Speeches 2001 - Monday, 29 October 2001
On His Majesty the Emperor, on the imperial family, on the Japanese people and its leaders, on Your Excellency and your family, and on all the personnel of the Embassy, I invoke the abundance of divine Blessings.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Men and Women Religious, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
1. Yesterday, three days after the Solemnity of All Saints, on which we gave thanks to God for the wonderful works he performed in many of our brothers and sisters who have gone before us on the road to holiness, the Church continues to rejoice over the proclamation of eight new Blesseds.
At this morning's meeting, we had a chance to learn from the teaching and example of charity that they have given us. All of this has to impel us to find the confidence and courage to continue on the demanding and exalting road to holiness, the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 31).
2. My warm welcome goes firstly to you, dear pilgrims of Slovakia, who rejoice for the Beatification of Pavel Peter Gojdic and Methodius Dominic Trcka. Following the evangelical spirit and the apostolic zeal of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Apostles of the Slavs, these two new Blesseds are extraordinary for their love of Christ, service to their neighbour, and fidelity to the Chair of Peter.
For his episcopal ministry, the blessed Pavel Peter Gojdic chose the motto "God is love, let us love him!", which he translated into a strong devotion for the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart. He nourished a deep love for the Mother of God, especially towards the image of Our Lady of Klokov, which he kept in the chapel of his residence. When the Greek Catholic Church was outlawed by the Communist State, Blessed Gojdic was arrested and imprisoned. He could have left prison if he would have surrendered his fidelity to the Church and to the Pope. He remained faithful, and today we venerate him in the glory of the Blesseds, example of rich spirituality and enlightened pastoral work.
Blessed Methodius Dominic Trcka lived out his missionary work as Superior of the House of Michalovce and Apostolic Visitor of the Basilian Sisters of Presov and Uzhorod, becoming a solid guide and confidante for the spiritual life and apostolic initiatives of many persons. With the coming of the Communist regime, Father Trcka was imprisoned, subjected to continued interrogation, unjustly tried, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Because of the hardships and suffering in prison, he died in his cell, offering an heroic example of fidelity to the Gospel, solidarity with his own people, and love for the Christian tradition of the Eastern Rite.
3. I turn to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially to those who have come to Rome to participate in the beatification of Giovanni Antonio Farina, who was a zealous and enlightened Bishop, first of Treviso and then of Vicenza. I greet the Pastors of these two Dioceses, successors of the new Blessed, and the Institute of the Sisters Teachers of St Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Hearts, which he founded.
Blessed Farina was completely dedicated to the authentic human and spiritual progress of the flock entrusted to his care. In his desire to be all things to all men, he even neglected the necessary things of his own life. His intense apostolic activity, in the days of his youth as in his mature years, was constantly permeated by union with God. Man of charity, he dedicated special attention to the formation of young people and to the care of the needy, abandoned and suffering of any kind, dealing with the serious social needs of the time with rich creativity and the spirit of total abandonment to God.
4. The World Day of Missions, celebrated in October, has its natural complement in the beatification of Fr Paolo Manna, who was Superior General of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), great apostle of evangelization ad gentes. With his life spent completely for the cause of the missions, he was an authentic precursor of the intuitions and indications of the Second Vatican Council. The new Blessed had the great merit of insisting strongly on holiness without any watering down and without hesitation, as the indispensible premise to being authentic and credible apostles of the Gospel.
We turn to Blessed Luigi Tezza, in whom charity and love for the neediest shine forth in an extraordinary way. He lived day by day full fidelity to his own vocation, in the constant search for and realization of the divine will in the generous and unselfish service of his neighbour. The Lord's statement, "I was sick and you visited me" (Mt 25,36) was the foundation of his life as a religious belonging to the Order of St Camillus and founder of the Daughters of St Camillus, to whom he wanted to transmit the charism of "witnessing the merciful love of Christ towards the sick with the heart of mothers".
Gaetana Sterni, foundress of the Sisters of the Divine Will, knew how to lead an ordinary life with an extraordinary spirit. She suffered a great deal, above all, in her youth which, however, refined her sensitivity, rendering her capable of an unselfish love, pardon and availability for the poor. Living in the continual search for the will of God and of readiness for it, she understood that to do the will of God meant to dedicate herself like Jesus to drawing good from evil with the force of love. For this reason, her living witness is more necessary than ever in our day.
