Speeches 1985 - Nairobi (Kenya)
The ultimate determining factor is the human person. It is not science and technology, or the increasing means of economic and material development, but the human person, and especially groups of persons, communities and nations, freely choosing to face the problems together, who will, under God, determine the future. That is why whatever impedes human freedom or dishonours it, such as the evil of apartheid and all forms of prejudice and discrimination, is an affront to man’s vocation to shape his own destiny. Eventually it will have repercussions in all areas requiring human freedom and as such can become a major stumbling block to the improvement of the environment and all of society.
Threats to the environment today are numerous: deforestation, water and air pollution, soil erosion, desertification, acid rain and many more. Ecological problems are especially acute in the tropical regions of the world, and in particular here in Africa. Nearly all the nations affected by these problems are developing nations which are, with great difficulty, undergoing various stages of industrialisation. A severe shortage of energy and natural resources impedes progress and results in harsh living conditions. And the problems are often complicated by the tropical environment which makes people especially susceptible to serious endemic diseases.
Since every country has its own particular set of problems and varying amounts of natural resources, it is easy to see the difference between the problems faced by developing nations and those of developed nations. While modern industry and technology offer great hope of advancement, steps must be taken to ensure that the economic, material and social development which are so important include proper consideration of the impact on the environment, both immediate and in the future.
4. The Catholic Church approaches the care and protection of the environment from the point of view of the human person. It is our conviction, therefore, that all ecological programmes must respect the full dignity and freedom of whoever might be affected by such programmes. Environment problems should be seen in relation to the needs of actual men and women, their families, their values, their unique social and cultural heritage. For the ultimate purpose of environment programmes is to enhance the quality of human life, to place creation in the fullest way possible at the service of the human family.
5. Perhaps nowhere do we see more clearly the interrelatedness of the world today than in questions concerning the environment. The growing interdependence between individuals and between nations is keenly felt when it is a question of facing natural disasters such as droughts, typhoons, floods and earthquakes. The consequences of these stretch far beyond the regions directly affected. And the vastness and complexity of many ecological problems demand not only a combined response at local and national levels but also substantial assistance and coordination from the international community. As Pope Paul VI wrote to the Stockholm Conference: “Interdependence must now be met by joint responsibility; common destiny by solidarity”. One could hardly overstate the international character of ecological problems or the international benefits of their solution.
These problems often require the expertise and assistance of scientists and technicians from industrialised countries. Yet the latter cannot solve them without the cooperation at every step of scientists and technicians from the countries being helped. The transfer of technological skills to developing countries cannot be expected to have lasting results if training is not provided for technicians and scientists from these countries themselves. The training of local personnel makes it possible to adapt technology in a way that fully respects the cultural and social fabric of the local communities. Local experts possess the necessary bonds with their own people to ensure a balanced sensitivity to local values and needs. They can evaluate the continuing validity of the newly transferred skills. Only when this trained personnel finally exists locally can one speak of full collaboration between countries.
6. I would now like to say a few words to those engaged in the work of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, and to all who are trying to improve the living conditions of the poor and provide shelter for the homeless. This work is of course closely related to the ecological problems of which I have been speaking. In fact it is at its very heart. As Pope Paul VI stated in his message to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver in 1976: “The home, that is to say, the centre of warmth in which the family is united and the children grow in love, must remain the first concern of every programme relative to the human environment” (Pauli VI Epistula ad Exc.mum Virum Berney Danson Canadensem Administrum pro Urbanis Negotiis eundemque Praesidem Conferentiae Unitarum Nationum in urbe Vancuverio instructae ad dignas hominum fovendas habitaiones, die 24 maii 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV (1976) 401 ss.). For this reason, the Church’s primary concern for the human person in problems of the environment includes the problems of housing and shelter as well.
Those who believe in Jesus Christ cannot forget his words: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Mt 8,20). Thus we see in the faces of the homeless the face of Christ the Lord. And we feel impelled, by love of him and by his example of generous self-giving, to seek to do everything we can to help those living in conditions unworthy of their human dignity. At the same time, we gladly join hands with all people of good will in the worthy efforts being made to provide adequate housing for the millions of people in today’s world living in absolute destitution. Nor can we remain passive or indifferent as the rapid increase of urbanisation and industrialisation creates complex problems of housing and the environment. I assure you then of the Church’s great interest in and support for your commendable endeavours to provide housing for the homeless and to safeguard the human dimension of all settlements of people.
