Speeches 2001 - Saturday 20 October 2001
"I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother" (cf. Phlm 7).
How true Paul's words still are today, as I treasure fond memories of my pilgrimage to Syria, and especially of the ecumenical celebration of the Word at which we presided together with our brothers in the Cathedral of the Dormition of Our Lady in Damascus, last 5 May! Now, Your Beatitude has come here to pay me a visit in Rome as you make your way back to your venerable see of Antioch.
Through our meetings, the Lord gives us clear signs of the brotherhood mentioned in the Letter to Philemon. Our exchanges show us that we are travelling on the right road, the one the Lord never ceases to point out to us, the road that leads to full communion. In May 1983, following in the footsteps of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who were the first to make the Word ring out in Antioch and gave their beautiful witness in Rome, you paid me your first visit in Rome so that together we could advance with determination on the path of unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God (cf. Eph Ep 4,13). This year it was my turn to visit you, following in the footsteps of the Apostles and applying myself, like you, dear Brother, to obeying the truth, "for a sincere love of the brethren" to show that we love one another "earnestly from the heart", sustained by "the living and abiding word of God" by which we grow in our maturity for salvation (1P 1,22-24).
We suffer, for at times our pace is slowed down. It happens that the sweet, peaceful, compassionate and merciful love that urges us on is diminished by the habit of quarrelling, by our inability to find a common expression, by our forgetting the prayer of Christ: "I pray ... for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one" (Jn 17,20-21).
Your Beatitude knows what the long journey to unity and reconciliation among the brethren implies, because you are one of the prime movers in the endeavour to bring about a rapprochement between the East and the West; you have supported, from the beginning, the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the whole group of Orthodox Churches. Today we implore the Lord for the grace and strength to move beyond the setbacks to the dialogue that are due to fruitless hesitation, for the Saviour has already shown us the way, reminding us that in this world we are bound to encounter opposition to our firm conviction that has overcome the world (cf. Jn Jn 16,33)! I know, Your Beatitude, that like me you do not cease praying, reflecting, working, persuading so that the path may be opened. Theological dialogue should not be buffeted by the wind of discouragement nor influenced by indifference nor by lack of hope.
From this viewpoint, your visit, Your Beatitude, gives us a new occasion before God and in Christ to renew and reaffirm the bonds of fraternity that unite us. I thank you and I thank all who accompany you. I know they participate in your ministry as Pastor and that they support your efforts towards reconciliation.
Your love, brothers, has brought me grace, joy and consolation. I ask you to assure the Bishops, priests and all the faithful of the Patriarchate of Antioch that the pilgrimage of the Bishop of Rome to the places where Peter and Paul preached the Word of God has not been in vain. It was a renewal of the promise I made at the beginning of my Pontificate to make the journey towards unity one of my pastoral priorities. May we be docile to the call of the Spirit who directs us towards full and visible unity, and never create obstacles to hinder the love that God bears for humanity in Jesus Christ (cf. Address to the Cardinals and collaborators of the Roman Curia (28 June 1985), n. 4, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 15 July 1985, p. 3; cf. Encyclical Ut unum sint, n. 99)! With these sentiments I express a new fraternal love for you in Christ.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I cordially greet all of you, come to Rome to solemnly celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation. I greet Cardinal Franciszek, Metropolitan of Kraków, and all the Archbishops and Bishops present here. I greet the Council of the Foundation with its president Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, the directors of the single institutions of the Foundation, as well as the presidents and members of the Circle of the Friends of the Foundation who come from Belgium, Denmark, France, Indonesia, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Poland, Singapore, the United States of America, Sweden, Venezuela and Great Britain. I am delighted to have you as guests today.
