Speeches 2002 - Tuesday, 26 November 2002



Friday, 29 November 2002

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Academic Authorities,
Dear Students,

1. With great joy I welcome you today on the occasion of the solemn celebration of the 375th anniversary of the Urban College, and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Pontifical Urban University. I greet Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe and thank him for his cordial address on your behalf.

I greet the Magnificent Rector of the University, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the Academic Authorities, the professors, the participants in the International Congress, and the students of the college and university, who bring to our meeting their warm enthusiasm.

2. My memorable predecessor, Bl. John XXIII, on the very threshold of the Second Vatican Council, bestowed the title of "university" on the Urban College. In recent years, multitudes of young people - seminarians, priests, religious and lay people - have received a spiritual and cultural formation which has enabled them to be ready to live their faith in a solid way, bearing witness even in situations of hardship. Some of them have certainly joined the ranks of the "witnesses of the faith", who died during the last century, and whom we commemorated in the moving prayer at the Colosseum during the Jubilee Year.

Founded as a college by Pope Urban VIII with the Bull Immortalis Dei Filius, your university, which took his name, from its inception, has had a missionary goal. The concern of Pope Urban was justly that of emancipating the Church from the colonial powers. Indeed, the Church had to guarantee the freedom of evangelization in the recently discovered lands, and in countries, such as China, where Christianity had been proclaimed in the distant past.

3. If those were difficult times, we cannot say that our own are easy. Certainly, you know it very well who come from areas where war, disease, and poverty mow down multitudes of victims every day. More necessary than ever before is an academic institution like yours that knows how to pass on philosophical, theological, historical and juridical knowledge within the cultures of peoples who are so widely different.

As I had the occasion to say during my first visit of 1980, your university expresses the universal character that is typical of the Catholic Church. Whoever studies here must bring with him a sensitivity that is open to the values of other cultures, comparing them with the evangelical message.

Today 90 institutes all over the world are affiliated with your university, testifying in this way to the truly "catholic" openness that defines it. I want to send them a special greeting: Always cultivate in your hearts and in your academic research this universal character, so valuable in our divided world that so much exalts the special feature of an individual, group, race or nation, sometimes, to the point of injuring the obligation of solidarity.

Violence, terrorism, and war only build new walls between peoples. Your university is a training ground of universality, in which it must be possible to breathe that sense of profound communion that defined the early Christian community (cf. Acts Ac 4,32).

4. Last year, we solemnly observed in common the 10th anniversary of the Encyclical Redemptoris missio. This document should be a programme of study and of life. In it I spoke of the mission that is still just beginning after 2,000 years of Christian life (n. 30). The mission is an obligation that continues today: this is the spirit that should animate your spiritual and academic life.

Today in a special way, this spirit must include the developing careful study of the cultures of the peoples of the world and of the great world religions. Without ceasing to affirm the force of the evangelical message, today in our divided world, it is an important role for Christians to be persons of dialogue who oppose the clash of civilizations that sometimes seems inevitable.

For this reason, looking toward the future, my wish would be that the Urban University be distinguished among the Roman universities for the special attention it shows to the cultures of the peoples and the great world religions, starting with Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, and, consequently, would carefully examine the problem of interreligious dialogue with its theological, Christological and ecclesiological implications. I know already that you are intensely engaged in this area of research, collaborating with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in the spirit of the Encyclical Redemptoris missio.

5. Finally, I urge you not to forget that the goal of the Urban College, from whom you were born as a university, is the integral formation of its students. The Church of the third millennium needs priests, religious and laity who are holy and learned. "It is not a matter of inventing a "new programme'" as I wrote in Novo Millennio ineunte: "the programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem" (n. 29).

This plan applies to all, and also to you, teachers and students of the Pontifical Urban University, the Urban College and the colleges that depend on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. May the Lord be the heart of your study and of your lives, so that you will be impelled by that love for the Gospel which took the earliest witnesses to the far ends of the earth.

As I wish you an abundantly fruitful Jubilee Year for you and all who are close to you with their friendship and support, I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, and cordially bless you all.




Saturday, 30 November 2002

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am happy to receive the Letters of Credence with which you are accredited as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the Holy See.

As I offer you a cordial welcome, through you I would also like to convey my deferential greeting to the authorities of the country you are called to represent to this Apostolic See.

I willingly take this opportunity to confirm my constant closeness to the beloved peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who not only have had to endure a political system based on an ideology opposed to the values engraved in the human spirit, but also a long and painful war. For this reason I wanted to go personally to Sarajevo. On 12 and 13 April 1997, Providence granted me the opportunity to make a Pastoral Visit to that city that has been so sorely tried, and to reassert the need "to ensure that respect be shown for all individuals and their rights, without distinction of nationality or religion" (Arrival address, Sarajevo, 12 April 1997, n. 1; ORE 16 April 1997, p. 2).

