Speeches 1999 - Torun, Monday, 7 June 1999

4. We are meeting today in Torun, in the “the City of Copernicus”, in the University named after him. The discovery made by Copernicus, and its importance for the history of science, remind us of the ever-present tension between reason and faith. Although Copernicus himself saw his discovery as giving rise to even greater amazement at the Creator of the world and the power of human reason, many people took it as a means of setting reason against faith. Which of these is the truth? Are reason and faith two realities which are necessarily mutually exclusive?

The split between reason and faith was the expression of one of humanity’s great tragedies. It has many causes. Particularly, beginning in the Enlightenment period, an extreme and one-sided rationalism led to the radicalization of positions in the realm of the natural sciences and in that of philosophy. The resulting split between faith and reason caused irreparable damage not only to religion but also to culture. In the heat of controversy it was often forgotten that faith “has no fear of reason, but seeks it out and has trust in it. Just as grace builds on nature and brings it to fulfilment, so faith builds upon and perfects reason” (Fides et Ratio FR 43). Faith and reason are like “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth” (ibid., Proemium). Today we need to work for a reconciliation between faith and reason. As I wrote in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio: “Deprived of reason, faith has stressed feeling and experience, and so run the risk of no longer being a universal proposition. It is an illusion to think that faith, tied to weak reasoning, might be more penetrating; on the contrary, faith then runs the grave risk of withering into myth or superstition. By the same token, reason which is unrelated to an adult faith is not prompted to turn its gaze to the newness and radicality of being . . . The parrhesia of faith must be matched by the boldness of reason” (No. 48). Ultimately this is the problem of man’s inner unity, ever threatened by the division and the atomization of his consciousness, which lacks a unifying principle. In this area nowadays a special task awaits philosophical research.

5. The men and women of science and of culture have been entrusted with a special responsibility for truth - to strive for it, to defend it and to live in accordance with it. We are all familiar with the difficulties bound up with the human search for truth, chief of which are scepticism, agnosticism, relativism and nihilism. Attempts are often made to convince people that we have reached the twilight of the age of certitude in the knowledge of truth, and that we are irrevocably condemned to the total absence of meaning, the provisional nature of all knowledge, and to permanent instability and relativity. In this situation it appears imperative to reaffirm a basic confidence in human reason and its capacity to know the truth, including absolute and definitive truth. Man is capable of elaborating a uniform and organic conception of knowledge. The fragmentation of knowledge destroys man’s inner unity. Man aspires to the fullness of knowledge, since he is a being who by his very nature seeks the truth (cf. Fides et Ratio FR 28) and cannot live without it. Contemporary scholarship, and especially present-day philosophy, each in its own sphere, needs to rediscover that sapiential dimension which consists in the search for the definitive and overall meaning of human existence.

The search for truth is carried on not only through the toil of individuals in libraries or laboratories, but it also has a community dimension. “Human perfection consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of the truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others. It is in this faithful self- giving that a person finds a fullness of certainty and security. At the same time, however, knowledge through belief, grounded as it is on trust between persons, is linked to truth: in the act of believing, men and women entrust themselves to the truth which the other declares to them” (Fides et Ratio FR 32). This, certainly, is an experience which each of you appreciates. Truth is attained thanks also to others, in dialogue with others and on behalf of others. Seeking the truth and sharing it with others is an important service to society, a service which scholars in particular are called to render.

6. Scholarship today, including Polish scholarship, faces great challenges. The unprecedented development of the sciences and technological progress are raising fundamental questions about the limits of experimentation, the meaning and direction of technological development, the limits of man’s tampering with nature and the natural environment. This progress gives rise to both wonderment and fear. Man is becoming ever more fearful of the products of his own intelligence and freedom. He feels endangered. Hence it is more important and timely than ever to recall the fundamental truth that the world is a gift of God the Creator, who is Love, and that man as a creature is called to a prudent and responsible dominion over the world of nature, and not its heedless destruction. We also need to remember that reason is God’s gift, a mark of the likeness to God which every man bears within himself. Hence it is quite important to remember constantly that authentic freedom of scientific research cannot prescind from the criterion of truth and of goodness. Concern for the moral conscience and the sense of individual responsibility has today become a fundamental imperative for men and women of science. It is precisely here that both the future of contemporary science and, in some sense, the future of humanity are being decided. Finally we need to mention the need for constant gratitude for the gift which each human being is to others; it is thanks to others, with others and for others that one becomes part of the great adventure of the search for truth.

