May they remember that the name of each one is written on the palms of Christ, pierced by the nails of the crucifixion (cf. Ecclesia in Africa )! I hope, at this special moment in the history of the Congolese people, that Catholics will join forces with people of good will to build a prosperous nation in solidarity.
5. As you beginning your mission to the Apostolic See, I offer you my best wishes for its success. Be assured that those who work with me will offer you the attentive and understanding assistance that you may need.
I cordially invoke an abundance of God's blessings on Your Excellency, on the Congolese people and on those responsible for their destiny.
Thursday, 25 May 2000
1. Welcome to the Vatican; it is a pleasure for me to receive Your Excellency for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Kuwait to the Holy See.
Thank you for the greetings you have brought me from His Highness Emir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Please convey to him and to the Kuwaiti people my sentiments of esteem and best wishes for happiness and prosperity; I pray the Most High to grant that they all may live in brotherhood and solidarity.
2. I am delighted to know that the Catholic community in your country enjoys the right to profess its faith freely. In fact, as I have often had occasion to say, religious freedom constitutes the very heart of human rights. In professing his religion, a person expresses his deepest aspirations and develops what is most profoundly his own: his interiority, the sanctuary of his being upon which no one can encroach. It is therefore indispensable that each person be able to follow his conscience in all circumstances and that no one force him to act against it. Moreover, the right to religious freedom, today recognized by most States, "includes the right to manifest personal beliefs, whether individually or with others, in public or in private" (Message for the World Day of Peace 1999, n. 5).
3. Peace in the Middle East, and especially in the Gulf region, is a constant concern of the Holy See. Indeed, recourse to war cannot settle problems between nations. Only the way of peace is worthy of man! There is an urgent need for all the remaining seeds of antagonism to disappear. The disastrous consequences of the wars that have scarred the peoples of your region bring divisions and tensions. To move beyond them, then, it is to be hoped that a rapid solution can be found to the human problems connected with recent conflicts, especially the return of prisoners of war to their families, so that the necessary process of reconciliation can be strengthened among the peoples of the region. I fervently hope that each nation can see its right to existence and peace respected, and can live with a peaceful and harmonious attitude towards others.
4. I listened with interest, Mr Ambassador, to what you told me about the support your country has given to dialogue between Muslims and Christians. For her part, the Catholic Church is resolutely committed to the path of brotherly encounter between individuals, in order to encourage peace and solidarity between peoples. By growing in mutual knowledge and by being generously committed to promoting essential human values, such as the right to life and to material and spiritual development, believers help to express fully the human being's transcendent dimension and to respond to the legitimate aspirations of individuals and peoples for the good of all humanity. Peaceful coexistence among believers is a form of respect for the plan of God, who wants human beings to form one family and to maintain brotherly relations. Christians and Muslims are called to join forces to take part in a struggle worthy of man, one opposed to the disorder of his passions, to all forms of selfishness, to the attempts to enslave others and to all kinds of hatred and violence, that is, everything that is contrary to peace and reconciliation (cf. Message for the World Day of Peace 1999, n. 7).
5. Mr Ambassador, please allow me, through you, to extend a warm greeting to the Catholic community of Kuwait. United with its Bishop, it renders to God the witness of worship that is his due, and its members take part, according to their abilities, in the country's development. I invite all Catholics to live, with renewed ardour among themselves and with everyone else, the new commandment that the Lord Jesus left us. During this year of the Great Jubilee, I encourage them to remain firm in their faith and to live it confidently, putting their hope in the One who never ceases to guide humanity to its true destiny.
6. As you begin your mission, I offer you my best wishes for the noble task that awaits you. I assure you that you will always find an attentive welcome and sincere understanding from those who assist me.
I cordially invoke an abundance of the Almighty's blessings on you, on His Highness the Emir of the State of Kuwait and upon all Kuwaitis.
It is with pleasure that I welcome you at the beginning of your mission as New Zealand Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. In accepting your Letters of Credence, I extend greetings to His Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Michael Hardie Boys, and to the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Helen Clark. I ask you to convey to them and to the people of New Zealand my good wishes and the assurance of my prayers for the harmony and prosperity of the nation.
