Speeches 1997 - 16 December 1997





Thursday, 18 December 1997

Your Excellencies,

1. I am pleased to welcome you to the Eternal City on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you to the Holy See as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your respective countries: Benin, Eritrea, Norway, Sri Lanka and Togo. On this occasion, I willingly renew the expression of my esteem and friendship for the authorities of your nations and all your compatriots. Touched by the cordial messages you have conveyed to me from your heads of State, I would be grateful if you would reciprocate my respectful greetings and warm wishes for them and for their lofty mission in the service of their fellow citizens.

2. To respond to the peoples' legitimate hopes and aspirations for peace and material and spiritual well-being, it is right to recall the importance of dialogue within the national communities and between countries, dialogue which is the way of reason and an essential aspect of diplomatic life. In this spirit, it is important to support the nations which have to develop further their democratic life, so as to enable the greatest possible number to take part in public life. I likewise invite those who have a role in the concert of nations to do all they can to encourage communication between peoples and to urge political and economic leaders to continue on the path of international co-operation. It is clear - as history has frequently shown - that, in the long-run, violence or force never resolves situations of conflict. On the contrary, they only reinforce every form of particularism.

3. At the end of the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops which has just concluded in Rome, the Pastors frequently echoed the voice of the poor; with them, in my wishes, I cannot but call for a renewed commitment by the international community for those countries that must continue to fight even harder against poverty, the source of many evils for persons and peoples, including in particular the scourges of drugs and delinquency in every form. With the approach of the third millennium, a greater awareness is also desirable, in order to encourage respect for all individuals, especially children, who do not always have the opportunity to receive the education to which they have a right, who are the object of many forms of exploitation and are sometimes obliged to work in degrading conditions. As diplomats, I am certain that you are particularly sensitive to these aspects of social life.

4. At the time when you are beginning your mission, which will enable you to have a deeper knowledge of the life and activity of the Apostolic See, I offer you my best wishes and I invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon your persons, your families, your coworkers and the nations you represent.





Thursday, 18 December 1997

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive Your Excellency in this house and to welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Benin to the Holy See.

I am touched by your friendly words. They attest to your country's esteem for the spiritual and religious dimension of national life. I thank you for the respectful greetings you have brought me from H.E. Mr Mathieu Kérékou, President of the Republic of Benin. Kindly convey my cordial greetings to him in return. I also offer my affectionate best wishes to all the people of Benin for their courageous efforts to build a nation that is ever more united and just. May God grant prosperity and happiness to everyone!

2. In your address you emphasized that your country is resolutely committed to the process of building a democratic society. On this difficult path, the establishment of a State ruled by law is a priority that must permit everyone to enjoy all his prerogatives as a citizen, with freedom and respect for legitimate pluralism. One of your essential concerns remains the satisfaction of each individual's basic needs and the encouragement of an honest and equitable division of benefits and responsibilities. To this end, it is important that justice govern the use and distribution of national resources.

3. I am pleased to know that in Benin relations between the Catholic community and the followers of Islam are usually peaceful. In fact, God "wants us to bear witness to him through our respect for the values and religious traditions of each person, working together for human progress and development at all levels" (Ecclesia in Africa ). To build up the nation, it is essential that believers, and on a wider scale, all people of goodwill, join forces in the service of the common good, thereby showing that God has made them members of one human family and all are marked with equal dignity. I keenly hope that these good relations will help preserve the nation's unity, so indispensable for maintaining and strengthening peace and harmony between citizens.

4. In a spirit of dialogue and fraternal co-operation, the Catholic Church in your country, through the commitment of her members, has a legitimate role in national life. In fact, she intends to participate actively, in her own place and according to her own vocation, in the human and spiritual development of individuals. By putting herself at everyone's service in many areas, including those of education, health, welfare and charitable assistance, she helps to improve the people's living conditions and fosters the progress of justice and harmony. By her Gospel witness in word and deed, by her respect for the freedom and beliefs of each individual as well as of the human and religious communities, the Church carries out the mission she received from Christ, which it is her urgent duty to fulfil. She rejects all divisions and opposition that might threaten the pursuit of the common good and is conscious that she is called to work ardently to establish a true "civilization of love".

