Mexico Visit 1999
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO Jan. 25, 1999
Encounter with representatives of all the generations of this century
[Official Vatican Text]
us reaffirm our faith!
Show the world the divine and human face of Christ
On Monday morning, 25 January, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the chapel of the
Apostolic Nunciature in Mexico City and later had lunch with the Cardinals and Presidents
of the Episcopal Conferences of America. In the late afternoon he was taken to the Azteca
Stadium for a meeting with "representatives of all the generations of the
century" to thank God for the gift of faith and to reflect on the challenges facing
America if it is truly to become the "Continent of Hope". Between the various
artistic performances the Pope gave a two-part address in Spanish. Here is a translation.
The end of a century and a millennium in the light of the Second Vatican
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. In a short time, an important century and millennium for the history of the Church
and humanity will be drawing to a close. In this significant period you are called to
become newly aware of having been entrusted with a rich human and religious tradition. It
is your task to transmit this heritage of values to the new generations in order to
nourish their vitality and hope, making them share in the Christian faith that shaped
their past and must mark their future.
A thousand years ago, in the year 999 of our era, the fury of those who worshiped a
violent god, calling themselves his representatives, did away with Quetzalcoatl, the
prophet-king of the Toltecs, because he was against using force to settle human conflicts.
As he neared death, he clutched in his hands a cross which symbolized for him and his
followers the agreement of all ideas in the search for harmony. He passed on these lofty
teachings to his people: "Good will always prevail over evil". "Man is the
centre of all creation". "Weapons will never be companions of the word; it is
the word that dispels the storm-clouds, so that we may be filled with divine light"
(cf. Raul Horta, El Humanismo en el Nuevo Mundo, chap. II). In these and in other
teachings of Quetzalcoatl, we can see a "preparation for the Gospel" (Lumen
gentium, n. 16), which many of your ancestors would have the joy of accepting 500
Christ has been constantly present on your journey
2. This millennium has seen the meeting of two worlds, marking a new path in humanity's
history. For you it is the millennium of the encounter with Christ, of the apparitions of
Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tepeyac, of the first evangelization and the Church's consequent
establishment in America.
The last five centuries have left a decisive mark on the identity and destiny of the
continent: 500 years of shared history, interwoven with the indigenous peoples and those
who came from Europe, later joined by those from Africa and Asia. Together with the
characteristic phenomenon of intermingling it became evident that all races have equal
dignity and a right to their own culture. Throughout this long and complex process, Christ
has been constantly present on the American people's journey, giving them his Mother, the
Blessed Virgin Mary as their own Mother, whom you love so deeply.
3. As suggested by the motto Mexico has chosen to welcome the Pope for the fourth time,
"A millennium is born: Let us reaffirm our faith", the forthcoming new era must
lead to a strengthening of America's faith in Jesus Christ. It is this faith, lived each
day by many believers, which will motivate and inspire the necessary measures to overcome
the deficiencies in the community's social progress, especially that of the rural and
indigenous peoples; to overcome the corruption that affects so many institutions and
citizens; to eliminate drug trafficking, which is based on a lack of values, on the desire
for easy money and on the inexperience of young people; to end the violence that sets
brothers and social classes against one another, leading to bloodshed. Only faith in
Christ can give rise to a culture opposed to selfishness and death.
Parents and grandparents present here: it is your task to pass on firmly-rooted
convictions of faith, Christian practices and sound moral norms to the new generation; the
teachings of the last Council will help you in this.
4. The Second Vatican Council, as a Gospel response to the world's recent development
and the beginning of a new Christian springtime (cf. Tertio millennio adveniente,
n. 18), has been providential for the 20th century. This century has seen two world wars
and the horror of concentration camps, persecutions and massacres, but it has also
witnessed developments full of hope for the future, such as the birth of the United
Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This world needs Christ, the Lord of history
I am therefore pleased to note the benefits that have come from accepting the Council's
teachings, such as the deep sense of communion and brotherhood among the Bishops of
America in close union with the Pope, evidenced at the celebration of the Synod which I
solemnly closed yesterday, the increasing commitment of the laity to building the Church,
the growth of movements which promote the holiness of life and the apostolate of all her
members, the increase in vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, which can
be seen in various places, including Mexico.
