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John Paul II's Pastoral Visit to Romania

Bucharest, 7th - 9th May 1999

Blessed Pope John Paul II was a pilgrim to Romania on his 86th apostolic journey, staying in Bucharest. On the first day, he spoke at the Arrival Ceremony, gave a greeting at the end of his visit to the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucarest, and gave addresses at his meeting with Bishops and then with the Diplomatic Corps. On Saturday he gave the homily at Mass in St Joseph Cathedral and met with Patriarch Teoctist. On Sunday, he prayed the Regina Coeli, gave the homily at Mass in Podul Izvor Park and spoke at the departure ceremony.

"Cu mare bucurie sosesc astăzi în România, naţiune mult dragă mie şi pe care de multă vreme doream să o vizitez. Cu profundă emoţie i-am sărutat pământul, recunoscător înainte de toate lui Dumnezeu cel atotputernic care în prevăzătoarea sa bunăvoinţă mi-a hărăzit să văd realizat acest gând ... Românie, ţară-punte între Orient şi Occident, punct de răscruce între Europa centrală şi cea orientală, Românie, pe care tradiţia o numeşte cu frumosul titlu de "Grădina Maicii Domnului", vin la tine în numele lui Isus Cristos, Fiul lui Dumnezeu, şi al preasfintei Fecioare Maria. .."

Pope John Paul II's Address on his arrival in Bucharest
in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr President, Distinguished Government Representatives, Patriarch Teoctist,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. Today I have come with great joy to Romania, a country very dear to me which I have wanted to visit for a long time. With deep emotion I kissed its soil, grateful first of all to almighty God, who in his wise goodness granted me to see this wish come true.

I also express my gratitude to you, Mr President, for your repeated invitation and the courteous words expressing the sentiments of your co-workers and of all the Romanian people. I deeply appreciated your cordial words of welcome and cherish them in my heart as I remember with gratitude the visit you made to me in 1993 as rector of the University of Bucharest and president of the Conference of University Rectors of Romania. I see all the citizens represented in you, the first citizen of this noble nation, and I have a great desire to give them a warm greeting of brotherhood and peace, from the residents of the capital to the inhabitants of the most remote villages.

2. In a special way I thank Your Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, for your fraternal remarks and for your kind invitation to visit the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Church to which the majority of the people in your country belong. It is the first time that divine Providence has offered me the opportunity to make an apostolic journey to a predominantly Orthodox nation and this certainly could not have happened without the willing and fraternal acquiescence of the Holy Synod of the venerable Romanian Orthodox Church and without the consent of Your Beatitude, with whom tomorrow and on Sunday I will have special and long-awaited meetings.

At this historic moment, I cannot fail to recall the visit you made to me at the Vatican 10 years ago, showing your firm intention to establish in a free way those friendly ecclesial relations which seemed beneficial to God's People. I trust that my visit will help heal the wounds inflicted on the relations between our Churches in the last 50 years and will open a season of trusting mutual collaboration.

3. Lastly, I warmly greet you, venerable Archbishop Lucian Murelan of Flglral and Alba Iulia and President of the Romanian Episcopal Conference, and all of you, Brother Bishops of the Byzantine-Romanian rite and the Latin rite, with a special greeting to Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest. I again express all my gratitude to you for the kind insistence with which you invited me to visit you. I am truly happy that this dream has come true today, and I thank the Lord with you.

Here I am among you at last, a pilgrim of faith and hope. I embrace you all with affection and deep feeling, dear Catholic brothers and sisters from every community and Diocese, priests, consecrated persons and lay people, and I greet you in the words of the Apostle Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Co 1:3).

My visit is meant to strengthen those ties between Romania and the Holy See which were so important for the history of Christianity in the region. As you know, tradition has it that the faith was brought to these lands by Peter's brother, the Apostle Andrew, who sealed his untiring missionary work with martyrdom in Patras. Other eminent witnesses to the Gospel, such as Sabas the Goth, Nicetas of Remesiana from Aquileia, and Laurence of Novae continued the work, and during the persecutions of the first centuries many Christians suffered martyrdom: they are the Daco- Roman martyrs such as Zoticus, Attalus, Kamasis and Philip, whose sacrifice helped the Christian faith sink deep roots in your land.

The seed of the Gospel, fallen on fertile ground, produced abundant fruits of holiness and martyrdom during these two millenniums. I am thinking of St John Cassian and Dionysius Exiguus, who helped pass on the spiritual, theological and canonical treasures of the Greek East to the Latin West, to the holy King Stephen, “a true athlete of the Christian faith” as Pope Sixtus IV called him, and of so many other faithful servants of the Gospel, including the prince and martyr, Constantin Brâncoveanu and more recently, the numerous martyrs and confessors of the faith in the 20th century.

4. Dear brothers and sisters of Romania! In this century now drawing to a close your country has experienced the horrors of harsh totalitarian systems, sharing the sufferings that were the lot of many other European countries. The communist regime suppressed the Church of the Byzantine-Romanian rite united with Rome and persecuted Bishops and priests, men and women religious and lay people, many of whom paid with blood for their fidelity to Christ. Some survived the tortures and are still with us. My heartfelt thoughts turn to the worthy and beloved Cardinal Alexandru Todea, Archbishop emeritus of F{l-abreve}g{l-abreve}ra{l-scedilla} and Alba Iulia, who spent 16 years in prison and 27 under house arrest. As I pay homage to him, who in his illness, accepted with Christian patience from God's hands, is continuing his faithful service to the Church, I would also like to give due recognition to the members of the Romanian Orthodox Church and of other Churches and religious communities who suffered similar persecutions and grave restrictions. Death united our brothers and sisters in faith in the heroic witness of martyrdom: they have left us an unforgettable lesson of love for Christ and his Church.

5. Thanks be to God, after the harsh winter of communist domination came the springtime of hope. With the historic events of 1989 Romania too began a process of re-establishing a State governed by law with respect for freedom, including religious freedom. Although this process does not lack obstacles, it must be continued, while safeguarding the rule of law and consolidating democratic institutions. I hope that in this effort of social renewal, your nation will not lack the political and financial support of the European Union, to which Romania belongs by reason of its history and culture.

To heal the wounds of a recent bitter and painful past, one needs patience and wisdom, a spirit of initiative and honesty. This tiring but exalting task belongs to everyone; it is a challenge especially for you, dear young people, who are the future of this generous people. Do not be afraid to accept your responsibilities courageously and look to the future with confidence. For her part, the Catholic Church is ready to make her contribution, doing all she can to help form citizens who will be attentive to the true requirements of the common good.

Romania, bridge between East and West, crossroads between Central and Eastern Europe, Romania, traditionally called by the beautiful title: “Garden of Mary”, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin. On the threshold of a new millennium, once again set your future firmly on the rock of the Gospel. With Christ's help you will play a leading role in a new season of enthusiasm and courage. You will be a prosperous nation, a fertile land of goodness, a united people and peacemakers.

May God protect you and bless you always!"

John Paul II's Address at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish)

"1. “The God of peace be with you all!” (Rom 15:33).
Dear brothers and sisters, I wish to greet you in the words of the Apostle Paul to the Romans, to show you my affection and the deep joy that I feel to be with you and His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist for the first time here in Romania. Thank you for your warm and festive welcome, which comes from faith in the One who is ever present where two or three are gathered in his name: Jesus Christ, our Lord (cf. Mt 18:20).

