Speeches 1997 - 14 June 1997




Saturday, 14 June 1997

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical College of St Peter Apostle, which was celebrated on 22 February last, the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

I address a very special greeting to Cardinals Bernardin Gantin and Francis Arinze, former students of the college. I also greet Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on which the college depends. My thoughts then go to the rector, Fr Manfred Müller, and through him I would like to express my fervent thanks to all the Verbite Fathers and Brothers who in recent decades have co-operated in the management of the institute; I also thank the religious sisters for their valuable contribution.

2. In the early 1940’s, Mons. Celso Costantini, President of the Pontifical Society of St Peter Apostle, sponsored the construction of an urban college for priests from mission countries, who were sent to Rome to complete their ecclesiastical studies. The new institute was canonically erected by the Sacred Congregation of “Propaganda Fide” on 18 January 1947. The following year, on the eve of the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, Pope Pius XII, for the college’s inauguration, addressed a special Apostolic Exhortation to indigenous priests from all mission territories. Three years later, in the Encyclical Evangelii praecones, speaking of the developments of the missionary apostolate, my venerable Predecessor also mentioned the “‘Collegio Petriano sul Gianicolo', in which”, he wrote, “indigenous priests are formed in the most thorough and suitable way in the sacred disciplines, in virtue, in the apostolate” (Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Evangelii praecones on the development of the missionary apostolate, 2 June 1951, AAS, XLIII [1951], 500).

3. Dear friends, it was impossible for me to come and meet you at the college as I would have warmly wished to do, and as Pope Paul VI did for the 25th anniversary of the foundation, when he celebrated a memorable Mass of Pentecost there. On that special occasion, he said to the students: “We see in you, brothers and dear sons, candidates for the ministry of evangelization, a symbol of the chorus of all peoples, present and future, who, in unison and yet each in his own tongue, will tell of man’s salvation in Christ our Lord” (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, X, [1972], 538; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 June 1972, p. 10). In the climate of Pentecost, the College of St Peter Apostle appeared in the fullness of its “Catholic” vocation, a “house full of charity and truth, built for the express purpose of preaching our faith to the whole world — a faith ... actual and living, one and universal, dynamic and apostolic” (ibid.).

4. Today, looking at these 50 years which constitute the second half of the 20th century, one thinks spontaneously: how many changes there have been in the world and in the Church! At the same time, on the threshold of the third millennium, as humanity appears more than ever in need of truth, justice and hope, the Church renews her unchanging message: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever! (He 13,8). So, the reasons that led to the creation of this institute are more than ever valid and timely. It presents itself today as a valuable tool in the service of the new evangelization, of that Redemptoris missio which, “entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion”, indeed it “is still only beginning”, and we need to “commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service” (Redemptoris missio RMi 1).

To respond faithfully and appropriately to Christ’s mandate, the ministers of the Gospel need suitable premises for formation, just as the Upper Room was indispensable for the group of the Twelve. The College of St Peter Apostle is an authentic Upper Room for apostolic formation, where priests from all parts of the world are totally dedicated to prayer, study, fraternal life, so that their ministry may fully conform to the needs of the Church’s mission, and the Gospel may follow its course to the very ends of the earth.

Dear friends, this is my thought and my wish as I look at you today. This is my prayer, through the intercession of the Queen and of the Prince of the Apostles. And as I entrust to the Lord the almost 2,000 priests who, in the past 50 years, have been trained within the hospitable walls of the College of St Peter Apostle, I warmly impart my Blessing to you, today’s formation staff and students and to everyone present.






Thursday, 19 June 1997

Your Eminence,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO!

1. I address a cordial welcome to you all on the occasion of the joint annual meeting of the members of ROACO and the officials of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. I first greet Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, whom I thank for his cordial words expressing your common sentiments of affectionate devotion and explaining the many activities in which you are involved. With him I greet the Secretary of the Congregation, Archbishop Miroslav Marusyn, and the Undersecretary, Fr Marco Brogi. I am also pleased to greet Archbishop Datev Sarkissian, who has come as the representative of His Holiness Karekin I, Catholicos of All Armenians. Through the Archbishop I convey a fraternal greeting to the Catholicos, as I vividly recall our cordial meetings last December. Lastly, I greet all of you who have gathered here, and I express to each of you my pleasure and gratitude for the work you have accomplished.

