Speeches 1981 - Hiroshima


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Apostolic Nunciature of Tokyo

Tuesday, 24 February 1981

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. In the course of my pastoral visit to East Asia and to the Catholic communities of the Philippines, Guam and Japan, I am happy and honored to have the opportunity of meeting with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Government of Japan in this city of Tokyo. My first words are of sincere thanks to your Doyen who has kindly welcomed me. The courteous sentiments which he has expressed in my regard are greatly appreciated.

My visit, as I have already had the occasion to emphasize during this journey, is of a religious nature. I come to bring to the Catholic communities the fraternal support of the Church in Rome and throughout the world. I likewise come to meet the people of a region that has the distinction of being the home of ancient cultures and religions. While being Successor of the Apostle Peter in the See of Rome, I am also heir to the tradition of another Apostle, Paul, who, having received faith in Jesus Christ, travelled tirelessly to the different parts of the then known world to bear witness to what he believed in, and to speak a word of brotherhood, love end hope for all.

2. Your presence here today shows that you understand my mission and also the activity of the Catholic Church and the Holy See, in the different parts of the world. Because of its mission, which is religious in nature and worldwide in dimension, the Holy See is always eager to promote and to maintain a climate of mutual trust and of dialogue with all the living forces of society, and, therefore, with the authorities who have received from the people the mandate of fostering the common good.

The Catholic Church, in fidelity to her evangelical mission, wishes to be at the service of all humanity, of today's society, so often threatened or attacked. For this reason she strives to maintain friendly relations with all civil authorities and also, if they so desire, relations at the diplomatic level. Thus there is established, on the basis of mutual respect and understanding, a partnership of service for the progress of humanity.

Church and State—each in its own sphere, spiritual or temporal, each with its own proper means, without renouncing its own distinctive mission, without confusing its specific task—each one endeavors to carry out this service to humanity in order to promote that justice and that peace to which all humanity aspires.

I desire to pay homage here to the cordial relationship which the Government of Japan maintains with the Holy See, and which is exemplified by the presence of an Ambassador to the Holy See and of a Papal Representative in Tokyo. The latter has a special mission among the leaders of the Catholic community of this land but, like all of y?u, he also has the task of promoting a spirit of understanding and cooperation in the international domain.

3. Ladies and gentlemen, in the capital of this nation you are bearers of a mission that draws its meaning and inspiration from the ideals of peaceful and fraternal collaboration. You are all deeply conscious of your task. Without any doubt it is an important one ; in many circumstances it is difficult ; but it is always rewarding, since at the same time it is a school for mutual understanding and a testing ground for worldwide concerns.

The basis for any fruitful activity in promoting peaceful relations among nations is certainly the capacity for correctly and sympathetically valuing each other's specific qualities. Japan certainly offers a true school for understanding, for Japan is unique in its history, in its culture and in its spiritual values. Through the course of many centuries, Japanese society has constantly honored its own traditions by maintaining a true appreciation of the spiritual. It has expressed those traditions in its torii and temples, in the arts, in literature, in the theater and in music, at the same time preserving, even in the midst of increasing economic and industrial development, its distinctive Japanese characteristics.

?s diplomats, you are witnesses to and sometimes sharers in the events that mark the history and the life of the Japanese people and especially of its culture, and s? you are able to acquire a deeper understanding of the differences that shape the character and the spirit of each nation and people. Indeed, as I said last month in my address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See : "Culture is the life of the spirit ; it is the key which gives access to the deepest and most jealously guarded secrets of the life of peoples : it is the fundamental and unifying expression of their existence"[1]. Just as it is necessary to be deeply rooted in one's own culture in order to understand the values and the spirit of one's own nation, so als? it is necessary to view with impartiality the manifestations of the cultural life of other peoples, in order to understand the aspirations, needs and achievements of one's partner in dialogue and collaboration.

4. There is a second aspect to the function of the diplomat. You are called to be instruments—even to be on the frontline—in building a new order of relations in the world. Precisely because each people is distinguished from others by its cultural inheritance and its achievements, it can offer a unique and irreplaceable contribution to all the others. Without surrendering their own values, nations can work together and build a true international community characterized by shared responsibility for the universal common good.

