(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)




Wednesday, 18 February 1981

Mga ginigiliw kong kapatid kay Kristo (My dear brothers and sisters in Christ),

1. Kay tindi ng ligaya na aking nadarama sa mga sandaling ito ! (What intense happiness I feel at this very moment!) I have looked forward to this visit, because I wanted to tell you that you are the Pope's beloved friends, to whom he wishes to bring the message of l?ve that Jesus entrusted to his Church. My visit to you as the successor of the Apostle Peter is a visit of love. It cannot be anything else, because I see in you Christ himself and to him I have pledged my love. In telling Peter that he was to be the shepherd of the flock, Jesus asked him three times, with ever greater insistence : "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"[1]. And Saint Peter professed his love for Christ. I too profess my love f?r Christ, and in coming to y?u I simply want to give testimony to that love. I simply want to repeat to y?u the words of Christ who said : "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you"[2].

2. I thank the Lord for giving me this opportunity to come to Tondo District and meet the people of Foreshoreland, and in particular the people of the Parish of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The name Tondo is linked in a special way with the name of my predecessor Paul VI, the first worldwide pilgrim Pope of modern times. When he came here more than ten years ag?, he blessed the beginnings of this parish in the middle of an area where human and Christian needs were many and deep. He pleaded for greater respect for the rights of the human person, f?r the dignity of the children of God ; he asked for greater awareness of the plight of the people on the part of civil and Church authorities.

I have been told that much has happened since that time, that the various sectors of society have shown greater concern, and especially that the people of Tondo themselves have achieved much by forming their own organizations for spiritual, pastoral, social and economic development. But so much more needs to be done to make Tondo a place of hope for every man, woman and child who calls this place home.

3. When we think about the many problems that face you daily, when we think about the many people in other areas, in the slums of the big cities and in the neglected rural zones in other parts of the Philippines, then we think about Christ. In the faces of the poor I see the face of Christ. In the life of the poor I see reflected the life of Christ.

In turn, the poor and those discriminated against identify more easily with Christ, for in him they discover one of their own. Right from the beginning of his life, at the blessed moment of his birth as Son of the Virgin Mary, Jesus was homeless, for there was no place for him in the inn[3]. When his parents took him up to Jerusalem for the first time, to present their offering in the temple, they were numbered among the poor and they offered the gift of the poor[4]. In his childhood he was a refugee, forced to flee the hatred that broke loose in persecution, to leave his own land and live in exile on foreign soil. As a boy, he was able to confound the learned teachers with his wisdom, but he still worked with his hands as a humble carpenter like his foster-father Joseph. After speaking out and explaining the Scriptures in the synagogue at Nazareth, "the carpenter's son" was rejected[5]. Even one of the disciples chosen to follow him asked: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"[6].

He was also the victim of injustice and torture and was put to death without anyone coming to his defense. Yes, he was the brother of the poor; it was his mission—for he was sent by God the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit—to proclaim the Gospel to the poor[7]. He praised the poor when he uttered this unsettling challenge to all who want to be his followers : "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"[8].

4. Blessed are the poor in spirit! This is the opening statement of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes as the program for all who want to follow him. The Beatitudes were meant not only for the people of his own day but for all generations throughout the ages ; they are an invitation to everyone who accepts the name of Christian. This was the message that I held up in Brazil to the slum dwellers in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro and to the inhabitants of the muddy peninsula of Salvador da Bahia. This is the message that I present to rich and poor alike, the message that the Church in the Philippines, as elsewhere, must make her own and put into practice. Any Church that wants to be a Church of the poor must heed this challenge, discover its full depth and implement its full truth.

Here in Tondo, and in other parts of this land, there are many poor people, and in them I also see the poor in spirit whom Jesus called blessed. The poor in spirit are these that keep their eyes on God, and their hearts open to his divine workings. They accept the gift of life as a gift fr?m on high, and value it because it comes from God. With gratitude towards the Creator and mercy towards their fellow human beings, they are ready to share what they have with those in greater need. They love their families and children and share their homes and tables with the hungry child and the homeless youth. The poor in spirit gr?w rich in human qualities; they are close to God, ready to listen to his voice and to sing his praises.

5. Being poor in spirit does not mean being unconcerned with the problems that beset the community, and nobody has a keener sense of justice than the poor people who suffer the injustices that circumstances and human selfishness heap upon them. Finding strength in human solidarity, the poor by their very existence indicate the obligation of justice that confronts society and all who have power, whether economic, cultural or political. And so it is the same truth of the first Beatitude that indicates a path that every person must walk.

