S. John Paul II Homil. 1292



Tuesday 26 June 2001

Lviv (Racecourse)

1293 1. "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5).

The Gospel passage just proclaimed tells of Mary’s first intervention in the public life of Jesus and brings to light her cooperation in the mission of her Son. During a wedding feast at Cana attended by Mary and Jesus and his disciples, the wine runs out. Showing faith in her Son and coming to the help of the embarrassed bride and groom, Mary encourages the Saviour to respond to their need and so he performs his first miracle.

"Woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come" (Jn 2,4), says Jesus in reply. But Mary is not put off by these words, and turning to the servants she says: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5). She shows fresh confidence in her Son and sees her plea rewarded by the miracle.

The Gospel episode invites us today to contemplate Mary as "Help of Christians" in our every need. It would be instructive to retrace the history of a people that has been faithful in order to recognize the signs of the maternal protection of Mary, who is always concerned for the well-being of her children. We would be able to gather so many testimonies of Mary’s interventions on behalf of individuals and communities. But the most beautiful testimonies we find in the lives of your saints.

Let our gaze rest upon two sons of this land whose devotion to the Blessed Virgin inspired them to follow a path of perfection, as today we are solemnly recognizing. They are Archbishop Józef Bilczewski and Father Zygmunt Gorazdowski, both of whom had nurtured a deep love for the Mother of the Lord. Their lives and their pastoral service were an unceasing response to her summons: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5). Heroically obedient to the Lord’s teaching, they travelled the narrow path of holiness. Both lived here in Lviv, at almost the same time. Today their names are inscribed together in the book of the Blessed.

2. In remembering them, I am happy to greet all of you here present. I greet especially Cardinal Marian Jaworski and Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, the Bishops of the Ukrainian Episcopal Conference and those of the Synod of Bishops of the Greek Catholic Ukrainian Church. I greet as well the priests, the men and women religious, the seminarians and all of you who are actively engaged in different pastoral activities. I send an affectionate greeting to the young people, the families, the sick and the entire community gathered here in spirit to welcome the spiritual message of the newly Beatified.

I am pleased that the Archdiocese of Lviv now has a second Archbishop beatified. The year 1790 saw the beatification of Jakub Strzemi", who was the leader of this Church from 1391-1409, and now another Pastor of the Archdiocese, Józef Bilczewski, is raised to the honours of the altar. Does this not testify to the continuity of the faith of this people and to the blessing of God, who sends them Pastors worthy of their calling? How can we fail to give thanks to God for this gift to the Church in Lviv?

Archbishop Józef Bilczewski invites us to be generous in living the love of God and neighbour. This was his supreme rule of life. From the early years of his priesthood he cultivated a burning passion for revealed Truth, and this led him to make theological research an original way of translating the command to love God into practical behaviour. In his priestly life, as in the various important positions he held at the Jan Casimir University in Lviv and at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, he always gave example of his great love of neighbour as well as his love of God. He was especially concerned for the poor, and developed warm and respectful relations with his colleagues and students, who invariably reciprocated with esteem and affection.

His appointment as Archbishop gave him the chance to widen and expand the range of his charity. In the especially difficult period of the First World War, Blessed Józef Bilczewski was like a living icon of the Good Shepherd, ready to encourage and support his people with inspired words full of kindness. He came to the aid of the needy, for whom he nurtured such a love that even beyond death he wanted to be with them, choosing to be laid to rest in the Janow cemetery in Lviv, where paupers were buried. A good and faithful servant of the Lord, motivated by deep spirituality and unceasing charity, he was loved and esteemed by all his fellow citizens, regardless of their religious convictions, rite or nationality.

Today his testimony shines among us as a source of encouragement and inspiration, so that our apostolic activity too, nourished by deep prayer and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, will be wholly dedicated to the glory of God and to the service of Holy Mother Church for the good of souls.

3. For me personally, this beatification is a special cause for rejoicing. The Blessed Archbishop Bilczewski is part of the line of my own apostolic succession. He in fact consecrated Archbishop Boles»aw Twardowski, who in turn ordained Bishop Eugeniusz Baziak, from whose hands I received episcopal ordination. Today, therefore, I too am receiving a new patron. I thank God for this marvellous gift.

