Speeches 1984 - Royal Palace of Bangkok (Thailand)

Thursday, 10 May 1984




Your Majesties,

1. This is a moment of intense joy for me. With great pleasure I have set foot on Thai soil. I am greatly honoured to be received by Your Majesties in this "land of smiles", as Thailand is known the world over, in this "land of freedom", which is what your name means.

I deeply appreciate the courtesy extended to me by Your Majesties in inviting me to visit your beautiful country. With respect and esteem I reciprocate your gracious manifestation of friendship. I express my profound gratitude for the special act of benevolence on the part of Your Majesties in sending His Highness the Crown Prince to receive me at the airport in your name.

I am also grateful for the assistance of the Prime Minister. In thanking him, I express my deferential greetings to all those invested with the responsibilities of government and who serve the well-being of the Thai people. I offer an especially warm and fraternal greeting to Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu, Archbishop of Bangkok, the first Thai Cardinal in the history of the Catholic Church, and to my other brother Bishops.

2. My visit is a tribute to the long and friendly relations existing between Thailand and the Holy See. In coming here I have the honour to return the visit made by Your Majesties to my predecessor John XXIII in 1960. I also look forward to meeting His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch and to commemorate the visit that the former Supreme Patriarch paid to Paul VI in the year 1972. My predecessors were not able to return these visits. And so I am now happy to do so. I am very pleased to be able to visit my Catholic brethren, to pray with them and to encourage them in their activities of fraternal service.

3. I know that my stay in Thailand, although brief, will give me the opportunity to experience at firsthand the profound human values on which Thai social life and culture, with their customs and traditions, are based. To be a guest in the country that proclaims freedom as a constituent characteristic of its people is indeed a great honour. In our contemporary world, the history of Thai freedom and Thailandís legendary spirit of tolerance are a reminder of the deepest aspirations of the human family to live in peace, harmony and brotherhood. In particular, your respect for manís right to religious freedom renders immense honour to your land.

My visit is intended to be an expression of my personal thanks and the thanks of the whole Catholic Church to Your Majesties and to the Government and people of this noble land for the generous hospitality given to thousands and thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries. Your loving compassion towards these needy and suffering people makes me feel very close to you all, my brothers and sisters of the Thai nation, and it makes me feel at home in this great land of yours.

Upon your Majesties and upon all your beloved people I invoke Godís choicest blessings.



APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO KOREA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA,

SOLOMON ISLANDS AND THAILAND

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE REFUGEES IN THE CAMP OF PHANAT NIKHOM


Refugee Camp at Phanat Nikhom (Thailand)

Friday, 11 May 1984




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I have greatly desired to meet you during my visit to Thailand. Although my stay here at Phanat Nikhom is very brief, it has a deep meaning for me.

I want you to know that my words transcend all barriers of speech: they are spoken in the language of the heart. My heart goes out to you. It is the heart of a brother who comes to you in the name of Jesus Christ to bring a message of compassion, consolation and hope; it is a heart that embraces each and every one of you as friends and fellow human beings; a heart that reaches out to all those round the world who share your condition and experience life as refugees.

2. Listen to these words that come from my heart: I want you to Know of my love. We are truly brothers and sisters, members of the same human family, sons and daughters of the same loving Father. I wish to share with you your sufferings, your hardships, your pain, so that you may know that someone cares for you, sympathizes with your plight, and works to help you find relief, comfort and a reason for hope.

Have faith in yourselves.Never forget your identity as free people who have a rightful place in this world. Never lose your personality as a people! Remain firmly rooted in your respective cultures, from which the world can learn much and come to appreciate you in your uniqueness.

Have hope in the future. Our world is in full development. It needs you and your contributions. Take every opportunity offered you to study a language and perfect a skill, in order to be able to adapt socially to the country which will open its doors to you and be enriched by your presence.

3. To the Catholics among you I wish to say a special word: God never said that suffering is a good thing in itself; but he taught us through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for our sins, that our sufferings, when joined to those of Christ, have value for the salvation of the world. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who rose on the third day, is the foundation of our hope, now and in the future.

4. My dear refugees, the final word which I speak as your brother is to say a heartfelt thank-you on your behalf to all who are assisting you at this difficult time in your lives:

to the Government of Thailand, who has enabled me to make this visit, and who has opened the doors of this country to so many refugees from other South-east Asian countries;

to the many national and international organizations, both of a confessional and non-confessional nature, which have heard the cries of suffering from their fellow human beings and have responded in so many ways in this urgent mission of mercy; and finally

to the numerous volunteers, especially the many young people, who have come from all parts of the world to place themselves at the service of the refugees.

