Speeches 2000 - Friday, 3 November 2000
Saturday, 4 November 2000
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I welcome you with affection on the occasion of your Jubilee pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles. I first address you, dear pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Milan. I affectionately greet Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, your zealous Pastor, and thank him for his noble words expressing your sentiments as well as for his cordial good wishes to me on my name day. I warmly reciprocate the same good wishes to you, Your Eminence, who are also called Charles, and to all of you who acknowledge St Charles Borromeo as your co-patron.
I greet the Auxiliary Bishops and the Bishops of Ambrosian origin present here, as well as the priests, religious, seminarians and pastoral workers. I extend a respectful greeting to the civil authorities of the region, the province and the municipalities who have wished to join you today to share this significant moment of joy and intense spirituality. My cordial welcome is extended to the parish representatives from the Dioceses of Lugano, Novara and Bergamo, who have followed the Ambrosian rite since ancient times, and to the parish lay ministers here with you today in such large numbers, who make our meeting even more festive.
2. You are celebrating your Jubilee in the Eternal City, which St Charles described as "more glorious than all others, and which, at the head of a great and strong body, has two excellent eyes, that is, the bodies of the two Apostles" (Acta Ecclesia Mediolanensis, vol. II, p. 88). You are making your pilgrimage the very day on which the Church commemorates him. I remember my visits to your beautiful cathedral, where I could kneel near that great Bishop's remains, which lie in the crypt.
I return in spirit to his tomb, listening to the valuable instructions he gave for the Jubilee pilgrimage. In one of his pastoral letters for the Holy Year of 1575 he wrote: "Then having arrived in Rome, going again to Confession and receiving Communion, you will devoutly celebrate the sacred Jubilee, avoiding all curiosity and vanity. The Jubilee is a holy year, a year of the most complete forgiveness, a year of the Lord's grace" (Acta Ecclesiae Mediolanensis, vol. II, p. 885). As it was then, today too the Jubilee is a fitting and precious opportunity for true conversion.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, rediscover day after day God's merciful love for every human being: with the zeal of renewed fidelity to Christ, show ever greater solidarity to your neighbour, especially those most in need. Live this dawn of the third millennium with steadfast faith, courageous hope and ardent charity. In this important historical transition, you have so many challenges to face!
The challenge of consumerism: your region enjoys great prosperity; may the pursuit of non-essential goods never predominate or cause you to forget the needs of the poor, both those who live close to you and those far away.
The challenge of secularization: God now seems totally excluded from so many areas of life. You therefore have an important and urgent duty to evangelize, imbuing the surroundings where you live with Christian values and offering everyone occasions for encountering the word of God and the person of Christ. Many people, however unconsciously, are looking precisely for these profound spiritual experiences.
The challenge of multi-ethnicity: also present in the territory of your Archdiocese are people from different countries who belong to various races, cultures and religions. You are asked not to close the doors of your hearts to those who ask you for hospitality, in the conviction that acceptance and the witness of love are a privileged way to "speak" about Jesus to those who do not yet know him.
4. Your Archbishop has just listed the priorities you have identified for the coming pastoral year, which call for the generous contribution of all the members of the archdiocesan community: young people, vocations, the clergy and pastoral workers. I urge you to support the initiatives planned, offering your generous collaboration according to each person's abilities. In this way you all will be able to advance together on the path of the new evangelization, and God will make all your efforts bear abundant good fruit.
Church of Milan, do not be afraid of the great challenges of the present moment! Advance confidently on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service to the poor and with Christian witness in every social situation. Remember the long, fruitful history of your parishes, your oratories and your many associations. Always live the Gospel in the big and little decisions you make each day, and may every Christian community renew its own fruitful apostolic witness in fidelity to its spiritual traditions.
May Mary Most Holy accompany and support you: I ask her to watch over your families as a caring Mother, especially over the sick and the weakest. May you be protected by the holy patrons of the Archdiocese, Ambrose and Charles.
5. With great affection I now address and greet you, dear pilgrims from the Patriarchate of Venice. I greet you, venerable Brother, Cardinal Marco CÚ, and I am grateful for your courteous words on everyone's behalf. Your pilgrimage has led you to retrace the footsteps of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Today you are offered an occasion to renew your fidelity to the Successor of Peter. Thank you for your visit and for the assurance of your prayers.
