Speeches 1978 - Saturday, 21 October 1978

But this is not the time to examine in detail all the risks and merits of your task as reporters of religious news. Let us note, moreover, that here and there some progress seems to be visible in pursuit of the truth, and in understanding and presentation of the religious phenomenon. I congratulate you on the part you have played in it.

Perhaps you yourselves have been surprised and encouraged by the importance attributed to it, in all countries, by a very wide public which some people thought was indifferent or allergic to the ecclesiastical institution and to spiritual things. In actual fact, the handing down of the supreme office, entrusted by Christ to St Peter, with regard to all the peoples to be evangelized and to all the disciples of Christ to be gathered in unity, really appeared as a reality transcending habitual events. Yes, the handing down of this office has a deep echo in spirits and in hearts which perceive that God is at work in history. It was loyal to acknowledge it and to adapt to it the media of social communication which, in different degrees, you have at your disposal.

It is my wish precisely that craftsmen of religious information may always find the help they need from competent ecclesial organisms. The latter must receive them in respect for their convictions and their profession, supply them with very adequate and very objective documentation, but also propose to them a Christian perspective which sets facts in their true significance for the Church and for mankind. In this way you will be able to tackle these religious reports with the specific competence that they demand.

You are very concerned about freedom of information and of expression: you are right. Think yourselves lucky to enjoy it! Use this freedom well to grasp the truth more closely and to admit your readers, your listeners or viewers into "whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious", to repeat the words of St Paul (Ph 4,8); into what helps them to live in justice and brotherhood, to discover the ultimate meaning of life, to open them up to the mystery of God, so near each of us. Under these conditions, your profession, so demanding and sometimes so exhausting—I was going to say your vocation—so topical and so beautiful will elevate further the spirit and the heart of men of good will, at the same time as the faith of Christians. It is a service which the Church and humanity appreciate.

I venture to call upon you also to an effort of comprehension, as to a loyal pact: when you report on the life and activity of the Church, try even more to grasp the authentic, deep and spiritual motivations of the Church's thought and action. The Church, on her side, listens to the objective testimony of journalists on the expectations and demands of this world. That does not mean, of course, that she models her message on the world of her time: it is the Gospel that must always inspire her attitude.

I am happy at this first contact with you. I assure you of my understanding and I take the liberty of relying on yours. I know that in addition to your professional problems, to which we will come back another time, you each have your personal and family cares. Let us not be afraid to entrust them to the Virgin Mary, who is always at Christ's side. And in Christ's name, I willingly bless you.

[The Holy Father then continued in English]:

I would like to offer my greetings and my blessing, not only to you, but to all your colleagues throughout the world. Although you represent different cultures, you are all united in the service of truth. And the corps that you make up here today is, in itself, a splendid manifestation of unity and solidarity. I would ask to be remembered to your families and to your fellow citizens in your respective countries.

Please accept—all of you—my expression of respect, esteem and fraternal love.



22 October 1978

Beloved brothers in Christ,

We wish first of all to thank you from the bottom of our heart for having come here today. Your presence, in fact, bears witness to our common will to establish closer and closer ties among us and to overcome the divisions inherited from the past. These divisions are, we have already said, an intolerable scandal, hindering the proclamation of the good news of salvation given in Jesus Christ, and the announcement of this great hope of liberation which the world needs so much today.

At this first meeting, we are anxious to tell you of our firm resolution to go forward along the way to unity in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and following the example of our predecessors. A fine stretch has already been covered, but we must not stop before arriving at the goal, before realizing this unity which Christ wishes for his Church and for which he prayed.

The will of Christ, the witness to be borne to Christ, that is the motive that incites one and all of us not to tire or become discouraged in this effort. We are confident that he who began this work among us, will give us abundantly the strength to persevere and carry it out successfully.

Please say to those whom you represent, and to everyone, that the commitment of the Catholic Church to the ecumenical movement, such as it was solemnly expressed in the Second Vatican Council, is irreversible.

