Speeches 2000

Monday 15 May 2000

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, the leadership team, priests and men and women religious who are taking part in a formation year at the Formation Institute for Educators of the Clergy, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its foundation shortly after the Second Vatican Council.

Our meeting enables me to salute the attention that the Bishops' Conference of France pays to the formation of future priests and to thank everyone who is involved in the formation of the clergy, particularly the Society of St Sulpice, for the courageous efforts it has made in this area since the beginning of the IFEC, with constantly renewed concern for the needs of Dioceses. My thanks go to all those who have contributed to this institute's development, especially Fr Constant Bouchaud, its co-founder, and Fr Raymond Deville, both members of the Society of St Sulpice, as well as to Fr Pierre Fichelle, from the Diocese of Lille, former superior of the seminary of Merville and also a co-founder. They knew how to develop the insights of the Council in the area of priestly formation, in order to face the difficulties of past decades and to prepare capable guides to help young seminarians and to assist the Bishops in their diocesan administration. I am pleased that the IFEC is now open to priests from other continents and to the superiors of religious institutes, thus showing its concern to support the universal Church. Indeed, to prepare for the future, it is particularly important to form a new generation of priests capable of taking on great diocesan responsibilities and leaders at all levels of the Church.

Discernment and formation in spiritual direction are essential elements for priests entrusted with responsibilities. First of all, they call for work on one's interior life, which you have done during the year and in a special way through your Ignatian retreat, in order to unify one's priestly life as well as to advance on the way of holiness and love for Christ and his Church. They presuppose interior openness to the action of the Holy Spirit, our master and teacher, and careful attention to human realities and behaviour. They require the priest to be able, with clarity and seriousness, to review his own actions as a pastor and teacher in order, through fraternal guidance, to enable young people to mature in their vocation and grow in their ministry or in religious life. It is ultimately a deep renewal of the individual and of the way he views the priestly ministry to which is committed, so that every mission can bring true joy and be fruitful.

I thank the priests, seminary professors, episcopal vicars and Vicars General, as well as the members of consecrated institutes who, despite their numerous ministerial commitments and tasks of governance, are willing to receive intellectual, spiritual, pedagogical and pastoral formation in order to take an active part in priestly and religious formation, whose importance is critical (cf. Decree Optatam totius, Introduction). Many countries are experiencing a lack of vocations and the fragility of young men affected by a world where social problems do not help personalities to mature. It is the task of pastors and all the faithful, by their witness of life, to be models that instil a desire to follow Christ totally and to be able to pass on more directly the call to the priesthood and to religious commitment.

I would also like to call your attention to the continual formation of the clergy, which helps priests to live the various realities of their ministry, to overcome the inevitable crises of life and to be ever more available for their mission. Continual formation makes it possible to deepen their encounter with the Lord in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and strengthens their trusting love for the Church; it allows religious and human knowledge to be updated so that people may be engaged in a more fruitful dialogue. It also encourages fraternal life which is, as it were, the soul of the presbyterate (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis PO 19). I therefore fervently hope that many people will benefit from a year of formation with the IFEC, in fidelity to the insights that guided its foundation.

As I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who accompanied and supported the Apostles in the early Church with her motherly concern, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all who benefit from your ministry.




To Fr Angelo Brusco
Superior General of the Order of Clerics
Regular Servants of the Sick (Camillians)

1. The joy that accompanies the celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation has a special resonance for the Camillian family, which is preparing to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of St Camillus de Lellis on 25 May 1550 in Bucchianico. I gladly join in the thanksgiving of this order which he founded, as well as that of the Congregation of the Servants of the Sick of St Camillus, the Daughters of St Camillus, the Secular Institutes of Missionaries of the Sick Christ Our Hope, of the Kamillianische Schwestern and of the Lay Camillian Family, born later of the charism and spirituality of this great saint from the Abruzzi.

