Speeches 2002 - Monday, 2 September 2002




To My Venerable Brother Cardinal Roger Etchegaray
President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
Your Eminence,

1. I wish to convey my greeting to you and I ask you to convey my cordial greeting to the distinguished participants in the 16th International Meeting of Prayer for Peace held in Palermo on the topic "Religions and Culture Between Conflict and Dialogue".

I greet the Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, the beloved Churches of Sicily and their Pastors. I am sure that these days of reflection and prayer will help the people of Sicily, with greater consciousness, to make of their island a land of welcome and solidarity, of coexistence and peace. Indeed the vocation of Sicily is to be a place of meeting, at the heart of the Mediterranean, between North and South, between East and West.

2. The impending meeting at Palermo takes me in thought to the meeting of Assisi on 27 October 1986, when, for the first time, I invited the representatives of Churches, Christian communities and of the world religions to pray for peace, beside one another. Dear Cardinal, you were one of the chief promoters of that memorable day, which marked the beginning of a new way of meeting between the believers of the various religions, not with mutual opposition and even less with mutual contempt, but in the search for a constructive dialogue in which, without falling into relativism or syncretism, each one is open to the others with esteem, since all are conscious that God is the source of peace.

Since then, prolonging the "spirit of Assisi", you have organized these meetings of prayer and mutual reflection and I thank the Community of Sant'Egidio for the courage and daring with which it has recaptured the "spirit of Assisi" year after year to make its strength felt in a number of cities of the world. Thanks be to God, there are some cases in which the "spirit of Assisi" that fosters dialogue and mutual understanding has brought about results of concrete reconciliation. We are then invited to support it and spread it, by travelling the path of justice, relying on the help of God who knows how to open ways of peace where human beings do not succeed.

Nowadays, it is even more necessary to live this spirit. This is the reason why last January I wished to return to Assisi, along with the representatives of the Christian Churches and the world religions after the tragic events of last 11 September. In Assisi, which become a meeting place of peace between peoples, I said that it was necessary "to scatter the shadows of suspicion and misunderstanding.... The shadows will not be dissipated with weapons; darkness is dispelled by sending out bright beams of light" (Address in Assisi, 24 January 2002; ORE, 30 January, p. 6).

3. In Palermo on the first of September, these lamps will be lighted again to shed their rays of light on the entire Mediterranean, an area of ancient coexistence among different religions and cultures, but also the scene of misunderstanding and bloody conflicts. I refer particularly to the Holy Land, immersed in what seems to be a spiral of unstoppable violence.

How many peoples are oppressed not just by painful conflict, but also by hunger and poverty, especially in Africa, the continent that seems to incarnate the existing imbalance between the North and the South of the planet. May a new appeal go forth from Palermo, to urge everyone to become responsibly involved in seeking justice and genuine solidarity.

4. The topic of the Congress offers the possibility to make a global analysis of the situation of the planet and to evaluate which steps we have to take together.

"On what foundations must we build the new historical era that is emerging from the great transformations of the 20th century?". This question is a challenge to our religious traditions and our cultures. I asked the young people gathered in Toronto for the recent World Youth Day: "Is it enough to rely on the technological revolution now taking place, which seems to respond only to the criteria of productivity and efficiency, without reference to the individual's spiritual dimension or to any universally shared ethical values?" (Address at the Vigil, 27 July 2002; ORE, 31 July, p. 7).
The urgency of the moment reminds humanity that only in the Face of God can we find the reason for our existence and the root of our hope. May the meeting in Palermo enhance this general consciousness and contribute to building a freer and more fraternal world.

I assure you of my spiritual participation and I cordially invoke from God every blessing on the work of the meeting and on all its participants.

From Castel Gandolfo, 29 August 2002.





To Reverend Fr Aldo Sarotto
Superior General of the Priests of St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo

1. One hundred and seventy-five years have passed since that 2 September 1827 when St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, called to the bedside of a young mother of three children who had been refused admittance by the city's hospitals, was inspired to found an institution in Turin for the poorest and marginalized. Five years later, on 27 April 1832, he opened the Little House of Divine Providence, called by popular wisdom "the citadel of the miracle". The holy founder said that here sick people would be cared for who would "otherwise have died neglected, such as those in a condition of ill health whom no respectable hospital would admit", as well as "other categories of poor and abandoned persons", so that they would be able to set out "on the path of work and health". Each one would be assured of having "a room of holy education", that is, the possibility to live a committed and devout Christian existence.

