Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 4 May 2002

In fact, every day this engagement becomes more necessary and demanding. On your part, you will certainly not fail to make the precious contribution that derives from your own charism. Indeed, what else would the kerygmatic proclamation that is the heart of your movement mean than that we "firmly set our gaze on the face of the Christ", as I asked in Novo Millennio ineunte (cf. nn. 16ff.)? What does this contemplation involve if not entrusting oneself to the "primacy of grace" in order to start out on a journey of catechesis and prayer, of conversion and of holiness of life? What fruit does it produce, if not a stronger sense of belonging to the Church and a renewed zeal for evangelizing the places where you live and work?

4. Dear Cursillistas! Continue confidently on your journey of formation and Christian life undertaken with great generosity. "Duc in altum"! "Put out into the deep"! I entrust you to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a wonderful example of obedience to the Father's will and a faithful disciple of her Son.

As I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you here, and to all your loved ones.





Episcopal Residence in Ischia

Sunday, 5 May 2002

There is a proverb that says "repetition is the mother of learning". This time the proverb does not refer to academics but refers first of all to the Pope and then to the Church of God in Campania.

I have had many opportunities to get to know these Churches through the ad limina visits and my pastoral visits to some of your dioceses. Nonetheless, it has been useful and timely to come back to Campania. Little has remained as it was before, and some persons are no longer here. Let us think of them all with gratitude.

There is also another proverb that says: "Beautiful things seen over and over again create constant delight". However, we must always find a new viewpoint, a more interesting angle from which to admire them. My visit to this diocese gives me an opportunity to admire the beauty of your region and of this island; to enjoy the harmony between earth and heaven; to reach out and touch the wonders of nature, of the people, of popular devotion.

I thank you for all this, and I give you my prayerful best wishes. These are my wishes for all of you: "Repetition is the mother of learning"; "Beautiful things seen over and over again create constant delight".



Sunday, 5 May 2002

Dear Young People,

1. You are the salt of the earth.... You are the light of the world! (Mt 5,13-14). These words of Jesus, as you know, constitute the theme of the next World Youth Day. This is how the divine Teacher addressed his disciples on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, 2,000 years ago. This is how once again he will address thousands of young Christians from every part of the world next summer, in Toronto. These same words re-echo today, on the shores of the Mediterranean, as my brief but full visit to your beautiful island draws to its close. They re-echo for you, dear young people of Ischia. And it is a great joy to me to be an echo of the voice of Christ, who invites you to listen, think, and act. The words of Christ alone can truly be a light for your steps.

I greet you warmly, dear young friends, each of you. I thank your bishops who presented you as "sentinels of the dawn". I thank your representatives who have spoken in the name of all the young people of Ischia. Thank you for your warm welcome, in which I found the enthusiasm of youth and the "genius" of your island.

2. "You are the salt of the earth" (Mt 5,13). Dear young men and women, it is not hard to understand this first image that Jesus used. Salt: a very important image. When there was no other way of preserving food, salt did not only serve to give food savour, but was often indispensable to guarantee the possibility of access to it. In saying: "you are the salt of the earth", the Redeemer entrusted a twofold mission to his disciples: to give life a savour by showing its meaning as revealed through him and to make accessible to all the food that comes from on high. Today it is in this twofold sense that I want to speak of it to you.

Young people of Ischia, be the salt of the earth that gives beauty and savour.

Show with concrete gestures and convincing words that life and living together the love that Jesus came to reveal and give us is worthwhile. Is it not the love of Christ, the Victor over evil and death, who transformed us? Do all you can so that this experience can reach the greatest number of young people.

Be the salt that enables the food of Heaven to be distributed to all, so that even the least reflective and those who have wandered far off, through your enthusiasm, passion, humble and persevering dedication, may feel called to believe in God and to love him in their neighbour.

3. "You are the light of the world" (Mt 5,14). This is Jesus' other message to his disciples. The characteristic of light is to dispel darkness, warm what it touches, and enhance its contours. It does this at high speed. Therefore, for Christians and especially for young Christians, being the light of the world means spreading everywhere the light that comes from on high. It means fighting the darkness that is due to the resistance of evil and sin, and that caused by ignorance and prejudice.

