Speeches 2003 - Friday, 28 November 2003




To His Holiness Bartholomew I

Archbishop of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarch

After welcoming with joy the Delegation that Your Holiness sent to Rome for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, through this Message I am taking part in the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, Patron of the Church in Constantinople, with equal joy today, and join in your prayers. These patronal feasts enable us to live better the joy of being brothers and to share in the same communion of intentions and one hope; they are also a sign of our desire for unity and full communion that we must encourage and follow up if they are to appear clearly to the world, to our faithful and to all those who work and pray for the communion of the Christian East and West. Ever since the introduction of these patronal feasts we have understood the importance of our reciprocal participation in them, for it is the most perfect expression of our mutual desire to re-create between us a context of love and participation in each other's prayer, in order to nourish and deepen our desire for full communion.

Last 16 October was a day I lived with special spiritual intensity. I entrusted to the Lord the 25 years that have passed since my election to the Chair of Peter. During the celebrations for this Anniversary, I also thought back over the many events that have marked my commitment to making the Church of Christ breathe more deeply with both her lungs; so that the Churches of the West and of the East, which for one millennium could develop and express their great living traditions together, may draw closer and closer to the full communion that the historical circumstances of the second millennium undermined (cf. Address of His Holiness Patriarch Dimitrios I at St George's Cathedral, the Phanar, 29 November 1979; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 3 December 1979, p. 1).

I recall the meeting in Jerusalem during the Second Vatican Council of my Predecessor Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras. They inaugurated the dialogue of charity that leads to the dialogue of truth. I remember my Visit to the Phanar soon after my election and the visit to Rome of your Predecessor of happy memory, Patriarch Dimitrios. I remember many moments with gratitude to the Lord, many gestures that highlighted our desire for communion. Subsequently, through God's grace, Rome and Constantinople set out on the same path and, before the Council assembly, formally lifted the excommunications of 1054. We will soon be celebrating the 40th anniversary of this event, the symbol and guarantee of our commitment and resolutions.

In thinking back over the ground we have covered, I recall our meetings with emotion, especially your visit to Rome in 1995 for the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul when we proclaimed the Creed together in St Peter's Basilica in the liturgical language of the East and, together, we blessed the faithful from the loggia of the Basilica; and more recently, when Your Holiness joined me in Assisi to pray for the gift of peace in a world threatened by hatred and ever more intent on seeking God. All this shows the extent of our on-going commitment and enables us to entrust ourselves confidently to the Lord. God is good for us; in fact, throughout these years, our ties have expressed the family spirit that unites us and which, despite the difficulties, enables us to advance on the path to the goal that Christ fixed for us, to which our Predecessors energetically showed the way forward.

We can say that we are living under the sign of the Cross and in the hope of Easter. We are full of hope that the Lord will bring to completion the work of re-establishing the unity that he inspired. For her part, the Church of Rome will adhere to the irreversible choice of the Second Vatican Council which embraced this cause, this duty. In the Roman Liturgy, we associate ourselves every day with the prayer of Christ who, on the eve of his death, asked his Father for the unity of his disciples. We are certain that one day, when he chooses, the Lord will give us the joy of rediscovering each other in full communion and in the visible unity that he desires for his Holy Church.

Dear Brother, His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper will exchange the kiss of peace with you at the end of the Liturgy at which you are presiding over today in the patriarchal Church of St George. Know that it is the Bishop of Rome who offers you this kiss, with sentiments of gratitude for the journey you have undertaken with him thus far. I ask the Lord to bless your Ministry for the Church of Constantinople and all the holy Orthodox Churches, so that they may grow and prosper in proclaiming the One who is Holy and who pours out upon us in abundance his gifts of holiness, wisdom and peace.

From the Vatican, 26 November 2003


                                                              December 2003



Monday, 1 December 2003

Dear Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican today and I thank you for your good wishes and for the gift that you have presented to me on the occasion of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of my election to the See of Peter. In these difficult times let us pray that all peoples everywhere will be strengthened in their commitment to mutual understanding, reconciliation and peace.