Ten years later, on 30 April 1842, Cottolengo died. He was only 56. In that decade of tireless apostolic fervour, he had opened the doors to every kind of needy person and founded communities of sisters, of religious lay brothers and of priests, and several monasteries of contemplative life.

As time passed, the seed of the Little House grew into a flourishing tree of charity that continues to produce abundant fruits of good. Whereas the various branches of this religious family were approved separately by the Holy See, they work together under the guidance of the Father of the Little House, the founder's successor. In the past 40 years, more and more volunteers have offered their collaboration, and a numerous group of lay people recently founded the Association of the "Friends of Cottolengo".

The happy event of the 175th anniversary this year, 2002, offers a providential opportunity to thank the Lord for the growth and development of the Little House, which is currently extending its radius of action beyond its original centre in Turin, opening its arms wide to the poor of other cities and nations, from Kenya to the United States, Switzerland, India, Ecuador and, since last year, also Tanzania. The fire kindled by Cottolengo still burns in many regions of the earth.

2. "The love of Christ urges us" (II Cor 5,14), he used to like to repeat, knowing that every form of social assistance must be inspired by the Gospel passage on the last judgement (Mt 25,31-40) and by Jesus' exhortation to abandon oneself with confidence to heavenly Providence (cf. Mt Mt 6,25-34).

This conviction emerged clearly, for example, in the foundation of the house for the mentally disabled, whom he called "buoni figli" (good sons) and "buone figlie" (good daughters). Christian charity, illumined by faith, was telling him: "What you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me".

What a rich and important charismatic legacy Cottolengo bequeathed to his spiritual sons and daughters! They must jealously guard this patrimony, indeed, they must courageously actualize and renew it, mindful of the challenges emerging in our time. It is an ecclesial service that reaches out to the poorest and lowliest; a service nourished by constant trust in divine Providence. At a time when life is often misunderstood and even despised, when selfishness, private interests and personal profit seem to be the prevalent criteria to go by, when the gap between poor and rich in the world is dangerously widening and it is especially the lowly, the feeblest and the weakest who pay the cost, it is urgently necessary to proclaim and witness to the Gospel of charity and solidarity. Charity is a precious treasure of the Church who, through her charitable works, speaks even to the hardest and seemingly most insensitive of hearts.

3. Of course, in comparison to the time when the Little House opened, a great many situations have changed. The general standard of living has improved and more attention and respect are paid to human dignity, as is apparent from the legislation for social assistance.

In Church circles today, the consecrated life encounters unheard of challenges, after going through a disturbing vocations crisis in the recent past which did not even spare the Cottolengo institutes.

The role of the laity has developed, and volunteers have become a high quality resource for running many forms of social assistence.

Along these lines, Joseph Cottolengo's charismatic intuition, expressed well in the motto of the Little House, appears more timely than ever. Now, as then, St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo recalls that service to the brothers and sisters must stem from a constant, deep contact with God. Secular responses are not enough for people in difficulty, and those who help them must not be content only with satisfying their legitimate material demands. They keep to the fore the salvation of souls, ever seeking God's glory, ready to do his will, confidently abandoning themselves to his mysterious saving plans. In a word, it is necessary to seek holiness: "in relation to which all pastoral initiatives must be set" (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte NM 30).

The spiritual sons and daughters of Cottolengo should tend to this "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (ibid., n. 31), endeavouring as far as possible, as the saint recommended, to keep their minds and hearts filled with God and things that have to do with the salvation of souls. The practice of love should be like a single fire that burns with two flames, one that leaps up towards the Lord, and the other to the poor person, because, the saint observed, "zeal for the glory of God and for the benefit of the sick should never be separated".

4. "Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, make us saints!". May this favourite aspiration of the founder be a reminder to members of the Cottolengo family to tend toward holiness, the most important prophetic witness that the Little House of Divine Providence can offer to humanity in the third millennium.