2. Christ has always accompanied the history of the Romanian nation. Indeed, how can we forget that the evangelization and formation of the first Christian communities coincided with the very formation of your ancient and noble people? How can we not point out  with gratitude that the Gospel has deeply permeated its life and customs since its beginning, becoming a source of civilization and a principle of synthesis among the diverse inspirations of its culture?  Thanks to the Christian faith, this country, linked with the memory of Trajan and the Roman world and which by its very name recalls the Roman Empire, but is also marked by Byzantine civilization, down the centuries has become a bridge between the Latin world and Orthodoxy, between Greek civilization and the Slavic peoples.

The history of your faith is significantly portrayed by the paintings on many façades of your churches, which, despite the wind and rain, continue to proclaim God’s love for mankind. Romanians too, throughout the tragic events of their past and more recent history, have courageously preserved the gift of Christian faith, enduring violent persecutions and the insidious influences of a life without God.

In giving thanks to the Lord for all the shining testimonies that have flowered in Romania, I offer the wish that faith in Christ will become ever more rooted in your hearts and shine forth in your lives, to be passed on in its integrity to future generations.

3. Dear Romanians, may the Lord accompany the journey of your people into the third Christian millennium! May he inspire in your hearts good projects and hopes and give you the strength to build the civilization of love, based on justice, solidarity and commitment to the common good, for a truly fraternal society.

I particularly hope that a growing understanding between all who are honoured by the name Christian — Orthodox, Catholics of the various rites and Protestants of different denominations — may be a leaven of unity and harmony in your homeland and on the whole European continent.

The peace of Christ be with you always. Amen!"

Blessed Pope John Paul II's Address to the Bishops of Romania
Friday 7 May 1999 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers in the Episcopate of Romania!
Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur,
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur!

1. I would like to open our meeting at the beginning of my Pastoral Visit to Romania with the words of this ancient hymn, perhaps by St Ambrose but also attributed to St Nicetas, an apostle of this land when it was still Roman Dacia. I have come here to thank with you the Father of all mercies and God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3), who after years of suffering has allowed this noble nation to sing the praises of God in freedom. I ask him to make this visit abundantly fruitful for the Catholic Church in your country, for the Churches and the Christian communities as a whole, and for all the Romanian people.

I am grateful for your warm welcome. I also thank Archbishop Lucian Muresan, President of your Conference, for his address, in which he emphasized your profound communion with the Successor of Peter. I extend a special greeting to Cardinal Alexandru Todea, Archbishop emeritus of Fagaras and Alba Iulia, whom I hope to be able to meet. I would like to tell him of my appreciation of his great witness of Christian fidelity and unfailing unity with the see of Peter in the time of persecution.

Through you I would like to greet the priests, all the religious and the deacons, whose enthusiasm and dedication to the cause of God's kingdom are well known to me.

2. In this final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee, the entire Church is reflecting on the person  of God the Father. It is a golden opportunity for everyone to rediscover the fatherly face of God, as Jesus revealed it to us. Calling God by the familiar name of “Abba” (cf. Mk 14:36), he revealed the intimate and consubstantial relationship which binds him to the heavenly Father in the unfathomable depths of the Trinitarian mystery. At the same time, by sacrificing himself for us and giving us his Spirit, he enabled us to share in his filial experience and to call God by the sweet name of Father (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). This is the message of grace that you are called to bear as apostles of Christ. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16): may this joyful news echo in your words, shine on your faces and be demonstrated by your works. May it be said of each of you what was said of St Nicetas on the point of returning to Dacia as a herald of the Gospel: “O nimis terra et populi beati, / quos modo a nobis remeans adibis, / quos tuo accedens pede visitabit / Christus et ore” (St Paulinus of Nola, Carmen XVII, 13-16).

3. Yes, be the image of Christ for your faithful. Be so especially as builders of communion. In this year of God the Father, we must feel Christ's longing for unity more deeply: “Father ...  that they may be one even as we are one” (Jn 17:22). The Bishop is the guarantor of communion and his fatherly role must help the community to grow as a family, by reflecting in some way the very fatherhood of God (cf. St Ignatius of Antioch, To the Trallians, III, 1).

Many are the forms and requirements of the communion that Bishops are called to foster. The communion that joins them to other Bishops and in particular to the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, is fundamental. This communion should be lived more concretely with the Brother Bishops of  their own country, so that it becomes a source of mutual enrichment. This is particularly true when, as is the case with Romania, the Church's tradition is expressed in different rites, each of which contributes its own history, culture and holiness.

Your Conference includes the Bishops of the Latin and  Greek-Catholic Churches, while one of you is also the Ordinary for the Armenian Church. It offers you a place for brotherly contact and mutual support, as well as an opportunity to coordinate activities concerning joint issues of evangelization and human advancement. In the light of recent experience, we must acknowledge that this institution has proven its usefulness. It is meant to be a sign of unity for your entire society by showing that legitimate diversity, far from being a factor of division, can contribute to a deeper union because it is enriched by the gifts of each one.

4. It is important to know and appreciate one another, and to bear one another's burdens (cf. Gal 6:2). The People of God, and especially future priests, must be taught this attitude of sharing. To this end, the common formation of seminarians is an important instrument, so that they can learn  in practice the meaning of respect and the acceptance of others, in esteem renewed each day for the precious deposit of the same faith entrusted to them. May they truly be the apple of your eye.

Communion must mark the relations of the faithful among themselves, with the priests and with the Bishop. It must be promoted in every way by listening to one another and by making good use of the structures of participation. For this witness of unity and for the very vitality of the Church's mission, the commitment of priests is vital as the indispensable co-workers of the episcopal order. If it is the duty of priests to regard their Bishop as a father and to obey him with respect, the Bishop on his part, as the Council recalls, “should treat the priests, his helpers, as his sons and friends” (Lumen gentium, n. 28).

Dear friends, be close to your priests. Support them in moments of trial. Be concerned for their continuing formation, planning with them opportunities for prayer, reflection, and pastoral renewal.

5. Men and women religious should benefit from similar concern. With respect for their charisms and the characteristics of each institute, it is the Bishop's task to harmonize their activities for the common good of the whole Church.

We must thank the Lord for the many male and female vocations that he continues to inspire in Romania. However those who are called to the priesthood and the consecrated life must be given a sound and complete education, doctrinally, pastorally and spiritually. This should preferably take place in your own country, for which professors, teachers and, in particular, spiritual directors should receive good formation. I know that much has been done, but it is necessary to continue in this direction, given the complex and growing needs of our time.

6. Special care should be given to the advancement of the laity, which is an urgent need for the whole Church, but particularly for the countries which have emerged from the experience of communism. It is a question of helping them to become aware of their specific vocation, which is “to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will” (Lumen gentium, n. 31). Obviously, ample room for service is open to them within the Christian community, but it is the irreplaceable task of the laity to make the Gospel present in those areas of social, economic and political life where the clergy do not usually work. For their important mission they need the support of the entire community, just as lay associations, approved by the Bishops and working in a climate of mutual respect and cooperation with the Pastors, are also called to play a significant role.

7. Following the events of 1989, the democratic system was established in your country too: building it up requires time, patience and perseverance. The Catholic Church, for her part, has  been able to reorganize herself and freely undertake her pastoral activity. Despite the problems, we must confidently look to the future and, with the Lord's help, dedicate ourselves with enthusiasm to the work of the new evangelization.

