S. John Paul II Homil. 605
Green Square, Khartoum (Sudan)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
"Come to me, all you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11,28).
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Sudan,
1. In every age and place, these words of our Lord Jesus Christ have been a source of untold strength and consolation for Christians. Especially in times of trial and suffering, men and women, even young children, have experienced in their hearts the powerful presence of the Saviour, speaking these words to them and teaching them the mystery of his saving death on the Cross. "Let us be confident then in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help" (Hebr. 4: 16).
606 One of the people to whom the lesson of the Cross brought incomparable strength amid all kinds of sufferings was Blessed Josephine Bakhita, a daughter of this land. Today, in Khartoum, in the Sudan, in Africa, the whole Church in communion with the Successor of Peter turns to Blessed Bakhita and implores her intercession for the Bishops, priests, Religious and laity of this land: for Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Khartoum; for Archbishop Paulinus Lukudu and the faithful of the Archdiocese of Juba; for the Pastors and faithful of the Dioceses of El Obeid, Malakal, Rumbek, Tombura–Yambio, Torit, Wau and Yei.
2. Was it not a moment of refreshment and renewal, offered by Christ the Good Shepherd to the whole Catholic community of the Sudan, when, in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome, Josephine Bakhita was elevated to glory among the Blessed of the Church? She thus became a model of virtue and holiness of life for Christians. To religious believers everywhere she speaks of the value of reconciliation and love, for in her heart she overcame any feelings of hatred for those who had harmed her. She learned from the tragic events of her life to have complete trust in the Almighty who is always and everywhere present, and therefore she learned to be constantly good and generous to everyone (Cf. John Paul II, Address on the occasion of the Beatification of Josephine Bakhita, 18 May 1992). Her Beatification was an act of respect not only for her but also for the Sudan, since a daughter of this land was put forward as a hero of mercy and of goodwill. God used her to teach us all the meaning of Jesus’ words: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Mt 5,9).
Jesus says: "Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned" (Ibid. 11: 25). With these words Christ blesses the simplicity of Bakhita, a child, like you, of this land. Through her simplicity and endless trust she embodied, on the via dolorosa of her life, that wisdom which comes from God himself, the wisdom which belongs to the Saints.
3. Today I give thanks to Divine Providence that I have been granted the opportunity of fulfilling the wish of the Church in the Sudan that Bakhita be honoured on her own soil, a wish expressed on the day of Blessed Josephine’s Beatification. I thank everyone: the civil authorities and all who have worked to prepare this visit; the Bishops who have invited me to pray with you and to share, even for a brief moment, the life of the Catholic community here.
I am happy also to greet the representatives of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. We are united by profound spiritual bonds, because of our common Baptism, bonds which must lead us to seek the unity which Christ himself wanted for his followers (cf. Jn. Jn 17,21).
Likewise, I greet the entire Muslim community. An important purpose of my visit is to appeal for a new relationship between Christians and Muslims in this land. Only recently, in Assisi, Catholics, other Christians and Muslims of Europe gathered for a day of prayer and fasting for peace. I repeat now the conviction which I know was shared by the Muslims present at that meeting: "that genuine religious belief is a source of mutual understanding and harmony, and that only the perversion of religious sentiment leads to discrimination and conflict" (John Paul II, Address to Muslim Leaders in Assisi, 10 January 1993).
It is my earnest hope that there will be more dialogue and cooperation between Christians and Muslims in the Sudan. We must all realize that "to use religion as an excuse for injustice and violence is a terrible abuse, and it must be condemned by all true believers in God.... There can be no genuine peace unless believers stand together in rejecting the politics of hate and discrimination, and in affirming the right to religious and cultural freedom in all human societies" (Ibid.).
4. It is difficult at this moment not to think of all the prayers and sufferings of those affected by the continuing conflict in this land, especially in the South. So many of you came originally from there, and are now homeless and displaced because of the war. The immense suffering of millions of innocent victims impels me to voice my solidarity with the weak and defenceless who cry out to God for help, for justice, for respect for their God–given dignity as human beings, for their basic human rights, for the freedom to believe and practise their faith without fear or discrimination.