Here I repeat what I had the opportunity to say on 13 April 1980, when I visited your Institute in Turin, a true citadel of suffering and piety: "If your effort should to lack this supernatural dimension, the Cottolengo [institution] would cease to exist" (ORE, 28 April 1980, n. 4, p. 5).

In order to live this high ascetic and apostolic ideal, Cottolengo founded three institutes which, despite the diversity of their canonical condition, offer a single, effective witness, acting as a unit in the context of the Little House. I hope they will pursue their way together, faithful to the fundamental charitable and pastoral choices he made, wisely and with foresight, involving lay and especially young people in their work. May they be untiring in their service to the lowliest, but at the same time, never forget that "prayer is our first and most important task", as the Founder said, "because prayer makes the Little House live". In this respect, how providential was his insight in founding, at the end of his earthly pilgrimage, monasteries of contemplative life! While certain brothers and sisters are responsible for service to the poorest by night and by day, others burn in silence before God, melting like candles in contemplation and in prayer.

What an extraordinary example of that harmonious synthesis between action and prayer which must distinguish every Christian's life!

May the heavenly Mother of God and St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo help your communities firmly to preserve this charismatic intuition of your origin. For my part, I accompany you with deep affection, as I bless you together with the residents in the various houses, their families and those who generously support this most providential institution that was born from the heart of a great apostle of charity of the 19th century.

From Castel Gandolfo, 26 August 2002.





To the Most Reverend Vincenzo Paglia
Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia
President of the Catholic Biblical Federation

On the occasion of the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation taking place in Beirut on 3 - 12 September 2002, the theme of which is "You show me the ways of life" (Ps 16,11 cf. Acts Ac 2,28), I extend warm greetings to the Delegates and Participants and assure them of my closeness in prayer during these days of work and reflection.

From East and West, from North and South you have gathered together to share your experiences and renew your commitment to the Biblical Apostolate under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the conviction that the Word of God, the true source of life, is a blessing for all the nations. The very venue of your meeting is particularly significant: Lebanon is one of the lands of the Bible from which the Word, the fulfilment of the promise of blessing for all peoples, set out on its journey throughout a diversified and pluralistic world.

Trusting in the force and power of the Word of God, the Catholic Bible Federation is given the great responsibility — one belonging to the whole Church — of making the Divine Word accessible to people in all parts of the world so that it can take root and thrive in their hearts. Indeed, "the Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as she venerated the Body of the Lord . . . She has always regarded, and continues to regard the Scriptures, taken together with Sacred Tradition, as the supreme rule of her faith" (Dei Verbum DV 21).

Your commitment to bringing about a renewed listening to the Word of God, which is a necessary element of the new evangelization, also reinforces the bonds of unity that already exist among all Christians. In the ecumenical dialogue itself the sacred Word is "a precious instrument in the mighty hand of God for attaining to that unity which the Saviour holds out to all human beings" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 22).

It is my prayer that the Sixth Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation will provide you with a fruitful opportunity to evaluate what has been achieved so far and to determine what needs yet to be done to proclaim the Word of God in a world longing for truth.

May the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of our mission, who teaches the Church, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes it possible for all to accept and believe the divine truth, guide your work during these days.

In the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, I extend to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

From Castel Gandolfo, 30 August 2002




Thursday, 5 September 2002

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. In this high-point of your episcopal ministry, the visit ad limina, I am delighted to welcome you who exercise your pastoral mission in the Church in the Eastern Region of Brazil, in which are located the dioceses of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the "Union of S. João Maria Vianney", that I wished to establish in Campos as a Personal Apostolic Administration. You have come together at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to increase in your hearts the apostolic zeal that motivated and led them here as witnesses to the Gospel of Christ, thereby accepting to offer the total gift of themselves. Meeting the Bishop of Rome and his collaborators, you also wish to manifest your communion with the Successor of Peter and with the universal Church. May the Lord bless this initiative and support you in your service to the people who are entrusted to your care.
In thanking Cardinal Eugênio Sales for the words he used to express your sentiments of affection and devotion to me, I want to greet all of you who are present and, through you, I greet the priests, men and women religious, catechists and zealous laity of your dioceses. May the Lord grant them strength and boldness in every way to be faithful witnesses of the love of God.

