Speeches 1997 - Friday, 25 April 1997






Saturday, 26 April 1997

Dear Friends who are sick,
Dear Men and Women Religious,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. "He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God" (Ap 3,12). It is a joy for me to meet you in this ancient Basilica of Saint Margaret, the heart of the Archabbey of Brevnov. This place, rich in memories, is in a sense the wellspring of the religious and national history of your country.

This Benedictine monastery, as you well know, is closely linked to the name and history of Saint Adalbert, who built here a hermitage and a cell in order to gain, in solitude and prayer, the inner strength he needed. The monastery which he desired, built with the help of the Premyslid Prince Boleslaw II, became the cradle of Benedictine monasticism in Bohemia and Moravia, and the centre of the spread of Christianity in this part of Europe.

2. Ten centuries after his martyrdom, Saint Adalbert still appears to us as the conqueror whom God raised up as the solid pillar to support your Christian history. As a monk, Bishop, missionary and Apostle of Central and Eastern Europe, he continues to impress us even today, holding up to all an example of fidelity to Christ and the Church, capable of pressing on towards the supreme witness of martyrdom.

In the biography of Saint Adalbert composed by Bruno of Querfurt, we read that when the Saint decided to leave the world, he had a precise goal: "Una cogitatio, unum studium erat: nihil concupiscere, nihil quaerere praeter Christum. His sole thought, his sole purpose was to desire nothing, to seek nothing but Christ. Mel jedinou myslenku a jedinu snahu, netouzit po nicem a o nic neusilovat mimo Krista" (Legend Nascitur purpureus flos, XI).

To us today he leaves this same programme. He holds it up especially to you, brothers and sisters, who represent two fundamental aspects of Christian life: a unique configuration to the Crucified Christ through suffering, and a special consecration to God and to the spread of his Kingdom.

I greet you all with affection, together with Cardinal Vlk, the Bishops and other authorities present, and in a particular way the Archabbot, whom I thank for his words of welcome, and the Benedictine monks who are our hosts.

3. I now turn to you, dear brothers and sisters who are sick. Through pain you are being configured to that "Servant of the Lord" who, in the words of Isaiah, "was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities" (Is 53,5 cf. Mt 8,17, Col Mt 1,24).

You are a hidden force contributing powerfully to the life of the Church: by your sufferings you have a share in the redemption of the world. You too, like Saint Adalbert, have been placed by God as a pillar in the temple of the Church so as to become one of its most powerful supports.

Dear friends who are sick, the Church is grateful to you for the patience, the Christian resignation and indeed for the generosity and dedication with which you carry, at times even heroically, the cross which Jesus has placed upon your shoulders. You are close to his heart! He is with you, and you bear him a precious witness in this world so lacking in values, a world which often mistakes pleasure for love and considers sacrifice as something meaningless.

In this millenary year of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert, which is also the first year of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and is consecrated to Christ, the one Saviour of the world, yesterday, today and for ever, I entrust to you my intentions for the universal Church and for the Church in your country. Offer up your sufferings for the needs of the new evangelization, for the Church in mission lands, where the Lord today too is raising up his martyrs, like Adalbert, and for those who are distant or who have lost the faith. I also ask you to pray for the work being done by the Church in this country, for your Bishops and priests, for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, and for the cause of ecumenism. May Saint Adalbert, son of the Czech nation and fearless witness to Christ, fill you with a lively desire for full unity among Christians.

Into your hands and your hearts I place all these hopes, dear brothers and sisters who are suffering. May our Lady of Sorrows, who was acquainted with suffering and who understands you, be close to you as a loving Mother.

And while I think of you who are sorely tried in body and spirit, I would like to address a pressing appeal to the nation's leaders to be constantly sensitive to the situations of suffering present in today's society. The civil authorities and all citizens need to be concerned about the needs of the sick and should promote effective and constant solidarity within society. Let respect for every human being and respect for life from its beginning to its natural end be the great treasure of the civilization of this land!

4. I would now like to speak to you, dear Men and Women Religious of the whole nation! Saint Adalbert shows each of you how it is possible to combine the contemplative and the apostolic life, and he makes clear how providential consecrated life is for the Church and the world. You are a living and indispensable source of strength for the Christian community.