I am grateful for your words of appreciation of the Holy See’s diplomatic activity, through which it undertakes to be an active partner of the world’s peoples as they seek a fully human life and work for their own development and the progress of others. You have mentioned peace, justice and respect for human rights as important for your country, and these values and goals are also central to what you have called the Holy See’s unique perspective on international issues.
The Holy See’s activity in the international forum stems from a perspective which is the result of a specific vision of the human person, and from the conviction that when this vision is undermined or abandoned the very foundation of human society is shaken. It is a perspective based on respect for the inalienable dignity of every human being, a dignity which is intrinsic to life itself and not granted or conceded by any individual, group or state. It is a vision which calls for the perfection of freedom, but of freedom linked to truth – in particular, to the truth of the human person, which alone provides a sound basis for constructive political and diplomatic activity. Everywhere, even in a country like your own, freedom is a fragile achievement; and the last century teaches us how easily freedom is eroded once the truth of the human person is denied.
The most destructive untruths about the human person which the twentieth century produced were born of materialistic views of the world and the person. Totalitarian systems may have foundered, but new forms of materialism have emerged, less ideologically driven and less spectacular in their manifestations perhaps, but nonetheless destructive in their effect on people and on the fabric of society. We are quickly learning how vital it is to respect the ecology of nature, if we are not to cause serious harm to the world which future generations will receive from us. More urgent still, though more difficult, is the need to learn to respect the ecology of the human world, by which I mean the truth of the human person and the social implications of this. The Holy See’s action in the international sphere follows from its conviction that certain fundamental elements of this human ecology must absolutely be understood and defended.
One of these elements is the family, the basic cell of human society and the surest indicator of a nation’s health and stability. Attempts to define the family as something other than a solemnized lifelong union of man and woman which looks to the birth and nurture of children is bound to prove destructive. This claim is not a matter of attachment to a bygone cultural model which refuses to face facts, but precisely a recognition of a fundamental truth: the family is the basic cell of human society not only because it is there that human life is born, but because it is there that children best learn the dispositions and skills which they require in order to grow into mature human beings capable of contributing to the common life and good of society. It is in the family that they best learn the truth of what it means to be a person endowed with intelligence and will, called to freedom and responsibility, and challenged by rights and duties. The facts suggest a logic which is clear and certain: weak families mean a society unable to sustain its members, especially the young, in the building of the common good. Individuals and even social structures are enfeebled by forms of egoism and escapism which leave little room for commitment, self-giving love, and solidarity with the weaker members of society.
Another key element of human ecology is the inviolability of human life, especially at its beginning and its end. The Holy See insistently proclaims that the first and most fundamental of all human rights is the right to life, and that when this right is denied all other rights are threatened. The assumption that abortion and euthanasia are human rights deserving legislative sanction is seen by the Holy See as a contradiction which amounts to a denial of the human dignity and freedom which the law is supposed to protect. A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members; and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying. A materialistic view of the human person will concede little value and dignity to either. What is then claimed as a victory for human rights is really the sanctioning of a freedom sundered from truth. In the end, that is no freedom at all but a descent into arbitrariness and the dominion of the strong over the weak. The Holy See therefore hopes for a profound reflection on the part of the political and diplomatic communities on the great challenge which accompanies the opening of the new millennium: the challenge of ensuring a new flourishing of the human spirit, mediated through an authentic culture of freedom, hope and trust (cf. Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 5 October 1995, No. 16).
Your Excellency, as you take your place in the community of diplomats accredited to the Holy See, I assure you of the ready collaboration of the various offices and agencies of the Roman Curia. May your mission serve to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between your Government and the Holy See. Upon you and your fellow New Zealanders, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
From the Vatican, 25 May 2000
I extend a warm welcome to you as I accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Ghana to the Holy See. Your presence here today evokes memories of the first Pastoral Visit which, as Successor of Peter, I made to the African continent: that journey brought me to your own country, where I was blessed to experience at first hand the hospitality, warmth and rich cultural traditions of the Ghanaian people. With this vivid recollection before me, I am grateful for the greetings and good wishes which you bring from President Jerry John Rawlings. I gladly reciprocate these kind sentiments, asking you to convey to the Ghanaian authorities and people the expression of my esteem and the assurance of my prayers for the country’s well-being and prosperity.
