Speeches 2003 - Thursday, 3 July 2003



Friday, 4 July 2003

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to accept the Letters with which President Roh Moo-hyun accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Apostolic See.

I offer you a cordial welcome and thank you for your kind words.

Also, kindly convey to the First Magistrate of the Nation you represent here, as well as to the Government Authorities, my sentiments of deep esteem and appreciation of their action for the security and well-being of all the inhabitants of Korea, as well as for the dialogue initiatives taking place with those who live in the other half of the Korean peninsula.

Today's meeting takes place on the 40th anniversary of the opening of a Legation of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See. Indeed, the close links between the Catholic Church and the Korean people go back further in time, and witness to the fruitfulness of Christ's presence and the deep penetration of his message. In fact, in these chequered events, the Gospel has been able to grow and flourish on Korean soil, contributing to a greater openness among its inhabitants and giving rise to a fruitful and reciprocal exchange of the values of civilization with other countries. The great number of Koreans raised to the honours of the altar shows how deep the roots of holiness are among this people, and this gives prestige to the universal Church.

Providence has allowed me to pay two visits to the country that you represent. I was able to become acquainted with the progress and the freedom and well-being achieved by a young and dynamic society. However, I also perceived the disappointment of many in observing that the peninsula, inhabited by a single people, is obliged to live in painful division. The enduring sentiments of hostility and opposition between the two nations are undeniably a cause of concern, but it is a cause of hope to know that there is a firm desire to alleviate tensions through dialogue and encounters, to smooth out the differences and find a common ground for fruitful understanding.

Every encouraging sign in this direction should be sustained with patience, courage, perseverence and far-sightedness. Indeed, it is only through respectful dialogue that positive and lasting goals can be achieved. The Agreements signed testify that the sincere desire of the parties for a peaceful settlement brings concrete results with reciprocal respect and loyal behaviour, with every advantage not only to reconciliation between the two States, but also to stability in the regional context of the Korean peninsula. This political process will probably acquire greater strength and credibility if the most developed part of the peninsula can meet, as far as it can, the impelling needs of the other area.

The Holy See looks favourably on every effort at dialogue and cooperation, as well as the constant attention to the weaker classes of the population. The memory of past suffering must not undermine faith in a better future. It is necessary, on the contrary, to build the present and the future of Korea on the solid foundations of respect for the person and a constant search for justice and peace. To this end, in the present situation it is necessary to continue tirelessly to work for the gradual, balanced and verifiable elimination of weapons of mass destruction, and especially nuclear arms. "This", my Venerable Predecessor John XXIII wrote 40 years ago in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris, "requires that the fundamental principles upon which peace is based in today's world be replaced by an altogether different one, namely, the realization that true and lasting peace between nations cannot consist in the possession of an equal supply of armaments but only in mutual trust..., for it is a thing which not only is dictated by common sense, but is in itself most desirable and most fruitful of good" (n. 113).

The Catholic community in Korea is a promising reality, and I know that it enjoys esteem and respect. It carries out its mission inspired by the Gospel and makes concrete its own religious witness in its institutions for education, social assistance and charitable aid which are appreciated by many.

Faithful to Christ's commandment, the Catholic Church proclaims the Gospel of Life. She does not hide her concern at the sad phenomenon of abortion which is a terrible social scourge. Abortion, moreover, is accompanied by a widespread practice of artificial birth control and the spread of a pragmatic mindset that justifies and encourages genetic manipulation, even the most unscrupulous such as capital punishment continues to be. In the face of these serious threats to life, the Church feels that it is her duty to recall the values in which she believes, values that are a heritage of humanity since with natural law they are engraved by God in every person's heart.

A programme whose priority objective is the safeguarding of life and of the family, will certainly be beneficial to the solidity and stability of Korean society. I am pleased in this regard to recall what I wrote in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae: "If, as a result of a tragic obscuring of the collective conscience, an attitude of scepticism were to succeed in bringing into question even the fundamental principles of the moral law, the democratic system itself would be shaken in its foundations, and would be reduced to a mere mechanism for regulating different and opposing interests on a purely empirical basis" (n. 70).

Mr Ambassador, I warmly hope that the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the country you represent will be further intensified through a profitable dialogue.

I would ask you please to convey to the President of Korea, to the Government Authorities and to the dear People whom you represent here, my cordial greeting and fervent good wishes for prosperity and progress, in justice and in peace.

In the fulfilment of the exalted mission entrusted to you, you will be able to count on my constant benevolence and on the competent support of my collaborators. I assure you of my prayers and invoke upon you and upon all those for whom you are spokesman abundant blessings from Heaven.



