Speeches 2000



Wednesday 31 May 2000

1. This moment of faith and devout homage to Mary which concludes the month of May, the Marian month, is always inspiring. You have recited the Holy Rosary as you walked to this Lourdes Grotto, in the centre of the Vatican Gardens. Here, before the image of the Immaculate Virgin, you have put your prayer intentions in her hands, while meditating on the mystery that is celebrated today: Mary's Visitation to St Elizabeth.

In this event, recounted by the Evangelist Luke, a more profound "visitation" appears: God's visit to his people, hailed by the rejoicing of the infant John - the greatest among those born of woman (cf. Mt Mt 11,11) - even from his mother's womb. The Marian month thus ends with the mark of joy - the second "joyful" mystery - with the mark, that is, of rejoicing, of jubilation.

"Magnificant anima mea Dominum et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo" (Lc 1,46-47). So sings the Virgin of Nazareth as she contemplates the triumph of divine mercy. She bursts into heartfelt joy at the plans of God, who has special fondness for the humble and the lowly, and fills them with his good things. This is jubilation in the Holy Spirit, who will make the Redeemer's own heart exult because the Father is pleased to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to children.

2. "Magnificat anima mea Dominum"! So we sing as well this evening, our hearts filled with gratitude to God. We thank him because in this month of May during the Great Jubilee, he has allowed us to experience with special intensity the presence of the Mother of the Redeemer, a constant prayerful presence, as in the early Jerusalem community. May her song of praise become the song of every Christian soul for the great mystery of the love of God, who, in Christ, "visited and redeemed his people" (Lc 1,68)!

This is my wish at the end of this Marian month and on this vigil of the Ascension of Jesus, who invites us to turn our gaze to heaven where he waits for us, seated at the right hand of the Father.

When you go home, take the joy of this meeting with you and keep the eyes of your heart fixed on Jesus, in the hope of one day being united with him in the same glory. May Mary accompany you on your way with her motherly concern!

With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you present here and to your loved ones.

                                                                June 2000




To my Venerable Brother Ludwig Averkamp Archbishop of Hamburg
Dear Brother,
Dear Sisters and dear Brothers,

1. "All time belongs to him". With this motto you have gathered in Hamburg for the 94th German Katholikentag. From Rome I greet all those who have assembled for the solemn Mass in the "Fishmarket" of this ancient Hanseatic city, and those who are taking part in this Eucharistic celebration by radio and television. The peace of the risen Christ be with you all! I extend a special greeting to you, dear Archbishop Averkamp. You declared yourself willing to host the Katholikentag this year and to take part personally in its organization. With you, I greet all the Bishops of Germany and of many other countries, particularly the Cardinals present and Bishop Karl Lehmann, President of the German Bishops' Conference.

2. "All time belongs to him". I am pleased that you chose a motto that fits in the framework I determined for the Jubilee year: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). The logo you have chosen is also very fitting: you decided on the hourglass as the symbol, visibly expressing the Katholikentag's theme.

Our ancestors measured time with the hourglass. Today digital and quartz clocks are used. Their advantage is that they can measure time right down to the second. However, modern clocks fail to communicate a message the hourglass vividly expresses: the sand trickling from the upper bulb to the lower. The trickling of the sand can be compared to the fate of time. Time passes; it has an end. It flows and runs out. It is like the limited number of years we are given.

3. A few weeks ago I was able to celebrate my 80th birthday. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the many kind words, encouraging gestures and signs of thoughtfulness which Catholics, Christians and people of good will sent me from Germany. The festive days organized for me were an opportunity above all to thank God, my Creator, for having given me life. At the same time, you have once again strengthened my conviction that God is a generous giver: in giving life, he also gives time. The time we have available to us is a gift that God offers us.

What we do with this gift depends on us. People can waste time or lose it; they can squander it or even kill it. But there are also other possibilities. Time is given to us so that we can use it and fill it.

Time well used is so valuable that we can give it away as a precious gift. If the proverb says: "Time is money", then Christ replies: "Time cannot be bought with money. Time is worth more than gold".

