Speeches 1998 - Friday, 20 February 1998

4. At your meetings, as well as at your gatherings in Basel and later in Graz, you expressed your concern for the rapprochement of the East and West of the European continent, which for too long has been divided and wounded in this century. Called to overcome their fears, the Christian communities of various denominations are now invited to commit themselves courageously to the path that leads to full unity, to make a gift of their spiritual wealth and to share it in a trusting exchange. Christians will thus open the treasures of their spiritual life to the people of our time, who will be able to have a deeper encounter with the Lord. They will also help to gather into unity all God's scattered children, in accordance with the will of Christ himself (cf. Jn Jn 17,11-23). This sharing will doubtless lead to an ever greater respect for particular sensitivities and for the pastoral approach of each Christian confession, rooted in a specific history and specific traditions.

5. The programme for your meeting includes the study of innovative projects for giving ecumenism greater momentum, by asking yourselves about the method, criteria and content of the new forms of co-operation to be undertaken in the light of past experiences. Through the dialogue between Church leaders, may Europe be the proving ground of an ever more intense search for unity among the Christians of the continent, and more broadly, among all who are dispersed throughout the world, while respecting the truth! Together, Christ's disciples are to proclaim the Gospel explicitly in our contemporary cultures; they must also be concerned to make their contribution to society at the political, economic and social levels, becoming a leaven in building up the continent, with respect for creation and for legitimate autonomy in the conduct of earthly affairs.

Europe is currently faced with the issue of welcoming and integrating peoples and communities of other religious traditions, particularly Islam and Asian religions; the Christian Churches must show a spirit of trusting openness and be even more involved in the "dialogue of life", to which I have already had the opportunity of inviting the Catholic faithful and our Muslim brothers and sisters; this dialogue opens the way to the common service of human beings in many areas (cf. Second Vatican Council, Unitatis redintegratio UR 12). You are working together to meet this challenge and you are encouraging collaboration among the faithful in order to answer the social questions people face today: we cannot forget the conflicts wounding the peoples of our continent, the economic difficulties which weaken families, as well as the attacks on the dignity and rights of individuals and peoples, especially those that harm women and children.

"Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.... Even as you, Father are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,11). Today, this prayer of the Lord is our prayer. It reminds us that the witness of unity is an essential element of an authentic and profound evangelization. Through their unity in the same Church, Christ's disciples will enable their brethren to discover the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the perfect communion of love. And we must remain restless until that time when, in docility to the Holy Spirit, we fulfil Christ's prayer: "that they may be one!".

At the end of our meeting I invoke upon you the assistance of the Holy Spirit, whose fruits are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness" (Ga 5,22), and who comes to make all things new; I offer you my best wishes for your work and I invoke divine blessings upon you, your coworkers and all who are entrusted to your pastoral care.





21 February 1998

“I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed” (1P 5,1).

1. I make my own the words of the Apostle Peter in addressing you, venerable and beloved Brothers whom I have had the joy of making members of the College of Cardinals. These words recall that as “elders” we are fundamentally rooted in the mystery of Christ, the Head and Shepherd. Since we share in the fullness of sacred Orders, we are a sacramental representation of him in the Church and for the Church, and are called to proclaim his Word authoritatively, to repeat his acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation, and to show his loving concern to the point of giving ourselves totally for the flock (cf. Pastores dabo vobis PDV 15). Today this rootedness in Christ receives a further specification in you, venerable Brothers, since by being raised to the rank of Cardinal, you are called and enabled to undertake an ecclesial service of even greater responsibility, in the closest collaboration with the Bishop of Rome. Therefore, everything that is taking place today in St Peter’s Square is a call to a more demanding service since, as we heard in the Gospel, “whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mc 10,44). The choice belongs to God, the serving to us. Should not the primacy of Peter itself be understood as a service to the unity, holiness, catholicity and apostolicity of the Church? The Successor of Peter is the servant of the servants of God, according to St Gregory the Great’s expression. And the Cardinals are his first advisers and collaborators in governing the universal Church: they are “his” Bishops, “his” priests and “his” deacons, not merely in the early historical phase of Rome but in shepherding the whole People of God, over which the See of Rome “presides in charity” (cf. St Ignatius of Antioch, To the Rm 1,1).