Young people of Ischia, be rays of Christ's light. He is the "light of the world" (Jn 8,12). Radiate this light everywhere, especially where Jesus is not known and loved, or even where he is rejected. With your lives, make people understand that the light which comes from on high does not destroy the human being: on the contrary, it exalts him, just like the sun, whose brilliance throws into bold relief shapes and colours. God is not man's rival but his true friend, his most faithful ally.

You must promote this message with the speed of light! Do not waste time: your youth is too precious to waste even the smallest part. God needs you and calls each one of you by name.

4. From this island full of sunshine and natural beauty, clad in green and immersed in the marvellous waters of the "mare nostrum" (our sea), may a message of light and hope reach all young people, starting with those who come to visit here. Dear young people, together with your parents, pastors, teachers, catechists and friends, be "salt and light" for all those whom the Lord sets on your path.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Star of the Sea" guide you; she directs towards the safe haven those who sail on the great ocean of life, by shining like a bright star even in the darkest hours.
May your Patron Saints be an example to you, especially St Restituta and St John Joseph of the Cross. May no disturbance, no fear, no sin, separate you from God's love. Jesus is the light that triumphs over the darkness; the salt that gives flavour to your years of youth and to your entire life. It is he who keeps you in beauty and faithfulness to God, his Father and ours.

Goodbye until Toronto, where I hope there will be some of you: together with your peers from every continent, we will offer the world a message of hope. Your bishop introduced you as "sentinels of the dawn". Yes, dear young friends, be faithful sentinels of the Gospel, who await and prepare for the coming of the new Day that is Christ the Lord.

The Holy Father then added extemporaneously when the young people presented a check to help the people of Bethlehem and a large cake for his birthday on 18 May:

Some might think that the young people of Ischia and the young people of Italy are very rich. But I know that here it is a question of a different economy. It is the Gospel economy of the poor in spirit. I hope that the forthcoming World Youth Day may be the expression of the Gospel maturity of all the young people of the world, and especially, of the young people of Italy and the young people of your wonderful island.

So courage. Courage and hope. Praised be Jesus Christ.



Tuesday, 7 May 2002

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ep 6,23). With the words of the Apostle Paul and in the joy of Easter, I welcome you, the Bishops of the Antilles, on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. Through you, I greet all the faithful of Christ entrusted to your care. May the peace of the Risen Lord reign in every heart and every home throughout the Caribbean region!

I thank Archbishop Clarke for his gracious words expressing that spirituality of communion which is the very heart of the Church (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 43-45). It is this communion which draws you to Rome, on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles, where you renew your fidelity to the apostolic tradition, the roots of which reach back to the Lord’s commission (cf. Mt Mt 28,19-20) and ultimately touch the inner life of the Trinity, the ground of all reality.

You come as Pastors who have been called to share in the fullness of Christ’s eternal priesthood. First and foremost, you are priests: not corporate executives, business managers, finance officers or bureaucrats, but priests. This means above all that you have been set apart to offer sacrifice, since this is the essence of priesthood, and the core of the Christian priesthood is the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. That is why the Eucharist is the very essence of what we are as priests; it is why there is nothing more important that we do than offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice; and it is why our celebration of the Eucharist together lies at the heart of your ad Limina visit. We can never forget that the tombs of the Apostles which we venerate in Rome are the tombs of martyrs, whose life and death was drawn more and more into the depths of Christ’s own sacrifice, until they could say: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Ga 2,20). That was the womb of their extraordinary missionary work, which we as their Successors must emulate in our own times if we are to be faithful to the new evangelization for which the Second Vatican Council providentially prepared the Church.

2. Le Concile fut "la grande grâce dont l’Église a bénéficié au vingtième siècle" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 57). Bien que les décennies qui nous en séparent n’aient pas été exemptes de difficultés – on a connu des périodes au cours desquelles des éléments importants de la vie chrétienne semblaient même en péril –, de nombreux signes indiquent maintenant ce nouveau printemps de l’esprit dont le grand Jubilé de l’an 2000 a fait apparaître de manière évidente le caractère prophétique. Dans les années qui suivirent le Concile, l’apparition de nouvelles aspirations spirituelles et de nouvelles énergies apostoliques parmi les fidèles de l’Église fut sans conteste l’un des fruits de l’Esprit. Les laïques vivent la grâce de leur Baptême sous des formes qui font apparaître de manière plus resplendissante le riche éventail des charismes dans l’Église; et pour cela nous ne cessons de rendre grâce à Dieu.

