Speeches 2004 - Altar of the Confessio of the Vatican Basilica




Monday, 18 October 2004

1. I am pleased to address a cordial welcome to all of you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and I offer you a warm greeting. Through you, I would like my thoughts to reach the many nations of the world that belong to the Interparliamentary Union. I address a special greeting to the President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy and the Latvian Parliamentarian who have interpreted your common sentiments.

2. Our meeting today fits into the context of the World Conference of Women Parliamentarians for the Protection of Children and Young Persons, sponsored by the Presidency of the Italian Parliament. The theme of your work that ends today concerns the hardship in which numerous children and adolescents live in various parts of the world. Your goal includes identifying together effective ways in which institutions can protect minors. In this regard, I express unqualified appreciation for this praiseworthy commitment to the youngest group of the population, while I encourage you to persevere in this direction with the awareness that children and youth are the hope and future of humanity.

They are the human family's most precious treasure, but at the same time, its frailest and most vulnerable members. Hence, it is always necessary to listen to them and pay constant attention to all their legitimate needs and aspirations. No one can be silent or indifferent, especially when innocent children suffer and are marginalized and their human dignity is wounded.

3. The immense cry of pain of abandoned and abused children from many regions of the earth must inspire in public institutions, private associations and all people of good will a new awareness of everyone's duty to protect, defend and educate these frail creatures with love and respect.

If it is to be effective, all action to safeguard children and adolescents should be accompanied by proper consideration of their fundamental rights. Juvenal has expressed this well in his well-known maxim: "The greatest reverence is due to a child" (cf. The Satires, XIV, 47). Furthermore, in the Gospel Jesus points to children as our "models" of life and firmly condemns those who do not respect them.

4. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish success to the study days of your Congress and I hope, thanks to the contribution of you all, that the dream of building a better future for the new generations may come true. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of hope, may God grant that humanity see this prophecy of peace come true soon!

I accompany this wish with the assurance of my prayers, as I impart a heartfelt Blessing to you all.



Monday, 18 October 2004

Mr President,

I am pleased to welcome you at this Audience on the occasion of your visit to Rome. I take this opportunity to express once again my affection for the People of Paraguay; please be so kind as to convey the Pope's greeting to them and the assurance of his remembrance in prayer.

I hope that the Christian message, which penetrated the soul of this noble People and has borne fruits of holiness in St Roque Ruiz and his companion martyrs, may continue to offer inspiration and encouragement to all who are working for the development of Paraguay on the path of justice and solidarity. As I invoke the protection of the Virgin of the Miracles of Caacupé I wholeheartedly bless all Paraguayans.



Tuesday, 19 October 2004

I cordially greet all the inhabitants of Kaszuby who have come on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. I am pleased to greet you, together with your Bishop, whom I thank for his kind words.

You have a special reason for making this pilgrimage: the beatification of the Servant of God, Bishop Konstantyn Dominik. It is right that you endeavour with prayers to sustain the process of the recognition of his holiness, which began in 1961. This is an important contribution, because it witnesses to the veneration that the candidate to the honours of the altar enjoys, and at the same time creates a spiritual atmosphere of openness to the action of grace that prepares the ground for miraculous interventions. May the faithful Pastor of your Diocese continue to defend his cause with special care!

Please convey my greeting to your loved ones and to all the faithful of the Church in Pelplin. I cordially bless you all: in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Praised be Jesus Christ!




Thursday, 21 October 2004

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Priests,

1. I most willingly join you in spirit at your gathering in Malta for an important spiritual meeting. I greet you with affection and through you I greet the communities from which you come. You are meeting in Malta, an island that cherishes vivid memories of St Paul's stay. Won over by Jesus, he became a humble and courageous servant of the Gospel to the point of forcefully asserting: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Ga 2,20).

2. Every priest, called by divine Providence to help men and women, young people and adults to follow in the footsteps of the divine Teacher, can recognize his programme in Paul's words. The Church needs holy priests who will in turn "forge saints for the new millennium".