The human family stands at the dawn of a new millennium and is greatly buoyed by the tremendous progress that has been made, especially over the last hundred years, in the social, economic and scientific spheres. Despite these many cultural and technological advances, however, there remain important areas in contemporary life which have seen little improvement or which have even suffered decline. I am thinking particularly of the urgent need to face the challenges of inequality and poverty with effective structures of worldwide solidarity and cooperation among nations. As Your Excellency has remarked, there is a need to restructure international economic relations so that the less fortunate, in Africa and elsewhere, will be enabled to share equitably in the world’s resources; and there is a need as well to promote channels of dialogue, with a view to the peaceful resolution of crises within countries and between nations. In a very real way, the road upon which the family of nations and the family of man must embark in the twenty-first century is the road of solidarity and peace.
In fact, without solidarity there can be no true peace. As I wrote in my Message for the 2000 World Day of Peace, “Failure awaits every plan which would separate two indivisible and interdependent rights: the right to peace and the right to an integral development born of solidarity” (No. 13). It would seem that the time has come to reflect on the nature of the economy — both national and international — and the purpose that it should really serve. On a worldwide level, therefore, in wealthy nations no less than in developing countries, it must be recognized that the poor have a right to share in the material goods of the earth and to make proper use of their capacity to work, “thus creating a world that is more just and prosperous for all. The advancement of the poor constitutes a great opportunity for the moral, cultural and even economic growth of all humanity” (Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 28). There is a need to reconsider “the concept of ?prosperity’ itself, to prevent it from being enclosed in a narrow utilitarian perspective which leaves very little space for values such as solidarity and altruism” (Message for the 2000 World Day of Peace, 15).
At the same time, the century just ended has offered ample evidence of the violence, destruction and death that ensues when peoples and nations have recourse to arms rather than to dialogue, when war is chosen over the often more difficult path of mutual understanding and respect. If peace is to be true and lasting, based on the legitimate aspirations of peoples and social groups, then it must be sought in a context of dialogue: not only is dialogue for peace possible, it is the only path worthy of man. Paradoxically enough, after the violence and devastation of war has run its course, the need for dialogue remains; resorting to armed confrontation never resolves a conflict or dispute but merely delays its true settlement — and always with tragic consequences, as we are witnessing today in various parts of Africa. Authentic dialogue presupposes an honest search for what is true, good and just for every person, every group and every society; it is a sincere effort to identify what people have in common despite tensions, oppositions and conflict. Furthermore, authentic dialogue comes to be ever more intimately linked to solidarity as the peoples and nations of the earth recognize their mutual interdependence in the economic, political and cultural spheres (cf. Message for the 1983 World Day of Peace, 6).
The Holy See is active in the international arena specifically to promote such dialogue and to foster such solidarity. As Your Excellency has noted, the Church herself is ardently committed to the cause of peace. Indeed, her Divine Founder has entrusted to her a religious and humanitarian mission, different than that of the political community, but open nonetheless to many forms of cooperation and mutual support. It is this mission which underlies the Holy See’s presence in the international community, a presence directed solely to the good of the human family: promoting peace, defending human dignity and human rights, working for the integral development of peoples. This is a duty which derives necessarily from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is a responsibility shared by all Christians. For this reason, the Holy See will continue to be a committed partner with your country as Ghana seeks to advance its own development — politically, socially and economically — and as your nation seeks to be a force for stability and peace in your own region of West Africa and within the community of nations.
