Speeches 2001


                                                         January 2001





To Mrs Sadako Ogata
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

I am writing to thank you for your kind letter regarding the celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

On this important occasion I extend my warmest congratulations to yourself, your staff in Geneva, and your co-operators throughout the world, most of them, as you wrote, "in the frontline". For many people forced to flee from war or persecution these dedicated men and women of the UNHCR are often the only source of hope and help.

For many reasons the Holy See feels close to the anniversary event. Over the past fifty years, the Catholic Church and its organizations have often worked with the UNHCR in difficult and even dangerous situations around the world. The Holy See has shared many of UNHCR's joys and sorrows, including the tragic events which have marred this anniversary year.

The anniversary coincides with the Great Jubilee being celebrated by Catholics and other Christians in all parts of the world. The Jubilee's biblical roots recall the "year of the Lord's favour" proclaimed by Jesus when he announced the Good News to the poor by his words and deeds (cf. Lk Lc 4,16-30 Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 11). Today we must count refugees and other forcibly displaced persons among the poorest members of the human family, and to their service the Church and the UNHCR are both unremittingly committed.

Some years ago I referred to the plight of refugees in the world as "a shameful wound of our times". Since then their number has unfortunately increased and their situation has become more tragic. The dawn of a new millennium calls all responsible men and women to fresh efforts to implement the great humanitarian ideal which is at the heart of the UNHCR's mission: the protection of refugees and the defence and promotion of their dignity. The Holy See fully shares the UNHCR's concerns in this respect, and will continue to do all it can to ensure that refugees and displaced persons are not forgotten in the midst of the profound transformations affecting international life. It will continue to encourage support for those countries that bear the heavy and often prolonged burden of sheltering displaced populations.

This Fiftieth Anniversary year is also a moment of transition for yourself, Madam High Commissioner, as you hand over the administration of the UNHCR to your successor. Your presence and activity have left an indelible mark on the past decade of the history of the UNHCR, one of its most difficult periods so far. Your contacts with various agencies of the Holy See and with myself personally have been much appreciated, and have shown how close the cause of refugees is to your heart. A sign of the importance you have attributed to our cooperation is the appointment of a IINHCR Delegate to the Holy See during your mandate.

You have carried out your demanding task with discretion and sensitivity to the political, philosophical and religious convictions of the many people and States with which you have dealt. At the same time, your dedicated personal commitment to the great humanitarian concerns of the UNHCR has been inseparable from your witness to the fact that promoting the good of the human person and society is intimately linked to living out our faith in Jesus Christ.

As you celebrate this Fiftieth Anniversary, please be assured of the Holy See's lasting commitment to upholding the dignity and rights of refugees, and to contributing to the search for just solutions to the challenge posed by the forced migrants of the world. Upon you and all those who dedicate themselves to the noble mission of the UNHCR I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings.

From the Vatican, 22 November 2000




Thursday, 4 January 2001

Dear Legionaries of Christ!
Dear Members of the Regnum Christi Movement!

1. I am deeply pleased to extend my greeting to you on the occasion of your Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome, during which you are celebrating the 60th anniversary of your foundation. You come from various countries of the world: I greet each and every one, hoping that this celebration will give solid and strong support to your faith in the Lord Jesus and to your decision to bear witness to him among your brethren.

With special affection I greet your beloved founder, Fr Marcial Maciel, and extend to him my heartfelt congratulations on this important event, cordially thanking him for the words he addressed to me on everyone's behalf. I especially appreciated his confirmation of your characteristic fidelity to the Successor of Peter. Your full involvement in the mystery of the Church's unity is evidenced by your communion with the Pope.

2. In these days you have wanted to thank God for all the good he has lavished on your spiritual family. In looking back to 3 January 1941, when this work began in Mexico City, you have realized that the little seed which the divine sower planted in the soil of a few young hearts is now a leafy tree (cf. Mt Mt 13,32), which embraces many priests, consecrated persons and lay people whose ideal is to devote their lives to spreading Christ's kingdom in the world.

