Speeches 1984

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE ECUMENICAL INSTITUTE OF BOSSEY

Thursday, 16 February 1984



Dear Friends from Bossey,

"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you" (Rm 16,20). Welcome to Rome! I am especially pleased to receive you here today because for the past five months you have reflected a great deal in your Graduate School on the theme: "The Visible Unity of the Church in a Divided World".

In our world today the forces of strife and division sometimes seem stronger than the will for reconciliation and peace. As nations and groups continue to draw apart into postures of aggression, it is vital that the hope of peace and the attitudes which can secure it should shine forth in the lives of people. Christians together should be a living sign in the world of Godís will for peace and unity in the human family, by their words and their deeds proclaiming that all things are to be reconciled through Jesus Christ and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth (Col 1,20).

So our present situation makes it urgent in a new way that all who follow him should give practical obedience to his will for his followers, "that they may be one" (Jn 17,22). It is a grief indeed that Christians are not yet united in the profession of the one apostolic faith and therefore cannot yet celebrate together the one Eucharist. However, although that full visible unity must be our urgent goal, we have already a fundamental unity in the communion which is a share in the triune life of God and which comes to us through our one baptism into the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Do we take that seriously enough? It ought to be the motive which impels us to find the right ways to work for a full visible unity. It ought also to impels us to work together in every way possible and to express even now that which already unites us and which can be the source of peace in the world.

Quite soon you will go back to your own countries and your own Churches and communities. May our Lord keep alive in your hearts the renewed vision of the unity he wills for his followers and enable you to share it with those among whom you will work. May he bless you and your families and keep you faithful to himself.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE BISHOPS OF THE REGIONAL CONFERENCE

OF CHINA IN TAIWAN


Tuesday, 28 February 1984




Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

It is a real joy to welcome you today, and, through you, to be able to send my affectionate greeting to your collaborators in the apostolate, to the religious families working among you, to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care and to all your fellow-countrymen.

Our meeting today is not a mere passing event: your are always present in the heart and prayer of the Pope, just as you remain united to him, as I know, through that spiritual solidarity which makes communion with the Successor of Peter a criterion of belonging to the Catholic Church, and which continues the tradition of the "very ancient practice by which bishops appointed the world over were linked with one another and with the Bishop of Rome by the bonds of unity, charity and peace" (Lumen Gentium LG 22).

Here in the Vatican, during this Holy Year of the Redemption, you have come to draw fresh strength at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, in the very city where they sealed their witness by martyrdom, in order to proclaim to a world hostile to them their faith in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man.

1. Your coming forms part of the conclusion of the celebrations held in Taiwan last year to commemorate the fourth centenary of the arrival in China of Father Matteo Ricci, while your are making preparations for the 125th anniversary of the evangelization of Taiwan. An occasion for recalling and for repeating to all the Church that living oneís faith always presupposes an uprooting, a disregard for oneís own interests, and personal witness. You and your faithful people know this well, for you have had to face many trials in order to preserve intact that treasure which is your faith in Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebr 13, 8).

This faith you have not wished to keep to yourselves, for in itself, as you were taught by those valorous missionaries who came to you, it is made to be communicated and shared. In this regard I wish to express to you my satisfaction at the way in which you have succeeded in orienting these celebrations: not a nostalgic turning back to the past, but a commitment, a determination to proclaim, in an ever more consistent manner, Christ and his Church to the Chinese people of today.

2. For you are Chinese and proud of it. You belong to a great people, representing a quarter of humanity. A people great not only by its number but above all by reasons of its culture and its values. An industrious people too, whose influence upon the peace and well-being of humanity today and tomorrow cannot be ignored.

The Church has something to share with this people concerning God and man. She wishes to offer to this people the proclamation of the truth which she received from the Apostles: ". . . there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all" (1Tm 2,4-5).

In a Pastoral Letter for the year 1981, you yourselves wrote: "Far-sighted missionaries . . . considered the proclamation of the Gospel to the Chinese people as their most cherished goal. They came to China . . . for the purpose of proclaiming their Christian faith. We, present-day Chinese, must in turn ask ourselves what we have done with regard to proclaiming the Gospel to our own people and what we can do in this present moment of history. We must try to study carefully what are the main obstacles to our proclamation in the China of today. We must also study in what effective way we can bring the Gospel to our own people" (Conferentiae Episcopalis Sinensis, Litterae Pastorales IV expleto saeculo a petita terra Sinensium a Matthaeo Ricci, S.I., die 3 dec. 1981).

