Speeches 1984 - Saint Louis Hospital - Bangkok (Thailand)


APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO KOREA, PAPUA NEW GUINEA,

SOLOMON ISLANDS AND THAILAND

FAREWELL CEREMONY

ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

Don Muang Airport - Bangkok (Thailand)

Friday, 11 May 1984




Your Royal Highness,
Mr Prime Minister,
dear Friends,

the hour has come for me to bid farewell to Thailand, bringing to a close my all too brief visit to this enchanting land and its charming people. I wish to express my appreciation to all those who have made this visit possible.

1. In the first place, I am very grateful to Their Majesties the King and Queen, who extended to me the gracious invitation to visit Thailand, thus enabling me, as I have already mentioned, to return the visit which they paid to my predecessor John XXIII some twenty years ago.

Through Their Majestiesí benevolence, I have had the opportunity to experience at firsthand the traditional gentleness and hospitality of the Thai people, human qualities and virtues which are exemplified remarkably in their own persons. The bond of mutual love which unites the people of Thailand to their Sovereigns is clearly evident in Their Majestiesí tireless solicitude for the welfare and happiness of their subjects, which in turn earns them the enduring affection and esteem of the Thai people.

As the "Upholder of All Religions" in Thailand, His Majesty the King has shown personal concern for the free practice of religions other than Buddhism in his country. For this reason, too, I have been honoured by his invitation. His Majesty has likewise honoured me by charging The Crown Prince to greet me in his name and for this great gesture of respect and friendship I am deeply grateful.

2. My presence on Thai soil has also enabled me to greet His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of all Buddhists in this country. It was a privilege for me to meet this venerable and revered religious leader. I am sure that our encounter augurs well for the future of Buddhist-Catholic relations, both here and throughout the world.

3. I wish to thank the Prime Minister and the other government Ministers and officials who extended their courtesy and cooperation to those who prepared my journey to your country. I am deeply grateful to all who helped to coordinate the programme of my visit in all its many aspects.

It was a source of particular satisfaction for me to visit the camp of South-east Asian Refugees at Phanat Nikhom. On behalf of the thousands and thousands of suffering men, women and children who have fled turmoil in their own countries to find a haven of security and tranquility in Thailand, I wish to reiterate my profound gratitude for Thailandís generous humanitarian assistance to the refugees.

4. Finally, I say goodbye and many thanks to the beloved Catholics of Thailand. To the Cardinal the bishops, the priests, the religious and all the dedicated laity who worked so hard both before and during my stay among you, I say a most sincere Thank You. This visit to the noble people of Thailand, and in particular to the faithful and persevering Catholics of this country, will be etcher forever in my memory and in my heart. I will continue to pray for you as I do for all peoples, that God may bless you with happiness, prosperity and lasting peace.

Thailand - "Land of the Free" - I salute you.
People of Thailand - I bid you farewell.
People of Thailand - May God bless you!




TO THE BISHOPS OF LESOTHO

ON THEIR ęAD LIMINAĽ VISIT

Monday, 21 May 1984



Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. With deep affection in our Lord Jesus Christ, I welcome you to the See of Peter on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. In you, the Pastors of the flock, I embrace the whole Church in Lesotho, and pay homage to the vitality of your ecclesial communities that were founded through missionary generosity and zeal. The mystery of Christís presence is a living reality among your people. Jesus repeats in your midst: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20).

2. We also believe that Christ is present with us in our fraternal gathering today. Together we offer to the Lord his Church in your country. We offer it to him in its vitality and with its problems, its hopes, its deep aspirations. On my part, as Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ, I am close to you in all your pastoral labours, in the great task that is yours as Bishops: to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating and uplifting fullness. In carrying out this charge you make present the person of Jesus who "went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil" (Act. 10, 38).

3. I have followed with deep interest and support your efforts to apply Christís Gospel of peace and reconciliation to local circumstances, and to do everything possible for your people at a time of drought and famine. I know that, while you preach salvation in the name of Jesus, you are also experiencing in your day-to-day ministry the reality spoken of by Paul VI when he stated: "Between evangelization and human advancement - development and liberation - there are in fact profound links. These include links . . . of the eminently evangelical order, which is that of charity: how in fact can one proclaim the new commandment without promoting in justice and peace the true, authentic advancement of man?" (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 31)

For this reason I would encourage the various social and charitable activities of your local Churches: the generous initiatives made on behalf of the needy, including the zealous work of Caritas Lesotho, the health care services and the many educational programmes. I pray that the Lord will sustain you in all the different responsibilities that are yours. I know that organizing pastoral assistance for migrant workers is one of your principal concerns. At stake here are very important issues such as the dignity of workers, the sanctity of the family and the well-being of society.

