I warmly encourage the beloved Ecclesial Community of Naples, comforted by Our Lady's maternal intercession, to continue unceasingly in this effort of spiritual renewal and of constant search for unity and communion.
I express this wish on so important an anniversary, thinking back to my Pastoral Visit 10 years ago. I pause in spirit, as I did then, before the "Brown Virgin" in Piazza del Plebiscito and say again to her: "O Mother, protect the city of Naples! Guide her sons and daughters along the path of justice and brotherhood! Strengthen their faith, make them courageous witnesses of the Gospel and ardent builders of peace" (Insegnamenti XIII/2 , 1111).
Mary Most Holy, kindly turn your motherly gaze upon the people of Naples and let them always feel the power of your intercession. Be a gentle and merciful Mother. Watch over them all and over each one in particular!
With these wishes, as I assure you of my prayerful spiritual participation in the centenary celebrations, I affectionately impart to you, Venerable Brother, and to the clergy, the religious and the entire Christian community of Naples, a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 29 June 2000.
To the Most Reverend
Hermenegildus Jozef Noyons
Abbot General of the Premonstratensian Order
Truly present among you through the words of this Letter, I cordially greet each and every one taking part these days in the General Chapter of the Order of the White Canons of Prémontré, whom I also embrace individually as if they were gathered before me and, so far as I can, I urge you by the name and authority of Jesus Christ to fulfil your great mission diligently and wisely, as you are accustomed, for Christ, the Church and your order.
For now you must courageously and rightly apply all the truly salutary counsels given by St Norbert for the religious life and the sacred ministry, all the beneficial experiences of your order's effective apostolate in previous centuries and all the recent directives of Mother Church to the present-day spiritual needs of God's People, as well as adapt them to the changed social conditions of men, modify them wisely for the most complete implementation of the Second Vatican Council, and use them henceforth for the well-being and renewal of your distinguished institute. Moreover, you must continue your praiseworthy traditional practices, the divine praise, Eucharistic worship and Marian devotion, a penitential spirit and the fervour of pastoral work.
Thus you will deservedly enjoy the fruits of your deliberations and will be greatly praised by the Roman Pontiff, who meanwhile watches your serious task from afar and closely follows it, pouring out his prayers to the Holy Spirit, Giver of light. I am sorry indeed that circumstances prevent me from receiving you in my house and from speaking my mind more at length to you. I willingly accept your past expressions of fidelity and, in accordance with your proven faithfulness, I want the certainly gratifying proceedings of the General Chapter to be brought to me and the results of the plans you have prudently made in the Lord to be plainly seen in the years to come.
Accept this fraternal greeting from my hands, with wishes of encouragement and comfort for your hearts, which I send along with my Apostolic Blessing, so that your important meeting may enjoy the greatest success, the Order of the White Canons of Prémontré may prosper and the work of the Church may in every way be assisted in the many nations where this order is fruitfully labouring.
From the Vatican, 6 July 2000, the twenty-second year of my Pontificate.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I am pleased to extend my affectionate greeting to all of you who have come here from the five continents for the Third World Ultreya of the Cursillos de Cristiandad, the Ultreya of the Great Jubilee. Thank you for your visit and welcome to all.
I greet the Spanish-speaking cursillistas who have come from America and from Spain, recalling that this apostolic experience was founded in Palma de Mallorca by Bishop Juan Hervás, the zealous Pastor of that ecclesial community.
I welcome each one of you and encourage you to make this Ultreya of the Great Jubilee a time of renewed commitment to holiness of life and to the apostolate.
I extend a cordial welcome to all the French-speaking participants.
I very cordially greet all who are with us from German-speaking countries. May this celebration strengthen your faith.