During these days of special Jubilee experience, be illumined by Christ's light and joy. He alone can fill your hearts with hope. He alone can awaken in each one of you renewed apostolic zeal, capable of infecting the hearts and minds of everyone you meet in daily life. Following the example of your patron, St Mark, be apostles of the Gospel: spread the Good News everywhere by constantly bearing witness to brotherly love and caring for your neediest neighbours. Openness to the needs of others is an eloquent sign of that Gospel charity which also touches the hearts of non-believers. Draw from the inexhaustible source of divine charity the necessary energy to work constantly on promoting the dignity of every person. May Christ's love encourage and support you in your effort to build with all people of good will a society respectful of every human being.
6. May the Jubilee encourage a vast and deep spiritual renewal. An authentic community renewal must be combined with personal conversion. In fact, for fruitful apostolic action the contribution of all is needed, in harmony with the Patriarchate's pastoral programme. Unity together with variety represent the great wealth from which the Church draws her own constant and dynamic development. Do not let difficulties hold you back, and do not lose heart if, in carrying out this demanding spiritual programme, you encounter obstacles and, at times, misunderstanding. Go forward confidently. The Lord is with you: he walks with you and constantly renews you with the power of his Spirit. Think only of following him and, with his help, reach out to all with the living message of his saving word even to those who are "far away". Continue this apostolic effort using every useful means.
Walk joyfully, dear brothers and sisters. You have a rich and noble Christian tradition behind you. Many saints and blesseds have made your region a land of holiness. Follow their example, forge ahead on the path of holiness. Be the apostles of our time, always trusting in God's support.
May Mary Most Holy, whom we remember on this First Saturday of the month of November, be the model for your faith and the star that guides your steps. With these sentiments, I assure you and your communities of a special remembrance in my prayer.
7. Lastly, I extend a greeting to all the other pilgrims who have wished to join us at this meeting. I hope that crossing the threshold of the Holy Door will prompt one and all to cling more generously to Christ, the only Redeemer of man. I gladly assure you of my prayers, dear brothers and sisters, as I cordially bless you, your families and all your loved ones.
Saturday, 4 November 2000
1. I am most happy to welcome you, distinguished Government Leaders, Members of Parliament and men and women responsible for public life who have come to Rome for the Jubilee. I greet you and I thank Senator Nicola Mancino for the kind words he has spoken on your behalf. My grateful thoughts turn to Senator Francesco Cossiga, who has actively promoted the proclamation of Saint Thomas More as Patron of Statesmen and Politicians. My greeting also goes to the other distinguished leaders, including Mr Mikhail Gorbachev, who have spoken in this assembly. I offer a special word of welcome to the Heads of State present.
Our meeting gives me the opportunity to reflect together with you, in the light of the motions just presented, on the nature of the mission which God, in his Providence, has entrusted to you, and on the responsibilities inherent in that mission. Yours can well be deemed a true and genuine vocation to politics, which in practice means the governance of nations, the formulation of laws and the administration of public affairs at every level. We ought then to inquire as to the nature, the demands and the aims of politics, in order to act as Christians and as persons conscious of the excellence and, at the same time, the difficulties and risks which politics entails.
2. Politics is the use of legitimate authority in order to attain the common good of society: a common good which, as the Second Vatican Council declares, embraces "the sum of those conditions of social life by which individuals, families and groups can achieve complete and efficacious fulfillment" (Gaudium et Spes GS 74). Political activity ought therefore to be carried out in a spirit of service. My predecessor Pope Paul VI rightly affirmed that "politics is a demanding way of living the Christian commitment to serve others" (Octogesima Adveniens, 46).
