Mr Ambassador, I extend to you my best wishes for your tenure as your nation’s representative to the Holy See and assure you of all necessary assistance in fulfilling your high mission. May Almighty God abundantly bless you and your fellow citizens.
Thursday, 14 December 2000
I am happy to extend to you a cordial welcome and to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cyprus to the Holy See. With gratitude for the greetings which you have brought from your Government, I ask you kindly to convey to His Excellency President Glafcos Clerides the assurance of my prayers for the peace and well-being of the nation.
Despite recent attempts to pursue negotiations, Cyprus is still in search of a solution to the problem of division which has long troubled the Island. The roots of the problem are deep and complex, and it is clear that there is no quick and simple solution. But neither is there cause for despair. For the roots of a solution lie still deeper in the soil of Cypriot culture, which has been imbued with the richness of the Gospel from the very dawn of Christianity. In the light of the Gospel, dialogue is seen to be the way to move beyond confrontation and to achieve the "dignity, justice and security" of which Your Excellency has spoken. This is why the Holy See insists upon the need to build a culture of dialogue at the international level, and especially in Europe at this time of growing integration. European unity requires that differences be negotiated and settled in a way that serves the common good. And if this is to happen, the only path forward is that of open and sincere dialogue.
What is needed in the first place is a genuine desire for peace, and this is surely true of the vast majority of Cypriots, who are weary of division and long for a more tranquil life. The desire for peace is linked to a recognition that confrontation is futile. It can only create greater problems, when it does not degenerate into open hostility.
Dialogue also entails an awareness of what it is that separates, together with a willingness to trust in the good faith of the other party. Without this there can be no true meeting of minds and hearts but merely two ultimately pointless monologues. Dialogue involves a readiness to seek what is true, good and just in every person and group. It brings human beings into contact with one another as members of one human family, with all the wealth of their various cultures and histories. It rests upon recognition of the inalienable dignity of every human being and upon respect for the objective and inviolable demands of a universal moral law. Through dialogue, people discover not only one another but also the legitimate hopes and peaceful aspirations hidden in their hearts.
There are some who question whether the call for such dialogue is realistic or indeed whether the process itself is possible. The Holy See will not cease to support Cyprus in the attempt to pursue the slow and difficult path of negotiations, and the Catholic community in your land will not fail to commit itself ever more deeply to the task of building the bridges which make dialogue possible. Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is an important part of that dialogue of peace of which not only Cyprus but the whole of Europe and indeed the entire world has urgent need.
Mr Ambassador, I am confident that as you undertake your mission the bonds of friendship and cooperation which exist between the Republic of Cyprus and the Holy See will be further strengthened and enriched. I offer you my good wishes and assure you that the offices of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you. Upon Your Excellency and your fellow-citizens I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Thursday, 14 December 2000
I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to the Holy See. I thank you for the kind greetings you have expressed on behalf of President Kocheril Raman Narayanan and the Government and people of India, and I ask you kindly to convey my good wishes and the assurance of my prayers for the peace, well-being and harmony of the nation.
My thoughts often turn to your country, which I have had the joy of visiting on two occasions. During those visits, I had the opportunity of meeting a people shaped by ancient cultures and religions and time-honoured wisdom, which continue to play a vital role in the life of society. India has been greatly enriched by its variety of peoples, traditions and languages, and Indian society can take pride in its long-standing respect and esteem for this rich patrimony. In the midst of a great and fascinating diversity, a vision of a united nation has emerged over the centuries in the works of philosophers, mystics, writers and outstanding statesmen, who have made a significant contribution to your history and have enabled your country’s specific voice to be heard in the world community.
You have emphasized India’s commitment to peace and friendship with all nations. The promotion of peace is one of the major challenges facing the international community at the beginning of the new millennium. The world which until recently lay in the shadow of the threat of conflict between two opposing blocs continues to be threatened by old and new rivalries between peoples, and by the increasing gap between rich and poor sectors of society, a gap which risks becoming more and more radical as globalization of the economy and of technology increases. Solid and lasting foundations for peace demand that the defence and the promotion of the dignity of the human person become the guiding principle of all aspects of life. Likewise, the common good must become the overriding commitment of all those who bear responsibility for the life of nations (cf. Message for the World Day of Peace 1999, No. 1).
