Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 2 March 2002


Saturday, 2 March 2002

Dear Young University Students,

1. I greet you with great joy at the end of this period of reflection and Marian prayer on the first Saturday of March. As I thank you who have come in large numbers to the Paul VI Hall, I think of those who are hooked-up with us in several European cities, thanks to the radio and television. I greet in particular the university students of Athens, Moscow, Strasbourg, Budapest, Valencia and Vienna. I thank very much the choirs and the orchestra for their contribution, and Vatican Radio and the Television Centre that cooperated in bringing about this important and inspiring event.

2. Dear young university students of Athens and Strasbourg who have prayed the rosary with us, I greet you warmly. Ask Mary to help you acquire deep understanding of the mystery of her Son, so that he may be your joy and strength. Remember that by following his example you will overcome all difficulties and find true happiness! I look forward to seeing you in Toronto.

3. I warmly greet you, dear students of the universities of Budapest and Vienna. This moment of common prayer gives us the joyful experience that our faith crosses boundaries and unites peoples. Let us be guided on the journey of a true Christian life by Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church! In this way we will be ready witnesses for God, the Father of all humanity. I am glad that I will be able to meet many of you on the occasion of the World Youth Day in Toronto.

4. I cordially greet the university students gathered in Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Moscow. Dear friends, I thank you for taking part in this moment of prayer in the name of the Virgin Mary. Let us remain united in faith and in the service of the Gospel! May the Lord bless you!

5. In greeting you, dear university students in Valencia, I think of all the teachers and students of the famous universities of Spain, especially those who day by day make their Christian identity concrete day after day in collaboration with the university delegates and chaplains make their Christian identity concrete. May our prayer with the Mother of the Lord this afternoon help you continue your task of evangelization and make shine through your life the Easter life that is Christ. I wait for you in Toronto!

6. The bond of common faith that unites young people from various European countries and different cultural traditions is a comforting reason for hope. So it has always been in the history of the evangelization of the "old" continent: the Gospel and the cultures have walked side by side. This is today the undertaking of the Church. Dear young people, I ask you at your universities to promote the dialogue between faith and culture, so that the Gospel leaven may stimulate and sustain the spiritual and moral quality of the research and studies. Best wishes, my very best wishes and courage!

The common starting point for this stimulating mission is Baptism, from which it is always necessary to set out afresh since it is the source of Christian life. Lent, which we are living, is the acceptable liturgical season to gain a renewed consciousness of our baptismal identity. Through Baptism we have been united with the Death and Resurrection of Christ; through Baptism, the Holy Spirit has made us witnesses of God's love, architects of communion, brotherhood and peace. In turn, the new life that flows from the baptismal fount, constantly regenerates human mentalities and choices, interpersonal and social relations, and human cultures.

7. Only new men and women can renew history. I expect to see many of you at the next World meeting in Toronto, and it will help you to understand even more this pressing apostolic challenge: to be, at the beginning of the third millennium "the salt of the earth and the light of the world" (Mt 5,13). I also make an appointment with the young people of Rome in St Peter's Square on Thursday, 21 March, for the traditional celebration and prayers to prepare for World Youth Day.

Dear young people, this evening the Blessed Virgin has gathered us from all the corners of Europe.

May our eyes converge on the image of Our Lady of Loreto, the Virgin of silence and listening, Mother of the Son of God made man. Let us always look to her, asking her for that same readiness for divine grace. Thus in each one of you the Almighty will also work great things.

With this wish I embrace you all, near and far - but for me, all of you are close! - as I warmly bless you and your families, your universities and young people all over the world.



Tuesday, 5 March 2002

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I am pleased to greet you cordially, the second group of Argentinian Bishops to make your ad limina visit. During your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and at the meetings with the Bishop of Rome and his collaborators, you will find fresh energy to persevere in your episcopal mission, knowing that Christ never abandons his Church (cf. Mt Mt 28,20) and guides her with the strength of his Spirit so that she may be a sign of salvation. May he, the Teacher of pastors, fill you with hope and enable you to witness to it in your lives (cf. 1P 3,15), and to edify all the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.

