Symposium of Cardinals: Holy Father's Closing Address

Author: Pope John Paul II


Pope John Paul II

Holiness is the key to authentic pastoral renewal

On Saturday morning, 18 October, the Holy Father addressed in the Paul VI Audience Hall the 128 Cardinals and 4 Patriarchs, as well as the 59 Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences from the five continents of the world, on the occasion of the close of the Symposium organized by the College of Cardinals for the 25th Anniversary of John Paul II’s election as Pope. Speaking to the Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops present, John Paul II stressed: "It is imperative that we foster among one another deep unity... rooted in full doctrinal sharing". He reminded them that their prime commitment is the proclamation of the Gospel "with one heart and one soul". The following is a translation of the Pope's Address, which was given in Italian.

Your Eminence, Dean of the College of Cardinals,
Your Eminences and Beatitudes,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I listened with great attention to your message, read by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the College of Cardinals. I am deeply grateful for his respectful greeting and cordial good wishes on behalf of everyone here.
I greet the Cardinals, the venerable Patriarchs, the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences and all who have taken part in the Symposium you organized, at which you reviewed some of the doctrinal and pastoral approaches that have inspired the activity of the Successor of Peter in the past 25 years.
I offer you in particular, dear Brothers of the College of Cardinals, my sincere gratitude for the affectionate closeness that you make me feel, not only on this occasion but always, as this meeting, moreover, eloquently demonstrates. In a certain way, the sense of unity and collegiality that must motivate the sacred Pastors in their common service to the People of God is rendered more visible today. Thank you for your witness!

Priority for Bishops: proclamation of the Gospel with new dedication

2. Thinking back over the past 25 years, I remember how often you have helped me with your advice to understand better the important questions concerning the Church and humanity. How could I fail to see that the Lord has acted through you in supporting the service to believers and to all men and women that is demanded of Peter?
Contemporary man, as the Dean of the College of Cardinals has wished to stress, is floundering in his breathless search for values. And — according to the intuition of Augustine in former times — he will never find peace except in loving God to the point of being prepared to make the sacrifice of himself.
The profound changes that have taken place in the past 25 years call into question our ministry as Pastors, appointed by God as fearless witnesses of truth and hope. We must never lack the courage to proclaim the Gospel; indeed, it must be our prime commitment to the last breath and we must undertake it with ever renewed dedication.

Credibility of Bishops depends on unity

3. The one Gospel proclaimed with one heart and one soul: this is Christ's commandment, and it is this that the Church of today and of all time demands of us, as individuals and as a College. This is what today's men and women expect of us.
It is thus imperative that we foster among one another deep unity, which is not limited to affective collegiality but rooted in full doctrinal sharing and practically expressed in harmonious understanding.
How could we be authentic teachers for humanity or credible apostles of the new evangelization if we were to allow the discord of division to enter our hearts? The people of our time need Christ and his words of salvation. Indeed, the Lord alone can give true answers to the anxieties and questions of our contemporaries. He has sent us out into the world as a single, undivided College that must witness with a unanimous voice to him, to his words, to his ministry. Our credibility depends on this!
Our work will be all the more effective the better able we are to make the face of the Church shine out, the Church which loves the poor, which is simple and which takes the part of the weakest. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom I will have the joy of adding to the Book of Saints tomorrow, is an emblematic example of this Gospel attitude.

Holiness is the secret of evangelization and renewal

4. Your Eminences, who have come from every continent and belong in a special way to the venerable Church of Rome, can give the Successor of Peter effective support in the fulfilment of his mission. With your ministry, with the wisdom you have acquired from your own culture, with the zeal of your consecration, you form a crown of honour that makes the face of Christ's Bride even more beautiful. This is another reason why you are asked to strive constantly for more complete fidelity to God and his Church. Indeed, holiness is the secret of evangelization and of any authentic pastoral renewal.
As I assure each one of you of my remembrance in prayer, I ask you to continue to pray for me that I may carry out my service to the Church faithfully for as long as the Lord desires. May Mary, Mother of the Church, accompany and protect us, and may Luke the Evangelist whose feast we are celebrating today, intercede for us.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart to you all a special Apostolic Blessing.

After singing the "Our Father", Pope John Paul II personally greeted the 59 Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and of the Pontifical Councils and presented the Prelates a Pectoral Cross designed by the Savi brothers.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
12 November 2003, page 10

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