Speeches 1997 - Tuesday, 25 March 1997





Good Friday, 28 March 1997

"Christus factus est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem - mortem autem Crucis" (Ph 2,8).

1. "For us Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross" (cf. Phil Ph 2,8). These words of Saint Paul sum up the message which Good Friday proclaims to us. Today the Church does not celebrate the Eucharist, as though she wished to emphasize that it is impossible, on the day when the bloody Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross was consummated, to make that Sacrifice present in an unbloody manner in the Sacrament.

Today the Eucharistic Liturgy is replaced by the impressive rite of the adoration of the Cross, at which I presided a little earlier in Saint Peter's Basilica. The hearts of those who took part in that rite are still full of the emotions which they experienced during the reading of the liturgical texts about the Lord's Passion.

How can we fail to be touched by Isaiah's detailed description of the "man of sorrows", despised and rejected by men, who bore the weight of our suffering, and was smitten for our transgressions (cf. Is Is 53,3-5)?

And how can we fail to be moved by Christ's "loud cries and tears", evoked by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (cf. 5:7)?

2. Following the stations of the Way of the Cross, we have just contemplated the tragic moments of the Passion: Christ carrying his Cross, falling under its weight, hanging on it in agony and, in the final phase of his suffering, praying: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lc 23,46), expressing his total and trustful self-offering.

Today our gaze is closely concentrated on the Cross. We meditate on the mystery of the Cross, perpetuated down the centuries in the sacrifice of innumerable believers, of so many men and women associated through martyrdom with Jesus' death. We contemplate the mystery of the Lord's agony and death, which in our own day too continues in the pain and suffering of individuals and peoples severely tried by violence and war.

Wherever a person is struck and killed, it is Christ himself who is hurt and crucified. The mystery of suffering, the mystery of limitless love!

We remain in silent recollection before this unfathomable mystery.

3. "Ecce lignum Crucis ...", "Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung Christ, the Saviour of the world. Come, let us adore!"

This evening the Cross shines with extraordinary power at the end of the "Way of the Cross", here at the Colosseum. This monument of ancient Rome is linked in popular memory to the martyrdom of the first Christians. It is therefore a place particularly suitable for re-enacting, year after year, Christ's Passion and Death. "Ecce lignum Crucis"! How many of our brothers and sisters in the faith came to share in the Cross of Christ during the Roman persecutions!

The text of the meditations which have guided us along this "Way of the Cross" was prepared by my Venerable Brother Karekin I Sarkissian, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians. I thank him cordially, and expressing once more my gratitude for the recent visit which he paid me, I greet him together with all the Christians of Armenia. I also extend my greeting to Archbishop Nerses Bozabalian, who has joined us in the Way of the Cross as the representative of the Catholicos of Armenia. Many brothers and sisters of that Church and Nation have shared in the Cross of Christ by the sacrifice of their lives! Today, in union with them and with all those who in every corner of the world, in every continent and the different countries of the globe, share through their suffering and death in the Cross of Christ, we wish to repeat: "Ecce lignum Crucis...", "Behold the wood of the Cross, on which hung Christ, the Saviour of the world. Come, let us adore!"

4. As the shades of night envelop us, an eloquent image of the mystery which surrounds our existence, we cry to You, Cross of our salvation, our faith!

O Lord, a ray of light shines from your Cross. In your Death our death is conquered, and we are offered the hope of resurrection. Clinging to your Cross, we wait in joyful hope for your return, Lord Jesus, our Redeemer!

"Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory".


                                                              April 1997




Saturday, 5 April 1997

At the end of this time of prayer, I thank all of you who have taken part and extend my thoughts to those who have joined us by radio and television.

We are in the Octave of Easter, and in this joyful atmosphere we have meditated with Mary most holy on the mysteries of Christ’s glory and on her glorification as his Mother and ours. May the light of the Risen One be radiant in the hearts of all men and spread the peace that he alone can give.

God willing, in a week’s time I will be in Sarajevo for my long-awaited meeting with the people of that city, which has become as it were a symbol of our century, marked by tragic conflicts and open to prospects of renewed hope. I am sure that you will accompany me with your prayer and I am indeed grateful for it.