Monday, 1 December 2003

Your Eminences,
Reverend Superior, Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
Dear Seminarians, Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you at this time when your Seminary is celebrating its 150th anniversary. I offer a special greeting to the two Cardinals present who formerly attended this Seminary themselves.

The formation of new priests is an essential task in the Church that requires the attention of the Bishops who are primarily responsible for it and whose task it is to call them to Holy Orders, after discernment with the priests designated for this purpose. Take advantage of this stage by allowing the Lord to guide you, with great flexibility to the Spirit and profound obedience to the Church and to her Pastors! Your complete formation consists of human, spiritual, moral and intellectual growth that presupposes discovering truth along your way, in the light of Christ and in contact with pastoral situations, confidently accepting the help of formation teachers in the heart of a community.

You also have the opportunity of being a place that offers a fraternal welcome to French priests who reside in Rome and to visiting priests, thereby obtaining a formative experience of the presbyterate.

Lastly, I greet the lay staff who see to the functioning of the Seminary.

As I entrust you to the Immaculate Virgin, Tutela Domus, I impart to you all an affectionate Apostolic Blessing.





Tuesday, 2 December 2003

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, the participants in the Colloquium on "Truth, Justice, Love, Freedom: Pillars of Peace". In a particular way I greet the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata, and the Head of the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communications in Tehran, Ayatollah Mahmoud Mohammadi Araqi. I am grateful to both institutions for sponsoring this event, the fourth such Colloquium organized by them.

Today there is an especially urgent need for dialogue, understanding and cooperation between the world’s great religions, especially Christianity and Islam. Religion is in fact called to build bridges between individuals, peoples and cultures, to be a sign of hope for humanity. I appeal to you, and to all men and women of good will, to join your voices with mine as I repeat that the holy name of God must never be used to incite violence or terrorism, to promote hatred or exclusion.

I am confident that your continued dialogue and cooperation, of which this Colloquium is an eloquent example, will do much to help Christians and Muslims to be ever more effective instruments of peace in our world. May Almighty God bless your efforts, and may he grant to all mankind the courage and strength to embrace truth, justice, love and freedom as true pillars of peace.





President of the Conference
of International Catholic Organizations

By means of this letter I send warm greetings to you and those participating in the General Assembly of the Conference of International Catholic Organizations taking place in Rome from 30 November to 6 December 2003.

I am confident that the theme chosen for your Assembly, "Make Human Society More Humane, Gospel Values Leading from Violence to Compassion", will prompt much useful discussion on how International Catholic Organizations can take an ever more active role in building an authentic worldwide culture of peace. An important aspect of this task is increasing the awareness that human rights are necessarily accompanied by corresponding human duties (cf. Message for the 2003 World Day of Peace, No. 5). The Gospel in fact clearly teaches that we have an unmistakable responsibility towards others — towards God first and foremost, and towards our fellow men and women (cf. Mk Mc 12,29-33). The more this awareness grows and people throughout the world recognize and accept their obligations with regard to others, the more will the cause of harmony among peoples be served. This is the sure foundation upon which a true and lasting peace can be built.

In the course of your Assembly, you will also have an opportunity to reflect on your mission as International Catholic Organizations within the larger family of Catholic associations. In this context, I encourage each of your institutions to review its statutes in light of the Code of Canon Law, making whatever amendments may be necessary to ensure that a true spirit of willing service to the Universal Church will ever prevail within your ranks. For "the spirituality of communion, by prompting a trust and openness wholly in accord with the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God, supplies institutional reality with a soul" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, No. 45).

Praying that Almighty God, "who calls us from oppression and conflict to freedom and cooperation for the good of all" (Message for the 2003 World Day of Peace, No. 10), will send upon you the guiding light of his Spirit, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Vatican, 28 November 2003.





