Speeches 1999 - Tuesday, 1 June 1999




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. May the love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!

With these words I greet all of you who are taking part in the International Convention of Movements and New Ecclesial Communities which is being held in Speyer. I extend a special greeting to Archbishop Anton Schlembach, who has generously welcomed you to his Diocese, to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, and to the other Bishops and priests, friends of the movements, who are accompanying you during these days. I extend warm greetings to the convention's organizers: Chiara Lubich, Andrea Riccardi and Salvatore Martinez.

You have wanted to meet as representatives of various movements and new communities a year after the meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in St Peter's Square on the eve of Pentecost, 1998. That event was a great gift for the whole Church. We were able to experience the Holy Spirit's presence in an atmosphere of fervent prayer; a presence made tangible by the "common witness" of the movements to deep understanding and unity with respect for the diversity of each one. It was a significant epiphany of the Church, rich in the charisms and gifts that the Spirit never ceases to lavish upon her.

2. Every gift of the Lord, as you know well, challenges our responsibility and must be transformed into commitment to a task which must be faithfully observed. Moreover, it is precisely this that is the basic reason for the Speyer Convention. Listening to what the Spirit says to the Churches (cf. Rv Ap 2,7) on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Redemption, you would also like to assume responsibility, directly and together with the other movements, for the gift received on that 30 May 1998. The seed, scattered in abundance, cannot fall by the wayside, but must bear fruit within your communities, in the parishes and Dioceses. It is beautiful and gives us joy to see how the movements and new communities feel the need to come together in ecclesial communion, and try with concrete acts to share the gifts they have received, support one another in difficulty and cooperate to face the challenges of the new evangelization together. These are eloquent signs of that ecclesial maturity which I hope will always and increasingly mark every element and expression of the ecclesial community.

3. During these years I have been able to see the importance of the fruits of conversion, spiritual rebirth and holiness which the movements bring to the life of the local Churches. Thanks to the dynamism of these new ecclesial gatherings, many Christians have rediscovered their vocation rooted in Baptism and have devoted themselves with extraordinary generosity to the Church's evangelizing mission. For many people this has been an opportunity to rediscover the value of prayer, while the Word of God has become their daily bread and, the Eucharist, the heart of their existence.

In the Encyclical Redemptoris missio I recalled as something new which had emerged in many Churches in recent times, the great development of the "ecclesial movements" endowed with missionary dynamism: "When these movements humbly seek to become part of the life of local Churches and are welcomed by Bishops and priests within diocesan and parish structures", I wrote, "they represent a true gift of God both for new evangelization and for missionary activity properly so-called. I therefore recommend that they be spread, and that they be used to give fresh energy, especially among young people, to the Christian life and to evangelization, within a pluralistic view of the ways in which Christians can associate and express themselves" (n. 72).

I warmly hope that the Speyer Convention will be for each of you and for all your movements an opportunity for growing in the love of Christ and of his Church in accordance with the teaching of the Apostle Paul who urges us to aspire to "the higher gifts" (1Co 12,31).

I entrust the work of your meeting to Mary, Mother of the Church, and accompany you with my prayers, as I impart a special Blessing to each of you and your families.

From the Vatican, 3 June 1999.




Friday, 4 June 1999

Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Members of the Pontifical Council for the Family,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. It is a great joy for me to receive you on the occasion of the 14th plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Meeting for reflection on the theme "The Paternity of God and Paternity in the Family", which has such great theological and pastoral importance. I greet you all affectionately, especially those who are taking part for the first time in a meeting organized by your dicastery. I thank the President, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, for his kind words in the name of you all.

The theme of fatherhood, which you have chosen for this plenary meeting, refers to the third year of preparation for the Great Jubilee, dedicated precisely to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is worthwhile reflecting on this theme, since in today's family the father figure is in danger of becoming more and more hidden or even absent. In the light of the paternity of God "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Ep 3,15), human fatherhood and motherhood acquire all their meaning, dignity and greatness. "Human fatherhood and motherhood, while remaining biologically similar to that of other living beings in nature, contain in an essential and unique way a 'likeness' to God which is the basis of the family as a community of human life, as a community of persons united in love (communio personarum)" (Gratissimam sane, n. 6).