Among the pilgrims present this evening, I address particular greetings to the faithful from the parish of St Nicholas of Bari in Ascrea, the Diocese of Rieti.

May the Blessed Virgin obtain for everyone the Easter gifts of love, joy and peace.





Saturday, 5 April 1997

Your Eminence,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. Welcome, Pastors of the Île-de-France. In this Easter season I am pleased to receive you during your pilgrimage ad limina Apostolorum. Your visit shows our communion in Christ for the sake of serving the Church, founded on the Apostles, the pillars of the Church, which seeks every day to be more faithful to the mission entrusted to the College of the Apostles under Peter’s leadership.

I first thank Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, for his presentation of your Apostolic Region. In addition, I would like to greet Bishop Olivier de Berranger, who recently succeeded the late Bishop Guy Deroubaix in Saint-Denis, France, and to assure him of my prayers for his new pastoral ministry. I am also pleased to welcome, together with the residential Bishops of the Île-de-France, Bishop Michel Dubost, Bishop of the French Army, who is responsible for preparing the World Youth Day.

More than 30 years have passed since the ancient Dioceses of Paris, Versailles and Meaux were restructured and five new Dioceses created, which by now have acquired their own identity. This does not prevent an organized collaboration between you at various levels, which is all the more timely for the vitality of the Christian communities, since the resources of various sectors are very unequal, especially as regards pastoral workers. Following the example of other great world metropolises, you aim at the greatest possible harmony in the co-ordination of ecclesial life, particularly necessary when a population is constantly on the move in the area. I am aware of the enormity of your tasks in this active and varied region, where the positive contributions of contemporary society appear as numerous as its problems.

2. In the perspective of the Great Jubilee of the Redemption, an event for the whole Church, today I would like to stress certain aspects that will mark your ministry, by repeating several guidelines offered in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente. This is the first of the three preparatory years. In Paris and in the other Dioceses of your region, its high point will be World Youth Day, which I am grateful to you for enthusiastically accepting and preparing. Please express my gratitude to the priests, religious and laity, and most especially to all your country’s young people, who are expending their energy to ensure that this world youth meeting goes smoothly. I am aware of the efforts they are making at the present time for the success of this important spiritual event. Tell them that the Pope trusts them, that he is pleased to come to Paris to encourage those who are called to build the Church of the next millennium.

This gathering, as I said in my Message to the world’s young people to mark the 12th World Youth Day, will be a “living icon of the Church”. Under the sign of the Holy Year Cross, which will have been received by the youth of all the French Dioceses, attention will be focused on Christ. In answer to the questions of all these young people, taking up in their way the question asked by his two first disciples: “Teacher, where are you staying?” (Jn 1,38) — the Lord earnestly repeats his invitation to follow him and see, to stay with him and discover him more and more in his Body which is the Church. On this journey with Christ, young people will see that he alone can fulfil their aspirations and give them true happiness.

By organizing the World Youth Day, you will enable the pastors and faithful of the Île-de-France and of your whole country to have a living experience of the Church's communion through the members of the younger generations. Indeed, one of the appeals of the Great Jubilee we are preparing for is precisely the call to dialogue among the faithful of different nations, different spiritualities and different cultures. In this world where so many forms of communication are developing, do not the members of the universal Church need to know one another better and to progress in harmony since “all the members of the body, though many, are one body”? And St Paul adds: “So it is with Christ” (1Co 12,12). And we know that the Apostle of the Gentiles supports his exhortation to unity in diversity by exalting charity, the greatest of God’s gifts (1Co 13,13).

3. The Jubilee “is meant to be a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of the Incarnation of the Son of God and of the Redemption which he accomplished” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 32). And the first year of preparation, centred on Jesus Christ, invites us to strengthen our faith in the Redeemer (cf. ibid., n. 42). This is a providential opportunity to invite the faithful to contemplate the face of Christ and rediscover the sacraments and the ways of prayer. Interiorizing personal bonds with Christ is a necessary condition for accepting the Gospel way of life, which the Church must present. It is a question, day by day, of becoming more keenly aware of the gifts of grace bestowed through Baptism, of totally accepting the presence of Christ who sanctifies those who have been “buried with him by Baptism” (Rm 6,4), so as to enter a new life.