3. Yes, dear Brothers, as you have clearly understood, the truth of Christ that you have to proclaim reaches people as they are, situated in time and space. As beloved sons of the Chinese nation, you are entrusted with the task of translating the message of faith into terms that can be understood by your compatriots near or far.

For the Church this problem is not a new one. Ever since her origins, she has had to know how to match her faith and the formulation of it with the surrounding culture. And in doing so she has respected it, drawing from it all its best elements. The missionaries whose apostolic labors in your midst you are celebrating did precisely this. They assimilated your treasures and gave you their own, so that there should be known and loved the one treasure that can be possessed here below: Christ Jesus.

Today the torch has passed into your hands. You have to be present at the heart of that collection of values that make up the culture of a people, the values in which a people recognizes itself, over and above the vicissitudes and momentary separations of history. And the Church - as I had the occasion to say at the time of the closing of the International Congress dedicated to Matteo Ricci in 1982 - "sensitive to the spiritual gifts of every people, cannot tail to regard the Chinese people - the most numerous on earth - as a great unified reality, a crucible of lofty traditions and vital ferments, and therefore, at the same time, as a great and promising hope" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Allocutio ad eos qui conventui in aedibus Pontificiae Universitatis Gregorianae habito interfuere: quarto expleto saeculo a petita terra Sinensium a Matthaeo Ricci, S.I., 7, die 25 oct. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/3 [1982] 927s.).

4. The Church living in Taiwan is more especially open to this reality. She does not live turned in upon herself, regretting the past or filled with fear. She prays, she sanctifies herself and works "that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph" (2Th 3,1). Since the long past epoch of the Tang Dynasty (between 617 and 917) which is habitually taken as the time when the evangelization of the Chinese mainland began, right up till 1984, the word of Christ, his message and his Church have lost nothing of their creative power, their light and their newness, for Jesus Christ is with us "to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20) and his reconciling word has taken the form of a cross that links the most widely differing people. We always have to learn their language, their ways of speaking and their habits, in order to tell them about the plan of a God the Father about whom Jesus, by his sacrifice, told us and showed us his love.

It is to you Catholics of Taiwan and the diaspora that is entrusted this wonderful task of being a bridge-Church for your mainland compatriots. There other Christian brothers and sisters take up the relay, for the moment hidden like seed in the earth. But all these efforts, all these sacrifices cannot remain without fruit: a day will come when Jesus can be proclaimed, passed on and celebrated in a more visible way through the culture, expectations and aspirations of the whole Chinese nation whom the Church deeply respects and loves.

5. Dear Brothers, I wish to encourage you, and likewise your faithful people, to persevere, to pray and to suffer in order to be ever more open to Godís plan, which in spite of everything unfolds through the history of each people: "Do not be afraid . . . the Holy Spirit will come upon you . . . For with God nothing will be impossible" (Lc 1,30-38), as the Angel said to Mary.

As he thinks of you, the Pope wishes to say to you, with all the Church which does not forget you and which knows of your vicissitudes, what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae: "We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints" (Col 1,3-4).

May our zeal to reach man, every man and the whole of man, also help us discover the victorious love of Christ in the very contradictions of history, a history in which God moves forward through what we are tempted to consider, humanly speaking, as obstacles or impossibilities.

"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!" (Ps 31,25). With your eyes gazing into the future, comforted by the witness of those who have gone before you and sustained by the prayer of the whole Church, let the light of the Gospel shine through the devotion and holiness of your communities.

It is also a pleasure for me to greet this morning the members of the Chinese community living in Rome, who have wished to accompany their Bishops for this significant visit. I encourage you all to commit yourselves ever more fully to the Lord Jesus. By the uprightness of your daily lives, may you be witnesses to the Gospel before the world.

With my heart full of affection and prayer I impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.



March 1984



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE MEMBERS AND CONSULTORS

OF THE JOINT LUTHERAN/CATHOLIC COMMISSION

Friday, 2 March 1984



Dear Friends in Christ,

i welcome you cordially and greet you with deep respect and a keen sense of the bonds which link us together.

Our hearts are filled with gratitude. "We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly keeping you in our prayers" (1Th 1,2).

