Speeches 1994 - Thursday, 13 January 1994
Your Excellency, your appointment as your nation’s diplomatic representative marks a further stage in the cordial relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Holy See—a relationship which can be traced at least as far back as the seventeenth century, to the reign of King Narai the Great and the Pontificate of Pope Innocent XI. I am confident that during your term as Thailand’s Ambassador the trust and understanding which has been built up over the years will be strengthened and increased, to the mutual benefit of the Church and your country. You may be sure that all the offices and departments of the Holy See will extend to you every consideration and will help you to fulfil your lofty responsibilities. Offering you my own good wishes, I invoke upon you and your loved ones abundant divine blessings.
1. I am very grateful to Monsignor Dean for the noble sentiments expressed in the name of all present. Together with you I cordially greet the college of prelate auditors, the officials, and all who work in the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, as well as those who make up the Studio Rotale and the Rotal advocates. To all, my fervent best wishes in the Lord!
To you personally, Monsignor Dean, I would like to extend my wishes for peaceful and profitable work. You have recently received the honor and burden of directing the tribunal, succeeding Archbishop Ernesto Fiore, whom I recall with affection. May Our Lady of Good Counsel, the Seat of Wisdom, assist you each day in carrying out your important ecclesial service.
2. I listened with intense interest to your profound reflections on the human and Gospel roots that sustain the tribunal’s activity and support its commitment to serving justice. Various themes merit further consideration and development. However, the specific reference you made to the recent encyclical Veritatis splendor persuades me this morning to discuss with you the intriguing relationship between the splendor of truth and that of justice. As a participation in truth, justice too has its own splendor that can evoke a free response in the subject—one not merely external but arising from the depths of one’s conscience.
In an address to the Rota, my great predecessor Pius XII had authoritatively warned: “The world has need of that truth which is justice, and of that justice which is truth” (October 2, 1942, supra pp. 21–22). God’s justice and God’s law are the reflection of the divine life. However, human justice must also strive to reflect truth and to share in its splendor. St. Thomas pointed out: “At times justice is called truth” (quandoque iustitia veritas vocatur, Summa theologiae, II–II, q. 58, a. 4, ad 1). He saw the reason for this in the requirement that justice be practiced in accordance with right reason, i. e., according to truth. Hence it is legitimate to speak of the splendor of justice (splendor iustitiae) and of the splendor of the law (splendor legis) as well: indeed the task of every legal system is to serve the truth, “the only solid foundation which can support personal, marital, and social life” (supra p. 211). It is only right, then, that human laws should aspire to reflect in themselves the splendor of truth. Obviously, the same can said of their concrete application, which is also entrusted to human agents.
Love for the truth must be expressed in love for justice and in the resulting commitment to establishing truth in relations within human society; nor can its subjects be lacking in love for the law and the judicial system, which represent the human attempt to provide concrete norms for resolving practical cases.
3. For this reason it is necessary for all in the Church who administer justice to reach the point of perceiving its beauty through regular conversation with God in prayer. This will enable them—among other things—to appreciate the wealth of truth in the new Code of Canon Law, by recognizing its source of inspiration in the Second Vatican Council, whose directives have the sole aim of fostering the vital communion of all the faithful with Christ and with their brothers and sisters.
Ecclesiastical law is concerned with protecting the rights of each person in the framework of the duty of all towards the common good. In this regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes: “. . . justice towards men disposes one to respect the rights of every person and to establish in human relations the harmony that promotes equity toward individuals and the common good” (no. 1807).
When pastors and ministers of justice encourage the faithful not only to exercise their ecclesial rights but also to be aware of their own duties in order to fulfill them faithfully, we wish precisely to urge them: to have a direct, personal experience of the splendor legis. In fact, for the believers who “accept the inspiration of the Spirit and acknowledge the need of a profound conversion to the Church, the affirmation and exercise of their rights will be transformed into an acceptance of duties with regard to unity and solidarity so that the higher values of the common good may be achieved” (February 17, 1979, supra p. 156).
