Speeches 2000


Thursday, 16 November 2000

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am especially happy to meet you during your visit to Rome; and I am grateful to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity for organizing your programme, intended to help you understand the Catholic Church more deeply.

In this year of the Great Jubilee, you come from many countries as pilgrims to this City where Saint Peter suffered martyrdom at the end of his journey as a disciple and apostle of Christ. It was here too that Saint Paul preached the Gospel not only in word but by the supreme witness to Christ which he gave by his death. You come then to a place revered not only for its history and art, but for the heritage of the blood of the martyrs which has proven so rich a seed of Christian life throughout the world.

In recent months, the staff of the Institute have helped to prepare you who are students to be better equipped to serve the cause of Christian unity in your respective countries. In this great task, you will find the Catholic Church a trustworthy partner. There can be no turning back from our shared commitment to work for the full, visible union of all the followers of Christ. I pray that your visit will remain in your hearts and minds as an unfading promise of the future to which Christ himself is calling us. Both now and in what lies ahead may God who is love (cf. 1Jn 4,8) bless you abundantly in Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday, today and for ever" (He 13,8).


Friday, 17 November 2000

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased with this meeting, which allows me to bring you my greetings on the occasion of the 15th international congress organized by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers. I extend a particular greeting to the President of the Pontifical Council, Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, whom I thank for the sentiments he has expressed on behalf of everyone present. I express my deep satisfaction to the organizers, as well as to the distinguished scholars, scientists, researchers and experts who have wished to honour this conference with their presence and professional contribution.

The days of the congress, which this year is discussing the important and complex theme "Health Care and Society", will help you to examine the new biomedical technologies and the difficult questions posed to the world of health care by the profound social changes now taking place. Your meeting has encouraged a fruitful dialogue and a cultural and religious exchange between qualified workers in the health sector.

2. The theme of the congress highlights a reality of great importance and one in continual transition, which should be carefully analyzed. In particular, you have raised the problem of the relationship between society and institutions on the one hand and those who manage the means of health care, on the other. Profound changes are affecting the traditional structures of a society that is increasingly globalized and has difficulty in relating to the individual, while medicine is involved in developing diagnostic and therapeutic methods which are ever more complex and effective, but often available only to limited groups of people. Today the role of environmental causality in the genesis of certain diseases is also well known because of social pressure and the powerful impact of technology on individuals. Therefore, it is necessary to recover certain criteria of ethical and anthropological discernment, which make it possible to judge whether the decisions taken by medicine and health care are really suited to the human being they must serve.

3. But prior to that, medicine must answer the question about the very essence of its mission. One wonders whether medical care finds its raison d'être in preventing illness and, when possible, in overcoming it, or whether one must accept every request for physical intervention because it is technically possible. The question becomes even broader if one considers the concept of health itself. Today an idea of health restricted solely to physiological well-being and the absence of suffering is commonly recognized as insufficient. As I wrote in my Message for the World Day of the Sick in this Jubilee Year, "health, based on an anthropology that respects the whole person, far from being identified with the mere absence of illness, strives to achieve a fuller harmony and healthy balance on the physical, psychological, spiritual and social level. In this perspective, the person himself is called to mobilize all his available energies to fulfil his own vocation and the good of others" (n. 13). This is a complex concept of health, which is more consonant with today's sensibilities and is aware of the balance and harmony of the person as a whole: you do well to focus your attention on this issue.

The question I asked above is important because the profile of future health-care workers depends on it, as does the style of the health centres which one intends to establish and the very model of medicine which we want to guide us: medicine at the service of the individual's total well-being, or, on the contrary, medicine marked by technical and organizational efficiency. You know that a medical science on the wrong track would soon endanger not only the life of the individual, but society itself. Medicine that aimed primarily at increasing its knowledge for the sake of its own technological efficiency would betray its original ethos, opening the door to harmful developments. Only by serving man's total well-being can medicine contribute to his progress and happiness, and not become an instrument of manipulation and death.

