Speeches 2003 - Monday, 28 April 2003

The Catholic Church for her part will continue to pray and work for the further development of the Czech people and nation. As Your Excellency has kindly acknowledged, she is already actively involved in the spiritual and intellectual formation of the young, especially through her educational institutions. To the extent that her resources permit, the Church will expand her charitable mission most especially in the support of family life, through which the future of humanity passes (cf. Familiaris Consortio FC 86), as well as through healthcare and social work facilities.

Mr Ambassador, I am confident that your mission will serve to strengthen further the bonds of friendship between the Czech Republic and the Holy See. As you take up your new responsibilities I assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia will be ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you and your fellow citizens I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.



Tuesday, 29 April 2003

Your Eminence,
Dear Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission,

1. I greet you with great joy at this meeting that is taking place on the occasion of your annual working session in Rome, at which you methodically develop the research that each one of you has done. I thank Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who has interpreted your common sentiments.

Two things make this meeting particularly special: the centenary of your Commission and the theme on which you have been working in recent years.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission serves the cause of the Word of God in accordance with the objectives established for it by my Predecessors, Leo XIII and Paul VI. It has kept pace with the times, sharing the hardships and anxieties, concerned with identifying in the message of Revelation the response that God provides to the serious problems that trouble humanity down the ages.

2. One of these problems is the subject of your current research. You have summed it up in the title "The Bible and morality". A somewhat paradoxical situation is plain for all to see: contemporary people, disappointed by so many unsatisfactory answers to the fundamental questions of life, seem to be opening themselves to the voice that comes from Transcendence and is expressed in the biblical message. However, at the same time, they are growing more and more intolerant of requests for behaviour that corresponds with the values the Church has always presented as based on the Gospel. So we are faced with the most varied attempts to separate biblical Revelation from the more binding proposals of life.

In this situation, listening carefully to the Word of God can provide answers that are fully expressed in Christ's teaching.

Dear professors and scholars, I want to encourage you in your work which, I assure you, is particularly beneficial to the Church. I assure you of my prayers that your work may yield abundant fruit, and I accompany you with an Apostolic Blessing.




To the Very Reverend Fr Camilo Maccise
Superior General of the Discalced Carmelites

1. I would first like to thank you for your kindness in informing me that the 89th Ordinary General Chapter of the Order of Discalced Carmelites will be celebrated in Avila from next 28 April to 18 May. As these dates approach, I would like to send you this Message conveying a cordial greeting to you and to the Chapter Fathers, assuring you of my spiritual closeness in prayer so that the light of the Holy Spirit will guide your reflection and discernment during the work of this Assembly.

The Discalced Carmelite Family, made up of friars, nuns and lay people, was born from a single charism and is called to follow a common vocation but respecting the autonomy and specific character of each group. The theme chosen for the Chapter - Journeying with Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross: setting out from the essentials - emphasizes the firm determination of the Order to remain faithful to the charism inspired by the Holy Spirit in a specific historical and ecclesial context, developed down the centuries, that, today too, is destined to produce fruits of holiness in the Church "for the common good" (1Co 12,7), in response to the challenges of the third millennium.

Your intention is "to set out" from the Gospel, examining in depth the values of consecrated life, going back to your own roots. You wanted to do this in Avila, the place that fans the embers of the experience and doctrine of St Teresa of Jesus and St John of the Cross. In Avila I had the opportunity to admire and venerate not only "the spiritual teachers of my interior life, but also the two brilliant lights of the Church" (Homily at Mass in honour of St Teresa, Avila, Spain, 1 November 1982, n. 2; ORE, 29 November 1982, p. 3).

2. The founding charism is better understood in the light of the Gospel parable of the talents (cf. Mt Mt 25,14-30), since it originates in the Lord's bounty and, with the other parables, forms part of the Church's treasures. According to this well-known parable, the "good and faithful servant" (Mt 25,21) feels honoured by the trust placed in him and uses his talents responsibly, obeying the will of his Lord, for he knows that they belong to the Lord and that it is to the Lord that he must account for them. He shows his wisdom by using sensibly the gift he has received, which is essential in all its dimensions, and making it as fruitful as possible.