4. I am likewise close to you in all your efforts to build up your local Churches. The training that your seminarians receive will have an immense influence on the future of the whole ecclesial community. I am sure that you will do everything possible to ensure that these young men will be solidly formed in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ. All efforts expended in the formation of the religious and the catechists are likewise a vital contribution to the very life of the Church in Lesotho.

I would ask you that, on your return to your dioceses, you would communicate my message to all the faithful: "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus" (1Co 16,23). I offer to the Christian families the expression of my support and esteem as they strive to live their lofty vocation in persevering fidelity. Amid the difficulties and temptations of life, may they never doubt the power of Christís grace. A special word of gratitude, which I present in the name of Christ, goes to all those who closely collaborate with you in the pastoral mission of the Church. I am thinking of all the generous priests, religious Brothers and Sisters and dedicated catechists who, by their united efforts, build up the Church of the living God. To each and every one of these and to all Godís people I send my Apostolic Blessing, invoking upon them the loving protection of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE PAEDIATRIC CARDIOLOGISTS

TAKING PART IN THE CONGRESS

SPONSORED BY THE ęBAMBIN GESŔĽ HOSPITAL OF ROME

Tuesday, 22 May 1984

Dear Friends,


1. I greet you most cordially, and I congratulate you on the noble commitment which has brought you from all parts of the world to take part in a Congress devoted to the care of children suffering from heart ailments.

There are many surgeons, and equally many paediatric cardiologists, who work together in order to relieve the sufferings of these children. Parents turn to them with full confidence, entrusting their offspring to them in the certainty that they will give of the best of their knowledge, their skill and their dedication, in order to send their little patients home fully or at least partially cured of the defects which had developed during the prenatal period.

2. This branch of paediatrics and heart surgery has made great progress in the course of the last ten years. After the preliminary examination at the sickbed, it has now become possible to use methods of diagnosis which are extremely advanced and highly reliable, enabling those whose task it is to correct congenital heart defects to have an exact picture of what is needed in order to achieve the most perfect results possible from anatomical and functional restructuring, at the same time keeping surgical risks to a minimum.

After the completion of sophisticated analyses and the use of advanced instruments in the diagnosis and correction of the defects involved, there comes post-operative care, which itself is assisted by modern techniques and equipment devised to save the lives of children who in many cases risk early death if they do not receive treatment at exactly the right time.

It is for this reason that medical men and women have studied the methods and techniques for dealing with cardiac illness from the first moments of life. Some of them, including some of you here today, are studying the means of treating children still in their motherís womb, with the development of methods capable of dealing effectively with heart defects before birth, in some cases correcting them even without a surgical operation.

3. The efforts being made today will be crowned with success and will truly penetrate the mystery of life if this research is approached with certain attitudes. In the first place, with the humility of the scientist who knows a great deal but who is also aware that he understands only a small part of the mysteries he is dealing with. Then there is a need for strength, dedication and courage, in order to continue with studies that at times seem to be fruitless, or which on occasions prove to be on the wrong path, but which with persistence will finally lead to a solution of the problem in hand. And there is the need for faith, which is a sure support in the search for scientific truth through the phenomena of the life of human beings and other living creatures.

4. But all this research and all these efforts would be impossible if they were not sustained by the teamwork that is one of the marks of this activity.

A debt of gratitude is owed to all those involved in this sphere: obstetricians, experts in child-care, paediatricians, anaesthetists. theatre staff and technicians, laboratory personnel, nurses, ward staff - all those who ensure the various hospital services, and without whom the great successes attained today would not be possible. We also know that their commitment often goes well beyond strict duty. Their love for their work, their dedication and their sense of responsibility frequently impel them to make extra efforts in order to ensure the success of an operation, to save a life and to restore to its parents a child now happily cured.

5. How often surgeons and doctors themselves experience the anguish of having to deal with cardiac disease of an extremely complex nature. Sometimes they are able to solve the problems involved, but on occasion the illness is so grave and untreatable that even their great skill is unable to cure the ill or save the childís life.

We are deeply aware of the problems that face you in your mission as scientists and doctors, and which at times become tragedies for your consciences as human beings and believers. Only if your conscience is sustained by strong faith can you take comfort from the conviction that everything has been done for the ultimate good of the child.