Our thoughts reach back to those memorable years of the Second Vatican Council. It was then, in the assembly of her pastors united with the Successor of Peter, that the Catholic Church, acting under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, decided to renew with all her strength her commitment to Christian unity. At that time our first tie was with the esteemed Delegated Observers at the Council. This soon led to official dialogue, such as we have here between the Lutheran World Federation and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. These special, official relations we see as a necessity and as a gift of God.

Now, for nearly twenty years, Godís providence has led us along the paths of dialogue. During that time you yourselves, as members and consultors of the Joint Lutheran/Catholic Commission, have held ten plenary sessions and several smaller meetings. As a result you have been able to set forth important and significant elements to be used in erecting the house of unity which we are building together. With gratitude you look back upon these years of intensive work marked by a spirit of self-sacrifice. All along the way your efforts have been supported by the prayers of the Christian people and borne up by trust in the gifts which the Holy Spirit gives.

Yours has been a great responsibility, carried out with a passion for the truth which is Christ himself, with humility before the mystery of Godís holy will, and with fidelity to your own heritage. In the midst of your efforts an atmosphere of close kinship has grown among you and also a spirit of solidarity with those who suffer from division; the fruits of your work are widely known throughout the Christian world. Many people reflect upon, study and examine the common documents you have written. May your reports contribute to the movement towards Christian unity, so that this movement, led by the respective ecclesiastical authorities, will take deep roots in the hearts of all the faithful and that they in turn may be motivated to add their specific contribution.

Four years ago there took place the anniversary observance of the presentation of the Lutheran confessional document to the Diet of Augsburg in 1530. You have noted with deep satisfaction an agreement on certain central truths of faith. What unites us and what we hold in common encourages us in the hope that we shall find still further unity in those areas of faith and Christian life in which we are as yet divided.

In the commemorative year just past of Martin Lutherís birth, we have been able to discern that the efforts of Evangelical and Catholic research offer us a more complete picture of the person and teaching of Luther, as well as a more adequate view of the complicated historical events of the sixteenth century. All these are important elements in the reconciliation and growing together of Catholics and Lutherans. They are landmarks on the long and arduous journey that leads us forward. We shall never cease to look for new opportunities for the step-by-step realization of that unity for which Christ prayed on the eve of his sacrificial death. Whatever is possible between us, here and now, in the way of common Christian witness - to that we wish to give life and reality.

I thank you once again for everything you have done in obedience to the will of Jesus Christ, in fidelity to the truth and in service to the Gospel in a world which is longing for light and direction. May your work be richly blessed and may it bear much fruit. I pray that the Spirit of God will give his abundant assistance to the Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation this coming summer. I pray also for the future of our dialogue, so that together, in obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we may "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Petr 3, 18).



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO H. E. MR ALI KAISER HASAN MORSHED

AMBASSADOR OF THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF BANGLADESH

TO THE HOLY SEE

Friday, 2 March 1984



Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to accept the Letters of Credence which accredit you as the Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary of the Peopleís Republic of Bangladesh. I thank you for the kind greetings which you have just now conveyed on behalf of the highest authorities of your country, and for the noble expression of the inner dispositions of heart and mind with which you begin your mission to the Holy See.

You have made reference to the presence of the Catholic Church in Bangladesh and to the contribution made by Catholic institutions and personnel in various fields of service to the people. You have also referred to the assistance rendered to refugees. In all of this the Church seeks to follow the teaching and example of her divine Founder, whose whole concern was to serve and not to be served. Such service, whether it be on a personal and individual level or on the level of the various organizations and institutions involved, is the fruit of a conviction that every human being is a unique image of the Creator called into existence through love and for love (Cf. Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Familiaris Consortio FC 11) .

The Church is fully at the service of the dignity of man. In this she seeks to cooperate with other private associations and public authorities throughout the world which uphold the values that constitute and adorn this unique dignity. It is in this context that the Holy See is pleased to extend a cordial welcome to you as the representative of your country and its Government and people. Your presence here consolidates still further the good relations already existing between the State and the Church in your country. and offers further opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. In promoting relations with governments and international organizations, the Holy See is following the intentions of the Second Vatican Council when it indicates that "in their proper spheres, the political community and the Church are mutually independent and self-governing. Yet, by a different title, each serves the personal and social vocation of the same human beings. This service can be more effectively rendered for the good of all insofar as both institutions practise better cooperation according to the local and prevailing situation" (Gaudium et Spes GS 76).