When I established the Foundation 20 years ago, I wanted it to undertake a wide range of activity: cultural, scientific, social and pastoral. I wanted an environment to be created that would support and further the bonds between the Apostolic See and the Polish nation, and that would look after the propagation of the patrimony of Christian culture and of the Magisterium of the Church throughout the world. I foresaw that the Foundation would take on the far-seeing work of gathering documentation regarding the pontificate and spread the pontifical and magisterial teaching of the Church. The second task was to be the promotion of Christian culture through the networking and collaboration with Polish and international scientific and artistic centres, in addition to offering educational opportunities to young people, particularly those from Eastern-Central Europe. The seat of the Foundation was to be the Polish House on the Via Cassia, Rome. It was to become "a tangible point traced at the crossroads ... of all the cultures ... in the wider, spiritual, ethnic and cultural sense ... but also, in a way, [of] the whole Church and Christian culture of the whole world" (cf. Special Audience for Polish pilgrims on their presentation of "John Paul II" House, 7 Nov. 1981).
If today, after 20 years, I return to this premise, I do so because in reference to it, it seems to me that I can already attempt an evaluation of the Foundation's activity. It is an easy task. Every year the Council of the Foundation presented me with a detailed report of all that it had done. So I am informed that, thanks to the initiatives of 36 Circles of Friends of the Foundation in 14 countries and thanks to the generosity of thousands of men of good will throughout the world, a fund has been created, that guarantees the functioning of four important institutions: the Polish House in Rome, the Centre for Documentation of the Pontificate, the Institute of Christian Culture, and the House of the John Paul II Foundation in Lublin. I also know that the House of Rome offers a considerable organizational and pastoral help to pilgrims who arrive in Rome. The Centre for Documentation of the Pontificate is becoming a real center of information regarding not only the activity and teaching of the Pope, but also the life of the Church in the complex reality of today's world, in the span of the last 23 years. The Polish House and the Center for Documentation form a material and spiritual base for the activity of the Institute of Christian Culture in Rome. It fosters contacts with the scientific and artistic sectors in Poland and in the world. On one hand it works to sustain the memory of the Christian roots of our culture, on the other it takes on the task of forming an élite, who will transmit this Christian spirit to succeeding generations in Europe and on other continents. Through the so-called "Summer University" the youth of the whole world have the possibility of knowing the history which gave birth to the Christian tradition and the current situation of the Church and of the world, in which this tradition finds its continuity.
The most outstanding of all these initiatives is the fund for scholarships for young people from Central and Eastern Europe and from other countries of the ex-Soviet Union. To my knowledge, more than 170 graduates have graduated from the Foundation's welcome House in Lublin. After having completed their studies in various faculties of the Catholic University of Lublin and of other Polish universities, they have returned to their countries and have become zealous promoters of science and culture solidly based on perennial values. Another 145 students continue their studies. Recently I hosted them here and came to know them personally. This work is invaluable! Whosoever invests in the human person, in his overall development, never loses. The results of this investment are imperishable.
If the Foundation, after 20 years of activity, can say exegi monumentum, it is precisely with a view to shaping a spiritual monument in the hearts and minds of people, of environments and of whole societies, continually, and without noise. There is no monument of our time, more magnificent and enduring, than this one, forged in the bronze of science and culture.
My thank you goes to all who in the span of these 20 years have in any way supported the activity of the Foundation and to those who guide this activity with wisdom and dedication. Please do not cease this good work; may it continue to develop. May the common effort sustained by the help of God continue to produce abundant fruit.
I thank you for having come to this meeting. God bless you!
To English-speaking supporters
My greeting goes also to those of you who are from English-speaking parts of the world. To you who are committed to supporting the ideals and work of the John Paul II Foundation I express my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. What you are involved in is nothing less than the passing on of our Christian heritage to future generations, by making better known important elements of the culture that has fed and nourished the Polish spirit in its constant search for excellence. Much has been done in the 20 years of the Foundation's existence. I am especially happy at what has been achieved in the vital realm of helping the education and training of men and women who will bear the imprint of a wisdom and human experience that the world urgently needs.
You, the Friends of the Foundation, come from many countries. You are as it were a sign of the universality of the truths and values of our heritage. They are universal because they are deeply imbued with the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ. May the Lord Jesus sustain you and your families in the gift of faith received through that heritage! Thank you.
Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II
for the Fourth Centenary of the arrival in Beijing
of the great missionary and scientist Matteo Ricci, S.I.