In this same regard, I am pleased to note Your Excellency’s recognition of the significant contribution made by the institutions of the Catholic Church to Ghanaian society at large, especially in the fields of education and health care. In fact, the Church considers her apostolate in these areas to be an essential element of her religious mission, and she is ever eager to carry out this work in harmony with others who are active in the same fields. Cooperation between Church and State is of great importance in advancing the intellectual and moral training of citizens, who will then be better equipped to build a truly just and stable society.
Mr Ambassador, I am confident that your mission to the Holy See will strengthen the bonds of understanding and friendship between us. You can be assured that the various offices of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you in the discharge of your high duties. Upon yourself and the beloved people of Ghana I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
From the Vatican, 25 May 2000
1. I am pleased to welcome you today and to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your countries: New Zealand, Kuwait, the Republic of the Congo and Ghana. Your presence gives me the opportunity to convey my cordial greetings to your nations' authorities and to all your fellow citizens, and to tell them once again of my esteem and friendship. I am deeply grateful for the cordial messages you have brought me from your respective heads of State. Please return my respectful greetings to them and my warm wishes for them personally and for their lofty mission of service to all their compatriots.
2. You know the spiritual importance of the Jubilee Year for the Church, which has wanted at the same time to make a pressing appeal to the international community at the turn of the millennium, so that each nation and each people will be helped in its development, especially on the African continent, whose numerous peoples are harshly tried by the conflicts that tragically affect the civilian populations. The change of century, in fact, is a particularly appropriate occasion for envisaging further progress on the question of the debt of the poorest countries, in order to help them take an active part in international life. This step is a hand held out to nations living below the poverty line, so that they can renew their hope for a better future; it must be accompanied by deep reflection in order to take a new look at the organization of the world economy, which excessively burdens certain countries, to the detriment of those that produce raw materials and to the advantage of the wealthiest nations.
3. In order to restore a just and equitable balance, wealthy countries must combine the cancellation of the debt with human and material support, so that leaders will be trained who can take charge of their countries' future destinies in a disinterested way and make these countries more autonomous and less directly dependent on the more developed countries, by harmonizing their economies with their own specific culture. Creating the appropriate local infrastructures and measures for re-establishing the national economies will give the indigenous peoples the means to be the true protagonists in building their societies and full partners in international relations. Here we have an essential element for the construction of a fraternal society, to which each people can make its own contribution. This is also the way to establish peace and respect for human rights, which call for the recognition of each individual, along with his culture and spirituality, and for consideration to be given to each people's desire for a land of their own and a share in the riches of creation.
4. You know of the Holy See's concern and commitment to the recognition of peoples and ever greater understanding among nations. More than ever, our contemporaries long for peace and brotherhood. The various World Youth Days, especially the one to be held this August, show that young people are calling on us to do all we can to make these aspirations a reality. As diplomats, I am certain that you are particularly sensitive to this request of young people, whom we cannot disappoint and for whom we must prepare a world where they will be able to lead their own personal, family and social life, so that they will find joy and happiness in the responsibilities they will be able to exercise.
5. As you begin your mission, allow me to offer you my most cordial wishes. Upon you, your families, those who work with you and the nations you represent, I pray for an abundance of divine blessings, asking the Almighty to shower his gifts on each of you.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Friends who represent the world of learning and research,
1. I welcome you with deep joy on the occasion of your Jubilee pilgrimage. I thank Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, for his words of welcome and for having organized this Jubilee, together with his entire staff. I express my deep gratitude to H.E. Prof. Nicola Cabibbo, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for his tribute to me on behalf of you all.
In past centuries, science, whose discoveries are fascinating, has held a dominant place and at times was considered the only criterion of truth or way to happiness. A reflection based exclusively on scientific elements tried to accustom us to a culture of suspicion and doubt. It refused to consider the existence of God or to view man in the mystery of his origin and his end, as if this perspective might call science itself into question. It sometimes saw God merely as a mental construct which would not stand up to scientific knowledge. These attitudes have estranged science from man and from the service it is called to offer him.