5. Mr Ambassador, allow me through you to extend my warm greetings to the Catholic community of Benin and to its Bishops. The recent creation of several new Dioceses and the erection of a second Ecclesiastical Province in the country testify to the Gospel energy of the Church in Benin. I invite the faithful, in close union with their Pastors, to be nourished by the universal love of Christ, in an attitude of mutual respect and dialogue with everyone. Thus, as we approach the third millennium, they will help build a nation of solidarity and brotherhood!

6. As you begin your mission, I offer you my cordial wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Be assured that my co-workers will offer you the attentive and understanding welcome you may need.

On your Excellency, on the people of Benin and on the leaders of the nation, I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings.





Thursday, 18 December 1997

Mr Ambassador,

It is my pleasure to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Eritrea to the Holy See. I am also happy to receive the greetings which you bring from His Excellency President Isaias Afwerki, and I would ask you kindly to convey to him my own prayerful good wishes for your country and the well-being of its people.

Your Excellency has referred to Eritrea's commitment to ensure peace and harmony within its own borders and to work with other nations in making peace a reality in your region. In this endeavour your country will find a ready partner in the Catholic Church which everywhere proclaims the Gospel message of truth, justice and peace. The Church and the political community, each in its own sphere, are independent and self-governing. Yet each also serves the personal and social vocation of the same human beings. Although they live in a finite period of history, men and women are not restricted to the temporal sphere. They are called to transcendence. This lofty calling and sublime destiny of the human person should be an important element in shaping the social, economic and political undertakings of individuals, peoples and nations.

It is out of fidelity to the Gospel and concern for the human person that the Church in Eritrea is involved in the fields of education, health-care and social service. In this way she seeks to contribute to the continuing development of your people, especially during this time of reconstruction and democratization after a devastating war. In this regard, I gratefully note Your Excellency's kind words of recognition for all that the Church has done and continues to do in the building up of Eritrean society.

As you know, last year the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations sponsored a World Food Summit here in Rome. The question at issue was the need to ensure worldwide food security, especially in the face of the tragic consequences of drought and hunger in various parts of the globe. During the previous decade, terrible famines visited great disaster upon the peoples in your part of Africa, and food shortages of more recent years continue to cause hardship and death. Throughout the world there are still hundreds of millions of people who suffer from malnutrition, and no immediate solution has yet been forthcoming. For this reason, the need is ever more urgent, as I said to the participants at the World Food Summit, for all people to work together in order to find a remedy to this situation, "so that we will no longer have, side by side, . . . the starving and the wealthy, . . . those who lack the necessary means and others who lavishly waste them" (Address to the World Food Summit in Rome, 13 November 1996, No. 2).

Any effort to solve this problem demands economic and political decisions made by governmental bodies, both national and international, aimed at encouraging and enhancing local agricultural production while at the same time protecting farmland and conserving natural resources. Aid to developing countries and procedures for determining fair trade terms and credit agreements should go hand in hand with a strategy for the effective sharing of technological advancements and the appropriate training of people, so that these countries themselves will be the agents of their own progress.

It is precisely the promotion of such cooperation between States that is one of the main objectives of the Holy See's activity in the field of international diplomacy, a cooperation based on the utmost respect for human dignity and concern for the needs of the less fortunate. A concerted effort on the part of all peoples and nations is required. In this regard, the developed world has a clear responsibility towards Africa, not just for historical reasons but also because peace cannot be genuinely had by some unless it is shared by all. A new sense of solidarity with Africa is needed, especially in caring for the great number of displaced persons and refugees, and in the fight against the AIDS epidemic. But this assistance should fully respect the specific social and cultural structures and traditions of Africa, since Africans themselves must be the builders of their own future.

Mr Ambassador, as you assume your responsibilities within the diplomatic community accredited to the Holy See, I offer you my good wishes for the success of your high mission. I assure you that the various offices of the Holy See will always be ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. I cordially invoke upon you and upon the beloved people of Eritrea the abundant blessings of Almighty God.





Thursday, 18 December 1997

Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which His Majesty King Harald V has appointed you his Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. I greatly appreciate His Majesty's kind message and I would ask you to convey to him my greetings and to assure him of my prayers for the Royal Family and for the people of Norway.