On the other hand, taking advantage [of the administration] of justice to serve personal interests or pastoral practices—however sincere—that are not based on truth, will result in creating social and ecclesial situations of distrust and suspicion, in which the faithful will be tempted to see merely a struggle of competing interests and not a common effort to live in accordance with law and justice.
4. The ecclesiastical judge’s entire activity, as my venerable predecessor John XXIII stated, consists in exercising the “ministry of truth” (ministerium veritatis, December 13, 1961, supra p. 70). From this perspective it is easy to understand how the judge must call upon the “light of God” (lumen Dei) in order to discern the truth in each individual case. In turn, however, the parties concerned should not fail to seek in prayer a basic willingness to accept the final decision—though after having exhausted all legitimate means of challenging what in conscience they believe does not correspond to the truth or justice of the case.
If those who administer the law strive to maintain an attitude of complete openness to the demands of truth, with rigorous respect for procedural norms, the faithful will remain convinced that ecclesial society is living under the governance of law; that ecclesial rights are protected by the law; that in the final analysis, the law is an opportunity for a loving response to God’s will.
5. Truth, however, is not always easy: its affirmation is sometimes quite demanding. Nevertheless, it must always be respected in human communication and human relations. The same applies for justice and the law: they do not always appear easy either. The legislator—universal or local—does not have an easy task. Since the law must look to the common good—“omnis lex ad bonum commune ordinatur” (Summa theologiae, I–II, q. 90, a. 2)—it is quite understandable for the legislator to ask even heavy sacrifices of individuals, if necessary. The latter, for their part, will respond with the free, generous consent of those who are able to acknowledge the rights of others in addition to their own. A strong response will follow, one sustained by a spirit of sincere openness to the demands of the common good, with awareness of the consequent advantages, in the end, for the individual himself.
You are well aware of the temptation to lighten the heavy demands of observing the law in the name of a mistaken idea of compassion and mercy. In this regard, it must be firmly said that if it is a question of a transgression that concerns the individual alone, one need only refer to the injunction: “Go your way, and from now on do not sin again” (Jn 8,11). But if the rights of others are at stake, mercy cannot be shown or received without addressing the obligations that correspond to these rights.
One is also duty-bound to be on guard against the temptation to exploit the proofs and procedural norms in order to achieve what is perhaps a “practical” goal, which might perhaps considered “pastoral,” but is to the detriment of truth and justice. In an address given to you several years ago, I referred to a “distortion” in the conception of the pastoral nature of Church law; it “lies in attributing pastoral importance and intent only to those aspects of moderation and humanness in the law which are linked immediately with canonical equity (aequitas canonica)—that is, holding that only the exceptions to the law, the potential non-recourse to canonical procedures and sanctions, and the streamlining of judicial formalities have any real pastoral relevance” (January 18, 1990, supra p. 210). However, I warned that in this way one easily forgets that “justice and law in the strict sense—and consequently general norms, proceedings, sanctions and other typical juridical expressions, should they become necessary—are required in the Church for the good of souls and are therefore intrinsically pastoral” (ibid.).
It is indeed true that resolving practical cases is not always easy. But charity or mercy—as I mentioned on the same occasion—“cannot put aside the demands of truth. A valid marriage, even one marked by serious difficulties, could not be considered invalid without doing violence to the truth and undermining thereby the only solid foundation which can support personal, marital, and social life” (supra p. 211). These are the principles I feel obliged to emphasize with particular firmness during the Year of the Family, as we see ever more clearly the dangers to which a mistaken “understanding” exposes the institution of the family.
6. A correct attitude toward the law also takes into account its function as a tool that serves the good functioning of human society and the affirmation of communio in ecclesial society.
In order to foster authentic communio, as the Second Vatican Council describes it, it is absolutely necessary to encourage a correct sense of justice and of its reasonable demands.
Precisely for this reason, the legislator and those who administer the law will be concerned, respectively, to create and apply norms based on the truth of what is necessary in social and personal relations. Legitimate authority, then, must be involved in and promote the proper formation of the personal conscience (see Veritatis splendor VS 75), because, if well formed, conscience naturally assents to truth and perceives within itself a principle of obedience compelling it to conform to what the law commands (see ibid. no. 60; cf. JOHN PAUL II, encyclical letter, Dominum et Vivificantem, May 18, 1986, in AAS, 78  pp. 859–860, no. 43).