4. Distinguished biomedical scientists, in your activities you know well how to respect the methodological and hermeneutical laws proper to scientific research. You are convinced that they are not an arbitrary burden, but an indispensable help that guarantees the reliability and communicability of the results obtained. May you always recognize with equal care the ethical norms at whose centre lies the human being with his dignity as a person: respect for his right to be born, to live and to die in a worthy manner is the basic imperative which must always inspire medical practice. Do everything you can to sensitize the social community, the national health-care systems and their leaders, so that the considerable resources directed to research and technical applications will always have the total service of life as their goal.

Yes, the centre of attention and care both of the health-care system and of society must always be the person, considered in the concrete circumstances of his family, work, social context and geographical area. Reaching out to a sick person thus means reaching out to a person who is suffering, and not merely treating a sick body. This is why a commitment with the features of a vocation is asked of health-care workers. Experience teaches you that the sick person is asking for more than a mere cure of the organic pathologies affecting him. He expects support from the doctor in order to face the disquieting mystery of suffering and death. To give the sick and their relatives reasons for hope in the face of the pressing questions that beset them: this is your mission. The Church is close to you and shares this impassioned service to life with you.

5. In a globalized society like today's, with increased technical potential but also new difficulties, you have paid special attention during your congress to the new diseases of the 21st century. Nor have you failed to look at the conditions of health care in certain regions of the world which lack policies of support for primary care. In this regard, I have often had occasion to call on the responsibility of governments and international organizations. Unfortunately, despite praiseworthy efforts, in recent decades the inequalities among peoples have seriously worsened. I appeal once again to those responsible for the destiny of nations to do all they can to encourage suitable conditions for solving such tragic situations of injustice and marginalization.

6. Despite the shadows that still fall on many countries, Christians look with hope at the vast and varied world of health care. They know they are called to evangelize it with the vigour of their daily witness, in the certainty that the Spirit continually renews the face of the earth, and that with his gifts he constantly spurs people of good will to open themselves to the call of love. Perhaps it will be necessary to take new paths to find suitable answers to the expectations of so many suffering people. I am confident that those who sincerely seek the total well-being of the person will not lack the necessary light from on high to undertake appropriate initiatives in this regard.

Dear brothers and sisters, may Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom and Health of the Sick, invoked in Tradition as the New Eve, guide your way. You are committed to one of the noblest causes: the defence of life and the promotion of health. May the Lord sustain you in your quest and always grant you new zeal in your most noble service to your fellow men and women.

With this hope, which becomes a prayer, I impart my Blessing to you all.



Saturday, 18 November 2000

I am pleased to greet the participants in the international colloquium organized at the Gregorian University and chaired by Cardinal Paul Poupard on "Blondel between L'Action and the Trilogy".

Your colloquium seems particularly important with regard to a certain number of needs whose urgency I wished to recall in the Encyclical Fides et ratio. Thus I insisted on the need for the study of philosophy as a praeparatio fidei (n. 61) and on the relationship between theology, the science of faith, and philosophical reason (nn. 64-69).

At the root of Maurice Blondel's philosophy is a keen perception of the drama of the separation of faith and reason (cf. nn. 45-48) and an intrepid desire to overcome this separation, which is contrary to the nature of things. The philosopher of Aix is thus an eminent representative of Christian philosophy, understood as rational speculation, in vital union with faith (cf. n. 76), in a twofold fidelity to the demands of intellectual research and to the Magisterium.

In a Message sent on 19 February 1993 to Archbishop Bernard Panafieu of Aix on the occasion of the international colloquium celebrating the centenary of L'Action, I already had occasion to stress that "Blondel pursued his work by tirelessly and persistently clarifying his thought without ever disavowing its inspiration". And I added: "It is this courage of thought, allied with a fidelity to and an unfailing love for the Church, which today's philosophers and theologians who study Blondel's work should learn from this great master" (L'Ossservatore Romano English edition, 13 March 1993, p. 4). May all who are involved in academic research be courageously willing, like Blondel, to recognize the limits of all human thought and let themselves be led to the threshold of the divine mystery given to us by faith!

In again offering you my encouragement, I gladly grant you my Apostolic Blessing.


