Speeches 1979 - Monday, 24 September 1979
Moladh go dee le Dia!
Praised be Jesus Christ!
It is with immense joy and with profound gratitude t? the Most Holy Trinity that I set foot today on Irish soil.
I come t? you as a servant of Jesus Christ, a herald of his Gospel of justice and love, as Bishop of Rome, as Successor of the Apostle Peter. And in the words of Peter I offer you the greeting of my heart : "Peace t? all of y?u who are in Christ" (1P 5,14).
I deeply appreciate the welcome of His Excellency the President of Ireland who, as the representative of all upright citizens, extends to me the warm hospitality of this land.
I am grateful moreover to my Brothers in the Episcopate, who are here to greet me in the name of the whole Church in Ireland, that I love so much. I am very happy to walk among you—in the footsteps of Saint Patrick and in the path of the Gospel that he left y?u as a great heritage—being convinced that Christ is here : "Christ before me, Christ behind me ... Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me".
At this moment of my arrival I feel the need to express my esteem for the Christian traditions of this land, as well as the gratitude of the Catholic Church for the glorious contribution made by Ireland over the centuries to the spreading of the Faith. From this capital city I send my greetings to all the Irish throughout the world.
And as I invoke God's blessings on Ireland, I commend all her people to the prayers of our Blessed Lady, to the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus and Queen of Peace, under whose patronage I place my pastoral visit.
Praised be Jesus Christ !
Saturday, 29 September 1979
I wish to express my gratitude for the warm welcome that I have received on my arrival in Ireland from the people of Ireland, as well as from their distinguished Representatives. I express my sincere thanks to you, Mr President, for the kind words that you addressed to me, with which you have wished to honour not only my person but the Head of the Roman Catholic Church.
It was fitting, after my visit to Latin America and to my beloved homeland, that I should accept the invitation of the Irish Episcopate to come to your Emerald Isle and meet your people. Many are indeed the bonds that unite your country to the See of Peter in Rome. From the earliest beginnings of Christianity in this land, all through the centuries until the present day, never has the love of the Irish for the Vicar of Christ been weakened, but it has flourished as an example for all to witness. In receiving the faith from Saint Patrick, the Irish Catholic people have also accepted that the Church of Christ is built on the Rock that is Peter, and they have established that loving relationship with the Successors of Saint Peter that has always been a guarantee for the preservation of their faith. It gives me pleasure to state here that this unfailing loyalty has been matched only by their profound devotion to our Blessed Lady and by their steadfast fidelity to the duties of religion.
The history of Ireland has certainly not been without its share of suffering and pain. Economic and social conditions have induced many of her sons and daughters in the past to leave home and family and to seek elsewhere the opportunities for life in dignity that were not to be found here. Their loss for Ireland has been a gain for the countries where they settled. Those who remained have not always enjoyed a progress without setbacks. But through it all, the Irish have displayed an uncommon courage and perseverance inspired by their faith. May I be allowed, Mr President, to quote here from your last Saint Patrick's Day Message, where you credit your Patron Saint for "the moral fibre and spiritual wealth that sustained our nation in times of trial".
My fervent wish for you and your fellow Irish men and women is that those same qualities—heritage of a living faith preserved and deepened through the centuries—may enable this country to move towards the Third Millennium and to achieve a well-being that constitutes a true human advancement for all your people, a well-being that brings honour to the name and the history of Ireland. The vitality that draws its strength from over fifteen centuries of uninterrupted Christian tradition will enable you to tackle the many problems of a modern and still young Republic.
The elimination of poverty, the uplifting of the deprived, the finding of full employment for all and especially for the very large number of splendid young people with whom God has blessed your country at this time, the creation of social and economic well-being for all classes of society remain real challenges. Reaching the goals of justice in the economic and social fields will require that religious convictions and fervour be not separated from a moral and social conscience, especially for those who plan and control the economic process, be they legislators, government officials, industrialists, trade unionists, office workers or manual workers.
