Speeches 2000

This mutual trust, which should inspire social life at all levels, first depends on everyone's acceptance of universal moral values such as respect for life and fundamental human values, and freedom of conscience and religion. It is particularly urgent to allow everyone to have decent and worthy living conditions. Trust is also increased by patient and respectful dialogue among all the nation's constituents, as well as by shared participation in the country's development.

To succeed in this, it is up to those who have been given the task of leading the nation to work for the common good with determination, unselfishness and perseverance, and to encourage an equitable sharing of responsibilities, without seeking privileges for oneself or for one's community. However, as I have already had occasion to stress, "this also requires that the country regain its total independence, complete sovereignty and unequivocal freedom" (A New Hope for Lebanon, n. 121).

3. The current situation in the Middle East remains particularly disturbing. The definitive establishment of peace and security in the region is ever longer in coming and at times seems more and more remote. We can only note that the spiral of violence always brings great hardship to everyone, rekindling conflicts and making every prospect of reconciliation more difficult. The Holy Land, where God revealed himself and spoke to mankind, must become the place par excellence where peace and justice flourish. Jerusalem must be a particularly strong symbol of unity, peace and reconciliation for the whole human family!

Mr Ambassador, you mentioned the efforts taken by the Holy See to help find a just and equitable solution for the Holy City, particularly for the Holy Places of the three religions that coexist there.

The trusting relations that are growing between the Apostolic See and the region's peoples give reason to hope that the day will come when, through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for the dignity and identity of the communities, a special, internationally guaranteed statute can be established for the city's holiest sites.

4. Mr Ambassador, allow me through you to extend my most cordial greeting to the Patriarchs, Bishops and all the faithful of Lebanon's Catholic communities. In this year of the Great Jubilee, I invite them to be renewed by Christ and to find strength, joy and hope in him. By resolutely pursuing their efforts to continue strengthening their fraternal relations with the faithful of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as with the members of the monotheistic religions, particularly Muslims, they are helping to build a new Lebanon that can overcome misunderstandings and seek above all the happiness and prosperity of all her children. While remaining firmly attached to their land, may they continue to work tirelessly, with all their compatriots, to serve the common good by drawing from their faith the inspiration and principles of life to bear witness to Gospel values in society!

5. Mr Ambassador, as you officially begin your mission to the Apostolic See, I offer you my heartfelt wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Be assured that you will always receive an attentive welcome here and the help you may need from those who work with me.

Upon Your Excellency, upon your staff and loved ones, upon the nation's leaders and all the Lebanese people, I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine blessings.


Thursday, 26 October 2000

Dear Slovenian Pilgrims!

1. I welcome you with great joy to St Peter's Basilica on the occasion of your Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome. I first greet your Metropolitan Archbishop, Franc Rodé, whom I thank for the words he spoke on your behalf. I also extend my greeting to the other Bishops, priests and religious who are with you. And I greet all of you, who want to express your fidelity to the Successor of Peter with this pilgrimage.

In today's meeting at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, I see your response to my two unforgettable apostolic visits to Slovenia, during which I was able to get to know your Church and your people better. I still have a vivid memory of the solemn celebration in which I had the joy of enrolling among the blessed Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek, one of the many fruits of holiness of the Church in Slovenia.

2. Your presence in the Eternal City is the climax of the Jubilee celebrations in your cathedrals and the other churches of your country. During these days you are visiting the great Roman basilicas to gain the Jubilee indulgence; today you are meeting the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter.

I address you as the universal Pastor and Father, who accompanies you with love and prayer, urging you to be faithful to the holy Gospel and to the holy Catholic Church.

I would like to remind you of what I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, when announcing the Holy Year of 2000: "The primary objective of the Jubilee is ... to inspire in all the faithful a true longing for holiness, a deep desire for conversion and personal renewal in a context of ever more intense prayer and of solidarity with one's neighbour, especially the most needy" (n. 42). Your witness in the world will thus be strengthened.