2. Thanks be to God, the commitment of people of good will led to the Washington and Dayton Peace Accords, that lay a foundation for the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All this ensured that arms are now silent. However, it is necessary with great diligence to build and make lasting peace in justice, solving the problems connected with the country's future. These include the issue of the refugees and exiles who are waiting to be able to return home and an economic recovery that will restore serenity and confidence to each of the peoples.

Concrete programmes are needed that start with the person and respect for his dignity, that can offer him the possibility of working to gain a livelihood, that should foster dialogue and collaboration among the members of civil society with full respect for the identity of each one. Only in this way can a genuine democracy be established that is "the result of appreciating the cultural, social and religious aspects of the various members of the country, with respect for fairness, justice and truth" (Address to the Jubilee Pilgrimage from the Ecclesiastical Province of Vrhbosna, 30 March 2000, n. 3; ORE, 19 April 2000, p. 4).

Establishing democracy is a demanding task that requires morality, honesty, human sensitivity, wisdom, patience, respect for others, the readiness to make sacrifices every time the common good requires it and the determination to expound and not to impose one's own viewpoints and ideas.

The task becomes even more daunting in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country like Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is called to build its present and future on the solid underpinning of justice, respect for others, and collaboration and solidarity among all its members, while safeguarding the sound traditions of each one of its peoples.

3. To look with greater confidence to the future it is also indispensable to promote true reconciliation and sincere forgiveness. "The spiral of "guilt' and "reprisals' will never end, if at a certain point forgiveness is not reached" (Homily, Castelgandolfo, 8 September 1994, n. 6; ORE, 14 September 1994, p. 2). Yes! It is not easy to forgive, but it is urgent and necessary for the good of all.

It is true that one cannot erase from memory what happened in the past, but hearts can and must be freed from bearing grudges and planning revenge. The memory of [past] errors and injustices should be a strong lesson not to let either happen again, so as to avoid new and perhaps even greater tragedies.

The Church of Bosnia and Herzegovina is already involved and makes her contribution to reconciliation and forgiveness by faithfully proclaiming the Gospel. She asks only to be able to carry out her mission, staying close to the poor and those on the fringes of society and giving a voice to those without a voice in society.

In this spirit, the Church makes every effort to promote the formation of the new generations in schools that are open to anyone who wants access to compulsory education and beyond. I am sure that the representatives of state institutions will be able to appreciate the Church's contribution in this area and will not fail to expedite the development of her scholastic institutions for the good of the children and young people of all the ethnic groups and religions that exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

4. All must contribute to consolidating a society that rejects every temptation to favour the few to the detriment of the others; a society that is ready to guarantee an equality that is effective, attentive to respect for the rights, freedom and identity of each one, mindful of the local historical, social and cultural experiences; in a word, a society based on justice and peace.

Although the war ended almost seven years ago, no one has yet found concrete solutions to the tragedy of the many refugees and exiles who desire to return to their homes. I think in particular of the people waiting to be able to return to the areas of Banja Luka and Bosanska Posavina. These peoples and the refugees and exiles in other areas, are being denied the right to live peacefully on their native soil. Many are all too often forced to seek their fortune elsewhere.

These persons rightfully ask for guarantees of security and for the creation of acceptable political, social and economic conditions. They also ask for the return of their property, violently taken from them during the war.

5. The creation of an authentic atmosphere of peace is indispensable. "Peace", says the Second Vatican Council, "is more than the absence of war; it cannot be reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces" (Gaudium et spes GS 78). The Council also recalls that peace "is appropriately called "the effect of justice'", and that this requires "a firm determination to respect the dignity of other human beings and other peoples" (ibid.).

In practice this teaching entails the commitment to shun situations that might honour results obtained through violence that injures the defenceless. It also implies the willingness to shelter them and with appropriate political and economic interventions, at both the local and institutional levels, to correct the injustice committed. In this endeavour, "the possibility of unforeseen events must not discourage anyone, but only engage the wisdom of all in correcting and improving the plans already made" (Address to the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 11 September 1998, n. 3; ORE, 23 September 1998, p. 4).

6. Mr Ambassador, I warmly hope that the country you represent may find understanding and concrete support in all that concerns the healing of the wounds inflicted by the recent war and past political systems, which in the 20th century have caused vast tragedies in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in other Balkan countries. The countries of the old continent and the international community will be ready to offer the necessary help to support programmes that are set up to enable Bosnia and Herzegovina and the countries of the whole of South-Eastern Europe to enter the processes of European and global integration.