2. With these thoughts I extend my cordial greetings to the venerable Cardinals present who, in the College of Cardinals and particularly at this Public Consistory, eminently display as it were the Church's “symphonic” nature, that is, her unity in the universality of backgrounds and the variety of ministries. Today I share with them the joy of welcoming 20 new Brothers, who come from 13 countries on four continents and have given excellent proof of fidelity to Christ and to the Church, some by directly serving the Apostolic See, others by leading important Dioceses. In particular, I thank Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez for expressing the sentiments you share on this highly significant occasion. At this moment, I would like to turn my prayerful thoughts to the late Archbishop Giuseppe Uhaè, whom the God of all grace — as the Apostle Peter wrote — called to himself just before his appointment, to offer him a very different crown: that of eternal glory in Christ (cf. 1P 5,10). I would also like to inform you that I have reserved in pectore the appointment of two other prelates as Cardinals.

3. Today’s celebration occurs during the year of the Holy Spirit in preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, according to the itinerary marked out in the Apostolic Exhortation Tertio millennio adveniente, which gathered together and developed the suggestions made at a memorable Extraordinary Consistory held in June 1994. What better ecclesial and spiritual context for invoking the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the new Cardinals, “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety, ... and the spirit of the fear of the Lord” (Is 11,2-3, Vulgate)? Who more than they needs the abundant comfort of these gifts, in order to fulfil the mission they have received from the Lord? Who more than they is aware of the fact that “the Spirit is the principal agent of the new evangelization”, and that “the unity of the Body of Christ is founded on the activity of the Spirit, guaranteed by the apostolic ministry and sustained by mutual love” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 45,47).

Venerable Brothers, may the Holy Spirit the Paraclete dwell fully in each of you, fill you with divine consolation and thus make you in turn the consolers of all who are afflicted, particularly the most sorely tried members of the Church, of the communities that have endured the greatest sufferings for the sake of the Gospel. May you be able to tell them with the Apostle Peter: “If we are afflicted, it is for our comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer” (2Co 1,6).

4. Venerable Brothers, you have been created Cardinals as we are rapidly approaching the third millennium of the Christian era. We can already see the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 appearing on the horizon, and this gives your mission an enormously important value and meaning. You are called, together with the other members of the College of Cardinals, to help the Pope steer the barque of Peter towards that historic goal. I rely on your support and on your enlightened and expert advice to guide the Church in the final phase of preparation for the Holy Year. As I turn my gaze with you beyond the threshold of the Year 2000, I invoke from the Lord an abundance of gifts from the divine Spirit for the whole Church, so that the “springtime” of the Second Vatican Council may find in the new millennium its “summer”, that is to say, its full development. The mission to which God calls you today requires attentive and constant discernment. That is why I urge you to be increasingly men of God, penetrating listeners of his Word, who can reflect its light on the Christian people and on all men and women of goodwill. Only if she is sustained by the light of the Gospel can the Church face with steadfast hope her present and future challenges.

5. I now extend a cordial welcome to the relatives of the new Cardinals, as well as to the delegations from their various Churches of origin and to the other civil and government representatives who have wished to take part in this solemn ecclesial moment.

Dear brothers and sisters, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your presence, an expression of the affection and esteem which tie you to the Archbishops and Bishops whom I have made members of the College of Cardinals. I see in you, as I do in them, an image of the Church’s universality and an eloquent sign of the bond of communion of the laity and consecrated persons with their Pastors, as well as of priests and deacons with their Bishops. Starting today, the new Cardinals will have even greater need of your spiritual support: always accompany them with your prayer, as you already do.

6. Tomorrow I will have the joy of celebrating with particular solemnity the feast of the Chair of Peter together with the new Cardinals, to whom I will give their ring. I would like at this time to invoke the heavenly intercession of the Prince of the Apostles: may he who felt all his own unworthiness in the presence of his Lord's glory obtain for each of you humility of heart, which is indispensable each day for accepting as a gift the high office entrusted to you.