The gifts of the Spirit are alive and dynamic, like the seed scattered upon the ground which, to the farmer's amazement, "sprouts and grows" (Mc 4,27). In reflecting on what is essential in your charism, it is right to start out from the already mature fruit, for according to the Gospel criterion, they enable us to recognize the tree they come from (cf. Mt Mt 7,15-20). This method requires respect for the history of your charism which has yielded abundant good fruit in every age.

Therefore, "fidelity to the founding charism" is also fidelity to the "subsequent spiritual heritage" [of each institute] (Vita Consecrata VC 36). In fact, many consecrated persons have born an eloquent witness of holiness and undertaken particularly generous and demanding tasks of evangelization and service (cf. ibid., n. 35).

To you, too, as to other men and women religious, I repeat that "you have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished" (ibid., n. 110). It is therefore necessary to reject all that impedes the growth of your charism. The best service that can be rendered to the gift received is purification of the heart by bearing fruit worthy of conversion (cf. Mt Mt 3,8). "In fact, the vocation of consecrated persons to seek first the Kingdom of God is first and foremost a call to complete conversion, in self-renunciation, in order to live fully for the Lord" (Vita Consecrata VC 35). This is a continuous task that cannot be ignored, as the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has emphasized, given the insidiousness of mediocrity in the spiritual life, the gradual adoption of a bourgeois lifestyle and a consumer mentality, the eagerness for efficiency or unbridled activism (cf. the Instruction, Starting Afresh from Christ: a Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium, n. 12).

3. To confront the challenges of the present time, the Church has always had the "duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of intepreting them in the light of the Gospel" (Gaudium et Spes GS 4). Therefore, with her invitation to follow the example of the "founders and foundresses who, in openness to the working of the Holy Spirit, successfully interpreted the signs of the times and responded wisely to new needs" as they arose (Vita Consecrata VC 9), the Church recommends that consecrated persons accept in their hearts the designs of Providence, guided "by supernatural discernment, which distinguishes what is of the Spirit from that which is contrary to him" (ibid., n. 73).

The Spirit guides the faithful towards Christ, who is "all the truth" (Jn 16,13). It is then necessary to pay attention to what Jesus said and did during his earthly life. His response to the expectations of his time as One sent by the Father to the poor, to prisoners, to the blind and to the oppressed (cf. Lk Lc 4,18) is impressive: he lived a hidden life in the silence of Nazareth for 33 years. He began his public ministry with 40 days in the desert at the end of which he rejected the temptations of the devil. Jesus subsequently kept his distance from the Nazarenes who wanted to benefit from the miracles he was working (cf. Lk Lc 4,23), from the people who were anxiously searching for him (Mc 1,37) and from the crowd that wanted to make him king: "he withdrew again to the hills by himself" (Jn 6,15). He responded to the desires of humanity with both indulgence and refusal, yet with the proper firmness of a "sign that is spoken against" (Lc 2,34).

Because of the prophetic character of consecrated life, you too, dear Discalced Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, must be careful to discern and ready to respond to the expectations of the present day, at times by coming down the mountain to the byways of the world to continue to serve the Kingdom of God (cf. Vita Consecrata VC 75), and at others, by seeking solitude to hide with the Lord in the country (cf. Mk Mc 1,45).

Starting from the essential means setting out from Christ and his Gospel, read in the perspective of the charism itself. This is what the founders and foundresses did under the action of the Holy Spirit.

Their experience must be preserved and at the same time deepened and developed with the same openness and docility to the action of the Spirit, for in this way are preserved both fidelity to the first experience and an adequate response to the changing needs of every moment in history.

From this point of view it is easy to understand the importance of a "return to the Rule" (Vita Consecrata VC 37), which provides a map of the whole journey of following Jesus, marked by a specific charism recognized by the Church. In their Rule, consecrated persons have a sound criterion for seeking forms of witness that can respond to the needs of today without losing sight of the original inspiration (cf. ibid.).

