Speeches 1997 - Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius





Monday, 26 May 1997

Mr Ambassador,

1. I welcome you with great joy on the solemn occasion of the presentation of the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Dominican Republic to the Holy See, and I sincerely thank you for the friendly words you have chosen to address to me.

I would first of all like to reciprocate the respectful greeting which Dr Leonel Fernández Reyna, President of the Republic, has expressed to me through you. Please be kind enough to convey my very best wishes to him for the success of his mandate.

2. Your Excellency represents a nation which has many links with the Catholic Church and with this Apostolic See. The Dominican Republic has a mark of honour in the fact that, at the beginning of the evangelization of the American continent, the first Mass was celebrated in this land — as I recalled last year — and the first indigenous Baptisms in the New World were administered there. Today, faithful to the demands of the Gospel and with due respect for legitimate pluralism, the Church in this country reaffirms her vocation of service to the great causes of man as a citizen and a son of God. In this regard, Christian principles constitute a solid hope and give society a new energy so that at all levels hard work, honesty and a spirit of sharing may prevail.

3. Moreover, the Holy See is pleased with the good relations between Church and State and fervently hopes that they will continue to grow in the future. Both have a common subject, the human person who, as a citizen, is a member of the State and, as a baptized person, is a member of the Catholic Church. In fact, there is a broad area where the proper competence and actions of Church and State converge and are interrelated. Thus there is no question of claiming privileges for the Church, but rather of ordering their mutual relations for the citizens’ benefit.

In this way the Church can fulfil her mission of evangelization and human advancement. She wants only to be able to continue her mission of service with renewed vigour, motherly concern and constant creativity. This is why it is necessary to take into account her activities in pastoral movements and in the areas of health care and Catholic schools, which rightly deserve recognition and support from the State.

4. Many parts of the world are undergoing a crisis of values that affects institutions such as the family, and broad sectors of the population such as youth and the complex world of work. In this regard it is urgent that Dominicans become more aware of their own responsibilities and, with respect to God and their duties as citizens, that they strive to continue building a more just, fraternal and welcoming society. To do so, the Christian concept of life and the Church’s moral teaching offer values that must be taken into consideration by those who work in service to the nation.

First of all, it must be remembered that the human being is the primary subject of development. Although in the past this idea was thought of in exclusively economic terms, today it is obvious that the development of persons and peoples must be integral, that is to say, social development must be mindful of their political, economic, ethical and spiritual dimensions.

5. A current and crucial problem, which is very concrete in Latin America, is that of the great social inequality between rich and poor. It should not be forgotten that economic imbalances contribute to the gradual deterioration and loss of moral values, which frequently lead to the break-up of families, to permissiveness and to scant respect for life.

In this regard, it is urgent to consider as priorities the recovery of these values by political and social measures which promote dignified and stable employment for all, so that the material poverty which affects many of the inhabitants is overcome, the family institution strengthened and access to education for all the members of the population encouraged. For this reason it is necessary to dedicate special care to teaching true moral and spiritual values, through educational programmes that spread these basic values in a society that, like yours, is rooted in Christian principles. For this reason, the various public institutions are responsible for intervening on behalf of the family and, in matters concerning demographic trends, should have no recourse to methods that do not respect the dignity of the person and his fundamental rights.

In the world today it is not enough to limit oneself to the laws of the market and its globalization; solidarity should also be fostered. It is therefore necessary to promote equitable development. In this respect I wrote in the Encyclical Centesimus annus that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone” (n. 31). This is why a form of development that fails to keep these inequalities in mind and does not resolutely deal with them can never prosper in any way.

At the same time, there is a growing awareness of the need to harmonize economic and social policies. There is no future for those who, by exclusively seeking economic results, marginalize social life, or those who advance social policies that are neither realistic nor sustainable. With the daily experience of thousands of institutions linked to the Catholic Church, it can be said that balanced development oriented to the common good will be authentic and will contribute in the long term to social stability. Thus a society that is not anchored in sound ethical values tends to drift, in the absence of the essential basis on which the desired social development must be built if it is to endure.