May Peter, who by following Christ became a fisher of men, enable you to be grateful each day for sharing in a singular way in the ministry of his Successor. May he who in this city of Rome sealed his witness to Christ with his own blood, enable you to give your life for the Gospel and thus make fruitful the harvest of God’s kingdom. I entrust your persons and your ecclesial service to Mary, Queen of Apostles: may her spiritual presence today in this Upper Room of ours be a pledge to you of the constant outpouring of the Spirit, through whom you will be able to proclaim to everyone, in the various languages of the world, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Amen!




Tuesday, 24 February 1998

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. In extending my greeting to you all, ordinary and corresponding members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to your President, Prof. Juan de Dios Vial Correa, for his courteous words. I also greet your Vice-President, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, who generously labours on behalf of your prestigious institution. I welcome the occasion to express my satisfaction with what the Academy has been doing, since it began its work, to fulfil its task of promoting and defending the fundamental value of life.

2. I am pleased that your fourth general assembly has focused on the theme: “The Human Genome: Human Personhood and Future Society”. In the human mind’s marvellous progress in coming to know the universe, the stage reached in recent years in the genetic field is particularly interesting, since it is leading man to a discovery of the deepest secrets of his own bodily nature. The human genome in a way is the last continent to be explored. In this millennium now drawing to a close, so full of tragedies and achievements, people have come to know each other and in some ways have grown closer as a result of geographical explorations and discoveries. Human knowledge has also made important advances in the world of physics, to the point of recently discovering the structure of atomic particles. Through the knowledge of genetics and molecular biology, scientists can look with the penetrating gaze of science into the inner fabric of life and the mechanisms that characterize individuals, thus ensuring the continuity of living species.

3. These advances increasingly reveal the Creator’s greatness, because they allow man to discover the intrinsic order of creation and to appreciate the wonders of his body, in addition to his intellect, which to a certain extent reflects the light of the Word through whom “all things were made” (Jn 1,3). In the modern era, however, there is a strong tendency to seek knowledge not so much for admiring and contemplating, as for increasing power over things. Knowledge and power are interwoven more and more in a mentality that can imprison man himself. With regard to knowledge of the human genome, this mentality could lead to interference with the internal structure of human life itself with a view to subduing, selecting and manipulating the body and, ultimately, the person and future generations. Your Academy for Life has done well, then, to reflect on the discoveries being made about the human genome, thus intending to base its work on an anthropological foundation which rests on the very dignity of the human person.

4. The genome appears as the organizing, structural element of the body in both its individual and hereditary traits: it indicates and conditions membership in the human species, the hereditary link and the biological and somatic marks of individuality. It has a determining influence on the structure of physical existence from the dawn of conception until natural death. It is on the basis of this inner truth of the genome, already present at the moment of procreation when the genetic inheritance of the father and the mother are united, that the Church has taken upon herself the task of defending the human dignity of every individual from the very start of his existence. Anthropological reflection, in fact, leads to the recognition that, by virtue of the substantial unity of body and spirit, the human genome not only has a biological significance, but also possesses anthropological dignity, which has its basis in the spiritual soul that pervades it and gives it life. Therefore, it is unlawful to carry out any intervention on the human genome unless it is aimed at the good of the person, understood as a unity of body and spirit; nor is it lawful to discriminate between human subjects on the basis of possible genetic defects discovered before or after birth.

5. The Catholic Church, which considers man redeemed by Christ as her way (cf. Encyclical Letter Redemptor hominis, n. 14), insists that the recognition of the dignity of the human being as a person from the moment of conception also be guaranteed by law. Furthermore, she asks political leaders and scientists to promote the good of the person through scientific research aimed at perfecting appropriate treatments that are feasible and without disproportionate risks. This is possible, as scientists themselves acknowledge, in therapeutic interventions on the genome of somatic cells, but not on the genome of germinal cells and that of the premature embryo. I feel an obligation here to express my concern over the spread of a cultural climate which is steering prenatal diagnosis in a direction that is no longer one of treatment for the sake of better accepting the life of the unborn, but rather one of discrimination against those who do not prove healthy in prenatal examination. At the current time there is a serious disproportion between diagnostic possibilities, which are progressively expanding, and therapeutic possibilities, which are scarce: this fact raises serious ethical problems for families, who need to be supported in welcoming newborn life, even when it suffers from some defect or malformation.

