Speeches 2004 - Saturday, 10 January 2004



Saturday, 10 January 2004

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

1. I welcome you with pleasure at the end of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy. I greet the Prefect of the Dicastery, Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, and I thank him for expressing your common sentiments of devotion and affection. I greet Your Eminences, the Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and all who participated in this meeting, which dealt with two very interesting topics: "The consultative organisms secundum legem and praeter legem" and "the pastoral care of Shrines".

I wish to thank each one of you for the exacting work achieved. At the same time, I express my sincere hope that these days of reflection will provide helpful indications and directions for the life of the Church.

2. The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium presents the Church as a people with Christ as its Head, whose state is the dignity and freedom of the sons of God; whose law is the ancient and always new precept of love and whose destiny is the kingdom of God (cf. n. 9). Included are those who, by way of Baptism, are "living stones... built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1P 2,5).

This priesthood, which associates all believers, differs essentially from the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood; both, however, are closely bound and ordered towards one another, so that "each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ" (Lumen Gentium LG 10). Pastors have the responsibility to form, sustain and sanctify the People of God, while lay faithful, together with them, play an active part in the Church's mission in a constant synergy of effort and respecting the specific vocations and charisms.

3. This helpful collaboration of the laity is found also within the various Councils provided for by canonical regulations at the diocesan and parochial levels. These are participatory organisms which offer their cooperation for the good of the Church in keeping with the knowledge and competence of each one (cf. can. 212 3 CIC).

Today these structures, resulting from the Council indications, need their mandate for action and their statutes to be updated according to the regulations of the Code of Canon Law promulgated in 1983. It is necessary to maintain a balanced relationship between the role of the laity and that pertaining to the Ordinary of the Diocese or to the parish priest.

Legitimate Pastors, in carrying out their office, are never to be considered as simple executors of the decisions resulting from the majority consensus opinion expressed by the ecclesial assembly. Church structure cannot employ simply human political models. Her hierarchical composition is based on the will of Christ and, as such, is part of the "depositum fidei", which must be conserved and transmitted in its entirety down the centuries.

Your Dicastery, which has an important role in the application of the conciliar directives in this matter, will not fail to follow attentively the development of such organs of consultation. I am certain that the proposals and outcome of this meeting will help to make the collaboration between the laity and Pastors always more profitable and entirely faithful to the directives of the Magisterium.

4. The second theme that you addressed at this Plenary Assembly deals with the pastoral care of Shrines. These sacred places attract numerous faithful who are searching for God and are therefore ready for a deeper proclamation of the Good News and open to the invitation to conversion. It is thus important that priests with strong pastoral sensibility exercise their ministry here, moved by apostolic zeal, gifted with a paternal spirit of welcome and versed in the art of preaching and catechesis.

What can be said, then, of the Sacrament of Penance? The confessor, especially in Shrines, is called to reflect the merciful love of Christ in every gesture and word. This requires, therefore, an appropriate doctrinal and pastoral training.

At the centre of every pilgrimage there are the liturgical celebrations, with Holy Mass in the first place. These are always to be prepared with care and conducted with great devotion, stimulating the faithful's active participation.

May your Dicastery not fail to draw up useful suggestions to help the pastoral service of Shrines and to be renewed so as to correspond better to the needs of the times.

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, with these days of study and revision, you have rendered a meritorious service to the Church. I thank you and assure each one of you a brotherly remembrance in prayer.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, who during the Christmas season we contemplate with the Child in the Manger, sustain you and make fruitful your every good proposal. To you and those dear to you I express my best wishes for the new year just begun and I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.




Monday, 12 January 2004

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It always gives me pleasure to meet you for the traditional exchange of greetings at the dawn of a new year. I am particularly touched by the good wishes that H.E. Ambassador Giovanni Galassi has sensitively expressed to me on your behalf. I warmly thank you for the kind and noble sentiments with which you daily follow the activity of the Apostolic See. Through you, I feel close to the peoples whom you represent; may they all be assured of the prayer and affection of the Pope, who invites them to combine their talents and resources to build together a common future of peace and prosperity!