6. Social integration is only possible if the public overcomes its lack of confidence in the administration of justice, in the forces of order and in the political representatives of the people. Nothing precipitates the disintegration of a society more than corruption and its impunity. That is why efforts for authentic social development need to reinforce democratic values and universal respect for human rights — inherent in every human being by the mere fact that he is a person — and the proper functioning of the constitutional State.

The family must be strengthened by seeking to preserve and encourage the rights, abilities and obligations of its members. Particular attention must therefore be paid to the most vulnerable social groups because of their specific needs or the discrimination they suffer. On the one hand, women — especially those who have responsibility for the home — the elderly and children. On the other, the handicapped, AIDS patients, the indigenous peoples and other ethnic minorities, emigrants and refugees. In this respect the Catholic Church’s institutions are making a significant contribution to the common effort to promote a society that is more just and attentive to the needs of its weaker members.

7. Mr Ambassador, before I bring this meeting to a close, I would like to express my best wishes to you that the mission you are beginning today may be abundantly fruitful. I ask you once again to convey my sentiments and hopes to the authorities of your country, as I invoke God’s blessing upon you, your distinguished family, your coworkers and all the beloved children of the noble Dominican nation.





Tuesday, 27 May 1997

Your Eminence,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. How welcome your presence is here today in representing and presenting the Church which, amid the tribulations of the world and the consolations of the Holy Spirit, is a pilgrim in Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe! I have wished many times and, in all possible ways, I have never ceased to be close to you when a senseless war again flared up, bringing in its wake deprivation, ruin, bereavement, humiliations and sufferings of every kind which afflicted you and your communities and nations, pitilessly decimating the flock and forcing survivors into the diaspora and poverty. It seemed that hell had been furiously unleashed to extinguish that dawn of peace and hope which my Apostolic Visit, during those blessed and unforgettable days of Pentecost 1992, had intended to encourage and strengthen with renewed gifts from on high.

How can I forget, among other things, that immense multitude of people of all ages, gathered round the altar at Praia do Bispo, Luanda, with their festive, brightly-coloured clothes and their souls united in the same song of gratitude to God and brotherhood in Christ? I recall their heartfelt expressions of joy and happiness, when they learned of the Pastors that heaven was sending them as the Ordinary of Mbanza Congo and Auxiliary of Luanda, in the persons respectively of Serafim Shyngo-Ya-Hombo and Damião António Franklin, who are present here. You are the proof that that day has not ended and that hell will not prevail. In fact, despite great and persistent problems, in the following years we have seen the renewal of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in Lubango, Kwito-Bié, Novo Redondo and Saurimo, and the appointment of a Coadjutor Bishop for Malanje. With warm ecclesial gratitude to the whole Episcopal Conference — and especially to those who cared for and continue to care for Christ’s flock in these Dioceses — I welcome you to this humble “house of Peter”, which has always been yours. I congratulate your recently elected President, Archbishop Zacarias Kamwenho, and I thank Cardinal do Nascimento for his kind words in the name of all, which have shown me the beating of the troubled hearts of the communities entrusted to your care. I fraternally greet each one of you, and would again like to open my arms and clasp to my heart all my brothers and sisters in Angola and in São Tomé and Príncipe, together with their fellow citizens and the authorities, in a renewed supplication for peace: “The Lord bless you and keep you: the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (NM 6,24-26).

2. With the Eucharistic celebration in Luanda on 7 June 1992 the jubilee celebrations to mark the fifth centenary of the evangelization of Angola were concluded; they ended with a moving thanksgiving to the Most Holy Trinity, to the “fathers and mothers” of your faith. With their gaze already turned to the third millennium, that multitude of sons and brothers renewed their commitment to continue, proud of their adherence to Christ and open to the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit, to sow the Good News of salvation to the borders of Angola and to make it fruitful in the many fields of Angolan culture and life, whose furrows were bathed in blood and whose advancement had been jeopardized by the events of the war.

“Laity for the Year 2000”! With this slogan one month later, to be precise on 7-12 July, the First National Congress of the Angolan Laity took place, calling lay Christians to be the soul of a nation that needed to devote all its energies to the ways of peace and reconciliation, to kindling hope in a future worthy of Angolan society. I learned, with great satisfaction, of the high degree of maturity shown by your lay faithful, both in the long preparation for the assembly at the parish, diocesan and national levels, and in the interventions made in that context with great harmony and knowledge of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent Apostolic Exhortations, especially Christifideles laici.

