CONDOLENCES OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
Paul VI Audience Hall
On the occasion of the death of His Holiness John Paul II, an extraordinary Pope who marked religious, moral and social history across the world, I present to you with deep emotion the most sincere condolences of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.
The loss of this great Pope has made a deep impression on the minds and hearts of all the Ambassadors charged to represent their countries to the Holy See during his long Pontificate.
With great intellectual honesty, he did not hesitate to review the history of the Church once again, and at the same time he raised streams of martyrs of the Catholic Church to the honours of the altar.
Through his Magisterium, he deeply marked the history of the last quarter of the 20th century and the beginning of the new one. He adamantly opposed the atheist and totalitarian ideologies, but also reminded the most developed countries on several occasions not to opt for selfish consumerism as the religion of their life, stressing with incredible vehemence, in a perspective of reciprocal solidarity, the central character of human beings, their dignity and their right to be able to satisfy their basic needs.
John Paul II was not content with making exhortations in his Encyclicals, Pastoral Letters, Homilies and other Papal Documents; he wanted personally to be beside each person. He therefore made himself a pilgrim in the world and took his teaching to the farthest corners of the earth as a Pastor who loved all men and women, created in the image and likeness of God.
Throughout his Pontificate, he observed human beings in all their dimensions, in both their temporal and transcendent aspects, in order to establish a new civilization that would be more realistic and enduring: the civilization of love.
To build this civilization, he reached out to the world's young people, "dawn watchmen" and our hope for the future; and, bubbling over with their spontaneous, irresistible enthusiasm, the young people entrusted their future and their energy to him.
Today, we are all mourning this Pope, this great man, with sincere grief, for we have lost the true friend of our human journey, and the sentiment we all feel in these days is profound loneliness.
However, the words of Mark the Evangelist are a great comfort to believers as they face the sorrow of death: "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come" (Mk 4: 26-28).
It is comforting for us to think that John Paul II, reaped by the sickle of death, is henceforth the grain ripe for the glory of Heaven. As for us, his powerful Magisterium lives on, illuminated by the heroic courage with which he faced his suffering and offered it to God for humanity's salvation.
His teaching strengthened us and made us more determined to act with greater equity and justice for a better world. These are the sentiments with which we will follow the activity of the next Successor of Peter, whom you yourselves, Your Eminences, with your wisdom and with the intercession of the Holy Spirit, will be called upon to elect in the upcoming Conclave.
On behalf of the Diplomatic Corps, I renew to you my most heartfelt condolences, and at the same time express the hope that the Church may have a new Pastor as soon as possible.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of Mission of the Diplomatic Corps
accredited to the Holy See,
The late John Paul II guided the Church for more than 26 years. He demonstrated, as the Second Vatican Council recalls, that she is both "a sign and [an] instrument... of communion with God and of unity among all men" (Lumen Gentium, n. 1). He steered her into hope with renewed enthusiasm; he introduced her into the third millennium, inviting Christians to bring Christ to the world and calling for an outpouring of generosity, peace, solidarity and sharing from all people of good will. He opened human hearts, and especially the hearts of the young, to the message of the Good News.
A sign of this in these days are the multitudes who were determined to pay their last respects to His Holiness John Paul II. This Pope expended every effort to proclaim the Gospel on all the continents, particularly by means of his numerous Journeys, showing the face of the Father rich in Mercy, leading people to Christ the Redeemer of man, and inviting all to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within them.
Consequently, in addition to our sorrow - and I think I am also expressing your own sentiments - we feel ardently grateful to God for having given us so great a Pastor, and deep gratitude to Pope John Paul II for his action and his teaching.
Your numerous presence here this morning is a great comfort to us all. At the same time, it testifies to the international action of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II.
Indeed, during his Pontificate, diplomatic relations were established with many countries, a sign of the attention that nations paid to the activity of the Pope and the Church throughout the world. You have been privileged witnesses of this action and of the development of diplomatic relations with countries whose number more than doubled during his Pontificate.
How often Pope John Paul II urged countries to seek peaceful solutions and to pursue dialogue! How often he asked the leaders of nations to pay more and more concrete attention to the people for whom they were responsible, especially the weakest, the lowliest and the poorest! How often he recalled the importance of human life!
These are like so many vibrant exhortations that call us to work today for the advancement of the human person, every human person. They are a message and an appeal to us all, increasingly to serve peace and solidarity among persons and peoples, to serve the peoples on all the continents so that a reconciled humanity may develop on an earth where all are partners. It was this, in particular, that he tirelessly recalled to the civil Authorities and Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See.
I once again convey to you the gratitude of the College of Cardinals for all your expressions of sympathy on the occasion of this bereavement that afflicts the Church, which have been a great support to us and to all the Catholic faithful. I also assure you of our prayers for you yourselves, Your Excellencies, and for your families, your collaborators and all the peoples you represent, as I ask you to express our gratitude to the leaders of your countries who, through their messages and their presence at the Holy Father's funeral, have desired to join in the Church's mourning.
Once again, I express our deepest gratitude to you all.