Speeches 2000

5. The civil authorities should ensure that European structures and institutions always remain at the service of man, who can never be regarded as an object to be bought or sold, exploited or manipulated. He is a person, created in the image of God, who reflects the benevolent love of the Creator and Father of all. Every man and woman, whoever they may be, whatever their origin or condition of life, deserves absolute respect. The Church does not cease to recall these basic principles of social life. Today, in view of the prospects opened by science, particularly genetics and biology, in view of the phenomenal development of the means of communication and exchange at a global level, Europe can and must work to defend everywhere the dignity of man, from the moment of conception, to improve his living conditions by working for a just distribution of wealth, and by giving an education to all people, which will help them to become active in social life, and employment, which will allow them to live and provide for the needs of their loved ones. In this regard, it is also important to recall, in season and out of season, the place and inestimable value of the marital bond and the family, which cannot be put on an equal footing with other kinds of relationships without the risk of damaging the social fabric and making children and young people ever more fragile.

6. On this path of service to humanity, all Europeans must work untiringly for the cause of peace. In the century now ending, the Old Continent twice led the whole world into the tragedy and grief of war. Today it is beginning to learn the need for reconciliation and understanding among peoples.

The new bridges built between European nations are still unstable and insecure. The Balkan conflict reminded all European countries of the fragility of peace and the need to work to strengthen it daily. It revealed the danger of exaggerated nationalism and the need to open new horizons of acceptance and exchange, but also of reconciliation, between individuals and European nations.

7. For centuries the history of the European continent has been mingled with the history of evangelization. Europe is really not a closed or isolated territory; it has been built by expanding overseas to meet other peoples, other cultures, other civilizations. This history indicates a requirement: Europe cannot close in on itself. It cannot and must not lose interest in the rest of the world. On the contrary, it must remain fully aware of the fact that other countries, other continents, await its bold initiatives, in order to offer to poorer peoples the means for their growth and social organization, and to build a more just and fraternal world.

8. At the beginning of my Pontificate, I wrote that "man is the way for the Church, the way for her daily life and experience, for her mission and toil" (Redemptor hominis RH 14). May your reflection and the work of your assembly contribute to moulding the people of Europe! Asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany you with her maternal protection, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to all the members of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and to their staffs.

From the Vatican, 16 October 2000.



Friday, 20 October 2000

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to welcome Your Excellency as you present the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire to the Holy See.

I was touched by your courteous words, and I would be grateful if you would express my gratitude to H.E. Robert Gueï, President of the Republic, for the good wishes he has conveyed to me through you. I also extend a very cordial greeting to all the Ivorian people. I hope that at this important moment in their history they will find the necessary strength of mind to pursue, in peace and solidarity with all, their courageous efforts for human and spiritual development.

2. In your address you mentioned the important changes occurring in your country. Since it gained independence, Côte d'Ivoire has shown how attached it is to its long tradition of brotherhood and hospitality. Today, when new problems are challenging the nation, it is advisable for it to preserve this heritage and strengthen its unity. The use of violence to settle differences can only lead to reinforcing divisions and tensions and, in the long term, to mortgaging the organization of society. Peace is a priceless treasure: if it is to be fully maintained, society must be built on the principles of equality, truth, justice and solidarity. It will then be able to guarantee respect for the fundamental human rights of all.

As I have already had the occasion to point out, "failure awaits every plan which would separate two indivisible and interdependent rights: the right to peace and the right to an integral development born of solidarity" (Message for World Day of Peace 2000, n. 13). I hope that the efforts made in recent years to improve Ivorians' standard of living will be continued and will allow them all to enjoy the benefits of development. This will require the determination to seek and implement appropriate solutions for meeting the essential needs of individuals and families and thereby guaranteeing an equitable sharing of benefits and responsibilities by sound administration of the common patrimony.