7. I am aware of the pressing difficulties which Polish academic institutions are facing today, affecting both their teaching faculties and their students. Polish scholarship, like our whole country, presently finds itself in a phase of profound transformation and reform. I also know that even so, Polish researchers are meeting with significant successes. I am pleased to know this, and I congratulate all of you.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends, I wish once more to thank you for today’s meeting. I assure you of my deep concern for the problems of Polish scholarship. I greet you cordially and through you I greet the academic communities in Poland which you represent, both the students and the professors, and all the administrative and technical personnel. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Blessing of University Library

Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to offer cordial greetings to all those gathered in this long-awaited new building of the Library of the University of Warsaw, to take part in the blessing ceremony. I greet the Cardinal Primate, the Rector Magnificus together with the Senate and Professors of the University, and the Rector-Elect. I am delighted that the Rectors and Professors of other academic institutions of Warsaw are present. I salute the Minister of Education, the members of the Polish Academy of Science and the representatives of the world of culture.

A library is an institution which by its very existence bears witness to the development of culture. It comprises the treasury of written works, in which we see displayed human creativity, human intelligence, knowledge of the world and of human beings, and also the capacity for self-control, personal sacrifice, solidarity and work for the consolidation of the common good (cf. Centesimus Annus, CA 51). In a systematically arranged collection, new books and periodicals are added to old manuscripts and incunabula. The whole becomes an eloquent sign of the unity of successive generations, forging from a variety of times and arguments a common heritage of culture and learning. A library, therefore, is a special temple of the creativity of the human spirit which reflects the Divine Breath which attended the work of the creation of the world and of man. To understand why the Pope is here in this building and why this blessing ceremony is taking place, one must go back precisely to that moment when God made man in his image and likeness, and called him to share in the work of creating goodness and beauty. All of this shows that man responds to that invitation; in a sense, this building looks to the One who is the first Cause of existence. If, therefore, we find ourselves today in this place which gathers together the fruits of man’s creative work, it is right that we look to God filled with thanksgiving. It is right that we seek his blessing upon this building, asking the breath of his Spirit to be present here and to become a source of inspiration for future generations of men and women of culture and learning.

The invitation to the Pope to bless this magnificent building is an eloquent sign that the academic world of the capital views positively the heritage which Christianity has conferred down the centuries upon culture and learning in Poland; it is a sign of appreciation of the timeless value of this heritage, of the desire not only to draw more from it, but also to increase it, bringing to the common treasury of culture the fruits of contemporary study and research. It is a sign in particular of the growing awareness that the Church and the world of learning are natural allies in the service of mankind.

I wish finally to express the hope that this building will be, as the people of the capital expect, the beginning of a rejuvenation of the university quarter of Powisle that will change the face of Warsaw. May this joint effort of State, city and academic authorities produce further fruits, no less magnificent than this building which I have had the opportunity to bless. It is my hope that this Library will become the place where those who profit from its rich resources recognize and satisfy the noble passion of the quest for truth.

God bless you all!


Meeting with Polish Bishops’ Conference

Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw

My Venerable Brother Bishops,

1. In a spirit of thanksgiving for the gift of another pilgrimage to my homeland, I greet you most cordially, Pastors of the Church in Poland. I salute you all, the Cardinal Primate as President of the Conference, the Cardinals, the Archbishops and Bishops. Please accept, as an expression of fraternal love, a special word of solidarity and enduring closeness to the Church in Poland.

This present pilgrimage, the longest of all that I have made so far, comes on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in the year dedicated to God the Father. The grace of faith and the light of the Holy Spirit who lives in the Church enable us to see the full salvific dimension of the events and the great anniversaries to which this pilgrimage is linked. As sons of the one “Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5,45), we experience once again his love in shared celebration. This love, revealed in Christ, is the very heart of the Christian life: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17,3).