Hence, Christians who engage in politics - and who wish to do so as Christians - must act selflessly, not seeking their own advantage, or that of their group or party, but the good of one and all, and consequently, in the first place, that of the less fortunate members of society. In the struggles of life, which can at times be merciless and cruel, not a few are "crushed" and are inevitably cast aside. Among these I cannot fail to mention those who are imprisoned. On 9 July last I visited some of them for the celebration of their Jubilee. On that occasion, following a custom of earlier Jubilee Years, I asked the leaders of countries to make "a gesture of clemency towards all those in prison" which would be "a clear sign of sensitivity to their condition". Moved by the many appeals that come to me from throughout the world, I renew today that appeal, in the conviction that such a gesture would be an encouragement to prisoners on their path of personal renewal and an incentive to their sincere acceptance of the values of justice.
Justice must indeed be the fundamental concern of political leaders: a justice which is not content to apportion to each his own, but one which aims at creating conditions of equal opportunity among citizens, and therefore favouring those who, for reasons of social status or education or health, risk being left behind or relegated to the lowest places in society, without possibility of deliverance.
This is the scandal of the affluent society of today's world, in which the rich grow ever richer, since wealth produces wealth, and the poor grow ever poorer, since poverty tends to additional poverty. Not only is this scandal found within individual nations, but it also has aspects which extend well beyond their borders. Today, especially, with the phenomenon of the globalization of markets, the rich and developed nations tend to improve their economic status further, while the poor countries - with the exception of some in the process of a promising development - tend to sink into ever more grievous forms of poverty.
3. I think with profound distress of those areas of the world afflicted by endless wars and hostilities, by endemic hunger and by terrible diseases. Many of you share my concern for this state of affairs which, from a Christian and a human point of view, represents the most serious sin of injustice found in the modern world. It must therefore deeply disturb the conscience of Christians today, especially those who, since they guide the political, economic and financial mechanisms of the world, are in a position to determine - for better or for worse - the destiny of peoples.
Truly there needs to be a greater spirit of solidarity in the world, as a means of overcoming the selfishness of individuals and nations. Only in this way will it be possible to curb the pursuit of political power and economic wealth with no reference to other values. In a now globalized world, in which the market, which of itself has a positive influence on human freedom and creativity in the economic sector (cf. Centesimus Annus CA 42), nonetheless tends to be severed from all moral considerations and to take as its sole norm the law of maximum profit, those Christians who feel themselves called by God to political life have the duty - quite difficult yet very necessary - to conform the laws of the "unbridled" market to the laws of justice and solidarity. Only in this way can we ensure a peaceful future for our world and remove the root causes of conflicts and wars: peace is the fruit of justice.
4. I would like to speak in a particular way to those of you who have the very delicate task of formulating and approving laws: a task which brings man close to God, the Supreme Legislator, from whose Eternal Law the validity and the obligatory force of every other law is ultimately derived. This is precisely the meaning of the dictum that positive law cannot contradict the natural law, the latter being nothing other than the expression of the primary and essential norms regulating the moral life and consequently the characteristics, the most profound requirements and the loftiest values of the human person. As I have already had occasion to state in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, "the basis of these values cannot be provisional and changeable 'majority' opinions, but only the acknowledgment of an objective moral law which, as the 'natural law' written in the human heart, is the obligatory point of reference for civil law itself" (No. 70).
This means that laws, whatever the areas in which the legislator intervenes or is obliged to intervene, must always respect and promote human persons - in all the variety of their spiritual, material, personal, family and social needs. Hence a law which does not respect the right to life - from conception to natural death - of every human being, whatever his or her condition - healthy or ill, still in the embryonic stage, elderly or close to death - is not a law in harmony with the divine plan. Consequently, Christian legislators may neither contribute to the formulation of such a law nor approve it in parliamentary assembly, although, where such a law already exists, it is licit for them to propose amendments which would diminish its adverse effects. The same must be said with regard to all laws which would do harm to the family, striking at its unity and its indissolubility, or which would give legal validity to a union between persons, including those of the same sex, who demand the same rights as the family founded upon marriage between a man and a woman.
Certainly in today's pluralistic society Christian lawmakers are confronted by ideas of life and by laws and requests for legalization which run contrary to their own conscience. Christian prudence, the virtue proper to Christian politicians, will make clear to them how they should act so as not to fall short, on the one hand, of the demands of their correctly formed conscience, and not to fail, on the other hand, in their duty as legislators. For Christians today, it is not a question of fleeing the world in which God's call has placed then, but rather of bearing witness to their own faith and being faithful to their own principles in the difficult and ever new situations which mark the world of politics.
5. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, the times in which God has granted us to live are in many ways dark and filled with difficulties, for they are times in which the very future of humanity is at stake in the new millennium opening up before us. In many men and women today fear and uncertainty prevail: where are we going?; what will be humanity's fate in the next century?; where are the extraordinary scientific discoveries of recent years, especially in the fields of biology and genetics, leading us? We are conscious of being merely at the beginning of a journey, but we do not know where it will take us and whether it will bring benefit or harm to the men and women of the twenty-first century.
As Christians living in these formidable and yet wonderful times, we share in the fears, the uncertainties and the questioning of our contemporaries. Yet we are not pessimistic about the future, for we have the certainty that Jesus Christ is the Lord of history, and in the Gospel we find the light which illumines our way, even in moments of difficulty and darkness.
An encounter with Christ changed your life one day, and now you have wished to renew the splendour of that encounter by making this pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. To the extent that you persevere in this close bond with Christ, through personal prayer and committed participation in the life of the Church, he, the Living One, will continue to pour out upon you the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and love, the strength and the light which all of us need.
With an act of wholehearted and steadfast faith, renew your fidelity to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, and make his Gospel the guide of your thought and of your life. In this way you will be in today's society that yeast of new life which humanity needs in order to build a more just and fraternal future, a future open to the civilization of love.
Sunday 5 November 2000
Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. We have enjoyed an artistic and musical evening together, which was intended as part of the celebrations for the Jubilee of Government Leaders, Members of Parliament and Politicians. I warmly thank everyone who made it possible and all who saw to the practical arrangements.
The programme prepared was rich and representative of the five continents on which the great human family dwells, lives and works. Together we saw that peace, solidarity and love are possible with everyone's contribution.
My thoughts turn with grateful appreciation to the artists, children, musicians, master of ceremonies and technicians, who led and accompanied us on this inspiring journey along the paths of peace and love.
2. With profound respect I thank our distinguished guests, the Nobel prize winners. They gave us their personal testimony about the importance of ethical and moral values in the life and work of those invested with public authority. The Church has deep esteem for the task entrusted to politicians and government leaders; this is why she never tires of recalling the essential aspect of service which must characterize the activity of those who represent the people and every public authority.
In particular, the Church recalls this aspect to believers, whose faith presents political activity as a vocation. Moreover, all right-minded people find guidance for the decisions that the office entrusted to them obliges them to take in the dictates of the natural law, which echo in their conscience.
3. In speaking of this, we naturally think of the shining figure of St Thomas More, an extraordinary example of freedom and of fidelity to the law of conscience in the face of morally untenable, albeit authoritative, demands. I wanted to proclaim him your patron, dear government leaders, members of parliament and politicians, so that his witness might be an incentive and encouragement to you.
May your work each day be at the service of justice, peace, freedom and the common good. God will not fail to support your efforts, enriching them with abundant fruit so that the civilization of love will become ever more extensive and deeply rooted.
With these hopes and to confirm them, I invoke the Almighty's blessing upon you all. Thank you!
Monday, 6 November 2000
1. I am pleased to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the Holy See and offer you my cordial welcome, as I express my best wishes for the mission which has been entrusted to you. I would also like to express my deep gratitude for the respectful greeting from the President of the Republic, which Your Excellency has transmitted to me, while at the same time I ask you to convey my special closeness to the Venezuelan people, to whom I wish continuous prosperity and perceptible growth in their social well-being at this phase in their political and institutional life. I take this opportunity to repeat the message of encouragement I left them at the end of my second visit to the country, when I invited them to make "the Christian and ethical values which have shaped your national life factors of social cohesion, progress and peace" (Departure address, 11 February 1996, n. 2).