In the guidelines set out for the preparation of the Great Jubilee, I indicated Baptism as the first of the sacraments to be rediscovered because it is the “basis of Christian living” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 41). Thus it is appropriate that young people will receive Baptism at the World Day. They will, as it were, represent their brothers and sisters who all over the world are involved in the adult catechumenate thanks to the support of parishes, chaplaincies and youth movements. Their presence and witness will encourage the great number of those who have been members of the Church from childhood to have a better idea of the gifts which have been showered upon them, of their status as Christians.

4. Do not spare your efforts to ensure that the reception of the word of God is constantly renewed: the faithful must be able better to penetrate Scripture, to become familiar with it and make its message their own through lectio divina.Along these lines, initiatives taken at different levels to go beyond a too fragmentary or superficial reading of the Bible are to be encouraged. They enable the baptized to enter, in a reflective way, into the Tradition of the Church which gives us the Word and enables us to know the figure of Christ.

In your teaching ministry, see that the Person of Christ is made known in the full richness of his mystery: the Son consubstantial with the Father who became man to save humanity and reconcile it to God (cf. 2Co 5,20) and to gather it together (cf. Jn Jn 11,52). As in other eras, the figure of Christ is the object of reductive presentations, influenced by opinions or tendencies that take into account only part of the authentic Revelation received and transmitted by the Church. Sometimes the divinity of the Incarnate Word is misunderstood, which goes hand in hand with man’s withdrawal into himself; in other cases, the reality of the Incarnation itself, of the entry of God's Son into the historical human condition, is underrated, thus creating an imbalance in Christology and even in the meaning of Redemption.

This brief outline leads me to stress the importance of catechesis, as I did in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente (n. 42). I would like once again to encourage all who with generous willingness are involved in planning and directing catechesis for children, young people and adults. Speaking more generally, it is indispensable for you to promote the pastoral care of the intellect, of learning enlightened by the faith. Your reports give an account of many institutions providing formation, such as the cathedral school in Paris and the different diocesan centres active in the same areas. The approach of the Great Jubilee must intensify these efforts so that more of the baptized will be ready to witness to the riches of the Christian mystery. It is in this spirit, moreover, that participants in the World Youth Day are invited to follow a catechesis entrusted to Bishops from the five continents. This will give them a taste for pursuing their research in their Dioceses, in order to acquire a spiritual formation on a par with the questions raised by their scientific and technical knowledge (cf. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes GS 11-16).

5. The Gospel would not have the full strength of its lived experience were the Church not enlivened by the Holy Spirit. This is why he is at the centre of the themes proposed for the second year of preparation for the Year 2000. The Spirit of truth, who comes from the Father, bears witness to Christ; and the Fourth Gospel immediately adds: “And you also are witnesses” (cf. Jn Jn 15,26-27). It is up to the young, as it is to all the faithful, to take responsibility for the universal mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples: an arduous mission from the human standpoint, but a mission which is possible thanks to the gifts of the Spirit spread throughout the ecclesial body as a whole. You like to recall that when young people request the sacrament of Confirmation, they show real commitment to the faith and to the Church's mission. May they receive from their pastors and communities the necessary support to make the gifts they have received bear fruit and to persevere in their resolution! The World Day, as well as the preparation for the Jubilee, will be true milestones on the journey of the young people whose turn it is to take over the Church's mission.

6. The Jubilee will be a privileged time of conversion. We will have to make our Christian brothers and sisters and all our contemporaries more clearly understand that the Christian message is the Good News of liberation from sin and evil and, at the same time, a forceful call to return to choosing what is good. We must give thanks for the merciful love of the Father, who is always ready to forgive. It seems that in the minds of many, the need for repentance is often misunderstood because it is somehow isolated from the twofold, inseparable and positive law of love for God and neighbour, or because too much reliance is placed on human effort to progress, and because people are not always prepared to recognize the full significance of their own responsibility for what they have done. True conversion is God's free gift, received with joy and thanksgiving, and with the resolution to bring our life into conformity with our status as children of God gained for us by the Redeemer. If the Christian meaning of repentance were better understood, the sacrament of Reconciliation would not be suffering the unpopularity we have noticed and our contemporaries would be strengthened in hope.

