Speeches 2000 - February 11, 2000

Dear brothers and sisters, as I entrust you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin, I give you, your families and all your loved ones a special Blessing, which I gladly extend to all who are united with us in spirit, especially those at the Grotto of Lourdes and at other Marian shrines.


Saturday, 12 February 2000

Dear Stigmatine Brothers,

1. I joyfully welcome you in the spiritual and ecclesial context of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, on the occasion of the 34th General Chapter of your congregation. Together with the pilgrims coming to Rome from all over the world, you too have gathered here from four continents, representing over 400 confrčres, to discern what the Spirit is asking today, at the dawn of the third millennium, of the sons of St Gaspare Bertoni. I myself had the joy of celebrating the canonization of your founder on the Solemnity of All Saints in 1989. He had a special devotion to the Successor of Peter and the Apostolic See, and your visit today is meant as a new sign of this.

2. In his Constitutions, the founder defined the members of the congregation as "missionarii apostolici in obsequium episcoporum". You are therefore persons who, with all your strength and with the particular grace of your vocation, wish to cooperate in carrying out the apostolic mission. In the spirit and footsteps of your founder, you work in parish ministry, with special attention to young people; you devote yourselves to the preaching and formation of the clergy; and you are involved in the mission ad gentes in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Some of you have been called to episcopal service, especially in Brazil; just over a month ago I consecrated Fr Giuseppe Pasotto, Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus, a Bishop. This fact, which testifies to the fidelity and generosity of the Stigmatines, is for me a reason for gratitude.

With you I pray the "Lord of the harvest" to grant numerous and good vocations to your religious family, in order to support the work you have begun, but also to enable you to start new ones, wherever the mission of the Redeemer will spur the steps of your congregation's members.

3. As the central theme of your Chapter you have chosen that of fraternal sharing within the religious community, in order to bear witness to God's love in the world. This is a characteristic value of consecrated life, greatly emphasized during the Synod Assembly of 1995 and fully acknowledged in the Apostolic Exhortation that followed it. To reflect and work with this vision is more necessary than ever today, to show the men and women of our time, who are influenced by a widespread individualistic mentality, "how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" (Ps 133,1), so that in this way everyone may recognize that you are disciples of Christ (cf. Jn Jn 13,35).

The community life of consecrated persons is an eloquent sign of ecclesial communion, strengthened especially by the common experience of fraternal sharing: signum fraternitatis (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 42). This fraternity takes many concrete forms according to the variety of charisms and characteristics of the institute. However, the love spread among the different members by the same Holy Spirit is one.

4. This Holy Year, which the Church sees as a great hymn to the Holy Trinity, is a most appropriate time to create space for the contemplative dimension of the consecrated life, so that, by absorbing the vital fluid that flows from its theological roots, it may be inwardly renewed and strengthened by it. Gospel brotherhood is in fact a radiance of Trinitarian communion and must be constantly nourished by it through the Word of God, the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation and daily prayer.

In this regard your founder wrote: "Indeed, nothing draws the love of true charity to a person more than recognizing his particular virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, regarding him as the image of God portrayed with the most beautiful colours of grace: if everyone therefore strives to grow in these virtues and in these gifts and to consider them often in others, if they will love to regard in their hearts these others as superior to themselves, enjoy the spiritual gifts that they see in them and give thanks for them to God: mutual charity will grow among them in a wonderful way" (Const. 223).

5. Sharing is not limited to the fraternal life of the community, but is extended to its ministry by involving the laity and to the level of local ecclesial structures. For this reason you must tirelessly renew your commitment to brotherhood and conversion, in the comforting certainty that the Lord is present wherever we sincerely try to live according to his commandment of love.

Your assembly also suggested practical guidelines for deepening the exercise of spiritual and apostolic sharing among your confrčres of every age. This is in fact an indispensable support for the distinctive apostolic mission of your congregation, that is, of serving the Church under the Bishops' direction. To help each other in communion, so to speak, by fostering the flow of divine love poured into the hearts of each one by the Holy Spirit is the primary condition for fulfilling the apostolic mission, which is often "arduous and difficult" and "exposed to dangers", a mission that "does not depend on human effort, but on the grace of the Holy Spirit". In this way, "he who inspired and began the work, will himself bring it to completion" (Const. 185).

