Speeches 1985 - Morocco
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
The words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ are verified here today: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18,20). Yes, Jesus is in our midst, for it is in his name that we are gathered, and it is from him that we draw our strength and unity.
1. It was with great satisfaction that I noted in your document Of basic policies and priorities of the Catholic Church in Japan the following statement: “We reaffirm that top priority should be given to the announcing of the Gospel and to the evangelization of society and culture”. Indeed, it is under the sign of evangelization that we and culture” (June 22, 1984). Indeed, it is under the sign of evangelization that we are assembled here today.
We know that the whole mission of Jesus is summed up in his own words: “I must proclaim the Good News of the kingdom of God” (Lc 4,43). At the same time we know that evangelization is the essential mission of the Church. In the words of Paul VI: “Evangelising is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14). It is her deepest identity in Japan and everywhere throughout the world.
For this reason I am very close to you in all the efforts that you are making to ensure that evangelization becomes ever more the aim of your whole ecclesial community. Every local Church is truly called to be an evangelising community. It is in the understanding of evangelization that all your pastoral efforts take on increased relevance. The question of proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ as a free gift of God’s love opens up the important questions of the content, the methods, the beneficiaries and the workers of evangelization.
2. The theme of evangelization immediately introduces you to the great challenge of inculturation, for which the grace of God is abundantly supplied to you. Hence a whole panorama of ecclesial life opens up before you and urges you to prepare for the national convention for 1987, precisely in order to promote evangelization. You may be assured of my support as you endeavour, in union with the universal Church, to present the message of Christ’s revelation as effectively as possible in the context of Japanese society and culture.
The power of God’s word is so great that a truly evangelised Church immediately realises its call to evangelise. And this in turn involves the question of method and the incarnation of the Christian message in the lives of each people and each community. We know the esteem that the Church has for proper inculturation linked to fidelity to the ageless and universal faith. And we know how much Christ himself truly desires, in the members of his body, to become fully one with them. And this is truly what happens as Christ becomes Japanese in his Church.
3. To achieve this purpose ever more effectively your are rightly calling for cooperation and unity. You are asking for the commitment of all categories in the Church, as you yourselves assume your leadership as the principal evangelises of God’s people. For this reason you are inviting the clergy, religious and laity to be inspired by a single ideal and to work together to attain it. At the basis of this common action there is the urgent need for witness and good example, which in turn are linked to holiness of life.
This holiness of life and the witness that it makes possible are the common denominator of the evangelising activity of each category of evangelises. By the special title of their ordination, our priests are called to collaborate is proclaiming the message of salvation and of making known - through word and deed - the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. The proclamation of revelation reaches its culmination in the Eucharistic celebration made possible through the ministerial priesthood. The identity of the priesthood must always be maintained in its special relationship to proclaiming the Gospel of God (Cfr. 1Th 2,9). Hence any program of evangelization must give priority to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood. In turn this effort will be advantageous in helping the whole Christian people to reflect on both the nature of the priesthood and on their own responsibility for evangelization. The Church wishes all the Religious to realise just how intimately they collaborate in the apostolate of evangelization through the witness of holiness, which is of prime importance. The fidelity of their lives of prayer, work and sacrifice has an effectiveness because all evangelization has its origin in supernatural grace. Contemplative Religious must be invited once more to consider their whole life as an oblation so “that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (Ibid. 3, 9).
The renewed emphasis of the laity in the work of evangelization is a great grace of the Second Vatican Council. As pastors of God’s people, we must, together with our priests, spell out again the consequences of Christian Baptism and Confirmation as they relate to the apostolate of the laity. We recall those words of Paul VI: “Their own field of evangelising activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 70). Certainly the availability of the mass media in your country is a special blessing for your people to know better the Church is Japan and the universal Church. On my part I am deeply pleased to welcome so many Japanese visitors to the Vatican during the Wednesday General Audiences, and to be known to them by radio and television.
Within the context of the laity, the Christian family has its own immense contribution to make to evangelization. The success of families in this regard is linked to their realisation of being the “domestic church” and of having the vocation to evangelise and to be evangelised. All of this corresponds to the deepest supernatural reality of the Church of Christ and to her most sublime identity and mission.
4. What emerges clearly at every stage is that all evangelization - the concerted efforts of priests, religious and laity in union with the Bishops - is a unified work of the Church. It is the expression of her life; it is the response to her vocation as the Body of Christ. Evangelization is likewise the great service that the Church offers to the world. It is her response to the anguish of modern man, to the loneliness of millions of people, to the alienation of whole categories or communities. Yes, the Church proclaims the supreme relevance of God’s saving love manifested in his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church, in fidelity to her own being, offers Jesus Christ as “our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and redemption” (1Co 1,30): she offers him as the great manifestation of the transcendent God.
5. All your pastoral and missionary efforts take their inspiration from evangelization and it is in the light of this purpose that the work of your episcopal commissions must find its orientation.
By the grace of God, the Church in Japan has for years offered dedicated service through Catholic education. In God’s providence this education has been a means of evangelization for many people and has furnished the opportunity for growth in the faith through a systematic catechesis. This apostolate retains all its importance today and must continually be looked at in this perspective.