Saturday 18 November 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. The desire to make a fruitful Jubilee pilgrimage has prompted you to pass through the Holy Door and to pause in prayer at the tombs of the Apostles. During this journey you have wished to express your affection and spiritual closeness to the Pope. I thank you for this act, and offer you a cordial welcome! You come from various Dioceses and ecclesial associations: your gathering is a great opportunity for ecclesial communion.

The Jubilee offers each one the opportunity to measure himself against Christ's demanding words and to experience God's mercy, particularly superabundant in this Jubilee Year. Indeed, it is a time of conversion and joy, which encourages believers on their journey of interior renewal so that a new mentality is developed in their hearts and in their communities, capable of closely examining world events in the light of the Gospel.

2. I now greet in particular the pilgrims from Piacenza-Bobbio, accompanied by their Bishop, by Cardinals Opilio Rossi and Luigi Poggi and by Bishop Bertagna. I thank Bishop Luciano Monari for his respectful words to me in your name. Dear brothers and sisters, today's event is part of a long journey of preparation during which your Church has reflected on her own missionary responsibility and her ability to challenge those who unfortunately, although they call themselves Christians, do not play an active part in community life. Through timely initiatives you would like to show your fraternal concern for them, inviting them to share concretely with you in the great adventure of faith. While I am pleased with your commitment, I cordially encourage you to continue to develop the humble and joyful awareness of your Christian identity. It is not only a gift which God gives you, but also a mission he entrusts to you. If you know how to trust in the power of the Spirit who acts in you, you will never fall prey to discouragement and will be able to accomplish fully all that is asked of you.

Always have an authentically evangelical style, marked by charity and fraternal friendship. If the spirit of communion is strengthened between the Bishop and his priests and among themselves, and if priests can then create a fruitful dialogue with the laity and foster in them a constant attitude of sincere and cordial collaboration, the ecclesial journey will also become an example for civil society.

3. My thoughts now turn to you, dear faithful from Carpi, present here with your new Pastor, Bishop Elio Tinti. I am deeply grateful to him for his courteous words expressing your common sentiments. The Jubilee reminds every Christian of the duty to persevere in his vocation to be the leaven that causes the whole mass of dough to rise (cf. 1Co 5,6). If you stay united round your Bishop and your priests, you will be able effectively to offer your fellow citizens the Gospel, the source of hope and new life.

May an accentuated individualism, economic well-being as an end in itself, and religious indifference that at times risks penetrating peoples' hearts be an incentive for you to live your identity with greater consistency as children of God, called to be heirs to the kingdom. May the enthusiasm and vivacity which enliven you, although you are a small flock, never wane. Continue with trust to "proclaim the Gospel to serve man".

4. I now greet you, dear pilgrims from Civitavecchia, who represent here the unity of your Diocese, gathered round your Pastor, Bishop Girolamo Grillo, to whom I express my gratitude for his cordial address. Dear faithful, live the new life you received in Baptism with enthusiasm. You know that Christ nourishes this new life above all with the gift of his Body and Blood in the divine banquet to which he calls you to be "one body" (1Co 10,17).

In the Eucharist he nourishes and strengthens you, so that you can adhere ever more generously to the will of the Father. Let yourselves be guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit, source of communion; walk with joy and docility on the paths of personal conversion and the renewal of your community.

5. I now address a cordial word to you, dear faithful from Sabina-Poggio Mirteto, present here with your Pastor, Bishop Lino Fumagalli, whom I thank for the sentiments he has expressed on behalf of you all. Likewise I greet Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, titular of the Sabina Diocese; and Bishop emeritus Marco Caliaro. Dear friends, you have chosen the pilgrimage ad Petri sedem to highlight your commitment to adhere constantly to the Gospel. The solid traditions of a strong faith that is firmly rooted in the heart distinguishes your community. This is witnessed, among other things, by the popular Marian shrines of Ponticelli, Monterotondo and your cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin of Praise. I invite you to entrust all your pastoral projects to Mary.