At such moments you will be encouraged by several factors to continue with your researches and not to lose heart. You will be sustained by the solidity of your training, the certainty drawn from experience, your confidence in your own abilities. You will be helped by your respect for human suffering and the anxiety of your patientsí families, by your conviction of the value of the life of the sick child entrusted to your skill. You will be supported by your knowledge of the capabilities of your collaborators. And you will have faith in the help that is always available even beyond human powers, a help that is ever more effective if it is invoked before an important decision or a difficult operation.

6. I would like to close these reflections by offering you a thought that, on the human and religious levels, can serve as a sort of summing-up.

In the Christian view, God wishes man to collaborate with him in the still continuing work of creation. An activity like yours, which is devoted to helping small human beings to escape early death and to grow up into healthy adults, is part of that collaboration on the loftiest levels of the plan of the Creator.

The nobility of your mission is in direct relation with a programme of love and life that has placed man, every human being, every unique and unrepeatable individual, at the pinnacle of creation.

This is a thought that can encourage you to go forward with perseverance, especially at those inevitable times of defeat and failure, an encouragement to invoke him who is the Lord of life and who asks for the assistance of your minds, your hands and your hearts.

With these thoughts I invoke Godís blessings upon your work, upon yourselves and upon your families.



June 1984



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO THE MEMBERS

OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES

Friday, 1st June 1984



Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Today's meeting is a source of deep interest for me, as the theme which you are studying during these days recalls to my heart, no less than to yours, the terrible sufferings of a large number of our brothers and sisters, those who are afflicted by the dreaded disease of leprosy, and especially those in whom it has caused irreversible loss of limbs. My interest is matched by my sincere admiration for the careful and untiring researches which you conduct for the purpose of fighting this illness and saving many human lives.

At this moment my thoughts go to the various meetings which Jesus had with lepers. I wish to quote from just one, as told by Saint Mark in the first chapter of his Gospel. The sacred text reads: "And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him: ĎIf you will, you can make me cleaní ". At this request Jesus "stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him: ĎI will; be cleaní. And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean" (Marc. 1, 40-42).

By touching the leperís sores with his hand, Jesus knocked down the barrier separating the untouchables from the human community, and by this miraculous cure he opened a path of hope that religion and science have to follow. Neither for the one nor for the other can any person henceforth be called unclean, but every individual will have to be respected and helped to regain the good health worthy of the human person.

2. The sense of universal brotherhood proclaimed by the Gospel evoked from followers of every faith a generous eagerness to assist sufferers from leprosy, and leper colonies and hospitals were set up in every part of the world. In every place there was a widespread movement to provide voluntary aid, an "unexpected gift of private mercy" on the part of those who, "strong in courage... moved by pity, took upon themselves and virtuously maintained the care to which they were not called by their duties", as happened during the plague in Milan described by Alessandro Manzoni in his famous novel I Promessi Sposi (Alessandro Manzoni, I Promessi Sposi, cap. 32).

Among the apostles of the lepers who appeared among the Christian missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, I cannot fail to mention Father Damien De Veuster of the Picpus Fathers, who has been honoured throughout the world as the most generous example of Christian charity towards lepers. Together with him I wish also to mention among the lay apostles Marcello Candia, who made a total gift of himself and his resources to the sufferers from this disease.

However, the care given by generous volunteers, and the institutions subsequently set up by governments, could not have been effective on the health-care level had not science offered and provided means and methods of diagnosis and therapy.

3. As in every other field, so in the sphere of the treatment of the widely differing forms of disease, feelings of brotherhood and scientific research link hand in order to rescue humanity from its needs and afflictions. The help of charitable volunteers and the scientistís work both call for powerful spiritual energies. Scientific research is not only a magnificent use of the mind; in the words of my predecessor Paul VI, in a speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, it also demands "the exercise of lofty moral virtues, which confer upon the scientist the aspect and merit of an ascetic, sometimes of a hero, to whom humanity must pay a great tribute of praise and gratitude" (Pauli VI, Allocutio ad Pontificiam Academiam Scientiarum, die 23 apr. 1966: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, IV (1966) 197).

Eminent moral virtues and the assistance of the Spirit are needed by the scientist who not only devotes himself to research but who also wishes to exercise the charity of knowledge. When reason, tired and perhaps disillusioned in the efforts of study, seems to give in to the temptation of abandoning its undertaking, the Spirit comes to the aid of those who wish heroically to persist in the efforts they are making for love of neighbour, and at the highest point of the mind he lights a spark that brings a sudden intuition of the truth, whence research resumes its path and reaches the longed-for discovery.

4. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are following the path traced out by Gerhard Hansen, who through the perseverance of reason and the spark of the Spirit discovered the cause of leprosy: Mycobacterium leprae.Through your enlightened scientific work, in harmonious collaboration with wise doctors and generous volunteers, and through the farsightedness of governmental and private institutions, leprosy has diminished in many parts of the world. But there are still millions of our brothers and sisters who suffer its terrible consequences. For the sake of these people efforts must be everywhere increased to ensure that those who are still condemned to a sort of civil death can rediscover life, improve its quality, and find in society a place corresponding to their human dignity, for like all other people they are made in the image and likeness of God. There is no reason at all why those who have been cured should not be fully reintegrated into society.

Mr President, in your address you have rightly stated that science when directed towards peaceful purposes can lessen the worldís ills, improve the human condition, and help to raise the quality of life, especially of those who are the humblest and the most neglected among human beings.

5. I therefore call upon governments, international institutions and philanthropical associations to make increasing contributions to the work being done by research scientists, doctors and volunteers in order to free leprosy patients from their sickness and from their humiliating and tragic rejection by society.

Mr President, you mentioned my apostolic pilgrimage to Brazil and in particular my visit, accompanied by yourself, to the leprosarium at Marituba. There and also, more recently, in Korea I have had the opportunity to express my solidarity personally with those who suffer and to assure them of the love and concern of the universal Church.

Ladies and Gentlemen, continue your research and your therapy, and be assured that the Church fully supports your work, for like you she has received Christís command, written in the Gospel, to "heal the lepers", and she knows that lepers who have been cured are a sign of the Kingdom of God (Cf. Matth Mt 10,8 Mt 11,5). Help to build up the Kingdom of God, which is also the kingdom of humanity. Be dispensers of justice and love to all those who, in the most desolate corners of the world, are waiting to receive a message of hope from todayís society.

May God bless you and your in the service of his people.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO REPRESENTATIVES

OF THE ęAMERICAN CANCER SOCIETYĽ

Saturday, 2 June 1984



Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you today as the representatives of the American Cancer Society. I am acquainted with the aims and objectives of your association and I wish to express my esteem and deep appreciation of your work. The fight to alleviate physical pain and suffering deserves the support of all people of good will, but it has special importance for those of us who are Christians, whose Gospel of love exhorts us to be compassionate as our heavenly Father is compassionate.

One of the most intense forms of suffering that the human person, on the psychological level, can experience is derived from the temptation to give up hope: hope in an eventual or possible cure, hope in oneís own capacity to overcome a specific illness, hope in the possibility of returning to a normally happy and productive life. Your Societyís worldwide struggle against cancer offers immense hope to thousands of men, women and children around the world. By sponsoring scientific research into the causes and cures of this dreaded disease, as well as in promoting public campaigns of information and education aimed at early detection and treatment, you offer the promise of a brighter future to those who know from personal experience the many frustrations and conflicts which arise from human suffering.

May your humanitarian efforts on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters be crowned with success. And may God reward your compassion and concern for others with his divine gifts of peace and joy.

God bless you all.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO STUDENTS AND STAFF OF THE

PONTIFICAL BEDA COLLEGE


Monday, 4 June 1984




Dear Brothers in Christ,

it gives me great pleasure to welcome the students and staff of the Pontifical Beda College. I especially wish to greet the newly-ordained priests, who are about to leave Rome to take up pastoral appointments at home. Having completed your course of studies and fulfilled the requirements of formation, you will presently serve Godís people through the exercise of the sacred ministry of the Church. As you are aware, this service implies both a vocation and a mission: you have been called to go forth in Christís name to preach his Gospel of love, to speak his words of forgiveness, to celebrate his presence in the midst of the ecclesial community.

As you begin your priestly service, I encourage you always to remember the important lessons that you have learned during these years in Rome. Continue to grow intellectually. No matter how busy your life may become, you must spend some part of each day studying the word of God and meditating on its meaning. It is never sufficient for you merely to read the word of God or to speak of its meaning without allowing its power and all its demands to penetrate deeply within your being. What you do, what you say, what you are, must be rooted in that word.