I urge you, dear brothers and sisters: be generous with your time! Give it to each other: pastors to their parishes and parishes to their pastors, husbands to their wives and viceversa, children to their parents, young people to the elderly, the healthy to the sick, one to another. Whoever gives time to others is giving them life.

4. Managing time has much to do with faith. God has time. He had time for us human beings. Entering into time through the Incarnation of his Son, he has become our contemporary. In Jesus Christ time is fulfilled. It has found its centre. In the course of "chronos", the hour of the great "kairos" strikes: "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Ga 4,4). Two thousand years after this event we have reason to rejoice. In this Holy Year we want to have an even deeper sense that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). "For the Church respects the measurements of time: hours, days, years, centuries", helping "everyone to realize how each of these measurements of time is imbued with the presence of God and with his saving activity" (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 16). All the time that we let him fill thus belongs to him.

For this very reason the Church has a service to perform on behalf of men and women today. The Church has the role of guardian. She is committed never to tire of remembering the Lord's coming and of awakening our contemporaries from the sleep of security and comfort. I am sure that Catholics in Germany will be faithful to this "wake-up service". Their voice on various issues is asked for: the protection of human life in every phase from conception until natural death, the defence of the inalienable values of marriage and the family in conformity with the order of creation, the observance of Sunday worship in a society governed by economic interests, hospitality to foreigners resident in your country and commitment to the Christian image of man in your reunited homeland. These are only some of the many areas where we must be attentively involved.

In this regard, I have a special request for you: may unity be an important value for you! Do not let yourselves be divided by any earthly power in your projects! If the Church is the pilgrim People of God, then there is only one way through time for all who belong to this people, the way of cooperation. Bishops, priests, religious and lay people, we are all the Church. We are only strong together. Jesus Christ has established only one Church, built on the foundations of the Apostles united round Peter, the rock (cf. Mt Mt 16,18). My prayer for you is that what St Paul wrote to the Romans may be fulfilled: "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 15,5-6).

5. The Katholikentag programme reflects the diversity and vitality of the Church in your country. I look at the varied image reflected there with gratitude and esteem. Along with the many Eucharistic celebrations and spiritual events, there are also meetings and round tables which show that the Church in Germany is willing to listen to the signs of the times and to interpret them in God's light.

The Katholikentag is intended as a sort of areopagus for analysis and exchange, for dialogue and joint action. For this spiritual undertaking, to which you intend to give a special ecumenical character, I invoke the Holy Spirit, who is also the Spirit of discernment.

6. Dear brothers and sisters!

Once again I return to the hourglass, which contains yet another valuable message. The sand which trickles from the upper bulb to the lower does not only indicate the passage of time. The sand is also a messenger of Christian hope, for it does not fall into a void. It is gathered in the lower bulb.

The bulbs of an hourglass remind me of God's hands stretched out to us. We can abandon ourselves into his hands. They gather up our time. Time lies in God's hands. Every evening at Compline we pray: "Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit". This prayer does not only concern a few. It is an evening prayer that can be adopted by all who, at the end of the day, offer the fruit of their troubles and work to God, the Lord of time.

"Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit". God blesses the time of those who pray in this way. I call on Mary, who put her own life in God's hands as no one ever has, to be our guide. May she protect and guide the Church in Germany on her way through time. I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you who have gathered in Hamburg.

From the Vatican, 23 May 2000.


Saturday, 3 June 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I greet you with great joy and thank you for your welcome visit. You come from various places and are united by a common desire to celebrate your Jubilee here in Rome, a city sanctified by the heroic witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul and of many other saints and martyrs. You have also wished to include this visit to the Successor of Peter in your Jubilee programme in order to strengthen your intentions of fidelity to Christ and his Church. Welcome!

