Speeches 2001 - Saturday, 20 January 2001

2. When I published this Encyclical 10 years ago, it was the 25th anniversary of the approval of the Second Vatican Council's Missionary Decree Ad gentes. In a certain way, then, this Encyclical could be considered a commemoration of the entire Council, whose purpose was to make the Church's message more understandable and her pastoral activity more effective for spreading Christ's salvation in our times.

However, this was not merely a commemorative text recalling the Council's insights. By returning to the great Trinitarian themes of my first three Encyclicals, I intended instead to stress forcefully the perennial urgency that the Church senses about her missionary mandate, and to point to new ways of carrying it out among the people of the present era.

I would like to reaffirm these motives here, since missionary activity among peoples and human groups who are not yet evangelized remains necessary, particularly in certain parts of the world and in particular cultural contexts. On closer sight, then, the mission ad gentes has become necessary everywhere in recent years, because of rapid, massive migrations that are bringing non-Christian groups to regions with an established Christian tradition.

At the centre of missionary activity is the proclamation of Christ, the knowledge and the experience of his love. The Church cannot evade Jesus' explicit mandate, since she would deprive people of the "Good News" of salvation. This proclamation does not lessen the proper autonomy of certain activities such as dialogue and human advancement, but, on the contrary, bases them on diffusive charity and directs them to a witness that is always respectful of others in the careful discernment of what the Spirit inspires in them.

3. The Jubilee Year, which marked a providential surge of religious enthusiasm for the Church, has just ended. In my Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, I pointed out to believers of every age and culture the need to put out again into the deep, setting out anew from Christ. It is clear that for the mission ad gentes this means new vigour, a renewal of pastoral methods. If every people and nation are entitled to know the joyful message of salvation, our principal duty is to open the doors to Christ for them through proclamation and witness. If at times the proclamation of the Gospel and public adherence to Christ is impeded for various reasons, Christians still have the possibility to cooperate in the work of salvation through prayer, example, dialogue and humanitarian service.

The Church, rooted in Trinitarian love, is missionary by nature, but she must become so de facto in all her activities. She will be so if she fully lives the love that the Spirit sows in the hearts of believers and which - as the Fathers teach - is the "sole criterion for judging what is to be done or not done, changed or not changed. It is the principle which must direct every action, and the end to which that action must be directed" (ibid., n. 60).

4. Dear brothers and sisters, 10 years have passed since I attempted, with the Encyclical Redemptoris missio, to mobilize the Church for a global mission ad gentes. Now, at the beginning of a new century and millennium, I repeat this invitation. May every particular Church, every community, every association and Christian group feel co-responsible for this extensive action wherever they live and work. In fact, for all the states of life in the Church - priests, religious and laity - there are unprecedented opportunities for cooperation today. Situations are multiplying in which Christ's faithful come into contact with non-Christians. There are occasions in which it is also possible to work at the international level to defend human rights, to promote the common good and to foster better conditions for spreading the message of salvation (cf. ibid., n. 82).

However, we must never forget that the evangelizer's fidelity to his Lord is the basis of his missionary activity. The holier his life is, the more effective is his mission. The call to mission is a constant call to holiness. How could we fail to recall what I wrote in this regard in the Encyclical? "The universal call to holiness", I noted then and repeat today, "is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission" (ibid., n. 90). Only in this way will Christ's light, reflected on the Church's face, be able to illumine the people of our era.

This is the principal task of Peter's Successor, who is called to guarantee and to promote the communion and universal mission of the Church. It is the duty of the Roman Curia and of the Bishops who share this lofty ministry with him. It is also a responsibility which no believer, whatever his age or condition, can escape.

Aware of this responsibility, dear brothers and sisters, let us also respond generously to the Holy Spirit's constant call. May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, intercede for us, and may the holy patrons, Theresa of the Child Jesus and Francis Xavier, help us by their example and protection.

With these sentiments, I gladly bless you all and the ecclesial service you carry out each day.





Monday, 22 January 2001

Your Excellency,

I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. The kind greetings which you bring from His Excellency President Seyed Mohammad Khatami evoke the memory of our cordial meeting within these very walls just three years ago: in the spirit of the friendship and respect which marked the President’s visit to the Vatican I ask you to convey to him my own good wishes and assure him of my prayers both for his person and for the nation.