2. Today "we face a great challenge ... to move from phenomenon to foundation, a step as necessary as it is urgent. We cannot stop short at experience alone; ... speculative thinking must penetrate to the spiritual core and the ground from which it rises" (Encyclical Fides et ratio FR 83). Scientific research is also based on the capacity of the human mind to discover what is universal. This openness to knowledge leads to the ultimate and fundamental meaning of the human person in the world (cf. ibid., FR 81).
"The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork" (Ps 19,1); with these words the psalmist evokes the "silent account" of the Creator's marvellous work inscribed in the reality of creation itself. Those involved in research are called in a certain way to have the same experience as the psalmist and to experience the same wonder. "One must aim at encouraging the human spirit to develop its faculties of wonder, of understanding, of contemplation, of forming personal judgements and cultivating a religious, moral and social sense" (Gaudium et spes GS 59).
3. Based on an attentive observation of the complexity of terrestrial phenomena, and following the object and method proper to each discipline, scientists discover the laws which govern the universe, as well as their interrelationship. They stand in wonderment and humility before the created order and feel drawn to the love of the Author of all things. Faith, for its part, is able to integrate and assimilate every research, for all research, through a deeper understanding of created reality in all its specificity, gives man the possibility of discovering the Creator, source and goal of all things. "Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Rm 1,20).
By increasing his knowledge of the universe, and in particular of the human being, who is at its centre, man has a veiled perception, as it were, of the presence of God, a presence which he is able to discern in the "silent manuscript" written by the Creator in creation, the reflection of his glory and grandeur. God loves to make himself heard in the silence of creation, in which the intellect senses the transcendence of the Lord of Creation. Everyone who seeks to understand the secrets of creation and the mysteries of man must be ready to open their mind and heart to the deep truth which manifests itself there, and which "draws the intellect to give its consent" (St Albert the Great, Commentary on Jn 6,44).
4. The Church has a great esteem for scientific and technological research, since it "is a significant expression of man's dominion over creation" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 2293) and a service to truth, goodness and beauty. From Copernicus to Mendel, from Albert the Great to Pascal, from Galileo to Marconi, the history of the Church and the history of the sciences clearly show us that there is a scientific culture rooted in Christianity. It can be said, in fact, that research, by exploring the greatest and the smallest, contributes to the glory of God which is reflected in every part of the universe.
Faith is not afraid of reason. They "are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth - in a word, to know himself - so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves" (Encylical Fides et ratio, Proem). If in the past the separation of faith and reason was a tragedy for man, who risked losing his interior unity under the threat of an ever more fragmented knowledge, today your mission is to carry on your research with the conviction that "for the intelligent man ... all things are in harmony and agreement" (Gregory Palamas, Theophanes).
I invite you, then, to ask the Lord to give you the gift of the Holy Spirit, since to love truth is to live on the Holy Spirit (cf. St Augustine, Sermo, 267, 4), who enables us to approach God and to call him in a loud voice: Abba, Father. May nothing prevent you from calling on him in this way, even if you are absorbed in the rigour of your analyses of the things he has set before our eyes.
5. Dear men and women of learning, great is the responsibility to which you have been called. You are asked to work in a way that serves the good of individuals and of all humanity, while always being attentive to the dignity of every human being and to respect for creation. Every scientific approach needs an ethical base and a wise openness to a culture that respects the needs of the person. This is precisely what the writer Jean Guiton stresses when he says that in scientific research the spiritual aspect should never be separated from the intellectual (cf. Le travail intellectuel: Conseils à ceux qui étudient et à ceux qui écrivent, 1951, p. 29). He also recalls that, for this reason, science and technology need an indispensable reference to the value of human interiority.
I turn with trust to you, men and women in the trenches of research and progress! In constantly exploring the world's mysteries, let your minds be open to the horizons that faith discloses to you. Firmly anchored to the fundamental principles and values of your journey as people of knowledge and faith, you can also engage in a useful and constructive dialogue with those who are far from Christ and his Church. Therefore, first be passionate seekers of the invisible God, who alone can satisfy the deep yearning of your lives and fill you with his grace.