3. The tragic events that began in the last months of that same year 1992 sorely tried the enthusiasm and resolutions created in those days. Calvary was closer to “Mount Tabor” than it seemed! When at last you were hoping to gather the harvest of a long and painful sowing, seeing each of the faithful become “another Christ” on the paths of life, a Christ reviled, persecuted and killed in many of his members was left in your arms, resembling what happened in the past to the sorrowful and blessed Mother, and leaving you, the priests, the women religious and everyone who could help you, to ask God for peace for the dead, peace which the living had denied them, to lead the survivors to safety and to watch over them, to invite the transgressors to conversion and to keep the light of hope alive in everyone.

Putting together the thousand pieces that remained of the broken dish, mending it with a mother's patience and boundless trust in man for the love of God, is tangible and authentic proof that the Creator Spirit is with you and helping you, he who has done nothing else since his earthly masterpiece, moulded from clay but enlivened by his divine breath, slipped from his hands and was broken in the Garden of Eden. For this reason, beloved brothers, do not be discouraged! Continue instead to raise your voices in unison, letting everyone know with absolute certainty that “the grain of wheat which falls into the earth and dies, bears much fruit” (cf. Jn Jn 12,24). See that your Christian communities pray for their members who have fallen or are dispersed, the victims of hatred and injustice. As in the apostolic communities (cf. 1P 3,8 1P 4,19), teach them to distinguish clearly between suffering for the cause of God's kingdom and for his justice, and suffering as “a murderer, or a thief, or a wrongdoer, or a mischief-maker” (1P 4,15), for the latter needs correction; the former is glorified because he will bear “much fruit”!

4. May the memory of the many human lives sacrificed hasten the time of renewal and harmony in Angola! All those lives.... Those of yesterday, victims of the inclemency of travel and climate or of misunderstandings and human treachery: named perhaps on some unknown or broken cross or tombstone, or perhaps despised and forgotten, because they were summarily and indiscriminately presumed to have connived with the interests of explorers and merchants; perhaps they were accused of supporting slavery or of dealings with the colonial authorities! Church in Angola, if today you do not redeem the honour of your fathers and mothers in the faith, how can you hope to survive in your children? Whenever someone took your hand in his and made the Sign of the Cross over you and your land, did this not bring blessings? You have had 500 years of evangelization: of which of these do you want to be deprived?

All those lives sacrificed ... even today! On the occasion of my Pastoral Visit, your Justice and Peace Commission had prepared a list of Christians who had been kidnapped, tortured or killed between 1960 and 1991. I reread those names with deep feeling: they were persons from various ecclesial states, coming from the most varied corners of Angola and many from abroad. How I would like the respective local communities to glory in these persons and imitate the courage of their faith and their witness of Christian life: if they could do it, why cannot I? May their glorious deeds be recounted, according to good African tradition. May their names and example live in hearts and shape the human and Christian ideals of all the People of God: children and the elderly, young people and adults, the ordained, consecrated or married, without forgetting all those who today feel called and are preparing shortly to take on ecclesial commitments themselves. Thus the pseudo-reasons invoked to keep African men and women on the fringes of Christian life will be dispelled once and for all.

5. The “Church which is in Africa” has spoken.... The Apostolic Exhortation that gathers “the results of their reflections and prayers, discussions and exchanges” (Ecclesia in Africa ) is within the reach of all, aiming decisively at the goal of holiness, recognized and professed as the common vocation of all the baptized: “The Synod reaffirmed that all the sons and daughters of Africa are called to holiness” (n. 136), understood as “being configured to Christ” (n. 87).

In this regard, “Christian marriage” has been defined as “a state of life, a way of Christian holiness”, if it is lived in “indissoluble love; thanks to this stability it can contribute effictively to the complete fulfilment of the spouses’ baptismal vocation” (n. 83). Passing to the “consecrated life”, the Encyclical then affirms that it has “the particular function” in the Family of God which is the Church “of indicating to all the call to holiness” (n. 94). It informs all who care for the Lord’s flock that “the Pastor is the light of his faithful above all through an exemplary moral conduct marked by holiness” (n. 98).

