VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered today before praying the Angelus with thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The address was in Italian.
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1. Today is the liturgical feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which sheds light on the singular mystery, entrusted by the Lord to the head of the apostles, to confirm and guide the Church in the unity of faith. The “ministerium petrinum” [Petrine ministry] consists of this, that peculiar service that the Bishop of Rome is called to render to the whole Christian people. [An] indispensable mission, which is not based on human prerogatives, but on Christ himself as the cornerstone of the ecclesial community.
Let us pray so that the Church, in the variety of cultures, languages and traditions, will be unanimous in believing and professing the truths of faith and morality transmitted by the apostles.
2. To be conscious of the Church as mystery of unity, dear Brothers and Sisters, we must fix our gaze on Christ. And Lent, which we will begin next Wednesday with the austere and significant rite of the imposition of ashes, is a privileged time to intensify this commitment to conversion to Christ. The Lenten period will thus become a propitious occasion to examine ourselves with sincerity and truth, to put order in our lives and in our relations with others and with God. “Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15). This is the invitation of the liturgy that will accompany us during the next weeks until the paschal celebrations.
3. May the Virgin Mother of God support us on this demanding spiritual journey. May she render us docile to hearing the word of God, which impels us to personal conversion and fraternal reconciliation. May Mary guide us toward an encounter with Christ in the paschal mystery of his death and resurrection.
[Translation by ZENIT]