Speeches 2000


Saturday, 16 December 2000

1. With the Christmas tree that you have brought to Rome from your homeland, you are making us a precious gift. Three years ago you decided to donate the Christmas tree for St Peter's Square in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Already at that time the Holy See accepted the offering you have made today. The Christmas tree is an eloquent greeting from the Federal Region of Carinthia and from the Church of Gurk-Klagenfurt to everyone, in the city of Rome and all over the world, who is united with the centre of Christianity on the occasion of holy Christmas.

I would like to thank all those who have offered this gift. I extend a special greeting to venerable Bishop Egon Kapellari and to all the pilgrims, including the regional governor of Carinthia with an official delegation, and the Mayor of Gurk with a group from the municipality.

2. In the past few days, every time I have looked out of my study window at St Peter's Square the tree has uplifted my spirit. I always loved trees in my homeland. When one looks at them, in a certain way they begin to speak. One poet considers trees as preachers with a profound message: "They do not preach doctrines or precepts, but announce the fundamental law of life".

In the flowering of spring, in the ripeness of summer, in the autumn fruits and in the death of winter, a tree tells of the mystery of life. This is why, since ancient times, people have used the image of the tree to reflect on life's most important questions.

3. Like trees, human beings also need deeply anchored roots. Only those who are rooted in fertile soil have stability. They can reach up high to receive the sunlight and at the same time can resist the winds around them. But those who think they can live without foundations, live an uncertain existence, like roots without soil.

The Holy Scriptures show us the foundations in which we can root our lives for a solid existence. The Apostle Paul gives us good advice: like trees rooted in him [Christ], be established in the faith, just as you were taught (cf. Col Col 2,7).

4. The tree prompts me to think of something else. In our houses and homes there is the good custom of putting the Christmas tree beside the crib. How can we fail, in this context, to think of paradise, of the tree of life, but also of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? The new creation began with the birth of the Son of God. The first Adam, wanting to be like God, ate of the tree of knowledge. Jesus Christ, the new Adam, although he possessed the divine nature, did not consider taking advantage of his equality with God but preferred to empty himself, taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men (cf. Phil Ph 2,6-7): from his birth to his death, from the crib to the Cross. Death came from the tree of paradise, from the tree of the Cross life was restored. Thus the tree belongs to the crib, alluding to the Cross, the tree of life.

5. Dear Bishop, dear brothers and sisters! Once again I express my deep gratitude for your Christmas present. Also accept as a gift the message of the tree which the Psalmist put into words: "Blessed is the man [... ] whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers" (Ps 1,2-3).

With these sentiments I wish all of you and your families and friends at home a Happy Christmas in the Holy Year 2000. With God's help, may all your good intentions be successful in the New Year. May your country's saints be powerful intercessors for you. I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you.



Saturday, 16 December 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Today too, you have come in large numbers to this Jubilee event. Thank you for this pleasant visit which is part of your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. In the Year of the Great Jubilee, you intend to renew your profession of faith in Christ, our Saviour. I greet you with affection and very gladly welcome you to this large square, the daily destination of so many pilgrims from every part of the world.

2. I welcome you with great joy, Jubilee pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Toledo and from other Spanish Dioceses, who have come to Rome to take part in the solemn Eucharistic celebration in the Hispanic-Mozarabic rite in St Peter's Basilica. I affectionately greet Archbishop Francisco Alvarez Martínez of Toledo, Superior responsible for the Mozarabic rite, and thank him for his cordial words expressing your sentiments.

The celebration according to your ancient and venerable Hispanic-Mozarabic rite, which you have just concluded, is one in the series of Jubilee celebrations which have been celebrated in Rome during this Holy Year, in the various liturgical rites and traditions of the Church of both East and West. They have emphasized the unity of the Catholic faith in the legitimate diversity of its many historical and geographical expressions.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is not the first time that we have heard ringing out here the beautiful Mozarabic melodies and poetic liturgical texts of the ancient Hispanic Rite, jealously preserved by the Mozarabic commmunity of Toledo. After a first celebration during the sessions of the Second Vatican Council, I myself had the great joy of presiding at the celebration of the Eucharist in the Hispanic-Mozarabic Rite on the day of Our Lord's Ascension in 1992. On that occasion, I said that the Hispanic-Mozarabic liturgy is an ecclesial and also cultural reality which cannot be consigned to oblivion if one wants to acquire a deep understanding of the roots of Christian spirituality in the Spanish people. Today I would like to add that as we face the great challenges of the present time it is necessary to draw from its abundant spiritual and cultural treasures effective help in order to strengthen your people's Christian faith and, at the same time, a reliable orientation to direct the work of evangelization in the third millennium, in harmony with your ancestors' spirituality and the characteristics of the Spanish people.

