Speeches 1981 - «Reclaimed area», Bacolod City
Thursday, 19 February 1981
Dear priests and seminarians,
I greet you in the Name of Jesus ! It is a joy for me to be with you, and through you to greet the priests of all the Philippines, and to bless and encourage the seminarians throughout this nation.
1. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King"'. These words of the prophet Isaiah readily come to mind when we recall the apostolic zeal of those missionary priests who over four centuries ago began to preach the Gospel of salvation to the people of these islands. It was the mysterious working of God's grace which made their hearts anxious and set their feet in motion until peace and salvation had been announced in this land.
Consider the Dominican priest Fray Domingo de Salazar. He left his native Spain to g? first to Venezuela, then to Mexico, briefly to Florida, and finally to the Philippines. Here he became the first Bishop in the Philippines—at Manila in 1578 ; here he preached the Good News not only to the people of these islands but also to his compatriots, in order to persuade them that the Lord's Gospel means justice and not slavery for the people they had come to colonize. It was Bishop Domingo de Salazar too, who, on his return to Spain, recommended the foundation of the ecclesiastical province of the Philippines.
2. You are the heirs of the missionary task begun by Fray Domingo and the early evangelists of these islands : the Augustinian, Franciscan, Jesuit and Dominican priests whose evangelizing feet will forever be called beautiful. In paying homage to those missionaries and to all the other missionaries—to those of every generation in the Philippines, including the present generation—I praise the grace of God that sustained them in their zeal for his Kingdom.
In God's mysterious design you have been called by Christ to announce his glad tidings here in your own homeland. Together let us reflect upon this priestly task which is yours today, my brother priests, and for which, dear seminarians, y?u must diligently prepare yourselves.
3. It is faith in Jesus Christ, who is L?rd f?rever, that is the response which God invites when he sends out his word over the earth. It is faith at the heart of the priest's vocation that animates his ministry and grounds the witness of his life. In his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul says : " If you confess with your lips that Jesus is L?rd, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, y?u will be saved. Faith in the heart leads to justification, confession on the lips to salvation. But how shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe unless they have heard of him? And how can they hear unless there is someone to preach? Scripture says, 'How beautiful are the feet of those wh? announce good news !'... Faith, then, comes through hearing, and what is heard is the w?rd of Christ".
4. To preach the w?rd of God : this is the work of every generation. The " faith which comes through hearing" is a response invited by God himself, a response which leads people to confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord and to become his disciples. The proclamation of the word and the response of faith set up the initial encounter, the basic community of the Church. And it is for this encounter that the priestly apostle is "sent" to preach : in persona Christi he offers the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, which recapitulates the entire pr?clamati?n of the word in which Christ's own invitation to believe and to be built up into the Church is continually heard by his people. As the Vatican Council teaches : " By sacred ordination and by the mission they receive from their bishops, priests are promoted to the service of Christ, the Teacher, the Priest, and the King. They share in his ministry of unceasingly building up the Church on earth into the People of God, the Body of Christ, and the Temple of the Spirit".
This Church is missionary by her very nature. All Christians who believe and are made one in Christ share in the missionary task of apostolic service to the world. But "hearing" the call to faith—the word of salvation—must be a constant summons to conversion and renewal within the Church herself, and it is to the Apostles and their successors in the Episcopate, together with their priestly collaborators, that the Lords has entrusted the role of shepherding his missionary people. By God's own plan, the Church cannot exist without those apostolic men "sent" to preach, to be within the Church herself a sacramental sign of the fundamental and perennial call to " believe in our hearts" that Jesus is Lord.
6. Today there are some who ignore or misunderstand this important dimension of the nature of the Church, and suggest that only by diminishing the importance of the priesthood can the laity be given their full place in the Church. Perhaps this is due to an over-reaction to those priests who, through human frailty or spiritual blindness, have not taken to heart the profound lesson Jesus taught when he replied to the request of the mother of James and John : "You know how those who exercise authority among the Gentiles lord it over them : their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be like that with you. Anyone who aspires to greatness must serve the rest, and whoever wants to rank first am?ng you must serve the needs of all. Such is the case with the Son of Man who has come, not to be served by others, but to serve, to give his own life as a ransom f?r the many".