2. I first greet the participants in the 12th long-distance tandem cycle race organized by the Italian Union of the Blind. Dear friends, your association is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year and has wished to mark this significant occasion with a demanding group sporting event, inspired by the great Jubilee values of brotherhood, solidarity and human advancement. To celebrate your Jubilee, you wanted above all to have a deep spiritual experience together. I very much appreciate your generous work in society, aimed at highlighting the courage, great spiritual gifts and strength of mind which the blind, thanks to the solidarity of the sighted, can express not only on the sports field but in many other areas of daily life. May the Lord give success to your praiseworthy intentions and bless all your good plans for helping your neighbour. Continue on this path "in tandem" and close communion with Jesus, our daily traveling companion through life.

I next greet the faithful from Our Lady of Hope Parish in Cesena and Our Lady of Sorrows at the Cross Parish in Andria. Thank you for your visit, which is meant to bring me the affectionate spiritual support of all your brothers and sisters in the faith. After this Jubilee pilgrimage, go home with even greater determination to follow Christ our Lord and to proclaim and bear witness to his Gospel with generous missionary zeal.

My thoughts now turn to you, dear Salesian alumni of Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto in the province of Messina, who have come to renew your profession of faith at the tomb of the Apostles.

3. Dear brothers and sisters! This is the time of the Ascension and our thoughts are focused on Christ, who, at the end of his public mission, is returning to his heavenly Father. The liturgy reminds us that in these days Christ himself, with whom the Apostles had lived, taken meals and shared everyday toil, now remains invisibly present in his Church. It is the Church which must continue the work of the risen Lord, spreading his Gospel to every corner of the world until his glorious return. For this reason, in the account of the Ascension, after the Lord disappears from the sight of those present, angels invite the disciples not to stay gazing up to heaven. "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven" (Ac 1,11).

At that moment the time of witness began for all of us believers enlivened by the power of the Holy Spirit. And this week the Church turns in prayer to the divine Spirit, as she awaits the feast of Pentecost. By the power of this Holy Spirit, the glorified Christ, constituted universal Lord and Head of the Church, draws every man and woman to himself. We, the Christians of the third millennium, must also be witnesses and messengers of Christ, called to generous missionary zeal and to building a new humanity enlivened by the law of love.

4. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that on the days before Pentecost Mary, the Mother of Jesus, stayed with the Apostles in trembling expectation and persevering prayer. May the Blessed Virgin also accompany us, especially in this Jubilee Year, as we watch and pray in expectation of a new Pentecost. Today, the First Saturday of the month of June, let us entrust to her our intentions of evangelical commitment; let us ask her for the necessary help to accomplish the mission which has been entrusted to each of us.

May she protect your families and the activities of your parishes and associations. I willingly assure you of a remembrance in prayer, as I cordially impart to each of you a special Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to all your loved ones.



Sunday, 4 June 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this year of the Great Jubilee, the Church is celebrating the event of the Incarnation, proclaimed by the Evangelist John in these words: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1,14). A truly great mystery, a mystery of salvation, which culminates in the Death and Resurrection of Christ.

The world's destiny is contained in this event. From it, through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit, flows redemption for the people of every time and place. In the light of this mystery, I affectionately greet all of you who have gathered here to celebrate the Jubilee of Journalists.

In particular, I greet Archbishop John P. Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Mrs Theresa Ee-Chooi, President of the International Catholic Union of the Press, and thank them for their kind words expressing the sentiments of everyone here.

I was keen to have this meeting with you, dear journalists, not only for the joy of joining you on your Jubilee journey, as I am doing with many other groups, but also out of the desire to pay a personal debt of gratitude to the countless professional journalists who have done all they can to make known the words and events of my ministry throughout the years of my Pontificate. I am deeply grateful for all this effort and for the objectivity and courtesy which have marked the great part of this service, and I ask the Lord to give each of them a fitting reward.

2. In the world of journalism this is a time of profound changes. The proliferation of new technologies is affecting every area by now and, to a greater or lesser degree, involves every human being. Globalization has increased the powers of the media, but has also made them more liable to ideological and commercial pressures. This should prompt you journalists to ask yourselves about the meaning of your vocation as committed Christians in the world of communications.

