Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 6 May 2000

2. I now extend a cordial greeting to all of you, Italian-speaking pilgrims, who came today to visit me on the occasion of your Jubilee. My thanks first go to you, dear faithful from the Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, present here with your Bishop, Gualtiero Bassetti. I extend my gratitude to him for the kind words he spoke to me. Today's testimony of affection, seven years since the visit I made to your land, fills me with great joy, because I cherish a vivid memory of the unforgettable 23 May 1993 that I spent with you in Cortona and Arezzo, when I was received by then-Bishop Giovanni D'Ascenzi, whom I am glad to see among those present today.

I wish to express my encouragement to your entire diocesan community, in particular to the priests and the consecrated men and women who are in direct contact with the life of the Church. I exhort them to continue generously in their commitment in accordance with that spirit of unity and mission which must distinguish the work of those whom God has sent into his vineyard. With similar affection I greet the lay faithful who, united with their Bishop, show the fruitfulness of their faith by living it in temporal affairs.

In preparation for the Great Jubilee, your Diocese reflected on the theme "I believe in the Church", stressing three key areas in which to carry out its activity: the Church proclaims the Word, celebrates grace and bears witness to charity. Dear brothers and sisters, continue courageously in this effort, bearing one another's burdens (cf. Gal Ga 6,2), so that the Church, as a well-structured body, may shine in the world as the first fruit of God's mercy and saving love for all mankind.

This spirit will sustain you in the necessary search for appropriate solutions to the problems and challenges you face. I am thinking, in particular, of the pastoral care of vocations, of continuing formation in parishes and associations, of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, of support for the many elderly priests and of the preparation of a new diocesan pastoral plan.

On your commitments I invoke the protection of Mary, venerated by you under the beautiful title of "Our Lady of Comfort", and of your holy protectors Donatus and Peter, John the Evangelist and Margaret of Cortona.

3. With no less affection I wish to extend my cordial greeting to you, dear faithful from the Diocese of Fiesole, who have come on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. I thank your Bishop, Luciano Giovannetti, for the cordial words he addressed to me. Through him my thoughts turn to the priests, the consecrated men and women and the lay faithful. I ask them all to continue courageously in their journey of bearing convinced Christian witness in the places where Providence has put them. I am aware that at your last Diocesan Synod you decided to give a Eucharistic character to your ecclesial journey, with special attention to the pastoral care of the family.

Dear people, the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is a profoundly Eucharistic year. Rome itself, in the latter half of next month, will reflect with renewed gratitude on the great gift that Jesus left to us. Around the Eucharist, individuals, families, parishes and associations are strengthened and renewed. May you draw constantly from this inexhaustible source of interior life.

I ardently hope that your community will strive to participate actively and regularly in the Sunday assembly, in order to draw from it the necessary light and strength to respond according to the mind of Christ to the challenges that life presents to each one's vocation. On this journey may you be supported by the example and intercession of Holy Mary, our Mother, of the holy martyr Romulus and of all your patron saints.

4. I cordially greet the pilgrims who have come from Switzerland on the occasion of the swearing-in of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, in particular the Union Instrumentale, the Contingent of the Fribourg Grenadiers and the Brass Band of Saint-Michel College. This is an occasion for you to make a Jubilee pilgrimage, to pray for the young guards who have agreed to serve the Successor of Peter and thus have a particularly significant experience of ecclesial communion. Your musical and instrumental groups allow you to express your praise to the Creator through music. I extend a cordial greeting to all the young people who have accompanied you, inviting them to follow Jesus who wants to help them to have a happy life. May they all find in their stay in Rome support for their faith and their mission to be witnesses to Christ, as well as an encouragement to participate in the life of the Church! I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.

5. I now extend a cordial greeting to the participants in the 20th "Certamen Ciceronianum" and I fervently hope that the study of the Latin language and its literature may be an effective tool for preserving and emphasizing the values associated with the culture of ancient Rome, mother of civilization and teacher of law.

Lastly, I greet the faithful from the parishes of Sts Nazarius and Celsus in Arosio, St Mary in Fabriago and Our Lady of the Assumption in Palazzolo sull'Oglio, the "Society of the Gospel" group from the Antonianum of Bologna, children and teachers from Rogasi High School in Pozzallo and the Mosè Mascolo School of the Gerardine Sisters of St Anthony Abbot, as well as a pilgrim group from Castelvetrano and the UNITALSI of Pesaro.