During my Pastoral Visit in 1989 I came into contact with the rich Christian heritage of your country. The celebrations two years ago for the Millennium of the presence of Christianity in Norway reminded us of how Christian values have made an indelible mark. Those celebrations invited people to reflect on their past, on a Christian tradition which stretches back to the return of the newly baptized King Olav I to Norway in the year 995. The Norwegian people have allowed their faith to shape their attitudes towards each other and have manifested that religious patrimony in their concern for the less fortunate at home, and for the poor in other lands. In opening its doors to refugees from various nations, your country has continually drawn the world's attention to the problem of those who lack basic necessities or whose rights are trampled on.

In its involvement in international affairs, the Holy See is guided by recognition of the intrinsic worth and inalienable rights of every human person. This is the same vision which underlies the Church's commitment to every form of authentic human development. An overly narrow interpretation of development in terms of material and economic prosperity would lead to a neglect of essential questions concerning the nature and destiny of man, since the mere accumulation of goods is not sufficient for human happiness (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 28). Likewise, authentic human development requires an understanding of the human being not as an isolated individual but as a person who lives and grows in a community. It is important that people should enjoy the freedom to express themselves and their social and religious needs within the community to which they belong. Deserving of particular attention are those institutions in society which transmit to their members a sense of where true values life and of what leads to full personal development. I refer in particular to the primordial role of the family and to the importance of the educational sector. Through their participation in these realities and corresponding social institutions, citizens develop a sense of respect and concern for others, which expresses itself in that firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good which we call solidarity (cf. ibid., 38).

In the international sphere, solidarity leads to cooperation with other nations, seen as neighbours to be assisted, not as instruments to be used by the more powerful (cf. ibid., 39). Attention to the demands of solidarity has led your country to be particularly generous in sharing its resources with the less fortunate. In this area, the Church seeks to draw attention to the values which need to be respected in order to achieve authentic development. She constantly seeks to remind the international community that over and above economic and technical assistance, concern for the authentic development of other nations involves respect for their cultural and spiritual values.

These values and traditions represent a fount from which the life of a nation flows. They indicate the direction which should be taken in order to ensure the harmonious progress of society. However, there exists a widespread temptation today to relegate the spiritual dimension to the private sphere. If reference to the spiritual and the transcendent is removed from public life, it becomes all too easy to define the human person in merely biological or sociological terms. In such a situation, people are in danger of surrendering to forces which have the will and the means to impose their views. The experience of the twentieth century has made us painfully aware of what can happen to groups and even whole nations when any appeal to a higher law is rejected. Nations with a Christian tradition have a particular responsibility to safeguard the values which have made them what they are and to draw on those values in their efforts to defend fundamental rights, including freedom of religion and the freedom of minorities to follow their own traditions within the limits of what serves the common good.

Though numerically small, the Catholic Church in Norway, together with the other Christian communities, strives to strengthen the values which have shaped Norway over the last Millennium. Respect for the poor and the marginalized, for the elderly and the handicapped, defence of the rights of minorities and promotion of the family are important elements of ecumenical cooperation. Likewise, the Church, which has at heart the transcendent vocation and the integral good of the human person, cannot but be strong in her defence of the sacred character of all human life. She is convinced that the good of every human community and of the political community itself is founded on recognition of this fundamental right.

Mr Ambassador, as you assume your responsibilities as the Representative of the Kingdom of Norway, I offer you cordial good wishes. The various departments of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you as you carry out your duties. In renewing the expression of my esteem for His Majesty the King and for the people of your country, I invoke upon you the abundant blessings of Almighty God.






Thursday, 18 December 1997

Mr Ambassador,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the Vatican today and to accept the Letters of Credence whereby Her Excellency President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga names you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Holy See. I am grateful for the greetings you bring from the President and I ask you to convey to Her Excellency the assurance of my prayers for the peace and prosperity of the entire nation. I take this occasion to affirm once more my deep respect for the people of Sri Lanka and for the rich spiritual and cultural heritage of your country.