It tells those that live in material poverty that their dignity, their human dignity, must be preserved, that their inviolable human rights must be cherished and protected. It also tells them that they themselves can achieve much if they pool their skills and talents, and especially their determination to be the artisans of their own progress and development.

The first Beatitude tells the rich, who enjoy material well-being or who accumulate a disproportionate share of material goods, that man is great not by reason of what he possesses but by what he is—not by what he has but by what he shares with others. Poor in spirit is the rich man who does not close heart, but faces up to the intolerable situations that perpetuate the poverty and misery of the many who are constantly hungry and deprived of their rightful chances to grow and develop their human potential, who lack decent housing and sufficient clothing, who suffer illness for want of even basic health care, who grow desperate for want of employment that would enable them to provide, through honest work, for the needs of their families.

Poor in spirit indeed is the rich man who does not rest so long as a brother or sister is entrapped in ?njustice and powerlessness. Poor in spirit is the one who holds political power and remembers that it is given for the common good only, and who never ceases to devise means to organize all sectors of society according to the demands of the dignity and equality that is the birthright of every man, woman and child that God has called into existence.

6. The Church herself, the Church in Asia, in the Philippines and in Tondo, will heed the call of the Beatitudes and be the Church of the poor because she must do what Jesus did and proclaim the Gospel to the p?or[9]. But the preference that the Church shows for the poor and underprivileged does not mean that she directs her concern only to one group or class or category.

She preaches the same message to all : that God loves man and sent his Son for the salvation of all, that Jesus Christ is the Savior, "the way, and the truth, and the life"[10]. Being the Church of the poor means that she will speak the language of the Beatitudes to all people, to all groups or professions, to all ideologies, to all political and economic systems. She does so, not to serve political interests, nor to acquire power, nor to offer pretexts for violence, but to save man in his humanity and in his supernatural destiny.

Defending the human dignity of the poor and their hope for a human future is not a luxury for the Church, nor is it a strategy of opportunism, nor a means for currying favor with the masses. It is her duty because it is God who wishes all human beings to live in accordance with the dignity that he bestowed on them. It is the mission of the Church to travel the path of man "because man—without any exception whatever—has been redeemed by Christ, and because with man—with each man without any exception whatever—Christ is in a way united, even when man is unaware of it"[11].

The Church will therefore preach to the poor the whole Gospel ; she will encourage them to be faithful to the divine life which they have received in Baptism, the life which is nourished in the Eucharist and which is revived and supported through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For the same reason, I encourage you, the people of Tondo, and all the People of God in the Philippines, to exercise your individual and corporate responsibility for increasing catechetical instruction as you endeavor to implement fully the social teachings of the Church. Be fully convinced of how important it is for every future generation of Filipinos to be aware of the supreme dignity to which they are called, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

7. My dear friends of Tondo, be faithful to Christ, and joyfully embrace his Gospel of salvation. Do not be tempted by ideologies that preach only material values or purely temporal ideals, which separate political, social and economic development from the things of the spirit, and in which happiness is sought apart from Christ. The road towards your total liberation is not the way of violence, class struggle or hate ; it is the way of love, brotherhood and peaceful solidarity. I know that y?u understand me, y?u the poor of Tondo, for y?u are blessed and possess the kingdom of heaven. And when I go away, always remember these words of Jesus : "if the Son makes y?u free, y?u will be free indeed"[12].

Because of Christ I make all your concerns and struggles my own ; because of my love in Christ I am with y?u in your efforts to secure a worthy future for yourselves and your children ; because of Christ's supreme love for y?u I preach to you an uplifting Gospel of eternal life.

I pray for you, for each one of y?u, for y?ur families, for y?ur children, f?r the young and the old, for the sick and the suffering. I pray that the strength of Jesus may be in your hearts as you work together to improve your lives, to be good Christians and good citizens. I pray that y?u will find Jesus in each other and in every fellow human being. And I pray that together you will find him and adore him—the eternal Son of God—in the arms of his Mother, Mary.

?nd may Our Lady of Peace and Go?d Voyage be a loving Mother to you all!

Mabuhay kayong lahat ! (Long live you all !)

[1] Jn 21:15 ff.

[2] Jn 15:9.

[3] Lk 2:7.

[4] Cf. Lk 2:25.

[5] Mt 1:55 cf. Lk 4:29.

[6] Jn 1:46.

[7] Lk 4:18.

[8] Mt 5:3.

[9] Cf. Lk 4:18.