I thank you all for your generosity, your sacrifices and your humanitarian concern.

5. Dear friends: know that I do everything I can to help you and to ask others to help you. I am close to you in your suffering, and I ask God to give you strength, and to make it possible for you soon to find the peace and security of a stable home.

And may you experience Godís love in your hearts!



APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO KOREA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA,

SOLOMON ISLANDS AND THAILAND

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO CLERGY, RELIGIOUS PEOPLE AND LAITY


Cathedral of Bangkok (Thailand)

Friday, 11 May 1984




Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

grace, mercy and peace be with you from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Fatherís Son, in truth and love (Cf. 2 Io. 1, 3).

I have been greatly looking forward to this meeting with you priests, religious and lay men and women. I have been eager to greet you who have such an important role in the evangelization and ecclesial life of Thailand. So very often, from the See of Peter, the Prince of Apostles, whose tomb is preserved under the main altar of the Vatican Basilica, my thoughts have reached out to you: "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers" (Ep 1,16).

In the context of the pastoral motives of my brief visit to your country, I give special importance to this meeting. You, in fact, have been entrusted, according to your different roles, with the task of shepherding Christís flock in union with the Bishops, and of offering a clear and unambiguous testimony of Christian life that will nourish the People of God and speak to the hearts and consciences of all men and women of good will.

1. "I do not cease to give thanks for you": in the first place, for the numerous vocations to the priesthood which the Father has raised up in the Church in Thailand. I also give thanks for the vitality of the many religious Congregations that bear witness to the fruitful charisms that the Spirit of Christ has poured out on the Church in this land. I thank God for the fortitude and perseverance of the laity in their Christian lives. And I thank all of you, and your brothers and sisters who have not been able to be present here today, for the generous and faithful response which you have given - either as priests, religious or laity - to the call received from God. I pray that I may fulfil Peterís task to confirm you in the faith: that you may live by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you (Cf. Gal Ga 2,20) that you may be faithful to your calling and never lose sight of the great privilege that is yours: to collaborate in communicating Christ to the world and to build his Kingdom of holiness, justice and love.

As you are well aware, the privilege of a Christian vocation demands a full response. It requires every day a confirmation of your original "yes" to the invitation of Christ. It requires a renewal of your baptismal commitment, a renewal of your religious consecration and the promises of your priesthood. May your joy be to follow to the end the road on which you have embarked in following Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world.

2. I am aware of the many and varied ways in which you carry out your service to Godís people. Among your activities, however, there is a difference that corresponds to your specific vocation.

First I wish to say a word to you, the priests. In a special way, you must heed the teaching of the Acts of the Apostles. The first disciples considered their principal task to be their devotion "to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Act. 6, 4). You are privileged to have daily contact with Christ through personal and liturgical prayer. It is especially in the faith-filled celebration of the sacraments - chief among them the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is "the source and summit of the whole Christian life" (Lumen Gentium LG 11)- that you will draw joy and strength. In prayerful meditation on the revealed word of God, you will find "constant and familiar companionship with the Father" (Optatam Totius OT 8), through his Son, Jesus Christ. In this way you will become better instruments of the power of the Holy Spirit to build up Godís people into a holy dwelling-place for God: "For we are Godís fellow workers" (1Co 3,9).

3. Your service to the word includes the task of adequately catechizing your Christian communities so that they may live their faith in a mature and responsible way. This requires that you make time available for study and that you strive constantly to follow the injunction of the First Letter of Peter: "Be always prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, with gentleness and reverence" (1 Petr. 3, 15). Nor can you overlook your task to present appropriately the first proclamation of the Christian message to those who have not yet been comforted by the Gospel of Christ.

The communication of the Good News must be accompanied by the example of a life that finds its inspiration in Jesus himself. Allow me, dear priests, to say to you what Saint Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" (Ph 1,27). I assure you that this is my daily prayer for you!

