Wednesday 17 July 2002 - Praise to him who sits upon the throne

Psalm 148, Lauds for Sunday of the third week

46 Ps 148

1. Psalm 148 that we have just lifted up to God is a true "canticle of creatures", a kind of Old Testament Te Deum, a cosmic "alleluia" that involves everyone and everything in divine praise.

This is how a contemporary exegete has commented on it: "The Psalmist, calling them by name, puts beings in order. Above are the heavens with two heavenly bodies, that move according to time, and then the stars; on the one side are the fruit-trees and on the other the cedars; on one level the reptiles, on the other birds; here the princes, over there the people; in two lines, perhaps holding hands, young men and maidens .... God has established them, giving them their place and role; the human being accepts them, giving them their place in language, and arranged in this way, introduces them into the liturgical celebration. Man is the "shepherd of being' or the liturgist of creation" (L. Alonso Schökel, Trenta salmi: poesia e preghiera [Thirty Psalms, Poetry and Prayer], Bologna, 1982, p. 499).

Let us too follow this universal chorus that echoes in the apse of heaven and whose temple is the whole cosmos. Let us join in the breathing forth of the praise that all creatures raise to their Creator.

2. We find in the heavens the singers of the starry universe: the remotest heavenly bodies, the choirs of angels, the sun and moon, the shining stars, the "highest heavens" (Ps 148,4), that is, the starry space and the waters above the heavens, which the man of the Bible imagines were stored in reservoirs before falling on the earth as rain.

The "alleluia", that is, the invitation to "praise the Lord", resounds at least eight times, and has as its final goal the order and harmony of the heavenly bodies: "He fixed their bounds which cannot be passed" (Ps 148,6).

We then lift our eyes to the earthly horizon where a procession of at least 22 singers unfolds: a sort of alphabet of praise whose letters are strewn over our planet. Here are the sea monsters and the depths of the sea, symbols of the watery chaos on which the earth is founded (cf. Ps 24,2 [24],2), according to the ancient Semite conception of the cosmos.

St Basil, a Father of the Church observed: "Not even the deep was judged as contemptible by the Psalmist, who included them in the general chorus of creation, and what is more, with its own language completes the harmonious hymn to the Creator" (Homiliae in hexaemeron, III 9: PG 29,75).

47 3. The procession continues with the creatures of the atmosphere: the flash of lightening, hail, snow, frost and stormy winds, thought to be a swift messenger of God (Ps 148,8).

Then the mountains and hills appear, popularly held to be the most ancient creatures (cf. Ps 148,9a). The vegetable kingdom is represented by the fruit-trees and cedars (cf. Ps 148,9b). The animal kingdom is represented by the beasts, cattle, reptiles and flying birds (cf. Ps 148,10).

Finally, the human being, who presides over the liturgy of creation, is represented according to all ages and distinctions: boys, youth and the old, princes, kings and nations (cf. Ps 148,11-12).

4. Let us now entrust to St John Chrysostom the task of casting a comprehensive look upon this immense chorus. He does so in words that refer also to the Canticle of the three young men in the fiery furnace, which we meditated upon in the last catechesis.

The great Father of the Church and Patriarch of Constantinople says: "Because of their great rectitude of spirit, when the saints gather to thank God, they used to invite many to join with them in singing his praise, urging them to take part with them in this beautiful liturgy. This is what the three young men in the furnace also did, when they called the whole of creation to praise and sing hymns to God for the benefit received" (Da 3).

This Psalm does the same calling both parts of the world, that which is above and that which is below, the sentient and the intelligent. The Prophet Isaiah also did this, when he said: "Sing for joy, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth! ... for the Lord has comforted his people and shows mercy to his afflicted" (Is 49,13). The Psalter goes on: "When Israel went forth from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language ... the mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs" (Ps 114,1 Ps 114,4 [113],1,4); and elsewhere in Isaiah, "Let the heavens rain down justice like dew from above" (Is 45,8). Indeed, considering themselves inadequate on their own to sing praise to the Lord, the saints "turn to all sides involving all things in singing a common hymn" (Expositio in psalmum CXLVIII: PG 55,484-485).

