Speeches 1995 - Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)
Tuesday, 17 January 1995
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. On this memorable day of the Beatification of the martyr–catechist Peter To Rot it gives me great joy to address you and to express my affection in the Lord for each one of you and for the people of God committed to your pastoral care: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rm 15,13). Together with the whole Church in the glorious Communion of Saints, let us praise God the Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for the gift of the new Blessed, and let us be confident that his courage as a martyr will inspire the Catholics of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands to be ever more steadfast in professing the one, holy, catholic and apostolic faith, and ever more faithful in living the demands of the Gospel.
The Church is "God’s building" (1Co 3,9), whose Architect is Christ himself (cf. Mt 16,18). Her foundations, the ground of her durability and solidity, are Peter and the other Apostles. We who by God’s design have succeeded to the apostolic ministry are charged with sustaining and increasing the household of God in the Spirit (cf. Christus Dominus CD 1-2). As servants of the Gospel, our principal task is to "strive to excel in building up the Church" (1Co 14,12). To build up the Body of Christ in love entails both evangelization and a constant inner renewal of the Christian life. Our meeting here in Port Moresby gives me the opportunity to encourage you in fulfilling the tasks which the Lord has laid on your shoulders. It enables me to urge you to work together in ever increasing fraternal solidarity for the good of the Church in this "hour of grace" which we are living as we approach the Third Christian Millennium, "that new springtime of Christian life which will be revealed by the Great Jubilee, if Christians are docile to the action of the Holy Spirit" (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 18).
2. The Year 2000 since the Birth of the Saviour is not meant to be an occasion for false enthusiasm or unreal expectations. Rather, because the measurements of time are imbued with the presence of God (cf. Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 16), it can serve as an opportunity for consolidating the faith of your people through an intense programme of preaching and catechesis. If Christians and their communities are to grow stronger in faith, they must mature in their knowledge of Christ and his mysteries. The Catechism of the Catholic Church can be a very effective aid in presenting the fullness of Christian doctrine faithfully and systematically. Sound preaching and catechesis are the best means of helping men and women to believe "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing they may have life in his name" (cf. Jn. Jn 20,31). In this, the heroic figure of Blessed Peter To Rot, catechist and martyr, is an outstanding model.
I am aware that in recent years there has been an influx of new religious movements and sects in this region. They thrive, at least in part, because some aspects of their activities fill the void left by the loss of traditional values and ways of living, a loss accompanying the massive changes in economic, political and social life occurring throughout Melanesia. I urge you to continue your pastoral efforts to meet this challenge. The best and most adequate response lies in enabling every baptized Catholic to heed the exhortation of the First Letter of Peter: "Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1P 3,15).
3. At the present time and during the coming decades, the Church in Melanesia will pass from being a predominantly missionary Church to one that is more and more indigenous. This is the normal pattern of the development of ecclesial life, and in the life of each particular Church it constitutes a very delicate moment. The plantatio Ecclesiae is the work of brave and dedicated missionaries – men and women – who gradually prepare the community, and especially Christian families, to produce the priests, Religious and lay leaders it needs. In this way, the Church becomes firmly rooted in a people’s life and culture. This is a long and sensitive process, needing much patient wisdom and heroic effort. In thanking God for the missionaries, principally the members of Religious Communities, who have worked and continue to work with such dedication in this part of the world, you all realize that the support of priests and Religious from abroad will be needed for a long time to come. Through you I therefore appeal to the Congregations which have members in your local Churches to do all they can to maintain and even increase that presence.
I am aware of the difficult circumstances in which you and your priests exercise your ministry. In this context I wish to encourage you to remain close to your priests, helping them to "fan into a flame the gift of God" (cf. 2Tm 1,6) which they received at Ordination. Permanent intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation is necessary so that priests will be able to fulfil their spiritual service to God’s People. This support is of special importance during the early years of priestly life. In these "decisive years" young priests "must benefit from a personal relationship with their own Bishop and with a wise spiritual father and from times of rest, of meditation and monthly recollection" (Congregation for the Clergy, Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 93).