Saturday, 5 July 2003

Mr Ambassador,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican for the presentation of the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cyprus to the Holy See. I am grateful for the greetings which you bring from President Tassos Papadopoulos, and I ask you kindly to convey to him and the Government my own good wishes together with the assurance of my prayers for the progress, peace and prosperity of the nation. I am also pleased to note that you are the first Ambassador of your country to the Holy See who will be resident in the City of Rome: this is a further positive sign of the friendship and cooperation which continue to grow between us.

You have mentioned the recent signing of the Accession Treaty of the Republic of Cyprus to the European Union. This is certainly a significant step for the nation as it starts to make the necessary preparations for taking its place officially in the European economic and political community. And with your nationís deep-seated and long-standing Christian heritage, dating back to the very beginnings of Christianity itself, Cyprus will be in an advantageous position to make Europe ever more aware of its own Christian roots. For, as I had occasion to remark earlier this year to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See: "Europe is the bearer of values which have borne fruit for two thousand years in an Ďartí of thinking and living from which the whole world has benefited. Among these values Christianity holds a privileged position, inasmuch as it gave birth to a humanism which has permeated Europeís history and institutions . . . A Europe which disavowed its past, which denied the fact of religion, and which had no spiritual dimension would be extremely impoverished in the face of the ambitious project which calls upon all its energies: constructing a Europe for all" (Speech to the Diplomatic Corps, 13 January 2003, 5).

The continuing expansion of the European Union is an encouraging sign of the results that can be achieved when good will, mutual trust, fidelity to commitments and cooperation among responsible partners become the prevailing modus operandi in the international arena. Such values are all the more necessary in our modern era, in which it is no longer possible to grasp the full meaning of the independence of States apart from the concept of interdependence. Now as perhaps never before in human history sovereign Nations are closely interconnected, affecting one another, oftentimes very significantly, both for good and for bad. There is a manifest need in our contemporary world for the legitimate aspirations, traditions and beliefs of people of different backgrounds to be accorded full respect. Only mutual acceptance and sincere dialogue among peoples and groups can sustain the work of maintaining harmonious relations. Genuine peace requires the effective recognition and safeguarding of the dignity and rights of all the members of the human family as the fundamental criterion of policy and action, with special openness to and support of the neediest: the poor, the sick, the young, the old, the labourer, the immigrant.

Your Excellency has also referred to a situation that represents one of the most pressing problems facing Cyprus today: the ongoing division of the island. The Holy See, together with the rest of the international community, was greatly saddened that the plan for peace and reunification presented last year by the Secretary-General of the United Nations - the result of months of negotiations - did not gain the necessary consensus with the parties involved and was thus not accepted. It is to be hoped that the current climate of a growing European integration and an increasing European unity will provide renewed impetus and resolve to efforts aimed at finally overcoming this crisis. In this regard, I am pleased to hear you speak of your governmentís willingness to sit down once more at the table of dialogue and negotiation, under the auspices of the United Nations, and its readiness to abide by all relevant directives adopted by the Security Council. Indeed, confrontation and violence will never provide lasting solutions to controversies between peoples and nations. Sincere negotiation is required for settling differences in a manner that serves the authentic good of all, and the path of frank and straight-forward dialogue is the only way for effectively undertaking such negotiation. In all of this, of course, the members of the Catholic community will always be eager to make their contribution along with their fellow Cypriots.

Mr Ambassador, I am certain that your term of service will do much to strengthen the bonds of friendship between the Republic of Cyprus and the Holy See. I offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission and I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia will always be willing to assist you as you carry out your duties. I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God upon you and your country.



Saturday, 5 July 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am happy to meet with you on the occasion of the award presentation conferred in memory of my venerable Predecessor, the servant of God Paul VI.

To all present I extend my sincere welcome. I cordially greet Cardinals Giovanni Battista Re and Paul Poupard, the Bishop of Brescia Most Reverend Giulio Sanguineti and the other Prelates who have joined them. I extend my deferential greetings to the civil Authorities who are representing the public Institutions of Brescia, as well as those who are responsible for the Paul VI Institute, beginning with your President, Dr Giuseppe Camadini, whom I thank for the words with which he has expressed your sentiments. I renew my appreciation for the successful initiatives of this outstanding Institution that contributes to keeping alive in the Church and in the hearts of men of good will a spirit of gratitude for this great Pope.

2. Today's meeting is taking place in the context of two important occurrences: the 40th anniversary of the election to the Papacy of the servant of God Paul VI and the 25th anniversary of his death.