Human dignity is a transcendent value, independent of place or circumstance, and is an essential feature of the truth about man, which can be ignored only to the detriment of peoples and nations. Recognition of the innate dignity of all the members of the human family, and recognition of the equality and inalienability of their rights is a fundamental premise of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the foundation of liberty, justice and peace in the world. Failure to respect this dignity leads to the various and often tragic forms of discrimination, exploitation, social unrest and even national and international conflict with which we are unfortunately so familiar.
Indian society is permeated by a deep awareness of the importance of the spiritual and transcendent dimension of human life. Your country is renowned for its respect for the religious traditions followed by its peoples, a respect guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, which recognizes the right of all to practise their religion freely. Religious traditions play a vital part in the life of the nation, and are a source of joy, strength and meaning to its citizens. They make an essential contribution to the genuine progress of society by drawing attention to the most profound human questions and values. They likewise indicate the spiritual and moral standards of growth which should always accompany economic, scientific and technological advances.
It is to be hoped that the mutual respect and harmony which has traditionally prevailed among the followers of the various religions in India will continue and become even more stable. In recent times there have been moments of tension, and even tragic incidents where ethnic and religious groups have not respected the dignity and rights which are basic to peaceful co-existence. Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions. The good of society requires that the right to religious freedom enshrined in law be reaffirmed and given effective protection. In accordance with India’s best traditions, there is a need for dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation among the followers of the various religions, in order to enable all together to work for a civilization built upon the universal values of solidarity, justice and freedom. As I emphasized on the occasion of my meeting with religious leaders in Delhi: "Religious leaders in particular have the duty to do everything possible to ensure that religion is what God intends it to be – a source of goodness, respect, harmony and peace!" (Address to Religious Leaders, 7 November 1999, No. 3). While we hold firmly to what we believe and do not abandon our own convictions, it is essential that we all strive to listen respectfully to one another in order to discern all that is good and holy, all that makes for cooperation and peace.
I thank you for your kind remarks about the contribution of Christianity in the course of the last almost two thousand years to your country. The Catholic community which has been present in India for all that time is small in relation to the whole population, but its members are proud to place themselves at the service of their fellow-citizens in accordance with the example of Jesus Christ, who came not to be served but to serve (cf. Mt Mt 20,28). In her various activities, the Church seeks no special privileges, but merely wishes to exercise her rights freely and to have these rights respected. In this way she will continue to be able to pursue her spiritual and humanitarian mission, and make her particular contribution to building a society that is a true home to all its members.
Mr Ambassador, it is my hope that as you undertake your responsibilities the bonds of friendship between the Holy See and India will be increasingly strengthened. You can rest assured that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in fulfilling this mission. Upon yourself and all the beloved people of your Nation I invoke abundant divine blessings.
Thursday, 14 December 2000
I extend a warm welcome to you as I accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Eritrea to the Holy See. Reaffirming my affection and esteem for the people of your country, I wish to lend my whole-hearted support to the peace accord which in these days has been signed by your Government and that of Ethiopia: by means of this treaty a formal agreement now puts an end to almost three years of a confrontation which has left untold suffering, death and destruction in its wake. I take this opportunity to renew my appeal to all parties to work with courage and vision to overcome the continuing difficulties so that a just and lasting peace based on mutual understanding, reconciliation and cooperation may reign once more in the area.
In this regard, I commend those world leaders and statesmen whose efforts and personal intervention helped to bring about the cease-fire; in particular I acknowledge the effective assistance of the Organization of African Unity in brokering the accord which has silenced arms and brought an end to open hostilities. This Pan-African organization is in a uniquely privileged position to foster political, economic, social and cultural cooperation on the continent, and can be effective in promoting peaceful solutions to disputes between African nations. We must hope that the various member States, as well as the worldwide family of nations, will support the OAU in these tasks, and make it possible for this international body to play an increasingly positive role in the development of Africa and her peoples in the new millennium.