A fundamental challenge is presenting the faith to the new generation. Statistically speaking, Romania is a relatively “young” country. Unfortunately, young people today are encountering new problems which hinder and undermine their educational growth. It is important for the Church to support the role of parents, the first teachers of their children, and to make her own specific contribution, especially that of catechesis and religious instruction.

Before the Second World War, the Catholic Church had many schools in Romania with a well-developed system for supporting them. With the confiscation of property, this important ecclesial work was discontinued. While acknowledging that it would be difficult to return to the pre-existing situation, it is a duty in justice to return the schools and confiscated property, thereby enabling the Church to carry out her mission also in the area of education. Without doubt this would be a great benefit to society as a whole.

8. The restitution of property is an issue that frequently resurfaces, especially for the Catholic Church of the Byzantine-Romanian rite, which is still deprived of many worship sites she had at her disposal before her suppression. Obviously, justice demands that what was taken should be returned as far as possible. I know that the Hierarchs are not requesting the simultaneous restitution of all the property confiscated, but would like to have those which are most needed for liturgical functions: the cathedrals, the deanery churches, etc.

In this regard, I have followed with great interest the work of the Joint Commission of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Greek-Catholic Church on the above-mentioned questions. Despite the difficulties this Commission has certainly played a positive role. I express my heartfelt wish that both sides will commit themselves to continue addressing this question through sincere and respectful dialogue, and I hope that my visit can make a further contribution to this process of fraternal dialogue in truth and charity.

Moreover, this dialogue is situated in the broader horizon of the ecumenical commitment to which the whole Church is called. We must all do what we can with an open heart and perseverance, in both theological and practical dialogue with the other Churches and Christian communities, seeing as our goal the unity of all Christ's disciples. In this regard let us not forget the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which stressed that conversion of heart, holiness of life and prayer are the soul of the ecumenical movement (cf. Unitatis redintegratio, n. 8). I hope that in Romania too, with our Orthodox brothers and sisters and with the other Christian communities, ecumenical initiatives can be organized during the Jubilee Year to implore the Lord together that “unity among all Christians of the various confessions will increase until they reach full communion” (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 16).

9. Along with intra-ecclesial and ecumenical concerns, the Catholic Church's efforts in Romania must respond to precise expectations in the social field. There are so many problems which call for a Christian witness. I would like to point to the special attention that  the family deserves as the fundamental unit of society. Families must be offered the guidance and support they need in order to base their growth and educational role on authentic moral and spiritual values. It is particularly necessary to stress respect for the life of every person, from the moment of conception until natural death.

The Church must foster  concrete and generous concern for the poorest and the most marginalized. This is an immense task whose fulfilment requires that the Church's efforts be coordinated with the commitment which must be guaranteed in this area by governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as by all people of good will.

10. Dear friends, the more deeply rooted the reconstruction of Romanian society is in your best traditions, the more solid it will be. Above all, you must rediscover the power of faith of those who preferred to die rather than deny God or the Church.

Every Church and religious community in your country has had its martyrs, even in the 20th century. Today I wish to pay homage to them all. For her part, the Catholic Church is invited to remember all her martyrs, to follow their witness of fidelity and dedication to the Lord.

How could we forget, for example, the late Cardinal Iuliu Hossu (1885-1970), Bishop of Cluj-Gherla? My Predecessor, Paul VI, revealed that one of the Cardinals “in pectore” at the Consistory of 20 April 1969 was in fact Bishop Hossu, and he described him as “a distinguished servant of the Church, highly commendable for his fidelity and for his prolonged sufferings and the deprivations it caused; he himself was a symbol and representative of the fidelity of many Bishops, priests, religious and faithful of the Byzantine-rite Church” (AAS LXV, 165).

The Latin-rite Catholic Church was also the object of persecution, as evidenced by the person of the fearless servant of God Bishop Aaron Marton of Alba Iulia (1896-1980), who was first imprisoned and then forced to live under house arrest. With deep emotion I also remember the heroic Bishop Anton Durcovici of Iasi (1888-1951), who died in prison.

These are only a few of the many il-lustrious disciples of Christ, victims of a regime which, hostile to God because of its atheism, also trampled on human beings made in the image of God.

11. Now, dear Brothers, a new page has been turned in your history. It is both a gift and a task. Vigorously lead  the communities entrusted to you, so that all your people can advance towards a future that conforms every more closely to God's plan. Put your trust in the One who, on sending his Apostles into the world, assured them: “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

I entrust the commitment of your Churches to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin. May she who was your “morning star”,  whom you looked to during the night of persecution,  now be the “star of the new evangelization” and show all Romanian society the way to her Son Jesus Christ, the “way” that leads to the Father's house.

I cordially impart my Blessing to you, to your priests, religious, deacons and all the faithful of this beloved land of Romania."

Pope John Paul II's words to the Diplomatic Corps
7 May 1999 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr President, Presidents of the Senate and the Assembly of Deputies,
Members of the Government and the Constituent Bodies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Representatives of the different Religious Communities,

1. In accepting your invitation to visit Romania, I am delighted, Mr President, to stand on the soil of your country for the first time. I warmly thank you for your welcome and the courteous words you have just spoken to me in your own name and in the name of the nation’s authorities. I greet the members of the Constituent Bodies and  the representatives of the Romanian people, as well as the members of the Religious Communities and the Diplomatic Corps: in addition, I extend my most cordial greetings to those responsible for public life, to the people who helped organize my visit and to all Romanians.

2. I come to your land as a pilgrim of peace, brotherhood and understanding within nations, between peoples and among the disciples of Christ. During different stages of my journey, I will meet the various ecclesial communities as well as the people of Romania. I very cordially thank His Beatitude Teoctist, Patriarch of Romania, for his words of welcome this morning. Our meeting and the moments of prayer we will share are an eloquent testimony of Gospel brotherhood. After the last Council and in view of the Great Jubilee, these gestures make an important mark on the path of unity among Christians.  I hope that the pastors and faithful will commit themselves in turn to concrete dialogue and mutual acceptance, which will show that fraternal charity in Christ is not an empty phrase, but an essential element of the Church and of Christian life.

3. I also wish to greet the Catholic Bishops of Romania, as well as all the members of their Latin, Greek-Catholic and Armenian communities. I assure them of my fatherly and fraternal affection. In again expressing to them my admiration for the work they accomplished in their trials with fidelity and courage, I am delighted with their pastoral activity in communion with the Successor of Peter, a sign of the unity of Christ’s Body and of their involvement in Romanian society.

4. I am pleased to meet the members of the Diplomatic Corps; their presence shows the attention of the neighbouring States, of Europe and of the whole world to Romania, its internal development and its foreign relations. I hope that the international community will  strengthen its aid to nations which, emerging from the yoke of communism, have to reorganize their economic and social life; these countries will thus become artisans of peace and prosperity for their inhabitants and even more responsible partners in international life.

5. The presence of representatives from the various Religious Communities invites me to stress the essential role of the Churches. It is their task to be artisans of peace, solidarity and fraternity, so that they will not act as antagonists, but as collaborators in the common good, rejecting everything that can exacerbate the conflicts, passions and ideologies which in past decades tried to prevail over individuals, local human communities and the principles of freedom and truth. While respecting the autonomy of temporal affairs, their spiritual mission invites them to be sentinels in the world, in order to call attention to the values which are the basis of social life and to identify from  a human and spiritual standpoint any failure to show due respect to every person, to his dignity and to his basic freedoms, especially religious freedom and freedom of conscience.