Il est également vrai que le réveil des fidèles laïques dans l’Église a vu apparaître en même temps, dans vos pays aussi, des problèmes relatifs à l’appel au sacerdoce, s’accompagnant de faibles entrées au séminaire dans les Églises dont vous avez la charge. En tant que Pasteurs, vous êtes vivement préoccupés car, comme vous le savez bien, l’Église catholique ne peut pas exister sans le ministère sacerdotal que le Christ lui-même désire pour elle.

Des personnes, on le sait, affirment que la diminution du nombre de prêtres est l’oeuvre de l’Esprit Saint et que Dieu lui-même conduirait l’Église, faisant en sorte que le gouvernement des fidèles laïques se substitue au gouvernement des prêtres. Une telle affirmation ne rend certainement pas compte de ce que les Pères conciliaires ont exprimé lorsqu’ils ont cherché à promouvoir une implication plus grande des fidèles laïques dans l’Église. Dans leur enseignement, les Pères conciliaires ont tout simplement mis en évidence la profonde complémentarité entre les prêtres et les laïques qu’implique la nature symphonique de l’Église. Une mauvaise compréhension de cette complémentarité a parfois conduit à une crise d’identité et de confiance chez les prêtres, et aussi à des formes d’engagement laïque trop cléricales ou trop politisées.

L’engagement des laïcs devient une forme de cléricalisme quand les rôles sacramentels ou liturgiques qui reviennent au prêtre sont assumés par des fidèles laïques ou bien lorsque ceux-ci se mettent à accomplir des tâches qui relèvent du gouvernement pastoral propre au prêtre. Dans de telles situations, ce que le Concile a enseigné sur le caractère essentiellement séculier de la vocation laïque est le plus souvent négligé (cf. Lumen gentium LG 31). C’est le prêtre, en tant que ministre ordonné, qui, au nom du Christ, préside la communauté chrétienne, sur les plans liturgique et pastoral. Les laïques l’assistent de bien des manières dans cette tâche. Mais le lieu premier de l’exercice de la vocation laïque est le monde des réalités économiques, sociales, politiques et culturelles. C’est dans ce monde que les laïcs sont invités à vivre leur vocation baptismale, non pas comme des consommateurs passifs, mais en tant que membres actifs de la grande oeuvre qui exprime le caractère chrétien. Il revient au prêtre de présider la communauté chrétienne afin de permettre aux laïques de remplir la tâche ecclésiale et missionnaire qui leur est propre. En un temps de sécularisation insidieuse, il peut paraître étrange que l’Église insiste autant sur la vocation séculière des laïques. Or c’est précisément le témoignage évangélique des fidèles dans le monde qui est le coeur de la réponse de l’Église au malaise de la sécularisation (cf. Ecclesia in America ).

L’engagement des laïques est politisé lorsque le laïcat est absorbé par l’exercice du "pouvoir" à l’intérieur de l’Église. Cela arrive lorsque l’Église n’est vue en terme de «mystère» de grâce qui la caractérise, mais en termes sociologiques ou même politiques, souvent sur la base d’une compréhension erronée de la notion de "peuple de Dieu", une notion qui a de profondes et riches bases bibliques et qui est si heureusement utilisée par le Concile Vatican II. Lorsque ce n’est pas le service mais le pouvoir qui modèle toute forme de gouvernement dans l’Église, que ce soit dans le clergé ou dans le laïcat, les intérêts opposés commencent à se faire sentir. Le cléricalisme est pour les prêtres cette forme de gouvernement qui relève plus du pouvoir que du service, et qui engendre toujours des antagonismes entre les prêtres et le peuple; ce cléricalisme se retrouve dans des formes de leadership laïque qui ne tiennent pas suffisamment compte de la nature transcendantale et sacramentelle de l’Église, ainsi que de son rôle dans le monde. Ces deux attitudes sont nocives. À l’inverse, ce dont l’Église a besoin, c’est d’un sens de la complémentarité entre la vocation du prêtre et celle des laïcs qui soit plus profond et plus créatif. Sans cela, nous ne pouvons pas espérer être fidèles aux enseignements du Concile ni sortir des difficultés habituelles concernant l’identité du prêtre, la confiance en lui et l’appel au sacerdoce.

