Speeches 1998 - Tuesday, 15 September 1998




Thursday, 17 September 1998

Your Eminence,
Mr Ambassador of Brazil to the Holy See,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am particularly grateful to you for your presence here in Rome, because by this courteous act of Christian charity, you have wished to repay the visit that I had the to joy of making to Brazil for the Pope’s Second World Meeting with Families last year. I would like to give thanks to the God of mercy, imploring for everyone “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit”.

You have come to the Eternal City to be with the Successor of Peter. You represent all sectors of society and those who worked for the success of that great meeting. I am pleased with the initiative of Cardinal Eugênio de Araújo Sales since it reminds me of all the different phases of those unforgettable days in October of the Pastoral Theology Congress on the Family, which culminated in the Holy Mass at the Flamengo Embankment. It was a great comfort for me to be able to see the precious fruits which had matured on that occasion. I ask the Lord, Giver of all good things, to increase their number in the heart of every Brazilian man and woman, from north to south and from east to west, so that the family will always be — as defined at the congress — “gift and commitment, hope for humanity”.

2. May these wishes, which I offer in my prayers to the Almighty, also serve as an incentive to the leaders of your country so that they will continue to promote the common good of all Brazilians in an atmosphere of sound collaboration and mutual respect, constantly looking to the best interests of every citizen, and as promoters of justice and solidarity especially among the neediest. By God’s grace we are rapidly approaching the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000; I would therefore like to renew my call, in view of this great event, to a “daily commitment to transform reality in order to make it correspond to God’s plan” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 46), in an atmosphere of harmony and peaceful co-operation.

The presence here today of distinguished representatives of the Government, at the national, state and local levels, reinforces my firm conviction that these words will be duly reflected in every activity directed to promoting that same common good which, inspired by Gospel values, will benefit all the peoples of the beloved Brazilian nation.

For this reason I would like to tell you all that I hold you in my heart, and I ask you to return to Brazil in the certainty that the Pope was not only in Rio de Janeiro, but was and will continue to be in every home, in the streets, in the fields, in the hospitals, in the detention centres, on the hills and on the beaches of your immense country, to which I express my best wishes for peace and prosperity.

3. Through the intercession of Our Lady of the Apparition, let us ask God for the material and spiritual well-being of Brazil, of its people, of its families, of the young, the elderly and the sick, in a framework of ordered and sincere solidarity. Once again I thank those who helped organize the Meeting with Families: may almighty God bless you all, the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.





Thursday, 17 September 1998

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. During these days as you make your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles, I am pleased to welcome you, the Pastors of the Church in Rwanda, to my home. You have come to share with the Successor of Peter the joys and concerns of your Episcopal ministry, the sufferings and aspirations of the people entrusted to your care. I hope that your meetings with the Apostolic See will bring you comfort and encouragement, so that with ever greater confidence you can pursue your mission of continuing Christ’s work of love for all people, in union with the Sovereign Pontiff and subject to his authority (cf. Christus Dominus CD 2). You are also aware of the Holy See’s abiding concern for you, through the attentive listening and support you can always find from the Apostolic Nuncio and his staff.

I cordially thank Archbishop Thaddée Ntihinyurwa of Kigali, President of your Episcopal Conference, for his perceptive words expressing in detail the concerns but also the hopes of the Church in Rwanda.

Through you I would like affectionately to greet the priests, religious, catechists and faithful of your Dioceses, as well as all the Rwandan people, to whom I feel particularly close during the sufferings which have tragically stricken them. I also know of their wish to rebuild a common life based on brotherhood and mutual understanding. May God heal their painfully wounded hearts and bless the efforts of all the peacemakers!

2. In recent months it has been possible to re-establish the Rwandan Episcopate. As I commend to the Father of all mercy the Bishops who died during the tragedy youribid country has experienced, I encourage the new Bishops to be Pastors according to Christ’s heart, to guide the People of God during this difficult stage of its life. The charge you have received to teach, sanctify and govern obliges you to develop ever greater bonds of unity in charity among yourselves. Indeed, as I wrote in the Motu Proprio Apostolos suos: “the unity of the Episcopacy is one of the constitutive elements of the unity of the Church” (n. 8) and of her growth. Active, fraternal co-operation will enable you to carry out your mission fruitfully and thus, in the present circumstances, to show your ecclesial communion and common concern for the entire people. “When the Bishops of a territory jointly exercise certain pastoral functions for the good of their faithful, such joint exercise of the Episcopal ministry is a concrete application of collegial spirit (affectus collegialis), which is the soul of the collaboration between the Bishops at the regional, national and international levels” (ibid., n. 12).