You are here today precisely because you were open to Godís call when it challenged you to leave everything and follow him. You must never tire of hearing God speak to you anew and beckon you to respond to ever greater demands in the building up of his Church. But this also requires that there be regular periods of silence in your life and a daily discipline of prayer. The call to priestly service is above all a summons to be holy as Jesus himself is holy.

My brothers, be filled with gratitude for the rich blessings that our Saviour has bestowed upon you in your vocation, and for the exciting invitation that he offers you through a sharing in his Priesthood. Strive in what you do, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, to accomplish everything with fidelity and with love. And may Christís farewell gift of peace be your great consolation and your great joy.



ADDRESS OF POPE JOHN PAUL II

TO H. E. MR LINNAEUS STEPHEN KAUTA MSISKA

NEW AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF MALAWI

TO THE HOLY SEE

Monday, 4 June 1984



Mr Ambassador,

I am happy to welcome Your Excellency today as I receive from you the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Malawi. I am grateful for the warm greetings which you have conveyed from His Excellency Ngwazi Dr H. Kamuzu Banda and I reciprocate his good wishes, assuring him at the same time of the high regard in which I hold the beloved people of your country.

I particularly appreciate your reference to the Churchís commitment to peace, freedom and justice for every man and woman. The Church seeks to pursue this commitment through various avenues, among which are the important channels of the diplomatic contacts of the Holy See with different countries. On this account, it is a great pleasure for me to reaffirm in this ceremony a spirit of collaboration in achieving the goals to which you have referred.

As you have noted, too often we find that the conditions for human advancement and the attitudes needed for fostering human potential are not universally present in our contemporary society. Despite an abundance of goods and resources in some parts of the world, many people do not even have the basic requirements necessary to survive. Each day finds a large proportion of the worldís population suffering from a shortage of food and medical assistance, from a lack of shelter, education and employment opportunities. This situation presents to governments, individuals and the Church alike the challenge of striving to rectify the unequal distribution of human resources and thereby re-establishing among all the children of God a proper sense of their human dignity.

Prompted by the kind words of your address, I wish to thank you for your observations regarding the Churchís efforts within your country in the various areas of service. These efforts are motivated by a firm belief that each person, in every continent, has been made in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ. Because this faith is sure, I can promise you the unfailing interest and, to the extent that it is possible, the willing assistance of the Church in Malawi.

Mr Ambassador, I pray that your diplomatic mission will bring about a further strengthening of the friendship and cooperation that have characterized relations between your nation and the Holy See. I ask Almighty abundant success to all the endeavours which you undertake.




TO PARTICIPANTS IN THE INTERNATIONAL

CONGRESSES ON MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND FERTILITY

Friday, 8 June 1984



Dear Friends in Christ,

1. It gives me a great joy to extend a cordial greeting today to both groups present at this audience. I welcome the participants in the International Congress on the Philosophy and the Theology of Responsible Procreation, organized by the Pontifical Institute for the Study of Marriage and the Family, and I also welcome those taking part in the Second International Congress on Responsible Procreation, organized by the Centre for Study and Research on the Natural Regulation of Fertility of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. I am likewise deeply pleased that you have come here together today, to give to the world a united witness to the importance of the matter that you are studying. Your combined efforts, shared discoveries and mutual collaboration in the service of truth and the well-being of humanity render honour to your persons and to your Christian lives. The Church is extremely grateful for what you are doing.

2. During these days of your Congress you have set up a dialogue between science, ethics and theology on a subject of decisive importance: responsible procreation. This dialogue answers an urgent need of our time, one that is recognized by scientists themselves: the need for scientific knowledge and its applications to be ruled from within by ethics. This "rule by ethics" does not of course in any way detract from the epistemological independence of scientific knowledge. Rather, it assists science in fulfilling its most profound vocation of service to the human person. All knowledge of truth - including scientific truth - is a good of the human person and for the whole of humanity. But, as you know, truth known through science can be used by human freedom for purposes that are opposed to manís good - the good that ethics knows. When, in a civilization, science becomes separated from ethics, man becomes continually exposed to grave risks. Love for the human person comes from a vision of manís truth, dignity and incomparable preciousness. This truth and dignity are eternal, for the person is called to the beatific vision of God himself.

3. You scientists here present have concentrated your research upon a precise point: knowledge of the fertile and infertile periods in the womanís cycle, in order to discover diagnostic methods of discerning them with certainty.

What I have just said finds a particularly important application here. For this knowledge and the methods connected with it can also be used for purposes which are morally illicit. It is on this point that the meeting with ethics and theology must take place. By reason of your training and background you are in a position to make a very special contribution in this field.