We rejoice at your relations of brotherly trust and collaboration with our Secretariat for Unity. We know that you are searching patiently, along with it, for the solution of the differences that still separate us, and the means of progressing together in more and more complete faithfulness to all aspects of the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. We assure you that we will do everything to help you.

May the Spirit of love and truth grant that we may meet often and in increasing closeness, more and more in deep communion in the mystery of Christ our one Saviour, our one Lord. May the Virgin Mary be for us an example of this docility to the Holy Spirit which is the deepest centre of the ecumenical attitude; may our answer always be like hers: I am your servant, let it be to me according to your word (cf. Lk Lc 1,38).



To the beloved Archdiocese of Krakow, to the whole People of God, to my brothers in the Episcopate, to Priests and to male and female Religious families—to everyone!

I am writing these words to you, beloved Brothers and Sisters, at the exceptional and unexpected moment when—by the will of Our Lord Jesus Christ, expressed by the conclave of Cardinals after the death of Pope John Paul I of unforgettable memory—I leave the Church of Krakow, the episcopal chair of St Stanislaus, to assume St Peter's chair in Rome. In this circumstance I cannot help thinking of you and addressing you, with whom I have been united more closely for twenty years by my episcopal ministry, and before that by pastoral and teaching work, and even before that by the difficult years of the occupation during the war, by the experiences of physical work and finally by my whole life from birth. Believe me, coming to Rome for the conclave, I had no other desire than to come back among you, to my beloved archdiocese and country. But Christ's will was different, therefore I remain and start the new mission he has entrusted to me. Such a high mission, but also such a difficult one, of such responsibility! If we think and reason with our mind, it exceeds human strength. Was not St Peter the first to be afraid of this mission, when he said to Christ: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, o Lord"? (Lc 5,8). And even after the resurrection when, indicating the apostle John, he asked: "Lord, what about this man?" But Christ had confirmed to him: "What is that to you? Follow me." (Jn 21,21-22).

My beloved Brothers and Sisters, allow me to thank you for all the years of my life, years of study, of priesthood, of episcopate. How could I know that all these years would prepare me for the call, made to me by Christ on 16 October in the Sistine chapel? However, in the perspective of this day, I must turn and look at all those who prepared me, without knowing it, for this call. That is, my beloved parents, whose lives ended so long ago; my parish, Wadowice, dedicated to the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin in the temple; the primary and secondary schools; the Jaghellonic University, the theology faculty; the ecclesiastical seminary. What should I say of my predecessor on the chair of St Stanislaus, Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, and of the great exile Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak, of the bishops, of the priests and of so many fervent pastors, profound and excellent teachers, of the exemplary men and women religious; of the many lay people from different walks of life that I have met in my life; of my companions in school, at the university, and in the seminary; of the "Solvay" workers, of the intellectuals, writers, artists, people of different professions; and further, of so many married couples, university students, apostolic groups, of the oases, of so many boys and girls who look for the meaning of life with the Gospel in their hands and who sometimes find the way to priestly or religious vocation?

I bear all this in my heart and in a certain way keep it with me: my whole beloved Church of Krakow, a special part of Christ's Church in Poland and a special part of the history of our native land. Old and new Krakow, the new districts, the new people, the new suburbs, Nowa Huta; concern for the urgency of new churches and new parishes; the new needs for evangelization, catechesis and the apostolate. All this accompanies me on St Peter's Chair. All this constitutes a layer of my soul which I cannot leave. The layer of my experience, of my faith, of my love, which expands and embraces so many places dear to me, so many sanctuaries of Christ and his Mother, such as Mogila, Ludzmierz, Myslenice, Staniatki or Rychwald, and particularly Kalwaria Zebrzydowka with its paths along which I walked with such pleasure. I keep in my eyes and in my heart the panorama of the land of Krakow, Zywiec, Slask, Podhale, Beskidy and Tatra. I offer to the Lord this beloved land and the whole landscape of Poland, but especially the people.