Dear children of Toledo and of Spain, do not be afraid of today's great challenges! Advance confidently on the road of the new evangelization, charitable service to the poor and Christian witness in every social situation. Walk joyfully and take with you your rich and noble Christian tradition. Many saints have made your towns and cities a land of holiness. Follow their example, walk the path of holiness. Be apostles of our time, ever trusting in God's help.

May the Virgin Mary, Star of Advent, guide and support you. How fervently your Hispanic-Mozarabic liturgy praises her perpetual virginity!: "From her modest virginal womb came forth Jesus like a ray of the purest light.... O ineffable act of God! The Only-begotten Son of God emerges from his mother's depths without opening the natural way of birth. In being conceived and born, he seals the Virgin's womb and leaves it intact". To her I commend your families, your children and young people, and your sick and elderly, and, as I invoke upon you the protection of the holy Archbishop Ildefonsus of Toledo, I cordially bless you.

3. I now turn to you, dear brothers and sisters, involved in your various capacities in the fashion sector, who have gathered here to celebrate your Jubilee. In your work which demands of you imagination and taste, try to transmit the love of beauty to others. To do this fully, always be motivated by those sound moral principles that form the heritage of any authentically human culture.

May your work, also inspired by the beauty and newness of the Christian message, raise the spirit towards the One who transforms life's efforts into jubilation. I hope that each of you, a pilgrim to the tomb of the Apostle Peter, can make this experience of faith and conversion your own, to celebrate joyfully the 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth.

4. I then greet all those who are members of the National Federation of Fisheries and who have come here with the General Director. In his parables Jesus compared the kingdom of heaven to "a net which was thrown into the sea" (Mt 13,47) and the Apostles to "fishers of men" (Mc 1,17).

The sea is a lovely image of this world in which our lives are lived. Humanity rides the billows of time to the shores of eternity. It is waiting to be saved by Christ. During the crossing, each human being seeks comfort and safety in Christ, whom "even wind and sea obey" (Mc 4,41).

I hope that all of you will live this relationship with natural resources fully respecting the marine environment, so that work and a living will also be safeguarded for future generations in peaceful coexistence, on the sea as on land, in nature and among human beings.

5. A special thought goes to you, dear sponsors, organizers and artists who are taking part in the sympathetic and characteristic "Derby of the Heart" at the Olympic Stadium. This year, as always in collaboration with Caritas, its special goal is to meet the needs of children in difficulty, suffering or in danger. With Christmas now close, may your praiseworthy initiative which is so popular bring serenity to all who are taking part in it, actively or by television. May it be a simple but effective contribution to destroying every barrier of social discrimination and nurturing the culture of acceptance and solidarity.

6. I now extend a warm greeting to the faithful from the Parishes of St Mary of Grace in Marcellina di Roma; St Rocco in Montorio al Vomano; St Marcellinus in Caserta; St Gavinus Martyr, in Camposanto; as well as to the faithful who have come from Arce, Oppido Lucano, Balze de Verghereto, and the representatives of the Archconfraternity of Mercy of Florence.

Dear friends, may today's Jubilee experience be for you an opportunity for renewed obedience to Christ, and encourage you to live Christmas, now at hand, with more intense prayer and generosity.

My welcome is also extended to the members of the Acrobatic Patrol of the "Frecce Tricolori", accompanied by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Prelate of Loreto, and by General Andrea Fornasiero, Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force. In extending a cordial greeting to them and their relatives, I hope that the activity of flying and their well-known air shows will be a forceful appeal to everyone to raise their eyes from earthly things to the luminous realities of heaven.

7. Dear young scouts "unitaires de France", I greet you cordially, with all the French-speaking people. May your pilgrimage help you turn to Christ, to receive his grace and a new impetus for your mission in ever greater communion with the whole Church. With my Apostolic Blessing.

8. Lastly, I extend my affectionate greeting to the other groups of pilgrims and faithful who have gathered at our meeting, which is taking place at the very beginning of the Christmas Novena.

