Speeches 2004

Fortunately, the influence of ideologies and Utopias fomented by the messianic atheism that had such an impact in the past on many University environments has waned considerably today. But there are also new schools of thought, which reduce reason to the horizon of experimental science alone, and hence to technical and instrumental knowledge, sometimes enclosing it within a sceptical and nihilistic vision. These attempts to evade the issue of the deepest meaning of existence are not only futile; they can also become dangerous.

3. Through the gift of faith we have met the One who introduces himself with these surprising words: "I am the truth" (Jn 14,6). Jesus is the truth of the universe and of history, the meaning and the destiny of human existence, the foundation of all reality! It is your responsibility, you who have welcomed this Truth as the vocation and certitude of your lives, to demonstrate its reasonableness in the University environment and in your work there. The question that then arises is: how deeply does the truth of Christ affect your studies, research, knowledge of reality, and the comprehensive education of the human person? It may happen that, even among those who profess to be Christians, some will behave in the University as if God did not exist. Christianity is not a mere subjective religious preference, which is ultimately irrational, and relegated to the private sphere. As Christians we are duty-bound to bear witness to what the Second Vatican Council affirmed in Gaudium et Spes: "For faith throws a new light on everything, manifests God's design for man's total vocation, and thus directs the mind to solutions which are fully human" (no.11). We must demonstrate that faith and reason are not irreconcilable, but that, "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth" (cf Fides et ratio. Intr.)

4. My young friends! You are the disciples and the witnesses of Christ in the University. May your University days be for all of you a period of great spiritual and intellectual maturity, which will lead you to deepen your personal relationship with Christ. But if your faith is linked merely to fragments of tradition, fine sentiments or a generic religious ideology, you will certainly not be able to withstand the impact of the environment you are in. You must therefore seek to keep your Christian identity steadfast, and rooted in the communion of the Church. To do this, you must be nurtured by persevering in prayer. Whenever possible, seek out sound University professors and lecturers. Do not remain isolated in what are often difficult environments, but play an active part in the life of Church associations, movements and communities operating in the university environment. Draw close to the University parishes, and allow the chaplaincies to help you. You must build the Church within your Universities, as a visible community which believes, prays, gives account for our hope, and lovingly welcomes every trace of good, truth and beauty in University life. All this has to be done wherever students live and meet, and not only on the campus. I am certain that the Pastors will not fail to devote particular care to ministering to the University environments, and will appoint holy and competent priests to perform this mission.

5. Dear participants at the 8th International Youth Forum, I am happy to know you will be present in St Peter's Square next Thursday, to meet the young people from the Rome diocese, and later for the Palm Sunday Mass, when we shall be celebrating together the 19th World Youth Day on the theme "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21). It will mark the final stage in the spiritual preparation for the great gathering in Cologne in 2005. It is not enough to "speak" about Jesus to young undergraduates: we must also "show" Jesus to them, through the eloquent witness of our lives (cf Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 16). My wish for you is that this Rome meeting will help to strengthen your love for the universal Church and your commitment to serving the University world. I am depending on each and every one of you to hand on to your local Churches and your ecclesial groups the richness of gifts that you are receiving in these intense days here.

Invoking the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to protect you on your path, I impart a special heartfelt Apostolic Blessing on you and on all those - fellow students, rectors, professors, lecturers, chaplains and administrative staff - who, with you, make up the great "University community".

From the Vatican, 25 March 2004


April 2004



Thursday, 1 April 2004

Dear Rector and Superiors,
Dear Students of the Pontifical Pio Brazilian College of Rome,

1. I am delighted to welcome you at this meeting with which you wish to renew your affection and loyalty to the Successor of Peter on the 70th anniversary of the foundation of your College. I thank the Rector, Fr Geraldo AntŰnio Coelho de Almeida, S.J., for his kind words to me expressing your sentiments and hopes.

Your presence here reminds me of the Visit I paid to your College in 1982, when I celebrated the Eucharist in your Chapel and had an opportunity to speak to you and to visit some parts of your centre.

