Speeches 2002 - Tuesday, 23 April 2002

It must be absolutely clear to the Catholic faithful, and to the wider community, that Bishops and superiors are concerned, above all else, with the spiritual good of souls. People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young. They must know that Bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life.

4. We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the Church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (cf. Rm 5,20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier Church.

God alone is the source of holiness, and it is to him above all that we must turn for forgiveness, for healing and for the grace to meet this challenge with uncompromising courage and harmony of purpose. Like the Good Shepherd of last Sunday's Gospel, Pastors must go among their priests and people as men who inspire deep trust and lead them to restful waters (cf. Ps Ps 22,2).

I beg the Lord to give the Bishops of the United States the strength to build their response to the present crisis upon the solid foundations of faith and upon genuine pastoral charity for the victims, as well as for the priests and the entire Catholic community in your country. And I ask Catholics to stay close to their priests and Bishops, and to support them with their prayers at this difficult time.

The peace of the Risen Christ be with you!




Thursday, 25 April 2002

Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I am happy to greet you on the occasion of your 10th Symposium, and I cordially welcome each of you. I greet in particular Bishop Amédée Grab, President of the Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe (CCEE), and I thank him for his sentiments of deep communion with the Successor of Peter, which he has expressed on your behalf.

As I have recalled on other occasions, the role of the European Bishops' Conferences in the Church is a providential fruit of the Second Vatican Council and seems to be a special gift of communion for our time. In past decades, these meetings have provided an opportunity to intensify among the different Catholic communities of Europe the bonds of evangelical charity that make them authentic homes and schools of communion.

In meeting you, I recall the different symposia in which God granted me to take part as Archbishop of Krakow. I especially remember the one in 1975, when I had the honour of being one of the relators.
Every meeting was another opportunity to deal with the aspects and plans of the new evangelization, a great apostolic undertaking that involves the entire Christian people.

2. The theme chosen for this 10th Symposium is: Young People of Europe In Change. Laboratory of Faith.

Every pastor knows that his first responsibility is to bring the faithful to meet Christ. In the course of two millenia this meeting has transformed the lives of persons and of entire generations of Europeans. How can we fail to feel a strong responsibililty to safeguard these Christian roots?

Indeed, today it is the young themselves who ask for the Gospel to be sown in their hearts in a new way. It is they who repeat to us, at times very insistently, their impatient desire to hear the "Good News". Yes, dear Brothers, we feel the urgent need to present to the new generations the only Redeemer of humanity, Jesus, who, being God, out of love willed to enter into the wounds of history even to the point of experiencing abandonment on the Cross.

As we face the absence of values and the profound existential questions that challenge contemporary society, we must proclaim and witness that Christ took upon himself the questions, expectations and even tragedies of humanity in every age. With his Resurrrection, he made completely possible the realization of that desire for life and for eternity that lies deep in the heart of every human being and especially the hearts of the young.

Europe urgently needs to meet this God who loves mankind and is present in every human trial and hardship. For this to happen, it is vital that believers be ready to witness to the faith with their lives. Mature ecclesial communities will then develop who are ready and willing to use every instrument for the new evangelization.

3. Dear young people, I greet you with affection. I find it very important that you, the hope of the Church and of Europe, have come to this Symposium. It closely concerns you, for in today's society, it is to you that the Church looks with special attention. She expects of you the gift of a life that is fully faithul to Christ and his message of salvation.

I hope in this liturgical season that shines with the light of the Risen One, that he may give you his peace. May he be a Teacher for each one of you, as he was for the disciples of Emmaus. And you, dear friends, follow him confidently with enthusiasm and perseverance. Do not let him be pushed aside. The Gospel is indispensable for the renewal of culture; it is indispensable for building a future of true peace in Europe and in the world. It is up to you, dear young people, to make this contribution. So do not hesitate to say "yes" to God who is calling you.

4. I also greet the delegates of the other Churches and ecclesial communities who are present. It is becoming ever clearer that reconciliation among Christians is crucial for the credibility of the proclamation of the Gospel, as well as for building Europe. In this regard, the Ecumenical Charter for Europe, signed in Strasbourg in April 2001, marks an important step in increasing collaboration among Churches and Christian communities. I pray God that people may journey in this direction with ever greater confidence and determination.

I also address my best wishes to those in charge of Bishops' Conferences in Africa, Asia and America who are taking part in the work. Thanks to your presence, dear friends, the Church's perspective is broadened and Europe acquires a deeper awareness of its responsibility to other lands and peoples, to build the hoped-for universal solidarity. I hope that each one of you will contribute to the total success of the symposium.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, during these days and at every moment of your lives, may Our Lord, with the power of the Holy Spirit, crown you with his gifts of love, joy and peace. May Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany you, and may St Mark the Evangelist, whose feast day we celebrate today, protect you all.