7. Five years ago, on the occasion of my first Pastoral Visit to Africa, I went to Ouagadougou in the heart of the Sahel region and there launched a solemn appeal on behalf of all those suffering from the devastating drought. In the wake of that appeal there was a most generous response, so generous in fact that it became possible to set up a special programme to assist the suffering in a more formal way. Thus, the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel was officially begun in February 1984. This Foundation is a sign of the Church’s love for the men, women and children who have been stricken by this continuing tragedy. Even though the project seems small and inadequate in the face of such vast needs, nonetheless it is a concrete effort to help the people there and to contribute in some degree to the future of the African continent, a future which ultimately rests in the hands of the African peoples themselves.
I wish to take this opportunity to renew my solemn appeal on behalf of the people of the Sahel and of other critical regions where the drought is still continuing and there is a clear need for international assistance and solidarity in order to provide food, drink and shelter and to solve the conflicts which are hindering efforts to help. Thus I repeat what I said in Ouagadougou five years ago: “I cannot be silent when my brothers and sisters are threatened. I become here the voice of those who have no voice, the voice of the innocent, who died because they lacked water and bread; the voice of fathers and mothers who saw their children die without understanding, or who will always see in their children the after-effects of the hunger they have suffered; the voice of the generations to come, who must no longer live with this terrible threat weighing upon their lives. I launch an appeal to everyone! Let us not wait until the drought returns, terrible and devastating! Let us not wait for the sand to bring death again! Let us not allow the future of these peoples to remain jeopardized for ever”! (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Vehemens incitamentum ad homines aquarum penuria afflictos sublevandos, in urbe Uagaduguensi ante cathedrale templum elatum, 7, die 10 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1295) The solidarity shown in the past has proved, by its extent and effectiveness, that it is possible to make a difference. Let our response now be even more generous and effective.
Two kinds of assistance are needed: assistance which meets the immediate needs of food and shelter, and assistance which will make it possible for the people now suffering to resume responsibility for their own lives, to reclaim their land and to make it once more capable of providing a stable, healthy way of life. Such long-range programmes make it possible for people to regain hope for the future and a feeling of dignity and self-worth.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen, as I speak to you today, I am reminded of the words of Paul VI which have become so well known: “Development is the new name for peace” (Pauli VI Populorum Progressio PP 87). Yes, indeed, integral development is a condition for peace, and environment programmes for food and housing are concrete ways of promoting peace.All who serve the basic needs of their neighbours contribute building blocks to the great edifice of peace.
Peace is built slowly through good will, trust and persevering effort. It is built by international agencies and by governmental and non-governmental organisations when they engage in common efforts to provide food and shelter for the needy, and when they work together to improve the environment.
Peace is built by Heads of States and politicians when they rise above divisive ideologies and co-operate in joint efforts free of prejudice, discrimination, hatred and revenge. Peace is the fruit of reconciliation, and the peace of Africa depends also on the reconciliation of people in each individual country. It requires the solidarity of all Africans as brothers and sisters at the service of the whole African family and at the service of the integral development of all mankind.
Peace is built up when national budgets are finally diverted from the creation of more powerful and deadlier weapons to provide food and raw materials to meet basic human needs. And peace is consolidated with each passing year as the use of nuclear weapons becomes a fading memory in the conscience of humanity. And today we thank God again that forty years have passed without the use of those weapons that devastated human life, together with its environment and shelter, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki - forty years of hope and determination, forty years in a new era for humanity.
Peace is built by the men and women of the mass media when they bring to the attention of the public the facts about those who suffer, about refugees and the dispossessed, when they stir up in others a determination and generosity to respond to all those in need. Yes, “development” and “a new heart” are new names for peace. And those who make peace and promote conditions for peace shall for ever be called children of God!
Sunday, 18 August 1985
1. Five years ago I had the pleasure of meeting many of you on a similar occasion during my first Pastoral Visit to your country. I spoke then of our one Baptism and of the common witness which is possible because of our profession of baptismal faith, despite the causes of division between us.