I also encourage you to make the teachings of your fathers in the faith a heritage to preserve and expand, so that, guided by the contribution of ancient wisdom, you may know how to enter into dialogue with all the sound elements of your territory. May prayer, especially liturgical, sustain you in your efforts, so that the kingdom of Christ will be extended ever further.

6. Next I greet with affection the group of the Association "Domenico Tardini Community", guided by Cardinal Achille Silvestrini and by Archbishop Claudio Celli. The priestly soul of Cardinal Domenico Tardini had planned Villa Nazareth to enable the gifts of intellect and heart which God had given many boys to flourish, in order to make the most of them in the vocation of "apostle" at the service of the Church, for the good of their brethren.

The generations of youth have grown up and, from the great Cardinal's example and teaching, and the experience of life, the association arose with the goal of developing in its members a personal encounter with Christ, respect for the dignity of every human being, the commitment to freedom and service through culture.

Today in passing through the Holy Door, you have listened to and welcomed the voice of the Lord Jesus, who proclaims the mercy of the Father and helps each one to discover the meaning of the gratuitousness of his talents, so that he can commit himself to responding to the expectations that the kingdom of God will become a reality among men.

You can do so by cultivating an ecclesial awareness in exercising the diakonia of culture, that makes you feel a part of the mission entrusted to the Church, using your charisms as men and women who feel Christ's love giving birth to the demanding desire to accompany the journey of growth and maturing of young people in the faith.

7. I cordially greet the members of the Order of Sts Maurice and Lazarus who are taking part here in this audience, accompanied by Archbishop emeritus Joseph Sardou of Monaco. I wish them a happy Jubilee pilgrimage, as I cordially impart to them my Apostolic Blessing.

A special greeting goes to the Hungarian faithful, to the parish groups of St Gerard and of St Thérèse of Lisieux in Budapest. I cordially impart to all of you and to your families my Apostolic Blessing. Praised be Jesus Christ!

8. A particular greeting goes next to the faithful from various Italian parishes; to the pilgrim groups from various places; to the Community of the Friars Minor Conventual of the Sacro Convento of Assisi; to the participants in the European automobile championship "Terminillo"; to the volunteers of the National Corps for Alpine and Speleological Aid; to the Swarowski Club of Palestrina and Merate.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this visit to the tombs of the Apostles strengthen you in faith; may it help you return to your homes with renewed determination to serve Christ and your brethren, and make you more enthusiastic missionaries of the Word of Life, who fills every heart with hope.
May the intercession of the Mother of the Lord sustain you and the Blessing that I cordially impart accompany you, your communities, your families and all your loved ones.



Saturday, 18 November 2000

1. I cordially greet all the participants in the Jubilee of the Military and the Police who came for this meeting in the Vatican. I am very pleased that you are here. I extend my welcome to Bishop Slawoj Leszek Glódz, Military Ordinary for Poland, to Bishop Marian Dus, to Bishop Miron of the Orthodox Church, to Bishop Borski of the Augsburg Evangelical Church and to the army and police chaplains.

I greet the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Staff and the Army, Navy, Airforce and Anti-Aircraft Defence Commanders. I greet the Supreme Commandant of the Police, the Commandant of the Border Police, of the Nadwislanskie Units and the Head of the Office for Government Protection. I greet the generals, officers, staff marshals, non-commissioned officers, soldiers, police officers and civilian employees of the army. I thank the bands and choruses who with their music and lively singing enhanced this meeting. All this touches me deeply and helps me to return to the past, as it stirs many memories in me.

2. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (He 13,8). In this holy time of the Great Jubilee our thoughts and desires turn to Christ, the Redeemer of man. He, the Son of God, as the Second Vatican Council says, "by his Incarnation, has in a certain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin" (Gaudium et spes GS 22).

You came to Rome as pilgrims to strengthen your faith in Christ and to renew yourselves interiorly. In the Christian understanding, a pilgrimage is a symbol of the believer's journey in the footsteps of Christ. How many footsteps of this kind can be found in Rome, how many signs of the presence of God, how many churches, shrines and sacred places! One of these signs is the Holy Door. It symbolizes Christ. Jesus said of himself: "I am the door" (Jn 10,7). It means that there is only one door through which the encounter with God is reached and that there is only one way that leads to salvation.