As I assure everyone of my rememrance in prayer, I warmly bless you and the ecclesial communities to which you belong. I wish your Symposium every success.



Friday, 26 April 2002

Dear young people and adults of Catholic Action!

1. I am very pleased to welcome you to this special Audience on the occasion of your 11th National Assembly. Catholic Action and the Pope have a close relationship that has become stronger in time. In fact, from its beginning, your Association has had in the person and the teaching of the "white Father" (bianco Padre) an excellent source of guidance for its programmes and action. This bond can be described as a firm friendship, that takes shape in a few important meetings: every year at Christmas, the young people of ACR (Roman Catholic Action) come to greet me, every three years we meet on the occasion of the National Assembly, as we do this morning for the opening of the 11th National Assembly.

In a special way I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and the Bishops who have come with you, the National President, Mrs Paola Bignardi, the General Ecclesiastical Assistant, Bishop Francesco Lambiasi, and the other assistants and directors. I welcome each one of you taking part in the Assembly, and all your registered members.

On this occasion, first of all, I want to thank you for your love for the Church, which through faith you consider as your family. Thank you for your involvement in the ordinary life of the parish communities. I know that "you are there", even when your presence prefers discreet ways of interacting among the People of God in humble daily service.

May your ecclesial service never be reduced to mere activism, but be a concrete sign of the compassion with which the Lord draws near to the sufferings of the poor and asks each person to open his heart to the tragic situations of those in difficulty.

Continue to build bonds of communion and dialogue within the People of God: through the Pastoral Councils, and in your relations with priests and with other groups and movements. Your service will be much more appreciated when in a gentle and serene way you reveal the mature face of an active and informed laity.

For this end, it is important to shape true Christian consciences, through the direct formation of youth and adults, children, old people, families and teenagers. In this context, I want to address a word of special appreciation to all those who in Catholic Action take care of the educational mission, dedicated to accompanying others with teaching and listening, understanding and the support of encouragement and example. In the history of the young women's sector a motto was used: "the ideal is worth more than the life". May you who are in charge of formation especially work to show the younger ones the beauty of a life ready even now to be spent for the ideal that Christ proposes in the Gospel.

2. Allow me to take advantage of this happy occasion to entrust to you some thoughts that are close to my heart.

First of all, I would like to tell you that the Church needs Catholic Action. The Church needs a group of laity who, faithful to their vocation and in union with their legitimate Pastors, are ready to share, together with them, the daily labour of evangelization in every milieu.

As your Bishops recently wrote to you, "the direct and fundamental tie of Catholic Action with the diocese and its Bishop, the undertaking of the Church's mission, being "dedicated' to the Church herself and the global nature of her mission, all of this makes Catholic Action not one ecclesial group among others, but a gift of God and a resource for the increase of ecclesial communion" (Letter of the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference to the National Presidency of Italian Catholic Action, 12 March 2002).

The Church needs Catholic Action because she needs laity ready to dedicate themselves to the apostolate and to establish, especially with the diocesan Community, a bond that gives a profound imprint to their life and their spiritual journey. She needs laity whose experience shows, in a concrete and daily way, the great joy of the Christian life; laity who recognize in Baptism the root of their dignity, in the Christian Community the family with which they share their faith, and in the Pastor the father who guides and supports the journey of the brethren; laity who do not reduce faith to a private act, and do not hesitate to bring the leaven of the Gospel to the fabric of human relations, to the institutions, the region, and the new realm of globalization in order to build a civilization of love.

3. It is because the Church needs a living, strong, and beautiful Catholic Action, I am pleased to repeat to each one of you: Duc in altum!

Duc in altum, Catholic Action! Have the courage of the future. May your history, marked by the shining example of Saints and Blesseds, shine today as well for fidelity to the Church with that freedom of those who allow themselves to be guided by the breath of the Spirit and forcefully tend toward the great ideals.

Duc in altum! Be a prophetic presence in the world, promoting those aspects of life that are often forgotten and therefore ever more urgent, such as interiority, silence, responsibility, education, gratuitous help, service, sobriety, fraternity, hope in tomorrow and love for life. Work effectively in order that today's society may recover the true sense of man and his dignity, the value of life and the family, of peace and solidarity, of justice and mercy.

Duc in altum! Have the humble boldness to fix your gaze upon Jesus to make your authentic renewal come from him. It will thus be easier for you to distinguish what is necessary from what is the fruit of time, and you will experience the longed-for renewal as a gift of the Spirit, enabling you to travel even through the arduous paths of the desert and purification to reach the beauty of a new life, which God unceasingly gives to those who entrust themselves to Him.