This anniversary has particular importance for the world of health care and suffering, not only because of the generous commitment to the sick of St Camillus' sons, but especially because your founder was proclaimed patron of the sick and of hospitals in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII, of health-care personnel in 1930 by Pope Pius XI and of the Health Services of the Italian Military by Paul VI in 1974.

The fact that this celebration coincides with the Jubilee Year also gives it a very special significance, because the human and spiritual journey of St Camillus took place in the context of the great Jubilee events, from which he drew a deep desire for conversion and generous intentions to serve Christ in his sick brethren. Born in the Holy Year 1550, he had a conversion experience in 1575 and, during the Jubilee of 1600, completed his guidelines for living the charism of merciful love for the sick. These coincidences are a special invitation for this order and the religious families associated with it to accept the graces of the Great Jubilee and of their founder's anniversary as an occasion for reneweing their fidelity to the Lord and to the Camillian charism.

2. St Camillus de Lellis lived in a particularly complex time, in which a deep longing for holiness but also a tenacious resistance to Gospel-inspired living were widespread. With his rich personality and his witness of charity, he offered the society of his time valuable encouragement for spiritual renewal, thus contributing in an original way to the project of Church reform promoted by the Council of Trent. His life, under the influence of the Spirit, appears as a marvellous story of the love of God, the Creator and Redeemer, who reveals in a special way his tender compassion as the physician of souls and bodies.

His work at the service of the suffering appears as an authentic school. Pope Benedict XIV recognized the newness of its service given with love and skill, that is, combining scientific and technical knowledge, actions and attitudes filled with that caring and sympathetic humanity which is rooted in the Gospel. In his Disposizioni e modi che si devono seguire negli ospedali per servire i poveri infermi, which he wrote in 1584, he offers insights and advice most of which would be adopted by the science of nursing in our day. He maintained that it was important to consider all the dimensions of the sick person with attention and respect, from the physical to the emotional, from the social to the spiritual. In a well-known passage of his Rule he invites us to ask the Lord for the grace "of motherly affection for our neighbour", so that "body and soul can be served with true love. Indeed, with God's grace we want to serve the sick with the affection that a loving mother is wont to show her sick only child".

However, it is especially by his example that St Camillus teaches us how to make the service of the sick an intense experience of God, leading us to seek the Lord constantly in prayer and the sacraments. His life seems to repeat the action of the woman described in St John's Gospel (cf. 12:3). He too anoints the feet of Jesus, present in the suffering, with the precious ointment of merciful charity, filling the whole Church and society with the fragrance of his apostolic zeal and spirituality. Today his witness remains a forceful call to love Christ present in our brethren who are burdened by illness.

3. Down the centuries this call, heard by so many generous souls, has amply demonstrated the fruitfulness of Camillus de Lellis' charism. Thus this order, fulfilling the promise of its holy founder's boundless love, has spread its branches to the five continents, extending itself in the last 50 years to 20 new, mostly developing, countries. Recently, in response to the wishes of Peter's Successor, it has made the cross of St Camillus shine in Armenia and Georgia, proclaiming the Gospel of charity to the sick among those peoples oppressed for so many years by regimes hostile to the Christian religion.

And what can we say of those who embraced St Camillus' ideals and way of life and reached the heights of holiness? Here I would like to recall in particular the chosen members of the great Camillian family whom I myself had the joy of raising to the honour of the altars: Enrico Rebuschini, a religious of this order; Giuseppina Vannini, foundress of the Daughters of St Camillus, Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini, foundress of the Servants of the Sick of St Camillus.

At the same time, however, I cannot forget the Camillian religious who down the centuries "have given their lives in service to victims of contagious diseases, confirming the truth that dedication to the point of heroism belongs to the prophetic nature of the consecrated life" (Vita consecrata VC 83). How can we not see in this flourishing holiness a confirmation of the validity of the Camillian charism as a way to the perfection of charity?

4. The celebration of the 450th anniversary of St Camillus' birth is an important invitation to his children to meet the challenges of the contemporary world with fidelity and creativity, and to show the timeliness of his teaching and his charism with renewed commitment.