The simultaneous presence of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity has been a source of enrichment for Sri Lankan society. The contribution of the various religious groups in Sri Lanka is of inestimable value for the development of the nation in its fullest sense. In her relations with other religions, the Catholic Church follows the path of dialogue, and on the occasion of my visit to your country in 1995 I was pleased to experience firsthand the climate of religious harmony which your people have fostered for centuries. In carrying out her spiritual mission the Church works within civil society to promote justice, compassion and respect for others. A society which ignores or neglects life's spiritual dimension becomes over-conditioned by material considerations, and respect for the superior values stemming from the dignity of the human person declines. This leads inevitably to injustice against the most vulnerable: the poor, the old, the weak. For this reason, the traditional Sri Lankan respect for religion is a gift to be treasured and protected. Spiritual leaders must face the challenge of ensuring that religion remains a force for understanding and peace. And civil society must guarantee and ensure the religious freedom necessary for the harmonious co-existence of all the various groups which make up the nation.

The Holy See is aware that the Government of Sri Lanka is presently engaged on a project of Constitutional Reform, and it appreciates the Government's concern to safeguard the nation's long tradition of religious freedom and cooperation. It must be everyone's desire that the new Constitution will effectively help to resolve the ethnic conflict which has so gravely damaged the fabric of Sri Lankan society and caused so many victims. Your Excellency has referred to your Government's complex peace strategy, including the "peace caravan" which is meant to bring the question close to the people. Any such strategy can hope to succeed only if it makes possible a true dialogue between all those involved in conflict. It is essential that all parties should have an attitude of openness and, when necessary, be willing to make the compromises necessary to balance opposing interests. A just peace must enshrine a guaranteed respect for the legitimate rights of everyone, independently of ethnic origin, political conviction or religious creed.

Many of the threats to world peace today arise from the strident contrast between the wealth of some and the poverty of others. The Holy See has asked on many occasions for a more equitable distribution of resources and has encouraged the richer nations to be ever more sensitive to the true needs of developing nations. Attempts to resolve the major difficulties facing the world in the area of development must be inspired by appreciation of the transcendent mystery of the human person. For this reason, programmes of aid and assistance which impose conditions that degrade human dignity and freedom, or destroy important values in a nation's culture are unacceptable.

Mr Ambassador, you have mentioned the contribution of the Catholic Church to your country's social progress. In the field of education, it is important to bear in mind the crucial importance of the all-round formation of the young people who are the future of the nation. The values they learn today will be those which affect the social fabric of your country tomorrow. It is essential that they should be made aware of the spiritual dimension of human life and that they be helped to overcome the temptations which a materialist culture can set before them. An appreciation of moral values and an attitude of respect for others are as important as any technical skill they may acquire.

When the Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka came to Rome last year on their ad Limina visit, I spoke of the fact that "the Church's contribution to the integral development of Sri Lankan society lies in putting forward a vision in which economic, political and social progress go hand in hand with religious, cultural and moral advancement". Deep within the individual is a yearning for something that no material prosperity can satisfy. The Church's presence in various kinds of social activity and in the area of health is based first and foremost on her Divine Founder's command to love our neighbour as ourselves. She bears a mission distinct from that of political authorities, but in the service of the human family she seeks active cooperation with all men and women of good will, and with the social institutions which maintain a just hierarchy of values and a true concept of the common good.

The members of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, under the guidance of their Bishops, are always ready to cooperate with their Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim fellow citizens in the service of the common good. Some of them have suffered much in the ethnic conflict, but their hope is to support and cooperate in initiatives aimed at securing a just and lasting peace. They will continue to make their specific contribution in the various areas of social development, the defence of life, and the moral and religious progress of the nation.

Mr Ambassador, as you undertake your responsibilities, it is my hope that the bonds of friendship which exist between the Holy See and Sri Lanka will be further strengthened. I assure you that you can rely on the help of the various offices and departments of the Roman Curia in fulfilling your mission. I extend to you, to your family and colleagues my heartfelt good wishes, and I invoke upon you and the people of Sri Lanka abundant divine blessings.





Thursday, 18 December 1997

Mr Ambassador,

1. Welcome to this house where I have the pleasure of receiving Your Excellency on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Togo to the Holy See.

