S. John Paul II Homil. 944
945 1. Christus heri et hodie, Principium et Finis, Alpha et Omega....
"Christ, yesterday and today, the beginning and the end, Alpha, and Omega. All time belongs to him, and all the ages; to him be glory and power, through every age for ever" (Roman Missal, Preparation of the Easter Candle).
Every year during the Easter Vigil the Church renews this solemn acclamation of Christ, the Lord of time. We also proclaim this truth on New Year's Day, as we pass from "yesterday" to "today": "yesterday", when we gave thanks to God at the end of the old year; "today", as we greet the new year that is beginning. Heri et hodie. We celebrate Christ who, as Scripture says, is "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (He 13,8). He is the Lord of history, the centuries and millenniums belong to him.
As we begin 1999, the last year before the Great Jubilee, it is as though the mystery of history were unveiled before us in greater depth. Precisely for this reason, the Church has wished to impress the Trinitarian sign of the living God's presence upon the three years of immediate preparation for the Jubilee.
2. The Octave of Christmas ends on the first day of the new year, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, venerated as the Mother of God. The Gospel reminds us that she "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Lc 2,19). So she did in Bethlehem, on Golgotha at the foot of the cross, and on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended in the Upper Room.
And so she does today too. The Mother of God and of human beings keeps in her heart all of humanity's problems, great and difficult, and meditates upon them. The Alma Redemptoris Mater walks with us and guides us with motherly tenderness towards the future. Thus she helps humanity cross all the "thresholds" of the years, the centuries, the millenniums, by sustaining their hope in the One who is the Lord of history.
3. Heri et hodie. Yesterday and today. "Yesterday" invites us to look back. When we turn our attention to the events of this century now drawing to a close, the two World Wars appear before our eyes: cemeteries, the graves of the fallen, families destroyed, weeping and desperation, misery and suffering. How can we forget the death camps, how can we forget the children of Israel cruelly exterminated, how can we forget the holy martyrs: Fr Maximilian Kolbe, Sr Edith Stein and so many others?
However, our century is also the century of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose 50th anniversary was recently celebrated. Precisely in view of this event, in the traditional Message for today's World Day of Peace, I wanted to recall that the secret of true peace lies in respect for human rights. "Recognition of the innate dignity of all the members of the human family ... is the foundation of liberty, justice and peace in the world" (n. 3).
The Second Vatican Council, which prepared the Church to enter the third millennium, stressed that the world, the theatre of the history of the human race, was freed from the slavery of sin by the crucified and risen Christ, so that "she might be fashioned anew according to God's design and brought to her fulfilment" (Gaudium et spes GS 2). This is how believers look on the world of our day, as they gradually advance towards the threshold of the Year 2000.
4. The eternal Word, in becoming Man, entered the world and accepted it in order to redeem it. Thus the world is not only marked by the terrible legacy of sin, but is first and foremost a world saved by Christ, the Son of God, crucified and risen. Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, the Lord of history. Eius sunt tempora et saecula: all time and all the ages belong to him. For this reason we believe that, by entering the third millennium with Christ, we will co-operate in transforming the world redeemed by him, mundus creatus, mundus redemptus.
In various ways, unfortunately, humanity falls under the influence of evil. But spurred by grace, it continues to rise again by the power of the Redemption; it walks towards the good. It walks towards Christ, in accordance with God the Father's plan.
946 "Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end, Alpha, and Omega. All time belongs to him, and all the ages".
We begin this new year in his name. Through Mary's intercession may we be his faithful disciples, so that by our words and deeds we may glorify and honour him through all ages and for ever:
Ipsi gloria et imperium per universa aeternitatis saecula. Amen!
1. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it" (Jn 1,5).
Today the whole liturgy speaks of the light of Christ, of that light which was kindled on the Holy Night. The same light which led the shepherds to the stable in Bethlehem shows the way, on the day of Epiphany, to the Magi who have come from the East to worship the King of the Jews, and it shines brightly for all men and women and for all peoples who long to meet God.