I remember my meeting with you seven years ago in Saint Vitus Cathedral. At that time you were emerging from a long and difficult period of repression which had forced believers, and Religious in particular, to remain silent. But even in the dark years you were able to bear a great witness of fidelity to the Church.The oldest among you experienced great humiliations and sufferings during the two terrible dictatorships, Nazi and Communist. Many consecrated persons were interned in concentration camps, imprisoned, sent to the mines and to forced labour. But even in those situations they were able to give an example of great dignity in the exercise of the Christian virtues, as was true of the Jesuit Father A. Kajpr, the Dominican Father S. Braito, the Borromean Sister Vojtecha Hasmandová, and many others with them.

This treasury of acts of love, sacrifice and self-offering, fully known only to God, certainly prepared the flowering of vocations in these new times of refound religious freedom.

5. Dear brothers and sisters! The Millennium of Saint Adalbert represents a direct and profound challenge for you. Adalbert, a man of learning and prayer, missionary and Bishop, always kept in his heart his original vocation as a Benedictine monk. He was a solid bulwark in the defence of the Gospel.

The Lord wants to place you too as pillars in his spiritual temple, the Church, for the new evangelization. In the new climate of freedom which you are now experiencing and amid profound transformations in culture and mentality, you are realizing, perhaps more than in the past, how the consecrated life meets resistance and obstacles, and how it can appear difficult and lacking in purpose.

Do not lose heart! Communicate lofty and demanding ideals to the young men and women who knock on the doors of your houses. Pass on to them the experience of the Paschal Mystery in daily religious life. Live intensely the splendour of love, from which springs the beauty of total consecration to God.

As witnesses and prophets of the transcendence of human life, let yourself be challenged "by the revealed word and the signs of the times" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata VC 81). Live radically your following of Christ and tend with all your strength towards the perfection of charity. "To tend toward holiness: this is in summary the programme of every consecrated life, particularly in the perspective of its renewal on the threshold of the Third Millennium" (ibid., 93). Do not forget that you, consecrated men and women, have "a great history still to be accomplished" (ibid., 110)!

6. You must write this history of renewed fidelity to Christ and to our brothers and sisters in a world with urgent and real problems which call for a generous contribution on your part. Offer that contribution in full harmony with the Gospel and with the inspiration proper to your specific charism. Your total gift of self to God should radiate convictions and values capable of challenging your contemporaries and helping them to see things in a way which fully respects God's plan for mankind.

In your activity remain always in communion with the directives of the Church authorities. Without the Church, consecrated life would be meaningless. But what would the Church be without you, monks and nuns, contemplative souls, and without Men and Women Religious and members of Secular Institutes and of Societies of Apostolic Life, devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel, care of the sick, elderly and outcast, and the education of young people in the schools? The Church needs you! In you she shows her fruitfulness as a mother and her purity as a virgin.

Spread about you the sense of the Absolute who is God, joy, optimism and hope. These are things which flow from a life surrounded by the love and beauty of God, and from "seeking nothing but Christ", as was the life of Saint Adalbert.

7. Dear consecrated persons, dear friends who are sick, as I pray that each of you will come to grasp in your daily life the unfathomable love of God and the abundance of his graces, I entrust all of you to the maternal protection of Mary who, at the foot of the Cross, sealed her total abandonment to God's will with a complete and trustful acceptance.

May the Blessed Virgin guide your steps as you seek Christ. May He be the sole, profound desire of your heart!

To all of you I impart my Blessing.






27 April 1997

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

1. "We ought to . . . be fellow workers in the truth" (3Jn 8). Thus does the Third Letter of John admonish us. In this ecumenical prayer service, in which we sense more profoundly the longing for unity, I greet you with these words which touch us in the depths of our hearts. Yes, we ought to be fellow workers in the truth.

Despite the commands which Christ gave at the Last Supper, we Christians have unfortunately become divided. The deep wounds opened during the religious history of Europe challenge our consciences. At this moment, and in a special way, we are challenged by the divisions which took place in the history of the Czech nation.