5. We are also invited to join this immense choir, becoming the explicit voice of every creature and praising God in the two fundamental dimensions of his mystery. On the one hand, we must adore his transcendent greatness, "for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven" as our Psalm says (Ps 148,13). On the other hand, we should recognize his goodness in coming down to us because God is close to his creatures and comes especially to help his people: "He has raised up a horn for his people ... for the people of Israel who are near to him" (Ps 148,14), as the Psalmist re-affirms.

Before the almighty and merciful Creator, let us take up St Augustine's invitation to praise him, exalt him and celebrate him in his works: "When you observe these creatures and enjoy them and rise up to the Architect of all things and of created things, when you contemplate his invisible attributes intellectually, then a confession rises on earth and in heaven.... If creation is beautiful, how much more beautiful must its Creator be?" (Esposizioni sui Salmi [Expositions on the Psalms], IV, Rome, 1977, pp. 887-889).

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Scotland and the United States of America. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Happy Summer!

After greeting the pilgrims in their languages, the Holy Father said in Italian:

Dear young people, meeting you, I begin to think of the impending World Youth Day. I pray that it may be a favourable opportunity to experience the joy of being true witnesses of Christ. Also present are many sick people, whom I greet with deep affection. Dear friends, I invite you to find comfort in the suffering Lord, who continues his work of redemption in every person's life. To you, dear newly married couples, I express the hope that your love will be ever deeper and truer.

                                                                                August 2002

Wednesday 7 August 2002


1. Last Sunday, at the Angelus, I wished to return spiritually to Toronto, where the 17th World Youth Day took place. Today I would like to reflect on the subsequent stages of my Apostolic Journey in Guatemala and in Mexico, where the Lord granted me the joy of proclaiming Saints and Blesseds outstanding sons of the American continent.

First of all I feel obliged to renew my warm gratitude to the political, administrative and military authorities and to all the institutional organizations of the two countries for their welcome and hospitality to me and my collaborators.

I also extend my gratitude to the Bishops, priests and religious, to the volunteers and families who, with generous availability, did all they could to welcome the pilgrims and ensure that everything went smoothly. The overall assistance contributed to the fact that each stage of my pilgrimage was enriched by an atmosphere of spiritual joy and festitivity. However, I owe my most heartfelt and affectionate thanks to the Christian people in Guatemala and in Mexico who came to meet me in great numbers. In the intense participation of these brothers and sisters I could discern the faith that motivates them, their filial attachment to the Successor of Peter and their enthusiasm at belonging to the Catholic Church.

2. The reason for my visit to Guatemala City was the canonization of Brother Pedro de San José de Betancur, a native of Tenerife, who crossed the ocean to go and evangelize the poor and indigenous peoples in Cuba, in Honduras and then in Guatemala, which he loved to call his "promised land". He was a deeply prayerful man and an undaunted apostle of divine mercy. He drew the energy for his ministry from contemplating the mysteries of Bethlehem and Calvary. Prayer became the source of his apostolic zeal and courage. Humble and austere, he knew how to perceive the face of Christ in his brothers and sisters, especially the most forsaken, and for anyone in need he was "a man who made himself charity". His example is an invitation to practise merciful love toward our brothers and sisters, especially those who are the most abandoned. May his intercession inspire and sustain the faithful of Guatemala and of the whole world to open their hearts to Christ and to their brethren.

3. The last stage of my pilgrimage was Mexico City, where in the Basilica of Guadalupe, on two distinct occasions, I had the joy of raising three sons of that beloved land to the honours of the altar: St Juan Diego, the Indian to whom Our Lady appeared on Mount Tepeyac; the Blesseds Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles who, in 1700, offered their blood to remain faithful to their Baptism and to the Catholic Church.

Juan Diego, the first Indian to be canonized, was a man of great simplicity, humble and generous. He was closely allied with Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face is full of tender motherly love for all Mexicans. The event of Guadalupe was the beginning of evangelization in Mexico and is a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization. It shows that the Christian message can be received without our being obliged to give up our own culture.

