Speeches 2001

(@JN 15,13@).

Via Crucis,
a priestly and royal journey.
Jesus, consecrated by the Spirit, is King
and Priest.
But on the way to Calvary
he holds no sceptre,
he wears no priestly garb.
Yet he knows that his Kingdom is beginning.
In the only form possible to him:
he reigns with the power of love.
Now begins his Priesthood:
the meek and innocent Lamb offers himself,
as an expiating victim for the sin of the world.
Via Crucis,
a journey of hope.
At nightfall the certainty of dawn
is already present.
In the twilight of his life,
Jesus is sure of the Father's love,
he hopes in spite of the evidence of failure;
he is sure that from the dark womb
of the earth
he will rise as the "bright morning star"

(@AP 22,16@).

As he walks to his death, Jesus knows
that he is hastening towards the resurrection.

Via Crucis,
a journey of fullness:
of pain and unbounded love,
of total abasement and sublime exaltation;
fullness of the Spirit,
who streams forth from the wounded side
of the Saviour,
as a river of life and grace;
fullness of forgiveness and mercy,
of reconciliation and peace.
It is the hour of the "loud cry" (Mc 15,37)
and the silence of the cosmos,
which mourns the death of its Creator.
The hour of the bowed head
and the laborious rest.
And, in the heart of his Mother,
the hour of immense compassion
and anxious expectation.

O mighty God,
strengthen me with Thy strength,
console me with Thy everlasting peace,
soothe me with the beauty of Thy countenance;
enlighten me with Thy uncreated brightness;
purify me with the fragrance
of Thy ineffable holiness.
Bathe me in Thyself, and give me to drink,
as far as mortal man may ask,
of the rivers of grace which flow
from the Father and the Son, the grace
of Thy consubstantial, co-eternal Love.

O my all-sufficient Lord,
Thou only sufficest!
Thy blood is sufficient for the whole world.
As Thou are sufficient for me,
so Thou art sufficient for the entire race
of Adam.

O my Lord Jesus,
let Thy Cross be more than sufficient for them.
Let it be effectual!
Let it be effectual for me more than all,
lest I have all and abound,
yet bring no fruit to perfection.*

*J. H. Newman, Meditations on Christian Doctrine 8: 504, 505.


Jesus is condemned to death

Mt 27: 22-23, 26

Pilate said to them,
"Then what am I to do with Jesus,
the so-called Messiah?"
"Crucify him!", they all cried.
He said, "Why, what crime has he committed?".
But they only shouted the louder, "Crucify him!".
At that, he released Barabbas to them.
Jesus, however, he first had scourged;
then he handed him over to be crucified.
* * *

The Holy, Just, and True was judged by sinners, and put to death. Yet, while they judged, they were compelled to acquit Him. Judas, who betrayed Him, said, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood". Pilate, who sentenced Him, said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person", and threw the guilt upon the Jews. The Centurion who saw Him crucified said, "Indeed this was a just man".
* * *

Thus ever, O Lord, Thou art justified in Thy words, and dost overcome when Thou are judged. And so, much more; at the last day "They shall look on Him whom they pierced"; and He who was condemned in weakness shall judge the world in power, and even those who are condemned will confess their judgement is just.


Jesus receives His Cross

Mt 27: 27-31

The procurator's soldiers
took Jesus inside the praetorium
and collected the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes and wrapped him
in a scarlet military cloak.
Weaving a crown out of thorns they fixed it
on his head,
and stuck a reed in his right hand.
Then they began to mock him,
dropping to their knees before him, saying,
"All hail, King of the Jews!".
They also spat at him.
Afterward they took hold of the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
Finally, when they had finished making
a fool of him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucifixion.
* * *

Jesus supports the whole world by His divine power, for He is God; but the weight was less heavy than was the Cross which our sins hewed out for Him. Our sins cost Him this humiliation. He had to take on Him our nature, and to appear among us as a man, and to offer up for us a great sacrifice. He had to pass a life in penance, and to endure His passion and death at the end of it.
* * *

O Lord God Almighty,
who dost bear the weight of the whole world
without weariness,
who bore the weight of all our sins,
though they wearied Thee,
as Thou art the Preserver of our bodies
by Thy Providence,
so be Thou the Saviour of our souls
by Thy precious blood.