To the Honourable Mr Pier Ferdinando Casini
President of the Chamber of Deputies

1. You have most courteously wished to inform me that a year after my Visit to the Italian Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies plans to commemorate that event with a special initiative. On this occasion, Mr President, I am pleased to convey a respectful greeting to you and your Honourable Colleagues, to whom I once more express my most heartfelt gratitude for the friendly welcome they gave me.

I remember that day when the Hall in the Palazzo Montecitorio welcomed a Successor of the Apostle Peter within its walls for the first time. It was at a special joint session of all the Senators and Deputies of the Republic, with the participation of the Prime Minister and Members of Government and of the highest offices of State, starting with the President of Italy. With emotion, I think back to the sincere attention I received, and the attestation of unanimous support that greeted my words is still a comfort to me today. I believe, despite its brevity, that this intense event marked a milestone in the history of relations between Italy and the Holy See. I express the hope that this distinguished Assembly's celebration of this event may help keep alive the spirit of that meeting.

2. With the passing of the last century the social features of Italy have profoundly changed. The Country has now begun to face the challenges of the third millennium with a renewed awareness of its mission in the European and global context, also marked by rapid and sometimes massive transformations. In a deeply symbolic way, the Visit of the Bishop of Rome to the Italian Parliament highlighted the determinant role that Christianity has played and still retains in the history and life of the Nation. The Gospel - a proclamation of faith, hope and love - has been a vital sap for the Italian people down the centuries, invigorating in thousands of ways their search for the good, the true and the beautiful. It must be recognized that despite human limitations and errors, the Church has been the leaven of civilization and progress for individuals, families, communities and for the entire Country. The Constitution of the Italian Republic, through its fundamental principles, reflects in an eloquent and ever valid way the Gospel truth about man and about society.

To whatever part of the world Italians emigrated, in addition to their recognized human and professional qualities, they bore witness to the Christian faith inherited from their forefathers in the land of their birth. The Church, for her part, has never ceased to cultivate these deep roots through her work of evangelization, expressed in a multitude of pastoral activities.

3. May the new generations make this spiritual patrimony their own and witness to it! It is a human and religious treasure to safeguard, for it is a precious good for the whole of the civil community.

The beneficial cooperation that exists between the Holy See and the Republic of Italy will, I am sure, further this demanding task. I raise a special prayer to God for this noble aim, which I entrust to the motherly intercession of Mary, venerated in every corner of this beloved Land of Italy.

With these hopes, as I once again offer my respectful greeting to you, Mr President, and to the Honourable Deputies, I willingly invoke an abundance of heavenly Blessings on the entire Parliament and on all those who are taking part in this important event.

From the Vatican, 26 November 2003




Wednesday, 3 December 2003

Your Beatitudes,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Pastors and Sons of the Venerable Chaldean Church,

1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 1,7).

I welcome you with great affection at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod of your Church, which proceeded to elect the new Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, "Head and Father" of your Church, successor of the late Patriarch Raphaël I Bidawid.

To You, dear Emmanuel III Delly, I extend my cordial greetings, as I invoke upon you an abundant effusion of spiritual gifts.

I greet the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, to whom I entrusted the task of presiding over the synodal work. I thank him for his work and for his courteous address just now.

I greet all of you, venerable Brothers, gathered at St Peter's to celebrate the highest act of synodal responsibility. I ask you to communicate my affectionate thought and the assurance of my prayers to the communities of which you are Pastors. The Pope is close to all of the people of Iraq and knows of their yearning for peace, security and freedom.

2. Your Beatitude, you have asked for "ecclesiastica communio" [ecclesiastical communion]. I very willingly comply with this request. In view of this, I entrusted the responsibility of its confirmation to Cardinal Moussa I Daoud, according to the praxis, in the Eucharistic Celebration that will be held in St Peter's Basilica. Communion with the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, principle and visible foundation of unity in faith and charity, enables the individual Churches to live and work within the mystery of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

The Chaldean Church is proud to witness to Christ in the land from which "Abraham, our father in the faith" set forth, and to draw its apostolic origins from the preaching of "Thomas, one of the Twelve".