Thanks be to God, this is also a moment of dialogue in prayer. It enables us to reflect together on the truth which, as I have written in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, "forms consciences and directs efforts to promote unity" (No. 33).

2. The search for the truth make us aware of our sinfulness. We are divided from one another because of mutual misunderstandings, often due to mistrust, if not enmity. We have sinned. We have distanced ourselves from the Spirit of Christ.

Precisely for this reason I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Orientale Lumen: "The sin of our separation is very serious: I feel the need to increase our common openness to the Spirit who calls us to conversion ... Every day, I have a growing desire to go over the history of the Churches, in order to write at last a history of our unity" (Nos. 17-18). The imminence of the Third Millennium requires from all Christians a readiness to make, with the light of the Spirit, a strict examination of conscience, and to listen once more to Christ's farewell discourse in the Upper Room. We cannot but feel the urgent need to reach, all together, the humble recognition of the one Truth.

We sense that today we are living the hour of truth. This year of immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee, which I have devoted to reflection on Jesus Christ, can be, in an ecumenical perspective, a providential occasion for an encounter which is more truthful, and therefore more charged with unifying power, with Him, our one Lord and Master.

3. Is not the splendid cathedral in which we are gathered also a symbol of unity? A real treasure of art and faith, it was built more than 650 years ago by Emperor Charles IV and Bishop Arnost of Pardubice. They founded it to serve the ecclesial and civic community. Here are buried saints and kings. Here are preserved the treasures of the Nation - the trophies of the Czech Crown, and the treasures of the Church - the relics of many of her saints.

Shortly I shall go to pray before the holy relics of Adalbert, and at the tomb of Saint Wenceslaus in the chapel dedicated to him: they are saints of a yet undivided Christian community. I have prayed at the tomb of Cardinal Tomášek, who with his solid faith, helped to keep hope alive in every individual, even in the darkest moments of oppression, until the liberation of the homeland.

What we are now living is therefore the hour of hope.

This Cathedral, whose extraordinary architecture is joined to the plan of Prague Castle, is the home of ecclesial and patriotic tradition and the sign of the Nation's unity.

4. From here, from this kind of "city set on a hill" (Mt 5,14), I am happy to acknowledge the efforts of reconciliation and dialogue which in this land the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities are making in order to heal past wounds.

In my first visit, seven years ago, I quoted the "heartbreaking words" which I heard Cardinal Beran say at the Second Vatican Council on "the case of the Bohemian priest Jan Hus." And I expressed the hope that "the place which Jan Hus occupies among the reformers of the Church, beside other famous Reformation figures," could be defined "more precisely" (Address to Cultural Leaders, 21 April 1990, No. 5).

In response to that invitation, the "Jan Hus" Ecumenical Commission is seriously working in the direction suggested. In this context special significance must be attributed to initiatives such as the Conference devoted to Jan Hus at Bayreuth, in 1993, to which Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was invited as the Representative of the Holy See. I am also aware that the Cardinal Archbishop of Prague, Miloslav Vlk, takes part in the ecumenical meetings celebrated yearly on 6 July, the anniversary of the tragic death of Jan Hus.

I also find worthy of mention the activity of the Ecumenical Commission for the study of Czech religious history in the 16th and 17th centuries. Inspired by a truly ecumenical spirit, it seeks to provide scientifically valid instruments for a better understanding, with minds free of prejudice, of matters not yet sufficiently clarified which in the past led to disorders and excesses in relations between members of Reformation Communities and Catholic brethren.

Finally, I look with great comfort to the consoling results of the annual ecumenical celebrations of the Word. At these meetings representatives of all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Republic come together, both at the beginning of the year, in accordance with the international initiative of the Evangelical Alliance, and during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The atmosphere of profound recollection and fraternal love which is created on these occasions makes the yearning for one Eucharist more keenly felt.

5. This moving ecumenical meeting is for all of us the hour of charity. It is my sincere wish that the words which the Apostle John writes to the unknown recipient of his Third Letter may apply to each one of us: "Beloved, it is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the Church" (5-6).

