VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 1997 (VIS) - This morning the Pope, addressing the prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Scandinavia at the end of their "ad limina" visit, commented on the words of the Creed: "I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."

Speaking German, the Pope recalled that "the 'ad limina' visit strengthens your awareness as successors of the Apostles and makes your communion with the Bishop of Rome even deeper."

John Paul II referred then to his pastoral visit to northern Europe in 1989 on the occasion of the 6th centenary of the canonization of St. Bridget of Sweden, who had come on a pilgrimage to Rome "centrum unitatis (center of the city)."

After having evoked what adhesion to the Church in the creed, and in the conciliar constitution "Lumen Gentium," consists of, the Pope recalled that the baptized are like lights in the darkness.

"It gives me great joy," he continued, "that St. Bridget is venerated in Sweden by both Lutherans and Catholics. I would define her as an 'ecumenical saint'. Her life and works constitute a collective legacy."

Moving on to the article of faith in the holiness of the Church, he said that the holiness of the Church is also expressed in the mission of its members in a secularized world where many men have lost their sense of the spiritual dimension of life. Ecumenical dialogue, he then specified, must also tighten the defense of the sacredness of life, alluding to "the dramatic combat between 'Culture of Life' and 'Culture of Death'."

The Holy Father also mentioned contemplative life and the priority of prayer, referring to the founding of two Benedictine monasteries in Tromso, Sweden, in 1990, which are "the world's northern-most Mount Carmel."

He praised the publication in Swedish and Norwegian of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose Danish and Finnish editions are still awaited. Stressing the importance of catechists alongside priests, he underlined the fundamental role of Catholic schools in this mission.

The Pope then commented on the phrase, "I believe in the catholic Church," and recalled that the Catholics of Scandinavia constitute the "small flock" in whose midst Jesus is present. "The Kingdom of God is among you, in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden." He noted that it is not the quantity of faithful that makes up the catholicity of the Church, forgetting that power comes from On High.

"I believe in the apostolic Church" was the next point that John Paul II dealt with, indicating one of the consequences of the commandments transmitted by the Church after the apostles. He cited his speech of this past January 24 to the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he recalled that divorced and remarried people cannot be admitted to the reception of the Eucharist due to their situation. He then added, referring to "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis", that even though the Lutheran Church has ordained women to the priesthood, summoning them also to the episcopacy, the Catholic Church cannot transgress its apostolic tradition.

Near the end, he emphasized that "all the themes that are confronted are 'a cry in the desert' if men and women do not defend Christian values with their whole heart in secularized societies."

Concluding his speech, the Holy Father tied together the diverse aspects of the Creed relative to the Church, posing the question: "What would the Church be without priests?" Insisting on the effort to persevere in order to favor priestly vocations, he underlined the importance of structures, praising the Swedish College of Rome, which welcomes seminarians from all of Scandinavia.
AL/.../SCANDINAVIA VIS 970421 (590)

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 10.03.2011 - 02:46