4. All of you, dear brothers, in embracing the consecrated life have set out on "a journey of continual conversion, of exclusive dedication to the love of God and of your brothers and sisters" (ibid., n. 109). It is a choice that does not only depend on human strength, but first and foremost on divine grace, which transforms hearts and lives. Humanity thirsts for authentic witnesses of Christ. But to become one, it is necessary to walk towards holiness, which has flourished abundantly in your religious family. I am thinking of the saints forged in Carmel, and most particularly, of that precious heritage bequeathed to your Order and to the whole Church by St John of the Cross and St Teresa of Jesus.

"To tend towards holiness: this is in summary the programme of every consecrated life" (ibid., n. 93); a journey that requires the person to leave everything for the sake of Christ, in order to share fully in his Paschal Mystery. The growth of the spiritual life must always be the prime aim of families of consecrated life, since it is precisely the spiritual quality of the consecrated life that has an impact on the people of our time, who are also thirsting for absolute values (cf. ibid.).

With affection, I share these reflections and exhortations with all of you, dear members of the Chapter, and I invoke the outpouring of abundant gifts of the Spirit upon your work, so that the Order of Discalced Carmelites may continue on its way in dynamic fidelity to its vocations and mission.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Carmel, and Sts Teresa of Jesus and John of the Cross obtain for you and for the entire family of Discalced Carmelites an abundance of divine graces, as a pledge of which I cordially impart to you the requested Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 21 April 2003


                                                             May 2003



Friday, 2 May 2003

Mr President,
Distinguished Members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences,

I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of your Ninth Plenary Session and extend my best wishes for your work during these days of discussion focusing on the theme of "the Governance of Globalisation". I am confident that the expertise and experience which each of you brings to this meeting will help to shed light on how globalization may best be guided and regulated for the benefit of the entire human family.

Indeed, the processes by which capital, goods, information, technology and knowledge are exchanged and circulate throughout the world today often elude the traditional mechanisms of regulatory control put in place by national governments and international agencies. Special interests and the demands of the market frequently predominate over concern for the common good. This tends to leave the weaker members of society without adequate protection and can subject entire peoples and cultures to a formidable struggle for survival.

Moreover, it is disturbing to witness a globalization that exacerbates the conditions of the needy, that does not sufficiently contribute to resolving situations of hunger, poverty and social inequality, that fails to safeguard the natural environment. These aspects of globalization can give rise to extreme reactions, leading to excessive nationalism, religious fanaticism and even acts of terrorism.

All of this is far-removed from the concept of an ethically responsible globalization capable of treating all peoples as equal partners and not as passive instruments. Accordingly, there can be little doubt of the need for guidelines that will place globalization firmly at the service of authentic human development — the development of every person and of the whole person — in full respect of the rights and dignity of all.

It becomes clear, therefore, that globalization in itself is not the problem. Rather, difficulties arise from the lack of effective mechanisms for giving it proper direction. Globalization needs to be inserted into the larger context of a political and economic programme that seeks the authentic progress of all mankind. In this way, it will serve the whole human family, no longer bringing benefit merely to a privileged few but advancing the common good of all. Thus, the true success of globalization will be measured by the extent that it enables every person to enjoy the basic goods of food and housing, of education and employment, of peace and social progress, of economic development and justice. This goal cannot be achieved without guidance from the international community and adequate regulation on the part of the worldwide political establishment.

In fact, in my Message for the 2003 World Day of Peace, I remarked that now is the time "to work together for a new constitutional organization of the human family" (No. 6), an organization that would be in a position to meet the new demands of a globalized world. This does not mean creating a "global super-State", but continuing the processes already underway to increase democratic participation and promote political transparency and accountability.

The Holy See is fully aware of the difficulties of devising concrete mechanisms for the proper regulation of globalization, not least because of the resistance that such regulation would meet in certain quarters. Nonetheless it is essential that progress be made in this direction, with every effort firmly based on the unchanging social virtues of truth, freedom, justice, solidarity, subsidiarity and — above all — charity, which is the mother and perfection of all Christian and human virtues.