Today I come to you again, and I thank you for your willingness to take part in this meeting. You know that the occasion of my present visit in the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress, an event which has brought together many Catholics not only from this country but from other lands near and far. In planning this Congress, as with other recent Congresses, care has been taken to make possible the participation of Christians of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. How could this not be so today? The Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the ecumenical task. It follows that, to reflect the Catholic Church as it should, a celebration such as the present Congress must give due expression to the ecumenical dimension. So I thank you, and through you the Communities you lead and represent, not only for meeting me today but also for your response to the invitation to play some part in the Congress.
2. “The Eucharist and the Christian Family”, as you know, is the theme of the Congress; and it suggests what should today be one of the main themes of the witness we seek to bear together. For, as I said to Christian leaders in the Netherlands three months ago: “We have a common concern for the ideal of Christian marriage and the Christian family, for the transmission of the faith to the next generation, and for the growth in holiness of all Christian couples. We all long for one Eucharist, and we all seek to obey Christ’s command, ‘Do this in memory of me’, since we regard this Sacrament of Christ himself as his greatest gift to his Church” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Repraesentantes Confessionum Christianarum in urbe “Utrecht” habita, die 13 maii 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 1322 ss.). True, our divisions pose problems to us here, but problems must never blind us to those underlying points of unity that already enable us to speak and to act together. In this great continent, well known throughout the world for the special value its peoples set on family life and family ties, and for their reverence for the wider family as well as for the immediate circle, there are surely great possibilities for Christians to collaborate in promoting the true values of family life. And there is surely also great need for this in an age in which, almost everywhere, these values come under increasing pressure.
3. It was at a meal with what may call the “family” of his Apostles that Jesus gave the Eucharist to his Church. The Church has been called “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Ep 2,19-20). Over the centuries this family of the Church has grown, yet that sacramental meal remains at the very heart of its life. Sadly, over the centuries the family of Christians has known division and separation. The ties of Baptism and fellowship remain, but we are no longer united in one faith at one altar, one Eucharistic table. In any family it is a cause of deep sadness if there are members who cannot, for whatever reason, come to the family table; indeed we may sometimes be more aware of the empty places than we are of the full ones! So too in our celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, we never forget our brethren who cannot be with us. Thus every Eucharist becomes a great prayer for the unity of all Christians, for whom Christ, our Lord and Brother, gave himself up to death on the Cross.
4. But we all belong to a yet wider family. We must look beyond the ranks of our Christian family, great as it is, to the immense family of all humanity. Millions are in need of even a minimum of daily bread; and all are in need of the Bread of Life. Christ calls us, through our unity in him, to provide for the material and spiritual needs of others. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ibid. 3, 14-17). May Christ bring us all to that full unity in faith and love that he wills; and may our meeting and our prayer today lead us nearer to that day when we are indeed one family in him, one in that “bread of God . . . which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Jn 6,33). Amen.
Sunday, 18 August 1985
1. It is a great joy for me to return to Nairobi. And I am grateful for this opportunity to meet leaders and representatives of the Islamic and Hindu communities in Kenya. You may recall that I had the pleasure of meeting some of you before, on the occasion of my visit in May 1980. Once again, we come together in friendship and peace. The warm hospitality you showed me on my previous visit and are shoving me again today is a sign of your openness and your commitment to human fraternity. These are sentiments which I eagerly desire to reciprocate.
2. On my first visit to Kenya, I stated in my message to the Hindu community: “The purpose of life, the nature of good, the path to happiness, the meaning of death and the end of our human journey - all these truths form the object of our common service of man in his many needs . . .” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sodales communitatis hinduisticae in aede Nuntiaturae Apostolicae in urbe “Nairobi” habita, die 7 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1212). I would like to reaffirm these words today; they hold true also for the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Muslim people.
Humanity’s needs are of many kinds. Foremost are the spiritual needs, such as our constant search for meaning in life and our desire to live in a way that is worthy of our human dignity as children of God. At the same time, we cannot discount man’s material needs, which in many African countries today, marked by drought and famine, mean the fundamental struggle to survive. I am thinking particularly of the plight of refugees, whether they be people who have fled across international borders from repressive situations or zones of war, or those who are forced to migrate from their native districts due to crop failures and natural disasters. The refugee situation in the world today must become the concern of all religious believers who value the dignity of man. It is an urgent need which requires fraternal solidarity and collaboration in favour of those who suffer.
