Speeches 2003 - ACCLAMATION

you have ransomed man, the world, the universe.
R. Christe, eleison .


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
Crucifixi fige plagas,
cordi meo valide.


Jesus dies on the Cross.

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:33-34, 37, 39

And when the sixth hour had come
there was darkness over the whole land
until the ninth hour.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice:
"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?",
which means:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last.
When the centurion, who stood facing him,
saw that he thus breathed his last, he said:
"Truly this man was the Son of God".


Here we have the greatest, the most sublime work of the Son in union with the Father. Yes: in union, in the most perfect union possible, precisely at the moment when he cries: "Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani" - "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mc 15,34 Mt 27,46). This work finds expression in the verticality of his body stretched against the perpendicular beam of the Cross and in the horizontality of his arms stretched along the transverse beam. To gaze upon those arms one would think that in the effort they expend they embrace all humanity and all the world.
They do indeed embrace it.
Here is the man. Here is God himself. "In him we live and move and have our being" (Ac 17,28). In him: in those arms outstretched along the transverse beam of the Cross.
The mystery of the Redemption.
Nailed to the Cross, pinned in that terrible position, Jesus calls on the Father (cf. Mk Mc 15,34 Mt 27,46 Lc 23,46). All his words bear witness that he is one with the Father. "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10,30); "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14,9); "My Father is working still, and I am working" (Jn 5,17).


Son of God, remember us,
at the hour of death.
R. Kyrie, eleison.

Son of the Father, remember us,
and by your Spirit renew the face of the earth.
R. Kyrie, eleison


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
morientem desolatum
cum emisit spiritum.


Jesus is taken down from the Cross.

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:42-43, 46

And when evening had come,
Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council,
who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God,
bought a linen shroud,
and took the body of Jesus down from the Cross.


When the body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross and laid in his Mother's arms, in our mind's eye we glimpse again the moment when Mary accepted the message brought by the angel Gabriel: "And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus; the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Lc 1,31-33). Mary had replied simply: "Let it be to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38), as though even then she wanted to give expression to what she now experiences.
In the mystery of the Redemption, grace - the gift of God himself - is interwoven with a "price" paid by the human heart. In this mystery we are enriched by a gift from on high (Jc 1,17) and at the same time "bought" by the ransom paid by the Son of God (cf. 1Co 6,20 1Co 7,23 Ac 20,28). And Mary, who more than anyone was enriched by gifts, pays all the more. With her heart.
Inseparable from this mystery is the extraordinary promise spoken of by Simeon during the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: "And a sword will pierce through your heart, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lc 2,35).
This promise has also been fulfilled. How many human hearts bleed for the heart of this Mother who has paid so dearly!
Once again Jesus lies in her arms, as he did in the stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk Lc 2,16), during the flight into Egypt (cf. Mt Mt 2,14) and at Nazareth (cf. Lk Lc 2,39-40). Pietŕ.


Holy Mary, Mother of inexpressible sorrow,
with you we open our arms to Life himself,
and humbly beseech him:
R. Kyrie, eleison.

Holy Mary, Mother and associate of the Redeemer,
in communion with you we open our arms to Christ,
and filled with hope we call upon him.
R. Kyrie, eleison.


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Fac me vere tecum flere,
Crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.


Jesus is placed in the tomb.

V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:46-47

Joseph of Arimathea,
wrapped the body of Jesus in the linen shroud
and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock.
And he rolled a stone
against the door of the tomb.
Mary Magdalene
and Mary the mother of Joses
saw where he was laid.