The part that your nation has played with prominence and distinction in the history of Europe, on the spiritual and cultural level, will inspire you also in the future, to make your own distinctive contribution to the growing unity of the European continent, preserving at the same time the values that characterize your community, and witnessing for them in the midst of the political, economic, social and cultural currents that flow through Europe in these days.
It is my fervent wish that this same Ireland will also continue, as it has in the past, to be a force for understanding, brotherhood and collaboration among all the nations of the world. Many of your fellow men and women are working already in every part of the world—and I mention here with special gratitude your many missionaries—bringing through their labours and their zeal, through their unpretentious and unselfish dedication, the assistance that so many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world need to advance in their own development and to be able to satisfy their basic needs.
Irish exiles and Irish missionaries have gone all over the world, and wherever they have gone they have made the name of Ireland loved and honoured. The history of Ireland has been and is a source of human and spiritual inspiration to people everywhere. Ireland has inherited a noble Christian and human mission and her contribution to the well-being of the world and to the shaping of a new Europe can be as great today as it was in the greatest days of Ireland's history. That is the mission, that is the challenge facing Ireland in this generation.
Finally, Mr President, I want to make a plea for peace and harmony for all the people of this Island. Your sadness for the continued unrest, injustice, and violence in Northern Ireland is also my personal sadness and sorrow. On the occasion of the Feast of Saint Patrick in 1972, my beloved and revered Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, whose love for Ireland will always be remembered with gratitude, wrote to the late Cardinal William Conway : "The Christian faith must convince all concerned that violence is not an acceptable solution to the problems of Ireland. But at the same time, the Christian sense of values convinces man that lasting peace can be built only on the firm foundation of justice". Those words retain their full meaning today.
I thank you once again for your courteous and warm reception. I lovingly bless you, your land and your people.
Dia agus Muire libh
Beannacht Dé is Muire libh.
May God and Mary be with you.
May the blessing of God and the blessing of Mary be with you and with the people of Ireland always.
Saturday, 29 September 1979
I am very pleased that I can meet here with the Members of the Irish Government. You represent the aspirations, needs and future of the Irish people, but also their potential and the promises of the future that are contained in the past history of your country. The people of Ireland have had a long history of suffering and struggle to achieve their own cohesion as a modern State and to attain the measure of well-being that is due to every nation.
It is your privilege to serve the people, in their name and for their progress, though the mandate that the people have conferred on you. But there are also principles and imperatives that are of a higher order and without which no society can ever hope to foster the true common good. I do not need to spell out before you the demands of justice, of peaceful living in society, of respect and protection for the dignity that derives from the very nature and destiny of every human being as a creature of God's love. It is your task to embody in concrete and practical measures the collaboration of all the citizens towards these lofty goals.
An Ireland that is prosperous, peaceful and committed to the ideal of fraternal relations among its people is also a factor that will contribute to the peaceful and just future of Europe and the whole family of nations. Today at Drogheda, I have made a solemn and passionate plea for justice, for peace and for reconciliation, particularly with regard to the situation in Northern Ireland that can leave no Irishman, no Christian and certainly not the Pope indifferent. It is my fervent prayer that all the people of this Island will display the courage and find the ways for resolving a problem that is not religious in nature, but that finds its origin in a variety of historical, social, economic and political reasons.
I desire to renew once again my cordial thanks to you for your kind welcome and for all that the public authorities have done to facilitate my pastoral visit to your country. I express my esteem for you and your colleagues in the Government. May each one, according to the office and the dignity that he holds, discharge his duties inspired by a true desire to foster peace, justice and the respect of the human person.
My dear brothers in Christ,
Permit me to greet you in the love of our common Lord and Saviour, and with the words of his servant and apostle Paul: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ep 1,2).
I am happy to have the opportunity to come together with you in the holy name of Jesus and pray with you. For all of us here today the great promise contained in the Gospel is truly encouraging and uplifting: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18,20). And so we rejoice exceedingly to know that Jesus Christ is with us.
