Bookmark and Share

Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Mexico

22nd - 26th January 1999

Pope John Paul II's 4th pilgrim visit to Mexico (other visits in 1979, 1990, 1993 & 2002), during his 85th apostolic journey. Click here for links to all JPII's speeches etc.

John Paul II's Welcoming Address

Friday, 22nd January 1999, Mexico City - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

Today I have arrived in Mexico as I did 20 years ago, and it is a great joy for me to return to this blessed land where Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated as a beloved Mother. As I did then and on my 2 subsequent visits, I come as an apostle of Jesus Christ and the Successor of St Peter to strengthen my brothers and sisters in the faith and to proclaim the Gospel to all people. On this occasion, moreover, this capital city is to be the place of a privileged and exceptional meeting for an historic event: tomorrow morning in the Basilica of Guadalupe, together with the Bishops of the entire American continent, I will present the results of the Synod held in Rome more than a year ago.

..Through the new evangelization the Church wishes to reveal her identity more clearly: to be closer to Christ and to his Word; to demonstrate that she is authentic and free from worldly influences; to be of greater service to the human person from a Gospel perspective; to be a leaven of the unity and not the division of humanity, which is opening to new, broader and still emerging horizons.

... Since the time they welcomed me 20 years ago with open arms and filled with hope, the Mexican people have accompanied me on many of the paths I have taken. I have met Mexicans at the Wednesday General Audiences and at the great events which the Church has celebrated in Rome and elsewhere in America and throughout the world. The greeting with which they always welcomed me still echoes in my ears: Mexico ever faithful and ever present!

I come to a country where the Catholic faith served as a foundation for the intermingling which transformed the ancient ethnic and antagonistic plurality into a fraternal unity and destiny. Nor is it possible to understand Mexico without the faith brought from Spain to these lands by the first 12 Franciscans, and later strengthened by Dominicans, Jesuits, Augustinians and others who preached Christ's saving word. In addition to the work of evangelization which made Catholicism an integral and fundamental part of the nation's soul, the missionaries left deep cultural imprints and marvellous works of art which today are a legitimate cause of pride for all Mexicans and a rich expression of their civilization.

I come to a country whose history is traversed by three realities which, like rivers that are sometimes hidden and plentiful, converge at times and at others reveal their complementary differences, without ever merging completely: the ancient and rich sensitivity of the indigenous peoples loved by Juan de Zum árraga and Vasco de Quiroga, whom many of these peoples continue to call fathers; Christianity, rooted in the Mexican soul; and modern rationality of the European kind, which wanted so much to exalt independence and freedom. I know that many far-sighted minds are working hard so that these currents of thought and culture can better combine their resources through dialogue, sociocultural development and the desire to build a better future.

I come to you, Mexicans of all social classes and conditions, and to you, my brothers and sisters of the American continent, to greet you in the name of Christ: the God who became man so that all human beings could hear his call to divine sonship in Christ. Together with my Brother Bishops of Mexico and all America, I come to kneel before the tilma of Bl. Juan Diego. I will ask Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the end of a prolific but tormented millennium, that the next millennium will be one in which secure ways of brotherhood and peace are opened in Mexico, America and the whole world. Brotherhood and peace, which can find in Jesus Christ a sure foundation and spacious paths of progress. With the peace of Christ, I wish Mexicans success in their quest for harmony, since they constitute a great nation which unites them all.

Since I already feel prostrate before the Morenita Virgin of Tepeyac, Queen of Mexico and Empress of America, from this moment I commend the destiny of this nation and of the whole continent to her motherly care. May the new century and the new millennium encourage a general rebirth under the gaze of Christ, our life and our hope, who always offers us the ways of brotherhood and of sound human fellowship. May Our Lady of Guadalupe help Mexico and America to walk together on these paths, safe and filled with light.