3. I also exhort you to have greater courage and a healthy awareness of your dignity, which must also be shown in your civic involvement. Half a century of totalitarian government has left a feeling of inferiority and fear in many Christians. The time has come to overcome this attitude of timidity!

With commitment and on an equal footing, work with all people of good will in the fields of politics, the economy, culture, education and the mass media. You will thus help to establish a society of greater justice and solidarity, which takes its inspiration from the values of the kingdom of God, "a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace" (Preface for the Feast of Christ the King).

Finally, I urge you to carry out with all the enthusiasm of your hearts and souls the conclusions of the Synod of the Church in Slovenia, which is being held with the motto: "Choose life" (Dt 30,19). The Synod is a great grace and an historic occasion given to you by the Lord to reflect calmly on your past and on the current situation of the Church, and to plan courageously for the future.

4. Above all, defend life! Here lies the crucial problem for the survival of the Slovenian people. The Synod should fill souls with a new trust and a new hope in life. This can only happen through a strong bond with the living God, who defends us from the forces of death, through personal contact with Jesus Christ, who "came that [we] may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10), and through our fidelity to his Gospel.

As I wrote in the Encyclical Evangelium vitae, "cultivate with humility and gratitude [the knowledge] that we are the people of life and for life" (n. 78), both within the family and in public.

5. In the joy of today's meeting, in this year of grace and mercy, I entrust you all to the protection of the Mother of God. From the national shrine of Brezje, may she support you with her maternal intercession and lead you to Jesus, the blessed fruit of her womb. To him be honour and glory for ever.

To those of you present here and to your families, I sincerely impart my Apostolic Blessing.
God bless dear Slovenia!



Friday, 27 October 2000

1. Welcome, "bianco-celesti" friends of Lazio, on the 100th anniversary of your club's foundation! This is not the first time that I have had the opportunity to welcome athletes and supporters of various clubs here in the Vatican. However, it does not often happen that I meet such a numerous group of members of a same sports family. Thank you for your kind visit, which enables me to relive the atmosphere and climate of great sporting events, filled with peaceful relaxation and joyful brotherhood.

I cordially greet you all. I greet the representatives of the various disciplines and the spiritual assistants. I especially thank Mr Renzo Nostini, General Manager of the Lazio Sports Club, for the kind words that he addressed to me on behalf of the managers, athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen, supporters and your families. In his words I gathered the meaning of your visit and the enthusiasm of your club, which in these 100 years has written a very interesting page in the book of Italian sport.

2. During the Holy Year of 1900, on 9 January, a promising club with a significant moral and sport tradition was born. This was symbolically expressed in the Latin motto "concordia parva crescunt - little things grow with harmony". Events have confirmed the ancient axiom: over the years, Lazio has become a sports club with 28 sections linked by their common Olympic spirit and by a desire for mutual solidarity. I am certain that, by spurring you to rediscover the ideals of the past, this centenary will be a fitting occasion for also emphasizing the ethical-religious dimension, essential for the full maturation of the human person. It is precisely for this reason that you wished to include among your various celebrations a spiritual encounter within the context of the Jubilee.

I would like here to quote a well-known expression of the Apostle Paul, which is well suited to your various amateur and competitive activities: "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things" (1Co 9,25). Actually, without balance, self-control, moderation and the ability to interact honestly with others, an athlete is unable to understand the full meaning of physical activity, which is meant to strengthen not only the body but the mind and heart.

3. Sometimes, unfortunately, incidents occur in the sports world that degrade the real meaning of competitiveness and affect not only athletes but the community itself. In particular, the passionate support of one's team must never reach the point of offending persons or damaging the community's property. Every athletic competition must always preserve the character of healthy and relaxing recreation. It is of these values that the Olympic colours - the blue and white - speak. These are the colours that characterize your flag and they must always be kept in view with a sharp and penetrating eye, like that of the eagle emblazoned on your crest.