Nevertheless, an attitude which sees opposition or rivalry between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful fails to perceive the design of God in instituting the Sacrament of Holy Orders within his Church. The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church clearly teaches that "though they differ from one another in essence and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless interrelated. Each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ".
In the ministerial priesthood of Holy Orders, G?d has set within his Church a visible sign, by which the divine dialogue which he has initiated—the word of salvation inviting the response of faith—is sacramentally, and therefore efficaciously, represented. Priesthood is therefore a sacrament whose "celebration" affects the entire Church, and the whole Church—laity and clergy alike—must take care that its "celebration" is not diminished through misunderstanding or misplaced zeal for a multiplication of ministries intended as a substitution for the ministerial priesthood.
7. Jesus is Lord ! This proclamation of the word reaches its most perfect moment in the Eucharist: "The other sacraments, as well as every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the Holy Eucharist and are directed towards it ... Hence the Eucharist shows itself to be the source and summit of all evangelization". The celebration of the Eucharist is the heart of priestly ministry and of Christian life, because it is Christ's own service of self-sacrificing love. Through each Eucharist the Church herself is continually formed anew and given her definitive shape: Christ, through the ministry of his priests, calls all his disciples together, makes them one in his love, and sends them forth to be bearers of the unity and love of the Eucharistic banquet as the pattern and model of all human community and service.
8. My brother priests, this missionary Church, this Eucharistic people, depends upon you for the authentic proclamation of the Good News. But if you are to be effective preachers of the word, you must be men of deep faith who are hearers and doers of the word as well. For with Saint Paul we must always say : "It is not ourselves we preach but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake". For this reason we must never cease examining carefully h?w we live our priestly lives, lest they become a countersign which disfigures the sacramental presence which the Lord intends us to be in and for his Church.
9. For this purpose I offer you today three brief reflections on living the priestly life according to the mind and heart of Christ.
In the first place, Jesus has called priests to a special intimacy with himself. The very nature of our task requires it. If we are to preach Christ and not ourselves, we must know him intimately in the Scriptures and in prayer. If we are to lead others to the encounter and response of faith, our own faith must itself be a witness. In the Holy Scriptures, God's word is ever before us. Let us therefore make the Scriptures the nourishment of our daily prayer and the subject of our regular theological study. Only in this way can we possess the word of God—and be possessed by the Word—in that intimacy reserved for those to whom Jesus said : " I call you friends".
The second consideration I wish to offer you concerns the unity of the priesthood.The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council reminded us that "all priests, together with bishops, so share in one and the same priesthood and ministry of Christ that the very unity of their consecration and mission requires their hierarchical communion with the order of bishops". This unity must take shape concretely in the realization that priests, diocesan and religious, form a single presbyterium around their bishop.
The collegiality which describes the entire episcopal order's union of faith and sharing in responsibility with the Bishop of Rome is reflected by analogy in the unity of priests with their Bishop and with each other in their common pastoral task. We must not underestimate the importance of this unity of our priesthood for the effective evangelization of the world.
The sacramental sign of priesthood itself must not be fragmented or individualized : we constitute one priesthood—the priesthood of Christ—to which our harmony of life and apostolic service must testify. The fundamental oneness of the Eucharist offered by the Church requires that this unity be lived out as a visible, sacramental reality in the lives of priests. On the night before he died, Jesus invoked his heavenly Father : " I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as y?u, Father, are in me, and I in y?u ; I pray that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that y?u sent me".
Our unity in the Lord, sacramentally visible at the center of the Church's own unity, is an indispensable condition for the effectiveness of everything we do: our preaching of the faith, our service of the poor as a preferential option, our efforts at building basic Christian communities as vital units of God's Kingdom, our work f?r promoting Christ's justice and his peace, all our varied parochial apostolates, every endeavor to furnish spiritual leadership to our people—all of this depends totally on our union with Jesus Christ and his Church.