I am pleased to meet you today, at the end of your convention, because I have noticed that despite the current economic difficulties, the generous commitment motivating the activities you represent has not diminished. As I recalled in my Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen, “the communities of the West are ready to encourage in every way ... the intensification of this ministry of ‘diakonia’, making available to such Churches the experience acquired in the years when charity was more freely exercised. Woe to us if the abundance of some were to produce the humiliation of others or a sterile and scandalous rivalry. On their part, Western communities will make it their duty above all to share, where possible, service projects with their brothers and sisters in the Eastern Churches, or to assist in bringing to a successful conclusion all that the latter are doing to help their people” (n. 23).

Eastern Catholics have paid high price for fidelity I still remember very clearly my recent visit to the Churches of Lebanon, to which I gave the Post-Synodal Exhortation Une espérance nouvelle pour le Liban. In it I recalled that the ecclesial mission presupposes the common commitment and firm will to make the most of each person's charisms and the spiritual riches of each community in order to be the leaven of unity and brotherhood. This is also achieved through “an exchange of gifts among all, with particular attention to the poorest, a characteristic service of the Catholic Church towards all people” (n. 118).

2. In the future, ROACO will be ever more actively involved in the work which the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spurred by the recent political changes, has begun: the broadening of the general perspective of service to the Eastern Catholic Churches by supporting and promoting them on their path in very different conditions. In fact, restored to new freedom, they are reflecting more and more systematically on how they can live their specific Eastern identity within the Catholic Church. In this very important process, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches feels duty-bound to show the universal Church’s concern, by inspiring and promoting new initiatives in the area of research and of a deeper understanding of the liturgy, spirituality and history, in formation work and in practical pastoral planning. Similarly and in a complementary way, the Congregation is rightly committed to ensuring that the Church in the West appreciates with ever greater sensitivity the contribution made by the Eastern Catholic Churches, thereby encouraging an ever fuller expression of catholicity itself. I beg you to support and foster the Congregation in its increased activity, which in time will become more and more demanding.

A practical example of these projects is the forthcoming meeting of the Bishops and Religous Superiors of the Eastern Catholic Churches of Europe, to be held in Hajdúdorog, Hungary, from 30 June to 6 July next, and will have the identity of Eastern Catholics as its theme. This is a truly important event, which gathers for meeting, reflection and listening to one another all who work in the dicastery for the Oriental Churches and the heads of those Churches which have paid so high a price for their fidelity to Christ and to the Roman See and which are meeting for the first time after decades of separation and persecution. The meeting, desired by the Congregation, clearly expresses that pastoral style which is increasingly requested of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, and occurs as a providential opportunity for Eastern Catholics to give new life to the legacy of their martyrs, to grow in awareness of the new pastoral needs and to face with faith and generosity the difficult situation of ecumenism, in which their role is called for again and again. I wish every success and an abundance of spiritual fruit for this initiative, which I cordially bless.

3. I would also like to strengthen what the Congregation for the Oriental Churches is doing for seminarians, priests and religious who are sent to Rome by their Bishops and Superiors to complete their formation and ecclesiastical studies. In their places of study and formation they should be helped to find a strong atmosphere of faith, the habit of biblical prayer, attention to the quality of their spiritual life, the witness of communion and esteem among all those who guide them at various levels, and apostolic zeal for service to God’s kingdom and to their Churches of origin.

I am pleased to draw the attention of ROACO and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches to another point. Several times in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, I mentioned the Holy Land in connection with the various phases of the Great Jubilee. It has always enjoyed the special affection of the entire Church.

From the very beginning of the Christian faith, the community of Corinth and the Churches of Galatia, motivated by the zeal of the Apostle Paul, put “something aside” and sent their “gift to Jerusalem” (cf. 1Co 16,1-4). The custom of aid has been strengthened by various initiatives, including the “Holy Land Collection”, which is particularly important today.

If the land of Jesus is in the hearts of all the faithful, it cannot happen that that the Christian community should experience situations of social disadvantage and that, because of certain forms of poverty, those brothers and sisters should eventually leave their country in search of more dignified living conditions.

