We publish here the Holy Father’s personal message to H.E. Mariano De Nicolò, Bishop of Rimini, for the opening of the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples XXI

To My Esteemed Brother
Most Reverend Mariano De Nicolò
Bishop of Rimini

On the occasion of the Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples XXI, which, as every year, will take place in Rimini, it is my pleasure to extend my most cordial greetings to you and to the organizers and participants in this event.
In this Holy Year when the Church is celebrating the Great Bi-millennial Jubilee of the birth of Christ, the theme chosen for this year’s Meeting is a very suitable one: “2000 Years, an Ideal Without End.” In this way attention has been purposely centered on the Christian event, manifested in Bethlehem and projected onto the horizon of the Kingdom of God.
Indeed, the birth of Christ, as I recalled in my introduction of the Jubilee, “is not an event which can be consigned to the past. The whole of human history in fact stands in reference to Him: our own time and the future of the world are illumined by his presence.” (Papal Bull Incarnationis mysterium, 1) With the theme of this Meeting, with the events which during the week will develop its meaning, but, even more, by the fact itself of this annual gathering, you intend to be an explicit and aware echo of the great mystery which the entire Church is reliving during this Jubilee Year: the Incarnation of the Son of God. This is a mystery that transcends man and history and at the same time profoundly traverses them: Jesus is “the genuine newness which surpasses all human expectations.” Encountering Him, “every man discovers the mystery of his own life.” (Ibid.)
These words, which describe the essence of Christianity, open the path to the horizon evoked by the Meeting’s theme: “an ideal without end.”
In current speech, “ideal” is often understood as the opposite of “real,” like something to which one aspires, but on the level of desire, of “ideas,” and sometimes lacking a concrete foundation in reality. On the contrary, in Christianity, the ideal is a goal that is infinitely great, immensely beautiful and true, enormously just, a goal to which our heart turns with all its strength without ever achieving its desire; but it is, at the same time, something that we already possess, or rather that possesses us, and that corresponds to our being and its expectations, granting a foundation of solid realism to our hope of infinity.
Christians are fully aware of this from their own experience, meditated in the light of the Holy Scriptures and lived by following Christ. No event, in the long history of the world, corresponds to the ideal like the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the incarnate Word. He, who is the firstborn of all of us (cf. Col 1:18), having in Himself all the fullness of every human dimension (cf. Col 1:19), has set in our hearts an insatiable longing for that fullness, which makes us seekers after it in all the various experiences of life.
It is “an ideal without end” that is interwoven with the path of the Church. The history of the Church is thus an engrossing one, and today we are called to offer our contribution to it: to show to the people of our time the reasonableness of faith, the humanity of charity, the constructive energy of hope. For this to be possible, the Christian ideal must not to be reduced to a dream, ideology, or utopia, but become ever more in believers an announcement, testimony, and life.
In this we are guided and illuminated by the example of the saints, who in Christ have found the light and the daily support for their progress and their commitment in the service of the Kingdom of God. And sainthood is the goal we all seek: it demonstrates that the ideal of Christ is an ideal without end. My wish for all those who take part in the program of this Meeting and all the Meeting’s friends is that they may follow in the steps of the many men and women who in two thousand years have been generous witnesses to this unchanging ideal, so that it may be a seed of hope in the furrows of the third millennium.
With these sentiments, I am very happy to extend to you, my esteemed Brother, and to the entire “Family of the Meeting,” my Apostolic Benediction.

Vatican, August 2, 2000