S. John Paul II Homil. 1204


Sunday 29 October 2000

1. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it!" (1Co 9,24).

1205 In Corinth, where Paul had brought the message of the Gospel, there was a very important stadium where the "Isthmian Games" were held. It was appropriate, then, for Paul to refer to athletic contests in order to spur the Christians of that city to push themselves to the utmost in the "race" of life. In the stadium races, he says, everyone runs, even if only one is the winner: you too run.... With this metaphor of healthy athletic competition, he highlights the value of life, comparing it to a race not only for an earthly, passing goal, but for an eternal one. A race in which not just one person, but everyone can be a winner.

Today we are listening to these words of the Apostle as we gather in Rome's Olympic Stadium, which once again is transformed into a great open-air church, as it was for the international Jubilee for the world of sport in 1984, the Holy Year of the Redemption. Then, as today, it is Christ, the only Redeemer of man, who welcomes us and illumines our way with his word of salvation.

I offer a warm greeting to all of you, dear athletes and sportsmen and women from every corner of the world, who are celebrating your Jubilee! My heartfelt "thanks" to the international and Italian authorities of sport institutions, and to everyone who helped to organize this extraordinary meeting with the world of sport and its various dimensions.

I thank Mr Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Giovanni Petrucci, President of the Italian National Olympic Committee, and Mr Giovanni Rossi, a gold-medal winner at Sydney and Atlanta, for their addresses to me, expressing the sentiments of you all, dear athletes. As I look at all of you gathered in such orderly fashion in this stadium, many memories of sporting experiences in my life come to mind. Dear friends, thank you for your presence and thank you especially for the enthusiastic way you are observing this Jubilee event.

2. With this celebration the world of sport is joining in a great chorus, as it were, to express through prayer, song, play and movement a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord. It is a fitting occasion to give thanks to God for the gift of sport, in which the human person exercises his body, intellect and will, recognizing these abilities as so many gifts of his Creator.

Playing sports has become very important today, since it can encourage young people to develop important values such as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, sharing and solidarity. Precisely for this reason, in recent years it has continued to grow even more as one of the characteristic phenomena of the modern era, almost a "sign of the times" capable of interpreting humanity's new needs and new expectations. Sports have spread to every corner of the world, transcending differences between cultures and nations.

Because of the global dimensions this activity has assumed, those involved in sports throughout the world have a great responsibility. They are called to make sports an opportunity for meeting and dialogue, over and above every barrier of language, race or culture. Sports, in fact, can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love.

3. The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 invites each and every person to engage seriously in reflection and conversion. Can the world of sport excuse itself from this providential spiritual dynamism? No! On the contrary, the importance of sports today invites those who participate in them to take this opportunity for an examination of conscience. It is important to identify and promote the many positive aspects of sport, but it is only right also to recognize the various transgressions to which it can succumb.

The educational and spiritual potential of sport must make believers and people of good will united and determined in challenging every distorted aspect that can intrude, recognizing it as a phenomenon opposed to the full development of the individual and to his enjoyment of life. Every care must be taken to protect the human body from any attack on its integrity, from any exploitation and from any idolatry.

There must be a willingness to ask forgiveness for whatever has been done, or not done, in the world of sport that is in contrast to the commitments made at the last Jubilee. They will be reaffirmed in the "Sport Manifesto", which will be presented in a few moments. May this examination offer everyone - managers, technicians and athletes - an opportunity to find new creative and motivating zeal, so that sport, without losing its true nature, can answer the needs of our time: sport that protects the weak and excludes no one, that frees young people from the snares of apathy and indifference, and arouses a healthy sense of competition in them; sport that is a factor of emancipation for poorer countries and helps to eradicate intolerance and build a more fraternal and united world; sport which contributes to the love of life, teaches sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of every human person.

4. "Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing" (
Ps 125,5). The responsorial psalm reminded us that persevering effort is needed to succeed in life. Anyone who plays sports knows this very well: it is only at the cost of strenuous training that significant results are achieved. The athlete, therefore, agrees with the Psalmist when he says that the effort spent in sowing finds its reward in the joy of the harvest: "Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves" (Ps 125,6).