The tragedy experienced by your people in recent years has destroyed many structures which you must rebuild to enable the Church to continue her activities of service to her members and to the people as a whole. But these misfortunes have especially afflicted hearts. To help the faithful find healing for their deep wounds, they must be imbued with a true longing for holiness, taking the path of conversion and personal and community renewal in a spirit of prayer, charity and interior poverty. May the Christian communities boldly and tenaciously exhibit a prophetic attitude of mutual reconciliation and resolutely walk the paths of harmony in renewed brotherhood and trust!

3. The celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is now at hand. For the Church in Rwanda, it will coincide with the first centenary of evangelization. In fact, the first parish was founded in Save on 8 February 1900, in what is now the Diocese of Butare. With you and with the whole Church of your country, I give thanks to God for all that has occurred over these years, for the apostolic zeal of the first missionaries who brought the Gospel to your land and for the courage of all who have faithfully borne witness to the Spirit of Christ. I would also like to express the Church’s gratitude to the missionaries who, through their tireless and disinterested labours, continue today the work of those who have preceded them. May their presence at the service of your diocesan communities retain all its significance. It is a sign of the universality of God’s love and of the mission of the Church, which is sent to all human beings without distinction.

The preparatory period for the Jubilee celebrations is the right time for an honest look at the past. Do not be afraid to face historical reality as it is! During this first century of evangelization, there have been some admirable acts of heroism, but also infidelities to the Gospel which demand an examination of conscience on the way the Good News has been lived over the past 100 years. Belonging to Christ has not always taken precedence over belonging to human communities. A “spiritual awakening” is essential on the threshold of this stage in the Church's journey among men. An in-depth, “new evangelization” is urgently needed if the Gospel message is to be proclaimed, accepted and truly lived by the people of our time.

4. Nevertheless, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, it is essential to state clearly that the suffering still felt from the shadows of the past cannot hide the light that has illumined and will continue to illumine the way of the Church and of society in your country. There have been beautiful fruits of fidelity to Christ among Christians who had a heroic attitude in the tragic moments of the nation’s life. In your country many disciples of Christ have been generously willing to lay down their lives for their brothers and sisters. Bring to light the witness of these martyrs of love who have revealed the Church’s most authentic face, so that their blood will be a Gospel seed and that future generations will not forget them! They will help you not to despair of man and to look courageously to the future, in order to usher in this civilization of love which humanity awaits.

They also remind you that “the communio sanctorum speaks louder than the things which divide us” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 37). For the Church must first give the world a witness of her unity in Christ and around her Pastors. In the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council paid special attention to the unity of the Church, whose members constitute one Body in Christ, who is their Head. It is indeed essential that everyone, Bishops, priests, religious and lay people become ever more keenly aware of their responsibility that the unity of Christ’s Body, founded on the action of the Spirit and guaranteed by the apostolic ministry, be sustained by true mutual love. This is the sign by which the disciples of the Lord Jesus are recognized.

5. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, through you I would like to convey to your priests the affection and encouragement of Peter's Successor, so that they will find in their ministry the joy and strength to continue being faithful servants of Christ. I know of their attachment to God’s People, which many of them demonstrate today as they did during the tragedy, as well as of their zeal in proclaiming the Gospel to them. May the Lord give them all the grace to overcome in truth the disagreements that may have arisen from the dramatic circumstances! May there be an ever more real communion between the diocesan priests and the missionaries from abroad! Today I warmly invite each one to strengthen the bonds of unity and brotherhood with his brothers in the priesthood, and with the Bishops whose priests must be his loyal and generous co-workers in sincere and trusting dialogue, and in full communion of heart and spirit. This unity expresses the very nature of their ecclesial service, which is a participation in Christ’s mission for the People of God gathered in the unity of the Holy Spirit. May your priests recognize you as the father of the presbyterate, who regards his priests as sons and friends, after Christ's example towards his disciples! May they be “attached to their Bishop with sincere charity and obedience” (Presbyterorum ordinis PO 7)! They will remember that they are first and foremost pastors who must care for all people without exception. It is therefore important that they not be involved in political or ideological associations or movements which would impede their ministry of communion and their bond with the Bishops and the universal Church. I invite all Rwandan priests to maintain their concern to serve their country’s Church. I also hope that the communities will welcome their priests with joy and warmth, to regain their Gospel dynamism.