2. We can still hear the vivid echo of the recent celebration of Pentecost, which moves us to proclaim with hope St Paul's affirmation: "All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God" (Rm 8,14). Just as the Holy Spirit is the life of the Church (cf. Lumen gentium LG 7), he must also be the life of the family, the little domestic church. For every family he must be the inner principle of vitality and energy, which keeps the flame of conjugal love ever burning in the spouses' reciprocal gift of self.

It is the Holy Spirit who leads us to the heavenly Father and enables the trusting, jubilant prayer "Abba, Father!" (Rm 8,15 Ga 4,6) to rise from our hearts. The Christian family is called to be distinguished for its atmosphere of shared prayer, in which God is addressed with the freedom of children and called by the affectionate name of "our Father"! May the Holy Spirit help us discover the Father's face as a perfect model of fatherhood in the family.

For some time now the family institution has been under repeated attack. These attacks are all the more dangerous and insidious since they ignore the irreplaceable value of the family based on marriage. They have reached the point of proposing false alternatives to the family and of calling for legislative recognition of them. But when laws, which should be at the service of the family, a fundamental good for society, turn against it, they acquire alarming destructive power.

Thus, in some countries there is a desire to impose on society so-called "de facto unions", reinforced by a series of legal effects which erode the very meaning of the family institution. "De facto unions" are marked by instability and the lack of the irrevocable commitment which gives rise to rights and duties and respects the dignity of the man and woman. Instead, there is a desire to give juridical value to a will that is far removed from any form of definitive bond. With these premises how can we hope for truly responsible procreation which is not limited to giving life, but also includes that training and education which only the family can guarantee in all its dimensions? Arrangements of this sort ultimately put the meaning of human fatherhood, of fatherhood in the family, seriously at risk. This happens in various ways when families are not well established.

3. When the Church explains the truth about marriage and the family, she does not do so only on the basis of the data of Revelation, but also by taking into account the demands of the natural law, which are at the foundation of the true good of society and its members. In fact, it is important for children to be born and raised in a home where parents are united in a faithful covenant.

It is quite possible to imagine other forms of relationship and cohabitation between the sexes, but none of these, despite some people's contrary opinion, offers a real juridical alternative to matrimony, but rather a weakening of it. In the so-called "de facto unions", we see a more or less serious lack of mutual commitment, a paradoxical desire to maintain the autonomy of one's will within a relationship which should in fact be relational. What is missing in non-marital cohabitation is trusting openness to a future life together, which love must create and build and which it is the law's specific task to guarantee. In other words, it is precisely the law which is lacking, not in its extrinsic dimension as a mere set of norms, but in its most genuine anthropological dimension as a guarantee of human coexistence and its dignity.

Moreover, when "de facto unions" claim the right to adopt, they clearly show their disregard for the child's welfare and the minimum conditions he is owed for proper upbringing. Lastly, "de facto unions" between homosexuals are a deplorable distortion of what should be a communion of love and life between a man and a woman in a reciprocal gift open to life.

4. Today, especially in wealthier nations, there is a widespread fear of being parents coupled with a disregard for the right of children to be conceived within the context of total human selfgiving, which is an indispensable prerequisite for their peaceful and harmonious growth.

Thus, an alleged right to fatherhood or motherhood at any cost is asserted, and its exercise is sought through technical means involving a series of morally illicit manipulations.

Another feature of the cultural context in which we live is the tendency of many parents to renounce their role in order to be merely friends to their children, refraining from warning and correcting them even when this is necessary for teaching them the truth, albeit with every affection and tenderness. It therefore should be stressed that the education of children is a sacred duty and a shared task of the parents, both father and mother: it requires warmth, closeness, dialogue and example. In the home parents are called to represent the good Father in heaven, the one perfect model to inspire them.

Fatherhood and motherhood, by the will of God himself, intimately share in his creative power and consequently have an intrinsic reciprocal relationship. On this subject I wrote in the Letter to Families: "Motherhood necessarily implies fatherhood, and in turn, fatherhood necessarily implies motherhood. This is the result of the duality bestowed by the Creator upon human beings 'from the beginning'" (Gratissimam sane, n. 7).

This is another reason why the relationship between man and woman is the cornerstone of social relationships: while it is the source of new human beings, it closely binds husband and wife, who have become one flesh, to each other and, through them, their respective families.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, as I thank you for your dedication to defending the family and its rights, I assure you of a constant remembrance in my prayer. May God make fruitful the efforts of all those who, in every part of the world, are devoted to this cause. May he help the family, the bulwark and defence of humanity itself, to withstand every attack.