Your Excellency has remarked upon the importance of a true dialogue between cultures if the efforts of men and women of good will throughout the world are to succeed in bringing about a lasting era of peace and fraternity for all peoples and nations. In fact, it was at the suggestion of President Khatami that the General Assembly of the United Nations declared this year of 2001 as the "International Year of Dialogue among Civilizations". Thus, this eminent international body representing the family of nations has called attention to the urgent need for people to acknowledge that dialogue is the necessary path to reconciliation, harmony and cooperation between different cultures and religious traditions. This is the approach that will ensure that all can look to the future with serenity and hope.

Our world is made up of an amazing complexity and diversity of human cultures. Each of these cultures is distinct by virtue of its particular historical development and the resulting characteristics which make it an original and organic whole. Culture, in fact, is a form of man’s self-expression as he travels through history; it is, in synthesis, "the cultivation of natural goods and values" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes GS 53). It is largely through culture that people acquire a sense of national identity and develop a love of their country: these are values to be fostered, not with narrow-mindedness, but with respect and compassion for the whole human family. As I had occasion to remark in my Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, efforts must be made "to avoid those pathological manifestations which occur when the sense of belonging turns into self-exaltation, the rejection of diversity, and forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia" (No. 6).

Hence, appreciation for the values present in one’s own culture must properly be accompanied by the recognition that every culture, as a typically human and historically conditioned reality, necessarily has limitations. Such an understanding helps to prevent pride in one’s own culture from becoming isolation or from turning into prejudice and persecution against other cultures. The attentive study of other cultures will reveal that beneath seemingly divergent traits there are significant internal elements held in common. Cultural diversity can then be understood within the broader context of the unity of the entire human race. Thus, it becomes less likely for cultural differences to be a source of misunderstanding between peoples and the cause of conflicts and wars; it becomes easier to attenuate the sometimes exaggerated claims of one culture against another. In the dialogue of cultures, people of good will come to see that there are values which are common to all cultures because they are rooted in the very nature of the human person. These are values which express humanity’s most authentic and distinctive features: the value of solidarity and peace; the value of education; the value of forgiveness and reconciliation; the value of life itself.

I am pleased to note that the Holy See and Iranian authorities have worked together to provide opportunities for such dialogue, not only as promoters of various meetings but also as active participants in them. I am thinking in particular of the Colloquium sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication, which took place in Rome last year on the theme of religious pluralism in Christianity and Islam. A further Colloquium, once again jointly sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Culture and Communication and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is scheduled to take place in Tehran later this year on the theme of the religious identity and education of young people.

Moreover, I wish to express appreciation for the regular bilateral Conferences which the Iranian authorities sponsor with other Christian Churches and Communities, the most recent one being held last year in Tehran on the theme "Islam and Orthodox Christianity". Such dialogue will surely help Governments and legislators in safeguarding the civil and social rights of individuals and peoples, especially the fundamental right to religious freedom. It is this right which is a point of reference of all other rights and in some way becomes a measure of them, because it involves the most intimate realm of our personal identity and dignity as human beings. Accordingly, even in cases where the State grants a special juridical position to a particular religion, there is a duty to ensure that the right to freedom of conscience is legally recognized and effectively respected for all citizens and for foreigners residing in the country (cf. Message for the 1998 World Day of Peace, 1). Should problems arise, the effective way of preserving harmony is through dialogue. The leaders of nations have a special duty to be clear-sighted, honest and courageous in recognizing that all people have the same God-given rights and inalienable dignity, and in working with dedication for the common good of all.

In this regard, the Holy See counts on the support of the Iranian authorities in ensuring that the Catholic faithful of Iran — present in that region of the world since the first centuries of Christianity — will enjoy the freedom to profess their faith and to continue to be a part of the rich cultural life of the nation. Although the Christian community is but a tiny minority in the overall population, it sees itself as truly Iranian; and after centuries of living alongside its Muslim brothers and sisters it is in a unique position to contribute to ever greater mutual understanding and respect between Christian believers and the followers of Islam everywhere.

Mr Ambassador, I have touched here upon some of the common ideals and aspirations which are the basis of the growing relationship of respect and cooperation between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am confident that your tenure as your Government’s representative will serve to strengthen the bonds which already unite us. Assuring you of every help and assistance as you seek to fulfill your lofty responsibilities, I pray that Your Excellency, and the Iranian Government and People whom you represent, will enjoy the abundant blessings of Almighty God.



Monday, 22 January 2001

Dear Sisters!

1. I am pleased to receive you today and to offer my cordial welcome to you at the conclusion of the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the death of Mother Maria Teresa Spinelli, foundress of your religious congregation. I greet you all with affection. I would like to extend a special greeting to the Superior General, Mother Atanasia Buhagiar, to her councillors and to all who in various ways form the organizing committee for the centenary celebrations. With this visit you would like to reaffirm your sincere devotion to the Vicar of Christ and full adherence to his Magisterium in the spirit of your foundress, whose legacy to you is to maintain unreserved fidelity to the Successor of Peter.