[10] Jn 14:6.

[11] Redemptor Hominis, 14.

[12] Jn 8:36.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)




Wednesday, 18 February 1981

?ga giliw kong kabataan ng Maynila at ng buong Pilipinas: tanggapin ninyo ang aking taos pusong pagbati at pagmamahal! (Dear young people of Manila and of the Philippines: accept my heart felt greetings and affection!)

1. There is no hiding the joy I feel at this longed-for meeting with y?u, my dear friends. "Friendship" is a word that we all like. But the reality it points to is far more beautiful. Friendship indicates sincere love, a two-way love that wishes everything good for the other person—a love that brings about union and happiness. It is no secret that the Pope loves young people like you, and that he feels immensely happy in y?ur company.

It is only right that it should be so. He is the Vicar of Christ and must therefore follow Christ's example. The Gospel records the intensity with which Jesus offered his friendship to each one of his disciples[1]. It also notes the special affection that he had for the young[2].

It was on the basis of this friendship that Jesus set before his young friends the mission that was assigned to them. Like Jesus I would like to speak to you of your own special vocation. The Second Vatican Council pointed out that Catholic universities should prepare their students to be "truly outstanding in learning, ready to undertake responsible duties in society, and witnesses in the world to their faith"[3]. I would add, for my part, that, if y?u are to be in a position tomorrow to fulfill your threefold mission as fully mature adults, servants of society and representatives of the Gospel, y?u must today live to the full your vocation as young people, as university students, and as real Catholics.

2. First and foremost, be genuine young people. What is it to be young? To be young means possessing within oneself an incessant newness of spirit, nourishing a continual quest for g?od, and persevering in reaching a g?al. Being genuinely y?ung in this sense is the way to prepare for your future, which is to fulfill your vocation as fully mature adults. Never try to ignore then the irresistible force that is driving you toward the future.

The Church is not frightened at the intensity of your feelings. It is a sign of vitality. It indicates pent-up energy, which of itself is neither good nor bad, but can be used f?r good causes or for bad. It is like rain water that accumulates on the mountains after days and days of raining. When whatever holds it bursts, it unleashes forces capable of wiping whole towns off the map, overwhelming their inhabitants in a sea of tears and blood. But, if properly channelled, dry fields are irrigated, producing the necessary food and the needed energy.

In your case it is not only food or material things that are involved ; it is the destiny of your country, the future of your generation and the security of children yet unborn. It is without any doubt an exciting but crucial challenge f?r you, my dear young people. And I am positive that you can meet this challenge, that you are willing to assume this responsibility. Above all that y?u are ready to prepare yourselves now, today.

You will agree with me that it is worth your while to accept self-discipline, which not only indicates strength of character on your part but also offers valuable service to others. The effort involved is one that fits in perfectly with your lives as young people in the field of sports. Even as far back as the time of Saint Paul, Christian mortification was spoken of in these terms. The young athlete who is prepared to undergo hard training in order to improve his sporting performance should be generous about the self-discipline required for his fully human training.

As young people, you look to the future. You are not stagnantly fixed in the present. You must therefore decide in what direction you want to go, and then keep an eye on the compass. Young people do not like mediocre ideals. They prefer to launch out into the deep. It is your right—or rather, it is your duty, to aim high. Your aspirations must be sublime; your ideals must be high. Dear young people, strive to build a character that is strong, rich and consistent, one that is free and responsible, sensitive to genuine values, a character that accepts the superiority of "being" over "having", one that perseveres in challenges and shuns escapism, facile compromise and heartless self-centered calculation.

In going forward along the path of truth, sincerity and authenticity, you have an ideal model. The model for you is Christ: Christ in his humanity, Christ the man.Notice that he is not only your goal: he is also the way that leads you where y?u are going. And on the way he acts as a shepherd ; he even goes so far to give himself as food for your journey.

If you agree to model your youth on Christ, you will find the whole process summed up in a single w?rd in Luke's Gospel. The word is that Jesus "grew". " Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man"[4]. This is not just a statement of what happened in history. This is also an invitation to y?u. Christ's word "follow me"[5] should also strike a special chord in your hearts. Accepting Christ's call is a sure way of responding to your vocation to be a fully mature adult, and this is the fundamental aspiration of every worthy young person.

"The direction that society will take tomorrow depends mainly on the minds and hearts of today's university students"[6]. This wise observation by Pope Pius XII is an invitation to you to be aware of the privilege and the responsibility that so many of you here today have as young people in an institute of higher learning.