Among the various historical events and anniversaries, viewed in the context of God’s saving plan which includes our own time, we celebrate the millennium of the canonization of Saint Adalbert, the Jubilee of the millennium of the establishment of Church structures in Poland, with the first Metropolitan See and the Archdiocese of Gniezno — with the suffragan Dioceses of Krakow, Wroclaw and Kolobrzeg — and the Bicentenary of the erection of the Diocese of Warsaw. We will also conclude the Second Plenary Synod.

2. I give thanks to God for the twenty years of my service to the holy Church in the See of Peter, and also because in that time I have been able to serve the Church in my homeland in a special way. This moment of historic change calls us to look with Christian hope towards the future, towards the third millennium which is now so near.

This present visit is in a sense the crowning of all my previous pilgrimages to Poland. This is also highlighted by the theme of the pilgrimage: “God is love” (1Jn 4,8). Love is in fact “the fulfilling of the Law” (Rm 13,10). “Charity, in its twofold reality as love of God and neighbour, is the summing up of the moral life of the believer. It has in God its source and its goal” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, TMA 50).

3. The Gospel of the Eight Beatitudes contained in the Sermon on the Mount accompanies this pilgrimage in a certain way and directs our thoughts to Christ. His life is the fulfilment of all the Beatitudes and shows forth a vision of Christianity which is valid for all time. Formed in this spirit, those who follow and proclaim Christ will be for every generation living witnesses to his saving presence and will lead others to God who is love. The Church, as a “universal sacrament of salvation” (Lumen Gentium, LG 48), must become day by day a sign of Christ living through the ages, a more comprehensible and transparent sign that wants “all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tm 2,4). The indispensable condition for this, that is, for the realization of the Church’s saving mission, is love. Upon love the Church is founded, and upon love the Church grows and develops, “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them just as you have loved me” (Jn 17,23). The essence of the apostolate of all members of the Church is the spreading of the truth about God’s love. Do all that you can to see that this truth is proclaimed, accepted and realized in the life of Pastors and all believers.

The Sermon on the Mount is the programme for the whole Church. The community of the New Covenant is formed when it is based upon the law of love written in every human heart (cf. Jer Jr 31,31-33 He 10,16-17). The Gospel Beatitudes are in a sense the concrete form of this law, and at the same time they ensure a true and lasting happiness which springs from purity and peace of heart, the fruits of reconciliation with God and men.

4. The ranks of the Saints and Blessed are an eloquent sign of the fulfilment of the promise of the Beatitudes. Included in these ranks are those who will be raised to the glory of the altars during this pilgrimage: Blessed Kinga, who will be canonized at Stary Sacz, Blessed Wincenty Frelichowski, raised to the honours of the altars a few days ago at Torun, then the Servant of God Regina Protmann, together with the Servant of God Edmund Bojanowski and the one hundred and eight martyrs who during the inhuman occupation bore heroic witness to the faith and whom the Church will proclaim Blessed in Warsaw in a few days’ time. For the Church in Poland, together with the host of sons and daughters of this land, they are a sign and an encouragement which reminds us how the grace of holiness can flourish in every situation and in every circumstance of life, even in the midst of persecution, oppression and injustice. Among these heroes of the faith there are Bishops and priests who, imitating Christ the Good Shepherd, did not hesitate to “lay down their lives for their sheep” (cf. Jn Jn 10,11).

Dear Brothers, fix your eyes on the shining examples of their lives, so that love of God and man may grow stronger in your hearts and in the hearts of all those whom you serve as Pastors. An indispensable condition for fruitful pastoral care is a personal relationship with Christ, which shows itself primarily in prayer and in love filled with a spirit of sacrifice for the Church, our Mother. “Zeal for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” (Ps 69,9).

