Speeches 1981 - Manila


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Saturday, 21 February

Your Excellency, Mrs. Marcos,

Mr. Delegate,
Dear brothers and sisters,

1. I am happy to be with y?u today, to tell you of the concern of the whole Church for you and for all who have been forced, due to unfortunate circumstances beyond their own control, to flee their native land. I would like this occasion to serve as a symbol of the Church's solidarity with all refugees, as a symbol of the visit I would like to make, if it were possible, to every camp or settlement of refugees in the world. At this moment in history when we are witnessing with alarm an ever increasing number of people being forced to abandon their homeland, I am grateful to God for this opportunity to meet you and to assure you, each one of you, of my heartfelt concern and oneness with you in prayer.

2. I take this occasion to express my admiration for all who have participated in the various programs for aiding refugees : the governments—including that of the Philippines—that have received refugees on a temporary basis, the individuals and organizations that have provided badly-needed financial assistance, and in particular those countries that have offered a permanent residence for these displaced persons and have assisted them in the slow, painstaking process of joining the mainstream of life in a new culture and society.

It is also fitting to mention the deserving work of the High Commission for Refugees which faces a most difficult task, yet one which is greatly needed. All these endeavors are indeed praiseworthy, for they bear witness to the inviolable value and dignity of every human being. At the same time, they are a sign of hope in that they signal an awakening consciousness on the part of humanity to the cry of the poor and defenseless.

I must not fail to mention the important contribution which has been made by local Churches around the world, a contribution which has been inspired by the evangelical spirit of charity. In particular I am thinking of all the volunteer personnel wh? work in the camps and receiving centers, men and women who have extended hospitality in circumstances which often are very trying and difficult. To these volunteers and to the organizations which they represent, as well as to all those who work day after day and week after week assisting the refugees in the process of adapting to their new situations, I extend a special word of encouragement and praise.

3. The fact that the Church carries out extensive relief efforts on behalf of refugees, especially in recent years, should not be a source of surprise to anyone. Indeed this is an integral part of the Church's mission in the world. The Church is ever mindful that Jesus Christ himself was a refugee, that as a child he had to flee with his parents from his native land in order to escape persecution. In every age therefore the Church feels herself called to help refugees. And she will continue to d? so, to the full extent that her limited means allow.

In this part of Asia, the number of natural disasters and human catastrophes has been many. There have been earthquakes, typhoons, floods and civil strife, to name only a few. To the victims of these various calamities the Church extends a helping hand, and she seeks to work in close collaboration with those governments and international organizations which are engaged in the same relief activities. But of all the human tragedies of our day, perhaps the greatest is that of refugees. To them especially the Church reaches out, desiring to place herself at their service.

4. Jesus Christ once told a parable which I should like to recall at this time. This parable is known even among those of you who do not share the Christian faith. It is a parable which appeals to the hearts of all people of good will, not only to the followers of Christ; it is the parable of the Good Samaritan.

The Gospel of Luke records the parable, telling how a man had been robbed, beaten and left beside the road half dead. According to the Gospel account, "a Samaritan who was journeying along came on him and was moved to pity at the sight. He approached him and dressed his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. He then hoisted him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, where he cared for him. The next day he took out two silver pieces and gave them to the innkeeper with the request : Look after him, and if there is any further expense I will repay you on my way back"[1].

The Good Samaritan does not mind that he might be criticized for helping someone wh? has "tradi­tionally" been considered his enemy. And he does not ask him any questions : where he comes from, why he is there, where he is going. He asks no questions at all. Very simply the Good Samaritan sees the injured person in need, and he spontaneously helps him up, takes him to an inn, and sees that he receives all he needs to get well again. This is charity ! A charity which makes no exception because of the other person's ethnic origin, religious allegiance or political preference, no exceptions whatsoever ; a charity which sees the person as a brother or sister in need and seeks only one thing : to be of immediate assistance, to be a neighbor.

May this same charity motivate all of us who live in a world approaching the end of the second millennium ! May it inspire all of us to have compassion for the millions of refugees wh? cry out for our help!