I am likewise certain that Bosnia and Herzegovina will be able to make their own contribution to building the "common house", open to all the peoples of our continent. In fact, no one has the right to exclude anyone, while all have the obligation to respect the other, regardless of whether it is a small or a large country.

7. Mr Ambassador, I noted with pleasure what you mentioned concerning the mutual relations between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Holy See and their development and deepening. As has happened so far, these relations will continue to benefit all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In carrying out the important mission entrusted to you, Your Excellency, like your predecessor, you will meet with complete readiness on the part of the Holy See to address issues of common interest.

May your term in Rome be satisfactory and may the Lord grant that your work be profitable and interesting.

I accompany these wishes with my prayers that God, the Father of all persons and peoples, with an abundance of his gifts may assist you, your collaborators, the state authorities and the beloved people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who are ever-present in my heart.




To His Holiness Bartholomew I
Archbishop of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarch

"May grace and peace come in abundance to you", who have been chosen "according to the design of God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ" (cf. 1P 1,2).

With these words the Apostle Peter greeted the Christians of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. I wish to address the same words of peaceful good wishes to you on this joyful occasion of the Feast of the Holy Patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Today, this wish grows into prayer. The Delegation led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who have come to visit you at my request, joins Your Holiness, the Holy Synod and the whole Church of Constantinople with common fervour to lift to God our Father the great Doxology in which the Eastern and Latin traditions come together in the commemoration of the Apostle Andrew, the Protoclete (the first to be called), the brother of Peter.

The brotherhood of the two Apostles Peter and Andrew, and the same unique vocation to which they were called as they pursued their daily labour (cf. Mk Mc 1,16-17), invites us day by day in concert to seek full communion so as to realize our common mission of reconciliation in God and the promotion of a genuine peaceful, Christian spirit in our world pervaded by tragic divisions and armed conflicts.

The fidelity to Christ of the two holy brothers, Peter and Andrew, leading to their supreme sacrifice of martyrdom, calls our communities, born from the preaching of the Apostles and founded on uninterrupted apostolic succession, to dedicate ourselves to resolving the difficulties that still prevent our concelebration of the Eucharist.

This same fidelity, which is rooted in the sacrifice of the martyr, is the model toward which we must constantly and whole-heartedly tend, that must guide our steps and dispose us humbly and fully to the sacrifice for the unity desired by the Lord.

Our contacts, our conversations and our experiences of collaboration are all oriented towards a single goal, unity, the essential condition indicated by Christ that should permeate the relations between his disciples. For her part, the Catholic Church is dedicated with conviction to this process with the will to promote every initiative that can favour the quest for full unity among all Christ's disciples. We consider that it would be helpful to establish forms of more frequent communication and regular exchanges with each other to make our relations more harmonious and to coordinate our joint efforts more effectively. In this regard, how can I fail to mention the concern, which I have so much at heart and which Your Holiness shares with me, to know how to start again our theological dialogue in a new phase after the uncertainties, difficulties and flounderings of the last decade?

These are the thoughts that occupy my mind and heart as we celebrate the Feast of St Andrew, the brother of Peter. I recall the icon which His Holiness Athenagoras I gave to His Holiness Paul VI as a souvenir of their first, joyful meeting in Jerusalem. It shows the two Apostles Peter and Andrew in a brotherly embrace and it is the symbol of the reality toward which we must tend: the embrace of our Churches in full communion.

With these sentiments and in the hope that our ecclesial relations, inspired by renewed fervour, will experience new developments, I assure you, Your Holiness, of my brotherly affection in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 25 November 2002.


December 2002



Thursday, 5 December 2002

Your Eminences,
Mr President of the International Federation of Catholic Universities,
Rectors and Professors of the Catholic Universities,
Dear Friends,

1. I am pleased to offer you a cordial greeting and to express to you my appreciation for the cultural and evangelizing activity of Catholic universities throughout the world. Your presence gives me the opportunity to address the academic staff, the personnel and students of your institutions, who together make up the university community. Today's meeting fondly recalls to me the years in which I took part in university education.

I thank Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for expressing your affection and also for illustrating the motives and prospects that guide the activities of research and teaching that take place in your universities.

2. Organized jointly by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the International Federation of Catholic Universities, your congress on the theme Globalization and the Catholic University is particularly timely. It highlights the fact that in their reflection the Catholic university must always pay attention to the changes of society in order to formulate fresh reflections.