Then, turning its gaze to the immense, rich harvest of the world to be evangelized, which is waiting for the reapers, the Synod Assembly recommends: “A missionary is really such only if he commits himself to the way of holiness”. So that no doubts remain, it adds: “The renewed impulse to the mission ad gentes demands holy missionaries. It is not enough to update pastoral techniques, organize and co-ordinate ecclesial resources, or delve deeply into the biblical and theological foundations of faith. What is needed is the encouragement of a new ‘ardour for holiness’ among missionaries and throughout the Christian community” (n. 136).

This norm is not limited to the spiritual realm and to the Church’s religious mission, since the objective it proposes in a multicultural dialogue with society is precisely to “dispose people to receive Jesus Christ in an integral manner. It touches them on the personal, cultural, economic and political levels so that they can live a holy life in total union with God the Father, through the action of the Holy Spirit” (n. 62). To limit myself to the political context, I remember how the Synod Assembly, seeing the need that exists for “a high degree of competence in the art of governing ... prayed fervently to the Lord that there would arise in Africa holy politicians —both men and women — and that there would be saintly heads of State, who profoundly love their own people and wish to serve rather than be served” (n. 111).

6. Significant steps have recently been taken in the Angolan nation: I am referring to the Government of National Unity and Reconciliation, set up on 11 April last, and the National Assembly, which can finally count on the presence of all its members. These are important, long-awaited political events, related to democratic normality in the national institutions. With the help of the international community, may they return the whole nation to normality as soon as possible, in its family, cultural, economic, sociopolitical and religious life. In fact, we are grieved to know that in various regions there are communities which have been deprived of religious assistance since 1975. Following the most recent hostilities, difficulties in communication and free transit were even more accentuated in certain districts, due to the utterly unjustifiable arbitrariness of the rival parties, thus denying the Church her most elementary rights: to provide religious assistance and humanitarian aid to her faithful. Joining my voice to yours, I ask those responsible to put an end to these irregularities so that no citizen may feel a foreigner in his own land.

7. My beloved Brothers, reading your quinquennial reports would also allow me to reflect on other topics concerning the life of your Dioceses. Nonetheless, having discussed them with each one of you at our individual meetings, I have preferred to keep for this more collegial occasion the expression of the whole Church’s gratitude to you who have loved your flock more than your lives, as I urge you to persevere with one accord in your ministry as “vicars and legates of Christ” (Lumen gentium LG 27), who came so that men might have life and have it in abundance (cf. Jn Jn 10,10).

The Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ leads us to that fullness of life which we invoke upon all humanity, which is invited to quench its thirst at the springs of salvation. In truth, the heavenly Father, by sending his own Son, has responded, in a total and definitive way as he alone can, to the many anxieties, doubts and expectations of the human heart. In our day we are witnessing a practical materialism, with its consumeristic view of things and of time, which is stifling the natural longing for God in humanity’s heart and the search for the fullness of life, by clipping the wings of intelligence and faith. This secular mentality is arid ground for the seed of the Gospel, and a new and difficult challenge for us all: a challenge to the spiritual vigour of every local Church and every Christian. Only the Holy Spirit, who pours his dew upon our dryness and bends our stubbornness (cf. Sequence of Pentecost), can till such ground and make it fertile, so that the Word of God can put down roots in it.

Trusting in the Holy Spirit, who has guided the Church through many difficulties in the past 2,000 years, you will be able to cross the threshold of the third millennium without fear. May these years of preparing and celebrating the Great Jubilee encourage that “life in abundance” which the Saviour comes to bring to all your local communities, especially that of the beloved Diocese of São Tomé and Príncipe, which I remember with great affection before the Lord. May its Gospel workers not let themselves be dismayed by the seemingly scarce fruit of their apostolic labours; as I think of each one of them and of you, dear and venerable Brother, Bishop Abílio, I recall Jesus’ words: “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent ... for I have many people in this city” (Ac 18,9-10).