Today, moreover, as you rightly suggested, no country or people can hope to promote true development and progress in isolation from the world community. For this reason the Holy See endeavours to encourage greater international cooperation at all levels, conscious of the truth that for peace to be achieved and maintained it is necessary that peoples be free from excessive inequalities and from every form of undue dependence. Again it is the Second Vatican Council which succinctly enunciates the vision that lies behind the Churchís activities in the area of international cooperation and development: "If an economic order is to be created which is genuine and universal, there must be an abolition of excessive desire for profit, nationalistic pretensions, the lust for political domination militaristic thinking, and intrigues designed to spread and impose ideologies" (Ibid.85). This statement was made by the Council almost twenty years ago, but it is still valid today.

Mr Ambassador, as you are well aware, your mission to the Holy See is not to a power in the temporal and worldly order. The heart of that mission is centered on the essential values that give meaning to manís efforts to create a better life in peace and harmony. I wish you every success and invoke abundant divine blessings upon you in the fulfilment of your task.

Finally, I would ask you to convey my greetings to the President of Bangladesh and to the President of the Council of Ministers. Be assured, Mr Ambassador, of my deep respect and love for the people of your country.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE PILGRIMAGE FROM LIVERPOOL

Friday, 2 March 1984



Your Grace, dear Brother Bishops,
dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet you in this special audience, and it is with great joy that I welcome you to the Vatican. This meeting reminds me of the cordial welcome that the people of Liverpool extended to me when I visited your city in 1982. You must carry back with you my greetings to all your fellow citizens and to the Authorities of the city.

Your pilgrimage is part of your celebration of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption. And you have come to seek the Jubilee grace at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, whose clear profession of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Mt 16,16) must be a model of our own faith. As Christians, it is our task to profess our faith in Christ in words and actions. Our entire behaviour should be a clear proclamation of our trust in the power of the Risen Lord.

One very important aspect of the Jubilee Year of the Redemption is that it leads us to appreciate more, or rediscover where necessary, the importance of individual confession, which makes saints of sinners and revives manís personal relationship with his Saviour. The Holy Year is indeed a call to repentance and conversion, and to a renewed Christian life. I pray that your visit to Rome, to the Basilicas and to the other sacred places which help you to understand the Churchís fidelity to Christ down through the centuries, will give you inspiration and joy in your daily lives. May God who is rich in mercy be close to each one of you! May his blessings enable you and your fellow citizens to achieve the courage and solidarity needed to meet the many and serious challenges which face you. May his peace and protection accompany your families, the old and the young, and in a very special way, the sick and infirm.

Praised be Jesus Christ!



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE LITHUANIANS WHO HAD COME TO ROME

TO COMMEMORATE THE FIVE-HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY

OF THE DEATH OF SAINT CASIMIR

Monday, 5 March 1984



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

i am very pleased to greet you today, Lithuanians from around the world who have come to Rome to commemorate the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of the death of Saint Casimir, the Patron of Lithuania. Although you presently reside in countries outside Lithuania, you are united by a common ancestral heritage. And you stand in loyal solidarity with your brothers and sisters in your land of origin who are unable to be here with us. Many of them will be celebrating today, together with the bishops, in the City of Vilnius, where for centuries the remains of Saint Casimir have been venerated. In spirit and in prayer let us join with them, imploring Saint Casimirís special intercession for the Lithuanian people and nation.

Many Lithuanians, from the nineteenth century onwards, and in particular after the last World War, have had to leave their homeland for various reasons. As they emigrated to new lands, they carried with them their spiritual and cultural treasures, especially their veneration of Saint Casimir. Many are the religious and social foundations established under his name. Many are the churches which, with great effort and sacrifice, have been built and dedicated to this noble saint. Associations for Lithuanian young people, such as the Knights of Lithuania and the Lithuanian Boy Scouts, have chosen Saint Casimir as their patron. The Church has been blessed with the foundation of the Sisters of Saint Casimir, and provinces of the Marian Fathers and the Franciscan Friars have placed themselves under his special protection. Here in Rome there exists the Pontifical Lithuanian College, which under the title of Saint Casimir prepares young men of Lithuanian origin to serve the Church as priests. It is clear therefore that Saint Casimir has become a strong link between those still living in your homeland and Lithuanians throughout the world.