Dear friends, during its 100 years of life, the Lazio club has offered numerous young people and adults an opportunity to test their strength against the demanding challenges of sport. This is demonstrated by the many Italian and international distinctions received by athletes who were formed within your structures. But it is only right also to remember the practical contribution your association has made to the vast fields of solidarity and volunteer work. In this regard, a special mention must be made of the work offered by your members on the occasion of the recent, unforgettable World Youth Day and the concrete assistance given to the Jubilee of Families.

While I express my appreciation of the good work accomplished, I urge you to continue on this path of service to youth, families and all society.

With these wishes, I invoke on you the maternal protection of Mary and bless you all with affection.





Saturday 28 October 2000

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

1. I am pleased to take part in this international convention on the significant theme: "During the time of the Jubilee: the face and soul of sport". Today I have the welcome opportunity to greet you, who in various capacities are the distinguished representatives of sport, as I wait to meet the entire world of sport, which will celebrate its Jubilee tomorrow at the Olympic Stadium.

I greet the organizers of this meeting, especially the President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch, and the President of the Italian Olympic Committee, Mr Giovanni Petrucci, and I extend my greeting to the various speakers and representatives of the varied dimensions of sport in the world. I thank, in particular, Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe, who expressed your common sentiments, while explaining the meaning of this meeting.

The theme that you chose for your reflection calls attention to the nature and aims of playing sports in our time, which is marked by a great variety of important social changes. Sport is certainly one of the prominent phenomena which, in a language understandable to all, can communicate very profound values. It can be a vehicle of high human and spiritual ideals when it is practised with full respect for its rules; but it can also fail in its true aim when it leaves room for other interests that ignore the centrality of the human person.

2. The theme speaks of the "face" and "soul" of sport. Athletic activity, in fact, highlights not only man's valuable physical abilities, but also his intellectual and spiritual capacities. It is not just physical strength and muscular efficiency, but it also has a soul and must show its complete face. This is why a true athlete must not let himself be carried away by an obsession with physical perfection, or be enslaved by the rigid laws of production and consumption, or by purely utilitarian and hedonistic considerations.

The potential of sports makes it a significant vehicle for the overall development of the person and a very useful element in building a more human society. A sense of brotherhood, generosity, honesty and respect for one's body - virtues that are undoubtedly essential for every good athlete - help to build a civil society where antagonism is replaced by healthy competition, where meeting is preferred to conflict, and honest challenge to spiteful opposition. When understood in this way, sport is not an end, but a means; it can become a vehicle of civility and genuine recreation, encouraging people to put the best of themselves on the field and to avoid what might be dangerous or seriously harmful to themselves or to others.

3. Unfortunately there are many signs, and perhaps they are becoming more evident, of a malaise that sometimes calls into question even the ethical values that are at the basis of athletic activity. In addition to a sport that helps people, there is another that harms them; in addition to a sport that enhances the body, there is another that degrades it and betrays it; in addition to a sport that pursues noble ideals, there is another that looks only for profit; in addition to a sport that unites, there is another that divides.

My hope is that this Jubilee of Sport may be an occasion for everyone, dear leaders, managers, sport enthusiasts and athletes, to find new creative and motivating zeal through sports that know how, in a constructive spirit, to reconcile the complex demands made by the current cultural and social changes with the unchangeable requirements of the human being.

4. Allow me to make another comment. While it promotes physical fitness and strengthens character, sport must never distract those who practise and appreciate it from their spiritual duties.

It would be as though one ran, as St Paul writes, only "for a perishable wreath", forgetting that Christians must never lose sight of "the imperishable one" (cf. 1Co 9,25). The spiritual dimension must be cultivated and harmonized with various recreational activities, which include sport.

The pace of modern society and of some competitive activities might sometimes cause Christians to forget the need to participate in the liturgical assembly on the Lord's Day. But the need for just and well-deserved recreation must not detract from the duty of the faithful to sanctify holy days. On the contrary, on the Lord's Day athletic activity must be put in a context of peaceful relaxation that encourages togetherness and the growth of communion, especially in the family.

I offer my best wishes for this meeting and, as I invoke the protection of Mary on you, I assure you of a remembrance in my prayer and gladly bless you.



