminarians, the men and women religious, the lay faithful and their families and the entire People of God.

As I entrust your apostolic mission to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all, as a pledge of continuous divine help.


Thursday, 26 September 2002

Dear Friends,

I am particularly happy to welcome you, who represent the International Association, "Faith and Light", and I greet in a special way the founders Marie-Hélène Mathieu and Jean Vanier.

Founded in Lourdes, your movement received abundant grace from that special place where the sick and disabled take first place. In welcoming all these "little ones", scarred by mental handicaps, you have recognized them as special witnesseses of the tenderness of God. We have much to learn from them and they have to take their own place in the Church. In fact, their membership in the ecclesial community opens the way to simple and fraternal relations and their filial and spontaneous prayer invite us to turn to our Father in Heaven.

I also think of their parents, who, thanks to you, feel supported in their suffering and see their distress changed into hope so that they welcome their disabled infants with humanity and faith. They discover the path of conversion that the Gospel opens to human beings: through the Cross, the expression of the Lord's "greatest love for his friends" each person receives the power to take part in the life of God, who is love.

I would like to thank you once again for your witness in our society that is called increasingly to discover the dignity of the disabled, to accept them and to integrate them in social life, even if much still remains to be done to ensure that the dignity of every human being is truly respected and that no one ever undermine the gift of life, especially when one is dealing with infants with a disability. They remind us of the meaning and value of every life.

Dear friends, as I entrust your meeting to Our Lady, I pray that your work may be fruitful, and may renew you in your firm commitment to serving a beautiful and noble cause. I cordially impart to each of you and to all those whom you represent a special Apostolic Blessing.




Saturday, 28 September 2002

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I receive you today with joy, Pastors of God's Church in Brazil from the Metropolitan See of Olinda and Recife, Paraíba, Maceió and Natal and the suffragan dioceses. These Churches possess a rich spiritual and missionary tradition - one of them was sanctified by the martyrdom of priests, religious and lay people - and have been enriched by the sound virtues of numerous Christian families who consolidated the faith in your country. You have come to Rome for this ad limina visit, a venerable institution that helps to keep alive the close bonds of communion that unite every bishop with the Successor of Peter. Your presence also makes me feel close to the priests, religious and faithful of the particular Churches over which you preside.

I thank Bishop Fernando Antônio Saburido, President of the North East Region 2, for his cordial words on your behalf expressing again your affection and esteem and enabling me to share in your concerns and your pastoral plans. This is an excellent moment for me to remember Bishop Antônio Soares Costa, your Predecessor who headed this Region and, by the mysterious design of Providence, died six months ago. May God keep him in his glory! I ask the Lord who is full of mercy that in your diocese and throughout Brazil, faith, hope, charity and the courageous witness of all Christians, may continue to flourish, in conformity with the heritage received by the Church from the time of the Apostles.

2. In the first place, I would like to express my deep gratitude for the zeal with which you carry out the mission entrusted to you often in difficult circumstances guiding your flock. The Pastor often has to make weighty decisions, "graviter onerata conscientia", (gravely bound in conscience) on questions concerning a person, a community or an institution of his diocese. "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I always mention you in my prayers" (Rm 1,9). I fervently implore him to keep you firm in the faith and courageous in the hope that has been given to you, "for I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rm 8,38-39).

I know the decisions of your assemblies and your endeavour to draw up various pastoral plans that give priority to the formation of the clergy and pastoral workers. Some of you have promoted evangelizing movements to make it easier to unify the faithful in a single line of action. In recent years I have appointed new pastors to the Dioceses of Floresta, Guarabira, Palmares, to mention but a few, thereby making it possible to continue the work of evangelization in those regions. The Successor of Peter always relies on you to base the formation you provide on the spirituality of communion and fidelity to the See of Peter, to ensure that the Holy Spirit does not act in vain. Indeed, the integrity of faith, together with ecclesiastical discpline, is and will always be a topic that requires attention and concern on the part of one and all, especially when it is a question of giving due importance to the fact that there is "one faith and one Baptism".