I therefore warmly invite the whole Church to remember that what is done on occasion for the Holy Land, usually on Good Friday, is an act of exquisite and necessary brotherhood, which truly expresses what the land of Jesus means for all Christians.

4. Dear members of ROACO, the Pope knows that you are dedicated to the formation of individuals as well as to the improvement of structures, that you are concerned about solidarity between Christians as well as humanization projects for needy peoples or those suffering from underdevelopment, that you encourage the work of Catholic communities such as dialogue between Christians and interreligious dialogue. I am very satisfied with the responses you make to the requests you receive, but I am also grateful to those peoples and communities who, thanks to the work of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and of ROACO, see support being given to their efforts for a more intense resumption of apostolic initiative, and feel that these acts of sharing stem from a genuine and more universal love.

May the Virgin of Nazareth, Mother of the Redeemer, strengthen you in your intentions and keep you constantly attentive to her motherly voice: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2,5).

As a pledge of divine assistance, I cordially impart my Blessing to you, and willingly extend it to all the Churches and organizations you represent and to the very different situations for which you work.






Thursday, 19 June 1997

Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I offer my cordial greetings to you all, gathered here for the presentation of the prize awarded by the Paul VI Institute of Brescia in memory of my venerable Predecessor, born in Concesio precisely 100 years ago. So far this prize has been awarded mainly to outstanding figures in the world of culture and art. This year for the first time it is being awarded to a representative of that Catholic world which is actively involved — with well-founded inspiration and theory — in the area of human formation and charity, and I am particularly pleased to present it personally to Mr Jean Vanier, founder of Community of L’Arche. He is a great spokesman for the culture of solidarity and “the civilization of love”, both in the fields of thought and action, in his commitment to encouraging the integral development of every man and the whole man.

I have already had the pleasure of twice welcoming Mr Vanier here in the Vatican, in 1984 and in 1987, together with representatives of the communities he has founded. Today's occasion is a fitting opportunity to express the Church’s gratitude for a work that supports persons with disabilities in a much valued Gospel style which offers an original social service and at the same time an eloquent Christian witness.

I greet dear Bishop Bruno Foresti of Brescia, and I thank him for the words he has just addressed to me. I welcome the directors of the Paul VI Institute, and in particular its President, Dr Giuseppe Camadini, and Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, who was so close to Pope Paul VI. Once again I express to everyone my appreciation of the many projects promoted by this praiseworthy institute and especially for this award, which in some way continues the special attention the Servant of God Paul VI paid to individuals recognized by contemporary man as “teachers” because they are first and foremost “witnesses” (Evangelii nuntiandi EN 41).

In awarding this year's prize, reference has appropriately been made to the Encyclical Populorum progressio, which Pope Paul VI promulgated 30 years ago, calling everyone's attention to the spiritual and moral demands of authentic development. Today, as an important recognition is conferred on Jean Vanier and Community of L’Arche, let us thank the Lord for inspiring and fostering in his Church concrete signs of hope which show how it is possible to live the Gospel Beatitudes in everyday life, even in situations that are sometimes complex and difficult.

2. In a message addressed to a group of pilgrims of the Faith and Light Association, who came to Rome in 1975 for the Holy Year, Paul VI wrote that attention to handicapped persons is “the most important test of a fully human family, of a truly civilized society, a fortiori of a Church that is authentically Christian” (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIII [1975], p. 1197).

On the path it has followed for more than 30 years, as the President of the Paul VI Institute reminded us, L’Arche has become a providential seed of the civilization of love, a true seed and the bearer of an obvious dynamism. This is evident from its remarkable expansion in many regions of the world: it is present in 28 countries on the five continents. However, it is not limited to philanthropy nor even to mere assistance. Despite its growth and expansion, L’Arche has been able to preserve its original style, a style of openness and sharing, of attention and listening which always considers the other as a person to be accepted and deeply respected.

Doubtless this is due to the spiritual dimension that Mr Jean Vanier has always known how to put at the heart of the Community of L’Arche. It is an eloquent message for our time, which thirsts for solidarity but especially for a spirituality that is authentic and profound.

