Speeches 1989 - Friday, 7 July 1989

3. It is with satisfaction that I recall the celebration in 1986 of the centenary of the establishment of the hierarchy in Sri Lanka, and this reminds us of a constant theme of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the episcopacy, namely, unity. The Council insists on the importance of the unity of the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, of Bishops with one another, of Bishops and clergy, and of Bishops with the religious and laity. Your unity is not only mirrored by your official statements but also through the coordination of your pastoral activities in each diocese and in your relations with the civil Government of each province. There is always a need for ample consultation in your joint initiatives on behalf of the Church in Sri Lanka, while at the same time you respect the pastoral authority of each Bishop in his own diocese.

4. In the fulfilment of your episcopal ministry always be mindful of the Lord’s command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and old, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Ibid.28, 19-20). As pastors, your lives must centre around this mandate of Christ to teach everything that he commanded the Apostles.

Primarily you are called to preach the Gospel and “to keep the Gospel for ever whole and alive within the Church” (Dei Verbum DV 7). This requires on your part constant vigilance and fidelity, which are synonyms of pastoral love for your people.

5. I wish to express my gratitude to all the priests who actively assist you in shepherding the flock of Christ entrusted to your care. As true brothers to your priests, seek with understanding and compassion to share their burdens and to strengthen them in their identity as ministers of the word and sacrament. Each brother priest is meant to be with you “a servant of Christ, called to be an apostle and set apart to proclaim the Gospel of God” (Rm 1,11).

As you know, it is in the Eucharistic Sacrifice that the priest finds the source of his pastoral charity (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 14). The Second Vatican Council teaches that “the ministry of priests originates in the Gospel message” (Ibid. 2), but it also goes on to say that the ministry of the word is directed towards the Eucharist, which is “the source and summit of the whole work of evangelization” (Ibid. 5).

Of great importance for the Church in Sri Lanka is the fact that the number of candidates for the ministerial priesthood and religious life continues to increase, thus offering much encouragement and hope for the future. I would remind you that it is the careful attention which you give to your seminarians as a true father in Christ (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 5) that will ensure the solid formation of your future diocesan priests. An essential condition for effective programmes of priestly formation in your minor and major seminaries is the presence of well-qualified priests to serve as spiritual directors. They can truly inspire the seminarians to live the ideals of the priesthood and help them, through God’s grace, to achieve their goal. I wish to offer each of you my prayerful support in the task of priestly formation, so vital for the Church.

6. On this occasion of your ad Limina visit I am pleased to recall the heroic virtues and pastoral zeal of Venerable Father Joseph Vaz, whom many hail as the Apostle of Sri Lanka. I also acknowledge with thanks and praise to Almighty God the courageous labours of so many other missionary priests, Sisters and Brothers who have dedicated themselves over the past century to the proclamation of the Gospel and the growth of the Kingdom of God in the midst of your people.

I am filled with deep and abiding hope for the future of missionary activity in your country. I consider the achievements of Venerable Father Vaz a source of inspiration for the present and an invitation to proclaim the Gospel of salvation to the many in Sri Lanka who have not yet heard or accepted it. I praise the many initiatives that missionaries and your own local clergy, religious and lay catechists have undertaken for the proclamation of the Gospel in your society, and I pray that the whole Church in Sri Lanka will truly be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Lc 2,32).

7. It is your responsibility, my dear Brothers, to adopt those means most appropriate for evangelization in a multireligious society. The Church has a deep respect for all non Christian religions, since “they carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God, a quest which is incomplete but often made with great sincerity and righteousness of heart” (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 53). It is the presence of spiritual and moral qualities in these religions which constitute a basis for mutual dialogue and peaceful coexistence. However, the Church’s commitment to dialogue with non-Christians in no way alters her essential mission of evangelization. Christian witness through personal example must always be accompanied by the proclamation of Christ who is the foundation of our faith, the reason of our hope, and the source of our love (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Secretariatum pro non-Christianis, die 28 apr. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 1 [1987] 1449).