I am grateful to Archbishop Estanislao Karlic, Archbishop of Paraná and President of the Argentinian Bishops' Conference, for his kind words renewing each one's loyalty and that of the ecclesial communities over which, in the name of the Lord, you preside, presenting to me the pastoral orientations that guide your ministry so that the men and women of the beloved Argentinian nation may walk towards intimate communion with the Triune God. At this time the Church must advance with the extraordinary dynamism of the outpouring of grace that flows like "a river of living water" from the still recent celebration of the Great Jubilee (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 1), and should be expressed in fervent resolutions and concrete action (cf. ibid. n. 3 ).

2. In this regard, I want to thank you for the great pains you took to put into practice the guidelines set out in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente for the preparation and celebration of the Great Jubilee. I want to recall the National Eucharistic Congress in Argentina, held during the year 2000, that included a serious examination of conscience encouraging the spirit of reconciliation. In the same spirit you concluded a broad and far-reaching consultation with the particular Churches and Christian communities to put into practice the Pastoral guidelines for the New Evangelization that were approved in 1990. You completed all this by accepting the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte and reflecting upon it, adopting its pastoral criteria so as to publish them soon with the relevant title "Navega mar adentro" (Put out into the deep).

I would like to encourage you in your options so you can be more effective in the new evangelization: bringing creative perseverance to the daily actions of normal pastoral ministry, cordial acceptance and renewal in holiness by parish communities, combined with a sound Christian formation that will encourage missionary commitment among the laity.

As I pointed out in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, we now find ourselves facing the "larger and more demanding challenge of normal pastoral activity" (n. 29), always a pressing task. This does not mean that each one should carry out his own work guided by his own personal criteria, but on the contrary, that each should conform to the criteria set out by the pastoral plan of his own Diocese, accepting common priorities and responding to the Argentinian people's current need for evangelization.

Do not hesitate to put your zeal and pastoral energy into the new evangelization, deeply convinced that it will enlighten the action of lay Christians and be an effective and lasting remedy for the harsh and serious evils that many of the citizens of your nation are suffering.

3. In your pastoral activity, you rely on the help of priests who are united to their Bishop, as St Ignatius of Antioch so beautifully puts it, "like the strings to the lyre" (To the Ep 4,1).

Through their ordination they have received a special consecration that designates them to "preach the Gospel, shepherd the faithful and celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament" (Lumen gentium LG 28), since they are the sign and expression of the pastoral charity of Christ in the mission of teaching, sanctifying and governing the people entrusted to their care. They share in the mission entrusted by Christ himself and recognized by the Church, that has to be lived not as the mere exercise of a human function but safeguarded every day as a precious gift of God.

Priests must remember that first and foremost they are men of God, and can therefore never neglect their spiritual life. All their activity "must begin effectively with prayer" (St Albert the Great, Commentary on mystical theology, 15). Among the multiple activities that fill the day of every priest, his top priority must be the celebration of the Eucharist that conforms him to the Eternal High Priest.

In God's presence he finds the strength to live the challenges of the ministry and the docility to do the will of Him who has called him and consecrated him, sent him out and entrusted to him a special and necessary mission. The constant celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, personal prayer, diligent meditation of the Word of God, devotion to the Mother of the Lord and of the Church and the veneration of the saints are precious instruments that he cannot do without if he is to affirm the splendour of his own identity and to ensure the fruitful exercise of his priestly ministry.

Since it is a demanding mission and in the present circumstances it is often difficult, it is up to you, bishops, to help priests, guide them, follow them with concern for their needs and offer them the material, spiritual and formative means to enable them to live their own ministry with joy and dignity. When they will feel welcomed by you their fathers, they can advance to meet men and women, to announce the Gospel to them enthusiastically and to make them disciples of the Lord!

4. Parish life is the usual way in which the faithful of every class and walk of life take part in the life of the Church and receive God's grace. In the Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, I wrote: "among the many activities of a parish, "none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist'" (n. 35) since in it Christ is eminently present in his Church as the source and summit of ecclesial life. For this reason the Second Vatican Council recommends that "parish priests should ensure that the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is the centre and culmination of the entire life of the Christian community" (Christus Dominus CD 30).