2. The Pio Brazilian College was opened on 3 April 1934 at the wish of Pope Pius XI and the Bishops of Brazil, and especially of Cardinal Sebasti„o Leme. Each one of you, sent by your Bishop, is welcomed by this College which provides you with a favourable environment for a broader academic and spiritual formation, so necessary in your mission as priests. Staying in Rome for several years offers you many opportunities to come into contact with the historical memorials of the early centuries of Christianity, to open yourselves to the universal dimension of the Church, to foster ecclesial communion and the willingness to accept the teachings of the Magisterium.

3. Even if it is physically remote, I know that you will keep alive in your hearts the memory of the persons in your pastoral care; truly, a Pastor cannot forget his faithful when he lives pastoral charity in the style of Christ. I would like to recall that ever-new message which I addressed to you on my last Visit here: the Church in Brazil needs well-trained ministers of Christ (cf. Address, 24 January 1982). This responsibility is particularly incumbent on your formation teachers, not only at the universities you attend, but directly on the Religious of the Society of Jesus who have been entrusted with the direction and animation of this College. Please God that the founding spirit bequeathed by St Ignatius will constantly inspire you, because the Brazilian Bishops and the whole People of God are longing for holy and devout priests, true pastors of souls. This responsibility becomes even greater when we think that some priests come from other Latin American countries, and from Africa, Oceania and Europe.

4. I do not want to end this talk without thanking the Community of women religious and all of you who help care for the College. I ask God to reward you for your generous and zealous service to the Community.

May Our Lady, venerated in your College as Nossa Senhora Aparecida, who has always accompanied all her children and who is the Mother of Priests, grant you the grace you need to imitate Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest. As a pledge of these hopes, I impart to you a favourable Apostolic Blessing, which I cordially extend to your relatives and friends.





Thursday, 1 April 2004

1. "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21). This is what some "Greeks" who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover asked Philip. When the Teacher was told what they wanted, he realized that his "hour" had come! It was the "hour" of the Cross, of obedience to the Father, of sharing the destiny of the grain of wheat which, after falling into the earth, decays and dies to bear fruit!

For Jesus the hour of his glory had also come! The "hour" of his passion, death, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven. The "hour" in which he would offer up his life to take it up again in order to give it to all; the "hour" in which, on the Cross, he would triumph over sin and death for the benefit of all humanity.

We too are called to live that "hour" and to be "honoured" with him by the Father.

Dear young people of Rome and Lazio, I am delighted to meet you. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, who has spoken on your behalf offering his own testimony, and the other Bishops present here. I greet the various artists who are taking part in this meeting and all of you, dear friends, who have gathered in the square or are following us on television.

2. Twenty years ago at the end of the Holy Year of the Redemption, I entrusted to young people the Cross, the tree on which Christ was raised from the earth and lived that "hour" for which he had come into the world! Since then this Cross, on pilgrimage from one Youth Day to the next, has been travelling across the world carried by young people and proclaims the merciful love of God who meets the needs of all his creatures, to restore to them the dignity they have lost through sin.

Thanks to you, dear friends, millions of young people, looking at that Cross, have changed their lives and committed themselves to living as authentic Christians.

3. Dear young people: remain united to the Cross! Look at the glory that also awaits you. How many wounds do you feel in your hearts, often caused by the world of adults! As I once again entrust the Cross to you in spirit, I ask you to believe that so many of us have confidence in you, that Christ has confidence in you, and that it is only in him that you will find the salvation you are seeking!

How necessary it is today to rethink the way of approaching young people to proclaim the Gospel to them. We must certainly continue the discussion in order to evangelize the world of youth, but with the certainty that Christ also wants to make himself visible today, that he also wants to show his Face today to everyone!

4. Dear young people, do not be afraid to set out on new paths of total self-giving to the Lord and of mission; make your own suggestions as to how the Cross should be taken to the world today!

In this regard, I would like to congratulate you on the preparations that are being made in the Diocese of Rome for a Mission of youth among youth, in the city's historical centre from the coming 1-10 October, with the important title: "Jesus in the centre!".I likewise congratulate the Pontifical Council for the Laity which has recently organized an International Youth Forum. I greet you, dear participants in the Forum, and encourage you to work generously to carry out the project of being a more and more effective Christian presence in the university world.

Nourished by the Eucharist, united to the Church and accepting your own crosses, ignite your own store of faith in the world and proclaim divine mercy to everyone!