Saturday, 28 October 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I extend a cordial welcome to all of you who have come from various parts of Italy for the Jubilee. May you draw from this grace-filled visit the strength and courage to follow the Gospel faithfully and become authentic servants of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. I sincerely thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who spoke on behalf of the many Bishops present here this morning, expressing their sentiments, as well as those of their faithful gathered here and of the thousands of students who are participating in the celebration organized by the FIDAE.

First of all, I affectionately greet the diocesan pilgrims from the Basilicata region who are accompanied by their respective Bishops, Ennio Appignanesi, Antonio Ciliberti, Michele Scandiffio, Rocco Talucci, Vincenzo Cozzi and Salvatore Ligorio. To each of them I express my fraternal affection. Dear faithful, you wished to participate with one voice in the Jubilee celebration in Rome and have included the provincial and municipal institutions and, particularly, your region. I know that the region has generously contributed to welcoming pilgrims and supported important religious-cultural and missionary projects connected with the Jubilee events. May this Jubilee pilgrimage be an occasion of personal encounter with Christ for everyone. Open yourselves with trust to him, the only Saviour of the world, and you will receive true joy. Listen to him, follow him: he calls you to be a living member of his Church, shining temples of his Spirit of Love.

2. I next greet the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Siena-Colle di Val d'Elsa-Montalcino, accompanied by Archbishop Gaetano Bonicelli. Dear friends, today your Jubilee pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostles is, in a certain sense, guided by the figure and example of St Catherine, co-patroness of Italy and of Europe, whose marble image shines today on the exterior of the Vatican Basilica, as if to signify her intense devotion to Peter and his Successors. Follow the spiritual journey of this great woman from your land, whose life was a progressive growth in the knowledge of Christ and in devotion to him. May her witness help you to continue fulfilling, day after day, your Christian vocation and to respond to it with generous commitment.

3. I am also pleased to extend a cordial greeting to the faithful from the Archdiocese of Fermo, gathered around their Archbishop Gennaro Franceschetti. In this last period of the Jubilee, an intense time of the Father's merciful love, I sincerely hope that each of you will be further motivated by apostolic zeal and will spread the Gospel message by your example. I encourage you to find in prayer, especially in the Eucharistic celebration, the strength to participate actively in the life of your Christian communities. Every disciple of the Lord is called to fulfil his role in building the Church.

4. My thoughts turn now to the faithful from the Archdiocese of Amalfi-Cava de' Tirreni, gathered here under the guidance of Archbishop Orazio Soricelli. The path of this Jubilee Year saw you involved in a significant pastoral journey full of apostolic initiatives. Dear friends, do not waste the abundant spiritual fruits you have gained, but try to take part actively and responsibly in the evangelizing mission of the Church. Welcome the demanding and liberating message of the Gospel and make the Good News heard constantly by your words, but above all by your own witness of life.

5. I now address a special word of greeting to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Rimini, accompanied by their Bishop Mariano De Nicolò. Remembering with pleasure my Pastoral Visit in 1982, which concluded with the Holy Mass that I celebrated on the great esplanade at the harbour, I renew my invitation to you to meditate on the responsibilities stemming from the tourist vocation of your diocesan territory. Commit yourselves to giving a soul to tourism, never tire of offering the Christian message to everyone and of defending the great values of life, the family and the sacredness of the Lord's Day.

6. I now turn to you, dear faithful from the Diocese of Tivoli, gathered here with your Bishop Pietro Garlato. I know that you are preparing for a special diocesan mission. This programme, which is taking place almost at the end of the celebrations of the Great Jubilee, is a significant occasion to bring to fruition the gifts of grace derived from the Jubilee events that have followed one another during the year. May each believer be a courageous evangelizer wherever he lives.