I earnestly hope that my voice will reach you, Brothers and Sisters of the South. Like the people mentioned in the First Reading of this Liturgy, you too may be tempted to say: "The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us" (Is 49,14). And yet, your Christian faith teaches you that your prayers and sufferings are joined to the great cry of Christ himself who, as the Supreme High Priest of the whole People of God, entered the Holy Place in order to intercede on our behalf (Cf. Hebr. 9: 11-12). And just as once on earth, so now in the Father’s house he says: "Come to me, all you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11,28). And when, in your hearts, you listen to his words, he adds: "Learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest" (Ibid. 11: 29).
So says Christ – the One who alone knows the Father and whom the Father knows as the only–begotten Son – the eternal Word, of one Being with the Father. Today, in the Sudan, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, repeats these words and encourages you to stand firm and to take heart. The Lord is close to you. He will never leave you alone. The whole Church understands your distress and prays for you.
5. In the midst of so much hardship, Blessed Bakhita is your model and heavenly patron. In the terrible trials of her life Bakhita always listened to Christ’s word. She learned the mystery of his Cross and Resurrection: the saving truth about God who so loved each one of us that he gave his only Son (cf. Jn. Jn 3,16), the saving truth about the Son who loves each one of us to the end (Cf. ibid. 13: 1).
607 Blessed Bakhita was faithful, she was strong. She confided in Christ without reserve. She showed herself a servant of God by patiently enduring troubles, hardships and difficulties, by purity, knowledge, forbearance and kindness (cf. 2Cor. 2Co 6,4-6) – like the first Christians who, in the midst of the persecutions of the Roman Empire, showed themselves to be "servants of God... in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute" (Ibid. 6: 8). So writes the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Corinthians. And so speaks the history of the Church in Africa, not excluding the countries which I have now visited: Benin, Uganda, the Sudan.
6. It was the power of God which made Bakhita – in the likeness of Christ – into the one who enriches many. The poor slave–girl who had nothing showed that she was in fact the one who had the greatest treasure (Cf. ibid. 6: 10). And even if, humanly speaking, she seemed condemned to death, she lives! (Cf. ibid. 6: 9). She lives just as Christ lives, though he was condemned to death and was crucified. She lives with his life!
In her new life in Christ this sister of ours returns to Africa today. This daughter of the Christian community of the Sudan returns to you today. You too are being tried in many ways, and yet life is your heritage, that life which the Risen Christ has brought for all.
And what are the signs of life in Christ in the Sudan today? The words of Saint Paul in the Second Reading speak eloquently of your daily toil: "Although saddened, we are always glad; we seem poor, but we make many people rich; we seem to have nothing, yet we really possess everything" (Ibid. 6: 10).
7. The Church and people of good will all over the world rejoiced when it was announced that a new political system would be introduced, a system in which all citizens would be equal, without any discrimination by reason of colour, religion or sex. It was said that all legitimate diversities would be respected in a multi–ethnic, multi–cultural and multi–religious country; that all religions would be free in their religious activities.
Religious freedom is a right which every individual has because it springs from the inalienable dignity of each human being. It exists independently of political and social structures and, as has been stated in a host of international Charters, the State has the obligation to defend this freedom from attack or interference. Where there is discrimination against citizens on the basis of their religious convictions, a fundamental injustice is committed against man and against God, and the road to peace is blocked. Today the Successor of Peter and the whole Church reaffirm their support of your Bishops’ insistent call for respect of your rights as citizens and as believers.
Every day the Christians of the Sudan are in my thoughts and prayers. The whole Church feels a deep solidarity with the victims of famine, with the terrible plight of refugees and displaced persons, of the sick and injured, of those unjustly treated, of so many lost and abandoned children. Africa must not fail to find and follow new paths of human solidarity, of justice and respect for human rights, of peace and constructive progress. The international community must not neglect its solemn commitments to Africa. International agencies must be enabled to provide assistance, to foster development, to promote conditions of freedom and peace in this sorely troubled part of the world.
8. Dear Brothers and Sisters, this Eucharist celebrated on Sudanese soil must be a sign of hope for us all. Christ is present here among his faithful people. "Sing, heavens! Shout for joy, earth!... the Lord will comfort his people; He will have pity on his suffering people" (Is 49,13).
