Speeches 1988 - Saturday, 5 March 1988
Dear Cardinal Rossi and Cardinal Kim
Venerable Brothers and Dear Friends,
1. I am pleased to welcome you all, especially the National Delegates for International Eucharistic Congresses. You have gathered in Rome from many different parts of the world for a meeting with the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and with members of the Host Committee of the 44th International Eucharistic Congress which is to be held in Seoul, Korea, from 5 to 8 October 1989. The purpose of your meeting is to determine ways to promote the pastoral preparation for this major ecclesial event in all the local Churches.
The International Eucharistic Congress of Seoul will, in fact, be a very important occasion – a “Statio Orbis” – for the entire Catholic Church, both because of the significant celebrations and expressions of Eucharistic devotion to take place at the Congress, and by reason of the spiritual participation in the Congress of the local Churches around the world.
2. The theme of the Congress is Christus pax nostra. Such a theme is filled with significance not only for the Church in Korea, the host nation, but for the Church in every continent and indeed for all believers. The profound aspiration to peace which fills the hearts of all men and women of religious faith was clearly and strikingly manifested in the meeting of prayer for peace held at Assisi on 27 October 1986. That assembly also heard the proclamation that “peace bears the name of Jesus Christ”.
It is altogether appropriate therefore that there be intense spiritual preparation through reflection and prayer for the forthcoming Congress, with a sincere opening of hearts and minds to welcome the gift of Christ’s peace.
I wish to take the occasion of our meeting today in order to contribute to that preparation, offering some consideration on which the individual faithful and the ecclesial communities might usefully reflect.
3. For Christians, Jesus Christ is the sole source of genuine peace. There can be no hope of true peace in the world apart from Christ. Jesus himself made this clear when, during the Last Supper, he said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you”. The peace which he gives is not superficial. Rather, it reaches to the very depths of the human heart. Fort this reason Christ immediately adds: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”. His peace brings serenity; it produces that inner peace of soul which should shine forth in all human behaviour.
How does Christ ensure this peace? He has merited it by his sacrifice. He gave his life to bring about reconciliation between God and man. While hostility characterized the attitude of the sinner towards God, the Saviour has freed us from the slavery of sin and has restored a profound harmony between our consciences and the will of the Father.
Furthermore, through this same sacrifice he has achieved a reconciliation of human beings among themselves. According to Saint John, Jesus had to die “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad”. Saint Paul underlines this truth even more forcefully when he affirms that by reconciling man with God, Christ has reconciled people among themselves: he has abolished hatred and enmity, and has reunited the whole of humanity in “one new man”. Thus it is by establishing a more perfect unity that “he is our peace”. He has in fact made “peace by the blood of his cross”.
4. The sacrifice which draws the human family into unity is made present in the Eucharist. And so, every Eucharistic celebration is the source of a new gift of peace. In particular, when Christ gives himself as food and drink in Eucharistic Communion he communicates his very own love, and enables his followers to love one another as he himself has loved them. Consequently, by virtue of this love, he enables them to attain a fully genuine peace. Christ’s giving of himself is more powerful than all the forces of division that oppress the world.
Some aspects of the peace that flows from the Eucharist are worthy of special note in the context of next year’s Congress.
Our first consideration is that, as a result of Christ’s life penetrating the soul, there arises a peace which extends to all aspects of the person’s life and inmost dispositions. Thanks to the individual’s growing acceptance of the divine will, there is established a peace that overcomes all anxieties and fears.
Subsequently this peace extends to social relations. Renewing and nourishing the unity of the Church, the Eucharist sustains peace and understanding, as well as the spirit of collaboration, among all the members of the Christian community. It is not in vain that in every Eucharistic celebration a prayer is addressed to Christ for the unity and peace of the Church. By means of the boundless love which he communicates to human hearts, Christ in the Eucharist urges the faithful to foster warm and constructive relationships with everyone, and to work untiringly for the spread of peace throughout the world. The love which the Eucharist nourishes in human heart impels Christians to work for peace in society. Whoever lives by this love is convinced that conflicts can be resolved and social justice can prevail.