More than ever, the world situation today demands that this common responsibility be taken up in a true universal spirit. Every diplomatic community thus becomes a testing ground for worldwide concerns. In your daily personal contacts with your colleagues, in your official dealings with the host government and its agencies, in endeavoring to know and to understand the local culture, in taking an active part in the We of the community that offers you its hospitality, you will develop those attitudes of respect and appreciation that are so needed in order to build fraternal relations between the nations of the world.

5. Many of y?u have already accumulated a rich experience in intercultural relations and exchange, gained through years of service to your own country in different parts of the world. It is my hope that your mission here in Japan will help you to discover and understand more profoundly, beyond the Japanese context, the rich reality of all Asia and of all the Asian peoples.

Asia has a special role to play in building up and strengthening the community of nations. So many problems of worldwide dimension remain to be solved, and Asia must participate in undertakings begun for this purpose. I wish to convey to you my conviction that world problems will not be solved unless each continent and nation plays its rightful role and makes its own specific contribution.

The nations of Asia must assume the role that is theirs by reason of their centuries-old cultures, their religious experience, their dynamism and enduring industriousness. The mainland and the archipelagos of Asia are certainly not devoid of problems (and which nation anywhere in the world can claim that it has solved all its people's problems?) but there is no greater challenge for a people than to share of its substance with others while at the same time trying to find the full solutions to its own problems.

6. Today, we are at a point in history where it has become economically and technically feasible to relieve the worst aspects of the extreme poverty that afflicts so many of our fellow human beings. The kinds of poverty are many : malnutrition and hunger, illiteracy and lack of basic education, chronic disease and high infant mortality, lack of meaningful employment and lack of proper housing. The obstacles to overcoming these problems are no longer primarily economic or technical, as they were in the past, but are now to be found in the spheres of convictions and institutions.

Is it not in fact a lack of political determination—at both national and international levels—that is the main obstacle to the successful elimination of the gravest forms of suffering and need? Is it not an absence of strong personal and collective convictions that prevents the poor from sharing more fully and equitably in their own development? ?he present economic difficulties which in varying ways and degrees are affecting all nations must not become a pretext for giving in to the temptation to make the poor pay for the solution to the problems of the rich, by permitting a standard of living lower than what a rational definition of human decency would allow.

Although there are many compelling reasons for eliminating abject poverty, particularly in the developing world, I do not hesitate to state that the fundamental case against poverty is a moral one. It is the sign of a healthy community—whether it be the family, the nation or the international community itself—to recognize the moral imperative of mutual solidarity, justice and love. The generosity and the sense of fairness already at work in many international undertakings and programs must be further reinforced by an increased awareness of the ethical dimension. The public and governments must become ever more conscious of the fact that nobody may stand idly by as long as human beings are suffering and in need. The Holy See will never cease to raise its voice and to commit the full weight of its moral authority to increasing public awareness in this regard.

7. The opportunity will be given to me later in the course of my short stay in Japan to speak about the overriding concern for international peace, and to encourage the international community to increase its efforts in favor of peaceful relations between nations. On the present occasion just let me emphasize that endeavors for peace cannot be separated from the quest for a just society and for the effective development of all nations and peoples. Justice and development go hand in hand with peace.They are essential parts of a new world order still to be built. They are a path leading to a future of happiness and human dignity.

Ladies and gentlemen, yours is a splendid mission : to be the heralds of universality, the builders of peace among nations, the promoters of a new and just world. May each one of you, with your own governments, as well as in international meetings and institutions, be the advocate of less privileged people and nations. The ideal of international brotherhood in which we all so profoundly believe demands this. And by acting in this way you will indeed serve your own country and all humanity well.

May the peace and justice of Almighty God dwell in y?ur hearts always. May his blessing come down upon you, upon your families, up?n y?ur nations and up?n all your untiring efforts in the service of humanity.

[1] AAS 73 (1981), p.188.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Apostolic Nunciature of Tokyo

Monday, 23 February 1981

Dear Brothers in Christ,

1. It gives me deep joy to come to your country on the occasion of the Beatification of your Japanese martyrs. These holy martyrs take their place, alongside the many others that the Church already honors officially, to testify to the glorious Christian history of your people, in which the blood of martyrs has truly become the seed of Christians. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to honor these martyrs in a solemn way in Nagasaki. Meanwhile the important event of their Beatification gives me this occasion to make a pastoral visit to the Church in Japan—the occasion to meet all categories of the faithful and the special joy of being with you, the Pastors of the flock.

