Speeches 2003

Saturday, 18 January 2003

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Fathers,

1. I am happy to meet you as the members of the "Steering Committee" of the Catholic Committee for Cultural Collaboration, with your President, Bishop Gérard Daucourt and officials of the Pontifical Council.

First, I desire to express my appreciation for the readiness and generosity with which the persons and the societies that are part of this consultative body, included in the range of responsibility of the Oriental Section of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, for years have carried on this activity of ecclesial support for the Orthodox Churches and for the Ancient Oriental Churches, according the will of my Venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, which I completely endorse.

The action of the Committee includes the awarding of scholarships to Orthodox candidates presented by their ecclesial authorities; the donation of books and theological and patristic literature to Orthodox seminaries and libraries; the promotion of special projects at the level of these seminaries and institutes of formation.

It is an important work that is inspired by the criterion of reciprocity and that, by its nature, stands as an important witness of communion. In fact, the Orthodox candidates who receive the scholarships follow the courses in the different universities of Rome and in other Western cities and are generally housed in Pontifical Colleges and other Catholic structures. In this way, their presence expresses an effective synergy that puts into practice a fundamental element of ecumenical activity: the exchange of gifts between the Churches in their complementarity. That makes communion particularly fruitful (cf. Encyclical Letter, Ut unum sint, n. 57).

2. The Committee, from the beginning of the new millennium and in the light of the changing context of our relations with the Churches of the East, wished to reflect on the progress made and find ways to expand its action to respond even better to the many requests that come from the East. I hope that your meeting can help to reinforce concretely the assiduous activity of your committee and foster a more generous activity in the field of formation.

At the beginning of the new millennium, in this period of transition from what has been accomplished to what we are called to accomplish to promote the ecumenical journey toward the realization of full communion (cf. ibid, n. 3), we have an unavoidable mission which the Committee has to focus on with reason: namely, that of fostering the grassroots acceptance of the results achieved in a number of ecumenical initiatives, and not missing a chance to stress that the promotion of the ecumenical perspective should be a constant concern of the work of formation. It is no longer time for reciprocal ignorance; it is time for meeting and sharing the gifts of each one on the basis of a mutual objective and deep familiarity.

3. In this perspective I encourage you to continue in the activity that you carry on with outstanding dedication, and I assure you of the support of my prayers. With these sentiments, I impart to all a heartfelt Blessing.


Monday, 20 January 2003

Your Excellency,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With affection I greet the members of the ecumenical delegation from Finland who have come to Rome for the celebration of the feast of your patron Saint Henrik. It is with gratitude that I recall the various visits of your delegations to Rome, meetings that have significantly contributed to strengthening relations between Lutherans and Catholics.

The Second Vatican Council committed the Catholic Church "irrevocably to following the path of the ecumenical venture, thus heeding the Spirit of the Lord who teaches people to interpret carefully the ‘signs of the times’" (Ut Unum Sint UUS 3). This is an invitation that I have embraced throughout my Pontificate. At this time, we recognize a new ecumenical moment in which we can acknowledge a real, if still incomplete, communion. The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification is a concrete sign of this new situation as a "brotherhood rediscovered" (ibid., Chapter II, subtitle to nos. 41-42).

It is my fervent prayer that by building on this brotherhood we can further promote a shared spirituality which will assist us in our pilgrimage towards full communion.

Upon you and all those in your pastoral care I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.



Monday, 20 January 2003

Dear Friends,

1. On the occasion of your international meeting in Rome, I am happy to welcome you, the regional leaders of the Teams of Our Lady (Équipes Notre Dame), your international spiritual advisor Mons. Fleischmann and the other priests who have come with you. I thank the international leaders of the movement, Mr and Mrs de Roberty, for their cordial greeting.

2. First of all, how could I not recall the person of Fr Henri Caffarel, your founder, who guided so many couples and initiated them to the prayer of contemplation. On the centenary of his birth, I am happy to join in your thanksgiving. Fr Caffarel taught the greatness and beauty of the vocation to marriage, and, anticipating the fruitful directions of the Second Vatican Council, he set forth the call to holiness set integral to marital and family life (cf. Lumen gentium LG 11). He knew how to proclaim the major traits of the marital spirituality that derives from Baptism and underlines the dignity of human love in the plan of God. The attention he gave to the persons who were involved in the sacrament of marriage led him to put his gifts at the service of the "spiritual movement for war widows" that became the "Hope and Life" movement and gave him the impetus to create the first Centres for the Preparation for Marriage present everywhere today. Later on the "Teams of Our Lady for Young People" were created out of his concern to support young people in their faith journey.