3. As you know, among the various documents that are concerned with Christian unity, there is the Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (ORE, 16 June 1993). Various sections of this document describe the "Formation of Those Involved in Pastoral Work" (nn. 70-86), the "Specialized Formation" of those involved in ecumenical work (nn. 87-90), and the "Permanent Formation" of ordained ministers and pastoral workers, with "a continuous aggiornamento ... in view of the continual evolution within the ecumenical movement" (n. 91).

These norms can give a sound orientation to theological study. The foundation, the centre, the final goal of faith is Christ; the mission of the Church is to announce him as our only Saviour. The action of the Church takes place above all through the ministry of priests. This is why, once again, I want to renew my appeal to make the duty of promoting priestly vocations your top pastoral priority. To help the large population of Catholic faithful, it is essential that they have priests who have been given a satisfactory formation to fit them for the essential duty of representing the Person of Christ to the local communities.

Moreover, the quality formation of pastoral workers who are the support of the evangelization promoted by the bishops and priests will prove helpful in fostering the life of the Church and the witness to the faith in difficult situations.

4. "That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that ... they also may be one in us" (Jn 17,21).

What was both an appeal and a prayer "reveals to us the unity of Christ with the Father as the source of the Church's unity and as the gift which in him she will constantly receive until its mysterious fulfilment at the end of time" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 48). These reflections made right after the beginning of the new millennium, remind us of the importance of accepting and resolutely fostering the ecumenical spirit with the other Churches and ecclesial communities.

On the threshold of the year 2000, I had the opportunity to launch "the Campaign of Fraternity", inviting dialogue with our brethren in the faith as co-responsible for the pastoral and saving mission of the Church. The coming closer together of all Christians on the ecumenical journey promoted by the Brazilian National Council of Christian Churches so that all people may believe in Christ, has helped create better understanding in the common quest to realize the unity that the Lord desired.

It is therefore a question of seeing that this unity become concrete in spirit and in life, not only in your regions, but in the whole country. There is no doubt that Brazil is still a predominantly Catholic nation, whose citizens must live with other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, with whom it is important to foster good relations to achieve a more effective evangelizing action.

5. The ecumenical perspective of theology urges assent to a faith that is contained and made explicit in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, and taught by the Magisterium of the Church. I know of the efforts your dioceses made to lay the foundations of a sound ecumenism. However, although it says in the Directory for Ecumenism: "diversity in the Church is a dimension of her catholicity" (n. 16), this must not lead to a certain indifferentism that equates all opinions in a false irenicism.

Ecumenical work must be based on the truth and come from upright and informed consciences
I express the hope that the efforts of Christian communities to achieve the longed for unity may always be founded on the truth "God has already revealed [to] the Church in her eschatological reality", so that "the elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities" (Ut unum sint UUS 14).

Thus there is no incompatibility between the affirmation of an unconditional assent to the Truth of Jesus Christ, and respect for conscience. If religion is not just a question of conscience but also of free assent to the Truth which may or may not be accepted, one cannot compromise on its content.

It is required to explain it without omitting elements contained in the data of Revelation. Therefore you have the important duty to prepare masters of formation who can guarantee maximum fidelity in their theological teaching. Forming consciences, in full fidelity to the plan of salvation revealed by the Redeemer of humanity is the duty for which your Pastors and priests have the greatest responsibility.

Catechesis is certainly another field that deserves special attention, since schools, colleges, and Catholic or non-Catholic universities form the cultural and educational basis of this great nation's people. Brazil has always been and will continue to be the cradle of the harmonious development of different schools of thought. Beside the typical attitude of acceptance and coexistence which can open the heart to people of different origins, in their inner hearts your people have always known how to foster the values of freedom and reciprocal respect as an inherent part of their culture and education. Is not this aspect important for formation in true ecumenism?

6. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I do not doubt then that you can render a great service to the cause of ecumenism when in catechesis for adults or for young persons you offer them a profound education for freedom, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (II Cor 3,17). When Christians live their faith to the full, they are attractive and inspire confidence and respect. They never impose their religious convictions, but know how to transmit the truth without betraying the trust placed in them. They accept people without ever accepting error. For this reason the Catechism of the Catholic Church can affirm: "By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighbourly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth" (n. 1740).

May this spirit be reflected in the various pastoral programmes that you will consider starting after our meeting here in Rome! It is necessary to teach the true dignity of the person at work and at home, in rural life and in the city, and to be used to respecting and living with those who have different ideas, sowing peace in divided hearts and praying for everyone, so that God's grace can soften hearts that have perhaps been hardened by a bad example of behaviour.

7. To witness to the love that unites us, at the beginning of this century I proposed that we should "make the Church the home and the school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God's plan and respond to the world's deepest yearnings" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 43).

The Christian integrated into the Church and imbued with this spirit will know how to take every opportunity to share in her anxieties and her hopes: so that the joys and sorrows of the Church also be yours. Seek to encourage solidarity with Christians who are persecuted for their faith in many countries. At the same time, try to increase the volume of prayer, so that the Lord may hasten to bring about the longed-for unity of faith to which we all aspire.

Dear Brothers, I assure you once again of my deep communion in prayer, with the firm hope in the future of your dioceses in which a country is reflected that is still young and ready to face the new challenges at the beginning of this millennium. May the Lord grant you the joy of serving it, directing in his name the particular Churches entrusted to your care! May the Blessed Virgin and the holy patrons of every place accompany you and protect you always!

To you, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, and to your diocesan faithful I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

October 2002




To Reverend Mother Tekla Famiglietti
Abbess General of the Order of the Most Holy Saviour of St Bridget

1. With the approach of the seventh centenary of the birth of St Bridget of Sweden, I willingly join in the joy of your religious family. As I wish you great success with the Jubilee celebrations you have planned, especially the commemorative symposium on the theme: "The path of beauty for a more just and dignified world", I hope they will help to draw attention to the value of St Bridget's message for our time.

I cordially greet you, Mother Abbess and your sisters, renewing my gratitude for the important apostolic work you carry out at the service of Christian unity, especially in Europe, following in the footsteps of the great Swedish Saint. Seven hundred years after her birth, you want to return in spirit to that event as the radiant starting point of your history, drawing renewed enthusiasm from the commemoration of that providential beginning.

Going back in mind and heart to her mystical experience that was completely focused on the Redeemer's Passion, you are dedicated to discerning on the face of the Church reflections of the holiness of Christ, Redeemer of man, now for ever "clad in a robe dipped in blood" (Ap 19,13), the everlasting, invincible guarantee of universal salvation.

2. In proclaiming St Bridget Co-Patroness of Europe, I wanted to offer the faithful of the continent an outstanding model of "feminine holiness". After living happily as a faithful wife, exemplary mother and wise educator, Bridget experienced a holy widowhood, and finally reached the state of consecrated life. At every stage in her life, she knew wisely how to combine contemplation with wide-ranging activity, sustained by love for Christ and for the Church. She brought truly feminine gifts to the Christian community of her time, and as a completely fulfilled woman, she put herself at the service of others.

Her example can serve as an effective encouragement for women today to be protagonists of a society in which women's dignity is fully respected; a society that will regard men and women as being protagonists of equal importance for the universal divine plan for humanity. It suffices to skim through the biography of this woman, who combined the most exalted contemplation with the most courageous apostolic initiatives to realize that Bridget can still offer useful guidance for the women of today on appropriate ways to face problematic views of the family, the Christian community and society itself.

3. In my Apostolic Letter in the form of a "Motu Proprio" Spes aedificandi of 1 October 1999, I noted that the saint "was appreciated for her gifts as a teacher, which she was able to use when she was required to serve at court in Stockholm. This experience was the basis of the counsel which she would later give from time to time to princes and rulers concerning the proper fulfilment of their duties. But obviously the first to benefit from these counsels were her children, and it is not by chance that one of her daughters, Catherine, is venerated as a saint" (n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 6 October 1999, PP 8-9). What a precious example for families of our time!