Jesus falls under the weight of the Cross the first time

Is 53: 4-6

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore,
our sufferings that he endured,
While we thought of him as stricken,
as one smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our offenses,
crushed for our sins;
Upon him was the chastisement
that makes us whole,
by his stripes we were healed.
We had all gone astray like sheep,
each following his own way;
But the Lord laid upon him
the guilt of us all.
* * *

Satan fell from heaven in the beginning; by the just sentence of his Creator he fell, against whom he had rebelled. And when he had succeeded in gaining man to join him in his rebellion, and his Maker came to save him, then his brief hour of triumph came, and he made the most of it. When the Holiest had taken flesh, and was in his power, then in his revenge and malice he determined, as he himself had been struck down by the Almighty arm, to strike in turn a heavy blow at Him who struck him. Therefore it was that Jesus fell down so suddenly.
* * *

O dear Lord,
by this Thy first fall
raise us all out of sin,
who have so miserably fallen
under its power.


Jesus meets His Mother

Lk 2: 34-35, 51

Simeon blessed them
and said to Mary his mother:
"This child is destined to be the downfall
and the rise of many in Israel,
a sign that will be opposed,
and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword,
so that the thoughts of many hearts
may be laid bare"....
His mother meanwhile pondered all these things
in her heart.
* * *

There is no part of the history of Jesus but Mary has her part in it. There are those who profess to be His servants, who think that her work was ended when she bore Him; and after that she had nothing to do but disappear and be forgotten. But we, O Lord, do not so think of Thy Mother. She brought the tender infant into the Temple, she lifted Him up in her arms when the wise men came to adore Him. She fled with Him to Egypt, she took Him up to Jerusalem when He was 12 years old. He lived with her at Nazareth for 30 years. She was with Him at the marriage-feast. Even when He had left her to preach, she hovered about Him. And now she shows herself as He toils along the Sacred Way with His cross on his shoulders.
* * *

Sweet Mother,
let us ever think of thee
when we think of Jesus,
and when we pray to Him,
ever aid us by thy powerful intercession.


Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the Cross

Lk 23: 26-27

As they led him away,
they laid hold of one Simon the Cyrenean
who was coming in from the fields.
They put a crossbeam on Simon's shoulder
for him to carry along behind Jesus.
A great crowd of people followed him,
including women who beat their breasts
and lamented over him.
* * *

Jesus could bear His Cross alone, did He so will; but He permits Simon to help Him, in order to remind us that we must take part in His sufferings, and have a fellowship in His work. His merit is infinite, yet He condescends to let His people add their merit to it. The sanctity of the Blessed Virgin, the blood of the Martyrs, the prayers and penances of the Saints, the good deeds of all the faithful, take part in that work which, nevertheless, is perfect without them. He saves us by His blood, but it is through and with ourselves that He saves us.
* * *

Dear Lord,
teach us to suffer with Thee,
make it pleasant to us to suffer for Thy sake,
and sanctify all our sufferings
by the merits of Thy own.


The face of Jesus is wiped by Veronica

Is 53: 2-3

There was in him no stately bearing
to make us look at him,
nor appearance that would attract us to him.
He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
One of those from whom men hide their faces.
* * *

Jesus let the pious woman carry off an impression of His Sacred Countenance, which was to last to future ages. He did this to remind us all, that His image must ever be impressed on all our hearts. Whoever we are, in whatever part of the earth, in whatever age of the world, Jesus must live in our hearts. We may differ from each other in many things, but in this we must all agree, if we are His true children. We must bear about with us the napkin of St Veronica; we must ever meditate upon His death and resurrection, we must ever imitate His divine excellence, according to our measure.
* * *

let our countenances
be ever pleasing in Thy sight,
not defiled with sin,
but bathed and washed white
in Thy precious blood.