3. In the face of the threats that weigh upon the family and the factors that weaken it, you have chosen a pertinent topic for your meeting: "Couples Called by Christ to a New Covenant". In fact, for the Christian people, marriage, that was elevated to the dignity of a sacrament, is by nature a sign of the covenant, of the communion between God and the human person, and between Christ and the Church. So, for the duration of their lives, Christian spouses receive the mission to manifest in a visible way the indissoluble covenant of God with the human race. Christian faith presents marriage as Good News: the total, reciprocal, unique and indissoluble relationship between man and woman, called to give life. The Spirit of the Lord gives to spouses a new heart and makes them capable of loving each other as Christ has loved them, and of serving life by living out the Christian mystery, for in their union "the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection is being accomplished" (Paul VI, Address to the Teams of Our Lady, 4 May 1970, n. 16).

4. Mystery of covenant and communion, the responsibility of the spouses invites them to draw their strength from the Eucharist, "source of Christian marriage" (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio FC 57) and model for their love. In fact, the different phases of the Eucharistic liturgy invite married couples to live their marital and family life after the example of that of Christ who gives himself to human beings out of love. They will find in the sacrament the necessary courage for acceptance, pardon, dialogue and communion of hearts. It will also be a valuable aid for facing the inevitable difficulties of family life. May the members of the Teams be able to be the first witnesses of the grace that one can find in a regular participation in the sacramental life of the Church and of Sunday Mass, "celebration of the living presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his own people" (Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini, 31 May 1998, n. 31; cf. also n. 81) and "antidote for confronting and overcoming obstacles and tensions" (Discourse to the Members of the 15th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, 18 October 2002, n. 2).

5. Nourished by the Bread of Life and called to enlighten "those who seek the truth" (Lumen gentium LG 35), notably, their children, the spouses will be able to release fully the grace of their baptism through their own mission within the family, in society and in the Church. This was the intuition of Fr Caffarel, who did not want anyone to join "a team to become isolated ... but to learn how to give him/herself to others" (Monthly Letter, February 1948, p. 9). Rejoicing in all that you have undertaken, I exhort all the team members to participate more fully in the life of the Church, especially with young people, who want to receive the exacting and exalting Christian message of human love. In this perspective, the team members can aid them to live the period of their youth and engagement in fidelity to the commandments of Christ and of the Church, allowing them to find true happiness in the maturing of their affective life.

6. Your movement has developed its own pedagogy, based on the "concrete points of effort" which help you as a couple to grow together in holiness. I encourage you to live them carefully and perseveringly in order to love in truth. I invite you especially to develop personal, marital and family prayer, without which a Christian risks being lost, as Fr Caffarel used to say (cf. L'Anneau d'Or, March-April 1953, p. 136). Far from turning them away from their action in the world, genuine prayer sanctifies the couple and their family, opens the heart to the love of God and of the brothers. It also makes them capable of building history according to the plan of God (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on Aspects of Christian Meditation, Orationis formas, 15 October 1989).

7. Dear friends, I thank God for the fruitfulness of your movement throughout the world, encouraging you to witness untiringly and explicitly to the beauty of human love, marriage and the family. At the end of this audience, my prayer goes out to couples in difficulty. May they find on their path witnesses of the tenderness and mercy of God. I wish to repeat my spiritual closeness to separated persons, divorced persons, and the divorced and remarried, who, like the baptized, are called, in respect for the laws of the Church, to participate in Christian life (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio FC 84). Finally, I express my gratitude to the spiritual counselors who make themselves available for you. They bring their competence and experience to your lay movement. By means of their collaboration, priests and couples learn to understand, appreciate and help one another. You who experience the grace of a priestly presence, pray for vocations and fearlessly hand on to your children the call of the Lord.

Entrusting you, your teams and their families to the intercession of Our Lady of the Magnificat, invoked each day by the members, and also to the Blessed Spouses Luigi and Maria Quattrocchi, I impart to all an affectionate apostolic blessing.




