Speeches 1999 - Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw


Address to the Polish Parliament

Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw

Mr President,
Mr President of the Diet, Mr President of the Senate,
Mr Prime Minister,
Members of the Judiciary,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the Churches and Religious Communities of Poland,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Deputies and Senators,

1. Please accept my heartfelt greetings and my gratitude for this invitation. I greet as well the entire Polish nation, all my dear fellow Poles.

Twenty years ago, during my first pilgrimage to the Fatherland, together with the crowds gathered in prayer in Victory Square, I invoked the Holy Spirit with the plea: "Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!” (2 June 1979). Confidently imploring this renewal, we did not then know what form the changes in Poland would take. Today we know to what depths the power of God’s action has reached, the power that brings freedom, healing and peace. We can thank Divine Providence for all that we have been able to achieve, thanks to a sincere opening of hearts to the grace of the Comforting Spirit. I thank the Lord of history for the changes which have taken place in Poland, for the witness of dignity and spiritual strength of all those who, in those difficult days, were one in their concern for human rights, in their sense that the life of our nation could be better, could be more human. What united them was a deep conviction concerning the dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God and called to be redeemed by Christ. Today that heritage of courageous and ambitious struggle, undertaken for the greater good of the Republic of Poland, has been entrusted to you. The specific form that freedom and democracy assume in Poland depends upon you.

2. This meeting is rich in symbolic eloquence. It is the first time that the Pope has spoken before the joint Houses of the Polish Parliament, in the presence of the Government, the Judiciary and the Diplomatic Corps. In this moment one cannot but recall the long history of the Polish Diet, reaching back to the fifteenth century, and that of our forebears’ glorious witness of legislative wisdom in the Constitution of 3 May 1791. In this place today, we recognize how essential in a democratic state is the role of a just legal system, the foundation of which must always and everywhere be the human person, the full truth about man, his inalienable rights and the rights of the whole community that is the nation.

I know that, after many years without national sovereignty or genuine public life, it is not easy to build a new democratic and institutional order. I wish therefore to express immediately my joy at this meeting which is taking place here, in the place where, through the formulation of laws, the enduring bases for the functioning of a democratic state and a sovereign society within it are established. I would like also to express to the Diet and the Senate the hope that man and his true good may always be at the centre of their legislative efforts, in keeping with the classic formula: Hominum causa omne ius constitutum est. In this year’s Message for World Day of Peace, I wrote: “When the promotion of the dignity of the person is the guiding principle, and when the search for the common good is the overriding commitment, then solid and lasting foundations for building peace are laid. But when human rights are ignored or scorned, and when the pursuit of individual interests unjustly prevails over the common good, then the seeds of instability, rebellion and violence are inevitably sown” (No. 1). The preamble of the Concordat between the Apostolic See and the Republic of Poland speaks very clearly of this: “The development of a free and democratic society is based upon respect for the dignity of the human person and upon human rights”.

Through the post-War period under the sway of a totalitarian system, the Church in Poland often acted in defence of the rights of man and of the nation; and still now, when democracy prevails, the Church seeks to help in setting upon solid ethical foundations the life of society and, as part of it, the legal system which regulates it. To this end, what is needed first is an education for the responsible use of freedom both individual and social, and also – if the need arises – a warning against the dangers which can come from reductive visions of the essence and calling of man and of his dignity. This is part of the evangelical mission of the Church, which thus makes her specific contribution to the task of defending democracy at its very source.

3. The place where we are invites us to a deep reflection upon the responsible use, in public life, of the gift of freedom regained and upon the need to work together for the common good. May we be helped in this reflection by recalling the heroic witness – abundant in the last two centuries – of Poland’s aspiration to be a sovereign State in its own right, something which for many generations of our fellow Poles existed only in their dreams, in their family traditions and in their prayer. I am thinking above all of the times of the partitions and, with these, the struggle to regain a vanished Poland, struck from the map of Europe. The loss of the basic political structure which shapes social reality was always, especially during the last World War, so strongly felt that it led, in a situation of mortal threat to the very biological existence of the nation, to the establishment of a clandestine Polish State, something which did not exist elsewhere in occupied Europe.

We are all conscious that this meeting today in the Parliament would not have been possible had there not been the resolute protest of Polish workers on the Baltic coast in the unforgettable August of 1980. It would not have been possible without “Solidarnosc”, which chose the way of peaceful struggle for the rights of man and of the nation. “Solidarnosc” also adopted the principle – how universally accepted then! – that “there is no freedom without solidarity”: without solidarity with others, the solidarity which overcomes all kinds of barriers of class, ideology, culture and even geography, as the memory of our Eastern neighbours could show.