The Lord invites you, dear friends, to be his apostles first and foremost through the holiness of your lives. It is your task to make vibrant everywhere the force of the words of Gospel truth that alone can work deep changes in the human heart and give a person peace.

3. Dear priests, if you let Christ take hold of you, as did the Apostle Paul, you too will be able to proclaim on the highways of the world the infinite mercy of the heavenly Father, "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tm 2,4). You will thus become credible teachers of Gospel life and prophets of hope.

In our troubled and divided world, marked by violence and war, some are wondering if it is still possible to speak of hope. Yet at this very moment it is indispensable to present courageously the true and full hope of humankind: Christ the Lord.

4. The heavenly model from which to draw inspiration is always the Virgin Mary. The humble young girl of Nazareth showed the Angel Gabriel her total availability to do God's will: "Behold", Mary said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38).

She subsequently confirmed that initial "fiat" at every moment of her life, even at Calvary, where Jesus entrusted her as he was dying to John, "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19,27). From that day, Mary became Mother to all believers and especially your Mother, dear priests, to accompany you on your daily journey.

5. Turn to her constantly in your ministry. The Virgin will help you present to children and young people, to families and the sick, to business people and workers, to intellectuals and politicians, in other words, to all humanity, the Blessed Fruit of her womb, the crucified and risen Redeemer. May everyone welcome him, love him and be faithful to him to the very end of their life!

My affectionate Blessing to everyone!



Friday, 22 October 2004

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I welcome and greet you all with great joy and affection in Christ the Lord, Pastors of God's pilgrim Church in Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe who are making your visit ad limina Apostolorum, motivated by the desire to strengthen your faith and your pastoral ministry - "I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the Gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain" (cf. Gal Ga 2,2) - and to witness to the dedication of your faithfulness to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church founded by Christ on the rock of Peter.

I thank Archbishop Damião Franklin, Archbishop of Luanda and President of your Bishops' Conference, for the words he has just addressed to me on behalf of all, expressing your sentiments as well as the signs of hope and the pastoral concerns of your local Church. I address a special greeting to the new Diocese of Dundo with its Bishop and all those of you who have recently joined the Episcopal College. On your return, tell the priests, consecrated persons, catechists and the other lay faithful that the Pope is praying for them and encourages them to face the challenges posed by the Gospel, a seed of new life for your nations. And please convey to all your fellow citizens my cordial good wishes for peace and brotherhood in God, the Father of all.

2. Since your last ad limina visit, humanity has crossed the threshold of a new millennium, the third to be bathed in the light of the Son of God; "for us men and for our salvation, he came down from Heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary". The Christian communities of São Tomé and Príncipe and of Angola lived in tune with the whole Church the rich experience of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 that culminated in the Divine Teacher's call: "Put out into the deep!" (Lc 5,4), in order to proclaim the Good News to the many people who do not yet know it. Yes, beloved Brothers, "these multitudes have the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ - riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find, in unsuspected fullness, everything that it is gropingly searching for concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth" (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 53). For this reason, continue to proclaim ardently the Good News of the one, longed for, Saviour of humanity!

Knowing the collegial responsibility and communion that unite you in the service of the "household of God" (Ep 2,19), I implore our common Father to strengthen within all of you the spirit of solidarity and ecclesial concern, so that the Bishops' Conference may fulfil ever better its role as a place for the brotherly exchange of ideas and collaboration, making the most of a sharing of resources, both material and spiritual, with your neediest Dioceses. You know well that "God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work" (II Cor 9: 8). In this way, you will be able to rebuild the communities destroyed by war, to alleviate wounded hearts and to help the people entrusted to your care to progress on the path of the Gospel.

3. More than ever today, Angola needs peace with justice; it needs reconciliation and must reject every temptation of violence. I remind everyone that violence cannot solve humanity's problems, nor does it contribute to overcoming disputes. The courage for dialogue is essential. I am convinced that the effort and good will of the parties concerned in the unresolved issues can help build a culture of respect and dignity.