Finally, this same love contributes to bringing nations close to one another by strengthening the resolve to preserve peace, the willingness to make just concessions and the desire for greater understanding and harmony among all the peoples of the earth.
5. Christians are called upon to believe firmly in the peace-giving and unifying power of the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes it ever more possible to realize on a wider scale the beatitude proclaimed by Jesus: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”. In the Eucharist the children of the Father receive the life of Christ, which is none other than the life of the Father himself, the life of love which leads them to spread peace, for their own happiness and that of all those to whom this divine gift is destined.
In this perspective we can well understand how a Eucharistic Congress ought also to give rise to new ecumenical initiatives and endeavours. To speak of divided Christian is to refer to a contradiction, for the Christian is Christ’s disciple and Christ died “to gather into one the children of God”. The preparation of an International Eucharistic Congress can be, therefore, a time to bear witness, in union with our Christian brothers and sisters, to our common faith in Christ, the one Saviour and Bearer of Peace.
6. Further reflection on the theme “Christ Our Peace” should increase knowledge and appreciation – also by means of Eucharistic Adoration – of the central place which the Eucharist occupies in the Church.
Hence the great ecclesial event that is the 44th International Eucharistic Congress in Seoul should involve every particular Church, every parish, every religious community and every ecclesial movement. All should feel called to take part in the Congress by means of a more intense catechesis on the Eucharist, a more knowledgeable and active participation in the Eucharistic Liturgy, and a sense of adoration capable of interiorizing the celebration of the Paschal Mystery with a prayer that transforms the whole of life into an offering for the life of the world, after the example of Christ.
In concluding this meeting, I wish to thank the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and the members of the Committee of Seoul who have joined in the careful preparation of this gathering of National Delegates. I likewise send my wholehearted encouragement to the National Delegates who have not been able to come to Rome, as well as to your collaborators everywhere, especially in Korea and throughout Asia. Past experience of International Eucharistic Congresses teaches that the attention and involvement of the local Churches depends in good part on the commitment of the National Delegates and their collaborators.
I invite the entire Church to pray for the success of the 44th International Eucharistic Congress. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, inspire and enlighten us all so that, as a result of this “Statio Orbis” in Seoul in 1989, the essential significance of the Eucharist for unity and peace in the world will be better understood.
To all of you present and to all who in the local Churches are engaged in preparing the Congress I gladly impart my special Apostolic Blessing.
1. It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity to welcome you, members of the Committee on Parliamentary and Public Relations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In conjunction with your other appointments here in Rome, you have wished to include this meeting, and I can assure you that I am happy to express my personal interest and the Holy See’s convinced support of the goals and tasks which constitute the mandate of the Council of Europe. I am pleased to recall that Pope Paul VI received the members of your Committee, thirteen years ago, on 5 May 1975, and I myself very much look forward to my visit to Strasbourg next October when I hope to address the plenary meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly.
2. Even a summary account of the tasks of your own Committee serves to highlight the lofty but also pressing ideals which have marked the intentions and procedures of the Council of Europe since its establishment in the wake of the dramatic experiences of World War II. One of your principal tasks is to enlighten and encourage public opinion in relation to European unity, the defence of human rights and the strengthening of democratic principles and practices within the member States. You also maintain contact with the elected parliamentary representatives of the peoples of the twenty-one countries belonging to the Council, seeking to promote a concerted approach to the problems affecting Europe’s social, political and cultural development. You also seek to safeguard the freedoms and rights of individuals and groups within the context of the member States’ complex and rapidly evolving structures and relationships.