In the third place I wish to reflect with you on the value of a life of authentic priestly celibacy. It is difficult to overestimate the profound witness to the faith that a priest gives through celibacy. The priest announces the Good News of the kingdom as one unafraid to forgo the special human joys of marriage and family life in order to bear witness to his "conviction about things we d? not see".
The Church needs the witness of celibacy willingly embraced and joyfully lived by her priests for the sake of the Kingdom. For celibacy is by no means marginal to priestly life; it gives testimony to a dimension of love patterned upon the love of Christ himself. This love speaks clearly the language of all genuine love, the language of the gift of oneself for the sake of the beloved; and its perfect symbol is forever the Cross of Jesus Christ !
10. My dear seminarians ! All that I have already said to my brother priests I say with you in mind. This precious time of seminary formation is given to you so that a solid foundation may be laid for the task that awaits you as priests. You may be sure that the whole Church looks on with prayerful anticipation as the Lord's words to y?u—" Come, follow me"—take ever deeper root in your lives. And what is true of all God's people is all the more true of these priests whose companions in preaching the word of God you are preparing to become.
For the priests know well how much work is to be done and they have " prayed the Lord of the harvest to send lab?rers into the harvest". They now rejoice to see in you an answer to their fervent prayer. Hence you seminarians are already united with the priests in this prayer for an increase of priestly vocations. To those young people in whom the Lord is even now planting the hidden seeds of this vocation y?u must offer yourselves as companions and guides, and you must be eager to set before them the example of your own intimate union with Jesus and of your own zealous apostolic service of his people.
Yes, y?u must always keep Jesus before your eyes. He is the real reason why you are in the seminary ; it can never be for any motive of personal advancement or prestige, but only to prepare for a ministry of service based on the word of the Lord. Jesus has chosen you to bring the light of his word to your brothers and sisters. You can see, then, how important it is for you personally t? know the word of God, to embrace it with all its challenges of love and sacrifice, and, like Mary, to reflect on it in your hearts. The seminary exists to prepare you for your mission of proclaiming the holiness and truth of the Incarnate Nord of God. But if the seminary is to fulfill its purpose in your regard, you must open your hearts in generosity to the Spirit of God, so that he may form Jesus in you.
11. Jesus is Lord ! As Saint Paul assures us, "No one can say `Jesus is Lord', except in the Holy Spirit". Let us be confident in the Holy Spirit's guidance of the whole Church, and in his power that is active in our priestly ministry. With trust and untiring zeal, let us preach the w?rd of Christ so as to bring spontaneously to the lips of our brothers and sisters the refrain of the prophet : "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing g??d news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Y?ur God is King' !".
May Mary, Regina Cleri, Mother of priests and seminarians, help you to place your complete confidence in that same Holy Spirit, who caused her to become the Mother of Jesus, who is Lord forever !
 Is 52:7.
 Rom 10:9-17.
 Presbyterorum Ordinis, 1.
 Cf. Ad Gentes, 2.
 Mt. 20:25-8.
 Lumen Gentium, 10.
 Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5.
 2 Cor 4:5.
 Jn 15:15.
 Presbyterorum Ordinis, 7.
 Jn 17:20-21.
 Heb 11:1.
 Mt 9:37.
 Cf. Lk 2:51.
 1 Cor 12:3.
Wednesday, 18 February 1981
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I have come to this part of the world to meet the Catholic communities of the Philippines and Japan, and to present to both nations the expression of the profound esteem in which the Church holds them. At the same time I am also very pleased to have the opportunity to be with you this evening, since, as diplomats accredited to the Government of this land, you represent peoples not only in Asia but throughout the whole world. Later in my program, I shall address myself directly to the Asian peoples ; but I cannot let the present occasion pass without expressing here before you the joy I experience in being able, through you, to greet the peoples and the Governments of your nations, many of whom maintain most cordial relations with the Holy See.