This is the moment for a deep national reconciliation; it is necessary to work without respite to offer the future generations a Country in which all members of society can live side by side and cooperate. The Church, which suffered enormously during the hostilities, must maintain her vigorous position in order to protect the people who have no voice. My dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I urge you to work constantly for reconciliation and to bear an authentic witness to unity through supportive gestures of solidarity for the victims of the decades of violence.

4. Do not lose sight of the long way you still have to go before the Gospel can transform the spirit and heart of the Christian faithful from within so that they may recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. To this end, an adequate Christian initiation is essential. It must lead the baptized on the one hand to renounce the concepts of their ancestors such as sorcery or concubinage, and on the other hand, to oppose the secularized or even agnostic mindset that predominates. Actually, ancient practices that have not yet been purified by the Spirit of Christ, difficulty in feeling a member of the one family redeemed by the Blood of Christ and the dangers inherent in a materialistic and atheistic society, weaken family ties and those among groups.

Spare no effort, therefore, to ensure that the baptized assimilate the Gospel message properly and model their lives on it, without forcing them to give up any authentic African values. It is a question of leading them to be won over by Christ and so come to depend radically upon him and desire to live his life and follow him on the path of true holiness (cf. 1Th 4,3). To this end, ask the faithful of your Dioceses to turn their gaze to Christ and help them to contemplate his face. The liturgical and sacramental apostolate, catechetical, biblical and theological formation, the different forms of art and music and the various means of social communication, traditional or modern, must all serve to ensure that believers absorb and live the riches of their faith, so that they can share fully in the life of their own Ecclesial Community.

This participation must become visible and concrete through participation in the Christian assembly that meets on Sundays - please God, or as often as possible - to celebrate the Eucharist; it is not without reason that the Eucharist is the crowning point of Christian initiation. In this year dedicated to it, may the Church "discover new enthusiasm for her mission and come to acknowledge ever more fully that the Eucharist is the source and summit of her entire life" (Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 31). I am thinking at this time above all of those baptized persons in your communities whose irregular situation with regard to marriage prevents them from being admitted to Eucharistic Communion (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 37). May the full power of God's grace be revealed in their lives, impelling them to conversion with the comforting prospect of taking part at last in God's banquet!

5. Next to this shadow, your quinquennial reports also recall the witness offered by countless families who live faithfulness to Christian marriage heroically, in a context of civil legislation or traditional customs that are not exactly conducive to monogamous marriage. This is evident in various phenomena such as concubinage (mentioned above) and polygamy, divorce and prostitution; some of this immoral behaviour leads to the spread of AIDS. The very heavy toll of victims that this epidemic has taken and its serious threat to the social and economic stability make it impossible to ignore.

While doing everything in your power, dear Bishops, to defend the holiness of the family and the priority place it occupies in society, do not cease to proclaim, loud and clear, the liberating message of authentic Christian love. The many educational programmes, both religious and secular, must stress the fact that true love is chaste love and, at the same time, that chastity offers a well-founded hope of getting the better of the forces that threaten the institution of the family and of freeing humanity from the devastating scourge of AIDS. Here I repeat the recommendation that I addressed to you in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa: "The companionship, joy, happiness and peace which Christian marriage and fidelity provide, and the safeguard which chastity gives, must be continuously presented to the faithful, particularly the young" (n. 116).

6. Young people require you to pay special attention to the battle they must wage for a decent future in a widespread situation of poverty, all too often complicated by the fact that they have no family, since it has either been dispersed or broken up, and by the consequences of the war that have traumatized them. Help them to reject "the temptation of unlawful short-cuts towards false mirages of success and wealth" (Message for 1998 World Day of Peace, n. 7). These are often the product of deceptive publicity that can exercise a great attraction, especially on the young: to neutralize it, they must realize that they truly are a new generation of builders who are called to build the civilization of love in freedom and solidarity. In the difficulties they encounter, may young people never lose hope in the future! As the World Youth Days have shown, they have a special ability to dedicate the best of their energies to solidarity for the needy and to the search for Christian holiness. May they stay united with Christ, through a life of prayer and an intense sacramental life, in order to pass on the values of the Gospel in their own walk of life and generously to assume their role in the transformation of society.