I greet the President of the World Organization of the Cursillos de Cristiandad and thank him for his cordial words to me in your name, and for presenting your movement's apostolic commitment and the good which the Lord works through you. I greet the movement's founders, spiritual leaders and various officers. Your presence here, so varied and festive, shows that the tiny seed planted in Spain more than 50 years ago has become a great tree laden with fruits of the Spirit. Indeed, it continues to be a successful response to the question asked by my venerable Predecessor Pope Paul VI at the first world Ultreya in Rome: "Can the Gospel still win over the mature person ... in urban and rural cultures?" (AAS, 58, 1966, 503).
I am therefore delighted to join in your thanksgiving to the Lord for all he has done and never ceases to do in the Church through the Cursillos de Cristiandad.
The theme of this world Ultreya - "Evangelizing the Milieus of the Third Millennium: A "Challenge' for the Cursillos de Cristiandad" - demonstrates your effort to repropose the experience of Christ to the men and women of the 21st century with new means and enthusiasm. This has become even more urgent, since "whole countries and nations, where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test ... as a result of the constant spread of indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism" (Christifideles laici CL 34).
2. In view of this situation which challenges believers to "remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community" (ibid.), the Cursillo method aims at helping to transform in a Christian way the milieus where people live and work through the involvement of "new men and women" who have become such from their encounter with Christ. This is the goal of the three-day "little course" on Christianity, in which a team of priests and lay people, supported by the prayer and sacrifices of the movement's other members, communicate the fundamental truths of the Christian faith in an especially "living" way. When presented in this way, the message of Christ almost always opens participants in a cursillo to the gift of conversion and to a deeper awareness of the Baptism they have received and of their own mission in the Church. They feel called to be the prophetic "leaven" which is kneaded into the dough so that the whole mass will rise (Mt 13,33), to be the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" (Mt 5,13-14), to proclaim to everyone they meet that only in Jesus Christ is there salvation (Ac 4,12), and that it is "only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear" (Gaudium et spes GS 22).
3. Dear brothers and sisters, be the courageous witnesses of the "service of the Truth" and work ceaselessly with the "strength of communion". In relying on your rich spiritual experiences, which are a treasure, take up the "challenge" that our time raises to the new evangelization and fearlessly give it your own response.
Faced with a culture that often denies the very existence of an objective Truth of universal value and frequently loses its way in the "shifting sands" of nihilism (cf. Fides et ratio, FR 5), the faithful must know how to show clearly that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. Jn Jn 14,6).
You who have generously opened your hearts to Jesus are being asked by him to proclaim his name untiringly to those who do not yet know him. He is calling you to his service, to the service of his Truth, the truth which makes us free.
The more transparent this "diakonia of the truth" becomes in your daily lives, the more convincing it will be. As you are reminded in a prayer often used in the Cursillo Movement, "Christ has no hands, he has only our hands to change the world today. Christ has no feet, he has only our feet to lead this world to himself. Christ has no lips, he has only our lips to speak to the people".
4. This is your apostolate, carried out in constant harmony with the Church, to show the "strength of communion" which is at once the style and the very essence of the People of God. As you face the various forms of individualism which fragment and divide your evangelizing ability and resources, join your missionary forces with those of the various ecclesial groups raised up by the Spirit in the Church of our time. Endeavour to restore the beauty of the first Christian communities which prompted pagans to say with admiration: "See how they love one another!". And always be docile to the directives of the Magisterium. No charism, in fact, dispenses you from referring and submitting to the Pastors of the Church, whose discernment is a guarantee of fidelity for the charism itself. May the Jubilee celebration instil in all of you a renewed fidelity to your original inspiration and a firmer ecclesial communion.
5. "Bright colours deck the fields in springtime.
Bright colours clothe the little birds outside.
Bright colours paint the rainbow we see shining...".
During the days of a cursillo, the words of this popular Spanish song help the participants to reflect on the multifaceted beauty of creation. In encountering Christ, you have learned to look with new eyes at others and at nature, at everyday events and at life in general. You have experienced that true happiness is found in following the Lord. This personal and community experience must be passed on to others. Many men and women of our time, who unfortunately turn away from God, expect from you the light of faith that will help them rediscover the colours of life and the happiness of feeling loved by God.