1206 At the recent Olympic Games in Sydney we admired the feats of the great athletes, who sacrificed themselves for years, day after day, to achieve those results. This is the logic of sport, especially Olympic sports; it is also the logic of life: without sacrifices, important results are not obtained, or even genuine satisfaction.

Once again the Apostle Paul has reminded us of this: "Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable" (
1Co 9,25). Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is, a faithful and courageous witness to his Gospel. But to succeed in this, he must persevere in prayer, be trained in virtue and follow the divine Master in everything.

He, in fact, is God's true athlete: Christ is the "more powerful" Man (cf. Mk Mc 1,7), who for our sake confronted and defeated the "opponent", Satan, by the power of the Holy Spirit, thus inaugurating the kingdom of God. He teaches us that, to enter into glory, we must undergo suffering (cf. Lk Lc 24,26); he has gone before us on this path, so that we might follow in his footsteps.

May the Great Jubilee help us to be strengthened and fortified to face the challenges that await us at this dawn of the third millennium.

5. "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mc 10,47).

These are the words of the blind man of Jericho in the Gospel episode proclaimed a few moments ago. They can also become our words: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!".

O Christ, we fix our gaze on you, who offer every person the fullness of life. Lord, you heal and strengthen those who, trusting in you, accept your will.

Today, during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, athletes throughout the world are gathered here in spirit, above all to renew their faith in you, man's only Saviour.

And those, like the athlete, who are at the peak of their strength recognize that without you, O Christ, they are inwardly like the blind man, incapable, that is, of seeing the full truth, of understanding the deep meaning of life, especially when faced with the darkness of evil and death.

Even the greatest champion finds himself defenceless before the fundamental questions of life and needs your light to overcome the demanding challenges that a human being is called to face.

Lord Jesus Christ, help these athletes to be your friends and witnesses to your love. Help them to put the same effort into personal asceticism that they do into sports; help them to achieve a harmonious and cohesive unity of body and soul.

1207 May they be sound models to imitate for all who admire them. Help them always to be athletes of the spirit, to win your inestimable prize: an imperishable crown that lasts forever. Amen!


Wednesday 1 November 2000

1. "Praise and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving and honour, power and might, to our God for ever and ever" (Ap 7,12). In a spirit of profound adoration of the Most Holy Trinity, we join all the saints who eternally celebrate the heavenly liturgy, to offer thanks again with them to our God for the wonders he has accomplished in the history of salvation.

Praise and thanksgiving to God for having raised up in the Church a great multitude of saints, whom no one could count (cf. Rv Ap 7,9). A great multitude: not only the saints and blesseds we honour during the liturgical year, but also the anonymous saints known only to him. Mothers and fathers of families, who in their daily devotion to their children made an effective contribution to the Church's growth and to the building of society; priests, sisters and lay people who, like candles lit before the altar of the Lord, were consumed in offering material and spiritual aid to their neighbour in need; men and women missionaries, who left everything to bring the Gospel message to every part of the world. And the list could go on.

2. Praise and thanksgiving to God, particularly for the holiest of creatures, Mary, beloved of the Father, blessed because of Jesus, the fruit of her womb, sanctified and made a new creation by the Holy Spirit. A model of holiness for having put her own life at the disposal of the Most High, she "shines forth on earth as a sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God" (Lumen gentium LG 68).

Today is exactly the 50th anniversary of the solemn act by which my revered predecessor Pope Pius XII, in this very square, defined the dogma of Mary's Assumption body and soul into heaven. We praise the Lord for having glorified his Mother by associating her with his victory over sin and death.

Today the faithful of Pompei have wanted in a special way to join in our praise. They have come on pilgrimage in large numbers, led by Archbishop Francesco Saverio Toppi, the shrine's Prelate, and accompanied by the city's mayor. Their presence recalls that it was Bl. Bartolo Longo, founder of the new Pompei, who in 1900 began the popular movement for the dogmatic definition of the Assumption.