4. As the plantatio Ecclesiae advances and Institutes of Consecrated Life move into a new stage, their prayer, their faithful observance of the evangelical counsels and their fraternal life become more and more a requisite for the Church’s witness to holiness. In the particular Churches, consecrated men and women must be increasingly esteemed for what they are rather than for what they do! When society shows signs of fragmentation and certain aspects of consumerism and materialism cause a decline in traditional values, Religious must renew themselves in the light of the particular gift of their Founders and Foundresses, a gift received from God and approved by the Church (cf. John Paul II, Redemptionis Donum, 15). Only in this way will their witness be truly prophetic, a constant reminder of the presence of God’s kingdom in the world.
In a special way I urge you to foster the spiritual and ecclesial maturity of consecrated women, recognizing and promoting their specific contribution to the Church’s life and mission. In many cases it is through their activities, carried out in close contact with the people, that the Church is felt to be lovingly present and the Gospel becomes genuinely incorporated into the fabric of a given society, a village or community. In order that this form of elevating and transforming "inculturation" may bring positive results, Religious themselves need to foster a genuinely Christ–centered spiritual life, as well as a serious and contemplative study of Sacred Scripture and knowledge of the teachings of the Magisterium.
5. Yes, in many different ways the Holy Spirit is ever building the Church into "the temple of the living God" (2Co 6,16)! One of the principal channels for a deep and penetrating inculturation of the Gospel in a society is the Christian family, the fundamental nucleus of "the household of faith" (Ga 6,10). The deliberations and publications of your Conference show that you have taken the strengthening of family life as one of your pastoral priorities. Because this fundamental community of persons is not of man’s making but originated "in the beginning", at the very dawn of creation (cf. John Paul II, Letter to Families LF 15), the family must always be helped to rise to the level of the Creator’s original plan: "a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gn 2,24).
In Blessed Peter To Rot the faithful have a teacher of the holiness of marriage and of the family, one who confirmed his preaching with his blood. He was a devoted husband who prophetically lived the Gospel injunction that spouses are "mutually subject" to each other "out of reverence for Christ" (Ep 5,21 cf. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem MD 24). He was a caring father who "honoured" his children (cf. John Paul II, Letter to Families LF 15). Blessed Peter’s death was decided upon largely because of his unbending defence of the sacramental dignity of marriage. May the faithful always hear in your teaching an echo of the voice of the Redeemer – in your appeals to marry sacramentally "in the Lord" (1Co 7,39), in your recalling the values of fidelity and mutual love, and in your invitations to spouses to live the full truth of conjugal chastity. This is all the more important since marriage for the baptized has been raised to the dignity of a sacrament.
6. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate: thankful for "your partnership in the Gospel" (Ph 1,5), I assure you of my heartfelt support. I pray for you and your co–workers in the Lord. Through divine grace and the maternal protection of Mary, you are building up the Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, shaping it into a worthy dwelling place of God. May God abundantly bless your ministry.
With affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and comfort in Christ the Lord.
Wednesday, 18 January 1995
Dear People of Papua New Guinea,
I take leave of you and your beautiful country with my heart filled with gratitude, joy and hope.
1. I am deeply grateful for the warm hospitality which the people of Papua New Guinea have shown me. I express my sincere thanks to all those who made this pastoral visit possible, especially His Excellency the Governor–General, the Prime Minister and the distinguished members of Parliament. My thanks go likewise to my Brother Bishops, the clergy, Religious and laity, many of whom have made quiet and unseen sacrifices so that this visit might bring happiness and strength to others. I also thank those who have assisted me so generously, those who have ensured the orderly running of the events and those in the media who have made it possible for my voice to reach people in other places.
2. I have felt great joy during my brief visit among you – joy most of all for having had the opportunity to celebrate here in Papua New Guinea the Beatification of Peter To Rot, the first son of this land to be officially named among the Blessed in heaven. This has been a real occasion for rejoicing on the part of the Catholics of your nation, and it has been a significant event for all your people. The life of Blessed Peter To Rot is a precious treasure which remains forever yours. It is a beacon shining bright, a signal fire leading you to hold aloft the noble ideals which inspired him: faith in God, love of family, service of neighbour, and unswerving courage in the face of trials and sacrifice.