6. Dear Brothers: the Church is indeed “the People of God immersed in the world and often tempted by idols, and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the ‘mighty works of God’” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 15). Hence she is constantly in need of being evangelised and she must evangelise. For all these reasons I wish to offer you my support as you summon all your priests, religious and laity to this lofty task in 1987. The unity to which you invite them is the great unity of the Catholic Church, and the co-operation to which they are called includes cooperation with the whole Body of Christ throughout the world. In this pastoral endeavour be assured once again of the love and solidarity of the Successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome.
7. And, finally, as in any immense project of this nature, it is altogether fitting that we should turn our thoughts to the Holy Spirit.All evangelization depends on him; the success of every endeavour is linked to his grace. “Techniques of evangelization are good, but even the most advanced ones could not replace the gentle action of the Spirit” (Ibid. 75). In reaffirming this truth of our faith we likewise reaffirm the whole supernatural nature of the Church as a community of grace, having its origin in God and being totally dependent on him. And it is in the context of this truth that together we shall face the challenges and problems of the Church in Japan. Meanwhile, as I express my love and affection for your beloved Church and for all your people, as I was able to do four years ago on Japanese soil, I commend you all to the maternal care of Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word and Mother of his Church.
Tuesday, 3 September 1985
My Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. I am very pleased to greet you on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome, as you visit the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul and express your communion with the Successor of the Head of the Apostles.
Our meeting today has deep ecclesial significance. It manifests the richness of diversity within the unity of Christ’s Church. It also offers us the opportunity to renew our commitment to each other as brothers in the Episcopate: you, by your very presence here today in Rome; and I, by sharing with each of you my concern for your local Churches and by expressing to you my fraternal support and love as the one to whom has been entrusted the care of all the Churches.
With Saint Paul we can say: Great is the mystery of the Church (Cfr. Eph Ep 5,32). It is a mystery that is one complex reality which comes together from a human and a divine element (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 8). Christ established and ever sustains the community of faith, hope and charity, which is the Church, and through her he communicates truth and grace to all humanity. The pastoral care of this one Church was entrusted to Peter and the other Apostles, who likewise were commissioned to extend it and govern it.
This charge has been transmitted to us, their successors. However unworthy we may be for this sacred office, we are called nevertheless to serve God’s people by offering to them what we ourselves have received, namely, Christ and him crucified and risen from the dead.The treasure we bear, through carried in vessels of clay, has immense value. We present it to others as Christ’s own treasure, the Good News of salvation proclaimed by Jesus our Saviour. The words of the Apostle to the Gentiles ring in our ears: “It was God who gave us the courage to proclaim the Good News to you in the face of: great opposition. . . . (It) was God who decided that we were fit to be entrusted with the Good News, and when we are speaking, we are not trying to please men but God, who can read our inmost thoughts” (1Th 2,2 1Th 2,4). We must see every service we give to the Church from this perspective.
2. The Church in Bangladesh is indeed the pusillus grex, the little flock which Christ the Good Shepherd looks upon with special love and care. The seed of God’s word was sown in your land centuries ago, as witnessed by the presence of the so-called “Dacca Christians”. This seed sprouted and matured; it has taken root and flourished in the hearts of Christian believers, impelling them to nurture their faith and then to share it with others.
This outward thrust, the dynamism of Christian revelation, can never be thwarted, since it is the word of God himself which we speak of - the word of him who created and who rules heaven and earth and everything contained within them, and whose all-provident plan for us and for the world we are striving continually to understand.
3. In order to carry out more effectively the Lord’s command to preach the Gospel within the context of your own cultural and national setting, you, as Bishops, are called to be ever mindful of an important task which is yours by virtue of your office, namely to serve as “the visible source and foundation of unity” (Lumen Gentium LG 23) in your local Churches. You must call your people to ever greater unity in Christ, while you serve as the focus and the fulcrum of unity for them. This task has many dimensions which should be examined and explored.
The unity of faith in the one Lord in the foundation of all ecclesial life. Drawing your people together to be nourished by God’s word must be central to your ministry. This unity must extend to the discipline of the Church too. This requirement has many dimensions which form an integral part of the call to unity which Christ desires for his Church. Identifying and meeting the special needs of your local circumstances must always be accompanied by respect for the bonds of unity that the Catholic Church shares on all levels; it must, in effect, lead towards greater unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,3). All the baptised need to be made aware of their responsibility for seeking personal holiness and for working for the good of the whole Church, as well as for bearing witness before the world.
Christian believers divided among themselves are an occasion of scandal, a real obstacle to the spread of the Gospel. As the movement towards solidarity among peoples is increasing more and more, every believer should be the leaven of concord, unity and peace in the world. Unity of faith and discipline should likewise find ample expression in concerted service of others, especially those most in need of compassion and concern. Such united action in works of charity has long been a hallmark of the Church in your country. The many educational and charitable institutions sponsored by the Catholic Church are a source of great edification to all, Christians and non-Christians alike. These accomplishments deserve special recognition and I express my appreciation for all that has been done in this regard. The Christian presence should always clearly reflect its ultimate purpose, which is, to proclaim Christ to others, whether it be through teaching, caring for the sick, feeding the starving, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, or assisting those suffering persecution for the sake of righteousness. When fraternal love is sincere and shown by deeds, there can be no doubt that God’s “love is perfected in us” (1 Io. 4, 12).