6. Romania is going through a period of transition which is crucial for its future, for its more active involvement in the construction of Europe and  for its presence on the international scene. My thoughts turn to those who are undergoing trials, especially those who are seriously affected by the economic crisis and those in situations of poverty or illness, as well as the families who are finding it difficult to provide for their needs. I invite all Romanians to show their solidarity, thus offering concrete proof that living in the same region creates strong ties of brotherhood. No one should feel excluded or use the slowness of the changes as a pretext for despairing or for dissociating themselves from the common path. Each person is responsible for his brothers and sisters and for the country’s future.

7. Forty years of atheistic communism have left after-effects and scars on your people’s flesh and memory, and have created a climate of distrust; none of this can disappear without a real effort of conversion by citizens in their personal lives and in their relations with the national community as a whole. Each must reach out to his brothers and sisters, so that growth and development benefit everyone, particularly those who have suffered the negative effects of the different crises of the past. Your people are rich in undreamed-of resources, in self-confidence and in solidarity. In the strength of these values, they are called to develop an art of living together which is an infusion of soul and humanity. Solidarity and trust require of all social leaders a concerted effort and respect for the different levels of intervention, as well as persevering commitment and an attitude of honesty on the part of all who must deal with social matters. A common destiny can truly be established on this basis. I encourage the people of Romania to work on building a society at the service of all and to let Christ’s message touch them, as their ancestors have done since apostolic times, showing how Christian, spiritual, moral and human values hold  an important place in the life of a country.

8. The disruptions that followed the events of 1989 have increased the differences between citizens. The difficulties in the democratic transition sometimes lead to discouragement. The path of democratic life comes above all  through a civic education of all citizens so that they can take an active and responsible part in public life in their local communities and at all levels of society. Formed in a civic spirit, people will become aware that development is not only a matter of structures but also involves mental attitudes. It is advisable, especially for the young, to regain trust in their country and not to be tempted to emigrate. Moreover, it is important that a State concerned about harmony and peace be attentive to all the individuals who live in the national territory, without exclusion. In fact, a nation has the duty to do everything possible to strengthen national unity based on the equality of all its inhabitants, regardless of their origin or religion, and to develop their sense of openness to foreigners.

Of course, the territorial  changes which have led to the unification of peoples with different ethnic and religious backgrounds have created a complex socioreligious mosaic, especially in Transylvania. It is with patience and above all the desire to succeed in the art of living together that, thanks to national and religious harmony, it will be possible to overcome conflicts and fears. “It is necessary to pass from antagonism and conflict to a situation where each party recognizes the other as a partner” (Ut unum sint, n. 29). If history cannot be forgotten, it is by adhering to respect for the rights of minorities and to dialogue, with the desire for forgiveness and reconciliation, that citizens can meet again today as partners, and even more, as brothers and sisters.

9. I would now like to mention the welcome Romania so generously gave my compatriots and the Polish Government during the Second World War. I would also like to pay homage to the outpouring of generosity that many people were capable of at the time of the events of 1989. Today these are signs, among many others, that can prompt courageous and persevering attitudes which create a society where everyone can live well.

10. I am grateful to you, Mr President, for inviting me to share your country’s history for a few hours, and for allowing me to meet the Catholic communities and to take an important step on the path of Christian unity in my contacts with the Romanian Orthodox Church. I invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon you, your family and everyone here, as well as on all the people of Romania. Thank you."

"Iubiţi fraţi, lanţurile voastre, lanţurile enoriaşilor voştri constituie gloria, mândria Bisericii: adevărul va făcut liberi! Au încercat să vă reducă la tăcere libertatea, să o sufoce, dar nu au reuşit. Voi aţi rămas liberi lăuntric, chiar dacă în lanţuri; liberi, chiar dacă în plânset şi lipsuri; liberi, chiar dacă toate comunităţile voastre erau profanate şi lovite. Dar "se făcea necontenit rugăciune către Dumnezeu, de către Biserică" (Fap 12,5) pentru voi, pentru ei, pentru toţi cei ce cred în Cristos, pe care minciuna voia să vă curme. Nu există fiu al întunericului care să poată suport ..."

John Paul II's Homily at Mass in St Joseph's Latin-Rite Cathedral
Saturday, 8 May - in English, French, German, Italian, & Portuguese

"1. “Dress yourself and put on your sandals” (Acts 12:8). The angel says these words to the Apostle Peter, whom  the first reading shows us confined in prison. Guided by the angel, Peter escaped from prison and regained his freedom.

The Lord Jesus also spoke to us of freedom in the Gospel passage we have just heard: “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). Those who are listening to him do not understand: “From what slavery must we be freed?”, they ask themselves. And Jesus explains that the most deceptive and repressive slavery is that of sin (cf. Jn 8:34). Only he can free us from that slavery.

This is the message that the Church proclaims to the world: Christ is our freedom, because he is the truth. Not an abstract truth, gropingly sought by ever restless human reason. The truth for us is the person of Christ. It is he who told us: “I am the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).  If the darkness of sin is defeated by the light of life, then there is no slavery that can suppress freedom.

2. You know this truth well, beloved brother Alexandru Todea, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, and you, Archbishop Gheorghe Gu{l-tcedilla}iu, because before you, as before Peter, the heavy door of slavery opened by itself and you were given back to your Churches together with many other brothers and sisters, some of whom we have the joy and privilege of  greeting and spiritually kissing here at this Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite. Others were welcomed instead into the Father's embrace in the days of persecution, without being able to see basic freedoms restored in their country, including freedom of religion. Beloved brothers and sisters, your chains and the chains of your people are the glory and pride of the Church: the truth has set you free! They tried to silence your freedom, to suppress it, but they did not succeed. Inwardly you remained free, even though in chains; free, even though in tears and privation; free, even though your communities were attacked and violated; but “earnest prayer was made to God by the Church” (Acts 12:5)  for you, for them, for all believers in Christ whom deceit sought  to destroy. There is no son of darkness who can tolerate the hymn of freedom, since it reproaches him for his error and sin.

I have come in these days to pay homage to the Romanian people, who historically are a sign of the extension of Roman civilization its this part of Europe, where to memory, language and culture have been perpetuated. I have come to pay homage to the brothers and sisters who hallowed this land by the witness of their faith, producing a flourishing civilization inspired by the Gospel of Christ; to a Christian people proud of their identity, often defended at a high price in the sufferings and vicissitudes that have marked its life.

Today I am here to pay homage to you, sons and daughters of the Greek-Catholic Church, who for three centuries have borne witness to your faith in unity, sometimes with unprecedented sacrifices. I come to you to express the Catholic Church's gratitude, and not only hers: you have offered a witness of liberating truth to the entire Christian world, to all people of good will.

From this cathedral my thoughts must turn to Blaj. In spirit I kiss that land of martyrdom and make my own the moving words of the great poet Mihai Eminescu, who said of it: “I thank you, O God, for helping me so that I could see it”. At this holy celebration, I extend my affectionate greetings to my beloved Brother, Lucian Mure{l-scedilla}an, Metropolitan of your Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, to the Bishops, the priests, the deacons, the religious and all the faithful.