3. In this context the theme of the Jubilee of the Military and the Police is very eloquent: "With Christ in defence of justice and peace". May these words accompany your pilgrimage and your prayer during your stay in the Eternal City and in your service in your homeland and beyond its borders. Today, at the end of the second millennium, the world still needs justice and peace. It is important that these words be given a concrete sense and, at times, be given back their correct meaning. I also wish to recall the Polish soldiers who are carrying out their mission in Bosnia, Kosovo, Lebanon and the Golan Heights.

I know that in all the garrisons, over these four years, you have made an effort of spiritual renewal and have prepared for the celebrations of the Great Jubilee. The time of preparation was accompanied by the pilgrimage of the image of Our Lady "Protectress of the Polish Soldier". You welcomed her image in the barracks and in the military academies and institutes, in the hospitals and on the training grounds. You have entrusted your service to her, in order to enter the third millennium strong in faith.

Dear friends, continue the "morning of resurrection" that I experienced at the training ground near Koszalin 10 years ago during my visit to Poland! Joyfully bring the message of peace and love to individuals and nations. A very eloquent proof of that attitude is the gift from Caritas to the Military Ordinariate: an ambulance for the hospital in Kosovo. You offered this as an offertory gift on the occasion of the Great Jubilee. I thank you for this beautiful gift from the soldiers' hearts.

4. May you be accompanied on this pilgrimage by the example of a courageous soldier, a just and pious man: the centurion named Cornelius. It was he who received Baptism after meeting Peter, and together with him his soldiers and his whole household (cf. Acts 10: 1-48).

I hope that, after this pilgrimage, you will return spiritually strengthened to your places of service and to your families, and be ready to bear witness to the Gospel and the Cross. Stay faithful to Christ by defending "justice and peace"!

Through you I greet the entire Polish army and police, and sincerely bless you all.




Monday, 20 November 2000

Dear Archbishop Baselios,
Dear pilgrims of the Syro-Malankara Church,
Staff and Students of the Pontifical Institute of Saint John Damascene,

1. From India and elsewhere you have come to Rome to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year, and your prayer at the Tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul is a luminous sign of the profound communion which is ours in Christ.

Seventy years ago, Metropolitan Archbishop Mar Ivanios, Bishop Mar Theophilos and their companions entered into full communion with the See of Peter, because they were profoundly convinced of the truth of the words found beneath the dome of the Vatican Basilica: Hinc una fides mundo refulget. «From here the one faith shines forth in the world». They understood that «the Church is one, the Church of Christ between East and West» (Orientale Lumen, 20); and they knew that, in entering the communion of the Catholic Church, they «did not at all intend to deny their fidelity to their own traditions» (ibid.,21). In the years since their decision, God has abundantly blessed the Syro-Malankara Church in her work for Christian unity.

As you crown your Jubilee celebrations in the offering of the Holy Qurbana, I ask you to invoke God’s love on the Christians of the Oriental Churches, that in new and deeper ways they may «discover the fact that they are all walking together towards the one Lord...and thus towards each other» (ibid., 28). Pray too that this fresh discovery among Christians of the East may be a blessing for the whole Church as we set forth into the Third Millennium.

2. I am especially happy to welcome the Rector, the Staff and the student priests of the Pontifical Institute of Saint John Damascene in this year when, on the Feast of your heavenly Patron, you will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Institute, established by Pope Pius the Twelfth. Today let us together give thanks to God for the many graces which those years have brought.

You priests who are resident in the Institute come from the Syro-Malankara and the Syro-Malabar Churches, and therefore you are all sons of Saint Thomas the Apostle, to whose missionary work you owe your Christian faith. Rightly, you are proud not only of the rich heritage of your Churches, but also of their apostolic fervour, their pastoral energy and their many vocations. This is the Christian vitality which you bring with you to Rome, and in turn the Church of Rome offers you her gifts. Here you can come to a deeper sense of the special mission of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the prime servant of the unity of all Christ’s faithful. Here you can learn more of what it means to belong to the universal Church, and you can know more of the joy and gratitude which this stirs in Christian hearts.