This meeting is also a privileged moment that gives me the opportunity to take a look at the world with you, as it is shaped by the men and women of today.

The celebration of Christmas has just reminded us of God's tenderness for humanity, manifested in Jesus, and has made the ever-new message of Bethlehem ring out once again: "On earth peace among men with whom [God] is pleased!" (Lc 2,14).

This message reaches us this year when many peoples are still enduring the consequences of armed conflict, are suffering from poverty or have fallen prey to forms of blatant injustice or pandemics that are difficult to control. H.E. Mr Galassi has outlined these situations with his characteristic insight. In turn, I would like to tell you of four convictions that occupy my thoughts and prayers at the beginning of the year 2004.

1. Peace still threatened

In recent months peace has been overwhelmed by the events in the Middle East that appears once again as a region of disputes and wars.

The many attempts made by the Holy See to avoid the grievous war in Iraq are already known. Today what matters is that the international community help put the Iraqis, freed from an oppressive regime, in a condition to be able to take up their Country's reins again, consolidate its sovereignty and determine democratically a political and economic system that reflects their aspirations, so that Iraq may once again be a credible partner in the International Community.

The failure to solve the Palestinian-Israeli issue remains a permanent factor of destabilization for the whole region, not to speak of the indescribable suffering it has caused both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples. I will never tire of repeating to the leaders of these two peoples: the choice of weapons, the recourse, on one side, to terrorism and, on the other, to reprisals, humiliation of the adversary and propaganda loaded with hate, lead nowhere. Respect for the legitimate aspirations of both parties, a return to the negotiating table and the concrete commitment of the International Community alone can be the first step towards a solution. True and lasting peace cannot be merely reduced to keeping a balance between the forces in question; above all, it is the result of moral and juridical action.

Other tensions and conflicts, especially in Africa, could also be mentioned. They have a dramatic impact on the populations. In addition to the effects of violence, impoverishment and the deterioration of the institutional fabric are plunging entire peoples into despair. I should also mention the dangers of the arms trade and the manufacture of weapons that are flooding these vulnerable regions.

I would like to pay a special tribute this morning to Archbishop Michael Courtney, Apostolic Nuncio in Burundi, who was recently assassinated. Like all Nuncios and diplomats, he put his service to the cause of peace and dialogue first. I praise his courage and his concern to support the Burundian people in their journey towards peace and greater brotherhood, in the name of his episcopal ministry and his diplomatic task. I would also like to remember Mr Sergio Veira de Mello, Special Representative of the United Nations in Iraq, who was killed in an attack while fulfilling his mission. I would like to mention further all the members of the Diplomatic Corps who have lost their lives in recent years or who have been made to suffer on account of their mandate.

And how can I fail to mention the international terrorism which by sowing fear, hate and fanaticism disgraces all the causes that it claims to serve? I shall merely say that every civilization worthy of the name presupposes the categorical rejection of violent relations. That is why - and I am saying so to an audience of diplomats - we will never be able to resign ourselves passively to allowing violence to keep peace hostage!

It is more urgent than ever to return to a more effective collective security that gives the United Nations Organization its proper place and role; it is more urgent than ever to learn from the lessons of the distant and recent past. In any case, one thing is certain: war does not resolve hostilities between peoples!

2. Faith: a force for building peace

Even if I am speaking here on behalf of the Catholic Church, I know that the different Christian denominations and the faithful of other religions consider themselves witnesses of a God of justice and peace.

If we believe that every human person has received a unique dignity from the Creator, that each one of us is the subject of inalienable rights and freedoms, that serving others means growing in humanity, especially when we claim to be disciples of the One who said: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35), we can easily understand the innate value of communities of believers in the building of a pacified and peaceful world.

As for the Catholic Church, she makes available to all the example of her unity and universality, the witness of so many saints who were able to love their enemies, of so many politicians who found in the Gospel the courage to live charity in war. Everywhere that peace is at stake there are Christians to attest in words and actions that peace is possible. As you well know, this is the reason behind the interventions of the Holy See at international debates.

