Speeches 2000 - FIRST PART


1. Dear friends who have travelled so many miles in so many ways to come to Rome, to the Tombs of the Apostles, let me begin by putting to you a question: what have you come here to find? You have come to celebrate your Jubilee: the Jubilee of the young Church. Yours is not just any journey: if you have set out on pilgrimage it is not just for the sake of recreation or an interest in culture. Well then, let me ask again: what have you come in search of? Or rather, who have you come her to find?

There can be only one answer to that: you have come in search of Jesus Christ! But Jesus Christ has first gone in search of you. To celebrate the Jubilee can have no other meaning than that of celebrating and meeting Jesus Christ, the Word who took flesh and came to dwell among us.

The Prologue of Saint John’s Gospel, which has just now been proclaimed, are in a sense Jesus’s “visiting card”. These words invite us to fix our eyes on the mystery that he is. These words hold a special message for you, dear young people: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (Jn 1,1-2).

Indicating to us the Word who is one in being with the Father, the eternal Word generated as God from God and light from light, the Evangelist takes us to the heart of the divine life, but also to the wellspring of the world. This Word in fact is the beginning of all creation: “all things were made through him, and without him was not made anything that was made” (Jn 1,3). The whole created world, before ever it came to be, was in the mind of God and was willed by him in an eternal plan of love. Therefore, if we look at the world in depth, allowing ourselves to marvel at the wisdom and beauty which God has poured out upon it, we can see in it a reflection of the Word, which biblical revelation unveils for us fully in the face of Jesus of Nazareth. In a sense, creation is the first “revelation” of him.

2. The Prologue continues with these words: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not accept it” (Jn 1,4-5). For the Evangelist, the light is life, and death, the enemy of life, is darkness. Through the Word, all life appeared on the earth, and in the Word this life has its perfect fulfilment.

Identifying light and life, John is thinking of the life that is not just the biological life of the body but the life which comes from sharing in the very life of Christ. The Evangelist says: “The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world” (Jn 1,9). This enlightenment was given to humanity on the night of Bethlehem, when the eternal Word of the Father took a body from the Virgin Mary, became man and was born into the world. From that time onwards, every person who by faith shares in the mystery of that event experiences some measure of that enlightenment.

Christ himself, announcing that he was the light of the world, said one day: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light” (Jn 12,36). This is a summons which the followers of Christ pass on to one another from generation to generation, trying to answer it in everyday life. Referring to this summons, Saint Paul writes: “Walk always as children of light, for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true” (Ep 5,8-9).

3. The heart of John’s Prologue is the proclamation that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us” (1:14). A little before this, the Evangelist had declared: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, he gave power to become children of God” (cf. 1:10-12). Dear friends, are you among those who have accepted Christ? Your presence here is already an answer to that question. You have come to Rome, in this Jubilee of the two thousandth anniversary of Christ’s birth, in order to open your hearts to the power of life which is in him. You have come here to rediscover the truth about creation and to recover a sense of wonder at the beauty and the richness of the created world. You have come to renew within yourselves the awareness of the dignity of man, created in the image and likeness of God.

“We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1,14). A contemporary philosopher has emphasized the significance of death in human life, to the point of describing man as “a being made for death”. The Gospel, on the contrary, makes it clear that man is a being made for life. Every person is called by God to share in the divine life. Man is a being called to glory.

These days, which you will spend together in Rome at the World Youth Day, should help each of you to see more clearly the glory which belongs to the Son of God and to which we have been called in him by the Father. For this to happen, your faith in Christ must grow and be strengthened.

4. I wish to bear witness to this faith here before all of you, young friends, at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord wished me to succeed as Bishop of Rome. Beginning with myself, today I wish to tell you that I believe firmly in Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, I believe, and I make my own the words of the Apostle Paul: “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Ga 2,20).

I remember how as a child, in my own family, I learned to pray and trust in God. I remember the life in the parish that I attended in Wadowice, as well as the parish of Saint Stanislaus Kostka, in Debniki in Kraków, where I received my basic formation in Christian living. I cannot forget the experience of the war and the years of work in a factory. My priestly vocation came to its full maturity during the Second World War, during the occupation of Poland. The tragedy of the War gave a particular colouring to the gradual maturing of my vocation in life. In these circumstances, I perceived a light shining ever more brightly within me: the Lord wanted me to be a priest! I remember with feeling that moment in my life when, on the morning of 1 November 1946, I was ordained a priest.