Bl. Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles are the fruit of the holiness of the first evangelization among the Zapotec Indians. Upright fathers of families, they knew how to be faithful in performing their duty, ever guided by the teaching of the Gospel. They did not have to reject their traditional indigenous culture. Their lives are an admirable example of how one can reach the heights of holiness, while being faithful to an ancient culture, thanks to the recreating grace of Christ.

May these faithful disciples of Christ, who were devoted like sons to Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother and Queen of America, whom I constantly remembered during my Pastoral Visit, sustain the missionary zeal of believers in America at the service of the new evangelization.

May they be for the entire People of God, an incentive to build a new humanity who will be inspired by the eternal values of the Gospel.

I am pleased to greet the members of the Maltese Association for the Transport of the Sick to Lourdes: may the Lord always sustain you with his gifts of strength and healing. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience I cordially invoke an abundance of grace and peace in the Lord!

Wednesday 21 August 2002 - May the Message of God's Mercy bring peace to the world


1. Today I return in thought to the eighth journey to my native land, which happily divine Providence allowed me to complete in the last few days.

I renew my expression of gratitude to the President of the Republic of Poland, to the Prime Minister, to the Polish civil and military authorities of every order and rank, as well as those of the city of Kraków, for ensuring that my visit went smoothly. I also want to extend cordial thanks to the Primate, Cardinal Józef Glemp, to the Archbishop of Kraków, Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, to the entire episcopate, to the priests, consecrated persons and everyone who prepared this important ecclesial event, and took part in it with faith and devotion.

Above all I want to send my warmest thanks to my dear countrymen, for welcoming me in such great numbers with overwhelming affection and intense participation. The visit involved only one diocese, but in spirit I embraced the whole of Poland which, hopefully, will continue its effort to build true social progress, without ever neglecting to safeguard its own Christian identity.

2. "God, rich in mercy" (
Ep 2,4). These words constantly resounded during my Apostolic Pilgrimage. Indeed, the main purpose of my visit was to proclaim once again God, "rich in mercy", especially by consecrating the new Shrine of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki. The new church will be a centre spreading through the world the fire of God's mercy, according to what the Lord wished to manifest to St Faustina Kowalska, apostle of Divine Mercy.

"Jesus, I trust in you!". This is the simple prayer that Sr Faustina taught us, and which we can have on our lips at every moment of our lives. How often, as a worker, a student and then as a priest and bishop, in the difficult periods of the history of Poland, I also repeated this simple and profound aspiration and experience its efficacy and power.

Mercy is one of the most wonderful attributes of the Creator and of the Redeemer; the Church lives to bring humanity to this inexhaustible wellspring, of which she is depository and dispenser. This is why I wished to entrust my homeland, the Church and all humanity to the Divine Mercy.

50 3. God's merciful love opens the heart to concrete acts of charity for one's neighbour. This was true for Archbishop Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski, Fr Jan Beyzym, Sr Santia Szymkowiak and Fr Jan Balicki, whom I had the joy of beatifying during the Mass celebrated in Blonie Park in Kraków last Sunday.

I wanted to hold up to the Christian people these new Blesseds, so that their example and words might be a stimulus and encouragement to witness with deeds to the Lord's merciful love who conquers evil with good (cf.
Rm 12,21). Only in this way is it possible to build the hoped-for civilization of love, whose gentle force is in strident contrast with the "mystery of evil" that is present in the world. To us, disciples of Christ, is given the mission to proclaim and live the lofty mystery of Divine Mercy which regenerates the world, compelling us to love our brothers and sisters and even our enemies. These beati, together with the other saints, are brilliant examples of how the "creativity in charity", of which I spoke in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, brings us close to and puts us in solidarity with all who suffer (cf. NM 50), architects of a world renewed by love.

4. My pilgrimage then took me to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the shrine dedicated to the Passion of Jesus and to our Lady of Sorrows. I have been attached to that holy place since childhood. I often experienced there how the Mother of God, Our Lady of Grace, turns her merciful eyes to afflicted humanity, in need of her wisdom and help.