You have come to Rome in the Jubilee Year to renew your faith in Jesus Christ. May the Christocentric character of your spirituality help you to enter more deeply into the spirit of this Jubilee, which has prompted us to meditate on the mystery of the Incarnation and on the person of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and for ever (He 13,8). To proclaim Christ to today's world in the various sectors of society is your apostolic ideal. But to preach Christ, you must have, like St Paul, a profound experience of his love, so that you can say with him: "the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Ga 2,20). I urge you, as your motto says, "Thy kingdom come!", never to slacken in your dream of tirelessly working to make the kingdom of love, grace, justice and peace a reality in individuals and in society. I hope that one of the chief fruits of this intense spiritual experience in Rome will be the renewal in your souls of sincere love for Jesus Christ, so that you can personally share with many other men and women the happiness that flows from this unique friendship with him.

3. Faith in the person of Jesus Christ spurs you fervently to love the Church, the universal sacrament of salvation, which continues his work throughout history. You therefore wish to nourish your spiritual and apostolic charism with the great lifeblood that flows through his Body, by living a special spirit of ecclesial communion with the Successor of Peter and with the other Pastors of the particular Churches. As you have done thus far, continue with renewed fervour to spread the Magisterium and teaching of the Church, both through the many initiatives begun for this purpose over the past 60 years and through many others that your apostolic zeal will have the courage to inspire for the good of souls.

4. One of the important spiritual traits of your service in the Church is your commitment to the spirit of authentic evangelical charity. At the Last Supper the Lord stated clearly and for all time that fraternal love would be the distinctive feature of his followers: "By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35). It has been your desire to take up this evangelical challenge, placing particular emphasis on the fraternal warmth of your interpersonal relations, and furthering the spirit of charity in thought and word, passing over in silence the errors of others and bringing up only those deeds of theirs which are positive and helpful. May the Lord preserve you in this spirit, helping you to bear witness in every way to that Christian charity which St Paul so masterfully described in the famous hymn to love found in his First Letter to the Corinthians (1Co 13,4-8).

Another trait which distinguishes your charism is apostolic fervour. You show this in all the many works you have undertaken, especially in education, evangelization, social communications, the spreading of the Church's social teaching, the cultural and human promotion of the disadvantaged, and the training of diocesan priests. In all of this you strive to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, who constantly renews the face of the Church with gifts and charisms which enrich and strengthen her. In a secularized world such as our own, built in large part on neglect of transcendent truths and values, the faith of many of our brothers and sisters is sorely tried. Because of this, there is a need today more than ever for a confident proclamation of the Gospel which, casting aside all crippling fears, announces with intellectual depth and with courage the truth about God, about man, about the world. To you, Legionaries of Christ and members of Regnum Christi, I repeat the words of St Catherine of Siena which I proposed to the young people at the World Youth Day: "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!".

5. Generously open the doors of your soul to this invitation. I turn in particular to those whom Christ is calling to follow him with total dedication in the priesthood and the consecrated life. May the Blessed Virgin, filled with the Holy Spirit and a pilgrim in faith, help you to fulfil your goals.
As you return home to your daily tasks, know that the Pope is close to you and is praying for you, so that you will be faithful to your Christian vocation and your specific charism. May the Holy Spirit open your hearts, making you courageous messengers of the Gospel and witnesses to the risen Christ, Redeemer and Saviour of the world.

I bless you all with affection!



Friday, 5 January 2001

On the occasion of the 14th General Chapter of this congregation, I am pleased to extend my cordial greeting to you and to the sisters. I join the Chapter assembly in calling on the Holy Spirit to guide you, as you listen devoutly to God's Word to make the appropriate decisions about the path to be taken.

Each institute of consecrated life is a precious gift of the Lord for the Church and for the world. The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Dying have been so for over 100 years in Italy and in other countries. This testifies to the vitality of a charism which the venerable founders, Mons. Marco Morelli and Mother Margherita Ricci Curbastro, were able to bring to fruition with admirable zeal. It is a charism which highlights an essential aspect of the nature and life of Christ's Mystical Body which is the Church. For, as an extension of the mystery of Christ in history, she is called to offer to the Father constant prayers for humanity's salvation.

Contemporary man needs more than ever to draw from the springs of the Sacred Heart of Christ. Only in his Heart can he find peace in the moments of anguish which today's secular culture makes less and less bearable. Spiritual poverty is very widspread today, even at times becoming misery. That is why the true remedy is the rediscovery of Christian prayer.