Once more I thank the Bishops, Julius, John, Stanislaus, Albin, the metropolitan chapter, members of the Curia, the priests' council, the deacons, the parish priests and assistants, for most of you, dear Brothers, received ordination from my episcopal ministry.

Writing these words, I wish to assure you of my faithful memory and constant prayer.

I wish you to accept, as addressed to you, the thoughts which I expressed in the letter to all my fellow­countrymen.

I had to leave Krakow on the eve of preparations for the great jubilee of St Stanislaus. Perhaps God will allow me to take part in it. I hope that the work of seven years in honour of St Stanislaus, that work which we started together in 1972, will ripen and find expression in the decisions of the pastoral Synod, and in everything that aims at the renewal of the Church of Krakow in the spirit of Vatican II.

God bless you all in this work. May he bless the new metropolitan of Krakow, to whom the chair of St Stanislaus will be assigned after me, and the whole People of God of this Church. Once more I entrust you to Christ through the hands and the heart of the Mother of God.

Vatican City, 23 October 1978.




To the Reverend Agnellus Andrew, OFM
President of UNDA

DURING THESE early days of our ministry as Successor of Peter we are happy to address a message of congratulation and blessing to the International Catholic Association for Radio and Television as its representatives gather in Cologne to celebrate the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Association’s foundation.

It is a pleasant task, and we approach it with great alacrity. Having followed closely the events of the past two months at the Holy See, we are very conscious of the part radio and television play in the life of the world and in the life of the Church, and of the capacity of the media to unite people in the celebration of events which deeply touch their lives. We realize the goodness of God, who has put these extraordinary gifts at our disposal. Also – and we are glad to have the occasion to say this – we feel greatly indebted to the very many radio and television companies which have made it possible in these recent days for the sons and daughters of the Church to know the face and hear the voice of their new Father, Servant and Pastor, and to make, as it were, his immediate personal acquaintance. We express our grateful thanks to each individual producer and technician who has in any way helped in making it possible for us to speak directly to the Church and to the world, thus giving personally the assurance of our love and of our willing commitment to pastoral service.

With special affection and gratitude we address our congratulations to UNDA on this occasion of its Golden Jubilee, and we would wish the representatives of 109 countries, gathered together in Cologne as the guests of our dearly beloved brothers, Cardinal Joseph Höffner and the Bishops of the German Conference, to know that the Pope associates himself with them in their joyful celebration. With them we thank Almighty God for the graces and gifts of the past fifty years and we share also in their sense of indebtedness to the German Bishops for the generous aid and encouragement that have been given to UNDA since its foundation in Cologne itself in 1928.

In the words of the Book of Revelation: "I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first" (Ap 2,19).

And we well know that the mention of "patient endurance" will bring poignantly to your minds those many associates of yours who are even now working, and with great courage and dedication, in situations of perplexity, hardship or difficulty. Be assured that the Pope is united with you in your concern for them, in your prayers, and in your pride and admiration for them. May they take courage in the thought that the sign of the Cross is the best possible indication that their work is not without fruit.

The loyalty and faithful dedication which UNDA has demonstrated towards the See of Peter over the past fifty years are not forgotten; they have, in fact, been a real support and comfort to our predecessors. In indicating their trust in the Association, our predecessors have not hesitated to enlist the expert counsel of its members when framing the decrees and instructions which now guide the Church’s communications workers in their various media.

In the part of UNDA’s Statutes where its aims are set out, two words occur which may well be taken as the starting point for your second half-century’s activity. The words are "apostolic" and "professional". Your Jubilee is not noly an occasion for celebrating the achievements of the past; it is, as you well appreciate, an opportunity for re-dedication, re-animation, throughout the entire international membership of UNDA. It is a time for a sharpening of motivation. And the motivation which principally impels your work is the evangelization of the human race, which requires a clear and explicit proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ, a proclamation of his teaching, his life, his promises, his Kingdom and his mystery as the Son of the living God and the Son of Mary (Cfr. PAULI VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 22 EN 27). This evangelization must be done through a thoroughly competent and professional use of radio, television and the audiovisual media. And with evangelization are necessarily linked the advancement of the whole human race, the integral development of all men and women in the world. This is a noble and deeply Christian aim, and the Pope is with you in your conviction that it can be served worthily only by a professionalism which admits of nothing carelessly prepared. This is surely demanded by the reverence due to the word of God and by the respect to which audiences are entitled.