5. Blessed Bartholomew of the Martyrs, by vocation and ideal of life a Domenican, burned with zeal for the cause of God which is the salvation of humanity showing the way by means of the Gospel. Faithful to the apostolic norm, "we should dedicate ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word" (Ac 6,4), he drew after him the clergy: he promoted their permanent formation, he made available resources for preaching and founded the Seminary to offer a worthy preparation for future priests.
The Seminary was only one of the means of reform laid down by the Council of Trent. The Blessed Archbishop was zealous in heart and mind to put them in place despite obstacles; some of them were reported to Rome. Pope Pius IV responded, saying of Fra Bartholomew: "He gave us such satisfaction during the time in which he participated in the Council, with his goodness, his prayerfulness and devotion, that we continue to hold him in the highest consideration, with an appreciation of his honour and virtue that cannot be changed by anyone's complaints" (Letter to the King of Portugal, Cardinale Dom Henrique). Yesterday with the act of his beatification I could confirm the sentiments of my Predecessor. I greet the Church of Lisbon, which gave him his origin, and that of Viana do Castelo which welcomed him in his last years and preserves his mortal remains. I also greet the Archdiocese of Braga as it was then and the whole of Portugal which he served and loved, above all in the person of the poor.
6. I greet warmly all the pilgrims who yesterday participated in the Beatification of Mother María Pilar Izquierdo. They came from all the places where the Missionary Work of Jesus and Mary is present. In Europe, in Spain and Italy; in America, in Colombia, Eucuador and Venezuela; in Africa, in Nacala and Maputo in Mozambique.
In the present day world, where sometimes the unrestrained search for pleasure and immediate gratification prevails, the person of Mother María Pilar Izquierdo proclaims with great power the redemptive value of sacrifice, freely accepted and offered together with that of Christ for the salvation of the human race. The Blessed Pilar Izquierdo was an authentic apostle for the spread of the Gospel. With a group of followers, she was dedicated to teaching it in poor and neglected neighbourhoods, hungry for bread and above all for God, in a period of her life when she was surrounded by every kind of misunderstanding. She never lost her love for sacrifice, and in that way she is a shining example for those who, even with many difficulties, have dedicated their lives to the spread of the Kingdom of God.
7. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us direct our prayer to the Lord to beg for ourselves the same faith, courage and dedication which made these eight new Blesseds so great.
May their heavenly intercession always support us, together with that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whose motherly protection I entrust all of you, your families and your communities, while I impart to you a special Blessing.
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican for the first time since the inauguration of the new Cultural Center in Washington. I thank Cardinal Maida for his kind words and his report on the progress of the Center’s mission of advancing the Church’s dialogue with the various forms in which the universal human quest for truth and meaning is espressed.
The tragic events which have shaken the international community in the past two months have made us all aware once more of the fragility of peace and the need to build a culture of respectful dialogue and cooperation between all the members of the human family. I am confident that the Catholic community in the United States will continue to uphold the value of understanding and dialogue among the followers of the world’s religions. As you know, the Church’s commitment to this dialogue is ultimately inspired by her conviction that the Gospel message has the power to enlighten all cultures and to act as a saving leaven of unity and peace for all humanity.In a world of growing cultural and religious pluralism, such dialogue is essential for overcoming tragic conflicts inherited from the past, and for ensuring that "the name of the one God become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 55).
The Cultural Center has its own contribution to make to this important undertaking. Once more I take this opportunity to thank you and the many benefactors of the Center for your continued commitment to its mission of making the Church and her teachings more widely known. Invoking upon you and your families the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding (cf. Phil Ph 4,7), I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. I am happy to greet each of you at this public session of the Pontifical Academies at which you wish to renew your fidelity to the Successor of Peter and your commitment to fostering Christian humanism in an era of globalization.
I warmly greet Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Coordinating Council for the Pontifical Academies, and I thank him for the kind words he addressed to me in the name of all present. With him, I greet the Cardinals, Bishops, Ambassadors, priests, men and women religious, together with the members of the Interuniversity Choir of Rome, who wanted to enrich our session with the beauty of music.