7. In this way, both in the individual and in the social and specifically ecclesial realms, truth and justice will be able to show forth their splendor: all humanity needs this today more than ever in order to find the right path and its final destination in God.
How important, therefore, is your work, distinguished prelate auditors and dear staff of the Roman Rota. I trust that these considerations will inspire and support you in performing your work, for which I express my most cordial wishes and the assurance of a special remembrance in my prayer.
To confirm these sentiments I am pleased to give you my blessing, which I extend t o everyone in the Church concerned with the sensitive task of administering justice.
Saturday, 29 January 1994
Dear Brother Bishops,
Chers frères dans l’Episcopat,
1. With great pleasure I welcome you, the members of the "Antilles Episcopal Conference", in Rome for your visit "ad Limina Apostolorum".
Coming as you do from 24 distinct territories?so different in history, cultural background and ethnic composition, and so scattered geographically?your Conference is itself a clear sign of the universality of Catholic communion. The mystery of unity in the Church makes it possible that through the power of divine charity people "from every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Ap 5,9) transcend their differences without destroying them, as they are fashioned by the Holy Spirit into the one body (Cf. 1Co 10,17). I give thanks to our Heavenly Father that that mystery grows increasingly among you.
In the course of my pontificate my pastoral journeys have brought me to the Caribbean region a number of times to see first hand the faith and love of your people. These are memories I cherish, and I pray constantly that your priests, Religious and lay faithful will "not lack in any spiritual gift as [they] wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ibid., 1:7).
2. My visit last year to Jamaica was in many ways a continuation of the Quincentenary observance in which the Church commemorated not primarily an event of secular history but the first enduring proclamation of the Gospel in the Western Hemisphere. Indeed, it was Christ her Lord and the works of his grace that she celebrated, and from this the whole Church in the New World is called to draw fresh strength for a renewed planting of God’s word in the Americas.
In your pastoral Letter "Evangelization for a New Caribbean", you called upon the faithful to give themselves generously to the New Evangelization, so that society will blossom into a civilization of love (Cf. Episcoporum Antillarum, Pastoral Letter Evangelization for a New Caribbean, n. 10, 12). This is possible because the Good News "renews the life and culture of fallen man... it combats and removes the errors and evil which flow from the ever-present attraction of sin . . . it never ceases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples . . . it makes fruitful, as it were from within, the spiritual qualities and gifts of every people... it strengthens, perfects and restores them in Christ" (Gaudium et Spes GS 58). The social context in which you minister to God’s people, so full of challenges and even overwhelming difficulties, must never lead you to lose confidence in the power of the Gospel to heal, and to inspire authentic justice and holiness.
3. The role of strong and united families in building up a culture of solidarity is irreplaceable. In Kingston last summer, I could not fail to speak about the importance of the family. I pointed out that in a context where systematic forms of exploitation such as slavery had helped to engender patterns of sexual irresponsibility, Christian husbands and wives have a pressing duty to dispel the darkness of sin and selfishness by their life-long fidelity to each other and by their commitment to the children conceived through their union (Cf. John Paul II, Homily at the National Stadium of Kingston (Jamaica), 6 [10 Aug. 1993]) . In this way they witness to the truth that it is only through a sincere gift of self that a person can find himself (Gaudium et Spes GS 24).
In marriage the spouses make this gift of self according to the character of their sexual identity. As wife and mother, the woman reveals and develops her femininity in a deep communion of love with her husband and in nurturing the children who from the first moment of their existence absorb her mental and physical energies (John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem MD 18,29-30). The husband finds and perfects his masculinity by completely entrusting all that he is and has to his wife and children, and by exercising generous responsibility for their well-being (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 25). When so many voices seek to beguile people into a false understanding of who they are and where their happiness lies, it is more important than ever that we Pastors speak the truth: the real measure of a couple’s success and the path to their fulfilment lies in whether or not they hold themselves accountable for the spiritual and material welfare of each other and of their children.
