Speeches 2004 - Thursday, 28 October 2004

The Holy See, therefore, has reminded everyone that Christianity in its various manifestations has contributed to forming the common conscience of the European Peoples and has made a great contribution to shaping their civilization. Regardless of whether or not it is recognized in the official documents, this is an undeniable fact that no historian will be able to forget.

3. Today I would like to congratulate you in particular, Mr President, for the work carried out during your mandate as head of the European Commission. At the same time, with regard to the difficulties concerning the new Commission that have arisen in the past few days, I express the hope that it will be possible to find a solution of reciprocal respect in a spirit of harmony among all the bodies concerned.

Mr President, I invoke the Blessing of the Lord upon you, upon the dignitaries who have accompanied you, upon all the Representatives of the States who have gathered in Rome and will shortly be signing the Constitution and upon all the Peoples of Europe.

May the European Union always express the best of the great traditions of its Member States, work actively on an international scale for peace among the Peoples and offer generous assistance for the development of the neediest people on the other continents.



Thursday, 28 October 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am grateful to the Lord for this meeting. In his name I greet you all with joy and affection. I thank the President of the publishing house "La Scuola" for his words interpreting your common sentiments, and I address a special thought to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and Bishop Giulio Sanguineti of Brescia who have accompanied you.

You have wished to come to Rome to the tomb of the Apostle Peter for a most exalted conclusion to the centenary year of "La Scuola" publishers. Your institution was founded in May 1904 by a group of lay Catholics, including the father of Pope Paul VI, Giorgio Montini, and by some priests.

Throughout the century, even in the changing social and cultural situations, it has always sought to be faithful to the plan and goals of its founders.

2. With you, I thank the Lord, Giver of all good things, for inspiring this initiative and for sustaining it in difficult times, such as those of the air raids in which a bomb destroyed your publishing house during the Second World War. With God's help and the courage of so many generous people, it was possible to start again. My appreciation and gratitude is addressed to them, as well as to all who, in the course of a century, have contributed their work and ideas.

I would then like to say a special word of praise to everyone who has worked to enable the publishing house to stay faithful to its founding ideals. As you know, it was conceived and desired as a means of guaranteeing Italian schools a Christian inspiration. This was no easy undertaking, given the general attitude of the culture of the day. But you continue on the course you have set. The truth about Christ, presented with respect for the outlook of others and witnessed to with consistency in one's own life, is a good for all who are actively involved in schools: parents and children, teachers and students, State schools and private schools.

3. The centenary you are celebrating is also an opportunity to cast a glance at the future. There is no lack of trials and problems. The Church depends on you to prepare the appropriate school curriculum for the education of the new generations. In communion with your Bishop and in cordial dialogue with the Italian Catholic community, continue to be sowers of hope, ever faithful to the ideals of the founders.

The publishing house "La Scuola" has always been seen and followed by my Predecessors throughout the 20th century with confidence, affection and appreciation, and I wholeheartedly join them. I express the same hope that Paul VI expressed on 28 June 1965, when he received those in charge of it at the time at a special Audience. Paying them a tribute of warm gratitude for their consummate pedagogical expertise and deep sensitivity to the most modern school problems, he urged them "not only to preserve the efficiency achieved, but likewise the daring of new developments and new conquests" (Insegnamenti 3, 1965, p. 381).

With the same esteem and affection, I too encourage you to persevere in your work and, as I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, I cordially bless you all.





Friday, 29 October 2004

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

1. I am pleased to welcome you at this special Audience. First of all, I greet the members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which in these days has been holding its Plenary Assembly, aiming to identify the best methods for the new evangelization of society that is so necessary and urgent.

My affectionate greeting goes to the participants in the First World Congress of Ecclesial Organizations Working for Justice and Peace. Keeping in mind the Church's social doctrine, dear friends, you have reflected on the most suitable ways to proclaim the Gospel in the complex reality of our times.

I greet in particular Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and thank him for the wishes he has expressed to me on your behalf.

2. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church has just been published. It is an instrument designed to help Christians in their daily commitment to make the world more just, in the Gospel perspective of a true humanism in solidarity.This social doctrine "is an essential part of the Christian message" (Centesimus Annus CA 5) and should be ever better known, integrally circulated and witnessed to through constant and consistent pastoral action.

In particular, in times like ours that are characterized by the globlization of the social issue, the Church invites everyone to recognize and assert the centrality of the human person in every social environment and structure.

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Church's social teaching calls you especially, lay Christians, to live in society as a "witness to Christ the Saviour" (Centesimus Annus CA 5), and opens you to the horizons of charity. Indeed, this is the time for charity, also social and political charity, that with the grace of the Gospel will be able to enliven the human realities of work, the economy and politics, designing the paths of peace, justice and friendship among peoples.