To each of you I extend my heartfelt encouragement always to follow Christ faithfully, to be his constant and joyous witnesses everywhere. I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary, particularly venerated during this month of May, as I wholeheartedly bless you all.



Monday, 8 May 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen!

1. I cordially welcome each of you who come from the 51 member countries of the Union of European Football Associations and have gathered in Rome for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Almost all the European nations are represented at today's meeting. In particular, the presence of the Federations from the East, which joined your Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall, shows even more the desire for peace and brotherhood which inspires your federations, as well as the commitment to expand horizons, to overcome every barrier and to create systematic communication among the various peoples, in order to make an effective contribution to the building of European unity.

I am therefore grateful for this visit, which allows me to appreciate the noble goals that inspire your service, which is meant to encourage a sport that can promote all the values of the human person. I greet Mr Luciano Nizzola, President of the Italian Football Federation, and thank him for his cordial words to me on behalf of those present.

2. In contemporary society football is a widespread sporting activity which involves a great number of people, and, in particular, young people. In this sport, apart from the possibility of healthy recreation, they also have an opportunity for physical development and athletic achievement, calling for sacrifice, constant commitment, respect for others, loyalty and solidarity.

Football is also a major mass phenomenon, involving many individuals and families, from stadium and television spectators to all those who work at various levels in the organization of sporting events, the training of sportsmen and the vast sector of the mass media.

This fact emphasizes the responsibility of those who look after the organization and promote the spread of this sporting activity at professional and amateur level. They are called never to lose sight of the significant educational possibilities which football, like other similar sporting disciplines, can develop.

In a special way, sportsmen, especially the more famous, should never forget that they in fact become models for the world of youth. It is therefore important that, apart from typically sporting skills, they also carefully develop human and spiritual qualities which will make them truly positive examples in the public mind. Furthermore, given the spread of this sport, it would be good if promoters, organizers at different levels and communications personnel engaged in concerted efforts to ensure that football never loses its genuine characteristic of being a sporting activity, and that it is not submerged by other concerns, especially economic ones.

3. Dear friends, you have come to Rome to celebrate the Great Jubilee. During the Holy Year the Church invites all believers and people of good will to consider their thoughts and actions, their expectations and hopes in the light of Christ, "the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin" (Gaudium et spes GS 22).

This implies a journey of genuine conversion, that is, the renouncement of the worldly mentality that wounds and degrades human dignity; it also implies the adherence with total trust and courageous commmitment to the liberating way of thinking and acting taught by the Gospel. How can we not see the Jubilee as an invitation to make sports one more opportunity for the authentic promotion of the greatness and dignity of man? In this perspective, football structures are called to be a field of authentic humanity, where young people are encouraged to learn the great values of life and to spread everywhere the great virtues that are the basis of a worthy human society, such as tolerance, respect for human dignity, peace and brotherhood.

I am certain, dear friends who represent the European Federations, that you share my hopes, so that football will become more and more a place of tranquillity and that every match will achieve what sports must be: an overall development of the body, a sound spirit of competition, an education in the values of life, joie de vivre, fun and recreation.

4. May football, like every sport, become more and more the expression of the primacy of being over having, freeing itself - as your representative opportunely remarked just now - from everything that prevents it from being a positive occasion of solidarity and brotherhood, mutual respect and sincere encounter among the men and women of our world.

I also know of the recent efforts of your Federation which, with its own resources, has undertaken a praiseworthy initiative of assistance to poor countries and of special cooperation with Eastern European countries to spread football among young people and to introduce them to a healthy life inspired by sound moral principles. May this be the constant style of all your programmes.
Lastly, I ask you to convey my cordial sentiments to the sporting associations you represent, the athletes, all the personnel and their families.

I invoke God's Blessing upon you all.


Thursday 11 May 2000

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear National Directors and Collaborators of the Pontifical Mission Societies,

1. I cordially welcome each of you, particularly Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who has expressed your sentiments, and I thank him for the kind words he addressed to me. I greet Archbishop Charles Schleck, Adjunct Secretary of this Congregation and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, and the General Secretaries of all four Societies.

I extend a special greeting to you, dear National Directors, who promote missionary cooperation in your respective countries with competence and dedication. Through you I would like to greet all your collaborators, who, spurred by Gospel generosity, are concerned to proclaim God's Word in every place and situation in the world.