Almost forty years have passed since the setting up of the Council of Europe in 1949. Much of great importance has been achieved in these years. Let one instance stand for all: the signing of the European Convention on Human Rights, with the consequent and progressive attention of public opinion to the need to defend and uphold – everywhere – the dignity of each human being, and the awareness of the inalienable dignity of the person as the basis upon which every society which wishes to be defined as civilized and just must be built. With the passing of time the need to defend human rights and dignity does not diminish. Indeed, it acquires a greater urgency in the face of new situations and in relation to advances in the scientific and technological fields. In this the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly have remained loyal to the original inspiration from which they arose. It is a sign of great hope and encouragement that such should be so in the heart of Europe, the “old” Continent, whose historic destiny has been to contribute so much to the rest of the world, for good and for ill.
3. With its achievements and its failures, Europe has left an indelible mark on the course of history, and it therefore has a responsibility which the Representatives of its peoples cannot but take up and pursue. In the strengthening of a European awareness among all its peoples, including those not represented in your Organization, Europe experiences a vague, almost unconscious, sense of obligation to its own peoples and to the rest of the human family. To rise to the challenge of satisfying this obligation, Europe needs to recover its deepest identity. It needs to overcome whatever reluctance there may be to acknowledge the common patrimony and civilization of its peoples and nations, divided as they are by physical, political and ideological boundaries, but united by the bonds of a culture which truly embraces all.
The anomaly of entrenched divisions within Europe is further increased when it is forgotten that European unity is spiritual in character far more than political. It is grounded for the most part in Christian values and in the humanism stemming from them. As I said some years ago to a group of Bishops from my own homeland: “Despite the different traditions that exist in the territory of Europe between its Eastern part and its Western part, there lives in each of them the same Christianity...
Precisely this lies at the roots of the history of Europe. This forms its spiritual genealogy”. Such a consideration is an extremely important factor in understanding the role of Europe today. It is my profound conviction that, if Europe wishes to regain its fundamental unity, it must turn to the values which Christianity caused to emerge in European society and culture from the beginning.
4. I am particularly happy at this time to express support for the European Public Campaign on North-South Interdependence and Solidarity which the Council of Europe is conducting in order to raise public awareness of the complex relationship between the peoples of Europe and the Third World. The whole question of the interdependence and necessary solidarity between developed and underdeveloped countries forms a substantial part of my recent Encyclical on the Church’s social concern. The Church approaches such questions from an eminently moral and religious point of view, but when it is a question of justice, peace, fraternity and solidarity between peoples, there is ample room for interaction and collaboration among all the forces that work for the genuine wellbeing of the human family.
May God help us all to love and serve our brothers and sisters ever more wisely and generously. I ask his blessings upon each one of you and your colleagues in the Parliamentary Assembly. May he watch over you and your families, as well as the nations which you represent!
1. I am pleased that, during this centenary year of the foundation of your Religious Congregation, I have been able to visit Salvator Mundi Hospital and your Generalate house. It is a special joy for me to be with you. Having already spoken about the mission of your medical facility, I now have the pleasure of addressing a few words to you, the Sisters of the Divine Redeemer.
The celebration of the Hundredth Anniversary of your Institute is an occasion which evokes in the hearts of us all deep gratitude and praise for the loving providence of God. At the same time, it makes us mindful of the special role you fulfil in the mission of the Church.
2. “The Church has been divinely sent to all nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation’. Acting out of the innermost requirements of her own catholicity and in obedience to her Founder’s mandate, she strives to proclaim the Gospel to all people”. These words of the Second Vatican Council taken from the Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, express well the universal nature of the Church’s mission in the world, which was a primary concern of the Council.
Of course, this concern for proclaiming the Gospel to all the nations did not begin with the Council. It has been the Church’s principal task from the beginning. The fast words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew make clear what he expects of his followers: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”.
3. The founders of the Sisters of the Divine Saviour were inspired by this same apostolic zeal and universal spirit. From the beginning, Father Francis Mary of the Cross and Blessed Mary of the Apostoles fixed their eyes steadily on the person of Jesus and, meditating on the deeds and words of our Divine Saviour, were filled with a burning desire to make him known and loved in every country on earth.