2. This year the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas and the Pontifical Academy of Theology organized the public session on the thought provoking theme: The cultural dimensions of globalization: a challenge to Christian humanism. As I have said on several occasions, the cultural and ethical features of globalization are of special interest and greater interest to the Christian community, compared to the purely economic and financial effects of the phenomenon.
Christian reflection on globalization can draw useful reflections from the event of Pentecost. St Luke in the Book of Acts narrates that, full of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles "began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" and the numerous crowd, coming from "every nation under heaven", heard "the mighty works of God" (cf. Acts Ac 2,4-11) announced in the various languages of the world. The Church, sent to the nations to be the "universal sacrament of salvation" (Lumen gentium LG 48), at the beginning of the third millennium (Tertio Millennio Adveniente ) continues to travel the thousand ways of the world to announce the Gospel of Jesus "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,6) everywhere. Teaching all the nations (cf. Mt Mt 28,19), she puts the salt of truth and the fire of charity into the cultures of the world with the newness and the salvation brought by Christ. In her daily mission the Church "speaks every language, understands and embraces all tongues in charity, and thus overcomes the dispersion of Babel" (Ad gentes AGD 4).
Expert in humanity, she is called to discern and evaluate the cultural novum produced by globalization. It is a novum that involves the entire community of men and women, called by God, Creator and Father, to form a single family in which the rights and responsibilities of all are recognized, based on the common and fundamental dignity of the human person.
3. The discernment, which we are called to exercise as disciples of Christ, has for its primary object the inevitable human, cultural and spiritual impact though it also involves the economic and financial aspects of globalization. What is the image of man (that globalization) proposes and even imposes? What culture does it favour? Is there room for the experience of faith and the interior life?
One has the impression that the complex dynamism, caused by the globalization of the economy and the media, eventually tends to reduce the human person to a market variable, to a piece of merchandise, which really makes the person a totally irrelevant factor in the decisive options. Man risks feeling trampled by the faceless globalized mechanisms and increasingly loses his identity and dignity as a person.
In virtue of such a dynamism, cultures also run the risk of being homogenized if they are not accepted and respected in their originality and richness, but forcefully adapted to the needs of the market and fashion. The result is a cultural product, bearing a superficial syncretism, imposing a new scale of values, derived from criteria that are regularly arbitrary, materialistic, consumerist and opposed to any kind of openness to the Transcendent.
4. At the beginning of the new millennium, the great challenge puts at stake the vision of the human person, his destiny and the future of humanity. It also makes imperative a careful and profound intellectual and theological discernment of the anthropological paradigm, produced by rapid shifts in time. In this context the Pontifical Academies can offer a valuable contribution, by orienting the cultural choices of the Christian community and of all society and offering occasions and instruments of dialogue between faith and culture, between revelation and human problems. They are also called to suggest paths of critical knowledge and authentic dialogue, that place man and his dignity at the centre of every project in order to foster his integral growth in society.
We need to conquer fear and address such timely challenges, trusting in the light and strength of the Spirit whom the risen Lord continues to give to his Church. "Duc in altum! - Put out into the deep!", I repeated many times in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte. Today I entrust to you this invitation of Christ, so that you may face the many and complex problems of our time with courage and skill, to sustain a humanism in which man can rediscover the joy of being a more living and beautiful image of the Creator.
5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, as you know well, six years ago I instituted the Prize of the Pontifical Academies, in order to raise up new talent and encourage the efforts of young scholars, artists and institutions who dedicate their activity to the promotion of a Christian humanism. Accepting the proposal of the Coordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, on this solemn occasion I am delighted to give this prize to Dr Pia Francesca de Solenni, for her work in Thomistic theology entitled: A Hermeneutic of Aquinas's Mens through a Sexually Differentiated Epistemology. Towards an Understanding of Woman as Imago Dei, presented to the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.
I also wish to offer, as a sign of appreciation, a medal of the Pontificate to Dr Johannes Nebel, a member of the Spiritual Family "L'Opera", who just received his doctorate for his thesis Die Entwicklung des römischen Messritus in ersten Jahrtausend anhand der Ordines Romani. Eine synoptische Darstellung, presented at the Pontifical Atheneum of St Anselm in Rome.