In promoting this reverence and this respect among your own members, and in energetically encouraging these attitudes among all those who are bound to you in professional fellowship, whether inside or outside your Association, you will be working towards the achievement of another very important UNDA aim, namely, to ensure a truly human and Christian spirit in all media activities.

Have no doubt that your labours and efforts are necessary in our world today. The Church needs you, appreciates you, and confidently depends on you, in your specialized area of service to the Catholic Faith. And on this occasion of Jubilee, the Church’s new Pastor embraces you, thanks you for the past, and re-commissions you, in trust and hope, for the future. He blesses you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

From the Vatican, 25 October 1978.




29 October 1978

From the opening of the Second Vatican Council, I have had the opportunity of staying in Rome several times, both for the work of the Council and for other tasks entrusted to me by Pope Paul VI.

On the occasion of these stays in Rome, I have often visited the sanctuary of Our Lady of Mentorella. This place, hidden among the mountains, has particularly fascinated me. From it, one's eyes can range over and admire the magnificent view of the Italian landscape. I came here again a few days before the last Conclave. And if today I have wished to return, it is for various reasons, which I will set forth now.

First, however, I want to apologize to my collaborators, to the local administration and to those who arranged this flight, for having given them additional trouble with my arrival. At the same time I greet cordially all the inhabitants of neighbouring Guadagnolo, and all those who have gathered here from other localities nearby. I greet the custodians of this sanctuary, the Polish Fathers of the Resurrection and also the clergy of the surrounding districts with their bishop, Mons. Guglielmo Giaquinta.

We read in the Gospel of St Luke that Mary, after the Annunciation, went to the hill country to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth. When she arrived at Ain-Karin, she put her whole soul into the words of the canticle which the Church recalls every day in Vespers: "Magnificat anima mea Dominum"—"My soul magnifies the Lord". I wanted to come here, among these mountains, to sing the "Magnificat" in Mary's footsteps.

This is a place in which man opens to God in a special way. A place where, far from everything, but also at the same time close to nature, one can speak confidentially to God himself. One feels within one what is man's personal call. And man must glorify God the Creator and Redeemer; he must, in some way, become the voice of the whole of creation in order to say, in its name, "Magnificat". He must announce the "magnalia Dei", the great works of God, and, at the same time, express himself in this sublime relationship with God, because in the visible world only he can do so.

During my stays in Rome, this place helped me a great deal to pray. And that is another reason why I wanted to come here today. Prayer, which expresses in various ways man's relationship with the living God, is also the first task and almost the first announcement of the Pope, just as it is the first condition of his service in the Church and in the world.

During these few days that have passed since 16 October, I have had the fortune to hear, from the mouths of authoritative persons, words which confirm the spiritual awakening of modern man. These words—and that is significant—were spoken mainly by lay people who fill high offices in the political life of various nations and peoples. They spoke often of the needs of the human spirit, which are not inferior to those of the body. At the same time they indicated the Church, in the first place, as capable of satisfying these needs.

Let what I say now be a first humble reply to everything I have heard: the Church prays, the Church wishes to pray, she wants to be in the service of the most simple, and at the same time splendid, gift of the human spirit, which is realized in prayer. Prayer is, in fact, the first expression of man's interior truth, the first condition of true freedom of the spirit.

The Church prays and wishes to pray in order to listen to the interior voice of the divine Spirit, so that he himself, in us and with us, may speak with the sighs, too deep for words, of the whole of creation. The Church prays, and wishes to pray, to meet the needs in the depths of man, who is sometimes so restricted and limited by the conditions and circumstances of everyday life, by everything that is temporary, by weakness, sin, discouragement and by a life that seems meaningless. Prayer gives a meaning to the whole of life, at every moment, in every circumstance.