With this universal love and clear vision they began your Institute on December 8, 1888. Within a few years of the founding at Tivoli, some of your Sisters were already in India, in the Apostolic Prefecture of Assam. And soon they were going to other continents and many other countries, serving in a variety of apostolic activities, but always with the same ultimate goal: to make our Divine Saviour known and loved.
4. Dear Sisters: how clearly one can see the hand of divine Providence guiding your Institute in the course of the past hundred years. It has been a century of expansion and growth, a century of generosity and dedication, a century of countless achievements through God’s abundant grace and overflowing mercy. With Sisters of twenty-five nationalities, representing a great number of diverse languages and cultures, you like the Church herself, are a kind of sacrament of the universal love of God. You bear public witness to the mercy of God which was most fully manifested in the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.
In the secret recesses of the heart, each of you has heard the Lord say to her:
“Fear not, I have redeemed you; / I have called you by name, / you are mine”.
And then, because of the experience of having been loved by Christ with an everlasting love, you are able, indeed you are ready and eager, to share this Good News with others. This is the secret source of religious life. It is the foundation of that particular consecration you made by your vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. It is this experience of the excelling love of Christ which inspired your founders a century ago and which has sustained your Sisters and yourselves ever since. May Christ’s love always be the focal point of your lives.
May I close with the words which I spoke to members of your General Chapter five years ago? They express my hope and prayer for you in this Jubilee Year: “Never forget the honour that is yours: to bear the title of the Divine Saviour. In union with Jesus, do everything you can to bring this salvation to the world”.
To you and to all the members of your Institute I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear brother Bishops,
1. I am pleased to welcome you here on the occasion of your ad limina visit, which brings us together during this joyful season of new life in Christ, risen from the dead. Through you I also wish to greet all the clergy, Religious and laity who, together with their Bishops, constitute the various particular Churches in New Zealand.
I am happy to note the presence of Bishop Max Mariu, whose recent ordination to the episcopacy is a source of special joy to the Maori people of your country. Through the ministry which he has just begun, may all the Catholic people of New Zealand be even more perfectly united in the one family of faith, hope and love.
I wish to reflect for a moment on the ecclesial significance which this ad limina visit has for the local Churches in your country. Your long journey to Rome to honour the memory and to invoke the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul serves as a reminder that “as fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” we are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord”. We are grateful to God for this apostolic foundation in which Saints Peter and Paul have such a hallowed place. We also thank God for the Good News of salvation that we have received as a gift through the heroic preaching and Christian witness of those who have gone before us in faith. I rejoice with you and the faithful of your Dioceses in a special way this year as you celebrate the memory of New Zealand’s first Bishop, Jean Baptiste Pompallier, whose ministry as a successor of the Apostles laid the foundation for full ecclesial life in your country one hundred and fifty years ago.
The significance of your ad limina visit, however, is not rooted only in the past. You are also here to visit the Successor of Peter, in order to strengthen the bonds of loving communion that bind your Churches to him, whom the Second Vatican Council recognizes as “Pastor of the whole Church” and as “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful”. By faithfully presenting to him, in a spirit of collegiality, the experiences of your pastoral ministry, you are endeavouring to ensure its authenticity. He in turn wishes to strengthen all his brethren in the faith through a ministry that belongs to the essence of each particular church from within, and not from outside. In this Petrine service, willed by Christ and kept alive in the Church by the Holy Spirit, the Successor of Peter is called upon to promote the universality of the Church, to protect her legitimate variety, to guarantee her Catholic unity, to confirm his brother Bishops in their apostolic faith and ministry, and to preside over the whole assembly of charity.
The ecclesial significance of your visit, then, is one of hierarchical communion, which like so many spiritual realities present believers with a twofold challenge: first, to deepen constantly their own understanding and appreciation of this spiritual reality, and secondly, to bear witness to it in a secularized world. At a time when people can easily lose sight of the spiritual dimension of life, the Church seeks to live as one household of faith in an intimate communion that transcends by far the political economic, ethnic and other secular relationships that are part of social life. The Church strives in every time and place to impart to all her members a deeply spiritual understanding of their life and mission in and for the world. Without a profound understanding of the Church’s teaching on hierarchical communion our life and mission as the Church are diminished.