Jesus falls the second time

Lam 3: 1-2, 9, 16

I am a man who knows affliction
from the rod of his anger,
one whom he has led and forced
to walk in darkness, not in the light....
He has blocked my ways with fitted stones,
and turned my paths aside....
He has broken my teeth with gravel,
pressed my face in the dust.
* * *

Satan had a second fall, when our Lord came upon earth. By that time he had usurped the dominion of the whole world - and he called himself its king. And he dared to take up the Holy Saviour in his arms, and show Him all kingdoms, and blasphemously promise to give them to Him, His Maker, if He would adore him. Jesus answered, "Begone, Satan!" - and Satan fell down from the high mountain. And Jesus bare witness to it when He said, "I saw Satan, as lightning, falling from heaven". The Evil One remembered this second defeat, and so now he smote down the Innocent Lord a second time, now that he had Him in his power.
* * *

O dear Lord,
teach us to suffer with Thee,
and not be afraid of Satan's buffetings,
when they come on us
from resisting him.


The women of Jerusalem mourn for our Lord

Lk 23: 28-31

Jesus turned to them and said:
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me.
Weep for yourselves and for your children.
The days are coming when they will say,
"Happy are the sterile,
the wombs that never bore,
and the breasts that never nursed'.
Then they will begin saying to the mountains,
"Fall on us', and to the hills, "Cover us'.
If they do these things in the green wood,
what will happen in the dry?".
* * *

Ever since the prophecy of old time, that the Saviour of man was to be born of a woman of the stock of Abraham, the Jewish women had desired to bear Him. Yet, now that He was really come, how different, as the Gospel tells us, was the event from what they had expected. He said to them "that the days were coming when they should say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not borne, and the breasts which have not given suck".
* * *

Ah, Lord,
we know not what is good for us,
and what is bad.
We cannot foretell the future, nor do we know,
when Thou comest to visit us,
in what form Thou wilt come.
And therefore we leave it all to Thee.
Do Thou Thy good pleasure to us and in us.
Let us ever look at Thee,
and do Thou look upon us,
and give us the grace of Thy bitter Cross
and Passion,
and console us in Thy own way
and at Thy own time.


Jesus falls the third time

Lam 3: 27-32

It is good for a man to bear the yoke
from his youth.
Let him sit alone and in silence, when it
is laid upon him.
Let him put his mouth to the dust;
there may yet be hope.
Let him offer his cheek to be struck,
let him be filled with disgrace.
For the Lord's rejection does not last forever;
Though he punishes, he takes pity,
in the abundance of his mercies.
* * *

Satan will have a third and final fall at the end of the world, when he will be shut up for good in the everlasting fiery prison. He knew this was to be his end - he has no hope, but despair only. He knew that no suffering which he could at that moment inflict upon the Saviour of men would avail to rescue himself from that inevitable doom. But, in horrible rage and hatred, he determined to insult and torture while he could the great King whose throne is everlasting. Therefore a third time he smote Him down fiercely to the earth.
* * *

O Jesus, Only-begotten Son of God,
the Word Incarnate,
we adore with fear and trembling
and deep thankfulness
Thy awful humiliation,
that Thou who art the Highest,
should have permitted Thyself,
even for one hour,
to be the sport and prey of the Evil One.


Jesus is stripped of His garments

Mt 27: 33-36

Upon arriving at a site called Golgotha,
a name which means Skull Place,
they gave him a drink of wine
flavoured with gall,
which he tasted but refused to drink.
When they had crucified him,
they divided his clothes among them
by casting lots;
then they sat down there
and kept watch over him.
* * *

Jesus would give up everything of this world, before He left it. He exercised the most perfect poverty. When He left the Holy House of Nazareth, and went out to preach, He had not where to lay His head. He lived on the poorest food, and on what was given to Him by those who loved and served Him. And therefore He chose a death in which not even His clothes were left to Him. He parted with what seemed most necessary, and even a part of Him, by the law of human nature since the fall.
* * *

Grant us in like manner, O dear Lord,
to care nothing
for anything on earth,
and to bear the loss of all things,
and to endure even shame,
reproach, contempt, and mockery,
rather than that Thou shalt be ashamed
of us at the last day.


Jesus is nailed to the Cross

Mk 15: 25-27

It was about nine in the morning
when they crucified him.
The inscription proclaiming his offence read:
"The King of the Jews".
With him they crucified two insurgents,
one at his right and one at his left.
* * *

Jesus is pierced through each hand and each foot with a sharp nail. His eyes are dimmed with blood, and are closed by the swollen lids and livid brows which the blows of His executioners have caused. His mouth is filled with vinegar and gall. His head is encircled by the sharp thorns. His heart is pierced with the spear. Thus, all His senses are mortified and crucified, that He may make atonement for every kind of human sin.
* * *

O Jesus,
mortify and crucify us with Thee.
Let us never sin by hand or foot,
by eyes or mouth, or by head or heart.
Let all our senses be a sacrifice to Thee;
let every member sing Thy praise.
Let the sacred blood
which flowed from Thy five wounds
anoint us with such sanctifying grace
that we may die to the world,
and live only to Thee.