The institution of the university was born in the heart of the Church in the great European cities of Paris, Bologna, Salamanca, Padua, Oxford, Coimbra, Rome, Krakow, Prague, highlighting the Church's role in the field of teaching and research. It was around men who were both theologians and humanists, that higher education was organized not just in theology and philosophy but also in the majority of profane disciplines. Today Catholic universities continue to have an important role on the international scientific scene and they are called to take an active part in researching and developing knowledge for the promotion of the human person and the good of humanity.

3. New scientific issues require great prudence and serious, rigorous study; they pose many challenges, both to the scientific community and to those who must make decisions, especially in the areas of politics and law. I encourage you to be vigilant, to discern in scientific and technical progress and in globalization what is promising for the human person and humanity, but also the dangers they entail for the future. Among the topics that deserve special attention, I would like to point out those that relate directly to the dignity of the person and his fundamental rights, with which the important issues of bioethics are closely connected, such as the status of the human embryo and of stem cells, today the object of experiments and disturbing manipulation, not always moral or scientifically justified.

4. Globalization is most often the result of economic factors, which today more than ever shape political, legal and bioethical decisions, frequently to the detriment of human and social concerns. The university world should strive to analyze the factors underlying these decisions and should in turn contribute to making them truly moral acts, acts worthy of the human person. This means strongly emphasizing the centrality of the inalienable dignity of the human person in scientific research and in social policies. Through their activities, the professors and students of your institutions are called to bear clear witness to their faith before the scientific community, showing their commitment to the truth and their respect for the human person. For Christians, research must in effect be undertaken in the light of faith rooted in prayer, in listening to the word of God, in Tradition and in the teaching of the Magisterium.

5. The role of universities is to train men and women in the different disciplines, taking care to show the profound structural connection between faith and reason, "the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth" (Fides et Ratio FR 1). It should not be forgotten that a true education ought to present a complete and transcendent vision of the human person and educate people's consciences. I am aware of your efforts, in teaching the secular disciplines, to transmit to your students a Christian humanism and to present to them in their university curriculum the basic elements of philosophy, bioethics and theology; this will confirm their faith and inform their consciences (cf. Ex corde Ecclesiae, n. 15).

6. The Catholic university must exercise its mission by being careful to maintain its Christian identity and by taking part in the life of the local Church. While preserving its own scientific autonomy, it has the mission of living the teaching of the Magisterium in the various areas of research in which it is involved. The Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae stresses this twofold mission: a university is "an academic community which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of the cultural heritage, through research, teaching and various services offered" (n. 12). Since it is Catholic, it manifests its identity based on the Catholic faith by its fidelity to the teachings and orientations of the Church, ensuring "a Christian presence in the university world, confronting the great problems of society and culture" (n. 13). In fact, it is the responsibility of each teacher or researcher, and of the whole university community and of the institution itself, to live this obligation as a service to the Gospel, the Church, and the human person. As their area of concern, the authorities of the university have the duty to be sure of the rectitude and the upholding of Catholic principles in the teaching and research going on in their institution. It is clear that university centres that do not observe the law of the Church and the teaching of the Magisterium, especially in the matter of bioethics, cannot be considered as having the character of a Catholic university. I therefore invite each person and each university to assess his/her way of living the fidelity to the characteristic principles of Catholic identity, and, as a consequence, to make the decisions that are required.

7. At the end of our meeting, I would like to express to you my confidence and my encouragement. The Catholic universities are of great value for the Church. They fulfil a mission in the service of the understanding of the faith and the development of understanding; they tirelessly create bridges between scientists in all the disciplines. They are called ever more to be places of dialogue with the whole of the university world, so that cultural formation and research may be at the service of the common good and of the human person, who cannot be considered a mere object of research.

As I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, of St Thomas Aquinas and of all the Doctors of the Church, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to the persons and institutions you represent.



Friday, 6 December 2002

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet the Members of the International Catholic Union of the Press as you celebrate your Organizationís seventy-fifth anniversary. My warm greetings and prayerful best wishes go to all of you on this happy occasion, and I thank Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, for the kind words addressed to me on your behalf.

From the Unionís beginnings until the present, much growth and development has taken place. This can be seen not least in the fact that your first World Congress in 1930 brought together 230 Catholic journalists from 33 different countries, while your most recent one, which took place last year, saw 1080 Catholic journalists gathered from 106 countries throughout the world. This increase in numbers has certainly been accompanied by an ever keener awareness of the importance of your Catholic identity in the sphere of journalism, especially in the context of our rapidly changing world.