5. My brothers and sisters present here, and all you refugees who may hear my voice, may you never lose confidence in the rest of mankind or think that you are forgotten. F?r you have not been rejected by everyone. You are not looked upon as a burden which is too heavy to bear. In every country on the face of the earth there are men and women of good will who care about you, who are concerned about your future, wh? remember you each day in their prayers.

6. Finally, I ask everyone to join me in a heartfelt appeal to the nations. I appeal, in the presence of the Lord of history and before the Supreme Judge of human hearts, on behalf of all the displaced persons throughout the world. I appeal for increased aid for them, so that present efforts may be sustained, strengthened and reinforced. I appeal for continued prayers for all the refugees throughout the world, and for the warmth of human concern and fraternal love towards every brother and sister who needs our solidarity and support.

May God bless you all !

[1] Lk 10:33-35.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Cathedral of Jaro, Iloilo

Friday, 20 February 1981

Dear brothers and sisters,

I have come to Iloilo City to tell y?u all of my love in Christ Jesus. I greet all the inhabitants of this city and all the people of this large Archdiocese of Jaro. I wish to express my fraternal esteem for the priests and sisters who labor in this sector of the Lord's vineyard, and to offer you my encouragement and support as you endeavor day after day to proclaim the Gospel of God by word and example, and to build up the community of the faithful.

1. In a very special way, however, the providence of God has determined that this part of my visit should be devoted to a meeting with the Catholic laity and, in particular, with representatives of their various associations and movements.My dear lay brothers and sisters : in you I greet the heirs of the Catholic faith that is deeply rooted in the tradition and culture of the Filipino people. I give thanks to God for the love and zeal that is in y?u, that has been implanted in y?u by the Spirit of Jesus. I feel very close to y?u today ; I feel as though you are telling me that y?u appreciate your mission in the Church, and that you wish to be strengthened and encouraged in your Christian vocation as lay people consecrated in Baptism and united to Christ by faith. And this is why I have come : to speak to y?u about your Christian dignity—what it means to belong to Christ ; about the responsibility o f your mission and about the urgency of the task that Christ has entrusted to y?u.

2. Yes, dear lay people, Jesus Christ himself through your Baptism and Confirmation has commissioned y?u to the lay apostolate, that wonderful sharing in the saving mission of his Church[1]. Your mission and your destiny are forever linked with Christ the Savior of the world.

You have a specific role to fulfill in the application of God's plan of redemption. The Second Vatican Council has spoken of the need to recognize the relationship of all creation to the praise of God. It has called you, by your activity in the world, to help one another to attain an ever greater holiness of life, "s? that this world may be filled with the spirit of Christ and may more effectively attain its destiny in justice, in love and in peace"[2].

3. In order to do this, you must remain united with Christ. His words are the basis for your effectiveness : " I am the vine, you are the branches ... apart from me you can do nothing"[3]. Indeed, he is calling you this very day to a greater love, because he is inviting you to constant conversion of heart. He is calling you to greater union with himself in his Church, for it is there that you find him. And union with Christ in his Church is the essential condition for all your apostolic effectiveness. It is Christ who entrusts you with your mission, but a mission that is coordinated within the unity of his Body by the pastors of the Church. This explains the great value there is in a loving communion of faith and discipline with your Bishops who, in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, "must give an account of the way they look after y?ur souls"[4].

4. You have heard the Good News of salvation and embraced it with joy, bringing forth fruits of justice and holiness of life. But it is important that the grace of faith should develop in you and in all believers with God's help, and lead y?u to a deeper knowledge of the person and message of our Lord Jesus Christ[5]. The need for a systematic catechesis is one of the greatest needs of the Church in this day. It is a great challenge for you as Filipino Catholics. As laity, y?u are called, individually and collectively, to meet this challenge.

5. Among all the opportunities open to you for the exercise of the individual apostolate, the family occupies a place of primary importance. The family can provide an effective response to the secularization of the world; the family has a special charism for transmitting the faith and for assisting in developing an initial evangelization.

Within the intimacy of the family, every individual can find an opportunity to give personal witness to the love of Christ. Parents have the right and duty to catechize their children ; they have the immense privilege of being the first ones to teach their children to pray. In the words of my predecessor John Paul I, I would like to "encourage parents in their role as educators of their children—the first catechists and the best ones. What a great task and challenge they have : to teach children the love of God, to make it something real for them. And by God's grace, how easily some families can fulfill the role of being a primum seminarium: the germ of a vocation to the priesthood is nourished through family prayer, the example of faith and the support of love" (September 21, 1978).