4. The duty of being living examples of the Christian life belongs, too, in a specific way, to the religious of the Church. Dear religious: in you who have been consecrated to the Lord, the believers and unbelievers of this world expect to see that special love that Christ taught as his "new" commandment: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13,35). The charity of Christ, the pillar and support of your life in community and the power of your apostolic activities, will be the most effective proclamation of the truth of the Gospel, giving inner strength and vitality to the Church in Thailand. I wish to assure you of my affection, and to tell you how confidently I place my hopes in you!

5. In the communion that is the Church, the laity have their own specific and indispensable part to play. And to you, dear lay people, I say: by reason of your baptismal incorporation into Christ you share actively, and in a manner all your own, in the responsibility of transforming the world according to the truth and values of the Gospel. It is your task to live in such a way that your Christian faith will overflow into the social, cultural, professional and everyday human activities in which you are engaged.

The Church in Thailand needs your active collaboration very much! The challenge of providing abundant and efficient educational, social and fraternal services weighs heavily on your shoulders. By meeting this challenge you build up the Kingdom of God in a visible way and at the same-time make a very valuable contribution to the development and well-being of your country.Be assured of the Popeís blessing and support! Take my greetings to your families and communities, especially to the young and the old, and to those who suffer any kind of need!

6. Dear priests, religious and lay men and women: your various vocations are different. Each, in its own way, manifests the deep richness of Christís redemptive mission at work in the Church. Every vocation and every ecclesial task has its source of life and energy in the celebration of the Eucharist. Christ calls you to meet each other and to draw strength for your apostolates at the table of the word and of his Body and Blood.

I am pleased to know that special efforts are being made to make the treasures of the liturgy more accessible to the faithful. This will greatly nourish the spiritual life of the Church in Thailand. I hope that more and more lay persons will be able to share in the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the hymn of praise addressed to God by Christ and by the whole Church. This prayer of the Church belongs to all the People of God.

7. Your encounter with Christ in the liturgy and in personal prayer becomes the point of departure for the fulfilment of your missionary vocation. For the entire Church is called upon to be missionary. All the Churchís members share this task, and not only the brothers and sisters that local Churches in other parts of the world have sent to you, as a living sign of ecclesial communion and Catholicity.

And to you, missionaries from other countries, I express an especially cordial greeting! Accept the thanks of the Church and of the Pope for the gift that you have made of yourselves to the Church in Thailand! The Lord Jesus himself accepts your offering and presents it to his Father in union with his own.

The whole Church in Thailand must be missionary: not out of a spirit of competition, or out of a desire to impose points of view different from the traditional values of the remarkable cultural tradition of this people; but only out of the need to share both the divine life that the Holy Spirit nourishes in you and the joy that is yours in Christ.

May our Father in heaven become known, through you, in the very values that characterize your Thai culture! May the Holy Spirit form Jesus Christ in you, and through your lives and teaching communicate him to the world. May Mary, the Mother of our divine Saviour, be for ever the cause of your joy!



APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO KOREA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA,

SOLOMON ISLANDS AND THAILAND

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE MEMBERS OF GOVERNMENT OF THAILAND

AND TO THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS OF BANGKOK

Government Palace of Bangkok (Thailand)

Friday, 11 May 1984




Mr Prime Minister,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

1. It is a distinct pleasure for me to address you this evening and to offer you, and those whom you represent, my very cordial greetings and heartfelt gratitude for your presence here.

The friendly relations that have existed between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Thailand stretch back into history some three hundred years. In 1669, during the reign of King Narai the Great and the pontificate of Pope Innocent XI, the first Vicariate Apostolic was erected in the sacred city of Ayutthaya. Modern times witnessed a growing desire for closer ties between the Holy See and Thailand, until formal diplomatic relations were established in 1969.

The present status of relation reflects the mutual trust that exists between the Holy See and Thailand. It gives ample assurance to the Government of Thailand that there is no incompatibility on any level between a Thai citizenís loyalty to his country and his acceptance of the Christian Gospel and membership of the Catholic Church. Indeed, the promotion of the virtue of patriotism has a long tradition in Catholic teaching, as the history of the many heroic Catholic patriots in various countries round the world attests to.

2. The Catholic Church is a universal community whose members belong to almost all countries and continents, nations, races, languages and cultures. She sees as an important part of her mission the task of seeking out ways for understanding and peaceful collaboration among peoples, and she promotes initiatives which safeguard and defend the God-given dignity of the human person.