We may ask: what does it mean to be a professional journalist who is Catholic? Quite simply, it means being a person of integrity, an individual whose personal and professional life reflects the teachings of Jesus and the Gospel. It means striving for the highest ideals of professional excellence, being a man or woman of prayer who seeks always to give the best that they have to offer. It means having the courage to seek and report the truth, even when the truth is inconvenient or is not considered "politically correct". It means being sensitive to the moral, religious and spiritual aspects of human life, aspects which are often misunderstood or deliberately ignored. It means reporting not only the misdeeds and tragedies that take place, but also the positive and uplifting actions performed on behalf of those in need: the poor, the sick, the handicapped, the weak, those who are otherwise forgotten by society. It means offering examples of hope and heroism to a world that is in desperate need of both.

Dear friends, these are some of the things that must mark your professional lives as Catholic journalists. And this is the spirit that the International Catholic Union of the Press must always strive to embody in its membership and activities. With heartfelt congratulations on the completion of seventy-five years of distinguished service to these ideals, I pray that your Organization will continue to be a source of fellowship and support for Catholics working in the world of journalism. May it help you to strengthen your commitment to Christ in and through your profession. With affection in the Lord, I cordially impart to you and your families my Apostolic Blessing.




Second Sunday of Advent

Piazza di Spagna, 8 December 2002

1. "Hail Mary, full of grace!"
Immaculate Virgin, here I am at your feet once again,
full of devotion and gratitude.
I return to this historic Piazza di Spagna
on the solemn day of your feast
to pray for the beloved city of Rome,
for the Church, for the whole world.
In you, "humble and highest of creatures",
divine grace had the full victory over evil.
You are for us, pilgrims on the paths of the world,
the bright model of evangelical fidelity
and the ever-living pledge of sure hope.

2. Virgin Mother, "Salvation of the Roman People!"
Watch over, I pray you, the beloved Diocese of Rome:
over pastors and faithful, parishes and religious communities.
Watch over families especially:
may love sealed by the Sacrament ever reign between spouses,
may children walk on the paths of goodness and true freedom,
may the elderly feel surrounded by attention and affection.
Inspire, Mary, in so many young hearts,
generous replies to the "call for the mission",
a subject on which the diocese has
been reflecting over the years.
Thanks to an intense pastoral programme for vocations,
may Rome be enriched by new young forces,
dedicated with enthusiasm to proclaming the Gospel
in the city and in the world.

3. Blessed Virgin, Queen of Apostles!
Assist those who through study
and prayer are preparing to labour
on the many frontiers of the new evangelization.
Today I entrust to you, in a special way,
the community of the Pontifical Urban College,
whose historic headquarters are located in front of this pillar.
May this wonderful institution founded 375 years ago
by Pope Urban VIII for the formation of missionaries,
be able to continue effectively its ecclesial service.
May those it gathers, seminarians and priests,
men and women religious and laity,
be ready to put their energies at the disposition
of Christ in service of the Gospel to the far corners of the globe.

4. "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!"
Pray, O Mother, for all of us.
Pray for humanity who suffers poverty and injustice,
violence and hatred, terror and war.
Help us to contemplate with the rosary
the mysteries of Him who "is our peace",
so that we will all feel involved
in a persevering dedication of service to peace.
Look with special attention
upon the land in which you gave birth to Jesus,
a land that you loved together with Him,
and that is still so sorely tried today.
Pray for us, Mother of hope!
"Give us days of peace, watch over our way.
Let us see your Son as we rejoice in heaven". Amen!



Monday, 9 December 2002

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am happy to greet you and to offer my warm good wishes on the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Pontifical Beda College. I join you in giving praise to God for the many graces that have come to the Church through the work of the College in the years since its foundation.

It was a time of great turbulence when Blessed Pope Pius IX established what became the Collegio Pio. Society was in turmoil, and the Church was not spared the troubles of the age. In England, a number of Anglicans had decided to seek Ordination in the Catholic Church; and this prompted the Pope to establish the College. At the end of the nineteenth century, again in unsettled times, the College had a surge of new life and in eighteen-ninety-seven became the Pontifical Beda College, in honour of the great English saint and scholar whom Pope Leo XIII was about to proclaim a Doctor of the Church at that time.

Another important step forward came in nineteen-sixty, when the College moved to its present site in the shadow of Saint Paulís Basilica. In the meantime, the College has opened its doors to students from many countries. That is a great service offered to the whole Church by the Bishops of England and Wales, and I wish to thank them for their generosity.

I fervently entrust the College and its community to the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, and to the intercession of your patron, the Venerable Bede. God bless you all.

Speeches 2002 - Tuesday, 26 November 2002