5. Do not be afraid on this journey to entrust yourselves to Christ. You love the world of course, and that is good, because the world was made for human beings. However, at a certain point in life, it is necessary to make a radical choice. Without denying anything that is an expression of God's beauty or of the talents received from him, we must be able to side with Christ to witness before all to God's love.

In this regard, I like to remember the great spiritual fascination that the Holy Friar Albert exercised in the story of my vocation! Adam Chmielowski was his name, and he was not a priest. Friar Albert was a very talented and cultured painter. Well, at a certain point in his life he broke with art, because he understood that God was calling him to far more important tasks. He came to Krakow to make himself poor among the poor and devoted himself to serving the outcasts. In him I found special spiritual support and an example as I was distancing myself from literature and the theatre because of my radical choice of the vocation to the priesthood. Later, one of my greatest joys was to raise him to the honours of the altar, and even before that, to dedicate a play to him: "Brother of Our God".

You see, following Christ does not mean spurning the gifts he lavishes upon us, but choosing a path of the radical gift of self to him! If this is what he is asking, then "yes" to this becomes essential! So do not be afraid to entrust yourselves to him. Jesus knows that you must carry his Cross in the world to meet the expectations of so many other young hearts.

6. How different today's young people are from those of 20 years ago! How different is the cultural and social context in which we live! But Christ, no, he has not changed! He is the Redeemer of man yesterday, today and for ever!

Put your talents, therefore, at the service of the new evangelization, to weave a new fabric of Christian life!

The Pope is with you! Believe in Jesus, contemplate his Face, the Face of the crucified and risen Lord! That Face which so many long to see, but which is often veiled by our lack of enthusiasm for the Gospel and by our sin!

O beloved Jesus, reveal to us your Face of light and forgiveness! Look at us, renew us, send us out!

Too many young people are waiting for you and if they do not see you they will not be able to live their vocation, they will not be able to live life for you and with you, to renew the world beneath your gaze which is turned to the Father and at the same time to our poor humanity.

7. Dear friends, with ever new creativity inspired by the Holy Spirit in prayer, continue together to carry the Cross that I entrusted to you 20 years ago.

The young people of that time have changed just as I have, but your hearts, like mine, go on thirsting for truth, happiness, eternal life, and so they are ever young!

This evening I put my trust in you once again, hope of the Church and of society! Do not be afraid! Take the power of the Cross everywhere, in season and out of season (cf. II Tm 4: 2), so that everyone, also thanks to you, may continue to see and believe in the Redeemer of man! Amen.




Friday, 2 April 2004

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive Your Excellency at the Vatican on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Lebanon to the Holy See.

I thank you for your courteous words and I would be grateful if you would kindly convey to H.E. General …mile Lahoud, President of the Lebanese Republic, my thanks for the cordial good wishes he has expressed to me through you. I would also like through you to greet with affection the entire Lebanese People, as I remember with feeling their warm welcome when I visited their Country.

Mr Ambassador, you recalled the uncertainties of the international situation today, marked by the deep destabilization of relations between countries due to the pressure of events in Iraq, but also and first of all by the unjustifiable and disturbing new outbreak of international terrorism. In the face of this precarious situation, the Holy See continues to implore a return to stability and international order through recognition of the regulatory role of the international bodies, especially the United Nations Organization, and the reinforcement of its means of decision-making and action in order to reduce the hotbeds of tension and guarantee peace.

The Land of Lebanon, so harshly tried by the hardships of a long and terrible war, is once again endeavouring, in keeping with its exemplary tradition, to re-establish dialogue and balance between the various cultural and religious components which have always comprised the Lebanese Nation.