The events of 1989, which set in motion the great political and social changes in Poland and Europe, were – despite the suffering, the sacrifices and the humiliations of the War and the years that followed – the result precisely of the choice of those peaceful means of struggle for a society of free citizens and for a democratic state.

We cannot be allowed to forget those events. They brought not only the long sought liberty, but also contributed decisively to the collapse of walls, which for almost half a century separated the societies and nations of our part of the continent from the free world. These historic changes are written into the history of our time as both example and instruction: in aspiring to the great goals of communal life “man, on his journey through history, must follow the path of the noblest aspirations of the human spirit” (Address at the United Nations, 5 October 1995). Man can and must choose first of all an attitude of love, of brotherhood and of solidarity, an attitude of respect for human dignity, and therefore the values which then determined the victory.

4. The memory of the moral lessons of “Solidarnosc”, and therefore of our own often tragic historical experiences as well, should today have greater influence upon the quality of the communal life of Poland, the way of being involved in politics or the manner of pursuing any public activity, especially those which are exercised as a result of an election and thus flow from trust on the part of society.

Service of the nation must be directed to the common good, which guarantees the well-being of every citizen. The Second Vatican Council spoke very clearly in this regard: “The political community...exists for the common good: this is its full justification and meaning and the source of its specific and basic right to exist. The common good embraces the sum total of all those conditions of social life which enable individuals, families and organizations to achieve complete and efficacious fulfilment” (Gaudium et Spes GS 74). “The social order and its development must constantly yield to the good of the person, since the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons and not the other way round.... The social order requires constant improvement: it must be founded in truth, built on justice, and enlivened by love: it should grow in freedom towards an ever more humane equilibrium” (ibid. 26).

Polish tradition offers many models of a life dedicated totally to the common good of our nation. Such examples of courage and humility, of fidelity to ideals and of the spirit of sacrifice released the most splendid sentiments and attitudes in many of our fellow Poles, who with selfless dedication came to the aid of the fatherland, when Poland was subjected to the most severe trials.

It is clear that concern for the common good should be the task of all citizens and should be seen in every aspect of social life. In a special way however concern for the common good is required in the field of politics. I am thinking here of those who give themselves wholly to political life, as well as of individual citizens. The exercise of political authority, whether in the community or in the institutions of the State, ought to be a generous service to man and to society, not a pursuit of gain by individuals or groups, disregarding the common good of the nation as a whole.

How can we fail to recall here the “Sermons to the Diet” of the Royal Preacher, Father Peter Skarga, and the ardent exhortation which he addressed to the senators and deputies of the First Republic: “Have in you a heart which is great and wide. Neither limit nor restrain love in your homes or your private gains. Do not lock it away in your dwellings or in your treasure-chambers. Let love pour forth from you upon the whole people, as a river flows from the high mountains upon the plains... Whoever serves his own fatherland, serves himself; because in the fatherland all his well-being is to be found” (cf. Second Sermon, On Love of the Fatherland).

The Church expects such an attitude, pervaded by the spirit of service of the common good, from Catholic lay people above all. “The lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in 'public life', that is, in the many and varied economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural activities, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good” (Christifideles Laici, CL 42). In union with others, they must infuse human realities with the spirit of the Gospel, in such a way as to make a specific contribution to the promotion of the common good. This is their duty in conscience deriving from their Christian vocation.

5. The challenges facing a democratic State demand the united cooperation of all people of good will who, regardless of political preference or ideology, wish to build together the common good of the fatherland. Whilst the autonomy proper to the life of a political community must be respected, it should also be borne in mind that a political community cannot be seen as independent of ethical principles. Even pluralist states cannot abandon ethical norms in public life: “Today, when many countries have seen the fall of ideologies which bound politics to a totalitarian conception of the world – Marxism being the foremost of these”, I wrote in the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, “there is no less grave a danger that the fundamental rights of the human person will be denied and that the religious yearnings which arise in the heart of every human being will be absorbed once again into politics. This is the risk of an alliance between democracy and ethical relativism, which would remove any sure moral reference point from political and social life, and on a deeper level make the acknowledgement of truth impossible. Indeed 'if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism'” (No. 101).