My Credo continues in my present service to the Church. On 16 October 1978, after my election to the See of Peter, when I was asked “Do you accept?”, I answered “With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and trusting in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, no matter what the difficulties, I accept” (Redemptor Hominis RH 2). From that time on, I have tried to carry out my mission, drawing light and strength every day from the faith that binds me to Christ.

But my faith, like that of Peter and like the faith of each one of you, is not just my doing, my attachment to the truth of Christ and the Church. It is essentially and primarily the work of the Holy Spirit, a gift of his grace. The Lord gives his Spirit to me as he gives him to you, to help us say: “I believe”, and then to use us to bear witness to him in every corner of the world.

5. Dear friends, why do I want to offer you this personal testimony at the beginning of your Jubilee? I do so in order to make it clear that the journey of faith is part of everything that happens in our lives. God is at work in the concrete and personal situations of each one of us: through them, sometimes in truly mysterious ways, the Word “made flesh”, who came to live among us, makes himself present to us.

Dear young people, do not let the time that the Lord gives you go by as though everything happened by chance. Saint John has told us that everything has been made in Christ. Therefore, believe unshakeably in him. He directs the history of individuals as well as the history of humanity. Certainly Christ respects our freedom, but in all the joyful or bitter circumstances of life he never stops asking us to believe in him, in his word, in the reality of the Church, in eternal life!

Don’t ever think then that you are unknown to him, as if you were just a number in an anonymous crowd. Each one of you is precious to Christ, he knows you personally, he loves you tenderly, even when you are not aware of it.

6. Dear friends, who face the third millennium with all the ardour of your youth, give your full attention to the opportunity offered to you by World Youth Day in this Church of Rome, which today more than ever is your Church. Let yourselves be moulded by the Holy Spirit. Spend time in prayer, letting the Spirit speak to your hearts. To pray means to give some of your time to Christ, to entrust yourselves to him, to listen in silence to his word, to make it echo in your hearts.

Treat these days as though they were a great week of spiritual exercises; look for times of silence, prayer and recollection. Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your minds, ask him for the gift of a living faith which will forever give meaning to your lives, joining them to Christ, the Word made flesh.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave birth to Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary Salus Populi Romani and Mother of all peoples, and Saints Peter and Paul, and all the other Saints and Martyrs of this Church and of all the Churches to which you belong, sustain you on your journey.




Friday, 18 August 2000

1. I welcome you with great joy, dear brothers and sisters, to this special meeting which takes place during the celebrations of the 15th World Youth Day. The atmosphere of faith and spirituality that we are breathing in these days offers pilgrims an opportunity to deepen their knowledge of Christ and to examine their own fidelity to him.

I cordially hope that this is also true for each one of you, who come from different nations and continents, as I greet you with warm cordiality.

2. I am pleased to welcome you, dear friends of the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate, during your Jubilee pilgrimage. I extend a very cordial greeting to Patriarch Stephanos II Ghattas and the Bishops present. It gives me a pleasant opportunity to recall my recent Jubilee journey in Egypt, and once again to thank all those who contributed to its success.

You have answered the call of the Church which invites each of the faithful to turn more to the Lord, to be converted and to give greater witness to brotherhood, solidarity and charity towards the poorest members of society. Indeed, in the biblical perspective, the Jubilee is at once a privileged opportunity to thank God, to praise him and to ask him for his strength in order to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel in words and deeds. In your country it is also important to develop links with all your compatriots, especially the faithful of the other Christian denominations, so that we can walk together towards full unity, as well as with believers of the different religions, in respect for persons and freedom of conscience.

As I entrust you to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, I hope that during this Jubilee Year each of you and all the faithful of the Coptic Catholic Church will receive the graces you need. May this ecclesial act also strengthen the Gospel witness of all the members of the Patriarchate through growth in liturgical and spiritual life, in fidelity to the beautiful inheritance received from your tradition, as well as through the development of pastoral and missionary life, especially among young people, so that they will know Christ and the Church's teaching. Thank you. I would like to send my fraternal greetings to Pope Shenouda.