Thursday, 23 January 2003

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. After meeting each one of you personally over the last few days, I am glad to meet all of you gathered as a body, and, through you, to thank God for this opportunity to enter into contact with the Christian communities you represent and to convey a sincere and affectionate greeting to them all.

Dear Brothers, please give them my cordial best wishes and assure the priests, religious, Christian laity, the young people, the sick and all the members of the people of God of my spiritual solidarity. I thank Bishop Fernando Antônio Figueiredo of Santo Amaro, President of your 1st Southern Region, for his kind attention and his words of respect on your behalf.

2. "Our times", I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris missio, "are both momentous and fascinating. While on the one hand, people seem to be pursuing material prosperity and to be sinking ever deeper into consumerism and materialism, on the other hand we are witnessing a desperate search for meaning, the need for an inner life, and a desire to learn new forms and methods of meditation and prayer. Not only in cultures with strong religious elements, but also in secularized societies, the spiritual dimension of life is being sought after as an antidote to dehumanization" (n. 33). This is the so-called "religious revival" which, if not devoid of ambiguity, also holds ferments and incentives that should not be ignored. You note the widespread need for God among your people, who are traditionally anchored to the perennial principles of Christianity, but are subjected to several sorts of negative influences.

Is not the phenomenon of the sects that are spreading intermittently from one area to another, with periods of relentless proselytism among the culturally and socially disadvantaged, a concrete sign of an unsatisfied hunger for the supernatural? Doesn't this present a real challenge, for you Pastors, to renew the style of the welcome within your ecclesial communities, and also a pressing incentive to embark on a new and courageous evangelization that can create adequate forms of catechesis, especially for adults?

You know well that the basis of the spread of the sects is often a great lack of religious formation, consequently leading to uncertainty about the need to believe in Christ and to belong to the Church he has established. The tendency is to reduce religions and the various spiritual experiences to a least common denominator, that makes them practically equivalent, with the result that everyone would be free to follow any of the various paths proposed to reach the goal of salvation. If, in addition, one adds the brazen proselytism which is the hallmark of certain particularly active and invasive groups of these sects, one understands right away how urgently necessary it is today to support the faith of Christians, and to give them an opportunity for ongoing religious formation to deepen their personal relationship with Christ. Your endeavours must give priority to preventing this danger, consolidating in the faithful the practice of the Christian life and fostering the growth of a truly fraternal spirit in the heart of each of your ecclesial communities.

3. From Rome I followed with special interest the celebration of the 14th National Eucharistic Congress in Campinas. A multitude of Brazilians gathered round the Eucharist, in the presence of my representative and special Legate, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins. Above all, it was a moment of communion, vitality and hopeful celebration for the Church today in Brazil. I hope that this event will awaken the Christian conscience of the laity of your land and encourage them to dedicate themselves to an exemplary life that will strengthen the bonds of communion and reconciliation in faith and love, and will also act as leaven for that inner renewal I have already mentioned.

Indeed, the Eucharist is the supreme spiritual good of the Church because it contains Christ himself, our Pasch and Living Bread, who through his flesh gives life to the world (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis PO 5). In this way, just as the heart gives vitality to all the parts of the human body, so the Eucharistic life will reach - starting from the altar of sacrifice, from the real presence and from communion - to all the parts of the ecclesial body, and will make its saving effects felt even in the complex fabric of society by means of Christians who today prolong the Redeemer's action in the world.

4. The Eucharist must therefore be at the centre of pastoral activity to radiate its supernatural force to all the Christian places of evangelization, catechesis and various charitable activities, in the work of social renewal and justice for all, starting with respect for the life and rights of every person, and with dedication to the family, to education at all levels, to the proper political order and the promotion of public and private morality.

However, for the Eucharist to have its full effect, one must always be concerned about a worthy and genuine celebration of the mystery in accord with the Church's teaching and directives, as I have recalled on several occasions (cf. Letter Dominicae Caenae, n. 12).

Indeed in the celebration of the Eucharist, the Church, in addition to participating in the redemptive efficacy of the mystery of Christ, carries out a pedagogy of faith and life through the proclamation of the Word, prayers, rites and the entire ecclesial symbolism of the liturgy. For this reason, any manipulation of these elements can only have a negative impact on the pedagogy of faith; and a proper, active and consistent participation in the liturgy, in accord with the norms approved by the Church, builds up the faith and life of the faithful.