As Pastors you are well aware of the importance of the Mass for building, developing and revitalizing Christian communities. Nothing can ever supply for the Mass, even though in the absence of a priest, the Liturgy of the Word may be useful for keeping alive the faith, the goal to which we tend in the regular celebration of the Eucharist.

The Mass, with the twofold table of the Word and of the Eucharist, ensures that the faithful may have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn Jn 10,10), receiving life from Christ himself who in this way shapes and nourishes his Church. In the same vein, the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls that "the Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist are at the heart of the Church's life" (n. 2177), since it makes Christians relive "with particular intensity the experience of the Apostles on the evening of Easter when the Risen Lord appeared to them as they were gathered together (cf. Jn Jn 20,19)" (Dies Domini, n. 33).

It is therefore necessary to develop the pastoral action that encourages the faithful to participate more regularly in the Sunday Eucharist, that must be lived not only as a precept but also as a requirement deeply engraved in Christian life. For this reason I wrote: "It is crucially important that all the faithful should be convinced that they cannot live their faith or share fully in the life of the Christian community unless they take part regularly in the Sunday Eucharistic assembly" (ibid., n. 81).

Recently, I pointed out that it was necessary "to stress particularly the Sunday Eucharist and Sunday itself, experienced as a special day of faith, the day of the Risen Lord and of the gift of the Spirit, a true Easter each week" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 35).

5. Another field of pastoral action that calls for special attention is the promotion and defence of the institution of the family, today attacked on all fronts by multiple and subtle kinds of argumentation.

We are witnessing a current, that is widespread in many places, that tends to undermine the true nature of marriage. Occasionally, for many reasons, even Catholics do not receive the sacrament of marriage in order to begin their union of love. It is important to remember that Christ "now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of marriage. He abides with them in order that by their mutual self-giving spouses will love each other with enduring fidelity, as he loved the Church and delivered himself for it" (Gaudium et spes GS 48).

I know how involved you are in safeguarding and promoting this institution, whose origin is in God and his plan of salvation (cf. Familiaris consortio FC 49). The spread of marital and family crises must not lead to despair or to giving up; on the contrary, it must spur us on to proclaim, with pastoral firmness and as an authentic service to the family and society, the truth about marriage and the family as established by God. To give up doing so would be a serious pastoral omission that would lead into error believers and those who have responsibility of making decisions for the common good of the nation. This truth is not only valid for Catholics but for all men and women without distinction, since marriage and the family are an indispensable good of society that cannot be indifferent to the loss of respect for it or to the loss of its identity.

Thus dedicated couples in the Church, with the help of their pastors, must strive to deepen their knowledge of the theology of marriage and help young couples and families in difficulty to recognise better the value of their sacramental commitment, and to receive the grace of the covenant that they sealed when they were baptized. Christian families must be the first to witness to the greatness of family and married life, founded on mutual love and fidelity. Through the sacrament, their human love acquires a superior value because the spouses manifest the love of Christ for his Church and accept an important responsibility in the world: that of bringing forth children who are called to become children of God, and of helping them in their human and supernatural growth.

Dear Brothers, follow families, foster pastoral care for families in your dioceses, and promote the movements and associations for the spirituality of marriage; awaken their apostolic zeal, so that they may make their own the task of the new evangelization and open their doors to those who live in difficult situations and witness to the great dignity of unselfish, unconditional love.

You should not forget that those who are preparing to receive the sacrament of Marriage (cf. CIC, cann. 1063-1064) should receive a satisfactory preparation. This is the way to favour and form authentic families that live in accord with the plan of God. In carrying out this task, it is necessary to present to the future spouses not only the anthropological aspects of human love, but also the bases of a real conjugal spirituality, accepting marriage as a vocation that enables a baptized person to incarnate faith, hope and charity in a new personal, social and religious situation.

In completing this specific preparation, one can take the opportunity to re-evangelize baptized persons who approach the Church to ask for the sacrament of Marriage. Even if today, thanks to the spread of teaching, young people are often better educated than their parents, in many cases this does not correspond to a greater formation in Christian life, since at times not only are the young generations lacking in serious religious knowledge, but even more sadly, they lack a moral compass and any sense of the the transcendent goal of life.