3. Throughout your history various Christian inspirations — Latin, Constantinopolitan and Slavic —  combined with the distinctive genius of your peoples. This precious religious  heritage was safeguarded by your Eastern communities, together with their brothers and sisters of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Your ancestors wanted to re-establish visible union with the Church of Rome. In the Clausula Unionis they stated among other things: “We, the aforementioned, are one with our whole tradition: the ecclesiastical rites, the Divine Liturgy, the fasts and our calendar are to be preserved intact”. That union is almost 300 years old: I consider it providential and highly significant that the celebrations of the third centenary will coincide with the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

In that union were echoed centuries of the Romanian people's history and culture. It contributed significantly to this history and culture, as is shown by the school founded in Blaj, which Eminescu did not by chance salute as the “little Rome”. Your commitment, dear brothers and sisters of the Greek-Catholic Church, is one of fidelity to your history and tradition. Persons like Teofil Szeremi and Anghel Atanasie Popa, who strenuously defended their cultural identity from whoever tried to ensnare it, showing how catholicity and national culture not only can coexist, but can enrich each other by opening themselves to a universality which broadens horizons and enables them to avoid being self-contained and self-absorbed. At the foot of the splendid iconostasis in your cathedral repose has finally been given to the remains of venerable Bishop Inochen{l-tcedila}ie Micu Klein, another person who with generosity and courage loved and defended  his catholicity, strongly tied to his Romanian identity. Proof of this fruitful synthesis is the fact that in your Church the beautiful Romanian language entered the liturgy, and Greek-Catholic Romanians worked for the intellectual renewal and strengthening of their own national identity.

4. This heritage also drew vital nourishment from the riches of the Byzantine liturgy and tradition which you share with our brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Church. You are called to give this heritage new life and to renew it where necessary, taking your inspiration from the sensibilities of those who wanted union with Rome and from what the Catholic Church expects of you. Fidelity to your tradition, so rich and composite, must be continually renewed today, when new areas of freedom are given to you, so that your Church, by returning to her roots and by openness to the Spirit's call, may be more and more herself and, precisely because of this multifaceted identity, contribute to the growth of the universal Chruch.

An exhilarating task awaits you: to rekindle hope in the hearts of the faithful belonging to your resurgent Church. Devote time and attention to the laity, particularly  to the young, who are the Church's future: teach them to meet Christ in liturgical prayer, restored to its beauty and solemnity after the constraints of secrecy, in diligent meditation on Sacred Scripture, in assimilation of the Fathers, theologians and mystics. Teach young people to strive for difficult goals, as befits the children of martyrs. Teach them to reject the facile illusions of consumerism; to stay in their land so that together they can build a future of peace and prosperity; to be open to Europe and the world; to serve the poor, who are the icon of Christ; to prepare themselves to be Christian professionals in order to imbue civil society with honesty and solidarity; not to distrust politics but to make their presence felt with that spirit of service it particularly needs.

Work for qualified theological instruction, knowing full well that future priests are the guides who will lead their communities into the new millennium.  Join forces and train your teachers and educators, providing them with roots in your particular identity and in the universal scope of the Church. Care for religious life and work for the rebirth of monasticism, which is so closely connected with the very essence of the Eastern Churches.

5. “Above all these”, I say to you with St Paul, “put on love” (Col 3:14). Even before being deprived of the priceless gift of freedom and of life itself, you suffered from not feeling loved, from being forced underground, with painful isolation from national and international life. Above all, a painful wound was inflicted on your relations with your brothers and sisters of the Orthodox Church, despite the fact that you shared with many of them the sufferings of bearing witness to Christ amid persecution. Even if communion between Catholics and the Orthodox is still incomplete, “I add that this communion is already perfect in what we all consider the highest point of the life of grace, martyria unto death, the truest communion possible with Christ who shed his Blood, and by that sacrifice brings near those who once were far off (cf. Eph 2:13)” (Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, n. 84).

For Christians these are days of forgiveness and reconciliation. Without this witness the world will not believe: how can we credibly speak of God who is Love if there is no respite from conflict? Heal the wounds of the past with love. May your shared suffering not lead to separation but accomplish the miracle of reconciliation. Is this not the marvel that the world expects from believers? You too, dear brothers and sisters, are called to  make your valuable contribution to the ecumenical dialogue in truth and in charity, according to the directives of the Second Vatican Council and the Church's Magisterium.

6. I have just come from this city's Catholic cemetery: on the graves of the few known martyrs and of the many whose mortal remains did not even receive the honour of Christian burial, I prayed for you all, and I called upon your martyrs and confessors of the faith to intercede for you with our Father in heaven. In particular, I called upon the Bishops to continue being your Pastors from heaven: Vasile Aftenie and Ioan Bllan, Valeriu Traian Frenliu, Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu and Alexandru Rusu. Your martyrology begins with the concelebration in spirit of these Bishops who mingled their blood with that of the Eucharistic sacrifice they celebrated each day. I also called upon Cardinal Iuliu Hossu, who preferred to stay with his people until death, refusing to go to Rome to receive the Cardinal's biretta from the Pope because this would have meant leaving his beloved land.

On your journey to Christ, the source of true freedom, may they accompany you with Mary, the holy Mother of God. I commend you to her in the words you sang to her with trusting abandonment  at the time of persecution: “Do not desert us, O Mother, exhausted on the way, because we are the children of your tears”."

"Beatitudine, Domnule Preşedinte, Veneraţi Fraţi întru Episcopat, Mult iubiţi fraţi şi surori, se apropie de sfârşit pelerinajul meu pe pământul vostru. Cu inima plină de gratitudine pentru momentele intense pe care le-am trăit, invoc harul Domnului peste toţi, prin mijlocirea fericitului Ieremia Valahul, şi cu mare afecţiune, vă binecuvântez Testo in italiano: Beatitudine, Signor Presidente, Venerabili Fratelli nell'Episcopato, Carissimi fratelli e sorelle. Si avvicina alla fine il mio pellegrinaggio sulla vostra terra. Con il cuore colmo di gratitudine per i momenti intensi che abbiamo vissuto i ... "

Blessed John Paul II's Address to Patriarch Teoctist and other members of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Romania
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Beatitude, Venerable Metropolitans and Bishops of the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Romania,
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

1. I often thought of a Gospel scene as I was preparing for this much desired meeting: that of the Apostle Andrew, your first evangelizer, who comes full of enthusiasm to his brother Peter to tell him the tremendous news: “We have found the Messiah (which means Christ)” (Jn 1:41). This discovery changed the lives of both brothers: leaving their nets, they became “fishers of men” (Mt 4:19) and, after having been inwardly transformed by the Spirit of Pentecost, they set out on the paths of the world to bring everyone the news of salvation. With them, other disciples continued the Gospel work they had undertaken, inviting the nations to salvation and “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19).

Your Beatitude, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, we are the children of this evangelization. We too have received this message; we too have been redeemed in Christ. If we are meeting today, it is through the loving plan of the Most Holy Trinity, who, on the eve of the Great Jubilee, has granted us, the successors of these Apostles, to commemorate their meeting. The Church has grown and spread throughout the world; the Gospel has enriched cultures. Here in Romania too, the treasures of holiness, of Christian fidelity, sometimes purchased with one's life, have embellished this spiritual temple which is the Church. Today we thank God for this together.

2. The deep feeling prompted by Your Beatitude's visit to the city of Sts Peter and Paul, the Coryphaei of the Apostles, is still vivid in my mind. I have a touching memory of this meeting which took place in difficult times for your Church. It is now my turn, as a pilgrim of love, to pay homage to this land steeped in the blood of ancient and recent martyrs, who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rv 7:14). I come to meet a people who welcomed the Gospel, assimilated it, defended it against repeated attacks and now considers it an integral part of their cultural heritage.