Dear Members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, I thank you in advance for the insights that your meeting will bring to the question under consideration, and I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and enlighten your deliberations. To all of you I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and strength in the Risen Saviour.





International Airport of Madrid-Barajas

Saturday, 3 May 2003

Your Majesties,

Your Eminences,
Mr President and distinguished authorities,
Dear Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With intense emotion, I arrive once again in Spain on my fifth Apostolic Journey to this noble and beloved nation. I greet everyone most cordially, those who are present here and all who are following this event on radio or television, addressing you with deep affection in the words of the risen Lord: "Peace be with you".

I wish for each one the peace that God alone, through Jesus Christ, can give to us; the peace that is a work of justice, of truth, of love and of solidarity; the peace that peoples only enjoy when they follow the dictates of God's law; the peace that makes itself felt to men and women, and to peoples who are brothers and sisters to one another.
Peace be with you, Spain!

2. I am grateful to His Majesty King Juan Carlos I for his presence here with the Queen, and especially for his words of welcome on behalf of the Spanish people. I also thank the President of the Government and the other civil and military Authorities for their presence, and I express to them my appreciation for their collaboration in preparing the various events of this visit.

I greet with affection Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, the priests, consecrated persons and the other faithful who form the Catholic community of this country which is almost 2,000 years old. You are God's pilgrim people in Spain! A people who throughout its history has given so many proofs of love of God and neighbour, of fidelity to the Church and to the Pope, of noble sentiments and apostolic dynamism. I thank everyone, therefore, for this warm welcome.

3. Tomorrow I will have the joy of canonizing five children of this land. They knew how to accept the invitation of Jesus Christ: "Be my witnesses", proclaiming him with their life and with their death. At this time in history they are a light for us on our journey, to live the faith courageously, to stimulate our love for our neighbour and to continue building with hope a society based on peaceful coexistence and the moral and human uplifting of every citizen. I always follow with keen interest all that occurs in Spain. I note with pleasure its progress in the well-being of all. The process of development of a nation must be founded on authentic and permanent values which seek the good of each person, who is the subject of laws and duties, from the first instant of his or her life and acceptance in the family, and in the subsequent stages of his or her integration and participation in social life.

This afternoon I will meet with the young people, and I look forward with joy to that moment which will enable me to be in touch with those who are called to be the protagonists of the new times. I have total confidence in them, and I am certain that they do not want to disappoint God, the Church or the society from which they come.

4. At this supremely important time for the consolidation of a united Europe, I would like to recall the words with which I took my leave from Santiago de Compostela at the end of my first Apostolic Trip on Spanish territory in November 1982. From there I encouraged Europe with a cry full of love, reminding it of its rich and fruitful Christian roots: "Europe, find yourself again. Be yourself... Revive your roots!" (Declaration to Europe, Santiago de Compostela, 9 November 1982, n. 4; ORE, 29 November 1982, p. 6). I am certain that Spain will contribute the rich cultural and historical legacy of its Catholic roots and its own values to the integration of a Europe which, in the plurality of its cultures and respecting the identity of its member States, seeks a unity based on criteria and principles in which the integral good of its citizens holds sway.

5. I implore the Lord, for Spain and for the whole world, for a peace that is fruitful, stable and permanent, as well as a coexistence in unity, in the marvellous and varied diversity of its peoples and cities.

Through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin and of the Apostle St James, may God bless Spain!






Air Base of Cuatro Vientos in Madrid

Saturday, 3 May 2003

Dear Young People, Dear Friends:

I am back with you again. We know one another from previous meetings, such as the one in Toronto, Canada. I embrace each one of you.

1. I greet you affectionately, young people of Madrid and Spain! Many of you have come from far away, from all the dioceses and regions of the country, and from America and other countries of the world. I am deeply touched by your warm and cordial welcome. I confess to you that I have been looking forward very much to this meeting with you.