At the beginning of the third Christian millennium, Camillians are called in a special way to bear faithful witness to Christ, the divine Samaritan, through a holy and fervent life sustained by constant prayer and the joyous experience of divine mercy. In this way they will help the Ecclesial Community to seek the face of the crucified Lord in everyone who suffers.

It will therefore be necessary to cultivate a sound spirituality in order to overcome the ready dangers of a soulless pragmatism which forgets the fundamental truth that the salvation of the suffering and the dying is the work of God's grace. After the holy founder's example, may every Camillian be a true contemplative in action, continually joining consecration and mission.

5. Such an option will enable this order to instil in health-care structures a strong Gospel inspiration, which is particularly necessary today in the world of health and health care, threatened by the enormous ethical conflicts caused by a troubling separation of science and technology from authentic respect for the rights of the human person in the various phases of his development.

In these difficult contexts, Camillian religious are called to strive with generous dedication so that the sick in health-care institutions are always seen as "lords and masters", according to St Camillus' apt expression. They will also be particularly concerned that the sick person becomes aware of his ability to play an active role in evangelization by offering up his own suffering in communion with the crucified and glorified Christ (cf. Christifideles laici CL 52-53 Vita consecrata, n. 83).

May they also be concerned to foster a culture of respect for the rights and dignity of the human person through academic institutions, particularly the "Camillianum", and the pastoral centres and health-care structures which already exist in various countries.

6. The children of St Camillus know that they are called to give a special place "in their ministry to the poorest and most abandoned of the sick, such as the elderly, and those who are handicapped, marginalized or terminally ill, and to the victims of drug abuse and the new contagious diseases" (Vita consecrata VC 83). The option to be at the side of the poor, to further the health of the community and to show the Church's love for the least ones is particularly urgent in developing countries, where indigence aggravates the population's health conditions by encouraging the spread of new social diseases, particularly drug dependency and AIDS, expressions of the moral degradation of civilization and of social injustices, causing many human and ethical problems.

I know of the institute's considerable effort in assisting the victims of these diseases and the related work of training and prevention. In expressing my satisfaction with the noteworthy results achieved, especially in recent years, I hope that the children of St Camillus will be more and more concerned about these critical situations and dedicate themselves generously, skillfully and systematically to them.

7. In your institute a hope-filled chapter has also been recently opened, because many lay men and women have chosen to live their Christian life in the light of the Camillian charism and spirituality. In expressing my encouragement for this promising collaboration, I hope that the formation process and participation in the order's life will bring "unexpected and rich insights into certain aspects of the charism, leading to a more spiritual interpretation of it and helping to draw from it directions for new activities in the apostolate" (Vita consecrata VC 55).

I extend my special greetings to the Lay Camillian Family, the new fruit of the great tree born of the faith and love of the saint from Bucchianico, and I invite them to deepen their own fidelity to Christ by generously serving the sick, especially the very poor.

I offer the entire order my heartfelt wishes for the 450th anniversary of the birth of St Camillus, in the hope that it will be celebrated with joy and apostolic commitment and, as I entrust its hopes and plans to the Immaculate Virgin, Queen of the Servants of the Sick and Health of the Sick, I hope that the Jubilee Year will be an occasion of fervour, holiness and grace for each Camillian, as it was for your founder.

Dear Father, with these wishes I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to the religious who are your confrères and to those who form the great Camillian family, as well as to all who benefit from their skilled and charitable service.

From the Vatican, 15 May 2000.




Wednesday, 17 May 2000

Dear Priests,

At the end of your third Jubilee day, I am pleased to extend a cordial greeting to you, anticipating in some way the joy of tomorrow's meeting and celebration.

Today you are listening to the testimony of the saints. I am delighted at this because it renews the experience of the living Christ. Indeed, if the Great Jubilee commemorates the Incarnation of the Word in history, the saints are those brothers and sisters who constitute a sort of extension of this mystery, by virtue of their great docility to the Holy Spirit.