2. Today's meeting takes place in the time and spirit of the Great Jubilee, which the universal Church is observing with great fervour. This is an extraordinary year of grace, in which the Christian community is having a deeper experience of God's goodness revealed in the Incarnation of the Son and gratefully proclaimed by the Church to all nations. The words of the Apostle echo in our minds: "Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2Co 6,2).

The celebration of the Great Jubilee appears, therefore, as a very timely occasion for reflecting on the mercy which God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, has offered in Christ to all humanity. The Great Jubilee is the "message of salvation", which should ring out in every corner of the world, so that whoever hears it may become, in turn, a witness to it and make it a means of salvation for every person. We are all called to open our eyes to the needs of the many sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk Mc 6,34), in order to serve them by making known to them the Lord's name so that they may confess him and share in salvation (cf. Rom Rm 10,9)

3. In particular I would like to recall here all the men and women who, by dedicating themselves "ad vitam" to the mission "ad gentes", have made this work the raison d'être of their lives. They are an incomparable example of devotion to the cause of spreading the Gospel. I thank and cordially bless everyone who, in ways as discreet as they are effective, is involved in the work of promoting missionary awareness and cooperation. There are many of them. Numerous lay people join the priests and consecrated persons, individually or as a family, in the desire to give several years or even their whole life to the mission. They often proclaim the Good News and express their faith in hostile or indifferent surroundings. Dear brothers and sisters, please convey to them my gratitude and encouragement to persevere generously in their zealous missionary commitment. God, who never lets himself be outdone in generosity, will reward them.

The recent commemoration of the Witnesses to the Faith in the 20th Century, celebrated last Sunday at the Colosseum, reminds us that the supreme test of mission is often the gift of one's life to the point of death. "Throughout Christian history, "martyrs', that is, witnesses, have always been numerous and indispensable to the spread of the Gospel. In our own age, there are many: Bishops, priests, men and women religious, lay people - often unknown heroes who give their lives to bear witness to the faith. They are par excellence the heralds and witnesses of the faith" (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, n. 45).

As we thank God for our brothers and sisters in faith, we pray that their missionary work in the Church will always be inspired by great generosity.

4. Dear friends, you are called to raise the consciousness of Christians at the grass-roots level. May your constant desire be to work so that everyone will feel the urgent need to continue the mission of Jesus who, before dying, said to his disciples: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20,21). Pass on this spirit to those who work with you and to all people of good will who share this same ecclesial mission with you.

In fact, the call to mission is a grace as well as a duty for every baptized person. Those who have made it the priority choice of their lives know this well. Whoever is sent in the name of the Church to proclaim the Good News is associated in a particular way with the person and mission of Jesus himself. In this regard St John says: "As you did send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world" (Jn 17,18). We are sent into the world by Christ!

Dear National Directors, by virtue of this vocation and mission you are responsible in close collaboration with your lawful Pastors, for missionary formation and promotion among the People of God throughout the world, while always remembering that missionary activity "is a matter for all Christians, for all Dioceses and parishes, Church institutions and associations" (Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris missio, n. 2).

5. Dear brothers and sisters, as you know, your Congregation has decided to hold the "World Missionary Congress 2000" from 18 to 22 October next in conjunction with World Mission Sunday. I am pleased with this timely initiative.

The preparation of this event, preceded by the holding of National Congresses, which involves those responsible for the Pontifical Societies at various levels, is proving to be a favourable opportunity for sensitizing all the People of God to the indispensable missionary task entrusted by the Lord to every baptized person.

Everyone taking part in this important meeting will reflect on the theme: "Jesus, source of life for all". I fervently hope that this providential meeting will contribute to the vigorous renewal of a more incisive missionary effort in the Church, in order to continue with enthusiasm and courage the ever timely work of the first evangelization. I also hope that your unsparing commitment to the missions will be blessed with abundants fruit and will inspire many vocations "ad gentes". This is the precious contribution asked of you for the new evangelization in which the Church is involved today (cf. Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, n. 2), in order to offer everyone the possibility of drawing abundantly from the sources of living Gospel water.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, continue tirelessly in the task you have undertaken and to which you devote your best energies, without letting yourselves be disturbed by difficulties or hindered by obstacles. Persevere in convinced service to the Church's missionary activity and you will be docile instruments helping to build the civilization of love in the world.