Four generations are present here and I ask them: is it true that the world we live in
is both great and fragile, sublime but sometimes confused? Is this world advanced in some
respects but backward in so many others? Yet this world, - our world - needs Christ, the
Lord of history, who sheds light on the mystery of man and guides him by his Gospel in the
search for solutions to the chief problems of our time (cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 10).
Since some of the powerful have turned their backs on Christ, the century now ending is
impotently witnessing the death from starvation of thousands of human beings, although,
paradoxically, agricultural and industrial production are on the rise; it no longer
promotes moral values, which have been gradually eroded by phenomena such as drugs,
corruption, unbridled consumerism and widespread hedonism; defenceless, it beholds the
growing gap between poor indebted countries and others which are powerful and affluent; it
continues to ignore the intrinsic perversion and terrible consequences of the
"culture of death"; it promotes ecology, but ignores the fact that any attack on
nature is deeply rooted in moral disorder and man's contempt for man.
5. America, land of Christ and Mary! You have an important role in building the new
world that the Second Vatican Council wanted to promote. You must be committed to making
the truth prevail. over the many forms of deceit, so that good may triumph over evil,
justice over injustice, honesty over corruption. Accept without reservation the Council's
vision of the human being, created by God and redeemed by Jesus Christ. In this way, you
will attain the full truth of moral values despite the illusion of temporary, precarious
and subjective certitudes.
We who form the Church - Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity feel committed
to the saving message of Christ. By following his example, we do not want to impose his
message but to offer it in full freedom, remembering that he alone has the words of
eternal life, and trusting fully in the Holy Spirit's power and action in the depths of
the human heart.
May you, Catholics of all the generations of the 20th century, be messengers
and witnesses of the Churchs great hope in all the circumstances to which God has
sent you as seeds of faith, hope and boundless love for all your brothers and sisters!
The 21st century, century of the new evangelization and of the great challenge
for Christian young people
Last year I heard they were calling me "Carioca", but now you are telling me:
6. Next year we will celebrate the 2,000th year since "the Word became flesh and
dwelt among us" (Jn 1:14). The Son of God made man taught everyone to be authentic
men and women, feeling compassion for the multitudes he found straying like sheep without
a shepherd, and giving his life for our salvation. His presence and action continue on
earth through the Church, his Mystical Body. This is why every Christian is called to
proclaim Christ, to witness to him and to, make him present everywhere in the various
cultures and ages of history.
7. Evangelization, an essential task, the mission and vocation of the Church (cf.
Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 14), stems precisely from faith in the Word, who is the true light
that enlightens every man coming into this world (cf. Jn 1:9). I say to you who have
joined the Pope today, here or through the media: take responsibility for spreading the
light you have received!
A century and millennium will soon be ending in which, despite so many conflicts, the
value of the person has been promoted over social, political and economic structures. In
this regard, the new evangelization also contains the Church's response to this important
change of historical perspective. Each of you, by your own way of life and Christian
commitment, must bear witness throughout America and the world that Christ is the true
champion of human dignity and of its freedom.
Ensure that new generations receive Christian formation
8. As followers of Christ, we long for unity and not division, for brotherhood and not
antagonism, for peace and not war to prevail in the coming century. This is also an
essential goal of the new evangelization. As the Church's children, you must work so that
the coming global society is not spiritually impoverished or heir to the mistakes of the
century now ending.
To do this, it is necessary to say yes to God and to engage with him in building a new
society where the family can be an environment of generosity and love, where reason enters
calmly into dialogue with faith, and freedom fosters a society marked by solidarity and
participation. In fact, anyone who follows the Gospel as a guide and norm of life cannot
remain passive, but must share and spread Christ's light, even to the point of
9. The new evangelization will be a seed of hope for the new millennium if you, today's
Catholics, make the effort to transmit to future generations the precious legacy of human
and Christian values which have given meaning to your life. As men and women who, with the
passing years, have accumulated valuable lessons of life, it is your role to ensure that
the new generations receive a sound Christian formation during their intellectual and
cultural training, to prevent the powerful progress from closing them to the transcendent.