Jesus dies upon the Cross

Mt 27: 45-47, 50

From noon onward, there was darkness
over the whole land until midafternoon.
Then toward midafternoon
Jesus cried out in a loud tone,
"Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?",
that is, "My God, my God,
why have you forsaken me?".
This made some of the bystanders
who heard it remark, "He is invoking Elijah!".
Once again Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
and then gave up his spirit.
* * *

"Consummatum est". It is completed - it has come to a full end. The mystery of God's love towards us is accomplished. The price is paid, and we are redeemed. The Eternal Father determined not to pardon us without a price, in order to show us especial favour. He condescended to make us valuable to Him. What we buy we put a value on. He might have saved us without a price - by the mere fiat of His will. But to show His love for us He took a price, which, if there was to be a price set upon us at all, if there was any ransom at all to be taken for the guilt of our sins, could be nothing short of the death of His Son in our nature.
* * *

O my God and Father,
Thou hast valued us so much
as to pay the highest of all possible prices
for our sinful souls;
and shall we not love
and choose Thee above all things
as the one necessary and one only good?


Jesus is laid in the arms of His Blessed Mother

Mt 27: 54-55

The centurion and his men
who were keeping watch over Jesus
were terror-stricken at seeing the earthquake
and all that was happening,
and said, "Clearly this was the Son of God!".
Many women were present
looking on from a distance.
They had followed Jesus from Galilee
to attend to his needs.
* * *

He is Thy property now, O Virgin Mother, once again, for He and the world have met and parted. He went out from Thee to do His Father's work - and He has done and suffered it. Satan and bad men have now no longer any claim upon Him - too long has He been in their arms. Satan took Him up aloft to the high mountain; evil men lifted Him up upon the Cross.
* * *

He has not been in Thy arms, O Mother of God,
since He was a child;
but now thou hast a claim upon Him,
when the world has done its worst.
For thou art the all-favoured,
all-blessed, all-gracious
Mother of the Highest.
We rejoice in this great mystery.
He has been hidden in thy womb,
He has lain in thy bosom,
He has been suckled at thy breasts,
He has been carried in thy arms;
and now that He is dead,
He is placed upon thy lap.
Virgin Mother of God, pray for us.


Jesus is laid in the Sepulchre

Mt 27: 57-60

When evening fell,
a wealthy man from Arimathea arrived,
Joseph by name.
He was another of Jesus' disciples,
and had gone to request the body of Jesus.
Thereupon Pilate issued an order for its release.
Taking the body, Joseph wrapped it
in fresh linen and laid it in his own new tomb
which had been hewn from a formation of rock.
Then he rolled a huge stone
across the entrance of the tomb and went away.
* * *

Jesus, when He was nearest to His everlasting triumph, seemed to be farthest from triumphing. When He was nearest upon entering upon His kingdom, and exercising all power in heaven and earth, He was lying dead in a cave of the rock. He was wrapped round in burying-clothes, and confined within a sepulchre of stone, where He was soon to have a glorified spiritual body, which could penetrate all substances, go to and fro quicker than thought, and was about to ascend on high.
* * *

Make us to trust in Thee, O Jesus,
that Thou wilt display in us
a similar providence.
Make us sure, O Lord,
that the greater is our distress,
the nearer we are to Thee.
The more men scorn us,
the more Thou dost honour us.
The more men insult over us,
the higher Thou wilt exalt us.
The more they forget us,
the more Thou dost keep us in mind.
The more they abandon us,
the closer Thou wilt bring us to Thyself.

Meditations and Prayers by the Venerable Servant of God Cardinal John Henry Newman





Good Friday, 13 April 2001

After the Holy Father had completed the last Station, he spoke extemporaneously, saying:

Ecce lignum crucis, in qua salus mundi pependit! Venite adoremus!

Today this confession was made in St Peter's Basilica for the first time in the third millennium. On this very day, Good Friday, the same overwhelming truth has been proclaimed on all the continents, in all the countries of the world: Ecce lignum crucis!