At the end of this solemn Assembly, I want to express to all the Academicians, and especially to the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and of St Thomas, my sincere appreciation for the activity carried out and express best wishes for a renewed commitment in philosophy and theology, and in the formation of young scholars.
With these sentiments, I entrust each of you, and your precious work of study and research, to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and I impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.
Friday, 9 November 2001
Dear Cardinal Arinze,
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
1. It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3).
Your Assembly is reflecting on the progress of interreligious dialogue at a time when the whole of humanity is still under shock from the events of 11 September last. It has been suggested that we are witnessing a veritable clash of religions. But, as I have already said on numerous occasions, this would be to falsify religion itself. Believers know that, far from doing evil, they are obliged to do good, to work to alleviate human suffering, to build together a just and harmonious world.
2. If it is imperative for the international community to foster good relations between people belonging to different ethnic and religious traditions, it is all the more urgent for believers themselves to foster relations characterized by openness and trust, and leading to common concern for the well-being of the whole human family.
In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I wrote that: "In the climate of increased cultural and religious pluralism which is expected to mark the society of the new millennium, it is obvious that [interreligious] dialogue will be especially important in establishing a sure basis for peace and warding off the dread spectre of those wars of religion which have so often bloodied human history. The name of the one God must become increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace" (No. 55). We know, and we experience every day, how difficult it is to achieve this goal. We realize, in fact, that peace will not come as the result of our own efforts; it is not something that the world can give. It is a gift from the Lord. And to receive it we have to prepare our hearts. When conflicts arise, peace can only come through a process of reconciliation, and this requires both humility and generosity.
3. On the part of the Holy See it is your Council – ever since its institution by my predecessor Pope Paul VI as the Secretariat for Non-Christians – which has the special task of promoting interreligious dialogue. Over the years, the Council has been instrumental in furthering contacts with representatives of the various religions in a growing spirit of understanding and cooperation, a spirit which was clearly evident, for example, during the Interreligious Assembly held here in the Vatican on the eve of the Great Jubilee. At the closing ceremony of that Assembly I recalled that a vital task before us is to show how religious belief inspires peace, encourages solidarity, promotes justice and upholds liberty (cf. Speech to the Interreligious Assembly, Saint Peter's Square, 28 October 1999).
4. I make these brief remarks bearing in mind the theme chosen for your Plenary Assembly, The Spirituality of Dialogue. You have chosen to reflect on the spiritual inspiration which ought to sustain those engaged in interreligious dialogue. When we Christians consider the nature of God, as revealed in Scripture and above all in Jesus Christ, we realize that the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the perfect and eminent model of dialogue among human beings. Revelation teaches us that God has always been in dialogue with mankind, a dialogue which permeates the Old Testament and reaches its climax in the last days, when God speaks directly through his Son (cf. Heb He 1,2). Consequently, in interreligious dialogue we must take to heart the exhortation of Saint Paul: "In your minds you must be the same as Jesus Christ" (Ph 2,5). The Apostle then goes on to underline the humility of Jesus, his kenosis. It is in the measure that, like Christ, we empty ourselves that we shall truly be able to open our hearts to others and walk with them as fellow pilgrims towards the destiny that God has prepared for us.
5. This reference to the kenosis of the Son of God serves to remind us that dialogue is not always easy or without suffering. Misunderstandings arise, prejudice can stand in the way of common accord, and the hand offered in friendship may even be refused. A true spirituality of dialogue has to take such situations into account and provide the motivation for persevering, even in the face of opposition or when the results appear to be meagre. There will always be a need for great patience, for the fruits will come, but in due time (cf Ps 1,3); when those who were sowing in tears will sing as they reap (cf Ps 126,5).
At the same time, contact with the followers of other religions is often a source of great joy and encouragement. It leads us to discover how God is at work in the minds and hearts of people, and indeed in their rites and customs. What God has sown in this way can, through dialogue, be purified and perfected (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 17). The spirituality of dialogue will therefore attentively seek to discern the workings of the Holy Spirit, and will give thanks for the fruits of love, joy and peace that the Spirit brings.