In addition to these spiritual and material needs, there are the social needs: the need for just, honest and efficient government; the need to respect and defend human rights without any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic group, religion, age, social class or sex; the right to live and raise one’s family in peace, without fear that their physical and moral well-being will be menaced. In the face of all these human needs - spiritual, material and social - the religions of the world cannot remain passive. The great needs of our brothers and sisters are an urgent plea for a generous response in love, calling for mutual and effective collaboration.
3. The close bonds linking our respective religions - our worship of God and the spiritual values we hold in esteem - motivate us to become fraternal allies in service to the human family. As I said to the Islamic community of Kenya five years ago: “Our relationship of reciprocal esteem and mutual desire for authentic service to humanity urge us on to joint commitments in promoting peace, social justice, moral values and all the true freedoms of man” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sodales communitatis musulmanae in aede Nuntiaturae Apostolicae in urbe “Nairobi” habita, die 7 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1210).
The evils of suspicion, competition and misunderstanding spring up too easily in our modern world; in far too many places we witness violence, conflict and war. But it is never God’s will that there should exist hatred within the human family, that we should live in distrust and at enmity with one another. We are all children of the same God, members of the great family of man. And our religions have a special role to fulfil in curbing these evils and in forging bonds of trust and fellowship. God’s will is that those who worship him, even if not united in the same worship, would nevertheless be united in brotherhood and in common service for the good of all.
4. Our presence together today - Hindus, Muslims and Christian gathered in friendship - is a hopeful sign in a pluralistic world filled with tensions. No religious group can afford to live and act in isolation. While respecting one another’s convictions, we need each other’s help. In the Holy Bible, Saint Paul encourages us to seek the ways of brotherhood and unity: “Agree with one another”, he says, "live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2Co 13,11 2Co 13, challenge that is ours today is to help the world to live in peace and harmony, with respect for the human dignity of all. In this effort the God of love and peace will with us.
May God’s blessings be upon all of you!
Monday, 19 August 1985
Dear Young People,
1. I give thanks and glory to God who has granted that I should meet with you today. His Majesty the King did me the honour of visiting me in Rome some years ago, and he had the courtesy to invite me to visit your country and meet you. I joyfully accepted the invitation from the Sovereign of this country to speak with you in this Year of Youth.
I often meet young people, usually Catholics. It is the first time that I find myself with young Muslims.
Christians and Muslims, we have many things in common, as believers and as human beings. We live in the same world, marked by many signs of hope, but also by multiple signs of anguish. For us, Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the sane God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection.
It is therefore towards this God that my thought goes and that my heart rises: it is of God himself that, above all, I wish to speak with you; of him, because it is in him that we believe, you Muslims and we Catholics. I wish also to speak with you about human values, which have their basis in God, these values which concern the blossoming of our person, as also that of our families and our societies, as well as that of the international community. The mystery of God, is it not the highest reality from which depends the very meaning which man gives to his life? And is it not the first problem that presents itself to a young person, when he reflects upon the mystery of his own existence and on the values which he intends to choose in order to build his growing personality?
For my part, in the Catholic Church, I bear the responsibility of the successor of Peter, the Apostle chosen by Jesus to strengthen his brothers in the faith. Following the Popes who succeeded one another uninterruptedly in the passage of history, I am today the Bishop of Rome, called to be, among his brethren in the world, the witness of the Christian faith and the guarantee of the unity of all the members of the Church.
Also, it is as a believer that I come to you today. It is quite simply that I would like to give here today the witness of that which I believe, of that which I wish for the well-being of the people, my brothers, and of the people, my brothers, and of that which, from experience, I consider to be useful for all.
2. First of all, I invoke the Most High, the all-powerful God who is our creator. He is the origin of all life, as he is at the source of all that is good, of all that is beautiful, of all that is holy.
He separated the light from the darkness. He caused the whole universe to grow in a marvellous order. He willed that the plants should grow and bear fruit, just as he willed that the birds of the sky, the animals of the earth and the fish of the sea should multiply.
