DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     October 20, 1998     vol. 9, no. 205

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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HOLY FATHER REFLECTS ON 20 YEARS AS BISHOP OF ROME

          VATICAN CITY (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II celebrated the 20th anniversary of his election as Pope "with his family" last Thursday, with his fellow Poles, and on Sunday, the World Day of Missions, with the diocese of Rome. The people of Rome gathered in St. Peter's Square, along with Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of Rome, for a Eucharistic celebration presided over by the Pope and concelebrated by more than 1,500 priests and bishops.

          The Holy Father told the faithful, "The apostolic ministry consists first in the teaching of the Word of God, the truth, and prayer." Underlining the missionary character of his new encyclical on the reciprocal relationships of faith and reason, Fides et Ratio, the Pope affirmed with his Angelus message the importance of the proclamation of truth throughout his pontificate. "What misfortune if humanity lost the understanding of truth, the courage to seek it, and confidence to find it," he said. "It is not only the faith which would be compromised, but the understanding even of life." On that subject, he also evoked St. Therese of Lisieux whom he proclaimed Doctor of the Church last year, and St. Edith Stein whom he has just canonized and whom he called the "saintly philosopher."

          Commenting on the passage of St. John's Gospel where Christ asks Peter: "Do you love me?" and entrusts to him "to feed his lambs," the Holy Father affirmed in his homily that the first duty of the successor of Peter is "to confirm" his brothers in the faith and consequently to teach. "The bishop known as the bishop of Rome, and with stronger reason the pope, must continuously turn to the sources of wisdom which lead to salvation. He must love the Word of God."

          "After twenty years of service to the See of Peter," he said, "Can I not raise these questions today: Did you hold to that? Were you a diligent and vigilant guardian of the faith in the Church? Did you seek to bring people closer today to the great work of the Second Vatican Council? Did you seek to satisfy the desire for the faith in the Church, and also this hunger for truth which is felt in the world apart from the Church? "

          He reaffirmed: "To proclaim the Word, that is my task there, thereby making it possible for the Son of Man, when He comes, to find the faith throughout the world."

          The reading of the passage of the book of the Exodus where Moses is shown in prayer with raised hands prompted him to say: "Here is an icon of an extraordinary praying force: the icon of a beseeching shepherd ..." He added, "The prayer of the shepherd supports the flock. That is certain. But it is as true that the prayer of the people supports he who is charged with guiding them. It is thus since the beginning." He then quoted the passage of the Acts of the Apostles where the Church of Jerusalem prays for the imprisoned Peter and then he is miraculously delivered. "For myself, I have witnessed it personally. The prayer of the Church has a great power."

          The Pope thanked all those who expressed to him their "solidarity" at this time of his 20th anniversary by naming the sick and suffering people, the contemplatives, the monks, the families, and the faithful present in St. Peter's Square, including Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro and Cardinal Ruini. For Rome and Italy, which he often has called his second homeland, the Pope had cordial words: "I would like to express my gratitude for the warmth of the way with which the City of Rome and Italy welcomed me from the first days of my Petrine ministry." He then renewed his devotion towards the Virgin Mary while repeating: "Totus tuus!"


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October 20, 1998       volume 9, no. 205
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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