Making my own the well-known and beloved words of your revered founder, I pray the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, to make the effort you have made in these days of common work bear fruit, and I sincerely bless you and all your confrčres.



Monday, 14 February 2000

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I would first like to thank the Pontifical Council for the Family, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers and the Pontifical Academy for Life for having planned and organized this day commemorating the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Evangelium vitae. It is taking place within the framework of the Jubilee Year celebrations and is meant to be in prayerful harmony with the pilgrimage I will make to the Holy Land next month to venerate the places where "the Word became flesh" (Jn 1,14).

I greet Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo and thank him for the sentiments he expressed to me in his address. I also greet all of you, participants in this reflection on a document which I consider central to the whole Magisterium of my Pontificate and in thematic continuity with the Encyclical Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI of venerable memory.

2. In the Encyclical Evangelium vitae, whose publication was preceded by an Extraordinary Consistory and a consultation of Bishops, I started from a vision of hope for humanity's future. I wrote: "To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of human life will be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love" (n. 6).

Life, truth, love: words full of stimulating suggestions for human efforts in the world. They are rooted in the message of Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, but they are also impressed upon the hearts and yearnings of every man and woman.

What we have experienced within society, to which the Church has brought her message with renewed zeal in the past five years, enables us to point out two facts: on the one hand, the persistent difficulty which this message encounters in a world marked by serious signs of violence and decadence; on the other, the unchanging validity of this message and also the possibility of its being accepted in a society where the community of believers, with the concerned involvement of people of good will, courageously and unitedly expresses its commitment.

3. The evidence shows with increasing clarity how policies and laws opposed to life are causing societies to decline, not only morally but demographically and economically. The Encyclical's message can therefore be presented not only as true and authentic guidelines for moral rebirth, but also as a reference-point for civil salvation.

Thus, there is no reason for that type of defeatist mentality which claims that laws opposed to the right to life - those which legalize abortion, euthanasia, sterilization and methods of family planning opposed to life and the dignity of marriage - are inevitable and now almost a social necessity. On the contrary, they are a seed of corruption for society and its foundations.

The civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, any more than the idea that war or interethnic extermination is inevitable.

4. The chapters of the Encyclical that address the relationship between the civil and moral law deserve great attention because of the growing importance they are destined to have in the restoration of social life. Pastors, the faithful and people of good will, especially if they are lawmakers, are asked for a renewed and united commitment to change unjust laws that legitimize or tolerate such violence.

No effort should be spared to eliminate legalized crime or at least to limit the damage caused by these laws, but with the vivid awareness of the radical duty to respect every human being's right to life from conception until natural death, including the life of the lowliest and the least gifted.

5. However, another extensive area of endeavour in the defence of life is open to the initiative of the believing community: this is the pastoral and educational field which the fourth part of the Encyclical discusses, offering particular guidelines for building a new culture of life. In the past five years, Dioceses and parishes have started many projects, but much remains to be done.

An authentic apostolate of life cannot be simply delegated to specific movements, however praiseworthy, that work in the sociopolitical field. It must always be an integral part of the Church's pastoral ministry, whose task is to proclaim the "Gospel of life". For this to be effective, it is important to set up educational programmes, as well as services and special structures for guidance and support.

This requires first that pastoral workers be prepared in seminaries and theological institutes; it also calls for the correct and consistent teaching of morals in the various forms of catechesis and of conscience formation; lastly, it should be given practical expression by offering services that will enable anyone in trouble to find the necessary help.

Through joint educational activity in families and schools, efforts should be made so that these services become a "sign" and a message. Just as the community needs places of worship, it should sense the need to organize, especially at the diocesan level, educational and operational services to support human life, services that will be the fruit of charity and a sign of vitality.

6. The changing of laws must be preceded and accompanied by the changing of mentalities and morals on a vast scale, in an extensive and visible way. In this area the Church will spare no effort nor can she accept negligence or guilty silence.

I turn in particular to those young people who are sensitive to the values of our bodily nature and above all to the value of newly conceived life: may they be the first agents and beneficiaries of the work that will be done in the context of the apostolate of life.

I renew the appeal that I made in the Encyclical to the whole Church: to scientists and doctors, to teachers and families, as well as to those who work in the media, and especially to jurists and lawmakers. It will be through everyone's commitment that the right to life will be concretely applied in this world, which does not lack the necessary goods, if they are properly distributed. Only in this way will we overcome that sort of silent, cruel selection by which the weakest are unjustly eliminated.