In the long line of chosen souls who span the two millennia of the Christian era, there are numerous priests who in every generation made the holiness of Christ the Good Shepherd present among the People of God. The Church has also been blessed in the 20th century with holy priests - martyrs and confessors. Dear friends, let us follow in their footsteps, because the effectiveness of our ministry depends on this. This is the thought - and wish - that I leave you, as we prepare tomorrow to offer together our priestly thanksgiving.




Thursday, 18 May 2000

Dear Friends,

All of today is marked by "thanksgiving", by "eucharist", and before we say goodbye I would like to express my gratitude again.

Thanks first of all to God, who "crowns the year with his bounty" (Psalm) and, during the days of the Great Jubilee, has allowed us to spend this one dedicated to priests. I am particularly pleased to celebrate my birthday in this priestly dimension, which is fundamental to my life, as it is to yours.

Dear Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, I thank you for your words, and all of you Cardinals, my dear Brothers, who have generously wished to offer me this luncheon. My gratitude also goes to the sisters and all the staff of the Domus Sanctae Marthae for their courtesy and their efficiency in hosting us in a way truly worthy of the patronness of this house. After this morning's celebration, solemn and at the same time full of fraternal affection, this festive moment has enabled me to express the close bond that joins me to each of you, along with the significant participation of a group of priests representing those who have taken part in this Jubilee celebration.

I would like to return your expressions of affection, and I wish to do so in a priestly way by assuring you of a remembrance as I pray Vespers this evening, entrusting each of you to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of Priests.


Thursday, 18 May 2000

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Thank you for this concert you have offered me in honour of my 80th birthday. It concludes a day which for me has been one of heartfelt gratitude to the Lord for the priceless gift of life and for the many graces with which he has enriched it.

With affection, I turn in the first place to the organizers and musicians who with this presentation have wished to express to me their sentiments of esteem and good wishes. I sincerely thank the conductor, Maestro Gilbert Levine, who has interpreted with deep sensitivity the score of "The Creation", the masterpiece of Joseph Haydn, and has directed with artistic intensity the soloists, players and choir of the Philharmonia Orchestra. I thank the musicians and singers, as well as those who have contributed to the success of the concert.

I extend my respectful greeting to the authorities and ecclesiastics who are here. I would particularly like to greet the dignitaries from the Jewish Community and the representatives of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, who have courteously wished to join all those who are close to me on this day with their prayers and much appreciated good wishes.

2. The splendid performance of the first two parts of the Oratorio by Joseph Haydn has enabled us to contemplate with joy and emotion the biblical account of creation through the evocative power of the words of the Sacred Text and of poetry, through the medium of the mysterious and universal language of music. Involved in the same story, we were thus able to share in the joy expressed by the choruses of praise to the Lord, and we all felt like children of the same Creator God. "The heavens are telling of the glory of God / and the firmament proclaims his handiwork". What a powerful reminder of God's transcendence and the sacredness and grandeur of creation!

Through the transparency of the sounds and the beauty of the text, this solemn musical fresco has presented the dawn of creation. The narration unfolds through the rhythm of the six days which marked the appearance of light - when "chaos withdraws and order is born" -, of the heavens and the earth, of things and living creatures.

However, in offering us this powerful and beautiful version of the biblical account, Joseph Haydn's artistic genius emphasizes that creation culminates in the appearance of man: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them. Then the Lord breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being". The conclusion can only be a hymn of praise: "The magnificent work is accomplished. Let us sing praise to the Lord! For he alone is the Most High".

3. Brothers and sisters! Thank you for having offered us this extraordinary experience of spiritual and aesthetic meditation on the mystery of creation, on which the certainty of our common origin is based. I hope that through art and music there will always be deep concern for man and respect for nature in our day as well.

Moreover, may this reflection on our common origin help each person to rediscover the profound bonds of brotherhood which stem from our being all children of the one God, Creator of heaven and earth. I entrust you, the sponsors, organizers, artists and performers at this event to his fatherly love and ask his divine blessing for you all.



Friday, 19 May 2000

1. I am moved and grateful to address you, the heads of the diplomatic missions accredited to the Holy See, who have come here to offer me your best wishes on my 80th birthday.