Centuries ago, the Church proclaimed Casimir a saint and placed him before us not only to be venerated but also that we might imitate his heroic virtues and follow his example of holiness. His witness of great faith and fervent piety continues to have special meaning for us today. To the young he offers a challenging call.

His life of purity and prayer beckons you to practise your faith with courage and zeal, to reject the deceptive attractions of modern permissive society, and to live your convictions with fearless confidence and joy. His life also shows us the importance of the Christian family. For Casimir was one of twelve children, and from his earliest years he learned that each child is a unique gift from God and that a home built on the love of God is truly a pearl of great price.

Men and women religious can find in Saint Casimir an inspiration for their consecrated lives, as they recall how he embraced a life of celibacy, submitted himself humbly to Godís will in all things, devoted himself with tender love to the Blessed Virgin Mary and developed a fervent practice of adoring Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament. To all he was a shining example of poverty and of sacrificial love for the poor and needy.

Dear Lithuanian sons and daughters, as we celebrate the Five-Hundredth Anniversary of Saint Casimirís death, I make this special appeal to you: remain one in solidarity with the Church in your land of origin. Your brothers and sisters still living there eagerly look to you in their sorrows and joys, in the daily difficulties of life. They appreciate your support. They count on your prayers. Be firm in preaching the gift of the Christian faith which you have received, remembering how your ancestors preserved and defended it even to the shedding of their blood. And come to the aid of those living in Lithuania by making fervent petitions to God and commending them to the care of Saint Casimir. Above all, lift them up in prayer to our Lord and Redeemer, the source of all courage and hope.

I also urge you to preserve with care the many religious and cultural traditions which you have inherited. The very soul of Lithuania is reflected in your culture, and that culture has served greatly, in the course of history, to pass on the values of the Gospel from one generation to the next. Remain faithful then to your religious and cultural heritage. Be rightly proud of it. Make it the foundation of the education of your youth, as you seek to make them loyal sons and daughters of the Church. And I ask you to join me in praying for an increase in religious vocations. May the Lord call many of your young people to a life of joyful service in the priesthood or religious life.

This Fifth Centenary of the death of Saint Casimir happily occurs during the Holy Year of the Redemption, a time of grace for all in the Church, an event which calls us all to conversion and spiritual renewal. May you be inspired by Saint Casimir to receive in abundance the special graces of the Jubilee. May his example motivate you to an ever greater pursuit of holiness and an ever deeper love of Christ our Redeemer.

To all of you here present today and to your families and relatives at home, and to all those striving to live the Christian faith in Lithuania, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO H.E. MR OWART SUTHIWART-NARUEPUT

AMBASSADOR OF THAILAND TO THE HOLY SEE

Friday, 9 March 1984



Mr Ambassador,

it gives me great pleasure to welcome you today as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Thailand. Your presence underlines and consolidates further the excellent relations between the Holy See and the Thai people and their leaders.

I am particularly grateful for the kind greetings which you have conveyed to me on behalf of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and I would ask you to assure His Majesty of my sincere respect, as also of my prayerful best wishes for his well-being and that of the Royal Family.

You rightly referred to the cherished ideals of freedom - including religious liberty -, mutual respect, tolerance and understanding which the Thai people have fostered and enjoyed for so many centuries, and which form part of the very fabric of social life in your country. Underlying this rich heritage there is, as you say, a deep awareness of the dignity and value of every human being - an awareness closely related to the religious beliefs of the great majority of Thais. The Christian faith has found itself perfectly at home, and strives to collaborate in every way in making these ideals a reality for more and more of the worldís peoples, especially where their lack is most keenly felt. It is a source of joy to note your mention of the contribution of Christians to Thai society, especially in the fields of health and education.

Mr Ambassador, as you begin your mission as the representative of your country to the Holy See, there is one concern above all others which I would mention, a matter that especially occupies the thoughts and activities of public officials: the theme of peace. There are so many grave and serious threats to peace in our contemporary world. However, in my Message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 1984, I also drew attention to certain positive signs that are already piercing the darkness. These include a growing awareness of the "indispensable solidarity which links peoples and nations, for the solution of the majority of the great problems". The role of diplomacy is to assist the strengthening of this solidarity by presenting the various positions with clarity and objectivity, and by seeking ways to overcome obstacles without recourse to violence.

In this respect I appreciate the role that Thailand fulfils, especially in Asia, in promoting an outlook that upholds the value of peace among nations and respect for the unique dignity of every human being. It is my prayer that Almighty God will continue to bless the leaders of your country in their high responsibilities.