Dear Brother Bishops, dear friends in Christ, in the course of your Jubilee celebrations, may the words of the Psalmist echo deep within each of you: «How good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling in unity» (Ps 132,1). And may the all-holy Mother of God, through whom the light rose over the earth, guide you safely on your pilgrim way. As a pledge of grace and peace in her divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Thursday, 23 November 2000

Your Beatitude,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Pilgrims,

1. I am pleased to receive you and to wish you welcome. I first greet His Beatitude Ignace Moussa I, Patriarch of Antioch for Syrians, the Bishops, the priests, the religious and all the faithful who have accompanied them.

Since the origins of Christianity, the Apostles Peter and Paul have been closely associated with Antioch. Moreover, it was "in Antioch that the disciples were for the first time called Christians" (Ac 11,26). How could we not remember St Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, who was martyred in Rome and, in his Letter to the Romans, said that the Church of Rome presides in charity? He was also concerned for the unity of the Church and asked the faithful to form one heart and one body around Christ (cf. Letter to the Magnesians, 1, 6-7; Letter to the Ep 4). I am therefore happy to receive you as you make your Jubilee pilgrimage.

2. The Church of Antioch has a special veneration for her holy Bishop Ignatius. As a result, all the Patriarchs have take this name as their first patriarchal title, thereby showing the same attachment to the See of Peter and their desire to follow the example of their illustrious predecessor.

A Jubilee pilgrimage is an occasion to strengthen one's love of Christ, the only Saviour, and of the Church. I therefore invite you to draw from the sacraments, especially Penance and the Divine Liturgy, the "source and summit" of Christian life (cf. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10), the spiritual strength to be always faithful to the Apostles' teaching and to remain witnesses of the Good News by your words and by your daily life conformed to Christ. Indeed, when we receive his Body, the Lord brings us into the intimacy of the Trinitarian relations, so that we can live by the love that he communicates to us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I entrust you to the intercession of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, so that, like her, you will be ever docile to the word of the Lord and constantly serve others, for to serve God and to serve human beings is one service of charity. When you return home, tell all your Christian brothers and sisters in your Dioceses that I am close to them in prayer and that I encourage them, knowing that they sometimes have difficult trials to bear. May the hope of Christ dwell in every heart! I impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you all.


Friday, 24 November 2000

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be able to welcome you at the conclusion of the formal signing of the basic agreement between the Holy See and the Slovak Republic on several matters regarding relations between the Church and State.

I extend my cordial and respectful greeting to you, Mr Prime Minister, whom I thank for the kind words that you addressed to me in the name of the President of the Slovak Republic as well. I also greet the Vice-President of the National Council, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the other authorities of the delegation. My greeting is extended to you, Your Eminence, to the Apostolic Nuncio, to the Bishops present, as well as to your entourage and to the representatives of the press and media.

The moment we are marking is of considerable importance for the legal status of the Church and her institutions vis-à-vis the State. With this new international agreement the Church in fact is guaranteed the free exercise of her mission, particularly regarding worship, pastoral care, teaching and other aspects of ecclesial life.

I am convinced that the new climate created by the agreement will promote an ever better understanding between the State authorities and the Church's Pastors, all to the advantage of the nation's common good.

How can we fail to see, for example, the importance of an understanding for the formation of young people, who represent the future of the Church and of society? Nor should we forget the impact made on the authentic progress of society by protecting the cultural heritage, in which such a large part is played by the religious values that form the foundation on which the rich tradition of the Slovak people has developed.

Mr Prime Minister, as I entrust you with the task of bringing my respectful and cordial greeting to the President of the Slovak Republic, I assure you of a special prayer for the beloved Slovak people, on whom I invoke abundant favours from God. I entrust all the faithful to the protection of Our Lady of Sorrows, venerated with special devotion in the Basilica of Sastin.

I accompany these sentiments and wishes with a special Blessing, as a pledge of my affection and my constant remembrance.

Speeches 2000