In this regard, how could we fail to think spontaneously of Fr Thomas Philippe, a Dominican who inspired and encouraged Mr Vanier to take the path to which the Lord was calling him? Subsequently he always accompanied him with his prayer and his presence. Today we pay a fervent tribute of gratitude to him who now lives in the “Arche of heaven”.

And how could we not remember all those men and women who surrounded the different communities of L’Arche with their silent and generous service? The distinction conferred today is also meant for all these people. It particularly honours individuals with handicaps, from the first two whom Mr Jean Vanier took into his home, to the great number of those who currently belong to L’Arche. Indeed they are the principal figures of L’Arche, who with faith, patience and a fraternal spirit make it a sign of hope and a joyful witness to the Redemption.

3. As I warmly congratulate Mr Jean Vanier, I hope that the work founded by him — as a whole and in every community — will always be accompanied by the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, to respond fittingly to the Lord’s plan, thus alleviating the suffering and needs of so many brothers and sisters.

Finally I invoke the constant protection of Mary most holy and cordially impart to you and in a special way to the Paul VI Institute, as well as to the founder and the members of L’Arche, a special Apostolic Blessing.





Friday, 20 June 1997

Your Eminence,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I would like first of all to express my deep satisfaction with this European Convention on the Church’s Social Doctrine, which for the first time has gathered together teachers of this discipline in order to determine the most satisfactory ways to teach and spread it. I thank Cardinal Roger Etchegaray for the kind words with which he has presented this significant event. I am grateful to Mons. Angelo Scola, Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical Lateran University, and to Prof. Adriano Bausola, Rector Magnificus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, for their effective collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in preparing this constructive meeting, a source of comfort and of hope.

The Church’s social doctrine is one of my keenest concerns, since I am profoundly aware of how generous and qualified the concern of the whole Church must be in proclaiming the Gospel of life, justice and solidarity to contemporary man.

In going deeply into the reasons for this ecclesial involvement, you appropriately paused to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Populorum progressio of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, and the 10th anniversary of Sollicitudo rei socialis. These two Encyclicals, with their demanding message, are a timely and patent warning not to abandon the work-place, where the development of the whole man and of every man is being constructed according to parameters that are not only economic but also moral.

2. In your daily service as teachers of the Church’s social doctrine, the question often recurs: “How should the truth entrusted to Christians be proposed in the present historical and cultural situation?” The clearest and most impelling need emerging today is to promote a “new evangelization”, a “new implantatio evangelica”, also with reference to social assistance. Pope Paul VI, in fact, urged people to overcome the gap between Gospel and culture by an inculturation of the faith capable of reaching and transforming, through the power of the Gospel, the criteria of judgement, decisive values, and lines of thought proper to every society. His main intention, particularly timely if we consider the situation in Europe, aimed at highlighting with renewed effort the importance of Christian faith for history, culture and human coexistence.

Beginning with Jesus Christ, man’s only salvation, it is possible to show the universal value of our Christian faith and anthropology and their importance in every aspect of life. In Christ, the human being is offered a specific, individual and supportive interpretation of his reality, open to transcendence.

Starting precisely from this anthropology, the Church’s social doctrine cannot be presented as an ideology or “third way” like other political and social proposals, but precisely as a specific moraltheological knowledge that originates in God and is communicated to man (cf. Sollicitudo rei socialis SRS 41). In this mystery it finds the inexhaustible source for interpreting and guiding human events. The new evangelization, to which the whole Church is called, must therefore fully integrate the Church’s social doctrine (cf. ibid.), to be in a better position to reach and question the European peoples in the concrete context of their problems and situations.

3. Another viewpoint, from which to understand the wide horizons of your formative commitment hinged on the Church’s social doctrine, concerns Christian ethics.

In the present-day culture of contemporary Europe, there is a strong tendency to “privatize” ethics and to deny the Christian moral message its public importance. The Church’s social doctrine in itself represents a rejection of such privatization, because it sheds light on the authentic and decisive social dimensions of the faith, illustrating the ethical consequences.

As I have affirmed on various occasions, in the perspective outlined by the Church’s social doctrine, we must never cease to stress humanity’s essential link with the truth, and the primacy of ethics over politics, economy and technology.