3. Yet we must also look far beyond the bounds of the Church, for the Council was essentially concerned to foster new energies for her mission to the world. You are well aware that an essential part of her evangelizing mission is the inculturation of the Gospel, and I know that there has been much attention in your region to the need to develop Caribbean forms of Catholic worship and life. In the Encyclical Fides et Ratio, I stressed that "the Gospel is not opposed to any culture, as if in engaging a culture the Gospel would seek to strip it of its native riches and force it to adopt forms which are alien to it" (No. 71). I went on to point out that cultures are not only not diminished by the encounter with the Gospel, but are "prompted to open themselves to the newness of the Gospel’s truth and to be stirred by this truth to develop in new ways" (ibid.; cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhoratation Ecclesia in America ).

To this end, it is important to keep in mind the three criteria for discerning whether or not our attempts to inculturate the Gospel are soundly based. The first of these is the universality of the human spirit, whose basic needs are no different even in vastly different cultures. Therefore, no culture can ever be made absolute in a way that denies that the human spirit is, at the deepest level, the same in every time, place and culture. The second criterion is that, in engaging newer cultures, the Church cannot abandon the precious heritage drawn from her initial engagement with Greco-Latin culture, for to do this would be "to deny the providential plan of God who guides his Church down the paths of time and history" (Fides et Ratio FR 72). It is not a question, then, of rejecting the Greco-Latin heritage in order to allow the Gospel to take new flesh in Caribbean culture. The challenge rather is to bring the cultural heritage of the Church into deep and mutually enriching dialogue with Caribbean culture. The third criterion is that a culture must not become enclosed in its difference, in a flight into isolation and opposition to other cultures and traditions. That would be to deny not only the universality of the human spirit but also the universality of the Gospel, which is alien to no culture and seeks to take root in all.

4. In Ecclesia in America I noted that "it is more necessary than ever for all the faithful to move from a faith of habit...to a faith which is conscious and personally lived. The renewal of faith will always be the best way to lead others to the Truth that is Christ" (No. 73). That is why it is essential in your particular Churches to develop a new apologetic for your people, so that they may understand what the Church teaches and thus be able to give reason for their hope (cf. 1P 3,15). For in a world where people are continuously subjected to the cultural and ideological pressure of the media and the aggressively anti-Catholic attitude of many sects, it is essential for Catholics to know what the Church teaches, to understand that teaching, and to experience its liberating power. A lack of understanding leads to a lack of the spiritual energy needed for Christian living and the work of evangelization.

The Church is called to proclaim an absolute and universal truth to the world at a time when in many cultures there is deep uncertainty as to whether such a truth could possibly exist. Therefore, the Church must speak in ways which carry the force of genuine witness. In considering what this entails, Pope Paul VI identified four qualities, which he called perspicuitas, lenitas, fiducia, prudentiaclarity, humanity, confidence and prudence (cf. Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam, 81).

To speak with clarity means that we need to explain comprehensibly the truth of Revelation and the Church’s teachings which stem from it. What we teach is not always immediately or easily accessible to people today. For this reason there is a need not simply to repeat but to explain. That is what I meant when I said that we need a new apologetic, geared to the needs of today, which keeps in mind that our task is not to win arguments but to win souls, to engage not in ideological bickering but a kind of spiritual warfare, concerned not to vindicate or promote ourselves but to vindicate and promote the Gospel.

Such an apologetic will need to breathe a spirit of humanity, that humility and compassion which understand the anxieties and questions of people and, at the same time, do not yield to a sentimentalized sense of the love and compassion of Christ sundered from the truth. We know that the love of Christ can make great demands, precisely because they are tied not to sentimentality but to the truth which alone sets us free (cf. Jn Jn 8,32).

To speak with confidence will mean that we never lose sight of the absolute and universal truth revealed in Christ, and never lose sight of the fact that this is the truth for which all people long, no matter how uninterested, resistant or hostile they may seem.

To speak with that practical wisdom and good sense which Paul VI calls prudence and which Gregory the Great considers a virtue of the brave (Moralia, 22, 1) will mean that we give a clear answer to people who ask: "What must we do?" (Lc 3,10, 12, 14). In this, the heavy responsibility of our episcopal ministry appears in all its demanding challenge. We must daily pray for the light of the Holy Spirit, that we may speak the wisdom of God, not the wisdom of the world, "lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1Co 1,17).

