Speeches 1999 - Saturday, 13 March 1999



Friday 19 March 1999

Dear Father Hoffman,
Salvatorian Priests,
Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I am most pleased to be with you, the members of the Society of the Divine Saviour, and I thank Fr Hoffman for his kind words of welcome. In the love of the Redeemer I greet you all: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 1,7).

Today, we make a brief pause in our Lenten journey as we celebrate the Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and patron of the universal Church. Reflecting on Joseph's attitude of loving care and protection towards Mary and the Child Jesus provides a kind of framework for my visit to you this afternoon. In fact, similar sentiments were present in your founder, Fr Francis Mary of the Cross Jordan, at whose tomb I have just prayed: for he was filled with devotion for the Mother of our Lord and zeal for Christ and his Church. It was precisely this zeal and devotion which led Fr Jordan, on returning to Rome after a journey to the Holy Land, to pronounce religious vows with two other priests and to take the name Francis Mary of the Cross. Thus was the Society of the Divine Saviour born, and it has since grown, bringing the grace-filled work of its apostolate to every continent.

It now falls to you, dear brothers and sisters, to continue Fr Jordan's vision of making Christ known as the Saviour of the World. Yes, on the eve of the third Christian millennium modern men and women have a greater need than ever of this knowledge, of this truth which will set them free (cf. Jn Jn 8,32): "This is eternal life: that they may know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent" (cf. Jn Jn 17,3). Through the witness of your commitment, through the example of your unbounded generosity and love - like that shown by St Joseph and by your own founder - the world will be freed more and more from its bondage to sin and death, the Gospel will be proclaimed with greater enthusiasm and power, faith will increase and the Church herself will grow in holiness and grace. These are the unfailing results of spending one's life so that others may have faith and hope.

And so, as is particularly fitting on this day dedicated to the memory of our Lord's foster-father, I invoke upon all Salvatorians the protection of St Joseph. Through his powerful intercession I pray: may you continue to bear eloquent and faithful witness to the charism of Fr Francis Mary of the Cross; may you be filled with intense love for Christ and his Church and with great devotion for our Blessed Mother; may your lives of selfless service - especially among young people and in the missions - inspire others to embrace the faith ever more fully, so that they may "hear the word of God and keep it" (Lc 11,28 cf. Mt Mt 1,24).

May the abundant blessings of almighty God be with you always!



Solemnity of St Joseph, 19 March 1999

Dear Representatives of the world of work,

1. I am pleased to welcome you at this special audience on the Solemnity of St Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and guardian of the Redeemer. Like you, he was a worker, a carpenter. No one can understand your problems better than he, so his feast day is particularly appropriate for this meeting.

As I welcome each one of you, I affectionately greet the relatives who have come with you. I extend a respectful greeting to the Mayor of Rome and to the presidents and directors of your companies present here. I thank the president of the ACEA and the employee of the AMA for their cordial addresses on everyone's behalf, and I am grateful to the ATAC band for the festive notes with which they have accompanied our meeting. I also thank the Vicar, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, for his words and I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Diocese of Rome for carrying out the mission in the living and working milieus, and here I am thinking especially of your chaplains and their precious service.

2. Four years have passed since, in Piazza di Spagna at the foot of the statue of the Immaculate Conception, I asked that Rome prepare itself for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 with a city mission. Your presence here today is a significant testimony of the ground that has been covered. In fact, the mission in the work place is the final but not conclusive stage of the various projects developed during these years. Starting with the visits to families we have gone on to meet those who live in the areas of their work and who share the same daily labour. After the example of the first believers, we too must feel committed to proclaiming the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. We need to repeat every day with the Apostle Paul: "For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1Co 9,16).

The mission in the various milieus of social life challenges you to find the forms most in keeping with the new evangelization and the language most suited to it. Each of you is entrusted with the task of finding the way to proclaim the Gospel in the places where you work. Sometimes, especially in a direct encounter with people, an explicit proclamation is needed without ever feeling ashamed of being Christians; in other circumstances perhaps, silence would be more beneficial, to give more room to the power of witness. In each of these cases, however, you can never forget that the mission is an essential part of the Christian faith.

3. Dear workers, your presence is all the dearer to me for various reasons. In the first place, because your work is representative of civic life. Indeed you provide a major part of those services that are indispensable to a city, if it is to have human features. Light, water, transport, cleanliness... are all precious elements for the citizens. What would life in Rome be without your daily work? Then, in view of the Jubilee, when the stream of visitors to the city will increase, your work will become even more important because, thanks to your services, you will help pilgrims get a better picture of the beauty of what the human genius has achieved in our Rome down the centuries. In this way you will contribute to highlighting the fascination that emanates from each of its stones and age-old monuments.