The recourse to conflict, even when seeming to resolve the problems at hand, succeeds only in exacerbating the difficulties and disseminating further tragedy and destruction. It is for this reason that in every part of the world the Holy See encourages peoples and their governments to rise above the "culture of force" and to reject the temptation to violence and armed aggression. Peace, if it is to be genuine and lasting, needs more than external structures and mechanisms; it requires a style of human coexistence marked by mutual respect and by justice. There is no contradiction between reconciliation and justice; reconciliation does not lessen the requirements of justice but seeks to reintegrate individuals and groups into society, and States into the community of Nations, through a renewed and shared sense of responsibility for the common good and, wherever possible, through solidarity with the victims of past injustices.
For all Eritreans, the task ahead is to work together to build a society in which the dignity of the human person and respect for human rights is the norm of conduct for everyone. Drawing on its noblest values and traditions, Eritrea — indeed all of Africa — will find the strength and inspiration to grow in solidarity, justice and well-being.
Mr Ambassador, you have mentioned the new challenges which Eritrea faces as it seeks to ensure a democratic and constitutional form of government for its people. Perhaps the greatest challenge is to be found at the level of education. Indeed, there is no greater investment that a nation can make for itself and its citizens. A society which seeks true development and progress, and which desires to contribute to the true advancement of its members, must give them the means to cultivate an objective understanding of themselves and of the world in which they live, as well as of social, cultural and religious traditions which are different from their own. Likewise, education is the key which makes it possible for citizens to participate in making political choices by electing and holding accountable those who govern them (cf. Centesimus Annus, No. 46).
Deeply concerned about the social dimension of human life, the Church contributes to the political order by teaching the inalienable dignity of the human person. She urges her members to take a responsible part in the political, economic and social life of their respective communities, and to imbue all areas of life with the Gospel message of brotherhood, reconciliation and peace. It is for this reason that the Church is deeply committed to education, health care, social services and humanitarian aid, both in your own country, on all the continent of Africa and throughout the world. I thank Your Excellency for your recognition of the contribution made by the Church in this regard in Eritrea.
Mr Ambassador, I ask you kindly to convey to President Issaias Afwerki and your Government my personal greetings and prayerful best wishes for the peace and progress of Eritrea. I assure you of the full cooperation of the Holy See as you take up your high responsibilities, and I wish you every success in your mission. Upon yourself and the beloved people of the State of Eritrea I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Thursday, 14 December 2000
1. I am pleased to welcome you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Chad to the Holy See.
I thank you for your kind words, as well as for the good wishes you have expressed to me on behalf of the president, H.E. Mr Idriss Deby. I would be grateful if you could convey my best wishes to him, for himself and for the accomplishment of his office at the service of the people of Chad. I also pray the Almighty to support the commitment of all your compatriots to live in peace and mutual understanding, so that all can benefit from a dignified and peaceful existence.
2. In your address, Mr Ambassador, you told me of the efforts your country is making to enable the whole of society to progress towards a pluralist democracy that respects the fundamental human rights and to build a State of rights with solid foundations. By effectively guaranteeing to individual human beings and groups living conditions based on justice and mutual respect, the necessary ways will be found to preserve social interaction and harmony permanently.
To guarantee stability and security, the new economic horizons which are unfolding for your country must first of all help to satisfy the people's basic needs and eliminate inequalities between individuals and between regions. It is right, however, that the benefits of development, desired by all the people of Chad, be not limited to the legitimate increase in material well-being but enable people, families and society to be truly fulfilled in all their human and spiritual dimensions. If all, especially the most underprivileged, are permitted to lead a decent life in conformity with their human vocation, threats to peace will recede and it will be possible to establish supportive and enduring social relations among all the nation's members.
