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24 March 2003


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am delighted to meet you again this morning, after the festive celebration of the Beatification which took place yesterday in St Peter's Square. I greet you all with affection. I greet the Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious and faithful who came here for the event. Our illustrious brothers and sisters in the faith whom we now contemplate in glory, took part in a unique way in Christ's death and resurrection. The fruit of the Paschal Mystery, that, at the end of our Lenten journey, we are preparing to celebrate solemnly, gloriously shines forth in them.

2. Dear pilgrims who have come to celebrate the Beatification of Pierre Bonhomme, I am happy to welcome you. I am delighted with your celebration of the charism of this Blessed, linked to the history of the region of Cahors. In a special way I greet the Sisters of Our Lady of Calvary who thank God for their Founder, a person totally devoted to the poor. Dear Sisters, I encourage you to be faithful to the spirit of service that he taught you. He drew the strength for his mission from the mystery of the Eucharist, the centre of his day and of his ministry; he found in Mary, whom he venerated particularly at the shrine of Rocamadour, the protection and confidence that guided his initiatives. Following him, may you fully live your religious consecration in order to be his witnesses.

3. With great affection I wish to greet the Spanish-speaking Pastors, religious and faithful who took part in the celebration yesterday. You feel close to the three women who, with heroic generosity, gave themselves to their Christian vocation and enriched the Church with new foundations. I refer to the Spanish blesseds, Dolores Rodríguez Sopeña and Juana María Condesa Lluch, and the Swiss Blessed with a South American and universal heart, Mother Caritas Brader. All three lived in the same period and solidly nourished their faith with prayer, intimacy with the Eucharist and tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

4. Among the virtues of Bl. Caritas Brader, I desire to emphasize her missionary zeal that did not draw back in the face of difficulties.

Dear Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate: imitate joyfully your Foundress' example, follow her path with self-denial, instilling new hope into humanity. You have an important history, the Church is grateful to you for your mission and encourages you to persevere in it with the intercession and protection of Mother Caritas.

5. The religious, Handmaids of Mary Immaculate, saw their Foundress beatified yesterday. The history of Juana María Condesa Lluch has a special meaning for our time.

To you, the Handmaids of the Immaculate Conception, Bl. Juana Condesa left as a testament her great wisdom in knowing how to approach those in need of material and spiritual assistance, going with them on their way and, by the power of fraternity, assuring that it would lead to God and to the world that He desires. Along with those who in one way or another share in your activities in Spain, Italy, Panama, Chile and Peru, I encourage you to continue bearing this kind of evangelical witness.

6. The problems of emigration, social tensions, globalization, manifest or covert anti-clericalism, make it possible to understand better the inspiration that in her day led Bl. Dolores Sopeña to consecrate her life to the evangelization of those who were far from God and his Church.

Her apostolic zeal led her to found three institutions, today united in the "Sopeña family", that support many foundations in Spain, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Their principal objective continues to be the advancement and the proclamation of the Good News to families in the world of work; these families are not so lacking in education as was the case in the past, but they are always in need of Jesus Christ.

7. I greet with cordial affection the pilgrims who have come to Rome for the beatification of Ladislaus (László) Batthyány-Strattmann. The memory of this new blessed, who has ties with both the Hungarian and Austrian peoples, and his witness, stress again how important it is to safeguard and nurture the Christian values by which he lived, for peace and for the hoped for building of the common European house. May the new Blessed be for you, not just a protector to whom you can pray. May he also be a valid example that you can imitate, if you wish courageously to fulfil God's call!

Dear Hungarian-speaking pilgrims, like Bl. László Batthyány-Strattmann, may you too be faithful to the mission you have received for the service of the Gospel.

8. On this festive occasion, the "Icon of the Holy Family" will be handed over to the Archbishop of Valencia; it is the symbol of the World Meeting of Families. Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo brought it from Manila. I thank Archbishop Agustín García-Gasco, his collaborators, the authorities present here and all the faithful of Valencia, for the enthusiasm shown since the designation of Valencia as the host of the next World Meeting, and I encourage and bless the work and the initiative they will accomplish for its success. May the contemplation of this image in these years of preparation serve as an inspiration to continue the work of defending and promoting the institution of the family, so necessary if it is to carry out the mandate God entrusted to it and be "gaudium et spes", the joy and hope of humanity, a school that transmits the genuine values that humanity needs and a place to welcome life.

9. Brothers and Sisters, imploring the intercession of the new Blesseds so that they accompany us in the daily journey of the Christian life, with affection I bless you together with your loved ones and the Christian communities from which you come.


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