VATICAN CITY, JULY 13, 2001 ( John Paul II warns that the modern world´s denial of the incarnation of Christ "in turn leads to a greatly diminished sense of human possibility."

He made the observation in a message sent to Father Timothy Radcliffe, master general of the Dominicans, on the occasion of the order´s general chapter, which began in Rhode Island this week. The Pope is now vacationing in the north of Italy, through July 20.

In his message, the Pope notes that one of the first tasks of the Dominicans was to proclaim the truth of Christ in response to the Albigensian heresy, a new form of recurring Manichaeism. In essence, the heresy denies the Incarnation, and refuses to accept that "the Word was made flesh," John Paul II stresses.

"The history of your order indicates that the Gospel will be preached in renewed and effective ways in a rapidly changing world," the Holy Father writes, "only if Christians follow the way of contemplation, which leads to a more profound relation with Christ."

The present era, he continues, is one in which "the Incarnation is denied in many practical ways, and the consequences of this denial are clear and disturbing. In the first place the individual´s relationship with God is seen as purely personal and private, so that God is removed from the processes that governs social, political and economic activity."

"This in turn leads to a greatly diminished sense of human possibility, given that it is only Christ who fully reveals the wonderful possibilities of human life, who really reveals man to himself," the Pope says, recalling the Second Vatican Council´s pastoral constitution, "Gaudium et Spes."

"When Christ is excluded or denied," the Holy Father writes, "our vision of human purpose dwindles; and as we anticipate and aim for less, hope gives way to despair, joy to depression. ... Life is not valued and loved, hence the advance of a certain culture of death, with its dark blooms of abortion and euthanasia."

"In such a situation," the message concludes, "the Church and the Successor of Peter look to the Order of Preachers with no less hope and confidence than at the time of your foundation. The needs of the new evangelization are great, and it is certain that your order, with its many vocations and exceptional legacy, must play a vital role in the mission of the Church, to overcome old untruths and proclaim the message of Christ effectively. ...

"When he was dying, St. Dominic said to his saddened brothers: ´Do not weep, because I will be more useful after my death, and I will help you more effectively than during my life.´ I very fervently pray that the intercession of your founder will strengthen you for the task you have at hand, and that the great multitude of Dominican saints, who have adorned the order in the past, will illuminate your steps in the future."