If they are fully to live their priestly vocation, Christ’s ministers must always keep the mystery of the Lord at the centre of their daily life. This requires that in exercising their ministry they give an essential place to their spiritual life, especially to the Liturgy of the Hours, the regular celebration of the Eucharist and meditation on the Scriptures. In continuing formation, which they will try to pursue throughout their lives, they will find a valuable help for ensuring that their life and conduct always conform to the Lord’s will and to the mission they have received from him and from his Church.

The formation of future pastors is one of your most constant concerns. The flourishing vocations are a sign of your communities’ vitality. Despite the nucountered, you have made remarkable efforts to improve your seminarians’ spiritual direction and the quality of their intellectual formation. I urge you to persevere in these efforts and to entrust a task so essential for the Church’s future to priests who are experienced in the spiritual life, have sound theological and philosophical knowledge and are concerned to foster communion with the whole Church. They will be able to provide serious vocational discernment and help the young men to receive sound formation for their future ministry.

6. I hope that the men and women religious who generously live their consecration to Christ will be genuine witnesses to him everywhere, making the paternal face of God and the maternal face of the Church visible to all. May their whole life be a sign of the primacy of God and of Gospel values in Christian life! May their community life eloquently show that among Christ’s disciples “there can be no true unity without that unconditional mutual love which demands a readiness to serve others generously, a willingness to welcome them as they are, without ‘judging’ them (cf. Mt Mt 7,1-2), and an ability to forgive up to ‘seventy times seven’ (Mt 18,22)” (Vita consecrata VC 42)!

7. In your Dioceses, catechists and pastoral volunteers are often true community leaders, especially where, due to the circumstances, priests cannot be regularly present. Their witness of Christian life is of great importance in proclaiming the Gospel as well as in maintaining ecclesial life in some regions. While safeguarding the irreplaceable character of the ordained ministry for the community, you should support them in fulfilling the mission you have given them. This will encourage them to be ever more aware of their responsibility to their brethren, in communion with their pastors. An appropriate formation, which helps them to develop the human and spiritual virtues necessary for their commitment, will enable them to acquire increasing maturity, in order to bear abundant fruit.

Each lay person must also be “fully aware of being a ‘member of the Church’ yet entrusted with a unique task which cannot be done by another and which is to be fulfilled for the good of all” (Christifideles laici CL 28). The vitality of basic communities like that of the apostolic and spiritual movements is a sign of hope for the Church's renewal, especially where ecclesial structures have disappeared because of the violence.

8. Through her works of charity, the Church, in fidelity to the Gospel, fulfils an important and inalienable part of her mission at the service of man. Your Dioceses are very generously involved in helping orphans, widows, refugees, prisoners and all who are suffering or are in moral or material distress. The Catholic Church's work in the areas of education and health care is an essential contribution to the building of society, in order to give hope to the young generations and to prepare them to take responsibility for the nation’s life in the future. I deeply encourage you to continue this work, which shows Christ’s love for all human beings without distinction, thus helping to restore their dignity.

The difficulties connected with the demographic imbalance in society, as a result of recent events and their aftermath, have introduced a new situation for marital relations. Taking these circumstances into account, the pastoral care of the family will help the faithful to reflect on the meaning of the commitments of marriage and on the ways to guide couples, especially young ones. Those who must live a single life should also be supported.

9. To make communion effective between all the Church’s members, it is essential that a climate of mutual trust be created which will spread throughout society. Wherever conflict threatens peace and understanding between groups, the Church is called to work energetically to reduce divisions, especially by encouraging and practising dialogue herself, which will lead to reconciliation. Acceptance of one’s brothers and sisters with their differences, so as to find in them the riches offered by God, is required of every disciple of Christ.