2. For that reason, I also wish to reflect with you on the importance of doctrine in the life of the Church. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council we may rejoice at the renewed awareness among our people that the Catholic faith is not limited to certain religious practices, and that faith must be put into action, especially at the service of justice and peace in the world. At the same time, as the Council also insists, we must build on the strong foundation of sound doctrine, which is none other than the saving truth of Jesus Christ. This truth is enshrined in the Creed and taught by the Magisterium; without it all our labours are in vain. As Saint Paul reminds us, “No other foundation can any one lay than that which is raid, which is Jesus Christ”. The challenge always facing the Church is to deepen our knowledge, understanding and love of this truth which transforms our minds and hearts. Only by obedience to the truth as proclaimed by the Church’s universal Magisterium can we fulfil our own mission in and for the world.
3. The whole People of God, and each of us, in response to Christ’s word, is called to be holy and to share in the Church’s mission. But the service of the word requires that particular attention be given to the intellectual and spiritual formation of the clergy, who are stewards of the mysteries of God, and of the Religious, who by their consecration are called to build up the Church through the perfection of charity. The process of training begins in seminaries and houses of formation; it then continues through a lifelong process of personal study, prayer and reflection carried out in communion with the whole Church. Formation is rooted in doctrine, and must involve both the mind and the heart. It should lead a person not only to be well informed about the Church’s teachings, but also to understand the way in which these teachings fit together and form the basis for the Church’s structure and discipline. The goal of seminary formation is to deepen in candidates for the priesthood an appreciation of Catholic doctrine as proposed by the Magisterium so that their own teaching will be truly Catholic and express authentically the life and faith of the Church. Only then will the faithful find in their clergy and Religious, and learn from them, a profound love for ecclesial unity and communion and a clearer understanding of the mysteries of faith.
No less importantly, the laity – especially the young – must be taught the truths of the faith to which they are committed by their Baptism. We all know that sometimes people stray from the Church through indifference, weakness or alienation. Experience also shows that if, when they were young, they received a solid grounding in Catholic doctrine, sacramental life and prayer, they are more likely to return, with God’s help, to the full practice of their faith.
Especially important in this regard are Catholic schools, in which young people must not only hear about Jesus Christ, but also learn a way of thinking and a way of life in harmony with his Gospel. This they will do with the help of teachers who do not hesitate to impart the Church’s teaching in its fullness and who themselves witness to the faith through an authentic Christian life.
Indeed, all of God’s people need to be nourished by sound teaching throughout their lives. All of us need to be challenged to deepen our spiritual life. I know that you share this concern, and I recommend special prudence in seeking ways to promote spiritual renewal among the faithful entrusted to your care.
An extremely important aspect of all spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church is the Sacrament of Penance. As I said in the Apostolic Exhortation “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia”: “Every confessional is a special and blessed place from which, with divisions wiped away, there is born new and uncontaminated a reconciled individual – a reconciled world!”. The Church’s discipline concerning individual confession and absolution as the ordinary means of celebrating the Sacrament is not a master of obedience alone. It is above all a question of fidelity to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is transmitted through the teaching of the Church.
4. The Sacred Scriptures show that for many people the truth which Jesus preached was difficult to accept. “God so loved the world he gave his only Son”, but the world receives the gift of redemption only through a change of heart – by turning away from sin – and through faith in what is unseen. We Christians are not exempt from this daily struggle to live in accordance with the new creation which we have become by Baptism. We have only to think of Jesus’ words about the Eucharist, about the Cross, about marriage, material wealth, and forgiveness to see how powerfully he challenges our faith and morals.Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church continues to preach the Gospel “in season and out of season”, in all its fullness and with all its implications for the faith and morale of people today. Such a challenging message will be credible to non-believers and to those who are wavering in their faith only if there are Christians who are well informed and strongly convinced of their beliefs and who at the same time are filled with love.Only the greatest love enables us to proclaim the truth, even when it is painful or unpopular.