Prof. Giovanni Galassi, your Dean, has spoken on your behalf with a courteous thoughtfulness which touched me deeply. I thank him for the sentiments he expressed; I gladly accept them and offer them to God, the supreme Author of life and of every other good.

In greeting you, Your Excellencies, I also greet your families and co-workers, the authorities and the people of your countries. You know that they have a special place in the Pope's heart, thanks to the intense and continual personal contacts established over the years through private audiences, general meetings and my numerous apostolic visits.

You have come here to thank God with me for his gift of a long life, and to confirm once again the expectations of peace, of the values that give meaning to human life and of the Bishop of Rome's efforts for the advancement and defence of the dignity of every person and every people.

Your spiritual closeness is precious to me and enables me to include you in the prayer I offer with the psalmist who fervently exclaimed: "You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be numbered" (Ps 39,5).

2. The gift of life! Yes, life is a gift that springs from an act of love. It is with love, then, that it must be accepted, respected, cultivated, promoted in every way and defended when it is threatened. I have lived my 80 years in a century which has known unprecedented attacks on life, but at the same time sublime witnesses on its behalf. Throughout my pontificate, encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, "be urgent in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2), I have often relied on your generous collaboration in order to convey to the Heads of State of the entire world my appeals for the respect and promotion of life at its various stages and with its multiple requirements.

The expectations of which you are the ambassadors encourage me in the daily fulfilment of my ministry on the Chair of Peter. After 20 centuries of history, the Church, "pillar and bulwark of the truth" (1Tm 3,15), feels called more than ever to accept God's plan for humanity, to hear the voice raised from the different societies, cultures and civilizations of the whole world, and to perceive their deepest needs so that she might serve them.

Your Excellencies, I cordially thank you again for honouring me in this solemn way on a personal occasion in my life.

Kindly convey my respectful gratitude to the authorities you represent, so many of whom have sent me appreciated expressions of their best wishes and gratitude.

With these sentiments, I willingly invoke almighty God's abundant blessings on you and your missions.


Friday 19 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I extend a cordial welcome to all of you who have gathered here to meet the Successor of Peter and to express again your communion with him and your complete fidelity to the Church.

I first greet the Vice-Grand Chancellor, Mother Antonia Colombo, Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, and I thank her for her cordial words. I greet all the members of the Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, from the dean to the academic authorities, the teachers, the students and the technical and support staff.

In this providential Jubilee time, you wish to join in the Church's praise with a special note of gratitude to the heavenly Father for the 30 years of your faculty's existence. You are thus a young faculty, enthusiastically committed to making its own contribution in the area of education, supported by the knowledge that in this way it is helping to create a future of hope for everyone.

Thank you for your concrete attention to one of the most important and, today, particularly urgent areas of pastoral activity, which is precisely that of the integral education of the person.

2. Making the most of your special resources as men and women engaged in research and collaborating with other institutions, you wish to share the Church's commitment to promoting a "culture of life" in the name of Christ and with the help of Mary, the Mother and Teacher of the Son of God.

My invitation to you, on the occasion of your faculty's 30th anniversary, is to continue to believe in the diversified and relational resources of the human person, man and woman, with attention to the trascendent dimension they share. In doing so, you collaborate more and more with the life and mission of the Church, whose principal way in history has been, precisely, that of man, the living man.

Make your own the demands of evangelization in the present cultural moment, especially those which affect human life, the individual, the family, peace and solidarity among peoples. Offer the young people of the new generation a culture that is attentive to human life from its beginning, so that with love and professional skill they can work in support of life wherever it is threatened.

Attention to life and to the person also involves particular attention to the family, "the cradle of life and love, the place in which the individual "is born' and "grows'" (Christifideles laici CL 40). The family, in fact, precisely as a "domestic church", on analogy with the Church and participating in her mission, is placed in the world and in history to build a true civilization of love (cf. Familiaris consortio FC 48). If an effort is not made to promote life, the person and the family, it will be difficult to achieve peace in communities and among peoples.