As we rejoice together at the positive changes taking place in Poland before our eyes, we cannot fail to recognize as well that in a free society there must also be values which guarantee the supreme good of man in his totality. Every economic change must help to build a world that is more human and more just. To Polish politicians and to all those involved in political life, I would express the hope that you not stint in your efforts to build a State which cares particularly for the family, for human life, for the education of the young, which respects the right to work, which considers the essential problems of the entire nation, and which is sensitive to the real needs of people, especially the poor and weak.

6. The events of ten years ago in Poland created an historic opportunity for the continent of Europe, having abandoned ideological barriers once and for all, to find again the path towards unity. I have spoken of this on a number of occasions, using the metaphor of the “two lungs”, with which Europe should breathe, bringing together the traditions of East and West. Instead of the expected joining of spirits, we are seeing new divisions and new conflicts. Such a situation implies for politicians, as also for people of learning and culture, and for all Christians, an urgent need for new initiatives which might serve the integration of Europe.

Making her pilgrim way down the paths of time, the Church has bound her mission to our continent more closely than to any other. The spiritual profile of Europe was formed thanks to the efforts of the great missionaries and the witness of the martyrs. It was shaped in the churches raised with great sacrifice, in the centres of contemplative life and in the humanist teaching of the universities. Called to care for the spiritual growth of man as a social being, the Church brought to European culture a unique set of values. The Church has always been convinced that “a genuine cultural policy must look to man in his totality, that is in every dimension of his person – without forgetting the ethical and religious aspects” (Message to the Director General of UNESCO on the occasion of the Conference on Cultural Policies, 24 July 1982). How impoverished European culture would have been without its Christian inspiration!

This is the reason why the Church warns against a reduced vision of Europe which would see it solely in its economic and political aspects, as she does against an uncritical attitude towards a consumerist model of life. If we wish Europe’s new unity to last, we must build on the basis of the spiritual values which were once its foundation, keeping in mind the wealth and diversity of the cultures and traditions of individual nations. This must be the great European Community of the Spirit. Here too I renew my appeal to the Old Continent: “Europe, open the doors to Christ!”

7. On the occasion of today’s meeting, I wish once more to express my appreciation of the consistent and united efforts which, from the time that sovereignty was regained, seek to find and consolidate a secure and rightful place for Poland in the Europe that is coming together in unity, and in the world.

Poland is fully entitled to take part in the world’s general process of development and progress, and especially in that of Europe. The integration of Poland with the European Union has been supported by the Holy See from the beginning. The Polish nation’s historical experience and its spiritual and cultural wealth can contribute effectively to the common good of the entire human family, especially in consolidating peace and security in Europe.

8. The sixtieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, which occurs this year, and the tenth anniversary of the events which we have mentioned should become the occasion for all Poles to reflect upon freedom as both a “gift” and a “task” – a freedom which requires constant effort in order to be consolidated and lived responsibly. May the magnificent testimony of love of the fatherland, of selflessness and heroism, so abundant in our history, challenge us to dedicate ourselves as one to the great goals of the nation, since “the best use of freedom is charity, which takes its concrete form in self-giving and in service” (Redemptor Hominis, RH 21).

My hope is that all here present and all my fellow Poles will cross the threshold of the third millennium with hope and confidence, with the determination to build together the civilization of love, which is based upon universal values of peace, solidarity, justice and freedom.

May the Holy Spirit never cease to sustain the great process of change, which looks to renew the face of the earth, the face of this land which is ours.


Meeting with Employees of Polish Airline LOT

13 June 1999

Praised be Jesus Christ!

With this Christian greeting I wish to welcome all those gathered here. I thank the Cardinal Primate for his presence and for the pastoral care which he gives to the airport situated within the Archdiocese of Warsaw. I greet the Minister of Transport and thank him for his words of welcome.

I am glad that during this pilgrimage I have had the opportunity to visit those who work in Polish civil aviation. This meeting of ours is unusual. In fact, I do not often have the chance to meet people representing a professional group. But the seventieth anniversary of the Polish Airline LOT provides the opportunity to make a stop among those who in different ways serve air travellers. In a way, this visit is also prompted by a desire to repay, at least in part, a debt of gratitude to LOT and all the other airlines throughout the world with whom I fly constantly as a pilgrim. I thank you sincerely for this particular help in my service of the Church.