This is not an escape from reality and its trials, but rather a spiritual watchfulness and confident union with the divine will, in the certainty that this is always a will of love seeking to give men and women full and eternal life.

What better witness can this trusting abandonment find than that of a life wholly consecrated to the service of God, known and loved in the Heart of his Son Jesus Christ, who "is in agony until the end of the world" (B. Pascal)? And how can this consecration be expressed other than in generous and faithful service to our brothers and sisters, especially the neediest, for love of whom Christ willingly drank the bitter cup of the Passion?

I therefore recommend to all the religious of your congregation, which is dear to me, that your entire apostolic activity be constantly enlivened and guided by an intense commitment to watchful prayer. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Virgins, be a model for you, dear sisters. If Our Blessed Lady represents for every believer the archetype of humble and docile adherence to God's will, for women religious she must be even more so. Every Handmaid can be faithful to her own vocation if she seeks, in her heart and in her actions, to resemble Mary, the perfect "Handmaid of the Lord", in all things.

I fervently hope that the General Chapter, held precisely at the end of the Holy Year, will be a time of grace for the entire institute, a privileged opportunity for wise and courageous decisions made according to the invitation offered to us by the Jubilee, with its gaze set on the face of Christ.

With these sentiments, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to the Capitulars and to all the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Dying.



Friday, 5 January 2001

I was pleased to learn that the capitulars have been meeting in recent days to reflect with you on suitable ways to promote a renewal of the congregation which will enable it to face the challenges of the present time. I am pleased to extend my cordial greetings to you and your sisters, as I offer my prayer to God with you that he will generously give you the gifts of his Spirit and guide you in making decisions that can give your religious family new enthusiasm in the work of evangelization, which has accompanied it since the beginning of its commitment to the Church.

Founded in Sicily at the end of the 19th century through the zeal of Dominican Fr Timoteo Longo, it reflects the evangelical spirit, traditions and ideals of the Order of Friars Preachers. The congregation therefore makes its own that unity of life between contemplative interiority and apostolic action which was achieved by St Dominic, and it constantly seeks to foster it in the community celebration of the sacred liturgy, in prayer, in study and in fraternal communion.

Evangelization is a specific goal of your institute, which cares in a particular way for the human and Christian advancement of young people through schools, youth ministry, family catechesis in parishes and popular missions. At this 15th General Chapter, dear sisters, you have decided to examine the timeliness of your charism and the practical decisions it requires. Social and cultural changes, in fact, call for a renewed and creative effort in your apostolate. I express my deep appreciation of your desire for community discernment. The very rich spiritual legacy you have inherited will help you to find appropriate ways for suitably transmitting the Gospel to men and women today. This work will be all the more effective and credible the more it relies on intense fraternal communion. I encourage you, then, to take constant care to maintain a harmonious balance between your community life and apostolic activities.

For all these topics of reflection and commitment I would like to assure you of my spiritual support. With God's help I am certain you will be able to find positive values and encouragement in today's situations, which are very different from those of the past. Continue to keep alive the spirit which has sustained you in recent decades. It spurs you to love others as they are, especially young people, to seek them out wherever they may be and to accept them, so that they in turn will accept Christ. I pray that this renewal will always be accompanied by sound formation at every level, so that your communities will be living, fervent and hard-working.

I entrust these intentions to Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and cordially bless you, the capitulars and the whole congregation.



Friday, 5 January 2001

Dear Children and Young People,

1. I welcome you with great joy! Thank you for this beautiful celebration which you have organized right at the end of the Jubilee. I greet you all with great affection: those of you here in the Paul VI Hall, and those who have joined us by television. For this reason, I thank Italian Radio and Television (RAI), which has been responsible throughout the Jubilee Year for many broadcasts and radio and television link-ups.

The Holy Year opened with children; and it is right that it should also close with them. This is a positive sign of hope, a concrete wish for life. Above all, it is a homage to children, whom Jesus favoured and by whom he loved to be surrounded. To the people and to his disciples, he pointed to the little ones as models for entering the kingdom of heaven.