I wish to reiterate the deep esteem which the Catholic Church has for the noble cultural and religious traditions of all peoples, and to reaffirm her desire to be of service to all in the common pursuit of peace, justice and human advancement.
2. The Church has no political ambitions. When she offers her own specific contribution to the great permanent tasks of mankind—peace, justice, development and every worthy effort aimed at promoting and defending human dignity—she does so because she is convinced that such action is related to her mission.
This mission is concerned with the salvation of man : the whole human being, the individual person who fulfills his or her eternal vocation in temporal history, within a complex of communities and societies. When giving attention to individuals' and peoples' needs and aspirations, the Church follows the command of her Founder ; she implements the solicitude of Christ for each and every person, especially for the poor and for those who are suffering. Her own contribution to the humanization of society and the world derives from Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Through her social teaching, the Church does not present prefabricated models, nor does she align herself with prevailing and passing practices. Rather, with reference to Jesus Christ she strives to bring about a transformation of hearts and minds so that man can see himself in the full truth of his humanity.
3. The Church's action therefore is not political, or economic, or technical. The Church is not competent in the fields of technology or science, nor does she assert herself through power politics. Her competence, like her mission, is religious and moral in nature; and she must remain within her proper field of competence, lest her action be ineffective or irresponsible. It is the Church's practice therefore to respect the specific area of responsibility of the State, without interfering in the tasks of the politicians and without participating directly in the management of temporal affairs.
At the same time the Church encourages her members to assume their full responsibility as citizens of a given nation and to seek together with their fellow human beings the paths and models which can best promote the progress of society. She sees as her specific contribution the strengthening of the spiritual and moral bases of society, and as a service to humanity she assists people in forming their consciences correctly.
4. It is in this sense that I wish my journey through Asia to be a call for peace and for human progress, and an encouragement for all those who are engaged in protecting and promoting the dignity of all human beings. I also hope that my meeting with you this evening will reinforce your own sense of mission in the service of your countries and of the whole human family. For is it not the mission of a diplomat to be a builder of bridges between nations, to be a specialist in dialogue and understanding, to be a defender of the dignity of man, so that the common welfare of all may be promoted?
Beyond the fostering of legitimate interests of your own nation, your mission directs you in a special way to the wider concerns of the whole human family, particularly on this Asian continent. Inspired as you are by the noblest ideals of brotherhood, you will, I am sure, share my concern for peace and progress in this area, and you will understand the need to face the deeper causes of the problems that plague nations and peoples.
In my recent Encyclical on the Mercy of God I have indicated what I believe to be the " sources of uneasiness". I have cited the fear connected with the prospect of a conflict that, in view of the stockpiling of atomic weapons, could mean the partial self-destruction of humanity. I have drawn attention to what human beings can do to other human beings through the means provided by an ever m?re sophisticated military technology.
But I have also drawn attention to other elements when I wrote: " Sian rightly fears falling victim to an oppression that will deprive him of his interior freedom, of the possibility of expressing the truth of which he is convinced, of the faith that he professes, of the ability to obey the voice of conscience that tells him the right path to follow. The technical means at the disposal of modern society conceal within themselves not only the possibility of destruction through military conflict, but also the possibility of a peaceful subjugation of individuals, of environments, of entire societies and of nations, that for one reason or another might prove inconvenient for those who possess the necessary means and are ready to use them without scruple".
I have mentioned the tragic problem of the many who suffer from hunger and malnutrition and of the increasing state of inequality between individuals and nations whereby "side by side with those who are wealthy and living in plenty there exist those who are living in want, suffering, misery and often actually dying of hunger".
5. But in that same document, I also stated (and I would like to leave this thought with you for your reflection) : " The experience of the past and of our own time demonstrates that justice alone is not enough, that it can even lead to the negation and destruction of itself, if that deeper power, which is love, is not allowed to shape human life in its various dimensions".