3. The Catholic Church's involvement in the life of human societies belongs to the mission she received from Christ. For her part, she wishes to help in building a united and fraternal national community. Thus she intends to encourage trusting relations and to seek ways of authentic reconciliation among all the country's inhabitants. That is why an atmosphere of dialogue which is respectful of legitimate differences is necessary, for the growth of ethnic or religious hostility is a serious threat to peace and unity and is opposed to God's plan for humanity. For Catholics, "the challenge of dialogue is fundamentally the challenge of transforming relationships between individuals, nations and peoples in religious, political, economic, social and cultural life" (Ecclesia in Africa ).

Moreover, to face the complex problems encountered on the way to the harmonious development of societies, the Church urges public officials to have an ever greater and more genuine awareness of moral values. The people's trust in those who have been called to serve them in public life depends on this. Universal values, such as respect for all human life and its dignity, solidarity, a sense of the common good and the fraternal acceptance of foreigners, are particularly dear to African people. They are a precious heritage which, when accepted and developed, must become a source of hope in the future and permit social life to be built upon solid foundations.

4. Mr Ambassador, on this solemn occasion I would like, through you, to extend an affectionate greeting to the members of Côte d'Ivoire's Catholic community. I ask them to remain united around their Bishops in order to be a leaven of brotherhood and reconciliation in Ivorian society through generous and loyal collaboration with their fellow citizens. May the Jubilee Year encourage them to strengthen their faith in Christ the Saviour and to have a new awareness of the vocation they have received to be Gospel witnesses!

5. As you begin your mission to the Holy See, I offer you my cordial wishes for the noble task that awaits you. I assure you that you will always find caring and cordial assistance here from those who work with me.

I pray for an abundance of divine blessings upon Your Excellency and your family, upon the Ivorian people and upon those who preside over their destiny.




Saturday, 21 October 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to extend a cordial welcome to this Jubilee audience on the eve of World Mission Sunday. The great mystery of the Incarnation of the divine Word, which took place 2,000 years ago in Mary's womb, is once again presented for our reflection on this occasion. Today's meeting is therefore a very fitting opportunity for becoming more aware of the urgency of bringing to the third millennium the great message of salvation offered by God to humanity.

In this festive atmosphere of missionary commitment, I greet all of you gathered in Rome for your Jubilee pilgrimage, beginning with the group of pilgrims from the Diocesan Vicariate of Northern Bologna, led by Auxiliary Bishop Ernesto Vecchi, whom I thank for his address to me on behalf of you all. Dear friends, I am always pleased to remember my visit to your city three years ago for the solemn closing of the National Eucharistic Congress. I was actually in the territory of your Vicariate. I remember the great Prayer Vigil and the solemn closing Eucharistic celebration that followed. Always cherish in your hearts a vivid memory of that ecclesial event, which was an important moment in your preparation for the Great Jubilee. In fact, the Eucharistic Jesus, the source and summit of all evangelization, belongs to the "heart" of the Jubilee. It is from him that you can constantly draw energy and courage for the mission to which God calls you.

I know that the relics of your patron, the saintly Bishop Petronius, were recently transferred to the basilica dedicated to him. I congratulate you and I hope that this significant celebration will help you to maintain a deep awareness of your "Petronian" identity. May the Madonna of St Luke, so dear to the Bolognese, and St Petronius, your special protector, sustain you in your renewed journey of life and Christian witness.

2. My affectionate thoughts now turn to the faithful from the Diocese of Palestrina attending this audience with their Bishop, Eduardo Davino, who warmly expressed their common sentiments.

Dear friends, your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles is a powerful invitation to experience forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal of life. It is a call each day to begin anew the journey of faith and participation in the life of the Christian community. This commitment to begin again must obviously be interpreted in a spiritual, not chronological, sense. I encourage you to persevere.

I hope that your celebration of the Holy Year and especially your visit to the See of Peter and your passing through the Holy Door will increase your desire for authentic conversion, in order to begin a more intense and generous journey of openness to divine grace and witness to Gospel values.

3. I now address you, dear faithful from the Diocese of Crema, together with your Bishop, Angelo Paravisi, to whom I am grateful for the sentiments expressed on behalf of you all. This meeting reminds me of the warm welcome that your community gave me during the Pastoral Visit I made to Crema in June 1992. I know that you prepared for today's meeting with a Diocesan Synod and with the various stages that progressively marked the pastoral journey of your Diocese in these years.