This is the time for a renewed season of social holiness, for saints who manifest to the world and in the world the perennial and inexhaustible fruitfulness of the Gospel.

Dear lay faithful, work constantly for justice and peace. May Mary, the faithful disciple of Christ, accompany you and protect you. I assure you of my prayers and I bless you all from my heart.



Friday, 29 October 2004

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you, your Excellency, on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See.

Thank you for your kind words. Please be kind enough to express my gratitude to H.E. Mr Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Republic, for the good wishes he has conveyed to me through you.

The diplomatic relations that have existed between your Country and the Holy See for 50 years, as the Colloquium held at the Gregorian University at the beginning of the year stressed, testify to the desire for reciprocal knowledge and the common willingness to foster a culture of peace through our exchanges.

Mr Ambassador, you referred to your Country's concern at the deterioration of the international situation and the threats that burden humanity at many levels. To achieve a balanced international order, especially in the face of terrorism that seeks to impose its own laws, the will to build a common future guaranteeing peace for all implies that States undertake to set up stable, effective and recognized means, such as the United Nations Organization and the other international organizations.

This action to encourage peace also entails courageous action against terrorism and for peace, to build a world in which all may recognize that they are sons and daughters of the same Almighty and Merciful God.

Of course, the building of peace presupposes mutual trust, in order to receive the other not as a threat but as a partner, and to accept in addition the constraints and measures for control implied by common commitments, such as treaties and multilateral agreements, in the different areas of international relations that affect the common good of humanity, including respect for the environment, the regulation of the arms trade and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the protection of children and the rights of minorities.

For its part, the Holy See will spare no effort to convince the leaders of States to avoid using violence or force in all circumstances and always to make negotiation prevail as the means to overcome the disagreements and conflicts that can develop between nations, groups and individuals.

The commitment in favour of the human being rests for believers on faith in the one God who created man in his image and likeness and has revealed his will to humankind. As for Christians, if this necessary dialogue between persons is to succeed in establishing relations of brotherhood and mutual love between them, it is fundamentally a response to the dialogue that God himself already began with man when he revealed his Word and proposed his Covenant to him. As you emphasized, Mr Ambassador, it is our duty as believers to proclaim to our contemporaries the fundamental values expressed in religion which, through natural law, guarantee the dignity of every human person, a sign of God's hallmark in the human being, and regulate the relations of men and women with their peers.

As I have so often recalled, the Cath-olic faithful, for their part, seek in all circumstances to witness to their pro-life approach that respects the human being from conception to one's natural end and guarantees the defence of the person's imperscriptible rights and duties.

One of the most important of these fundamental rights is the right to religious freedom, which is an essential aspect of freedom of conscience and is expressed precisely in the transcendent dimension of the person. The Holy See is counting on the support of the Iranian Authorities to allow the faithful of the Catholic Church in Iran, as well as other Christians, the freedom to profess their religion and to encourage the recognition of the juridical character of ecclesiastical institutions, thereby facilitating their work in Iranian society. Indeed, freedom of worship is only one aspect of freedom of religion, which must be the same for all a country's citizens.

As I have recalled countless times, "The various Christian confessions, as well as the world's great religions, need to work together to eliminate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. They can do this by teaching the greatness and dignity of the human person, and by spreading a clearer sense of the oneness of the human family" (Message for World Day of Peace 2002, n. 12).

I am especially delighted at the establishment in your Country of regular meetings for high-level dialogue between Christians and Muslims, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Shi"ite Authorities of Iran. I have no doubt that this initiative will pave the way to a constant improvement in relations between believers, on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocal trust.

Through you, I am happy to be able to greet the Catholic communities of various rites that live in Iran who, together with their Orthodox brethren, have assured the continuity of the Christian presence down the centuries. I hope that the Christians, who have always desired to be on good terms with the Muslims, may further explore the need for dialogue in daily life through the different aspects of the social life they have in common.

I would like to recall how important it is, as I see it, that each person have an effective possibility, with respect for the laws of the country, to express his religious beliefs freely, to gather with his brethren to worship God as due, as well as to assure through catechesis the transmission of religious teaching to children and a deeper knowledge of it to young people and adults. I know that the Catholic faithful are attached to their Country and are keen to participate actively in their development in every area of social life.

Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are officially beginning you mission to the Apostolic See, I offer you my very best wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Rest assured that you will find here with my collaborators the attentive welcome and cordial understanding that you may need.