In his spiritual quest, the human being already enjoys a guiding light: it is reason, through which he can find the way, although gropingly (cf. Acts Ac 17,27), towards his Creator. But since it is easy to lose the way, God himself has come to his aid with the light of Revelation, which attained its fullness in the Incarnation of the Word, the eternal Word of truth.
Epiphany celebrates the appearance in the world of this divine Light in which God has reached out to the faint light of human reason. Today's solemnity suggests the close relationship between faith and reason, the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth, as I recalled in the recent Encyclical Fides et ratio.
2. Christ is not only the light that illumines man's way. He also became the path for his uncertain steps towards God, the source of life. One day he will say to the Apostles: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him" (Jn 14,6-7). And in response to Philip's objection, he will add: "He who has seen me has seen the Father ... I am in the Father and the Father in me" (Jn 14,9). The epiphany of the Son is the epiphany of the Father.
Was this not the reason, after all, for Christ's coming into the world? He himself declared that he had come to "make the Father known", to "explain" to people who God is, to reveal his face, his "name" (Jn 17,6). Eternal life consists in meeting the Father (cf. Jn Jn 17,3). How appropriate, then, is this reflection, especially in the year dedicated to the Father!
Down the centuries the Church continues the mission of her Lord: her primary task is to make the Father's face known to all people by reflecting the light of Christ, lumen gentium, the light of love, truth and peace. For this reason, the divine Master sent the Apostles into the world, and in the same Spirit he continually sends Bishops as their successors.
947 3. In accordance with a significant custom, on the Solemnity of Epiphany the Bishop of Rome confers episcopal ordination on a number of prelates, and today I have the joy of consecrating you, dear Brothers, so that in the fullness of the priesthood you may become ministers of God's epiphany among men. Each of you has been entrusted with specific tasks, different from each other but all aimed at spreading the one Gospel of salvation among men.
You, Archbishop Alessandro D'Errico, as Apostolic Nuncio in Pakistan; you, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, as my representative in Rwanda; and you, Archbishop Alain Lebeaupin, as Apostolic Nuncio in Ecuador, will be witnesses of unity and communion between the local Churches and the Apostolic See.
You, Bishop Cesare Mazzolari, are entrusted with the Diocese of Rumbek in Sudan, a land whose people, subjected to years of exhausting suffering, are waiting for a just peace with respect for the human rights of all, beginning with the weakest; and you, Bishop Pierre Tran Dinh Tu, have been called in turn to become a messenger of peace in the Diocese of Phú Cuong, Viêt Nam, among brothers and sisters in the faith who have suffered from many hardships.
You, Bishop Diarmuid Martin, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and you, Bishop José Luis Redrado Marchite, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health-Care Workers, will continue your valued service in the Roman Curia, keeping before your eyes the vast horizon of the entire Church.
Yours is a mission filled with expectations, Bishop Rafael Cob García, Vicar Apostolic of Puyo, Ecuador; and you, Bishop Mathew Moolakkattu, Auxiliary to the Bishop of Kottayam for Syro-Malabars in India; you remind me of Asia and America, continents for which we have recently celebrated two Special Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.
The Lord grant that each of you, the new Bishops on whom I will lay my hands today, may bring everywhere by word and deed the joyful message of Epiphany, in which the Son revealed to the world the face of the Father rich in mercy.
4. On the threshold of the third millennium, the world has greater need than ever to experience the divine goodness, to feel God's love for every person.
The oracle of the prophet Isaiah, which we have heard today, also applies to our age: "Darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds the peoples; but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory" (Is 60,2-3). On the crest, so to speak, between the second and the third millennium, the Church is called to rise up in splendour (cf. Is Is 60,1), to shine as a city set on a hill: the Church cannot remain hidden (cf. Mt Mt 5,14), because people need to hear her message of light and hope and give glory to the Father who is in heaven (cf. Mt Mt 5,16).