The inhabitants have resumed their activities to rebuild their Country and to re-establish the economic and social conditions that will lead to the renewal of Lebanon and allow the many different treasures of Lebanese culture to flourish anew. It is to be hoped that your Country will rediscover the stable conditions which encourage a lasting economic and social development that benefits all, and the most underprivileged in particular. In this way, it will be possible to prevent the development of situations of injustice or financial difficulty and feelings of frustration that can weaken the social fabric, discouraging certain categories of the population from remaining in the Country who thus resort to emigration that enfeebles the Country by depriving it of its most precious resources: people. I hope that all the Lebanese will strive courageously to take part in the economic, social and political life of their Country in order to assure a future of peace and progress to their children. This likewise implies, as I have already had the opportunity to emphasize, "that the Country recover its total independence, complete sovereignty and freedom, without ambiguity" (Une espťrance nouvelle pour le Liban, n. 121). May your fellow citizens not be afraid to engage actively in the service of the common good, so as to promote a healthy practice of political customs, guarantee the smooth functioning of democracy, and safeguard and consolidate the identity of Lebanon, whose vocation is to be "a light for the peoples of the region and a sign of peace that comes from God" (ibid., n. 125).

I hope that the different human and religious communities which make up Lebanon may increasingly enjoy the same rights and the same respect, essential conditions for democratic life and for the freedom of persons. I also hope that they will do their part in this common task by constantly inviting respect and mutual dialogue, by expressing their views in civil society to remind everyone of the principles that must govern common life, and especially by taking part in the education of young people and increasingly arousing in them the love of justice and peace and respect for the dignity of each person.

As you have forcefully stressed, Mr Ambassador, Lebanon's strategic situation places it at the heart of the Middle East and of the terrible war that continues to destroy it, starting with the ongoing confrontation between the Israeli and Palestinian Peoples, drawn out for more than 50 years. What is more, your Country, which must cope with a stream of people into its territory, obviously feels involved in this drama.

As I have often recalled, the international community must not shirk its responsibilities under the pretext of other urgent tasks but must take them on courageously, inviting all who are involved, and primarily the Israelis and the Palestinians, to return to dialogue without delay and to find the means to put an end to this infernal cycle of reciprocal violence. This is the necessary prerequisite for a global solution to the conflict that must ally the group of countries in the region. I would also like to repeat that it will be impossible to re-establish lasting peace in this part of the world without political courage and the firm determination to recognize the rights of each one, including those of the adversary, to set out on the path to peace with respect for justice; not without accepting recourse to mutual forgiveness in order to heal the terrible wounds inflicted by reciprocal violence for so many years and by the many lives wrecked. May all the political leaders hear this appeal to work actively and without delay to restore relations, all at the service of rebuilding the peace so ardently desired!

Mr Ambassador, through you, allow me now to reach out to the Patriarchs, Bishops and all the faithful of the Catholic communities of Lebanon. I know how deeply attached they are to their Country and I am aware of the active part they take, in the name of their faith, in its material and spiritual development. I encourage Catholics of different rites to work together at the service of communion and to pursue the path of unity with their brethren of other confessions. May they focus specifically on interreligious dialogue with the Muslims, especially in the area of the education of the young through universities and schools, but also in the dialogue of life: thus, they will become true peacemakers and help build a new Lebanon that can overcome misunderstandings and foster the common good at the service of all its children!

At the end of our meeting, Mr Ambassador, I am pleased to address my cordial good wishes to you for the successful accomplishment of the noble mission to the Holy See that you are beginning today. Be assured that you will always find a warm welcome with my collaborators in the different services of the Roman Curia.

Your Excellency, I wholeheartedly invoke upon you, upon your collaborators at the Embassy, upon those close to you, upon the leaders of the Nation and upon the entire Lebanese People an abundance of divine Blessings.



Friday, 2 April 2004

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!" (Ep 1,2). At the beginning of this series of visits ad limina Apostolorum by the Bishops of the United States of America, I offer a warm welcome to you, my Brother Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Atlanta and Miami.

Your visit to the tomb of Peter and to the house of Peterís Successor is in fact a spiritual pilgrimage to the heart of the Church.May it be for you a summons to a more intense encounter with Jesus Christ, a pause for reflection and discernment in the light of faith, and an impulse to new vigor in mission. I trust that this series of ad limina visits will also bear particular fruit in a deeper appreciation of the mystery of the Church in all its richness, and a far-reaching discernment of the pastoral challenges facing the Bishops of the United States at the dawn of the new millennium.