Yes, dear friends, my message to you this evening concerns this same power of love. A love that is deeply felt and effectively expressed in concrete actions, individual as well as collective, is indeed the moving force that enables man to be true to himself. Only love can make peoples really responsive to the call of the needy. And may it be this same force—fraternal love—that impels you to ever higher peaks of service and solidarity. Ladies and gentlemen, in the lofty diplomatic mission that is yours be assured of my total support.
 No. 11.
Wednesday, 18 February 1981
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. I find it very significant and important to have the opportunity to say a brief word to Chinese Christians during my pastoral visit to Asia. I greet in a particular way Archbishop Mattew Kia and the other Bishops accompanying him, who have honored me with their presence during my pastoral visit to the Philippines. Most sincerely I thank you for coming as the representatives of the Christians of Overseas Chinese Communities to meet me here in Manila.
Some of y?u have lived for generations in the Philippines or in other Asian countries ; others have come here more recently. I know that it is your desire to be fully integrated into the life of the country where you live, and to contribute by your work, as good citizens, to the prosperity of the nation that is now your home. At the same time you wish to remain united in spirit with your relatives and friends in China. You wish to preserve the traditional Chinese moral values and culture that link y?u to your families' country of origin, the country you will always love dearly and to the progress of which y?u are willing to offer all the help desired.
You are also members of the local church communities. These strengthen your commitment to Christ, and imbue you with the same Christian spirit that has been, in the past, the hallmark of the Chinese Christian communities in various countries of the world. Famous people in Chinese history have encountered Christ and have become Christians through the contact they had with those fervent and dynamic communities. If you maintain that spirit, if you live inspired by the Christian faith and strengthened by the specifically Chinese moral traditions, you will in a profound way be truly Christian and truly Chinese, and contribute to the richness of the whole Church.
Through you who are present here, I now wish to reach out to all who are in China and to greet, with joy and affection, all my brothers and sisters in Christ who live in that vast land.
2. I, John Paul II, Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, my dear brothers and sisters in China. On my first pastoral visit to Asia I shall meet with the Bishops, clergy, religious and laity of the Church in the Philippines and in Japan, in order to speak to them about the merciful love of God, to proclaim the name of Jesus, "for there is no other name under heaven given by which we must be saved", and to encourage them to witness to the Gospel. Travelling so close to the borders of your country, I also wanted to speak to you, for across the distances that separate us we are all united "in the name of the Lord Jesus".
Ever since God's providence in its mysterious ways called me from my native Poland to the See of Peter in Rome, I have ardently desired to express my affection and esteem to all my brothers and sisters of the Church in China, and to praise the Lord for the great things that he has wrought in the hearts of those who profess his name in the cities and villages of your immense land.
The Spirit of the Lord is at work in all peoples and nations, and to this Spirit I have wanted to bear witness by making it the special g?al of my pilgrimage to Asia to honour the Martyrs of Nagasaki. Through them I pay homage to all the men and women in Asia who have offered up their lives for the name of Jesus, giving proof thereby that the Gospel of Christ and his Church are not alien to any people or any nation but that they live in the hearts and in the minds of the people of all races and nations around the w?rld.
And so, in greeting you, I make my own the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome : "First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you and for the way in which your faith is spoken of all over the world ... I am longing to see you either to strengthen you by sharing a spiritual gift with y?u, or what is better, to find encouragement among y?u from our common faith".
3. Through my humble words, I also want to express my esteem for your great country. Your country is great indeed, not only in terms of geographical extension and population, but especially because of its history, the wealth of its culture, and the moral values that the people have cultivated all through the ages. The Jesuit, Father Matteo Ricci, understood and appreciated Chinese culture fully from the beginning, and his example should serve as an inspiration to many. Others, at times, did not show the same understanding. But whatever difficulties there may have been, they belong to the past, and now it is the future that we have to l??k to.