This is the crucial question that must characterize your Jubilee celebration on this World Day of Social Communications. Your passing through the Holy Door as pilgrims expresses a choice of life and says that you would like "to open doors to Christ" in your profession as well. He is the "Gospel", the "Good News". He is the model for everyone who, like you, is striving to make the light of truth penetrate every area of human life.

3. This encounter with Christ has been the aim of the programme you have followed in these days. On Thursday you prayed in the Sistine Chapel, where the splendour of art set before your eyes the drama of human history from Creation to the Last Judgement. On this great journey of humanity, we also see the truth about the human person created in the image of God and destined to eternal communion with him; we see the truth which is the basis of all ethics and which you are called to observe in your profession.

Yesterday you were at St Paul's tomb and today you have come to pray at St Peter's. They were the great "communicators" of faith at the dawn of Christianity. May their memory remind you of the specific vocation which distinguishes you as followers of Christ in the world of social communications: you are called to devote your professionalism to the service of the moral and spiritual good of individuals and of the human community.

4. This is the crux of the ethical question, which is inseparable from your work. Journalism, with its immense and direct influence on public opinion, cannot be guided by economic forces, profit and partisan interests alone. Instead, it must be regarded in a certain sense as a "sacred" task, to be carried out with the awareness that the powerful means of communication are entrusted to you for the common good and, in particular, for the good of society's weakest groups: from children to the poor, from the sick to those who are marginalized or discriminated against.

One cannot write or broadcast only with a view to audience share, to the prejudice of truly educational services. Nor can one make an indiscriminate appeal to the right to information without taking other personal rights into account. No freedom, including freedom of expression, is absolute: it is limited, in fact, by its duty to respect the dignity and legitimate freedom of others.

Nothing, however fascinating, can be written, produced or broadcast to the detriment of the truth: I am thinking here not only of the truth of the facts you report, but also of the "truth about man", of the dignity of the human person in all his dimensions.

As a sign of the Church's desire to be close to you as you meet this great challenge, a few days ago the Pontifical Council for Social Communications published the document Ethics in Communications. It is a warm invitation to journalists to commit themselves to serving the human person by building a society based on solidarity, justice and love, through the communication of the truth about human life and its final fulfilment in God (cf. n. 33). I thank the Pontifical Council for this document, which I recommend for your study and reflection.

5. Dear Brothers and Sisters! The Church and the media must walk together in their service to the human family. I therefore ask the Lord to grant that you may leave this Jubilee celebration with the conviction that it is possible to be both authentic Christians and excellent journalists.

The world of the media needs men and women who strive day after day to live this twofold dimension as best they can. This will happen more and more, if you can keep your gaze fixed on the One who is the centre of this Jubilee year, Jesus Christ, "the faithful witness ... who is and who was and who is to come" (Ap 1,5).

As I invoke his help on each of you and on your particularly demanding work, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and willingly extend it to your families and to all your loved ones.

The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims and visitors in French, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Polish.

I cordially greet you, the journalists present at this Jubilee. May you find in your pilgrimage the strength to fulfil your service of informing and forming our contemporaries, by helping them to open their hearts on a global scale! It must be your concern to make yourselves witnesses to the truth, so that the human person will always be respected. The Church is counting on you to know how to retransmit to the world the message of hope that comes from Christ. With my Apostolic Blessing.

I warmly greet the English-speaking participants in the Jubilee of Journalists. May these days of pilgrimage be a time of intense personal renewal for each one of you, and an encouragement to you in your demanding profession. The great challenge facing you is to use your skills and your immense influence over public opinion in the faithful service of the truth about the human person. This means to defend life and build a human community ever more solidly based on solidarity, justice and love. May the joy and peace of Christ fill your hearts! May you and your families be blessed in every way!

I greet the Spanish-speaking media professionals who are taking part in this Jubilee celebration today. I encourage you to continue your work at the service of information by basing it on the truth and fostering solidarity and understanding among all.

I extend a cordial welcome to the German-speaking journalists. Your profession is a service to the truth. In your speaking and writing be guided by love, especially when the truth is hard to bear. For this I invoke God's Holy Spirit upon you.