The university offers you a whole array of excellent means for completing your formation. You must not however think of yourselves alone. You are called to help build up human society. As university students you have at your disposal abundant means that you must learn to know and appreciate fully.

The structure of a university is very much a community structure. The word "university" itself originally meant a society of professors and students. The university rests on the columns of society. It offers its members intense community experience. It strives to be a training ground for future experts who will take up key positions in the human family. The Second Vatican Council was well aware that young people in a university "are conscious of their importance in the life of society and are anxious to play their part in it all the sooner"[7].

Your desire is laudable; your youthful impatience very understandable. But you must prepare yourselves carefully now for your noble service in the future ; because the effectiveness of your service will be in direct proportion to the resources of truth that are yours.

A university student must therefore have a permanent program for capturing truth. It is no easy task. It demands study and perseverance ; it calls for generosity and self-sacrifice. The assimilation of truth is conditioned by the surrounding culture. First you must personally make a critical examination and try to form an organic synthesis. Only in this way will a university student be in a position to contribute the expert, committed and creative service that society expects of him or her.

Needless to say, the conquest of truth must be carried out with complete respect for different viewpoints and in open dialogue with others : a dialogue that in every field reaches particular intensity in a university.

Finding myself here in this illustrious University of Santo Tomas, which has given us such cordial and generous hospitality, I must make at least a brief reference to a particular aspect of the dialogue between the Church and the world : I mean the fact that it enables us "to see more clearly how faith and reason converge on the one truth, following in the footsteps of the doctors of the Church, especially Saint Thomas Aquinas"[8].

4. Thirdly, I would have you note that the Catholic faith that you profess fits in perfectly with your two other characteristics of being young and of being university students.

The catholicity of the Church has within it—for her divine Founder willed it so—an intrinsic dynamism that is in perfect accord with the enthusiasm of youth. The very words "catholicity" and "university" sound almost synonymous. Neither the Church nor the university admit boundaries. In the vertical dimension there is a difference, in that the Church is not content with a merely hypothetical openness to transcendence : she professes that such openness is a fact.

F?r a young university student, being a Catholic is not just something extra. It involves values that are original and specific ; it gives an incomparable power for building a better world and for proclaiming the Kingdom of God. As young Catholic university students, you are called to work in harmony with students of different religions and ideologies, in a common effort to advance truth, to serve man and to honor God. You are called to sincere ecumenical collaboration with all those who are your brothers and sisters in Christ. But at the same time y?u are called to make a specifically Catholic contribution at the university level to the evangelization of culture. As Catholics y?u must confess Christ openly and without embarrassment in the university environment that is yours.

In this way y?u are also contributing to maintaining the Catholic character of your University in its institutional commitment to the Gospel of Christ as proclaimed by the Catholic Church. Being dedicated to the further evangelization of your culture in depth, y?u are able, as Catholics, to bring new elements for an open and enriching dialogue. Hence as young Catholic university students you have a special testimony to give. Not to give it would be to deprive humanity of an expert and necessary contribution—one that can be made only by someone who is proud to be in the ranks of Christ's followers.

Dear young people, the mission that Christ gives you is a universal one, but at the same time it is to be realized in a unique way by each one of you. The particular way the mission is carried out depends on the missionaries, on y?u ! It is up to y?u to discover all the right ways to fulfill the Lord's mission in your world of young university students.

Christ counts on y?ur support. He needs you to spread the Good News of his love and the Gospel of eternal salvation. How providential it is that our meeting of friendship should conclude on the theme of evangelization in a country with a great mission for Christ ! This is a challenge for everyone. Each of y?u is called to take up the torch and proclaim the truth of Christ. You can do it ! You can do it with your youthful enthusiasm and with the confidence—the assurance—displayed by the first Apostles when the Church was young. You can do it, provided y?u do it together, and provided y?u do it with Christ and his Church !

5. I conclude with a loving and grateful remembrance of the Virgin Mary.

She is our Mother, an intimate, discreet and loving ?other. Although her affection is for all, it is a fact that the young have special need of her care, particularly today.

She is our Teacher, because she is our ?other. Students have a wonderful lesson to learn from her attitude of profound reverence before the unfathomable mystery of God, and from her search for truth through contemplation and prayer.

She is Queen of the Apostles : of all the apostles, both those of the Church's beginning and those in present-day history. Her presence is as discreet and effective today as it was at Cana of Galilee. May she be with y?u always. May she intercede for you with her divine Son, as she did then in order to prevent a shadow falling on the happiness of the bride and groom, who were young people just like your­selves—children of hers just like y?u, each and every one of y?u.