Rejoice, all of Africa! Bakhita has come back to you: the daughter of the Sudan sold into slavery as a living piece of merchandise and yet still free. Free with the freedom of the saints. Blessed Josephine comes back to you with the message of God the Father’s infinite mercy.
Man sometimes thinks: "The Lord has abandoned us! He has forgotten us" (Ibid. 49: 14). And God answers with the words of the great Prophet: "Can a woman forget her own baby, and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands" (Is 49,15-16). Yes, on the palms of the hands of Christ, pierced by the nails of the Crucifixion. The name of each one of you is written on those palms.
Therefore, with full confidence we cry out:
608 "The Lord is our help and our shield.
In him do our hearts find joy.
We trust in his holy name" (). Amen.
Sallu lillah bi wasitati at–tubawiya Bakhita
as – sudaniya likay
(Through the intercession of Blessed Bakhita I ask God to bless your families.)
Greetings to the faithful
at the conclusion of the Eucharistic Celebration
This celebration has been a great grace of God. I wish to thank all who have prepared it and taken part in it: especially Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and the other Bishops of the Sudan; the Cardinals and Bishops who are visiting; the organizers and volunteers who have arranged everything so well. I thank all of you for your respectful and prayerful participation in the Liturgy.
609 During this visit I have remembered a close friend of mine from the days of my pastoral work with the University students of Krakow – Professor Jerzy Ciesielski. He worked for some years as a visiting professor at the University of Khartoum, but in 1970 he died tragically in the Nile, together with his two daughters. A man of authentic faith, he made holiness the goal of his life as husband, father and University teacher. The Cause of his Beatification has already been introduced.
Before I leave you I wish once more to encourage you to place your trust in God and not to lose heart, especially the young people who are the hope of a better future.
Azkùru–kom fi salawati:
Antom wa awlada–kom wa biladakom.
(I will remember you in my prayers: you, your children and your country.)
Sunday, 27 June 1993
"Those who welcome Christ welcome the one who sent him, the Father" (cf. Mt. Mt 10,40).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Let us give expression to the joy of welcoming Christ. Let us rejoice in the fact that from apostolic times Rome, the capital of the ancient Empire, accepted Christ. Let us sing our joy that the names of the Apostles Peter and Paul are indelibly linked to this City. They came here sent by the Lord. After the Resurrection, Christ said to the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me... receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20,21-22).
And so we believe it was the Holy Spirit who directed the steps of Peter, the fisherman of Galilee, and of Paul, the scholar from Tarsus, to this City of Rome. Through their apostolic ministry and, at the end, through their martyrdom they confirmed the words of their Lord and Master.
Christ said: "Anyone who does not take his Cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me" (Mt 10,38). And here in Rome, Peter did take up the cross on which he gave his life. Christ also said: "Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Ibid. 10: 39). And so Paul – like Peter – here in Rome, lost his life for the sake of Christ. Sanguis martyrum semen Christianorum (Cf. Tertullian, Apologeticus, 50) – the Church grew strong out of the martyrs’ example. Thus the words of Christ were fulfilled in the Apostles: "Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me" (Mt 10,40). All this happened here in Rome.
610 2. Five hundred years have passed since the inhabitants of the Old World discovered the New World. In discovering that continent they opened up a whole new area of mission and apostolate. The evangelization of America spread gradually from one region to another of that great Continent: to the center, the south, the north. Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth was being fulfilled.The inheritance of Peter and Paul lived on in the Church on that New Continent, and eventually a part of it came back from there to Rome, back to the tombs of the Apostles.
The American community of Santa Susanna, which I have the joy of visiting today, is, as it were, a living symbol of the oneness of the faith in the diversity of Christ’s followers.
Wishing to provide better pastoral care for American residents and pilgrims in Rome, Pope Benedict XV designated the Church of Santa Susanna as the American National Church on January 10, 1922, entrusting this apostolate to the Paulist Fathers. I greet with affection Father Joseph Gallagher, President of the Paulist Fathers, as well as the Rector, Father John Foley, and the other priests currently serving the community. They are following in the footsteps of the priests who for more than seventy years have made this church a spiritual home for those who are far from their own country. For so many people Santa Susanna has been a place of fellowship and solidarity, a believing community nourished by the Church’s sacramental life, a life which shows its vitality in abundant works of faith and service.