Your country is indeed devoting all its energies to the future. It wishes to ensure, through scientific and technological development, and through the industrious collaboration of all its people, that its citizens can live in true happiness. I am convinced that every Catholic within your frontiers will fully contribute to the building up of China, since a genuine and faithful Christian is also a genuine and good citizen. A Christian—in any country of the world—is faithful to God, but he also has a deep sense of duty and of love towards his native land and his own people. He respects the things of the spirit and at the same time he consecrates his talents and skills to the common good. A good Chinese Catholic works l?yally for the progress of the nation, observes the obligations of filial piety towards parents, family and country. Strengthened by the Gospel message, he will cultivate, like all good Chinese, the "five main virtues" of charity, justice, temperance, prudence and fidelity.
4. The Church seeks to respect the traditions and cultural values of every people, following what Saint Paul said when he entreated the early Christians of Philippi to treasure " whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious". From earliest times, the Church has learned to express the truth of Christ through the help of ideas and in the culture of various peoples, because the message that she preaches is intended for all peoples and nations. The Christian message is not the exclusive property of any one group or race ; it is addressed to everyone and belongs to everyone. There is therefore no opposition or incompatibility in being at the same time truly Christian and authentically Chinese.
In proclaiming Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God and Savior of the world, the Church has no other aim than to be faithful to the mission entrusted to her by her Divine Founder. She has no political or economic goals, she has no worldly mission. She wants to be, in China as in any other country, the herald of the kingdom of God. She desires no privileges, but only that all those who follow Christ may be able to express their faith freely and publicly and to live according to their consciences.
Christ came to serve and to bear witness to the truth. In the same spirit the Church will offer her contribution to fostering human brotherhood and the dignity of every human being. She therefore encourages her members to be good Christians and exemplary citizens dedicated to the common good and to the service of their fellowman, and collaborating through their personal efforts to the progress of their country.
5. All this I say to you, dear brothers and sisters, because I feel so near to you. The course of history, shaped by human decisions, has been such that for many years we have not been able to have contact with each other. Very little was known about you, your joys, your hopes, and also your sufferings. Recently however, from various parts of your immense land information about y?u has reached me. But in those l?ng years you have undoubtedly lived through other experiences which are still unknown, and at times you will have wondered in your consciences what was the right thing for you to do. For those who have never had such experiences it is difficult to appreciate fully such situations.
Yet, I want y?u to know that, all through this period and up to the present day, I, and the universal Church with me, have been with you in thought, in prayer, in genuine brotherly love and in pastoral c?ncern. I place my trust in your faith and in the Lord who promised : "Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour". If you remain united with the Lord in faith and prayer, he will strengthen and guide you.
I also wish to express my deep admiration of the testimonies of heroic faith that many of you have shown and are still showing today. The whole Church is proud of y?u and feels strengthened through your witness. At the same time she hopes that you in your turn have been strengthened by her continuous prayer and communion in our Lord Jesus Christ.
6. What unites us, dear brothers and sisters, is not a bond of physical nature or a political allegiance, but faith in him who is the Son of God and Savior of the world and who has proclaimed the brotherhood of all men. It is he, Jesus Christ, wh? l?ves all people irrespective of their race or culture, or their social or political status. We are all brothers and sisters, and at the center of Jesus' message is the call to universal brotherhood. Is it not inspiring to discover that a similar message is aptly expressed in your Chinese saying: "Between the four seas, all men are brothers"? More than at any other time, there is a need for us to proclaim this message all over the world, since injustice and discrimination among peoples and nations still linger on.
7. As I am travelling so near to your great country, let me send you a message that comes from my heart and from our common faith. At this time of grace and change, I say : open your hearts and minds to God, who in his divine providence guides all events and pursues his plan in all that happens. Out of human suffering and even out of weakness and error, the Lord creates new growth. It is my sincere and heartfelt hope that some day soon we shall all be able to join together, praising the Lord and saying : "Behold how g??d and pleasant it is to dwell in unity as brothers".
I entrust you all to Mary, Virgin most faithful, Queen of China. May the peace of Jesus Christ her Son be with you all. May God bless China !
 Acts 4:12.
 Col 3:12.
 Rom 1:8, 11-12.
 Phil 4:8.
 Mt 10:19.
 Ps 133:1.
Speeches 1981 - «Reclaimed area», Bacolod City