Vatican City (Fides Service) – During his weekly audience on June 25 in St Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II spoke about Pope Paul VI on the 40th anniversary of his election as Supreme Pontiff, his ministry marked mainly by the Second Vatican Council and his openness to the modern era. “I too had the grace to take part in the work of the Council and to live the post-council period – said the Holy Father -. I personally saw and appreciated the unceasing efforts of Paul VI for the necessary updating of the Church to the needs for new evangelisation. Succeeding him on the Chair of Peter I wished to carry forward the pastoral work he started, taking from him inspiration as a Father and a Teacher. An apostle strong yet meek, Paul VI loved the Church and he worked for her unity and to intensify her missionary activity. In this prospective we fully understand the innovating initiative of the Apostolic Journeys, today an integral part of the ministry of the Successor of Peter”.
The Holy Father then recalled Pope’s Paul VI’ s commitment to opening the Church to the world “but without ceding to the spirit of the world” and to the modern mentality, “bearing with evangelical strength difficulties and misunderstandings and, in some cases, hostility” while his rich magisterium was devoted to a greater part to “educating the faithful to the sense of the Church”. Lastly he encouraged those present to give thanks to God “for the gift of this Pontiff, unswerving and wise leader of the Church”.
Greeting the visitors in different languages the Pope mentioned his one day visit to Banja Luka in Bosnia on 22 June: “Last Sunday, Divine Providence allowed me to make another apostolic journey to Bosnia-Herzegovina, to the city of Banja Luka six years since my visit to Sarajevo. A brief but intense journey, charged with hope for that country so sorely tried by recent conflicts…I found everyone anxious to put aside the painful experience of the past to build, in truth and reciprocal forgiveness, a society worthy of man and acceptable to God. The apex of the visit was the solemn celebration of the Eucharist with the beatification of Ivan Merz whom I proposed as an example for Catholics in that land, young people especially. Through his intercession let us pray to the Lord that this apostolic journey may bring the hoped-for fruits for the Church and for entire population of Bosnia Herzegovina. I ask God that these peoples, sustained by the international community, may solve the remaining complex problems and realise their legitimate aspiration to live in peace and be part of united Europe.” SL (Fides Service 26/6/2003 EM lines 32 Words: 462)