From the moment when man, as a result of sin, was driven away from the Tree of Life (cf. Gen Gn 3,23-24), the earth became a burial ground. With as many burial places as there are men. A great planet of tombs.
Close to Calvary there was a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (cf. Mt Mt 27,60). In it, with Joseph's consent, the body of Jesus was placed after being taken down from the Cross (cf. Mk Mc 15,42-46 ff.). They laid it there in haste, so that the burial might be completed before the feast of Passover (cf. Jn Jn 19,31), which began at sunset.
In one of the countless tombs scattered all over the continents of this planet of ours the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ, conquered death with death. O mors! Ero mors tua! (First Antiphon of Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday). The Tree of Life from which man was banished as a result of sin is set before mankind anew in the body of Christ. "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the word is my flesh" (Jn 6,51).
Though our planet is constantly being filled with fresh tombs, though the cemetery in which man, who comes from dust and returns to dust (cf. Gen Gn 3,19), is always growing, nonetheless all who gaze upon the tomb of Jesus Christ live in the hope of the Resurrection.


Lord Jesus, our resurrection,
in the new tomb you destroy death and grant life.
R. Kyrie, eleison

Lord Jesus, our hope,
your body, crucified and risen,
is the new Tree of Life.
R. Kyrie, eleison


Pater noster, qui es in caelis:
sanctificetur nomen tuum;
adveniat regnum tuum;
fiat voluntas tua, sicut in caelo, et in terra.
Panem nostrum cotidianum da nobis hodie;
et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris;
et ne nos inducas in tentationem;
sed libera nos a malo.

Quando corpus morietur
fac ut animae donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.

The Holy Father addresses those present.

At the end of his address, the Holy Father imparts the Apostolic Blessing.

V. Dominus vobiscum
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

V. Sit nomen Domini benedictum.
R. Ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.

V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.

V. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus,
Pater, et Filius, et X Spiritus Sanctus.
R. Amen.



Good Friday, 18 April 2003

"Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit... Venite adoremus". ("This is the wood of the cross on which hung the Saviour of the world... Come let us worship"). We heard these words in today's liturgy: this is the wood of the cross.

These are the key words of Good Friday. Yesterday, Holy Thursday, the first day of the "Sacred Triduum" we heard, "Hoc est corpus meum quod pro vobis tradetur". "This is my body which will be given up for you".

Today we see how these words of yesterday, Holy Thursday, were realized: this is Golgotha, this is the Body of Christ on the Cross. "Ecce lignum Crucis in quo salus mundi pependit".

Mystery of the faith! Man could not imagine this mystery, this reality. God alone could reveal it. Man does not have the possibility of giving life after death. The death of death. In the human order, death is the last word. The subsequent word, the word of the Resurrection, is a word that comes only from God, and this is why we celebrate this "Sacred Triduum" with such profound feeling.

Today we pray to Christ, taken down from the Cross and layed in the tomb. His tomb is sealed.

And tomorrow in all the world, in all the cosmos, in all of us, there will be a deep silence. The silence of expectation. "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit". This Wood of death, the Wood that led to the death of the Son of God, paves the way to the following day: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Sunday will be Easter! And we will hear the words of the liturgy. Today we heard: "Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit". Salus mundi! (Saviour of the world!).

On the Cross! And the day after tomorrow we will sing: "Surrexit de sepulchro... qui pro nobis pependit in legno". ("The Lord is risen from the tomb... who for our sake hung on the cross"). This is the depth, the divine simplicity of this Easter Triduum.

I hope that we will all live this Triduum as deeply as possible. As we are every year, we are gathered here around the Colosseum. It is a symbol. This Colosseum is a symbol. Above all it speaks to us of times past, of that great Roman Empire that has collapsed. It speaks to us of those Christian martyrs who have given witness here with their life and their death. It is hard to find another place where the Mystery of the Cross speaks more eloquently than it speaks here, in front of this Colosseum.

"Ecce lignum crucis in quo salus mundi pependit". Salus mundi!

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that all of you will live this "Sacred Triduum" - Thursday, Friday, Holy Saturday, the Easter Vigil and then Easter - ever more deeply and also that you will witness to it. Praised be Jesus Christ!





Saturday, 26 April 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. It is a joyful opportunity to receive all of you who have come from Italy, from Spain and from Poland. I thank you for your visit and I greet you affectionately.