May Mary most holy, who 2,000 years ago accepted the Word of God made man in her virginal womb, help us prepare our hearts for the Lord who also comes in our time bringing peace and salvation. This is my wish for each of you present here, which I gladly accompany with a special Apostolic Blessing.





To my Venerable Brother
Bishop Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas

I was delighted to learn that on 16 December next you will preside at an academic celebration of the 1,200th anniversary of the imperial coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III on Christmas in the year 800. Desiring to take part in the celebration of this historical event at least in spirit, I send you this Message, extending my best wishes and greetings to you and to the distinguished assembly.

The commemoration of this historic event invites us to turn our gaze not only to the past but also to the future. For it coincides with the decisive phase in the drafting of the European Union's "Charter of Fundamental Rights". This happy coincidence prompts us to reflect on the value which Charlemagne's cultural and religious reform still represents today: its importance, in fact, is far greater than that of his work for the external unification of the various European political realities of his era.

It is the grand synthesis of the culture of classical antiquity, mainly Roman, and that of the Germanic and Celtic peoples, which characterizes Charlemagne's great contribution to the continent's formation. This synthesis is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for Europe was not a geographically defined unit. Only by accepting the Christian faith did it became a continent. Down the ages this continent succeeded in spreading its values to almost every other part of the world for the good of humanity. At the same time, we must not forget that the ideologies which unleashed rivers of blood and tears during the 20th century came from a Europe that had wanted to forget its Christian roots.

The European Union's effort to formulate a "Charter of Fundamental Rights" is an attempt at a new synthesis, at the beginning of the new millennium, of the basic values that must guide the coexistence of European peoples. The Church has followed the drafting of this document with keen attention. In this regard, I cannot conceal my disappointment that in the Charter's text there is not a single reference to God. Yet in God lies the supreme source of the human person's dignity and his fundamental rights.

It cannot be forgotten that it was the denial of God and his commandments which led in the last century to the tyranny of idols. A race, a class, the state, the nation and the party were glorified instead of the true and living God. In the light of the misfortunes that overtook the 20th century we can understand: the rights of God and man stand or fall together.

Despite many noble efforts, the text worked out for the "European Charter" does not satisfy the just expectations of many. In particular, the defence of the rights of the individual and the family could have been more courageous. That is why the concern to safeguard these rights, which are not always properly understood and respected, is more than justified. In many European States they are threatened, for example, by policies supporting abortion, which is legalized almost everywhere.

A further threat lies in an attitude that increasingly views euthanasia as a possibility, as well as in certain bills dealing with genetic technology that do not sufficiently respect the embryo as a human being. It is not enough to emphasize the dignity of the person in grand words, if it is then seriously violated in norms of the juridical order.

The great historical figure of the Emperor Charlemagne calls to mind the Christian roots of Europe. Whoever studies him is taken back to an era - despite ever present human limitations - which was marked by an impressive cultural flourishing in almost all fields of experience. In search of its identity, Europe cannot fail to consider making an energetic effort to recover the cultural heritage left by Charlemagne and preserved for over a millennium. Education in the spirit of Christian humanism guarantees the intellectual and moral training that forms young people and helps them to face the serious problems raised by scientific-technological development. The study of classical languages in schools can also be an effective help in introducing the younger generation to the knowledge of a cultural heritage of inestimable value.

I therefore express my appreciation to everyone who has had a part in preparing this academic celebration. I am thinking in particular of Mons. Walter Brandmüller, President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. Scholarly initiative makes a valuable contribution to the rediscovery of those values in which Europe's deepest "soul" can be recognized. On this occasion, I would also like to greet the members of the Augsburg Cathedral Choir Boys, whose singing has richly added to the convention.

With these sentiments, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to Your Eminence, to the speakers, to the participants and to the pueri cantores.

From the Vatican, 14 December 2000.



Monday, 18 December 2000

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The exchange of the instruments of ratification for the Basic Agreement between the Holy See and the Slovak Republic has just taken place. I cordially welcome you, Mr President, with the distinguished members of the official Delegation and the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See. I also greet you, Cardinal Ján Chryzostom Korec, the Apostolic Nuncio, the President and the members of the Episcopal Conference who spoke at the formal ceremony.

With the exchange of the instruments of ratification of the Basic Agreement, signed on 24 November 2000, a new stage has begun in the mutual relations between the Holy See and the Slovak Republic. It is now the task of the Church and the State to apply what they have agreed. It is to be hoped that a deep spirit of constructive cooperation will continue to inspire all those who will be entrusted with accomplishing this important task.