6. In this regard, it is necessary to denounce the rise and spread of a new selective eugenics, which leads to the suppression of embryos and foetuses suffering from any disease. Sometimes baseless theories about the anthropological and ethical difference of the various developmental stages of prenatal life are employed: the so-called “progressive humanization of the foetus”. Sometimes an appeal is made to a mistaken idea of the quality of life, which should — it is said — prevail over the sacredness of life. In this regard, we cannot fail to ask that the rights proclaimed by the conventions and international declarations on the protection of the human genome and, in general, on the right to life be enjoyed by every human being from the moment of fertilization, without any form of discrimination, whether related to genetic imperfections or physical defects, or to various stages of the human being’s development. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to reinforce the legal bulwark in view of the immense diagnostic possibilities brought to light by the project of sequencing the human genome.

7. The more that knowledge and the power to intervene grow, the greater must be the awareness of the values at stake. I therefore hope that the conquest of this new continent of knowledge, the human genome, will mean the discovery of new possibilities for victory over disease and will never encourage a selective attitude towards human beings. In this regard it would be very helpful if international scientific organizations would make sure that the desired benefits of genetic research are also made available to developing nations. This will prevent a further source of inequality between nations, also given the fact that enormous financial resources are invested in research of this sort, resources which, according to some, could be allocated first and foremost for the relief of curable illnesses and of the chronic poverty of so many human beings. What seems certain from now on is that future society will conform to the dignity of the human person and to equality between nations, if scientific discoveries are directed to the common good, which is always achieved through the good of each individual and requires everyone’s cooperation, especially that of today's scientists.

As I invoke God’s assistance on your work, for an ever more incisive and effective service to the fundamental cause of human life, I cordially bless you all.




Thursday, 26 February 1998

1. Dear Roman priests, parish priests, curates, deacons and permanent deacons involved in all forms of ministry, I greet you with great affection and am pleased to see that you are taking part in our traditional family meeting. In his greeting the Cardinal Vicar presented the key points of the current missionary activity of the Church in Rome and your testimonies have enriched the picture with examples of what you are accomplishing in the various areas of your pastoral ministry. In fact, the City Mission is just now reaching its culmination. Many parishes have already begun the mission to families which I myself opened on Sunday, 1 February, when I met a family in Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Prati. The others are about to start, now that Lent has begun, which is dedicated in a special way this year to the mission.

2. This second year of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee is dedicated to the Spirit and his sanctifying presence. I joyfully remember 30 November, the First Sunday of Advent, when I celebrated the beginning of the year of the Spirit with you and with all the missionaries of the Diocese of Rome, by entrusting the Mission Cross to the parishes and individual missionaries. In Tertio millennio adveniente I had written that “in our own day too, the Spirit is the principal agent of the new evangelization” (n. 45). But the city mission is, for this Rome of ours, the concrete way to carry out the great task of the new evangelization. It fully merits what I added in the same paragraph of the Apostolic Letter: “Hence it will be important to gain a renewed appreciation of the Spirit as the One who builds the kingdom of God within the course of history and prepares its full manifestation in Jesus Christ, stirring people’s hearts and quickening in our world the seeds of the full salvation which will come at the end of time”.