3. I am glad to know that your country wishes to make a renewed contribution to the service of peace in the region. At the time when we are entering a new millennium, it is more and more urgent that the whole of Africa engage with determination on the paths of peace and reconciliation, so that violence, to which so many innocent peoples fall prey, will cease at last. The many conflicts that tragically continue to wound the continent must make everyone understand, as I have already had the opportunity to stress, "that the moment has come to change direction, decisively and with a great sense of responsibility" (Message for World Day of Peace 2000, n. 8).
Moreover, fraternal meetings and sincere dialogue between believers and particularly between Christians and Muslims, are urgently necessary "for nurturing that hope of justice and peace without which there will be no future worthy of humanity" (Address to the Interreligious Assembly, 28 October 1999). Thus to maintain and develop a spirit of trust and collaboration among all citizens, it is essential that civil and religious leaders contribute to reinforcing the conditions in which true religious freedom can be exercised.
4. I know that, in your country, the Catholic community which participates in many ways in the development of the nation and in its coherence, is respected and appreciated by those responsible for civil life and by the entire people. Through its commitment to serving all the people of Chad without distinction it means to witness effectively to the message of peace and reconciliation it has received from Christ. It also hopes to collaborate with all people of good will, so that the sacred value of the life of every human being can be recognized and respected and that everything opposed to life or offensive to human dignity will disappear. In working to increase justice and solidarity, the Church desires to give the men and women of today signs of hope for their future and for that of their children.
May I be permitted, Mr Ambassador, to extend a cordial greeting through you to the Bishops of Chad, as well as to all the members of the Catholic community. I hope that the Jubilee year, now drawing to a close, will bear abundant spiritual fruits so that the faithful may be increasingly fervent disciples of Christ and generous witnesses of God's love for humanity. Together with all their fellow countrymen may they contribute to building a united and fraternal nation in which each one feels fully accepted and respected!
5. At the time when your mission is beginning, I offer you my best wishes for the noble task that awaits you. I assure you that you will always find here an attentive welcome and cordial understanding among those who work with me.
I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon Your Excellency, upon the people of Chad and upon their leaders.
1. In extending my cordial welcome to each of you, I am pleased to express my sincere gratitude for this visit, which seals in a way the long and complicated restoration work and the new lighting system for the Vatican Necropolis, which has taken almost two years.
I especially thank ENEL for having wished to include this outstanding complex in the project "Light for Art", which planned over 100 projects for some of the most important Italian monuments, including the 14 cathedrals of the best known cities of Tuscany.
I am likewise grateful to the Fabric of St Peter for the expertise of its administrators, its specialized technicians and skilled workers. The Vatican Necropolis, which the presence of the Apostle Peter's tomb makes in a sense the religious heart of Rome, shines now with new beauty. The results achieved have been stabilized thanks to a climate-control system and a modern lighting system to illuminate the tomb of Peter and the burial chambers located under the Vatican Basilica. In this way pilgrims and visitors are offered an almost tangible view of the Gospel's early presence in the capital of the Roman Empire and the fruits of holiness it produced.
I would also like to thank you for giving me a precious book in which, beginning with his tomb, you recount the earthly life of the Prince of the Apostles, illustrating his image and memory on the basis of New Testament writings and the rich iconography of the various historical periods.
The closeness of Christmas gives me the opportunity to extend to you and your loved ones my fervent best wishes, which include a special Blessing as a pledge of divine assistance and of everything good you desire.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to meet you today for the presentation of the first copy of the Latin edition of the Evangeliarium prepared by this dicastery. I cordially greet Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the members of his staff and all who in various ways helped to produce this interesting edition.
Today's happy occasion gives us a chance to pause and reflect on the value of the word of God in salvation history and its efficacy when proclaimed liturgically. From all eternity in his inscrutable loving plan, God chose the word as the way to reveal himself, and in the fullness of time he wanted to present himself in the person of the Son Jesus Christ, so that the force and the very power of the word could become an event of saving history for all. The eternal mystery of love for man, hidden in the very heart of God, was thus revealed in a tangible and sublime way in the beloved Son, in whom the Father has established his covenant forever.