The formation of young people must integrate this new spirit which should prevail in interpersonal relations and between human communities. A society cannot be firmly established in mutual understanding without a culture of truth, justice and forgiveness. The genocide your people have experienced has caused unspeakable suffering, which can only be overcome in solidarity and unity of heart, and by the commitment of all to creating conditions of greater justice. Peace is inseparable from justice! It will only be achieved by defending life, all human life, which in God’s eyes has a unique and inestimable value. In effect, “the acknowledgement of the personal dignity of every human being demands the respect, the defence and the promotion of the rights of the human person. It is a question of inherent, universal and inviolable rights. No one ... can change — let alone eliminate — them because such rights find their source in God himself” (Christifideles laici CL 38).

10. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you have told me of the difficulties the Church encounters in seeking to make the meaning of her mission understood in the present situation. “As a body organized within the community and the nation, the Church has both the right and the duty to participate fully in building a just and peaceful society with all the means at her disposal” (Ecclesia in Africa ). She therefore has a particular role to play in national life, loyally increasing her co-operation with the State to foster the conditions for establishing a society that is ever more just and peaceful. Her presence in public life is clear and her proper responsibility does not interfere with that of the individuals whose mission it is to lead the nation on its earthly path. While violence continues to affect several regions of your country and to bereave many families, I ardently hope that all people of goodwill can join forces so that Rwandans may at last enjoy security and a tranquil life. Thus they will be able to seek together the means to rebuild a prosperous and fraternal nation in real solidarity, where each person's dignity as a human being and a citizen is recognized, and he can freely take part in promoting the common good. I invite all those responsible for the nation to spare no efforts to ensure that, in an atmosphere of mutual trust and reconciliation, an era of justice and peace may at last return to Rwanda and to the region of the Great Lakes. I ardently hope in particular that no one will tire of seeking a negotiated solution to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, so that the hostilities will cease and armed warfare be replaced by a lasting agreement and collaboration between all the countries of the region for the greater good of their peoples and the whole continent. May violence and discord never again set brother against brother!

11. At the end of our meeting, I invite you to turn your gaze to the future with full trust. As we approach the celebration of the Great Jubilee and the centenary of the Church in Rwanda, I encourage your faithful to renew their adherence to Christ, Saviour of all mankind, and to give bold witness that they are disciples of the Gospel. May everyone remember that the Lord abandons no one and never forgets any of his children, whose names are written on the palms of his hands (cf. Is Is 49,16). “Yes, on the palms of Christ, pierced by the nails of the Crucifixion. The names of each one of you [Africans] is written on those palms” (Homily in Khartoum, 10 February 1993, n. 8, cited by Ecclesia in Africa ). In your efforts for the rebirth of your communities, you can count on the fraternal support and prayer of the universal Church. I entrust to the Virgin Mary’s intercession the future of your Dioceses as well as that of the whole nation. I particularly ask her to help you in your Episcopal mission, so that you may find in her an unfailing guide who will lead you to her Son. I wholeheartedly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to all the faithful of your Dioceses.




(SEPTEMBER 18-20, 1998)



Friday, 18 september 1998

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am grateful for the welcome you have given me to this beautiful city of yours, which is located in the centre, or better, at the heart of the Gulf of Tigullio, famous all over the world for its sea, its cliffs, its olive groves, its pine trees and, especially, its good and hard working people.

I am particularly grateful to the Minister who has come here as the Government's representative, to the Mayor for his noble words of greeting, and to all the other authorities who with your Pastor, Bishop Alberto Maria Careggio, have honoured me with their presence.

I cordially thank and greet every one of you, dear citizens of Chiavari, and all the friends who have come here for the occasion. I greet you as a people of this privileged city and region, but also as the People of God, gathered in this local Church whose centre is the cathedralshrine of Our Lady of the Garden. I am about to enter this shrine and will pray there before the icon of Mary painted in 1493 by an artist of Chiavari: an icon therefore which is present among you and has been venerated here for over half a millennium.