And in the name of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is forever the friend of the youth of the world, I leave y?u with this heritage of yours, which is faith, hope and love.

[1] Cf. Jn 15: 15.

[2] Cf. Mk 10: 21.

[3] Gravissimum Educationis, 10.

[4] Lk 2:52.

[5] Mt 4:19.

[6] Gravissimum Educationis, note 33.

[7] Gaudium et Spes, 7.

[8] Gravissimum Educationis, 10.


(FEBRUARY 16-27, 1981)



Araneta Coliseum, Manila

Wednesday, 18 February 1981

Dear professional people, my dear friends in Christ,

1. It is a joy for me to be able to greet the representatives of various professions from different parts of the Philippines : lawyers, doctors, nurses, engineers, educators and members of other professions as well. Many of you are in positions of leadership or community service in the world, or lay leaders in the Church—you are people who have had the benefit of education and training.

Permit me to go immediately to the heart of my message. It is this : Jesus Christ needs y?u for the building up of his Kingdom on earth. And the Church needs your special gifts, individually and collectively, to fulfill her mission of communicating Christ. Moreover, millions of your fellowmen and women count on your services in order to live worthy lives in accordance with their human and Christian dignity.

2. You can see then that this meeting emphasizes the Church's great interest in you, and her desire to consult, to listen to and to bring together all those who play a responsible part in the different fields of culture, and who exercise this responsibility in a Christian spirit of service. As representatives of professions that require greater educational attainment, and as creators and spreaders of culture, you share the Church's life and mission in a specific way.

This present meeting also emphasizes the need to g? beyond an individualistic way of life. It is up to you to create ever more effective forms of association and collaboration between Catholics belonging to the professions in general and within each profession in particular, s? that y?u can reflect upon your responsibilities as Christians in the light of faith and the Church's social teaching.

3. You are people who have reached your present positions as a result of hard and serious efforts, both personal and collective. Personal efforts, in the sense that the studies which y?u undertook in order to obtain your professional qualifications certainly demanded of you sacrifice, self-discipline and intellectual rigor. It is only after you have reached the goal that y?u can properly appreciate the path that has led to it. One only reaps the fruits of what was well sown in the first place.

But you are also the result of a great effort on the collective level. For your families and your nation have had to invest great material and spiritual resources in order to train and perfect ever more numerous builders of society, with a solid intellectual and technical education.

4. You have a twofold calling. In the first place, you have to meet your personal needs and those of your families, through the exercise of your professions. In this you have sometimes experienced difficulties and frustrations and perhaps even discouragement. And yet you must not give up, knowing as you do that you are also called upon to make your contribution to the service of the common good.

When things are going well, never shut yourselves off from society for the sake of making money, gaining power or acquiring more knowledge ; do not retreat into a position of privilege. May you put your talents to good use by serving ever more generously the needs and aspirations of all your brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I am thinking in particular of that great number of people who, as a result of different circumstances—injustice, poverty, the need to make a bare living, the lack of cultural stimulus—have been unable to attain the levels of university training and education that you have enjoyed.

Thus there is a close link between your demanding professional activities and the hard toil of the factory worker, the life of the worker on the land, the self-denial of the housewife in her home. This is why your sensitivity to human and Christian values will be the source of a creative energy that will help y?u to place y?ur skills and your activity really and effectively at the service of y?ur people, in response to their needs.

The complete development of the people of y?ur country, and the satisfaction of their spiritual and material needs, call for much effort on your part ; health-care for everyone ; the defense of the sacred nature of human life and its promotion ; the affirmation of the role of law in social and political relations if true order and real freedom are to be ensured ; the building of worthy housing, properly adapted to every family and every individual ; the education of youth by teaching directed towards the search for truth and its affirmation; the balanced and fruitful management of natural resources in order to ensure that everyone has a fair share of their benefits : all these are matters that concern you directly.

It is often the case that the great percentage of the lay people who are zealously endeavoring as organized groups to permeate temporal affairs with the spirit of the Gospel and to build genuine Christian communities come mostly from non-professional groups. Thus an unfortunate impression is created that the leader/professional groups are not deeply interested in religious activities.

In a country where the vast majority of people look up to the leaders and are easily encouraged by example, this apostolate of witness and example has great effectiveness and should be increasingly adopted. I sincerely hope that you can offer more and more of your talent and time in the service of the Church, in the lay apostolate of building up an authentic Christian community. Those, for example, who are recognized leaders in the field of health can do much to promote the Catholic principles regarding the intrinsic value of life in all its stages. Similarly, in the other professions, true Christian leadership is most effective.