Present among you are 200 workers of the Italian Social Security. It is given to you too, dear brothers and sisters, to carry out the most useful task of ensuring an adequate pension to those who have dedicated so many years of their life to work, as well as for those who, for various reasons, have found themselves in situations of difficulty or marginalization. Work with generosity and concern so that the period of waiting can be shortened and the resources available to social security, which are certainly not abundant, used in the way most useful to society.

Today, I am thinking in a special way of those who are still looking for their first position. For many young people, unemployment creates situations of anxiety and sometimes, deep disappointment. They see themselves barred de facto from assuming direct responsiblity in society and are often forced to delay starting a family. If this situation lasts too long it becomes dangerous and unbearable, creating a barrier between individuals and society, and gives rise to a sense of distrust which does not help the development of a civic consciousness.

4. These thoughts, which the feast of St Joseph gives me the opportunity to express to you who are present here, and through you to all the workers of the Diocese of Rome, aim to emphasize the value of work and the importance of fighting unemployment. The purpose of the mission which has been taking place in the various milieus is to remind all believers that their attention to the weakest and the most defenceless must not stop: we are Christian always and everywhere. If the parish is the privileged place where the growth of faith can be supported through participation in the sacramental life and in the different community events, it is in the world of work that witness is borne to what is believed, especially through the outreach of charity. Sometimes work, either because of the organization of time shifts or the establishing of time schedules and deadlines, causes feelings of hardship. It can happen that some, lured by the perspective of promotion, go so far as to falsify their own relationship with their colleagues. In that case, solidarity suffers and the sincerity and friendship of mutual relationships are replaced by suspicion and criticism, resulting in the person's withdrawal into himself. This attitude is false and deceptive. May it not happen to you: at the work place, live openly the principal content of the faith you profess: that is, the love of Christ who generously and gratuitously goes to meet everyone.

In recent weeks, the missionaries have brought you a Letter from me, in addition to the crucifix. With it, I have sought to be close to you in the difficult but nonetheless always interesting adventure of work which aims to continue the creative work of God the Father. I ask that all of you be witnesses of hope: a hope that looks to the future without subjecting itself to the numerous daily problems, but founded on the certitude of God's presence. Fortified by this hope, we will cross the threshold of the third millennium, bearing in our hearts the conviction that we must proclaim Christ with all our strength to those we meet on our way, to help them rediscover life's meaning in the personal encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I look forward to welcoming you again for the Pentecost Vigil at which we will thank the Father together for the great gift of the city mission, I cordially bless you and your families, asking the Lord, through the intercession of St Joseph and the Virgin Mary, to make your work a source of authentic brotherhood and trust in life for everyone.



Saturday, 20 March 1999

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I affectionately greet you all, faithful from the Dioceses of Brescia, Vercelli and Chiavari, who by your presence here today wish to repay the visit I had the joy of making to your diocesan communities. I also cordially greet you, dear sick people and friends of OFTAL, and the members of the Confraternities present here, who came to Rome to meet the Pope and visit the tomb of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

I am pleased to welcome you on the day after the feast of St Joseph. Called to be the guardian of the Redeemer, Joseph "did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife" (Mt 1,24). Inspired by the Gospel, from the earliest centuries the Fathers of the Church stressed that just as he took loving care of Mary and devoted himself to the joyful task of raising Jesus Christ (cf. St Irenaeus, Adv. Haereses, IV, 23, 1), so he watches over and protects his Mystical Body, the Church, of which the Blessed Virgin is the figure and model.

May your pilgrimage to Rome, the heart of Christianity, strengthen your faith in Christ and your fidelity to his Gospel.

2. I turn now in a particular way to you, dear faithful from the Diocese of Brescia! I greet each of you with particular kindness. In a special way I greet your new Bishop Giulio Sanguineti, and the Bishop emeritus, Archbishop Bruno Foresti, and your fellow native, Archbishop Giovanni Battista Re. I greet the priests, the religious, the seminarians and I extend my best wishes to the entire diocesan family of Brescia. I was in Brescia twice last year. Know that a special place is reserved in the Pope's heart for you, the fellow citizens of my unforgettable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI; just the other day the closing session of the Diocesan Investigation of his cause took place here in Rome.