After Czestochowa, it is one of the better known and visited shrines of Poland to which the faithful come even from the countries nearby. After travelling the paths of the Way of the Cross and of the Compassion of the Mother of God, the pilgrims pause to pray before the ancient and miraculous image of Mary, our Advocate, who welcomes them with eyes filled with love. Beside her, one can perceive and understand the mysterious bond between the "suffering" (patě) Redeemer on Calvary and his "co-suffering" (compatě) Mother at the foot of the Cross. In this communion of love in suffering it is easy to discern the source of the power of intercession which the prayer of the Virgin Mary has for us, her children.

Let us ask Our Lady to kindle in our hearts the spark of the grace of God and to help us transmit to the world the fire of Divine Mercy. May Mary obtain for all people the gift of unity and peace: unity of faith, unity of spirit and of thought, unity of families; peace of hearts, peace of nations and of the world, while we wait for Christ to return in glory.

I am pleased to welcome the Irish pilgrims from the Diocese of Killaloe. My greeting also goes to the visitors from the Bunri Satoh Educational Institute in Saitama, Japan. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Japan and Indonesia, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of grace and peace.

Wednesday 28 August 2002 - Heaven's peace and life is our destination - Psalm 83 Ł[84]

Ps 84

1. We continue our journey through the Psalms of the Liturgy of Lauds. We heard now Psalm 83 [84], which the Jewish tradition attributes to the "sons of Korah", a family of priests who were in charge of the liturgical service and guarded the threshold of the tent of the Ark of the Covenant (cf. 1Ch 9,19).

This is a most charming song, pervaded by mystical longing for the God of life, repeatedly celebrated (cf. Ps 84,2 Ps 84,4 Ps 84,9 Ps 84,13 [83], with the name: "Lord of the Armies", that is, Lord of the heavenly hosts, hence of the cosmos. Moreover, this title had a special connection with the ark preserved in the temple that was known as the "ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned upon the cherubim" (1S 4,4 cf. Ps 80,2 [79],2). Indeed, it was regarded as the sign of divine protection in times of danger and war (cf. 1S 4,3-5 2S 11,11).

The background of the whole Psalm is represented by the temple toward which the pilgrimage of the faithful is directed. The season seems to be autumn, for the Psalmist mentions the "early rain" that placates the scorching heat of summer (cf. Ps 84,7 [83], 7). This could therefore remind us of the pilgrimage to Zion for the third principal feast of the Hebrew year, the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorates the Israelites' pilgrimage in the desert.

2. The temple is present in all its fascination at the beginning and end of the Psalm. It opens with the wonderful and delicate imagery of birds who have built their nests in the sanctuary (cf. Ps 84,2-4), an enviable privilege.

It is a representation of the happiness of all who - like the priests of the temple - dwell permanently in God's House, enjoying its intimacy and peace. In fact, the whole of the believer's being is stretched out to the Lord, impelled by an almost physical and instinctive desire for him: "My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God" (Ps 84,3). Then the temple reappears at the end of the Psalm (cf. Ps 84,11-13). The pilgrim expresses his great happiness at spending some time in the courts of the house of God and compares this spiritual happiness with the idolatrous illusion that pushes a person towards "the tents of wickedness", that is, the infamous temples of injustice and perversion.

3. There is light, life and joy only in the sanctuary of the living God and "blessed are those" who "trust" in the Lord, choosing the path of righteousness (cf. Ps 84,12-13). The image of the way takes us to the heart of the Psalm (cf. Ps 84,5-9) where another, more important pilgrimage is made. Blessed are those who dwell in the temple in a stable way and even more blessed are those who decide to undertake a journey of faith to Jerusalem.

In their comments on Psalm 83, the Fathers of the Church give Ps 84,6 a special prominence: "Blessed is he who finds his strength in you, whose heart is set upon the holy pilgrimage". The early translations of the Psalter spoke of the decision to complete the "ascensions" to the Holy City. Therefore, for the Fathers the pilgrimage to Zion became the symbol of the continuous progress of the righteous toward the "eternal tents" where God receives his friends into full joy (cf. Lc 16,9).
Let us reflect for a moment on this mystical "ascent" that finds in the earthly pilgrimage an image and a sign. We will do so through the words of a seventh-century Christian writer who was abbot of the monastery on Sinai.