2. I have come here to offer you my fraternal support for your mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ to the "pusillus grex" of Japan and to anyone who may freely wish to listen to the Gospel message. I have come s? that we may express together our unity in Christ and in his Church, that you may be reinforced in this unity, and that in the strength of this unity y?u may proceed with new vigor to face the challenges of your pastoral mission.

When, as Successors of the Apostles, as Bishops of the Church of God and as servants of the Gospel, we listen attentively, we can hear the same cry that was addressed to the Apostle Philip : "We wish to see Jesus"[1]. And today, does not this cry resound throughout the teeming metropolis of Tokyo and throughout all Japan? And is it net addressed in a particular way to you, the Bishops of Japan?

3. Dear Brothers, the Father wills to continue to manifest his beloved Son through our pastoral ministry. He wants to manifest him as the loving and merciful Savior of the world, the Teacher of humanity, the perfect Son of Man and the eternal Son of God. At the same time the Father wills that all people may have life in his Son, and through him share in the life of the Most Holy Trinity. Our response to this plan of the Father is expressed in the programs of evangelization and catechesis, whereby we perseveringly proclaim Christ, and methodically endeavor to lead our people to the full appreciation of their Catholic faith and to full maturity in Christ.

4. In order to show Christ to the world, in order to build up the community of the Church, we ourselves must be able to say with Saint John : "Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ"[2]. This unity must be maintained in all its ecclesial dimensions, including communion with the universal Church.

This unity requires from Bishops the collegialitas effectiva and the collegialitas affectiva with the Successor of Peter and with all their brother Bishops throughout the world. It likewise requires a special manifestation of unity among the Bishops of each Episcopal Conference. This latter dimension is of particular importance for the effect that it has on all local apostolic endeavors.

But above all, unity belongs to the mystery of the Church, and its value was deeply understood in the early Christian community, where the believers were "of one heart and soul"[3]. From the beginning, the Bishops of Christ's Church have held—and they still hold—special responsibility for the unity of the Church, with a serious obligation to be united among themselves. Saint Paul's words of apostolic injunction have a personal meaning for every Bishop and group of Bishops : "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment"[4].

5. The expression of this close unity in fraternal collaboration is required for your pastoral programs. It is a condition for their successful coordination and for their effectiveness. In this way I urge you to do everything possible to find strength in unity, in order to promote common pastoral initiatives in evangelization and catechesis. Continue, dear Brothers, in the same zeal that has already sustained hard work in the areas of the common translation of the Bible, the publication of the new Missal, the compilation of a new catechism and the translation of the documents of the Magisterium.

And there are many more pastoral issues that will require the full measure of your common commitment for the welfare of the Church in Japan. The fraternal collaboration of all the Bishops among themselves in fulfilling the directives and genuine spirit of the Second Vat­ican Council, as well as the postconciliar norms issued by the Apostolic See, is indeed an act of pastoral love for the people.

6. Like the whole Church, you feel the urgent need for giving continuing catechesis to y?ur people. I am sure that y?u will make every effort to see that no category of the faithful is neglected.

In my Apostolic Exhortation on Catechesis, I spoke to all the Bishops of the Church in the following terms : "I know that your ministry as Bishops is growing daily more complex and overwhelming. A thousand duties call y?u ... But let the concern to foster active and effective catechesis yield to no other care whatever in any way. This concern will lead y?u to transmit personally to your faithful the doctrine of life. But it should also lead you to take on in y?ur diocese, in accordance with the plans of the Episcopal Conference to which you belong, the chief management of catechesis, while at the same time surrounding yourselves with competent and trustworthy assistants. Your principal role will be to bring about and maintain a real passion for catechesis, a passion embodied in a pertinent and effective organization ... You can be sure that if catechesis is done well in your local Churches, everything else will be easier to do. And needless to say, although your zeal must sometimes impose upon you the thankless task of denouncing deviations and correcting errors, it will much more often win for you the joy and consolation of seeing your Churches flourishing because catechesis is given in them as the Lord wishes"[5].