I greet you and I repeat to you the same words I used when I addressed the young people in Santiago Bernabéu Stadium during my first visit to Spain more than 20 years ago: "You are the hope of the Church and of society... I continue to believe in young people, in you" (3 November 1982, n. 1).

I embrace you with great affection, and with you, I also greet the Bishops, priests and other pastoral collaborators who accompany you on your journey of faith.

I am grateful for the presence of Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince of Asturias, the Duke and Duchess of Lugo and the Duke and Duchess of Palma, as well as the Authorities of the Spanish Government.

I would also like to thank Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez, President of the Episcopal Commission of the Lay Apostolate, and the young people, Margarita and José, for their cordial words of welcome on behalf of everyone here. I greet Archbishop Manuel Estepa, Military Ordinary, and the Military Authorities who are giving us hospitality at this Air Base.

2. Dear young people, the grace of God must shine forth in your lives, as it shone in Mary, full of grace.

At this Vigil you have fittingly wished to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary, putting into practice the ancient spiritual maxim: "To Jesus through Mary". Undoubtedly, in the Rosary we learn from Mary to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ, and to feel the depth of his love. As we begin this prayer, therefore, let us turn our gaze to the Mother of the Lord and ask her to guide us to her Son Jesus:

"Queen of Heaven, rejoice!

For Christ whom you deserved to bear in your womb has risen! Alleluia!".





Air Base of Cuatro Vientos in Madrid

Saturday, 3 May 2003

1. Led by the hand of the Virgin Mary and accompanied by the example and intercession of the new Saints, we have revisited in prayer several moments in the life of Jesus.

Indeed, in its simplicity and depth the Rosary is a true compendium of the Gospel and leads to the very heart of the Christian message: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16).

Mary, in addition to being our Mother who is close, discreet and understanding, is the best Teacher for achieving knowledge of the truth through contemplation. The drama of contemporary culture is the lack of interiority, the absence of contemplation. Without interiority culture has no content; it is like a body that has not yet found its soul. What can humanity do without interiority?

Unfortunately, we know the answer very well. When the contemplative spirit is missing, life is not protected and all that is human is denigrated. Without interiority, modern man puts his own integrity at risk.

2. Dear young people, I invite you to be part of the "School of the Virgin Mary". She is the incomparable model of contemplation and wonderful example of fruitful, joyful and enriching interiority. She will teach you never to separate action from contemplation, so as to contribute to making a great dream come true: the birth of the new Europe in the spirit. A Europe that is faithful to its Christian roots, not closed in on itself but open to dialogue and collaboration with the other peoples of the earth; a Europe aware that it is called to be the beacon of civilization and an incentive to progress for the world, determined to combine its efforts and its creativity to serve peace and solidarity among peoples.

3. Beloved young people, you know well how concerned I am for peace in the world. The spiral of violence, terrorism and war still causes hatred and death, even in our day. Peace, as we know, is first of all a gift from on High for which we must constantly ask and which, furthermore, we must all build together by means of a profound inner conversion. Consequently, today I want to exhort you to work to build peace and be artisans of peace. Respond to blind violence and inhuman hatred with the fascinating power of love. Overcome enmity with the force of forgiveness. Keep far away from any form of exasperated nationalism, racism and intolerance.

Witness with your life that ideas are not imposed but proposed. Never let yourselves be discouraged by evil! For this you will need the help of prayer and the consolation that is born from an intimate friendship with Christ. Only in this way, living the experience of God's love and radiating Gospel fellowship, will you be able to be the builders of a better world, genuine peaceful and peacemaking men and women.

4. Tomorrow I will have the joy of canonizing five new Saints, sons and daughters of this noble Nation and of this Church. They "were young like you, full of energy, joy and love of life. Their encounter with Christ transformed their lives.... Thus, they were enabled to attract other young people, their friends, and to create associations for prayer, evangelization and charity which still endure" (Message to the Spanish Bishops on the occasion of the Holy Father's Apostolic Visit, n. 4).