3. Our meetings during these past two days have given me much hope. Everywhere I have met people with a real desire to serve God and to walk in his paths. In your faith you will find the wisdom and inspiration to meet the challenges facing your country. Faith demands solidarity with those affected by the tragic volcanic eruption in New Britain and with the refugees in various parts of Papua New Guinea. Faith demands that all sides involved in the armed conflict and violence in Bougainville should have the courage to seek a truly just and peaceful solution to their disputes. Faith demands that everyone should work together for the good of the whole people.
4. Dear Friends: As you look out upon your beautiful land with its jungles and mighty rivers, its mountains and deep valleys, its volcanoes and limitless seas, give thanks to God whose goodness is without end. With your many different languages and traditions you are a wonderful tapestry which God is weaving into the image of a diverse but united family of peoples upon whom he wishes to shower his blessings. I pray that his peace will always reign in your homes and in your lives!
God bless yupela olgeta. God bless Papua Niugini.
Wednesday, 18 January 1995
Your Excellency the Governor–General,
Mr Prime Minister,
My Brother Bishops,
Dear Australian Friends,
1. With great joy and esteem I greet all of you, deeply grateful to God who has enabled me to visit once again this beloved land of Australia. I thank you, Your Excellency, for coming here personally to welcome me. My gratitude to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your kind words on behalf of the Government and people. I warmly greet everyone here and everyone listening to my voice on radio or television.
To dear Cardinal Clancy and to my Brother Bishops I renew the expression of my fraternal affection in the Lord. I am very happy to be able to celebrate once more with the Catholic community of Australia the mysteries of our faith and the hope of salvation that unites us in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I am truly glad that the first beatification of an Australian citizen, an Australian woman, can take place right here in Mother Mary MacKillop’s own beloved land.
2. Although my visit this time will be brief, I am certain that it will be an intense experience of prayer, dialogue and shared joy, as was my previous visit in 1986. At that time I was able to travel to every State and Territory in Australia. I remember the vastness of the land, its majestic features and natural beauty, your modern cities, the rich variety of your people and the impressive signs of their energy and enterprise. From the original inhabitants to the most recent immigrants, in the young and the old, among parents with their families, I was privileged to discover the most precious of your national treasures: the Australian people themselves, with all their creativity and determination.
3. The abundant fruits which this heritage can produce when illuminated by a deep faith in God are evident in the example of an outstanding Australian woman: Mother Mary MacKillop. Mary MacKillop embodied all that is best in your nation and in its people: genuine openness to others, hospitality to strangers, generosity to the needy, justice to those unfairly treated, perseverance in the face of adversity, kindness and support to the suffering. I pray that her example will inspire many Australians to take new pride in their Christian heritage and to work for a better society for all. This they will do by acting with courage and commitment wherever there is poverty or injustice, wherever innocent life is threatened or human dignity degraded.
4. In the years since my last visit much has changed in the world, and much has changed in Australia. On the international level, the fall of totalitarianism based on ideology, and the lessening of political and military tensions between blocs, are undoubtedly the most striking events. Yet, the benefits which could be expected from such enormous transformations have not always been forthcoming, and new sources of tension and conflict have appeared. Like many other developed countries, Australia too has faced economic and social challenges, to which it is responding. But many people, especially the poor and disadvantaged, still need society’s help.
There exists a cultural and spiritual crisis which leaves many, especially young people, confused regarding the meaning of their lives and the values which would give sense and direction to their efforts. At the very heart of modern culture there is a growing sense of the need for a moral and spiritual renewal: the need for a new attitude, one in which people will have more importance than things, and human dignity will take precedence over material gain.