Venezuela is a splendid country, with its natural beauty and cultural riches, which Christopher Colombus called "the land of grace" and which has experienced unusual demographic and socio-economic growth in the century now ending. I became personally acquainted with it during my two Pastoral Visits, feeling the warm welcome and hopes that beat in the heart of its open and generous people. I therefore rejoice in its achievements, share in its concerns and join in its sorrow at times of misfortune such as the time when, almost a year ago, natural disasters sowed death and devastation in the country, and have also made themselves felt even more recently. On these as on other occasions, I call on the Lord to help the beloved Venezuelan children and urgently request national and international human solidarity for the victims.
2. In carrying out the mission entrusted to you by your Government, you will be responsible for constantly maintaining and furthering your country's diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The latter, because of the Pope's concern for all the Churches, follows events in each place with interest. You can therefore be certain that you will find here the support and welcome you need, and can be assured that the Church, and the Holy See in particular, have no interests in Venezuela other than the good of Venezuelans themselves, to whom she proclaims the Gospel in fulfilment of the mission entrusted to her by Christ.
In fact, the Church's activity and that of the public authorities are directed to the same people, since both parties have the material and spiritual good of the human person, at a given time in history, as their goal. Thus with exquisite respect for their respective duties, the relations between them must consist, above all, in dialogue and cooperation. The Church is responsible for areas which concern the values that, in turn, constitute a nation's soul. In this regard, she points out the danger of two threats hanging over the human community: one that claims "to be able to lead history towards perfect goodness" (Centesimus annus CA 45), and the other which proposes political action that is free from the guidance of truth; indeed, "as history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism" (ibid., n. 46).
Certainly, the Church has neither the duty nor the pretension to compete with political programmes to solve the technical and administrative dimension of social problems, which is the task of the civil authority. In this regard, as St Augustine said, the Church considers herself a pilgrim and is "guided by faith, not by vision" (De civ. Dei., 19, 14). Nevertheless, through her feeling for the human person, her interest in solidarity and her attention to the weakest, she can help to establish a better social life. Moreover, the citizens, seeing concretely that their reasons for living and spiritual convictions are appreciated and respected by the public authorities, will be better disposed to participate confidently and peacefully in the common project of society, which will certainly be beneficial to all.
3. As in the past, in the current circumstances the Venezuelan people will benefit from the firm commitment of the Church and her Pastors to support fundamental human rights, from her determined defence of life from the moment of conception to its natural end, from her intense and constant educational work, from her promotion of the family as a natural institution and the primary cell of society, and from her dedication to rescuing many citizens from the fetters of poverty, hunger, the corruption of morals and many other forms of social marginalization. She does so inspired by the Gospel that sheds light on temporal realities in the light of the sublime vocation to which man has been called by God, in the firm conviction that this is the best way to serve individuals and peoples.
By virtue of her mission, the Church requires the necessary room for her activities and concretely cooperates with the civil authorities to have regularly available the necessary social space and means to carry them out. The very people she serves, by trying to make them good Christians and honest citizens who are committed to the country's progress, are those towards whom, in their own area of competence, the public authorities have a duty.
Then there should be no reticence, much less rivalry, in matters in which the common good and a future worthy of the people are decided, such as the defence without palliatives of human dignity in its integrity, of an education open to the transcendent dimension of the person, which cannot disregard the religious aspect or the fundamental social and civil rights of every human being. The serious challenges emerging in the third millennium call for people to join forces, in the unanimous conviction that the "defence of the universality and indivisibility of human rights is essential for the construction of a peaceful society and for the overall development of individuals, peoples and nations" (Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 1999, n. 3).
4. During my two visits to Venezuela, I had the opportunity to meet a people eager to build their future on their traditional identity, with the deep Christian roots which have grown into so many expressions of popular piety and devotion to the Virgin Mary. It was on my first visit that I crowned the image of Our Lady of Coromoto and, on my second, that I inaugurated the shrine dedicated to her. Today I call upon her again to protect the beloved people of Venezuela and to guide them with her motherly tenderness to her divine Son, the only Saviour of the human race. In this year of grace in which we commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of his coming with the Great Jubilee, I ask the Lord to pour out his blessings upon all the Venezuelan people so that they may enter the new millennium with renewed hope and a desire to build a better world.
Mr Ambassador, I wish you success in the mission you are now beginning and a pleasant stay in Rome with your distinguished family.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear pilgrims from the Netherlands!