The rediscovery of God’s gracious love in the most intimate depths of our conscience will recover its full meaning if the Jubilee is also a time of love for the poor and the most destitute, and of a thoroughgoing renewal of social relations. The traditional meaning of the Jubilee Year involves a complete renewal of relations between people at all levels of society; it will be essential to make everyone realize that this stage in our history is a privileged opportunity for reconciliation and turns us towards a future of greater harmony. The common memory must be clarified and purified; in other words, by plainly acknowledging one another's weaknesses and faults, and freed from the old seeds of division or even bitterness, we will be better able to respond to the challenges of our time. For in our world today, so much must be done to foster peace, to promote the sharing of the goods of Creation, to guarantee respect for life and the dignity of the person! These challenges must be clearly presented at the approach of the new millennium.

7. Pastors and faithful, motivated by love for humanity, must recognize the expectations of the contemporary world, with its doubts and sufferings. The Good News cannot be proclaimed unless the deep needs of people are grasped, so as to counteract the breakdown that is scarring society. In a word, to a civilization in crisis, which secularization is cutting off from its spiritual roots, we must respond by building the civilization of love (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 52). It is our special task to present this goal to the young people who are taking their place in the Church and in society; strengthened in hope, they will be ready to walk with Christ beside contemporary man, helping him to recognize his presence by their witness.

These essential intentions imply that dialogue remains open with the various points of view current in society. In sincere exchanges, over and above polemics, it will be possible to discern the signs of hope in our age. And for all these exchanges to bear fruit, it is appropriate to prepare Christians to conduct them in an enlightened way, both firm in their faith and animated with great warmth towards those who do not share it or oppose it. They will be able to offer the necessary explanations to those reductive presentations of Christianity which are so frequently observed. They will always be ready to express in a positive way the Christian meaning of man in creation, the message of hope and the moral requirements which stem from the faith; and they will imbue the temporal order with the Gospel spirit (cf. Second Vatican Council, Apostolicam actuositatem AA 5). Pastors and lay people must continue their efforts to go to the heart of problems through dialogue with individuals, and also with opinion influenced by the media. On these lines, the Letter of the Bishops to the Catholics of France, Proposer la foi dans la société actuelle, will be a particuarly useful guide.

8. As I said last year to the Committee responsible for preparing the Great Jubilee: “The apostolic renewal that the Church wishes to achieve in view of the Jubilee also comes through the authentic rediscovery of the Second Vatican Council” (4 June 1996, n. 5; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 19 June 1996, p. 3), in fidelity and openness, in an attitude of constant listening and discernment regarding the signs of the times. For the Council “made a significant contribution to the preparation of that new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 18). It has given us the example of a humble and perceptive attitude. It has also shown the greatness of the heritage we have received, and which the Church transmits to us, especially through the example of so many saints and martyrs who have marked our history down to the age in which we are living.

We live in the era of fraternal ecumenical dialogue with Christians who aspire to full unity. The desire to make new and decisive steps on the path of unity is rightly growing stronger; to involve all the faithful in the ecumenical movement will be a beautiful fruit of the Jubilee. Inspire and develop what is already being done in your Dioceses in this regard. Dialogue with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities cannot come to true fruition unless the faithful in the Dioceses, parishes and movements share in its spirit.

The Council also opened the way to interreligious dialogue with believers of other spiritual traditions: in mutual respect and in the recognition of what truth and goodness each one possesses, without hasty confusion and in a demanding search for the truth, confident interpersonal relations will make it possible to progress towards the harmony of the human family willed by God.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, on the threshold of the third millennium lead the People of God on their earthly pilgrimage in the footsteps of Christ who brings us to the Father through his Spirit. Let us especially honour the sacrament of the Eucharist, the authentic memorial of the redemptive sacrifice and the real presence of Christ in the Church until the end of time.

May your ministry as stewards of God’s mysteries bring the members of your Dioceses to celebrate the Jubilee as a great hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity who calls the world to let itself be seized by his love! May Mary, who is for everyone the model of lived faith, of listening to the Spirit in hope, and of perfect love for God and neighbour, accompany the Church on her way. “Her motherhood, which began in Nazareth and was lived most intensely in Jerusalem at the foot of the Cross, will be felt during this year as a loving and urgent invitation addressed to all the children of God, so that they will return to the house of the Father when they hear her maternal voice: ‘Do whatever Christ tells you’ (cf. Jn Jn 2,5)” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 54).