I still have before my eyes the enchanting and vivid image of your islands, nourished by a generous and fruitful climate. In my heart I see this nature as an allegory of the inhabitants of São Tomé, who must respond to divine grace in the same way and measure, certainly no less generous or life-giving than the climate. Remembering that only saints are truly happy, may they let themselves be raised to heaven, which never ceases to call and draw them, and may they be closely joined in their hearts and lives to the ecclesial “land” where they have been transplanted by Baptism and are nourished especially by the Eucharist.

Lastly, as I implore God for true physical and spiritual well-being for all the inhabitants of São Tomé and Angola, with respect for their dignity as persons loved by God and redeemed by the blood of Christ, I wholeheartedly bless them, especially those who are suffering in body or soul, deprived of their relatives or far from home. I impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to those who work with you in building up the Church and to each one of you.



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Next Saturday, 31 May, I will be in Wroclaw, Poland, to conclude the International Eucharistic Congress on the theme “Eucharist and Freedom”. This is why I cannot join you at the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens for the traditional, evocative celebration at the Virgin’s feet at the end of the month of Mary. Nevertheless, I do not want this intense moment of prayer to lack a sign of my spiritual participation. Thus I entrust my cordial greetings for you all to Cardinal Virgilio Noè, my Vicar General for Vatican City.

The Church commemorates Mary’s Visitation to St Elizabeth on the last day of May. Our gaze pauses on the Blessed Virgin, wonderous Ark of the Covenant, who brought into the world Jesus Christ, the new and eternal Covenant between God and humanity. She is presented to the eyes of believers as a wonderful monstrance of the Body of Christ, conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our thoughts turn to the moment of the Incarnation when the Word, on coming into the world, offers the Father his own humanity taken from Mary: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me.... Then I said: ‘Lo, I have come to do your will, O God’” (He 10,5). Christ’s oblation in the Incarnation was to be crowned in the paschal mystery, of which the Eucharist is the everlasting memorial.

Mary conforms to her Son’s act of self-giving with full accord of mind and heart, from the “yes” of Nazareth to that of Golgotha. The Blessed Virgin lived in constant communion with Christ: her whole life can be said to be a sort of “Eucharistic” communion, communion with that “Bread come down from heaven”, given by the Father for the life of the world.

In her communion with Christ, Mary fully realizes her own freedom as a creature in no way subject to the slavery of sin (cf. Jn Jn 8,34). She thus becomes an icon of hope and a prophecy of freedom for every human being and for all humanity. Mary sings of this in the Magnificat, precisely during her meeting with Elizabeth: “For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lc 1,49-50).

Dear brothers and sisters, as you venerate the Blessed Virgin at the end of this month of May, you will be guided by her to unite yourselves spiritually with us gathered in Wroclaw to adore Christ the Eucharist, the Saviour of the world, the Freedom of man.

I thank you for the prayerful remembrance with which you accompany me, especially during my Apostolic Visits. I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin’s motherly protection and cordially impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to all who are dear to you.

From the Vatican, 28 May 1997.





Friday, 30 May 1997

Dear Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,

1. I welcome you to this meeting which is taking place on the occasion of the 20th Ordinary General Chapter of your congregation. I cordially thank the Superior General, Fr Virginio Bressanelli, for his words expressing the sentiments of all and illustrating the theme and objectives of these days of prayer, reflection and discernment.

I was pleased to learn that today your institute is present on four continents with about 2,400 religious and is therefore a richly diversified ecclesial reality. During your Chapter, your aim has been to work out some guidelines for the congregation’s progress and activity in the various Provinces, in order to make the most of the members and gifts belonging to your religious family, in service to the Church and the Gospel.

In this intention, you certainly find support in the Communion of Saints from your venerable father founder, Léon Jean Dehon, the decree of whose heroic virtues I have had the joy of promulgating. I know that this is an important moment of grace for your congregation, a reason for renewed fervour, and I rejoice with you all.

Christian life, and even more the consecrated life, is a life of self-giving love (cf. Vita consecrata VC 75). Fr Dehon was thoroughly convinced of this: while still a young priest, he felt called to respond to the love of the Heart of Christ with a consecration of missionary and reparatory love.