6. Dear Brothers, with these reflections I would like to encourage you in your service to the Church of God on her pilgrimage in Argentina. In a few days' time, you will be back in your country to motivate priests and faithful to live the Lenten journey and with renewed vigour to celebrate the Easter mystery, the summit of the liturgical year. First of all greet the young people on my behalf, called to be the "sentinels of the dawn" of the new millennium, the hope of the Church and of the nation, and especially the young Argentinians who are preparing for the priesthood in the seminaries and in the houses of formation; the families, schools of rich humanity and Christian virtues; the poor and the needy, who must continue to be the object of your care and attention; professionals in the various fields of human activity, who must be the builders of the country and of a renewed society at this special time in your history; the sick and the elderly; the priests and the other consecrated persons, witnesses of the transcendent in a world in which everything is changing and appears difficult. May the Blessings of the Lord descend upon you and upon your Christian communities, through the intercession of Our Lady of Luján, Mother of all Argentinians, whose mantle reflects the colours of your country's flag! To confirm these desires and to go with you in spirit, I willingly impart to you and to all the Argentinian faithful my Apostolic Blessing.


Friday, 8 March 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to open the doors of this house and, even more so, those of my heart to each of you and to all the members of the Tra Noi Movement that has now spread well beyond the boundaries of Italy.

Welcome! I cordially greet you and especially Mrs Bianca Imperati, your President, Mrs Antonella Simonetta, who directs the Secular Institute of Mary of Nazareth, and the priests who take care of your spiritual formation. On this occasion I wish to mention the generous disciple of Bl. Don Luigi Orione, your founder, who died a short time ago, Fr Sebastiano Plutino. He spent his long life serving the poorest, spreading everywhere the spirit of welcome that is an important feature of your exemplary association.

Dear friends, today, with your visit to the Successor of Peter, you intend to renew your fidelity to the Church and commit yourselves to follow her teachings, with ever greater docility in order to be apostles of the new evangelization.

Our meeting is taking place providentially on the day [in Italy] dedicated to women. From the start you have dedicated yourselves to the human and religious protection and promotion of women and you know well how much remains to be done in this field. I take advantage of this occasion to express my spiritual closeness to women in difficulty and formulate the hope that they will always have willing supporters beside them so that they can realize their legitimate aspirations.

2. Fifty years have passed since Fr Sebastiano Plutino gathered a large group of domestic workers for the first time in a movement called "Tra Noi". Many of them belonged to the Santa Zita Parish Association, that had been founded to offer a family atmosphere and Christian formation to young women who arrived in Rome from the poorer regions of Italy to undertake humble and laborious domestic work.

The new movement was inspired by the "Proclamation for a Better World" (Proclama per un Mondo Migliore), which Pius XII addressed to the Diocese of Rome on 10 February 1952. The Pontiff said: "It is a whole world that must be transformed from savage to human, from human to divine" (Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, 13 [1951-1952], p. 471). Fr Plutino held enthusiastically to this message, in fidelity to the teaching of Bl. Don Luigi Orione. As the years passed, the Tra Noi Movement continued to extend its radius of action to other Italian cities and to Brazil.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, as I thank the Lord who has made your work fruitful in five decades, I invite you to look confidently to the prospects for the future opening before you. Old and new social categories at risk and marginalized await your care. I am thinking, for example, of immigrants, elderly persons in difficulty and young people searching for wise guidance.

By spreading the "spirituality of welcome", you can become the architects of a real, universal brotherhood, in which each human being feels accepted without distinctions of social class, religion, culture and nationality. Do not offer only material acceptance to those you meet through your apostolate, but also an adequate religious formation.

With the "plan for families" and your active role in the Forum of Family Associations, you support family nucleuses so that they may be the living cells of a renewed world, the training ground for dialogue and acceptance. With the "plan for young people", that seeks to invigorate formation activities for adolescents, encourage an open and hospitable spirit among the new generations, motivating young people to be apostles among their peers and architects of the society of the future.