3. Un particolare ringraziamento desidero anche rivolgere al Ministero per i beni culturali della Repubblica Italiana, qui rappresentato dal direttore generale, prof. Francesco Sisinni, per l’assistenza fornita durante il restauro di questa bella chiesa. Possano tutti coloro che hanno contribuito a tale opera essere ricompensati spiritualmente per la loro generosità (cf. 2Co 9,11)! Vorrei, altresì, manifestare il mio apprezzamento alle Monache cistercensi, la cui vita consacrata alla preghiera contemplativa e alla penitenza silenziosa assicura spirituale sostegno per l’autentica vita cristiana della comunità. Auspico che questa lieta circostanza porti ad apprezzare sempre più intensamente la profonda comunione che unisce fra loro i “battezzati in Cristo Gesù”. A tutte rivolgo un incoraggiamento perché nei vostri rapporti con i residenti in Roma, i visitatori e i pellegrini di lingua inglese, continuiate a manifestare l’universalità e la cattolicità della nostra fede.
4. The ministry of the Paulist Fathers is characterized by their threefold mission of evangelization, reconciliation and ecumenism. These three tasks provide a solid framework for the Christian life and mission of the Santa Susanna community. The recently concluded Roman Synod entrusted all the faithful of this "greatest and most ancient Church" (S. Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, III, 3, 3) with the mission of the new evangelization. The fact that most of you have your origins in a different country and a different culture does not exclude you from the ecclesial life of this City. Rather, witnessing to the Gospel and the example of true discipleship know no boundaries. A Christian’s task is always to bring the light of Christ and the power of his Resurrection (cf. Phil. Ph 3,10) to a world thirsty for the waters of divine Truth and Life. Rome, like every other city, is a place where faith and indifference, grace and sin, holiness and human misery exist side by side. Men and women are thirsting for God, struggling to find the meaning of life, suffering and death (Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 46) in the heart of the modern metropolis. The American community at Santa Susanna’s has its own vital role to play in spreading "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation" (Ep 1,13). The Gospel is ever fresh, ever relevant, ever provocative, ever liberating: "sharper than any two–edged sword" (Hebr. 4: 12). The world around you, in your families, schools, apartments and offices, needs the witness of your fidelity in the face of trials, your steadfast faith and ardent charity, your solidarity with those in need. It is from the Eucharistic Sacrifice that, strengthened by the Bread of Life, you will as individuals and as a community derive the strength needed to pledge yourselves in word and deed to this new evangelization.
5. Reconciliation, in all its many forms, is an essential element of Christian life, and constitutes an important chapter of the new evangelization. I am thinking especially of the reconciliation of Catholics who for one reason or another do not take a full part in the Church’s life. I am aware that the sense of community which you have created here at Santa Susanna has helped numerous people to return to the practice of their faith. At Santa Susanna’s you are all ambassadors for Christ. Many people who come to Rome are moved by the history, art and tradition of the City to reconsider the direction their lives have taken. To those who have been alienated from the Church, a living community such as this one offers "the right hand of fellowship" (Ga 2,9). Through your witness the Church’s mission to reconcile people with God, with themselves and with their neighbors is fulfilled (Cf. John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 8).
6. A commitment to ecumenism is also a mark of your community. When Pope Pius IX approved the Paulist Fathers, he entrusted them with addressing misunderstandings about Catholicism in North America. Since then they have continued their efforts to improve mutual understanding among Christians, and have encouraged projects of dialogue and mutual cooperation with members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities.
It is appropriate therefore that the Santa Susanna community should actively cooperate with the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities of Rome in works of charity and in praying together for Christian unity.
7. "Anyone who welcomes an Apostle welcomes Christ" (cf. Mt. Mt 10,40). The Apostles, and in particular Peter and Paul, transmitted the Gospel in the form of an awareness of New Life. This is the New Life which springs from the redeeming death of Christ: "we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no more power over him... his life now is life with God; and in that way, we too must consider ourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus" (cf. Rom. Rm 6,8-11).