1294 There is also another detail which should not be overlooked on this occasion. Blessed Archbishop Bilczewski was consecrated by Cardinal Jan Puzyna, Bishop of Kraków. With him as co-consecrators were Blessed Józef Sebastian Pelczar, Bishop of PrzemyŃl, and the Servant of God Andrzej Szeptycki, the Greek Catholic Archbishop. Was this not an amazing event? At that moment, the Holy Spirit brought together three great Pastors, two of whom have been beatified and the third will be with God’s help. Truly this land deserved to see them together at the solemn ordination of a successor of the Apostles. It deserved to see them united. Their union remains a sign and a call for the faithful of their respective flocks, summoned by their example to build the communion which remains threatened by the memory of past experiences and by the prejudices stirred up by nationalism.

Today, in praising God for the indomitable fidelity to the Gospel of these his Servants, let us feel ourselves gently nudged to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel of not a few Christians of both Polish and Ukrainian origin living in these parts. It is time to leave behind the sorrowful past. The Christians of the two nations must walk together in the name of the one Christ, towards the one Father, guided by the same Holy Spirit, the source and principle of unity. May pardon given and received spread like a healing balm in every heart. May the purification of historical memories lead everyone to work for the triumph of what unites over what divides, in order to build together a future of mutual respect, fraternal cooperation and true solidarity. Today Archbishop Józef Bilczewski and his companions Pelczar and Szeptycki exhort you: be united!

4. During the years of Archbishop Bilczewski’s episcopal ministry, Father Zygmunt Gorazdowski, a true pearl of the Latin clergy of this Archdiocese, lived in Lviv the last part of his life. His extraordinary charity led him to dedicate himself unstintingly to the poor, despite his precarious health. The figure of the young priest who, disregarding the grave risk of infection, moved among the sick people of Wojnilow and personally prepared for burial the bodies of those who had died of cholera, remained in the memory of his contemporaries as a living sign of the merciful love of the Saviour.

He had a burning passion for the Gospel, which led him into schools, into the field of publishing and various catechetical undertakings, especially on behalf of young people. His apostolic activity was bolstered by a commitment to charity which knew no pause. In the memory of the faithful of Lviv, he remains "the father of the poor" and "the priest of the homeless". His creativity and dedication in this area were almost boundless. As secretary of the "Institute of Poor Christians", he was present wherever he heard the anguished cry of the people, to which he strove to respond with many charitable institutions right here in Lviv.

Because of his total fidelity to the poor, chaste and obedient Christ, he was acknowledged when he died as "a true religious, even if he had no special vows", and he remains for everyone a privileged witness to God’s mercy. For you in particular he is a witness, dear Sisters of Saint Joseph, as you seek to follow him faithfully in spreading love for Christ and for our brothers and sisters through your educational and charitable work. From Blessed Zygmunt Gorazdowski, you have learnt to nourish your apostolic activity with an intense life of prayer. It is my hope that you will be able, like him, to combine action and contemplation, strengthening your piety with an ardent devotion to the Passion of Christ, a tender love of Mary Immaculate and a very special veneration for Saint Joseph, whose faith, humility, prudence and courage Father Zygmunt strove to imitate.

5. May the example of Blessed Józef Bilczewski and Blessed Zygmunt Gorazdowski be an encouragement for you, dear priests, consecrated men and women, seminarians, catechists and theological students. You are especially in my mind at this time, and I invite you to learn the spiritual and apostolic lesson of these two Blessed Pastors of the Church. Imitate them! In various ways you offer a special service to the Gospel, and like them you must do everything possible so that, by means of your witness, people of every age, background, education and social status will experience the love of God in the depth of their hearts. This is your mission.

Let your prime commitment be to love everyone and to be available to everyone, never flagging in your faithfulness to Christ and the Church. This is certainly a path strewn with difficulties and misunderstandings, which can sometimes lead even to persecution.

The oldest among you are well aware of this. In your midst there are many who, in the second half of the last century, suffered greatly for their attachment to Christ and the Church. I wish to pay homage to all of you, dear priests and consecrated men and women who remained faithful to this People of God. And to you, who now stand with these generous servants of the Gospel seeking to carry on their mission, I say: do not be afraid! Christ does not promise an easy life, but always gives the assurance of his help.

6. Duc in altum! Cast your nets into the deep, Church of Lviv of the Latins! The Lord is with you! Do not be afraid when you face the difficulties which even today threaten your journey. With Christ you will be victorious. Bravely choose holiness: therein lies the sure foundation of true peace and lasting progress.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I entrust you to the protection of Mary, the loving Mother of God, who for centuries you have venerated in the image which it will be my joy to crown today. I am happy to be able to bow before this image which recalls the vows of King Jan Casimir. May the "Gracious Star of Lviv" be your support and bring you the fullness of grace.