The entire Ecclesial Community must do all it can to see that the young generations are appropriately educated and prepared for the responsibilities that await them and, in a certain way, are already theirs. Catholic schools are a particularly effective means of guaranteeing this education. The overall curriculum and every area of school life must reflect their specific identity, making them communities in which their students can find nourishment for their faith and prepare for their role in the Church and in society. In addition, you must also continue to promote the teaching of morals and religion in State schools, seeking to generate a consensus in public opinion on the importance of this type of education. This service, which can derive from a closer collaboration with the Government, is a significant form of active Catholic participation in your Countries' social life. To carry out your task, whose aim is to guarantee well-qualified teachers who can offer a Catholic education in the school world, you are pinning great hopes on the Catholic University of Angola. It has ensured that the contribution offered by the Church in the area of elementary education has also borne fruit in the area of advanced education.

7. Never neglect the formation of the pastoral workers of evangelization, so that they are able to guarantee their indispensable role in the Church and in society, which is especially necessary today, given the campaigns of the sects that exploit the poverty and credulity of the faithful to distance them from the Church and from the liberating words of the Gospel. Continue, therefore, to pay special attention to the formation of the catechists, whom I greet with affection and whose tireless dedication I appreciate; I encourage you to give material, moral and spiritual support to these precious collaborators in your mission and to ensure that they benefit from both initial and continuing doctrinal formation. May they be models of charity and champions of life, for their daily example of Christian life serves as a valuable witness to all those who they must guide toward and in the name of Christ.

As the most important leaders responsible for the Church you should ensure that all the candidates to the priesthood are chosen carefully and trained, so that they subsequently devote themselves without reserve to the Church's mission. Relying on formation staff and teachers of proven human and priestly maturity, may seminarians acquire a serious spiritual, intellectual and pastoral instruction, together with a sound human formation that will cultivate in them the emotional maturity and responsibility that are indispensable to people who are called to celibacy, that is, "to offer, with the grace of the Spirit and the free response of one's own will, the whole of one's love and care to Jesus Christ and to his Church" (Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 44). Priests, who are especially consecrated to Christ, the Head of the Church, are required to detach themselves from material goods and to devote themselves to serving their brethren through the total gift of themselves in celibacy. Scandalous behaviour must always be analyzed, investigated and corrected.

The flourishing of vocations to the consecrated life, especially to women's religious life, is a magnificent gift of Heaven to the Church of São Tomé and Príncipe and of Angola. It is a gift for which you must give thanks. You could not do without it, for consecrated persons enrich your particular Churches not only with the effectiveness of their service, but also and above all with their personal and community witness to the Gospel; "without this concrete sign, there would be a danger that the charity which animates the entire Church would grow cold, that the salvific paradox of the Gospel would be blunted and that the "salt' of faith would lose its savour in a world undergoing secularization" (Vita Consecrata VC 105).

8. At the beginning of a new millennium, our work as Bishops, dear Brothers, "has a new urgency... which calls for cooperation and commitment on the part of the whole People of God" (Pastores Gregis ). On this earth there is nothing more effective than the Eucharist in bringing Christians together and making them feel as one. In no other circumstance do people meet one another or become as closely bonded as when they communicate with Christ in the Eucharist, who embraces all things and unites them with him; thus, what already happens in Heaven is brought about on earth. Christ unites all who live in him with himself and with each other. To feel truly united, it suffices to communicate with him in the right way.

I chose to dedicate a year to the Eucharist, such a centre of attraction for all human hearts, to make this sacrament more widely known and venerated among the faithful. God granted me the grace to set the Church on her long Jubilee journey for the second millennium of Christ, which with this Year of the Eucharist reaches, as it were, its culmination. I entrust to your pastoral care, dear Bishops of Angola and of São Tomé and Príncipe, the decision on the most suitable initiatives for reviving a similar awareness in your Ecclesial Communities, "so that Christ may be formed in each and every one of his members" (cf. Gal Ga 4,19), as he was incarnated in the womb of the Virgin Mother, Your Lady and Your Patroness. May my Apostolic Blessing be poured out upon all of you and on the priests, consecrated men and women, catechists and all the lay faithful of your Dioceses, as a pledge of the gifts from the Most High.