By giving the Tra Noi Movement the profile of a "family of families", you are involved in working increasingly to safeguard the indispensable human and Christian values that typify your history. In this way you can have an effective impact on social structures, giving a voice to those who do not have one. In a world threatened by self centred individualism, you should welcome those who feel isolated or at the mercy of events.

4. However, if your action is to be effective, you must first keep alive and intensify your daily contact with God by diligently listening to his word, in prayer and in an intense sacramental life. Only men and women of prayer can create an effective social apostolate. At the heart of all your activity, there should be the Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of communion and missionary zeal.

To renew the world and transform it "from savage to human, from human to divine" you must be saints like Bl. Luigi Orione, who never failed to inspire Fr Sebastiano Plutino, articulating his love in useful options for the Church and for society.

May Mary, Salvation of the Roman People, the heavenly Mother and Patroness of the Tra Noi Movement, guide you and go with you. May she also support the Mary of Nazareth Secular Institute that, in sharing the same charism with you, like a leaven, is called to give life to every action of the movement. As I also assure you constant remembrance in the Lord as I wholeheartedly bless you.



Monday, 11 March 2002

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive you at this audience in which you present the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ecuador. At the same time, I welcome you and offer you my very best wishes for the accomplishment of the high office that your Government has entrusted to you, to consolidate and build up the good diplomatic relations that already exist between your country and this Apostolic See.

In your kind words to me for which I am deeply grateful, you referred to the past, present and future of the Ecuadorean people whose history and identity constantly point to the Christian roots, the intense evangelizing activity of the Church and in the tireless endeavour to promote a life that is in every way worthy of all your citizens. As I had the opportunity to tell Ecuadoreans during my unforgettable visit to that nation, "the Pope carries you in his heart and begs God on your behalf for bread for the body and for the soul" (Address to the Poor, "Stella Maris" Square, Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1 February 1985; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 11 March 1985, n. 7).
Please convey my cordial greeting to President Gustavo Noboa Bejarano and my deep appreciation to the Ecuadorean people who welcomed me with such enthusiasm, showing their affection and loyalty to the Successor of Peter.

2. As you pointed out, diplomatic relations between Ecuador and the Holy See are regulated by the Modus Vivendi. It has now existed for 65 years and has produced abundant fruits of cooperation in mutual respect and appreciation for the benefit of the Ecuadorean people. Times and circumstances recently imposed the need for new measures, such as the Decree on Worship of 16 January 2000, which improves certain administrative aspects of the legal recognition of ecclesial institutions. Indeed, the changing situation requires not only the prompt adaptation of both national and international legal instruments but also a truly cordial relationship, which may every day find new dimensions in which to grow and gain in strength. Thus any unfounded reticence or narrow views that prevent either party from giving the best of itself should be minimized.

Indeed, the common goal of Church and State in their respective contexts is the material and spiritual good of the human person at a given moment in history. Therefore the Church inculcates in all her faithful the desire to strive, with the spirit and energy that stem from the desire to serve their neighbour in accord with the most important commandment of Christ, to promote actions that favour authentic development and thereby contribute to the common good and to the wellbeing of their country.

3. Everyone knows about the intense activity that the Church carries out for all Ecuadoreans in her evangelizing mission through her pastors and priests, consecrated persons, movements and various institutions, as well as the personal contributions of so many of the faithful. Furthermore, especially in the particularly difficult moments that the country has been through in recent years, the Church has wasted no time in procuring extraordinary assistance, both directly, through her own international institutions and through appeals to other nations for solidarity. In this way she seeks to make effective her effort to build a true "culture of solidarity" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2001, n. 17). This endeavour belongs to the tireless work of the Church for a world order that will preserve the basic ethical values and protect the fundamental institutions of society, such as marriage and the family.

In this context, the care and education of the young generations are very important because they are called to be the architects of the future and of the national community. It is indispensable that all Ecuadoreans, whatever their class or status, have access to an integral human education that will give them both a technical and humanistic formation and ethical values and openness to the transcendent and religious dimension of life, (in full respect for the right of families to choose the type of education they want for their children). Fruitful collaboration between the Church and the State in this domain will yield precious benefits for the whole national community. In this regard, it is also desirable that legislation and agreements faithfully respect demands for these goods to which citizens are entitled, that they be rigorously applied throughout your land, and that the appropriate means be found to enforce them, especially in the case of less privileged persons.