The basic reason for collaboration between Church and State is the good of the human person. This cooperation must safeguard and guarantee human rights. A Church which fully enjoys the freedom to which she is entitled is in the best possible condition for cooperating with all the other living forces of society "for the spiritual and material good of the human person as well as for the common good", as the Preamble of the Agreement says.

I hope that everything done today will help consolidate the social coherence and the spiritual and material development of Slovak society. I accompany my wishes with a prayer for God's blessing upon those taking part in this meeting and upon the whole of Slovakia, which has always had a special place in my heart.

I cordially wish everyone happy Christmas holidays



Thursday, 21 December 2000

1. Thank you, dear young people of Catholic Action Youth, for your traditional Christmas visit. When the ACR arrives, it means that Christmas is not far off!

You have come in pairs, like Jesus' disciples, from the different regions of Italy, accompanied by a teacher for each Diocese. I greet you with deep affection and extend a special greeting to the most senior leaders who have accompanied you.

Perhaps some of you were present at the Children's Jubilee last 2 January. That was the first important meeting of the Jubilee and I remember that Catholic Action worked very hard for the event. Now, dear young people, we are almost at the end of the Holy Year. So I ask you: how have you lived these months? Of course, in comparison with a year ago, you have grown noticeably. At your age one more year is a lot and the changes are more obvious. But can you say that you have also grown as Christians? Has your friendship with Jesus become stronger and deeper?

2. The ACR has certainly helped you to grow as disciples of Christ. With your groups you have made an even lovelier, richer and more joyful journey during this Year of the Great Jubilee which will certainly be fruitful. Together with your teachers and assistants, you have decided to become even more missionary, more capable of bringing to others the joy of having met Jesus. I am pleased with this missionary effort, and I tell you once again that I set great store by your collaboration in spreading the Gospel in families, at school, in sports activities and everywhere.

For my part, I accompany you with prayer so that, like Jesus, you may grow in wisdom and grace, before God and men. This will happen if you always love Our Lady and let her guide you. May the example of the shepherd children of Fátima, Francesco and Giacinta, whom this very year I had the joy of beatifying, show once again that children have a special bond with the Virgin Mary. With her help, they can reach the peaks of holiness.

I would like to give you a piece of advice: go to Bethlehem and bring the newborn Jesus this membership card, the "number one". He must not be left out by the ACR and the ACR must not let him down. These are my wishes for all of you gathered here.

Happy Christmas!

Thank you again, dear friends, for your visit and for your gifts. I bless you with great affection, as well as all your friends in Catholic Action, your relatives and your teachers.


Thursday, 21 December 2000

1. Pater misit Filium suum Salvatorem mundi: gaudeamus!

This Christmas of the Great Jubilee, in which we contemplate with greater emotion the face of Christ 2,000 years after his birth, our joy is particularly vibrant. Gaudeamus! It is on the wave of this deep, heartfelt joy that I offer you my cordial greetings, dear Cardinals and staff of the Roman Curia, who have gathered for this traditional family appointment.

I am grateful to you, Cardinal Dean, for having expressed the Roman Curia's sentiments of affection and devotion, together with your good wishes which I cordially reciprocate. They spring not only from the finesse of the human heart but from the faith we share with one another, which assures us of the special presence of Christ wherever "two or three are gathered in his name" (cf. Mt Mt 18,20).

Pater misit Filium suum Salvatorem mundi! This central truth of the Christian faith also offers us as it were, the criterion of a "spiritual" assessment of this year of hard work and, in particular, indicates the way that is opening before us. The Holy Door is about to be closed, but Christ whom it represents is "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). He is the "Door"! (cf. Jn Jn 10,9). He is the "Way"! (cf. Jn Jn 14,6). If you are here, as a special community gathered round the Successor of Peter, you are here because you have been called by Christ to serve the Church which he obtained with his Blood (cf. Acts Ac 20,28).

2. It is in his name that we have lived this year of grace, during which so many energies have been mobilized within the Christian people, both at a universal level and in the particular Churches. We have seen an enormous number of pilgrims flock here, to the centre of Christianity, to the various basilicas and, especially, to the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. Day after day, in the wonderful setting of St Peter's Square, they have offered ever new witnesses of faith and devotion, either participating in solemn public celebrations or moving in orderly recollection to the Holy Door. This year St Peter's Square has been more than ever a "micro-cosmos" in which there has been an alternation of the most varied human situations.