Saturday, 23 October 2004

1. I greet you with affection, dear members of the MASCI and the AGESCI, who are celebrating important anniversaries of your Associations, and I welcome you to this Square. Your presence in such large numbers gladdens my heart.

In cordially thanking those who have expressed your sentiments, I greet in particular the Bishops, chaplains and scoutmasters who direct you with dedication and competence.
Faithful to God, self, neighbour

2. Today you have desired to renew your "Promise" before the Pope, and I am delighted to be a witness to your resolution to be faithful to God, who calls you to live communion and friendship with him; faithful to yourselves, in the search for and realization of the project that the Father in his love has worked out for each one; faithful to your neighbour, who expects of you the gift of a fully human and Christian commitment.

The Scout Law helps you in this commitment of fidelity. Through it, as your founder, Lord Baden-Powell, used to like to say, you can make the impossible possible.

3. The Pope looks to you with trust and hope and accompanies you with his prayers and sympathy in the great adventure of life.

I ask you, brownies and cubs, to do "your best" every day to grow joyfully in your Circle and in your pack, discovering the marvels of creation.

I urge you, guides and explorers, to "always be ready" to do good, while with your troop you experience responsibility and learn to be active members of the ecclesial and civil community to which you belong.

I ask you, rangers and rovers, to do your utmost to make the verb "to serve" the motto of your life, in the conviction that the gift of yourselves is the secret that can make human life beautiful and fruitful.

4. Lastly, I am thinking of you who have the difficult but exalting role of Chiefs in the Association. You have been entrusted with the responsibility of accompanying on their way through life a great many children and young people who expect you to help them grow harmoniously, in order to contribute to building a world of friendship and solidarity.

Be men and women who, referring to the Gospel of Jesus, can educate others to live in freedom and responsibility, and "to swim against the tide" to overcome the temptations to individualism, laziness and disengagement.

5. As you know, dear friends, a few days ago the whole Church entered the Year of the Eucharist. I invite you to make the "Body given" and the "Blood poured out" a constant reference point in your daily choices.

May the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist in your parishes and in the camps see you attentively taking part in the listening and activity, and may it be the constant source and nourishment of your commitment.

6. "Duc in altum" (put out into the deep), AGESCI! "Duc in altum", MASCI! Do not be afraid to walk with imagination, wisdom and courage on the paths of education of the young generations. The future of the world and of the Church also depends on your educational enthusiasm.

Dear friends, with these sentments I entrust all of you, your troops and your families to Our Lady of the Way and to St George, your Patron, and I wholeheartedly impart my Blessing to you all.



Monday, 25 October 2004

1. I am pleased to greet you with affection on the occasion of your 20th General Chapter, whose celebration coincides with the 150th anniversary of the birth of your Founder, Venerable Bishop Luis Amigó y Ferrer. These two important events provide an opportunity to give fresh life to your own charism and an impetus to your typical evangelizing mission.

In fact, the commemoration of the Founder is a new call to imitate his desire to live a holy life, following closely in the footsteps of Jesus, who made himself completely poor to bring to human beings the riches of divine mercy (cf. Heb He 2,17-18). In addition to strengthening fidelity to the founding spirit, the role of the General Chapter is to adapt it appropriately for this day and age, discerning "what the Spirit is suggesting to the different communities" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 23) and seeking the best way to proclaim and bear witness to Christ in today's increasingly globalized world, as the theme chosen for your Chapter reflection indicates.

I greet with affection Mother Julia Apesteguía Mariaezcurrena, recently elected to the office of Superior General, as well as Mother Ligia Elena Llano, who has carried out this service in these last years. I also greet the new Councillors and all the other Chapter Sisters who represent the different parts of the Institute, present today in Europe, Asia, America and Africa. Please express my appreciation to your Sisters who are following the Chapter with interest and accompanying you with their prayers.