3. I now address you, dear priests of the Serbian Orthodox Church who have come from the Eparchy of Sabac-Valjevo. I greet you affectionately, together with your Pastor, Bishop Lavrentije Trifunovic, and with Catholic Coadjutor Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar of Belgrade.

Through you I would like to extend my respectful and fraternal greeting to your Patriarch, His Beatitude Pavle. My thoughts turn at this moment to the whole Serbian nation, which has been so sorely tried in recent years. May your beloved people stay faithful to their Christian traditions, also thanks to your pastoral service. To this end, I invoke an abundance of God's blessings upon you and upon the community of the faithful with whom you live and work, serving the Gospel cause. May the Lord richly reward your apostolic efforts for the kingdom of God.

I ardently hope that your country, Serbia, will rapidly succeed in resolving the problems besetting it, so as to look confidently towards a future of peace and development, in a context of collaboration and mutual respect with neighbouring countries.

4. I am now pleased to greet you, dear young Cubans, accompanied by Cardinal Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, and by Bishop Carlos J. Baladrón Valdés of Guantánamo-Baracoa, who have come to Rome representing many of your peers at the World Youth Day in this Jubilee Year. This is a privileged opportunity for evangelization, ecclesial communion and interior renewal, through personal encounter with Christ together with numerous young people from all over the world, pilgrims to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

Today I would like to recall the words I addressed to you during my unforgettable journey to Cuba. Continue to fix your gaze on Christ. He wants to offer you his friendship once again; his eyes, filled with tenderness, continue to gaze upon Cuban youth, the living hope of the Church and of Cuba. "Do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ". Do not close yourselves to his love. Be his witnesses to other young people, making concrete commitments to spread the civilization of love in all contexts: family, ecclesial communities and work.

Therefore I ask the Lord that in this Jubilee Year the Spirit will fill you with his gifts and blessings. At the same time, before returning to your places of origin, I repeat to you, so that you can make them your own, the words with which they welcomed me in Camagüey: "Blessed are the feet of the messenger who proclaims peace!".

5. Once again, I express my affection to each of you present here and, as I invoke the motherly protection of Mary assumed into heaven, I very gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, extending it to all your loved ones.



Tor Vergata, Saturday, 19 August 2000

1. “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16,15).

Dear young people, it is with great joy that I meet you again at this Prayer Vigil, during which we wish to listen together to Christ whom we feel present among us. It is he who is speaking to us.

“Who do you say that I am?” Jesus asks his disciples this question near Caesarea Philippi. Simon Peter answers: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16). The Master then turns to him with the surprising words: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16,17).

What is the meaning of this dialogue? Why does Jesus want to know what people think about him? Why does he want to know what his disciples think about him?

Jesus wants his disciples to become aware of what is hidden in their own minds and hearts and to give voice to their conviction. At the same time, however, he knows that the judgment they will express will not be theirs alone, because it will reveal what God has poured into their hearts by the grace of faith.

This event which took place near Caesarea Philippi leads us, in a sense, into the “school of faith”. There the mystery of the origin and development of our faith is disclosed. First there is the grace of revelation: an intimate, ineffable self-giving of God to man. There then follows the call to respond. Finally there comes the human response, a response which from that point on must give meaning and shape to one’s entire life.

This is what faith is all about! It is the response of the rational and free human person to the word of the living God. The questions that Jesus asks, the answers given by the Apostles, and finally by Simon Peter, are a kind of examination on the maturity of the faith of those who are closest to Christ.

2. The conversation near Caesarea Philippi took place during the time leading up to the Passover, that is before Christ’s passion and resurrection. We should also recall another event, when the Risen Christ checked the maturity of faith of his Apostles. This is the meeting with the Apostle Thomas. He was the only one not there when, after the resurrection, Christ came for the first time into the Upper Room. When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he would not believe it. He said: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20,25). A week later, the disciples were gathered together again and Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the closed door, and greeted the Apostles with the words: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20,26), and immediately he turned to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (Jn 20,27). Thomas then answered: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20,28).