One of the areas worthy of special pastoral zeal is the need to catechize the young people in preparation for marriage. This need is all the more pressing for those who will be endeavoring to live upright lives with marriage partners who do not have the same faith or the same religious convictions. Efforts made in this field can do much to foster the sanctity of marriage and the family. In all catechetical endeavors it will be necessary to proclaim clearly the teaching of Christ and his Church. Catechesis should never doubt the power of Christ's grace to lead the faithful to high degrees of Christian holiness.

7. ?s Bishops, we must be convinced of the need never to lower the standards of Christian living that we present to our people. Our pastoral responsibility urges us to propose a deep acceptance of the Beatitudes, a radical commitment to evangelical values. Our people, redeemed and sanctified by the blood of the Savior, are capable of accepting the divine invitation that it falls to us to transmit. Over and over again Japanese Catholics have proved that they are able to maintain their cultural heritage, while making incarnate in it the original element of Christianity, that newness of life in Christ. They have shown an understanding of the doctrine of the Cross and of the universal vocation to holiness. It is necessary to keep alive the memory of your martyrs so that your people will always know that it is their heritage to glory "in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"[6].

8. Supremely worthy of intense united efforts on your part is the apostolate of vocations. ?y God's grace a high percentage of Catholic women have embraced the religious life. But the Gospel still has need of many witnesses. It is important that young people be given the opportunity to hear Christ's call. And many of the young people, once they have heard and seen Jesus, will want to follow him.

The promoting and obtaining of vocations by prayer and effort is followed by two other dynamic aspects : careful attention to the proper formation of those who have accepted God's call, and the rightful employment of priestly and religious talents.

The major seminaries, in particular, sh?uld be the object of the Bishops' deepest pastoral interest, so that the priorities of the priesthood will be appreciated long before ordination. For all of us—and it is worth repeating time and time again—the apostolic priorities of the priesthood are "prayer and the ministry of the word"[7]. To sustain your priests in these activities is to promote Christ's plan for his Body, the Church. Of all the members of the flock, none have more right to your fraternal love than the priests who are your partners in the Gospel of salvation : y?ur own diocesan priests and the missionaries who serve generously by your side. Your kindness, your interest, your personal concern for them as friends constitute a salutary example for them in their own relationship with the rest of Gods people.

9. In my first Encyclical I devoted rather lengthy sections to two vital aspects of the Church's life : the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. I have repeatedly emphasized the great power of these sacraments in regard to Christian living.

And today I would encourage you personally to do everything in your power to help the ecclesial community to appreciate fully the value of individual confession as a personal encounter with the merciful and loving Savior, and to be faithful to the directives of the Church in a matter of such importance. The norms of the Apostolic See in regard to the altogether exceptional use of general absolution also take into account "a right on Christ's part with regard to every human being redeemed by him"[8].

10. Your own ministry and that of your priests, as well as the whole activity of the universal Church, reaches its culmination in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Here the proclamation o f Jesus Christ is complete. Here evangelization finds its source and summit[9]. Here our unity in Christ finds its fullest expression. With what joy I look forward to celebrating the Eucharist in your midst three times in the next three days, offering up to the Father, in union with Jesus Christ, all the hopes and aspirations, all the joys and sorrows of the Japanese people, praying "that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph, as it did among you"[10].

11. Let us continue then, dear Brothers, despite obstacles and setbacks, despite human weakness, to offer the Gospel freely and in its entirety. It is our contribution in the face of the loneliness of the world, it is ?ur answer to the selfishness of man, to the lack of meaning that many people find in life, to the temptation to escapism, to lethargy and discouragement. As ministers of Christ we offer his word and the tender love of his Sacred Heart: it is our original and specific contribution to the dialogue of salvation, to the promotion of human dignity and to the final liberation of humanity.

In the name of Jesus let us go forth confidently, and in the name of Mary let us rejoice. Saint Paul Miki and his companion martyrs understood the meaning of these names and their gentle power. And may this heritage long remain in Japan : t? lead future generations to Jesus through Mary.

Dear Brothers : thank you for your invitation to come to Japan. Thank you for your own fraternal support and for your partnership in the Gospel. "?y love be with y?u all in Christ Jesus. Amen" [11].