He made us, us men, and we are from him. His holy law guides our life. It is the light of God which orientates our destiny and enlightens our conscience. He renders us capable of loving and of transmitting life. He asks every man to respect every human creature and to love him as a friend, a companion, a brother. He invites us to help him when he is wounded, when he is abandoned, when he is hungry and thirsty, in short, when he no longer knows where to find his direction on the pathways of life.
Yes, God asks that we should listen to his voice. He expects from us obedience to his holy will in a free consent of mind and of heart.
That is why we are accountable before him. It is he, God, who is our judge; he who alone is truly just. We know, however, that his mercy is inseparable from his justice. When man returns to him, repentant and contrite, after having strayed away into the disorder of sin and the works of death, God then reveals himself as the One who pardons and shows mercy.
To him, therefore, our love and our adoration! For his blessing and for his mercy, we thank him, at all times and in all places.
3. In a world which desires unity and peace, and which however experiences a thousand tensions and conflicts, should not believers favour friendship between the men and the peoples who form one single community on earth? We know that they have one and the same origin and one and the same final end: the God who made them and who waits for them, because he will gather them together.
For its part, the Catholic Church, twenty years ago at the time of the Second Vatican Council, undertook in the person of its bishops, that is, of its religious leaders, to seek collaboration between the believers. It published a document on dialogue between the religions ("Nostra Aetate"). It affirms that all men, especially those of living faith, should respect each other, should rise above all discrimination, should live in harmony and serve the universal brotherhood (cf. document cited above, n. 5). The Church shows particular attention to the believing Muslims, given their faith in the one God, their sense of prayer, and their esteem for the moral life (cf. n. 3). It desires that Christians and Muslims together "promote harmony for all men, social justice, moral values, peace, liberty" (ibid.).
4. Dialogue between Christians and Muslims is today more necessary than ever. It flows from our fidelity to God and supposes that we know how to recognize God by faith, and to witness to him by word and deed in a world ever more secularized and at times even atheistic.
The young can build a better future if they first put their faith in God and if they pledge themselves to build this new world in accordance with God's plan, with wisdom and trust.
Today we should witness to the spiritual values of which the world has need. The first is our faith in God.
God is the source of all joy. We should also witness to our worship of God, by our adoration, our prayer of praise and supplication. Man cannot live without prayer, any more than he can live without breathing. We should witness to our humble search for his will; it is he who should inspire our pledge for a more just and more united world. God's ways are not always our ways. They transcend our actions, which are always incomplete, and the intentions of our heart, which are always imperfect. God can never be used for our purposes, for he is above all.
This witness of faith, which is vital for us and which can never tolerate either infidelity to God or indifference to the truth, is made with respect for the other religious traditions, because everyone hopes to be respected for what he is in fact, and for what he conscientiously believes. We desire that all may reach the fullness of the divine truth, but no one can do that except through the free adherence of conscience, protected from exterior compulsions which would be unworthy of the free homage of reason and of heart which is characteristic of human dignity. There, is the true meaning of religious liberty, which at the same time respects God and man. It is the sincere veneration of such worshippers that God awaits, of worshippers in spirit and in truth.
5. We are convinced that "we cannot truly pray to God the Father of all mankind, if we treat any people in other than brotherly fashion, for all mankind is created in God's image". (Decl. Nostra Aetate NAE 5).
Therefore we must also respect, love and help every human being, because he is a creature of God and, in a certain sense, his image and his representative, because he is the road leading to God, and because he does not fully fulfil himself unless he knows God, unless he accepts him with all his heart, and unless he obeys him to the extent of the ways of perfection.
Furthermore, this obedience to God and this love for man should lead us to respect man's rights, these rights which are the expression of God's will and the demands of human nature such as it was created by God.
Therefore, respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between the peoples. They help to resolve together the problems of today's men and women, especially those of the young.
6. Normally the young look towards the future, they long for a more just and more human world. God made young people such, precisely that they might help to transform the world in accordance with his plan of life. But to them, too, the situation often appears to have its shadows.