As we await our great meeting in Paris for World Youth Day in the month of August, I entrust your ministry and your communities to the Lord, to Our Lady and to the patron saints of your Dioceses. With all my heart, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of your Dioceses.





Monday, 7 April 1997

Your Eminence,

Dear Bishop of Grodno,

1. “Peace be with you” (cf. Mt Mt 28,9). In meeting you I joyfully make my own the risen Christ’s greeting. Through you, I extend it to the Ecclesial Communities of your beloved country. They are experiencing a providential springtime after the winter of violent persecution that lasted long decades and was expressed in the systematic enforcement of atheism on the people, especially the young, in the almost total destruction of ecclesial structures, as well as in the enforced closure of places of Christian formation.

With regard to the present spiritual rebirth, how can we not first thank the Lord who has opened the doors of freedom of worship to you, even if still limited, and who has moved hearts to allow young priestly and religious forces to enter your country, together with the construction or restoration of many churches and chapels? This was also achieved with the help and solidarity of many brothers and sisters all over the world, whom I remember with gratitude. Thus we give heartfelt thanks to God, the Father of goodness, who at last heard the cry of his oppressed people, and to the many men and women of goodwill who have made themselves instruments of his care, for the gradual reconstruction of the community and ecclesial fabric of Belarus, despite the gravest difficulties.

2. This work of “physically” and spiritually rebuilding your country has, after three years, been followed by State recognition of the juridical status of the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev and the Diocese of Pinsk, while relations with the Apostolic See have gradually become visible with the appointment and presence “in loco” of a papal representative, a sign of my particular concern and love for your local Church and for all Belarus.

I am confident that you will continue on the way undertaken, in conformity with what has been established and promised in the bilateral agreements, in the legal recognition and in the administrative regulations for those who are not Belarusian citizens but are currently working generously in the country, and for the institutes of men and women religious who want to open houses in your territory.

The Catholic Church would like to be a sign of hope in Belarus for those who are expending their energies for a better future of peace and reconciliation for all. The effort to give the Diocese of Grodno a pastoral structure and the commitment of the Archdiocesan Synod of Minsk-Mohilev and Pinsk, deserve encouragement and support.

3. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, in seeing your zeal and that of your priests, religious and lay people, we can certainly look to the future with well-founded trust. May you be sustained by your awareness of the love of God who guides man’s future and holds the destiny of history in his hands. May you be guided by the Blessed Virgin Mary, venerated and loved by your people especially at the shrine of Budslav.

With my heart comforted by these convictions, I would now like to consider with you several serious social and religious questions which, in the quinquennial reports for your visit ad limina Apostolorum you have wished to submit to the Bishop of Rome.

You are concerned by your country’s cultural, social, economic and political situation, which seems difficult and unstable; you are also anxious about the gradual impoverishment of broad levels of society, which cause some to feel a dangerous nostalgia for the past.

You are studying these problems in order to find appropriate solutions. However, you pay special attention to the religious “emergencies”, clearly emphasized in the discussions of these days. First of all, you have at heart the care and formation of priests; it is they who guide the laity and the Christian communities in their spiritual reawakening. I am grateful to them, because theirs is a particularly difficult ministry and I am well aware of it.

After so many years of neglect, the environment in which they work is frequently hostile, the field to be tilled is a tangle of thorns and brambles. The majority of the faithful are scattered over vast areas and are still apprehensive. The loneliness of priests is sometimes a heavy burden, since they often live far from one another due to pastoral needs. Furthermore, they have scarcely anything in common with regard to their origins, formation, life experience and mentality.