Pope Paul VI concluded by claiming that to speak with perspicuitas, lenitas, fiducia and prudentia "will make us wise; it will make us teachers" (Ecclesiam Suam, 83); and that is what we are called to be above all – teachers of the truth, who never cease to beg "the grace to see life whole and the power to speak effectively of it" (Gregory the Great, On Ezekiel, I, 11, 6).

5. I am convinced, dear Brothers, that many of the problems facing your ministry – including the need for more priestly and religious vocations – will be solved by daring to give ourselves with still greater generosity to the missionary task. That was an important goal of the Council, and if there have been internal problems in the Church since then it has been in part perhaps because the Catholic community has been less missionary than the Lord Jesus and the Council intended.

Dear Brother Bishops, your particular Churches too must be missionary – in the sense of going out boldly into every corner of Caribbean society, even the darkest of them, armed with the light of the Gospel and the love which knows no bounds. It is time to cast your nets where there may seem to be no fish (cf. Lk Lc 5,4-5): Duc in altum! In your planning for this mission, it is vital to keep in mind that we must "stake everything on charity" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 49), for "the century and millennium now beginning will need to see, and hopefully with still greater clarity, to what length of dedication the Christian community can go in charity towards the poorest" (ibid.). But it is even more vital that you keep your gaze firmly fixed on Jesus (cf. Heb He 12,2), never losing sight of him who is the beginning and the end of all Christian mission.

Invoking upon you in this Easter season a fresh outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and entrusting your beloved communities, those "holy seeds of heaven" (Saint Augustine, Sermon 34, 5), to the unfailing protection of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, the priests, the men and women religious and all the lay faithful of the Caribbean as a pledge of grace and peace in Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead.



Friday, 10 May 2002

Mr Ambassador,

1. I gladly accept the Letters with which Dr Rexhep Meidani, President of the Republic, accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See.

As I cordially welcome you, through you I would like to thank the President for his kind words to me, and to assure you of the constant benevolence I feel for the beloved country you are called to represent.

Today's meeting reminds me of the visit God granted me to make to Albania on 25 April 1993, and of the heartfelt affection that so many of your compatriots showed me on that occasion. I constantly pray God that Albania may continue confidently on the path to prosperity and peace that she has taken, always preserving among her citizens mutual respect, dialogue and collaboration. If, indeed, you want to build a strong national unity, every citizen must believe in the values of rediscovered democracy and the benefits of social harmony and cooperate in consolidating the structures of the institutions, which must always prove effective in providing the people with the services they legitimately expect.

Your homeland, which can count on a rich treasure of ethnic, cultural and spiritual traditions, must draw from them the vital sap that will enable it to pursue with confidence the way of radical social renewal to which it is dedicated.

2. As you have appropriately emphasized, the bonds between the Apostolic See and the Albanian nation have been intense and have existed for centuries. They have enabled both to grow in reciprocal knowledge and trust. Thus a fruitful collaboration was established which it was possible to resume after the unfortunate period of Communist dictatorship, in a climate of understanding and esteem. For this reason, I am therefore convinced that the problems you outlined, will be confronted and resolved positively, and that you will succeed in implementing the many projects you have now initiated.

The Albanian people will be able to appeal to the well known gifts of courage and determination that are their hallmark. As you appropriately recalled George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was a champion of these virtues and was often in contact with the Roman Pontiffs. In this regard I would like to recall the concern of my Predecessor Callistus III for the ventures of this "invincible soldier and athlete of Christ" (Liber Brevium, n. 298) whom he invited in the face of the Ottoman threat to persevere in the courageous defence of the faith (cf. ibid., n. 302). What is more, how can we forget Conxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a daughter of the Albanian people, who brought honour and prestige to her nation and to the Catholic Church? Her activity and witness helped to keep alive in the world friendship for her country, even during the dark period of the Communist and anti-religious persecution.

The Albanian people constantly refer to these famous figures and are justly proud of their human and spiritual endowments. These virtues can help them achieve the targets of rebuilding and development that await them, as you have just stressed.

3. As part of the European cultural, historical and geographical context, Albania legitimately aspires to engage in a constructive dialogue with the other peoples of the Old Continent, wishing to contribute to building their common "European home".

