ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Tuesday, 20 January 2004
1. It is always a pleasure to welcome and meet you: I greet each and every one with special affection. I especially greet Dr Salvatore Festa, to whom I am also grateful for his courteous words on behalf of those present. I accept with gratitude your fervent good wishes for the year that has just begun and cordially reciprocate them. May 2004 be a peaceful and profitable year for each one of you, for your families and for all your loved ones!
Your visit today gives me the opportunity to express to you once again my gratitude for and appreciation of the daily service that you carry out and that I have followed attentively for more than 25 years.
2. Your task has become complicated in recent years due to episodes of brutal terrorist violence that have strongly shaken the security of our cities. While you are using every possible means to intensify vigilance, the commitment to teaching peace appears more urgent every day. I also wanted to mention this important challenge in the Message for the recent World Day of Peace. In the face of all the dramatic situations of our time, there is a risk of giving in to fatalism as though peace were an impossible goal. Do not give in to this temptation! Teaching peace, with all its practical requirements, must continue to be the object of the constant commitment of all.
3. Dear friends, the Pope accompanies you in your daily service; he shares in your worries and supports you with his prayers, imploring God to protect you and your families. With these sentiments, as I renew my best wishes for the new year, I impart a special Blessing to each one of you here present and to all your loved ones.