7. My thoughts now turn to the faithful from the Diocese of Latina-Terracina-Sezze-Priverno and to their Bishop Giuseppe Petrocchi. Dear friends, I still remember with pleasure my visit to your land in 1991, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of St Maria Goretti, patroness of the entire Pontine area. The example of her fidelity to Christ in the constant exercise of Christian virtues is still valid and timely, even in the third millennium. May you imitate her consistency and courage in your daily decisions, while offering a sincere response to the common call to holiness.

8. I likewise greet the educational institutions which have come from many parts of Italy, especially the numerous participants in the traditional meeting of the Catholic schools of Rome and Lazio. Welcome, dear students, teachers and parents. A year has passed since the great demonstration of 30 October 1999, in which a large group representing Italian Catholic schools gathered in this square. In this connection I cannot fail to remember the chief organizer of that event, Bro. Giuseppe Lazzaro, who died prematurely. In recalling his generous and fervent work in the educational world as president of Lazio's FIDAE and his commitment to supporting Catholic school parity, I offer a special prayer to the Lord for his blessed soul.

Schools, especially Catholic schools, which are a crossroads of the problems affecting the social and cultural life of the country, must take responsibility for the questions, uncertainties, but also for the positive energy and aspirations that stir young people. It is your task, dear educational leaders in general and those of Catholic schools in particular, to offer them sound, authentic cultural and formative reference-points, helping them always to be disciples of the Truth. With the wish that Catholic schools will have their rightful place fully recognized in the nation's social and civil life, I hope that you may all continue to work in education and formation with persevering trust, skill and renewed confidence.

9. I cordially greet the members of the World Brotherhood of Gastronomy, La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. May your meeting in Rome be an opportunity to strengthen your bonds of friendship and solidarity, and to observe the Jubilee with all the pilgrims! With my Apostolic Blessing.

I would also like to extend a cordial greeting to the Spanish-speaking pilgrims who have come to participate in this Jubilee celebration. I encourage you to continue growing in your faith and always to be witnesses to God's merciful love revealed in the crucified and risen Christ. May God grant you the graces of this Jubilee.

10. Lastly, an affectionate greeting goes to the various parish communities, to the associations and to the other groups of pilgrims, in particular to the representatives of INA-Assitalia and to the College of Industrial Experts. I hope that today's Jubilee experience will be for each of you an effective incentive to charity, justice and peace, so that you can contribute to the renewal in Christ of Christian communities and every area of life.

Invoking the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I sincerely impart my Apostolic Blessing to all present.




Saturday, 28 October 2000

I am very grateful to Archbishop Gaetano Bonicelli for the courteous words he addressed to me and I greet the authorities and faithful present, particularly Mr Eric Aman, the artist responsible for this impressive marble sculpture. On the occasion of the first anniversary of the proclamation of St Catherine of Siena as co-patroness of Europe, you wanted to donate this work to the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica, in order to enrich the patrimony of sacred art found in the various niches of this church. I thank everyone who contributed in any way to realizing this project. It is a significant tribute to the figure of St Catherine who, in the spirit of this Jubilee, is presented to us as an ever valid reference-point to guide our journey of faith at the beginning of the new millennium.




Tuesday, 31 October 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the end of this prayer meeting, which is held every day here in St Peter's Square, I would like to greet you with affection. I extend my greeting to His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Patriarch of Jerusalem for Latins, who has brought to our prayer this evening a reminder of the critical situation of those people who are so dear to me. In a special way I greet you, dear participants in the first International Mariology Forum, who have concluded your congress held in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the dogmatic proclamation of Blessed Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven.

I would like to express my appreciation to the International Marian Academy, the Marianum Theological Faculty and the Italian Interdisciplinary Mariological Association for organizing this programme, which fits in well with the Jubilee events.

We have reached the Solemnity of All Saints. The reflections on the truth of the Blessed Virgin's Assumption into heaven have been made on the eve of this great feast and of the one we will celebrate the day after tomorrow, All Souls Day. Mary, the first of the redeemed, shines before us as a lamp guiding the way for all humanity and reminding us of the ultimate goal to which everyone is called: holiness and eternal life.