This will for profitable competition is not only addressed to the neighbouring countries and, more generally, to the European Union. The Albanian people want to find their role in a broader, international framework, open to the whole world. However, the first condition and at the same time consequence of this just aspiration is the need for greater coherence and stability at home, which will give Albania more authority in the assembly of nations. In view of this, how is it possible not to praise and encourage on this occasion too, the practical efforts which enable the country you represent to go ahead with the process of healing the serious injuries inflicted by the tragic decades of tyranny?

4. Mr Ambassador, the Holy See will continue to do its utmost, as it has so far, to support the Albanian people in the search for true progress and stable peace. Good relations, marked by reciprocal trust and esteem shed light on the value of a new-found common language for the benefit of all Albanians. Proof of this is the recent Agreement for Collaboration which Albania and the Holy See have signed to normalize their relations [23 March], an agreement that now awaits ratification by Parliament, as you mentioned.

Although the Church's mission is essentially spiritual, she is well aware of the need to keep up a constant dialogue with society recalling, as reference points for all human activity, the eternal ethical and moral values. To build a country that is free and hospitable, Christians intend to continue to collaborate with the other religious denominations that are traditionally present, with which a respectful and fruitful understanding already exists.

5. Mr Ambassador, please convey my sentiments of deep respect to the President. At the same time I would like to confirm that you will find that the Apostolic See is fully prepared to welcome you, offering you its consideration and cooperation in carrying out the mission entrusted to you by your Government.

As I renew my fervent good wishes to you for the success of your activity, I accompany my wishes with the assurance of my prayer that with his gifts, Almighty God will help you, those who work with you, the authorities of your country and the Albanian people who are ever present in my heart.




Friday, 10 May 2002

Your Eminence,
Mr President,
Friends of the International Catholic Centre for UNESCO,

1. I am pleased to welcome you this morning, to thank you and to tell you once again of my confidence on the occasion of your 30th General Assembly that took up the theme: "Intercultural Dialogue: a Chance for Humanity". I thank the President, Mr Bernard Lacan, for his kind words. I greet the members of the Catholic Centre, especially the director, Mr Gilles Deliance, and express to you my gratitude for your activity at the service of culture. I am delighted that the Holy See's Permanent Observer to UNESCO, Mons. Renzo Frana, is with you, and I thank him for all his work over the years with this organization of the United Nations.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the appointment of the First Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO in the person of Mons. Roncalli, Bl. Pope John XXIII. Since then, the Holy See has carefully followed UNESCO's activities in the fundamental sectors of education, sciences, human sciences, communications and information, so many aspects of culture, "the fundamental reality which unites us and which is at the basis of the establishment and purposes of UNESCO" (Address to UNESCO, Paris, 2 June 1980, n. 8; ORE, 23 June 1980, p. 9).

2. Your centre facilitates the work and cooperation of the Catholic International Organizations that participate in the important activities of UNESCO connected with education and formation. In your mission, I encourage you to spread your specific knowledge and wisdom though your projects and publications, enabling our contemporaries to take up the serious cultural challenges of our time and give them responses worthy of the human person.

The great realms of education and culture, of communications and science, entail a fundamental ethical dimension. To respond appropriately, it is necessary to acquire a correct scientific knowledge, to undertake a deep reflection and to offer the enlightenment of Christian humanism and the universal moral values. The family must be the object of special attention, because the family has the first responsibility for educating the young.

3. I encourage you to pursue your work without respite so that there may be a fruitful dialogue between Christ's message and the cultures. I am grateful to you for the service you carry out in the formation of Catholic experts, taking pains to train them seriously and to root them in the faith, suitably preparing them to bring the world a credible witness, nourished by the Word of God and the teaching of the Church. It would be desirable that your research on scientific, cultural and educational topics, carried out in the light of the Gospel, be made available regularly and easily to the Catholics who work in these areas according to the possibilities offered by modern technology.

In choosing to hold your meeting in Rome, you show your attachment to the Successor of Peter and to the Holy See. Touched by this gesture, I thank you for the Church's mission with UNESCO that you carry out generously and attentively, at the service of all men and women.

I wholeheartedly impart my Apostolic Blessing to each and everyone of you, and to all your loved ones.

Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 4 May 2002