For this reason, I wish to take the opportunity tonight to call to your attention, as representatives of governments and nations, a problem of immense magnitude. To keep silent about it would be a kind of denial of what the Catholic Church teaches about human dignity and about how individuals and nations can and should respond in defence of that dignity. I speak of the plight of the thousands and thousands of refugees currently living in this country. My deep concern for their welfare and future impels me to mention the subject in this assembly and to speak out on their behalf.

Through the courtesy of the Thai Government, I had the opportunity this morning to visit the Refugee Camp at Phanat Nikhom, a processing and transit centre for over seventeen thousand men, women and children who have been exiled from their own countries and have sought asylum here in Thailand. It was a particularly moving experience for me because, as I looked into the faces of so many suffering human beings, at the same time I realized that there were thousands more in a similar situation, living in the various other camps in this country.

The sad lot of these courageous and unfortunate people cannot be ignored by the international community. Indeed the conscience of humanity must be made ever more aware of the evils of the situation, so that prompt and decisive action may be taken towards an adequate solution.

3. The poverty of these victims of political unrest and civil strife is so extreme on virtually all levels of human existence, that it is difficult for the outsider to fathom it. Not only have they lost their material possessions and the work which once enabled them to earn a living for their families and prepare a secure future for their children, but their families themselves have been uprooted and scattered: husbands and wives separated, children separated from their parents. In their native lands they have left behind the tombs of their ancestors, and thus, in a very real way, they have left behind a part of themselves, thereby becoming still poorer.

Many of the refugees have endured great dangers in their flight by sea or land. All too many were given up for lost or died en route, often the victims of shameless exploitation. Arriving here completely destitute, they have found themselves in a state of total dependence on others to feed them, clothe them, shelter them and make every decision for their future.

And how much greater is the poverty of the aged, the infirmed and the handicapped, who experience particular difficulty in finding a country willing to give them stable asylum. These countless victims are indeed enduring a cruel misfortune: unable to return to their own countries, they cannot remain indefinitely in their present state. What are they to do? Does the path which they have been forced to follow offer them real hope for the future?

4. The desperate appeals of these suffering men, women and children have been heard by many compassionate people, both in Thailand and round the world, who offer a ray of hope. At this time, I would like to express my admiration and appreciation to the various groups who have assisted the refugees during their stay in this country.

In the first place, I wish to express my gratitude to the Government and people of Thailand. They are to be thanked especially for having agreed to be, for many years now, the country of first asylum for thousand and thousands of refugees from other parts of Southeast Asia. The international community knows the difficulties which they have encountered. These difficulties are not only of a material nature. The internal and external political order of the nation have been affected by the steady influx of refugees. The departure of these same people to resettlement countries has not proceeded at nearly the same rate.

History will record the sense of hospitality, the respect for life and the deeply rooted generosity shown by the people of Thailand. These national traits have enable the Thai authorities to overcome many obstacles and thus provide a measure of hope for so many people living on the verge of despair. To His Majesty the King and to the Government and people of Thailand I renew my deep appreciation.

I also acknowledge, with profound esteem, the work of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. This organizationís great solicitude for the protection and assistance of refugees throughout the world has moved it not only to assume, with the constant help of governments, the financial burdens of first asylum, but also responsibility for encouraging nations to accept refugees and to offer them a real chance of settling down and making a new life. The generous response of these many host nations is well known and has certainly earned the enduring gratitude of the refugees.

Similar human solidarity is being manifested in a very clear way by numerous non-governmental organizations, both of a confessional and non-confessional nature. I would like to single out the work of COERR (Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees), and I am also glad to mention the many other national and international organizations which are cooperating in this urgent mission of mercy. These bodies have assisted the refugees by providing educational facilities, by helping to safeguard their cultural identity, and by offering them moral and psychological support.

In addition, the contribution of many Catholic organizations is an expression of the generosity and solidarity of numerous local Churches in other parts of the world. Here I would like to express a special word of thanks to those who have given religious assistance to the refugees, satisfying their spiritual hunger while at the same time respecting the beliefs of those concerned.

Finally, I cannot pass over in silence the contribution made by the many volunteers, especially young people, who have come from all parts of the world to put themselves at the service of the refugees. Their experiences will impress them deeply and may well give a new orientation to their own lives.

To all these individuals and groups I offer a word of deep gratitude and praise. Although they are unable to meet all the needs of their less fortunate brothers and sisters, these generous people, through a magnificent example of cooperation, show the refugees that they are not abandoned and that they still have reason for hope, even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy.