6. May Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church, intercede for you all, that our heavenly Father will fill you with wisdom and strength in order to follow, and encourage others to follow, the genuine path of dialogue. With gratitude, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. "I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers" (Ep 1,15-16). In the bond of that faith, I greet you, the Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, as you come on your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. As you pray at the Tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, you reaffirm the bond of communion with the Successor of Peter and with the episcopal college throughout the world, and you re-commit yourselves to that "care for all the Churches" (2Co 11,28) which is at the heart of the apostolic ministry. You re-dedicate yourselves to that witness to which Bishops are called as Successors of the Apostles, a witness to the Risen Christ who dispels all darkness by the power of his glorious light. With the Church throughout the ages you echo the song of Easter which has long been heard in this place: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat! These words, by directing your minds and hearts to the Lord Jesus – to whom alone belong "honour and glory and might for ever and ever" (Ap 5,13) – remind you that the Bishop is a steward, not an owner, of the mysteries. You are servants of the Gospel of the one Saviour Jesus Christ: the source, heart and goal of all your episcopal ministry.
You come from afar, "but there is no distance between those who are united in the same communion, the communion which is daily nourished at the table of the Eucharistic Bread and the Word of Life" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 58). The particular Churches entrusted to your care are a precious part of the great fellowship of faith which is the universal Church. In this moment of communion, dear Brothers, let us together give thanks for what the universal Church is to your particular Churches and for the wonderful gifts which the faithful of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei bring to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
2. Today I wish to encourage you to direct your ministry and pastoral planning more and more to that lifelong Christian formation which is the essential support of a solid Christian life, a formation which begins in Baptism, develops through grace at every stage of life’s journey, and will end only when our eyes are fully opened in the beatific vision of heaven. It is this lifelong Christian training which enables us to hear the voice of Christ, our Teacher (cf. Mt Mt 23,10), and adhere with heart and mind to the cause of his kingdom. The Lord’s teaching reaches the Christian community in many ways, not the least of which are the three great areas within which it unfolds in the lives of most of the faithful: the family, the school and the parish. These are not just conventional arrangements which might at some point be judged outmoded; they are in fact enduringly valid institutions through which the grace of Christ is mediated to those involved. They require sustained and sensitive pastoral care on your part if the community over which you preside is to be strengthened as a visible social body.
3. In your lands as elsewhere, the family is under pressure. Divorce has become more common, and its prevalence can lead to a diminished sense of the special grace and commitment involved in Christian marriage. Among couples of different religious allegiance, the problem is especially felt, since the shared bond of faith is lacking. Family life is also made more difficult where the mass media present values contrary to the Gospel and become instruments of a vision of life reduced to the ephemeral and unsubstantial. In such a situation, "the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family" (Familiaris Consortio FC 3). Indeed, you will be doing an excellent service to the whole of society when you proclaim that the marriage of man and woman was "willed by God in the very act of creation" (ibid.) and that it is a primary locus of the ceaseless creativity of God, with whom couples cooperate through their service of life and love. This means that marriage and the family are not institutions which can change with passing trends or as majority opinion might decide. Every effort should be made to ensure that the family will be recognized as the primordial building block of a truly healthy and spiritually vigorous nation (cf. Letter to Families LF 2 February 1994, 17).
In the bond of Christian marriage, Christ himself dwells sacramentally, drawing spouses and children ever more deeply into his inexhaustible love, showing forth the glory of his own self-giving, and revealing to the world the truth that man is created both through love and for love (cf. ibid., 11). I would recall the words of Tertullian: "How wonderful the bond between two believers, with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow-servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh; in fact they are truly two in one flesh, and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit" (To His Wife, II, VIII, 7-8). Because of this very special vocation, it is essential that there should be not only thorough preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage, but also unfailing support and continuing formation of Christian spouses, so that they can understand the dignity and duties of their state.
4. In the lifelong process of formation, Catholic schools are closely associated with parents in teaching children to know and love both God and man. In your particular Churches in general, magnificent work has been done in the field of Catholic education, especially by men and women Religious, and you have been unstinting in offering support and encouragement. The presence of Religious in the schools is less assured now than it was, and dedicated lay teachers are assuming wider responsibility. This means that special attention has to be given to their training, in order to ensure that they see their professional work as a genuine vocation, and likewise to ensure that what is most distinctive about Catholic schools is not compromised.