We know that he is near to us with the power of his Paschal Mystery, and that from his Paschal Mystery we draw light and strength to walk in what Saint Paul calls "the newness of life" (Rm 6,4).
What a great grace it is for the entire Christian world, that, in this our day, the Holy Spirit has powerfully stirred up in human hearts a real desire for this "newness of life". And what a great gift of God it is that there exists today among Christians a deeper realization of the need to be perfectly one in Christ and in his Church: to be one, in accordance with Christ's own prayer, even as he and his Father are one (cf. Jn Jn 17,11)!
Our desire for Christian unity springs from a need to be faithful to the will of God, as revealed in Christ. Our unity in Christ, moreover, conditions the effectiveness of our evangelization ; it determines the credibility of our witness before the world. Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples, precisely "so that the world may believe ..." (Jn 17,21).
Today has indeed been a memorable day in my life: to have embraced in the love of Christ my separated Christian brethren and to confess with them "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (1Jn 4,15) ; that he is "the Saviour of all men" (1Tm 5,10) ; that he is "the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1Tm 2,5). From Drogheda this morning I appealed for peace and reconciliation according to the supreme will of Christ, who alone can unify the hearts of men in brotherhood and common witness.
Let no one ever doubt the commitment of the Catholic Church and of the Apostolic See of Rome to the pursuit of the unity of Christians. Last November, when I met the members of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, I spoke of the "intolerable scandal of division between Christians". I said that the movement towards unity must not stop until it has reached its goal ; and I called for an energetic commitment by Catholic Bishops, priests and people to forward this movement. I said on that occasion: "The Catholic Church, faithful to the direction taken at the Council, not only wants to go forward on the way that leads to the restoration of unity, but is anxious, according to its means and in full submission to the promptings of the Holy Spirit ..., to strengthen at every level its contribution to this great movement of all Christians" (Address of 18 November 1978). I renew that commitment and that pledge today here in Ireland, where reconciliation between Christians takes on a special urgency, but where it also has special resources in the tradition of Christian faith and fidelity to religion which marks both the Catholic and the Protestant communities.
The work of reconciliation, the road to unity, may be long and difficult. But, as on the way to Emmaus, the Lord himself is with us on the way, always making "as if to go on" (Lc 24,28). He will stay with us until the longed-for moment comes, when we can join together in recognizing him in the Holy Scriptures and "in the breaking of the bread" (Lc 24,35).
Meanwhile, the internal renewal of the Catholic Church, in total fidelity to the Second Vatican Council, to which I pledged all my energies at the beginning of my papal ministry, must continue with undiminished vigour. This renewal is itself an indispensable contribution to the work of unity between Christians. As we each, in our respective Churches, grow in our searching of the Holy Scriptures, in our fidelity to and continuity with the age-old tradition of the Christian Church, in our search for holiness and for authenticity of Christian living, we shall also be coming closer to Christ, and therefore closer to one another in Christ.
It is he alone, through the action of his Holy Spirit, who can bring our hopes to fulfilment. In him we place all our trust : in "Jesus Christ our hope" (1 ? IM 1,2). Despite our human weakness and our sins, despite all obstacles, we accept in humility and faith the great principle enunciated by our Saviour : "What is impossible with men is possible with God" (Lc 18,27).
May this day truly mark, for all of us and for those whom we serve in Christ, the occasion for ever greater fidelity, in prayer and penance, to the cause of Jesus Christ, and to his message of truth and love, of justice and peace. May our common esteem and love for the holy and inspired word of God unite us ever more, as we continue to study and examine together the important issues affecting ecclesial unity in all its aspects, as well as the necessity for a united service to a world in need.