As I express my gratitude for your visit, I remember with deep feeling the apostolic pilgrimages that Providence allowed me to make to your city and among the mountains of the Valle Camonica in Borno. Today, I would like to encourage you to continue on your path of constant fidelity to Christ and his message of salvation. Making my own the words of your fellow citizen and Pope, I also say to you: "Be faithful, people of Brescia, promise yourselves and assure the new generation that you will keep your heritage of Christian faith sound, strong, complete and fruitful" (Speech, 25 January 1965). May the example of Bl. Giuseppe Tovini be an encouragement to you in this task of consistent and generous witness.

May Blessed Mary, "Our Lady of Grace", assist you; Paul VI loved her and often recalled her with nostalgia. May the late Pope's tender love for Our Lady be an example to you, and may it accompany you every day of your lives.

3. I now greet you, dear brothers and sisters from Chiavari who have come here with your Bishop, Alberto Maria Careggio. Your presence brings back fond memories of my visit to your Diocese last September. As I give thanks to the Lord with you for what he has accomplished in your community, I urge you to continue vigorously on the path of bearing faithful witness to the Gospel.

As I did then, I urge you again to grow in unity and missionary spirit, opening yourselves more and more to the vast horizons of evangelization. I entrust you and the entire diocesan community to Blessed Mary who, under the title of "Our Lady of the Garden", watches over you and your families as your patroness. Always be devoted to her and you will feel her maternal protection in every situation. And Bishop Alberto Careggio, who came from Val d'Aosta, seems to feel more and more Ligurian.

4. I now turn to you, dear faithful from Vercelli, to thank you for your courtesy in wishing to repay my visit to your city last May. I cordially welcome your Archbishop, Enrico Masseroni, as I remember with gratitude his predecessors, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the late Archbishop Albino Mensa.

I still remember the warm welcome you gave me during my stay among you and I take this opportunity to greet the priests, the consecrated men and women, and also the representatives of the different groups in your archdiocesan community. Fr Secondo Pollo, whom I had the joy of beatifying during my visit to your city, once again invites all of you to ?bet with him on holiness?, which is the vocation of all God's people. He is proof that following Jesus is a demanding task, but also a source of exalting joy.

In expressing my appreciation and gratitude to you for the sentiments which your presence and your enthusiasm demonstrate, I encourage you to persevere in your good intentions so that the seeds that have been sown will bear abundant fruit.

5. Dear sick people and friends of OFTAL, welcome! While I embrace each of you and cordially greet your President, Mons. Franco Degrandi, I fondly recall your late founder, Mons. Alessandro Rastelli, an apostle of suffering, who spent all his life serving the sick. In these years you have continued to follow the road he paved with enthusiasm and devotion, and today you are here to thank the Lord and to renew your intention to continue generously this valuable apostolate. I express to you, sick people, and to all who devote themselves to your care - doctors, nurses, pharmacists, volunteer friends, attendants, priests and religious - my sincere gratitude for the example you give and for the love which you serve in silence and to which you bear eloquent witness. May Blessed Mary, who knows well the redemptive value of human suffering, be at your side in your sufferings and, at times, prolonged illness.

6. I finally greet you, dear faithful members of various Confraternities. I especially greet your President, Mr Nicola Gerardo Marchese, and your spiritual directors. You have come on a pilgrimage to Rome to venerate the image of the Holy Crucifix in the Church of St Marcellus in Via del Corso and to renew, at the tombs of the Apostles and martyrs, your intention to participate in the work of the new evangelization. Missionaries of Christian hope and solidarity, bring the light, joy and grace of Christ wherever you go. Be faithful witnesses of Christ in today's world.

Dear brothers and sisters, I hope that all of you who have come to visit me will generously continue your Lenten journey to Easter. I accompany these wishes with my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your families and to the ecclesial communities from which you come.



Saturday, 20 March 1999

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. With great joy I welcome to this house you who have received from the Lord the office of shepherding his Church in Mozambique. You have come to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles and to meet the Successor of Peter, hoping for new light and support in your ministry of building up the Body of Christ (cf. Eph Ep 4,12), in communion with the universal Church. I thank Bishop Francisco Silota, President of your Episcopal Conference, for his kind words relating the spiritual vigour and missionary dynamism of your communities and their fidelity to the Gospel. A sign of this dynamism and ecclesial growth is the new Diocese of Gurué, created in 1993 and entrusted to Bishop Manuel Chuanguira Machado, to whom I extend a special greeting on his first visit; the same reason prompts me also to mention the new Bishop of Pemba, Bishop Tomé Makhweliha, and the Auxiliary of Maputo, Bishop Adriano Langa. To you all I extend my affectionate greetings in Christ, my deep appreciation of your ecclesial service and the assurance of my prayers so that, filled with apostolic zeal, you may continue to proclaim the Gospel to the people entrusted to you.