5. At the source of all renewal there is the word of God, “which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Ac 20,32). And as relevant as ever is the Second Vatican Council’s exhortation that “the preaching of the Church, as indeed the entire Christian religion, should be nourished and ruled by Sacred Scripture. In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children and talks with them” (Dei Verbum, DV 21). Bishops above all must be open to the light and power of the word of God, lest – as Saint Augustine warns – he who is entrusted with the holy ministry of the word, but not hearing the word within, becomes a mere display of empty preaching of the word of God (cf. Sermon 179, I: PL 38, 966). “The word of God is alive and active” (He 4,12). May it nourish your spirituality and become a source of fruitful apostolic work, in keeping with Saint Thomas’ principle: contemplata aliis tradere. The word of God is the irreplaceable means of salvation for people in every age; it contains such “force and power that it can serve the Church as her support and vigour, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life” (Dei Verbum, DV 21).

6. The greatest pastoral duty of each of you is to care for the unerring transmission of the deposit of faith. In our own days, the universal Church has been given a precious instrument to help achieve this: the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is an eloquent sign of the unity of the Church’s teaching. In the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum I wrote: “This catechism is not intended to replace the local catechisms duly approved by the ecclesiastical authorities, the diocesan Bishops and the Episcopal Conferences, especially if they have been approved by the Holy See. It is meant to encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to Catholic doctrine” (No. 4). The application of this by the Pastors of the Church in Poland is one of the most urgent needs of the present time. A systematic and comprehensive catechesis, including the catechesis of adults, is essential for the deepening and strengthening of faith in people’s hearts, a faith which has its influence on the way they live and act.

7. The Second Plenary Synod has been a very important event for the Church in Poland. The Synod documents cover all the most important areas of the Church’s life: the universal call to holiness, the work of the new evangelization, liturgy and worship, the place and mission of lay Catholics in social, economic and political life, the presence of Gospel inspiration in culture, the renewal and strengthening of the family, education and formation for the priesthood and religious life. The communities of local Churches which you head now face a most important and surely most difficult task. I am thinking of the completion and fulfilment of all that has been written in the Synod, in the form of well-thought out directives, as a programme now ready to be put into action. I hope and pray that the Synod becomes a source of inspiration and renewal of Christian life in the spirit of the Gospel.

8. Concerning entry into the European Union, a very important question is the creative contribution of believers to modern culture. I repeat once again what I said to the Polish Bishops during their last Ad Limina visit early in 1998: “Europe needs a Poland which believes deeply and is culturally creative in a Christian way, conscious of the role which Providence has entrusted to it. Poland can and must offer a service to Europe which is in general terms identical with the task of rebuilding at home a spiritual communion based upon faithfulness to the Gospel. Our nation . . . has much to offer Europe, above all Poland’s Christian tradition and its rich religious experience today” (14 February 1998).

On the threshold of the third millennium, the Church in Poland faces new historic challenges. Poland enters the twenty-first century as a free and sovereign country. This freedom, if it is not to be abused, requires people aware not only of their rights but also of their duties; generous people motivated by love of the homeland and a spirit of service, who in a bond of fraternity want to build the common good and contribute to a properly ordered freedom in every aspect of personal, family and social life. As I have stressed on a number of occasions, freedom demands constant reference to the truth of the Gospel and to stable and well established moral norms which enable people to distinguish between good and evil. This is especially important in our own day, when Poland is going through a time of reform.

I am glad that lay people are committing themselves ever more fully to the life of the Church and society. An expression of this are the many Catholic associations and organizations, particularly Catholic Action, and the participation of believers in public, economic and political life. It is my hope that the Pastors will support the lay faithful, “so that, in a spirit of unity and through honest and impartial service, working together with everyone, they may be able to preserve and enhance Christian tradition and culture on the socio-political level” (Address to Polish Bishops on their visit Ad Limina Apostolorum, 16 January 1998). The social doctrine of the Church is bound to be a great help in this field, and it needs to be more widely proclaimed so that “the values and content of the Gospel may permeate the categories of human thought, the criteria of human evaluation and the norms of human behaviour” (Address to Polish Bishops on their visit Ad Limina Apostolorum, 14 February 1998).

