Sunday, 10 December 2000
1. In a few days we will recall the approval given 50 years ago to the Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. It is an important date for many people who, forced to flee their own countries because of war and persecution, have found in this programme protection and aid on every continent.
It is also important for the men and women who have unselfishly offered their time, skill and generous willingness even over and above their work duties, to bring help to these refugees in often serious and dangerous situations. They should be thanked by the international community, which must be committed to guarding their safety and supporting their humanitarian work, with the necessary economic aid as well. In international solidarity and in political dialogue, it is possible to find solutions so that the sheltering of refugees is not too burdensome in some countries and their basic rights and freedoms are defended by public institutions and structures.
2. Before concluding this solemn celebration, I would like to offer a word of gratitude and encouragement to all the catechists and religion teachers here and to those who are joined to us in spirit. Thank you, dear friends, for the missionary fervour and zeal with which you dedicate yourselves to the work of catechesis and religious education.
Precisely to encourage you to continue your activity with the missionary spirit that marks this Jubilee day, in a few moments I will present the Catechism of the Catholic Church to five catechist couples, representing all the continents. With this act I would like to stress that, in the variety of their languages and cultures, catechists are called to proclaim the same Truth throughout the world: Christ, the only Saviour of the world, yesterday, today and for ever.
3. Dear French-speaking catechists, I cordially greet you as you celebrate the Jubilee. The Church is counting on you particularly to make Christ known to young people, to make him loved by them and to help them to live in intimacy with him. May you draw from this Jubilee the strength and daring to transmit tirelessly and patiently the message of salvation! I grant my Apostolic Blessing to all!
I warmly greet the English-speaking participants in this Jubilee of Catechists and Religion Teachers. Yours is the great task and privilege in the Church of helping to pass on the faith in its saving fullness. By symbolically placing in your hands the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I wish to invite all involved in teaching the faith, especially parents and catechists, to make the Catechism a familiar and well-used resource in the home, parish and school. May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, sustain you in your generous commitment. God bless you and your families!
I greet the catechists and religion teachers from German-speaking countries. The subject entrusted to you cannot be taught in words alone. The best lesson you can give your pupils is the witness of your life. Whoever teaches the faith must also practise it. For this demanding mission I give you God's abundant blessing.
I welcome the Spanish-speaking catechists who are participating in this Jubilee. I ask you to become teachers of spirituality and to accompany the whole life of the Christian faithful with your personal witness. Pass on the authentic wisdom of the Gospel. May Jesus Christ always be the centre of your catechesis.
My cordial greeting to all the catechists and religion teachers who have come from Portuguese-speaking countries, to whom I leave the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a Jubilee remembrance, repeating to each of them the order given by God to the prophet Ezekiel: "Eat this scroll and go speak to your brethren"! My Blessing to you and your pupils.
I cordially greet the catechists from Poland - the priests, women religious and lay teachers. The Church has entrusted you with the important task of handing on Christ's teaching and of bearing witness to his saving love. May this Jubilee meeting be a time of special openness for you to the light and power of the Holy Spirit, so that, strengthened by his grace, you can fruitfully carry out your apostolic service in the new millennium. God bless you and all catechists in Poland!
4. As we recite the Angelus prayer together, let us once again entrust the work of evangelizing the whole world to the Mother of the Church.