The Upper Room in Jerusalem too was a kind of “school of faith” for the Apostles. However, in a sense, what happened to Thomas goes beyond what occurred near Caesarea Philippi. In the Upper Room we see a more radical dialectic of faith and unbelief, and, at the same time, an even deeper confession of the truth about Christ. It was certainly not easy to believe that the One who had been placed in the tomb three days earlier was alive again.

The divine Master had often announced that he would rise from the dead, and in many ways he had shown that he was the Lord of life. Yet the experience of his death was so overwhelming that people needed to meet him directly in order to believe in his resurrection: the Apostles in the Upper Room, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the holy women beside the tomb. . . Thomas too needed it. But when his unbelief was directly confronted by the presence of Christ, the doubting Apostle spoke the words which express the deepest core of faith: If this is the case, if you are truly living despite having been killed, this means that you are “my Lord and my God”.

In what happened to Thomas, the “school of faith” is enriched with a new element. Divine revelation, Jesus’s question and man’s response end in the disciple’s personal encounter with the living Christ, with the Risen One. This encounter is the beginning of a new relationship between each one of us and Christ, a relationship in which each of us comes to the vital realization that Christ is Lord and God; not only the Lord and God of the world and of humanity, but the Lord and God of my own individual human life. One day Saint Paul would write: “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach. Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rm 10,8-9).

3. The readings of today’s Liturgy describe the elements of the “school of faith” from which the Apostles emerged as people fully aware of the truth which God had revealed in Jesus Christ, the truth which would shape their personal lives and the life of the Church throughout history. This gathering in Rome, dear young people, is also a kind of “school of faith” for you, the disciples of today; it is the “school of faith” for all who proclaim Christ at the beginning of the Third Millennium.

You can all sense in yourselves the process of questions and answers that we have just been talking about. You can all measure the difficulties you have in believing, and even feel the temptation not to believe. But at the same time you can also experience a slowly maturing sense and conviction of your commitment in faith. In fact, there is always a meeting between God and the human person in this wonderful school of the human spirit, the school of faith. The Risen Christ always enters the Upper Room of our life and allows each of us to experience his presence and to declare: You, O Christ, you are “my Lord and my God”.

Christ said to Thomas: “Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20,29). There is something of the Apostle Thomas in every human being. Each one is tempted by unbelief and each one asks the basic questions: Is it true that God exists? Is it true that he created the world? Is it true that the Son of God became man, died and rose from the dead? The answer comes as the person experiences God’s presence. We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit. Then the open wounds of the Risen Christ will speak to each of us: “Because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”.

4. Dear friends, to believe in Jesus today, to follow Jesus as Peter, Thomas, and the first Apostles and witnesses did, demands of us, just as it did in the past, that we take a stand for him, almost to the point at times of a new martyrdom: the martyrdom of those who, today as yesterday, are called to go against the tide in order to follow the divine Master, to follow “the Lamb wherever he goes” (Ap 14,4). It is not by chance, dear young people, that I wanted the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century to be remembered at the Colosseum during this Holy Year.

Perhaps you will not have to shed your blood, but you will certainly be asked to be faithful to Christ! A faithfulness to be lived in the circumstances of everyday life: I am thinking of how difficult it is in today’s world for engaged couples to be faithful to purity before marriage. I think of how the mutual fidelity of young married couples is put to the test. I think of friendships and how easily the temptation to be disloyal creeps in.

I think also of how those who have chosen the path of special consecration have to struggle to persevere in their dedication to God and to their brothers and sisters. I think of those who want to live a life of solidarity and love in a world where the only things that seem to matter are the logic of profit and one’s personal or group interest.

I think too of those who work for peace and who see new outbreaks of war erupt and grow worse in different parts of the world; I think of those who work for human freedom and see people still slaves of themselves and of one another. I think of those who work to ensure love and respect for human life and who see life so often attacked and the respect due to life so often flouted.

5. Dear young people, in such a world is it hard to believe? Is it hard to believe in the Third Millennium? Yes! It is hard. There is no need to hide it. It is hard, but with the help of grace it can be done, as Jesus explained to Peter: “Neither flesh nor blood has revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 16,17).