Conscious of this apostolic and missionary task which belongs to all the Christian people, but especially to those whom the Holy Spirit has set as Bishops to govern the Church of God (cf. Acts Ac 20,28), we go as pilgrims to Bethlehem to join the Magi from the East as they offer gifts to the newborn King.
But he is the true gift: Jesus, God's gift to the world. He is the One we must receive, in order to bring him in turn to everyone we will meet on our way. For everyone he is the epiphany, the manifestation of God the hope of man, of God the liberation of man, of God the salvation of man.
Christ was born for us in Bethlehem.
948 Come, let us adore him! Amen.
Sunday, 10 January 1999
1. "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Mt 3,17).
These solemn words resound on today's feast of the Baptism of Jesus. They invite us to relive the moment when Jesus, baptized by John, emerges from the waters of the River Jordan and God the Father presents him as his Only-begotten Son, the Lamb who takes upon himself the sin of the world. A voice is heard from the heavens, as the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rests upon Jesus, who thus publicly begins his mission of salvation: the mission of a humble and meek servant, ready to share and give himself completely: "He will not cry or lift up his voice ... a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice" (Is 42,2-3).
The liturgy lets us relive this moving Gospel scene: amidst the penitent crowd that approaches John the Baptist to receive baptism, Jesus is also present. See, the promise is about to be fulfilled and a new age begins for all mankind. This man, who in appearance is no different from others, is in fact God come among us to give power to those who receive him, "who believe in his name, ... to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn 1,12-13).
2. "This is my beloved Son, hear him" (Gospel acclamation).
Today this proclamation and invitation, full of hope for mankind, echo particularly for the children who, in a few moments, will become God's new creation through the sacrament of Baptism. Having become sharers in the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, they will be enriched with the gift of faith and will be incorporated into the people of the new and definitive Covenant, which is the Church. The Father will make them his adopted children in Christ, revealing to them a unique way of life: to listen as disciples to his Son, to be called and to be really his children.
The Holy Spirit will come down upon each of them and, as happened for us on the day of our Baptism, they too will enjoy that life which the Father gives believers through Jesus, the Redeemer of man. This immense wealth of gifts will give them, like every baptized person, a sole task, which the Apostle Paul never tires of teaching the first Christians with the words: "Walk by the Spirit" (Ga 5,16), that is, always live and act in the love of God.
I hope that the Baptism received today by these little ones will make them courageous witnesses of the Gospel throughout their lives. This will be possible as a result of their constant effort. However, dear parents, as you thank God today for the extraordinary gifts that he gives your children, your educational work will also be necessary, as will the support of their godparents.
3. Accept, dear brothers and sisters, the invitation that the Church extends to you: be their "teachers in faith", so that the seed of new life will develop in them and reach full maturity. Help them by your word and especially by your example.
949 May they quickly learn from you to love Christ, to pray to him constantly, to imitate him by always answering his call. You have received in their name, in the symbol of the candle, the flame of faith: take care that it is constantly nourished, so that each of them, in their knowledge and love of Jesus, may always act according to the wisdom of the Gospel. In this way they will become true disciples of the Lord and joyous apostles of his Gospel.
I entrust each of these children and their families to the Virgin Mary. May Our Lady help them all to follow with fidelity the path begun with the sacrament of Baptism.
1. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1,29).
The witness of John the Baptist still resounds today, almost 2,000 years after the event recounted in the Gospel: the Precursor points to Jesus of Nazareth as the long-awaited Messiah and invites us all to renew and deepen our faith in him.
It is Jesus our Redeemer! His saving mission, solemnly proclaimed at the moment of his Baptism in the Jordan, culminates in the paschal mystery, when on the Cross he, the true Lamb sacrificed for us, frees and redeems man, every man, from evil and death.
The great message of the Baptist is proclaimed again in the Eucharistic liturgy. Before Communion, the celebrant presents the consecrated host for the adoration of the faithful, saying: "This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper". In a short while we who are taking part in the Eucharistic Banquet will also receive the true paschal Lamb, sacrificed for the salvation of all humanity.
2. "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (Jn 1,29).
