3. I am also grateful to the Marianist Fathers, who are hosting us for this celebration. They have been willing for a long time now to have the parish's temporary facilities on land belonging to their congregation. I also extend heartfelt thanks to the Hospital Sisters of Mercy who, since the parish's foundation, have generously made their church available, providing care of the sacristy and many other types of service.


Dear religious, thank you for your readiness to meet the parish's pastoral needs. I firmly hope that this fruitful cooperation will continue and increase not only here, but everywhere. The challenge of the new evangelization, in fact, involves the various members of God's People and asks each person to offer his own resources in order to serve the Gospel better. In this way, diocesan and religious priests, parish communities and religious families work together, while respecting their legitimate autonomy, in proclaiming and bearing witness to Christ, the one Redeemer of humanity.


Your parish has taken this path so far; I encourage you to continue on it with trust and generosity.


After the first difficult years of its foundation, your parish has been intensely community-oriented, achieving a good level of pastoral structuring and organization. Even though it lacks a real centre for its own activities, it has been able to offer the residents of the area continuous catechesis and Christian formation, as well as a concrete witness of Gospel charity. Keep up the good work!


While I ardently hope that you can soon obtain land to build an adequate place of worship, I invite you to cherish the experience gained in these years. In your apostolic work, do not be content with serving those who already come to church or who have occasional contact with the Christian faith.


Go in search of every person and proclaim the Gospel to all, wherever people live, work, study, suffer or spend their leisure time.


4. This is the mission to which we are called especially in view of the Jubilee Year, which will begin in a few months with the opening of the Holy Door. Take as your example your heavenly patroness, St Catherine, a humble and fearless Dominican tertiary who gave herself unsparingly for the Church. For everyone may this great saint be not only a special protectress but a model to follow on the path of holiness.


Follow her, dear young people who are preparing for World Youth Day. In this regard, I recall what I wrote in my Message for this Day: "May it be your holy ambition to be holy, as he - [Christ] - is holy!" (n. 3). Catherine of Siena admirably expressed the synthesis of contemplation and action, for which you must strive if you are to be the apostles of the new millennium.


Rome is preparing to celebrate an International Eucharistic Congress: may St Catherine's love for the Eucharist be a source of inspiration for all believers, so that they will always be moved to love God and neighbour, especially the neediest. Women of this community, look in particular to St Catherine of Siena: may her characteristic female genius, which made her fearless and courageous, spur you to be strong, constructive and creative in your love for God and in caring for others.


5. "I can do all things in him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4: 13). With these words St Paul expresses the deep meaning of his missionary life. This also sums up the spiritual experience of St Catherine of Siena and of every faithful Gospel servant. My wish is that your community too will be able to repeat with the Apostle Paul and with Christ's true disciples: "I can do all things in him who strengthens me"!


Let us ask the Lord, in the words of today's Collect, to precede and always accompany our personal and community journey with his grace, so that, sustained by his fatherly aid and the motherly intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, we will never tire of doing good.





Sunday, 10 October 1999


Dear Brothers and Sisters!


1. The liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, which we celebrated last Thursday, gives me another opportunity to speak of the value of this exceptional form of Marian prayer which is the Holy Rosary.


Following the example of my venerable Predecessors, I have not failed to stress its importance on various occasions. It wonderfully combines simplicity and depth, the individual and community dimensions. The Rosary itself is a contemplative prayer and is also a powerful form of intercession: indeed, whoever recites it is united with Mary in meditating on the mysteries of Christ and is led to ask her for the grace of these same mysteries in the various situations of life and history.


2. During the month of October, the month of the Rosary, let us have frequent recourse to this Marian prayer, which was once a daily prayer of Christian families. There are many intentions to entrust to Our Lady. In particular, I urge you to recite the Rosary for the Synod Assembly of the Bishops of Europe which is being held here in the Vatican. I am trying to participate in it diligently, and I can see the Synod Fathers' pastoral concern in facing the great challenges of the European continent. There is a strong emphasis on the need for a renewed and courageous evangelization, for extensive missionary work that will take into account the changed situations of a Europe that is increasingly multiethnic and multicultural.


In the past, praying the Rosary has helped to safeguard the integrity of faith of God's People; may fervent devotion to this prayer sustain the Church as she enters the third millennium, so that she will continue to be a prophetic "sign and instrument ... of communion with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen gentium, n. 1).


3. For this intention and for all the needs of the Church and the world, I invite everyone, especially children, families and the elderly, to call upon Mary with one voice during the entire month of October. Let us ask the Blessed Virgin to help the Church to be ever more and ever better the bridge uniting man with God and men with one another. Let us pray that peaceful encounter and respectful dialogue will be encouraged between peoples, cultures and religions.


Mary, Virgin of the Holy Rosary, pray for us!




After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father spoke of the World Day of Mental Health and the Italian Day of Social Communications, and greeted a group of pilgrims from India.


Today we are observing the World Day of Mental Health, promoted by the World Health Organization. In her multifaceted commitment to the sick, the Church is always attentive to those affected by psychological disturbances. I assure these brothers and sisters of ours and their families a special remembrance in my prayer, and I encourage everyone who works at any level in this challenging field of health care.