Ireland, dear brothers in Christ, has special and urgent need for the united service of Christians. All Irish Christians must stand together to defend spiritual and moral values against the inroads of materialism and moral permissiveness. Christians must unite together to promote justice and defend the rights and dignity of every human person. All Christians in Ireland must join together in opposing all violence and all assaults against the human person—from whatever quarter they come—and in finding Christian answers to the grave problems of Northern Ireland. We must all be ministers of reconciliation. We must by example as well as by word try to move citizens, communities and politicians towards the ways of tolerance, cooperation and love. No fear of criticism, no risk of resentment, must deter us from this task. The charity of Christ compels us. Precisely because we have one common Lord, Jesus Christ, we must accept together the responsibility of the vocation we have received from him.
Dear brothers: with a conviction linked to our faith, we realize that the destiny of the world is at stake, because the credibility of the Gospel has been challenged. Only in perfect unity can we Christians adequately give witness to the truth. And so our fidelity to Jesus Christ urges us to do more, to pray more, to love more.
May Christ the Good Shepherd show us how to lead our people along the path of love to the goal of perfect unity: for the praise and glory of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Saturday, 29 September 1979
My friends of the communications media,
During my visit to Ireland, I wish to leave a special thought for all of you, a special word for each of you, so that in time to come you will remember: the Pope said many things to many people during his pastoral visit to Ireland, but this was his message to me.
That message is the second of the two great commandments of Jesus: "Love your neighbour as yourself". That message and that mandate should have a special meaning to you because your work makes you an honoured guest in millions of homes throughout the world.
Wherever the sounds you transmit are heard, wherever the images you capture are seen, wherever the words you report are read, there is your neighbour. There is a person you must love, someone for whose total well-being you must work—and even sometimes go without sleep and miss your meals. You are the instruments through whom that person—and millions of others—enjoys a wider experience and is helped to become a more effective member of the world community, a true neighbour to others.
Your profession, by its very nature, makes you servants, willing servants, of the community. Many of the members of that community will differ from you in political views, in material prospects, in religious conviction or in moral performance. As good communicators, you serve them all just the same—with love and with truth ; indeed with a love of truth. As good communicators, you build bridges to unite, not walls to divide. As good communicators, you work out of the conviction that love and service of neighbour are the most important business in your lives.
All your concern, then, will be for the community's good. You will feed it on the truth. You will enlighten its conscience and serve as its peacemaker. You will set before the community standards that will keep it stretching for a way of life and a mode of behaviour worthy of its potential, worthy of human dignity.
You will inspire the community, fire its ideals, stimulate its imagination—if necessary, taunt it—into getting the best out of itself, the human best, the Christian best. You will neither yield to any inducement nor bend before any threat which might seek to deflect you from total integrity in your professional service of those who are not only your neighbours, but your brothers and sisters in the family of God, the Father of us all.
You think of yourselves as hard-headed realists, and I am well aware of the realities with which you must contend. Yet this is the Pope's word to you. It is no small thing he asks, no mean challenge he leaves with you. What he challenges you to do is to build, here in the Irish community and in the world community, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of love and of peace.
I thank you all sincerely for the work you are doing in the coverage of this visit. I ask you to bring my thanks and my love to your families, as I pray for you and for them in the beautiful Irish formula : "May God hold you in the hollow of his hand. May he keep you and your dear ones in his peace".
Saturday, 29 September 1979
Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
That so many of you have come from different countries, to share with me the various moments of my visit, is a tribute both to Ireland and to yourselves, for it proves that you feel united with the Bishop of Rome in his "solicitude for all the churches" (2Co 11,28), and at the same time it shows that you want to honour the faith of the Church in Ireland.
For is it not true that the Christian communities you represent have to discharge a duty of gratitude to the Church in Ireland? You who come from other European nations feel a particular relationship with the people that brought forth so many and so great missionaries, who in centuries past travelled untiringly across the mountains and rivers and through the plains of Europe to support the faith when it was flagging, to revive the Christian communities, and preach the word of the Lord. The vitality of the Church in Ireland made the establishing of many of your own communities possible. Peregrinari pro Christo : to be a voyager, a pilgrim for Christ was their reason for leaving their dear native land; and the Church in Europe was given new life by their journeyings.