3. The Jubilee Year we are observing delivers a powerful message of life and hope, because in Jesus we have all received "grace upon grace" (Jn 1,16). It is Jesus, the Son of God and Son of man, who is the true criterion for evaluating all temporal reality and every effort to make life more human (cf. Incarnationis mysterium, n. 1).

Your faculty, which is inspired by the Christian and pedagogical humanism of St John Bosco, considers the person according to the plan of God the Creator and promotes a programme for men and women which is rooted in the Christian vision of life. In your research and academic initiatives your gaze is fixed on Jesus Christ. In him every path leading to the person, considered in his sacredness and dignity as the "image of God" (Gn 1,27), is also an approach to the Father and his love (cf. Dives in misericordia, n 1). Human beings, men and women, are the image of God, not only as intelligent and free beings but also as relational beings who find in communion and self-giving the truth and the fullness of their self-achievement.

4. The cultural turning-point which we are now experiencing is a pressing appeal for the whole Church, and especially for your Faculty of Educational Sciences, to reflect more deeply with new cultural paradigms on the "Gospel of life and of the person". Before the threats to life in everyday reality and those "scientifically and systematically programmed" (Evangelium vitae EV 17) which jeopardize the very meaning of democratic society, it is necessary to offer wise and enlightened educational programmes and to make joint, creative plans. This commitment challenges the preventive education whose prophetic ways were marked out by St John Bosco and St Maria Domenica Mazzarello. The constant danger in the contemporary world is the loss of the sense of God and the consequent inability to discover the traces of his presence in creation and in history. This danger can be avoided by rediscovering and fostering the deep, interior human dimension of integral education enlightened by an evangelical outlook.

This will be one of the frontiers of hope opening to humanity in the new millennium. Continuous technological development needs spiritual support, which can only be provided by cultivating educational interiority.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, what the Church expects of you is a specific contribution in this regard, because you are a faculty which addresses problems in the world of education with interdisciplinary approaches that grasp its complexity and implications. You also cultivate study and research with a particular feminine touch: "In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a "new feminism' which rejects the temptation of imitating models of "male domination', in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation" (Evangelium vitae EV 99).

You are challenged as teachers and students to put a face on the anthropological vision of the person, man and woman, in accordance with God's plan and to translate it into pedagogically suitable and scientifically valid categories. May your cultural programme, which is the aim of your reflection through respectful and critical dialogue with the human sciences, continue to be rooted in the Church's Magisterium and find in Mary, the "first believer to accept life in its fullness", your Mother and Teacher. At her school you can learn to love, promote and defend life, even at the cost of sacrifices and, perhaps, heroism. Mary, Mother of the living, has deep ties with the world of life and with the "Gospel of life" that Jesus came to proclaim. With her presence as a help and guide, may she continue to inspire and bless your progress!

As I cordially encourage you to continue your work, I impart a special Blessing to everyone, which I gladly extend to all who attend your Faculty of Educational Sciences.



Saturday, 20 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to offer you a cordial welcome and to express to you my joy at the special event which has brought us together here. You have come in large numbers to make your pilgrimage to Rome and to pass through the Holy Door of the Great Jubilee. I greet Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State. I greet dear Archbishop Riccardo Fontana of Spoleto-Norcia and thank him for the words and good wishes he addressed to me on your behalf. I greet Cardinal Opilio Rossi, the Armenian Patriarch and all the Bishops present. I greet the Fathers General, the religious and nuns of the Order of St Augustine, as well as the authorities of every order and rank. Your presence reminds me of the visit I made 20 years ago to the town of Cascia to visit the people struck by the earthquake of 1979.

Among us today is an illustrious pilgrim who joins us from heaven in our prayer. It is St Rita of Cascia, whose mortal remains, brought to Rome by the Italian Police, accompany the crowds of those who devotedly call upon her with affectionate familiarity and confidently bring to her the problems and anxieties that weigh upon their hearts.

Speeches 2000