Your commitment to the proclamation of these and the other truths that make up the Church’s teaching about the family is an indispensable response to the crisis affecting family life in the Antilles. The number of children born out of wedlock, the growing practice of abortion and an increase in divorce are disturbing signs of the difficulties to be faced. These serious problems are made even worse by unemployment, the spread of drug abuse and the diffusion of a materialistic self-centred morality. By making catechesis and formation for family life a priority in all pastoral planning and a constant point of reference in the activity of every parish, you and your co-workers will provide the means to reinvigorate the fundamental cell of the Christian community and of the whole of society in the Caribbean. I am confident that you will find the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" to be a providential instrument for a deeper evangelization and ecclesial renewal. Sound education in the faith will likewise provide the faithful with much needed help in responding to the pressing challenge posed by the growth of sects and new religious movements.
The renewal of the family necessarily entails the strengthening of many other elements of ecclesial life. Can there be any real progress in restoring the integrity of Christian marriage, a mystery of loving communion, unless spouses and children share in the mystery of Trinitarian communion through the Holy Eucharist? If liturgical participation is sometimes weak, is this not both cause and effect of a weak family life? If the "domestic church" is in crisis, will not many members of the local Church lack those dispositions necessary for the sacred liturgy to be able to "produce its full effect" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 11)?
4. Formation in the Christian life is required at every stage, but the Church owes particular attention to children and young people, especially in her schools. Catholic schools throughout the Caribbean region are held in high esteem, and I offer every encouragement in your efforts to sustain and improve them. In order that these schools achieve their full potential for ecclesial service it is important that religious instruction enjoy a pre-eminent place in the curriculum. The message of Christ is the key to a student’s advancement in maturity and virtue, which in turn is the condition of progress in learning. The light of the Gospel gives young people the strength to commit themselves to serving the common good, and instills in them the courage to face even times of social and economic trial with serene hope.
5. Your reports in preparation for this visit speak with warm appreciation of the many generous priests who are your co-workers in the ministry of teaching, sanctifying and governing that portion of the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care (Cf. Code of Canon Law CIC 369). I join you in offering thanks to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest for these worthy "stewards of the mysteries of God" (1Co 4,1). Whatever you do to encourage, sustain and help them in their fidelity is an exquisite form of charity towards them and towards the Church. The Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis" which grew out of the rich legacy of the 1990 Synod of Bishops, exhorts Bishops to promote a well-organized programme of permanent formation, essential if priests are to maintain and reinforce their effectiveness and zeal (Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 78 and 79). Opportunities for continuing formation are particularly necessary when lacunae are discovered in the training received in seminaries, whether in the practice of a genuine priestly spirituality or in other aspects of priestly life. For every priest the objective must always be "to rekindle the gift of God that is within" (2Tm 1,6), especially by strengthening the spirit of loving service, simplicity of life, fidelity to celibacy and docility to the Bishop.
Your reports also indicate that you are taking action to improve the Regional Major Seminary at Port-of-Spain, as well as reviewing a number of other matters pertaining to priestly training. Some difficult questions remain, but I am sure that your fraternal cooperation and your sense of shared responsibility will lead to putting the true good of the Church before particular interests. Because the staff of a seminary should be outstanding not only for its learning but also for its priestly example, I draw your attention to the Directives Concerning the Preparation of Seminary Educators, published by the Congregation for Catholic Education just a short time ago. These will undoubtedly prove useful to you. The renewal of seminary training, together with appropriate pre-seminary formation and an intense programme of recruitment in every Diocese, will help to ensure that the faithful will have "shepherds after [the Lord’s] own heart" (Jr 3,15).