I cordially greet the pilots and flight crews. I very much appreciate your professionality and dedication. Crossing different continents, you bear witness to all that is good about Poland, our culture and our spirituality. I thank you for this and I ask you to continue to care for the good name of Poland in the world. From above, the extraordinary beauty of creation is clearly seen, including the smallness and yet the greatness of man – all of which is a manifestation of the infinite power and wisdom of the Creator. May this daily experience strengthen and renew your faith! May it constantly refresh your confidence in the love of God.

I also greet and thank the ground crews. Your work helps people who have to leave the earth, and not just in a physical sense. Often the experience of departure is accompanied by the sense of a loss of security and by an inner disorientation. Therefore, your service of kindness is important: a friendly smile, a kind word, understanding and cordiality. I ask you, perform your service mindful of the words of Christ: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40).

Finally, I thank in a special way all those who are engaged in airport maintenance, the technicians and the air traffic controllers. To a large extent you are responsible for the safety of passengers. Yours is a work which goes unnoticed by people. Perhaps this is why it is particularly precious in the eyes of God, who sees the toil of man, even that which is hidden (cf. Mt Mt 6,6). May this awareness sustain you and encourage you to take up your daily tasks with zeal.

I am delighted that for some years there have been chapels in four international airports in Poland, where workers and travellers can find moments of silence and prayer. I thank most sincerely all those who have contributed to this. Pastoral care of the world of civil aviation is an expression of the Church’s responsibility and fidelity. “Because no-one can be deprived of the message of salvation, the Church holds out a hand [in this way] to all those who, because of their circumstances of life, cannot benefit satisfactorily from normal pastoral care or are completely denied it” (cf. Document of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Workers, 1995, Nos. 4-5).

For the seventh time, I am the recipient of the kindness of the Polish Airline LOT during this pilgrimage to our homeland. Please accept my heartfelt thanks. At the same time I hope that LOT, Warsaw-Okecie Airport and the other airports of Poland may be constantly developed and modernized, thus becoming a special calling-card of our nation. Engaged as you are in material development, do not forget man. My hope is that you will be able, in a spirit of mutual understanding and generous cooperation, to serve the great work of bringing people closer to one another.

To you in your work I impart my Apostolic Blessing.






Thursday, 17 June 1999

1. "You have been the Queen of Poland for centuries, O Mary! Intercede for us, O Mary!".

On the pilgrimage to my homeland I could not leave out the Shrine of Jasna Góra. This place is so dear to my heart and so dear to each of you, dear brothers and sisters. We are used to coming here and bringing our personal and family problems, as well as the vital issues of the nation, to the Mother of God's Son and our Mother, just as our ancestors did in every century.

We are used to telling everything to the One who is uniquely present in the mystery of Christ and the Church, and in the mystery of every person. Mary, as Mother of the Saviour, is also Mother of all the People of God and accompanies them on the paths of faith and of daily life. She is also the Mother of our nation, which has venerated her as its Queen for centuries.

I rejoice today for being able to come once again to this holy place, this special place of prayer, and to gaze closely upon the face of Our Mother. Through her "faith, charity and perfect union with Christ" (cf. Lumen gentium LG 63), she has become our living model of holiness and love for the Church.

2. I cordially greet the Pauline Fathers, the guardians of this shrine, led by their Father General and Father Prior. I greet Archbishop Stanislaw, Pastor of the Church of Czestochowa, Auxiliary Bishop Antoni, the diocesan and religious priests, sisters and all consecrated persons. With all my heart I greet Czestochowa's residents and the pilgrims who have come from various parts of Poland.

3. I come to Jasna Góra as a pilgrim to pay homage to Mary, Mother of Christ, to pray to her and to pray with her.

I would like to thank her for her protection during these days of my pastoral service to the Church of my homeland. Mary has been with us throughout this pilgrimage, interceding with her Son for spiritual gifts, so that we will be able to "do whatever he tells us" (cf. Jn Jn 2,5).

I thank her for every spiritual and material blessing in Poland.

I entrust myself, the Church and all my compatriots to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Jasna Góra, without excluding anyone. To her I entrust every Polish heart, every home, every family. We are all her children. May Mary be an example and guide in our routine, daily work. May she help everyone to grow in the love of God and neighbour, to build the common good of our homeland, to establish and strengthen a just peace in our hearts and communities.