May every person of good will feel called to play an active part in this great cause. May he be sustained by the conviction that every step taken in defending the right to life and in its concrete advancement is a step towards peace and civilization.

As I trust that this commemoration will stir new and zealous efforts to defend human life and to spread the culture of life, I invoke upon you all and upon those who work with you in this sensitive area the intercession of Mary "Dawn of the new world, Mother of the living" (Evangelium vitae EV 105), and cordially give you my Apostolic Blessing.


Tuesday, 15 February 2000

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Esteemed Representatives of other Christian Confessions,
Mr President of the Slovak Republic,
Dear Slovak Pilgrims,

1. I welcome you with great joy and thank you for the visit you have wished to pay me on the occasion of your national pilgrimage. I extend my fraternal greeting to Cardinal Ján Chryzostom Korec, Bishop of Nitra, and to Bishop Rudolf Baláz, President of the Slovak Episcopal Conference, whom I thank for his expressive and cordial words on everyone's behalf. I also greet the other prelates, priests, religious, seminarians and faithful present. I greet you, distinguished representatives and delegates of the Evangelical Church and the other Christian Confessions in Slovakia. I also extend a special and grateful greeting to the President of the Slovak Republic, who has wished to honour me with this visit and to give me a significant address.

Through you, dear pilgrims, I would especially like to convey my warm and grateful greetings to all the people of Slovakia. I still cherish in my heart vivid memories of the Apostolic Visit which Providence gave me the opportunity to make to your beloved land in 1995, and I cannot forget the welcome I received during those intense days of meetings and spiritual experiences. I especially remember the Shrine of Sastín where, under the gaze of the Sorrowful Virgin, Slovak Catholics chose her as their patroness and protectress, and renewed their consecration to her, affirming that your nation considers the Christian faith as one of the hallmarks of its identity.

Thank you for your visit, which is taking place during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, when the whole Church meditates on the mystery of love revealed in the Incarnation of the Word and feels surrounded by the tenderness of the heavenly Father, who reaches out to his sons and daughters with peace and salvation for them all.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, may the good resolutions of renewed Christian commitment which you expressed five years ago during my pilgrimage to Slovakia be strengthened at the Apostle Peter's tomb by the fruits of redemption, which the Church grants us with special generosity in this year of grace and mercy. Fortified by these gifts, you would like here to renew your faith in Christ, the "Son of the living God", and to confirm your decision to follow his way of life, which is demanding but brings peace and salvation.

The Gospel is a precious inheritance which your people have welcomed for many centuries. Long years of harsh communist oppression did not destroy it, even if the difficulties were truly great.

Now is the time of spiritual rebirth, the moment for a springtime of hope after the winter of militant atheism. There are certainly trials and difficulties right now, but the constant return to the well-springs of the Gospel is the sure source of human and religious revival. Be faithful to Christ! Be faithful to his Gospel of salvation, which can renew man and society! Faith, if fully lived, demands a consistent witness in the various contexts where human, personal and community life unfolds.

At this particularly significant moment in the faith history of your people, I would like to extend to you and to everyone in the beloved Slovak nation who shares the honour and joy of being believers the invitation to be courageous witnesses to Christ in your families, in your workplaces and in society. Indeed, it would be impossible to preserve a people's Christian identity if there were not a consistent and courageous witness in the most important areas of their lives, a witness that can avert the ever threatening dangers of compromise, hedonism and secularism.

3. At the centre of the process of spiritual and civil renewal, which the Jubilee offers the people of our time, is the encounter with Christ. He is the Holy Door that leads us into the new life of the Father's kingdom through the light of his word and the effective help of his grace.

The Word of God, which the Church proclaims and offers for our meditation, guides us in our daily lives, giving us criteria for a true assessment of social events and personal actions and opening ever new horizons of holiness and authentic culture for our endeavour. The Jubilee urges us to be attentive and ready listeners to the divine Word, growing in fidelity to Christ and to his unchanging message of salvation. All believers are called and strongly invited by the Jubilee to meet the one Lord and Redeemer of man, Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen. He calls us to heal divisions and to walk with determination towards unity of faith through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Let us raise our prayer to God with renewed fervour, that in this year of mercy he will grant all Christians the grace to comply generously with the action of the Holy Spirit, to appear before humanity deeply united in charity, which is the prelude to perfect unity of faith.