3. Today's liturgy speaks completely of holiness.But to know what is the way to holiness, we must go with the Apostles up the mount of the Beatitudes to draw near to Jesus and listen to the words of life that come from his lips. Today too he says to us again:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! The divine Teacher proclaims "blessed" and, we could say, "canonizes" first of all the poor in spirit, that is, those whose heart is free of prejudices and conditionings, and who are therefore totally disposed to the divine will. Their total and trusting fidelity to God presupposes renunciation and consistent self-detachment.

Blessed are those who mourn! This is the blessedness not only of those who suffer from the many misfortunes that belong to the mortal human condition, but also those who courageously accept the sufferings that result from the sincere profession of Gospel morality.

Blessed are the pure in heart! He proclaims blessed those who are not content with outward or ritual purity, but seek that absolute inner rectitude which excludes all deceit and duplicity.

1208 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness! Human righteousness is already a very lofty goal, which ennobles the heart of whoever pursues it, but Jesus is thinking of that greater righteousness which lies in seeking God's saving will: blessed above all are those who hunger and thirst for this righteousness. For Jesus says: "He who does the will of my Father who is in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 7,21).

Blessed are the merciful! Happy are those who overcome their hardness of heart and indifference, to recognize in practice the primacy of compassionate love, following the example of the Good Samaritan and, in the last analysis, of the Father "rich in mercy" (Ep 2,4).

Blessed are the peacemakers! Peace, the sum of all messianic blessings, is a demanding task. In a world marked by tremendous antagonisms and barriers, fraternal harmony inspired by love and sharing must be promoted by overcoming hostilities and conflicts. Blessed are those who dedicate themselves to this most noble endeavour!

4. The saints took these words of Jesus seriously. They believed that they would find "happiness" by putting them into practice in their lives. And they realized their truth in everyday experience: despite their trials, moments of darkness and failures, they already tasted here below the deep joy of communion with Christ. In him they discovered the initial seed, already present in time, of the future glory of God's kingdom.

This was discovered in particular by Mary Most Holy, who lived in unique communion with the incarnate Word, entrusting herself unreservedly to his saving plan. For this reason she was granted to hear, in anticipation of the "Sermon on the Mount", the Beatitude that sums up all the rest: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lc 1,45).

5. The depth of the Blessed Virgin's faith in God's word appears clearly in the song of the Magnificat: "My soul magnifies the Lord, / and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, / for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden" (Lc 1,46-48).

In this song Mary shows what constituted the foundation of her holiness: deep humility. We might ask ourselves in what did her humility consist. Much is said to us by the "trouble" she felt at the Angel's greeting: "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Lc 1,28). Before the mystery of grace, the experience of a particular presence of God who has rested his gaze upon her, Mary feels a natural impulse of humility (literally, of "abasement"). It is the reaction of someone who is fully aware of her own littleness before the greatness of God. In the truth Mary beholds herself, others and the world.

Was not the sign of humility the question: "How can this be, since I have no husband?" (Lc 1,34). She had just heard that she was to conceive and bear a child, who would reign on the throne of David as the Son of the Most High. Certainly, she did not fully understand the mystery of that divine plan, but she realized that it meant a total change in the reality of her life. However, she did not ask: will this really happen? must this happen? She simply said: how can this be? With no doubts or reservations, she accepted the divine intervention that changed her life. The question expressed the humility of faith, the willingness to put one's life at the service of the divine mystery, without being able to understand how it would come about.

This humility of spirit, this complete submission in faith, is particularly expressed in her "fiat": "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word" (Lc 1,38). Because of Mary's humility, what she would later sing in the Magnificat could be fulfilled: "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed; / for he who is mighty has done great things for me, / and holy is his name" (Lc 1,48-49).

The greatness of the gift corresponds to the depth of the humility. He who is mighty did "great things" for her (cf. Lk Lc 1,49), and she knew how to accept them with gratitude and to hand them on to all generations of believers. This is the way to heaven followed by Mary, Mother of the Saviour, who goes ahead of all the Church's saints and blesseds on this path.