4. It is of course understandable that the country's economic situation is a primary concern of the Ecuadorean Government and people. In fact, not only does the crisis aggravate pre-existing social problems, casting a shadow over the citizens' hopes for a better future, at least in the short-term; it also gives rise to regrettable phenomena such as shortfalls in the coverage of the social or health-care services, the scarcity of work posts, and the freezing of projects for development and promotion in the neediest sectors.

Mr Ambassador, you may be certain that the Church is not insensitive to the many personal, family and social tragedies that this situation causes. She does and will do all she can to be close to the Ecuadorean people, bringing all possible help to them, and especially to the neediest who are frequently forgotten when the time comes to hand out available resources.

The Church takes on these tasks, faithful to her own social teaching, which "is itself a valid instrument of evangelization" (Centesimus annus CA 54) and without claiming to intervene, to compensate for or to replace the government leaders of civil society. She is nonetheless convinced that her traditional appeal not to overlook the ethical dimension, social repercussions or the indispensable value of human dignity in economic issues, also contributes to the harmonious development of peoples. Indeed, the stable, integral progress of any people requires honesty in its administrators, justice in the distribution of goods and an awareness of responsibility and solidarity on the part of all: these are ethical values without which production can be increased, but not true good.

5. One of the most complex and dramatic consequences of the economic crisis in Ecuador is the emigration of so many of its citizens to other countries, that has grown in recent years. The uncertainty of those who leave in search of better living conditions is combined with the pain of being uprooted from their culture, the risk of confusion in religious practice with the absence of the usual ways it is lived and, in many cases, by the painful break-up of the family nucleus, not to mention the grim consequences of illegal or clandestine situations.

Although she knows that "in such a complex issue there are no "magic' formulas" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2001, n. 13), the Church is not limited to repeating the fundamental ethical principle that "immigrants must always be treated with the respect due to the dignity of every human person" (ibid.), but mobilizes all her resources to meet their needs in the best way possible. Indeed, the Churches and other Catholic institutions are frequently a major place to gather, where they can celebrate their feasts, keep alive their national identity; where they can find effective support, perhaps their only support, in defending their rights or resolving unbearable situations.

However, the action that takes place in the countries of destination must be accompanied by careful attention to this problem in the country of origin of the immigrants; it is here that they conceive most of their plans. The causes that drive so many people to leave their country must be combatted, and when the phenomenon cannot be avoided entirely, it is essential to prevent every kind of illegality, corruption or ruthless crime that so often ensnare immigrants in a brutal, modern slave trade. On the other hand, Ecuadoreans who live abroad should not feel forgotten by their country. Sometimes, in simple ways, it can attend to them and serve them in a way that keeps alive their patriotism and legitimate pride in their origins.

6. The recent initiatives to encourage dialogue between the State authorities and different ethnic groups, to improve understanding and to achieve a broader participation in the life and resources of the nation are a sign of hope that must endure. By continuing in this, Ecuador will succeed in becoming an example and promoter of coexistence and peace among the Andean countries.

Even when dialogue can seem to be a slow and difficult way, it is still the best way to solve serious internal and external problems and to obtain the positive results for the good of the Ecuadorean people. Dialogue cultivates the noblest and most profound dimensions of the human being, such as the power of reason and truth; it fosters understanding, encourages an appreciation of the values of others and inspires attitudes of harmony, solidarity and collaboration. For this reason, its results tend to be more permanent and its constant practice is a source of enrichment to all.

7. Mr Ambassador, I am sure that, as was true in the past, the Church in Ecuador will continue to offer her positive contribution to the process of reinforcing the unity between the varied sectors of civil society with the spirit of peaceful coexistence and solidarity among all, that will help consolidate the political and civil institutions that look after the common good of the nation.

Mr Ambassador, I welcome you once again, and I beg Almighty God to bless you and your staff as you carry out your important mission, as I entrust the beloved Ecuadorean people to the heavenly protection of Our Lady of the Presentation of Quinché.

Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 2 March 2002