2. The testimony of this revelation, contained in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, was entrusted by the Apostles to the whole Church, which has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she has the very Body of Christ (cf. Dei Verbum DV 8,21). The centrality of Christ in the economy of salvation grounds and determines the very pre-eminence that the Church reserves for the Gospel during the Eucharistic celebration, making it the high point of the Liturgy of the Word.
This awareness leads each and every one to respect the Sacred Scriptures and encourages a special care and decorum in preparing the respective editions. Therefore, I express to you my great pleasure for having prepared such a handsomely presented text for the proclamation of the Lord's Gospel on especially important occasions during the liturgical year. Following the ancient practice of the Eastern and Western liturgical tradition, and according to what is stated in the Ordo lectionum Missae, you have gathered into a single volume the Gospel readings for the various celebrations and feasts, arranged according to their liturgical order.
3. I hope that this new initiative will give renewed impetus to pastoral activity concerned with hearing and receiving the Gospel message, by encouraging an authentic renewal which, as I said on another occasion, "sets further and ever new requirements: fidelity to the authentic meaning of the Scriptures which must never be lost from view, especially when the Scriptures are translated into different languages; the manner of proclaiming the word of God so that it may be perceived for what it is; the use of appropriate technical means, the interior disposition of the ministers of the word so that they carry out properly their function in the liturgical assembly; careful preparation of the homily through study and meditation; effort on the part of the faithful to participate at the table of the word; a taste for prayer with the Psalms; a desire to discover Christ - like the disciples at Emmaus - at the table of the word and the bread" (Vicesimus quintus annus, n. 8).
With these sentiments, as I invoke Mary's maternal protection on your daily service to the Church, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. Welcome and thank you for your visit. I cordially greet each of you, promoters, organizers, performers and all who in various ways have helped to produce this concert, now being held for the eighth time, with the evocative title "Christmas in the Vatican".
I am particularly pleased to welcome you and to express my appreciation of your contribution to the success of this noble and praiseworthy programme, which this year too includes many professional expressions of art and music from various countries.
2. An additional reason to thank you is that your contribution is meant to help the Vicariate of Rome to complete the project "50 Churches for Rome 2000". It is a significant effort to provide the parish communities that still lack them with facilities for worship and catechesis, as well as for the various social, charitable and athletic activities which are so necessary.
Here I would like to recall that in the past 20 years, with the assistance of many citizens and of private and public bodies, our Diocese has been able to build 39 parish complexes, while 10 are currently being built and 12 are in the planning phase. I express my deep satisfaction with these significant pastoral and financial efforts. These new parish complexes, spiritual meeting points in a growing and rapidly expanding city, will be a lasting sign of the Church's concern for the new evangelization. All this acquires even greater value in the context of the Great Jubilee, now drawing to a close.
3. I would like to take this occasion to express to each of you my fervent good wishes for the Christmas holidays now at hand. My affectionate greetings also go to all who will be enjoying your performance on television. May the Child Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary, whom in the mystery of Christmas we contemplate in the poverty of Bethlehem, bring joy, serenity and peace to every home, to every family, to every city and to all the world. I confirm this wish with a special Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to your loved ones and to all who are taking part in this great musical event through television.
Friday, 15 December 2000
1. As I cordially welcome you, I receive with pleasure the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Croatia to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words to me, recalling the commitments and hopes of the country you represent.
First of all, I would like to convey through you my respectful and cordial greeting to President Stjepan Mesic and to all the inhabitants of the beautiful, hospitable land of Croatia, which I have been able to visit twice: in September 1994 and in October 1998. These visits were special opportunities which permitted me to perceive at close hand the Croatian people's spiritual strength and their rich religious and cultural inheritance. This enables them, as a sovereign nation, to help in building an international community oriented to a stable peace on the basis of effective equality, reciprocal respect and active solidarity in the various social contexts, from the economic and technological to the cultural and political.
2. Ten years ago Croatia, an ancient and noble nation, joined the great family of European nations that enjoy freedom and democracy, and with them it looks to the future with optimism and hope.
