3. Dear brothers and sisters of Pope St Innocent I and St Guido Bishop Parish, with these sentiments and wishes in view of the imminent start of the Jubilee Year, I greet you all with great affection. My cordial thoughts turn, first of all, to the Cardinal Vicar, to the Auxiliary Bishop of this area, Enzo Dieci, to your zealous parish priest, Fr Maurizio Milani, and to all who in various ways assist him in the great variety of parish activities. I greet the young people and the families, the elderly and the sick, to whom I extend a special greeting.


In the name of the Diocese of Rome, I wish to thank the Guido and Bice Schillaci Ventura Foundation, which made this new parish complex possible. Built 18 years after the early days of the community, which seemed very precarious at the time, today it makes a more incisive and permanent apostolic activity possible.


Unfortunately, there are many other areas that lack a suitable parish centre, and my fervent wish is that these neighbourhoods too may soon have, as you do, a worthy and welcoming house of prayer, a gathering place in which to meet, where the Christian and human formation of the young can be provided, where assistance to families and company to the elderly and to the lonely may be offered. What prompts me to emphasize this strongly felt need is the fact that today in Rome we are celebrating the Advent of brotherhood for the construction of new churches, especially in the outlying areas.

4. Dear friends, let us give thanks to the Lord for what has been achieved here thus far. May the structures which you have help you to carry out a beneficial work of evangelization, by meeting the challenges of secularization and a certain indifference to the traditional values of Christianity.
May the spiritual experiences that you will have here be a stimulus to intensify your efforts to proclaim the Gospel, being ready to account for your faith to everyone.


In response to the current crisis of values, let your Christian witness in families be clear and generous; be the first guardians of the purity of your children and young people; do everything possible so that the doors of hearts may be opened and Christ can enter the life of every inhabitant of your neighbourhood.


Do not lose heart before inevitable difficulties! God sustains you with his grace and makes your pastoral initiatives bear fruit. Together, animated by the same spirit, prepare yourselves for the great events of the Holy Year, especially for the Jubilee of the Diocese, the International Eucharistic Congress and the 15th World Youth Day. I am certain that these events will be a special time of growth for your community, instilling new missionary zeal in every member of your parish family.


5. "O that you would rend the heavens and come down" (Isaiah 64: 1). This heartfelt invocation of the prophet Isaiah effectively expresses what our sentiments should be as we wait for the Lord who is coming. Yes! The Lord already came among us 2,000 years ago, and we are preparing to celebrate the great event of the Incarnation this Christmas. Christ radically changed the course of history. At the end he will return in glory and we wait for him by striving to live our lives as an advent of trusting hope. We wish to ask for this in today's liturgical celebration.


May God help us with his grace, so that we may start Advent with enthusiasm and good will by going to meet Christ, our Redeemer, with good works (cf. Collect). May Mary, the Daughter of Zion chosen by God to be the Mother of the Redeemer, guide and accompany us; may she make our preparation for Christmas and for the great event of the Jubilee rich in joy and good fruit.

Praised be Jesus Christ!



Sunday 28 November 1999



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. With the First Sunday of Advent today we begin the new liturgical year and, more specifically, the period of preparation for the Lord's Birth. The whole Church, a pilgrim in this world, sets out on her spiritual journey towards the awaited Messiah.


God is the "One who comes": he came among us in the person of Jesus Christ; he comes again in the Church's sacraments and in every human being who asks our help; he will come in glory at the end of time. This is why Advent is marked by watchful and active expectation, nourished by love and hope, which expands into praise and supplication and is expressed in concrete works of fraternal charity.


2. Today begins an extraordinary Advent: it is the Advent of the Great Jubilee, in which we will celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the Saviour's coming in the lowliness of our human nature. "Contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Church prepares to cross the threshold of the third millennium" (Bull Incarnationis mysterium, n. 1). This is a contemplation of faith, free of any millenarian temptation. It has guided the steps of the People of God in recent decades, in the spiritual atmosphere of a great, unique "advent", as I recalled at the very beginning of my Pontificate (cf. Redemptor hominis, n. 1).


Preparing for the Lord's Birth this year means preparing to enter through the Holy Door, the symbol of the passage to new and eternal life, which Jesus Christ came to open to every human being.


This accentuates the penitential dimension, already present in the Advent season and vividly recalled by the person of John the Baptist, who teaches, precisely, that the way of the Lord is prepared by changing of one's mentality and life (cf. Matthew 3: 1-3).