2. You have wished to include this visit ad limina Apostolorum among various official acts commemorating the jubilee of the evangelization of Mozambique, which leads me to begin this conversation with you by speaking of the Eucharist, since it is the "centre and culmination of the whole life of the Christian community" (Christus Dominus CD 30) and the sacred portal through which Jesus Christ entered your land.

In fact, he made himself present with these words: "This is my body. This is the cup of my blood.... It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven". The first Mass in Mozambique was celebrated by the chaplain of Vasco da Gama's Portuguese fleet on 11 March 1498. Five hundred years later, the same act of consecration was made in persona Christi by us here, this morning, and - how could we forget it? - by almost all the priests in Mozambique, who have been sent with us "to feed the Church of the Lord which he obtained with his own blood" (Ac 20,28).

Moved by this thought, through each of you and through your priests I would like to express all the hope, concern and esteem that I cherish for the Church you shepherd. I kneel at the foot of the one altar of the Cross prepared as a table for all your communities, from the one at the cathedral to the smallest and the most remote to which the Eucharist is taken, in communion with the one divine Victim who willingly gave himself up to death for all Mozambicans and for all humanity, and in the one and eternal Priesthood in which, by grace and by grace alone, we priests share. I, servant of the servants of God, making the most spiritually of the moment in the Eucharistic Prayer when you say my name and ecclesial service, draw close to every celebrant and with an affectionate embrace say to him: "Thank you for having given sacramental birth to Jesus in Mozambique. Now that he is born in your hands when you called to him "my Body" and "my Blood", do not forget any of the sons and daughters who, for him and in him, you have begotten for our God and Father! Do not deny in any way and for any reason what you have freely chosen to be and are: "body given up" and "blood shed ... for the forgiveness of sins". I ask you to bring the Pope's embrace of peace and his Blessing to every one of the ecclesial communities which you shepherd in the love of Christ".

3. Your reports say that because of the great abundance of Christians, free at last to profess their faith and adherence to Christ now that their roads are open and safer thanks to the return of peace, in many places the Eucharist has to be celebrated in the open air because the places of worship cannot accomodate the large crowds. You increase the number of celebrations, but the phenomenon continues ... it is symptomatic! Mozambique was visited by the Eucharist when its people were still ignorant of the welcome Guest who was to come; now that they know him to be the "true bread ... which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (Jn 6,32-33), they flock to him.

It could be said that God made Mozambique Eucharistic; I see its faithful people offering themselves to God to be Eucharist. God has blessed them with a special responsiveness and attraction to the Blessed Sacrament, as if only this bread could satisfy them. May no community be deprived of the regular celebration of Sunday Mass and the other sacraments! In this way, they will not run the risk of drinking from other sources with turbid water or of confusing the voice of the true Shepherd with that of some stranger who might want to enter the fold without passing through the door which is Christ (cf. Jn Jn 10,1-9). The situation of Christianity in the world teaches us that communities which are regularly nourished with the bread of the Word and the Eucharist are less vulnerable to the influence of the sects. This is why I would like to make this appeal to each of the priests in Mozambique: Do you see any possibility of bringing the Sunday comfort of the Eucharist to one more community? I say this to you and to others. May the diocesan presbyterate, in which missionary and religious priests should also feel welcome, obey to the letter the command given by the divine Teacher when, concerned that the multitudes following him would faint on the way if they returned home without eating, he said to his disciples: "They need not go away: you give them something to eat" (Mt 14,16 cf. Mk Mc 8,3).

In this service and in so many others which are found in the small Christian communities, I know that an immense number of catechists and lay leaders work with you, each in his own way and at his own level. I would like to salute, thank and encourage them on this occasion: their names are written in heaven. Dear Bishops and priests, may you be attentive guides for them and a continual support, especially if, in your absence, they have to preside at the Sunday assembly. May it be clear to everyone, however, that these assemblies must take place "in expectation of a priest" (Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, n. 26), and that they are an opportunity to ask the Lord to send more labourers into his harvest (cf. Mt Mt 9,38).