Dear parishioners of St Liborius, I address you with the Baptist's words which have just re-echoed in our assembly. They are words that clearly express the significance of my Pastoral Visits and apostolic journeys, which enable me to meet my brothers and sisters in the faith in Rome and in other parts of the world. Like the Baptist, I consider it my duty to show everyone the Lamb of God, Jesus, the only Saviour of the world yesterday, today and for ever. In the mystery of his Incarnation, he became Emmanuel, "God-with-us", drawing close to us and giving meaning to time and to our daily activities. He is our constant reference-point, the light that illumines our steps, the source of our hope.
Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you all affectionately, together with the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishop of this area. I greet your zealous parish priest, Fr Paolo Cardona, from the Secular Institute of the "Apostolici Sodales", the priests who work with him, the Franciscan Sisters of the Lord and all who in various ways offer the parish community their generous collaboration.
I extend a special greeting to Mons. Bruno Theodor Kresing, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, Germany, who is here today to underscore the bonds of spiritual communion that join your parish with the German Archdiocese, which I visited in 1996. Since then, the Ecclesial Community of Paderborn has generously participated in the building of this new parish complex. I would like here to express my deepest gratitude and to invoke upon both communities the constant protection of their common patron, St Liborius.
950 The bonds of communion and solidarity which link various Christian communities are spiritual and pastoral experiences of great value and are an invitation to foster ever greater openness, mutual understanding and acceptance. Our thoughts turn naturally to the forth coming Jubilee, when Rome will host numerous pilgrims from every continent. I am sure that the parishes, religious institutes and families in Rome will generously open the doors of their homes to them with Gospel warmth and simplicity. It will be an occasion for a fruitful exchange of spiritual gifts, as well as a magnificent ecclesial experience that will help everyone feel he belongs to the one Church that has spread to every corner of the earth.
3. Parishioners of St Liborius, your community has received much and this is why you are now called, in turn, to be generous to others. You live in a neighbourhood where the parish church is the only significant gathering place. With the newly equipped structures you have available, you are encouraged to open yourselves with greater zeal to the needs of the area.
On this occasion, I am pleased to inaugurate the "Sportello di Fraternità" which, with the help of the diocesan Caritas, is starting today; it will combine the valuable professional resources in the community and put them at the service of the neediest. Continue to plan and carry out other charitable projects, thus courageously proclaiming the Gospel. Everyone, even those who are not burdened by precarious material conditions, needs someone who, like the Baptist, shows them Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Devote all your energies to the City Mission which this year, by continuing and strengthening its commitment to families, is directed to the world of work and other human activities. After erecting a church of bricks, you must now see that the Church built of living stones, that is, you the baptized, is ever more attractive through your own convinced efforts. Open to dialogue, be prepared to make the most of every opportunity to grow in brotherhood with Christians and non-Christians, with believers of other faiths and non-believers.
4. To accomplish the demanding missionary work that the Lord asks of you, you must be aware of the personal vocation to holiness of all the baptized. The Apostle Paul, at the beginning of his Letter to the Corinthians, recalls that, sanctified in Christ Jesus, we are "called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord" (1Co 1,2). We are called to live the Gospel with total fidelity. Only in this way will we truly share the same faith in Christ, the same sacraments and the universal vocation to love with the other communities throughout the world.
St Paul greets the Christians of Corinth with these words: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3). "Grace to you and peace from God our Father": I repeat this to you today, brothers and sisters of this parish, and to you members of the Ecclesial Community of Paderborn united by your common devotion to St Liborius. May the heavenly Father protect you; may he help you with his grace and grant you peaceful days.
For each of you, I call upon the protection of Mary, the Virgin who listens and walks with us. Walk together on the spiritual and ecclesial journey to the third Christian millennium. Walk full of trust and missionary zeal, following St Liborius and your holy patrons. In accepting St John's invitation, walk with courage and fidelity in Christ's footsteps. He is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"! He is "the light of the nations who brings salvation to the ends of the earth".