Philosophical and theological ethics takes up scientific knowledge in such a way that this latter becomes the path whereby the freedom of the human person achieves responsible procreation. Only in this way do married couples, possessing the necessary knowledge, accomplish a "harmonization" of all the dimensions of their humanity, and safeguard the whole truth of married love. You are aware that each individual - scientist, philosopher or theologian - according to his or her own competence, is directed towards the same objective: the moral value of responsible procreation, and each complements the others, in a precise hierarchy.

The experience which you are having during these present days must continue. The teaching of natural methods is extremely vital for the human and Christian well-being of so many couples, and hence it must never be something purely technical. It must be rooted in true science and in a complete view of the human person.

4. In your Congresses you have rightly given ample time to anthropological reflection, both philosophical and theological. For in the end all the matters which you have discussed and will discuss entirely come back to this one question: who is man? - man in the unity of his personal being, in the truth of his relationship with God, in the goodness of the married relationship. When the answer to this question is obscured, the ethics of marriage is deprived of its basis. On the other hand, the full truth of the Creation and Redemption is a light of incomparable brightness that places the ethics of marriage in proper perspective.

Your work is therefore in the service of the human person, in a civilization that has often replaced the criterion of what is good with the criterion of what is useful. Strive to pursue it in great unity among yourselves, with courage, for the truth and the good are stronger than error and evil.

5. I wish to call special attention to the pastoral implications of your studies of responsible procreation and your promotion of the natural methods of family planning. The theological study is basic because "the concrete pedagogy of the Church must always remain linked to her doctrine and never separated from it" (Cf. Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Familiaris Consortio FC 35). Moreover, this study leads to a clearer understanding that natural family planning is not an end in itself but is one of the many dimensions of the Churchís pastoral concern for married couples. The theological reflection is also a great benefit for the many dedicated married couples who give their time and energy generously, and often at the cost of personal sacrifice, to teaching programmes in the natural methods. For these couples are not engaged in a private activity, but their efforts, joined with those of the Churchís pastors, are a part of the Churchís pastoral responsibility to instil conviction and offer practical help to all married couples so that they may live their parenthood in a truly Christian and responsible manner (Cf. Ibid.). The promotion and teaching of the natural methods is, then, a truly pastoral concern, one that involves cooperation on the part of priests and religious, specialists and married couples, all working in cooperation with the Bishop of the local Church and receiving support and assistance from him.

In your own work with married couples, I urge you always to maintain a special sensitivity to their needs, their fidelity to the Church, and the sacrifices they so willingly make in proclaiming the Lordís message in and through their conjugal love and family life. The Church does not claim that responsible parenthood is easy, but the grace of the sacrament of marriage gives Christian couples a readiness and a capacity to live out their commitments with fidelity and joy. At the same time, the use of the natural methods gives a couple an openness to life, which is truly a splendid gift of Godís goodness. It also helps them deepen their conjugal communication and draw closer to one another in their union - a closeness that lasts throughout their lives.

6. We must also be convinced that it is providential that various natural family planning methods exist so as to meet the needs of different couples. The Church does not give exclusive approval to any one natural method, but urges that all be made available and be respected. The ultimate reason for any natural method is not simply its biological effectiveness or reliability, but its consistency with a Christian view of sexuality as expressive of conjugal love. For sexuality reflects the innermost being of the human person as such, and is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Familiaris Consortio FC 11).

In this pastoral effort, then, it is important that the various natural family planning groups should work together and share their research and studies so as to manifest a unity of purpose and commitment. In this way the Church is better able to present to the world the values of the natural methods, and reduce the strong emphasis on contraception, sterilization and abortion that we often encounter in the world. At the heart of this work in natural family planning must be a Christian view of the human person and the conviction that married couples can really attain, through Godís grace and commitment to the natural methods, a deeper and stronger conjugal unity.This unity flows from and is enhanced by the dialogue, shared responsibility, mutual respect and self-control which are achieved in their practice of natural family planning.

Once again I thank you for all that you are doing in this field of Natural Family Planning, and in the whole area of promoting general attitudes that in turn influence the education of the young in human love. The well-being of the family and society is intimately linked to your efforts and to your success.

I commend you all to Mary the Mother of the Incarnate Word, asking her to assist you in your support of life and in your service to true love.




Speeches 1984 - Saint Louis Hospital - Bangkok (Thailand)