6. Men and women of learning, be motivated by the desire to bear witness to your fidelity to Christ! At the dawn of the third millennium, the rich panorama of contemporary culture is opening unprecedented and promising prospects in the dialogue between science and faith, as between philosophy and theology. Devote all your energies to developing a culture and a scientific approach which will always let God's providential presence and intervention be disclosed.
In this regard, the Jubilee for men and women of learning is an encouragement and a support for everyone who is sincerely seeking the truth; it shows that it is possible to be rigorous researchers in every field of knowledge and faithful disciples of the Gospel. How can we not recall here the spiritual commitment of the many people who dedicate themselves each day to demanding scientific work? Through those of you here, I would like to extend my greeting and my heartfelt encouragement to each of them.
Men and women of learning, be builders of hope for all humanity! May God accompany you and make fruitful your efforts at the service of genuine human progress. May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, protect you. May St Thomas Aquinas and the other holy men and women who, in various fields of learning have made a remarkable contribution to an ever deeper knowledge of created reality in the light of the divine mystery intercede for you.
For my part, I accompany you with constant attention and warm friendship. I assure you of a daily remembrance in my prayer and cordially bless you, along with your families and everyone who in various ways contributes with sincere and constant dedication to the scientific progress of humanity
I send my cordial greetings to the participants in this spectacular event which sees athletes, artists, politicians and dignitaries of Italian, Israeli and Palestinian culture meeting at Rome's Olympic Stadium for a friendly and extraordinary "Match of the Heart". I express my appreciation of this remarkable initiative, which aims at strengthening the culture of acceptance and dialogue among the Italian, Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
Sports, a stimulating vehicle of human and moral values, can also help the world to be more fraternal and united. May this "Match of the Heart" encourage you, dear friends from different nations and cultures, to know one another better and to advance on the path of mutual respect and reciprocal esteem. In this friendly match may solidarity and peace be the real winners.
In this way may your message of hope be spread from the Olympic Stadium: sports too can help build peace.
From the Vatican, 25 May 2000.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the International Union of the Institutes of Archaeology, History and Art History in Rome. In particular, I greet your President, Prof. Krzysztof Zaboklicki.
The mission assigned to your international union by its founders is to serve history and art by highlighting the numerous examples that Rome possesses of Western civilization, Christian culture and Church life. It is a precious heritage that has grown over the centuries. Careful to preserve, study and transmit this inheritance left by many peoples, you are the custodians as it were of a priceless treasure from which, like the scribe in the Gospel, you must draw unceasingly from both the old and the new through laborious and hidden work.
You have not hesitated to make available to researchers and students a bibliographical data bank set up under the auspices of the Roman Union of Scientific Libraries, together with the Vatican Apostolic Library. I am delighted with this remarkable tool, as well as with the scholarships you offer to young researchers and the international cooperation you foster; all this creates links that transcend borders, cultures and generations; it is also a vehicle of evangelization and peace. The Church recognizes the irreplaceable role of cultural assets for the promotion of an authentic humanism and lasting peace among nations. "Through the universality of culture, peoples, far from competing with or opposing one another, will acquire a taste for complementing one another, each contributing his own gifts and each benefiting from the gifts of all the others" (cf. Pius XII, Address to the International Committee for the Unity and Universality of Culture, 14 November 1951). I therefore encourage you to be the tireless leaders of an international solidarity that invites us to believe that human brotherhood is possible in one and the same quest for truth and beauty.
2. The spread of artistic and historical culture to all sectors of society gives our contemporaries the means to find their roots and to draw from them the cultural and spiritual elements for building their personal and community lives. At the areopagus of Athens, did not the Apostle Paul himself show his listeners that art expresses a spiritual searching which spurs man to go beyond material reality (cf. Acts Ac 17,19-31)? Every person and every society has need of a culture which will open them to a sound anthropology and to the moral and spiritual life. Indeed, as the theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar appropriately said, there is a relationship between aesthetics and ethics (cf. Glory and the Cross, Introduction). Art invites us to develop the beauty of life while fully living its moral demands and tirelessly seeking the truth.