Dear friends! Your celebration is entitled "Following the Comet" and calls to mind the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, which we will celebrate tomorrow. The comet reminds us of the Wise Men, the mysterious figures mentioned in the Gospel who were wise, cultured and expert in astronomy. But if we take a close look at them, they had childlike hearts fascinated by mystery; they were ready to accept the star's invitation and to leave everything in order to go and adore the King of the Jews, born in Bethlehem.

2. Dear friends, you who are children and young people today will tomorrow form the first generation of adult Christians in the third millennium. What a great responsibility you have! You will be the leading players at the next Jubilee in 2025. You will then be grown-ups: you may have started a family of your own, or have embraced the priestly life or been consecrated to a special mission in the Church at the service of God and neighbour.

And I, who have had the great satisfaction of leading the Church into the third millennium, look at you with my heart full of hope. In your eyes, in your tender faces, I can already glimpse the milestone of the next Jubilee. I look into the distance and pray for you. Dear young people, keep aloft and shining brightly the lamp of faith which this evening I symbolically entrust to you and to your contemporaries in every corner of the world. With this light, illumine the paths of life; set the world ablaze with love!

May Our Lady accompany you, and I affectionately bless you all.



Sunday, 7 January 2001

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. As we pause before the crib you have set up, I am pleased to express to you my sentiments of esteem and affection, as I offer you my best wishes for the New Year. From the beginning of my Petrine ministry this pleasant event has been repeated each year at the end of the Christmas season. My most sincere congratulations to those who created this characteristic crib, which is enriched each year with some new feature.

I affectionately greet everyone present, first of all the Mayor of Rome, whom I thank for his courteous words. Through him I would like once again to thank the city and all its administrators for their generous work in preparing for the Jubilee and later in its various phases.

2. Indeed, today's visit takes place on the day after the close of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, during which millions of pilgrims passed through the Holy Door. Countless people wanted in this way to thank the Lord for the abundance of mercy he showed us by becoming man for our salvation.

For you, ecological workers, the year just ended was one of more intense work, so that our beloved city could always be "in festive attire". I have frequently seen you at work around St Peter's Square early in the morning before people came to the Vatican. I am grateful for your painstaking diligence and for the sentiments that prompted it.

3. Now it is time to return to our normal routine, keeping in mind the message that comes to us from the Great Jubilee. It is the same message offered to us by Christmas and by the crib, the most eloquent symbol of Christmas. We must set out anew from Christ, if we are to advance confidently into the new millennium as witnesses to the love of God, who became one of us and was born among us.

With these sentiments I invoke upon you, your families and your work the protection of Mary, Mother of Jesus, whom we have contemplated today in the mystery of his Baptism in the Jordan. May you be accompanied by the Blessing which I cordially impart to you and your loved ones.



Monday, 8 January 2001

Mr. Speaker,

Members of Congress,
Distinguished Guests,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican this morning, and I am honored by the gracious gesture which has brought you here. It is not for the Successor of the Apostle Peter to seek honors, but I gladly accept the Congressional Gold Medal as a recognition that in my ministry there has echoed a word that can touch every human heart. It has been my endeavor to proclaim the word of God, which on the very first page of the Bible tells us that man and woman have been created in his very image and likeness (cf. Gn 1,26).

From this great truth there flows all that the Church says and does to defend human dignity and to promote human life. This is a truth which we contemplate in the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen from the dead. In the years of my ministry, but especially in the Jubilee Year just ended, I have invited all to turn to Jesus in order to discover in new and deeper ways the truth of man. For it is Christ alone who fully reveals man to himself and makes known his sublime destiny (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 22). To see the truth of Christ is to experience with deep amazement the worth and dignity of every human being, which is the Good News of the Gospel and the heart of Christianity (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 10).

I accept this award as a sign that you, as legislators, recognize the importance of defending human dignity without compromise, so that your nation may not fail to live up to its high responsibilities in a world where human rights are so often disregarded. Therefore, Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you for this Congressional Gold Medal. In offering my good wishes for the New Year, I invoke upon you, your families and all whom you represent "the peace of God which is beyond understanding" (Ph 4,7). May God bless you all!