"Courage! Ultreya! Go forth!", the Successor of Peter repeats to you today. Look to Mary, an example of unfailing fidelity to God, and, like her, put your trust in every circumstance in God, the Father of Mercy, who guards your steps on the way of truth and love.
I extend the same cordial greetings to all the other pilgrims who have gathered here. In particular, to those of the Diocese of Leiria-Fátima, led by their Pastor, dear Bishop Serafim:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Two months have passed since I had the pleasure of being among you, enjoying your warm hospitality and witnessing your radiant joy at seeing the holiness of two of your compatriots confirmed: Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto. In seeing you here today - as the chosen representatives of this local Church - I see my visit repaid: you have come to the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles in a spirit of prayer and penance to implore pardon and forgiveness, and to renew your dedicated commitment to that work of divinizing humanity which began 2,000 years ago with the birth of the God made man.
I cordially greet the whole Diocese of Leiria-Fátima, with my wish that this Great Jubilee of the Incarnation will be for you all that "year of the Lord's favour" which became a reality with Jesus and in Jesus (cf. Lk Lc 4,19-21), so that you can hope confidently in the power of his message and saving work, love everyone with self-giving love and reparation for the ingratitude to God of so many, and witness to faith courageously and consistently in today's society.
May the Virgin Most Holy, mystically present in your Marian shrines, the most distinguished of which, by her choice, is the Shrine of Fátima, grant you her motherly guidance on your journey of penance and conversion, and support you in the fulfilment of your good intentions for your Diocese and for the world's salvation.
I cordially greet the pilgrims from Poland who have come to this meeting. I thank you for your commitment to the new evangelization and to building the civilization of love and solidarity in the world. The Church needs you! She needs your Christian attitude and your holiness, so that she can carry out the great work of salvation in the world.
I affectionately assure you of a constant remembrance in my prayer and impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all, as a pledge of abundant divine graces.
Saturday, 5 August 2000
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
I address a cordial greeting to all of you present here and I am pleased to welcome you today, the first Saturday of August. The Roman liturgy is celebrating the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major, the first church in the Christian West to be named after the Mother of God. My thoughts turn to Mary, Salvation of the Roman people, and to her I entrust your every intention. I would also like in a special way to entrust to her the solemn Prayer Vigil that will be held in the Basilica of St John Lateran this evening. It is an important prayer meeting, which is taking place at the suggestion of and in communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Orthodox Church on the eve of the feast of the Lord's Transfiguration. May this providential initiative encourage ecumenical dialogue and advance our common journey towards the full unity of all Christians.
I greet especially the sick people from Malta, together with their helpers and companions, as they return from a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Dear friends, the spiritual message echoing from the grotto of Massabielle will certainly help you to benefit more richly from the Jubilee Year, which is a privileged time of penance and "healing" for men and women in every dimension of their lives. I hope most sincerely that difficulties and trials will not weaken your Christian witness, but help instead to make it more powerful. May the Lord sustain your dear ones, and the doctors, nurses and volunteers who are near to you.
I also greet the young people from St Anthony of Padua Parish in Blerick, in the Dutch Diocese of Roermond, and I hope, dear young people, that every day you will read the Gospel and meditate on it after the example of St Anthony of Padua, so that you will become more and more the messengers of his love.
Lastly, I greet the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of Mount Calvary gathered here, and the other people and families present. May Mary Most Holy obtain peace and serenity for each of you, as I willingly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to all.
We are preparing to celebrate Holy Mass on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, cherishing in our hearts the ever-living memory of the Servant of God Paul VI, 22 years after his "going forth" to eternity.
Today's liturgy invites us to turn our gaze to the face of the Son of God who, as the Synoptics unanimously attest, is transfigured on the mountain before Peter, James and John, while the Father's voice proclaims from the cloud: "This is my beloved Son; listen to him" (Mc 9,7). St Peter will recall the event with emotion, saying: "We were eyewitnesseses of his majesty" (2P 1,16).