My cordial greeting to the Portuguese-speaking journalists and others who work in the communications media: you can and do know how to raise the level of solidarity in the world; today the Pope would once again like to express his gratitude and esteem to you all for the variety of projects you support for the victims of so many human tragedies. May God reward you for them and bless you.

I cordially greet the Polish-speaking journalists. I hope that you will maintain your freedom of thought and objective judgement of reality. Be faithful to the truth! May the splendour of the truth pervade your service to man, to the Church and to the world! I cordially bless you.


Monday 5 June 2000

Dear Members of the Circolo San Pietro!

1. I am pleased to welcome you again this year and I greet you affectionately. I am grateful to your Chaplain, Archbishop Ettore Cunial, and to your President, Marquis Marcello Sacchetti, whom I thank for his courteous words on behalf of you all. Today's meeting is, as always, a welcome opportunity for expressing again my sincere appreciation of the committed and faithful service you offer to the Church and to the Pope in concrete charitable projects for our neighbour. Thank you for your continuing witness of love for the Apostolic See and of active charitable solidarity towards our city's neediest brothers and sisters.

2. In fact, your praiseworthy association is penetrating the heart of Rome more and more deeply, spurred by the desire to respond to the urgent needs of the poorest and most forgotten people. The various interventions of solidarity undertaken for those who suffer from the lack of necessities include the new project you have begun for the Great Jubilee of providing volunteer service each day in the soup kitchens set up at the patriarchal basilicas. I once again praise your generous acceptance of my invitation to collaborate with the project "The Pope's Charity for the Jubilee".

I also thank you for all you do in the parishes, hospitals and shelters, never tiring of supporting those who are suffering in body and soul, to bring them the consoling certainty that Christ is the Saviour of all.

The Peter's Pence collection which you are personally presenting to me, as you do each year, is a further sign of your quiet but concrete sharing in the concerns of the Holy See, called to respond ever more effectively to the increasing appeals of the neediest in so many parts of the world. Your laudable willingness to collect funds for the Pope's charity is a highly appreciated sign of communion with the universal ministry of Peter's Successor. Continue on this path, aware that you are rendering a useful service to Christ and his Church.

3. Dear members, we are now close to the Solemnity of Pentecost. I invite you to ask God for the gift of his Spirit, who is the living flame of love and the source of light and inner strength. Let the Holy Spirit guide all your projects and enliven all your efforts. In constant prayer you will find the indispensable energy for making your apostolate effective, so that the people you meet will encounter a reflection of God's love and will open themselves to the newness of the Gospel.

Do not stop in the face of difficulties. Continue instead to meet the needs of your poorest brethren without pause, thus enabling them to see the heavenly Father's love. The divine Master warns us: "As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me" (Mt 25,40).

May Mary, the incomparable and perfect example of the Church's life and mission, the Mother who gives birth to Christians and leads them to the perfection of charity (cf. Lumen gentium LG 63-65), always protect and guide you.

For my part, I assure you of a remembrance in my prayer and cordially impart a special Blessing to you and your families.



Thursday, 8 June 2000

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive you at this solemn ceremony for the presentation of the Letters of Credence appointing you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bolivia to the Holy See. In offering you my cordial welcome, I would like to thank you for your kind words and for the considerate greeting which your President, General Hugo Banzer, has conveyed to me through you and which I reciprocate, asking you to give him my best wishes for the peace and prosperity of all the Bolivian people.

2. Your presence here today, as you yourself mentioned, reminds me of the Pastoral Visit I made to your country in 1988. On that occasion I was able to admire the outstanding gifts of the Bolivian people, fashioned by a multicultural and multiethnic reality, the result of the meeting of indigenous cultures, such as the Aymaran, Quechuan and others, with those that arrived here down the centuries, a meeting which "has richness in variety, sharing both mutual respect and dialogue" (Address at El Alto Airport, 9 May 1988, n. 3; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 6 June 1988, p. 3). It is to be hoped that Bolivians will always preserve the genuine values that form their rich spiritual heritage and will enable the country to advance towards better, more just and fraternal goals, in fidelity to the Christian and humanist roots which have shaped its history and which it must continue to follow by building itself up on the way to the future, on the religious and ethical bases that promote the individual and recognize his inalienable and inviolable dignity.