The dictatorships to which it was subjected in the last century remain as a severe warning not to be forgotten. The disastrous consequences produced by these negative ideologies are a pressing invitation not to let tragic experiences of this kind be repeated in any part of the world in the future.
May these pages of history, scarred by unforgettable human and social tragedies, help European countries to be ever more aware of the need to overcome together the tragic inheritance of the various totalitarian regimes, thereby making Europe a common home, an area of effective solidarity, steeped in the Gospel values that have shaped its history. Today, more than ever, the European nations are called to an ever greater collaboration, characterized by reciprocal esteem, constructive understanding and an ennobling interdependence.
3. Croatia is walking on the path of democracy. But this is not always an easy route because of the experiences that marked the past and the recent war which has impeded the orderly progress of the country and the region. It must continue on the path it has taken, giving proof of great patience, wisdom, willingness to make sacrifices, generous solidarity and a spirit of reconciliation. This commitment challenges individual citizens, but even more their leaders. Understanding, constancy, careful consideration are demanded of all, so that Croatia may overcome its problems and attain the noble goals to which it aspires.
The progress of the last 10 years is an encouragement to work for an ever better future for the country. I hope that this process will continue, thanks to the concrete and generous solidarity of the more developed countries. Only in this way can the prospects of an improvement in living conditions become reality, in a context of lasting peace and national reconciliation, without which a nation can make no progress.
4. Freedom and democracy with equal rights and duties should be guaranteed to all the European nations, whether large or small. This is the way towards a future of stable peace and authentic development, for the benefit not only of Europe. Democracy, in fact, is not imposed nor improvised, but on the contrary demands education and support. This requires a constant growth in the civil and social conscience and uninterrupted participation by all the country's members in building the common good, never losing sight of the truth about man and woman created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Gn Gn 1,26-27).
Democracy demands of State structures that they serve all citizens, not only individual groups, and that a stable dialogue be developed among all the political and social components, sharing in the search for the common good and with respect for each and every one. Those who are called to serve the community are bound to refer in all circumstances to the ethical principles and moral norms on which any society must be based. Those who have the honour to be political representatives cannot but refer to this patrimony of values: they must be constructively committed to the effective advancement of the person, the family and all society. This implies the constant awareness that they must act as wise and prudent defenders and stewards of the common good.
5. In facing the difficult challenges of the current time it is particularly important that all who have leadership positions in the context of State administration know how to imbue in the people hope and trust, with special attention to the weaker and needier persons and classes. It is indispensable to take into account the legitimate and just demands of families and young people, in the economic and social as well as juridical and political contexts; the individual person and human life in all its phases must be protected, from the moment of conception to its natural end.
Families and youth rightly expect to be able to live by honest work in order to build a serene future confidently. The dignity of human work requires legislation that prevents abuse and, by encouraging an equitable sharing of wealth, creates a favourable general atmosphere for promoting employment, social peace and the achievement of true progress.
6. The Church, for her part and keeping within her own sphere, will not fail to make her contribution, primarily by witnessing to those values which by their nature are not subject to the changes of social or historical circumstances, since they are rooted in human reality itself. This service is wholly for the benefit of people, families and all of civil society.
In her commitment to advancing the human cause, the Church recognizes vast areas of collaboration with the State. Within this framework, how can the Agreements stipulated between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia be forgotten? They are very important instruments of collaboration which, with respect for the reciprocal autonomy and competence of each, encourage a harmonious relationship between the Church and the State entirely for the benefit of Croatian citizens.
7. Mr Ambassador, I express the wish that the fulfilment of the lofty task entrusted to you will further intensify the already good and cordial relations that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Croatia. I wish you a pleasant stay in this city of Rome, rich in history, culture and Christian faith. I am certain that those who work with me will not fail in their contact with you, to have an attitude of open availability, in order to deal with the problems and difficulties as they arise.
As I implore the intercession of the most holy Mother of God, venerated as Advocata Croatiae fidelissima, and of St Joseph, Patron of Croatia, for you, for your distinguished family, for the leaders of your noble country and for all the sons and daughters of this beloved nation, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to your loved ones and to all those whom you represent as ambassador.