Thank you for the greetings you have conveyed to me from H.E. Mr Gnassingbé Eyadéma, President of the Republic of Togo. I would be grateful if you would express my respectful wishes to him in return. I hope the people of Togo, to whom I am close in mind and heart, will enjoy prosperity and happiness in an ever more fraternal society, based on justice and solidarity.

2. I am pleased to hear what you have said about Togo's commitment toto reinforce relations of co-operation and friendship among the people. While Africa still has too many areas of tension in addition to serious fratricidal conflicts, it is necessary to persevere with conviction in the common efforts that have already been made to ensure that a true culture of solidarity also prevails within nations as well as between them. The quest for appropriate solutions to people's vital problems, so that each one may enjoy peaceful and decent living conditions, is a priority for the establishment of lasting peace.

3. In your address you also emphasized that your country is aiming to establish a State of law. Indeed, its establishment is indispensable to enabling an authentic democracy to take root. To work effectively for the nation's progress and development, it is the duty of the State's leaders to see that in political and social life all citizens can exercise their legitimate rights and benefit from the freedoms indispensable for doing so. The opportunity for everyone to choose their leaders freely and to participate in the political decisions that govern the life of the community are an essential prerogative which does not allow what belongs to all to be confiscated for the benefit of a few.

Freedom itself is ordered to the truth, especially when it involves the understanding of human nature and the correct perception of man's role in social life. In fact, the human person's transcendent dignity must guide political activity, in order to guarantee freedom in the future. As I have emphasized several times, "freedom attains its full development only by accepting the truth. In a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation and man is exposed to the violence of passion and to manipulation, both open and hidden" (Centesimus annus CA 46).

4. The Catholic Church, for her part, intends to collaborate loyally in seeking the common good. Naturally, the administration of public affairs is not her vocation. She recognizes the legitimate autonomy of political institutions as well as her own freedom in their regard so that she may proclaim the Good News without hindrance and call attention to its demands. She makes a specific contribution to promoting the good of the national community by discerning and encouraging what enables man to live and grow in conformity with his vocation, while combatting all that is opposed to Gospel values and thus becomes unacceptable in certain circumstances.

In fact, if she is to be faithful to her mission of service to the Gospel, the Church cannot ignore concrete human problems. Participating through her members in the life of society, she is not indifferent to the lot of persons and human communities, nor to the dangers that threaten them. It is therefore her task to propose clearly values which must be guaranteed if human dignity and individual and collective rights are to be respected. In many situations, it is her duty to become the voice of those who have no voice. For her proper vocation is to help build a just and reconciled society, in which each individual can achieve his full human and spiritual potential.

Mr Ambassador, I take this solemn occasion to greet affectionately all the Bishops and members of Togo's Catholic community: I know their Gospel zeal. I warmly encourage them to work, in harmony with all people of goodwill in their country, to build a renewed and fraternal society, where each individual will find his place and develop the gifts he has received from God. As we prepare to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I invite them to renew their hope, and to bear witness to it among their brothers and sisters.

5. As you begin your mission, I offer you my best wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Be assured that those who work with me will always show you the attention and understanding you may need.

I invoke an abundance of divine Blessings on Your Excellency, on the people of Togo and on those responsible its destiny.





Friday, 19 December 1997

1. As you make your ad limina visit, I am pleased to receive you in the house of Peter's Successor. For every Bishop this is an incomparable opportunity to strengthen his ministry by praying at the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul, and for experiencing important moments of ecclesial communion through your various meetings with the members of the curial dicasteries. Through the intercession of the Apostles, may you continue your pastoral mission with the joy, strength and vision granted by the Holy Spirit!

2. In your quinquennial report, you described to me the spiritual vitality of the Archdiocese of Luxembourg. With a view to the Great Jubilee and the new evangelization, which it is the Church's duty to undertake in the third millennium, you have involved the archdiocesan community in a Synod process entitled: Church 2005: On the Way with Jesus Christ, Together for Mankind. Thus you are appropriately inviting pastors and the faithful to contemplate Christ and the Christian mystery through formation programmes, constantly renewed acceptance of God's word, a detailed study of the liturgy and a more intense community life. Indeed it is through spiritual and intellectual growth that all the members of God's People increase their faith and are more deliberately involved in mission, each one according to his own charism and the service he has been given to accomplish in the Church and in society.