3. You also referred to the structural changes currently being made in Bolivia to deal with the crisis that is afflicting a large part of the population, by trying to alleviate the situation in the poorest regions. I am pleased to know that this is one of your Government's objectives, and I hope it will continue this inescapable task with determination and firm commitment. In fact, material poverty can never be regarded as an endemic evil but as a lack of the goods essential to personal development resulting from various circumstances. In this regard, the Church is sensitive to the difficult situation experienced by our many brothers and sisters trapped in sometimes extreme poverty, and, compelled by the Gospel, she constantly affirms her commitment to the poor as an expression of the merciful love which Jesus Christ showed them. Therefore the Church herself, with her doctrine and charitable programmes, supports those who work seriously so that social institutions will also be effectively committed to human advancement. In this way the precarious situations encountered by so many individuals and families, especially the indigenous, can be alleviated.

In this regard, a few weeks ago the Bishops in Bolivia presented the President of the Republic with the document Conclusiones Foro Jubileo 2000, a project of the Bolivian Episcopal Conference aimed at discussing the delicate problem of the country's structural poverty and at enabling citizens of various social classes and different political tendencies to express their opinions on the use of funds made available by the cancellation of the external debt.

The moral and social scars of poverty certainly require technical and political solutions, so that the economic activities and benefits they legitimately produce can also serve the common good. In my Message for the 1993 World Day of Peace, I wrote in this regard: "A State, whatever its political organization or economic system, remains fragile and unstable if it does not give constant attention to its weakest members and if it fails to do everything possible to ensure that at least their primary needs are satisfied" (n. 3). However, it should not be forgotten that all these measures would be insufficient if they were not inspired by authentic ethical and spiritual values. This is why the eradication of poverty is also a moral task in which justice and Christian solidarity play an essential part.

4. Under the Bishops' wise and caring guidance, the Church in your country is working generously and enthusiastically to accomplish her mission. She thus fosters moral values and the Christian concept of life, so deeply rooted there, so that they will continue to inspire the lives of its citizens, and that those who in one way or another exercise various degrees of responsibility will be mindful of these values, in order to build day by day a country that is ever better and more prosperous, and in which everyone sees his inalienable rights respected.

The Church also carries out the mission entrusted to her by her divine Founder in various fields such as, among others, the defence of life and the family institution, the promotion of justice and attention to the neediest. At the same time, she seeks to promote, on the basis of her social doctrine, peaceful and well-ordered social relations among citizens and among nations. The Church herself, who never claims to impose concrete criteria for the government of the people, nevertheless has the inescapable duty to shed the light of faith on the development of the society in which she is involved. In this regard, as you yourself pointed out, the Bolivian Episcopal Conference has worked and will continue to work to spread its message as a pressing appeal to solidarity and commitment for the benefit of all, with no one excluded, especially since there are situations which urgently call for a solution. In this regard, the Bolivian Episcopal Conference recently published a Pastoral Letter entitled "Tierra, Madre Fecunda para todos", in which they offer a reflection to highlight the agrarian reform which is so needed to alleviate the critical situation experienced by the indigenous and farm workers.

5. Mr Ambassador, at the end of this meeting I would like to offer you my best wishes for the fulfilment of your mission to this Apostolic See, which is always desirous of maintaining and further strengthening its good relations with the Republic of Bolivia, and of helping to overcome with good will the problems that may arise between the Church and State in your country. I assure you of my prayers to the Almighty that, through the intercession of Our Lady of Copacabana, he will always assist you and your distinguished family, your staff, the authorities and the citizens of your noble country, which I remember with great affection and upon which I invoke the abundant blessings of the Most High.

Speeches 2000