2. The Archdioceses of Niterói and Rio de Janeiro have both rich and dynamic histories. In the latter, from the dawn of the history of Brazil, stretching from when my venerable Predecessor Pope Gregory XIII on 19 July 1575 created the Prelature of São Sebastião until today, the Catholic Church has promoted many pastoral initiatives thanks to the generous dedication of such eminent pastors as Cardinals Arcoverde, Sebastião Leme, Jaime de Barros Câmara and Eugênio Sales, to name a few. The See of Peter wishes to pay homage to all those who as Prelates, Bishops and Archbishops of both Archdioceses, have served the cause of the Kingdom of God among the people of this great nation, making the seeds of the Word grow to become a rich fertile tree (cf. Mt Mt 13,31-32). In line with this tradition, I express the wish that this region continue to excercise a positive influence on the whole Church in Brazil, promoting an intense spirit of communion with the national Episcopate and with the Holy See. This is a wonderful occasion to extend my best wishes to the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Archbishop Eusébio Oscar Scheid, who is beginning his mission as new Pastor of the Archdiocese.

3. As I extend these best wishes, I want to offer a few considerations on the absolute priority of the role of seminaries in the formation of the future priests of Brazil for a renewed and missionary pastoral ministry.

I distinctly recall the famous meeting of 1992 with the Episcopate of South America in Santo Domingo. On that occasion, the themes on the agenda embraced circumstances and ecclesial situations that went beyond the strict limits of one or even several nations. I envisaged the meeting as the necessary place to deal with these themes. On that occasion I said that "an indispensable condition of the new evangelization is its being able to count on many qualified evangelists.

Therefore, the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as well as for other types of pastoral service, must be a priority for the bishops and a commitment involving the whole People of God" (Inaugural Discourse, n. 26; ORE 21 October 1992, n. 26, p. 9).

Almost 10 years have gone by and there is no doubt that a great deal has been done along these lines, especially in your country, where the population has grown with increasing speed and the obligation of drawing up new ecclesial boundaries has struggled to keep pace with such expansion.

While we ponder the immensity of Brazil and the scarcity of priests, your immediate collaborators in the prophetic, priestly and kingly ministry, I desire to share with you, as the one who is to confirm the faith of his brothers, this problem of the universal Church. Our sentiments must be those of the Lord who "seeing the crowds felt compassion for them" and said: "The harvest is great but the labourers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,37-38). By means of prayer, human weakness is transformed into divine power because we can do all things in him who strengthens us (cf. Ph 4,13).

With the power of God and with the wise use of human resources we will discover the secret of obtaining good results. They are wise pastors who combine their resources either by means of diocesan seminaries open to seminarians from other dioceses or by means of interdiocesan seminaries, provided they follow an orientation based on a clear and avowed communion with the norms of the universal Church. They are wise pastors who do not hesitate to put into the formation of priests their best "cultivators" who are intellectually, spiritually and pastorally prepared so that they, in adequate number, might constitute the group giving formation that the Church needs in each seminary. While trying to increase the number of vocations, in the light of the immensity of the harvest, it is a wise policy to reinforce the centres of formation and praiseworthy prudence for the bishops to foster the quality of formation.

4. Doubtless, it has been a constant concern of this Apostolic See, along with the the Pastors and the National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil, to face the need to create or revive seminaries in a number of the ecclesiastical provinces. In fact, it is in the Northeast region of the country that one finds concentrated the greatest efforts in this regard due to the precarious economic situation of the area and the resulting hardship for the Bishops to ensure the adequate and efficient operation of their seminaries. In this situation, the commitment to making the structural resources, however minimal, available for the recruitment, selection and formation of the priestly vocations that are urgently needed is certainly to be praised. For this reason I have followed the development of what could very well be a true "campaign" in favour of the Seminary in Brazil.

5. In reality, this problem is not totally absent in those regions where the best formational and material structures exist. As I have said before, it is not enough to reinforce the centres of formation, if one does not also insist on the ecclesial spirit that must permeate the seminary and on the quality of the teaching. The generosity and good will of all, and the living resources of the diocese, can more than compensate for the lack of material means; for this reason, I ask God that he reward all those who give themselves and never spare themselves when it comes to helping the seminaries, that will always operate with an operational deficit.