6. D’une manière spéciale, je vous demande de porter aux Antilles mes salutations cordiales aux religieux et aux religieuses en mission dans la vigne du Seigneur. Leur contribution à la vie de l’Eglise dans les Caraïbes est une page glorieuse de son histoire. Les Pères du deuxième Concile du Vatican nous rappellent que la source des innombrables bonnes oeuvres accomplies par les religieux est leur consécration au Christ. En imitant sa chasteté, sa pauvreté et son obéissance, et “ poussés dans cette voie par la charité que l’Esprit-Saint répand dans leurs coeurs, [les religieux] vivent toujours davantage pour le Christ et pour son corps qui est l’Eglise” (Perfectae Caritatis PC 1). Le soutien et les conseils que vous offrez à ces membres de vos communautés ecclésiales, spécialement en leur étant proches et par les contacts avec la Conférence régionale des Supérieurs majeurs, sont inappréciables pour les aider à rester fidèles à une authentique vision du Concile.
Chers frères, votre visite “ ad limina ” est un temps précieux pour exprimer et approfondir notre communion ecclésiale, dans une union inébranlable de coeur et d’âme (Cf. Act. 4:32). Je prie afin que, grâce à votre pèlerinage aux tombeaux des Saints Apôtres, la charité surnaturelle qui vous lie à l’Evêque de Rome et qui nous lie à Pierre et aux autres Apôtres, devienne encore plus vive. En toutes choses, un Evêque est ministre de la communion, serviteur de la participation de son peuple à la vie du Père, du Fils et du Saint-Esprit. Je demande au Seigneur d’unir plus étroitement encore dans l’amour vos prêtres, vos religieux et religieuses ainsi que vos fidèles laïcs grâce à votre ministère et, en ces jours proches de la Semaine de Prière pour l’Unité des Chrétiens, je prie afin que vos nombreuses initiatives oecuméniques portent beaucoup de fruit. En vous confiant ainsi que tous les membres des Eglises locales aux Antilles à la tendre protection de la Mère de Dieu, je vous donne de grand coeur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.
Monday, 7 February 1994
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once more, the "Nato Defense College" has brought together a group of military and diplomatic personnel, and this circumstance offers us the opportunity for this brief but significant meeting.
In welcoming you to the Vatican, I wish to think that each one of you is a true servant of the cause of peace. Peace is a word and a desire close to everyone’s heart. Or at least it should be, for it is an essential good upon which depends the well-being of individuals and the progress of society and civilization. But if we look around us, we cannot fail to be shocked at the spectacle of so much violence, with a corresponding grave responsibility lying on those who have led whole peoples into cruel and dehumanizing conflicts. In many cases, primarily in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, we are told that the indescribable horrors being perpetrated daily on innocent people are the inevitable result of long—standing ethnic hostility and hatred—the hatred of one group for another. But this cannot be the whole explanation. War is not inevitable: it is the result of a series of concrete policies and decisions. Someone, somewhere, makes the decisions which bring a terrible aftermath of death, injury, destruction and sorrow. The turmoil and bloody conflict which is shaking Europe leaves it not at all sure of itself. Europe needs to remember that its destiny does not depend on strategic or economic interests alone. It needs above all to recover its soul, in order to be renewed in its civic, moral and spiritual life.
The Holy See’ s constant appeals, and those of other religious leaders and men and women of good will, are addressed to the consciences of those who can do something to change the course of things. So far, hope has not been rewarded.
When every human means seems to fail, believers turn to God who alone—in the words of the Prophet Ezekiel—is capable of taking away hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh (Cf. Ez. Ez 11,19). This is the prayer I make for you, and for all who are at the service of the cause of peace: that your hearts will always be ruled by immense respect for the unique worth and dignity of every human being, and that your professional training and skills will be used to defend and uphold the rights of all, especially of the victims of injustice and force.
In this International "Year of the Family", may God abundantly bless you and your loved ones. May his protection be upon the countries you represent.
Monday, 14 February 1994
I am happy to welcome this Delegation from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It is my hope that your ecumenical pilgrimage will further strengthen our mutual desire for the unity of Christ’s followers, a desire which the Holy Spirit constantly renews and deepens in our hearts.