I welcome first of all the President, the General Council, the assistant priests, the various leaders and other persons responsible for the Catholic Guide and Scout Association of Italy (AGESCI).

Dear friends, this is not the first time I have had the chance to meet your meritorious Association, and I have always admired the youthful enthusiasm that distinguishes you, as well as your strong desire to faithfully follow the Gospel. Scouting was developed as a way of learning with its own method that is fascinating to children, adolescents and young people, and it provides adults the concrete opportunity to become teachers.

Your Association is regarded by the Church with great hope, because she is aware that new generations must be offered the opportunity to have a personal experience of Christ. May the adults called to work with young scouts know that this mission asks them above all to be witnesses to Jesus Christ and to communicate by example and word Gospel principles and values. May they therefore be men and women steadfast in the principles of Catholic scouting and, at the same time, active participants in the life of the Church and civil communities.

By being faithful to your charism, dear friends, you will develop a dynamic and constructive relationship with the many lay groups that enrich the Church. You will be able to cooperate with them in order to build a renewed society where peace reigns, founded in justice, liberty, truth and love. These four "pillars" are referred to by my Predecessor Bl. John XXIII in the Encyclical Pacem in Terris, the fundamental text that your General Council has selected this year as a precious source of reflection.

I would like to conclude by exhorting you to include the daily nourishment of listening to the Word of God, prayer and an intense sacramental life in the fascinating activity of scouting. These are necessary conditions that make existence a gift to others and a sure road to holiness.

2. I am happy to greet you, managers of Bilbao Vizcaya Bank of Argentina (BBVA), who have come from Spain and Latin America on pilgrimage to the Eternal City, and who have desired to visit the Successor of Peter. In welcoming you, I also send my greeting to the other parts of the organizations that you represent and who, through their work, contribute to economic development. When accomplished well, this favours the peaceful co-existence of citizens and permits a life in accordance with human dignity. In this way, one honours man, "the source, the focus and the end of all economic and social life" (Gaudium et Spes GS 63), and collaborates with God's design.

I wish to recall that the concern for profit, while legitimate, cannot be the principal motive or exclusive basis of entrepreneurial or commercial activity, because such activity must take into account human factors and is subordinated to the appropriate moral demands of every human action. I invite you, therefore, to build a true community of persons that seeks to satisfy its economic interests within the framework of the proposals of justice and of solidarity, of responsible and constructive work, and of the promotion of authentic and sincere human relations that are also at the service of society (cf. Centesimus Annus CA 35).

In thanking you for this visit, I encourage you to continue to emphasize the Christian commitment in the midst of your work, demonstrating by word and deed the teachings of the Church's Magisterium in social matters. And in this undertaking you will be accompanied by my Apostolic Blessing, which I impart to you with affection and which I extend with pleasure to your families and all the work places that you represent.

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, representatives of Catholic Action in Poland!

A cordial welcome to all of you. I greet the assistant priest, Mons. Piotr Jarecki, the President and the other members of the Presidency.

You have come to the tombs of the Apostles to give thanks to God for the fruits of the work of Catholic Action in Poland, after your rebirth that took place ten years ago. Although it may not be a long period of time, there is much to be thankful for. I know that Catholic Action in Poland now possesses a completely reorganized structure that includes the many lay persons who serve the Church with dedication, rediscovering its proper charisms and personal fields of engagement in the work of evangelization. Ten years ago the Polish Bishops were asked to work hard to restore this form of lay apostolate in the Church. Today I can say that they have achieved this task, and all of you members of Catholic Action are a magnificent gift for the entire community of the People of God.

As you know, Catholic Action grew out of religious renewal movements in the second half of the nineteenth century that developed in many Catholic lay circles. Later, during the time of Pope Pius XI, Catholic Action became an active form of participation by the laity in the hierarchical apostolate of the Church. The words of St Paul became its programme: "to unite all things in Christ" - to renew all in Christ (cf. Eph Ep 1,10). Thanks to the persevering fulfillment of this programme of renewal of the reality of the Church and of the world "for Christ, with Christ and in Christ", Catholic Action became a school of formation for the laity that was ready to courageously oppose the secularization that was spreading ever more strongly in the twentieth century.