Catholic Action, do not be afraid! You belong to the Church and are in the heart of the Lord, who guides your steps unceasingly towards the unlimited and unsurpassed newness of the Gospel.
Know that the Pope supports and is with you in prayer since you make up this wonderful Association and as he invites you to persevere in your commitments, he is happy to bless you.




Dear Young People of F.U.C.I.!

1. I am happy to know that your Federation (Federazione Universitaria Cattolica Italiana means Italian Catholic Federation of University Students) is preparing to celebrate its national Congress, dedicated to what is now a particularly burning issue for the Church and society: "Solidarity in the World of Interdependence". In cordially greeting the participants and your members, I want to assure you of my spiritual closeness and I wish you all the best for the success of your association's important meeting.

I wish to guide your deliberations of the next few days with a few reflections, that are particularly close to my heart and that I want to commend to your generous and watchful hearts and minds.

You are young Catholic university students. Students, I think of you as sensitive and courageous people who have discovered the beauty of a life informed by faith in the Lord Jesus and lived in full communion with the Church. Never be ashamed of the Gospel! Do not let yourselves be overcome by the fear of professing with humble boldness the joy of belonging to the ecclesial community. Do not confuse dialogue with an uncritical acceptance of fashionable opinions, but, following the exhortation of the Apostle Paul, "test everything; hold fast what is good" (1Th 5,21).

This service to the Truth must have the precious support of a solid and precise formation, constantly nourished by meditation on the Word of God, supported by those who guide you on the journey of faith, regularly checked on the basis of criteria suitable for discerning the genuine ecclesial identity of an association such as yours, determined to be in full and constant communion with the Pastors of the Church.

2. The specific sphere of activity of the F.U.C.I. is that of the university. Your mission is therefore to be "leaven, salt, and light" of the Gospel in the areas of scientific research and professional qualification. To do this, it is primarily necessary to cultivate an intense spiritual life, nourished by listening to the Word of God, by incessant prayer, and by participation in the liturgy of the Church.

Besides devoting yourselves to study and the activities of the association, you must always be conscious of being above all contemplatives of the mystery of God.

May your serene and joyful Christian witness, lived in loving communion with those who share the Gospel ideal in other ecclesial groups as well, help everyone to encounter the person of Jesus. He alone can give life meaning and offer full and sure salvation to the heart hungry for freedom and true happiness. Only in a culture inspired by Christianity can authentic human values find their integral realization.

As for the speech you use to proclaim the good news of the Lord Jesus, it must be inspired by the genuine sincerity of true witnesses of faith. In this way the accent of bitter polemic can be avoided, as well as the risks of a sort of "inferiority complex", that has at times unfortunately crept into the mentality of some Catholics. I exhort you to take up wholeheartedly and with understanding the "cultural project" of the Church in Italy, generously offering the precious contribution of an intelligent, faithful, and creative mediation.

3. I know that on the occasion of this national Congress you intend to reflect upon a particularly urgent and delicate theme: the progressive intensification of relations between peoples, a phenomenon today qualified with the term "globalization". In this regard, I wish to recall certain fundamental principles, that can help to guide this phenomenon in the right direction.

The growing interdependence between peoples, while requiring the rejection of terrorism and violence as feasible ways of rebuilding the essential conditions for justice and freedom, demands above all a strong moral, cultural, and economic solidarity and a political organization of the international society that can guarantee the rights of all peoples.

The solution to the evil of underdevelopment and the tragic situations in which millions of people live and die is of a fundamentally ethical nature, and consistent economic and political choices must correspond to this fact. The first and decisive contribution for a development truly worthy of man is represented by support for programmes of cultural education. As I affirmed in the Encyclical Redemptoris missio, true human progress "does not derive primarily from money, material assistance or technological means, but from the formation of consciences and the gradual maturing of ways of thinking and patterns of behaviour" (n. 58). Certainly the reform of international trade and the global financial system should also be pursued, but everyone is called to make specific pledges according to his means, modifying his lifestyle as necessary, in order that a just development can be achieved, whose benefits can be made available to all.

In fact, as I have emphasized on other occasions, cooperating in the development of peoples "is an imperative which obliges each and every man and woman, as well as societies and nations" (Sollicitudo rei socialis SRS 32).

4. Dear young people, continue in your ecclesial, cultural, and associative commitments following the example of Christian life and witness of the many "fucini" who have preceded you in the sign of faith and in the generous acceptance of the values and ideals of the F.U.C.I.