5. Dear Australian friends, your own Mary MacKillop offers a key to such a renewal: She was a woman of courage who placed the spiritual and material well–being of others ahead of any personal ambition or convenience. The honour which the Church will give to Mother Mary MacKillop by declaring her among the Blessed is in a sense an honour given to Australia and its people. It is also an invitation, an invitation to the whole of society to show genuine love and concern for all who are weighed down by life’s burdens. I dare to say that your response will greatly determine the kind of society you will pass on to future generations in this land of great promise.
And now allow me to direct my thoughts and prayers to Japan, to the many victims of yesterday’s earthquake. Let us pray for them and may God give strength and courage to all affected and to all involved in the rescue work. Thank you.
Thank you all once again for your welcome.
God bless the beloved people of Australia!
God bless this fair land!
Thank you very much.
Wednesday, 18 January 1995
Dear Australian Friends: Good evening!
1. As you can see, I am once more here in Australia. In recent months some people wondered if I would be able to come. But Divine Providence has allowed me to make this present pilgrimage, which has already taken me to Manila in the Philippines for the World Youth Day and the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Church’s organized presence in that country. As you see the young people are very strong! They moved the Pope to come not only to the Philippines, but also to Australia! After Manila, I had the joy of going to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea for the Beatification of Peter To Rot, a catechist who gave his life for the faith in a prison camp just before the end of the Second World War. Now, here I am in Sydney for the Beatification of Mother Mary MacKillop. And from here I will go on to Colombo for another Beatification, that of Father Joseph Vaz, the great missionary of Sri Lanka. As long as God permits I must continue to fulfil the ministry of Saint Peter: to profess that Jesus Christ is Messiah and Lord (cf. Mt. Mt 16,16) and to confirm my brothers and sisters in that true faith (cf. Lk. Lc 22,32).
I am grateful to all of you for your kind and gracious welcome this evening. I thank especially the Prime Minister of New South Wales, and all the Federal, State and Local authorities. I am delighted to be with Cardinal Clancy, my other Brother Bishops, and so many priests, Religious and laity of the Church in Sydney and from other parts of this vast land. I do not know if it is sufficient to say "this vast land". It is a continent! The smallest – but a continent! In the words of the New Testament I greet you all: "May grace and peace be yours in abundance" (2P 1,2). The words of St Peter.
2. Here in the Sydney Domain, we are surrounded by impressive symbols of modern Australia, striking buildings which are as it were monuments to the blessings which Almighty God has lavished upon your country. We are reminded of all that the arts, sciences, government and religion have contributed to the creative and vigorous society which has developed in your land. To the believer these works of human hands bring to mind a deeper, more mysterious, reality: the fact that we ourselves are the living stones which God chooses in order to build up his kingdom among us. He wishes to use each one of us so that the world will be re–established in justice and peace.
You have just seen a drama presenting the life and work of Mary MacKillop, Mother Mary of the Cross. She is an eminent example of how God uses a person, indeed any person who really wishes to be God’s instrument, to change things for the better, and to bring light and hope to the human heart. Her story, the story of Mary Mackillop, challenges all Australians to a radical personal and social renewal, calling you to embrace and live the hope which is ours in Christ Jesus (cf. 1P 1,3). Mary MacKillop consecrated her whole being to God, and by fulfilling the demands of her religious vocation she sought every day to fulfil the first of all the Commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind"; and the second commandment which is like the first: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22,37-39). Because the love of God inflamed her heart, she tenaciously defended the weak, the poor, the suffering and all those on the margins of society. She worked to assist women and families in distress and to eradicate ignorance among the young. With a resolute will and a compassionate heart, she recognized in each of her brothers and sisters the image and likeness of God; she saw in each individual a priceless soul for whom Christ had shed his most Precious Blood. In her, the unwanted, the unloved and those alienated from society found comfort and strength. Through her work she became a powerful source of inspiration to other like – minded women, and from their shared experience the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph was born. Mary MacKillop’s faith and commitment have become a part of your Australian heritage: a faith immersed in the knowledge of God, a hope imbued with the presence of Christ, a love expressed by the selflessness of a sincere and undivided heart.