Saturday, 23 January 1999
Beloved Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
951 Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
1. "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman ... " (Ga 4,4). What is the fullness of time? From the standpoint of human history, the fullness of time is a concrete fact. It is the night when the Son of God came into the world in Bethlehem, as foretold by the prophets and as we have heard in the first reading: "The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and you shall call his name Emmanuel" (Is 7,14). These words, spoken many centuries ago, were fulfilled on the night when the Son conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary entered the world.
Christ's birth was preceded by the message of the angel Gabriel. Afterwards, Mary went to the home of her cousin Elizabeth to be of service to her. We were reminded of this by the Gospel of Luke, which puts before us Elizabeth's unusual, prophetic greeting and Mary's splendid response: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour" (1:46-47). These are the events referred to in today's liturgy.
2. The reading from the Letter to the Galatians, for its part, reveals to us the divine dimension of this fullness of time. The words of the Apostle Paul sum up the whole theology of Jesus' birth, at the same time explaining the meaning of this fullness. It is something extraordinary: God has entered human history. God, who in himself is the unfathomable mystery of life; God, who is Father and is himself reflected from all eternity in the Son, consubstantial with him and through whom all things were made (cf. Jn Jn 1,1); God, who is the unity of the Father and the Son in the flow of eternal love which is the Holy Spirit.
Despite the poverty of our words for expressing the ineffable mystery of the Trinity, the truth is that man, in his temporal condition, has been called to share in this divine life. The Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary to obtain this divine adoption for us. The Father has poured out in our hearts the Spirit of his Son, through whom we can say "Abba, Father!" (cf. Gal Ga 4,4). Here, then, is the fullness of time which fulfils all the yearnings of history and of humanity: the revelation of God's mystery, given to human beings through the gift of divine adoption.
3. The fullness of time to which the Apostle refers is related to human history. By becoming man, God in a certain way has entered our time and has transformed our history into the history of salvation. A history that includes all the vicissitudes of the world and of mankind, from creation to their conclusion, but advances through important moments and dates. One of them is the 2,000th year, now close at hand, since the birth of Jesus, the year of the Great Jubilee, for which the Church has also been preparing by holding Extraordinary Synods dedicated to each continent, such as the one held in the Vatican at the end of 1997.
4. Today in this Basilica of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of America, we thank God for the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops - a true Upper Room of ecclesial communion and collegial affection among all the Pastors from the north, centre and south of the continent - shared with the Bishop of Rome as a fraternal experience of encounter with the risen Lord, the way to conversion, communion and solidarity in America.
Now, one year after the celebration of that Synod Assembly, and in conjunction with the centenary of the Plenary Council of Latin America held in Rome, I have come here to place at the feet of the mestiza Virgin of Tepeyac, Star of the New World, the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, which incorporates the contributions and pastoral suggestions of that Synod, entrusting to the Mother and Queen of this continent the future of its evangelization.
5. I wish to express my gratitude to those whose work and prayer enabled that Synod Assembly to reflect the vitality of the Catholic faith in America. I also thank this Primatial Archdiocese of Mexico City and its Archbishop, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, for their cordial welcome and generous cooperation. I affectionately greet the large group of Cardinals and Bishops who have come from every part of the continent and the great many priests and seminarians present here, who fill the Pope's heart with joy and hope. My greeting also extends beyond the walls of this basilica to embrace those who are following the celebration from outside, as well as to all the men and women of various cultures, ethnic groups and nations which form the rich and multifaceted reality of America.
6. "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lc 1,45). Elizabeth's words to Mary, who is carrying Christ in her womb, can also be applied to the Church on this continent. Blessed are you, Church in America, for you have welcomed the Good News of the Gospel and given birth in faith to numerous peoples! Blessed are you for believing, blessed are you for hoping, blessed are you for loving, because the Lord's promise will be fulfilled! The heroic missionary efforts and the wonderful evangelization of these five centuries were not in vain. Today we can say that, as a result, the Church in America is the Church of Hope. We need only look at the vigour of her many young people, the exceptional value put on the family, the blossoming of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life and, above all, the deep piety of her peoples. Let us not forget that in the next millennium, now close at hand, America will be the continent with the largest number of Catholics.