9. In the spirit of the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, you must care in a special way for your brother priests and for seminarians, so that inspired by a spirit of zeal and charity they may become priests after God’s own heart. Through them, Christ the High Priest wishes to be present in the midst of his people “as one who serves” (Lc 22,27) and who “offers his life for his sheep” (cf. Jn Jn 10,15). This recalls Saint Adalbert, Bishop and Martyr, in the millennium of his canonization. Through his pastoral service and the blood of his martyrdom, the Church in Poland experienced great growth almost one thousand years ago, with his first Metropolitan See in Gniezno of the Piast.

I take this occasion to draw your attention to the important area of priestly and religious vocations. There needs to be developed a pastoral strategy for vocations, and first of all there is a need to pray a great deal and encourage others to pray, so that there will be no lack of men and women ready to follow the voice of Christ.

With equal insistence holy Pastors are called for by those great witnesses to the faith who will be beatified in Warsaw: Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, Archbishop Leon Wetmanski, Bishop Goral, together with the already beatified Wincenty Frelichowski, and many priests, men and women religious and lay people. The witness of their heroic fidelity is a great moral gift and a great responsibility for those after them who have assumed the task of pastoral service.

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 directs our minds and hearts in a special way towards the young people who in the new millennium will be the face of the Church and of our homeland. Trust placed in young people does not give rise to disappointment, for youth are particularly open to the truth of the Gospel. I have experienced this many times during my apostolic journeys. I thank most sincerely all those who devote their time and talents to passing on to the younger generation the great heritage of Polish culture, tradition and religiosity, who are involved in preparing young people for the beauty of love in marriage and in responsible parenthood. If young people are to fulfil the hope placed in them, they must be taught to draw strength from direct contact with God in the liturgy and the holy sacraments, in Sacred Scripture, from the life and apostolic work of the Church. Especially today, young people too need hope. Every opportunity should be taken to ensure that the family, the Church, the schools, local authorities and the State work together harmoniously to protect young people from the dangers which today’s consumer culture brings with it.

To your special care I also commend the smallest but at the same time most important “community of life and love” (Gaudium et Spes, GS 48): the family. Society and the nation crumble without healthy and strong families. But the stability and unity of the family are today seriously threatened. You must oppose this danger, working with all people of good will to form a climate favourable to the strengthening of the family. I am glad that in Poland too there are emerging pro-family movements which spread a new style of Christian behaviour and show that where there is true love and an atmosphere of faith there is also room for new life.

You are well aware of my concern and my efforts to defend life and the family. Wherever I am, I do not cease to proclaim in Christ’s name the fundamental right of every human being, the right to life. Continue to do all in your power to safeguard the dignity and the moral health of the family, so that it may be strong in God. May families know that the Church is close to them, respects them and supports them in their efforts to maintain their identity, stability and holiness. This I ask of you as Pastors in a special way.

10. Dear Brothers! All that I have just said demands a great mobilization and spiritual openness on the part of the whole Church, and particularly of her Pastors. Once again I make a fervent appeal to you: following Christ’s own example, be “as one who serves”, be “good shepherds who know their sheep and are known by them, like true fathers who are outstanding for their spirit of charity and zeal towards all people” (Christus Dominus, CD 16). It is my hope that, through your generous service filled with a spirit of self-sacrifice, the Church in Poland will care for “the least of the brethren” (cf. Mt Mt 10,42), for the poor, for the sick, for those who have been wronged, for the suffering, for those without hope. May the Church here serve everyone with the vast array of saving gifts received from Christ for the good of all people. As the theme for the next Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops announces, the Bishop must be the servant of the Gospel of Christ, in order to bring hope to the world.

Jesus Christ has made you Pastors of the People of God at this historic time which straddles two millennia. Your apostolic work can produce fruit for the good of souls only because of his help and his light. “Without Christ we can do nothing” (cf. Jn Jn 15,5), without him our human efforts are useless. I pray the Lord to grant abundant gifts to you and to the whole Church in Poland. In your shared task of preaching the Gospel, I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate, the only Saviour of the world, and I bless you from my heart.

Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God for ever and ever! (Ap 7,12).