St Bridget is also a teacher of consecrated life. Indeed, she was deeply devoted to the formation of those who embraced the Rule of the Order she founded constantly drawing on the teaching of the Gospel; and in the school of the Gospel she guided with a firm and delicate hand those who joined her on the path of religious perfection. Her educational activity is rooted in a solid moral and spiritual maturity. For this very reason, the lesson of life she has passed on to us is still valid. We can sum it up by saying that education is credible when it puts into practice the "pedagogy of virtue". To educate people it is essential to be virtuous as well as wise and competent. Virtue alone qualifies people to be teachers.

4. St Bridget's spirituality has many dimensions. For this reason it can be a fascinating project for everyone. In her we admire a Christianity based on the unconditional imitation of Christ and inspired by choices in accord with the Gospel. She was a teacher in her acceptance of the Cross as the central experience of her faith. She was an exemplary disciple of the Church in professing full catholicity. She was a model both of contemplative and active life and an untiring apostle in seeking Christian unity. She was also endowed with prophetic insight in reading history in the light of the Gospel and the Gospel in history.

At the heart of Brigittine spirituality is the absolute primacy of God who cannot be "mocked" (Ga 6,7). The missionary dimension depends on the mystical dimension; and charitable, missionary and even political activity flowed from Bridget's passion for prayer and contemplation. Because she found time for God, she found time for men and women.

In her declarations for the process of St Bridget's canonization, her daughter Catherine recalled: "my mother, while my father was alive, and later when she was widowed, never sat down at table without having fed twelve poor people first". She deservedly held the title, "Mother of the poor".

During her stay in Rome, St Bridget also showed herself to be a caring mother for the lowliest, setting the seal of authenticity on the strong mystical experience that distinguished her.

Anyone who intends to take care of the old and new situations of privation, for this reason can find valid encouragement in the example of this mystic from northern Europe. Her apostolic strategy exemplifies an effective formula for the "new evangelizaton".

5. One special aspect of her spirituality deserves to be highlighted: the Marian dimension of her consecration to Christ. A Woman, Mary, is at the heart of the economy of salvation. St Bridget invites people to see the Virgin of Nazareth as a female icon of Christianity. In seeking to imitate Mary, she made herself a faithful wife, mother and religious; in the Virgin's footsteps, she sought in every circumstance to do God's will without reserve. My Predecessor, Boniface IX, rightly asserted at the ceremony for her canonization that Bridget, throughout her life, was supremely devoted to the Blessed Virgin (cf. Bull Ab origine mundi, 23 July 1391).

In the Book of her Revelations, a çsort of diary of her interior pilgrimage, one reads that on many occasions she learned the meaning of Christ's mysteries from Mary. She learned to say, as she contemplated the incarnate Word of God in adoration, "Blessed be my God, my Lord, my Son" (VII, 21), recalling the words of Jesus who said: "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" (Mt 12,50).

6. Then how can we forget her passion for the unity of the Church? Her prayers and initiatives to keep intact Christ's seamless garment, the holy community of the Redeemer's disciples, are well known. Thus, as a woman of unity, she comes before us as a witness of ecumenism. Her harmonious personality inspires the life of the order that traces its origins to her in the direction of an ecumenism that was both spiritual and active. This is also due to the decisive impetus of reform which Bl. Elizabeth Hesselblad instilled into this religious family. The unity of the Church is a grace of the Spirit that we should constantly pray for.

May this Jubilee Year be an incentive for the Order of the Most Holy Saviour to set out joyfully on what my Venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, liked to call "the path of beauty", that is, the way of holiness which is a supreme form of beauty, in full fidelity to its vocation.

With these sentiments, as I invoke abundant graces of God through the intercession of the Mother of the Lord, of St Bridget and of Bl. Elizabeth Hesselblad upon the entire Brigittine community, I impart to you, Reverend Mother, and to each of your daughters, as a pledge of constant affection, my Apostolic Blessing.

From Castel Gandolfo, 21 September.

Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 21 September 2002