3. Advent is the Marian season par excellence, because Mary is the woman who awaited and welcomed the Son of God made man in an exemplary way. May the Virgin Mary help us to open the doors of our hearts to Christ, Redeemer of man and of history; may she teach us to be humble, because God looks upon the lowly; may she enable us to grow in understanding the value of prayer, of inner silence, of listening to God's Word; may she spur us to seek God's will deeply and sincerely, even when this upsets our plans; may she encourage us while we wait for the Lord, sharing our time and energies with those in need.


Mother of God, Virgin of expectation, grant that the God-who-comes will find us ready to receive the abundance of his mercy.




After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted groups of Spanish, Ukrainian, Slovenian and Italian pilgrims.


The Holy Father invited the faithful to pray for their Catholic brothers and sisters who were victims of the recent bombing at Our Lady of Madhu Shrine in Sri Lanka. 


I now ask you to pray for our Catholic brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, where Our Lady of Madhu Shrine was violently bombed, claiming the lives of numerous civilians who had sought refuge there.


I am spiritually close to the Bishops, priests and faithful who are mourning the deceased, helping the injured and are greatly distressed at seeing a shrine, revered not only by Catholics, profaned and turned into a place of death.


I entrust all the beloved people of Sri Lanka to the Blessed Virgin and I pray that God will give the parties in conflict the grace of having the courage to embark decisively on the way of peace, which certainly cannot be found with weapons in one's hand!





First Sunday of Advent, 1 December 2002 



Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors,
Brothers and Sisters,
Mabuhay ang Filipinas
[Long live the Filipinos].


1. "For you, Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name" (Is 63:16; cf. RSV). At the beginning of Advent, the liturgy invites us once again to savour the comforting message of God's fatherhood. The words from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah we have just heard take us to the heart of Jesus' teaching. To the direct request of his disciples:  "Lord, teach us to pray", he replies by encouraging them to call God by the loving name of "Father" (cf. Luke 11:1-4).

Yes, God is our Father! He takes care of us because we are the work of his hands. He is always ready to pardon repentant sinners and to welcome lovingly those who trust in his infinite mercy (cf. Isaiah 64:4).


Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Filipino Catholic Centre in Rome! I am thrilled to share this consoling message with you as we begin our Advent journey. I would have liked to visit you last 24 February and to celebrate the Eucharist in the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana on the Viminal Hill.

It was not possible, so today I cordially welcome you at the Vatican, thus resuming my regular meetings with the parishes and communities of our diocese.


2. With great affection I greet you and, through you, the many thousands of Filipino men and women living in Rome and in other cities throughout Italy. I greet the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishop for the central zone, who are constantly concerned for your pastoral care. I also greet your fellow countryman, Cardinal José Sanchez, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, who honours us by his presence here today.


I likewise respectfully acknowledge the presence of their Excellencies, the Ambassadors of the Philippines to the Holy See and to the Republic of Italy, together with other Representatives of the Filipino community.


My cordial greeting also goes to the priests, to the men and women religious and to the lay faithful who in various ways serve your large and lively community. In a special way I greet your hard-working Chaplain, Father Alberto Mena Guevara. I thank him for his kind words at the beginning of this celebration and his introduction to the many activities taking place at the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, which was entrusted in 1991 to the Sentro Pilipino. Just a few months ago he took over the rich legacy of pastoral care left behind by the much-loved Father Remo Bati after ten years of generous and faithful service to the community. I also thank Mr Exequiel Garcia and young Mark Angelo who spoke on behalf of all of you.


The Church's concern for the Filipino faithful can also be seen in 39 pastoral centres located throughout the City where you can foster your own noble Christian traditions and give them new life, thanks to the liturgical and apostolic services offered there.


Continue on the path of faith and solidarity with one another to build the civilization of love.

3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, hold fast to the rich cultural and religious heritage that is an integral part of your identity. Many of you have had the chance to find employment here in Italy and have attained a standard of living that enables you to help your family members at home. For others, however - and I hope that they are few - your status as immigrants has brought you serious problems, including loneliness, the separation of families, the loss of the values handed down from the past and at times even the loss of your faith.


I would like to renew to all of you, and in particular to the many women present here, the words of encouragement which we heard in today's Liturgy: Do not lose heart! We must not grow weak in faith, for the Lord is near. The fact that you are immigrants makes you all the more dear to Jesus who, as we recall during Advent, came on earth to save us.


Continue, then, with trust and determination, along the path of faith and solidarity so well expressed in the motto mentioned by your Chaplain, which calls you to "communion", "witness" and "the proclamation of the Gospel". The witness of an authentically Christian life will keep you united among yourselves and will continue to win you the respect and help of others. I ask those who employ you to welcome you and love you as cherished brothers and sisters in Christ. All of us must work together to build the civilization of love.





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27 December 2014