This text can be for us an inspiring point of reference and a stimulus for our ecumenical undertaking. For it is in love that it is possible to ask God's forgiveness together and to find the courage to forgive one another for the injustices and wrongs of the past, no matter how great and terrible they have been. The barriers of mutual suspicion and mistrust must be broken down, in order to build a new civilization of love. This will be born of our sincere commitment to be fellow workers in spreading truth, hope, and love.

The holy Bishop Adalbert made the unity of his flock the goal, the endeavour, the passion of his life, and he has the merit of having forged among the diverse peoples of Europe the desire for unity. Today, following his ideal, I repeat also from this Cathedral the words which I addressed to the country two years ago, from Olomouc, when in the name of the Church of Rome I asked forgiveness for the wrongs inflicted on non-Catholics and at the same time I wished to assure the Catholic Church's forgiveness of the sufferings which her children have undergone: "May this day mark a new beginning in the common effort to follow Christ, his Gospel, his law of love, his supreme desire for the unity of those who believe in him" (Homily, 21 May 1995, No. 5).

7. Dear Brothers and Sisters! Much work remains to be done, there are opportunities not to be lost, heavenly gifts not to be overlooked, in order to respond to what the Lord expects from each and every one of the baptized. It is important that all the Churches concern themselves with the theological dimension of ecumenical dialogue and persevere in a frank and serious examination of the growing convergences. We must seek unity as the Lord wants it, and for this we must be ever more converted to the demands of his Kingdom. We are called to be, following the example of Bishop Adalbert, fellow workers of truth, hope and love!

I thank you, dear Brothers and Sisters, for having shared this providential experience of prayer. I also thank the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, together with the distinguished representatives of the country's political and social life who have wished to be present.

Christ stands before us. He who "loved us to the end" is for all of us the infinite source of strength, creative ecumenical inspiration, patience and perseverance. He is the Truth!

Dear Brothers and Sisters, thank you! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of history and guide of our hearts, thank you! May he bless you!






Sunday, 27 April 1997

Mr President of the Republic,
Cardinal Vlk and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Parliamentary, Government and Military Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. As I leave your country, I wish to offer thanks to God for the renewed witness of faith and affection which you have shown me on the occasion of the millenary celebrations of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert.

I still have before my eyes and in my heart the crowds which have accompanied my pilgrimage: the young people who filled with their songs and prayers the Great Square of Hradec Králové, the sick, the men and women religious who filled the Basilica of the Archabbey of Brevnov. And how can I fail to mention the intense spiritual concentration which animated the Eucharistic Celebration this morning on the great esplanade of Letná, and the ecumenical prayer meeting which has just ended with the brethren of the other Christian Churches and denominations in the Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert?

To all of you go my warm and heartfelt thanks!

2. In particular, I wish to express sincere gratitude to you, Mr President of the Republic, for the friendly and courteous welcome with which you have surrounded my stay in the Czech Republic.

I likewise feel the duty to express my special gratitude to Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, to Bishop Karel Otcenášek of Hradec Králové and to all my Brother Bishops, for having invited me to come for a third time to this country, and for the fraternal and affectionate communion which they have shown me also during this apostolic visit.

With them I thank the priests and pastoral workers, and I pray that the great commitment which they have shown in preparing and celebrating the Millennium of Saint Adalbert will leave a deep impression on the religious history of the individual local Churches and of the entire nation.

3. My affectionate thoughts go to you, the citizens of the Czech Republic. The unique qualities of your people — strength of character, tenacity, openness to others, love of peace — after helping you to resist an ideological pressure which was among the most ruthless in Eastern Europe, have enabled you in these recent years to attain impressive goals of civilization and progress.

As I congratulate you on these victories, I exhort you to be particularly careful to promote a matching spiritual progress. Only the full development of a people's moral virtues can ensure the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all its members.

It is precisely this that is the message of Saint Adalbert, who in difficult times was able to establish upon the primacy of God and spiritual values the future of your land and of other European peoples.