Through her social doctrine, the Church thus questions the European continent, which is experiencing a complex and troubled season at the level of political and economic integration and social organization, on the moral quality of her civilization, an inescapable prerequisite for building a future based on true peace, freedom and hope for every people and every nation.

4. In the face of the many difficult challenges of the present time, the Church, in her evangelizing activity, is called upon to develop an intense and tireless work of formation in social responsibility. I am convinced that you will not fail to make your qualified contribution to it, since this work's basic structure is the Church’s social doctrine. In that light it will be possible to show how the full meaning of the human and Christian vocation also includes the social dimension. The Second Vatican Council clearly recalls this when it says in Gaudium et spes: “The gifts of the spirit are manifold: some men are called to testify openly to mankind’s yearning for its heavenly home and keep the awareness of it vividly before men’s minds; others are called to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of men and in this way to prepare the way for the kingdom of heaven” (Gaudium et spes GS 38).

In this perspective, education in social involvement appears as the development of an authentic Christian spirituality, which by its nature is called to enliven every human activity. Its essential element will be the effort to live the deep unity between love of God and love of neighbour, between prayer and action. Thus your teaching should constantly return to this, dear teachers of the Church’s social doctrine. Yours is a contribution that must always be an organic part of the Christian community’s pastoral action.

5. A satisfactory education in social involvement implies a twofold and unitive requirement: to have a thorough knowledge of the Church’s social doctrine on the one hand and, on the other, to be able to discern concretely the effects of the Gospel message on man’s fufilment in the different circumstances of his earthly existence. This twofold requirement becomes particularly urgent if one considers the theme of development, which you have addressed during the Convention’s work. In fact, while the current processes of economic globalization present many positive aspects, they also reveal worrying tendencies to leave the neediest countries and even entire regions on the fringes of development. It is the world of employees above all that is obliged to face the frequently dramatic consequences of imposing changes in production and the distribution of goods and economic services.

The sector most favoured in the processes of economic globalization seems to be the one commonly called “private” because of its dynamic entrepreneurial dimension. The Church’s social doctrine recognizes that it certainly has a significant role in promoting development, but at the same time reminds each one of his responsibility to be keenly sensitive to the values of the common good and social justice, and always to act accordingly. The lack, at international level, of adequate structures to regulate and direct the current processes of economic globalization, does not diminish the social responsibility of business people working in this context. The plight of the poorest persons and nations requires each one to assume his own responsibilities so that favourable conditions for the authentic development of all can be created without delay.

Peoples have a right to development: it is therefore the organization of economic, political and social structures and the very principles governing the distribution of work implemented so far that need to be reviewed and corrected, in accordance with each person's right to work within the framework of the common good. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace continues to focus attention on this urgent need, entering into an explanatory dialogue with qualified representatives of the various economic and social categories, such as entrepreneurs, economists, trade unionists, international institutions, and the academic world.

As I thank the President and all his co-workers in this dicastery for their generous dedication, I sincerely hope that their commitment will effectively contribute to sowing the seed of the civilization of love in the furrows of human events. I hope that the teachers present here will become the expert trainers of the new generations, sustained by faith in Christ, the Redeemer of every man and the whole of man, by their constant contact with the problems of the modern age, by a mature pastoral experience and by the wise use of the modern media.

May my Blessing comfort you in your work.





Friday, 20 June 1997

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Argentine Republic to the Holy See.

I would like first of all to express my gratitude for the kind words you have just addressed to me. They express your noble intentions as your new mission in your country’s service is beginning, and they witness to the sincere and cordial relations the Holy See maintains with Argentina. I would particularly like to thank you for the respectful greeting you have conveyed to me from President Carlos Saúl Menem, while at the same time I ask you to express to him my best wishes for peace and wellbeing, and for the prosperity and integral progress of all the sons and daughters of this noble nation.

2. I would like my words, Mr Ambassador, to be encouraging and full of hope now that the Argentine people are preparing to face the challenges of the third millennium. The future holds many challenges and presents obstacles that are not always easy to overcome; but difficulties must not be a reason for discouragement, since Argentina relies on a firm basis for the building of her future: her deep Christian roots, the eloquent legacy of 500 years of the Church’s evangelizing presence in the lands of America.

