John Paul II, Allocution to Members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter on the 10th Anniversary of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, on the Role of the Bishop, 26 October 1998.

I greet you cordially, my dear pilgrims who have decided to come to Rome on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, in order to affirm and renew your faith in Christ and your loyalty to the Church. Dear friends, your presence around the “Successor of Peter to whom it falls primarily to watch over the unity of the Church” (Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution, Pastor Aeternus) is of particular significance.

To guard the treasure which Jesus confided to Her and facing the future resolutely, the Church has the duty to reflect continuously on Her link with the Tradition which has come to us from the Lord, through the Apostles, such as it has been established all down through history. In line with the spirit of conversion of the apostolic letter Tertio milennio adveniente (nn. 14, 32, 34, 50), I encourage all Catholics to make gestures of unity and to renew their adherence to the Church, in order that legitimate diversity and different sensibilities, worthy of respect, do not separate them from each other, but encourage them, rather, to preach the Gospel together: stimulated, thus, by the Spirit who makes all charismata come together in unity, all will be able to glorify the Lord and salvation will be proclaimed to all the nations.

I desire that all the members of the Church remain the heirs of the faith received from the Apostles, worthily and faithfully celebrated in the Holy Mysteries, with fervour and beauty, in order to receive grace in an increasing manner (Council of Trent, sess. VII, 3 March 1547, Decree on the Sacraments) and to live with the Divine Trinity in an intimate and profound relationship. While confirming the good based on the liturgical

pg. 310

pg. 311
reform wished by the Second Vatican Council and initiated by Pope Paul VI, the Church grants also a sign of understanding to those persons “attached to certain previous liturgical and disciplinary forms” (motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei, n. 5). It is in this perspective that one must read and apply the motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei: I desire that everything may happen in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, in full harmony with Tradition, aiming at unity in charity and loyalty to the Truth.

It is under “the action of the Holy Spirit, by whom the flock of Christ maintains itself one and whole and progresses in the unity of the faith” (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, n. 25) which the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, Successors of the Apostles, teach the Christian Mystery: in a very particular manner, the Bishops, gathered in Ecumenical Councils cum Petro and sub Petro, confirm and affirm the doctrine of the Church, Faithful Heiress of the Tradition already existing for almost twenty centuries as a living reality which goes on, giving a new impetus to the whole of the ecclesial community. The latest Ecumenical Councils Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II applied themselves to clarifying the mystery of the faith and undertook the necessary reforms for the good of the Church, solicitous for the continuity with the Apostolic Tradition, already recognised by St. Hippolytus.

It falls primarily to the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, to exercice with firmness and charity the shepherding of the flock so that the Catholic Faith may be guarded everywhere and worthily celebrated (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation, Quinque iam anni and The Code of Canon Law, c.386). Indeed according to the formulae of St. Ignatius of Antioch, (“Ubi episcopus, ibi Ecclesia”) where the Bishop is, there is the Church. (Letter to Smyrniots, VIII, 2). I invite the Bishops also, fraternally, to understand and to have a renewed pastoral attention for the faithful attached to the Old Rite and, on the threshold of the third millennium, to help all Catholics to live the celebration of the Holy Mysteries with a devotion which may be true nourishment for their spiritual life and which may be a source of peace.

Entrusting you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, perfect model of the sequela Christi and Mother of the Church, dear Brothers and Sisters, I grant the Apostolic Benediction to you as well as to all those dear to you.

I warmly welcome the English-speaking pilgrims who have come to venerate the Tombs of the Apostles on the occasion of the tenth anniversary

pg. 310

pg. 311
of the motu proprio Ecclesia Dei. Upon you and your families, I invoke the Almighty God’s abundant blessings.

JohnPaul II, P.P.

Comm 30 (1998): 185-186; OssRom (26-27 November 1998): 8.