5. May your efforts in this direction always be sustained by inflexible integrity of conduct, in the midst of the professional problems that you meet. But even more, may they be inspired by a desire to help those who are most in need, so that your service will be ruled by the criteria of justice and truth, of freedom and integrity, and be crowned with love. Remember always that as Christians you are called to live in accordance with the principles that you have learned from Christ and his Church. You are called to live upright lives consistent with your Gospel principles.

6. Everyone is aware that the disciplines that you exercise call for constant renewal, in order that y?u may keep up with the rapid pace of new discoveries. Your capacity to adapt yourselves and to keep abreast of these developments will depend on your constant study of the basic principles underlying these disciplines. And may your Catholic faith also be constantly renewed ; may it grow deeper and develop, through the radical dynamism of constant conversion to Christ, a conversion animated by a life lived according to the Gospel and in harmony with the Magisterium, nourished by a life of personal piety based upon prayer and the reception of the sacraments. May the testimony of your faith shine brightly in your professional lives, as well as in your personal and family lives.

7. You are aware of the present-day risks involved in shutting oneself up within the narrow limits of a "specialization". Such specializations can narrow one's horizons, fragment one's personal life and obscure the rich nature of life in general. It is very clear that professional specialization must be considered within the wider setting of what is called general culture. It is in this context that I urge you to take as your fundamental points of reference the religious and ethical values that are the powerful promoters of culture by shedding their light on man's different problems and deepest aspirations and by transforming his whole life and all his knowledge. Your professional experience will thus gain in depth, perspective and fruitfulness.

As Catholics with greater educational attainment and as representatives of the professions, you are called upon to show how knowledge and professional work blend with the wealth and resources of the culture of the people of the Philippines. That culture is rooted in the Christian tradition, and is therefore imbued with liberating and life-giving wisdom concerning the being and dignity of the human person, concerning the meaning of his life, his death and his final destiny.

I greet you once more, and in your persons I greet your families and all the representatives of the professions in this great country. May God grant you his abundant blessings !

8. And now I would like to address myself to another group among y?u, those men and women so very dear to the Church and to your Pope—the catechists.

Thank you, my dear catechists, for the gift of your presence. Thank you for permitting me to tell y?u, and through you, all the other catechists of the country who are not here with us, how much you are needed.

The world needs you because it needs catechesis. For the most precious gift that the Church can offer the modern world—confused and restless as it is—is to form Christians sure about essentials and humbly joyful in their faith. Catechesis does this, and it does this through y?u.

The Church needs y?u. She needs y?u in order to be able to accomplish her absolutely fundamental task of forming Christ in the hearts of people, of putting people in intimate communion with Christ[1]. In catechesis, it is Christ, the Word Incarnate and the Son of God, who is taught, and everything else that is taught is with reference to him. How noble and important then is y?ur service! But it is difficult as well as noble, delicate as well as important.

Catechesis is not just a matter of transmitting ideas. It involves above all communicating Christ and his life-giving message and helping people to give their response of faith and love.

What do you need, my dear catechists, in order to elicit the proper response to Christ's message of life? You need to be faithful to Christ, to his Church and to man.

You must be faithful first of all to Christ, to his truth, to his mandate ; otherwise there would be distortion, betrayal. As catechists you are, after all, echoes of Christ[2]. The Church too should be the object of your consistent faithfulness. For catechesis, which is growth in faith and the maturing of the Christian life, is a work that Christ wills to accomplish in his Church. An authentic catechist must necessarily be an ecclesial catechist. Finally, y?u must be faithful to man, for the L?rd's word and message is intended for every human person. Not an abstract, imaginary person, but the individual who lives in time, with his or her difficulties, problems and hopes. It is to this person that the Gospel must be proclaimed, so that through it he or she may receive from the Holy Spirit the light and strength to come to full Christian maturity. To a large extent, the effectiveness of catechesis will depend on its capacity to give meaning, Christian meaning, to everything that constitutes man's life in this world.

Beloved catechists, I have spoken to you with deep affection. I would like to stay with y?u longer, but I must meet y?ur other brothers and sisters as well. Before leaving, however, I assure you of my confidence, give you my love and assure you of the peace of Christ.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Model of all catechists, guide y?u in your great mission to communicate Christ. May she give joy to you and y?ur families and protect the Philippines forever.

[1] Cf. Catechesi Tradendae, 5.

[2] Ibid., 6.