For the 25th Anniversary of the Holy Father’s Pontificate
On the 25th anniversary of the Pontificate
of John Paul II, the words of his Predecessor Paul VI to the United
Nations on 4 October 1965 spring to mind: "We are like the messenger after
a long journey who manages to deliver the letter entrusted to him.... Yes,
and remember: we have been travelling for a long time and bring a long
history with us
John Paul II has made
himself a Journey and a Letter: his Pontificate, his being Successor of
Peter, a concrete, visible, non-stop journey among individuals and
peoples, a journey through the geography of the faith, the geography of
situations, the geography of daily life, the geography of suffering, of
disappointment, constriction, oppression, and of the hopes of every
person, of every people, of every nation. He has truly inaugurated the new
evangelization with a programme that in 25 years has been characterized
and is increasingly characterized as Joannine, Pauline and Petrine.
His Pontificate is a
Letter: he delivers himself to the expectations and hopes of individuals
and peoples. He delivers himself in Christ's name; and in Christ's name he
claims and proclaims respect for the dignity and freedom of every person
and every people.
The daring of the Truth
And he does so with
biblical daring: the daring of the Truth. That daring of the Truth which
contains the essence of a Magisterium and action developed with high moral
tension, nourished by rare pastoral concern, proposed and reproposed
through his tireless itinerant encounters.
The centrality of the
Truth and an aptitude for proclaiming it in its entirety constitute the
unifying motif of the speeches and gestures which cover the Pope's path.
If the Truth "is the
Word of the living God", as he said in his homily on the anniversary of
the First World War, "the word of the Father through the Son, the Word
that was made flesh and expressed in the heart of the world, in the heart
of the history of humanity", it should be proclaimed facing all problems,
whether they come from human beings or from circumstances and situations.
The daring of the
Truth is in shouting it out without weakening it, without obscuring it,
without violating it, without reducing it, in the conviction that it is
the Truth that gives existing reality its essence and constitutes the
basis of a new and innovative history. The daring of the Truth is
courageous fidelity to the Truth and of complete and total submission to
The daring of the
Truth means opening wide the doors to Christ; it means making breaches in
stone walls and in hearts that are even stonier. Breaches through which
they can pass into the daily events of human life, in making history God's
great Truth about man; the tender Gospel of life; the marvellous creative
Project of God.
‘It is not I who
am speaking, but God who speaks’
A breach that can
avert the temptations of Lucifer in our days, disturbing God's creative
plan for man and for his future; and it is with regard to these great
realities that a few years ago in Mexico the Pope exclaimed: "It is not I
who am speaking, but God who speaks". A trembling, impassioned cry. The
cry of the Man of God.
It is for the sake of
life and to help people overcome their fear that John Paul II has made
himself the Beggar of peace. From the United Nations to Sardinia and
Sicily; from Lithuania to America: from the Berlin Wall to Nigeria; from
Croatia to Cuba; from Bolivia to Tunisia; from India to Australia; from
the one Europe to the one America (his great visions that change the map
of the world); from Czestochowa to Pompei, one clear, demanding request:
Is there an organization in the world that could be an authentic Family of
Nations? And why should not the United Nations Organization be such? Only
a Family of Nations can guarantee peace.
And here is the
Beggar before us: his "steps" are slow but sure. "Steps" that preserve his
certainty of being a guide. A vigilant, acute gaze, with the extraordinary
ability to embrace at the same time individual persons, crowds, places and
problems. A gaze that photographs images and keeps them vivid in his mind
and heart. "Steps" and a gaze that communicate the full tenderness of the
Pastor. No one is distant, nothing escapes him. The joys, the
expectations, the disappointments, the situations of suffering, the
tragedies, the wounded freedom of each person and each people find room in
his heart. They belong to his heart. And here, with intrepid words and
actions, even in recent months he has raised his voice with the love and
severity of a father in defence of his children whose right to exist and
live, to live in peace and freedom, is violated, unaccepted, unrecognized.
In these days of
blatant, sickening distractions at various levels, his is the one voice
raised to recall that the human being, every human being wherever he or
she may be, is worth far more than anything else. His voice alone sums up
an invocation in four words: Truth, Life, Justice, Peace. The voice of the
Guardian of human dignity.
That journey over the Hill of Crosses
The Beggar of peace,
Custodian of dignity, Helmsman of history, appears more and more clearly
to the eyes of those who could make him out in Lithuania as he climbed the
Hill of Crosses.
A unique moment: a
gesture symbolic of a Pontificate that is already towering over history.
The higher the Pope
climbed, penetrating further into that thick forest of crosses, trampling
on that seed of faith, the more aptly did this gesture seem to symbolize
That walk across a
Hill on which converges and from which unfolds a unique panorama of faith:
that journey in a place unique in the world for its poverty and for the
riches of a faith that speaks the agonizing language of hope and love;
that itinerary seems increasingly to sum up this Pontificate.
Climbing this hill
with John Paul II was the history that he has pursued unremittingly,
forcing it to be marvelled at and to marvel.
Climbing it were men
and women, the anonymous "stars" of unforeseen events.
Climbing it were
peoples and nations, crucified until a few years ago and who now find it
hard to believe in the redemption of their dignity.
Climbing was the
Church of silence which today strives to find words to ask all to overcome
Climbing it were the
frailty of the oppressed and the brittle power of the violent. Those
violent atheistic defeats before the world by the simple faith of those
without a name and by the daring of the Truth of the Successor of Peter.
On the Hill of
Crosses we can read, as it were, the autobiography of a Priest, a Bishop,
a Pope. The autobiography of a Pontificate. The autobiography of the
Church in these 25 years.
And the three
stations made by the Pope as he climbed seem to confirm this.
The first was at the
great wooden Cross, set up in May 1981 in memory of the attack in St
The second was at a
white marble Cross that will commemorate the pilgrimage of John Paul II: a
Cross on which are carved the famous words: "in hoc signo vinces", which
in that place reveal a historical warning. Twice, in fact, did the
atheistic regime destroy the Crosses, and they sprung up again more
numerous than before. And now they stand there as a sign of Redemption,
confronting the ideologies of all kinds, the blocs, the systems that have
collapsed and those that have lasted.
The third station was
on the top of the hill before an image of Our Lady. An exalted and humble
moment on a journey which began far away, to a far away destination.
Reaching out for a
new evangelical springtime that will become a commitment and life in all
those who thank the Lord for giving this Successor of Peter to the Church
and to the world, this Man of God, this Wonder of history; this Wonder of
the new generations for whose future his caress is always tender. The
caress of John Paul II who unfolds new horizons.
The horizon revealed
by the Jubilee pilgrimage to Mount Sinai, the Holy Mount of Truth and
Freedom: God's horizon.
This man of God
humbly obliges one and all — believers and non-believers — to raise their
heads and look up on High, to rediscover the path that leads towards the
"longed-for peaks of peace".
They did not
succeed in destroying the Letter
And John Paul II
continues to make himself a Letter and to deliver himself. The "envelope"
is somewhat crumpled: in 25 years, it has been fingered by the faith and
love of so many hands. It has also been fingered by murderous hands whose
plan was to destroy the Letter. They failed. And if the envelope was
violated — and the consequences are visible — the Letter has remained
untouched and legible. Written in indelible and penetrating characters. It
is the Letter of God.