3. I would like to pay tribute to the work done by priests, who are devoted to faithfully transmitting the Gospel, the Church's teaching, and in particular the Council's message, in order to lead and sanctify the Christian people, so that they may all become disciples of Christ. I am aware of the importance and multiplicity of their tasks, especially at a time when the shortage of priests is becoming painful. I urge them not to be discouraged and to continue to be watchful in their prayers and in their spiritual life. Thus they will rekindle the gift of God that is in them through the laying on of hands (cf. 2Tm 1,6), in order fully to exercise the ministry entrusted to them.

4. Pastors are called to carry out their mission in co-operation with the laity, in a co-ordinated way and without confusing what pertains to the ordained ministry with what belongs to the universal priesthood of the baptized. "Because of each member's unique and irrepeatable character ... each individual is placed at the service of the growth of the ecclesial community while, at the same time, singularly receiving and sharing in the common richness of all the Church" (Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici CL 28). In this perspective where riches and diversity are at the service of all, priests are invited "to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of lay people's dignity and of the special role the laity have to play in the Church's mission" (Second Vatican Council, Presbyterorum ordinis PO 9). In the ecclesial tasks that can be entrusted to them by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, or in the lay associations in which they participate, by being mindful of the criteria of ecclesiality which I have had occasion to recall (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici CL 30), the faithful realize that they cannot replace the priest or deacon, but must work together with them in a common task, the building up of Christ's Body which is the Church, "the evangelization and sanctification of men" (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity Apostolicam actuositatem ).

5. Through the harmonious co-operation of the different archdiocesan services, you have enhanced the Christian formation of adults. I am pleased with the efforts made in this area. I am sure that you can already perceive their results in the local Church, particularly in the quality of the liturgy and in the collaboration of the faithful in the different ecclesial tasks. I encourage lay people to continue to play an active part in the parish community to which they belong, for it is especially in the heart of the parish that the legitimate pluralism of sensitivities and forms of action is expressed and useful collaboration takes place. We are given brothers and sisters in the Church so that each may contribute to the benefit of the whole Body.

It is also for addressing the moral issues of our time and for renewing the temporal order that lay people constantly need to deepen their knowlege of the Gospel message. They will then be better qualified to accept commitments and responsibilities in the service of their brothers and sisters, within the framework of a civil society built on the objective laws of morality (cf. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes GS 16). In the modern world, marked by materialism and the power of money, the teaching of the Church's social doctrine is especially useful for recalling that man is the centre of social life and that the development of solidarity and fraternal life implies "becoming more keenly aware of the discrepancies" between persons, and "a change of mentality and of attitude" (ibid., n. 63). From this standpoint, your Archdiocese also has a specific role in the greater Europe. By acknowledging the significant charitable efforts made possible in recent years by the members of your Archdiocese, I urge them to continue and to intensify their support of individuals and peoples who have need of their know-how and assistance. Thus they will demonstrate in a tangible way the meaning of catholicity, which is openness to universality according to the example given by the first Christian communities (cf. Rom Rm 16,25-27).

6. I would like to express my cordial thanks to the institutes of consecrated life, whose apostolate is deeply appreciated. It is particularly appropriate to stress the importance of their involvement in education, in which many young people can become aware of their vocation, and in health-care services. Institutions for the formation of young people must retain the full attention of Christian communities and must mobilize many adults, parents, professors, teachers, priests and religious. Young people need to receive a suitable moral and spiritual education and to be guided in the development of their personality, in the preparation of their future and in the fulfilment of their specific vocation, whether it is to marriage, to the priesthood or to the consecrated life. In this regard, I am pleased with the fresh vitality of the youth movements which you shared with me. They have an essential role to play in your country's youth apostolate.

7. Through you, I also extend my affectionate greetings to the Melkite and Ukrainian Catholic communities in your Archdiocese. Please convey my warm encouragement to the priests, deacons, religious and faithful, who are all called to work in communion with you in the Church's mission. Upon you and on your diocesan community I invoke the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Luxembourg, Comfort of the Afflicted, and St Willibrord, and I wholeheartedly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 1997 - 16 December 1997