6. Besides the varied opportunities for exercising the individual apost?late, I strongly recommend intensification of the group apostolate through Catholic organizations and Church-inspired lay movements.

I mention with profound gratitude the invaluable service rendered t? the Church by Catholic organizations in the past decades. Their dedication to the lay ap?stolate according to the charisms of their respective goals has merited the admiration of the hierarchy and I wish to add my own appreciation. Undoubtedly, certain changes and adaptations may be desirable in order to make these organizations and movements better suited to meet the present needs of the apostolate, but the existence of these associations and groups continues to be of great help to the mission of the Church.

In consultation with your Bishops and the pastors of your parishes, be open to new methods of apostolic activity in order to build up continuously the Body of Christ. Small Christian communities, where personal exchanges and the practice of fraternal love and solidarity can be more easily achieved, open vast opportunities for creativeness in the apostolate. Remember all the time that the effectiveness of your activity in the apostolate depends on your unity with the hierarchy and among yourselves.

Your apostolate will be fruitful to the degree that you are faithful and are firmly attached to the local Church in which you are inserted, and to the universal Church[6].

7. A consistent collective Christian commitment by the Philippine lay people is felt not only in the ecclesial community. It is als? an immense force bringing the power of the Gospel to bear on culture, transforming and regenerating it. Working in accordance with their ecclesial nature, your associations and movements are especially effective means for proclaiming the Church's commitment to the dignity of the human person and to the advancement of the freedom and rights of all Filipinos. The People of God, who have been given God's peace, must always be collectively intent on promoting that human justice which is a requirement of social peace.

8. My brothers and sisters : you will not be surprised if at times the most worthy initiatives are subject to human frailty and to opposition from others. Vigilance is always a condition for Christian freedom—the vigilance expressed above all in prayer. Jesus told his disciples : "Watch and pray that you may mint enter into temptation"[7]. Ideological temptations may present themselves and divisions may arise, but the grace of Christ is sufficient for y?u—Christ's grace calling you to unity and fraternal love, Christ's grace transforming you into a people of hope.

Jesus Christ has truly called you to share his salvific mission, and to build up the communion of his Church. At the same time he prepares us for Christian effort and victory : " In the world y?u will have affliction, but have confidence, I have overcome the world"[8]. And in over-coming the world in everything that is sinful and corrupt, you will at the same time, in union with Christ, be able to offer to the Father the glory of creation, and to direct it to the praise of the Most Holy Trinity.

As lay people in the w?rld y?u can make a unique contribution, in an ecclesial role, to the Church's dialogue of salvation. You can offer to the world not only the message of Christ but also its concrete application in your lives, thus furthering the very spirit of dialogue in friendship and service and love. My dear brothers and sisters : This is your dignity and your strength: to remain united with Christ, sharing his salvific mission, promoting his cause, building up his kingdom of truth and life, holiness and grace, justice, love and peace. You do this day after day, week after week, in the ordinary yet extremely important setting of y?ur daily Christian lives.

9. And remember always that Mary the Mother of God is with you. She is the Mother of mercy and fair love, who has been watching over the Filipino people for centuries and will continue to preside over your destiny in the years to come. She will lead you to her Son and assist y?u in communicating him to others—in communicating Jesus to the world.

[1] Cf. Lumen Gentium, 33.

[2] Lumen Gentium, 36.

[3] Jn 15:5.

[4] Heb 13: 17.

[5] Cf. Catechesi Tradendae, 19.

[6] Cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 58.

[7] Mt 26:41.

[8] Jn 16:33.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



«Reclaimed area», Bacolod City

Friday, 20 February 1981

Dear brothers and sisters,

1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"[1]. With this blessing of the Apostle Paul I greet you all most cordially. It is a great joy for me to come to you today in this City of Bacolod to meet the people of Negros Occidental. My only regret is that my visit with you is so short, but many more communities in the Philippines have invited me, from the North to the South of these beautiful islands. Even if I can be with you only for a few hours, I want y?u to know that every encounter with the Filipino people is special to me because it is y?u, the people, young and old, who make it so. And therefore, I say from the bottom of my heart : thank y?u for coming together here this afternoon, thank y?u for making me feel at home in Bacolod.