As a living member of the one vital sap that flows from Christ, the Chaldean Church must continue to flourish, faithful to her own identity, producing abundant fruit for the good of the entire ecclesiastical body.

3. Venerable Brothers, develop ever more the unanimous consonance which resounded among you in this Synod. Indeed, the unity of intentions will allow for a full growth of the ecclesial life.

Harmony is all the more necessary looking at your Country, today more than ever in need of true peace and tranquillity of order. Work to "unite the strength" of all believers in respectful dialogue, which favours the building of a stable and free society at every level.

As I call upon the intercession of the Holy Mother of God who gave the Prince of Peace to the world, I impart to you the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend wholeheartedly to all the sons and daughters of the beloved Chaldean Church.




Thursday, 4 December 2003

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I welcome you with joy and cordially greet each one of you, gathered in Rome to exchange the Pastoral Visit I was able to make to Banja Luka last 22 June. With heartfelt gratitude for the warm reception given to me then, I welcome each of you.

First of all, I greet the Bishop of Banja Luka, Mons. Franjo Komarica, and I thank him for the kind words which, also as President of the Bishops' Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he addressed to me in the name of all present. Together with him, I fraternally greet the esteemed and dear Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Vrhbosna, together with the Auxiliary Bishop Pero Sudar and the dear and zealous Bishop of Mostar-Duvno and Apostolic Administrator of Trebinje-Mrkan, who was unable to participate in this gathering. My respectful thought then goes to the President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mr Dragan Covic, and to the other members of the Presidency, as well as to the Ministers present and to all of the civil Authorities of the Nation, whom I thank for the diligent effort made towards the success of my Pastoral Visit.

2. In Banja Luka I had the great joy to proclaim Blessed a young man native of that city, Ivan Merz. May his shining example of holiness encourage Catholic lay persons in their witness to the Gospel, the standard and fundamental direction for Christians of every epoch.

This young man, as the Bishops of your Country wrote, "truly has many things to say and to witness" (Bishops' Pastoral Letter) to every person of good will. The most impressive teaching is found perhaps within the pages of his Diary, dated 5 February 1918, when Europe was totally at war and he was on the front line: "Never forget God! Always desire to be united with him!".

3. These words hold a particular meaning for your Country in its effort to overcome many sufferings, the result of an oppressive regime and a drawn-out war. You are able to overcome this difficult situation, thanks to the establishment of democratic institutions at the political and administrative level. More necessary, however, will be the cultivation of a genuine spiritual renewal that opens the way to forgiveness, reconciliation and reciprocal respect for the cultural and religious identity by everyone.

These are the ways which lead to the creation of a prosperous and peaceful, free and solid society; this is the road that enables the eagerly-anticipated return of refugees and exiles to their native lands in an atmosphere of security and complete freedom.

4. The challenge facing you is a big one: "Never forget God!". I assure you of the support of my prayers and want to encourage you to proceed with confidence.

May God's Blessing descend upon you and your dear Country.

Praised be Jesus and Mary!




To my Venerable Brothers
Cardinal Lubomyr Husar
Major Archbishop of Lviv for Ukrainians
Cardinal Marian Jaworski
Archbishop of Lviv for Latins

1. Apart from being a duty, remembering the drama people have lived through proves especially helpful in awakening in the young generations the commitment in all circumstances to be alert sentinels of respect for the dignity of every human person. And the prayers of suffrage prompted by this remembrance are a balm for believers that soothes their pain, as well as an effective entreaty to the God of the living to give eternal repose to all who were unjustly deprived of the gift of existence. Lastly, dutiful remembrance of the past acquires a value that reaches beyond a Nation's boundaries to other peoples who have been victims of equally dire events and can give solace in common knowledge.