I implore you, Mother of Jasna Góra, Queen of Poland, to embrace my entire country with your maternal heart. Increase its courage and spiritual strength, so that it will be able to fulfil the great responsibility it faces. May the Polish nation cross the threshold of the third millennium with faith, hope and love, and adhere even more strongly to your Son, Jesus Christ, and to his Church, built on the foundation of the Apostles.

Our Mother of Jasna Góra, pray for us and guide us, so that we can bear witness to Christ, the Redeemer of every human being.

"Take care of the whole nation which lives for your glory,
May it flourish and prosper, O Mary!".


Address at Departure Ceremony

Thursday, 17 June 1999, Kraków

1. My homeland, beloved country, blessings upon you!

At the end of my pilgrimage in the land of my birth, from the depths of my heart I express this hope for God’s blessing and I direct it to the whole of Poland and to all its people. I wish to include the feelings, thoughts and prayers which have been with me every day on my pilgrim’s journey. How else can I express my love for this land and this people, except through an earnest prayer that the God who is love will bless everyone abundantly? Each time I visit Poland I am confirmed in the conviction that there is no lack of people of pure heart who live every day in poverty of spirit, in gentleness, in mercy, and as peace-makers. By perseverance they obtain the grace of God’s blessing upon their homeland. Thus it has been this time too, beginning in Gdansk, through Pelplin, Elblag, Bydgoszcz, Torun, Elk, Siedlce, Drohiczyn, Sandomierz, Zamosc, Warsaw, Lowicz, Sosnowiec, Gliwice, Stary Sacz, to my birthplace Wadowice and then Kraków. Everywhere I have prayed that the daily lives of the people who live in the spirit of the Beatitudes will bear fruit for the prosperity of all in this land. I give thanks to God that I have also been able to place this prayer at the feet of Mary, Queen of Poland, at Jasna Góra.

2. During this pilgrimage, on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, it has been granted to us to return to the places, events and people who bear eloquent witness to the fact that during the thousand years of the Church’s life in our homeland, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and his redeeming work have penetrated deeply into its history, forming for centuries its spiritual profile and providing a solid foundation for the building of its happy future. The celebration of the millennium of the establishment of the organizational structures of the Church in Poland could only have begun in the presence of Saint Adalbert. It was in fact his canonization which was the beginning of the Archdiocese of Gniezno. We have thus gone back to the apostolic work and the martyr’s death of the Bishop of Prague. Remembering the price he had to pay for the gift of the faith which he brought to us, we have prayed to God that our generation may be enabled to pass on the whole of this legacy to the generations of the third millennium, And in our prayer we have been supported by Regina Protmann, Edmund Bojanowski, Wincenty Frelichowski, the one hundred and eight martyrs and Princess Kinga, whom, in the name of the Church, I have beatified and canonized. The example of their lives and their intercession have been through the centuries a special gift to the Church in Poland and throughout the world. For this gift, I offer ceaseless thanks to Divine Providence.

An eloquent sign of the willingness to accept responsibility for the future of the Church in our country has been the Second Plenary Synod, which in these years has become an opportunity for shared reflection by all believers, clerical and lay, on how best to carry out the saving mission in the reality of today’s world. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrated the solemn closure of the Synod’s work, entrusting its fruits to the love of God. It is my hope that by implementing the Synod’s decisions, the Church in Poland will continue in effective ways the work of the new evangelization.

3. I am glad to have had the chance, during this pilgrimage, to meet those who exercise legislative, executive and judicial power in our country. In this exceptional context, we have been able to share our conviction that the common good is the value around which people can gather as one, working together creatively, despite differences of belief and political views, which is normal for a democracy. I trust that the President, both Chambers of Parliament, the Government of the Republic and the Courts of every level will faithfully serve their fellow countrymen, keeping before their eyes the well-being of the homeland and the people, and be able to enjoy the results of this service.

On my pilgrimage through the different corners of the land, I have been able to see that it is developing in every way. I know that this is happening because of the efforts of the whole of society, at times requiring austerity and many sacrifices. To all those who are lovingly forging a prosperous future for the homeland I wish to express today my sincere appreciation and gratitude. At the same time, we recognize that on this path of development there are obstacles, problems and dangers. Once more I wish to express my hope that, with God’s help and the willing cooperation of everyone, all difficulties will be overcome. I pray to God for this, thinking above all of the spiritual values which the past generations faithfully preserved and which cannot be abandoned amid rightful concerns for the material well-being of the country. As Pope and as a son of this nation, I address to all people of good will, and in a special way to my brothers and sisters in the faith, a fervent call to do everything possible to ensure that Poland enters the third millennium not only as a politically stable and economically prosperous State, but also strengthened by the spirit of mutual and social love.