Madamo guid nga salamat ! (Thank y?u very much!).

I come in the name of the Lord Jesus and as his servant. I come as the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ and your brother in the faith. I come as a friend of all the people, and especially of the young people who are s? numerous here and whose smiling faces and wonderful dances give me such deep joy.

My fraternal greetings go in the first place to your pastor, Bishop Antonio Yapsutco Fortich, who kindly invited me to this island, and to the other Bishops and priests present. In the priests, diocesan and religious, in the religious Sisters, I greet the successors of the first missionaries who, more that four hundred years ago, established flourishing Christian communities on these shores. I greet in them the tireless workers for the faith, who keep alive among the people the message of the Gospel in unselfish service and generous dedication, collaborating with the Bishop, in a spirit of unity and in "the obedience of faith"[2].

2. In particular, however, my heartfelt greetings go to y?u, my brothers and sisters of the Catholic laity in Bacolod, to you who are such a great sector of the one People o f God, reborn in Christ and united by his Holy Spirit.

Because y?u believe in Christ and have been regenerated in the Sacrament of Baptism you are children of God. Because you believe in Christ, you are able to approach him in the Sacrament of Penance and to receive his love in the Holy Eucharist. I know h?w much you esteem the Sacraments, and I want to encourage y?u to remain ever faithful to them. They are your source of life and hope, and they will give y?u strength to remain true to your calling as Christians, real Christians. And, when they look at y?u, people sh?uld be able to say : "See how much they love each other".

Love each other, my brothers and sisters, love each other in Jesus Christ, for in doing s? you will be true witnesses of Jesus, of his immense love for every human being. Jesus needs y?u, dear faithful people of the Church in Bacolod. Jesus needs y?u, because his love will not reach the world without the witness of your Christian lives. Jesus cannot be fully present in your cities and villages, in your families and schools, in y?ur workshops or in the fields where y?u toil, unless y?u, the lay people, bring him there, manifest him there by what y?u say and do, make him visible in your love for each other.

3. The message which I bring to y?u today is a message of love, the same message which the Church has brought to people all over the world in ages past and which she will never cease to proclaim to future generations. It is the same message that you, the Church in Bacolod, must bring to all the people of this island.

It is in the name of Christ, and because she must preach his message of love to the whole world, that the Church speaks out on behalf of the dignity of man, created in the image of God[3] and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Because she believes in the God-given dignity of every human person, the Church sees it as her mission to embrace in her solicitude man in his totality : man whose definitive destiny is God, man who must live, in the concrete reality of his daily life, according to the dignity that is his.

For these reasons, the Church desires to bring the message of salvation, which Christ has entrusted to her, to every human being, to every culture and social environment, to the whole of mankind, but in the first place to those who are most in need. Without abandoning her specific task of evangelization, she will also strive to ensure that all aspects of the life of man and of the society of which he is part should be imbued with respect for human dignity and therefore with justice.

To you people of Bacolod, and through you to all the people of the Philippines, who are sons and daughters of a nation engaged in the search for a better life for all its citizens, I repeat what I said once before : that "the world willed by God is a world of justice. That this order must be continually realized in the world, and even that it must always be realized anew, as situations and social systems grow and develop, in proportion to new conditions and economic possibilities, new possibilities and necessities of distributing goods"[4]. The dignity of man and the common good of society demand that society be based on justice.

4. There are in today's world too many situations of injustice. Injustice reigns when some nations accumulate riches and live in abundance while other nations cannot offer the majority of people the basic necessities. Injustice reigns when within the same society some groups hold most of the wealth and power while large strata of the population cannot decently provide for the livelihood of their families even through long hours of backbreaking labor in factories or in the fields.

Injustice reigns when the laws of economic growth and ever greater profit determine social relations, leaving in poverty and destitution those that have only the work of their hands to offer. Being aware of such situations, the Church will not hesitate to take up the cause of the poor and to become the voice of those who are not listened to when they speak up, not to demand charity, but to ask for justice.