This evening I will give you the Gospel. It is the Pope’s gift to you at this unforgettable vigil. The word which it contains is the word of Jesus. If you listen to it in silence, in prayer, seeking help in understanding what it means for your life from the wise counsel of your priests and teachers, then you will meet Christ and you will follow him, spending your lives day by day for him!

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord’s grace are winning!

6. Dear friends, at the dawn of the Third Millennium I see in you the “morning watchmen” (cf. Is Is 21,11-12). In the course of the century now past young people like you were summoned to huge gatherings to learn the ways of hatred; they were sent to fight against one another. The various godless messianic systems which tried to take the place of Christian hope have shown themselves to be truly horrendous. Today you have come together to declare that in the new century you will not let yourselves be made into tools of violence and destruction; you will defend peace, paying the price in your person if need be. You will not resign yourselves to a world where other human beings die of hunger, remain illiterate and have no work. You will defend life at every moment of its development; you will strive with all your strength to make this earth ever more livable for all people.

Dear young people of the century now beginning, in saying “yes” to Christ, you say “yes” to all your noblest ideals. I pray that he will reign in your hearts and in all of humanity in the new century and the new millennium. Have no fear of entrusting yourselves to him! He will guide you, he will grant you the strength to follow him every day and in every situation.

May Mary most holy, the Virgin who said “yes” to God throughout her whole life, may Saints Peter and Paul and all the Saints who have lighted the Church’s journey down the ages, keep you always faithful to this holy resolve!

To each and every one of you I offer my blessing with affection.




Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Beloved Hungarian People!

1. Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur! These joyful words from the Te Deum hymn are well suited to the solemn celebration of the first millennium of St Stephen's coronation. At this time of grace our thoughts turn to that key event which marks the birth of the Hungarian State. With grateful hearts we wish to praise God and thank him for the graces received by the people of Hungary in these 1,000 years of history.

This history begins with a holy king, rather, with a "holy family": Stephen, with his wife, Bl. Gisela, and their son, St Emeric, are the first saintly Hungarian family. This seed would sprout and bring forth a host of noble figures who would distinguish Pannonia Sacra: one need only think of St Ladislaus, St Elizabeth and St Margaret!

Then as we look at the tormented 20th century, how could we forget the great examples of the late Cardinal József Mindszenty, Bl. Vilmos Apor, Bishop and martyr, and Ven. László Batthyány-Strattmann? It is a history that has unfolded down the centuries with a fertility which it is your duty to increase and to enrich with new fruits in the various fields of human activity.

In the course of its glorious past, Hungary was also Christianity's bulwark against the invasion of the Tartars and Turks. Of course, such a broad span of time did not want for dark moments; it was not without the bitter experience of withdrawals and defeats, which we must critically examine in a way that will shed light on responsibilities and prompt us to turn, in the final analysis, to the mercy of God, who can draw good even from evil. However, the history of your homeland as a whole is full of splendid lights in both the religious and the civil sphere, arousing the admiration of all who undertake its study.

2. At the dawn of the millennium, the figure of King St Stephen stands out. He founded the State on the firm rock of Christian values, and for this reason wanted to receive the royal crown from the hands of my Predecessor, Pope Sylvester II. Thus the Hungarian nation was founded in deep unity with the Chair of Peter and bound by close ties to other European countries, which shared the same Christian culture. This culture was the vital sap flowing through the fibres of the developing plant, which assured its growth and vigour, and prepared the extraordinary flourishing that was to come.

In Christianity the true, the just, the good and the beautiful are combined in marvellous harmony under the action of grace, which transforms and elevates all things. The world of work, study and research, the reality of law, the face of art with its multiple expressions, the sense of values, the thirst - often unconscious - for great and eternal things, with the need for the absolute which exists in every person, all come together in Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. This is what Augustine pointed out when he said that man is made for God and therefore his heart is restless until it rests in him (cf. Confessions, I, 1).

In this creative restlessness pulsates all that is most deeply human: the sense of belonging to God, the search for truth, the insatiable need for goodness, the burning thirst for love, the hunger for freedom, the longing for the beautiful, the wonder of the new, the soft but commanding voice of conscience. It is this very restlessness which reveals the true dignity of man, who feels in the depths of his being that his destiny is inseparably linked to God's eternal destiny. Every attempt to obliterate or ignore this irrepressible need for God reduces and impoverishes man's essential nature: the believer who is aware of this must bear witness to it in society, in order to serve the authentic cause of man in this way as well.