4. Giving glory to God for the gift of this visit, I want also to thank all those who have made it possible. Through the President of the Republic of Poland, I thank the State Authorities for the invitation and for all their work for the preparation and successful carrying out of the pilgrimage. I thank them for all their kindnesses. I also thank the regional and local authorities who have spared no effort or resource to ensure that the meetings of the faithful with the Pope took place in beautiful settings and in a climate of peace and joy. May God reward you for your hospitality! A sincere expression of thanks goes to the Polish Army, to the Police and to the Fire Services, to the other security services and to the countless numbers of volunteers – to all those who with great dedication and genuine kindness have seen to the safety of this visit. Nor can I forget those who with great dedication have ensured constant medical and health service for those needing care. I thank the journalists and those who, through radio, television, the internet and the written word, have worked together carefully to transmit reports of the papal visit, as a service to those who for various reasons have not been able to attend personally. To everyone who has contributed in any way to the efficient and decorous running of this pilgrimage, I say with all my heart: “May God reward you!”

5. With special gratitude, I address the Church in Poland. During these days I have visited many Dioceses – some for the first time – but I have not been able to go to all the places to which I was invited. So once more I want to assure you that in spirit I have been in the whole of Poland, in every prefecture, every parish, every religious community and every family home. I have come for everyone without exception, to remind them at the close of this millennium of the one essential truth upon which our faith is built – the truth that “God is love”.

I cordially thank the Cardinal Primate, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops for the preparation of this pilgrimage. With all my heart I embrace the priests. I wish to thank them for what they have contributed to this visit, and also for their faithful daily service of the People of God in Poland. Each day I pray to Christ, the High Priest, that in fulfilling their pastoral ministry they may enjoy his grace and the people’s gratitude. With this prayer I also include the consecrated persons who in religious communities take up the tasks assigned to them by their charism and the needs of the Church. I thank them also for their perseverance in prayer, especially during this pilgrimage, for their humble work of mercy and for their apostolic witness of life in keeping with the evangelical counsels. I commend to God all the students of the Major Seminaries. I thank them for their active involvement in the different moments of this pilgrimage and especially for their liturgical service. I pray that they will open themselves ever more fully to the action of the Holy Spirit, who is preparing them for the difficult tasks of the new millennium.

I express my particular appreciation to all the faithful of the Church in Poland. I know how much effort, what material and spiritual sacrifices they have put into preparing for this visit. I thank them for their great kindness and their warm welcome, and above all for the witness of their dynamic faith. With gratitude I embrace all people of good will in Poland. May the good God reward with his abundant blessing every act of generosity! I look lovingly upon the suffering of everyone bearing bears the cross of sickness, old age, loneliness and pain. I know how much I owe to the sick, who have been close to me not only during these days but who accompany me through all my ministry in the See of Saint Peter. I thank them most sincerely for this powerful support. I greet the young people who have been present in great numbers at all our meetings. I thank them for their youthful fervour, their faith and their deep prayerfulness. I pray that as they enter the new millennium they will enthusiastically bear the love of God to the future generations.

6. Tertio Millennio Adveniente. We have lived the pilgrimage which is now ending in a spirit of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Redemption and for crossing the threshold of the new millennium. It has been a time of shared prayer and reflection, a time of giving thanks for the past and entrusting to God everything that Poland lives by today and will carry into the future. I believe that they have been fruitful days and that their fruit will endure. This solemn time is about to end. I hope, however, that the spirit of peace, unity, and cooperation in all that is good which has reigned among us will continue to motivate the efforts of every person who has at heart the prosperity of the homeland and the happiness of its people.

As I return to the Vatican, I do not abandon the land of my birth. I take with me the image of my homeland, from the Baltic to the Tatra, and I keep in my heart all that I have been granted to experience among my fellow countrymen. I want to assure you once again that in my thoughts and prayers Poland and the Polish people have a special place. I ask you, beloved brothers and sisters, to support me in my Petrine ministry for as long as Divine Providence enables me to carry it out.

I entrust each and every one of you to the protection of the Queen of Poland of Jasna Góra. To her maternal love, I commend your daily lives, all that you desire and all that you do.

“The love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!” God bless my homeland and all my fellow countrymen!

Speeches 1999 - Friday, 11 June 1999, Warsaw