So I wish to urge you to maintain the genuine celebration of the liturgy, doing your utmost to ensure obedience to the instructions of the Holy See and those that come under the responsibility of your Bishops' Conference. In this, remember that it is the duty of Bishops to be "moderators, promoters, and custodians of the whole liturgical life of the Church" in their respective dioceses (can. 835 1).

5. In the perspective of this pastoral service, I would like to submit for your consideration certain matters on which I have been insisting for some time in order to give a new impulse to evangelization in the communities entrusted to your care.

How is it possible to overlook, first of all, my appeal "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, the true weekly Easter" (Novo Millennio ineunte NM 35)? In an age of mass popular manifestations that are sometimes inspired by superficial goals, it becomes necessary to restore, through the prayer of thanksgiving, the inner world of the soul which is infinitely richer in values and hope. "Yes, dear brothers and sisters, our Christian communities must become genuine "schools' of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in asking for help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation" (ibid., n. 33).

What does this mean other than that we should give a new impulse to the value of the Eucharist, both at Mass and in Eucharistic events such as congresses, Eucharistic processions, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Hours and so forth? It is necessary to teach how to pray individually and not to collectivize prayer. The weekly meeting of Christians with God, at Mass and in other liturgical services, should be able to offer a greater intimacy with the Lord, "because the Kingdom of God is in your midst" (Lc 17,21), just as the priest prays with the people asking God in the Our Father: "Your Kingdom come".

If the Liturgy of the Word is a "dialogue between God and his people", the people feel "drawn to respond to this dialogue of love by giving thanks and praise, and by demonstrating their fidelity to the task of continual "conversion' " (Apostolic Letter Dies Domini, n. 41). The means offered for a correct understanding of the Eucharist, the homily, catechetical preparation, Sunday Missalettes, etc., must be ready to enrich the people's celebration of this day. Otherwise, they tend to empty the sacrament and the liturgical message itself of their content. For this reason the celebration of the Eucharist cannot and must not be turned into an occasion for to demands of a political nature as is suggested by the publications put out for the country as guides for Sunday Mass.

6. Another of the important concerns of your dioceses is popular piety. The necessary growth in faith and Gospel witness through the transformation of temporal realities according to the plan of God must bring the Church's faithful to an active participation in liturgical and sacramental life. In fact, the Council recalls that the liturgy is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the fount from which all her power flows. For the goal of apostolic endeavour is that all who are made sons of God by faith and Baptism should come together ... to take part in the sacrifice and to eat the Lord's Supper" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10).

Hence liturgical services, since they are "celebrations of the Church which is "the sacrament of unity' " (ibid., n. 26), must be regulated only by the competent authority (can. 838 4) and require of everyone deep and respectful fidelity to the rites and genuine texts. An erroneous application of the value of creativity and spontaneity to the liturgical celebrations, although these are typical features of popular expressions of the life of your people, must not alter the rites and texts, nor, above all, the sense of the mystery which we celebrate in the liturgy.

7. However, I know that your liturgical ministry coexists with the presence of many cultural groups, that are a further demonstration of the Church's catholicity. Many of these groups live alongside one another in urban areas and transform their culture in a perfect symbiosis. This phenomenon implies a particularly sensitive response which is entrusted to your own judgement and pastoral prudence.
As you know, respect for the different cultures and the corresponding inculturation of the Gospel embrace topics that deserve special attention.

It is of course impossible to avoid mentioning "African-Brazilian" culture in the broader context of the evangelization "ad gentes", that is very present today in your theological and pastoral reflection. This raises the delicate question of inculturation, especially in the liturgical rites, vocabulary and forms of musical and physical expression typical of African-Brazilian culture. It is well-known that the interaction of Christianity with African customs and traditions has given the vocabulary, syntax and prosody of the Portuguese language that is spoken in Brazil its special character. The presence of the African element in the Baroque sacred art of the colonial period, which has left such beautiful architectural monuments and religious sculptures and has integrated sacred and profane music into the feasts observed by popular piety, has clearly marked the authentic cultural expressions of this multi-racial society that is Brazil.