As pastors of the local Churches in Sri Lanka, you have organized your pastoral activity in two basic directions. First, you have directed yourselves to dialogue with Buddhism and the other spiritual families in the country. In seeking to discover in these religions elements at the service of Truth, you have prepared the way for proclaiming the Good News of salvation and an eventual programme of inculturation at the service of the Gospel.

Secondly, with great pastoral solicitude you have given yourselves to your own Catholic faithful, nourishing them by word and sacrament, striving to promote their human development and caring for those most in need. You have thus exercised in their midst the role of the Good Shepherd.

8. I encourage you in your mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Beatitudes to all who freely choose to listen to your words, for “to reveal Jesus Christ and his Gospel to those who do not know them has been, ever since the morning of Pentecost, the fundamental programme which the Church has taken on as received from her Founder” (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 51).

I thank you, beloved Brothers, for your devoted service to the People of God in Sri Lanka. Entrusting you and the whole Church in your land to the maternal intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Lanka, I invoke upon you the grace and peace of her Son and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Saturday, 8 July 1989

Dear Friends,

It give me great pleasure to meet you, the Officers and men of HMS Turbolent which is currently on an official visit to the port of Naples. In welcoming you, I likewise extend warm greetings to your families and friends at home.

You have wished to make a visit to the Pope as part of your tour, and I am happy to have the opportunity to encourage you to follow the ideals of peace which lie at the very centre of your naval duties. Even though you undergo a strict training in defence and are taught the use of sophisticated weapons, your primary duty is to build peace and save lives. This takes courage and personal commitment.

In the present circumstances of an easing in international tensions and a reduction in the arms race between East and West, your efforts must be doubly directed at fostering this climate of peace. True peace will not be achieved merely by the process of progressive disarmament, much as this is to be welcomed; rather peace is nurtured by respecting the dignity proper to each person and promoting a spirit of brotherhood within the entire human family.

Christ our Brother, who in the words of Saint Paul “is our peace” (Ep 2,14), has taught us that the greatest command of all is love, a love which transcends national boundaries and political blocs, and is directed to all.

Today I express a fervent hope which is also a prayer – that in the course of your duties you will always bear witness to the love of God by reaching out the hand of friendship and respect in that spirit of brotherhood which leads to peace.

May the Lord protect you as you sail the seas. May he be your guiding star as you seek to be instruments of his peace.




Monday, 10 July 1989

Mr Ambassador,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican as you present the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mauritius to the Holy See. I appreciate the kind greetings and good wishes which you have conveyed on behalf of His Excellency the Governor-General, the Prime Minister and the people of Mauritius. I would ask you to reciprocate with the assurance of my own good wishes and prayers for the peace and well-being of all your fellow-citizens.

It is with satisfaction that I note Your Excellency’s mention of the Holy See’s continuing efforts to promote world peace and to bring about greater respect for human brotherhood and solidarity which are so necessary for peace and development. The Holy See’s dedication to the cause of world peace and authentic development is based upon her conviction that all human beings possess an equal dignity. I emphasized in my Encyclical Letter “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” the intrinsic connection between true development and respect for human rights – personal and social, economic and political. It is not possible to limit development only to the economic realm, since all too often this makes the human person into a mere object, a means for production and selfish profit. Rather, the moral character of authentic development and its necessary promotion are guaranteed when the most rigorous respect is given to all the demands that derive from the order of truth and good proper to the human person (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 33).

I wish to encourage all efforts on the part of your Government to safeguard the right to religious freedom. In my Message for the 1988 World Day of Peace I pointed out that the freedom to practise one’s religion touches the very depths of the human spirit and is as it were the raison d’être of other freedoms. It makes possible the quest for and acceptance of the truth about man and the world and thus enables people to come to a deeper understanding of their own dignity. Moreover religious freedom helps people to carry out their duties with greater responsibility. An honest relationship with regard to truth is a condition for authentic freedom (Cfr. Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1988, 3 die 8 dec. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X 2, [1987] 1331).