With these sentiments, I am pleased now to renew my warm invitation to families to participate in the Third World Meeting of Families, which will be held in Rome during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. I also extend this invitation to the associations and movements, especially those that are pro-life and pro-family. In the light of the mystery of Nazareth, we will reflect on fatherhood and motherhood from the standpoint of the theme I have chosen for the occasion: "Children, the springtime of the family and of society". The mission of parents, called through an act of love to cooperate with the heavenly Father in the birth of new human beings, God's children, is a great and noble one.

May Our Lady, Mother of Life and Queen of the Family, make every home a place of peace and love in the image of the Family of Nazareth.

May you also be comforted by my blessing, which I willingly impart to all of you here and to all throughout the world who have the family's destiny at heart.




Friday, 4 June 1999

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to welcome Your Excellency for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Gabonese Republic to the Holy See.

I am touched by your kind words and the greetings you have conveyed to me on behalf of His Excellency, President El Hadj Omar Bongo of the Gabonese Republic. I would be grateful if you would bring him and the people of Gabon my cordial wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the whole country, as I pray God to grant that everyone may live in a nation of ever greater brotherhood and solidarity, where the gifts received from God can be developed for the benefit of all.

2. In your address you stressed the importance the Apostolic See gives to the quest for peace among peoples. Indeed, it is particularly urgent as we approach the third millennium to create the conditions of social life which no longer allow violence to be seen as an appropriate way to resolve conflicts. The terrible suffering which is still the daily lot of so many peoples, victims of fratricidal conflicts especially on the African continent, must spur national leaders and all people of good will to be firmly committed to searching for solutions that respect human life and people's rights, offering them the opportunity to progress towards true reconciliation.

I am delighted that Gabon, which as you have just mentioned is faithfully committed to the principles of peace and stability on the continent, is helping ever more effectively in central Africa to foster harmonious, cooperative relations between nations and between human communities.

3. If lasting social balance is to be established, within every country the strengthening of a State based on law and on respect for every human person and the basic requirements connected with it should go hand in hand with a public administration which is effectively at the service of all. I therefore strongly encourage anyone with responsibility in national government not to be discouraged and in all circumstances to seek the common good with firm determination. Indeed, as I wrote in my Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, "to reconcile profound differences, overcome long-standing ethnic animosities and become integrated into international life demands a high degree of competence in the art of governing" (n. 111). Moreover, to encourage an honest administration of the common patrimony and to reduce the causes of opposition between groups, it is essential to foster a sound civic and moral training of consciences that will inculcate a sense of responsibility and the recognition of each person with his differences. Thus it will be possible to establish harmonious relations between all the members of society, with justice and equity.

4. Mr Ambassador, to respond to her vocation to bear witness always and everywhere to Christ's Gospel, the Catholic Church intends to cooperate with everyone inolved in the organization of human society, especially those who are responsible for governing. I am therefore pleased with the agreement recently signed between your country and the Holy See to facilitate the religious mission of the Catholic Church and her service to all Gabonese without distinction, while respecting the independence and autonomy of both Church and State. I hope that this agreement, based on the recognition of religious freedom and the spiritual principles which inspire your rich national tradition, will bear abundant fruits for the well-being and integral development of each individual and of all Gabonese society.

5. Permit me, Mr Ambassador, to take advantage of this happy occasion to extend my cordial greetings, through you, to the Bishops and all the Catholics of Gabon. I know of their attachment to their country and their determination to work for its development with all their compatriots. As we are preparing to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I affectionately invite them to be ever more ardent artisans of peace and brotherhood, firmly united around their Pastors in faith and in love.

6. Mr Ambassador, as you officially begin your mission to the Apostolic See, I offer you my cordial wishes for the noble task which awaits you. Be assured that those who work with me will offer you the attentive and understanding assistance you may need.

I warmly impart an abundance of the Almighty's blessings upon you, Your Excellency, upon the nation's leaders and upon all the people of Gabon.