Therefore the Pope, as the Vicar of Christ on earth, wishes in the first place to unite with all those who strain towards union with Christ in prayer, wherever they may be: as a Bedouin in the steppe, or the Carmelites or Cistercians in deep enclosure, or the sick on a hospital bed in the sufferings of the death agony, or a person in activity, in the fullness of life, or oppressed and humiliated individuals ... everywhere.

The Mother of Christ went to the hills to say her "Magnificat". May the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit accept the Pope's prayer in this sanctuary and grant the gifts of the Spirit to all those who pray.




Clementine Hall

Monday, 30 October 1978

It is always a joy for the Pope to meet fathers and mothers of a family who are deeply aware of their responsibilities as Christian educators. And it is a grace to see numerous initiatives in support of families arise in the Church today.

There is no need, in your presence, to emphasize the essential role of the family in human and Christian education. The recent Council, in several of its texts, happily stressed the mission of parents, "first and chief educators" and almost impossible to replace (Gravissimum Educationis GE 3). It is a natural right for them, since they have given life to their children; it is also the best way to ensure a harmonious education, owing to the absolutely original character of parent-children relations, and to the atmosphere of affection and security that parents can create in the radiance of their love. (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 52). Most civil societies have themselves had to recognize the special and necessary role of parents in early education. On the international plane, the "Declaration of the child's rights", which is at least the sign of very wide consensus, has admitted that the child "must, as far as possible, grow up under the safeguard and under the responsibility of his parents" (principle 6). Let us hope that this commitment will be applied more and more in practice, especially during the International Year of the Child which will begin soon.

But it is not enough to affirm and defend this principle of the parents' right. It is necessary above all to carry out well this difficult occupation of education in our modern times. In this field, goodwill, love itself, are not sufficient. It is a skill that parents must acquire, with the grace of God, in the first place by strengthening their own moral and religious convictions, by setting an example, by reflecting also on their experience, with each other, with other parents, with expert educators, with priests. It is a question of helping children and adolescents "to make sound moral judgments and to put them into practice with a sense of personal commitment, and to know and love God more perfectly" (Gravissimum Educationis GE 1). This education of their discernment, their will and their faith is a whole art; the family atmosphere must be one of trust, dialogue, firmness, rightly understood respect of incipient freedom: all things which permit gradual initiation to meeting the Lord and to habits which already honour the child and prepare the man of tomorrow. May your children acquire in your families "their first experience of a well-balanced human society and of the Church." (cf. Ibid., 3.) It will be up to you, too, to introduce them gradually into educative communities wider than the family. The latter must then accompany its adolescents, with patient love, in hope, and, without resigning its task, cooperate with other educators. In this way, strengthened in their Christian identity to face in the right way a pluralistic world, often indifferent or even hostile to their convictions, these young people will be able to become strong in faith, serve society, and take an active part in the life of the Church in communion with their Pastors, and putting into application the orientations of the Second Vatican Council.

May the example and the prayer of the Virgin Mother help you in your magnificent mission! I am happy to bless your families and encourage, beyond you personally, all parents and parents' associations concerned about Christian education.




Consistory Hall

Saturday, 4 November 1978

I wish to thank you heartily for the expressions of benevolence with regard to my person. Name days always draw the attention and the benevolence of those closest to us—of members of the family—upon the person who bears a given name. This name reminds us of the love of our parents, who, on giving it, wished to determine somehow the place of their child in that community of love which the family is. They were the first to address him with this name, and together with them, his brothers and sisters, relatives, friends and companions. And so the name marked out the man's path among men; among the men closest to him and fondest of him.

But the mystery of the name goes further. The parents who gave their child his name in baptism, wished to define his place in the great gathering of love which the Family of God is. The Church on earth strives continually towards the dimensions of this family in the mystery of the communion of Saints. By naming their child, the parents wish to bring him into the continuity of this mystery.