Outside the continent, Irish immigrants, priests and missionaries were again the founders of new dioceses and parishes, the builders of churches and schools, and their faith succeeded, sometimes against overwhelming odds, to bring Christ to new regions, and to imbue new communities with the same undivided love for Jesus and his Mother, and with the same loyalty and affection for the Apostolic See in Rome as they had known in their homeland.
As we reflect on these historical realities, and as we witness together, during this visit, the piety, the faith and the vitality of the Irish Church, we cannot but feel blessed for these moments. Your presence here will in turn be an encouragement for the Irish Episcopate and for the Irish Christians, since in seeing you gathered around the Bishop of Rome, they will see that it is the whole Collegium Episcopale that offers support to the local Pastors and assumes its share of responsibility for the Church that is in Ireland. Let your love for Ireland and your appreciation of Ireland's place in the Church be expressed in prayer for a speedy return to peace in this beautiful island. Lead your faithful people in this earnest and untiring prayer to the Prince of Peace, through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace.
When the people of this beloved country see you, gathered together with the Irish Bishops around the Bishop of Rome, they witness that special union that constitutes a core of the episcopal collegiality, a union of mind and heart, a union of commitment and dedication in the building up of the Body of Christ, that is the Church. It is this profound union, this sincere "communion" that confers depth and meaning to the concept of collegiality and that carries it beyond a mere practical collaboration or a sharing of insights. It then becomes a bond that truly unites the Bishops of the whole world with the Successor of Peter and among themselves, in order to carry out cum Petro et sub Petro the apostolic ministry which the Lord entrusted to the Twelve. Knowing that such are the sentiments that animate your presence here with me not only gives me satistaction but also supports me in my own unique and universal pastoral ministry.
From this union among all the Bishops will flow forth for each ecclesial community, and for the Church as a whole, abundant fruits of unity and communion among all the faithful and with their Bishops, as well as with the visible Head of the universal Church.
Thank you for sharing with me the privilege and the supernatural grace of this visit. May the Lord Jesus bless you and your dioceses with ever more abundant fruits of union in mind and heart. And may every Christian everywhere, and the whole Church of God as one, increasingly become a sign and a presence of hope for all of humanity.
Sunday, 30 September 1979
Dear brothers and sisters,
This visit to Clonmacnois gives me the opportunity to render homage to the traditions of faith and Christian living in Ireland.
In particular, I wish to recall and honour the great monastic contribution to Ireland that was made here on this revered spot for one thousand years, and whose influence was carried over Europe by missionary monks and by students of this monastic school of Clonmacnois.
When we look at the works of faith, we must give thanks to God. Thanks to God for the origins of this apostolic faith in Ireland. Thanks to God for the saints and apostles and all who were the instruments for implanting and keeping alive this faith, and who "have done God's will throughout the ages". Thanks to God for the generosity of faith that brought forth fruits of justice and holiness of life. Thanks to God for the preservation of the faith in integrity and purity of teaching. Thanks to God for the continuity of the message of the Apostles handed down intact to this day.
Never forget the wonderful boast and commitment made by Saint Columban to Boniface IV in Rome : "We Irish ... are disciples of Saints Peter and Paul ... ; we hold unbroken that Catholic faith which we first received from you".
And in Ireland today, this Catholic faith is unbroken, alive and active. By the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of his grace, it can, and must, always be this way in Ireland.
Clonmacnois was long the centre of a renowned school of sacred art. The Shrine of Saint Manchan, standing on the altar today, is one outstanding example of its work. This is therefore a fitting place for me to express my gratitude for the works of Irish sacred art, several pieces of which have been presented to me on the occasion of my visit.