3. Religion in society: presence and dialogue

Communities of believers, an expression of the religious dimension of the human being, exist in all societies. Believers, therefore, legitimately expect to take part in the public dialogue. Unfortunately, it must be noted that this is not always the case. In recent times, we have witnessed in some European countries an attitude that could endanger the effective respect for religious freedom.

Everyone may agree to respect the religious sentiment of individuals but the same cannot be said of the "religious factor", that is, the social dimension of religions; here the engagements made in the context of what was formerly known as the "Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe" have been forgotten. People often invoke the principle of secularity, legitimate in itself if it is understood as the distinction between the political community and religions (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 76). But distinction does not mean ignorance! Secularity is not secularism! It is nothing other than respect for all beliefs on the part of the State that assures the free exercise of ritual, spiritual, cultural and charitable activities by communities of believers. In a pluralistic society, secularity is a place for communication between the different spiritual traditions and the nation. Church-State relations can and must, on the contrary, lead to a respectful dialogue conveying fruitful experiences and values for the future of a nation. There is no doubt at all that a healthy dialogue between the State and the Churches - which are not rivals but partners - can encourage the integral development of the human person and harmony in society.

The difficulty of accepting the religious factor in a public forum was revealed on the occasion of the recent debate on the Christian roots of Europe. Some people reinterpreted history through the prism of reductive ideologies, forgetting what Christianity has contributed to the culture and institutions of the Continent: the dignity of the human being, freedom, the sense of the universal, schools and universities, social services. Without underestimating other religious traditions, it remains a fact that Europe was consolidated at the same time of its evangelization. And in all fairness it should be remembered that only a short time ago Christians, by promoting freedom and human rights, contributed to the peaceful transformation of authoritarian regimes as well as to the restoration of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

4. As Christians, we are jointly responsible for the peace and unity of the human family
You are aware that ecumenical commitment has been one of the concerns of my Pontificate. In fact, I am convinced that if Christians could overcome their divisions there would be greater solidarity in the world. That is why I have always encouraged meetings and joint declarations, seeing each one of these as an example and an incentive for the unity of the human family.

As Christians, we are responsible for "the Gospel of peace" (Ep 6,15). All together, we can effectively contribute to respect for life, to safeguarding the dignity of the human person and his or her inalienable rights, to social justice and to the preservation of the environment. Moreover, an evangelical way of life enables Christians to help their companions in humanity to control their instincts, to make gestures of understanding and forgiveness, to help those in need together. We do not give sufficient importance to the pacifying influence that Christians could have, were they united, on their own community as well as on civil society.

If I say this, it is not only to remind all who claim to be followers of Christ of the pressing need to set out with determination on the road that leads to the unity that Christ desired, but also to point out to the leaders of societies the resources they could find in the Christian heritage as well as among those who practise it.

On this subject, a practical example can be cited: teaching peace. You will recognize this as the theme of my Message for 1 January this year. In the light of reason and faith, the Church proposes teaching peace in order to prepare for better times. She wishes to make all her spiritual energies available, convinced that "justice must find its fulfilment in charity" (n. 10). This is what we humbly propose to all people of good will, for "we Christians see the commitment to educate ourselves and others to peace as something at the very heart of our religion" (n. 3).

At this time when a new year is offered to us, these are the thoughts that I wanted to share with you, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen. They developed in front of the crib, in front of Jesus who shared in and loved the life of men and women. He continues to be a contemporary of each one of us and of all the peoples represented here. I entrust their projects and achievements to God in prayer, while I invoke upon you and upon your loved ones an abundance of his Blessings. Happy New Year!



Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Your Excellency,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Archbishop Miller together with his Basilian brothers, his family members and other friends who have accompanied him on this joyful occasion. I extend warm greetings to all of you.

Archbishop Miller’s episcopal motto, Veritati Servire, “to serve the truth”, is an eloquent summary of the commitment that has marked his priestly life, both at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, Texas, and during his five years of service at the Vatican. I am certain that this same dedication will continue to inspire and strengthen him as he now returns to Rome and takes up his duties as Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. With prayerful good wishes for his new ministry, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to him and to all here present.