Church of Lviv of the Latins, may all the saints who have enriched your history intercede for you. May Blessed Archbishop Jakub Strzemi" and Blessed Józef Bilczewski, with Father Zygmunt Gorazdowski, protect you in a special way. Go forward trusting in the name of Christ, the Redeemer of man! Amen.

1295 The Pope proceeded to greet the faithful in other languages.

I greet the Russian faithful who have wanted to join in our celebration. Beloved, on your return home, keep your eyes fixed on Christ. Listen to his voice. Christ calls you to give faithful witness to him in your lives. With affection I bless you. Praised be Jesus Christ.

I now greet the pilgrims of the Belarusian language. Beloved, imitate the newly beatified in faithfulness to Christ and in daily apostolic and missionary commitment. Take home to your country and to your homes the Pope's warm greetings and blessing for all the Belarusian Nation. Praised be Jesus Christ.

I now greet with affection the faithful of the Slovak Nation who are present. May your participation in the Mass make you courageous and strong in your witness to Christ. Carry my warm greeting and my special Apostolic Blessing to your communities. Praised be Jesus Christ.

I cordially greet the Hungarian faithful, who have come with their bishops. May the example of Theodore Romza give us spiritual courage. With my Apostolic Blessing. Praised be Jesus Christ.

I am happy to greet the faithful from Romania and I thank you for your presence. Beloved, Romania is always in my prayers, especially after my unforgettable visit two years ago. Take to your loved ones my greeting and my blessing. Praised be Jesus Christ.

Before closing this Solemn Liturgy, I cannot forget two famous persons who belong to this land. First, I have in mind St John of Dukla whose relics are present here with us. The spiritual son of St Francis exercised here in Lviv the role of guardian of the vigilance of Rus', here he acquired the fame of great preacher and confessor, and here he ended his life. Today, after five centuries, he returned to this city to rejoice in the fruits of his holiness in the hearts of the faithful people.

I also want to mention the great personality of the Armenian Archbishop Jozef Teodorowicz. This famous theologian and pastor, man of Church and State, guided with wisdom and dedication the Armenian community in the first decades of the last century. Remembering him, I greet all the faithful of the Armenian Church, who for centuries has been present in Ukraine and enriches it with her ancient spirituality and culture. May the memory of the Armenian martyrs and confessors confirm you in faith, hope and charity.

In a little while I will crown the Kind Mother of God, Our Lady of Lviv, known for the graces she grants. May her protection constantly protect this city and the entire Ukraine.

The Holy Father ended with these Ukrainian remarks.

Beloved, I want to thank you warmly for your joyful presence at today's celebration. My great thanksgiving goes to the entire city of Lviv for the sincere and cordial welcome offered me yesterday, sign of great hospitality and heartfelt openness. I invite all of you to the important beatification of the martyrs which will take place tomorrow. This afternoon I look forward to seeing you at the meeting with young people. Praised be Jesus Christ.

1296 He greeted Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops from outside Ukraine in Italian.

I cordially greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops who have come from many countries. Dear Brothers, I thank you for your participation in these days which find the Catholic Church in Ukraine gathered around the Successor of Peter. Your presence is a moving and precious sign of the communion and solidarity of your local churches with the sons of the Catholic Church who live in this land. I hope to see you tomorrow as we celebrate together Christ the Lord, followed faithfully as master and model of holiness by the martyrs and blesseds of the Greek-Catholic Church.



Lviv (Racecourse)

Wednesday 27 June 2001

1. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15,13).

This solemn statement of Christ echoes among us today with particular eloquence, as we proclaim Blessed a group of sons and daughters of this glorious Church of Lviv of the Ukrainians. Most of them were killed in hatred of the Christian faith. Some underwent martyrdom in times close to us, and among those present at today’s Divine Liturgy there are some who knew them personally. This land of Halytchyna, which in the course of history has witnessed the growth of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, has been covered, as the unforgettable Metropolitan Yosyf Slipyi used to say, "with mountains of corpses and rivers of blood".

Yours is a living and fruitful community which goes back to the preaching of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius, to Saint Vladimir and Saint Olga. The example of the martyrs from different periods of history, but especially from the past century, testifies to the fact that martyrdom is the highest measure of service of God and of the Church. With this celebration we wish to pay homage to the martyrs and to thank the Lord for their fidelity.