Christ's Church confesses this divine and human reality: Crux, ave Crux! Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.

The Church has confessed this for the past two millennia. Today for the first time she has confessed it throughout the world and here in Rome with this Via Crucis around the Colosseum. Let us carry this truth into the third millennium. Let us profess that through his Cross, the Son of God, in accepting this humiliation, a punishment intended for slaves, opened to humanity the way to glorification. Therefore we kneel in adoration today.

Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, qui per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
May this truth, confessed today in St Peter's Basilica and here at the Roman Colosseum, be for us the light and strength of this period which we inaugurated a few months ago.

Ave Crux, ave Crux of the Roman Colosseum!

Ave on the threshold of the third millennium!

Ave down through all the years and centuries of this new era that is opening before us!

Praised be Jesus Christ!

1. “Christ became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (cf. Phil Ph 2,8).

We have just concluded the Via Crucis which, every year, sees us gathered on the evening of Good Friday in this place, filled with intense Christian memories. We have followed the steps of the Innocent One, unjustly condemned, keeping our eyes on his adorable face: a face offended by human malice but full of the light of love and forgiveness.

Truly distressing are the dramatic events involving Jesus of Nazareth! In order to restore fullness of life to man, the Son of God humbled himself in the most abject way. But from his Death, freely chosen, life springs forth. Scripture says: oblatus est quia ipse voluit – he gave himself up because he so wished. His is an extraordinary testimony of love, fruit of an obedience without compare, carried to the point of the total giving of himself.

2. “Obedient unto death, even death on a cross”.

How can we take our eyes away from Jesus as he dies on the Cross? His battered face disturbs us. The Prophet says: “He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised” (Is 53,2-3).

On that face are concentrated the dark shadows of every suffering, every injustice, every violence inflicted on human beings throughout the course of history. But now, before the Cross, our everyday sorrows, and even death itself, appear clothed in the majesty of Christ abandoned and dying.

The face of the bleeding and crucified Messiah, reveals that, for the sake of love, God has allowed himself to become involved in the tormented chronicles of mankind. Ours is no longer a solitary suffering, because he has paid the price for us with his blood, shed to the last drop. He has entered into our suffering and broken through the barrier of our distraught tears.

In his death, all human life acquires meaning and value, as does death itself. From the Cross, Christ appeals to the personal freedom of men and women in every period of history and calls each one to follow him on the path of complete abandonment into the hands of God. He even makes us rediscover the mysterious fruitfulness of pain.

3. “Lift up the light of your face on us, O Lord” (Ps 4,7).

As our gathering comes to a close, let us continue to meditate on the mystery of this Face, which countless artists down the centuries have used their every talent to portray.

If only people would let themselves be moved by its unmistakable features! On that Holy Face they would find the appropriate answers to all the questions and doubts that afflict the human heart. From the contemplation of the loving Face of the Son of God made man it is possible to draw the strength to overcome the hours of darkness and tears. From Calvary a divine peace inundates the earth as we await the glory of Easter.

O Virgin Mary, you who stood courageously under the Cross and received in your arms the lifeless body of Jesus, help us to understand that our suffering is a precious sharing in the Passion of your Divine Son, who for love of us “became obedient unto death, even death on a cross”. Guide our steps to follow his indelible footprints, which will lead us to the wonder and joy of his Resurrection.



To my Sons and Daughters of the Faith and Light Movement

1. In this Holy Week of the first year of the new millennium, you have come to the Grotto of Massabielle on the occasion of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the foundation of your movement, and I greet you with affection and the assurance of my prayers. Mary herself invites you to rekindle your desire to "come and drink at the source"; she leads you, as she once led Bernadette, to the encounter with her Son. In Lourdes, the love of Jesus and Mary for the weakest appears with unique power, inviting you to give thanks to God for the marvels the Lord has wrought in you. I encourage you to renew and strengthen your faith, and to live every day with a sense of mission.

2. Those of you who have handicaps are the very heart of the great family of Faith and Light. Your life is a gift from God and makes of you witnesses to the true life. If your handicap sometimes brings you difficult trials, you often live, in Claudel’s expression, with "enlarged souls in chained bodies". Dear friends, you are a precious treasure of the Church, which is also your family, and you have a special place in the heart of Jesus.