These are the sentiments that the 70th anniversary of the consequences of the Holodomor tragedy awakens in my heart: millions of people suffered an atrocious death due to the nefarious success of an ideology that caused suffering and bereavement in many parts of the world throughout the 20th century. It is for this reason, Venerable Brothers, that I want to be present in spirit at the celebrations to commemorate the countless victims of the great famine instigated in Ukraine by the Communist regime. It was an inhuman scheme put into effect in cold blood by those in power at the time.

2. Thinking back over those sad events, I ask you, Venerable Brothers, to convey my solidarity and prayerful thoughts to your Country's Authorities and to your fellow citizens who are especially dear to me. The celebrations, planned to reinforce a proper patriotic love by commemorating the sacrifice of the Country's sons and daughters, are not antagonistic to other nations but are intended to revive in each soul a sense of the dignity of every person, to whatever people he or she may belong.

The trenchant words of my Predecessor, Pope Pius XI of venerable memory, spring to mind. Referring to the policies of the Soviet leaders of the time, he made a clear distinction between Government leaders and subjects. While he exonerated the latter, he openly denounced the responsibilities of the system that "ignores the real origin, nature and true purpose of the State... and denies the rights, dignity and freedom of the human person" (Encyclical Letter Divini Redemptoris [18 March 1937], II: AAS 29 [1937], n. 77).

How can we forget, in this regard, the destruction of so many families, the grief of countless orphans, the confusion of the whole of society? While I feel close to all who suffered the consequences of that tragic drama in 1933, I would like to reassert the need to recall those events, to repeat together once more: "Never again!". Awareness of past aberrations is behind the constant incentive to build a more human future, countering every ideology that profanes the life, dignity and just aspirations of the person.

3. Today the experience of the tragedy must guide the feelings and actions of the Ukrainian people towards prospects of concord and cooperation. Unfortunately, the Communist ideology also served to deepen divisions in the social and religious contexts. It is essential to work to bring about sincere and effective peace; in this way it will be possible to pay a proper tribute to the victims who belonged to the entire Ukrainian family.

The Christian sentiment of suffrage for those who died as a result of an insane and murderous design must be combined with the desire to build a society in which the common good, natural law, justice for all and the rights of peoples will be constant guides for an effective renewal of the hearts and minds of all who have the honour to belong to the Ukrainian Nation. The memory of past events will thus become a source of inspiration for both present and future generations.

4. During my unforgettable Visit to your Country two years ago, in mentioning the period of mourning that Ukraine lived through 70 years ago I recalled "the terrible years of the Soviet dictatorship and the dreadful famine of the beginning of the 1930s, when your Country, "the granary of Europe', was no longer able to feed its own children, who died by the millions" (Address to Representatives of the Worlds of Politics, Culture, Science, Industry and Business, Presidential Palace, 23 June 2001, n. 3; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], 27 June, p. 4).

It is to be hoped that with the help of God's grace the lessons of history may enable people to find valid motives for reciprocal understanding, with a view to constructive cooperation in order to build together a Country that can develop harmoniously and peacefully at every level.

The achievement of this noble aim depends primarily on the Ukrainians, who are entrusted with the preservation of the Eastern and Western Christian heritage and the responsibility of achieving an original synthesis between culture and civilization. This is the specific contribution that Ukraine is called to make to the construction of that "common European house" in which every people will be able to find true acceptance, together with respect for its own identity and values.

5. Venerable Brothers, on this very solemn occasion how can we fail to remember the Gospel seed sown by Sts Cyril and Methodius? How can we not think gratefully of the witness of St Vladimir and of Mother St Olga, through whom God gave your people the grace of Baptism and of new life in Christ? Hearts enlightened by the Gospel understand better how to love the homeland in order to make an effective contribution to its progress on the path of culture and civilization. Family membership must be accompanied by a generous and gratuitous exchange of the gifts inherited as a legacy from previous generations, so as to build a society that is open to the encounter with other peoples and traditions.