Irish art embodies in many instances the deep faith and devotion of the Irish people as expressed in the personal sensitivity of its artists. Every piece of art, be it religious or secular, be it a painting, a sculpture, a poem or any form of handicraft made by loving skill, is a sign and a symbol of the inscrutable secret of human existence, of man's origin and destiny, of the meaning of his life and work. It speaks to us of the meaning of birth and death, of the greatness of man.
Praised be Jesus Christ !
Sunday, 30 September 1979
I thank the Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and the esteemed Mayor of the City of Galway for this warm welcome. It is a special pleasure for me to be able to come West today across the width of Ireland to beautiful Galway Bay.
To you, dear Brother, pastor of this Western See which in Saint Patrick's time was "beyond the confines of the inhabited earth", but which now is at the meeting place of Europe and the Americas—to you and to your priests, religious and laity I extend a word of special greeting. It honours your Diocese and your City that you invited me to meet with representatives of all the youth of Ireland. Among you I shall meet the future of Ireland, those who will carry the torch of the Christian faith into the twenty-first century.
On this first visit of the Vicar of Christ on earth to the people of the West of Ireland, I wish to ask your prayerful support for my universal mission as Bishop of Rome. I count in a special way on your daily prayers for me in your families, when parents and children together invoke the help of the Lord Jesus and of his Mother Mary.
May God bless this City and its inhabitants, and grant his strength to the weak and the sick, his courage to those who struggle, and his peace and joy to all.
Sunday, 30 September 1979
Dear brothers and sisters,
The Gospels are filled with instances where our Lord shows his particular love and concern for the sick and for all those in pain. Jesus loved those who suffered, and this attitude has been passed on to his Church. To love the sick is something that the Church has learned from Christ.
Today I am happy to be with the sick and the handicapped. I have come to give witness to Christ's love for you, and to tell you that the Church and the Pope love you too. They reverence and esteem you. They are convinced that there is something very special about your mission in the Church.
By his suffering and death Jesus took on himself all human suffering, and he gave it a new value. As a matter of fact, he calls upon the sick, upon everyone who suffers, to collaborate with him in the salvation of the world.
Because of this, pain and sorrow are not endured alone or in vain. Although it remains difficult to understand suffering, Jesus has made it clear that its value is linked to his own suffering and death, to his own sacrifice. In other words, by your suffering you help Jesus in his work of salvation. This great truth is difficult to express accurately, but Saint Paul puts it this way: "... in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Col 1,24).
Your call to suffering requires strong faith and patience. Yes, it means that you are called to love with a special intensity. But remember that our Blessed Mother Mary is close to you, just as she was close to Jesus at the foot of the Cross. And she will never leave you all alone.
Sunday, 30 September 1979
Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
As a pastor I feel in my heart a special joy in addressing a few words also to the handmaids and stewards of the Knock Shrine Society and to the Directors of Pilgrimages of Cnoc Mhuire, the Mountain of Mary.
The Eucharistic celebration of this afternoon brings back happy memories of the many pilgrimages in which I took part in my homeland at the Shrine of Jasna Góra, the Bright Mountain, in Czestochowa and at the other sites throughout Poland; it also recalls my visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
I know from firsthand experience the value of the services you render to make every pilgrim feel at home at this Shrine, and to help them to make every visit a loving and prayerful encounter with Mary, the Mother of Divine Grace. In a special way, you are the servants of the Mother of Jesus. You help people to approach her, to receive her message of love and dedication, and to entrust to her their whole life so that they may be true witnesses to the love of her Son.
You are also servants of your brothers and sisters. In helping and guiding the many pilgrims and especially the sick and handicapped, you perform not only a work of charity but also a task of evangelization. May this insight be your inspiration and your strength in order that all the tasks that you so generously accept to perform may become a living witness for the Word of God and for the good tidings of salvation.
I pray for you, I thank you, and I invoke upon you abundant graces of goodness and holiness of life. Receive the blessing which I cordially extend to you and all your loved ones.
Speeches 1979 - Monday, 24 September 1979