As I entrust you, your activities and your loved ones to Mary, the Star of Evangelization, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to each of you, which I willingly extend to all who collaborate in your tireless work of missionary promotion, formation and cooperation on every continent.


Thursday 11 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters from Venezuela,

1. I cordially greet you and am happy to welcome you. Welcome to Rome and to the Vatican, which preserves the memory of the Apostle St Peter! The providential time of the Jubilee has brought you as pilgrims to the city of Rome, in order to confirm your faith in Christ and to reaffirm your commitment to living in the spirit of the Gospel. Your presence in great numbers is proof of the close and unbroken bonds of communion and affection which unite the Church in Venezuela with the Successor of Peter. It also reminds me of the beloved days that Providence allowed me to spend in your homeland on the occasion of my two apostolic visits. During them I was able to see the firmness of your faith and all that the Church is doing among you, helping by her voice and institutions to elevate the life of all Venezuelans.

2. I am grateful to Archbishop Ignacio Velasco García of Caracas for his kind words expressing the sentiments that brought you on your Jubilee pilgrimage to the Eternal City, the witness of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the pillars of the Church. In thanking him for the sentiments he also expressed in your name, I would like to greet you all: the priests, the religious, the young people and all the other members of the faithful who make up this group.

3. We are observing the year of the Great Jubilee, which offers us the opportunity to approach the treasures of grace and mercy that God has entrusted to his Church. The Lord asks everyone who yearns for courageous interior renewal to draw near to him with trust. He asks each one for a change in mentality and lifestyle, in order to follow the Lord closely and in this way to face the realities of daily life in the spirit of the Gospel.

To follow Christ radically calls for intense and constant inner growth. For this it is necessary to pray diligently, to take part in the Eucharist and the sacrament of Penance with the greatest frequency possible and to practise the Gospel virtues. In your country you can already rely on the witnesses to Christ who have been raised to the glory of the altars. I am referring to Bl. María de San José, whom I had the honour of beatifying amid the joy of all Venezuelans. May her example and teaching always instil enthusiasm and courage for following Christ with ever greater determination. Thus you will be prepared to face the difficulties of our time and the challenges of the new evangelization with trust and hope.

4. Among these difficulties I cannot forget the unspeakable tragedy that struck your country last year, causing many deaths and widespread destruction. From the first moment I prayed to the Lord for the deceased, asking for consolation, serenity and light for those who, amid such great sorrow, were faced with the arduous task of rebuilding. I also appealed for international cooperation, urging Venezuela's fellow nations not to abandon her at such a time and to collaborate in repairing the damage caused by a natural disaster of such great proportions.

I therefore encourage you to continue to be close to those still suffering the tragic consequences of that situation, to show solidarity to one another, to be concerned about the destiny of your neighbour, even at the cost of sacrifice.

5. The other challenge of the present moment is to continue on the path of the new evangelization. Evangelizing, as you know well, my dear brothers and sisters, is the mission of every baptized person. Whatever his state in life, everyone is called to bear witness to Christ and the Gospel. I hope that your pilgrimage will bring the desired fruits of religious and pastoral renewal. May God grant that your visit to the tombs of the Apostles will strengthen your determination to avoid sin, to be converted to the good and to follow the Lord.

Evangelization will also help to make the values of God's kingdom present in society at a time when your nation is reviewing its legislative and institutional organization. In this regard, it is important that Christians make their voices heard, so that Gospel values will continue to be present in your homeland and will not be excluded for any reason.

6. I entrust the intentions that have brought you on your Jubilee pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate under the title of Our Lady of Coromoto and whom I had the joy of crowning, and I implore from her the grace for you to be authentic missionaries of the unfathomable love of God in Venezuelan society. May you be protected by Sts Peter and Paul, whose tombs you have visited with devotion. The Pope again expresses his affection and imparts a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to your loved ones and to all the Venezuelan faithful.



Friday 12 May 2000

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear organizers, promoters and participants in the Giro d'Italia!

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the eve of the popular cycle race, which, starting tomorrow, will see many of you as protagonists on the roads of this peninsula. In extending my most cordial welcome to you all, I thank in a special way Dr Cesare Romiti and Dr Candido Cannavò for the kind words that they wished to address to me in the name of those present, words which evoke the ideals and values that inspire this great sporting event.