Holy Father's visit to the Church of the Basilian Fathers

Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw

Praised be Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. To all here present I offer a cordial greeting. In a special way I greet Archbishop Jan, Metropolitan of Przemysl-Warsaw, as well as the Superior General of the Basilian Order of Saint Josaphat, the Protoarchimandrite Dionysius, together with the Provincial Superiors of Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary. I express my joy at the elevation to the Episcopate of your Provincial, Father Vladimir, appointed to the See of Wroclaw-Gdansk. I greet him cordially, as well as the priests, the Women Religious, the Brothers and lay faithful of the Greek Catholic Church, all of whom are dear to me.

I am pleased to visit this Basilian church for the second time. I first came here as Pope in 1979, but those times were different and the meeting could not be announced beforehand. During that visit I wanted to express my immense gratitude not only to the Order of Basilian Fathers but to all the Greek Catholic Church, forced at that time into silence.

The large presence today of the hierarchy, clergy and representatives of religious communities and the lay faithful bears witness that you, once more, are able to profess your faith freely and give praise to the one Triune God. Together with you I thank Divine Providence for this meeting and exclaim joyfully with the Psalmist: “In you, O Lord, we seek refuge; let us never be put to shame . . . Be a rock of refuge for us, a strong fortress to save us . . . You have not delivered us into the hand of the enemy . . . How abundant is your goodness” (cf. Ps 31:1,2,8,19).

2. The Christian life is a continuous struggle for the coming of God’s Kingdom, which entered human history and was definitively accomplished by Christ. But that Kingdom is not of this world; it belongs to the Father and only the Father can make it present among men and women. To them is given the task of being fertile ground in which the Kingdom can develop and grow. Sometimes it is necessary to make great sacrifices and suffer persecution in order that this may happen. Down the centuries, your Church was subjected many times to such trials of fidelity, especially during the rule of the Tsars and under the atheist Communist regime.

I give thanks to God for the raising to the glory of the altars of these brothers of yours who bore the supreme witness at Pratulin. Today we are all gathered together before their remains and their icon, and we contemplate their shining example of simple, sincere and limitless faith. With great veneration we also remember the large numbers of our contemporary “martyrs and confessors of the faith of the Church in Ukraine . . . They knew the truth, and the truth set them free. Christians in Europe and throughout the world, pausing in prayer before the concentration camps and prisons, should be grateful for the light which they gave: it was the light of Christ, which they caused to shine in the darkness. For long years the darkness seemed in the eyes of the world to prevail, but it was not able to extinguish that light, which was the light of God and the light of man, wounded but not laid low” (Apostolic Letter for the Fourth Centenary of the Union of Brest, 4).

Encouraged by the example of these intrepid witnesses to the faith, you can and must courageously accept the great challenges which are placed before you. Today as never before, the nations need the light of the Gospel and the strength that comes from it, in order to bring about the Kingdom of God in the world and in people’s hearts. Our brothers and sisters who for long years were deprived of it need this light.

3. I address a special word to you, Fathers and Brothers of the Basilian Order of Saint Josaphat. In my Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen I wrote: “Monasticism has always been the very soul of the Eastern Churches” (No. 9). These same words can also refer to the Basilian Community, which throughout the course of its history has always been a small but dynamic part of the Greek Catholic Church.

Saint Basil the Great, one of the most eminent Fathers of the Eastern Church, showed to all those who wished to give themselves completely to God the way of monastic life, “where the precept of concretely lived charity becomes the ideal of human coexistence, where the human being seeks God without limitation or impediment” (cf. Orientale Lumen, 9). Saint Basil is for you a model of perfect service of God and the Church. His whole life consisted in the harmonious exercise of the virtue of faith and in acts of practical love in the spirit of the evangelical counsels. Down the centuries the teaching of Saint Basil has borne mature fruits of religious life, especially in the East.

A song which you know well says: “Rejoice, O Basil, holy hierarch, Patriarch of Caesarea, today we wish to honour you”. Rejoice at the sight of the multitudes of disciples drawn for centuries by the example of your holy life and by your teachings on asceticism, left to us as a perpetual patrimony for all of Christianity. Rejoice in your many spiritual sons who by holiness of life became witnesses to God’s transforming grace, and who with great depth and insight knew and preached the life-giving and marvellous mysteries of the Father. They confirmed their fidelity to the Church in the course of the ages, courageously enduring persecutions, suffering and even death. Among these there were also Bishops, Priests and Brothers of your Order.