I cordially invoke upon Your Excellency, your collaborators and your loved ones, as well as upon the entire Iranian People, an abundance of the Almighty's Blessings.



Saturday, 30 October 2004

Mr. President,

It is a pleasure for me to greet you as you visit the Vatican. I ask you to extend my cordial good wishes to the people of your nation, which has always been so deeply faithful to the Christian message.

I encourage you and your fellow citizens in your ongoing efforts to foster dialogue and tolerance among the diverse ethnic and religious groups in your country. Indeed, it is only by commitment to understanding and mutual respect that long held tensions can be resolved and lead to unity based on the principles of solidarity and justice. I pray that Almighty God may impart to you and all the people of Cyprus, the gifts of peace and harmony.



Saturday, 30 October 2004

Mr Prime Minister,
Mr Minister,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

My cordial welcome to you all. I am pleased to be able to receive you at such an important time for Poland and for Europe. Yesterday the ceremony took place for the signing of the Constitutional Treaty of the European Union. It is an event that in a certain sense concludes the process of the widening of the Community to those States that have always cooperated in the formation of the fundamental spirituality and institutions of the Old Continent, but that during the last decades have remained, so to speak, on its borders. The Apostolic See and I personally have sought to support this process so that Europe would be able to breathe fully with both lungs: with the spirit of the West and of the East.

I am confident that, although no explicit reference is made in the European Constitution to the Christian roots of the culture of all the nations that today make up the Community, the perennial values based on the Gospel elaborated by the generations who preceded us will continue to inspire the efforts of those who will assume the responsibility for shaping the features of our Continent. I hope that this structure, which is basically a community of free nations, will not only do everything possible to ensure its spiritual patrimony, but will also preserve it as fundamental to unity.

As I said in Gniezno in 1997, "It is impossible to build lasting unity... by separating oneself from the roots from which the nations and cultures of Europe have grown, and from the great wealth of the spiritual culture of past centuries". "There will be no European unity until it is based on unity of the Holy Spirit" (Homily in St Adalbert Square, 3 June 1997, nn. 5, 4; L'Osservatore Romano, 11 June 1997, p. 4).

As the Pope, I am grateful to the Ministers and to the Polish Parliament for understanding this challenge and for responding to it. I thank the Prime Minister for the assurance, expressed in a letter, that "the Polish Government will strive to ensure that the new Constitution of the European Union will be in the spirit of the European values, at whose base there is a Christian vision of the human person and of politics as a dedicated service to man himself and to all the community".

I wish, Mr Prime Minister, that the full commitment of all the persons to whom you have entrusted a role in the Government of the Republic of Poland, as also of those who exercise legislative and judicial power with the participation of the entire society, will bear abundant fruit in the shortest time possible, for the prosperity of all Poles.

May God guide our Fatherland towards a happy future, may he give the grace of wisdom to those on whom lies the grave responsibility for its future, and may he bless all its inhabitants!
Thank you for your visit and for every kindness.


Saturday, 30 October 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I welcome you with great joy and I thank you for this special visit at the end of the centenary celebrations of your presence in Rome.

I greet Fr Nino Minetti, Superior General of the Servants of Charity, and Sr Giustina Valicenti, Superior General of the Daughters of St Mary of Providence, whom I thank for her courteous words expressing your common sentiments. I then greet the representatives of the Guanellian Lay Movement, the friends of the Opera Don Guanella and of the Roman parish communities that are entrusted to the Guanellian Religious. I dedicate a special thought to the sick and to the persons with disabilities who are present.

2. A hundred years ago Blessed Luigi Guanella came to Rome with some of his collaborators, "to do a little bit of good for the benefit of our neighbour". Since then, dear members of his spiritual Family, you have not ceased to follow in his footsteps, faithful to the style of the Founder who liked to say: "One must do good well!". And still today, seeking to be "Good Samaritans" to the poor, you direct avant-garde institutions that respond to the changed demands of the times with a charitable apostolate in many different forms.

Then what shall we say about the care you devote to the terminally ill? Death and dying have always been a disturbing challenge to human beings. In founding the "Pious Union of the Passing of St Joseph" for the dying, Don Guanella was able to inspire continuous prayers to help all those on the point of crossing the threshold of eternal life.

3. You have learned from your blessed Founder that if you are to give love to our brothers and sisters, you must draw it from the furnace of divine love by being in constant contact with Christ in prayer. You are motivated by that strong spirit of faith that used to prompt Don Guanella to say: "It is God who does, we are only instruments of Providence".

May the presence of his mortal remains in Rome in these days encourage you to imitate his virtues, to strive with all your might for that "high standard" of Christian living, which is holiness.