Dear young people, go forward with confidence to meet Jesus! And like the new Saints, do not be afraid to talk about him! For Christ is the true answer to all questions about man and his destiny. You young people must become the apostles of your peers. I know well that this is not easy. You will often be tempted to say like the Prophet Jeremiah: "Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth" (Jr 1,6). Do not be disheartened for you are not alone: the Lord will always accompany you, with his grace and the gift of his Spirit.

5. The Lord's faithful presence makes you capable of taking on the commitment of the new evangelization, to which all the Church's children are called. It is a task for all. Lay people play a lead role in it, especially husbands and wives and Christian families; nevertheless, today evangelization urgently needs priests and consecrated persons. This is why I want to say to each one of you, young people: if you hear the call of God that says to you: "Follow me!" (Mc 2,14 Lc 5,27), do not silence his call. Be generous, respond like Mary, offering God the joyful "yes" of yourself and your life.

I give you my own witness: I was ordained a priest when I was 26 years old. Fifty-six years have passed since then. So how old is the Pope? Almost 83! A young man of 83! Looking back and remembering those years of my life, I can assure you that it is worthwhile dedicating oneself to the cause of Christ and, out of love for him, devoting oneself to serving humanity. It is worthwhile to give one's life for the Gospel and for one's brothers and sisters! How many hours are there still to go until midnight? Three hours. Just three hours until midnight and then comes morning.

6. To conclude, I would like to call on Mary, the shining star that announces the Sun that is born from on High, Jesus Christ:

Hail, Mary, full of grace!
This evening I pray to you for the youth of Spain,
young people full of dreams and hopes.

They are the dawn watchmen,
the people of the beatitudes;
they are the living hope of the Church and of the Pope.

Holy Mary, Mother of the young,
intercede so that they may be witnesses of the Risen Christ,
humble and courageous apostles of the third millennium,
generous heralds of the Gospel.

Holy Mary, Immaculate Virgin,
pray with us,
pray for us. Amen.


Tuesday, 6 May 2003

Dear Commandant of the Swiss Guard,
Dear Chaplain,
Dear Friends of the Swiss Guard,
Dear Young Guards,

1. I welcome you with joy on the occasion of the swearing-in ceremony of the new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. I greet your new Commandant, Colonel Elmar Theodor Mäder, and the new Vice-Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Daniel Pitteloud, who have generously accepted this service. I also thank the Swiss Authorities who are always represented at this celebration, and I warmly greet the families and relatives of the young recruits who have come to surround them with their affection and friendship. I express my heartfelt gratitude to all the members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard for their loyalty to the Successor of Peter and for the quality of the work they carry out, watching over the order and security in Vatican territory, but also courteously responding to the requests of numerous pilgrims who every day ask their help.

2. Dear Young Guards, this afternoon you will swear to serve the Pope and especially to keep watch over his safety and that of his residence. For my part, every year I am a grateful witness of this commitment, as well as of the fidelity and generosity of these young Swiss men in guaranteeing the service with which they show the attachment of the Catholics of your country to the Church and to the Holy See. I am profoundly grateful to you and invite you to meditate on the example of your predecessors, some of whom even gave their lives to carry out the mission entrusted to them to defend the Successor of Peter.

3. In addressing all the faithful of the Church at the beginning of the third millennium, I urged them (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 1) "to put out into the deep" (cf. Lk Lc 5,4). I likewise encourage you, dear Guards, to draw more deeply from the riches of Christian life. God offers you the opportunity to discover a new country.

However, the Lord also gives you the possibility to welcome pilgrims from most parts of the world, who come from different walks of life to pray at the tombs of the Apostles. So open your hearts to the encounter with others! These encounters help you to grow in humanity and to understand one another better as brothers. Try to live a good and sincere friendship among yourselves, helping one another in difficulty and sharing your joys with others. Always be open to the call of the Lord in order to discern what he expects of you, today and in the future! Make your years of service with the Pontifical Swiss Guard a true time of Christian formation. May these years help you to become even better servants of the Lord! These are the good hopes that I address to each one of you and which I entrust to the intercession of Mary, our Mother in Heaven.

I cordially impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 2003 - Monday, 28 April 2003