Our meetings are taking place at a difficult time in the history of the Church in the United States. Many of you have already spoken to me of the pain caused by the sexual abuse scandal of the past two years and the urgent need for rebuilding confidence and promoting healing between Bishops, priests and the laity in your country. I am confident that the willingness which you have shown in acknowledging and addressing past mistakes and failures, while at the same time seeking to learn from them, will contribute greatly to this work of reconciliation and renewal. This time of purification will, by Godís grace, lead to "a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church" (Address to American Cardinals and Bishops, 23 April 2002, 4), a Church ever more convinced of the truth of the Christian message, the redemptive power of the Cross of Christ, and the need for unity, fidelity and conviction in bearing witness to the Gospel before the world.

2. The history of the Church demonstrates that there can be no effective reform without interior renewal. This is true not only of individuals, but also of every group and institution in the Church. In the life of every Bishop the challenge of interior renewal must involve an integral understanding of his service as pastor gregis, entrusted by Christís will with a specific ministry of pastoral governance in the Church and the responsibility and apostolic power which accompany that ministry. To be an effective pastor gregis, however, the Bishop must also strive constantly to be forma gregis (cf. 1P 5,3); his apostolic authority must be seen first and foremost as a religious witness to the Risen Lord, to the truth of the Gospel and to the mystery of salvation present and at work in the Church. The Tenth Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops recalled that "the Bishopís life is to be completely submitted to the word of God in his daily commitment of preaching the Gospel in all patience and sound doctrine" (Pastores Gregis cf. 2Tm 4,2).

The renewal of the Church is thus closely linked to the renewal of the episcopal office. Since the Bishop is called in a unique way to be an alter Christus, a vicar of Christ in and for his local Church, he must be the first to conform his life to Christ in holiness and constant conversion. Only by himself putting on the mind of Christ (cf. Phil Ph 2,5) and acquiring "a fresh, spiritual way of thinking" (Ep 4,23), will he be able to carry out effectively his role as a successor of the Apostles, the guide of the faith community, and the coordinator of those charisms and missions which the Holy Spirit constantly pours out upon the Church.

3. The recent Synod of Bishops and the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis have spoken insistently of the need to appropriate an ecclesiology of communion and mission, which must be "our fundamental point of reference" for understanding and exercising the episcopal ministry (Pastores Gregis ). In doing so, they have taken up the core vision of the Second Vatican Council, which called for a renewed appreciation of the mystery of the Church, grounded in the trinitarian life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 2 Lumen Gentium LG 2-4), as the basis of a reaffirmation of her inner unity and her missionary outreach to the world.

This appeal of the Council is as valid today as ever. A return to the heart of the Church, a recovery of faithís vision of the nature and purpose of the Church in Godís plan, and a clearer understanding of her relation to the world must be an essential part of that constant conversion to Godís revealed word which is demanded of every member of the Body of Christ, reborn in Baptism and called to work for the spread of Godís Kingdom on earth (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 36).

Ecclesia sancta simul et semper purificanda. The Councilís urgent summons to pray, work and hope that the image of Christ may shine ever more brightly on the face of the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 15) calls for a constant reaffirmation of faithís assent to Godís revealed word and a return to the sole source of all authentic ecclesial renewal: the Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition as authoritatively interpreted by the Churchís Magisterium. Indeed, the Councilís vision, which found expression in the great Constitutions Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, remains "a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 57).

4. Dear Brothers, at the start of these meetings of the Successor of Peter with the Bishops of the United States, I wish to reaffirm my confidence in the Church in America, my appreciation of the deep faith of Americaís Catholics and my gratitude for their many contributions to American society and to the life of the Church throughout the world. Viewed with the eyes of faith, the present moment of difficulty is also a moment of hope, that hope which "does not disappoint" (Rm 5,5), because it is rooted in the Holy Spirit, who constantly raises up new energies, callings and missions within the Body of Christ.