His moving memory remains alive and rooted more than ever in the spirit of the people. Paul VI, who was deeply aware of the anxieties and the hopes of his time, and who succeeded in understanding the experiences of his contemporaries, illuminated them with the light of the Christian message. He pointed out to them the source of the truth in Christ, the only Redeemer, font of true joy and of authentic peace.

May the example of this zealous Pastor of the Universal Church encourage and stimulate believers ever more deeply to be witnesses of hope at the dawn of the third millennium.

3. The prestigious award, that rightly is conferred in his name every five years to a personality or Institution distinguished in a significant way in the field of the culture of religious inspiration, undoubtedly represents a recognition of the perennial interest that the personality of Papa Montini inspires. To date, it has gone to scholars in the fields of theology, music, ecumenism and the promotion of human rights. This year it is presented to the well-known French researcher, Professor Paul Ricoeur, to whom I direct a cordial and respectful greeting, thanking him for his courteous and profound words just now addressed to me. He is also known for his generous contribution to ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and the Reformed Churches. His research shows how fruitful the relationship between philosophy and theology, between faith and culture, can be; a relationship that, as I wished to recall in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio, must be "construed as a circle. Theology's source and starting-point must always be the word of God.... Yet, since God's word is Truth, the human search for truth - philosophy, pursued in keeping with its own rules - can only help to understand God's word better" (n. 73).

4. The selection, therefore, by the Paul VI Institute to honour a philosopher and at the same time a man of faith, pledged to the defense of human and Christian values, appears most opportune.

While I express heartfelt felicitations to Professor Paul Ricoeur, I assure each one of you present of my prayers, so that you may respond to the project that God has for you and for the Paul VI Institute.

5. I direct a deferential greeting also to the members of the "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice" Foundation, assembled for their annual meeting, under the presidency of Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, whom I cordially greet. I extend my greeting to the Prelates, to the Members of the Administrative Council and to the participants of the Convention.

While I am grateful for the concrete assistance offered to the Holy See, I pray to the Lord for each one of them, for their activities and for all their loved ones.

6. With these sentiments, while I extend to each of those present at this Audience the wish for a profitable undertaking in your own field of work, I affectionately impart to all my Blessing.




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Today's meeting is connected to the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Vatican Foundation, "Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice", that provides a singular response to the invitation I offered in the Encyclical which has inspired this group, to promote and defend the knowledge and the practice of the Church's social doctrine.

The generous availability of qualified lay faithful and of the various entities expressive of the great tradition of the Catholic Movement in Italy came into contact with the fervent initiative of Cardinal Rosalio Castillo Lara, then President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See. This resulted in the foundation of your very institution, whose goal is to combine the task of spreading the teaching of the Church in social matters, especially in the world of professionals and entrepreneurs, with the concrete help offered to the Pope for the charitable interventions for which he is continually solicited from all parts of the world and for the assistance to the instruments of which he avails himself for his universal ministry.

The past 10 years have seen the consolidation of the Foundation, the development of study and formation projects - among which is particularly appreciated the Master's in Social Doctrine, promoted in collaboration with the Pontifical Lateran University - the organization of groups of adherents on Italian territory and the start, rich in perspective, of linked units in other countries as well.

I cannot but rejoice at all this, while I feel I must express a special "thank you" to those who have contributed to putting annually at my disposal precious resources for my evangelical solicitude toward the whole world.

2. I encourage you to continue in your undertaking, always keeping before you three great convictions:

a) The permanent timeliness of the social doctrine of the Church.

The dramatic events that disturb the modern world and the deplorable conditions of underdevelopment which still engulf many Countries, with terrible consequences for their inhabitants, for their fragile institutions, for the natural habitat, mean that one really must start again from a concrete perspective: the truth about man which is discovered by reason and confirmed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that proclaims and promotes the true dignity and the innate social vocation of the person.

The social teaching of the Church progressively deepens the different aspects of that truth, also in the face of the signs of the times and with the changes of the cultural and social scenes; and offers indirect incentive for the promotion of human laws, for the tutelage of the family, for the development of truly democratic and participatory political institutions, for an economy at the service of man, for a new international order that guarantees justice together with peace among the peoples, for an ever more responsible moral attitude towards creation, also at the service of future generations.

b) The proper responsibility of the Christian laity.

Reintroduced with great clarity by the Second Vatican Council and highlighted by me many times with conviction in the acts of my Magisterium, such responsibility rightly finds in the social doctrine of the Church a necessary, productive and exalting reference point. The Council speaks of "commitment, direction, and vigour to establish and consolidate the community of men according to the law of God" (Gaudium et Spes GS 42). This task is proper and unique to the lay faithful, called to focus the light that comes from the Gospel on the many social realities and, with the power infused by Christ, to undertake to "humanize" the world. It is surely a great responsibility that should be seen by the Christian laity not as a limited obligation, but as a generous and creative mission.

c) The awareness that only new men are able to make all things new.