4. This is John Climacus who dedicated an entire treatise - The Ladder of Divine Ascent - to illustrating the countless steps by which the spiritual life ascends. At the end of his work, he gives the last word to charity itself, which he sets at the top of the ladder of spiritual progress.

It is charity that invites and exhorts us, proposing sentiments and attitudes already suggested by our Psalm: "Ascend, my brothers, ascend eagerly. Let your hearts' resolve be to climb. Listen to the voice of the one who says: "Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of our God" (Is 2,3), Who makes our feet to be like the feet of the deer, "Who sets us on the high places, that we may be triumphant on his road" (He 3,19). Run, I beg you, run with him who said, "let us hurry until we all arrive at the unity of faith and of the knowledge of God, at mature manhood, at the measure of the stature of Christ's fullness" (cf. Ep 4,13). (La Scala del Paradiso, Rome 1989, p. 355. In English, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Paulist Press, Ramsey, N.J. 1982, p. 291).

5. The Psalmist thinks first of all of the concrete pilgrimage that leads to Zion from various places in the Holy Land. The rain that falls seems to be for him a foretaste of the joyful blessings that will envelop him like a mantle (cf. Ps 84,7 [84],7) when he comes face to face with the Lord in the temple (cf. Ps 84,8). The gruelling journey through "the valley of tears" (cf. Ps 84,7) is transfigured by the certainty that God who gives strength is the conclusion (cf. Ps 84,8), that he hears the prayer of the faithful (cf. Ps 84,9) and becomes the "shield" that protects him (cf. Ps 84,10).

The concrete pilgrimage is transformed in this light - as the Fathers intuited - and becomes a parable of the whole of life, set between distance from and intimacy with God, between the mystery of God and his revelation. Even in the desert of daily life, the six workdays are made fruitful, illuminated and sanctified by the meeting with God on the seventh day, through the liturgy and prayer of our ecclesial gathering on Sunday.

52 Let us walk then, when we are in the "valley of tears", keeping our eyes fixed on the bright goal of peace and communion. Let us repeat in our hearts the final beatitude, which is like an antiphon that seals the Psalm: "O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you!" (Ps 84,13).

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark and Japan. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now I wish to greet the young people, the sick, and the newly-married couples. May the striking example of St Augustine, whose feast we are celebrating today urge you, dear young people, to plan your future in full fidelity to the Gospel. May it help you, dear sick people, to face suffering with courage, finding serenity and comfort in Christ crucified. May it lead you, dear newly married couples, to an ever deeper love for God, for one another and for your brothers and sisters.


In recent weeks bad weather has hit certain regions of Europe and Asia, causing enormous damage. Especially in Central China, millions of people have had to face tragic hardships. The populations of the Czech Republic and Germany, hammered by disastrous floods, have set out on the long task of rebuilding. As I assure them all of our closeness in affection and prayer, I encourage and bless the competition in solidarity that has taken place among the nations and the populations themselves who are victims of the painful events.

                                                                                  September 2002

Wednesday 4 September 2002 - "They shall beat their swords into plowshares'

Canticle of the second chapter of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (2,2-5), Lauds on Monday of the third week

53 Is 2,2-5

1. The daily liturgy of Lauds, in addition to the Psalms, always offers a canticle from the Old Testament. Indeed, it is well known that besides the Psalter, the true prayer book of Israel and later of the Church, another sort of "Psalter" exists, found among the various historical, prophetic and sapiential pages of the Bible. It also consists in hymns, supplications, praises and invocations, often of great beauty and spiritual intensity.

In our spiritual pilgrimage through the prayers of the Liturgy of Lauds, we have already seen many of these songs that are scattered through the pages of the Bible. We will now examine one that is really admirable, the work of Isaiah, one of Israel's greatest prophets, who lived in eighth century before Christ. He was the witness of the difficult times lived by the Kingdom of Judah, but also sang of messianic hope in deeply poetic language.