4. Dear Fathers and Brothers!

On the threshold of the third Christian millennium, Divine Providence is calling you to carry out important tasks. As persons consecrated to God, you must be the salt of the earth, a particular sign and model of fidelity to the Christian vocation on the path of the evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity and obedience. Men and women today have great need of models to imitate, especially in countries where the Church has been subjected to severe persecutions and suffered painful humiliation.

You are called to prayer. May it mark each part of every day of your lives. I am thinking first of all of the Eucharistic Liturgy, of prayer in choir, of private prayer with meditation on Sacred Scripture, of time spent reading the writings of the Eastern Fathers of the Church, especially the works of Saint Basil the Great. You need prayer because, thanks to it, you are sanctified and inwardly perfected. The world needs your prayer, especially those who are searching for meaning in life or for inner healing.

To you belongs the serious duty of faithfully observing your liturgical traditions. In the East, it was above all the monasteries that were the places where the liturgy was celebrated in all its beauty and majesty. This ancient tradition should be faithfully observed by you and handed on to the future generations of religious. This is “an integral part of the heritage of Christ’s Church, [and] the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with that tradition, so as to be nourished by it and to encourage the process of unity in the best way possible for each” (Orientale Lumen, 1).

I would also like to draw your attention to the important problem of Church unity. The Basilian Order is very distinguished in this sphere. Your predecessors felt a deep responsibility for this unity, for which Christ so fervently prayed at the Last Supper: “Even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (cf. Jn Jn 17,21). An eminent figure was Saint Josaphat Kuncewicz, Bishop and Martyr, who gave his life for the great cause of Church unity.

Efforts in favour of unity need prayer, which transforms our lives with light and truth and makes us icons of Christ. Therefore, one of the greatest tasks of all religious communities is sincere and unceasing prayer. Christians who yearn for unity must first of all turn their eyes heavenwards and implore God to enkindle ever anew the desire for unity, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Unity can be achieved only with the assistance of divine grace.

Throughout history you have demonstrated a profound commitment to the works of the apostolate, always showing a readiness to serve the Church. Today, especially in the East, including Ukraine, there is a great need for evangelization. The Church looks to you with hope and trust, and she counts on your cooperation. For this help to produce the hoped-for fruits, theological instruction and adequate spiritual formation are necessary. Only then will you be able to serve humanity well, showing by your lives the love of God that was made manifest in Jesus Christ.

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters! Zealously guard your tradition as a unique spiritual patrimony. This is the strength of your lives and your work. Remember the great witness of fidelity to Christ, to the Church and to the Successor of Saint Peter borne by you confreres. They preferred to lose their lives rather than be separated from the Apostolic See. Their sufferings and martyrdom are an inexhaustible source of grace for your Church now and for the future. You must preserve in your hearts this great patrimony of faith, prayer and witness, in order to hand it on to the coming generations.

Responsibility for the Church falls not only to the Pope, Bishops, priests and Men and Women Religious. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, for which we are all — without exception — responsible.

Present in this house of worship are the representatives of your Church: clergy, consecrated men and women, lay faithful from Poland and other countries. Together we form a community united in Christ.

I pray to God that the Greek Catholic Church will flourish with authentic Christian life and will carry the Good News to all our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and in the diaspora, so that, in a spirit of responsibility, she will preserve the unity of the whole Church and actively support her through ecumenical commitment.

I entrust you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church.

Mother of God, venerated by the cherubim
and renowned much more than the seraphim.
Look kindly upon this Eastern Catholic Church.
Assist your children, heirs of the Baptism of Saint Vladimir,
that they may be able to profess faith in your Son courageously
and, filled with love, become witnesses
to the ineffable love of the one Triune God
before all who seek this love.
Strengthen their hope
on the road to the Father’s house.

With my Apostolic Blessing.

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Speeches 1999 - Torun, Monday, 7 June 1999