1. It gives me great joy to address you, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, on the occasion of the International Conference commemorating the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of the great Italian missionary, humanist and man of science, Father Matteo Ricci, a celebrated son of the Society of Jesus. My greeting goes in a special way to the Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Directors of the Italian-Chinese Institute, the two institutions which have sponsored and organized the Conference. In welcoming you, I also extend a cordial greeting to the scholars who have come from China, Father Ricci’s beloved adopted country.
I am aware that this Conference in Rome is taking place in a certain continuity with the important International Symposium recently held in Beijing (October 14-17) on the theme Encounters and Dialogue, with special reference to the cultural exchanges between China and the West at the end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. There too, scholarly attention was directed to the singular work of Father Matteo Ricci in China.
2. Today’s meeting takes us in mind and heart to Beijing, the great capital of modern China and the capital of the "Middle Kingdom" in Father Ricci’s time. After twenty-one long years of avid and intense study of the language, history and culture of China, Father Ricci entered Beijing, the city of the Emperor, on 24 January 1601. Received with every honour, held in high regard and frequently visited by men of letters, mandarins and those desiring to learn the new sciences of which he was an acknowledged master, he lived the rest of his days in the imperial capital, where he died a holy death on 11 May 1610, at the age of 57 years, almost twenty-eight of which had been spent in China. I am pleased here to recall that when Father Ricci arrived in Beijing, he wrote a Memorial to the Emperor Wan-li, in which he introduced himself as a celibate religious who sought no privilege at court, asking only to be able to place at the service of His Majesty his own person and the expertise in the sciences which he had acquired in the "great West" from which he had come (cf. Opere Storiche del P. Matteo Ricci S.I., ed. P. Tacchi Venturi S.J., vol. II, Macerata, 1913, 496ff). The reaction of the Emperor was positive, and this gave greater significance and importance to the Catholic presence in modern China.
For four centuries China has highly esteemed Li Madou, "the Sage of the West", the name by which Father Matteo Ricci was known and continues to be known today. Historically and culturally he was a pioneer, a precious connecting link between West and East, between European Renaissance culture and Chinese culture, and between the ancient and magnificent Chinese civilization and the world of Europe.
As I had occasion to mention on the occasion of the International Congress of Ricci Studies held to commemorate the fourth centenary of Matteo Ricci’s arrival in China (1582-1982), his merit lay above all in the realm of inculturation. Father Ricci forged a Chinese terminology for Catholic theology and liturgy, and thus created the conditions for making Christ known and for incarnating the Gospel message and the Church within Chinese culture (cf. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, vol. V/3, 1982, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1982, 923-925). Father Matteo Ricci made himself so "Chinese with the Chinese" that he became an expert Sinologist, in the deepest cultural and spiritual sense of the term, for he achieved in himself an extraordinary inner harmony between priest and scholar, between Catholic and orientalist, between Italian and Chinese.
3. Four hundred years after the arrival of Matteo Ricci in Beijing, we cannot fail to ask what is the message he can offer to the great Chinese nation and to the Catholic Church, to both of which he felt ever deeply bound and by both of which he was and is sincerely valued and loved.
One of the aspects that make Father Ricci’s work in China original and enduringly relevant is the deep empathy which he cultivated from the first towards the whole history, culture and tradition of the Chinese people. His short Treatise on Friendship (De Amicitia – Jiaoyoulun), which had great success from the first edition produced in Nanking in 1595, and the wide and intense network of friendships which he constantly built up during his twenty-eight years in the country, remain an irrefutable testimony to his loyalty, sincerity and fellowship with the people who had welcomed him. These sentiments and attitudes of the highest respect sprang from the esteem in which he held the culture of China, to the point of leading him to study, interpret and explain the ancient Confucian tradition and thus offer a re-evaluation of the Chinese classics.
