Vatican City (Fides Service) – “The one hundredth journey I have just completed offers me the opportunity to renew my heartfelt gratitude to Divine providence for allowing me to achieve this important pastoral project. In fact since the day of my election as Bishop of Rome I have heard in my heart Jesus’ command: “Go out to the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature” . On June 12 Pope John Paul II granted a special private audience to many of the people who took part in or worked to organise his apostolic journeys, on the occasion of the 100th journey (to Croatia). The Pope underlined that this “specific activity is proper to the Successor of Peter”. “I felt it was my duty to imitate Saint Peter the Apostle who “went around visiting everyone” to confirm and consolidate the vitality of the Church in fidelity to the Word and at the service of the truth; to “tell everyone that God loves them, the Church loves them, the Pope loves them; and to receive, also, from them encouragement and the example of their goodness and their faith”.
The Holy Father then recalled that in all these journeys he was able to “share directly with my brother Bishops their pastoral worries and concerns” and he was able to “see close up the life of Christian communities on the different continents, their expectations, difficulties, sufferings and joys”. In the faces of the younger ones he saw “a generation ready to follow Christ with generosity and to build the civilisation of love”… “Moved by the conviction that <man is the first and fundamental path of the Church> , I have met brothers and sisters of other Churches and ecclesial communities, and also believers in Judaism, Islam and other religions, to affirm with conviction both the Catholic Church’s concrete commitment to the rebuilding of full unity among Christians, and her openness to dialogue and collaboration with everyone in order to build a better world.” Lastly the Holy Father entrusted to Almighty God all that has been sown during these 100 apostolic journeys: “I pray that with his grace there will come forth an abundant harvest for the good of the Church and the world”. (Fides Service 13/6/2003 EM lines 25 Words: 382)