You rightly regard this extraordinary woman with deep admiration. She was born in Rome in 1789 and made her religious profession in 1827. She knew how to imitate St Rita of Cascia with humility and generosity. I am sure that your return to the sources of her spirituality and work, as you did this year, will stir in each of you a deep awareness of the validity and timeliness of her apostolic method. You will thus be able to make a significant contribution to the task of the new evangelization, which concerns the entire Ecclesial Community.

2. During this important anniversary you intend to reflect on the charismatic insights that marked the birth of your religious family. This return to your roots, which the Church insistently recommends to religious institutes, is not a nostalgic look at the past. Rather, it is a resumption of the original commitment in the present day with renewed enthusiasm, while preserving unaltered the founders' spirit, but with all the appropriate adaptations required by the changed needs of the times.

The Holy Year has just ended and with the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte I wanted to invite the Church to "put out into the deep". I repeat this to you, dear sisters: we must set out anew from Christ! Yes, this is also a priority commitment for you. Do not turn your gaze from the Lord's face: contemplate him in ceaseless prayer and serve him through charitable work among the young and the needy.

Make it your effort to harmonize the contemplative dimension with missionary zeal, which are the two fundamental pillars of your religious identity, in accordance with Mother Spinelli's engaging example.

3. Those who remain in constant contact with the Lord are better able to respond to people's expectations, especially of those in difficulty. "Christ encountered in contemplation is the same who lives and suffers in the poor" (Vita consecrata, VC 82). This was well understood by your foundress, who drew from it the incentive to offer the warmth of a family to so many children deprived of their natural one. Only those who have personally met Christ can speak of him effectively to the hearts of their brethren and lead them to experience his friendship so deeply that they feel interiorly moved and transformed by him.

Your mother foundress and her first companions, imbued with Augustinian spirituality, were able to achieve a form of communion modeled on that of the first apostolic community. You too must continue to walk this path, deeply mindful that the centrality of fraternal life, expressed in the Rule of Augustine of Hippo, is summed up in truly being "cor unum et anima una in Deum".

4. Dear sisters, you are a living part of the Church, and your mother foundress liked to repeat: "With all my heart I offer God my life, to spend myself for the good of the Church and of poor sinners". Follow her example; walk in her footsteps, daily praying in community for all who are striving to preserve the faith and spread the Gospel message.

I implore the continual help of the Blessed Virgin for each of you, so that, assisted by her, the Mother and model of all consecration, you may be faithful to your vocation.

With these wishes, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to the General Council, to the members of your religious family and to all who have joined you for this important Jubilee anniversary.




Thursday, 25 January 2001

I am very pleased to have this moment of fellowship, which gives me the welcome opportunity once again to express my gratitude to each of you, venerable and dear Brothers, who wished to take part in today's celebration.

Dear Brothers, I am pleased to spend this time of fellowship with you and to take the opportunity to thank you for your cordial presence at this celebration for the close of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Our common prayer at the tomb of the Apostle Paul has been a source of great joy for me. I give thanks to the Lord for this moving sign of our commitment to Christian unity at the beginning of the third millennium. In a very special way, then, I wish to express my gratitude to each of you for your presence today. May Christ, "the way, and the truth, and the life", continue to guide and sustain us in fidelity to his will that all may be one.

I am delighted that we have been given this time of fraternal fellowship, after having earlier brought our petitions to God in shared prayer.

I would like to thank in particular:

- the Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, representing His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch;

- the Delegation from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, representing His Beatitude Petros VII, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa;

- the Delegation from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, representing His Beatitude Ignace IV Hazim, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East;

- the Delegation from the Patriarchate of Moscow, representing His Holiness Alexei II, Patriarch of Moscow and All the Russias;

- the Delegation from the Patriarchate of Serbia, representing His Beatitude Pavle, Serbian Patriarch;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Romania, representing His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, representing His Beatitude Maxim, Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Church of Greece, representing His Beatitude Christódoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Church of Poland, representing His Beatitude Sawa, Orthodox Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Church of Albania, representing His Beatitude Anastas, Archbishop of Tiranë, Durrës and All Albania;

- the Delegation from the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria, representing His Holiness Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark;

- the Delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Ethiopia, representing His Holiness Abba Paulos, Patriarch of Ethiopia;

- the Delegation from the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, representing His Holiness Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East;

- the Delegation from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, representing His Holiness Mar Baselios Marthoma Mathew II, Catholicos of the East;

- the Delegation from the Armenian Apostolic Church, representing His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians;

- the Delegation from the Catholicosate of Cilicia for Armenians (Antelias, Lebanon), representing His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of Cilicia;

- the Delegation from the Assyrian Church of the East, representing His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, Catholicos and Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East;

- the Delegation from the Anglican Communion, representing His Grace George L. Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion;

and lastly, the Delegations from:

- the Lutheran World Federation;
- the World Alliance of Reformed Churches;
- the World Methodist Council;
- the Baptist World Alliance;
- the World Council of Churches.