6. Blessed are you, Mary, assumed body and soul into heaven! Pius XII defined this truth "for the glory of almighty God ..., for the honour of his Son, the immortal King of the ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the greater glory of his Mother and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church" (Ap. Const. Munificentissimus Deus, AAS 42 [1950], 770).

1209 And we exult, O Mary Assumed into Heaven, as we contemplate you who have been glorified and, in the risen Christ, have become the co-worker of the Holy Spirit in communicating divine life to mankind. In you we see the goal of holiness to which God calls all the Church's members. In your life we recognize the clear sign of the path to spiritual maturity and Christian holiness.

With you and with all the saints we glorify God the Trinity, who sustains our earthly pilgrimage and lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.



Sunday 5 November 2000

1. "Hear, O Israel!" (Dt 6,3)

The word of God, in a solemn yet loving way, has just invited us to "hear". To hear "today", "now", and to do so not as individuals or in private but together: "Hear, O Israel!".

This summons is directed this morning in a particular way to you, the Government Leaders, Members of Parliament, Politicians and Public Administrators who have come to Rome to celebrate your Jubilee. I greet all of you cordially, with a special thought for the Heads of State present among us.

In the celebration of the Liturgy, the event of our Covenant with God becomes present, here and now. What response does God expect from us? The command which we have just received in the proclamation of the Biblical text is peremptory: we need first and foremost to listen. Not a passive and uninvolved listening. The Israelites understood very well that God expected from them an active and responsible answer. That is why they promised Moses: "Speak to us all that the Lord our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it" (Dt 5,27).

In taking on this responsibility, they knew they were dealing with a God whom they could trust. God loved his people and he desired their happiness. In exchange, he asked for love. In the "Shema Israel", which we heard in the First Reading, together with the demand for faith in the one God, there is expressed the fundamental commandment of love for him: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Dt 6,5).

2. Man’s relationship with God is not one of fear, of slavery or oppression; rather, it is a relationship of serene trust born of a free choice motivated by love. The love which God expects from his people is their response to that faithful and solicitous love which he first made known in all the various stages of salvation history.

For this very reason the Commandments, before being a legal code and a set of juridic regulations, were understood by the Chosen People as an event of grace, as a sign of their being privileged to belong to the Lord. It is significant that Israel never speaks of the Law as a burden, but rather as a gift and a grace: "Happy are we, O Israel", exclaims the Prophet, "for we know what is pleasing to God" (Ba 4,4).

The people knew that the Decalogue involves a binding commitment, but they also knew that it is the condition for life: Behold, says the Lord, I am setting before you life and death, good and evil; and I command you to observe my commands, that you may have life (cf. Dt Dt 30,15). By his Law God does not intend to coerce man’s will, but rather to set it free it from everything that could compromise its authentic dignity and its full realization.

1210 3. Distinguished Government Leaders, Members of Parliament and Politicians: I have been reflecting on the meaning and the value of the divine Law, because this is a subject which very closely affects you. Does not your daily work consist of creating just laws and seeking to have them accepted and applied? In doing this you are convinced that you are rendering an important service to man, to society and to freedom itself. And rightly so. Human law, in fact, if just, is never against, but in the service of freedom. This was already perceived by the ancient sage who said: "Legum servi sumus, ut liberi esse possimus" – "We are servants to the law, so that we might be free" (Cicero, De Legibus, II:13).

The freedom to which Cicero referred, however, is found chiefly on the level of outward relationships between citizens. As such, it can risk being reduced to a commensurate balancing of respective interests, and even of counterbalancing selfish interests. But the freedom of which the word of God speaks is one rooted in the human heart, a heart which God can liberate from selfishness and open up to a selfless love.

It is not by chance that, in the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus answers the scribe who asks him what is the first of all the commandments by quoting the "Shema": "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (
Mc 12,30). The emphasis is placed on the "all": the love of God can only be "totalitarian". But God alone is able to purify the human heart from selfishness and to "free it" for its full capacity to love.