I am pleased to acknowledge your reference to my forthcoming Pastoral Visit to Mauritius next October. As you know, I shall come to Mauritius as the Bishop of Rome and Chief Pastor of the Catholic Church, in order to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to strengthen my Catholic brothers and sisters in their faith. I look forward very much to observing at first hand the life of the Church in Mauritius, whose apostolic dynamism is well known to me and which I wished to honour by elevating the zealous Bishop Jean Margéot to the dignity of a Cardinal. I am grateful for the opportunity to visit your country and to offer your people a message of encouragement in their pursuit of solidarity with the other nations of the world.

Your Excellency has referred to the esteem of your Government and people for the Church’s involvement in the betterment of your society. The Church views the help which she gives as a consequence of her religious mission (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 42). Through her various activities in the field of education as well as in her charitable services on behalf of the sick and needy, she seeks to be a source of understanding and peace, of development and solidarity for all your people. Through her efforts to promote harmony among all the different ethnic, cultural and religious groups the Church acts in accordance with her innermost nature, since she is, “by her relationship with Christ, both a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind” (Lumen Gentium LG 1).

You have said, Mr Ambassador, that it will be your task as representative of your country to foster and strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Mauritius and the Holy See, and I wish to assure you of the full collaboration of the various departments of the Holy See.

As you begin your mission, I take this opportunity of assuring you of my prayers, and I invoke upon Your Excellency and the Government and people of Mauritius the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

August 1989





Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Saturday, 19 August 1989

1. "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!'
Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!" (Ps 121,1-2).

Beloved Brothers in the Episcopate,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Like any other pilgrim, I wish to thank the Lord, from whom all good things come, for my being here in Santiago de Compostela. Before this majestic Portico of Glory, which I contemplate for the second time, I feel truly overcome by that emotion enkindled in the hearts of thousands and thousands of pilgrims to Santiago, who down through the centuries have set their eyes on this singular and original stone altar-piece, evocative image of the heavenly Jerusalem.

Before going through the gates of this House and Basilica of St James to venerate his tomb and embrace his statue, I wish to greet those here present, pilgrims also to the tomb of the Apostle.

In the first place I wish to greet fraternally the Pastor of this archdiocese. Archbishop Antonio María Rouco Varela, whom I thank for the touching words he has kindly addressed to me. In the same way I greet his Auxiliary Bishop, Most Rev. Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, also the Cardinals and other bishops present, who have come from other dioceses of Spain and of the world, accompanied by so many pilgrims. As well, I greet the numerous priests and religious.

I also cordially greet the seminarians and young people who, representing all the others and wearing the pilgrim cloak on their shoulders, have accompanied me to the Cathedral.

In a particular way I renew my affectionate greeting to their Majesties, the King and Queen of Spain, who have wished to participate in this liturgy. Through them may I reiterate my warm greeting to the beloved people of Spain.

God willed that as Bishop of Rome, successor of St Peter, a native of oriental Galizia, I might come once again as a pilgrim and be here in this holy place in occidental Galicia, together with young pilgrims from all over the world, to give praise to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

2. "Jerusalem, built as a city which is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord" (Ps 121,3-4).

This pilgrimage takes on an exceptional meaning, since it is the objective of all those taking part in the World Youth Day.

In Compostela, spacious home with an open door, the bread of "forgiveness" and grace has been dispensed for centuries upon centuries, without any discrimination whatsoever. From now on it wishes to become a luminous focus of Christian life, a reserve of apostolic energy for new ways of evangelization, through the impulses of the faith of young people, an ever youthful faith.

Many have joined my pilgrimage - many more are also present in spirit - all feeling summoned by the word of Christ: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,6). These same pilgrims transmit to the world of today the seed of hope in a new generation of Christ's disciples, intimately motivated and generously dedicated like the Apostle St James, to the adventure of spreading and giving root to the Good News throughout the world. This evangelization presents itself as the prerogative of generous and creative young people, open to the building of a world without frontiers, in which a civilization of love prevails and whose protagonists must be the People of God spread throughout the world.

3. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! 'May they prosper who love you! Peace be within your walls'" (Ps 121,6-7).

Today, here, before the Portico of Glory, this pilgrimage of the Fourth World Youth Day is like a clear and eloquent sign for the world. Our voices unanimously proclaim our faith and our hope. We want to enkindle a fire of love and truth which will attract the attention of the world, as the mysterious lights seen here did in the past. We wish to shake off the torpor of our world, with a convinced cry of thousands and thousands of young pilgrims who proclaim Christ as the Redeemer of mankind, the Centre of history, the Hope of nations and Saviour of peoples.

With them and with all those here present before this Portico, there comes alive before our eyes the great meeting of the pilgrims before the doors of the Basilica of Santiago, described in the Codex Callistinus: "Countless people of all nations go there... There is no language nor dialect which is not heard there... The doors of the Basilica never close, neither by day nor by night... Everyone goes here exclaiming: "E-ultr-eia (Forward, yes!) E-sus-eia (Up, yes!)". Yes. For a moment Santiago de Compostela is today the meeting tent, the object of pilgrimage, the eloquent sign of the Church, pilgrim and missionary, penitent and wayfarer, praying and evangelizing, which travels all the paths of history "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes" (cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 8).

4. "For brethren and companions' sake I will say, 'Peace be within you!' For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good" (Ps 121,8-9) .

In the first place I have come to proclaim to all of you and strengthen your conviction that the Church is the pilgrim People of God. It was not without reason that the first Christians were called wayfarers (cfr. Heb He 9 Heb He 2). The Church in travelling along the paths of history does not cease to affirm constantly the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, since the mysterious Pilgrim of Emmaus is present on the way of every Christian. He continues to accompany his own, illuminating them with his enlightening Word and nourishing them with his Body and Blood, Bread of eternal life.

Furthermore, it is not surprising that the "Way to Santiago" has been sometimes considered as an example of the Church's pilgrimage on its journey towards the heavenly city. It is a path of prayer and penance, of charity and solidarity; a stretch of the path of life where the faith, becoming history among mankind, also converts culture into something Christian. The churches and abbeys, the hospitals and shelters of the Way to Santiago still speak of the Christian adventure of making pilgrimage in which the faith becomes life, history, culture, charity and works of mercy.

Now, almost on the threshold of A. D. 2000, the Church still wishes to be the travelling companion of humanity; she wishes to accompany us also, at times sorrowful and abandoned as a result of so many infidelities, and always in need of guidance towards salvation amid the dense mist which looms before us, when the awareness of the common Christian vocation is dimmed, even among the very members of the faithful. Allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit, Christians will spread everywhere the values of peace and truth which spring from the Gospel, and which are capable of giving a new meaning and nourishing sap to the world and society of today.

It is necessary then that the memory of a singular Christian past urge all the members of the Church, and I would add, in particular the sons and daughters of noble Spain, to dedicate themselves to an exciting task: that of causing a new Christian humanism to flourish, one which will give meaning to life at a time when there is so much hunger and thirst for God.

5. "Know that the Lord is God!... Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!" (Ps 99,3-4).

This, then, is the primary reason that has moved me to come to the tomb of the Apostle: to announce from here that Christ is and will continue to be "the Way, the Truth and the Life". In these very evocative words we discover the root of Christ's total revelation to man, to every individual, who must accept him as Way if he does not want to go astray, accept him as Truth if he does not want to fall into error, and open himself to the outpouring of Life - eternal life - which springs from him, if he does not want to let himself be taken in by ideologies and cultures of death and destruction.

Today as yesterday, we need to discover personally, as our Apostle did, that Christ is the Lord, so as to become followers and apostles, witnesses and spreaders of the Gospel, and thus build a more just civilization, a more habitable human society. This is the heritage which St. James has left, not just to Spain and Europe, but to all the peoples of the world. This is also the message which the Pope, the Successor of Peter, wants to entrust to you, so that the Good News of salvation is not converted into a sterile silence, but rather that it finds a favourable response and yields abundant fruits of eternal life.