Address at Arrival Ceremony

Saturday, 5 June 1999, Gdansk

Dear President of the Republic of Poland,
Dear Cardinal Primate,
Dear Metropolitan Archbishop of Gdansk,

1. I give thanks to Divine Providence for being able to come a seventh time, as a pilgrim, among my fellow countrymen and to experience thus the joy of visiting my dear homeland. I heartily embrace each and every one: the entire land of Poland and all who live here. Receive my greeting of love and peace, the greeting of a fellow Pole who comes among you to fulfil the need of his own heart and who brings the blessing of God who “is love” (1Jn 4,8).

I greet the President and at the same time I thank him for the cordial words he has addressed to me in the name of the State Authorities of the Republic of Poland. I greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops. To the Cardinal Primate I offer sincere thanks for his words of welcome. I greet the Church in Poland: the priests, the consecrated men and women, the students of the major seminaries and all the faithful, especially those who are suffering, the sick and those who are alone. I ask you to pray that my service in our homeland will produce the hoped-for spiritual fruits.

2. This pilgrimage to my homeland is as it were an extension of my previous visit in 1997. I begin it on the Baltic Coast, in Gdansk where great works and important events in the history of our Nation have taken place. In fact, it was here in 997 that Saint Adalbert completed his apostolic mission. Two years ago I was privileged to begin the solemn celebration of the millennium of his death by martyrdom. He is the Patron of the Diocese of Gdansk, and for this reason I direct my first steps to this City.

The witness of Adalbert’s martyrdom became a seed which produced holiness. For a thousand years the Church has faithfully served this mystery of grace in the land of the Piast and wishes to continue this effective service, in imitation of her one Master and Lord. Therefore she always strives to renew herself, so that in every age her face will show forth the image of Christ, “the supreme witness of patient love and of humble service” (Tertio Millenio Adveniente, 35). Such renewal was proposed by the Second Vatican Council, which under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit showed the Church the paths to follow at the end of the second millennium in order to bring to the modern world the eternal mystery of a God who loves. The task of the Second Plenary Synod of the Church in Poland, which began on 8 June 1991 at Warsaw and which will be brought to completion during this pilgrimage, is to make this teaching of the Council ever present, so that the interior renewal of the People of God in Poland — a renewal already under way — will continue and be brought to a fruitful conclusion, contributing to a new springtime of the Spirit in the future towards which we are journeying.

As she looks to the future, the Church confirms at the same time her own identity which has been formed over the course of two millennia by the obedience of her sons and daughters to the Holy Spirit. This identity takes on a particular expression in the lives of saintly witnesses to the mystery of God’s love. The beatifications which will take place during this pilgrimage, in Warsaw and in Torun, and the canonization in Sacz, will show forth the grandeur and beauty of holiness of life and the power of God at work in people. Blessed be God who “is love” for all the fruits of this holiness, for all the gifts of the Spirit of this millennium which is drawing to an end.

There is still another reason, a very important one, for this pilgrimage. This year we celebrate the millennium of the establishment by Pope Sylvester II of the independent Metropolitan See of Gniezno, composed of four Dioceses: Gniezno, Kolobrzeg, Wroclaw and Kraków. In a certain sense, this was the first fruit on Polish soil of Saint Adalbert’s death by martyrdom. The nation, only recently baptized, began its pilgrimage through history together with its Pastors — the Bishops of the new Dioceses. For the Church in Poland and for the whole nation this was a great event, the memory of which we shall celebrate in Kraków.

3. I am pleased that this pilgrimage to my homeland begins in Gdansk, a city which has a place for ever in the history of Poland, of Europe, and perhaps even of the whole world. In fact, it was here that the voice of consciences was heard in a particular way, calling for respect for human dignity, especially of workers, a voice calling for freedom, justice and solidarity between people. This cry of consciences roused from slumber rang out with such force as to make room for the yearned-for freedom, a freedom which has become and continues to be for us a great task and a challenge for today and the future. It was precisely in Gdansk that a new Poland was born, which gives us so much and of which we are so proud. I notice with joy that our country has made great progress on the path of economic development. Thanks to the efforts of all its citizens Poland can look to the future with hope. In the last few years our country has earned particular recognition and the respect of the other nations of the world. For all of this, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray unceasingly that Poland’s material development will increase at an equal rate with its spiritual development.