People whose hearts have thus been "reclaimed" are able to open themselves to their brothers and sisters and take responsibility for them with the same care with which they are concerned for themselves. That is why Jesus goes on to say: "The second (commandment) is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’" (Mc 12,31). Anyone who loves God with all his heart and acknowledges him as the "one God", and thus as the Father of all, cannot fail to look upon everyone whom he meets on the way as a brother or a sister.

4. Love your neighbour as yourself. This saying surely strikes a chord in your hearts, dear Government Leaders, Members of Parliament, Politicians and Public Administrators. To each of you, today, on the occasion of your Jubilee, it poses a fundamental question: how, in your delicate and demanding service to the State and to its citizens, can you carry out this commandment? The answer is clear: by living your involvement in politics as a service to others. An approach as magnificent as it is demanding! It cannot in fact be reduced to some generic restatement of principles or a declaration of good intentions. Political service is lived in a precise and daily commitment which calls for great competence in the fulfilment of one’s duties and unswerving morality in the selfless and accountable exercise of power.

On the other hand, the personal integrity of the politician also needs to find expression in a correct conception of the social and political life which he or she is called to serve. From this standpoint, Christian politicians need to make constant reference to those principles which the Church’s social doctrine has developed in the course of time. These principles, as we know, do not constitute an "ideology" and even less a "political programme"; rather, they offer a fundamental approach to understanding the human person and society in the light of the universal ethical law present in the heart of every human being, a law which is clarified by the revelation of the Gospel (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 41). You, dear brothers and sisters engaged in political life, must be eloquent and effective proponents of these principles.

Certainly, the application of these principles to the complexities of political life will often and inevitably meet up with situations, problems and circumstances which can legitimately give rise to diverse concrete judgements. Yet at the same time there is no justification for a pragmatism which, even with regard to essential and fundamental values of social life, would reduce politics to the mere balancing of interests or, worse yet, to a matter of demagogy or of winning votes. If legislation cannot and must not be coextensive with the whole of the moral law, neither can it run "counter" to the moral law.

5. All of this takes on particular importance in the present situation of profound change which has seen the emergence of a new dimension of politics. The decline of ideologies has been accompanied by a crisis of partisan alliances, which in turn calls for a new way of understanding political representation and the role of institutions. There is a need to rediscover the true meaning of participation and to involve more citizens in seeking suitable ways of advancing towards an ever more satisfactory attainment of the common good.

In this undertaking, Christians must guard against yielding to the temptation to violent conflicts, which often cause great suffering to the community. Dialogue remains the irreplaceable instrument for every constructive confrontation, both within States and in international relations. And who could better take on the "burden" of this dialogue than a Christian politician, who every day must measure up to what Christ has called "the first" of the commandments, the commandment of love?

6. Distinguished Government Leaders, Members of Parliament, Politicians, Public Administrators: at the beginning of the new century and the new millennium, those responsible for public life are faced with many demanding responsibilities. It is precisely with this in mind that, in the context of the Great Jubilee, I have wished, as you know, to offer you the support of a special Patron: the martyr Saint Thomas More.

Thomas More’s life is truly an example for all who are called to serve humanity and society in the civic and political sphere. The eloquent testimony which he bore is as timely as ever at an historical moment which presents crucial challenges to the consciences of everyone involved in the field of governance. As a statesman, he always placed himself at the service of the person, especially the weak and the poor. Honour and wealth held no sway over him, guided as he was by an outstanding sense of fairness. Above all, he never compromised his conscience, even to the point of making the supreme sacrifice so as not to disregard its voice. Invoke him, follow him, imitate him! His intercession will not fail – even in the most difficult of situations – to bring you strength, goodnaturedness, patience and perseverance.

1211 This is the hope which we now wish to strengthen with the power of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in which Christ once more becomes nourishment and direction for our lives. May the Lord help you to become politicians after his own heart, emulators of Saint Thomas More, courageous witnesses of Christ and conscientious servants of the State.