I urge you to continue with renewed enthusiasm in your efforts to be faithful to the Gospel. Draw light and strength from the moving Gospel account of the disciples at Emmaus, from which your pastoral journey takes inspiration. May the fascinating discovery of the living presence of the risen Christ through listening to his word and the "breaking of Bread" spur you to deepen your communion and pastoral cooperation within your communities and renew your zeal to proclaim the Gospel of salvation.

4. An affectionate greeting goes next to the large group of pilgrims from the parishes of St Tammarus, St Vitus, St Catherine and Our Lady of Good Counsel in Grumo Nevano, in the Diocese of Aversa, from which dear Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, Secretary of the Committee for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, comes and who fittingly expressed the sentiments of his countrymen. Dear brothers and sisters, may today's celebration at the Chair of Peter strengthen you in your personal and ecclesial journey towards an increasingly strong and mature faith, which will be continually translated into charitable initiatives in the service of your brethren.

Be conscious of your role within a Christian community that intensely lives its own sense of ministry to the world, towards which it feels the duty of presenting the Gospel in a credible way.

5. My cordial thoughts go also to the numerous members of the Italian Federation of Blood-Donor Associations, accompanied by the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Armando Brambilla, who expressed the sentiments of each of you. Dear friends, donating blood is a great act of solidarity that involves the deepest aspects of the human personality by committing it to live the spirituality of the gift. As I express my sincere appreciation for the significant witness of sensitivity offered by your praiseworthy associations, I urge you to enrich their various social and health-care activities with a solid spiritual formation, so that they can always carry out their service to life in the best way possible.

6. I cordially greet the young Hungarian students from the Cistercian High School in Pécs. May this meeting be a source of divine grace for you. Praised be Jesus Christ!

7. Lastly, I extend an affectionate welcome to the other pilgrim groups. In particular, to the members of the National Association of Retired Firefighters, the Association of Itinerant Campers, the Association of Historical Commemorations of the Marches Region, the Lions Club of Caserta, to participants in the congress organized by the Institute of Charity and to the Capuchin Friars of the Umbrian Province. My affectionate greeting goes to you all, together with the wish for an intense and fruitful Jubilee celebration.

As I invoke the motherly protection of Mary, Star of Evangelization and Queen of the Missions, I sincerely bless each of you, along with your families, your communities and your associations.



Sunday, 22 October 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for this splendid concert which the Czech Republic has offered me during the Great Jubilee. With the help of art, it has allowed us to contemplate the mystery of Christ, the basis of our hope.

My respectful greetings go first of all to the Prime Minister and the other Czech authorities, whose participation is a significant confirmation of their desire to restore a climate of active collaboration between the State and the Church in their country. On this occasion I would like to send a respectful greeting to the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel.

I also affectionately greet the Cardinals and my Brothers in the Episcopate who wished to attend this artistic and cultural event, thus increasing its solemnity by their presence. My greeting goes lastly to everyone present, who has shared the joy of this stupendous performance. In the name of all, I express my grateful appreciation to Maestro Aldo Ceccato, who interpreted and presented the magnificent score of Franz Liszt's Oratorio Christus with intense and profound feeling.

I also express these sentiments to the soloists, the musicians of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the members of the Czech Philharmonic Chorus of Brno. And I would like to thank the organizers, whose generous commitment made this performance possible.

The remarkable spiritual experience we have had this evening prompts me to express the hope that the dignity of art and the heritage handed down to us by previous generations can lead the men and women of the new millennium to a renewed contemplation of evangelical Truth, the only guarantee for building a new civilization fully based on respect for every person and every culture.

I entrust these wishes to Christ Jesus and to the Virgin Mary, his Mother and our Mother, as I invoke upon all the blessing of heaven.




Monday, 23 October 2000

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive Your Excellency as you present the Letters by which Her Majesty Queen Beatrix accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of The Netherlands to the Holy See.