4. I come among you on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. I come as a pilgrim to the sons and daughters of my homeland with words of faith, hope and love. At the end of this millennium and at the same time on the threshold of the new times to come, I wish to meditate together with my fellow countrymen on the great mystery of God’s love, and to praise God who “is love”. In fact, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3,16). Together with you I bow before this ineffable mystery of divine love and divine mercy.

I earnestly desire that through my pastoral ministry, during the prsent pilgrimage, the divine message of love will reach every family, every home, and all my fellow countrymen who live in Poland or outside its borders, wherever they may be.

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2Co 13,14) during these days of pilgrimage and always!


Address at Blessing of Marian Shrine

Monday, 7 June 1999

1. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lc 1,45). As a pilgrim I come today to the Shrine of Lichen and I greet Mary with the words of Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed”. From the text of the evangelist Luke we learn that the house of Elizabeth was filled with joy. Thanks to the light shining from on high, Elizabeth understands the greatness of Mary who is “full of grace” and who is therefore “blessed among women” (cf. Lk Lc 1,42), since she carries in her womb Jesus, the Saviour of the world. The scene of the Visitation is particularly near to our hearts here in this place so loved by Mary. Every shrine, in fact, is in some way the house of Elizabeth visited by the Mother of God’s Son, who comes so that she may be close to her beloved people.

2. Brothers and Sisters, I give thanks to Divine Providence that this Shrine figures as part of my pilgrim journey in our homeland. I am thankful for being able to meet you on this beautiful and picturesque hill, amid fields and woods, to bless this new church in honour of the Mother of God. I look with admiration upon this large building, which in its architectural richness is an expression of faith and love for Mary and her Son. Let us give thanks to God for this church! Gratitude is due also to the guardians of this Shrine, the Marian Fathers who for years have taken care of it and have faithfully served the pilgrims. In fact, it is their initiative that led to the building of this church. I thank also those who built it and all who, with their offerings, have supported and continue to support this important undertaking. I cordially greet Bishop Bronislaw, Pastor of the Diocese of Wloclawek, in whose territory this Shrine lies. I greet the Auxiliary Bishop, the Bishop Emeritus, the clergy and the pilgrims who have come from various parts of Poland.

3. Let us turn our gaze to her “who believed”. Mary believed that what the Lord had said to her would be fulfilled. She believed, on God’s word, that she — a virgin — would conceive and bear a Son. Mary’s act of faith reminds us of the faith of Abraham, who at the beginning of the Old Covenant believed in God. This is the greatness and the perfection of Mary’s faith, in the presence of which Elizabeth uttered words of amazement. Calling Mary “blessed among women”, Elizabeth shows that Mary was blessed thanks to her faith. Elizabeth’s exclamation, filled with wonder, is for us an exhortation to learn to appreciate what Mary’s presence brings to the life of every believer.

4. Gathered today for this morning prayer at the Shrine of Lichen, at the feet of Our Lady of Sorrows, let all of us — Bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, lay faithful — implore her to intercede for us with her Son, seeking to obtain for us:

A living faith that will grow from a mustard seed to the tree of divine life;
A faith that is nourished everyday by prayer, is strengthened by the holy sacraments and draws richness from the Gospel of Christ;
A strong faith that shrinks before no difficulty, suffering or lack of success, because it is sustained by the conviction that “nothing is impossible for God” (cf. Lk Lc 1,37);
A mature faith without reservation, a faith that cooperates with the holy Church in the authentic building up of the Mystical Body of Christ.
We thank you, Mary, because you ceaselessly and unfailingly lead us to Christ.

Mother of the Divine Son, watch over us, watch over our unshakable fidelity to God, to the Cross, to the Gospel and to the holy Church, as you have done since the first moments of our Christian history. Defend this nation which for a thousand years has walked the path of the Gospel. Grant that we live, grow and persevere in faith until the end.

Hail, O Daughter of God the Father,
Hail, O Mother of the Son of God,
Hail, O Bride of the Holy Spirit,
Temple of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.


Address at Meeting with Rectors of Academic Institutions

Torun, Monday, 7 June 1999

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Rectors Magnificent, Deans and Professors,
Representatives of higher learning in Poland,

1. I am very pleased that my pilgrimage through my native land affords me yet another opportunity to meet you, men and women of science, representatives of the academic institutions throughout Poland. The fact that these meetings with the world of science have already become an integral part of the Pope’s journeys in every continent speaks for itself. These are moments of particular witness. They point to the profound and complex ties linking the vocation of men and women of learning and the ministry of the Church, which is essentially the “service of Truth”.