4. Christ comes to help man not only by the word, but also through the grace of the sacraments, beginning with Baptism, in which we are reborn "of water and the Spirit" (Jn 3,5). He nourishes this new life especially with the gift of his Body and his Blood in the Eucharist, the divine banquet in which, according to the Apostle's admonition, we can take part only if we form "one body" (1Co 10,17). It is in the Eucharist that Christ nourishes and strengthens believers, so that they can live in accordance with the Gospel. In appoaching the Eucharistic table, the disciple of the Lord learns to make certain conscious and responsible decisions, to live worthily before God, our good and merciful Father, who reads the depths of his conscience and judges with truth the conduct of each individual. By partaking of the "Bread that is broken", the faithful learn to regard others as neighbours and brethren to be respected and accepted, and to devote themselves to patiently and diligently building the community, a value to be pursued despite limitations and disappointments.

Is this not the model of Christian community presented to us in the Acts of the Apostles, which says that the believers "devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Ac 2,42)? Only Christians united with one another so as to be "one" can offer a fully credible witness to the world (cf. Jn Jn 17,21). Unity remains today the principal way of evangelization.

5. Dear brothers and sisters of Slovakia, whom I have the pleasure to meet today, I firmly hope you will return home strengthened in your desire to follow the Gospel and to bear courageous witness to it. I pray the Lord that our meeting will also help you, with renewed commitment and under the wise guidance of your Pastors, to be living and courageous communities, ever ready to proclaim the saving and liberating truth to the people of our time.

I entrust all the Slovak people, who are particularly dear to me, to the heavenly protection of the Sorrowful Virgin, the good and caring Mother who watches lovingly over your land. May Mary most holy help you to receive the grace of the Great Jubilee fruitfully and to welcome the Saviour each day with a humble and faithful heart.

With these sentiments I invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon each of you and upon the whole Slovak nation.

Message of the Holy Father John Paul II

to the Rectors of English-speaking Seminaries

in Europe

To the Participants

in the Annual Conference of Rectors
of English-speaking Seminaries in Europe

It gives me great pleasure to greet you, the Rectors of English-speaking Seminaries in Europe, and through you I am pleased to send warm greetings to the members of your individual Seminary Communities. In this Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 you have chosen Rome as the place for your annual meeting, and I pray that the Holy Year will indeed be for you an occasion of special graces and of renewed commitment and fervour as you seek to fulfil the tasks which you undertake for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.

Your particular duties as Rectors are characterized by your relationship with the Bishops who send men to you for preparation in priestly service, with the staff who assist in the formation of the seminarians, with the students entrusted to your care and supervision, with the presbyterate and the diocesan communities where these men will eventually serve as priests. Thus, it is clear that you must be men of solid human relations on all levels — ecclesiastical, academic and spiritual — and that you must be men of communion. Yours is the responsibility to make the most of the gifts and talents of others and to act as competent guides, leading individuals and the seminary community as a whole with decisiveness and with pastoral sensitivity.

In all of this it is most important that you should be men of prayer, true disciples of the Lord Jesus. The philosophical, theological and pastoral training which your institutions impart will be empty and ineffective if it is not thoroughly steeped in the person of Jesus Christ, in intimate knowledge of the Son of God, in the daily lived experience of the one Saviour of all humanity. First and foremost among your many duties and responsibilities, in fact the foundation upon which all of them stand, is your own faithful witness to an active life of prayer. If you strive truly to be men of prayer and seek to instil this same spirit in your seminarians, you can be assured that as the Church moves into the Third Christian Millennium she will be ready to respond joyfully and effectively to the needs of the people she is called to serve. For she will have priests who have learned to put themselves constantly in the Lord’s presence — speaking to him, listening to him, being taught by him, being loved by him — so that they in turn can do the same for others, speaking to them, listening to them, teaching them and loving them in the name of the Lord.

As you spend these days together in discussion and reflection, may the Holy Spirit enlighten you and give you ever fresh courage to fulfil this vital work for the People of God. In a special way during this Holy Year I commend you to Mary, Mother of Priests and Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to the staff and students of your Seminaries.

From the Vatican, 17 February 2000.


Thursday, 17 February 2000

Dear Oblates of St Joseph!