Thursday, 11 January 2001

Your Eminences, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. Today I am particularly pleased to welcome you who, in your various capacities, have helped with the preparation and celebration of the Holy Year, which has had vast repercussions in the Church and the world.

Moving images, which in a way epitomize its various phases, remain deeply impressed on my mind - as I am sure they do for you as well. I am thinking in particular of this final period, and I see again the never-ending streams of pilgrims crossing St Peter's Square, on their way with deep devotion to pass through the Holy Door. How can we forget this living image of the People of God on its way to Christ, the universal Way of salvation?

Those motivated and patient crowds also prompted thoughts of those who followed Jesus, leading him to preach without pause, and one day to work the famous miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, a sign of that "bread of life" which he would later give the world (cf. Jn Jn 6,35). These crowds were a tangible sign of the deep desire that spurs man to seek truth and mercy, hope and reconciliation, in a word, to seek Christ.

Now that the Holy Door has been closed, we have returned to our "ordinary" routine, knowing that access to divine mercy is open wider than ever. Repeating the words of the Apostle Paul, we can say that in the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, "the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men" (Tt 2,11), and "the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared" (Tt 3,4).

In the historical transition that humanity is undergoing, this Holy Year has had the providential role of making the "Good News" echo anew throughout the world. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16). At the beginning of the 21st century and the third millennium, the Jubilee has pointed to Christ, the one salvation and hope of humanity, as the secure point from which to set out anew.

2. For all this we must thank God, as we have already thanked him especially at the solemn celebration for the closing of the Jubilee. However, in addition to thanking God, we must also thank men and women. This meeting gives me the pleasant opportunity to express once again my heartfelt thanks to each of you and to the organizations you represent. In various areas you have contributed to the success of each stage of the Jubilee journey with your effective collaboration.

Through the Cardinal President and the Secretary, I would like first of all to express my deep gratitude to the members of the Central Committee for the Great Jubilee: the Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious and lay people. They have been involved in many areas: from theological-pastoral planning to hospitality services, to liturgy and spiritual guidance, to information, assistance and administration. It has been a fruitful and intense experience of labour and communion, in which each person worked in close collaboration with the other members of the offices and agencies of the Holy See and Vatican City State, with the Vicariate of Rome as well as with many other civil institutions.

Here I would like to mention with gratitude the close cooperation with the Italian Government, through the Joint Italian-Vatican Commission and the Extraordinary Commissariat, appropriately set up for the Jubilee. I am thinking of the constant contribution made by the Lazio Region, by the Province, and in a very special way, by the Municipality of Rome. The service of the various security forces, coordinated by the Ministry of the Interior, was attentive and painstaking, as always. Gratitude is also due to the Ministry of Public Works for having suitably coordinated the creation of important infrastructures and carrying out other projects, which will remain for the city of Rome and the nation now that the Jubilee is over.

I also recall the activity of the Roman Agency for the Jubilee and the great number of volunteers: theirs was a friendly and surprising presence which Rome will never forget. We also applaud the companies, banking institutions and other firms whose contributions made it possible to meet the many financial needs and to help the poorer pilgrims during their journey and stay in Rome. I repeat my heartfelt thanks to L'Osservatore Romano, to the Vatican Television Centre, to Vatican Radio and to the RAI for their professionalism and readiness to report and broadcast the Jubilee events, utilizing the help of many experts and the constant support of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

One could certainly add to the list of people to thank. Through those of you here, I would like to reach everyone - really everyone - who worked for the Great Jubilee. I also ask those who generously made their own spiritual contribution through prayer and suffering - the elderly, the sick and contemplative religious - to continue this precious mission, so that the seeds sown during the Jubilee may continue to produce abundant fruit in the years to come.

3. We have now returned to the way of "ordinary time". You, who have been required to make an extra effort during this period, are returning to your usual activities. Yet, in a certain sense, nothing is the same as it was before. For the Jubilee Year has impressed on each person, and especially on you, a "style" of life and work that must not be abandoned.

On 6 January last a precious legacy was entrusted to us and should be handed on to future generations, in accordance with two governing principles. First of all, we must continue to keep Christ at the centre of our personal and social life. If we have truly lived the Jubilee, this will be apparent from the fruits of holiness that we will bear in our ordinary lives.