2. I confess to you that, if I feel great joy every time I visit the cathedral of a local Church, since I have the impression of strengthening that Church’s bonds of communion with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church which we profess in the Creed, my joy becomes even deeper when I enter a church expressly dedicated to Our Lady. In this case then, it is a cathedral whose dedication to Mary involves the whole Diocese of Chiavari, which has 10 other Marian shrines in its territory, among which I am pleased to mention at least that of Our Lady of Montallegro in the neighbouring region of Rapallo.

The title of Our Lady of the Garden, which derives from the fact that Borzone’s painting was found on the wall of what used to be called the Captain’s Garden, calls to mind the gardens and orchards found in the history of salvation: from the Garden of Eden, the place of our first parents’ innocence and happiness, but which soon became a place of disobedience and sin, to that of Gethsemani, where the New Adam, Christ Jesus, began the decisive phase of redemption, suffering to the point of sweating drops of blood (cf. Lk Lc 22,44), to the garden that every Christian’s soul should be, in order to be worthy to receive Christ, together with his Mother.

Fortunate then is this Diocese which, in its visible structures but especially in the invisible mystery of its spiritual reality, aspires to be Mary’s garden: Hortus conclusus, as you gladly sing, especially during the “July Celebrations”, fons signatus, O Maria! Emissiones tuae paradisus. “Paradisus”: a new garden of innocence and joy.

3. This vision of heaven does not distract us from the problems and difficulties that accompany daily life on earth. I am thinking in particular of the problems affecting society as a whole. Nor does your gulf lack serious reasons for concern, at least as a reflection of a more widescale crisis. You are asking yourselves, for example, about the future of your noble traditions of craft work, trade and agriculture, which have not been adequately replaced by the new work methods and technology. If the tourist trade, attracted by the beautiful scenery, continues to prosper, the periods of rest and vacation are often substantially reduced because of ever higher costs.

Consequently, here too there are notable difficulties in finding suitable jobs for everyone, especially for young people with academic qualifications. For business and trade, the difficulty stems from the lack of adequate financial resources. Lastly, there is a risk of the socalled “family poverty” which, according to recent statistics, is growing due to the increasing number of people who are elderly and alone.

4. You will understand me if on this occasion I also recall the ethical-social problems to which many of the phenomena mentioned above are linked. How can we not mention, for example, the decline in the culture of life, with the resulting drop in the birth rate, when seeking the underlying causes of the current economic crisis? And who cannot see that insufficient social solidarity is at the root of the lack of co-operation in dealing with the new, imposing economic, social and political problems? Going even deeper, it is in the lack of religious sense and the related ethical sensitivity that we must look for an explanation of the many family and social difficulties afflicting out time.

You people of Chiavari are all linked to this city and its inhabitants for various reasons; in your own history you have experienced the need for and benefits of religion as symbolized in Our Lady of the Garden: in her smile as a good and kind Mother, in her hand raised in blessing together with her Child's. You all know that, although each of us must be committed with all our energy to ensuring that a society of solidarity is reborn in justice and love, it is still necessary to have constant recourse to the One who, as a powerful and kindly Mother, can guarantee the fruitfulness of our efforts. You have often experienced this firsthand in your history.

Here I would like to recall that 25 August 1835 when in this very square St Anthony Mary Gianelli, then archpriest of Chiavari, was able to proclaim that the grace of protection from cholera had been obtained by Our Lady of the Garden and the Holy Crucifix carried in the penitential procession. The archpriest had seen and announced the return of the swallows. Since then you have spoken of the “miracle of the swallows”, to which one of your distinguished musicians, Maestro Campodonico, the cathedral organist for many years, dedicated an inspired oratorio, The Swallows of Our Lady, performed several times within these walls.

5. Let us all pray for that “miracle” to occur again in our society, as a deliverance from “pestilence, famine and war”, in the words of the ancient petition of the Litany of the Saints. Today more than ever, we need to be delivered from old and new epidemics, from old and new forms of war. We need a well-organized economy, but we especially need to restore morality as the necessary premise for a society of greater justice and solidarity.

We ask Our Lady for all this in the Litany of Loreto: Auxilium Christianorum, ora pro nobis. And you, people of Chiavari, by an ancient indult of the Holy See, add: Regina Advocata nostra, ora pro nobis (cf. S. Congregation of Rites, 1 September 1782).