My beloved parents gave me the name Karol (Charles), which was also my father's name. Certainly, they could never have foreseen (they both died young) that this name would open up for their child the way among the great events of the Church of today.

St Charles! How often I have knelt before his relics in Milan Cathedral; how often I have thought about his life, contemplating in my mind the gigantic figure of this man of God and servant of the Church, Charles Borromeo, Cardinal, Bishop of Milan, and a man of the Council. He is one of the great protagonists of the deep reform of the 16th century church, carried out by the Council of Trent, which will always remain linked with his name. He is also one of the creators of the institution of ecclesiastical seminaries, which has been reconfirmed in all its substance by the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, he was a servant of souls, who never let himself be intimidated; a servant of the suffering, of the sick, of those condemned to death.

My Patron Saint!

In his name my parents, my parish, my country intended to prepare me right from the beginning for an extraordinary service of the Church, in the context of today's Council, with the many tasks united with its implementation, and also in all the experiences and sufferings of modern man.

May God reward you, revered Brothers, Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, for having, on this day, together with me, wished to venerate St Charles in my unworthy person. May God reward all those who do so together with you.

If only I could imitate him, at least partly!

I hope that your prayers, the prayers of all good, noble, benevolent men, my brothers and sisters, will help me in this.

And now, before I conclude this talk, allow me to address you particularly, revered and dear Dean of the Sacred College, who bear the same name, Charles.

We have a common Patron Saint and we celebrate our name day on the same day.

I reciprocate your good wishes. And I do so from the bottom of my heart, with deep gratitude.

The Dean of the Sacred College has shown me great benevolence on these first days of my pontificate. Whenever he speaks, his words are full of love and dedication; and I welcome the expressions he has ad­ dressed to me today as a sign of extraordinary support for my first steps at the beginning of my new Mission. I thank him heartily.

And I pray that St Charles, our common Patron Saint, will bless his person for his whole life, for all the days full of love for the Church and marked by the spirit of dedication and service which edifies us all.

With my special Apostolic Blessing.



Assisi, Italy

Sunday, 5 November 1978

Here I am in Assisi on this day that I have wished to dedicate specially to the Patron Saints of this country, Italy; a country to which God has called me in order that I may serve as St Peter's successor. Since I was not born in this land, I feel more than ever the need of a spiritual "birth" in it. And therefore, on this Sunday, I come as a pilgrim to Assisi, at the feet of St Francis, the Poverello, who wrote Christ's gospel in incisive characters in the hearts of the men of his time. We cannot be surprised that his fellow citizens have wished to see in him the Patron Saint of Italy. The Pope, who, owing to his mission, must have before his eyes the whole universal Church, the bride of Christ, in the various parts of the globe, particularly needs the help of the Patron Saint of Italy in his See in Rome; he needs the intercession of St Francis of Assisi.

And so he arrives here today. He comes to visit this city, which is always a witness to the marvellous divine adventure that took place between the end of the twelfth and the beginning of the thirteenth century. It is a witness to that surprising holiness that passed here like a great breath of the Spirit. A breath in which St Francis of Assisi participated, as well as his spiritual sister St Clare and so many other saints born from their evangelical spirituality. The Franciscan message spread far beyond the frontiers of Italy, and very soon it also reached Polish soil, from where I come. And it still operates there with abundant fruits, as, moreover, in other countries of the world and in other continents.

I will tell you that, as Archbishop of Krakow, I lived near a very ancient Franciscan church, and from time to time I went there to pray, to make the "Via Crucis" and to visit the chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Unforgettable moments for me! One cannot fail to mention here that it was just from this magnificent trunk of Franciscan spirituality that the blessed Maximilian Kolbe came, a special patron in our difficult times.

I cannot pass over in silence the fact that just here, in Assisi, in this Basilica, in the year 1253, Pope Innocent IV proclaimed saint the Bishop of Krakow, the Martyr Stanislaus, now the Patron Saint of Poland, whose unworthy successor I was until a short time ago.