At this point it is good to turn the eyes of faith to examine the state of priestly vocations. On the one hand, we are facing the comforting reality of an increase in the quantity and quality of priestly vocations. There are many valid new experiences such as vocation days, vocation discernment programmes and assistance offered to potential candidates even before they enter the seminary and many others. There is the consoling phenomenon of an increase of vocations in the dioceses whose seminaries seek to follow faithfully the direction of the Second Vatican Council, of the Holy See and particularly, and in the application of the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis, that insists on the development of the human-affective dimension, as well as the spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. The Basic Directives of the CNBB (n. 55) have furnished valid guidance for this purpose.
On the other hand, however, the impact of the modern world, with its secular and hedonist tendencies, effecting young people, above all, will have to be faced with greater decisiveness in order to renew and cultivate in those who have a vocation the profound love of Christ and of his Kingdom. It is fundamental to offer a solid formation in the life of prayer and of the Liturgy, through which the Church participates even now in the liturgy of the Glory of heaven.

For this reason, fidelity to the doctrine of priestly celibacy for the Kingdom of heaven must be treated with great esteem by the Church, above all in the context of priestly life (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis PO 16) when one deals with discerning in candidates for the priesthood the call to a full and unconditional gift of self. It is necessary to remind them that celibacy is not an extrinsic and useless element - a superstructure - of their priesthood, but an intimate means for participating in the dignity of Christ and in serving the new humanity that originates in and through him and that he leads to fullness.

It is my duty therefore to recommend a renewed attentiveness in the selection of vocations for the seminary, with the use of all available means for coming to an adequate knowledge of the candidates, above all, from the moral and affective point of view. Let no bishop feel excluded from this duty of conscience for which he will have to render an account directly to God. It would be deplorable that, by a mistaken act of tolerance, he would ordain young men who are immature or exhibit clear signs of affective disorders, who, as is sadly known, could cause serious confusion in the consciousness of the faithful with obvious harm for the whole Church.

The existence in some theological faculties, or even in seminaries, of professors who are poorly prepared, who also live in dissent from the Church creates great sadness and concern. We trust in the mercy of God who guides the consciences of generous young men, but it is not acceptable for young men in formation to be exposed to deviations in formation personnel and professors who are not in explicit ecclesial communion or who give no obvious witness to the quest for holiness. Even Apostolic Visitations to the seminaries will have no real lasting effect unless the bishops proceed decisively to introduce immediately the changes requested by the Visitor. It is also fitting that the bishops who send seminarians into the seminaries of another diocese or province should know well the spirit of the seminary and support it entirely.

6. It is not superflous to repeat that by means of "theology, the future priest assents to the word of God, grows in his spiritual life and prepares himself to fulfil his pastoral ministry" (Pastores dabo vobis PDV 51). Hence we perceive the importance of maintaining a careful and vigilant guidance of the whole life of the seminarians, but especially in their theological studies, because it is the duty of the bishop to safeguard the sound doctrine taught in the seminary.

Along with Christology, ecclesiology is today in particular the cornerstone of the sound formation of candidates for the priesthood. The study and teaching of theology entail requirements that flow from its very nature; without a doubt, one of these is that theology in the Church must maintain its own identity that does not depend intrinsically upon the historical moment through which we are now passing.

The certainly legitimate and necessary endeavours to bring together the Christian message and the mentality and sensitivity of the modern person, to expound the truth of faith with instruments borrowed from modern philosophy and the positive sciences, and taking as a starting point the contemporary situation of the person and of society, could if not carefully checked out, threaten the very nature of theology and even the content of faith. It is necessary that reason, under the movement of the Word of God and of its greater depth of knowledge, be guided to avoid "the paths which would lead it to stray from revealed truth" (Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio, n. 73).

In some parts of the world, and it seems even in Brazil, in certain faculties or institutes of theology, a mutilated vision of the Church, shaped by certain prevailing ideologies, was defended, forgetting the essential element: that the Church is the participation in the mystery of the incarnate Christ. This is why it is important to insist that theology preserve in the Church its own identity.