2. With this evocative rite of beatification, it is likewise my desire to express the whole Church’s gratitude to the People of God in Ukraine for Mykola „arneckyj and his 24 companion Martyrs, as well as for the Martyrs Teodor Romóa and Omeljan Kov…, and for the Servant of God Josaphata Michaëlina Hordashevska. Just as the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies in order to give life to the new plant (cf. Jn Jn 12,24), so too did the Blessed offer their lives so that the field of God would bear fruit in a new and more abundant harvest.

As we remember them, I greet all who are taking part in this concelebration: Cardinals Lubomyr Husar and Marian Jaworski, with the Bishops and priests of the Greek-Catholic and Latin Churches. As I greet the present Major Archbishop of Lviv of the Ukrainians, I recall his predecessors, the Servant of God Andrey Sheptytskyi, the heroic Cardinal Yosyf Slipyj, and the late lamented Cardinal Myroslav Lubachivskyj, who died only recently. As I recall these Pastors, my heart turns with affection to all the sons and daughters of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine, including those in other cities and countries who are following this event by radio and television.

3. The Servants of God who are today inscribed in the Book of the Blessed represent all categories of the ecclesial community: among them are Bishops and priests, monks, nuns, and lay people. They were tested in many ways by the followers of the infamous Nazi and Communist ideologies. Aware of the sufferings which these faithful disciples of Christ were undergoing, my Predecessor Pius XII, sharing in their anguish, expressed his solidarity with those "who are persevering in faith and resisting the enemies of Christianity with the same unswerving fortitude with which their ancestors once resisted". He praised their courage in remaining "faithfully joined to the Roman Pontiff and their Pastors" (Apostolic Letter Orientales Ecclesias, 15 December 1952: AAS 45 [1953], 8).

Strengthened by God’s grace they travelled the path of victory to the end. This is the path of forgiveness and reconciliation, the path that leads to the brilliant light of Easter, after the sacrifice of Calvary. These brothers and sisters of ours are the representatives that are known out of a multitude of anonymous heroes – men and women, husbands and wives, priests and consecrated men and women, young people and old – who in the course of the twentieth century, the "century of martyrdom", underwent persecution, violence and death rather than renounce their faith.

1297 How can we fail to recall the far-sighted and solid pastoral activity of the Servant of God, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi, whose cause of Beatification is proceeding and whom we hope to see one day in the glory of the Saints? We must refer to his heroic apostolic activity if we are to understand the humanly inexplicable fruitfulness of the Greek-Catholic Church of Ukraine during the dark years of persecution.

4. In my youth I myself was a witness of this kind of "apocalypse". "My priesthood, even at its beginning, was in some way marked by the great sacrifice of countless men and women of my generation" (Gift and Mystery, p. 39). Their memory must not be lost, for it is a blessing. We admire them and we are grateful to them: like an icon of the Gospel of the Beatitudes which they lived even to the shedding of blood, they are a sign of hope for our times and for the times to come. They have shown that love is stronger than death.

In their resistance to the mystery of evil, the strength of faith and of the grace of Christ was able to shine brightly, despite human weakness (cf.
2Co 12,9-10). Their unconquered witness has shown itself to be the seed of new Christians (cf. Tertullian, Apol., 50, 13: CCL 1, 171).

Together with them Christians of other confessions were also persecuted and killed on account of Christ. Their joint martyrdom is a pressing call for reconciliation and unity. This is the ecumenism of the martyrs and witnesses to faith, which indicates the path of unity to the Christians of the twenty-first century. May their sacrifice be a practical lesson of life for all. This is certainly not an easy task. During the last centuries too many stereotyped ways of thinking, too much mutual resentment and too much intolerance have accumulated. The only way to clear the path is to forget the past, ask forgiveness of one another and forgive one another for the wounds inflicted and received, and unreservedly trust the renewing action of the Holy Spirit.

These martyrs teach us to be faithful to the twofold commandment of love: love of God, love of our brothers and sisters.

5. Dear priests, religious, seminarians, catechists and students of theology! For you in particular I wish to emphasize the shining example of these heroic witnesses to the Gospel. Like them be faithful to Christ unto death. If God blesses your land with many vocations and if the seminaries are full – and this is a source of hope for your Church – that is surely one of the fruits of their sacrifice. But it is a great responsibility for you.