One should not ask of economic, political or social institutions what they are not able to give. Every true newness is born of the heart, from a conscience illuminated and empowered to true liberty by the living encounter with the One who has said: "I am the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14,6) and "Apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15,5).

The social commitment of the Christian laity can therefore be fed and made consistent, powerful and courageous only by a profound spirituality, that is, by a life of intimate union with Jesus, who makes one capable to express the great theological virtues - faith, hope and charity - through the work of the difficult responsibility of building a society closer to the great, providential design of God.

3. In offering these guidelines for your expanding task with respect, with hope and with affection, I wish to renew my heartfelt thanks to the president, Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, to the members of the Administrative Council, to the founders, to all the members and to the ecclesiastics who accompany you on your way.

With these heartfelt sentiments I invoke on each one of you and on your loved ones plentiful heavenly gifts, as a pledge of which I impart to all my Blessing.

From the Vatican, 5 July 2003





To Archbishop Fouad El-Hage
President of Caritas Internationalis

1. On the occasion of the 17th General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis being held in Rome, I would like to offer warm greetings to all the participants who represent the Caritas member organizations from around the world. Once again, I wish to express my gratitude to your organization for its active and competent application of the principle of charity and its generous work worldwide, especially in serving the poorest.

2. The theme you have chosen to develop during this assembly, "Globalizing solidarity", is a direct response to the appeal I launched in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, calling for "a commitment to practical and concrete love for every human being" (n. 49), mindful that "now is the time for a new "creativity' in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by "getting close' to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters" (n. 50). I hope that through your exchanges and your work you will be able to find concrete ways of achieving this goal which is so dear to my heart.

3. It is an ambitious project as it aspires to take into account the urgent challenges posed by our world, which is marked by a multitude of exchanges that have created an expanding network of interdependence between systems, nations and people, but is also threatened by break-up, divisions and violent conflicts, as shown by the upsurge of terrorism. In this situation, there is undoubtedly no time to lose, and it is clear that it is no longer possible to draw up policies and programmes that are limited to dealing with only one aspect of a problem without consideration for other people.

Globalization has become an obligatory perspective for any policy, particularly regarding economics, and also the fields of aid and mutual international relief.

4. Indeed, if solidarity is to become worldwide, it must take into account all peoples from all regions of the world. This calls for a great deal more effort, and above all solid international guarantees with regard to humanitarian organizations which, against their wishes, are kept away from conflict zones because their safety is not guaranteed and the right to give assistance to people is no longer ensured.

Globalizing solidarity also means working in a close, steady relationship with international organizations, which are guarantors of rights, to create a new balance in the relations between rich and poor countries, so that one-way assistance - which all too often contributes to creating greater imbalances through a mechanism of permanent indebtedness - will cease. It is preferable to implement a true partnership based on equal and reciprocal relations, in recognition of the right of all people to have effective control over the choices that regard their future.

5. Moreover, the desire to globalize solidarity is not just a question of adapting to the new demands of the international situation or to changes in the application of market forces, but is above all a response to the urgent demands of Christ's Gospel. For us Christians, but also for the whole of humankind, this calls for a truly spiritual approach and a change of attitude and heart. If the aid offered to others should no longer be alms given by the rich to the poor, which is humiliating for the latter and perhaps a source of pride for the former, if it is to become sharing between partners - namely, recognition of true equality among us - we must "start afresh from Christ" (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 29) and base our lives on the love of Christ, who made us his brothers and sisters. Like Peter the Apostle, we will understand from now on that "God does not show favouritism" (Ac 10,34), and therefore the ministry of charity should be universal.

Welcoming all those who are in difficulty has long been the rule that governs your action in all the places and countries where Caritas, directly and indirectly, operates. It is now vital to strive to raise the awareness of all humankind to this task, so that each person, with the same dignity and the same rights as everyone else, may also expect the same assistance.

6. By inviting you to turn towards Christ, the Good Samaritan of our wounded humankind (cf. Lk Lc 10,30-36) without whom we can do nothing (cf. Jn Jn 15,5), I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, who at Cana already sought to perceive the expectations of humankind, so that she may accompany your work with her prayer. With all my heart I grant you a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 4 July 2003




Tuesday, 8 July 2003

Dear Priests Missionaries of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I am happy to receive you at this special Audience on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of your Secular Institute. I extend my cordial greeting to your President and I thank him for the courteous words with which he has expressed your common sentiments. My greeting is extended to those present and to all your sodalities located in various nations of Europe, Africa and Latin America, with an affectionate thought for the sick, the elderly and in particular, the youth, who in growing numbers are feeling attracted to the missionary charism of your spiritual Family.