3. Everyone knows that your most noble nation was taught at the maternal knee of Holy Church. Unfortunately, in the last two generations not everyone has had the opportunity to know Jesus Christ, our Saviour. This period of history was marked by trials and suffering. It is now up to you, Hungarian Christians, to bring Jesus' name and to proclaim his Good News to all your beloved compatriots, thus making our Saviour's face known to them.

When St Stephen wrote his Admonitions for his son Emeric, was he speaking only to him? This is the question I asked you during my first pastoral visit to Hungary, during the unforgettable celebration in Heroes' Square on 20 August 1991. I remarked at the time: "Did he not write his Admonitions for all future generations of Hungarians, for all the heirs of his crown? Your holy king, dear brothers and sisters of the Hungarian nation, left you as an inheritance not only the royal crown which he received from Pope Sylvester II. He left you the spiritual testament, a heritage of fundamental and indestructible values: the true house built upon the rock".

Furthermore, all that the holy king recalled to his son in that venerable text remains timely: "A country that has only one language and only one tradition is weak and failing. I therefore urge you to welcome foreigners kindly and to hold them in honour, so that they prefer to stay with you rather than elsewhere" (Admonitions, VI). How can we not admire the far-sightedness of this advice? It outlines the idea of the modern State, open to the needs of all and to the light of Christ's Gospel.

4. Fidelity to the Christian message today also prompts you, dear Hungarian brothers and sisters, to foster the values of mutual respect and solidarity, which have their indestructible foundation in the dignity of the human person. With hearts grateful to God, accept the gift of life and, with fearless courage, defend its sacred value from conception until its natural end. Be conscious of the centrality of the family for a well-ordered, flourishing society. Promote wise programmes, therefore, to protect its soundness and integrity. Only a nation that can count on stable, healthy families can survive and write a great history, as you did in the past.

May Hungary's Catholics be committed to fostering sincere ecumenical relations with members of the other Christian denominations in order to be true Gospel witnesses. A thousand years ago, Christianity was not yet divided. Today an ever more pressing need is felt to restore full ecclesial unity among all believers in Christ. The divisions of recent centuries must be overcome in truth and in love, with impassioned and tireless commitment.

In addition, encourage and support every programme intended to promote harmony and collaboration within the nation and with neighbouring countries. You suffered together during the long periods of hardship which afflicted you and other peoples; why should you not be able to live together in the future? Peace and concord will be a source of every good for you. Study your past and try to draw from your knowledge of the events of bygone centuries the rich lessons of history, a magistra vitae for your future as well.

5. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae! With this invocation, which the Te Deum also puts on our lips, we turn to the Lord to implore his help in the new millennium now beginning. We ask for it through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magna Domina Hungarorum, whose veneration has had so great a role in the precious heritage of King St Stephen. He offered his crown to her as a pledge of his entrustment of the Hungarian people to her heavenly protection. How many images depicting this act are found in your churches! Following the holy king's example, may you also put your future under the mantle of the One to whom God entrusted his Only-begotten Son! Today you will solemnly carry the Right Hand of St Stephen in procession through the streets of your capital, the hand with which he offered his crown to the Blessed Virgin Mary: may the holy hand of your ancient king always accompany and protect your life!

With these thoughts I would like to be spiritually present at your solemn celebrations, extending a respectful greeting to the President of the Republic and to all the national authorities, to the Cardinal Archbishop, to all my Brother Bishops and their collaborators, to the distinguished delegations which have gathered in Budapest for this solemn occasion, and to all the noble Hungarian nation.

In the year of the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation of God's Son and of the solemn millennium of your nation, I invoke upon you all the greatest blessings of God the Father rich in mercy, of God the Son, our only Redeemer, and of God the Holy Spirit, who renews all things. Glory and honour to him forever and ever!

From Castel Gandolfo, 16 August 2000, the twenty-second year of my Pontificate.

Speeches 2000 - FIRST PART