I recall these historical facts in order to show a certain analogy between these beginnings and the beginnings of the renewed Catholic Action in Poland. As before, there is also now at the very sources of your existence a profound desire on the part of the lay faithful to actively participate with the Bishops and the priests in their responsibility for the life of the Church and for the preaching of the Gospel. The purpose of the spiritual programme of activity has not changed: to renew themselves, their own environment, the community of believers, and in the end the entire world to the foundation of the love and power of Christ. Finally, these two beginnings are united by the same challenge that involves the secularization of various sectors of social life.

As witnesses of the Gospel, respond to this challenge in every milieu: in the family, in the workplace, at school or in college. Receive it, knowing that "from the fact of their union with Christ the head flows the laymen's right and duty to be apostles. Inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by Baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate" (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 3).

Duty and right: This is quite appropriate. You have the duty and the right to carry the Gospel, to be witnesses of its reality for modern men and women, and to kindle the faith in those who are far from God. If the Church acknowledges your right and sustains you in doing this work, then remember at the same time that this is your duty. And I also remind you of your Baptism, in which you became apostles of justice by means of the grace of justification, and of your Confirmation, in which the Holy Spirit has made you capable of completing the prophetic work of the Church. It is most important to remember that the power to fulfill this duty, such an exalted task, comes only by placing yourselves in Christ. Catholic action cannot be limited only to the social dimension of the Church. If it is to be the school, the formative community of the laity ready to transform the world by means of the Gospel, it must shape your own spirituality. And if you are to transform reality based on Christ, such a spirituality should be founded on contemplation of his face. As I wrote in the Letter Novo Millennio Inuente, "Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated his face" (n. 16).

"Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ. The Son of God, who became incarnate 2,000 years ago out of love for humanity, is at work even today: we need discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instruments of his work.... We can count on the power of the same Spirit who was poured out at Pentecost and who impels us still today to start out anew, sustained by the hope "which does not disappoint' (Rm 5,5)" (n. 58).

So that you walk on this road, the road of contemplation of the face of Christ, the road of formation of the spirituality of Catholic Action founded on this contemplation, the road of the apostolate and of witness, I bless you from the heart.

4. Dear Brothers and Sisters, I assure you all of a remembrance to the Lord, I entrust you, your families and the Communities from which you come to the motherly protection of Mary, and I bless all of you from the heart.




To Professor Giuliana Cavallini of the Missionaries of the School

I learned with pleasure that the Academic Senate of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas, at the request of the council of the Faculty of Theology, has decided to award to you, on the occasion of the European Symposium on St Catherine of Siena, the Targa d'Onore (Plaque of Honour) of the Angelicum for the merit you have acquired during your long life, much of which you have spent in studying and disseminating the thought of this saint of Siena, a Patroness of Europe.

As a devout spiritual daughter of St Catherine, you have illustrated the riches of her teaching, also thanks to the support of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the School, founded by the Servant of God Mother Luigia Tincani. As an active member of this religious family, you have spent your intellectual and spiritual energies for the glory of the Lord, working generously for the cause of evangelization as directress of the Centro Nazionale di Studi Cateriniani (Italian National Centre for Studies on St Catherine of Siena).

Your tireless cultural and scientific activity has crossed the boundaries of Italy, giving rise to far-reaching echoes and growing appreciation in various countries, which have recognized you as a Catherinian expert of international fame.

I willingly join those who are grateful to you, and I rejoice in taking part in the initiative of the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas to honour an expert scholar who has never ceased to work to make people love and imitate St Catherine, an outstanding Doctor of the Church.

As I ask Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary, to continue to guide you in your commitment to study and to the spiritual life and to obtain for you the gift of being strengthened in joy and peace, I cordially send you a special Apostolic Blessing which I extend to those taking part in the celebration as well as to the religious communities and all your loved ones.