Tuesday, 13 January 2004

Dear Members of the 31st Squadron of the Italian Air Force,

I am pleased to meet you at the beginning of the new year and I warmly offer my very best wishes to each one of you. I greet you with affection and take this timely opportunity to thank you for the dedication and commitment with which you have made it easier for years for the Successor of Peter to carry out his pastoral ministry.

I greet in particular the Chief of Staff of the Air Force who has wished to honour us with his presence. I then thank your Commander for the words through which he has communicated your common sentiments.

In the past few days, the liturgy has invited us to contemplate Jesus made man who came to dwell among us. He is the Light that brightens our life and gives it meaning; he is the Redeemer who brings peace to the world. Let us welcome him with confidence and joy! He is presented to us by Mary Most Holy, who watches over us as a tender Mother. I ask you to turn to her at every moment and to entrust to her the year 2004 that has just begun.

With these sentiments, I invoke divine assistance on you and on your families, as I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.



Thursday, 15 January 2004

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Welcome to this meeting at the beginning of the New Year that gives us the opportunity for a cordial exchange of greetings. Thank you for your welcome visit. I address a respectful greeting to the President of the Regional Board, Hon. Mr Francesco Storace, to the Mayor of Rome, Hon. Mr Walter Veltroni, and to the President of the Province, Hon. Mr Enrico Gasbarra. I would like to express to them my deep gratitude for the courteous words conveying the sentiments of everyone present. I greet the Presidents and members of the three Council Assemblies as well as those who work with them. This is a favourable opportunity to convey an affectionate thought to all the inhabitants of the City and Province of Rome and of the Lazio Region.

2. The difficulties that mark today's world situation are also felt in our Country. Yet it is in the difficult moments that the positive energies of a people and its representatives can and must emerge more clearly. I would therefore like to renew to you the cordial invitation to confidence and supportive coherence that I have addressed to the Italian people on many occasions.

If we are to build together a society that is more just and more fraternal, each one's contribution is indispensable. Together we must overcome tensions and conflicts; we must join forces to fight terrorism that has unfortunately also contaminated our beloved City.

The way to defeat and prevent every form of violence is by being committed to building the "Civilization of Love". Indeed, love, as I stressed in my Message for the recent World Day of Peace, is also "the loftiest and most noble form of relationship possible between human beings" (n. 10).

3. How can we not think of the family as the best place in which to build the "Civilization of Love"? Families are the human environment in which the person can feel, from the very beginning of his or her existence, the warmth of love and develop harmoniously. This explains the acclaim accorded political and administrative decisions in support of the nuclear family, seen as "a natural society based on marriage", according to the Italian Constitution (art. 29). This is the context of the provisions made by the Boards you direct to meet the needs of families with very young children or to help the family institution fulfil its primary role in the education of children. To this end, school is always of fundamental importance. The Church is pleased to contribute to it with her educational institutions that play an appreciated social role, and hence, are entitled to support.

4. Various other sectors of social life require concrete interventions. I am thinking of those who find themselves in situations of acute need, of the elderly who live alone, of neglected minors, of the weaker social categories such as those of many immigrants. I am thinking of the young who are looking confidently to the future and waiting to be taught justice, solidarity and peace. The parishes, religious communities, Catholic institutions and volunteer services will continue to offer their comprehensive contribution in Rome, in the Province and throughout the Region, by making available every human and spiritual resource.

5. Distinguished Representatives of the Regional, Provincial and Municipal Boards, thank you for what you are doing with commitment. I am particularly grateful to you for your attention to the Church's pastoral and social action, which is always and only concerned to serve humanity and witness to the Gospel of hope.

I entrust you and your projects to the Virgin Mary, who is called upon in the City, in the Province and in Lazio with many evocative titles that witness to an intense, deeply-rooted devotion among the people. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and upon you, your co-workers, your families and the respective populations you represent, I invoke God's Blessing.

A Happy New Year to you all!