At this time in the nation’s life, the Church reaffirms her vocation of service to all men, imbuing culture with Christian meaning and enlightening the moral conscience of each individual so that his decisions may always take into account fundamental ethical values. In this way, the Church helps to build a society in accordance with God’s plan: a fraternal and reconciled society in which hard work, honesty and the spirit of sharing prevail; a society in which the basic rights of all citizens, especially those of the weakest, are safeguarded.

3. In the exercise of her mission, both in your own country and in the other places which she has reached, the Church pays special attention to the integral formation of the person and especially to that of children and the young, offering an education that is based on human principles and Christian morality. Argentine Catholics, especially those involved in teaching, are working with dedication to help the new generations, who represent the nation’s future, to be aware of their duties regarding the common good and that cordial understanding among all which is so necessary for democratic life.

The Church considers that the constitutional State and the application of democratic principles, by which conflicts can be solved through negotiation and dialogue, are important for the preservation and exercise of human rights in the contemporary world, since they are never based on the moral relativism which has regrettably spread in our time. This relativism seeks to reject all certainty about the meaning of man’s life and his basic dignity, which must be respected by all social institutions, and it fails to oppose the various ways this life and dignity are manipulated and disparaged, causing people to lose sight of what constitutes the noblest quality of democracy: the defence of the human person’s incomparable value.

4. The Holy See appreciates the Argentine Government’s commitment to promote the inalienable right to life by raising its voice, in a responsible and determined manner, at international forums, often in situations marked by the spread of an anti-life culture which in many cases is synonymous with the “culture of death” and presents recourse to abortion and euthanasia as a sign of progress and the achievement of freedom. Thus a common ethical effort is vitally necessary today in order to carry out an important pro-life strategy. This is the specific task of social leaders, whose duty it is to make courageous decisions in the defence of life, especially in the area of legislation, guaranteeing the support owed to the family, since “a family policy must be the basis and driving force of all social policies” (Evangelium vitae EV 90).

In this regard, when many are seeking to spread an anti-birth mentality and an erroneous vision of sexuality, and demanding that the law authorize the abominable crime of abortion; when the threat of accepting genetic manipulation of the means of human reproduction is sometimes put forward, men and women of goodwill are called to support and promote the family institution and its irreplaceable basis which is — in accordance with the divine plan — indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman. It must not be forgotten that without stable families not only is ecclesial life weakened, but the common good of the nation deteriorates.

5. The development of peoples depends largely on their authentic integration in a world order based on solidarity. The Church’s task is not so much to suggest concrete programmes of action, which is not her responsibility, but to shed greater light on the moral conscience of political, economic and financial leaders. This is why she holds up the principal of solidarity as the basis for a true economy of communion and the sharing of goods, in the international as well as the national order. This solidarity requires an equitable sharing of the efforts to solve the problems of underdevelopment and the sacrifices necessary for overcoming economic crises, while keeping in mind the needs of the most defenceless peoples.

6. The efforts made in various parts of the country to raise the spiritual and material level of the citizens are praiseworthy. In this regard, as the Argentine Bishops also had the opportunity to point out, re-echoing the Magisterium, the Church maintains that such initiatives must be inspired by the moral values which are the basis of a peaceful and prosperous society and assure the best integral development of the members of the national community.

I would like to close my address by urging and encouraging all Argentine society to cultivate the virtues of prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice in public life. This attitude will be a sure guide in the faithful fulfilment of its own duty and responsibility, in order to overcome the problems that arise and to look with hope to the nation’s future.

7. Mr Ambassador, as you begin to exercise the lofty function to which you have been appointed, I hope that your task will be fruitful and will help strengthen the good relations between this Apostolic See and the Argentine Republic. In this task you can always rely on the welcome and support of those who assist me. As I ask you to convey my sentiments and good wishes to the President of your country and to the dear Argentine people, I assure you of my prayers to the Almighty, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin of Luján, that with his gifts he may always assist you and your distinguished family, the embassy staff and your country’s authorities and citizens, whom I always remember with special affection and on whom I invoke abundant blessings from the Lord.

Speeches 1997 - 14 June 1997