Furthermore, when we consider the vast numbers of people living in the camps, these many agencies and groups help to remind us that each refugee is an individual human being, with his or her own dignity and personal history, with his or her own culture, experiences and legitimate expectations. Many of the refugees have written to me, expressing their anxieties and aspirations, and I have been deeply moved by their pleas for attention and help.

5. However, the many efforts being made towards relieving the sufferings of the refugees should not be a convenient excuse for the international community to stop being concerned for the ultimate future of these people. The fact remains that it is something repugnant and abnormal for hundreds of thousands of human beings to have to leave their own countries because of their race, ethnic origin, political convictions, or religion, or because they are in danger of violence or even death from civil strife or political turmoil. Exile seriously violates the human conscience and the norms of life in society; it is clearly contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to international law itself.

Consequently, the governments of the world and the international community at large must focus their attention on long-range political solutions to the complex problem.

Resettlement alone can never be the final answer to these peopleís plight. They have a right to go back to their roots, to return to their native land with its national sovereignty and its right to independence and self-determination; they have a right to all the cultural and spiritual relationships which nourish and sustain them as human beings.

6. In the final analysis, then, the problem cannot be solved unless the conditions are created whereby genuine reconciliation may take place: reconciliation between nations, between various sectors of a given national community, within each ethnic group and between ethnic groups themselves. In a word, there is an urgent need to forgive and forget the past and to work together to build a better future.

Within the context of my appeal for reconciliation, I wish to acknowledge the various representatives of other religious and spiritual traditions. Their collaboration bears witness to a shared conviction of the duty to discern more clearly the values belonging to the spiritual dimension of human existence. From this perspective one can readily see that united efforts by Christians and members of non-Christian religions in the task of reconciling individuals and groups, one with another, can be a fruitful field of common labour. This is especially true since such efforts respond to a fundamental instinct of the human spirit.

7. Ladies and Gentlemen, from this place tonight I wish to renew the appeals I have made on other occasions to representatives of governments and international organizations, to increase and intensify all efforts so that the refugees, both here in Thailand and elsewhere, may be received back into their homeland, in which they have a natural human right to live in freedom, dignity and peace.

The Catholic Church, for her part, offers the assurance of her unflagging support for any measures which pursue this goal. She likewise pledges her constant availability to assist, as much as she can and solely out of her love and respect for the human person, in any efforts aimed at re-establishing the just conditions and circumstances to which every refugee has a human right and without which true and lasting peace cannot be possible.

May our common endeavours on behalf of the dignity of the human person bring upon us abundant blessings from God, who is the source of all human dignity and who calls us to acknowledge and respect that dignity as his precious gift.

May God sustain you in the great mission of serving humanity in need.



APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO KOREA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA,

SOLOMON ISLANDS AND THAILAND

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THAI BISHOPS

Saint Louis Hospital - Bangkok (Thailand)

Friday, 11 May 1984




Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. My heart is filled with gratitude in this hour of collegial unity. I am grateful to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has given me the opportunity to make this pastoral visit to Thailand and to proclaim the Paschal Mystery in your midst. And I am grateful to you, venerable and dear brothers, for having desired my presence among you and for having welcomed me with such warmth and fraternal love.

Through the power of Christís death and resurrection we are experiencing in a special way the unity of the Church, and in this ecclesial unity we are living the life of Christ. Yes, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Redeemer of mankind, is with us and in us. As we celebrate our unity in him, the mystery of his risen life unfolds in us. Jesus Christ is alive in his Church, and his Church is alive in him. As pastors of the flock, we are gathered to celebrate this mystery of Christís living presence in his Church.

Indeed, I have come to Thailand to pay homage to the Christ who lives in your people, to the Christ who in your people has himself become Thai.

2. The Christian communities that we are called to serve, dear brother bishops, are the communities that live the life of Christ in all its dimensions. In your people, Christ continues his life of prayer. Through the members of his Body the Church, he adores his Father, thanks him, and offers expiation and supplication for the world.

The mystery of Christís redemptive suffering is renewed in the community to which you minister day after day. Through suffering humanity, Christ brings to completion the measure of suffering that belongs to him (Cf. Col. Col 1,24).

In the community of the faithful, the risen Christ works incessantly for the salvation of the world. In his zeal he offers himself to his Father for the conversion of sinners. He exercises his power to forgive sins, he touches consciences, he heals hearts. He stands in the midst of the community as the Suffering Servant of the Lord and of humanity, inviting everyone to take on his dispositions of humility and meekness.