May the Virgin Mary protect and accompany you on this journey. As I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, I bless with affection all of you who are present here, and the whole of the Guanella Family.

                                                   November 2004



Wednesday, 4 November 2004

Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to assure you of my continued closeness to the Iraqi people, so sorely tried by the tragic sufferings of recent years. I pray for all the victims of terrorism and wanton violence, for their families, and for all those who generously work for the reconstruction of your country.

I wish to encourage the efforts made by the Iraqi people to establish democratic institutions which will be truly representative and committed to defending the rights of all, in complete respect for the ethnic and religious diversity which has always been a source of enrichment for your country. I am confident that the Christian community, present in Iraq from apostolic times, will make its own contribution to the growth of democracy and the building of a future of peace in the region.

Upon you and your associates, and upon all the beloved people of Iraq, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.


Thursday, 4 November 2004

I give a very cordial welcome to everyone: the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Gdansk, the Diocese of Tarnów and from my native Wadowice and other areas. I thank Archbishop Tadeusz [Goclowski] for the wishes and kind expressions offered in the name of all those who are assembled here. I am thankful in particular for the prayers they raise to God regarding the intentions flowing from my service on the Chair of St Peter.

You are gathered here in memory of St Charles Borromeo. Yesterday, 420 years have passed since his death. He was a zealous Bishop, a Church reformer after the Council of Trent, a great supporter of the poor. His piety was founded on love for the Cross of Christ and on the mystery of his death and Resurrection. He expressed this love in the care for the devout celebration of the Eucharist and in the adoration of Christ present in the Eucharist.

I recall this at the beginning of this Year of the Eucharist, so that the example of St Charles may inspire all of us as we live in this particular time. May he inflame within us a love for the Saviour, who wanted to remain with us under the species of bread and wine.

I once again offer you thanks for your visit. Take my greetings to your Dioceses, parishes and homes. God bless you! Praised be Jesus Christ!





Friday, 5 November 2004

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. It is with joy that I welcome you on the occasion of the ninth meeting of the Post-Synodal Council of the General Secretariat for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops.

Your gatherings, organized by the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, whom I thank for the kind words addressed to me, allow me to verify the work that has been achieved to implement the teachings found in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America. These also provide you with a "measure" to evaluate the goals achieved and the progress made by the particular Churches on the American Continent, whose daily existence is characterized by numerous and varied political, social and economic situations. I thank you and encourage you to continue in this collegial service to the Successor of Peter in the pastoral care of the entire People of God.

2. Starting with the synodal experience, Bishops have promoted various pastoral initiatives aimed at increasing the communion of those who live in America, applying the directives given by the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Here, I recall just a few: the "American Missionary Congresses" (C.A.M.), the "Meetings of Bishops of the Church in America" and the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Evangelizer of America, as a liturgical feast day common to the entire Continent.

There is still much to do to strengthen the Christian identity of the Continent. Although the Catholic identity predominates in Latin America, in other countries the presence of other Christian confessions is more noticeable. Such diversity, if lived out in fraternal charity, will be a stimulus to an ecumenical dialogue that does not weaken in Catholics "the firm conviction that only in the Catholic Church is found the fullness of the means of salvation established by Jesus Christ" (Ecclesia in America ).

3. Among the present-day challenges, aside from the inauspicious activity of sects, there are other difficulties. For example, the negative consequences of globalization, especially when the economy is made an absolute value; growing urbanization with its inevitable cultural uprooting; drug trafficking and abuse; modern ideologies that hold the concept of family based on matrimony as "old-fashioned"; the progressive gap between the rich and the poor; human-rights violations; migration and the complex problem of the foreign debt. And what can be said about the "culture of death", expressed in countless ways, such as the arms race and the abominable phenomenon of violence unleashed by guerrilla warfare and international terrorism?

4. And so, dear and venerable Brothers, these are some of the urgent challenges facing the Church in America. Thanks be to God, the Christian community can count on many resources to continue its mission with renewed hope. Above all, it can count on faith, a gift that not only formed the Christian identity of the Continent but, in the course of history, surfaced in the moral principles and ideals that have nourished the culture of its Peoples.

Another great gift that divine grace brought to life in America is popular piety, deeply rooted in the different nations. This particular characteristic of the American People, when correctly guided, purified and enriched by genuine elements of Catholic doctrine, can become a useful instrument to help the faithful deal appropriately with the challenges of secularization.

Finally, the Church in America has been enriched with the gift of a unique social sensibility, especially towards the poor, which can be seen in a deep solidarity between peoples and cultures. I recall that it was precisely the Synodal Fathers of the Special Assembly for America who proposed that a "Catechism of Catholic Social Doctrine" be written; I welcomed this proposal in which the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation was recently completed by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, with the publication of the "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church".