It is a culture inherited from ancient Rome, which has been patiently built up in a tradition of holiness beginning in the countless cells of monks and nuns who devoted their time to singing God's praises and, like Moses, to holding up their arms in prayer so that the peaceful battle of faith might be won for the benefit of the peoples of this land. The Gospel message thus reached the worktable of intellectuals, many of whom contributed through their charism to fostering its assimilation by the new generations of Romanians, starting out to build their future.

Your Beatitude, I have come here as a pilgrim to express the whole Catholic Church's affectionate closeness to you in the efforts of the Bishops, clergy and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church as one millennium ends and another emerges on the horizon. I am close to you and support you with esteem and admiration in the programme of ecclesial renewal which the Holy Synod has undertaken in such essential areas as theological and catechetical formation, to make the Christian soul, which is one with your history, flourish anew. In this work of renewal blessed by God, know, Your Beatitude, that Catholics are at the side of their Orthodox brethren in prayer and in their willingness to help in any useful way. The one Gospel is waiting to be proclaimed by everyone together, in love and in mutual esteem. How many fields are opening before us in a task which involves us all, with mutual respect and in the shared desire to be useful to mankind for whom the Son of God gave his life! Common witness is a powerful means of evangelization. Division, on the other hand, shows the victory of darkness over light.

3. Your Beatitude, both of us in our personal histories have seen chains and experienced the oppression of an ideology that wanted to eradicate faith in Christ the Lord from the souls of our people. But the gates of hell did not prevail against the Church, Bride of the Lamb. It is he, the Lamb, sacrificed and glorious, who sustained us in distress and who now allows us to sing the song of regained freedom. It is he whom one of your contemporary theologians called “the restorer of man”, the one who heals the sick and raises them up after their long subjection to the heavy burden of slavery. After so many years of violence and the repression of freedom, the Church can pour the balm of grace on man's wounds and heal him in Christ's name, saying, as Peter said to the man lame from birth: “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). The Church does not tire of urging and imploring the men and women of our time to stand up, to set out again towards the Father, to be reconciled with God. This is the first act of charity humanity expects of us: the proclamation of the Gospel and rebirth in the sacraments, which are then prolonged in serving our brothers and sisters.

Your Beatitude, I have come to contemplate the Face of Christ etched in your Church; I have come to venerate this suffering Face, the pledge to you of new hope. Your Church, aware of having “found the Messiah”, is trying to lead her children and all who are seeking God with a sincere heart to meet him; she does so by solemnly celebrating the Divine Liturgy and by her daily pastoral work. This commitment accords with your tradition, so rich in figures who were able to combine a deep life in Christ with generous service to the needy; an impassioned commitment to study, with tireless pastoral concern. Here I will mention just one: the holy monk and Bishop Callinicus of Cernica, so close to the heart of the faithful of Bucharest.

4. Your Beatitude, dear Brother Bishops, our meeting is taking place on the day when the Byzantine liturgy celebrates the feast of the holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. Who better than he, who was intensely loved by the Master, can communicate to us this living experience of love? This is what seems in his letters to be the synthesis of his life, the word which, in old age, when what is superfluous disappears, stayed with him to mark his personal experience: “God is Love”. This is what he contemplated as he lay his head on Jesus' heart and raised his eyes to his pierced side, from which flowed the water of Baptism and the Blood of the Eucharist. This experience of God's love not only invites us, but I would say gently obliges us to love, the true and only synthesis of the Christian faith.

“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7). These are the words of the Apostle Paul to a community tormented by conflicts and tensions; these words are valid for all times. We know well that today these words are addressed first of all to us. They do not serve to reproach the other for his error but to unmask our own, the error of each one of us. We have known conflict, recrimination, inner reticence and closure to one another. Yet, we are both witnesses that despite these divisions, at the moment of great trial when our Churches seemed shaken to their very foundations, here too, in this land of Romania, the martyrs and confessors knew how to glorify God's name with one heart and one soul. It is precisely by reflecting on the marvellous work of the Spirit, incomprehensible to human logic, that our weakness finds its strength and our hearts gain new courage and confidence amid the difficulties of the present situation.

5. I am pleased that, in practical terms, it has been possible to begin a fraternal dialogue here in Romania on the problems which still divide us. The Greek-Catholic Church of Romania suffered violent repression in recent decades, and her rights were scorned and violated. Her children suffered greatly, some even bearing the supreme witness of bloodshed. The end of persecution brought freedom, but the problem of ecclesial structures still awaits a definitive solution. May dialogue be the way to heal the wounds that are still open and to resolve the difficulties which still exist! The victory of love will not only be an example for the Churches but for all society. I pray God, the Father of mercies and source of peace, that love, accepted and given, will be the sign by which Christians are recognized as faithful to their Lord.

The Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church have come a long way on the road to reconciliation: I would like to offer God my deep and heartfelt gratitude for all that has been achieved, and I want to thank you, venerable Brothers in Christ, for the efforts you have made on this path. Has the time not come to resume theological research with determination, supported by prayer and by the sympathy of all the Orthodox and Catholic faithful?

God knows how much our world and also our Europe, which we hoped had been freed from fratricidal conflicts, need a witness of fraternal love which overcomes hatred and quarreling and opens hearts to reconciliation! Where are our Churches when dialogue falls silent and weapons roar their language of death? How can we teach our faithful the logic of the Beatitudes, so different from the reasoning of the powerful of this world?

Your Beatitude, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, let us restore visible unity to the Church or this world will be deprived of a witness that only the disciples of God’s Son, who died and rose out of love, can offer it so that it may be prompted to open itself to faith (cf. Jn 17:2). And what can encourage the people of today to believe in him, if we continue to tear the seamless garment of the Church, if we do not succeed in receiving the miracle of unity from God by working to remove the obstacles which prevent its full manifestation? Who will forgive us for this lack of witness? I have sought unity with all my strength, and I will continue to do all I can until the end to make it one of the priority concerns of the Churches and of those who govern them in the apostolic ministry.

6. Your land is strewn with monasteries. From St Nicodemus of Tismana, buried in the mountains and forests, beats the heart of ceaseless prayer, of the invocation of the holy name of Jesus. Thanks to Paissy Velitchkovsky and his disciples, Moldavia has become the centre of a monastic renewal which spread to neighbouring countries at the end of the 18th century and later. Monastic life, which has always been present even during the time of persecution, has produced and still produces individuals of great spiritual stature, around whom many promising vocations have blossomed in recent years.

The convents, the churches covered with frescoes, the icons, liturgical ornaments and manuscripts are not only the jewels of your culture but are also a moving testimony of Christian faith, of a lived Christian faith. This artistic heritage, born of the prayer of monks and nuns, of artisans and peasants inspired by the beauty of the Byzantine liturgy, is a particularly significant contribution to the dialogue between East and West, as well as to the rebirth of brotherhood which the Holy Spirit is enkindling in us on the threshold of the new millennium. Your land of Romania, between Latinitas and Byzantium, can become the land of encounter and communion. It is crossed by the majestic Danube, which bathes the regions of the East and West: may Romania, like this river, know how to build relations of understanding and communion between different peoples, thus helping to strengthen the civilization of love in Europe and the world!