I extend a particular greeting to the participants in the cycling Relay of Our Lady of Ghisallo, who have come to Rome for the start of the Giro d'Italia, in remembrance of the 50th anniversary of the proclamation, by my Venerable Predecessor Pius XII, of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Ghisallo as the principal patron saint of Italian cyclists.

The esteem, interest and admiration that your historic cycle race has always aroused not only among sports enthusiasts but also among radio and television journalists, as indeed among ordinary people, has made the Giro d'Italia a high-profile sporting event with a great social impact on Italian history and habit.

2. This year's race, coinciding with the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, has special significance. As was fittingly recalled a few moments ago, the Giro d'Italia will start in Rome, ending its first stage in St Peter's Square. We could say then that tomorrow's segment is not just a "prologue" to the Giro d'Italia, but forms a "first stage" in the Jubilee of Athletes, which, please God, we will have the joy of celebrating together on the last Sunday of October at the Olympic Stadium.

This connection between sporting events and Jubilee celebrations highlights the relationship which must always join sports and spiritual values. Indeed it must serve as an important opportunity for reflection and renewal, so that sports may shine with those characteristics of transparency, consistency, honesty and sharing which make it one of the significant vehicles of lofty human values.

In fact every sport, at both the amateur and the competitive level, requires basic human qualities such as rigorous preparation, continual training, awareness of one's personal limits, fair competition, acceptance of precise rules, respect for one's opponent and a sense of solidarity and unselfishness. Without these qualities, sport would be reduced to mere effort and to a questionable, soulless demonstration of physical strength.

3. Even the legitimate search for technical means that are ever more effective and better suited to the race conditions must always be put at the service of the athlete and not vice versa, by avoiding unnecessary risks or those that injure the competitors or the spectators.

When sports are played and understood in the right way, they are an extraordinary expression of a person's best inner energies and of his ability to overcome difficulties, to set himself goals to be reached through sacrifice, generosity and determination in facing the difficulties of competition.

Outstanding examples of all this are the noble athletes who have made cycling a great sport in Italy and in the world. At this time our thoughts naturally turn to Gino Bartali, recently deceased, a great sportsman, an exemplary citizen and a convinced believer. His example continues to be a reference-point for everyone of how sport can be practised with great human and spiritual energy, making it a shining expression of the highest values of life and of social harmony.

4. Dear friends, I wish all of you, who are about to start the Giro d'Italia, to participate in this important sporting event with a real sense of "sportsmanship", that is, with great competitive passion, but also with a strong spirit of solidarity and sharing.

May you be guided and assisted by the heavenly protection of Mary, to whom the month of May is particularly dedicated, and whom you invoke as your special patron under the beautiful title of Our Lady of Ghisallo. May you also be accompanied by my Blessing, which I affectionately impart to all of you here, to the organizers and to everyone participating in this cycling event, as well as to the entire sporting family of the Giro d'Italia.



TO FÁTIMA (MAY, 12-13, 2000)



Friday, 12 May 2000

Mr President,

Mr Prime Minister,
Venerable Patriarch of Lisbon,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

God has allowed me to return to Portugal, for which I thank and bless him. I extend my cordial greetings of solidarity and peace to you who have gathered here to meet me and to all the sons and daughters of this noble nation. My first respectful greeting is to you, Mr President, who have honoured my arrival with your presence: many thanks!

I would first like to express my gratitude for all the understanding and cooperation of the State authorities in making this brief visit possible, which is actually the liturgical ceremony at the Shrine of Fátima. In answer to the insistant request of the Bishops of Portugal, I decided to come to the Cova da Iria to celebrate, together with the Catholic community, the beatification of the little shepherds, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, in the very place which was their cradle and is now their altar. I know that their homeland praises its heroes and glorifies its saints; the Pope gladly joins in Portugal's rejoicing.

At the beginning of my visit, I express my deep esteem and affection for all the Portuguese, to whom I wish a future of peace, well-being and prosperity, as they continue on the path of their country's most genuine traditions and values, which are rooted in Christianity. May God watch over all the sons and daughters of this land of the Blessed Virgin. God bless Portugal!



TO FÁTIMA (MAY, 12-13, 2000)



Saturday, 13 May 2000

Dear Pilgrims to Fátima!