2. I would like to express the Church's deep appreciation for your work on behalf of the poorest of the poor, the elderly and the sick, young people and children in need of assistance, education and the joy of living and believing in Christ. At the same time, I share with you hope in the future, in this history that it is your task to build, for "the Spirit is sending you... to do even greater things" (Vita Consecrata VC 110).

They are great things indeed, precisely because they extend the mission and style of Jesus, who makes humanity worthy and raises it through the sacrifice of his very self, his self-denial, fraternal guidance and total trust in the power of God. For your spiritual journey, you know that true salvation, which knows no bounds and is untouched by time, is only obtained through redemption, even if this is foreign to a mindset all too often concerned solely with promotion and instant success.

3. I then invite you to make your union with Christ deeper and deeper every day through contemplation and frequent prayer, and to give vitality to your work, imitating his redemptive outlook, since "the more one lives in Christ, the better one can serve him in others, going even to the furthest missionary outposts and facing the greatest dangers" (Vita Consecrata VC 76).

Furthermore, a deep and rich inner experience will make it easier to communicate the attraction that Jesus inspires in the new generations, helping them to hear the penetrating voice of a vocation, just like the disciples, called "to be with him and to be sent out to preach" (Mc 3,14).

I entrust to Mary the work of the Chapter and the activities organized in honour of the 150th anniversary of your Founder's birth. In accompanying her Divine Son even to the Cross and in joyfully making his glorious triumph present in the Christian community, she is a Teacher beyond compare, just as she welcomed and raised him in the Holy Family.

With these sentiments and hopes, and invoking the intercession of the Blessed Martyrs of the "Amigonian" family, I cordially impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing, which I am pleased to extend to all the Sisters of the Congregation and to all who share the same spirit in your apostolic work.



Monday, 25 October 2004

Dear Friends from the Anglican diocese of Rochester,

I am pleased to greet you as you undertake a pilgrimage from Rome to England in celebration of the fourteen-hundredth anniversary of the ordination of Saint Justus, first bishop of Rochester. You are following in the footsteps of Saint Augustine of Canterbury and Saint Justus, who were sent by my great predecessor Saint Gregory to preach the Gospel in your country. May your journey be an occasion of spiritual enrichment and an encouragement to persevere on the path towards full communion. I accompany you with my prayers and my blessing.



Tuesday, 26 October 2004

I cordially greet Bishop Jan [Tyrawa], the civil Authorities and the inhabitants of Bydgoszcz, as well as the clergy and faithful of the Diocese. You are on a pilgrimage to Rome to thank God for the creation of your Diocese [24 February 2004], and at the same time, to express the ties that bind every local Church to the Holy See and to the Successor of Peter.

I am glad that the establishment of the new Diocese has been joyfully welcomed and that you are striving to set up all the needed structures for it to function well. I hope that your efforts, in close cooperation with the Bishop and the priests, Religious Communities and all the faithful, will bear abundant fruit. Work together for the spiritual development of all, and especially try to look after those who need the Church's care.

I join you in giving thanks, asking God to pour out upon your diocesan community the graces that it needs, and I cordially bless you all. Take this Blessing back to your homes and milieus. May it also embrace young people, children and, above all, the suffering.

Thank you for your visit.



Thursday, 28 October 2004

Mr President,

1. I greet you and the distinguished figures who have accompanied you very warmly, and I thank you for this kind visit.

You are here in Rome in these days for the solemn act of the signing of the European Constitution by the 25 States that the European Union includes today. The place chosen, the very one where the European Community was born in 1957, has a clearly symbolic value: indeed, one knows Rome stands for the spread of universal juridical and spiritual values.

2. The Holy See encouraged the formation of the European Union even before it acquired any juridical framework, and has subsequently followed it with active interest through its various stages. It has always felt duty-bound to express openly the just expectations of the large number of the Christian citizens of Europe who requested its involvement.

Speeches 2004 - Altar of the Confessio of the Vatican Basilica