7. However, as the Synod Fathers stressed, if the Church in America has many reasons to rejoice, she also faces serious problems and important challenges. Should we be discouraged by all that? Not at all: "Jesus Christ is Lord!" (Ph 2,11). He has conquered the world and sent his Holy Spirit to make all things new. Would it be too ambitious to hope that after this Synod Assembly - the first American Synod in history - a more evangelical way of living and sharing would grow on this continent where Christians are the majority? There are many areas where the Christian communities of North, Central and South America can demonstrate their fraternal ties, practise real solidarity and collaborate on joint pastoral projects, with each one contributing the spiritual and material wealth at its disposal.
952 8. The Apostle Paul teaches us that in the fullness of time God sent his Son, born of a woman, to redeem us from sin and to make us his sons and daughters. Accordingly, we are no longer servants but children and heirs of God (cf. Gal Ga 4,4-7). Therefore, the Church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death. May the Continent of Hope also be the Continent of Life! This is our cry: life with dignity for all! For all who have been conceived in their mother's womb, for street children, for Guadalupe! To you we present this countless multitude of the faithful praying to God in America. You who have penetrated their hearts, visit and comfort the homes, parishes and Dioceses of the whole continent. Grant that Christian families may exemplarily raise their children in the Church's faith and in love of the Gospel, so that they will be the seed of apostolic vocations. Turn your gaze today upon young people and encourage them to walk with Jesus Christ. O Lady and Mother of America! Strengthen the will be celebrated throughout America with the liturgical rank of feast.
O Mother! You know the paths followed by the first evangelizers of the New World, from Guanahani Island and Hispaniola to the Amazon forests and the Andean peaks, reaching to Tierra del Fuego in the south and to the Great Lakes and mountains of the north. Accompany the Church which is working in the nations of America, so that she may always preach the Gospel and renew her missionary spirit. Encourage all who devote their lives to the cause of Jesus and the spread of his kingdom. O gentle Lady of Tepeyac, Mother of indigenous peoples and Afro-Americans, for immigrants and refugees, for the young deprived of opportunity, for the old, for those who suffer any kind of poverty or marginalization.
Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come to banish once and for all from the continent every attack against life. No more violence, terrorism and drug-trafficking! No more torture or other forms of abuse! There must be an end to the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty! No more exploitation of the weak, racial discrimination or ghettoes of poverty! Never again! These are intolerable evils which cry out to heaven and call Christians to a different way of living, to a social commitment more in keeping with their faith. We must rouse the consciences of men and women with the Gospel, in order to highlight their sublime vocation as children of God. This will inspire them to build a better America. As a matter of urgency, we must stir up a new springtime of holiness on the continent so that action and contemplation will go hand in hand.
9. I wish to entrust and offer the future of the continent to Blessed Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church. For this reason, I have the joy now of announcing that I have declared that on 12 December Our Lady of Guadalupe faith of our brothers and sisters, so that in all areas of social, professional, cultural and political life they may act in accord with the truth and the new law which Jesus brought to humanity. Look with mercy on the distress of those suffering from hunger, loneliness, rejection or ignorance. Make us recognize them as your favourite children and give us the fervent charity to help them in their needs.
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe, Queen of Peace! Save the nations and peoples of this continent. Teach everyone, political leaders and citizens, to live in true freedom and to act according to the requirements of justice and respect for human rights, so that peace may thus be established once and for all.
To you, O Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, belong all the love, honour, glory and endless praise of your American sons and daughters!
At the end of Mass the Holy Father said in Spanish:
Thank you for this splendid gift which I will take with me. I had the joy once again of celebrating in this basilica which is loved so much by all Mexicans, all Americans, children of peace. I thank you for the prayers you offer each day for me and for my Petrine ministry. I know that you will always continue to do so. Thank you.
Sunday, 24 January 1999
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
S. John Paul II Homil. 944