All of you, the members of the American community of Rome, are counted, even if only for a time, among "God’s beloved in Rome" (Ibid. 1: 7). The early Christian writer Tertullian described the Church in Rome as "a happy church, on which the Apostles poured out their whole doctrine together with their blood; where Peter had a like passion with the Lord; where Paul was crowned with the death of John" (Tertullian, De praescriptione haereticorum, 31). I pray that the community of Santa Susanna will continue to strive to ensure that the ancient tradition of sound faith, persevering hope and boundless generosity will mark the life of the Church in the Rome of today no less than in the past. Let us entrust these intentions to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, that they may bear fruit in abundance (cf. Jn. Jn 15,16). To her I commend you and your families, and the whole American community in Rome.
May Almighty God bless your Nation with harmony and peace. Amen.
611 Cathedral of Kingston (Jamaica)
Tuesday, 10 August 1993
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. For a long time I have eagerly anticipated being here with all of you: the Bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians of Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville; the Religious men and women serving these local Churches; and lay leaders of the Catholic communities in this nation. I extend fraternal greetings as well to the other Bishops and faithful who have come to Jamaica to be a part of this gathering in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. My happiness today is all the greater, since my visit comes after the delay which prevented my coming last year, as had been planned. In the meantime you have never been far from my thoughts, and–to borrow the words of Saint Paul–"whenever I think of you, I thank God; and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News" (cf. Phil. Ph 1,3).
2. Bearing witness to the Gospel is that "work of service" which the Apostle says builds up the body of Christ (Ep 4,12). To be a witness is to be an heir to the Church’s great missionary tradition, a tradition going back to the first Pentecost morning in Jerusalem and which, on this Island, is as old as the arrival of Columbus himself. In this regard I wish to pay heartfelt tribute to all who left their homelands in order to be heralds of the Good News here in Jamaica. Yes, this is the glory of missionaries: to be the instruments of Divine Providence in leading people to him who has "the words of eternal life" (Jn 6,68). For this the faithful of the local Churches are forever in their debt and should remember them with pride.
You are the crown of the labours of those men and women who planted and nourished the faith on this beautiful Island. From the arrival in 1512 of the original band of ten Franciscan friars down to our own day, God’s Providence has been at work through the uncertainties and changes of Jamaica’s history in providing labourers for his harvest in this land: the abbots and clergy sent by the Spanish crown, the aged Father Thomas Churchill dispatched according to the orders of a Stuart king, priests fleeing persecution in the Old and the New Worlds, the British and American Jesuits, the Franciscan Sisters from Scotland and the Sisters of Mercy from England–to name just a few.
For all of you who are today called to serve the new evangelization and to build a just, compassionate and harmonious society, the Church prays with unceasing fervour. She is confident that God will help you to persevere generously in these tasks, and that he will increase your numbers, lest any of those called to life in Christ be lost because they have not heard of him, or any part of the common good be neglected.
3. In the work of making God’s word known, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council ascribe a special role to priests: "as co–workers with their Bishops, they have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all" (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 4). To you, my Brother Priests, has been handed on this sacred duty, a share in the office given by our Saviour to the Twelve and their successors.
As I indicated in the Post–Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis", priests, in order to carry out their responsibilities, should have a heart formed and shaped after the pattern of the heart of the Good Shepherd (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 1,21-23). This is the word the Bishop of Rome has come to Jamaica to say to you: Open wide your hearts to Christ our Shepherd and High Priest! Remove every barrier! Let the fire of his love for the flock grow to a blaze within you. In imitation of him, hold back nothing for yourselves – neither possessions, nor privileges, nor comforts, not even your own will or life itself. Dedicate to your mission all that you have and all that you are.
An outstanding sign of this total consecration is your celibacy, which is "a precious gift given by God to his Church and... a sign of the Kingdom which is not of this world, a sign of God’s love for this world and of the undivided love of the priest for God and for God’s people" (Ibid. 29). Joyful fidelity to this great gift of the Spirit requires ardent and unceasing prayer; it must be sustained by daily Mass, frequent Confession and a life of asceticism. For man it would be impossible, but relying on One infinitely greater than ourselves we confidently affirm, "Nothing is impossible to God" (Lc 1,37).