Well aware of your difficulties, beloved priests, I address you with affection, I embrace you and I repeat to you the encouragement I addressed to the whole Church at the beginning of my Roman pontificate: “Do not be afraid!”, “Open the doors to Christ” (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, vol. 1P 38). The Lord Jesus has overcome the world (cf. Jn Jn 16,33) and with him you are already victorious.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I do not have to advise you to love your priests, to support them with prayer and closeness, with words and also with material help, because you are already doing this with generous devotion. I only have to urge you to persevere. Continue the good tradition of monthly gatherings with the clergy. The Bishop’s meeting with his priests is always a providential opportunity for brotherhood and spiritual growth. Continue to guide priests in their personal asceticism and continuing formation, drawing inspiration for the necessary “up-dating” from the Second Vatican Council. Let no hardship discourage you or dampen your apostolic enthusiasm.

4. With regard to formation, in addition to the continuing formation intended for priests, I am thinking of the preparation of candidates for the priesthood. Is this not the most pressing problem? To identify their call, to foster their vocation and to guide the path of their formation is the task on which the Church’s future in your country depends. It is necessary to train priests who will gradually replace those who have come from other regions and are doing all they can among you in these years with great generosity. A similar effort must be made for the Interdiocesan Seminary of Grodno, now restored, which in time will be directed by superiors and teachers from your country. Of course, for the time being the formation of priests called to be “homines Dei et hominum” is not easy when the consequences of the “homo sovieticus”, formed during decades of an atheistic regime, is still being felt. Do not let yourselves be discouraged in this regard. Rely rather on Christ's healing grace, on the generosity which grows out of a vocation of total self-giving love and on the spiritual and multi-disciplinary work of teachers.

“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Mt 9,37), Jesus reminds us in the Gospel. While you are waiting for the results of your current formation work, look around you and ask other local Churches for priests and men and women religious from various backgrounds, while taking into account the government's attitude in this regard.

In the context of religious life, may the Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, which expresses the Church’s esteem in a very precise way for the consecrated life, for what it is in itself and for the ecclesial sense that must be possessed by those who follow Christ more closely, light your way and console you in times of hardship.

5. Another aspect of pastoral work which I would like to highlight is the apostolate among the intelligentsia, among those, that is, who work in the various fields of culture. It is an endeavour that must not be neglected, although I am well aware that the priority you have set is the care of young people and families. In fact, everything seems to be a priority if one considers society's ethical collapse and the “Soviet” mentality that still persists among ordinary people.

A new courageous plan of evangelization is needed, suited to the changed historical and social situations of the present time. Dedicate yourselves to this evangelization without interruption and take especially into account the great, historic appointment of the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

The new evangelization cannot do without courageous action for human advancement, on condition that it is directed to the service of every person and of the whole person. In this regard, the activities undertaken by Caritas can make a significant contribution. While I rejoice with you that it has been established at least as a central structure in all three Belarusian Dioceses, I hope that it will develop into organizations and activities, relying above all on the help of honest and zealous lay people who are competent and sensitive to the needs of children, the sick, the poor, the elderly and those who are seeking suitable training for life.

6. I cannot conclude this meeting without recalling that in Belarus dialogue with our Orthodox brothers and sisters cannot fail to be helped by the fact that Catholics can say with them: “We are from here too!”. Obviously, the Church’s presence and apostolate is neither “proselytism” nor “missionary” in the negative sense that is sometimes given to this term among the Orthodox. Priests are present as the pastors of the flock, to respond to the need for spiritual assistance to which every believer has a right.

For your part, then, seek especially to initiate the dialogue of charity with those of other religions or who have none. In the first place, take pains to have fraternal relations with those to whom we are linked, although in a communion which is not yet perfect, by Gospel values, the Beatitudes, the “Our Father”, Marian piety, the same sacraments, the same apostolic succession and love of the Church which finds its icon in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.

Co-operation with them and their pastors in human, cultural, charitable and religious projects is legitimate, insofar as it is not prevented for reasons of fidelity to the “depositum fidei”, but always in conjuction with prudence and courage. Since no constituted hierarchy for the faithul of the Greek Catholic rite exists in Belarusian territory, I would like to take this opportunity to greet and bless them too, and to assure them that their joys and sadness, their hopes and distress, together with those of the beloved faithful of the Latin rite, are also mine, as are those of all humanity (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 1).

I impart my affectionate Blessing to you and to the peoples entrusted to your pastoral care.

Speeches 1997 - Tuesday, 25 March 1997