In this world there are frontiers and divisions between men, as also misunderstandings between the generations; there are, likewise, racism, wars and injustices, as also hunger, waste and unemployment. These are the dramatic evils which touch us all, more particularly the young of the entire world. Some are in danger of discouragement, others of capitulation, others of willing to change everything by violence or by extreme solutions. Wisdom teaches us that self-discipline and love are then the only means to the desired renewal.
God does not will that people should remain passive. He entrusted the earth to them that together they should subdue it, cultivate it, and cause it to bear fruit.
You are charged with the world of tomorrow. It is by fully and courageously undertaking your responsibilities that you will be able to overcome the existing difficulties. It reverts to you to take the initiatives and not to wait for everything to come from the older people and from those in office. You must build the world and not just dream about it.
It is by working in harmony that one can be effective. Work properly understood is a service to others. It creates links of solidarity. The experience of working in common enables one to purify oneself and to discover the richness of others. It is thus that, gradually, a climate of trust can be born which enables each one to grow, to expand, and "to be more". Do not fail, dear young people, to collaborate with the adults, especially with your parents and teachers as well as with the "leaders" of society and of the State. The young should not isolate themselves from the others. The young need the adults, just as the adults need the young.
In this working together, the human person, man or woman, should never be sacrificed. Each person is unique in God's eyes. Each one ought to be appreciated for what he is, and, consequently, respected as such. No one should make use of his fellow man; no one should exploit his equal; no one should contemn his brother.
It is in these conditions that a more human, more just, and more fraternal world will be able to be born, a world where each one can find his place in dignity and freedom. It is this world of the twenty-first century that is in your hands; it will be what you make it.
7. This world, which is about to come, depends on the young people of all the countries of the world. Our world is divided, and even shattered; it experiences multiple conflicts and grave injustices. There is no real North-South solidarity; there is not enough mutual assistance between the nations of the South. There are in the world cultures and races which are not respected.
Why is all this? It is because people do not accept their differences: they do not know each other sufficiently. They reject those who have not the same civilization. They refuse to help each other. They are unable to free themselves from egoism and from self-conceit.
But God created all men equal in dignity, though different with regard to gifts and to talents. Mankind is a whole where each one has his part to play; the worth of the various peoples and of the diverse cultures must be recognized. The world is as it were a living organism; each one has something to receive from the others, and has something to give to them.
I am happy to meet you here in Morocco. Morocco has a tradition of openness. Your scholars have travelled, and you have welcomed scholars from other countries. Morocco has been a meeting place of civilizations: it has permitted exchanges with the East, with Spain, and with Africa. Morocco has a tradition of tolerance; in this Muslim country there have always been Jews and nearly always Christians; that tradition has been carried out in respect, in a positive manner. You have been, and you remain, a hospitable country. You, young Moroccans, are then prepared to become citizens of tomorrow's world, of this fraternal world to which, with the young people of all the world, you aspire.
I am sure that all of you, young people, are capable of this dialogue. You do not wish to be conditioned by prejudices. You are ready to build a civilization based on love. You can work to cause the barriers to fall, barriers that are due at times to pride, but more often to man's feebleness and fear. You wish to love others, without any limit of nation, race or religion.
For that, you want justice and peace. "Peace and youth go forward together", as I said in my message for this year's World Day of Peace. You do not want either war or violence. You know the price that they cause innocent people to pay. Neither do you want the escalation of armaments. That does not mean that you wish to have peace at any price. Peace goes side by side with justice. You do not want anyone to be oppressed. You want peace in justice.
8. First of all, you wish that people should have enough on which to live. Young people who have the good fortune to pursue their studies have the right to be solicitous about the profession that they will be able to exercise on their your own behalf. But they also must concern themselves with the living conditions, often more difficult, of their brothers and sisters who live in the same country, and indeed in the whole world. How can one remain indifferent, in fact, when other human beings, in great numbers, die of hunger, of malnutrition or lack of health help, when they suffer cruelly from drought, when they are reduced to unemployment or to emigration through economic laws that are beyond their control, when they endure the precarious situation of refugees, packed into camps, as a consequence of human conflicts? God has given the earth to mankind as a whole in order that people might jointly draw their subsistence from it, and that every people might have the means to nourish itself, to take care of itself; and to live in peace.