In our era, pervaded by the so-called "image culture", the desire to be able fill one's eyes with the figure of the divine Master becomes more intense, but it is appropriate to recall his words: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20,29). It was precisely with his eyes of faith fixed on the adorable face of Christ, true man and true God, that the revered and unforgettable Paul VI lived. Contemplating him with burning and impassioned love, he said: "Christ is beauty, human and divine beauty, the beauty of reality, of truth, of life" (General Audience, 13 January 1971; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 January 1971, p. 12). And he added: "The figure of Christ presents, over and above the charm of his merciful gentleness, an aspect which is grave and strong, formidable, if you like, when dealing with cowardice, hypocrisy, injustice and cruelty, but never lacking a sovereign aura of love" (General Audience, 27 January 1971; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 4 February 1971, p. 12).
As we approach the altar with grateful hearts, praying for the blessed soul of this great Pontiff, we also wish, like him and like the disciples, to turn our gaze to the radiant face of the Son of God to be illumined by it. Let us ask God, through the intercession of Mary, Teacher of faith and contemplation, to enable us to receive within us the light that shines brightly on the face of Christ, so that we may reflect its image on everyone we meet.
Saturday, 12 August 2000
Dear Young People,
1. You have wished to include a visit to the Successor of Peter on the Jubilee journey which has brought you to Rome, to the basilicas and places sacred to the memories of the Apostles, and have come to see me here in Castel Gandolfo.
Thank you for coming and welcome! Thank you for your testimony of affection. I ardently hope that this pilgrimage will be a favourable opportunity for you to renew your strong and convinced adherence to the Lord. Christ needs people who can bear witness before the world to the radical newness of his Gospel. I invite you to open your hearts to him with generosity, so that after your stay in Rome you can go home with an even greater apostolic spirit, to be courageous missionaries of the new evangelization. By looking at your lives and striving for the goal of holiness, may the people you meet experience the joy of being Christ's disciples.
The liturgy of these days presents to us significant saints who are an incentive to us to follow the Lord in total fidelity. I am thinking of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, co-patroness of Europe, a nun and martyr of the last century; I am thinking of St Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we will celebrate next Monday: I am thinking of St Laurence, who found the meaning of his life in the diaconate, and of St Clare of Assisi, whose life was nourished by the Eucharistic mystery. May their intercession, with that of Sts Peter and Paul, support and help you to walk in faith and love, working for the kingdom of God wherever Providence has placed you.
2. I would like to extend a special cordial greeting to the "Jubilee Volunteers" who have been busy for several days now preparing for an orderly World Youth Day. This is an eagerly awaited event on which all believers' eyes have been focused, for it is the task of the young generations to receive the torch of faith and bring it to their peers and to the humanity of the third millennium.
Some of your representatives are here, while others are listening to us in St Peter's Square by radio link-up. They have taken part in the Holy Mass offered by the Cardinal Vicar and will end the celebration of their Jubilee by passing through the Holy Door. I also recall the organizers of the Jubilee's Volunteer Centre, who are coordinating the various groups of volunteers who have made themselves available to the Holy Year pilgrims.
Dear friends, I affectionately greet you and am grateful to you for the generosity with which you have offered your commitment. May God reward you for your care and availability in the service to which you are called. You are asked to help your peers and pilgrims from every part of the world to participate in an orderly and fruitful way in the various events of World Youth Day. Help them, through your efficient organization, to meet Christ and to make this international meeting an unforgettable experience, an experience of young people, of the young Church. Help them, too, to experience the beauty of being together, motivated by positive sentiments in order to lay the foundations of a new humanity, inspired by the values of brotherhood and peace. This experience is also expressed in the variety of colours, through the colours and also through the mottos you bear. Each one has an identity card.