It is evident, then, that we would be moving away from the specific goal of evangelization if we were to stress one of these formative elements of Brazilian culture, or if we were to isolate it from the interactive process that is so enriching, in a way that would make it necessary to create a new liturgy for Brazilians of African descent. It would be inconceivable to give the rite an external presentation and structure - with regard to the priest's vestments, language, music, ceremonies and liturgical objects - based on the so-called African-Brazilian rites, without the rigorous application of a serious and profound discernment about their compatibility with the revealed Truth of Jesus Christ. It is necessary to maintain, for example, an adequate and prudent vigilance over certain rites that inspire the comparison of the august mystery of the Trinity with the pantheon of the spirits and deities of the African forms of worship, because one would run the risk of modifying the sacramental formulas in their Trinitarian structure. Moreover, one should identify and aptly correct the introduction into the sacramental rite of rites, music and objects that explicitly belong to the world of African-Brazilian worship.

The Catholic Church looks at these forms of worship with interest but considers harmful the concrete relativism of practising both, or of a fusion between both as if they held equal value, thereby endangering the identity of the Catholic faith. She feels it is her duty to assert that syncretism is harmful when it jeopardizes the truth of the Christian rite and the expression of the faith to the detriment of a genuine evangelization.

The task of adaptation and inculturation is important for the future of liturgical renewal. The Conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy established norms for it (nn. 37-40) while the "Instruction on the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation" deepened this topic and clarified the procedures that must be followed by the Bishops' Conferences, in the light of canon law, after the liturgical reform (cf. The Roman Liturgy and Inculturation, Varietates legitimae, nn. 62 and 65-68).

8. In your evangelizing activity, a sector that deserves your full attention as Pastors is that of the indigenous communities. Last year, your Bishops' Conference proposed as the theme for the Fraternity Campaign: "Brotherhood and the Indigenous Peoples". I am delighted to know that the diocesan pastoral activity of several particular Churches is making a crucial contribution to ensuring that indigenous communities become more conscious of their own identity, the values of their cultures and of their rightful place in the Brazilian population as a whole.

The celebration of the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of Brazil also provided an opportunity to renew your dedication to the evangelization of the country's indigenous communities. The Gospel must continue to enter into the indigenous cultures and enable them to express themselves in community life, faith and liturgy. I take the occasion to reaffirm that a Church that is alive and united with her Pastors will be the best defence for undoing the disintegrating activities of certain sects that are rampant among your faithful, sowing confusion and distorting the content of the Christian message.

9. At the end of this meeting, I would like to repeat once again, dear Brothers, my gratitude for the efforts you have made in many areas of pastoral activity, for the spirit with which you guide the people of God, for your firm will to serve men and women through the proclamation of the Gospel that saves all who believe in Jesus Christ (cf. Rom Rm 1,16). As I encourage you to continue in your mission with renewed fervour, I ask you to take my affectionate greeting and blessing to your priests, your men and women religious and your faithful, and particularly to the sick, the elderly, and those who are suffering, for whatever reason, who always have a special place in the Pope's heart.

May Nossa Senhora Aparecida intercede with the Lord for the holiness of all the faithful of Brazil, for the prosperity of the nation and for the well-being of each of its families! With these ardent wishes, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.



Friday, 24 January 2003

Your Eminences,
Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to welcome you as participants in the Day of Study organized by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts on the "Twenty Years of Canonical Experience" that have gone by since 25 January 1983, when I had the joy of promulgating the Code of Canon Law. I warmly thank the President of the Pontifical Council, Archbishop Julián Herranz, for the sentiments expressed on your behalf and for the clear presentation of the programme of the Symposium.

The fact that the date of the promulgation of the new Code of Canon Law and that of the announcement of the Council coincide - both events took place on 25 January - prompts me to stress once more the close bond existing between the Council and the new Code. In fact, we should not forget that Blessed John XXIII, in announcing his decision to call the Second Vatican Council, also revealed that he intended to launch a reform of canonical discipline. With this in mind, I underlined in the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges, that the Council and the new Code both come "from one and the same intention which is that of renewing Christian life. From such an intention, in fact, the entire work of the Council drew its norm and direction" (AAS, 75, 1983, II, p. VIII).