Yes, the preference f?r the poor is a Christian preference! It is a preference that expresses the concern of Christ who came to proclaim a message of salvation to the poor, for the poor are indeed loved by God, and God it is who guarantees their rights. The Church proclaims her preference for the poor within the totality of her mission of evangelization that is directed to all people s? that all may come to know Christ and find in the love of God and of neighbor their highest fulfillment.

The Church wants to be of service to all people, in whatever social condition they may be; she wants to be close to all human beings, since all are poor and in need of salvation and all ought to be "poor in spirit". But she shows a special solidarity with those that are suffering and in need, with those that weep and are humiliated, with those that have been left at the margin of society and of life; she does this so that they may be helped to become aware of their dignity as human beings and as children of God.

N? area of her pastoral mission will be omitted in her concern for the poor: she will preach to them the Gospel, she will invite them to the sacramental life of the Church and to prayer, she will speak to them about sacrifice and resurrection, she will include them in her social apostolate.

5. I have been told that many of you here present are connected with the agricultural sector, and more specifically with the sugar cane cultivation, either as landowners, planters or laborers. You all live close to the land and the land provides your livelihood. To all of you I would address some special words in order to apply to you and your particular situation the social message of the Church.

You l?ve the land, you cherish the fertile plains. You belong to this land and this land belongs to you. I myself have always been close to nature and I understand your attachment to your rural setting. During my pastoral visits to other parts of the globe, I have insisted on meeting every time the people who live from the land : at Cuilapan and Oaxaca in Mexico, at Nowy Targ in my native Poland, at Des Moines in the United States of America, at Kisangani in Zaire, at Recife and Teresina in Brasil. To all of them I have repeated the same message : that the land is a gift of God to all humanity, a gift entrusted to man by the Creator, a gift of divine love.

In his gratuitous love, God did not only create man and woman, but the gave them the earth so that human life could be sustained through their efforts. From the beginning, and for the benefit of all, God has willed the interaction of land and labor s? that the full dignity of man may always be protected and promoted.

6. Yes, human dignity must be promoted by the land. Because the land is a gift of God for the benefit of all, it is not admissible to use this gift in such a manner that the benefits it produces serve only a limited number of people, while the others—the vast majority—are excluded from the benefits which the land yields. It is not admissible that in the general development process of a nation there should continue to exist the injustice whereby progress worthy of man does not reach precisely those people who live in the rural areas, who in sweat and toil make the land productive, and who must rely on the work of their hands for the sustenance of their family.

It is not admissible that people who work the land must continue to live in a situation that offers them no hope for a better future. No, in giving the land to humanity, God had a different purpose, for his gift was a gift of love to humanity.

A truly Christian challenge is therefore presented to those that own or control the land.I know that many of you who are plantation-owners or who are planters are truly concerned with the welfare of your workers, but the Church, aware of her responsibilities, feels impelled to hold up before you again and again the ideal of love and justice, and to encourage y?u to compare constantly your actions and attitudes with the ethical principles regarding the priority of the common good and regarding the social purpose of economic activity.

The right of ownership is legitimate in itself but it cannot be separated from its wider social dimension. In his Encyclical Populorum Progressio, Paul VI, echoing the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, stated this principle very clearly when he wrote : "God intended the earth and all it contains for the use of every human being and people. Thus, as all people follow justice and unite in charity, created goods should abound for them on a reasonable basis[5]. All other rights whatsoever, including those of property and of free commerce, are to be subordinated to this principle. They should not hinder but on the contrary favor its application. It is a grave and urgent social duty to redirect them to their primary finality"[6].

The landowners and the planters should therefore not let themselves be guided in the first place by the economic laws of growth and gain, nor by the demands of competition or the selfish accumulation of goods, but by the demands of justice and by the moral imperative of contributing to a decent standard of living and to working conditions which make it possible for the workers and for the rural society to live a life that is truly human and to see all their fundamental rights respected.

7. Likewise the workers, either duma-ans, sacadas or industrial workers, must be guided by a truly human and Christian concept of their task. Human labor remains the superior element in the economic enterprise, for through it man exerts his dominion over the material world for the building up of his own human dignity[7].

The man or the woman who works becomes a cooperator of God. Made to the image of God, man received the mission of governing the universe so that its riches can be developed and used for the benefit of all, in order to grant every human person the possibility to live according to his or her own dignity and thus give glory to God.