I warmly thank you, Mr Ambassador, for bringing me the respectful greetings of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, and I would be grateful in return if you would assure her of my best wishes for herself and for her mission at the service of the kingdom. I particularly appreciate your address to me; it shows your interest and, through you, your country's interest in several important events of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in which Christians are called to strengthen and renew their spiritual life so that they will be more and more committed to building social life beside their brothers and sisters, thus giving an ever stronger witness to the importance of human, moral and Christian values. The participation of your country's young people in World Youth Day enabled them to express their faith and to discover that other young people live the values of the Gospel as they do. They left here transformed by this ecclesial experience, which they will doubtless put into practice in their country.

2. As you very appropriately stress, the moral value of respect for others is essential at all levels of interpersonal relations. In fact, if our contemporaries are to have trust in the various institutions of civil society, it is most important that they know they are respected and that their rights are fully recognized. The most important of these rights is the dignity of every human life in the various stages of a person's existence, and religious freedom, which is a fundamental element of freedom of conscience. This is true for the future of all society, which cannot enact norms that demean the most basic respect owed to every human being, for man remains the centre of social life in all circumstances. These various aspects of moral life are important elements for peace and harmony within a nation and between peoples. Indeed, how could one expect to establish peace while disregarding people's dignity?

You also know the Catholic Church's concern for marriage as a fundamental human reality and as the basic cell of society. No other form of interpersonal relations can be considered equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman, who bring children to life through their love. We must remember that every society needs basic structures if it is to be built on solid, objective foundations.

3. I particularly appreciate your attention to the phenomena of poverty in the world and to the growing disparities between rich and poor countries. Many times during this Jubilee Year I have asked national authorities to think of showing stronger solidarity to the poorest countries, especially by reducing their external debt. Particularly significant decisions have already been taken in this regard, which I am delighted with, while calling for further action in this direction. It is also important, as a matter of equity, that the nations producing raw materials be able to enjoy international development and that the benefits do not accrue only to those which transform these raw materials or trade in them. The economy must be at the service of all men and women, to enable them to live and to have their rightful place in society. It is also an essential element in the cause of peace. Indeed, nations which are subject to the laws of the international market without enjoying its benefits experience a certain number of social and institutional imbalances, which can only provoke conflict. At the same time, the advancement of peoples must be the concern of all.

Development aid presupposes sharing at all levels and serious follow-up to the projects undertaken. In fact, to accompany the growth of a people is to enable them to acquire the necessary training and means so that tomorrow they can be the protagonists and principal agents of their own progress, in a sound relationship with other countries in the concert of nations. I salute the efforts made in this regard by Europe, to which your country belongs, while inviting the continent's leaders to continue and to intensify their action towards poor countries and regions of conflict, especially in Africa and the Middle East. It is important that situations of tension not be allowed to continue, as we have experienced elsewhere, for this will make it difficult to resolve the conflicts and in the future will compromise a good organization of civil society and national institutions.

4. Through your good offices, Mr Ambassador, I would like to greet the Catholic Church in your country; I encourage the Pastors and faithful in their mission of explicitly proclaiming the Gospel to everyone and in their participation in social life among their brothers and sisters, and I invite them to make significant gestures at the ecumenical level, while respecting the faith of each community. My respectful greetings also go to Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, to the entire Royal Family, to all the civil and religious authorities, and to all the Dutch people, to whom I offer my wishes for happiness and prosperity, asking the Lord to assist them in their personal, family and civic life.

As you begin your mission as the representative of the Kingdom of The Netherlands to the Apostolic See, I offer you my best wishes. Be assured, Mr Ambassador, that those who work with me will always give you a warm welcome and understanding help for carrying out the mission entrusted to you.

I ask God to send his gracious blessings upon you, upon your loved ones, upon your colleagues at the embassy and upon all your compatriots.





Dear Young People of Sicily!

1. I am very pleased to address you, as you gather together to make a special Jubilee pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Tears in Syracuse, which I consecrated six years ago. With great satisfaction I learned that this Jubilee celebration is taking place in the presence of the Bishops of Sicily at the end of their spiritual exercises. This fact expresses the strong ecclesial nature of the programme and, more generally, the love and attention of the Church in Sicily for the younger generation. My most affectionate greeting goes to all of you, young Sicilians, and to you, dear Brother Bishops and priests.