The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, celebrated in the wake of the epochal events of September 11, 2001, rightly noted that the Bishop is called to be a prophet, witness and servant of hope to the world (cf. Pastores Gregis ), not only because he proclaims to all the basis of our Christian hope (cf. 1P 3,15) but also because he makes that hope present through his pastoral ministry, centered as it is on the three munera of sanctifying, teaching and governing. The exercise of this prophetic witness in contemporary American society has, as many of you have pointed out, been made increasingly difficult by the aftermath of the recent scandal and the outspoken hostility to the Gospel in certain sectors of public opinion, yet it cannot be evaded or delegated to others. Precisely because American society is confronted by a disturbing loss of the sense of the transcendent and the affirmation of a culture of the material and the ephemeral, it desperately needs such a witness of hope. It is in hope that we have been saved (cf. Rom Rm 8,24); the Gospel of hope enables us to discern the consoling presence of Godís Kingdom in the midst of this world and offers confidence, serenity and direction in place of that hopelessness which inevitably spawns fear, hostility and violence in the hearts of individuals and in society as a whole.

5. For this reason I pray that our meetings will not only strengthen the hierarchical communion which unites the Successor of Peter with his Brother Bishops in the United States, but will bear abundant fruit for the growth of your own local Churches in unity and in missionary zeal for the spread of the Gospel. In this way, they will come to reflect ever more fully the "great mystery" of the Church which, in the words of the Council, is in Christ as it were a "sacrament of intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind" (Lumen Gentium LG 1), the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God and the prophetic foreshadowing of a world reconciled and at peace.

In the coming months, I would like to engage you and your Brother Bishops in a series of reflections on the exercise of the episcopal office in the light of the threefold munus by which the Bishop, through sacramental ordination, is conformed to Jesus Christ, priest, prophet and king. It is my hope that a consistent reflection on the gift and mystery entrusted to us will contribute to the fulfillment of your ministry as heralds of the Gospel and to the renewal of the Church in the United States.

6. Dear Brothers, I assure you of my prayers for each of you and for all the clergy, religious and lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care. As we strive to meet the challenges which lie ahead of us, let us never cease to thank the Triune God for the rich variety of gifts which he has bestowed upon the Church in America and to look with confidence to the future which his providence is even now opening before us. With great affection I commend all of you to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States of America, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.



Saturday, 3 April 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. With great joy I welcome and greet you with affection. I greet your parish priest, Fr Gioele Schiavella, whom I thank for his courteous words expressing your common sentiments. I greet the Vicar General of the Order, who has not wished to miss this meeting, and the praiseworthy Augustinian Religious together with their collaborators. I greet the ecclesiastics present, the representatives of religious communities working throughout the parish, the families and all the beloved faithful of the Pontifical Parish of St Anne.

2. It is your intention to celebrate fittingly the 75th anniversary of the parish which was instituted at the wish of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XI, with the Apostolic Constitution Ex Lateranensi Pacto of 30 May 1929. After the stipulation of the Lateran Pacts which constituted Vatican City State, he desired to provide for the spiritual good of the faithful who lived in the territory of the new State, and entrusted the new parish to the pastoral care of the Augustinian Order.

Since then, the parish community has carried out active pastoral work, deepening its experience of faith and communion among its various members. Thanks to the constant effort of everyone, the Church of St Anne has become a spiritual oasis where one can pray and take part in liturgical celebrations conducted with great decorum and devotion.

I also know that in the parish there are many groups dedicated to manifold apostolic and evangelizing activities. They unite to the commitment to spread the Good News a constant witness of fraternal charity and solicitude for their brothers and sisters who are most in need.

3. The celebration of your 75th anniversary is an appropriate occasion to give thanks to God for the fruitful experience of the past. At the same time, it is a fitting time to draw incentives and encouragement to persevere on the path chosen, looking confidently to the future. My hope is that the spiritual and apostolic enthusiasm of the Augustinian Religious, the priests who help them as well as the pastoral workers and parishioners, may continue to increase.

Dear brothers and sisters, your Church, which stands at the entrance to the Vatican, is a parish to which I feel particularly close. I therefore assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer. I ask the Lord to guide your community with his Spirit, so that it may be the centre of Gospel outreach and of the peace of Christ.

4. Then, as Easter is approaching, I would like to express my hope for you that the light of the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ may illumine your entire life. Only Jesus can fill your hearts with serenity and awaken within you the desire to proclaim his Gospel with joy and total dedication.

As I wish you, your families and all your loved ones a holy Easter, I invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary and of her holy Mother Anne, and impart my Blessing to all of you gathered here, extending it to the whole of the parish community.



Speeches 2004