I will place you all in the hands and heart of this Queen and Advocate, as I kneel before the throne you have erected in the old “Captain’s Garden”. “Protect”, I will ask her, “all your children filled with hope in you: O clement, O loving, O dear Lady of the Garden, O sweet Virgin Mary!”.




(SEPTEMBER 18-20, 1998)


TO clergy, seminarians and religious


Friday, 18 September 1998

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to have this evening’s meeting, which enables me to spend a special moment of communion with you, priests, seminarians, consecrated men and women, and, with you, cloistered women religious.

I cordially greet your dear Bishop, Alberto Maria Careggio. I also affectionately greet Bishop emeritus Daniele Ferrari, and all of you who have gathered here to confirm your attachment to the Successor of Peter and to the local Church in which Providence has placed you to bear witness.

2. Dear priests, and you young people who are preparing for the priesthood, the Master is constantly at work in the world and says to each one of those he has chosen: “Follow me” (Mt 9,9). It is a call that demands the daily affirmation of a loving answer. May your heart always be watchful! One day you will have the joy of sharing in the happiness of the servants whom “the master finds awake when he comes” (Lc 12,37).

Intimacy with Jesus Christ is the soul of priestly ministry. It grows stronger the more it is watered by the dew of prayer and nourished by the celebration and contemplation of the Eucharisticum mysterium, the summit of the covenant between God and man. The priest thus becomes a living icon of that officium laudis which is unceasingly offered in the universe and is raised to God, the Creator and Redeemer.

Dear friends, may you be constantly committed to imitating the Good Shepherd. May you listen to those who are entrusted to your care; engage in dialogue with everyone, generously welcoming those who knock at the door of your heart and offering everyone the gifts that the divine goodness has entrusted to you. Your task is to show to man the lofty dignity to which he is called and to help him reach it. Persevere in communion with your Bishop and in mutual collaboration, both for your own spiritual growth in love and for that of your communities.

3. Dear consecrated men and women, the Church expects much of you, whose mission is to bear witness in every historical age to “the way of life which Jesus, the supreme Consecrated One and missionary of the Father for the sake of his kingdom, embraced and proposed to his disciples” (Ap. Exhort. Vita consecrata VC 22). Praised be God for the many charisms which add to the beauty of the Church's countenance and for the edifying fruits of so many lives given totally to the cause of the kingdom!

May God be your only wealth: let yourselves be moulded by him, so that the holiness, truth and love of the heavenly Father will become visible to our contemporaries, who are thirsting for real values. Sustained by the grace of the Spirit, speak to people with the eloquence of a life that is transfigured by the newness of Easter. Your whole life will thus become a diakonia of the consecration that every baptized person received when he was incorporated into Christ.

Be faithful to the sublime vocation you have received. Become missionaries by word and example. Nourish your commitment at the well-springs of Scripture, the sacraments and the constant praise of God, and let the Spirit's action increasingly penetrate the depths of your soul. You will thus be effective agents of the new evangelization, to which the Church is committed on the threshold of the new millennium.

4. And now a special word to you, dear cloistered nuns, who are the sign of the exclusive union of the Church-Bride with her Lord, whom she loves above all else. You are impelled by an irresistible attraction that draws you to God, the exclusive goal of your every sentiment and of your every action. The contemplation of God's beauty has become your inheritance, your plan of life, your way of being present in the Church.

Your life is a witness to the power of the Spirit who acts in history and fashions it with his grace. How fruitful is your dwelling in the courts of the Lord's house! May the walls that surround your life not keep you away from human sufferings, but rather spiritually immerse you in them, to bring them the divine comfort obtained by your prayer. May the mysterious effectiveness of your intercession accompany the steps of the Lord's servants, who walk the roads of the world proclaiming the kingdom of God to people of every culture and language. Thank you, dear sisters, for the crucial contribution you are making to the Church!

5. Dear brothers and sisters, everyone, according to his or her own vocation, is called to care for the People of God. Be considerate with the unhappy, generous with those who reach for your hand, magnanimous with those who implore God's mercy, firm in the defence of the poor, obedient to the Church and her Bishops.

May you be accompanied by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, who consecrated her entire life to Christ her Son and to the advance of God's kingdom.

My affectionate Blessing to you all.

Speeches 1998 - Tuesday, 15 September 1998