3. Australia needs the kind of commitment of which Mary MacKillop is such a striking example. Consider your country’s history: present–day Australia has sprung from the men and women from all parts of the globe who came to your shores looking for a better life or seeking freedom, justice and tolerance. Consequently, yours is a society of multi–cultural diversity. In a world where unity is increasingly threatened by ethnic rivalry and racist attitudes, you must continue to be firmly grounded in the ideals of harmony and solidarity, based on respect for the inalienable dignity of every human being, without exception.
4. I am happy to have met here tonight the representatives of the various Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities present in Australia. At the beginning of this week of Prayer for Christian Unity, when the followers of Christ throughout the world implore the Holy Spirit for the gift of reconciliation and unity, let us join our hopes and prayers for the grace and wisdom necessary to overcome the divisions of the past, with their resulting misunderstandings and mutual distrust. I encourage you in your commitment to genuine ecumenical dialogue, even as I reconfirm that same commitment on the part of the Catholic Church, in the sure hope that one day Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper will become a reality: "That all may be one" (cf. Jn. Jn 17,21).
5. Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the midst of the splendid display of modern achievements surrounding us in the Sydney Domain, I give the simple reminder that each one of us is called to be a part, a unique and indispensable part, of a structure which is greater by far than anything we see here. God who created all things in order to communicate his love and wisdom is infinitely more expert than any human builder will ever be: seek to be willing instruments in his hands. Look to the example of one of your own heroic women, to the saintly daughter of the Church Mary MacKillop. Let her stir up in each of you the desire to be God’s own handiwork. It is my ardent prayer that today too the Church in Australia will inspire, encourage and guide with the light of the Gospel the building of a nation whose history, as fully as possible, will be a history deeply marked by love of God and neighbour.
God bless the people of Sydney and New South Wales! God bless Australia!
God bless the Commonwealth of Australia! That is all for today! More tomorrow!
Friday, 20 January 1995
Dear People of Australia,
1. As I say goodbye to your fair land, I heartily thank everyone for the hospitality which has been extended to me at each moment of this short stay. With your warmth, cordiality and enthusiasm, you have confirmed my belief that the people of Australia remain the greatest of the gifts in which your nation abounds!
I am especially grateful to the Governor–General, the Prime Minister and all the civil authorities for their courteous help in making this visit possible. To those who have arranged the security, to those in the communications media who have provided coverage of this memorable event and, particularly, to Cardinal Clancy and my Brother Bishops and the many thousands of men and women who have cooperated in the preparations for these past two days – to all of you I express my sincere thanks.
2. Among the vivid memories I will take away with me is that of a great and holy woman – Mary MacKillop, the first Australian officially declared by the Church to be among the Blessed. God took this daughter of your land and made her a sign of spiritual greatness, a model of personal holiness and of service to the common good, to be contemplated and admired by all peoples, not only in Australia but throughout the world. Mother Mary’s life speaks eloquently because it was firmly anchored in something which every human heart longs for: inner peace, that peace which comes from knowing that one is loved by God, and from the desire to respond to his love (cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1995, 5). This is the simple yet profound lesson of Blessed Mary MacKillop. She knew that God loved her and she did not doubt; freely and unassumingly she responded to this love with confidence and courage. In facing every obstacle, in turning no one away, in the compassion and understanding she showed towards all, she was able to inspire this same inner peace and strength in others.
3. To all Australians I make this appeal: do not hesitate to tap your spiritual resources in order to renew your families and the whole of society! Use your rich multi–cultural diversity to foster ever greater mutual esteem and enrichment among yourselves! Recognize that your love of freedom and justice will come to nothing if you do not strengthen respect for the sacredness of life and the human dignity of every person, created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen. Gn 1,26-27)!
Meeting so many of you over these past two days I have been forcefully reminded of the greatness of your Country and the abundance of your blessings. Your advantages and resources put you in a position of responsibility in Oceania and the Pacific Region, and towards the vast and quickly developing continent of Asia. With God’s help, you must continue to work with others to advance the cause of peace, foster integral human development and relieve, as far as possible, the oppression of poverty, hunger and disease.