4. In fact, the Christian community's life is fully assured only when there are priests, because it is they who administer the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, enabling the flock to drink at the springs of eternal life. I thank God that ordinations are being celebrated in your Dioceses. But how many more you need!

Some of you, however, regret that you cannot accept all the requests of the young men who want to enter the seminaries, because they are too full. What a pity! In my country, circumstances very different from yours led to the closing of the seminary in Kraków, but my Archbishop, Adam Sapieha, secretly reorganized it in his residence; he accepted me and I spent my first two years as a seminarian with him. I am not telling you to do the same, but what I mean is that God should inspire you with the ways and means for accepting the vocations he sends you, which you need so much.

The closeness of my Bishop, especially during the years when I was living in his residence, had a great influence on my formation for the priesthood. Seminarians need to meet and to "be" with their Pastor; on the other hand, in the latter's pastoral responsibilities towards candidates for the priesthood, it is a great help if he makes a point of "visiting them often and in some way "being" with them" (Pastores dabo vobis PDV 65). The Pastor's closeness is necessary for his whole flock, as is stated in canon 395 of the Code of Canon Law, which requires his personal residence in the Diocese.

By his word and example, he helps young men to understand that the priesthood is a configuration to Christ, Bridegroom and Head of the Church, but also a Victim and humble Servant. A seminary and a presbyterate strengthened by prayer, mutual support and friendship foster the spirit of obedience that prepares the priest to fulfil the pastoral duties his Bishop has entrusted to him. The mystery of the Church as communion is reinforced when episcopal authority is exercised as an amoris officium (cf. Jn Jn 13,14), and priestly obedience follows the example of service set by Christ (cf. Phil Ph 2,7-8).

Moreover, neither the seminary nor the presbyterate should become a privileged life-style. Simplicity and self-denial must be the characteristics of those who follow the Lord, who "came not to be served, but to serve" (Mc 10,45). As the Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests says: "A priest could hardly be a true servant and minister of his brothers if he were excessively worried with his comfort and well-being" (n. 67).

5. I would now like to express my deep appreciation of the inestimable service of consecrated persons: to all of them, men and women, I express the Church's deepest gratitude! They shine with the light of the Absolute and have been placed with eternal splendour like stars in the firmament to lead many on the paths of justice (cf. Dn Da 12,3). They have felt their hearts burning with a fire that is not of this earth and which makes them that "lamp" of the Gospel lit not to be "put under a bushel [in their own Diocese], but on a stand [to] give light to all in the house" (cf. Mt Mt 5,15), God's house. Thus they have the legitimate aspiration to expand to the ends of the Church, in order to accompany "the Lamb wherever he goes" (Ap 14,4).

It is important that this witness shine brightly in Mozambique, which is why I cannot but rejoice at the great flourishing of religious vocations in your Dioceses, including the new local foundations. I know that the sisters offer splendid collaboration in the pastoral life of the Christian communities, filling many needs in ecclesial life or guiding them in the absence of a resident priest. But they can never be considered the female equivalent of a priest, since their vocation is not to shepherd the flock, but aims at keeping alive in it the ideal of the Beatitudes, anticipating the definitive state of God's kingdom by living the evangelical counsels. Therefore, with prudence and discernment (cf. 1Th 5,21), help your foundations to grow to be authentic religious families - if necessary by grouping together associations of different Dioceses whose members recognize they have the same vocation and charism - while seeing that their candidates are carefully chosen and receive a complete human, spiritual, theological and pastoral formation which will prepare them for their mission in the Church.

6. Your closest pastoral co-workers are priests, to which you are joined by bonds of apostolic brotherhood forged by the grace of Holy Orders. You can already count on the collaboration of a sufficient number of diocesan priests, while others are members of missionary and religious congregations or Fidei donum priests, and each, according to his respective degree of relationship, must feel part of "one priestly body and one family of which the Bishop is the father" (Christus Dominus CD 28). Show interest in them all, whatever their age, condition or nationality, whether they are natives or come from abroad (cf. ibid., n. 16).

If in a presbyterate part of the clergy comes from a different background, the Bishop should not "make distinctions" among priests (cf. Jas Jc 2,4). Here I would like to mention the practical collaboration which the Holy See regularly asks of you: indicate the names of possible candidates for the Episcopate from among the priests of your Diocese. The names submitted must be the result of an impartial evaluation of the best possibilities offered by the clergy, without being influenced by their origin: it is then the Holy See's task to choose the Pastor it deems best suited to the pastoral governance of a Diocese.