In the Church, Christ continues to proclaim the Gospel of Godís Kingdom. He himself catechizes. He himself reveals his Father and the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the very life of the Most Holy Trinity is accomplished in the Church. Through his members, indeed acting in his members, Jesus loves his Father to the point of saying in all truth: I love the Father (Jn 14,3). And the Father, in loving the Church, fulfils Christís own words: "The Father loves me" (Ibid. 10, 17).

Dear brothers: the mystery of the Church is the mystery of the life of Christ, the mystery of the living Christ. And this is the mystery which we are living, together with our people. All our pastoral efforts are aimed at assisting the faithful to share more intimately in the life of Christ.

3. A heightened awareness of the profound mystery of Christís life in us sustains us in our apostolic activities. This awareness, nurtured in faith, generates in us pastoral strength. When we realize that the living Christ is in us, we understand more deeply that "God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control" (2Tm 1,7).

Being rooted in this conviction, you radiate new hope as you announce the Gospel of peace and minister to your flocks, however small they may be. You ministry takes on an added sureness as you realize how relevant Christís promise is: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). Fresh joy is manifested in the witness that you give; you communicate a serene confidence to your local Churches.

With renewed zeal you then proclaim the life which was proclaimed to you, "which was from the beginning . . . the eternal life which was with the Father" (1 Io. 1, 1-2). The life of Christ, and in Christ the life of the Most Holy Trinity, is the great treasure that you share with all those who freely choose to listen to you, and to accept your witness, your teaching, your proclamation of the faith.

4. This great treasure must be presented in an especially dynamic way to the young people of the Church. It is they who are assailed most by the problems of the modern world; it is they who need a particular grace from Christ to endure the Christian combat with temptation and sin. In Christ the young people can find the answers to the deep questions that are at the basis of all Christian choices. How greatly they need the pastoral support of their Bishops, together with their priests, in order to develop and persevere in their Christian vocation.

In speaking of the young people and their needs we cannot ignore the formidable problem of narcotics in the world today, as well as the causes of this phenomenon and the means needed to face this crisis of humanity. The whole human community must be mobilized to confront this issue. But here the Church has a specific task of educating to human dignity, to the respect of self, to the values of the spirit, to the search for that true joy which abides in the heart and not in the passing exhilaration of the senses.

In this regard the Catholic schools in particular are in a position to make an excellent contribution to the solid education needed by the young to overcome the temptation of drugs. The Catholic schools provide a proper context to impart the information that will assist young people to resist the pressures placed upon them, and the opportunity for them to discuss with their teachers the safeguards that experience can offer. Above all, the power of Christís word, presented through the ministry of the bishops, offers to all the young the deep solution to all the many problems that touch their consciences as they strive to live the life of Christ.

In this area of narcotics and in so many others the pastors of the flock must stand vigilant in the midst of the faithful, proclaiming the great motivation of the Christian vocation, which is to live the life of Jesus Christ.

5. As bishops you are called upon to help your people face many issues that affect their lives as individuals and as members of a family and of society. If your people are constantly reminded of their Christian dignity - of their life in Christ - they will have an ever fresh motivation to face the challenges made to them by the Gospel of Christ, which has much to say about public and private morality, about the need to worship God and to serve oneís neighbour. As bishops, never hesitate to emphasize to your communities how their Christian vocation gives them an important mission of Christian witness. Christ himself put it this way: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5,16).

Dear brother bishops: I am close to you as you strive to help your young people and the Christian families from which they come, as well as the whole Christian community, to live to the full the life of Christ. As you endeavour to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life and as each of you strives to be a brother, father and friend to the priests who collaborate with you in building up the Church in faith and love, know that you in turn are supported and loved by the Pope, by the whole college of bishops and by the entire Church. This is indeed the mystery of the Church: to live Christís life and to live it together.

Everything we do as bishops must be marked by the attitude of the Good Shepherd, who through us wants to continue to love his flock, because he came "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10,10).

Venerable and dear brothers: this is the meaning of our lives and of our sacred ministry: to live in Christ Jesus and to serve that life in others.

Praised be Jesus Christ! Praised be Jesus Christ in Thailand!



Speeches 1984 - Royal Palace of Bangkok (Thailand)