Through the pilgrims from the different continents the world, in some way, has come to Rome. From children to the elderly, from artists to sportspeople, from the disabled to families, from politicians to journalists, from Bishops to priests and consecrated people, so many people have met here, not only desiring to bring themselves to Christ, but also their work, their professional and cultural milieus, their daily life.

Once again, I was able to proclaim Christ, Saviour of the world and Redeemer of man, to each of these generally very large groups. The Jubilee of young people has remained particularly vivid in the common memory, and not only because of its remarkable size, but above all because of the commitment shown by the "Pope's young people" - as they were called. I asked them: "what, or rather, who have you come in search of?". And I interpreted their sentiments of approval from their applause, saying: "You have come in search of Jesus Christ!" (Address in St Peter's Square, 15 August 2000).

3. With the successful outcome of this movement - a true pilgrimage of the People of God - you too, dear collaborators of the Roman Curia, have contributed by working in collaboration with the Committee of the Great Jubilee and the organizations involved from time to time to ensure the success of the celebrations of your respective competences. I make the most of this opportunity to express my grateful appreciation to the dicasteries and administrations of the Holy See, as well as to the offices of the Governorate. They have generously devoted themselves, each in his own province, to appropriately arranging the various Jubilee Days.

How can the daily work of the Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica be forgotten, or the dedication of the Secretariat of State, of the Prefecture of the Papal Household and of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff? Nor can I omit to mention in particular the constant availability shown by the institutions set up for the media, from L'Osservatore Romano to the Holy See's Press Room, Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Centre. And how could I forget the hidden but very important ministry of the penitentiaries and confessors of the various basilicas? I then extend my grateful thanks to the Vicariate of Rome for its great help with various events of the Jubilee Year, especially with the Eucharistic Congress and World Youth Day. I am also thinking of the many volunteers, young people and adults from various nations. To list all those who expended their energies for the success of the Jubilee would take too long. It is all under God's gaze and, according to Jesus' words, it will be the Father himself who "sees in secret" (Mt 6,6), who will reward all those who have worked in his name and for the coming of his kingdom.

4. However, it seems to me significant, on this occasion in which we are gathered together to express our communion, to remember in particular the Jubilee which the Roman Curia celebrated personally last 22 February. The Curia's Jubilee was an intensely experienced moment of faith, in harmony with Peter's words: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16,16). The faith of the entire Church is measured by these words. In a special way the "ministerium petrinum" is based on this confession of the Prince of the Apostles and, with it, the task reserved for the special community we form. What we are, in fact, we are in relation to the ministry Christ entrusted to Peter: "Feed my lambs.... Tend my sheep" (cf. Jn Jn 21,15-17).

This is a mystery of grace and mercy which can only be understood in the perspective of faith. Precisely on the occasion of your Jubilee, I said to you that "the Petrine ministry is not founded on human abilities and strengths, but on the prayer of Christ who implores the Father that Simon's faith "may not fail' (Lc 22,32)". I experience this every day. The Jubilee Year has also been for me a time in which I have felt Christ's presence more keenly. The work has been - as was foreseeable - heavier than usual, but with God's help everything has turned out for the best. Now, at the end of this special year, I would like to praise the Lord who has granted me to proclaim his name so widely, making the Apostle Paul's programme fully my own: "What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2Co 4,5).

5. May this perspective of faith, dear confrčres, constantly mark your special service. If Christ supports the one he chose as the Successor of Peter, he will certainly not fail to grant his grace also to you, who have the demanding task of helping him. But if the gift is great, the responsibility of responding to it adequately is also a major one. The Roman Curia must therefore be a place in which holiness is breathed. A place where rivalry and careerism must be completely foreign, where only love for Christ must prevail, expressed in the joy of communion and service, in imitation of the One who "came not to be served but to serve" (Mc 10,45).