May his witness help you to give proper importance to economic triumphs, but without succumbing to the deceptive fascination of consumer society. May he also encourage you to re-affirm the values which constitute the true greatness of a nation: intellectual and moral integrity, the defence of the family, openness to the needy, respect for human life from conception to death. The holy Bishop and Martyr reminds you of your nation's solid spiritual roots, and urges you to guard with care the patrimony of faith and civilization which, since the preaching of Saints Cyril and Methodius, from generation to generation has now reached you. It is present in the popular traditions, in the works of the philosophers, writers and artists of your land, and in many different expressions of your culture, and it is the guarantee of your identity and your future.

4. To you, Brothers and Sisters of the Catholic Church on her pilgrimage in the Czech Republic, I wish to address a special greeting, inviting you to work with everyone, steadfastly and selflessly, for the greater good of your homeland.

The example of Saint Adalbert, bravely facing the difficulties and challenges of his time and faithful to Christ, even to the supreme witness of his blood, encourages you to commit yourselves generously to a renewed work of evangelization: a deeper knowledge of the faith through serious biblical and theological formation, a convinced participation in the liturgy and in parish life, generous service of your brothers and sisters who are in need, frank and sincere dialogue with those who are near and those who are far, careful attention to the expectations of those around you.

5. Finally, I wish to express my special appreciation to all those who with skill and dedication have worked in the preparation and running of this Pastoral Visit: the Episcopal Commissions of Prague and Hradec Králové; the State and Municipal Police, and all who have contributed to the not always easy task of ensuring order; the officials and helicopter pilots, the journalists and the radio and television workers who have provided up-to-the-minute news coverage of the various phases of my visit.

To all I express my most heartfelt thanks.

6. I entrust to Saint Adalbert, the great son and heavenly Patron of this land, the aspirations and the future of the entire Czech People, and I express the hope that the younger generation will be worthy of the historical heritage of which they are the bearers.

I renew to each one of you my sincere wishes for your prosperity and peace, and, invoking upon you the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, I affectionately bless all of you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

S pánem Bohem.

Mám vás velmi rád!

Stále vás všechny nosím ve svém srdci!



Dear Participants in the European Congress on Vocations,

1. I am pleased to extend my greeting of good wishes to you at the beginning of your work on the demanding theme: “New Vocations for a New Europe”. The convention, preceded by careful preparation which involved many persons devoted to the pastoral care of vocations, is a great sign of hope for the Churches of the European continent and it providentially flows into that great river of faith experiences that remind Europe of its Christian roots and the Churches of their mission to proclaim Jesus Christ to the generations of the third millennium.

This providential initiative intends to call renewed attention to the pastoral care of vocations, recognizing that it is a vital problem for the future of the Christian faith on the continent and, consequently, for the spiritual progress of European peoples themselves. This is not a question of a partial or marginal aspect of the ecclesial experience, but rather of the lived experience of faith in Jesus Christ, the only Plan capable of fully satisfying the deepest aspirations of the human heart.

2. Life has an essentially vocational structure. In fact, the plan for it stems from the heart of the mystery of God: “He chose us in him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ep 1,4).

All human existence is therefore an answer to God, who makes his love felt especially on some occasions: the call to life; the entrance into his Church's communion of grace; the invitation to bear witness in the Christian community to Christ according to a completely personal and irreplaceable plan; the definitive call to communion with him at the hour of death.

There is no doubt therefore that the ecclesial community's commitment to the pastoral care of vocations is most serious and urgent. In fact, every baptized person must be helped to discover the call that in God's plan is addressed to him and to make himself available to it. It will thus be easier for those who receive a special vocation of service to the kingdom to recognize its value and generously accept it. In fact, it is not a question of educating people to do something, but of giving a radical direction to one’s existence and of making decisive choices that guide one’s future for ever.

3. In this perspective, this congress on vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life in Europe is an act of faith in the effective and constant action of God; an act of hope in the future of the Church in Europe; a gesture of love towards the People of God on the “old continent”, in need individuals who are fully devoted to the proclamation of the Gospel and to the service of their brethren. You intend to identify the appropriate strategies for assisting those whom the Lord chooses for this total commitment to discovering their calling and to giving their unconditional “yes”.

