The Holy See
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Rome 14-18 may 2000


Most Holy Father,

I believe that I represent the sentiments of the entire square which extends from this magnificent sagrado to every continent, in saying that expressing the veneration, admiration and gratitude for the living testimony and ministry of Your Holiness could give rise to a very long discourse.

We feel that we are led by a Man of God who has gained love and respect beyond every human frontier. The Lord has truly prepared one who can energetically tread the globe tirelessly: "before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you; before you were born I consecrated you and constituted you a prophet for the nations" (Jer 1,5).

We see in you, Holy Father, the consummate humanist, the subtle master of philosophical thought, one who has drunk from the wells of the great spiritual tradition, one who is conscious of the all the developments of contemporary thought. We see the model of the Pastor who places everything at the service of the "salus animarum", and one who is close to man in his sufferings and in his joys. Your profound philosophical awareness makes you no stranger to daily scenario of work and of the struggle for the faith and for liberty. You have expertly sailed the waters of many cultures making your closeness to mankind something which is not the preserve of a limited or narrow anthropological area.

Your Holiness, you speak to mankind as a Pastor and mankind has come to know the Pastor in you.

We priests in these difficult but missionary stimulating times are grateful to you for your pastoral teaching which is a living example for all of us.

Thank you, Holy Father, for your intense yet humble awareness of your mission as Vicar of Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is always the starting point; the horizon before us is the trinitarian Revelation; our goal is the Kingdom, the keys to which the Lord has placed in your obedient hands; the only compass by which the bark of the Church navigates is the message of the Divine Master, prompted by the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit.

Like Christ, "Filius datus est nobis". Your Holiness, you belong to us and to the world. We feel that you are a gift of Divine Providence to a world which is sometimes confused and tired.

In the name of the presbyteral order, I should like to say to Your Holiness "thanks". Through the exercise of your priestly minister, as Supreme Pontiff, you have given us the gift of a precious certitude: the priestly mission is the highest accomplishment for a man, it is an accomplishment which is superbly human because it is divine.

Your Holiness, thank you for causing us to understand the full meaning of the special charge given by the Supreme Eternal Priest on the throne of the Cross, of Mary, His Mother, to every priest. This is expressed in your daily "Totus Tuus". We too wish to receive her into our house.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the grey hairs and the sufferings which has made you more dear to us, for those steps which are now physically tired but spiritually intrepid, thank you for having encouraged us vigorously, twenty two years ago, to throw open the doors to Christ, without fear, and for having opened the Holy Door for us and for laying before us the immense horizon of Christ, the Lord of history, and for having impelled us to the missionary task of new evangelization.

Holy Father, we implore the merciful love of God that you may continue to guide us for many years to come, strengthening and comforting us by your exercise of the Petrine ministry.

We place all our best wishes on the paten at this celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in which the concelebrating Priests are a sign of the deep, affective and effective ecclesial communion which we wish to confirm and renew to-day.