In these twenty years, one has been able to discern how much the Church needed the new Code. Happily, the voices opposing Church law have more or less disappeared. However, it would be ingenuous not to admit how much remains to be done in the present historical circumstances to consolidate a true juridical-canonical culture and an ecclesial practice that respects the intrinsic pastoral dimension of the laws of the Church.

2. The intention that presided over the redaction of the new Code of Canon Law was obviously that of putting at the disposition of pastors and all the faithful a clear normative instrument that would contain all the essential aspects of the juridical order. Therefore, it would be completely simplistic and misleading to view the law of the Church as a mere collection of legislative texts, according to the position of juridical positivism. In fact, the canonical norms refer to a reality that transcends them; such a reality is not just composed of historical and contingent data, but also includes essential and permanent elements in which divine law is made concrete.

The new Code of Canon Law - and this criterion applies also to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches - should be interpreted and applied in this theological perspective. In this way, one can avoid a hermeneutical reductionism that impoverishes canonical science and practice, removing them from their true ecclesial dimension. As is obvious, that happens, above all, when canonical norms are put at the service of interests that are extraneous to Catholic faith and morals.

3. For this reason, first of all, the Code has to be contextualized in the juridical tradition of the Church. This calls not so much for cultivating an abstract historical erudition, but of penetrating the flow of ecclesial life that is the history of canon law, in order to draw light for the interpretation of the norms. In fact, the canons are inserted into a body of juridical sources, that cannot be ignored without exposing the rationalist illusion of an exhaustive norm for every concrete juridical problem. An abstract mentality of that sort will turn out to be fruitless, above all, because it does not take into account the real problems and pastoral objectives that are at the base of the canonical norms.

A more dangerous reductionism is that which claims to interpret and apply the laws of the Church in a manner that is detached from the teaching of the Magisterium. According to this view, Only formal legislative acts and not doctrinal pronouncements would have disciplinary value. It is obvious, that those operating from this reductionist perspective could sometimes come up with two different solutions to the same ecclesial problem: one drawn from the texts of the Magisterium, and the other drawn from canonical texts. At the root of such a conception is an impoverished idea of canon law that identifies it only with the positive dictate of the norm. This is not right: in fact, since the juridical dimension, being theologically intrinsic to the ecclesial reality, can be the object of magisterial, even definitive, teaching.

This realistic conception of law establishes a genuine interdisciplinary relationship involving canonical scholarship and the other sacred sciences. A truly profitable dialogue must start with the common reality that is the very life of the Church. Even though it can be studied from many angles in the different scientific disciplines, the ecclesial reality remains the same and, as such, can allow for a reciprocal exchange among the disciplines that will surely be helpful to each.

4. One of the more important new features of the Code of Canon Law and of the more recent Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches is the set of norms that both texts contain on the duties and rights of all the faithful (cf. CIC, cann. 208-223; CCEO, cann. 7-20). In reality, the reference of the canonical norm to the mystery of the Church, as desired by Vatican II (cf. Decree Optatam totius OT 16), must also take into account the rights and duties of the individual person, while obviously keeping in mind the common good of ecclesial society.

It is this personalist dimension of Conciliar ecclesiology that allows us to understand better the special and irreplaceable service that the ecclesiastical hierarchy must offer for the recognition and protection of the rights of individuals and communities in the Church. Neither in theory nor in practice can one prescind from the exercise of the power of governance and, more generally, from the entire hierarchical office of governing (munus regendi), as the way to declare, determine, guarantee and promote justice within the Church.

All the usual instruments by which the power of governance is exercised - laws, administrative acts, processes, canonical sanctions - acquire in that way their real meaning: genuine pastoral service in favour of the persons and communities that belong to the Church. Sometimes, such service can be misunderstood or opposed: it is precisely at that time that it is more necessary to avoid making, under the pretext of pastoral need, decisions that can cause or even unconsciously favour true injustices.

5. Conscious of the importance of the contribution that you as canonists make for the good of the Church and of souls, I urge you to persevere with renewed zeal in your dedication to study and to the canonical instruction of the new generations. In that way you will make an important contribution on the part of the Church to that peace, that is the work of justice (cf. Is Is 32,17), for which I have asked you to pray in this special Year of the Rosary (cf. Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, nn. 6 and 40).

With these best wishes, and with affection, I impart my Blessing.

Speeches 2003