1. The intense programme that your community is following during this Holy Year has also included a visit to Rome, to cross together the threshold of the Jubilee Door. With affection I say to you: Welcome! I greet Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, President of the Netherlands Bishops' Conference, and I thank him for the kind expressions which he addressed to me on behalf of you all. I also greet Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, the prelates, priests and leaders who have accompanied this national pilgrimage.
In addressing them and each of you present, my heartfelt thoughts turn to your compatriots, to all who have joined us by radio and television, to those who could not take part in today's meeting, to those suffering in body and in spirit, to young people and to families, the cradle and sanctuary of life.
The Jubilee period is particularly rich with motives to examine your faith journey in a repentant spirit, to rediscover the great mercy of the heavenly Father and to take up your apostolic and missionary commitment with renewed enthusiasm. "The faith goes forward!" is the motto that guides the Great Jubilee in your land, reminding every person of his commitment to bear witness.
2. Bearing witness to Christ is a task that involves the Church and each member at every level. Throughout her glorious history, the Church in the Netherlands has known how to raise up from her ranks vast numbers of missionaries and apostles, who in every corner of the earth have proclaimed the Gospel and served humanity. How can we forget, among many others, the splendid example of Sr Mary Adolphine Dierk and her sisters, martyred in China, whom I had the joy of canonizing on 1 October last?
Even today your compatriots working in the vast field of the missions and human development are numerous. They are a sign of blessing for you because they show the vitality and generosity of your faith journey. But they also urge and encourage you not to lessen the missionary fervour of your communities. There is no need to become discouraged in bearing witness to Christ and proclaiming his word of salvation, in the certainty that he is always with his Church, to the end of time (cf. Mt Mt 28,20). Even when a feeling of inadequacy before the vastness of the apostolic task may seize you, recall the words of the Apostle: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Ph 4,13).
God never ceases to call strong and generous souls and to invite them to work in the great harvest of his kingdom. In this regard, at the recent World Youth Day I said to the crowds of young people present: "If any of you, dear young men and women, hear the Lord's inner call to give yourselves completely to him in order to love him "with an undivided heart' (cf. 1Co 7,34), do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say "yes' with courage and without reserve, trusting him who is faithful to his promises" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 23 August 2000, p. 2).
3. At that unforgettable event, many Dutch youth were also present. In welcoming the invitation of their Pastors, they wanted to experience the universality of the Church. To them, "watchmen of the morning at the dawn of the third millennium", I want to repeat: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" (ibid.).
I am grateful to the Dutch Catholic organizations which on that occasion supported the presence of young men and women from the Netherlands in Rome. They did the same on the occasion of the Jubilee for University Teachers, who at that celebration presented me with a book, the fruit of their reflections, "In quest of humanity in a globalizing world". I give them my heartfelt thanks.
It is important to deepen the communion between the Church in the Netherlands and the Successor of Peter and, through him, with the universal Church. For it is on the basis of unity that differences help to enliven and enrich the whole body of Christ. Dialogue in charity and truth should always characterize the way that individuals and communities relate among themselves and to the Church.
4. Dear friends, today you pass through the Holy Door to confirm your faith in Christ and to entrust yourselves to the life-giving power of his love. It is an act that countless numbers of your countrymen, from St Willibrord on, have made with joy and devotion down the ages. One proof of this is the nearby Church of Sts Michael and Magnus, commonly known as the Church of the Frisians. Be proud and worthy of the holiness that God has abundantly given to your community!
The Church that preserves the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul and of countless witnesses to the Lamb embraces you today with great joy and shows you Christ, the Holy Door to be passed through with trust. She shows you Mary, Stella maris and "Sweet Mother" of your noble people. May God, through her intercession, bring to completion the work that in these days he is accomplishing in you!
With these sentiments I bless you all.
At the end of the meeting the Holy Father said:
I know that now you will go on pilgrimage to St John Lateran, stopping at the sacred places of the city to meditate, with the guidance of your Bishops, on some fundamental aspects of Christian life. I accompany you with my prayers and bless you.
Speeches 2000 - Friday, 3 November 2000