4. Dear People of Australia: I say farewell with great confidence in your future. When next you hear the strains of your National Anthem and sing the words, "our land abounds in Nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare", give heartfelt thanks to God for his many blessings. Thank him for the freedom you enjoy, freedom to choose what is good and right. Thank him for your families, for your children who are the sure promise of a better tomorrow. Treat the poor and needy among you with real concern and practical solidarity. Think of Mother Mary MacKillop and learn from her to be a gift of love and compassion for one another, for all Australians, and for the world.
May God protect your beloved country!
Advance, Australia Fair!
Friday, 20 January 1995
Madam Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am deeply grateful to you, Madam President and Madam Prime Minister, and to all of you, for your warm welcome to Sri Lanka. For many years I had hoped to visit the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean", resplendent with natural beauty, the land of the Mahavansa, a nation proud of its ancient culture, a country known for its smiling, hospitable people like my predecessor Pope Paul VI, 25 years ago. I come as a friend from Rome, where two thousand years ago the venerable civilization which flourished in this country was known and esteemed. I come as a pilgrim of good will, with nothing but peace in my heart. I am keenly aware of your country’s rich spiritual heritage, shown not only by the strength of your religious traditions but also by the remarkable harmony and mutual respect which has flourished among the followers of the various religions.
2. I wish my visit to be a sign of my profound esteem for all Sri Lankans. In particular I express my highest regard for the followers of Buddhism, the majority religion in Sri Lanka, with its Brahmaviharas, the four great values of Metta, Karuna, Mudita and Upekkha: loving kindness, compassion, sympathy and equanimity; with its ten transcendental virtues and the joys of the Sangha expressed so beautifully in the Theragathas. I ardently hope that my visit will serve to strengthen the good will between us, and that it will reassure everyone of the Catholic Church’s desire for interreligious dialogue and cooperation in building a more just and fraternal world. To everyone I extend the hand of friendship, recalling the splendid words of the Dhammapada: "Better than a thousand useless words, is one single word that gives peace".
The fact that religion plays such an important part in the life of the Sri Lankan people is everywhere manifested in your many places of worship and shrines: Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian. The events of daily life are coloured by a wide variety of religious observances. Religious beliefs inspire common values such as acceptance of others, dialogue, understanding in the search for truth.
3. It is my prayerful hope that as Sri Lanka strives for further social and economic development, your rich spiritual patrimony will help you to find a worthy balance between the pursuit of material progress, concern for the common good, and openness to the needs of the poor and the underprivileged. How urgently necessary it is for society to support families, to educate children in respect for others, and to defend the sacredness of life against every form of violence. May all Sri Lankans of good will be strong and persevering in their efforts to find a just and peaceful solution to the ethnic conflict which has scarred the life of the nation in recent times, with its victims, its destruction and its terrible aftermath of suffering. The most recent steps taken in this direction nurture the hope – which all people of good will share with you – that everyone involved will shun violence and will draw on your traditions of tolerance in pursuing a harmony born of reconciliation and full respect for the diversity of society’s members.
4. Tomorrow I shall gather in prayer with the Catholic community of Sri Lanka in order to celebrate the Beatification of Father Joseph Vaz, a holy man and a man of peace, who won the respect of his contemporaries by his humility, goodness and tolerance. I am certain that in honouring the memory of this saintly priest, Sri Lanka’s Catholics will be inspired to continue to work for reconciliation and peace in a spirit of service to all their fellow–citizens and in solidarity with them.
In thanking the Supreme Authorities of the State for their warm invitation to visit Sri Lanka on this occasion, I wish to assure everyone, of whatever religious, ethnic or cultural background, that the Beatification of the Servant of God Father Joseph Vaz, although principally a Catholic event, is at the same time a sincere tribute to the profound religious traditions of all the people of this land.
God bless Sri Lanka! May he grant you peace!
(Sinhalese: long life!)
Speeches 1995 - Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)