7. Your Beatitude, dear Fathers of the Holy Synod, not many days lie between us and the beginning of the third millennium of the Christian era. People have their eyes fixed on us in expectation. They strain their ears to hear from us, from our life more than from our words, the ancient announcement: “We have found the Messiah”. They want to see whether we too are capable of leaving the nets of our pride and our fears to “announce a year of favour from the Lord”.

We will cross this threshold with our martyrs, with all who have given their lives for the faith: Orthodox, Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants. The blood of martyrs has always been a seed which gives birth to new Christian faithful. But to do this, we must die to ourselves; we must bury the old man in the waters of rebirth and rise as new creatures. We cannot disregard Christ's call and disappoint the world's expectations, nor fail to join our voices so that the eternal word of Christ may ring out ever more clearly for the new generations.

Thank you for wanting to be the first Orthodox Church to invite the Pope of Rome to her country; thank you for giving me the joy of this fraternal meeting; thank you for the gift of this pilgrimage, which has allowed me to strengthen my faith through contact with the faith of fervent brothers and sisters in Christ!

“Come, let us walk together in the light of the Lord!” To him be glory for ever and ever! Amen.

Thank you. An unforgettable visit, Romania. Here we have crossed the threshold of hope. Thank you. God bless us all."

Blessed John Paul II's words at the Regina Coeli
Sunday, 9 May - in English, French, German, Italian, & Portuguese)

"Blessed be the name of the Lord for your kindness and courtesy in welcoming me tChrist is risen!

1. “Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and always and forever and ever”!

With the words of the final hymn of the Divine Liturgy, I would like to offer fervent thanks to the Lord for this time of joyful brotherhood and intense prayer that we have just experienced.

Blessed be the name of the Lord for the Romanian people. From the very beginning of their evangelization, they have never ceased to sing the praises of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Even in the darkest moments of their history they continued to trust in God as the Psalmist said: “By day the Lord commands his steadfast love; and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life” (Ps 41 [42]:8).

I am thinking of the wealth of spirituality and holiness which have enriched Romania’s age-old history. I recall with reverence the witness borne during the persecution of so many Christians, both famous and unknown, who remained steadfast in the faith and continued to spread the Gospel, sometimes at the price of their own lives. Their fidelity is a sign of hope for all the Lord’s disciples. Indeed, communion among Christians of different denominations, real although imperfect, is confirmed by martyrdom for Christ and perfected in the Communion of Saints.

2. Among the many witnesses of Christ that flourished in Romania, I would like to recall the monk of Rohia, Nicolae Steinhardt, an exceptional example of a believer and man of culture, who had a special insight into the immense richness of the treasure common to the Christian Churches.

In particular, I thank the Lord for the witness of faith and hope given in Romania by the members of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church during our difficult century. Thanks to them, persecution and suffering became precious opportunities for sanctification and evangelization in this region.

May a single hymn of praise to the name of the Lord rise from the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Romanian Catholic Church! May it form a symphony of voices to express the heartfelt brotherhood of mutual relations and to implore the full communion of all believers. The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, founded on the apostolic succession, have the same Word of the Lord preserved in Holy Scripture and the same sacraments. In particular, they have kept the same priesthood and celebrate the one Sacrifice of Christ, through which he builds up and gives growth to his Church.

3. Blessed be the name of the Lord for what is being achieved in obedience to Christ’s command. I am thinking here of the international dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole, and between the Greek-Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church. I am also thinking of the respectful pastoral cooperation between the Orthodox and Catholic faithful which is growing at various levels and is also bearing promising fruit among young people, as well as of the efforts to produce an interdenominational translation of the Bible. May their mutual relations always be free of any kind of fear or suspicion and show that the purpose of all pastoral work is to help each person grow in fidelity to the one Lord.

In a few months we will celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. This will be an extraordinary and important Jubilee for Christians and for the whole human race, in which Christianity has had such great significance during these two millenniums. Therefore the members of the Catholic Church, together with Christians of other denominations, will rightly celebrate the event with heartfelt gratitude to God for the gift of Redemption.

The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 urges Christians to look at the future with a better awareness of the challenges they will face in the new millennium. One that stands out is the search for unity among all believers in Christ. I hope that the third Christian millennium will find us, if not completely united, at least closer to full communion.

4. Blessed be the name of the Lord for your kindness and courtesy in welcoming me these past few days.

I would like to express my warm and cordial gratitude first of all to His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist, to the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Orthodox Church of Romania who have opened their arms and their hearts to me!

May the Lord bless this ancient and illustrious Church as she fulfils her pastoral mission, and may he lead all believers to offer the world a renewed and joyful witness of full communion with one another and of courageous fidelity to the Gospel!

I extend an affectionate and fatherly greeting to the faithful of the Catholic Church. God has given me the joy of seeing your faces and praying with you. Like Paul to the elders of Miletus, I say to you: “I commend you to God and to the word of his grace” (Acts 20:32).

I invoke the protection of Mary, the glorious Mother of God, upon all the citizens of beloved Romania. May her children, who in the course of history  have learned to trust in her powerful intercession, always be able to find in her a sure guide in advancing towards a future of prosperity and peace and in helping build a more just and more fraternal homeland. Amen!"

Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass in Podul Izvor Park
in Podul Izvor Park - in English, French, Italian & Portuguese

"“Christ is risen!”

1. “Great are the works of the Lord!”.
The responsorial psalm of today's liturgy is a song of glory to the Lord for the works he has done. It is a song of praise and thanksgiving for creation, the masterpiece of divine goodness and for the wonders the Lord has accomplished for his people in freeing them from slavery in Egypt and bringing them across the Red Sea.

What can we say then of the even more extraordinary work of the Incarnation of the Word, which fulfilled the original plan of human salvation? The heavenly Father's design is in fact fulfilled by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus and concerns people of every race and every age. Christ — St Peter recalls in the second reading — “died for sins ... the righteous for the unrighteous ... being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pt 3:18). Christ crucified has risen: this is the great Easter message that every believer is called to proclaim and witness to courageously.

Before leaving this earth, the Redeemer announces to the disciples the coming of the Paraclete: “I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:16-17). Since then the Spirit has given life to the Church and made her a sign and instrument of salvation for all humanity. He works in the hearts of Christians and makes them aware of the gift and mission entrusted to them by the risen Lord. The Spirit spurred the Apostles to travel all the paths of the then-known world to proclaim the Gospel. This is the way the Gospel message reached and was spread here in Romania, through the heroic witness of confessors of the faith and of martyrs, yesterday and in our century.

Considering the Church's history in Romania, we can truly say with hearts full of gratitude: “Great are the works of the Lord!”.

2. “Great are the works of the Lord!”. The psalmist's exclamation rises spontaneously in my heart during this visit, which gives me the opportunity to see with my own eyes the wonders God has accomplished through you down the centuries and especially in recent years.

Until recently it would have been unthinkable that the Bishop of Rome could visit his brothers and sisters in faith living in Romania. Today, after a long winter of suffering and persecution, we can at last exchange the embrace of peace and together praise the Lord. I greet you all with deep affection, dear brothers and sisters. I extend a respectful and cordial greeting to His Beatitude who, in a much appreciated act of charity, has wished to pray with us at this Eucharistic celebration. I am deeply touched by his presence and brotherhood. I offer him my gratitude, as I thank our Lord Jesus Christ for everything.