From his first contacts with the Chinese, Father Ricci based his entire scientific and apostolic methodology upon two pillars, to which he remained faithful until his death, despite many difficulties and misunderstandings, both internal and external: first, Chinese neophytes, in embracing Christianity, did not in any way have to renounce loyalty to their country; second, the Christian revelation of the mystery of God in no way destroyed but in fact enriched and complemented everything beautiful and good, just and holy, in what had been produced and handed down by the ancient Chinese tradition. And just as the Fathers of the Church had done centuries before in the encounter between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Greco-Roman culture, Father Ricci made this insight the basis of his patient and far-sighted work of inculturation of the faith in China, in the constant search for a common ground of understanding with the intellectuals of that great land.
4. The Chinese people, especially in more recent times, have set themselves important objectives in the field of social progress. The Catholic Church for her part regards with respect this impressive thrust and far-sighted planning, and with discretion offers her own contribution in the promotion and defence of the human person, and of the person’s values, spirituality and transcendent vocation. The Church has very much at heart the values and objectives which are of primary importance also to modern China: solidarity, peace, social justice, the wise management of the phenomenon of globalization, and the civil progress of all peoples.
As Father Ricci wrote precisely in Beijing, when in the last two years of his life he was editing that pioneering work which is fundamental for an understanding of China by the rest of the world and which is entitled, On the Entry of the Society of Jesus and Christianity into China (cf. Fonti Ricciane, a cura di Pasquale M. D'Elia S.I., vol. 2, Roma 1949, No. 617, p. 152), so too today the Catholic Church seeks no privilege from China and its leaders, but solely the resumption of dialogue in order to build a relationship based upon mutual respect and deeper understanding.
5. Following the example of this great son of the Catholic Church, I wish to say once more that the Holy See regards the Chinese people with deep affection and close attention. It is familiar with the significant advances made in recent times in the social, economic and educational spheres, as also with the difficulties that remain. Let it be known to China: the Catholic Church has a keen desire to offer, once more, her humble and selfless service for the good of Chinese Catholics and of all the people of the country. In this regard, may I recall at this point the outstanding evangelizing commitment shown by a long line of generous missionaries — men and women — as well as the works of human development which they accomplished down the centuries. They undertook many important social initiatives, particularly in the areas of health care and education, which were widely and gratefully welcomed by the Chinese people.
History, however, reminds us of the unfortunate fact that the work of members of the Church in China was not always without error, the bitter fruit of their personal limitations and of the limits of their action. Moreover, their action was often conditioned by difficult situations connected with complex historical events and conflicting political interests. Nor were theological disputes lacking, which caused bad feelings and created serious difficulties in preaching the Gospel. In certain periods of modern history, a kind of "protection" on the part of European political powers not infrequently resulted in limitations on the Church’s very freedom of action and had negative repercussions for the Church in China. This combination of various situations and events placed obstacles in the Church’s path and prevented her from fully carrying out — for the benefit of the Chinese people — the mission entrusted to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ.
I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the Church was motivated by feelings of hostility towards China. For all of this I ask the forgiveness and understanding of those who may have felt hurt in some way by such actions on the part of Christians.
The Church must not be afraid of historical truth and she is ready — with deeply-felt pain — to admit the responsibility of her children. This is true also with regard to her relationship, past and present, with the Chinese people. Historical truth must be sought serenely, with impartiality and in its entirety. This is an important task to be undertaken by scholars and is one to which you, who are particularly well-versed in Chinese realities, can also contribute. I can assure you that the Holy See is always ready to offer willing cooperation in this research.
6. At the present moment, the words written by Father Ricci at the beginning of his Treatise on Friendship (Nos. 1 and 3) take on a new timeliness and significance. Bringing into the heart of late sixteenth-century Chinese culture and civilization the heritage of classical Greco-Roman and Christian reflection on friendship, he defined a friend as "the other half of myself, indeed another ‘I’"; and therefore "the raison d’être of friendship is mutual need and mutual help".
And it is with this renewed and deeply-felt friendship towards all the Chinese people that I express the hope that concrete forms of communication and cooperation between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China may soon be established. Friendship is nourished by contacts, by a sharing in the joy and sadness of different situations, by solidarity and mutual assistance. The Apostolic See sincerely seeks to be a friend to all peoples and to collaborate with persons of good will everywhere in the world.