May her powerful intercession help us, who call upon her as "our life, our sweetness and our hope", always to live with our lives focused on heaven, where she reigns as Queen. May she constantly intercede for us from heaven. With these sentiments, I bless you all.

November 2000




Friday, 3 November 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to welcome you today on the occasion of the Ministerial Conference being held under the Presidency of Italy to commemorate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing in Rome on 4 November 1950 of the European Convention on Human Rights. I greet the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Walter Schwimmer, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Johnston, and its Secretary General, Mr Bruno Haller.

2. After the Second World War, the Council of Europe adopted a new political vision and embodied a new juridical order, enshrining the principle that respect for human rights transcends national sovereignty and cannot be subordinated to political aims or compromised by national interests. In doing so, the Council helped to lay the foundation for the moral recovery needed after the ravages of the War, and the European Convention on Human Rights proved a vital element of that process.

The Convention was a truly historic document, and it remains a unique legal instrument, seeking to proclaim and safeguard the fundamental rights of every citizen of the signatory States. It was a concrete and creative response to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which in 1948 had emerged from the tragic experience of the War and was deeply rooted in the twofold conviction of the centrality of the human person and the unity of the human family. As such, the Convention represented an important moment in the maturing of the sense of the innate dignity of the human person and the awareness of the rights and duties which flow from this.

It is significant too that, after their liberation from an alien ideology and totalitarian forms of government, the new democracies of Eastern Europe turned to the Council of Europe as the focus of unity for all the peoples of the continent, a unity which cannot be conceived without the religious and moral values which are the common heritage of all the European nations. Their desire to become parties to the European Convention on Human Rights reflects the will to safeguard the fundamental liberties which had for so long been denied them. In this respect, my conviction has always been that the peoples of Europe, East and West, deeply united by history and culture, share a common destiny. At the heart of our common European heritage – religious, cultural and juridical – is the notion of the inviolable dignity of the human person, which implies inalienable rights conferred not by governments or institutions but by the Creator alone, in whose image human beings have been made (cf. Gen Gn 1,26).

3. Through the years, the Holy See has been involved in the Council of Europe, seeking in its own distinctive way to accompany and aid the Council’s ever more extensive work in the field of human rights. Conscious of the unique role which the European Court of Human Rights plays in the affairs of Europe, the Holy See has been especially interested in the jurisprudence of the Court. The Judges are the guardians of the Convention and its vision of human rights, and I am happy to have the occasion today to welcome the President of the Court, Lucius Wildhaber, with the other honourable Judges, and to wish you well in your noble and demanding task.

The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Convention is a time to give thanks for what has been achieved and to renew our commitment to making human rights ever more fully and widely respected in Europe. It is therefore a time to recognize clearly the problems that must be addressed if this is to happen. Fundamental among these is the tendency to separate human rights from their anthropological foundation – that is, from the vision of the human person that is native to European culture. There is also a tendency to interpret rights solely from an individualistic perspective, with little consideration of the role of the family as "the fundamental unit of society" (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 16). And there is the paradox that, on the one hand, the need to respect human rights is vigorously affirmed while, on the other, the most basic of them all – the right to life – is denied. The Council of Europe has succeeded in having the death penalty removed from the legislation of the large majority of its member States. While rejoicing in this noble achievement and looking forward to its extension to the rest of the world, it is my fervent hope that the moment will soon come when it will be equally understood that an enormous injustice is committed when innocent life in the womb is not safeguarded. This radical contradiction is possible only when freedom is sundered from the truth inherent in the reality of things, and democracy divorced from transcendent values.

4. For all the problems now evident and the challenges which lie ahead, we must be confident that the true genius of Europe will emerge in a rediscovery of the human and spiritual wisdom intrinsic to the European heritage of respect for human dignity and the rights which stem from it. As we move into the third millennium, the Council of Europe is called to consolidate the sense of a common European good.Only on this condition will the continent, East and West, make its specific and uniquely important contribution to the good of the entire human family. Praying fervently that this will be so, I invoke upon you, your families and your efforts in the service of the peoples of Europe the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Speeches 2000