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Once more I am pleased to welcome the members of The Papal Foundation and to express my gratitude for the support which the Foundation has given again this year to the Successor of Peter in his apostolic ministry of "concern for all the Churches" (cf. 2 Cor 11:28).

Our meeting is taking place at the beginning of the Easter season, when the whole Church returns in a sense to her origins: to the empty tomb and to the Upper Room in Jerusalem where the risen Jesus appeared to the Apostles and promised them the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. During this holy season the Church also recalls the mission which Christ entrusted to Peter and the other Apostles, charging them to proclaim the Gospel and to bear witness to him, even to the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:7). This great mission is carried forward in every age by the Successors of the Apostles, with Peter at their head. It is my hope and prayer that today's visit to Peter's Successor will renew in each of you a sense of joyful communion with the Lord of Life and an even firmer resolve to cooperate in the universal mission of his Church.

In the years since its establishment, The Papal Foundation has demonstrated a particular concern for the needs of the Church in developing countries. I deeply appreciate this commitment of effective solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world who look in hope to the Church's witness to the Gospel and her efforts to promote justice, reconciliation and fraternal cooperation among the members of the human family. As we await the time of grace which is the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I invite you to continue to work and pray that the Church will become ever more fully, in the lives of her members, the sign and instrument of the unity of the entire human family and its saving union with God (cf. Lumen gentium, n. 1).

With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all associated with the work of The Papal Foundation I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Vatican, 12 April 1999.



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