I also express deep gratitude to the Abbot General, to the Abbot and monastic community of St Paul, who once again have generously and willingly offered us their hospitality. May the Lord bestow his blessings on each of you and fill your communities with his gifts.

At the end of our meeting, I ask the Lord to bless you and your communities, so that each day we may all bear ever greater witness to the risen Christ.

May the Lord bestow his abundant blessings upon each of you and upon the communities which you represent.

Dear Brothers, may the Lord shine his light upon you and grant peace and salvation to your communities.

Let us hope that I can complete the journey I undertook in the footsteps of Abraham after this Jubilee Year.



Saturday, 27 January 2001

Your Eminence,
Dear Friends,

1. I cordially greet all of you who are attending the International Congress of Sacred Music, and I express my deep gratitude to the authorities that organized this meeting: the Pontifical Council for Culture, the National Academy of St Cecilia, the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the Rome Opera and the Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi at the Pantheon. I especially thank Cardinal Paul Poupard for his kinds words of welcome on your behalf.

I am pleased to greet you, composers, musicians, specialists in liturgy and teachers of sacred music, who have come from all over the world. Your skill provides this congress with a real artistic and liturgical quality and an unquestionably universal dimension. I welcome the distinguished representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Lutheran World Federation, whose presence is a stimulating appeal to share our musical treasures. Such meetings will enable us to advance on the path of unity through prayer, one of whose most beautiful expressions is found in our cultural and spiritual heritages. Lastly, I greet with respect and gratitude the representatives of the Jewish community, who have wished to share their specific experience with specialists in Christian sacred music.

2. "The hymn of praise, which resounds eternally in the heavenly halls and which Jesus Christ the High Priest introduced into this land of exile, has always been continued by the Church in the course of so many centuries, with constancy and faithfulness, in the marvellous variety of its forms".

The Apostolic Constitution Laudis canticum, by which Pope Paul VI promulgated the Divine Office in 1970 in the dynamic of the liturgical renewal inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council, well expresses the profound vocation of the Church, called to the daily service of giving thanks in continuous praise of the Trinity. The Church offers her perpetual praise in the polyphony of her many art forms. Her musical tradition is a priceless heritage, for sacred music is called to express the truth of the mystery celebrated in the liturgy (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 112).

Following the ancient Jewish tradition (cf. 1Ch 16,4-9,23 Ps 80) on which Christ and the Apostles were raised (cf. Mk Mc 26,30 Ep 5,19 Col 3,16), sacred music developed over the centuries on all the continents, in accordance with the special genius of various cultures, revealing the magnificent creative energy expended by the different liturgical families of East and West. The last Council gathered the heritage of the past and undertook a valuable systematic work with a pastoral vision, dedicating a whole chapter of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium to sacred music. At the time of Pope Paul VI, the Sacred Congregation of Rites detailed the implementation of this reflection in the Instruction Musicam sacram (5 March 1967).

3. Sacred music is an integral part of the liturgy. Gregorian chant, recognized by the Church as being "specially suited to the Roman liturgy" (ibid., n. 116), is a unique and universal spiritual heritage which has been handed down to us as the clearest musical expression of sacred music at the service of God's word. It had a considerable influence on the development of music in Europe. The learned palaeographic work of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Solesmes and the publication of collections of Gregorian chant encouraged by Pope Paul VI, as well as the proliferation of Gregorian choirs, contributed to the renewal of the liturgy and of sacred music in particular.

Although the Church recognizes the pre-eminent place of Gregorian chant, she has welcomed other musical forms, especially polyphony. In any case, these various musical forms should accord "with the spirit of the liturgical action" (ibid.). From this standpoint, the work of Pierluigi da Palestrina, the master of classical polyphony, is particularly evocative. His inspiration makes him a model for the composers of sacred music, which he put at the service of the liturgy.