 With renewed joy I greet you, dear and venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, with a special thought for the Pastor of this Archdiocese, Archbishop Ioan Robu, whom I warmly thank for the words he addressed to me at the beginning of Mass, and to the Metropolitan of Flglral and Alba Iulia, Archbishop Lucian Murelan, President of the Episcopal Conference. I spiritually embrace each and every Latin-rite Catholic and those of the Byzantine-Romanian rite, who are equally dear to my heart. I greet the priests, the religious and the laity who are dedicated to the apostolate. I greet the young people and the families, the sick and all who are suffering in body or spirit.

From this capital, I wish to embrace all of Romania and all its inhabitants: I assure everyone, near and far, of my affection and my prayer. It is a great spiritual joy for me to be in Romania and to give thanks to God with you for the marvellous works he has accomplished, which the liturgy of the Easter season invites us to recall with joy and gratitude.

3. As this century comes to an end and we can already glimpse the dawn of the third millennium, we look back to years past in order to discern the signs of divine mercy that always accompany the steps of those who trust in God.

How can we forget the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which opened a new era in the Church's history, instilling in her new energy? Thanks to the Constitution Lumen gentium, the Church has acquired a deeper awareness of being the People of God on the way to the fulfilment of the kingdom. We sense the mystery of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church and see the value of her mission in a particular way here in Romania, where Christians of the Eastern and Western traditions live side by side. They are striving for unity, anxious to respond to Christ's command, and thus they long for dialogue, reciprocal understanding and mutual help. This longing for fraternal cooperation, supported by prayer and inspired by mutual respect and esteem should always be fostered and encouraged, because only peace builds, while discord destroys.

In the name of this great ecumenical inspiration, I address all believers in Christ who live in Romania. I am here among you, spurred solely by the desire for genuine unity and the will to fulfil the Petrine ministry which the Lord has entrusted to me among my brothers and sisters in the faith. I give thanks to God that I can fulfil this ministry. I fervently hope and pray that full fraternal communion among all believers in Christ in East and West will be achieved as soon as possible. The Divine Master prayed for this unity, enlivened by love, in the Upper Room on the eve of his Passion and Death.

4. This Christian unity is first of all the work of the Holy Spirit, to whom we must constantly pray. On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles, who until that moment had been uneasy and fearful, were filled with courage and apostolic zeal. They were not afraid to proclaim Christ crucified and risen; they were not afraid to demonstrate their fidelity to the Gospel by their words and their lives, even when this meant persecution and death. Many in fact paid for this fidelity with martyrdom. The Church, guided by the Spirit, thus spread to every region in the world.

If misunderstandings and, unfortunately, painful separations have sometimes occurred within the one and undivided Mystical Body of Christ, the awareness of what unites all believers and their common call to unity has remained stronger than any division. At the end of the second millennium, paths that had diverged are drawing closer together and we are witnessing an intensification of the ecumenical movement to achieve the full unity of believers. Signs of this continual progress towards unity can be seen in your country, Romania, whose culture, language and history bear vivid marks of the Latin and Eastern traditions. My fondest hope is that Jesus' prayer in the Upper Room: “Father, that they may all be one” (cf. Jn 17:21), will always be on your lips and never cease to beat in your hearts.

5. “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

These words of Jesus, entrusted to the disciples on the eve of his Passion, echo for us today as a pressing invitation to continue on this path of fidelity and love. To love Christ! This is our life's ultimate goal: to love him in the everyday situations of life so that the Father's love will be manifested to the world; to love him with all our strength so that his plan of salvation will be fulfilled and believers will attain full communion in him. May this ardent desire never die in our heart!

Dear Catholics of Romania, I know well how you suffered during the years of the harsh communist regime; I also know how courageously you have persevered in your fidelity to Christ and his Gospel. Now as we stand on the threshold of the third millennium, be not afraid: open the doors of your heart to Christ the Saviour. He loves you and is close to you; he calls you to a renewed commitment to evangelization. Faith is a gift from God and a heritage of incomparable value to be preserved and spread. In defending and fostering common values, always be open to active cooperation with all the ethnic, social and religious groups that make up your country. May your every decision be motivated by hope and love.

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, guide and protect you, so that you can write new pages of holiness and generous Christian witness in the history of Romania.

Amen! “Christ is risen!”

Blessed John Paul II's words at the Departure Ceremony
Bucharest Airport, Sunday 9 May 1999 - in English, French, GermanItalian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. As I leave this beloved land of Romania, I first of all offer to you, Mr President, my greeting and my thanks for the welcome you have given me. Through you I extend these sentiments to all the beloved Romanian people whose warmth and enthusiasm I have felt as they gathered around me these past few days.

I extend a particular greeting to His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist, to the Metropolitans, the Bishops and all the people of the venerable Orthodox Church of Romania. I fraternally embrace the Bishops and Catholic communities of the Byzantine and Latin rites, all of whom have a place in my heart. I also extend my greetings to the other Christian denominations and to the members of other religions in the country.

2. These have been days of deep emotion, which I have intensely felt and which will be cherished in my heart. Let us accept the events we shared together as a gift from God's hand, confident that they will bear fruits of grace for Christians and for all the people of Romania. Your country has a unique ecumenical vocation stemming from its very roots. Because of its geographical location and long history, its culture and tradition, Romania in a way is a house where East and West meet in natural dialogue.

The Church too breathes here with her two lungs in a particularly visible way, as we have seen in these days. Side by side, as were Peter, Andrew and the other Apostles gathered in prayer with the Mother of God in the first Upper Room, we have experienced a new spiritual Pentecost. The wind of the Holy Spirit has blown powerfully over this land and has spurred us to be firmer in communion and bolder in proclaiming the Gospel. We have practised the new language given to us, the language of fraternal communion, and have tasted its sweetness and beauty, its power and effectiveness.

3. While the door to the third millennium is about to open, we are asked to transcend our usual confines to make the wind of Pentecost more forcefully felt in the countries of the old continent and to the furthest ends of the earth. Unfortunately, the threatening crash of arms seems to be prevailing over the persuasive voice of love, and the outbreak of violence is reopening wounds which people were struggling patiently to heal.

I renew my wish that weapons will at last be laid down so that we can once again meet one another and engage in new and more effective dialogues of communion and peace! Christians have an important role in this regard, whatever their denomination. Today they are called to live and express their brotherhood with greater boldness, so that peoples can be encouraged, indeed, spurred to rediscover and to strenthen what they have in common. The spiritual event we have celebrated, blessed by St Demetrius and the holy martyrs of recent decades, is an experience to preserve and pass on, in the hope that the new millennium opening before us will be a time of renewed communion between the Christian Churches and the discovery of brotherhood among peoples. This is the dream I take with me as I leave this land so dear to me.

4. I would like to entrust this dream to you all. In particular, I would like to entrust it to the young. Yes, to you, dear young people of Romania! I would have liked to meet you personally; unfortunately it was not possible. This evening I make my own the words in which Peter announced the fulfilment of God's promise to those listening to him as the day of Pentecost was drawing to a close: “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams”   (Acts 2:17). In these days the Spirit is entrusting God's “dream” to you, young people: may all men and women belong to his family; may all Christians be one. Enter the new millennium with this dream!

You who have been freed from the nightmare of communist dictatorship, do not let yourselves be deceived by the false and dangerous dreams of consumerism. They also destroy the future. Jesus enables you to dream of a new Romania, a land where East and West can meet in brotherhood. This Romania is entrusted to your hands. Boldly build it together. The Lord is entrusting it to you. Entrust yourselves to him, knowing that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (Ps 126 [127]:1).

May the Lord bless Romania; may he bless its people and may he bless Europe!"