Friday, 10 November 2000

«I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep» (Jn 10,11).

1. In the year 2001, the Armenian Church will celebrate the seventeenth centenary of the Baptism of Armenia through the ministry of Saint Gregory the Illuminator. Following the Good Shepherd, Saint Gregory laid down his life for his sheep. Because of his Christian faith, he spent many years imprisoned in a dark pit by command of King Tiridates. Only after this cruel suffering was Gregory free once again to bear public witness to his baptismal vocation in all its fullness and proclaim the Gospel to the men and women of his time.

The life of Saint Gregory foreshadowed the journey of the Armenian Church through the ages. How often has the Armenian Church been cast into the dark pit of persecution, violence and oblivion! How often have her children in their prison darkness echoed the words of the Prophet Micah: «But as for me, I will look to the Lord. I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy! When I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light» (7:7-8). And this not only in the distant past; the twentieth century too has been one of the most tormented in the history of the Armenian Church, which suffered terrible hardships of every kind. Now, thank God, there are clear signs of a new springtime.

2. In today’s celebration, I am delighted to return to Your Holiness a relic of Saint Gregory the Illuminator which has been kept in the Convent of Saint Gregory the Armenian in Naples, and venerated there for many centuries. The relic will be placed in the new Cathedral now being built in Yerevan as a symbol of hope and of the Church’s mission in Armenia after so many years of oppression and silence. A place in the heart of a fast-growing city in which to praise God, to listen to Sacred Scripture and to celebrate the Eucharist will be an essential factor of evangelization. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill that sacred place with his loving presence, glorious light and sanctifying grace. My hope is that the new Cathedral will adorn with still greater beauty the Bride of Christ in Armenia, where the People of God have lived for centuries in the shadow of Mount Ararat. Through the intercession of the Mother of God and Saint Gregory the Illuminator, may the Armenian faithful draw new courage and confidence from their Cathedral. And may the pilgrims coming from far and wide experience the power of God’s light radiating from that holy shrine as they continue their journey of faith.

3. In the Cathedral of Yerevan, as in all others, there will be the Altar of the Eucharist and the Patriarchal Chair. The Chair and the Altar speak of the communion which already exists between us. As the Second Vatican Council declared, «all know the love with which Christians of the East celebrate the Sacred Liturgy, especially the Eucharist, well-spring of the Church’s life and pledge of future glory, in which the faithful united with the Bishop have access to God the Father through the Son, the Word Incarnate who died and was glorified, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit». The Council Fathers went on to say that the Eastern Churches, «however separated they may be, have true Sacraments and above all, by virtue of the Apostolic Succession, the Priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain united with us by the closest bonds» (Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio UR 15).

Through history there have been many contacts between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church; and there have been various attempts to restore full communion. Now we must pray and work fervently that the day will soon come when our Sees and the Bishops will be in full communion once more, when we can celebrate together, at the same Altar, the Eucharist as the supreme sign and source of unity in Christ. Until that day dawns, each of our Eucharistic celebrations will suffer the absence of the brother who is not yet there.

4. Dear and venerable Brother in Christ, Saint Paul speaks to us in the words we have heard from the Acts of the Apostles: «Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God, which he acquired with his own blood» (20:28). Ours is a great responsibility. Christ has entrusted to our pastoral care that which is most precious to him on earth: «the Church which he acquired with his own blood».

I beg the Lord, through the intercession of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, to pour out his abundant blessings upon you, my Brothers in the Episcopate, and upon all the Pastors of the Apostolic Armenian Church. May the Spirit inspire and guide you in your pastoral ministry to the Armenian people, both in the land of your birth and throughout the world. To your fraternal prayer I entrust my own ministry as Bishop of Rome: that I may be able to exercise this ministry more and more as «a service of love recognized by all concerned» (Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, 95), so that all will at last be one (cf. Jn Jn 17,21).

5. Let me conclude with the fervent plea which I made to the Mother of God thirteen years ago, during the Marian Year, and which rises from my heart again today:

S. John Paul II Homil. 1204