From the Vatican, 26 April 2003




Monday 28 April 2003

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Religious,
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

1. I am glad to meet with you who took part in the solemn Beatification ceremony yesterday in St Peter's Square. We have the pleasant opportunity this morning to contemplate and reflect once again on the marvels that God worked in the new Blesseds, who are particularly dear to you. I greet each one of you with affection and thank you for coming.

2. I first address the large and varied Pauline Family and everyone from Piedmont, Italy, and the world who wanted to honour Bl. James Alberione. In the heart of that chosen priest from the Diocese of Alba beats once again the heart of the Apostle Paul who, won over by Christ, sought to announce him as "the Way, the Truth and the Life". Attentive to the signs of the times, Fr Alberione did not only open the modern "pulpits" of the media to evangelization, but conceived of his work as an organic action in the Church and at her service. This insight gave rise to 10 institutes in all, which, in the same spirit, continue the work he began. May Fr Alberione help his family, from Heaven, to be, as he desired, "St Paul alive today".

3. I now greet the dear Capuchin Fathers and all who are celebrating the beatification of Fr Mark of Aviano, with a special thought for the pilgrims from Austria, accompanied by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.

Mark of Aviano sets an example with his courageous apostolic action, appreciated by all, and his prayer, faithful to the most genuine Franciscan and Capuchin tradition. His interventions in the social field, whose purpose was always the good of souls, are also an encouragement to Christians today to defend and promote the Gospel values. May Bl. Mark of Aviano protect Europe, so that it may build unity without disregarding its common Christian roots.

4. I then address with affection the spiritual Daughters of Maria Christina Brando who received from their Foundress a demanding programme of life and ecclesial service: to be united to Christ who gives himself for humanity in the Eucharist, and to spread their own love of God in humble and daily service to their needy brothers and sisters.

May the Virgin Mary, to whose protection the new Blessed wanted to entrust the Sisters, Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, watch over you always, dear Religious, so that, keeping your charism intact, you may share your precious inheritance with the new generations.

5. I also join the Daughters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and all who are rejoicing in the beatification of Mother Eugenia Ravasco. Feeling called "to do good for love of the Heart of Jesus", the new Blessed made herself an ardent and tireless apostle, a zealous educator of young people and especially girls, to whom she was not afraid to propose lofty goals of Christian life. She recommended educators to follow the "pedagogy of love" and pointed out, as elements not to be overlooked in training young people, total respect for students and their freedom, discretion, understanding, joy and prayer. She was fond of repeating that to teach is to fulfil a Gospel mission. May Mother Eugenia continue from Heaven to sustain all who are carrying on her beneficial work in the Church.

6. I greet you with warm cordiality, dear Little Sisters of the Holy Family, who are filled with joy because your Co-Foundress, Mother Maria Domenica Mantovani, has been raised to the glory of the altars. I greet the faithful from the Diocese of Verona, accompanied by their Pastor, Bishop Flavio Roberto Carraro, as well as the pilgrims from the different regions of Italy and from various parts of the world.

At the school of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Maria Domenica Mantovani, following in the footsteps of the Founder, Bl. Giuseppe Nascimbeni, wanted to make herself a total gift to God for the good of her brethren. Learn from her, dear friends, to respond promptly to the voice of God, who calls every baptized person to strive for holiness in the ordinary circumstances of daily life.

7. Lastly, my thoughts go to you, dear brothers and sisters who are celebrating the beatification of Julia Salzano, and especially to the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart whom she founded.

With indomitable courage, Bl. Salzano knew how to direct her educational action to all people of all categories, without distinction of age, social class or profession, in a certain sense anticipating the forms of new evangelization pointed out to the Church by the Second Vatican Council.

I hope that you, her spiritual sons and daughters, will walk joyfully in her footsteps, ready to face any sacrifice to fulfil the mission that God entrusts to you.