3. Dear priests, today I would like to reflect with you on the intimate bond that unites our priesthood to the Holy Spirit and the mission. Let us return to the moment of our priestly ordination, when the ordaining Bishop invoked upon us the outpouring of the Spirit of holiness. What the risen Jesus worked in his disciples on the very evening of Easter was renewed in us: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you’. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (Jn 20,21-23). It is through the gift of the Holy Spirit that the disciples found the courage to go into the whole world in the name of the Lord, to proclaim him, his salvation and his kingdom; they worked great wonders in his name; they founded the first Christian communities wherever they went. This gift of the Spirit is no less alive and active in us; it has lost nothing of its renewing and sanctifying power. The Spirit is at work in all believers who become missionaries, in obedience to the Lord’s call, and it is a cause for joy to see how so many lay people and women religious have answered this call, committing themselves with great generosity to the City Mission. But the Pope repeats to you today what he said to you two years ago on this same occasion: you, who are the first co-workers of the Episcopal Order, are also those to whom the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel to everyone is first entrusted. The City Mission needs priests who are authentic evangelizers and credible witnesses to the faith: this is what the Bishop of Rome expects of you, dear brothers. The special outpouring of the Holy Spirit that is given to us at the moment of ordination, after those already received in Baptism and Confirmation, is the source and root of the special task that is entrusted to us in the mission and in evangelization.

4. We are therefore called to be the first to enter into that dynamic, that spiritual movement which belongs to the mission. As I said to you two years ago, we must enter into it with our be- ing and our soul as priests, with our prayer and therefore with all our daily pastoral efforts. Only the Spirit can accomplish this in us. The mission in fact is a work of love and its effectiveness ultimately depends on the intensity of that love: we are missionaries to the extent that we succeed in testifying that God loves and saves every person, this city and all mankind. But the Holy Spirit is, in the Most Holy Trinity, subsistent love. And, as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rm 5,5). Concretely, the Holy Spirit enables us to look both at our neighbour and at our own life with God’s eyes, to love our brothers and sisters with that same heart with which the Lord Jesus loved them, therefore, to understand them, to forgive them, to help and comfort them, to be truly close to them in every cir- cumstance, from the happiest to the saddest, and to be so not in just any way, but as witnesses to Christ and fathers in the faith. Going in this way, together with the lay missionaries, from house to house, from family to family, we will also bring a note of trust and hope; we will give new strength to tired or disheartened souls; we will be able to strengthen family ties that are weakened or on the point of breaking; we will be able to offer a tangible sign that God does not forget anyone.

5. But, dear priests, the Holy Spirit not only accompanies us, he guides us and sustains us during the mission. First of all, he goes before us. In fact, the Spirit is mysteriously present and active in the heart, the conscience and the life of every man and woman. The Spirit knows no boundaries. The Spirit, by working mysteriously and silently in the inmost being of every person, prepares each one, from within, to welcome Christ and his Gospel. Thus dear brothers, when we knock on the door of a house, or on the door of a heart, the Spirit has already gone before us and the message of Christ may sound new to the ears of whoever hears us, but can never sound completely strange to his heart. To feel pessimistic about the possibility or the effectiveness of the mission would therefore, dear brothers, be in a certain sense a sin against the Holy Spirit, showing a lack of trust in his presence and in his work.

6. As the Great Jubilee approaches, the occasions of grace that the Spirit is preparing for the Church and mankind, in particular for this Church and this city of Rome, are taking more precise form. I am thinking of the International Eucharistic Congress; I am thinking of the World Youth Day, the Jubilee of Families, the Jubilee of Priests and the other events planned and expected. The City Mission prepares us priests and our faithful to experience these events in their true meaning of grace, faith and conversion. Thus we must pray unceasingly to the Holy Spirit, because we are well aware that he alone can convert hearts and bestow faith and grace. In looking at this year’s tasks in the light of the Great Jubilee, the visit to families that you will make this Lent appears to be the best preparation for the great event of the Jubilee of Families, the purpose of which is to put Christ at the centre of family life and thus to restore the family to its authentic and inalienable human and Christian dignity. In the same way, the “Youth Mission”, which is a specific objective of the City Mission, prepares the ground for the World Youth Day of the Year 2000. On Palm Sunday of this year, the young people of Italy and Rome will receive from the young people of France, in St Peter’s Square, the Holy Year Cross that has made a missionary pilgrimage across the continents and nations, from Rome to Buenos Aires, from Santiago de Compostela to Czêstochowa, from Denver to Manila, to Paris and again to Rome. The special meeting of the young people of Rome with the Pope, on the Thursday before Palm Sunday, will also take place outdoors this year for the first time, in the square in front of the Basilica of St John, the cathedral of Rome: in fact we want to be able to welcome all the young people who participate in greater numbers every year, and to emphasize the missionary dimension of this event, directed to every young person in Rome.