3. My deep appreciation is extended to the managers and employees of the "Sodexho" Company, an important firm because it is in charge of the distribution of meals at the canteens set up for World Youth Day. Their work is even more praiseworthy because they have given up several days of holiday to be available to the participants in this extraordinary Jubilee event, and have donated the equivalent of an hour's work to the Pope's charity. Thank you, dear friends, for your concern and for your generosity. God reward you!
4. Dear Sisters of the Schönstatt Women's Association! You have come to Rome in the middle of the Holy Year, on the occasion of your 50th anniversary, to draw strength for your mission from the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I extend a cordial greeting to you in Castel Gandolfo, together with the hope that you will be able to strengthen your pilgrimage in faith, hope and charity.
During this meeting the witness and action of Christian women who have marked the life of the Church and of society come to mind. A woman's spiritual strength lies in the fact that God entrusted life to her in a particular way. May this awareness of your vocation remind you of the dignity you have received from God as women. Your service to life makes you strong and capable women (cf. Prv Pr 31,10), a firm support for all who are close to you. Let us thank God that there are so many capable women! Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was able to serve the divine life, I wish you a fruitful stay in the Eternal City. I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of the Schönstatt Women's Association.
5. Lastly, I would like to greet all the other pilgrims, groups or individuals who have come to visit me. I assure you all of a remembrance in my prayer and, as I invoke upon each one the gentle protection of Mary who was taken up into heaven, on the eve of her feastday, I now bless you from my heart.
15th WORLD YOUTH DAY
St. John Lateran, Tuesday, 15 August 2000
1. O Roma felix!" "O happy Rome!".
With this exclamation, countless throngs of pilgrims before you, dear young people who are gathered for the 15th World Youth Day, traveled down the centuries to the city of Rome to kneel at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
"O happy Rome!". Happy because it was consecrated by the witness and blood of the Apostles Peter and Paul who still today, like two "verdant olive trees" and two "lamps lit", together with all the other saints and martyrs, show us the One whom we are here to celebrate: the Word who "become flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1,14), Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the living testimony of the Father's eternal love for us.
"O happy Rome!", happy too because today this testimony which you preserve is alive and is offered to the world, in particular to the world of the young generations!
2. I greet you all affectionately, young people who belong to the Diocese of Rome and to the Church in Italy. I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of Rome and President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and am grateful to him for his words to me. I also thank the two young Romans who have greeted me on behalf of you all.
I am pleased to see so many of you and I congratulate all those who have helped young men and women from other countries to take part in this exceptional meeting as well. I know how much the young people of the various Italian Dioceses have done to prepare for this moment of an "exchange of happiness". In this city, which preserves the tombs and memorials of those who witnessed to the Saviour of the world, may every young person meet Jesus, the One who knows the secret of true happiness and promised it to his friends with these words: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn 15,11).
Dear friends, at this moment, so longed-for and so significant, I naturally think back to the First World Youth meeting which took place precisely here, in front of the cathedral of Rome. Today we are setting out from here to have a new experience at a global level: it is the meeting which opens a new century and a new millennium. My hope is that it will allow the hearts of all to encounter the eternally living Christ.
3. Young people, children of the Church whose Bishop is the Successor of Peter and who, as St Ignatius of Antioch said, is called to "preside in charity" (Ad Romanos, Introd.), be committed in these days to welcoming the other young people who have gathered here from all the regions of the world. Form heartfelt friendships with them. Make their stay here in Rome enjoyable, competing in the spirit of service and friendly welcome in the style of Jesus' friends - Lazarus, Martha and Mary - who often gave him hospitality at their house. Together with the young people from the 12 Dioceses on the borders of Rome, open the doors of your homes to the pilgrims of this World Youth Day, becoming a hospitable city, a friendly home, so that here too there may be a meeting today among friends: among us all and our great Friend, Jesus!
4. Live this World Day intensely, dear young pilgrims of the third millennium. Through your contact with your many peers who, like you, want to follow Christ, treasure the words that the Bishops will say to you, accepting the Lord's voice to strengthen your faith and to witness to it without fear, knowing you are heirs of a great past.