Historically, in ways that are certainly different but not in opposition to one another, China and the Catholic Church are two of the most ancient "institutions" in existence and operating on the world scene: both, though in different domains – one in the political and social, the other in the religious and spiritual – encompass more than a thousand million sons and daughters. It is no secret that the Holy See, in the name of the whole Catholic Church and, I believe, for the benefit of the whole human family, hopes for the opening of some form of dialogue with the Authorities of the People’s Republic of China. Once the misunderstandings of the past have been overcome, such a dialogue would make it possible for us to work together for the good of the Chinese people and for peace in the world. The present moment of profound disquiet in the international community calls for a fervent commitment on the part of everyone to creating and developing ties of understanding, friendship and solidarity among peoples. In this context, the normalization of relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Holy See would undoubtedly have positive repercussions for humanity’s progress.
7. Expressing once more my happiness at the timely celebration of such a significant historical event, I hope and pray that the path opened by Father Matteo Ricci between East and West, between Christianity and Chinese culture, will give rise to new instances of dialogue and reciprocal human and spiritual enrichment. With these good wishes, I gladly impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing, imploring God to grant you every gift of happiness and well-being.
From the Vatican, 24 October 2001
To my Venerable Brothers
of the Pakistan Episcopal Conference
At this time of such grave concern for the dramatic events taking place in your part of the world, I have asked Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", to visit you and to convey to you the assurance of my closeness in prayer. I implore the Father of all mercies to keep you and your communities safe, and to inspire in you sentiments of wisdom and courage in facing the challenges of this hour of trial.
United as we are in the Church’s universal solidarity with all the world’s peoples, we must ardently hope and pray that the bright star of peace may soon shine again over your region. In the meantime, the sufferings of countless men, women and children cry out for practical relief. In particular, the painful situation of the many refugees call for immediate efforts on the part of all those who are in a position to help.
Archbishop Cordes will examine with you the concrete possibilities open to the Church in Pakistan of assisting our brothers and sisters in need. I will support your efforts with my prayers, and I bless you and the faithful with all my heart. May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (cf. Phil Ph 4,7).
From the Vatican, 22 October 2001
1. I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the Synod of Bishops in which you took an active part. I am deeply grateful to you for your presence at the Synod which offers a particularly rich expression of the catholicity of the Church. You have made a precious contribution to it. The suggestions you have presented to me in writing will receive careful reflection, so I can draw from them what may contribute to a more effective presence of the Church in the world today.
I gladly take this opportunity once again to express my spiritual closeness to you in your trials, as well as to the peoples entrusted to your pastoral care. Let us pray together that the serious problems, which daily concern you, may find a ready and satisfactory solution. At this time, I think of the Holy Land, sanctified by the Redeemer's presence and preaching, Land in which He shed his blood for the world's salvation, and from which, risen, he sent out his Apostles into the world.
2. I assure you that every day I follow closely the events involving the peoples of the Middle Eastern region, and in communion with the whole Church, I pray daily that a lasting and honourable peace may dawn at last for everyone. At this meeting of intense fraternal communion, I ask you to greet in my name the clergy, consecrated persons and all the faithful.
I entrust each one to the special protection of the Mother of God, to whom your Churches are so intensely devoted. How many celebrations of her mysteries began in your lands and were later approved and accepted throughout the whole Church! May the Blessed Virgin Mary turn her motherly gaze upon your ministry and upon your beloved countries.
With these sentiments, I impart my Blessing to you, as a pledge of special affection.
1. I am delighted to welcome Your Excellency on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters by which His Majesty Emperor Akihito accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Holy See. I thank you for having brought the greetings of your Sovereign. I ask you to convey my best wishes to His Majesty and the imperial family. I also wish through you to greet the Japanese people and leaders cordially, and I ask Almighty God to bless the efforts to build a more fraternal and united society, for the good of the nation and of all the countries in the region.