4. The 20th century, particularly the second half, saw a development of popular religious music in line with the desire expressed by the Second Vatican Council that it be "intelligently fostered" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 118). This form of singing is particularly suitable for the participation of the faithful, both in devotional practices and in the liturgy itself. It requires of composers and poets qualities of creativity, in order to open the hearts of the faithful to the deeper significance of the text of which the music is the instrument. This is also true of traditional music, for which the Council expressed great esteem and requested that it be given "its proper place both in educating people's religious sense and in adapting worship to their native genius" (ibid., n. 119).

Popular singing, which is a bond of unity and a joyful expression of the community at prayer, fosters the proclamation of the one faith and imparts to large liturgical assemblies an incomparable and recollected solemnity. During the Great Jubilee, I had the joy of seeing and hearing large numbers of the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square celebrating with one voice the Church's thanksgiving. I once again thank all those who contributed to the Jubilee celebrations: the use of the resources of sacred music, especially during the papal celebrations, was exemplary. Gregorian chant, classical and contemporary polyphony, popular hymns, particularly the Hymn of the Great Jubilee, made possible liturgical celebrations which were fervent and of high quality. Organ and instrumental music also had their place in the Jubilee celebrations and made a magnificent contribution to the uniting of hearts in faith and charity, transcending the diversity of languages and cultures.

The Jubilee year also saw the staging of numerous cultural events, particularly concerts of religious music. This form of musical expression, which is as it were an extension of sacred music in the strict sense, is of particular significance. Today, when we are commemorating the centenary of the death of the great composer Giuseppe Verdi, who owed much to the Christian heritage, I wish to thank the composers, conductors, musicians, performers, and also the heads of societies, organizations and musical associations for their efforts to promote a repertoire which is culturally rich and expresses the great values linked to biblical revelation, the life of Christ and the saints, and the mysteries of life and death celebrated by the Christian liturgy. Religious music likewise builds bridges between the message of salvation and those who, while not yet fully accepting Christ, are sensitive to beauty, for "beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence" (Letter to Artists, n. 16). Beauty makes a fruitful dialogue possible.

5. The application of the Second Vatican Council's guidelines on the renewal of sacred music and liturgical song - especially in choirs, sacred music groups and scholae cantorum - today requires of pastors and faithful a sound cultural, spiritual, liturgical and musical formation. It also calls for profound reflection in order to define the criteria for creating and disseminating a high-quality repertoire which will enable musical expression to serve its purpose, "the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, SC 112), in an appropriate way. This is particularly true for instrumental music. Even if the organ is the instrument of sacred music par excellence, today's musical compositions incorporate ever more diversified instrumental formations. I hope that these riches will help the Church at prayer, so that the symphony of her praise may be attuned to the "diapason" of Christ the Saviour.

6. Dear friends - musicians, poets and liturgists -, your contribution is indispensable. "How many sacred works have been composed through the centuries by people deeply imbued with the sense of the mystery! The faith of countless believers has been nourished by melodies flowing from the hearts of other believers, either introduced into the liturgy or used as an aid to dignified worship. In song, faith is experienced as vibrant joy, love and confident expectation of the saving intervention of God" (Letter to Artists, n. 12).

I am sure that you will work generously to preserve and increase the cultural heritage of sacred music in order to serve a fervent liturgy, the privileged place for the inculturation of the faith and the evangelization of cultures. I therefore entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, who knew how to sing of God's marvels, as I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and all your loved ones.


Monday, 29 January 2001

Dear Daughters of St Lucy Filippini!

1. I am pleased to receive you and I extend a cordial welcome to each of you. I thank you for this visit, which you wanted on the occasion of your Ordinary General Chapter to renew the expression of your complete fidelity to Peter's Successor.

You have been working for years in various countries of the world and you lovingly put yourselves at the service of the Gospel, concerned for the needs of children, the poor and the suffering and seeking to draw inspiration for your educational ministry from Jesus the Teacher, in a style of discipleship based on spousal love. Continue on this path and help to spread the Gospel of love in the new fields of apostolate that the Lord entrusts to you. The experience, developed by your institute over long years of service to Christ and the Church, represents a good starting-point at the beginning of the new millennium for an even more fruitful season of consecrated and apostolic life.

2. Your General Chapter is taking place right at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. It deals with a theme that is of great interest to you: "The Constitutions, Lamp for My Feet, Light for My Journey" (Ps 118). This choice of topic is meant to emphasize the need for a fresh look at the Rule, since the Rule and Constitutions provide a map for the whole journey of discipleship, in accordance with a specific charism confirmed by the Church (cf. Vita consecrata, VC 37).

Speeches 2001 - Saturday, 20 January 2001