2. Your regional Jubilee, dear young people, is linked to the recent World Youth Day held in Rome, especially to the memorable vigil of 19 August last, in which many of you took part. With this Message, I would like to continue the dialogue that I had with young people at Tor Vergata. At the time I said: "Dear friends, at the dawn of the third millennium I see in you the "morning watchmen' (cf. Is Is 21,11-12)".

"Morning watchmen"! These words of the prophet Isaiah struck you, and you chose them as the theme of your pilgrimage-vigil, to encourage and direct your commitment. The generous way you accepted my invitation was a comfort to me! The Pope's heart rejoices and gives thanks to God, because young people not only listen but welcome, reflect and, above all, try to put into practise the word they have received, which is not the word of men, but the word of God, which is at work in you believers (cf. 1Th 2,13).

2. Because you, dear young people, want to believe in Christ! Faith, as you will recall, was the essential content of the great vigil of Tor Vergata. In Rome, the city of Peter and Paul, I "entrusted" the young people of the whole world with the task of courageously professing their faith in Christ, a profession for which the Apostles and martyrs gave their lives. Young people of Sicily, are you also willing to give your lives for this faith?

Some think that following Christ means infringing on own humanity, lessening its value. Nothing could be falser! Indeed, as I said at Tor Vergata, "in saying "yes' to Christ, you say "yes' to all your noblest ideals" (n. 6). Certainly, choosing Jesus involves renouncing sin, but sin is not a fulfilment of human nature; it is an impoverishment of it! God did not make us for evil, but for goodness, truth and beauty, that is for him, our creator and Father. As St Augustine writes: "You have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you" (Conf., 1, 1, 1).

For this reason, dear friends, do not be afraid to say a total "yes" to Jesus, like Peter, like Paul, like Francis and Clare of Assisi, like Agatha of Catania and Lucy of Syracuse, like St Dominic Savio and Pier Giorgio Frassati, like so many witnesses to the Gospel who have also arisen down the centuries in your own Sicily. Shining examples of believers were not lacking in the 20th century in your land, and they are still a reference-point for you to look at as an inspiration for your concrete decisions. Sicilian young people, sustained by the eloquent testimony of these compatriots, courageously follow the path of personal holiness and diligently nourish yourselves with the word of God and the Eucharist. The holier you are, the more you can contribute to building up the Church and society.

3. Be "living stones" (cf. 1P 2,5) in your parish communities, generously assisting the priests and one another. Learn to assume your responsibilities, and educate yourselves for this in groups, associations and lay movements, among which I particularly recommend Catholic Action, a school of ecclesial and civil commitment. In this way, you will make an important contribution to the Church's journey in Sicily, also in view of the approaching Regional Ecclesial Convention, which will discuss precisely the laity.

Be missionaries! Faith is a gift that, when shared with other believers, grows and matures. Bring the Gospel to everyone, especially to your contemporaries, above all to those who are less respected and in greater difficulty. Always put your words into action; may your strength be the truth.

Resist negative ways of thinking, which unfortunately you sometimes find around you. Remember that Jesus said to his Apostles: "I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Mt 10,16). Do not be satisfied with being fresh, fragrant bread: you must be a Gospel leaven in schools and universities, in the world of work and sport, in your families and among your friends. For this reason, commit yourselves to participating in public life and institutions, while remaining detached from every personal interest and always and only working for the common good.

4. Your Sicily has a great natural and cultural heritage: it is entrusted in a special way to you, young people of the third millennium. Know it, recognize it, appreciate it. You are fortunate to live in a region that has one of the richest histories: draw from these roots to make your humanity grow, and to make your own and to develop the religious, artistic, cultural and moral values to which you are heirs. In these values you will also find a meeting ground with people of other nationalities and cultures, and thus renew Sicily's vocation to be a crossroads of peoples in the heart of the Mediterranean.