2. This is the case with the Canticle we have just heard, which is placed very near the beginning of the Book of Isaiah, in the first verses of chapter two. It is introduced by a later editorial note which says: "The Vision of Isaiah, the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (Is 2,1). The hymn is conceived as a prophetic vision describing a goal towards which the history of Israel moves in hope. It is not by accident that the first words: "In the last days" (Is 2,2), that is, in the fullness of time. It is therefore an invitation not to be fixed on the present that is so wretched, but to sense beneath the surface of daily events the mysterious presence of divine action leading history towards a very different horizon of light and peace.

This Messianic "vision" will be taken up again in chapter 60 of the same Book in a broader perspective, a sign of the rethinking of the prophet's essential and incisive words, those of the Canticle we have just heard. The Prophet Micah (cf. Mi 4,1-3) will take up the same hymn, although his ending (cf. Mi 4,4-5) differs from that of the oracle of Isaiah (cf. Is 2,5).

3. At the heart of Isaiah's "vision" rises Mount Zion, which speaking figuratively will rise above all the other mountains, since it is God's dwelling place and so the place of contact with heaven (cf. 1R 8,22-53). From here according to Isaiah's saying in Is 60,1-6, a light will emanate that will rend and disperse the darkness and toward it will move processions of nations from every corner of the earth.

The power of attraction of Zion is based on two realities that emanate from the Holy Mountain of Jerusalem: the Law and the Word of the Lord. In truth, they constitute a single reality which is the source of life, light and peace, an expression of the mystery of the Lord and of his will. When the nations reach the summit of Zion where the temple of God rises, then the miracle will take place which humanity has always awaited and for which it longs. The peoples will drop their weapons which will then be collected and made into tools for peaceful work: swords will be beaten into ploughshares, spears into pruning hooks. Thus will dawn a horizon of peace, of shalôm in Hebrew (cf. Is 60,17), a word particularly cherished by Messianic theology. At last the curtain falls forever on war and hatred.

4. Isaiah's saying ends with an appeal, in harmony with the spirituality of the hymns of pilgrimage to Jerusalem: "O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord" (Is 2,5). Israel must not be a mere a spectator of this radical historical transformation; she cannot dissociate herself from the invitation that rang out in the opening, on the peoples' lips: "Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord" (Is 2,3).

We Christians are also challenged by this Canticle of Isaiah. In commenting on it, the Fathers of the Church of the fourth and fifth centuries (Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyr, Cyril of Alexandria) saw it fulfilled with the coming of Christ. Consequently they identified the Church with the "mountain of the house of the Lord ... established as the highest of the mountains", from which came the Word of the Lord and to which the pagan peoples streamed, in the new era of peace inaugurated by the Gospel.

5. Already the martyr St Justin, in The First Apology, written about the year 153, announced that the verse of the Canticle which says: "the word of the Lord [would go forth] from Jerusalem" (cf. Is 2,3) had come to pass. He wrote "For twelve illiterate men, unskilled in the art of speaking, went out from Jerusalem into the world, and by the power of God they announced to the men of every nation that they were sent by Christ to teach everyone the word of God; and we, who once killed one another, [now] not only do not wage war against our enemies, but, in order to avoid lying or deceiving our examiners, we even meet death cheerfully, confessing Christ". (Prima Apologia, 39,3: Gli apologeti greci, Rome 1986, p. 118. The First Apology, chapter 39, pp. 75-76, CUA Press).

For this reason, in a special way let us Christians welcome the prophet's appeal and seek to lay the foundations of the civilization of love and peace in which there will be no more war, "and death will be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor pain any more for the former things have passed away" (Ap 21,4).

I am pleased to greet the athletes and representatives of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation. My cordial welcome also goes to the Capuchin Brothers from Africa taking part in a programme of spiritual renewal. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland, Malta, the Philippines, South Africa and the United States I invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Father ended with kind words and a blessing for the young people, the sick and the newly-wed.

Wednesday 11 September 2002 - Give young people hope for the future


1. Today from every corner of the globe countless persons go in thought to the city of New York, where last year on 11 September the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed as the result of a savage attack, taking with them in their ruin many of our innocent brothers and sisters.

At the distance of a year, once again we wish to remember the victims of this terrorism and commend them to the mercy of God. At the same time, we desire to renew our expression of spiritual closeness to their families and their loved ones. But we also wish to present a challenge to the consciences of those who planned and executed such a barbaric and cruel design.