5. Solid doctrinal formation is also essential if ecumenical efforts are to be truly fruitful. In New Zealand dialogue between the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities can be fruitful. Such dialogue not only helps us to understand better our non-Catholic brothers and sisters, but also is a occasion to reflect more deeply on our own Catholic identity and on the doctrine and discipline that constitute that identity. Here again, responsible ecumenical attitudes require careful formation, especially among the clergy. As I have said on a previous occasion in addressing the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, this formation “must centre around a deepened understanding of the mystery of the Church, and lead to at clear knowledge of the Catholic principles of ecumenism. This is necessary in order to ensure that those who have responsibility for ecumenical work in the Catholic Church understand that ecumenical initiatives should be carried out under the guidance of the Bishops in close union with the Holy See, and giving full weight to the essential role of the latter in serving the unity of all”.
6. And so, dear Brothers, once again I wish to encourage you in your witness to the full truth of Christ and the Gospel as it is lived and taught in the Church. During my Pastoral Visit to your country, I was privileged to witness firsthand what God’s grace has accomplished in you. I commend you and your clergy, Religious and laity for all your efforts to respond generously to build up the Church as a community of holiness, justice and love. Today I invite you to do even more: to promote a sound understanding of the Church, to ensure liturgical renewal that is faithful to authentic principles and norms of Catholic worship, and to apply Catholic teaching in its fullness to social and cultural questions.
Following the example of the Mother of God, who kept and pondered in her heart everything relating to her divine Son, may each of you, and all the faithful of your Dioceses, grow in your love of the truth. I commend you to Mary’s maternal care during this year dedicated to her, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
 Cfr. Eph. 2, 19-21.
 Lumen Gentium, 22.
 Cfr. Gal. 2, 2.
 Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 13.
 1 Cor. 3, 11.
 Ioannis Pauli PP. II Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 31.
 Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Reconciliatio et Paenitentia,33.
 Io. 3, 16.
 Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad delegatos Commissionum Oecumenicarum Nationalium, 5, die 27 apr. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 1140.
Dear Friends in Christ,
“This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad”.
Throughout the Easter season, the Church invites us to proclaim this message. And it seems especially fitting to do so today as I have joy of welcoming the new Deacons of the North American College, together with their families and friends.
Ordination to the Diaconate is first of all the work of God and not a human achievement. It is because of what God has done that we rejoice and are glad. As Jesus said: “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit”. We rejoice, then precisely because of what God is doing in the Church and in the lives of these young men.
Dear brothers: God has called each of you to be a deacon, a diakonos, a servant. Through the sacramental prayer and the laying on of hands, each of you has been made a servant of the Gospel, a servant of the Sacred Liturgy, a servant of the whole People of God, and in particular a servant of the sick and the poor. At the Lord’s invitation, you have taken a decisive step towards becoming even more like our Saviour, the one who came “not to be served but to serve”.
The happiness of a servant, indeed the very identity of a servant, depends upon his relationship with his Master. And thus told his disciples: “Where I am, there will my servant be”. Where Jesus is, there will his diakonos be. He will be with Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the other sacramental celebrations. He will be with Christ who makes himself one with “the least ones” of our world. He will be with Christ in the Christian community and in the successor of the Apostles. He will be with Christ in the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours and in her mission of bearing public witness to the rights and dignity of every human person. He will be with Christ because he is a faithful servant.
A servant, yes, but even more: for he also calls you friends, friends with whom he share a special relationship with the Father, friends whom he loves even to the point of dying on the Cross.
As friends of Christ you also shares his own knowledge of with his Mother. During this Marian Year, I encourage you, together with your families and friends, to nourish in your own lives devotion to the Mother of God. You can find no better example of readiness to do God’s will. Just as Mary said “I am the servant of the Lord”, may all of you be examples of generous service and faithful love.
Speeches 1988 - Saturday, 5 March 1988