Today in Italy it is also the annual Day of Social Communications, whose theme is: "The mass media: a friendly companion for those in search of the Father". May this celebration call everyone's attention to the means of social communication so that, through each person's contribution, they may be ever more attentive to man's profound need to know the origin and goal of his earthly pilgrimage.

I affectionately greet all the pilgrims here and wish everyone a peaceful Sunday.


I extend a special welcome to the pilgrim group from the Diocese of Vasai in India. I ask you to remember my forthcoming visit to your country in your prayers.


Upon all the English-speaking visitors I invoke almighty God's abundant blessings.






Sunday, 13 October 2002


The Holy Father introduced Patriarch Teoctist to the faithful who then addressed the Pope and the faithful at the Mass. Here is a translation of the Pope's words.

Today our liturgical assembly has the great joy of welcoming our beloved Brother, H.B. Teoctist, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Romania. His visit fills us with great hope; he is here to direct his fervent prayers, as we do, to the one Lord Jesus Christ for the full unity of all Christians.

Welcome Your Beatitude! Thank you for your gracious presence and for the words you will now address to us.


Homily of Patriarch Teoctist


1. "To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever" (Philippians 4:20).


The passage of the Letter to the Philippians just proclaimed concludes this way. The Letter of the Apostle Paul is permeated with fervent joy. Today the same joy fills the heart of the Bishop of Rome on account of the gracious visit of his beloved Brother, His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Romania, and for having been able to listen with him to the Good News.

With fraternal affection, I greet you, Your Beatitude, and those who work with you. Spiritually, I cordially greet the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Romania, who opened their arms and hearts to me on the occasion of my visit to Bucharest in the spring of 1999 three years ago.


2. I listened with great attention to your inspired reflections, that vibrate with ardent longing for the full communion of our Churches. In them I discerned an encouraging harmony of sentiments and will desiring to obey the commandment that Christ entrusted to his disciples during the Last Supper: "Ut omnes unum sint - that they all may be one" (John 17:21).


Your Beatitude, I am delighted to be able to celebrate in your presence this sacred liturgy, the mystery of our faith, and with you to beg the Lord for unity and peace in the holy Church and in the world. Together, in this church, we are witnesses of the common journey we have set out on towards the reunion of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Romania. I praise the Lord for all he has already obtained for us in our pilgrimage of communion. I beg his grace, so that he may grant us to bring to fulfilment what he has inspired between us, in support of the dedication to full communion.


3. "Behold I have prepared everything ... all is ready, come!" (cf. Matthew 22,4).

In the passage of the Gospel just proclaimed in Latin and in Romanian, almost breathing "with two lungs", we heard resound the invitation to the royal wedding feast. We are all invited. The call of the merciful and faithful Father constitutes the very core of divine revelation and, particularly, of the Gospel. We are all called, called by name.


"Come!". The Lord has called us to be part of his Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Through one Baptism we are incorporated into the one Body of Christ. But has our answer always been an unconditional "yes'? Unfortunately, have we not sometimes refused this invitation? Have we not perhaps torn the seamless tunic of the Lord by separating ourselves from one another? Yes! This reciprocal division of ours is contrary to his will.


May this harsh judgement not be applied to us: "The wedding is ready but those invited were not worthy" (Matthew 22:8). One day we will be asked to account for all that we have done for the unity of Christians.


4. In his grace to us sinners, God has in these last times granted us to come much closer to one another, in prayer, word and action, moving toward the fullness of the unity that Jesus wanted for his disciples (cf. Unitatis redintegratio, n. 1). The consciousness of the fact that we are invited together to the royal wedding feast has grown in us. Christ left to us as his legacy, on the eve of his Passion, the living memorial of his Death and Resurrection, in which, under the appearances of the bread and the wine, he gives us his Body and his Blood. As the Second Vatican Council reaffirmed, the Eucharist is the source and the summit of all Christian life, the radiating centre of the ecclesial community (cf. the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 10, and cf. Decree Christus Dominus, n. 30).


The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches, celebrating the true Eucharist in accordance with their respective traditions, already live at this moment in a profound, though not full, communion. May the blessed day come soon on which we will be able truly to live in its fullness our perfect communion. Today the invitation of the Gospel is addressed specifically to us. May God put us on guard from doing what they did:  "one went one to his farm, another to his business" (Matthew 22:5).


5. The king, in the Gospel parable, asked one of the guests:  "Friend, how did you enter without a wedding-garment?" (Matthew 22:12). These words challenge us. They remind us that we must prepare ourselves for the royal marriage feast by putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27).


Participation in the Eucharist presupposes conversion to a new life. Common participation, full communion also presupposes conversion. There is no true ecumenism without interior conversion and renewal of the mind (cf. Unitatis redintegratio, nn. 6-7), without overcoming prejudices and suspicion; without eliminating words, opinions and acts that do not reflect equitably and truthfully the condition of our separated brethren; without the will to begin to esteem the other, to create a reciprocal friendship, to foster fraternal love.


To reach full communion we must overcome our laziness and narrow-mindedness (cf. Novo Millennio ineunte, n. 48). We must foster the spirituality of communion, which is an ability "to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the mystical Body, and therefore as "those who are a part of me'. This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship" (ibid., n. 43). We must ceaselessly nurture the passion for unity.


Your Beatitude has opportunely stressed that in Europe and in the world, that are largely secularized, there is a worrisome spiritual crisis. The common witness of Christians is thus becoming much more urgent.





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