Spiritual growth in the celibate priestly life goes hand in hand with "a general and integral process of constant growth, deepening each of the aspects of formation – human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 71). While the Bishop and the whole presbyterate have a fundamental responsibility for fostering such growth, "the individual priest... is the person primarily responsible" (Ibid. 79). In the sacred intimacy of conscience God makes clear to the priest the failings for which he must do penance, the deficiencies which he needs to remedy, and the paths which he is invited to follow in order to be of even greater service to his people. Dear Fathers, for the love of the faithful entrusted to your ministry, never stifle the voice of the Spirit as he summons you "to rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (2Tm 1,6).
612 4. Dear Seminarians, always respond cheerfully and unreservedly to the demands made of you for the sake of your progress in the moral and intellectual virtues. I wish particularly to emphasize two qualities for you to cultivate in your time of formation. First, become men of prayer. A deeper communion of mind and heart with Christ is essential if you are truly to be reflections of the Good Shepherd, and not merely hirelings (cf. Jn. Jn 10,12). Secondly, study diligently; know well the Church’s doctrine in all its richness; become thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures and all the other sources of Catholic teaching; by achieving a profound insight into the mystery of Christ and his Church, you will be able to bring its light to bear on the lives of God’s people.
Dear Deacons, you have been "consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles" (De Ordinatione Diaconi uni tantum conferenda, "Homilia", in De Ordinatione Diaconi, Presbyteri et Episcopi, Editio typica, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1968, p. 81) – "unto a ministry of service" (Lumen Gentium LG 29). To you we can apply in a special way the words which Jesus used of himself, that he had come "not to be served but to serve" (Mt 20,28). In you the faithful of Jamaica should be able to see ever more clearly a witness to Christ’s own servanthood. For those of you who are married, I pray that your ministry will always be a source of blessing for your families, and that the members of your household, especially your wives, will help to sustain you in your service to the local Churches for which you were ordained.
5. In addressing my greetings of particular affection to you, the Religious of Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville, I wish to begin by recalling the remarkable role which men and women consecrated to God through the evangelical counsels have played throughout the history of the Church on this Island. To speak of Friar Juan Jacinto Rodriguez de Araujo and Father James Dupeyron or Sister Paula Charlet, Mother Winifred Aloysius Furlong and Sister Mary Humiliana is not to limit the scope of our tribute, but moves us to remember all those – many of whose names are known to the Lord alone – who by their witness of the evangelical counsels have enriched the life of God’s people here. It is my hope that the mention of their achievements will give you renewed confidence in the value of your religious consecration, for it is your total commitment to our Saviour through your vows which guarantees the efficacy of your service to your neighbour. Your fundamental apostolic work in the Church is always to be who you are. For the very reason that "your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3,3), you are a light set up in order to show others the way to the Kingdom (Cf. John Paul II Redemptionis Donum, 15). I urge you to work in close cooperation with the Bishops of your particular Churches, so that the gifts and charisms bestowed upon you will all the more effectively enrich the members of the wider ecclesial communities to which you belong.
6. To you, Lay Leaders of the Jamaican Catholic community, I express a special word of appreciation for the many ways you contribute to the growth of the Church. Your prayers for her welfare and your good deeds done for her members are the flowering of the graces poured forth into your hearts at Baptism. In my remarks to the group now awaiting me at Saint George’s School, I will have the opportunity to speak about the specific vocation of the lay faithful. At this moment I wish to encourage you in your Christian lives and in all the works you do to strengthen the ecclesial community in the face of the urgent needs of Christ’s flock.
In particular I would point out how important it is for the laity to be ever more involved in catechesis and religious education. As in many parts of the world, the Church in Jamaica encounters forms of superstition and sectarian fundamentalism, forces which are antagonistic to the faith and devotion of Catholics. In the face of such a challenge your witness of patient endurance and unwavering charity will win many to true faith in the Lord. Christ’s faithful need solid instruction in Christian doctrine so that they will not easily fall prey to confusion and false teaching, or be lured away from the Church. I urge you to give particular attention to this area of Catholic life.
7. In just a few days the Church will celebrate the feast of Jamaica’s heavenly patron, Our Lady of the Assumption. I am one with you and all Jamaican Catholics in asking her to obtain for you the gift of renewed strength for the work of bearing witness to her Divine Son and shaping the life of your society in accordance with his saving message.
May Mary, full of grace, guide and protect the Catholic Church in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
S. John Paul II Homil. 605