[1] Jn 12:21.

[2] 1 Jn 1:3.

[3] Acts 4:32.

[4] 1 Cor 1:10.

[5] Catechesi Tradendae, 63.

[6] Gal 6:14.

[7] Acts 6:4.

[8] Redemptor Hominis, 20.

[9] Cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5.

[10]2 Thess 3:1.

[11] 1 Cor 16:24.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)




Saturday, 21 February 1981

To you the people of Asia,

To you the hundreds of millions of men, women and children living on the immense mainland of this continent and in its archipelagos,
To you especially who are suffering or who are in need,
To all of y?u I address my heartfelt greetings.
May Almighty God bless you all with lasting peace and harmony.

1. It is with great joy that I have come to Asia for my first visit as Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter. I have come to visit the Catholic communities and to bring a message of fraternal love to all the people of the Philippines and Japan, two countries among the many that make up Asia. My journey is meant to be a journey of brotherhood, in fulfillment of a mission that is entirely religious. But I have also come with the desire of being able in the future to travel to other Asian countries, in order to convey personally to them too my sentiments of deep respect and esteem.

In the meantime, I am happy to send from Manila a message of hope to all the peoples of Asia. I do so through Radio Veritas, which for a number of years already has been regularly transmitting the words of the Pope and a wide range of religious information in many languages.

2. My mission is religious and spiritual in nature. In addressing all the people of Asia, I do not do s? as a statesman, but as the servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, entrusted with "the mysteries of God"[1]. I have come to Asia to be a witness to the Spirit who is active in the history of peoples and of nations, to the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, about whom it was written : "God loved the world s? much that he gave his only Son, s? that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life"[2].

In the Holy Spirit, every individual and all people have become, through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, children of God, partakers in the divine nature and heirs to eternal life. All are redeemed and called to share in glory in Jesus Christ, without any distinction of language, race, nation or culture. The Good News which Christ proclaimed and which the Church continues to proclaim, in accordance with the Lord's will, must be preached "to all creation"[3] and "to the ends of the earth"[4].

From the very beginning, the followers of Christ, the Apostles and their successors, came to the countries of this immense Asian continent : first to India, the land of Saint Thomas the Apostle; later, in the course of the centuries, other lands and archipelagos were visited by Saint Francis Xavier, the Jesuit Matteo Ricci, and many more.

Today I have come to Asia, following the example of Pope Paul VI, retracing the footsteps of great missionary apostles. Today I have come with the same truth about the ineffable love of the Father—a love through which every man attains, in Christ, the full measure of his dignity and his final destiny.

3. Coming to the peoples of Asia—just as all those before me who, in different periods of history proclaimed here Jesus Christ—I encounter today, in the same way, the local heritage and the ancient cultures that contain praiseworthy elements of spiritual growth, indieating the paths of life and conduct that are often so near to those found in the Gospel of Christ.

Different religions have tried to respond to man's search for the ultimate explanation of creation and the meaning of man's journey through life. Hinduism uses philosophy to answer man, and Hindus practice asceticism and meditation in their ascent towards God. Buddhism teaches that by devout confidence man ascends to freedom and enlightenment. Other religions follow similar routes. Moslems adore the one God and associate themselves with Abraham, revering Christ and honoring Mary, professing esteem for moral living, prayer and fasting.

The Catholic Church accepts the truth and goodness found in these religions, and she sees reflections there of the truth of Christ, whom she proclaims as "the way and the truth and the life"[5]. She wishes to do everything possible to cooperate with other believers in preserving all that is good in their religions and cultures, stressing the things that are held in common, and helping all people to lives as brothers and sisters[6].

4. The Church of Jesus Christ in this age experiences a profound need to enter into contact and dialogue with all these religions. She pays homage to the many moral values contained in these religions, as well as to the potential for spiritual living which s? deeply marks the traditions and the cultures of whole societies.

What seems to bring together and unite, in a particular way, Christians and the believers of other religions is an acknowledgment of the need for prayer as an expression of man's spirituality directed towards the Absolute. Even when, for some, he is the Great Unknown, he nevertheless remains always in reality the same living God. We trust that wherever the human spirit opens itself in prayer to this Unknown God, an echo will be heard of the same Spirit who, knowing the limits and weakness of the human person, himself prays in us and on our behalf, "expressing our plea in a way that could never be put into words"[7]. The intercession of the Spirit of God who prays in us and for us is the fruit of the mystery of the Redemption of Christ, in which the all-embracing love of the Father has been shown to the world.

5. All Christians must therefore be committed to dialogue with the believers of all religions, s? that mutual understanding and collaboration may grow ; so that moral values may be strengthened ; so that God may be praised in all creation. Ways must be developed to make this dialogue become a reality everywhere, but especially in Asia, the continent that is the cradle of ancient cultures and religions.

Likewise the Catholics and the Christians of other Churches must join together in the search for full unity, in order that Christ may become ever more manifest in the love of his followers. The divisions that still exist between those who profess the name of Jesus Christ must be felt as an incentive to fervent prayer and to conversion of heart, so that a more perfect witness to the Gospel may be given.

Christians will, moreover, join hands with all men and women of good will who share a belief in the inestimable dignity of each human person. They will work together in order to bring about a more just and peaceful society in which the poor will be the first to be served. Asia is the continent where the spiritual is held in high esteem and where the religious sense is deep and innate : the preservation of this precious heritage must be the common task of all.

6. In recalling the great spiritual and religious traditions of Asia, and in urging fraternal collaboration among all its inhabitants, I would also address the problems that still face the many nations of Asia and the continent as a whole.

Economic difficulties and the persisting need for more rapid and wholesome development have rightly preoccupied your leaders and your peoples. Poverty still weighs heavily on large groups and classes in many countries. Not only are there wide contrasts in the social and economic situation of different nations, but also within individual countries great numbers of people still lack the basic minimum that is necessary for human beings to live in dignity and to take part in the advancement of their own community. Hunger is still a tragic reality for many parents and children, as is the lack of decent housing, health care and educational facilities. Great efforts have been made, various models have been applied, new ideologies have been adopted, but the results have not always been satisfactory. In some areas economic progress has not been accompanied by an improvement in the quality of life ; sometimes, in fact, it has unfortunately obscured important and essential values.

7. Many factors have contributed to this state of affairs, factors that operate inside the different communities as well as elements that are imposed from the outside. Today more than ever before, one is aware of the fact that it is not possible to explain the problems of developing countries satisfactorily by merely pointing to insufficient or delayed scientific and technological progress in comparison with the more advanced or industrialized countries.

It must also be acknowledged that the industrialized world has often imposed the force of its own centers of decision or life style, and has thus caused a disorganization of the very structures and possibilities of the less advanced nations.

8. Justice and equity demand that each nation and the international community as a whole assume their part of responsibility for the development of Asia in true international solidarity. Such solidarity is based on the fact that all peoples have equal dignity and together constitute a community of worldwide dimensions. In order to respect this solidarity, hard decisions will have to be taken, and the necessary structures will have to be created that will bring about a new order of international relations as a condition for the true development of all nations. All nations have a claim on international solidarity, but the nations whose very dignity and existence is threatened have a special claim and a priority right to international solidarity.

9. Above all, the true nature of the development process must be understood. Development is not a state of things achieved once and for all. Development is a long process, difficult and uncertain at times, whereby each nation assumes the management of its own affairs and obtains the means necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities have full chances of existence and growth.

True development depends on the personal commitment of the men and women that compose the community. Structures are certainly important, but they can either support or destroy people. Structures must therefore always be put at the service of man, for they exist only for man, and are in constant need of adaptation in order to serve effectively the cause of human advancement.

10. From the humblest rural laborer to the person in a high position of responsibility, all men and women must be conscious of the common progress in social and economic development. In this context, I would like to insist on the importance of creating worthy employment for all, and likewise on the importance of fostering a true understanding of the meaning of work. In the agricultural sector, as well as in industry and service-related employment, a man's work enables him to share in the development process, and also enables him to discharge the duties that, out of love, he assumes for the members of his family. Human labor, while promoting social and economic development, must also promote the total well-being and true advancement of the human person.

11. In order to succeed, the development of nations must take place in an atmosphere of peace. I cannot address myself to you, peoples of Asia, without touching upon this most important issue, for peace is the necessary condition for every nation and people if they are to live and develop.