I entrust you and the work of this Congress to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and, assuring you of my prayers and affection, I impart to you, your Assistants, family members, and friends, my heartfelt blessing.

From the Vatican, 26 April 2002.




Saturday, 27 April 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Italian Christian Workers' Associations,

1. I am pleased to meet you again on the occasion of your association's organizational and planning conference. I cordially greet you all, starting with your President, Mr Luigi Bobba, whom I thank for his noble words highlighting the importance of today's meeting.

In the face of the new scenarios and rapid social changes, you intend to renew your promise to follow up as fully as possible on the ancient and ever new mission of evangelizing the world of work and social life. You want to set about it with an attitude of confident openness to the future.

Thus you accept the invitation which set the seal on the Jubilee: "Let us go forward in hope! ... our steps must quicken as we travel the highways of the world" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 58).

For this reason, ACLI leaders and members are called today to be active supporters of the Church's social teaching, which is the best way to respond to the great challenges of contemporary society. Study the Church's social teaching, announce it in full, dare to formulate concrete plans that highlight the central place of the human person. Make this precious inheritance bear fruit by renewing your traditional fidelity to the Church, to workers, to the values of a sound democracy; and always be determined in your undertaking to defend the human being: his dignity, his rights and his transcendent dimension.

2. This means working to build "a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation" (Centesimus annus CA 35), giving rise to new, shared prospects of authentic development.

For this reason, as I had the chance to stress on the occasion of the Jubilee of Workers, there is an urgent need for a global coalition that gives priority to the dignity of work. This entails doing what is possible to create effective job opportunities for all, while guaranteeing each one his proper remuneration. It will also be necessary to look at the ways in which work is done and to ensure that they neither conflict with the basic tenor of life of the person or the family nor prevent the careful progression of each one's plan of life. The current rapid changes taking place in systems of productivity must be guided by intelligence and constant attention to the needs of the less endowed geographical areas and social groups.

3. A courageous and determined pledge to this view can only strengthen the role of the family, the first school where we learn those social virtues that are the soul of human development. Then society will need social policies that fit the family, training and work policies which aim at keeping together time of work with the time required to care for the family.

Very important is the decision to invest in the dialogue among the generations, forming and cultivating young people who can give savour and light to our society as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is why formation and cultural advancement are an essential part of the ACLI mission.

Lastly, attention to bolstering the fabric of solidarity and social life naturally leads you to a European and global openness. In this perspective, I urge you to follow creatively the debated issues on the process of writing a constitution that is under way in the European Union and on the expansion of the Union itself, giving a voice to Christian inspiration and to the reasons for free social groupings.

4. Dear brothers and sisters, I know that you are involved in many initiatives of leadership and service and are especially concerned to guide those who have less education and means. Today you are called to extend the bounds of your social action to deal with the new phenomena of immigration and globalization.

In particular the phenomenon of globalization, which is the new name of the social question, requires that no effort be spared to make the forces in this context converge towards an authentic spirit of brotherhood. The close connection between the local and global dimensions requires, particularly of the more privileged countries, more demanding forms of responsibility towards developing countries. Such responsibility should be urgently manfested in terms of preserving the earth's resources and safeguarding creation. Here is the meaning of the constant invitation to "globalize solidarity".

To work with these convictions will enable you will achieve that fidelity to the Church which I mentioned at the beginning: the "globalization of solidarity" is actually a direct consequence of the universal charity that is the soul of the Gospel. You will also be faithful to the human person; you will continue to remind him of his duties and to promote his rights in the midst of the new conditions developing in the world economy. You will do so without failing in your fidelity to the democratic values that have inspired the Association since it began.

5. The time is ripe for lay faithful who can recognize the hope and anguish of the persons of our time in the social reality and in the world of work. We need lay people who can witness with their lives to the "values of the kingdom", even when they must go against the tide of the world's logic. It is time for lay people who want to witness in a social milieu permeated by so many false hopes to the hope that does not disappoint (cf. Rom Rm 5,5).

Such a strong "missionary" endeavour presupposes an equally strong contemplative effort. You know that Christian contemplation takes nothing from our involvement in history; it invites to it. At the beginning of this millennium, the Pope urges you to be a living proclamation of the constant presence of Christ who walks with humanity at all times.

With these wishes, that I make during the Easter season and a few days before the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, I warmly impart to you and to your families my Blessing.



Monday, 29 April 2002

Mr Ambassador,

Welcome to the Vatican, where I have the pleasure to receive you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Angola to the Holy See. I am grateful for your kind words, and, in particular, for the greeting you bring to me from President José Eduardo dos Santos and from the Angolan Government. Kindly present in turn my esteem to the President and a special prayer to the Lord to sustain his efforts at this time when concrete hopes of peace are at last in sight.