I hope that the Ukrainian people will be able to look back at the events of history with reconciled hearts, and I entrust all who are still suffering from the consequences of those painful events to the interior consolation of the All Holy Mother of God. I reinforce these sentiments with a special Apostolic Blessing, which I impart to you, Venerable Brothers, and to all who are entrusted to your pastoral care as I invoke upon everyone an abundant outpouring of heavenly favours.

From the Vatican, 23 November 2003, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.





Friday, 5 December 2003

Mr President,
Mr Director-General,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, the distinguished participants in the 32nd Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. My cordial greeting goes to the Honourable Jim Sutton, Minister of Agriculture of New Zealand, who is presiding over the present session, and to the Director-General, Mr Jacques Diouf. Our meeting today allows me to express the appreciation of the Catholic Church for the important service which FAO renders to humanity.

Today this service is more urgently needed than ever. Hunger and malnutrition, aggravated by growing poverty, represent a grave threat to the peaceful coexistence of peoples and nations. By its efforts to combat the nutritional insecurity which affects vast areas of our world, FAO makes a significant contribution to the advancement of world peace.

2. Given this close relationship between hunger and peace, it is clear that economic and political decisions and strategies must increasingly be guided by a commitment to global solidarity and respect for fundamental human rights, including the right to adequate nourishment. Human dignity itself is compromised wherever a narrow pragmatism detached from the objective demands of the moral law leads to decisions which benefit a fortunate few while ignoring the sufferings of large segments of the human family. At the same time, in conformity with the principle of subsidiarity, individuals and social groups, civil associations and religious confessions, governments and international institutions, are all called, according to their specific competencies and resources, to share in this commitment to solidarity in promoting the common good of humanity.

3. For this reason I am confident that the work of FAO in establishing an International Alliance Against Hunger will bear fruit in practical choices and political decisions inspired by the awareness that humanity is one family. As in every family, concern must be shown above all to those who are disadvantaged and in need. The world may not remain deaf to the plea of those who demand the food they need in order to survive!

4. In this conviction, I offer prayerful good wishes that the present Conference will help FAO to pursue ever more successfully its noble aims and objectives. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, perseverance and peace.





To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Francis Arinze

Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Forty years to the day, 4 December 1963, on which my venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, promulgated the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, first fruit of the Second Vatican Council, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has opportunely promoted a study day in order to emphasize the foundational themes of liturgical renewal desired by the Council.

I am delighted with this initiative, and I willingly take this opportunity to communicate to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the Congress participants, the Letter I prepared in order to recall the promulgation of the above-mentioned Conciliar Constitution, which has marked a fundamentally important stage in the Church's life for the promotion and the development of the Liturgy.

In entrusting to this Dicastery the work of making known to the Christian people the content of the enclosed Apostolic Letter, I assure you of my spiritual presence during the Congress' work, while I wholeheartedly send to you, Venerable Brother, to your collaborators, to the relators and to all present a special Blessing, laden with heavenly favours.

From the Vatican, 4 December 2003




Saturday, 6 December 2003

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

1. I am happy to welcome you, Bishops and Diocesan Administrator who have come from the Provinces of Rennes and of Rouen, the region in western France which I have had the opportunity to visit on two occasions: on my way to Lisieux, to Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre and to Sainte-Anne d'Auray. I welcome you at the end of your ad limina visit, a time for meeting and working with the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and also a moment of spiritual replenishment in prayer at the tombs of the Apostles and in the celebration of communion with one another and with the Successor of Peter. I thank Archbishop Saint-Macary of Rennes for his report on your Dioceses and the important changes that you are experiencing in the life of the Christian communities as well as in the forms of exercising the ministry of priests. In turn, I would like to speak to you about a matter I have very much at heart, as do all the Bishops of the whole world: vocations to the priesthood and of the formation of priests.

Speeches 2003 - Friday, 28 November 2003