6. I wanted to emphasize this essential reference to Christ with my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, preceded by the commemoration of Abraham "Our Father in Faith" in the Paul VI Hall, and by my visit to several Old Testament sites of the history of salvation, especially on Sinai. How is it possible to forget the emotion of those days in March in which I was granted to relive the fundamental moments of the historical events in Jesus' life, from his birth in Bethlehem to his death on Golgotha? In the Upper Room I thought especially of you, my dear co-workers of the Roman Curia. I took you with me in my memory and in my prayers. It was a true "immersion" in Christ's mystery. At the same time, it was an opportunity for meeting not only the Christian, but also the Jewish and Muslim communities. In the esteem which I showed those communities and which they fully reciprocated, I was able to have a foretaste of the joy that they will all experience, as a reflection of the joy of God himself, when that land, so holy and unfortunately so tormented, at last finds peace. Today we want to tell those who are suffering in that drawn out conflict of our closeness, and we pray God to calm the violence of feelings and weapons and to orient souls to satisfactory solutions for a just and enduring peace.

7. The ecumenical prayer that has characterized the Jubilee Year from its first moments is surely a marvellous image of it. I recall, we all recall, with emotion the opening of the Holy Door at St Paul-Outside-the-Walls on 18 January. Not only my own hands pushed open that door, but also those of Metropolitan Athanasios, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, and those of the Anglican Primate, Archbishop George Carey. We represented the whole of Christendom, saddened by the historical divisions which wound it, but at the same time listening to God's Spirit who urges it on towards full communion.

We must not lose heart before the persistent efforts of the ecumenical process. We must believe that the goal of the full unity of all Christians really is possible, with the strength of Christ who sustains us. On our part, besides prayer and theological dialogue, we must foster that spiritual attitude which, precisely on that evocative occasion, I indicated as the "sacrifice of unity". With those words, I wished to call to mind the capacity for "changing our viewpoint, broadening our horizons, knowing how to recognize the action of the Holy Spirit who is at work in our brethren, discovering new dimensions of holiness and opening ourselves to fresh aspects of Christian commitment" (Homily during the solemn Ecumenical Celebration, 18 January 2000).

8. With the same openmindedness, the Jubilee was placed on the threshold of the interreligious dialogue which, inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council with the Declaration Nostra aetate, has made some significant steps forward in these 10 years. I remember in particular the prayer at Assisi in 1986 and in St Peter's Square last year. This is obviously a dialogue which in no way intends to diminish the rightful proclamation of Christ as the one Saviour of the world, as the Declaration Dominus Iesus recently reaffirmed. The dialogue does not dispute this essential truth for the Christian faith, but rests on the presupposition that, precisely in the light of the mystery of God revealed in Christ, we can gather the many particles of light scattered by the spirit in the various cultures and religions. It is therefore possible, in the dialogical cultivation of these particles, to grow together, even with the believers of other religions, in love of God and in service to humanity, on our way towards the fullness of truth, to which God's Spirit mysteriously leads us (cf. Jn Jn 16,13).

9. The Great Jubilee, inspired by its distant but ever-living Biblical origins, has also been a year of more intense awareness of the urgent need for charity, especially in the dimension of aid to the poorest countries. Only in the context of a commitment inspired by "global" solidarity can a remedy be found to the risks inherent in a world economy potentially lacking the norms to safeguard the weakest. In this regard, the Church's commitment to reducing the international debt of the poorer countries has been very significant. The deliberations of many parliaments in this regard is certainly encouraging, but much remains to be done. Here I would also like to thank the national leaders who have accepted my repeated appeal to make a "gesture of clemency towards all prisoners". I hope that the progress begun will be brought to completion. Then, over and above these specific problems, there is the entire area of charity which the Jubilee reflection has placed before our eyes, urging all Christians to adopt an attitude of generous sharing. Charity remains the great consignment for the journey ahead of us. Through this shines the full brightness of the truth of the God-Love, of that God who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16).

10. Pater misit Filium suum Salvatorem mundi: gaudeamus! This certainty has guided the 2,000 years of Christian history. We must start from it once again at the beginning of this millennium. Start from Christ! This is the password which must accompany the Church on her entry into the third millennium. In a few days the Holy Door will be closed, but the living Door which is Christ himself will stay wider open than ever. I am sure that in this resumption of the journey, dear collaborators of the Roman Curia, you will once again be available and ready. In the spiritual world there are no pauses! The secret of this inexhaustible impetus is Christ himself whom, in a few days time, the liturgy will make us contemplate as a Child in the manger. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Hope, we will ask him to envelop us in his light and to sustain us on our new journey.

In his name I embrace you all with affection and, as I extend my most cordial greetings to you, I willingly impart to you my apostolic Blessing. Happy Christmas!

Speeches 2000