In fact, I was very glad to hear you confirm that Angola has resumed the work of establishing nation wide harmony. I join in the nation's general joy at seeing its leaders opt for peace. May God help you to implement the agreements already reached allowing you to solve the nation's problems within the appropriate democratic institutions. As you begin to emerge from the long, devastating years of civil war which condition your life, your citizens have to support your work with a love of country that obliges them to serve the common good and to safeguard fraternity among all the sons and daughters of Angola. I ardently hope that thanks to a living sense of solidarity and common life, values that are an inherent part of African culture, the obstacles and resistance to the quest for the common good may be rapidly overcome and a peaceful and solidary national life may be established in which hostilities are put aside, the convictions of each person respected, and understanding among the various socio-political sectors is strengthened by the wise use of differences for the enrichment of the nation.

It is therefore important that public leaders do their utmost to encourage the building of a better future for their fellow countrymen, especially for the neediest. By winning their confidence in this way, it will prove easier to respond to the people's just aspirations for a life corresponding to their needs. Indeed, "four successive decades troubled by the clash of weapons", as you rightly mentioned, Your Excellency, have given rise to enormous social imbalances. The way out of this situation requires the entire people to put into practice the concepts of brotherhood and cooperation for the establishment of justice, preventing the rich from wasting while they live alongside the poor who lack the basic necessities of life.

Here justice and solidarity come into play, social virtues that must guide the economic and political decisions of national and international organizations, to promote policies that deal with the problem of the distribution and sharing of available resources. Increasing solidarity is precisely one of the main goals of the Holy See's work in international diplomacy. Through its activity, it strives to foster reciprocal cooperation between sovereign States, a cooperation that aims at integral human development and the safeguarding of human dignity (cf. Second Vatican Council, Constitution Gaudium et spes GS 76). Therefore, Mr Ambassador, I can only wish every success to the Conference of Doadores that your government wants to organize for the "resurrection" of Angola! It is time that the true friends of the Angolan people come together, to help them create decent living conditions and effective security for all.

In your address, you expressed the hope of seeing the Church involved in this phase, the establishment of lasting peace and reconciliation among all Angolans. The tireless and generous action of the Church of Angola in furthering justice and peace is well known to all. I can assure you that the Catholic faithful and their pastors will continue to collaborate in the future with those who have the true good of the country at heart in the struggle for human dignity and the material and spiritual development of all. "The Church walks and lives intimately bound in a real sense to their history" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa ), working to build a prosperous and just society, according to the means she has available. Through her educational institutions, she helps set people free from that serious form of poverty, the lack of cultural and religious formation. Though her health-care institutions, she encourages respect for human life and witnesses to God's concern for those who are suffering. Like other institutions for social assistance and advancement, she makes a contribution to the development of the nation and the progress of justice.

The Church enfolds in her caring embrace every man and the whole of man, giving a central place to his spiritual and religious dimension, opening the individual and society to the absolute of God. That is why proclaiming Christ involves revealing to people his inalienable dignity which is rooted in God himself, who created the human being in his image and likeness (Gn 1,26). Your accreditation to the Holy See testifies to the importance that your people attributes to the spiritual values and to the Gospel message. I am certain that your task, which officially begins today, will strengthen the bonds of collaboration and friendship between your country and the Apostolic See for the benefit of all Angolans.

Mr Ambassador,

At the time when your mission to the Holy See is beginning, I express the hope that you may fulfil it to your great satisfaction and profit. Rest assured that you will always find concern and cordial understanding here among my collaborators. I invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon you, Your Excellency, and upon your family, your direct collaborators, the Angolan people and its leaders.




Monday, 29 April 2002

Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to give you a cordial welcome on the occasion of the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, whose theme is "the world of the sea". I am happy to greet your Council's President, Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, and thank him for his courteous words on your behalf. I express deep gratitude to each of you for your attentive care and the generous efforts with which in your daily activity you convey the Church's solicitude to all who are involved in this complex area of human mobility.

St Augustine writes: "I contemplate the vast expanse of sea around me, I am filled with wonder and admiration; I seek its maker ..." (Homily on Ps 41,7). These words effectively sum up the Christian's attitude toward creation, God's great gift to humanity, and especially, toward the majesty and beauty of the ocean. I am certain that these same sentiments motivate all who are dedicated in their apostolate to the vast world of migration and tourism and deal with it as it takes place on the oceans of the world.

Speeches 2002 - Tuesday, 23 April 2002