Dear brothers, continue generously on this path, aware that to be faithful to the founder’s charism, it is first necessary to foster in yourselves that docility to the Holy Spirit which enabled him to adhere fully to divine inspiration. The vitality of your religious family depends precisely on the intensity of your spiritual life, expressed primarily in prayer. The Heart of Jesus, dear friends, is the focal point of your consecration. That Jesus, on whom the whole Church fixes her gaze especially this year, the first phase of the three-year preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, shows contemporary man his Heart, the source of life and holiness. King and centre of all hearts, Christ asks consecrated persons not only to contemplate him, but to enter into his Heart, to be able to live and work in constant communion with his sentiments.

The radicalism of following Christ, fidelity to your vows, brotherhood, apostolic service, ecclesial communion: everything derives from this inexhaustible source of grace.

2. The priority objectives of your Chapter rightly included a suitable formation, continual and adapted to the various phases of the life of the candidate and consecrated person. In my Post-Synodal Exhortation Vita consecrata I wrote: “Within the consecrated life there is a need for a renewed and loving commitment to the intellectual life, for dedication to study as a means of integral formation and as a path of asceticism which is extraordinarily timely, in the face of present-day cultural diversity. A lessened commitment to study can have grave consequences for the apostolate, by giving rise to a sense of marginalization and inferiority, or encouraging superficiality and rash initiatives” (n. 98).

Therefore an integral part of initial and continuing formation is study, deep study of theology, indispensable both for the quality of one's personal life and for serving the encounter between the Gospel and cultures. A fervent spiritual and intellectual life, in harmony with the Church's Tradition and the teachings of the Magisterium, will enable you to overcome the possibile temptations of halting and retreating from goals already reached, significant though they may be.

Dear sons of Fr Dehon, faithful to your founder, love the Church and her Pastors. People are impressed by the bonds of esteem, even of friendship, which linked Fr Dehon to the Roman Pontiffs throughout his long life. Leo XIII, for example, considered hm an excellent interpreter of his Magisterium. Benedict XV was his personal friend and entrusted him with building the Basilica of Christ the King in Rome. Make sure that your attitudes and projects are always marked by active collaboration with the Church's hierarchy, especially in the delicate task of forming and enlightening the consciences of the faithful, who are frequently disoriented and confused.

I repeat to you what I wrote to all consecrated persons: “You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be acomplished! Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things” (Vita consecrata VC 110). Fr Dehon’s charism is a fruitful gift for building the civilization of love, since the soul of the new evangelization is the witness of divine charity: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...” (Jn 3,16).

3. Keep your missionary ardour ever alive! One hundred years ago the first missionaries of your institute set out for the Congo, led by Fr Gabriel Grison, who spent his life among the peoples in the region of Kisangani, of which he became Vicar Apostolic. I am pleased to recall that I knelt at his grave during my first Apostolic Visit to Africa in May 1980. With deep admiration I learned that you have not left any of your missions in Congo-Zaire, accepting all the risks of the present time. God will certainly bless your courageous witness of love for Christ and for the local populations so sorely tried. Together with you, dear friends, I would like once again to commend to the Lord in prayer the sons and daughters of those tortured regions on the African continent, so that they may find the way to reconciliation and development.

Dear brothers, I am also pleased to see that you intend to enliven every aspect and activity of your congregation with a missionary spirit. In fact, everything in the Church is directed to the proclamation of Christ. My cordial hope is that you may always be able to combine in fruitful harmony fraternal communion and apostolic commitment, your outreach in the world and full harmony with the legitimate Pastors, attention to your confrères, especially those who are elderly, sick or in difficulty, and appreciation of the value of each individual for the common mission.

May this apostolic desire also imbue the other “branches” of the Family which follows Fr Dehon’s spirituality, that is, the branch of consecrated persons in secular life and the lay Dehonians.

4. Dear brothers, in a few days’ time we will be celebrating the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart: the Church’s liturgy offers you the richest source of inspiration for your Chapter. I pray that the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, will fill each one of you with his wisdom, so that your assembly may produce the fruits for which you hope. To this end, I cordially impart to you and to all the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus a special Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to the whole Dehonian Family.

Speeches 1997 - Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius