Speeches 2000 - 1 May 2000




Tuesday, 2 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to meet you once again on the day after the world Jubilee of Workers, which we celebrated together yesterday at Tor Vergata.

Thank you for your presence! I cordially greet you all. In particular, I greet Bishop Fernando Charrier and thank him for his courteous words on your behalf. The Jubilee of Workers, which brought to Rome representatives and workers from the vast field of work in every part of the world, gave us the opportunity to look at the complex realities of employment on a global scale and in its various sectors. We realized that there is still a great need for effective intervention so that human work can have its proper place in culture, the economy and politics, with full respect for the worker as a person and for his family, without ever penalizing one or the other.

The Church follows these problems with great attention, especially through the work of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which is in contact with the international organizations of workers, employers and the world of finance. I hope that this fruitful collaboration will continue in a way that fosters the Church's ever more effective presence in the world of work.

2. In speaking with you, dear brothers and sisters, I would like to emphasize a characteristic aspect of work which is usually called "overall quality". In essence, it involves man's condition in the productive process: only his active participation in this process can make the business firm a real "community of persons" (cf. Centesimus annus CA 35). This is a challenge that accompanies the advanced progress of new technologies, which have the merit of reducing, at least in part, the element of human exertion in work. The challenge must be met so that the "indirect employer", that is, all the "forces" that determine the entire socio-economic system or result from it (cf. ibid., n. 17), can be at the service of man and of society.

Dear employers, financiers, trade unions and all of you who, by your cooperation and enterprise, put yourselves at the service of a development worthy of man, a particularly challenging but very important task lies before you. Without doubt, human liberation with regard to work depends in large part on the direction taken by finance and the economy: these must have an ever better grasp of their distinctive element, that is, the particular "service" they are called to render to development.

The serious phenomenon of unemployment, which affects men, women and young people, and for which a solution is sought in many ways, would certainly have a positive outcome if economics, finance and the national and global organization of work itself were never to lose sight of the good of man as their ultimate goal.

3. Today so-called "globalization" is making the world of work even more complex. This is a new phenomenon, which needs to be recognized and evaluated with careful and precise study, since it seems clearly "ambivalent". It can be something good for man and for society, but could also prove harmful, with serious consequences. Everything depends on certain basic decisions: whether "globalization" serves man, every individual, or exclusively benefits a development that is not governed by the principles of solidarity, participation or responsible subsidiarity.

In this regard, it is important to remember that the more global the market, the more it must be balanced by a global culture of solidarity that is attentive to the needs of the weakest. Moreover, democracy, including economic democracy, must be safeguarded, as must a correct conception of the person and of society.

Man has the right to a development that involves every aspect of his life. The economy, even if globalized, must always be integrated into the overall fabric of social relations, of which it forms an important, but not exclusive, component.

Globalization also requires a new culture, new rules and new institutions at the world level. Politics and economics must collaborate in this area to define short-, medium- and long-term projects whose goal will be the cancellation or at least reduction of the public debt of the world's poor countries. A commendable journey of co-responsibility has been undertaken in this regard; it should be strengthened and even globalized so that all countries will feel involved. A demanding journey, which for this reason enhances the responsibility of each and every one.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, this is the vast field that lies before you; this is the contribution that each of you and the institutions you represent are asked to make.

The Church appreciates your work and accompanies your efforts to form relations of harmonious and active collaboration in a world marked by complex relations of interdependence.

I promise each of you a remembrance in my prayer and entrust all your intentions to Mary and Joseph, faithful cooperators in the work of salvation, as I cordially bless you, your co-workers and your families.



Tuesday, 2 May 2000

To the Members of the Papal Foundation

The religion which originates in the mystery of the Redemptive Incarnation is the religion of dwelling in the heart of God, of sharing in God’s very life (cf. Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 8). And the heart of God, the life which he communicates to us through the Incarnation, Death and Resurrection of his beloved Son is none other than the loving kindness and mercy of the Father who wishes to gather all his scattered children into the communion of the one body of Christ, the Church. The Jubilee Year 2000 is a “year of the Lord’s favor”, in which the whole Church must seek to bear ever more authentic witness to Christian love and solidarity.

It is in this context that I rejoice at your presence here during the Jubilee Year. The Papal Foundation, from its beginning, has been instrumental in making it possible for the Successor of Peter to respond to some of the more urgent calls for charitable intervention, especially in developing countries. Your desire to share my “concern for all the Churches” comforts me and sustains me in the ministry which the Lord has given me. For this I am very grateful, and wish to express this gratitude in fervent prayer for you and your loved ones.

In this special year of grace which opens the Third Christian Millennium, I commend the members of the Papal Foundation to the love of the Most Blessed Trinity. Inundated by the splendor of the Resurrection, may your hearts be filled with serene joy, because “the brightness of the eternal King has vanquished the darkness of the world” (Easter Proclamation). Upon all of you I cordially invoke the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, May 2, 2000


Thursday, 4 May 2000

Dear Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette,

I am pleased to welcome you as you hold your 29th General Chapter. With your Superior General and his Council, whom I cordially greet, you represent all your confrères in many countries of the world. On behalf of the Church I warmly thank you for your efforts in recent years to expand the field of your apostolate, especially in India and the countries of Eastern Europe, with plans to establish yourselves soon in Indonesia and Myanmar. May the Lord abundantly bless your generous apostolic efforts and enable you to persevere with the daring and enthusiasm of the generations of missionaries who have preceded you!

You have chosen as the theme of your Chapter: "Let us build the future together". You hope to build your institute's future together with God's help, giving new vigour to La Salette charism that unites you through creative fidelity to your vocation and by notably stressing the essential place of mission, community life and interdependence in communion.

In the light of Our Lady of La Salette's message, you give an important place to the ministry of reconciliation. This Jubilee year is a privileged opportunity to rediscover the fullness of the mercy of God, who wants to reconcile man to himself and to his brothers and sisters. In fact, "the Church, as a reconciled and reconciling community, cannot forget that at the source of her gift and mission of reconciliation is the initiative, full of compassionate love and mercy, of that God who is love and who out of love created human beings; and he created them so that they might live in friendship with him and in communion with one another" (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 10). In this spirit, I keenly hope that your Chapter will encourage the institute's members to have a renewed awareness of their participation in the Church's reconciling mission, which is the heart of their missionary vocation, by continuously helping the faithful to accept divine forgiveness in order to bear witness to it in all nations.

As I wrote on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady: "La Salette is a message of hope, for our hope is nourished by the intercession of her who is the Mother of mankind" (Letter to Bishop Louis Dufaux of Grenoble, 6 May 1996; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 3 July 1996, p. 8). May the proclamation of this hope always be at the heart of your encounter with the men and women of today! Through it our contemporaries can be assured that divisions are not irreparable and that it is always possible to repent of one's infidelities, in order to build a reconciled humanity and to follow the Lord, for nothing is beyond God's reach.

Dear Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, do not be afraid to bear witness that Christ came to share our humanity so that we might share in his divinity. Boldly proclaim the Word of God, a force that can transform hearts, societies and cultures. Under the gaze of Mary, a motherly presence among the People of God, constantly invite people to conversion, communion and solidarity. Do not hesitate to proclaim to your brethren that God walks with people, that he calls them to new life and encourages them in order to lead them to true freedom. The quality of your spiritual and community life will be a particularly eloquent expression of the authenticity and fruitfulness of your proclamation of the Gospel message.

This requires that the missionary be willing to live in a permanent state of conversion. The true missionary is the one who resolutely commits himself to following the paths of holiness. "Unless the missionary is a contemplative he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way. He is a witness to the experience of God, and must be able to say with the Apostles: "that which we have looked upon ... concerning the word of life, ... we proclaim also to you' (1Jn 1,1-3)" (Redemptoris missio RMi 91). After the enthusiasm of the first encounter with Christ on the paths of mission, it is necessary to persevere in one's daily efforts through an intense prayer life, penance and the gift of self. By sharing in Christ's mission through their word and the witness of their entire life, missionaries will lead people to open themselves to the Good News, which it is their mission to bring to everyone (cf. Decree of Approval of the Constitutions, 6 June 1985). Thus they will be able "to build the future together", to live courageously the unknown tomorrow, confident of the presence of Christ, who accompanies them at every moment of their lives in their meetings with individuals and with peoples.

I entrust the members of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Reconciliation, and cordially impart to everyone my affectionate Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all who benefit from their ministry and to everyone who shares the spirituality of La Salette.


Thursday, 4 May 2000

1. I am pleased to extend a special greeting to you, managers of the distribution outlets of AGIP petrol, who have gathered in Rome with your families for the Great Jubilee.

I thank Cardinal Virgilio Noè, who expressed your sentiments and opened our meeting. The ENI Group, of which AGIP forms a part, carried out the great restoration of the façade of St Peter's Basilica, and I am glad on this occasion to express my gratitude again to those responsible for this demanding work, whose results are unanimously admired by pilgrims and visitors.

2. You have come to make your Jubilee pilgrimage and to visit the Successor of Peter. As I welcome you with joy, I wish briefly to recall the meaning of the Jubilee pilgrimage. It expresses and fosters the way of conversion, the authentic aim of the Holy Year. To be converted means to strive for a change of mentality: from that "of the world" to that of God, which Christ revealed and communicated to us. To pass through the Holy Door expresses precisely our faith in Christ and our will to follow him, who by his Death and Resurrection enabled us to pass from sin to grace, from a way of living dominated by selfish interests to another based on the Gospel, inspired, that is, by our love of God and neighbour.

Your visit takes place, by a happy coincidence, right after the Jubilee of Workers. It is only natural, then, to offer you the wish I made on 1 May last to the entire world of work: that your professional activity, along with the toil that it inevitably involves, may be in harmony with your spiritual and family life, in order to fulfil the Creator's plan.

3. Every human activity, including work, must be carried out by the believer in thanksgiving to God. Through an ancient Greek word that became sacred to Christians, this thanksgiving is called "Eucharist". We also bring the joys and efforts of our daily work to the altar at Holy Mass, so that the priest may offer them together with the bread and wine. In this way the human person expresses his vocation as the image of God and fulfils it completely on the Lord's Day, when he participates in the Sunday celebration and devotes himself with more freedom to his family, to rest and to fraternal relationships. I hope that the legitimate demands of your profession do not hinder you from observing Sunday in this way as the Lord's Day.

To live the spirit of the Jubilee means to put these fundamental values in the right place: they detract nothing from working activity, but put it in its proper dimension, giving it more authentic meaning.
I ardently hope that this pilgrimage will strengthen your Christian commitment and, as I assure you of a constant remembrance to the Lord, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.



To Professor Sergio Zaninelli
Rector Magnificent of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart

1. Last 13 April I had the joy of meeting the great family of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which had gathered in St Peter's Basilica for their Jubilee celebration. It was a deeply spiritual moment, a vibrant witness of faith and communion. Now the annual observance of Catholic University Day gives me another opportunity to address you, the Rector, and the whole community you represent.

I do so gladly, also remembering the significant dates of the 40th anniversary of the death of your founder, Fr Agostino Gemelli, and the now imminent 80th anniversary of the university's foundation: these occasions give the members of this prestigious institution a reason for special reflection and invite them to an ever more generous commitment in harmony with the expectations of the Church and of society. Thus, in once again expressing my sentiments of esteem and affection to the teachers, students and those connected with the university in various ways, I continue my dialogue on the difficult but exalting task entrusted to them: to combine, in the context of academic activity, the boldness of reason and the parrhesia of faith.

2. "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth" (Fides et ratio ). Faced with the crisis of reason, which characterizes much of today's culture, faith must make an even greater effort to become, in a way, the "Good Samaritan of reason", so that the latter may fully recover its own native metaphysical and sapiential capacity.

Looking at it from this perspective, one immediately perceives how precious is the work of believers committed to research through the cultivation of the literary and scientific disciplines which express man's irrepressible longing for knowledge of the truth. Through this research, open to ever new horizons, man does not only seek things but himself, and ultimately opens himself to the mystery of God. Ever better knowledge of reality also benefits social life, as well as the practice of the faith, so that it will be more enlightened and mature. That is why in the Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae I recalled that part of university life is "the ardent search for truth and its unselfish transmisison to youth", teaching them "to think rigourously, so as to act rightly and to serve humanity better" (n. 2).

3. Those who had the great merit of preparing this institution and making it a reality were well aware of this. I am thinking first of all of Ven. Giuseppe Toniolo, after whom the founding institution of the Catholic University is named. Today, as the Italian Church is involved in her "cultural project", it is worth remembering his missionary zeal in working to instil a Christian soul in culture. I also recall with special admiration Fr Agostino Gemelli, the fervent Franciscan who gave life and sound direction to this institution which so honours Catholic Italy. The memory of Fr Gemelli, on the 40th anniversary of his death, can only prompt a reflection on the nature and mission of the Catholic University, which is preparing to celebrate its 80 years of life. And this is all the more urgent in a historical situation like Italy's, in which the current reform of the entire university system makes it necessary to revisit the functions and raison d'être of universities as such.

4. Actually, the project of an independent Catholic university in Italy remains very timely. Through this well-qualified institution, Italian Catholics can be integrally involved, with their specific contribution, in the various areas of research, thus showing that rational argument is not opposed to faith, but actually finds an ally in it for its authentic and fruitful exercise. Besides, faith itself benefits from reason that is both strong and humble in avoiding the ever latent risks of superstition and magic, to become a faith which fully responds to the demands of Revelation and the authentic requirements of the humanum. It is therefore an indispensable duty of the Catholic University to cultivate the deep solidarity that must join faith with reason, bearing witness to it not only with regard to the universal questions of human existence, but also in the face of the epochal challenges posed at the beginning of the millennium by a multiethnic, multireligious and multicontextual society, with its continual frenetic changes.

5. Against this background, the importance of the theme chosen for Catholic University Day, "A culture of solidarity for our country", is easy to understand.

This theme opens on a complex scene which the teachers and students of the Catholic University are called to "read" in depth, contending of course with concrete social phenomena, but at the same time trying to go to the root of problems. It is up to them first and foremost to remember that a culture of solidarity, if it is to be authentic and profound, needs what could be called a "solidarity of culture", that is, a vision of knowledge which, although aware of its limits, will not be satisfied with fragments but will try to organize them into a true and wise synthesis. Nothing is so devastating in contemporary culture as the widespread conviction that the possibility of attaining truth is an illusion of traditional metaphysics. Activity that benefits culture, one which could be called a "work of intellectual charity", according to Rosmini's pregnant expression, is thus more necessary than ever.

6. The Catholic University, precisely because of its Christian inspiration, has something significant to say in response to this appeal for solidarity made by the culture of our time. In particular, it is called to help overcome that stifling dichotomy between scientific progress and spiritual values which encourages materialistic habits, leading to an individualistic and competitive society that is often the source of injustice and violence, marginalization and discrimination, conflict and war.

The process of economic globalization, although not without positive aspects, is creating new gaps in the area of solidarity in Europe and in the world. The value of solidarity is in crisis, perhaps mainly because there is a crisis in the only experience which could guarantee its objective and universal value: that communion between persons and peoples which the believing conscience traces back to the fact that we are all children of the one Father, the God who "is love" (1Jn 4,8). In Christ, he brought us into the "fullness of time" (cf. Gal Ga 4,4), calling us to the genuine freedom of a life of love and solidarity.

7. The need for a cultural "refoundation" is therefore obvious, and it can only challenge the Catholic University in its research, which must be rationally rigorous, firmly rooted in faith and open to dialogue with all people of good will. It must aim at a culture which will assure the centrality of the person, his inalienable rights and the sacredness of life. It is necessary to foster a culture of acceptance, respect and sharing, while remembering that "man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself" (Gaudium et spes GS 24), by committing his own freedom to the common good, beyond individual or group interests and far from the search for profit at all costs.

This is solidarity, a particular expression of that "being neighbour" which in Gospel language we call love agape, and which must mark the lives of Christ's disciples.

Understood in this way, solidarity becomes the new name for peace, the criterion for any organization of civil society characterized by justice, the basis of every political democracy that does not want to be reduced to mere rhetoric. Like other countries, today Italy is fraught with the temptations of racism, introversion and selfish withdrawal: the most suitable historical-practical forms must be sought to ensure that solidarity does not remain at the level of principle but is carried out in real life.

8. For all this, the Catholic University can offer valuable theoretical-scientific support by making the most of that coordination of the branches of knowledge which characterizes it as a university. It must therefore feel obliged to bring the multiplicity of the sciences to a sapiential synthesis which can truly help man by guiding him to a just and peaceful civil society: a synthesis which remedies the radical fragmentation of knowledge, which is very different from the legitimate methodological autonomy of the individual disciplines. Indeed, such fragmentation expresses and aggravates that disorientation in the perception of the meaning of life which for so many of our contemporaries is often the prelude to nihilism.

Faced with these challenges, the scholarly output of the Catholic University, already rich in so many areas, will have to continue expanding its horizons in the future, dealing in an ever more systematic way with those serious contemporary problems indicated in Ex corde Ecclesiae: "The dignity of human life, the promotion of justice for all, the quality of personal and family life, the protection of nature, the search for peace and political stability, a more just sharing in the world's resources, and a new economic and political order that will better serve the human community at a national and international level" (n. 32).

In this range of topics much depends on the joint action of the men and women of our time. It is the task of Christians to bring the light of the Gospel to them, as the witnesses of the One who in the Incarnation "in a certain way united himself with each man" (Gaudium et spes GS 22) and showed by the gift of his life what solidarity with others means.

9. I therefore hope that the Catholic University, by remaining faithful to the Christian orientation of its well-established tradition, will increase its service of teaching solidarity to the younger generation, the hope of our country's future. It is an education to be offered through instruction, but also by creating an authentic climate of communion in the university's everyday life, since solidarity is learned through "contact" rather than through "concepts", and should permeate the sphere of being before that of acting.

May the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart persevere in its mission! May it be further renewed in its spirit and structures, rekindling the enthusiasm of its founder!

Trusting in the commitment that every member of the prestigious institution will make to these goals, I invoke the motherly protection of Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, on their projects and intentions, and I send a special Apostolic Blessing to you, the Rector, to the faculty, the students, staff and the whole great family of the university's supporters and friends. May the Lord give new vigour to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in this Jubilee Year, so that it will continue to be worthy of all the "witnesses", the teachers of knowledge and life who have honoured its history, and will thus be able to render ever more effective service to culture, to society and to the Church of God in Italy.

From the Vatican, 5 May 2000.


Friday, 5 May 2000

Dear Commandant,
Dear Guards,
Dear Relatives and Friends of the Swiss Guard!

1. Since the origins of the Swiss Guard, you have been linked with 6 May by an uninterrupted tradition that reminds you of your special commitment to the life and well-being of the Successor of St Peter. So this year it is again a joy for me to receive you and your parents, relatives and friends in the Apostolic Palace. I extend a special welcome to the new recruits who will be enrolled in your corps when they take their oath of loyalty. They thereby commit themselves to devoting several years of their life to a very honourable and responsible task in the heart of the universal Church.