Of this patrimony, there is no doubt that the most precious legacy is faith in Christ and love for his Blessed Mother. The shrine where you are headed as pilgrims recalls the mystery of Mary's tears and those of Jesus himself: set your hearts on this mystery in order to contemplate the immense love of God, who sent his Son as a victim of expiation for our sins. May those tears purify you inwardly and fill you with the peace and joy that are gifts of Christ and which nothing and no one can take from you.

I ask you also to remember my intentions in your prayers, as I assure you that I am spiritually close to you. As a sign of my great affection, I sincerely send to each of you and to your Bishops my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to the priests, your relatives and all who accompany you on your daily journey.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2000.




Tuesday, 24 October 2000

I cordially greet the community of the major seminary of the metropolitan see of Warmia, the "Hosianum" in Olsztyn: the students and teachers, with the rector, lay employees and members of the Friends of the Seminary Association. I gratefully recall the time when I had the opportunity to visit your community in 1991, while stopping in Olsztyn during my pilgrimage. I am pleased to be able to welcome you here today.

You came to Rome in the Jubilee Year to ask, at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, for graces and blessings for the present and the future. Such a Jubilee prayer is especially timely and important in view of the new millennium. The 20th century brought with it many changes in various areas of life. The rapid growth in science, technology, medicine, culture, social and political thought and, finally, the communications media has not failed to influence the spiritual life of individuals, families and entire nations. We can foresee that, in the millennium we are now entering, similar changes in the realities of this world will be a source of new challenges to human beings, especially believers. In order to meet these challenges, believers must find solid support in priests who are well-trained for their ministry. That is why the role of the seminary as a formation community for future priests is particularly important today. A seminary must be an environment with men of deep faith, of unshakeable hope and of self-sacrificing love, men who are open to the work of the Holy Spirit, who instil in Christ's disciples the desire for an active commitment to promoting the coming of the Father's kingdom. A seminary must also be a place where humanly mature priests are formed, men who know how to use the advances of modern culture and wish to contribute to creating them. Our contemporaries need priests who have broad horizons in their thinking and acting, and are ready to meet their brethren's every need.

Warmia's seminary enjoys a long and glorious tradition. This year marks the 435th anniversary of the foundation, by the Servant of God Cardinal Stanislaus Hosius, of this first major seminary on Polish soil, located in Braniewo. It is difficult to recount in a few sentences all the history of this institution, of the men who created it and of the work of the priests formed in it. Suffice it to recall, therefore, Fr Wladyslaw Demski, whom I raised to the glory of the altars among a group of 108 martyrs. This heroic priest, who came from your seminary, gave his life for the Truth, defending the cross of Christ and the Christian faith. May his witness be a model and encouragement to you on your vocational journey. I pray that this seed will continually bear the fruit of new vocations to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Warmia.

I pray that God will pour out abundant graces on you during this Jubilee pilgrimage. May Christ, the Eternal High Priest, lead you into the new millennium and bless you!




Thursday, 26 October 2000

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am particularly pleased to welcome Your Excellency as you present the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lebanon to the Holy See.

I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me and I would appreciate it if you would express my gratitude to His Excellency General Émile Lahoud, President of the Lebanese Republic, for the wishes he sent me through your good offices. Through you I would like affectionately to greet all the Lebanese people. I cherish in my heart the memory of the warm welcome they gave me during my visit to Lebanon.

2. I listened attentively to what you told me about developments in the situation in southern Lebanon and of the political changes that have occurred in recent weeks. I hope that the love which all Lebanese have for their homeland will help them to live together, as they look to the future with a burning concern to "meet this challenge of reconciliation and brotherhood, of freedom and solidarity, which is the essential condition for Lebanon's existence and will cement your unity on this land which you love" (Apostolic Exhortation A New Hope for Lebanon, n. 120). The temptation to reawaken feelings that had grave consequences in the past can be avoided particularly through the growth of democracy and by giving all citizens the possibility to participate in their country's life, regardless of the religion or community to which they belong.

The strengthening of trust between the human and religious communities that make up the country is a necessary condition for banishing the fear of others and for reacquiring a taste for living together.

Speeches 2000