In the second place, we must bear witness everywhere to charity, which becomes forgiveness, service, availability and sharing. Paraphrasing the Gospel, we could say: "By this they will know that you have made the Jubilee, from how you love one another".

This is the mission I entrust to you, dear brothers and sisters, as I again express my gratitude to each and every one. May Mary, Star of the third millennium, accompany you and guide every step of your life. I wish you all good things and cordially bless you and your loved ones.





Friday, 12 January 2001

Mr Ambassador,

1. With great pleasure I accept the Letters by which the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. I thank you for the courteous words you have addressed to me as you are about to assume the office entrusted to you, and I gladly offer you a cordial welcome.

Through you I would like to extend a respectful greeting to His Most Eminent Highness Fra' Andrew Bertie and to the Council which assists him in the governance of the order. I also extend my gratitude to all the members of the praiseworthy association you represent and to their respective families, assuring each one of my constant goodwill and my appreciation of their active witness to the Christian faith and to Gospel charity.

Today's meeting is being held a few days after the close of the Great Jubilee, during which the order's members did all they could to assist the pilgrims, generously dedicating resources and energy to meet their needs. Therefore, through you I would like to express my deep gratitude to the many volunteers and workers of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for such attentive service.

2. After the enriching spiritual experience of the Jubilee, the Church is preparing to continue her journey. She advances into the third millennium, setting out anew from Christ, eager to bear witness to his love among all people.

It is also a great comfort for me to have heard you say, Mr Ambassador, that this Maltese institution, in fidelity to its charism of tuitio fidei and obsequium pauperum, wholeheartedly joins in the Church's programme.

In view of a humanity thirsting for truth and solidarity, how can we fail to note the timely union and almost fusion of these two goals which characterize the distinguished mission of the Knights of the white octagonal cross? In my Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, I noted: "Now is the time for a new "creativity' in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by "getting close' to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters" (n. 50).

As witnesses and ministers of God who is Love (cf. 1Jn 4,8), the Knights and Dames of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta are called to continue their activity as Good Samaritans with renewed dedication in the new millennium, ever ready to care for the wounds of man, to pour on them the oil of compassion and the balm of charity.

3. For over nine centuries, your praiseworthy order has always been characterized by a special bond with the See of Peter. My Predecessor Leo XIII recalled this in his Apostolic Letter Solemne semper by which he re-established the Grand Mastership of the Order of Malta in 1879.
After him various Pontiffs have praised your sovereign institute for its constant and loyal harmony with the Apostolic See. This is how it has worked and continues to work, in dialogue with every culture, in order to help promote the civilization of love and peace. Its presence in the international context likewise avails itself of a special constitutive "Charter", which is based on the fundamental values of mercy and charity that have continually inspired the order through the ages.

These are the features, Mr Ambassador, which distinguish the illustrious association you represent. Fidelity to the Gospel ideal and to Peter's Successor throughout its history has cost many members of the order much blood and today still adorns your standard with honour. In the contemporary context, when impersonal mechanisms of great economic and technological changes are helping to enrich those who already possess the greatest fortunes, I ask you to intensify your efforts according to your possibilities. Continue to strive for a humanization and sharing of the resources that God intended in equal measure for everyone. In the presence of the harsh severity of "heartless" and "ruthless" competition (Rm 1,31), may your action, never discouraged or restrained by any hindrance, continue to be that of Hospitallers, that is, men and women of faith with hearts full of mercy, generous and fearless in the defence of the causes and rights of the poor.

4. Mr Ambassador, as you begin your mission, I would like to assure your entire order, which you represent here, of my sentiments of esteem and affection. I sincerely hope that the Sovereign Military Order of Malta will continue to shine, as is its tradition, for its authentic and life-giving spirit of Christian charity, which can relieve, heal and rescue from poverty needy bodies no less than souls, which are often in even worse straits.

With these sentiments, I invoke an abundance of divine graces on the Prince and Grand Master, and on all the Knights and Dames of the Order, as well as on you and the mission you are beginning today, and I confirm these wishes with the Apostolic Blessing that I cordially impart to you.

Speeches 2001