In the portico of this Cathedral, which you quite rightly call the "Portico of Glory" on account of its architectural beauty and its deep spiritual meaning, we can contemplate the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which appears in an expressive gesture of acceptance of the divine Will. May she, Pilgrim of faith and Virgin of the Way, help all of us to give, with firmness and submission, a definitive "yes" to the divine plan, so that there may be in the Church and in the world the true renewing strength of grace, and that all may return to walk again as brothers and sisters along the path which leads to the heavenly mansion. From my heart I implore you not to forget that which is your very own, the historical legacy of St James; giving thanks to God for the past, keep on looking towards the future. Ever faithful to your Catholic faith, professed always in communion with the Successor of Peter, with youthful vigour may you always present to the world the lasting evangelic message of the Apostle.

"For the Lord is good: his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations" (Ps 99,5).

May St James and Our Lady intercede for us before the throne of the Almighty!






Saturday, 19 August 1989

St James!

Behold me here, once again, beside your tomb
which I approach today, a pilgrim of all the pathways of the earth,
to honour your memory and implore your protection.

I come from luminous and perennial Rome
to you who became a pilgrim, following the footprints of Christ
and who brought his name and his voice
to this farthest part of the earth.

I come from Peter's side
and, as his successor, I bring to you,
to you who, with him, are a pillar of the Church,
the fraternal embrace that traverses centuries
and the song which resounds firm and apostolic in its catholicity.

With me, St James, there is an immense and youthful flood
which has surged from springs in all the countries of the world.
Here, you have it, united and still in your presence,
anxious to refresh its faith in the vibrant example of your life.

We come to this blessed threshold in eager pilgrimage.
We come immersed in this great throng
which throughout the centuries
has led people to Compostela
where you are pilgrim and host, apostle and patron.

And we come today to you because we are on a common journey.
We are walking towards the end of a millennium
which we want to close with the seal of Christ.
We are going further still, to the beginning of a new millennium
which we want to open in the name of God.

St James,
for this pilgrimage of ours we need
your zeal and courage.
For this reason, to ask them of you, we have come
as far as this "finisterrae" of your apostolic adventures.

Teach us, apostle and friend of Our Lord,
the WAY which leads to him.
Open us, preacher of the lands of Spain,
to the TRUTH your learned from the Master's lips.
Give us, witness of the Gospel,
the strength always to love the LIFE .

Place yourself, patron of pilgrims,
at the head of our Christian youthful pilgrimage.
And just as, in the past, the peoples walked towards you,
may you be a pilgrim with us when we go to meet all peoples.
With you, St James, Apostle and Pilgrim,
we want to teach the nations of Europe and the world
that Christ is - today and always -
the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.





Saturday, 19 August 1989

Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

1. On this significant day on which so many young men and women of the entire world, gathered together in Santiago de Compostela or in the most remote parts of the earth, join with the Pope to celebrate Christ the Redeemer, you constitute the centre of attention of the Church, because suffering places you especially close to Christ; furthermore, it makes you living Christ in the midst of the world, since the suffering individual is the way of the Church because that person is, first of all, the way of Christ himself, who is the Good Samaritan who 'did not pass by' but who 'had compassion and went to him and bound up his wounds... and took care of him' (Lc 10,32-34)" (Christifideles Laici CL 53).

For this reason I feel a special pastoral satisfaction in coming here to greet you - I would like to greet each one of you personally - to speak about your situation, to encourage you, bless you and to let all other men and women see what you are and what you mean for the whole of humanity.

I appreciate the expressive way in which your representative has pointed out your desires and indeed your acceptance of God's will; expressions and testimonies which are summarized in the book which you have just given me.

I would also like to show my appreciation for the sentiments of closeness and solidarity with those who are sick or disabled expressed by a young person of your own age.