1. On the occasion of your institute's General Chapter you expressed the desire to meet me in order to reaffirm your heartfelt loyalty to the Successor of Peter. I gladly accepted your request, knowing well how much your founder insisted on the duty of staying closely united with the Holy See in mind and heart. The first obedience to be faithfully observed by the Oblates of St Joseph, he said, is fidelity to the Supreme Pontiff's teachings and directives, and to regard their service as a mandate received from the Church herself, in accordance with the specific rules of the institute.

I cordially welcome you, then, with a special greeting for Fr Lino Mela, who has just been elected to the office of Superior General: may the Lord enlighten and sustain him as he fulfils his new mission. I would also like to express my grateful satisfaction to the outgoing Superior General, Fr Vito Calabrese, who has directed the congregation for 12 years with wise balance and fatherly goodness. Lastly, I extend my sentiments of affection to the entire religious family represented here by you, the Chapter Fathers, and I encourage everyone to persevere generously in their respective areas of work.

2. Your activity puts you at the heart of the Church. Indeed, the charism of the Oblates of St Joseph asks you to reproduce in your life and apostolate the ideal of service lived by the Guardian of the Redeemer. He, together with his holy Bride, lived in ineffable closeness with the incarnate Word, whom he had constantly before his eyes. It is this simple, hard-working lifestyle that you intend to follow, as you spread devotion to St Joseph by preaching, by publishing and, especially, by apostolic witness. This is the pastoral mission you carry out in humble places, among poor people, imitating the craftsman of Nazareth who protected Jesus and supported him in his preparation for the great work of Redemption.

Bl. Marello urged his spiritual sons to be "hermits at home" in order to be "effective apostles away from home". This teaching, ever alive in your spirit, commits you all, dear Oblates of St Joseph, to maintaining an atmosphere of recollection and prayer in your religious houses, fostered by silence and appropriate community meetings. May your family spirit strengthen the unity of your communities and of the entire congregation.

3. I know that you have based your Chapter work on these themes, and I hope that you will be able to harvest the spiritual fruits you expect from your important meeting, which occurs in the year when the Church is celebrating the Great Jubilee of the Redemption. It is easy to see in this happy coincidence a sign of Providence, inviting you to cross the threshold of the "Holy Door", symbol of Christ, to enter a new spiritual season of the Church, inwardly renewed as individuals and as an institute. Thus you will be faithful witnesses to Christ in our era: trusting in the healing power of God's love, you will courageously dedicate yourselves to the new evangelization. In this way you will fulfil your mission "by doing the works of God in silence", as your founder liked to say, adding that if we work "without trusting in human beings or even in ourselves, but full of hope in supernatural help, everything will work out for the best" (Briciole d'oro, 15 February).

In this perspective the Chapter's reflection on the charism of your origins, which takes you back to the sources of your spirituality, is most timely, not so much to repeat slavishly what was done then, but to apply the founder's message to today's life, so that it will have as effective an impact on contemporary society as it did then.

4. A characteristic feature of your ministry is the human and religious formation of young people by emphasizing catechesis and by being active in youth centres, schools, parishes, after-school programmes, movements and associations. Just as the sower chooses the right soil for every seed, so you also try to acquire a deeper knowledge of the young people Providence puts on your path, to help them mature in their own vocation. This is your mission. One can say that the Oblate of St Joseph is essentially a catechist who teaches by evangelizing in a simple, clear and effective way.

May you know how to speak to young peoples' hearts and present the Gospel to them boldly. Make them love the Church. Be convinced that the more eloquent is the witness of your example, the better will they accept your message.

In order to meet the contemporary demands of evangelization, the collaboration of the laity is becoming more and more indispensable. This is not only a practical need occasioned by a reduction in religious personnel, but is a new, unprecedented opportunity that God is offering us. Our era could in some ways be called the era of the laity. Therefore be open to lay people's contribution. Help them to understand the spiritual motives for the service they render with you, so that they will be the "salt" that gives life its Christian flavour, and the "light" that shines in the darkness of indifference and selfishness. As lay people faithful to their own identity, they are called to give a Christian inspiration to the temporal order by actively and effectively transforming society according to the spirit of the Gospel.