For this reason I wish to say to those in charge: give careful attention to the training of future priests and of those called to the consecrated life, in line with the principles of the Eastern monastic tradition. On the one hand the value of celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven ought to be emphasized, on the other the importance of the Sacrament of Matrimony with its connected responsibilities ought to be made clear. The Christian family – as the Council reminds us – is like a "domestic church", in which parents must be the first proclaimers of the faith to their children (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 11).

I encourage all the Church’s sons and daughters to seek with constant commitment an ever more genuine and profound knowledge of Christ. May the clergy be always eager to give serious evangelical and ecclesial formation to the laity. May the spirit of sacrifice never fail among Christians. And may the courage of the Christian community in the defence of those hurt and persecuted never grow weak, as it pays great attention to discerning the signs of the times in order to respond to the social and spiritual challenges of the moment.

In this context I wish to assure you that I will follow with interest the development of the Third Session of the Synod of your Church, which will take place in 2002 and will be devoted to the Church’s reading of the social problems of Ukraine. The Church cannot remain silent when the safeguarding of human dignity and the common good are at stake.

6. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15,13). The martyrs declared Blessed today followed the Good Shepherd to the end. May their witness not be simply a boast for you: rather, may it become an invitation to imitate them. In Baptism, every Christian is called to holiness. Unlike the newly beatified martyrs, not all are called to undergo the supreme trial of shedding their blood. But everyone is entrusted with the task of following Christ with daily and faithful generosity, as did Blessed Josaphata Michaëlina Hordashevska, co-foundress of the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate. She lived her daily dedication to the Gospel in an extraordinary way, in the service of children, the sick, the poor, the illiterate and the marginalized, often in difficult situations marked by suffering.

May holiness be the desire of all of you, dear Brothers and Sisters of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. On this journey of holiness and renewal, may you be accompanied by Mary "who ‘precedes’ us all at the head of the long line of witnesses of faith in the one Lord" (Redemptoris Mater RMA 30).

1298 The Saints and Beati, who gained the crown of justice in this land of Ukraine, and the Beati whom we celebrate in a particular way today, all intercede for you. May their example and protection help you to follow Christ and faithfully serve his Mystical Body, the Church. Through their intercession, may God pour upon your wounds the oil of mercy and consolation, that you may be able to look with confidence to what awaits you, knowing in your hearts that you are the children of a Father who loves you tenderly.

At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father thanked the faithful in Polish and in Ukrainian for participating in the beautiful celebration. Here are his remarks in translation.

I cordially greet the faithful who have come from Poland and particularly the Greek Catholics who have come from Lviv to participate with their brothers from Ukraine in this particular Liturgy. I also desire to express my warm regards for and spiritual union with your Metropolitan Ivan Martyniak, who was unable to join his people. May God bless you.

God has given us a beautiful day. How can we not thank him? Dear brothers and sisters, I greet you cordially, in this last event of my particular and moving pilgrimage among the people of God in Ukraine who have gathered in such great numbers. I thank you for your prayers, especially for the choral chants which are also prayer. Thank you for your goodness and sincerity, thank you for your love and fidelity to the Apostolic See. I carry all of you in my heart and I am with you and embrace you in prayer. May God bless you.


Friday, 29 June 2001

1. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16,16).

How many times have we repeated this profession of faith, pronounced once by Simon, son of John, in the region of Caesarea Philippi. How many times have I found in these words an interior support for continuing on the mission that Providence has entrusted to me.

You are the Christ. The entire Holy Year brought us to fix our attention on "Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, yesterday, today and forever". Every Jubilee celebration was an unceasing profession of faith in Christ, renewed in a unanimous way for the 2,000 years that have passed since the Incarnation. To the ever present question of Jesus to his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16,15), Christians of the Year 2000 have still replied joining with Peter, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".

2. "Blessed are you, Simon, son of John, because flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 16,17).

After 2,000 years, the "rock" on which the Church is founded remains ever the same: it is the faith of Peter. "On this rock" (Mt 16,18) Christ founded his Church, spiritual edifice which has withstood the wear and tear of the centuries. Certainly, if it had been built on simply human and historical foundations, it would not have been able to resist the assaults of so many enemies.

In the course of the centuries, the Holy Spirit has enlightened men and women of every age, vocation and social condition, to make of them the "living stones" (1P 2,5) of this edifice. They are the saints, whom God raises up with unending creativity, who are much more numerous than those the Church selects as examples for all. One faith, one "rock", one cornerstone: Christ, Redeemer of mankind.