It seems, therefore, that the principle expressed in the Conciliar assembly was truly prophetic, namely, that the mystery of Christ and the history of salvation must be the point of convergence of the various theological disciplines (cf. Decree Optatam totius OT 16). The subject of the Church, as divine mystery, is not only the essence of the first chapter of Lumen gentium, but it permeates the entire document. The bishops should adopt an attitude of vigilance so that the teaching of theology not be reduced to a human vision of the Church in the world.

That does not prevent one from confirming the pastoral objective of theological studies so that "every program of instruction, whether spiritual, intellectual, or disciplinary, should be joined with practical implementation and directed toward the aforementioned pastoral goal. In loyal obedience to the authority of the bishop, let all directors and teachers energetically and harmoniously bend their efforts to the pursuit of this objective" (Optatam totius OT 4).

In the final analysis, this takes us to the formal element that is at the heart of theology, i.e. its missionary nature (missionarietà). The Council was very explicit about this when, in the Decree Ad gentes on missionary activity, it exhorted the professors of seminaries and universities to bring out in an explicit way in the dogmatic, biblical, moral and historical disciplines "the missionary aspects contained therein. In this way a missionary awareness can be formed in future priests" (n. 39). The adequate formation of seminarians will bring great benefits to the Church both in her work of evangelization and in the work of genuine human advancement.

7. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of our meeting, I address myself again to your beloved country, and, in particular, I invite the sons and daughters of your region of the State of Rio and its capital, each one with his/her own responsibility, to be devoted to building the Kingdom of God in this world.

At this beginning of the millennium, I hope for all a time of grace that signals a second spring of Christian life and allows everyone to respond boldly to the call of the Spirit. I entrust to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, your ministry and the life of your ecclesial communities, so that she may guide your steps towards her Son, Jesus. Most happily, I impart to you the Apostolic Blessing which I extend to your priests and seminarians, men and women religious, catechists and all the diocesan laity.



Thursday, 5 September 2002

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive from you the Letters with which the President of the Republic accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Slovenia to the Holy See. As I offer you my cordial welcome, I also express deep gratitude for the courteous greeting and good wishes that the President, Mr Milan Kucan, has addressed to me through you.

I warmly recall the two visits that Divine Providence has granted me to make to Slovenia. The meetings I have had at the Vatican with the President of the Republic and other Government officials and my visits have helped to reinforce the dialogue that has existed for centuries between the Slovenian people and the Apostolic See.

The Holy See appreciates your country's action for peace and cooperation among the nations and regards positively the effort being made to enter the European Union as a full member. Slovenia's independence allowed its European soul to emerge along with the role it carries out as a peaceful and fruitful meeting place of the different peoples of the continent.

Dialogue with other cultures is rich and fruitful to the extent that it is sincere and respectful. While the Slovenian nation is open to meeting and confronting different traditions, ways of being and guiding values, it firmly intends to preserve its own identity of which it is justifiably proud. The Slovenian people know that if this heritage, passed down to them by their forefathers, is impoverished, the nation could be disoriented as it faces the globalization process that is the hallmark of our time.

The Christian heritage, which for centuries has been the foundation of civic life in your country and is still a source of energy for it, is a valid contribution to offer to the consolidation of a civilization in Europe that fosters mutual understanding among peoples. For this reason, the vocation to act as a bridge between different cultures, fostering a useful exchange between them has the full support and encouragement of the Holy See.

2. At the time when many are making an effort to build "the common house of Europe" with legislative tools that aim at promoting unity and solidarity among the peoples of the continent, one must pay attention to the values on which it is based. Some of these values constitute the patrimony of European humanism and continue to ensure its propagation in the history of civilization. It is an undeniable fact that the 2,000-year tradition of Judaeo-Christian origin was able to harmonize, consolidate and promote the basic principles of European civilization that took root in a variety of cultures. It can continue to provide a valuable ethical frame of reference for European peoples.

The Holy See very much hopes that, in the future as well, the identity and role of the Church will be protected since she has always in many ways carried out what has proved to be a crucial role in teaching the fundamental principles of civic coexistence, in offering answers to basic questions about the meaning of life, in protecting and promoting the culture and identity of the different peoples.

Speeches 2002 - Monday, 2 September 2002