Today, therefore, setting foot here for the first time as Pope, at the sources of this great breath of the Spirit, of this marvellous revival of the Church and of Christianity in the thirteenth century, linked with the figure of St Francis of Assisi, my heart opens to our Patron Saint and cries: "You, who brought Christ so close to your age, help us to bring Christ close to our age, to our difficult and critical times. Help us! These times are waiting for Christ with great anxiety, although many men of our age are not aware of it. We are approaching the year A.D. 2000. Will they not be times that will prepare us for a rebirth of Christ, for a new Coming? Every day, we express in the eucharistic prayer our expectation, addressed to him alone, our Redeemer and Saviour, to him who is the fulfilment of the history of man and of the world.

Help us, St Francis of Assisi, to bring Christ closer to the Church and to the world of today.

You, who bore in your heart the vicissitudes of your contemporaries, help us, with our heart close to the Redeemer's heart, to embrace the events of the men of our time. The difficult social, economic and political problems, the problems of culture and contemporary civilization, all the sufferings of the man of today, his doubts, his denials his disorders, his tensions, his complexes, his worries... Help us to express all this in the simple and fruitful language of the Gospel. Hell us to solve everything in an evangelical key, in order that Christ himself may be "the Way—the Truth—the Life" for modern man.

This is asked of you, holy son of the Church, son of the Italian land, by Pope John Paul II, son of the Polish land. And he hopes that you will not refuse him it, that you will help him. You have always been kind and you have always hastened to bring help to all those who appealed to you.

I heartily thank His Eminence Cardinal Silvio Oddi, Pontifical Delegate for the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, and Bishop Dino Tomassini of Assisi, and all the Archbishops and Bishops of the pastoral Region of Umbria, with the priests of the various dioceses.

A greeting and special thanks to the Ministers General of the four Franciscan Families, to the Community of the Basilica of St Francis, to all Franciscans, and to all religious Families—men and women Religious—inspired by the Rule and the life-style of St Francis of Assisi.

I tell you what I feel deep down in my heart:

The Pope is grateful to you for your faithfulness to your Franciscan vocation.

The Pope is grateful to you for your apostolic activity and evangelical mission.

The Pope thanks you for your prayers for him and according to his intentions.

The Pope assures you that he remembers you in his prayers.

Serve the Lord joyfully.

Be servants of his people gladly, because St Francis wished you to be joyful servants of mankind, capable of lighting everywhere the lamp of hope, trust, and optimism which has its source in the Lord himself. May your, our, common Patron Saint, St Francis of Assisi, be an example to you today and always!

J then extend my cordial and respectful greeting to the civil Authorities present here:

to the Lord Mayor of Assisi,

to Members of the City Council and Board,

to the civil Authorities of the Umbrian Region and the Province of Perugia,

to the Members of Parliament of the Region.

Thank you! Thank you for your presence, thank you for having wished to join in common prayer at the tomb of St Francis!

To the sentiments of my deep gratitude I join my most fervent wishes of happiness, prosperity and progress for their persons and for the whole beloved population of Umbria.

From Assisi, from this sacred place so dear to all Italians, a heartfelt greeting and a special blessing for the whole of Italy, for all Italians spiritually present at this meeting of ours for prayer, for the whole Italian people.

I wish to address an affectionate thought, and a special memory to Italian emigrants, to Italians scattered in every continent of the globe. I know that in their homes, often far from Assisi and Italy, there is always a souvenir brought from Italy and connected with Assisi, an image of St Francis, and in their hearts a sincere and active devotion towards the Poor Man of Assisi. And then a greeting to all those who have the honour of being called "Francis", finding in our Patron Saint an example of life, a heavenly protector, a spiritual guide, an inner inspiration!

For everyone, in Assisi, a special prayer of the Pope!

And to everyone from Assisi, a special Apostolic Blessing!

Speeches 1978 - Saturday, 21 October 1978