Friday, 16 January 2004

Dear Sisters,

1. I am delighted to welcome you on the occasion of the National Congress of the Italian Women's Centre that is taking place in Rome in these days. I greet the national President and thank her for her kind words expressing the spiritual closeness to my pastoral ministry of the entire Association. I greet each one of you, dear delegates, who come from various Italian Provinces. Your presence gives me the pleasant opportunity to extend my thoughts to the women committed in various ways in your association, as well as to those you reach out to every day with your activities.

2. The Italian Women's Centre, inspired by Christian principles, tries to help women play their role in society with ever greater responsibility. Humanity feels more and more intensely the need to give meaning and purpose to a world in which new problems surface every day, giving rise to insecurity and confusion. Rightly, therefore, you are reflecting at your Congress on "Women facing the world's expectations". Our age, marked by rapidly changing events, has seen an increase in the participation of women in every context of civil, economic and religious life starting with the family, the first and vital cell of human society. This demands constant attention on your part to the problems that are emerging, as well as generous farsightedness in dealing with them.

3. In the Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem I wanted to stress that "a woman's dignity is closely connected with the love which she receives by the very reason of her femininity; it is likewise connected with the love which she gives in return" (n. 30). It is important that women keep alive the awareness of their fundamental vocation: they can only find themselves by giving love to others with their special "genius" that ensures "sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human!" (ibid.).

The biblical paradigm of woman, "placed" by the Creator beside man as "a fitting helper for him" (Gn 2,18), also reveals the true meaning of her vocation. Her moral and spiritual strength stems from an awareness that "God entrusts the human being to her in a special way" (Mulieris Dignitatem MD 30).

4. Dear friends, this is the principal mission of every woman also in the third millennium. Live it to the full and do not let yourselves be discouraged by the difficulties and obstacles you may encounter on your journey. On the contrary, ever confident in divine help, bring it to completion with joy, expressing the feminine "genius" that distinguishes you.

God will not let you go without the light and guidance of his Holy Spirit if you turn to him faithfully in prayer. The Virgin of Nazareth, a sublime example of femininity fulfilled, will be your unfailing support.

The Pope encourages you to witness everywhere to the Gospel of life and hope and accompanies you with daily remembrance to the Lord. With these sentiments, I willingly bless you, your families and all the members of the Italian Women's Centre.


Friday, 16 January 2004

Distinguished Gentlemen,

I am pleased that you have come to Rome to attend the Concert of Reconciliation at the Vatican, and I am happy to extend to you today my warm and cordial greetings. In the twenty-five years of my Pontificate I have striven to promote Jewish-Catholic dialogue and to foster ever greater understanding, respect and cooperation between us. Indeed, one of the highlights of my Pontificate will always remain my Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which included intense moments of remembrance, reflection and prayer at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and at the Wailing Wall.

The official dialogue established between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a sign of great hope. We must spare no effort in working together to build a world of justice, peace and reconciliation for all peoples. May Divine Providence bless our work and crown it with success!



Saturday, 17 January 2004

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Students and Alumni of the Almo Collegio Capranica,

The imminence of the annual Memorial of St Agnes offers me the pleasant opportunity to meet the community of your College that venerates the young Roman martyr as patroness. I offer each one of you a very cordial greeting. I first greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Episcopal Commission that oversees the College, and I thank him for his words on behalf of you all. I greet the Prelates present, the Rector, Mons. Alfredo Abbondi and his collaborators, the students and former students, and all those who belong to the Capranica family. I thank you all for this pleasant visit.

Dear friends, a typical feature of your College is its outstanding attention to "family life", as you Capranicans like to call it among yourselves, founded on firm human, theological and spiritual references. I know how you insist on this spirit of fraternal communion which prepares you for the pastoral ministry that will be entrusted to you in the future. This spirit, as you know well, must be nurtured with intense and constant prayer, since God is the source of our unity. It also requires that you share the same goals and ideals, striving for the union of minds and hearts.

You must never lack the cement of unity, that is, charity, the true "vis unitiva", together with the exercise of the virtues, especially obedience and humility, searching constantly for Gospel perfection. The Lord who has chosen you as his ministers wants you to be holy, that is, consecrated totally to him and to his Church. May this be your main concern, to which it is only right to combine the daily commitment to a solid human and doctrinal formation.