"Blessed are you, Simon son of John". Simon's blessedness is the same as that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom Elizabeth said, "Blessed is she who believed that the word of the Lord would be fulfilled" (Lc 1,45).

It is the blessedness given to the community of believers today, to whom Jesus repeats: Blessed are you Church of the Year 2000, who keep intact the Gospel and continue to present it with renewed enthusiasm to the men and women of the beginning of the new millennium.

In the faith, fruit of the mysterious union between divine grace and human humility which trusts in grace, lies the secret of the interior peace and joy of heart which in some way anticipate the beatitude of heaven.

3. "I have fought the good fight, I have ended my course, I have kept the faith" (2Tm 4,7).
Faith is "preserved" by being given (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, n. 2). It is Paul's teaching. This took place when on Pentecost the disciples left the Upper Room and, driven by the Holy Spirit, went out in every direction. The evangelizing mission continues in time and is the normal way in which the Church handles the treasure of faith. We must be active participants in this spiritual energy.

With these sentiments I direct warm greetings to you, beloved and venerable Brothers, who today concelebrate with me. In a special way, I greet you Metropolitan Archbishops, named in the course of the year, who have come to Rome for the traditional imposition of the pallium. You come from 21 countries on five continents. On your faces I contemplate the countenance of your communities: an immense richness of faith and history, which makes up the People of God and comes together in a symphonic harmony.

I greet you, young Bishops, ordained in the course of the year. You too come from many parts of the world. In the varied members of the ecclesial body, which you represent, there are hopes and joys, but certainly there are not lacking many wounds. I think of poverty, conflicts and even sometimes of persecutions. I think of the temptation to secularism, indifference and practical materialism which undermine the witness of the Gospel. Beloved brothers in the Episcopate, these should not weaken but rather intensify our burning desire to bring the Good News of the love of God to every human being.

We pray that the faith of Peter and Paul sustain our common witness and, if necessary, make us ready even to undergo martyrdom.

4. It was martyrdom itself which sealed the witness to Christ rendered by the two Apostles whose feast we celebrate today. With the difference of a few years between their deaths, they shed their blood here in Rome, consecrating it once and for all to Christ. Peter's martyrdom sealed the vocation of Rome as the seat of his successors in the primacy Christ conferred on him for the service of the Church: service of the faith, service of unity, service of the mission (cf. Encyclical Letter, Ut unum sint, n. 88).

The yearning for total fidelity to the Lord is urgent; the desire for the full unity of all believers becomes ever more intense. I realize that "after centuries of bitter controversies, the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities are more and more taking a fresh look at this ministry of unity" (ibid., n. 89). That is true in a particular way of the Orthodox Churches, as I was able to observe in the past few days, in the course of my visit in Ukraine. How much I desire that the time of reconciliation and of reciprocal community might be hastened.

In this spirit I am pleased to direct my warm greeting to the Delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, guided by His Eminence, Jeremias, Metropolitan of France and Exarch of Spain, whom the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I sent for the celebration of Sts Peter and Paul. Their presence adds a special note of joy to our celebration. May the holy Apostles intercede for us, so that our joint efforts may be able to hasten to prepare the recomposition of that full and harmonious unity, which should characterize the Christian community in the world. When this comes about, it wll be easier for the world to recognize the authentic face of Christ.

1300 5. "I have kept the faith" (2Tm 4,7). So affirms the Apostle Paul passing his life in review. We know in what way he kept it: giving it, spreading it, making it as fruitful as possible until his death.

In the same way, the Church is called to preserve the "deposit" of faith by communicating it to all men and to the entire human person. For this reason, the Lord sent her into the world, saying to the Apostles, "Go and teach all nations" (Mt 28,19). This missionary mandate is more valid than ever now at the beginning of the third millennium. More so than before in view of the greatness of the new horizon, it must recover the freshness of the beginning (cf. Redemptoris missio, RMi 1).

If St Paul were alive today, how would he have expressed the missionary yearning which characterized his activity at the service of the Gospel? And would not St Peter have encouraged him in this generous apostolic enterprise, giving him his right hand as a sign of communion (cf. Gal Ga 2,9).

We entrust to the intercession of these two holy Apostles the Church's course at the beginning of the new millennium. We invoke Mary Queen of the Apostles so that everywhere the Christian people may grow in fraternal communion and in missionary zeal.

May the whole community of believers soon proclaim with one heart and one soul: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". You are our Redeemer, our only Redeemer. Yesterday, today and forever. Amen.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1292