5. Dear Oblates of St Joseph, you now work in many parts of the world. The vast expansion that your religious family has achieved today, thanks be to God, demands a vigilant effort to preserve your unity and the bond of charity at all levels. Very appropriately, the General Chapter has highlighted the fact that, although you work in the local context, you must remain in harmony with the congregation as a whole, and above all with the Church's universal vision. This will occur if everyone's gaze remains focused on Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life; if personally and as a community you can cling to him who calls you to come and see where he is staying (cf. Jn Jn 1,39).

The solid practice of prayer, attention to the signs of the times and the indispensable continual formation will help you to make your works not merely a social service, but a witness to God's merciful love. Bl. Marello teaches you how to do this when he says to "take your own inspiration from St Joseph, who was the first on earth to look after Jesus' concerns; who guarded him as an infant, protected him as a boy and was a father to him for the first 30 years of his life here on earth" (Briciole d'oro, 24 March). So may it be for each of you and for all your communities.

Through the intercession of Mary, the gentle Bride of the carpenter of Nazareth, may the decisions of your General Chapter be fruitful. May she help all Oblates of St Joseph to strive for holiness, the vocation of every baptized person and, to an ever greater degree, of every consecrated person. I assure you of a constant remembrance in prayer, as I willingly impart a special Blessing to you, dear Fr Lino Mela, to the new General Council and to all the members of the Congregation of the Oblates of St Joseph.


Friday, 18 February 2000

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. It is a great joy for me to meet you in this basilica, in which some of the greatest geniuses of architecture and sculpture have had a hand. Welcome! I greet Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, who has presided at the celebration of Holy Mass. With him I greet Archbishop Francesco Marchisano, President of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, and the other prelates and priests. I also greet the civil authorities who have spoken and the artists present. I express my appreciation to everyone for this intense witness of faith. No one, dear lovers of art, can feel as much at home here as you, where faith and art come together in so remarkable a way and lift us up to contemplation of the divine glory.

You have just experienced that in the Eucharistic celebration which is the heart of ecclesial life. If, as the Council said, "in the earthly liturgy we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 8), it is particularly evident in the splendour of this Church. It transports us in spirit to the heavenly Jerusalem, whose foundations - according to the words of the Book of Revelation - are "adorned with every jewel" (21: 19), and the light of the sun and moon are no longer needed, "for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb" (21: 23).

2. I am pleased today to offer you once again the sentiments of esteem I expressed last year in my Letter to Artists. It is time to return to that fruitful alliance between the Church and artists which has deeply marked the path of Christianity in these two millenniums. This presumes your ability, dear Christian artists, to live profoundly the reality of your Christian faith, so that it will give birth to culture and offer the world new "epiphanies" of the divine beauty reflected in creation.
It is precisely to express your faith that you are here today. You have come to celebrate the Jubilee. What does this mean in the final analysis, other than to fix one's gaze on the face of Christ, to receive his mercy and be bathed in his light? The Jubilee is Christ! He is our salvation and our joy; he is our hymn and our hope. Anyone who enters this basilica through the Holy Door first meets him when turning his eyes to Michelangelo's Pietŕ, joining his gaze in a way with Mary's as she embraces the lifeless body of her Son. That tortured yet sweet body of the "fairest of the sons of men" (Ps 45,3) is the source of life. Mary, image of the new humanity, herself one of the saved, presents him to each of us as the source of resurrection. In fact, as the Apostle Paul teaches us, "we were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised for the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Rm 6,4).

3. The Jubilee invites us to accept this grace of resurrection so that it will penetrate every corner of our lives, healing them not only from sin but also from the dross that sin leaves in us even after we have been reconciled with God. In a certain sense it is a question of "sculpting" the stone of our hearts to bring out the features of Christ the new Man.

The Artist who can do this in depth is the Holy Spirit. However, he requires our responsiveness and docility. Conversion of heart, so to speak, is a work of art jointly produced by the Spirit and our freedom. You artists, accustomed to shaping the most diverse materials according to the inspiration of your genius, know how closely the daily effort to improve one's life resembles artistic work. As I wrote in my Letter to you, "through his "artistic creativity', man appears more than ever "in the image of God' and he accomplishes this task above all in shaping the wondrous "material' of his own humanity and then exercising creative dominion over the universe which surrounds him" (Letter to Artists, n. 1). There is a remarkable similarity between the art of forming oneself and that which takes place in the transformation of matter.

Speeches 2000 - February 11, 2000