The many groups of American Lutherans who have come to visit the Holy See over the years are a sign of the good relations which have developed between Lutherans and Catholics in the United States. Another sign is the theological dialogue, begun in 1964, that has produced a number of significant statements on questions over which Lutherans and Catholics have long been divided. It is fitting that in this dialogue special prominence has been given to considering the nature of justification. In my Encyclical Letter "Veritatis Splendor", I underlined the fact that only by responding in faith to the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ can we live as children of the Father (Cf. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor VS 19-21): "the ‘righteousness’ which the Law demands, but is unable to give, is found by every believer to be revealed and granted by the Lord Jesus" (Ibid., 23). Then, in the light of that transforming grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit makes it possible to obey the Lord’s commandments, not the least of which is that we should love one another as he has loved us (Cf. Jn. Jn 15,12).
I pray that Lutherans and Catholics will be ever more attentive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that remaining obstacles to our full and visible communion in the apostolic faith and sacramental life may be overcome. May this be done "through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever! Amen" (Rm 16,27).
Monday, 14 February 1994
Dear Friends in Christ,
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,2).
With this apostolic greeting I extend a cordial welcome to all taking part in the current course sponsored by the Graduate School of the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey. I am sure that these days in Rome have been both interesting and informative; and I hope that your prayer and reflection in this city where the Apostles Peter and Paul bore ultimate witness to Christ will produce much fruit in the days ahead.
I understand that the course you have been engaged in over the past five months has focused on a theme taken from the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order held in Santiago de Compostela last year, namely: "Towards Communion in Faith, Life and Witness". Ecclesial communion is a profound mystery, "at the same time both invisible and visible" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Communionis Notio, 4). It is the work of God (Cf. Eph. Ep 4,12), and is nothing less than "the unity [of the baptized] with the Father, through Christ in the Spirit" (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directorium Oecumenicum noviter compositum, 1993, n. 13; cf. Jn. Jn 17,21).
This conviction led the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council to place great emphasis on "spiritual ecumenism", calling it "the soul of the whole ecumenical movement" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 8), for the unity of Christians always remains a divine gift, and thus no human endeavour, no matter how successful or well planned, can by itself heal our divisions. Thus, all those who ardently identify with Christ will also identify with his prayer "that... all may be one". With unshakable confidence we turn to the Father, who gives good gifts "to those who ask him". And we shall never cease to follow the path of repentance, so that, purged of all mistrust, we can receive his grace when it is given.
As you return to your respective countries, it is my hope that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, you will be valuable co-workers in contributing to further progress towards Christian unity, particularly through prayer and by being true instruments of peace and reconciliation. May God bless you all.
Dear Brothers in Christ,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome the Rectors of the English-speaking Seminaries and Colleges from various European countries. I am aware that for several years you have been coming together annually in one or other of your countries, in order to discuss and pray about the many questions and problems which arise in the course of your important work of training and forming future priests, both diocesan and Religious. This year you have chosen Rome as your meeting-place, and I pray that your stay here, near the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, will be an occasion of special graces and of renewed commitment to the obligations you have undertaken for the good of the Church.
Your task is not an easy one. It is your responsibility to ensure that the students who come to your Colleges receive a sound training in philosophy, theology and all the many practical skills needed in priestly work. But study is by no means the only purpose of seminary life. The young men in your care have to be taught how to pray, how to come close to the Lord who has called them to his special and immediate service. Intimacy with the Divine Shepherd—this is what your students must acquire. Without it they cannot become good priests; without it they will be in danger of falling away.
Philosophy, theology and prayer: and a further vital element is of course human development. Priests must be as educated as anyone else, if they are to be able to meet people on equal terms, to be all things to all men, as the Apostle Paul says. What is more, it cannot be taken for granted that your students have already acquired a full and rounded grasp of the basic truths of the Faith before they come to you. Here is something which it is your duty to verify, and where necessary to remedy.
As you spend these days in discussion and prayer, I ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten you and fill you with fresh courage. Your work is vital for the life of the Church and I thank you for all you are doing. Entrusting you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of Priests and Mother of the Church, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to your assistants and to all your students.
Speeches 1994 - Thursday, 13 January 1994