To all the sugar cane workers I say, as I say to all workers everywhere : never forget the great dignity that God has granted you, never let your work degrade you but remember always the mission that God has entrusted to you : to be, by the work of your hands, his collaborators in the continuation of the work of creation. See in your work a labor of love, for y?ur daily work expresses love for y?ur dear ones and y?ur commitment to the well-being of y?ur family. Be pr?ud to be workers of the land.

At the same time, know that the Church supports you in y?ur endeavors to have y?ur rights as workers respected. Ninety years ago already, the great social Encyclical Rerum Novarum spelled out very clearly that the worker is entitled to wages that give him a just share in the wealth he helps to produce, and that working conditions should be geared not to the ever increasing economic profit of the enterprise but to the inviolable dignity of man as an individual, as a provider for his family and as a builder of the society to which he belongs.

It has been the constant teaching of the Church that workers have a right to unite in free associations for the purpose of defending their interest and contributing as responsible partners to the common good. Such associations should be protected by appropriate laws which, rather that restrict their activities, should guarantee the free pursuit of the social welfare of all their members and of the workers in general.

8. Wherever people work together, inspired by the aim of securing the dignity of every human being and of building a society based on justice, the hope for a better future will be kept alive, and ways and means will be found to share the fruits of progress with all in the community. When the legitimate rights of every category are respected, peaceful ways will be devised to achieve the common good and no one will hesitate to put the full wealth of his talents, skills and influence at the service of his brothers and sisters in the common pursuit of a just society.

Government agencies that are guided by a true concern for the dignity of the human person will not become instruments of oppression or powertools for one class or category. Free associations of workers that base their action on the peerless dignity of man will inspire confidence as partners in the search for just solutions.

Workers and employers who learn to see each other as brothers will not get locked in bitter disputes that leave the problems unsolved and human solidarity weakened or in ruins. When man himself, man with his unsurpassed dignity, is the measure that is applied to the social problems, then there will be no room for violence in the struggle for justice. To adopt man as the criterion of all social activity means committing oneself to the transformation of every unjust situation without destroying what one seeks to protect : a society based on brotherhood, justice and love.

Violence can never be a means for solving social conflict, and class struggle which opposes one group to another cannot create justice since its premise is destruction and contempt for man. To construct a truly human society in the Philippines, every man and woman must make a choice for justice and love, for solidarity and brotherhood against selfishness and hatred. Choose human dignity and a better future will be yours !

9. My dear friends of Bacolod, of Negros Occidental, and all of you who have come from far away to be with me today, I know that you are not lacking in generosity and courage. In your communities, in the cities and in the villages, you keep alive a, marvelous heritage of values and qualities that is y?ur strength for the future.

Remain true to what you are : preserve always y?ur joy, your love of the family, your solidarity within each community, and above all your determination to share whatever you are and whatever you have—evens if it be little or humble—with those of y?ur brothers and sisters who are in need. In doing so, your community will be graced by the mark of humanity !

To all my brothers and sisters in Christ I say : keep alive in y?ur hearts y?ur confidence in G?d, y?ur faithfulness to the Church and your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The moment has now come for me to take leave of y?u. I would have liked to stay longer with you but others are waiting to celebrate with me in the bond of l?ve that unites us in Jesus Christ. Thank you for y?ur presence here and for the sharing of this hour. I feel so much richer for having met you and for having seen y?ur pride as Filipinos and as Christians.

When you return to y?ur villages and y?ur families, take with y?u the blessing of the Pope. And tell all those that could not be here oday, tell you old people and your sick, that the Pope loves them and carries them always in his heart and his prayers. I bless you all in the name of Jesus Christ, our merciful and loving Savior.

Kabay pa nga bendisyonan kamo sang Dios ! (?ay God bless y?u, as you go with my love and care !).

[1] Phil 1:2.

[2] Rom 1:5.

[3] Cf. Gen 1:26.

[4] Discourse at Saint-Denis, France, 31 May 1980, No. 5.

[5] Gaudium et Spes, 69.

[6] No. 22.

[7] Cf. Gaudium et Spes, 67.

Speeches 1981 - Manila