May the heavenly Mother of the Church watch over and protect your College, and may the holy martyr St Agnes also intercede for you. I assure you of my constant remembrance to the Lord, and I wholeheartedly bless you all.





To His Beatitude

Archbishop Michel Sabbah
Patriarch of Jerusalem

I was delighted to learn that on Sunday, 11 January 2004, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, you will be presiding at the rite for the dedication of the Chapel of Domus Galilaeae located on the Mount of the Beatitudes - Korazim. I remember with emotion my Apostolic Pilgrimage on 24 March 2000 when on the Mount of the Beatitudes itself, not far from the place where Jesus first multiplied the loaves, I had the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist for numerous faithful of the Holy Land and many young members of the Neocatechumenal Way. On that occasion God granted me to visit and bless the Shrine of the Word, a welcoming place for anyone who wishes to penetrate the Sacred Scriptures in an atmosphere of prayer and contemplation.

The Chapel that is now being solemnly dedicated enables us to contemplate the supreme mystery of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist; and the fresco of the Last Judgment that decorates the apse invites us to turn our gaze to those ultimate realities of faith which illumine our daily pilgrimage on earth.

I willingly join in the intense spiritual moment which this Christian community is preparing to live and I send it my affectionate greeting. I extend a special greeting to the Prelates, the representatives of the religious communities, the clergy, the ecclesial movements and the civil Authorities present. I greet the organizers of the Neocatechumenal Way who will be directing the retreat scheduled to take place in Domus Galilaeae from 7 to 16 January, as well as the brothers and sisters who will be taking part in it.

I ask you, Venerable Brother, kindly to convey my cordial sentiments to all those present, as I express the hope that this important event will be an encouragement to all to renew their adherence to Christ, Redeemer of the world. May the Virgin of Nazareth, Mother of the Church and Star of the new evangelization, guide the steps of believers in the Holy Land and obtain for them the gift of an ever more courageous fidelity to the Gospel.

With these sentiments I send to you, to the sponsors of the meeting, to all the members of the spiritual family of the Domus Galilaeae and to everyone who will be taking part in the sacred rite a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 6 January 2004





Paul VI Audience Hall

Saturday, 17 January 2004

1. I have taken part with deep emotion in this evening's concert dedicated to the theme of reconciliation among Jews, Christians and Muslims. With deep participation I listened to the splendid musical performance that gave us all an opportunity for reflection and prayer. I greet and cordially thank the sponsors of this initiative and everyone who helped to organize it.

I greet the Presidents and the members of the Pontifical Councils that sponsored this very important event. I greet the well-known figures and representatives of various Jewish International Organizations, of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Islam; they have made our meeting even more evocative with their participation. A special "thank you" goes to the Knights of Columbus who gave the concert their concrete support, and to RAI (Italian Radio and Television), represented here by the directors who have ensured its proper broadcast.

I then extend my greeting to the distinguished conductor, Maestro Gilbert Levine, the members of the "Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra" and the choirs from Ankara, Kraków, London and Pittsburgh. The choice of pieces for this evening has brought to our attention two important points which, despite the different treatment they are given by the respective sacred texts, bind together in a certain way all those who refer to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. These two points are: veneration for the Patriarch Abraham and the resurrection of the dead. We have heard the masterly comment in the sacred motet "Abraham" by John Harbison, and in Gustav Mahler's Symphony N. 2 that was inspired by the dramatic poem "Dziady" [celebration of death] written by Adam Mickiewicz, the distinguished Polish playwright.

2. The history of relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims is marked by patches of light and shadow and has unfortunately known some painful moments. Today we are aware of the pressing need for sincere reconciliation among believers in the one God.

This evening we are gathered here to give concrete expression to this commitment to reconciliation, entrusting ourselves to the universal message of music. We have been reminded of the recommendation "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless" (Gn 17,1). Every human being hears these words echoing within him: he knows that one day he will have to account to that God who observes his pilgrimage on earth from on High.

Speeches 2004 - Saturday, 10 January 2004