7. The Church's history shines with the example of missionaries who, in the footsteps of St Paul, became "all things to all men, that [they] might by all means save some" (cf. 1Co 9,22). One need only think of Fr Gonçalves da Silveira and the beginnings of evangelization in your land. Now, no Diocese, no Bishop who has welcomed a missionary to his own table and shared food with him, who has opened his heart to him, confiding his projects and difficulties to him in order later to shoulder together the burden of apostolic days, will be able to say of him: he is a "stranger"! But this ecclesial norm is almost 2,000 years old: "You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Ep 2,19)! For the Church, this norm abolishes all the practices and customs, criteria and values of this world which are opposed to it or impede it.

We are God's family! The Synod Fathers, during the Special Assembly for your continent, recognized this notion as "an expression of the Church's nature particularly appropriate for Africa", and proposed "building up the Church as family, avoiding all ethnocentrism and excessive particularism, trying instead to encourage reconciliation and true communion between different ethnic groups, favouring solidarity and the sharing of personnel and resources among the particular Churches, without undue ethnic considerations" (Ecclesia in Africa ), in the certainty that "the union of the family of man is greatly consolidated and perfected by the unity ... established among the sons of God" (Gaudium et spes GS 42).

8. The Synod's decision to give priority to presenting the Church as a family is based on the observation that "in Africa, in particular, the family is the foundation on which the social edifice is built" (Ecclesia in Africa ). And so it must continue to be. Therefore, any effort or pastoral concern of the Church can never be enough when it is a matter of saving a family. In fact, when a family breaks up, a rupture occurs in society's future, through which its vigour slips away. Therefore help Mozambican society - particularly those who plan and guide it with laws and public institutions - to deliberate and to organize itself by taking the family as its yardstick and standard. Tomorrow's Mozambique will be the family it has today, since it is the cradle and first school of its citizens.

Begun in the family, human formation continues at school. Unfortunately, the long war and its consequences have caused immense damage to the national educational network, leaving the nation unable to satisfy the greatest aspiration of its youth: to learn and to be trained. Listening daily to the complaints of parents and children, the Church - exercising her legitimate right to be active in the world of education - has invested as much as she can in this area, over and above her means. I would like to praise the admirable work of so many Christian teachers who have committed their best energies and all their knowledge to it, from elementary school to the Catholic University of Mozambique.

Catholic schools offer, regardless of social status or religion, a sound human, cultural and religious education, with respect for the students' conscience and family choices. In it, young people of different backgrounds can learn the dialogue of life, in order to participate in building a society that accepts each individual and respects their differences. Unity among all the citizens, without distinction of origin or creed, based on love for their common homeland, must be pursued zealously in order to work together for the integral development of the nation in harmony and justice. May the young people not be afraid to involve themselves in their country's future!

9. Dear Brothers, many times and for different reasons you have mentioned the difficulties stemming from your peoples' ancestral customs and morals which prevent them from adhering completely to the demands of the Gospel, while immediately affirming how readily they accept it. I know that this contradiction is only apparent, because the level of adherence in question varies; but does this apparent contradiction not conceal the true and greatest challenge of every age: - even today: the urgent need to evangelize?

These 500 years of evangelization among your peoples have more than once seen the miracle of a Church rising from the ashes with extraordinary power. Today, when the Church in Mozambique already has sound foundations, the time has come to produce a great wave of missionaries who will turn to your land where there are still millions who have not been evangelized, "to proclaim the Good News to all, and to lead those who hear it to Baptism and the Christian life". If you commit yourselves and "make a vigorous and unhesitating commitment to this path, the Cross can be planted in every part of the continent for the salvation of peoples not afraid to open their doors to the Redeemer" (Ecclesia in Africa ).

10. Venerable Cardinal, beloved Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of our meeting I would again like to express my gratitude for your visit and for bringing the generous fruits of a sowing of the Gospel which is 500 hundred years old in your land. I implore God's goodwill on the whole nation, asking him to free the hearts of all Mozambique's inhabitants from resentment, bitterness and vengeance, to come to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 truly and deeply reconciled and at peace with God and men.

This reconciliation - and Christians know it - has its source of grace and dynamism in the Eucharist, and "the Year 2000 will be intensely Eucharistic", since "in the sacrament of the Eucharist the Saviour, who took flesh in Mary's womb 20 centuries ago, continues to offer himself to humanity as the source of divine life" (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 55). May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, help you lead the People of God in Mozambique to this saving encounter. With my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 1999 - Saturday, 13 March 1999