I would now like to offer a special greeting to the sick, who are present here in large numbers, but I also extend it to all who, at home or in hospital, have joined us in spirit.

The Pope greets you with great affection, dear sick people, and assures you and those who are close to you of a special remembrance in prayer. I place the longings of each of you on the altar where Jesus continuously intercedes and sacrifices himself for humanity.

I have come among you today as a witness to the risen Jesus. He knows what it is to suffer; he experienced the anguish of death, but by his death he destroyed death itself and is absolutely the first human being to have freed himself from its chains once and for all. He traveled man's whole journey to the heavenly homeland, where he has prepared a throne of glory for each of us.

Dear sick brother or sister!

If someone or something makes you think that you have reached the end of the line, do not believe it! If you know the eternal Love who created you, you also know that there is an immortal soul within you. There are various seasons in life; if by chance you feel winter approaching, I want you to know that it is not the last season, because the last one will be spring: the springtime of the Resurrection. Your whole life extends infinitely beyond its earthly limits: heaven awaits you.
Dear sick people!

I know that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Rm 8,18). Take courage! In this Holy Year an abundance of the Father's grace is poured out on those who know how to receive it with the simple, trusting heart of a child. Jesus reminded us of this in the Gospel passage proclaimed earlier. Seek also to be numbered among these "little ones", dear sick people, so that Jesus will delight in you. In a little while he will draw near you to bless you personally in the Blessed Sacrament. He comes to you with the promise: "Behold, I make all things new" (Ap 21,5). Have trust! Abandon yourselves to his provident hands, as did the little shepherds Francisco and Jacinta. They are telling you that you are not alone. The heavenly Father loves you.


Monday 15 May 2000

1. I gladly extend a cordial welcome to all of you, hearing-impaired athletes, to those who have accompanied you, to the sign-language interpreters and to members of the Organizing Committee for the forthcoming Silent World Games, to be held here in Rome in 2001. Welcome and thank you for your kind visit. I also extend special thanks to your President, Prof. Mario Carulli, for his courteous words to me on your behalf and for describing your federation's plans.

I gladly express my appreciation of your federation's work and of your guiding ideals. They are ideals of solidarity and concern for the individual, which spur you, through sports, to support our many less fortunate brothers and sisters, in order to encourage their full integration into the various areas of social life. This is a highly significant endeavour, which I warmly encourage.

2. You have wished to give next year's important international sporting event the name "silence". Even if it certainly creates difficulties in relation to your surroundings, the "silence" which marks your lives, young hearing-impaired athletes, must not mean that anyone is cut off or isolated. On the contrary, by relying on your inner values and abilities, you put your energies to use and make a valuable contribution, one different, of course, but no less significant, to respect for every individual and to his social integration.

Your association includes hearing-impaired athletes from 80 countries on the five continents. It is undoubtedly a precious opportunity to be together, to know one another better and to give one another support. Together you can offer a witness of hope to those who share your condition. By your courageous human and athletic daring, you show that even apparently insurmountable difficulties can be overcome. How can we fail to recognize that attention given to those in conditions of lesser physical or personal efficiency actually helps society itself to build more respectful relationships among all its members?

May your work achieve the goals it has set for itself, that is, to draw greater attention to the problems of individuals who have difficulty in communication and integration in the broad sense.
This attitude leads to a style of human relationships which support mutual cooperation among different individuals and peoples. It also promotes the much desired civilization of acceptance and love, the only one that can remove every humiliating form of exclusion from human society.

3. We are observing the Jubilee Year, in which Christians feel particularly called by their faith to defend and promote respect for every person, whose face reflects the image of Christ. They understand even better that the attention shown to those with physical disabilities is inseparably linked to that witness of human salvation and redemption in which every disciple of Christ must feel involved.

Christ, who gave his life for us out of love, has offered us an example of how we should relate to our brothers and sisters. May he bless your efforts and make them bear good fruit, granting you an abundance of grace, peace and consolation.

With these sentiments, as I offer you my cordial wishes for a successful celebration of the Jubilee Year and a fruitful continuation of your valuable work, especially in view of the forthcoming Silent World Games, I again express to you my esteem and solidarity, and am pleased to impart a special Blessing to you, to your relatives and to all who contribute their skills and dedication to your federation.



Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 6 May 2000