7. Dear priests, in addition to its Christological aspect, the Great Jubilee “has a pneumatological aspect, since the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished ‘by the power of the Holy Spirit’” (Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 50). It was brought about, as we well know, in the womb of the Virgin Mary and through her free, immediate and total consent. Mary is thus “the woman who was docile to the voice of the Spirit, a woman of silence and attentiveness, a woman of hope who, like Abraham, accepted God’s will ‘hoping against hope’ (cf. Rom Rm 4,18)” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 48). Invoking the Holy Spirit cannot, therefore, be separated from trust in Mary, in her whom my venerable Predecessor Paul VI called the “Star of Evangelization”. Thus it is to her that we entrust our priesthood and the City Mission. With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Blessing to you all. I would like to add that our meeting today is well-timed. What did we experience in Rome last Sunday, the feast of the Chair of St Peter? New Cardinals were created. But who are the Cardinals? The great majority of them are Roman “parish priests”. Many, seven, are Suburbicarian Bishops. Six are Deacons, of the various deaconries, whose number changes. The diaconal office in the College of Cardinals belongs especially to the Roman dicasteries. The Prefects are Deacons, but not all of them. Some are Bishops like Cardinals Ratzinger and Sodano, but most of them are Deacons. The rest, the great majority, are Roman “parish priests”. What does this mean? It means that every Roman parish is associated with a Cardinal. I think there are more and more Roman parishes with a cardinalitial title, because the number of Cardinals has grown.

The Holy Father then invited those present to pray for Cardinal Poletti.

Let us now remember Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who was here with us so many times at this gathering on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

At the end of the meeting the Holy Father wished those present a “Happy Lent and Happy Easter”.





To Professor Anna Cappella
Director of the Centre for Research and Study
on the Natural Regulation of Fertility

1. I learned with great pleasure that this centre has organized a national convention to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Encyclical Humanae vitae of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI.

Dear Professor, I would first of all like to greet you, together with the directors, researchers and staff of the praiseworthy institution under your direction, and to express my esteem for and appreciation of the great contribution it has made in recent years to safeguarding and promoting human life at its earliest stage. My greeting is also extended to those attending the convention and to those giving papers during this congress: I hope that everyone will benefit from a closer study of the Church's teaching on the 'truth' of the act of love in which spouses become sharers in God's creative action.

2. The truth of this act stems from its being an expression of the spouses' reciprocal personal giving, a giving that can only be total since the person is one and indivisible. In the act that expresses their love, spouses are called to make a reciprocal gift of themselves to each other in the totality of their person: nothing that is part of their being can be excluded from this gift. This is the reason for the intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception: it introduces a substantial limitation into this reciprocal giving, breaking that "inseparable connection" between the two meanings of the conjugal act, the unitive and the procreative, which, as Pope Paul VI pointed out, are written by God himself into the nature of the human being (n. 12).

Continuing in this vein, the great Pontiff rightly emphasized the "essential difference" between contraception and the use of natural methods in exercising "responsible procreation". It is an anthropological difference because, in the final analysis, it involves two irreconcilable concepts of the person and of human sexuality (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio FC 32). It is not uncommon, in current thinking, for the natural methods of fertility regulation to be separated from their proper ethical dimension and to be considered in their merely functional aspect. It is not surprising then that people no longer perceive the profound difference between these and the artificial methods. As a result they go so far as to speak of them as if they were another form of contraception. But this is certainly not the way they should be viewed or applied. On the contrary, it is only in the logic of the reciprocal gift between man and woman that the natural regulation of fertility can be correctly understood and authentically lived as the proper expression of a real and mutual communion of love and life. It is worth repeating here that "the person can never be considered as a means to an end; above all never a means of 'pleasure'. The person is and must be nothing other than the end of every act. Only then does the action correspond to the true dignity of the person" (cf. Letter to Families LF 12).

Speeches 1998 - Friday, 20 February 1998