2. Mr Ambassador, I am particularly receptive to your words on what the Church lived during the Great Jubilee and to your appreciation of the Holy See's action on behalf of respect for human life, for peace and for harmony among all peoples. You have just expressed your deep concern, shared everywhere as well, about the events which in recent weeks have threatened world peace and for millions of people became a source of terrible anxiety. The history of your nation during the 20th century, especially thinking of the somber days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki whose photographic coverage, showing the distress of adults and children, had global repercussions, continues to haunt the conscience of the whole international community. This is why the deep and active concern for peace of Japanese society is something shared by all peoples, so they can do all that is possible at a personal, community and institutional level to ensure that the cause of peace and fraternity triumph, and that all decisions be made in view of the common good of humanity. Since numerous areas of tension persist and develop in recent times, I strongly appeal to all men of good will to adopt dialogue and collaboration as the way to recognize the right of each people to its own land and the right of each person to live in peace. Trust between persons and between peoples will make terrorism retreat forever. Terrorism can never lead to the acknowledgement of a group of people or an ideology, nor lead to a new form of government in a country or region.
Indeed, the use of violence in all its forms is not conducive to settling conflicts nor to establishing a society that respects its members. On the contrary, through the wounds violence inflicts, it prevents peaceful social life and it reduces to nothing the most fundamental rights of the person and of peoples to peace and an integral and shared development. The religious, spiritual, cultural and human values that are at the base of Japanese and other societies, such as respect for creation and life, the eagerness to work, a profound sense of solidarity, the capacity to be open to transcendence, are essential to building the civilization of love and peace; they hold a special place in the activities of social and political institutions, they can transform from within the political, economic, social and cultural life and give it a human dimension that ensures fuller service to mankind and the family.
3. Mr Ambassador, you have recalled that dialogue between civilizations is a necessary condition for peace. In order to resolve calmly the conflicts and tensions taking place in Asia, dialogue must be carried out in a special way through an exchange between peoples, cultures, religious and philosophical traditions, respecting the legitimate freedom of persons and peoples, especially in the sector of religion, so that religion may never be a pretext for acts that undermine respect for human beings and for the human community. In Japan, as elsewhere, the challenge of dialogue between cultures rests particularly on "the recognition that there are values which are common to all cultures because they are rooted in the nature of the person". Therefore it is essential "to nurture that intrinsically universal cultural "soil' which makes for fruitful and constructive dialogue. The different religions too can and ought to contribute decisively to this process" (Message for the World Day of Peace 2001, n. 16).
4. The Catholic Church, by the mission received from Christ, actively participates in this dialogue, in order to contribute, with all men of good will, to the building of a united human community. I appreciate the great esteem and the high reputation of the Catholic Church in Japan, especially in the areas of social assistance and education. You know that Catholic schools not only prepare young people and form their minds for a better mastery of knowledge, but aim to give them an integral formation, so that as leaders of social life, they can truly serve the human person and Japanese society, and transmit the spiritual and moral values they need for their development and that of their compatriots. At a time of globalization, it is necessary to sensitize nations so that they be aware that "the present reality of global interdependence makes it easier to appreciate the common destiny of the entire human family" (ibid., n. 17). At a time when Japanese society has to deal with increased unemployment, a weakening of personal relations and social problems, the Catholic Church wishes to represent the meaning of life and the true destiny of man, by fortifying the spirit of mutual support among people, and by creating a greater sense of concord and justice among all the members of the nation.
5. Mr Ambassador, through you allow me to greet the Bishops of Japan warmly, since in the course of this year I had the joy of welcoming them on their ad limina visit. I also want to greet the members of the Catholic community. Once again I want to encourage them, and invite them to be, as were their fathers in the faith in Japan, faithful disciples of Christ, attentive to all their brethren, and, especially, to the poor and to young people, who are fragile and whose lives are insecure in a materialistic society. With all the members of Japanese society, they should contribute to build a united nation where each one feels respected, welcomed, and, above all, recognized for what he/she is and not for the value he/she might have in the economic order!
6. As You begin your mission, I offer you my best wishes for the noble task which awaits you. I assure you that you will always find that my collaborators will offer you a positive welcome and cordial understanding.
Speeches 2001 - Saturday 20 October 2001