My heart is heavy when I think of the many parts of your continent where the sound of war has not yet died down, where the people involved might have changed, but not the reality of war, where weapons alone are thought to provide security, or where brother fights against brother in order to redress real or alleged injustices. Asia has not been spared the lot of many other parts in the world where peace—true peace in freedom, mutual trust and fraternal collaboration—still remains but a dream.

Too many men, women and children on Asian soil suffer and die ; too many families are disrupted or forced to flee their homes and villages ; too much hate still creates sorrow and destruction. I shall not cease to raise my voice to plead for peace. As I have constantly done in public appeals and in private conversations with the leaders of the world, so now again I beseech each and every one to respect the values and rights of peoples and nations.

12. I cannot finish without sending a heartfelt greeting to my brothers and sisters in the Christian faith, to all those with whom I confess the name of Jesus Christ, and, in particular, to those whom I love as the members of the Church that I have been called to guide and serve. T? all the Catholic Bishops, priests, religious and lay men and women I say : the Lord be with you ! Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum!

The Church has been present in Asia from her very beginning, and you are the successors of the early Christians who spread the Gospel message of love and service throughout Asia. In many parts of this continent you are small in number, but in every country the Church has taken root. In the members of his Church—in you—Christ is Asian.

13. Christ and his Church cannot be alien to any people, nation or culture. Christ's message belongs to everyone and is addressed to everyone. The Church has no worldly designs, no political or economic ambitions. She wants to be, in Asia as in every other part of the world, the sign of the merciful love of God, our common Father. The Church's mission is to proclaim Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, as the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world ; to bear witness to his sacrificial love ; to render service in his name.

Like Christ, her Teacher, the Church desires the well-being of all humanity. Wherever she is, the Church must sink her roots deeply into the spiritual and cultural soil of the country, assimilate all genuine values, enriching them also with the insights that she received from Jesus Christ, who is "the way and the truth and the life"[8] for all humanity. The Church's members will be at one and the same time good Christians and good citizens, making their contribution to the building up of the society of which they are full members. They will want to be, in every society, the best sons and daughters of their homeland, working unselfishly in collaboration with the others for the true good of the country.

The Church does not claim any privileges ; she wants only to be free and unimpaired in pursuing her own mission. The principle of freedom of conscience and of religion is enshrined in the laws and customs of most of the nations. May it effectively guarantee to all the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church the free and public profession of their faith and their religious convictions.

This also entails for the Church the possibility of freely establishing educational and charitable programmes and institutions ; moreover, these activities will benefit the interests of society as a whole. Christians see it indeed as their task to contribute to the safeguarding of sound morality in personal, family and social life. They see it as their duty to serve God in their brothers and sisters.

14. As true sons and daughters of their nation, true children of Asia, Christians give an eloquent testimony to the fact that the Gospel of Christ and the teaching of the Church flourish in the hearts and consciences of the people of every nation under the sun.

Many are the men and women who have testified to this truth by laying down their lives for the sake of Christ in different places of the Asian continent. They did this in the same way as others before them did, during the first centuries of Christianity in Rome, or in the course of two millennia in different places around the world.

My present pilgrimage in Asia is intimately bound to the Christian witness of faith given by the Japanese martyrs. The Church honors them with the conviction that the sacrifice of their lives will help to obtain salvation and peace, faith and love for all the people of this continent.

15. My final word is a prayer for Asia. Upon the Heads of State and the Governments of Asia, I invoke wisdom and strength, that they may lead their nations towards full human well-being and progress. Upon the leaders of the religions in Asia, I invoke assistance from on high, that they may always encourage believers in their quest for the Absolute. I pray that the parents and children of Asia will grow in love for each other and in service to their fellow-citizens.

And I commend to the Almighty and Merciful God the dignity and destiny of every man, woman and child on this continent—the dignity and destiny of all Asia !

[1] Cf. 1 Cor 4:1.

[2] Jn 3:16.

[3] Mk 16:16.

[4] Acts 1:8.

[5] Jn 14:6.

[6] Cf. Nostra Aetate, 1-3.

[7] Rom 8:26.

[8] Jn 14:6.

Speeches 1981 - Hiroshima