3. For thirty years, with boldness, courage and perseverance, Faith and Light has not stopped reminding people of the eminent dignity of every human person. We can be grateful for the hope and confidence which so many individuals and families have found in the movement. To those who assist the handicapped I give heartfelt thanks for the irreplaceable work they do every day in the service of those who are often forgotten by our society, and I thank them especially for the happiness they bring. In this way they bear witness to the fact that the joy of living is a hidden fountain which flows from trust in God and in Mary, his Mother. I wish to extend a special greeting to Jean Vanier and Marie-Hélène Mathieu who for a long time have devoted themselves to improving the lives of handicapped people and advancing their cause.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, your presence in Lourdes is also a call to Christians and to civic leaders to understand better that a handicap, even when it calls for care, is above all an invitation to overcome all forms of selfishness and to commit ourselves to a new brotherhood and a new solidarity. As I recalled, during their Jubilee in Rome, the handicapped call "into question understandings of life linked only to personal satisfaction, appearances, efficiency" (Homily, 3 December 2000, No. 5). They call on all the members of society to give moral and material support to parents of handicapped children. While there is an ever growing tendency to eliminate before birth a human being who may be handicapped, the activity of Faith and Light stands out as a prophetic sign in favour of life and in favour of the priority due to the weakest members of society.

5. In your great diversity, coming as you do from seventy-five countries, your experience is a truly ecumenical one. The presence together in Lourdes of different Christian confessions, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant, testifies, on the basis of your common faith in the Risen Christ, that every individual is a gift from God, with inalienable dignity and rights. It shows too that, despite a handicap, it is possible to be live with happiness.

6. With affection I invoke upon you, upon those accompanying you and upon those who could not come, the strength of the Risen Lord; may he grant each one of you courage and joy to continue the mission of bearing witness to God’s love in the world. Following the example of Bernadette, may you be ever more receptive to the Good News, which humanity so greatly needs, and may you make it bear ever greater fruit. Entrusting you to the maternal tenderness of Our Lady of Lourdes, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 2 April 2001






Cardinal Miroslav Vlk
Archbishop of Prague
President of the European Council of Episcopal Conferences

You have informed me of the forthcoming European ecumenical meeting that will be held in Strasbourg from 19 to 22 April. This meeting inspires in me a sentiment of deep joy and great hope.

The gathering, jointly organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the Conference of European Churches, is the felicitous result of intense collaboration among the various ecclesial institutions of the European continent. It appropriately follows in the tracks of the great Jubilee of the Year 2000, in which the Churches and Ecclesial Communities celebrated the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, foundation of our faith and source of our salvation. Furthermore, this initiative takes place this year, in which all Christians celebrate the Resurrection of the One who is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14,6) on the same day.
The Easter season shines with the words of the Master who urges his disciples to bring the Good News of salvation to the world: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20).

The words that have accompanied Christ's Church through two millennia are also the theme of the European ecumenical meeting in Strasbourg. A source of consolation for all Christians, this promise cannot be separated from Jesus' prayer on the evening of the Last Supper: "even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17,21). The unity for which the Lord prayed in the Upper Room is a condition for the credibility of Christian witness. Today, more than ever, we must focus our reflection on this deep relationship which plays a decisive role in the impact that the Christian message can have on the world. A clear proclamation of the Gospel is particularly urgent in Europe. Woven of different cultures, traditions and values connected with the countries of which it is composed, Europe can neither be understood nor built without taking into account the roots of its original identity; nor can it be pieced together by rejecting the Christian spirituality which permeates it.

To face this important challenge, it is necessary to intensify collaboration at all the levels of social and ecclesial life, and to deepen bilateral and multilateral dialogues. As experience shows, the results achieved through these dialogues strengthen the already existing communion and revive the desire to achieve perfect communion. From this confession of faith will be born full communion among disciples in Christ, the Head of the Body which is the Church.

My Venerable Brother, I extend my very best wishes to you, to all who are taking part in the European ecumenical meeting in Strasbourg, and in particular to the representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities and the young people, that this gathering may awaken new and fruitful impulses in view of a common Christian witness in Europe and throughout the world, "so that the world may believe" (Jn 17,21).

Speeches 2001