Lastly, always present yourselves as tireless promoters of dialogue and peace in the face
of the predominance of might over right, and of indifference to the tragedies of hunger
and disease afflicting large numbers of the population.
10. For your part, young people and children who look to tomorrow with hearts full of
hope, you are called to be the artisans of history and evangelization now and in the
future. A sign that you did not receive this rich Christian and human heritage in vain
will be your dedicated striving for holiness, both in the life of the families that many
of you will start in a few years' time, and in the gift of yourselves to God in the
priesthood or the consecrated life, if this is your calling.
The Second Vatican Council has reminded us that all the baptized, and not only a few
privileged individuals, are called to incarnate Christ's life in their own lives, to have
his very sentiments and to trust fully in the Father's will, giving themselves without
reserve to his saving plan, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, in tireless generosity and
love for their brethren, especially the most disadvantaged. The ideal which Jesus Christ
holds up to you and teaches by his life is indeed exalted, but it is the only one that can
give full meaning to life. Therefore beware of the false prophets who offer other goals
that at times may seem more attractive but are always deceptive. Do not go along with them
Only in God can the human heart find complete happiness
11. Christians of the 21st century also have an inexhaustible source of inspiration in
the ecclesial communities of the early centuries. Those who lived with Jesus or listened
directly to the Apostles' testimony, felt their lives transformed and flooded with a new
light. However, they had to live their faith in an indifferent and even hostile world. To
make the truth of the Gospel penetrate, to transform the numerous convictions and customs
that denigrated human dignity, required huge sacrifices, firm perseverance and great
creativity. Only with unshakable faith in Christ, constantly nourished by prayer, by
listening to God's word and by regular participation in the Eucharist, were the first
Christian generations able to overcome those difficulties and make human history fruitful
with the newness of the Gospel, even many times by shedding their blood.
In the new era now unfolding, the era of informatics and powerful means of
communication, on the verge of an increasingly fluid globalization of economic and social
relations, dear young people, you and your contemporaries face the challenge of opening
the minds and hearts of humanity to the newness of Christ and the graciousness of God.
Only in this way can we avoid the risk of a world and a history without soul, overproud of
its technological achievements, but lacking hope and deep meaning.
12. You young people of Mexico and America must ensure that the world, which will be in
your hands one day, is oriented to God and that its political, scientific, financial and
cultural institutions are put at the authentic service of the human being, without racial
or social distinction. Thanks to you, our future society must know, by the joy which comes
from fully living your Christian faith, that in God alone can the human heart find peace
and complete happiness. As good Christians, you must also be exemplary citizens capable of
working together with people of good will to transform nations and regions with the power
of Jesus' truth and a hope that never wavers in the face of adversity. Try to put St
Paul's advice into practice: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with
good" (Rom 12:21).
13. As a reminder and a pledge, I leave you Jesus' last words, which illumine the
future and nourish our hope: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the
age" (Mt 28:20).
In the Lord's name, go with determination and evangelize your surroundings, so that
they may become more human, fraternal and united, more respectful of the nature entrusted
to us. Share your faith and ideals of life with all the peoples of the continent, not by
useless confrontations, but by the witness of your life. Show that Christ has the words of
eternal life which can save people of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Reveal to your
brothers and sisters the divine and human face of Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega,
the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last of all creation and all history, even of
the history you are writing with your own lives.
Before reciting the Our Father, at the end of the meeting, the Holy Father recalled
the victims of the earthquake which had struck Colombia earlier that day, and he prayed
for the eternal repose of the deceased:
I learned today of the numerous victims and many injured caused by an earthquake in
Colombia. Let us show our love in solidarity with these brothers and sisters who are
suffering at this time. From here I would like to encourage those who are helping the
earthquake victims. Let us pray for the eternal repose of all who have lost their lives.