Your foundation began on 4 October 1953 in the Church of San Damiano in Assisi. This is a propitious occasion to give thanks to the Lord for all the good fruits that have matured to this day, and to begin again with renewed missionary enthusiam, proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of the third millennium.

2. According to the original intuition of the Founder, Father Agostino Gemelli, your Secular Institute is described as a priestly fraternity in which each one, faithful to God's design, accomplishes his personal consecration in the service of the Church, seed and beginning on earth of the Reign of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 5). Inspired by St Francis of Assisi, you live "the priestly ministry according to the model of life that Christ taught to his first disciples, inviting them to leave all for him and for the Gospel" (Constitution, n. 3; cf. Perfectae Caritatis PC 2).

Continue in this demanding but freeing, ascetic and apostolic route, giving thanks to the Lord every day for the priestly ministry, gift and mystery of divine love.

3. Remain faithful to the charism of the Founder, adapting it to the changing social and cultural situations of our times. Your ecclesial service will be fruitful if you maintain constant contact with Christ in prayer, and if you continually cultivate communion with the Bishop and with the body of priests of the Dioceses to which you are assigned.

Be joyful and zealous missionaries, generously dedicated to the brothers. The yearning for evangelization pushes you forward to an apostolate that knows no bounds. As I have written in the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, the spiritual gift received in priestly ordination "prepares them not for any limited or narrow mission but for the widest scope of the universal mission of salvation "to the end of the earth' (Ac 1,8).... It thus follows that the spiritual life of the priest should be profoundly marked by a missionary zeal and dynamism" (cf. n. 32).

4. Beloved, in thanking you for this visit that occurs in the festive setting of the jubilee celebrations of your Institute, I exhort you above all to have holiness as the priority of your existence, which gives being to your many testimonies and teachings of evangelical perfection. The proper spirituality of the Priests Missionaries of the Kingship of Our Lord Christ, that is secular and priestly, represents a significant patrimony to invest for the good of the Church.

I consign your priestly Fraternity to the Immaculate Virgin. May she, Queen and special protector of your Institute, help you to realize the mission that has been entrusted to you for your sanctification and for the salvation of souls.

While I assure you of my constant remembrance in my prayer, I bless with affection you, your confreres scattered throughout the world, and those you meet in your daily pastoral work.




To Cardinals Jůzef Glemp, Archbishop of Warsaw and Primate of Poland

Marian Jaworski, Archbishop of Lviv for Latins
Lubomyr Husar, Major Archbishop of Lviv for Ukrainians
Dear Citizens who belong to the Brother Peoples of Ukraine and of Poland,

1. I have learned that the Ukrainian-Polish Reconciliation is to be officially commemorated on 11 July, on the 60th anniversary of the tragic events in Volhynia, of which you, the children of two nations both very dear to me, still have vivid memories today.

In the tumult of the Second World War when the need for solidarity and reciprocal help would have been particularly urgent, the dark action of evil poisoned hearts, and weapons caused innocent blood to flow. Today, 60 years after those painful events, the majority of Poles and Ukrainians are feeling more and more acutely the need for a deep examination of conscience. They are aware of the need for a reconciliation that will enable them to look at the present and the future with new eyes. This providential interior disposition prompts me to thank the Lord, as I join in spirit those who are remembering in prayer the victims of that violent action.

The new millennium, which has just begun, demands that Ukrainians and Poles rid themselves of their sorrowful memories and, seeing past events in a new perspective, look at one another with reconciled eyes, striving to build a better future for one and all.

Just as God forgave us in Christ, so believers must be able to forgive one another the offences received and ask pardon for their own failings in order to help prepare a world that respects life and justice in concord and peace. Christians, moreover, knowing that "God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Cor 5: 21), are called to recognize the mistakes of the past so that they may alert us to the compromises of the present and open the soul to an authentic and lasting conversion.

2. During the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in a solemn context and with a clear awareness of all that occurred in times past, the Church asked forgiveness publicly for the sins of her children and at the same time pardoned those who had offended her in various ways. Thus, she intended to purify the memory of sorrowful events from all sentiments of bitterness and revenge, to start afresh, heartened and confident, in her work of building the civilization of love.

Speeches 2003 - Thursday, 3 July 2003