In your sickness not only are you privileged in the sight of God but, by means of it, it is you who can ask and help the youth of the world to find Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. At a time when the Cross is hidden away, your acceptance of it makes you witnesses of the fact that Jesus Christ wanted to embrace it for our salvation.

2. Young sick and disabled people! Precisely in the most beautiful period of life, characterized in man by a particular vigour and dynamism, you find yourselves weak and without the strength necessary to carry out so many activities which the other boys and girls of your own age can do.

In effect, many people of your age have come on foot today to Monte del Gozo — the Mount of Joy — where we will meet this evening. You are not in a position to walk, but — we could say it in a paradox — you have arrived before anyone at the "mount of joy". Yes, because Calvary, where Jesus died and rose again and where you are with him, is, looked at with the eyes of faith, the mount of joy, the hill of perfect happiness, the summit of hope.

Because I have personally experienced it, I also know the suffering which physical incapacity causes, the weakness that comes with sickness, the lack of energy for work, the feeling of being unable to lead a normal life. However, I also know — and I wish that you also may see it — that this suffering has another sublime characteristic: it gives a great spiritual capacity, because suffering is a purification both for oneself and for others. If it is lived with a Christian outlook it can become a gift offered so as to complete in one's own flesh "what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is the Church" (Col 1,24).

Thus, suffering makes sanctity possible, since it offers great apostolic opportunities and it has an exceptional salvific value when it is united with the sufferings of Christ.

The evangelizing strength which suffering has cannot be measured. So, when I call all the Christian faithful to the great missionary task of carrying out a new evangelization, I have in mind that in the front line will be, as exceptional spreaders of the Gospel, the sick, young sick people. "The sick are sent as labourers into the Lord's vineyard".This is because "the weight that wearies the body's members and dissipates the soul's serenity is far from dispensing a person from working in the vineyard. Instead the sick are called to live their human and Christian vocation and to participate in the growth of the Kingdom of God in a new and even more valuable manner" (Christifideles Laici CL 53).

4. In the Apostolic Letter "Salvifici Doloris" I have spoken at length of the Christian meaning of suffering and I have referred to some of the ideas already expressed. I would like this Letter to be a guide for your life, so that you would always contemplate your situation in the light of the Gospel, fixing your gaze on Christ crucified, who is Lord of life, the Lord of our health and our sicknesses and Master of our destinies.

In offering to Our Lord your limited strength, you are the treasure of the Church, the energy reserve for its task of evangelization.You are the expression of an ineffable wisdom, which can only be learned through suffering. "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Ps 118,71). Through suffering life becomes deeper, more understanding, more humble, more sincere, more united, more generous. In sickness we better understand that our existence is gratuitous and that health is an immense gift of God.

My beloved friends in suffering, through pain you will discover more easily, and you will teach other people to discover Jesus Christ "Way, Truth and Life". Look at Our Lord, the Man of Sorrows. Centre your attention on Jesus who, young like you, by his death on the Cross, helped man see the inestimable value of life, which necessarily brings with it the acceptance of the will of God the Father.

5. Before ending this meeting, I wish now to address all those people who, through family ties of their professional work in the area of health or human and social care, are in continuous contact with our beloved young sick people.

I appreciate the generosity, and at times abnegation, with which you try to create a welcoming, peaceful family environment around these people who are living images of the suffering Christ. You feel the obligation to carry out your work as a true service, of brother to brother. You know well that a sick person does not only seek relief in his suffering or limitations, but also the help of a brother or sister, who is capable of understanding his state of soul and of helping him to accept himself as he is and to better himself in his daily life.

To achieve this faith is fundamental, a faith which permits you to see in the sick person the friendly face of Christ. Did he not say: "I was sick and you visited me" (Mt 25,36)? In this Christian framework your service, at times long and tiresome, has an inestimable value before society and, above all, before the Lord.

I bless you, beloved sick and disabled people, with my greatest affection. This Blessing I joyfully extend to your loved ones, and to all those who look after you and accompany you, whether spiritually, humanly or medically.

Speeches 1989 - Friday, 7 July 1989