Your attention is directed especially to young people, so that they will know how to accept the Master's invitation to follow him. He fixes his penetrating gaze on them, the gaze of which Mark's Gospel speaks (cf. Mk Mc 10,21): it evokes the mystery of light and love which surrounds and accompanies every human person from the first moment of his existence.

Everyone knows the problems that make it difficult to accept Christ's invitation. Among these are: consumerism, a hedonistic vision of life, the culture of escape, exaggerated subjectivism, fear of making definitive commitments, a widespread lack of thought for the future.

Like the rich young man of whom the Gospel speaks (cf. Mk Mc 10,22), many young people feel strong inner and outer resistance to Christ's call and quite often they withdraw in sadness, succumbing to the influences that hold them back. The sadness that came over the face of the rich young man is the recurring risk of anyone who cannot decide to say “yes” to the call; and sadness is merely the façade of that emptiness of values which is in the depths of his heart and which often leads whoever is its victim to turn to the ways of alienation, violence and nihilism.

The congress however cannot merely examine the quite obvious problems that mark the world of youth. It has the primary task of pointing out to the Christian community the resources, expectations and values present in the new generations, offering at the same time concrete suggestions for developing, on the basis of these premises, a serious plan of life inspired by the Gospel. Anyone who loves young people cannot deprive them of this new, exciting possibility of life, to which Christ calls the individual for the sake of a fuller realization of his potential, as a premise for deep and lasting joy. Every effort must therefore be made so that young people will come to put Christ at the centre of their search and docilely follow whatever his call may be.

4. Your congress can receive great light from the words of the Apostle, which describe the theological constitution of every Ecclesial Community: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one” (1Co 12,4). It is in this perspective that the individual Churches must undertake to support the development of the gifts and charisms that the Lord never ceases to instil in his people. New vocations can arise in the Spirit when the Christian community is active and faithful to its Lord. This fruitful vitality presupposes a strong climate of faith, pervasive, assiduous prayer, attention to the quality of spiritual life, the witness of communion and esteem for the many gifts of the Spirit, missionary zeal for serving the kingdom of God.

It should therefore be stressed that the pastoral care of vocations cannot be limited to occasional and extraordinary activities that take place within the everyday life of the Ecclesial Community. It must rather be one of the constant concerns in the pastoral ministry of the local Church. In this regard, the liturgical year itself is a continuous school of faith, which invites every baptized person to enter into the mystery of God, to let himself be formed in his image and likeness.

5. Everyone knows how urgent today is pastoral attention to the role of education. Indeed, a particular Church can look confidently to her future only if she is able to give concrete expression to this pedagogical attention, constantly providing for the care of her educators and, above all, her priests.

The congress, therefore, is an invitation to all who are called — priests and consecrated persons — to be joyful witnesses in the service of the kingdom, well aware that their life is always a significant presence among young people: it encourages or discourages, it elicits a desire for God, or it acts as an obstacle to following him. The first vocational invitation is offered by a consistent witness to the risen Christ. The congress, moreover, will want to foster the growth of an authentic educational awareness in formation personnel themselves, who are called to a serious and exciting responsibility with young people: that of accompanying them in their search, stirring them to generous vocational responses, in order to renew in this season of the Church the miracle of holiness, the true secret of the ecclesial renewal for which we long.

6. Dear brothers and sisters, the task before you is far from easy, but the constant prayer that accompanies this meeting of the Churches in Europe nourishes hope in God's promise and in the radical responses to his call: they are possible even in our time. Prayer is the secret that can guarantee the rebirth of confidence within Christian communities. Prayer is the constant support of those who are called to serve the cause of the Gospel and to promote the pastoral care of vocations in these years that are difficult but not without clear signs of a new spiritual springtime. The prophetic role of Gospel radicalism is a gift that the Lord will not fail to give his Church on the threshold of the third millennium.

May Mary, the model of every vocation and the crystal-clear example of an unconditional response to God's call, accompany you in your pastoral commitment to serving “new vocations for a new Europe”.

With these sentiments I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

From the Vatican, 29 April 1997.

Speeches 1997 - Friday, 25 April 1997