In opening your Jubilee, dear young people, I would like to repeat the words with which I began my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church; I would like them to guide your days in Rome: "Do not be afraid! Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ!". Open your hearts, your lives, your doubts, your difficulties, your joys and your affections to his saving power, and let him enter your hearts. "Do not be afraid! Christ knows what is in man. He alone knows it". I said this on 22 October 1978. I repeat it with the same conviction, with the same force today, seeing the hope of the Church and of the world shining in your eyes. Yes, let Christ govern your young lives; serve him with love. To serve Christ is freedom!
5. We are opening these days under the gaze of Mary Most Holy, whom we contemplate today assumed into heaven: may the example of the young Virgin of Nazareth help you to say "yes" to the Lord who is knocking at your door and wants to enter and make his dwelling within you.
Responding to the young people's cry, "Long live the Pope!", the Holy Father said extemporaneously:
He is alive, the Pope has been alive for 80 years and the young people want him young for ever. How can I do it? Thank you for your catechesis. I hope that you are enjoying your stay in Rome, that you feel ever close to the Salus Populi Romani and feel her motherly closeness.
This is my last wish, because I have to go to St Peter's to welcome, in your name too, all those who have come to Rome from every part of the world to celebrate and live the Jubilee of Young People with you.
15th WORLD YOUTH DAY
1. Dear young people of the Fifteenth World Youth Day, dear brother priests, men and women religious, and teachers who are here with you, welcome to Rome! I thank Cardinal James Francis Stafford for his warm words of presentation. With him I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, and the other Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops present. I also thank the two young people who so well expressed the feelings of all of you, gathered here from so many parts of the world.
After stopping at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, the Cathedral of Rome, to greet the young people of Rome and Italy, I welcome all of you with joy. The Roman and Italian young people join me in offering you a most fraternal and heartfelt welcome.
Your faces bring to mind, and in a way make present here, all the young people that it has been my privilege to meet on my apostolic journeys throughout the world in these years at the end of the millennium. To each of you I say: Peace be with you!
Peace be with you, young people who have come from Africa:
du Burkina Faso,
de Cabo Verde,
de Côte d'Ivoire,
de la République de Guinée,
da Guiné Bissau,
de l'Ile Maurice,
de la République Centreafricaine,
de la République Démocratique du Congo,
from the Seychelles,
from Sierra Leone,
from South Africa,
Peace be with you, young people who have come from the Americas:
from the Antilles,
from the Bahamas,
de Costa Rica,
de El Salvador,
de Puerto Rico,
de la República Dominicana,
from Saint Lucia,
from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
from the United States of America,
de Venezuela. ...
Peace be with you, young people who have come from Asia:
from Saudi Arabia,
from South Korea,
from the United Arabs Emirates,
from the Philippines,
from Hong Kong,
from Sri Lanka,
from the Palestinian Territories,
de Timor Leste,
et du Viet Nam....
Peace be with you, young people who have come from Europe:
from the Netherlands,
de la Principauté de Monaco,
dalla Repubblica Ceca,
dalla Repubblica di San Marino,
Peace be with you, young people who have come from Oceania:
from New Zealand,
from Papua New Guinea.....
With special affection I greet the group of young people from countries where hatred, violence and war bring suffering to the life of entire populations. Thanks to the solidarity shown by all the youth here present, they have been able to come here this evening. To them I say, in your name as well, that in our gathering we are close to them as brothers and sisters; with all of you, I ask for them and for their people a time of peace in justice and freedom.
I mention too the young people of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities who are here this evening with some of their Pastors: may the World Youth Day be another occasion for us to know each other and to implore together from the Spirit of the Lord the gift of the perfect unity of all Christians!
Dear friends from the five Continents, I am happy to inaugurate with you this evening the Jubilee of Young People. Pilgrims in the footsteps of the Apostles, imitate their faith.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
* * * * *