2. In this connection, something Jesus said about his disciples comes to mind: "Every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life" (Mt 19,29).

Dear young recruits, this promise also applies in a certain way to you! You too have left father and mother, brothers and sisters, lands and homes for the sake of a spiritual and religious value. You have declared yourselves ready, for a certain time, to render an important service to the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter. You are determined to guarantee him the necessary security, so that he can devote himself to people freely and without hindrance and preach the Gospel to them.

3. Like the disciples in Jesus' time, you too, as young men at the start of a new millennium, are troubled by many anxious questions: will serving in the Pontifical Swiss Guard in distant Rome really be worthwhile? Will it not hold a young man back in his career? Will it not delay him for too long from starting a family?

I want to tell you the truth: I am deeply convinced that your service will be rewarded. Not in the sense of money, but of a compensation that cannot be paid in money. One condition is necessary: that you consider this new phase in your life as a call from God and devote all your energies to your job and to the fellowship of your comrades. I gladly offer you a motto for your service: whatever you do, do it completely! If your stay in the Eternal City is guided by this motto, you will then return home to Switzerland as men mature in soul and body, whose love for the Church and her Supreme Pastor will be deeper and wiser.

4. Right now during the year of the Great Jubilee, many people come up to you at the Vatican's gates. So you can understand the many reasons why someone visits St Peter's Square and the Museums, the Audience Hall and St Peter's Basilica: curiosity, interest in art or religious sentiment, but also true Catholic devotion, which leads through many doors to the Holy Door. This variety of motives also challenges you to take a position. You must show, less in words than by your living witness, what it personally means to you to serve at Peter's tomb. I am sure that your experience in the heart of the universal Church will leave a deep impression on your heart. Later you will be able to pass on to your families and friends in Switzerland the treasure of a faith which has matured in Rome. At the same time, you will help to reinforce the bonds between the Successor of Peter and your country.

5. I warmly congratulate you on joining the Swiss Guard. The Pope is counting on you! I also extend a grateful greeting to your parents, brothers, sisters and friends. They have willingly accepted the fact that their son, their brother, their friend will be away for some time to serve at the very centre of the universal Church. Our meeting today at this audience is a first-fruit of your decision. May your stay in Rome enable you to live in ever greater intimacy with Christ and to follow him! During this Great Jubilee the Holy Door is wide open, the door that represents Christ, who came to earth so that we might have life and have it in abundance (cf. Jn Jn 10,10). I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your relatives and friends.



Saturday, 6 May 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters from Uruguay!

1. I extend my cordial welcome to all of you who have come on pilgrimage to the Eternal City, the heart of Catholicism, thus experiencing a privileged moment of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. I affectionately greet all of you, Bishops, priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and faithful who this morning celebrated Holy Mass at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, after having passed through the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica. I thank Bishop Raúl Horacio Scarrone Carrero of Florida, President of the Uruguayan Episcopal Conference, for the cordial words he addressed to me.

My heart is still filled with memories of the Pastoral Visit I made to your country precisely 12 years ago. It was a great joy to be among you to enliven your faith, strengthen your hope and encourage your love. Your Jubilee pilgrimage also coincides with the anniversary of the death of Jacinto Vera, the first Bishop of Uruguay, who was able to bring, not without difficulty, the presence of the Church to every corner of the country.

I urge you, dear sons and daughters of Uruguay, to continue faithfully the mission that the Lord has entrusted to you and to give joyous witness to Christ in today's society. Your ecclesial journey will be strengthened by the celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress, scheduled for next October. I hope and wish that it will be a special moment of grace. In fact, the Saviour of the world, incarnated in the womb of the Virgin Mary 20 centuries ago, continues to be present in the sacrament of the Eucharist and to offer himself to all mankind as the source of divine life.

May God abundantly bless your efforts to be faithful to God and to the Church, and may you always be accompanied by the maternal intercession of the Virgin of the Thirty-Three.

Speeches 2000 - 1 May 2000