One year after 11 September 2001, we state again that no situation of injustice, no sentiment of frustration, no philosophy or religion can justify such a deadly assault. Every human person has the right to respect for his own life and dignity which are inviolable goods. God says it, international law sanctions it, the human conscience proclaims it, civil coexistence demands it.

2. Terrorism is and will always be a manifestation of inhuman ferocity which, as such, will never be able to resolve the conflicts between human persons. Destruction, armed violence, and war are choices that sow and generate only hatred and death. Reason and love are the only valid means for overcoming and resolving the disputes between persons and peoples.

However, an agreed upon and resolute effort is necessary and urgent to advance new political and economic initiatives that are capable of resolving the scandalous situations of injustice and oppression that continue to afflict a great many of the members of the human family, creating conditions that favour the uncontrollable explosion of rancour. When fundamental rights are violated, it is easy to fall prey to the temptations of hatred and violence. A global culture of solidarity has to be built that will give young people hope for the future.

3. I would like to repeat to all the words of the Bible: "The Lord ... comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice and the peoples with his truth" (ň
Ps 96,13 [95]).

Freedom and peace can only come from truth and justice. Only on these values is it possible to build a life worthy of human beings. Without them there is only ruin and destruction.

On this sad anniversary, we address our prayer to God so that love may supplant hatred and, through the dedication of all persons of good will, harmony and solidarity may be affirmed in every corner of the globe.

55 At the end of his talk, the Holy Father then gave a summary to the pilgrims in various languages. To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today our thoughts turn to the terrible events of 11 September last year, symbolized in the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, with the death of so many innocent people.

We address an ardent prayer to Almighty God for the victims of that terrorist act. No situation of pain, no philosophy or religion, can ever justify such a grave offence against human life and dignity. Violence can only lead to further hatred and destruction. It can never lead to correct solutions to the scandalous imbalances and injustices existing in the world.

The Lord judges the world with justice and truth (cf.
Ps 95,13). May he help all peoples to seek the justice and truth that brings freedom and peace.

I extend a special welcome to the Benedictine Nuns and Sisters present. May you successfully assimilate the passing concerns of the world into the profound God-centred spirituality which has always been the life of your Order.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, Malaysia and the United States of America, I invoke the abundant grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He extended a special greeting to the young people, the sick and the newly-wed, encouraging the latter in their daily efforts to live like the family of Nazareth.

Prayer of the Faithful for 11 September 2002

Holy Father

56 Brothers and sisters, the memory of the tragic events of human history cannot darken our confidence in the infinite goodness and faithfulness of God. His unchanging will of love and peace revealed in the dying and risen Christ, is the foundation of sure hope for all persons and peoples.

Let us pray to the Lord.

Lord, we beg you, hear us.


1. For the victims of violence and terrorism, and in particular for those who were cruelly snatched from their loved ones a year ago today, that they may be welcomed to the banquet of life, where there will be no more weeping, mourning or anxiety. Let us ask too that the living may not lack the comfort of faith and fraternal support.


2. For the Church, sign and instrument of unity for the human race, so that, through the preaching and witness of the Gospel, she may spread, nourish and sustain the hope of all men of good will, directing their steps along the ways of justice and peace.


3. For the believers of all religions, so that in the name of God, the merciful and the lover of peace, they may reject firmly every form of violence and be dedicated to resolving conflicts with sincere and patient dialogue, respecting the different historical, cultural and religious experiences.


4. For the children and young people, who are the hope of the new millennium, so that, by means of examples and models of genuine human dignity, they may be helped to build the civilization of love and peace, in a world in which human rights are defended and the goods of the earth are everywhere distributed with justice.

Holy Father

Holy Father, God of infinite mercy, have mercy on so many injustices that sully the conscience of the human race. Pour into the heart of every man and woman the powerful breath of your Holy Spirit so that, together, day by day, they may grow in harmony and form a great family where all will be welcomed and recognized as your sons and daughters. We ask it through Jesus Christ, Son of the Immaculate Virgin, our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.