9. But important as the economic problems may be, man does not live on bread alone, he needs an intellectual and spiritual life; it is there that he finds the soul of this new world to which you aspire. Man has need to develop his spirit and his conscience. This is often lacking to the man of today. Forgetfulness of values and the crisis of identity which frustrate our world oblige us to excel ourselves in a renewed effort of research and investigation. The interior light which will thus be born in our conscience will enable meaning to be given to development, to orientate it towards the good of man, of every man and of all men, in accordance with God's plan.
The Arabs of the Mashriq and the Maghrib, and Muslims in general, have a long tradition of study and of erudition: literary, scientific, philosophic. You are the heirs to this tradition, you must study in order to learn to know this world which God has given us, to understand it, to discover its meaning, with a desire and a respect for truth, and in order to learn to know the peoples and the men created and loved by God, so as to prepare yourselves better to serve them.
Still more, the search for truth will lead you, beyond intellectual values, to the spiritual dimension of the interior life.
10. Man is a spiritual being. We, believers, know that we do not live in a closed world. We believe in God. We are worshippers of God. We are seekers of God.
The Catholic Church regards with respect and recognizes the quality of your religious progress, the richness of your spiritual tradition.
We Christians, also, are proud of our own religious tradition.
I believe that we, Christians and Muslims, must recognize with joy the religious values that we have in common, and give thanks to God for them. Both of us believe in one God the only God, who is all Justice and all Mercy; we believe in the importance of prayer, of fasting, of almsgiving, of repentance and of pardon; we believe that God will be a merciful judge to us at the end of time, and we hope that after the resurrection he will be satisfied with us and we know that we will be satisfied with him.
Loyalty demands also that we should recognize and respect our differences. Obviously the most fundamental is the view that we hold on the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth. You know that, for the Christians, this Jesus causes them to enter into an intimate knowledge of the mystery of God and into a filial communion by his gifts, so that they recognize him and proclaim him Lord and Saviour.
Those are important differences, which we can accept with humility and respect, in mutual tolerance; there is a mystery there on which, I am certain, God will one day enlighten us.
Christians and Muslims, in general we have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, we have opposed and even exhausted each other in polemics and in wars.
I believe that, today, God invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and also we must stimulate each other in good works on the path of God.
With me, you know what is the reward of spiritual values. Ideologies and slogans cannot satisfy you nor can they solve the problems of your life. Only the spiritual and moral values can do it, and they have God as their fundament.
Dear young people, I wish that you may be able to help in thus building a world where God may have first place in order to aid and to save mankind. On this path, you are assured of the esteem and the collaboration of your Catholic brothers and sisters whom I represent among you this evening.
11. I should now like to thank His Majesty the King for having invited me. I thank you also, dear young people of Morocco, for having come here and listened with confidence to my witness.
But still more, I would like to thank God who permitted this meeting. We are all in his sight. Today he is the first witness of our meeting. It is he who puts in our hearts the feelings of mercy and understanding, of pardon and of reconciliation, of service and of collaboration. Must not the believers that we are reproduce in their life and in their city the Most Beautiful Names which our religious traditions recognize for him? May we then be able to be available for him, and to be submissive to his will, to the calls that he makes to us! In this way our lives will find a new dynamism.
Then, I am convinced, a world can be born where men and women of living and effective faith will sing to the glory of God, and will seek to build a human society in accordance with God's will.
I should like to finish by invoking him personally in your presence:
O God, you are our creator.
You are limitlessly good and merciful.
To You is due the praise of every creature.
O God, You have given to us an interior law by which we should live.
To do Your will is to perform our task.
To follow Your ways is to find peace of soul.
To You we offer our obedience.
Guide us in all the steps that we undertake on earth.
Free us from evil inclinations which turn our heart from Your will.
Do not permit that in invoking Your Name we should ever justify the human disorders.
O God, you are the One Alone to whom we make our adoration.
Do not permit that we should estrange ourselves from You.
O God, judge of all mankind, help us to belong to Your elect on the last day.
O God, author of justice and peace, grant us true joy and authentic love, as also a lasting fraternity among all peoples.
Fill us with Your gifts for ever. Amen!
Speeches 1985 - Nairobi (Kenya)