8. Dear brothers and sisters, may these new Blesseds help you all to "put out into the deep" (Lc 5,4), entrusting yourselves as they did to Christ's words. And may the Virgin Mary, whom each of the six Blesseds tenderly venerated, help you to bring to completion the work that the Holy Spirit has begun in you.

With these sentiments and hopes, I cordially bless you, along with your communities, your families and your loved ones.



Monday, 28 April 2003

Your Excellency,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican as you present the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to the Holy See. Though it took place some years ago now, my visit to your country remains vivid in my mind and I gratefully recall the warmth and hospitality with which I was received. I would ask you kindly to convey my greetings and sincere best wishes to the newly elected President, Mr Václav Klaus, to the Government and to the Czech people. Please assure them of my prayers for the nation’s peace and prosperity.

The Church’s diplomatic relations form a part of her mission of service to the human family. While that mission is eminently spiritual and therefore distinct from the political order, her heartfelt desire to foster fruitful relations with civil society stems from her long experience of seeking to apply the universal values pertaining to truth and love to the vast array of cultures and nations that constitute our world. Indeed, it is precisely the task of promoting an understanding of the dignity of the human person and fostering peace among peoples – essential conditions for the authentic development of individuals and nations – that motivates the Holy See’s diplomatic activity. To this end, I welcome the considerable progress that has already been made concerning the regulation of mutual relations between the Holy See and the Czech Republic and I eagerly await the ratification of the corresponding Agreement.

As Your Excellency has mentioned, notwithstanding the political freedom that the Czech people now enjoy, the lasting effects of the totalitarian regimes should not be underestimated. History teaches us that the journey from oppression to liberty is arduous, often marked by the lure of false forms of freedom and hollow promises of hope. While economic development and the accompanying social transformation have benefitted many in your country, the weaker members of society, particularly the poor, the marginalized, and the sick and elderly, must be protected.

Authentic development can never be attained solely through economic means. In fact what has become known as the "idolatry of the market" – a consequence of the so-called "civilization of consumption" – tends to reduce persons to things and to subordinate being to having (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 28). This seriously detracts from the dignity of the human person and makes promotion of human solidarity difficult at best. Instead, recognition of the spiritual nature of the human person and a renewed appreciation of the moral character of social and economic development must be acknowledged as prerequisites for the transformation of society into a true civilization of love. Such a project needs the leadership of both political and religious authorities, if the soul of the nation is to be strong enough to guide its citizens to an understanding of the source of truth and love which gives purpose to a country’s development and progress.

The challenges facing the Czech Republic are also being encountered by other nations in Europe. As countries across the Continent celebrated the passage into the third Christian millennium, many individuals and groups reflected upon the fundamental and defining role of Christianity in their particular cultures. Indeed, you yourself noted that the truths and values of Christianity have long been the foundation of the very fabric of European society, giving form to its civic and political institutions. This great heritage, rooted in and shaped by the Gospel, alerts us to the fact that the hope of continuing to build up a more just world must also include a recognition that human efforts detached from their correct relationship to divine assistance will be of no lasting value: "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain" (Ps 127,1). For this reason Christian teaching vigorously affirms and defends the source of the human person’s dignity and his place in God’s design: "Man receives from God his essential dignity and with it the capacity to transcend every social order so as to move towards truth and goodness" (Centesimus Annus CA 38).

In this context, we cannot fail to be concerned that an eclipse of the sense of God has resulted in an eclipse of the sense of man (cf. Evangelium Vitae EV 21) and of the sublime wonder of life to which he is called. While the tragic calamities of war and dictatorship continue to disfigure violently God’s loving plan for humanity, so too the more subtle encroachments of increasing materialism, utilitarianism, and marginalization of faith gradually undermine the true nature of life as a gift from God. As the nations of Europe move towards a new configuration, the desire to respond to the challenges of a changing world order must be informed by the Church’s perennial proclamation of the truth which sets people free and which enables cultural and civic institutions to make genuine progress.

Speeches 2003 - ACCLAMATION