Cultural, political and financial pressures sometimes make it difficult to maintain the independence required by Catholic schools. In a situation such as yours, Church schools are open to students of all backgrounds. Yet it is essential to preserve and nurture that sense of the providence of the Creator, of the inviolability of human dignity, of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, and of the Church as a communion of holiness and mission, which enables Catholic schools to make their special contribution not only to the children whom they teach but also to the society which they serve.
5. Just as schools cannot be separated from the education which takes place within the family, so too they are intimately related to the formation offered in the parish. This is especially true in situations where the faith cannot be taught in schools but must be taught in the parish. As you know from daily experience, catechists play a fundamental role in teaching the faith in your local communities. They need the special formal and informal training which enables them to pass on the riches of Catholic doctrine in all its fullness, as well as the support and encouragement of the community and its pastor.
This is even more important in the case of priests, since it is they who have day-to-day contact with their people as teachers of the faith. Not only must they themselves teach, but they must also help parents, teachers and catechists to fulfil their particular responsibilities. That is why your priests need not only excellent seminary training, but also the continuing formation mentioned in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, which speaks of such further training as "a requirement of the priest’s own faithfulness to his ministry, to his very being" (No. 70). Be especially close to your priests, by helping them constantly to cherish in their hearts the treasure of their priestly calling. Encourage them to grow in the love and zeal which ensures that their communities are equipped in every way for the worship of God and the service of the brethren.
What is true of priests is also true, a fortiori, of Bishops. Many beautiful and penetrating things were said at the recent Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops about the figure of the Pastor as a man of God, a teacher of the faith that has been handed down, a sanctifier of God’s people, and a guide of the community’s pilgrimage journey. With the many pressures of your ministry, it is never easy to find the time for further study and reflection. Yet this is very necessary. Otherwise it will surely be more difficult for you as Bishops to persevere with truth and humility in the task of being faithful stewards of the mysteries. Therefore, dear Brothers, I urge you "to rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (2Tm 1,6). And do all you can to help your priests to do the same, so that in the parishes of your Dioceses the voice of Christ the Good Shepherd will always be heard by the flock he has claimed as his own.
6. The Catholic family, school and parish must, each in its own way, become more and more a school of faith and holiness, a sanctuary where God is worshipped and a service to a broken world. In doing so they will provide that "genuine training in holiness" (NovoMillennio Ineunte NM 31) which is especially needed now if the new evangelization is to bear the fruit so earnestly needed. On this point we must be clear: holiness of life is the goal of all Christian formation, just as it is the goal of the pastoral planning in which we are involved at the start of the new millennium. Christian holiness springs from contemplation of the face of Christ; it grows through a process of continuing formation, leading to an ever more perfect following of Jesus; and it comes to maturity when we bear faithful witness to Christ and proclaim his truth to the world.
All of this will bring positive results also in dealing with another of the challenging tasks facing the Church in the Third Christian Millennium: the duty to engage in fruitful interreligious dialogue and work effectively with the followers of all religions for a strengthening of mutual understanding and peace in the world. This undertaking is of particular importance for your local churches. As I wrote in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, only Christians with a mature and convinced faith, who are deeply immersed in the mystery of Christ and are happy in their faith community, can be effective in promoting genuine interreligious dialogue (cf. No. 31). Such dialogue includes scholarly exchanges, joint action for integral human development and the defence of human and religious values. The Church’s mission in the new millennium calls for her "to strive to preserve and foster at all levels this spirit of encounter and cooperation between religions" (ibid.); this in turn will sustain the values upon which a just and peaceful society can be built.
My fervent prayer for you, dear Brothers, is that you will ever be men of God, men of prayer and intense pastoral love, so that you will help your people to live in genuine Christian hope: "For in hope we were saved" (Rm 8,24). In this uncertain period in world events, let your hearts be ever more filled with the compassion and mercy of the Heart of Jesus. Be prophets of his love for every needy person!
I entrust you, your priests, the women and men Religious, and the lay people of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei to the unfailing protection of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in her Divine Son.
Speeches 2001 - Monday, 29 October 2001