With gratitude to Divine Providence for today’s meeting, I cordially greet you all, the Rectors Magnificent and the representatives of the academic institutions of the entire country, and through you I embrace in mind and heart the entire world of higher learning in Poland. I greet in particular the Rector Magnificent of the University of Torun, which hosts us on this occasion. I thank him for the kind words of welcome which he addressed to me in the name of all present. I also greet the President of the Conference of Rectors Magnificent of the Polish Universities.

2. We are meeting within a University which, at least in terms of its date of establishment, is fairly young. Recently it celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation. Yet we know that the cultural and scientific traditions linked to this city are deeply rooted in the past and are bound to the figure of Nicholas Copernicus. The University of Torun, at the moment of its birth, was marked by the dramatic events which followed the Second World War. It is appropriate on this occasion to recall that the founders of this University were mostly scholars in exile from the Stefan Batory University in Vi lnius and from the Jan Kazimierz University in Lviv. From Vilnius came the first Rector, Professor Ludwik Kolankowski, the tireless organizer of the University. From Vilnius came Karol Górski, the historian and pioneer of studies on Polish religious spirituality, and many others. From Lviv came Professor Tadeusz Czezowski, a highly renowned philosopher. From Lviv too came Professor Artur Hutnikiewicz, the outstanding literary scholar. The circle of professors was reinforced also by scholars coming from the ruins of Warsaw; among them we cannot fail to mention Konrad Górski, an extraordinarily insightful literary scholar. They, and many others, made great efforts to organize this University. Those were difficult times but yet times of hope. And “hope is born of the truth”, as Cyprian Norwid wrote. In the extremely difficult conditions of the post-war period there was a testing of persons, a testing of their fidelity to truth. Today the University of Torun has its own specific character and makes a valuable contribution to the growth of Polish scholarship.

3. Our meeting is taking place in the final year of this century now drawing to a close. At the juncture of two centuries as we are, our thoughts turn alternately to the past and to the future. In the past we seek instruction and directions for our future. In this way we wish to clarify better and give a solid foundation to our hope. Today the world needs hope and is searching for hope! But does not the tragic history of our century, with its wars, its criminal totalitarian ideologies, its concentration camps and gulags, make it easy for us to yield to the tempation of discouragement and despair? Pascal once wrote that man’s knowledge of his own misery leads him to despair (cf. Pensées, 75). In order to discover hope, we need to lift our gaze on high. Only the knowledge of Christ, Pascal adds, sets us free from despair, since in him we realize not only our misery but also our grandeur (cf. ibid., 690, 729, 730).

By his revelation of the Father who is “rich in mercy” (Ep 2,4), Christ has shown humanity the most profound truth about God, and at the same time about man. “God is love” (1Jn 4,8). This is the theme of my present visit to my native Poland. I wrote in my Encyclical on the Holy Spirit: “In his intimate life, God 'is love', the essential love shared by the three Persons: personal love is the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Therefore he 'searches even the depths of God', as uncreated gift-love. It can be said that in the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons, and that through the Holy Spirit God exists in the mode of gift” (Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 10). This Love which is Gift, is given to man through the act of creation and redemption. Consequently, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (Redemptor Hominis RH 10).

Precisely this truth about “God-Love” becomes the source of the world’s hope and points out the path of our responsibility. Man is able to love, because he was first loved by God. Saint John teaches us that “we love God because God first loved us” (cf. 1Jn 4,19). The truth about God’s love sheds light also on our quest for truth, on our work, on the development of scholarship, on our whole culture. Our research and our work need a guiding idea, a fundamental value, in order to give meaning to and to unite in one direction the efforts of scholars, the reflections of historians, the creativity of artists and the discoveries of scientists, which are all growing at a dizzying rate. Does there exist any other idea, any other value or any other light capable of giving meaning to the manifold commitment of people of science and culture, without at the same time limiting their creative freedom? This power is love, which does not impose itself on man from without, but is born deep within, in his heart, as his most personal property. Man is asked only to let it grow and to allow it to permeate his sensibility, his reflection in the laboratory, in the classroom and in seminars, and in the workshop.

Speeches 1999 - Tuesday, 1 June 1999