5. Dear Brothers, I wish you complete success in your work, upon which I invoke the protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of America. To her I ask that the Church on that Continent may flourish and that its fruits of holiness, sincere conversion to Christ, solid communion and solidarity may grow.

With these sentiments I bless you, your communities and the entire Continent, and I pray to God that its unity may be more deeply anchored in the Christian faith.



Wednesday, 5 November 2004

Dear Cardinal Maida,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to greet the Trustees of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to the Vatican. I thank you for your support of the Center’s work of promoting dialogue between the worlds of faith and culture. It is my hope that the Center will help bring the truth of the Gospel and the wisdom of the Church’s tradition to bear on the great issues shaping contemporary society.

May your pilgrimage to the Eternal City lead all of you to deeper union with the Lord and his Church. To you and your families I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Friday, 5 November 2004

To the General Chapter of Augustinian Recollects

1. It is my pleasure to cordially welcome you, President and those participating in the General Chapter of Augustinian Recollects, representing the various Provinces of your Order. I wish to express to you the Church's gratitude for your witness of life as consecrated persons and for the apostolic activity carried out in the 18 countries that are located on the three continents where you are present.

The Chapter is a decisive moment for the life of the Order, for it must guarantee fidelity to your own spiritual patrimony in a creative way, enabling the treasure of your spirituality and specific mission to shine brightly in our epoch. It is also an eminent expression of the unity that must prevail among all Religious who have the same vocation and mission in the Church. I invite you, therefore, to live in this atmosphere of unity and fraternal charity, to give an example to all the other Communities and to be witnesses, in the Church and before humanity, of the spiritual wealth that the Spirit has poured out upon you "for the common good" (1Co 12,7).

2. I exhort you to keep especially present in your reflections and deliberations the key that I pointed out for every apostolic and spiritual programme: "starting afresh from Christ"; "this programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 29). Your own religious consecration makes you well aware of this and unites you to Christ's sacrifice in a particular way. In your tradition of observance and contemplation, a deep spiritual life, strongly linked to the interior life and a relentless search for God, is always the starting point for authentic renewal and is the soul of every apostolic initiative.

Nothing can take the place of this intimate experience of faith to fulfil your vocation as prophets of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, "it is precisely the spiritual quality of the consecrated life which can inspire the men and women of our day.... In this way the consecrated life will become an attractive witness" (Vita Consecrata VC 93). It remains so at the beginning of the third millennium, offering clarity amid the confusion that an evermore globalized world can create, spreading peace and hope in many troubled situations, manifesting the ineffable beauty of God in the absence of supreme values and witnessing to his love for every human being created in his image, however disfigured and victimized this humanity may be by a mentality that is destructive, divisive and isolating. Reflecting in your being and acting the One who is the "light of the world" (Jn 8,12), you will serve the Church and humanity, always thirsting for God.

3. An evermore authentic supernatural life, founded on assiduous prayer and participation in the sacraments, is fundamental for a successful apostolate. Particularly needed is the Eucharist, which is the true presence of Christ himself in human history. It is also the "source and epiphany" of this fraternal communion (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 21) that must reign in your communities and be a living message of concord in a world often dominated by rivalry and conflict.

Within your Order, you have experienced the novelty of the presence of communities in very different countries, together with the progressive increase of Religious entering with different nationalities. Of course, this becomes a challenge, but also a stupendous opportunity to arrive at the root of the true meaning of communal life: founded upon the mystery of the Trinity and not upon human affinity.

In this sense, shared fraternal life in community is a continual demonstration of a communion that, from on high, knows how to harmoniously blend people's different characters and the traditions typical of each country. It is the communion of those who, nourished by the same Bread, remain united by the unceasing desire to seek God and the effort to serve the Gospel unconditionally. Indeed, in Christ, who is "all the truth" (Jn 16,13), is found all the varied forms where his light is reflected in the many facets of human reality.

4. I pray the Holy Spirit to abundantly pour upon you his gifts so that in the different work of your Chapter, you may discern what the Spirit "is suggesting to the different communities" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 23). May he give you strength to face present and future challenges and perseverance in your unselfish apostolic commitment, which is so much appreciated by the Church, who continues to ask this of you and thanks you for it.

As a little more than 75 years have passed since the Order's solemn consecration to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, I place in her hands the Chapter as it unfolds and the spiritual progress of all of your confreres. At the same time, I cordially bless everyone.

Speeches 2004 - Thursday, 28 October 2004