I eagerly await my visit to Thailand. I look forward to experiencing, however briefly, the richness of its culture and the goodness of its people. I earnestly pray that my visit will bring encouragement to the Catholic community, and that it will be seen as a concrete expression of my respect for other religious traditions. I also look forward to the honour of meeting His Majesty the King and the members of the Royal Family, as well as the political and religious leaders of your country.

May Almighty God sustain you and give you much happiness, Mr Ambassador, in the fulfilment of your mission.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE INTERNATIONAL LEADERS

OF THE ęANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE OF B'NAI B'RITHĽ

(SONS OF THE ALLIANCE)


Thursday, 2 March 1984




Dear friends,

i am very happy to receive you here in the Vatican. You are a group of national and international leaders of the well-known Jewish Association, based in the United States, but active in many parts of the world, including Rome itself, the Anti-Defamation League of Bínai Bírith. You are also closely related with the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, founded ten years ago by Paul VI for the purpose of fostering relations, at the level of our respective faith commitment, between the Catholic Church and the Jewish Community.

The mere fact of your visit to me, for which I am grateful, is in itself a proof of the constant development and deepening of such relations. Indeed, when one looks back to the years before the Second Vatican Council and its Declaration "Nostra Aetate" and tries to encompass the work done since, one has the feeling that the Lord has done "great things" for us (cf. Luc Lc 1,49). Therefore we are called to join in a heartfelt act of thanksgiving to God. The opening verse of Psalm 133 is appropriate: "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity".

Because, my dear friends, as I have often said since the beginning of my pastoral service as Successor of Peter, the Galilean fisherman (cf. Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Allocutio ad Praesides et Legatos Consociationum Hebraicarum de dialogo inter Christianos et Hebraeos ad universorum hominum utilitatem fovendo, die 12 mart. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II [1979] 528 ss.), the encounter between Catholics and Jews is not a meeting of two ancient religions each going its own way, and not infrequently, in times past, in grievous and painful conflict. It is a meeting between "brothers", a dialogue, as I said to the Representatives of the German Jewish community in Mainz (November 11, 1980), "between the first and the second part of the Bible". And as the two parts of the Bible are distinct but closely related, so are the Jewish people and the Catholic Church.

This closeness is to be manifested in many ways. First of all, in the deep respect for each otherís identity. The more we know each other, the more we learn to assess and respect our differences.

But then, and this is the great challenge we are called to accept: respect does not mean estrangement, nor is it tantamount to indifference. On the contrary, the respect we speak of is based on the mysterious spiritual link (cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 4) which brings us close together, in Abraham and, through Abraham, in God who chose Israel and brought forth the Church from Israel.

This "spiritual link" however involves a great responsibility. Closeness in respect implies trust and frankness, and totally excludes distrust and suspicion. It also calls for fraternal concern for one another and the problems and difficulties with which each of our religious communities is faced.

The Jewish community in general, and your organization in particular, as your name proclaims, are very much concerned with old and new forms of discrimination and violence against Jews and Judaism, ordinarily called anti-Semitism. The Catholic Church, even before the Second Vatican Council (cf. S. Congregatio S. Officii, die 3 mart. 1928; Pii XI, Allocutio ad belgicos scriptores, die 6 sept. 1938) condemned such ideology and practice as opposed not only to the Christian profession but also to the dignity of the human person created in the image of God.

But we are not meeting each other just for ourselves. We certainly try to know each other better and to understand better our respective distinctive identity and the close spiritual link between us. But, knowing each other, we discover still more what brings us together for a deeper concern for humanity at large: in areas, to cite but a few, such as hunger, poverty, discrimination wherever it may be found and against whomever it may be directed, and the needs of refugees. And, certainly, the great task of promoting justice and peace (cf. Ps Ps 85,4), the sign of the messianic age in both the Jewish and the Christian tradition, grounded in its turn in the great prophetic heritage. This "spiritual link" between us cannot fail to help us face the great challenge addressed to those who believe that God cares for all people, whom he created in his own image (cf. Gen Gn 1,27).

I see this at the same time as a reality and as a promise of the dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism, and of the relations already existing between your organisation and the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism and with other institutions in some local Churches.

I thank you again for your visit and for your commitment to the goals of dialogue. Let us be grateful to our God, the Father of us all.




Speeches 1984