4. The union of the Church in Bangladesh with the Church universal continues to be manifested in many ways. I am grateful for the initiatives undertaken this year through your celebration of International Youth Year. Your communion with the Church in Rome in marking this occasion illustrates your sensitivity to the importance of giving young people a prominent place in your pastoral activities. Encouraging them to deepen their commitment to today’s Church so that they can make a contribution to the Church of tomorrow is a marvellous priority for your time and efforts. I encourage you to be generous and zealous in this area, particularly in urging young men and women to live their faith to the full as dedicated lay persons, and in challenging them to accept the Master’s special call to the priesthood and religious life.
5. The common bond which you share as Bishops, representatives of Christ in your local Churches, is not a static link but one that needs to be strengthened constantly. This strengthening is brought about, in the first place, by ever greater collegial unity with the Bishop of Rome, head of the Episcopal College, but it also requires a strengthening of the collegial spirit among yourselves as a group of Pastors belonging to one Episcopal Conference. Collegial action should never of course prejudice your role as pastors and teachers in the respective local Churches entrusted to your care. Yet the impact of the Church upon your country, especially in the area of evangelization, will be immensely increased by your united action as Bishops of God’s people, members of a new nation which has a rich cultural heritage and which is a meeting-place for many religious traditions. Forging new bonds of ecclesial communion within that environment should help to make the voice of Christ and his message of salvation heard ever more clearly in Bangladesh.
6. In recent years the Church has become more and more aware of the need for dialogue as a principle of action both inside and outside herself. As a result, she has examined with greater care her relation with non-Christian religions. This dialogue has special relevance for the Church in Bangladesh. Greater knowledge of Islam has led Christians to grow in their appreciation of it. The spiritual ties between Muslims and Christians, especially in their common belief in God who is one, merciful and almighty, and who has revealed himself to man, are a sound foundation for fostering mutual understanding and for joint efforts aimed at preserving and promoting peace, freedom, social justice and moral values. The witness of Christians to authentic evangelical living should be borne above all in this sphere, so that the light of Christ may shine forth and give "light to all in the house” (Mt 5,15).
Meeting the demands of preaching the Gospel in these circumstances requires, on the part of the minister, patience, courage and steadfast perseverance. Yet he must make his own Saint Paul’s conviction: “If I preach the gospel, that is no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1Co 9,16).
7. Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and obscurity and the Church accomplishes her mission by following the path traced out for her by her Divine Founder. She must encompass with her love all those who are afflicted. This too has particular significance for the Church in Bangladesh, which bears so clearly the marks of the poor and suffering Christ. The conditions in which so many people of your country are living impel me to make an appeal for the compassion and help of all people of good will who can see on the faces of the multitudes of suffering men, women and children the image and likeness of the Son of Man.
In the name of these “least of the brethren” I wish to express deep gratitude to the many priests, religious and laity of Bangladesh who are spending themselves so selflessly on their behalf. These dedicated individuals, who include the many generous missionaries as well as the local clergy, religious and lay apostles, are in the forefront of evangelization and serve as beacons of hope for all to see.
8. Our participation, my Brothers, in the saving mission of Christ compels us to strive for ever greater unity in him. May the Holy Spirit be with you all, he who was sent on the day of Pentecost to sanctify the Church and unify her in communion and in the works of ministry (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 4). May this same Holy Spirit strengthen you and sustain you in your labours on behalf of the Gospel and may he bestow abundant blessings upon those who collaborate with you in this sacred charge - the priests, the men and women religious, the lay catechists and all who witness to Christ by their lives of charity and generosity.
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church, I pray to Christ her Son and our Lord for you and for all the beloved people of Bangladesh. With my special Apostolic Blessing.
Friday, 6 September 1985
I am pleased to extend very cordial greetings to you who are Polish American friends of the Catholic University of Lublin. You have just come from a visit to my homeland and to that University with which I was closely associated for many years. It is with a genuine feeling of appreciation, then, that I welcome you today and that I add my own words of gratitude for your interest in that prestigious institution and for your valued support of it.
I know that you share my own conviction about the vital importance of Catholic institutes of higher education. It is by means of such establishments that the Church contributes in a profound way to the flowering of human culture and the advancement of the human person, and thus fulfils her teaching mission in the world. Where does one find a better forum for promoting dialogue between the Church and society at large? The many facets of human culture can here be explored in depth. The faith is assisted in permeating cultures so as to purify and enrich them, and thus serve the common good of society.
Men and women are helped by Catholic universities to arrive at a more responsible use of their freedom by assisting the development of their physical, moral and intellectual talents. Thus, they can take a more active role in the improvement of human life, and with a better informed and more integrated faith can carry out their special roles in the life and mission of the Church.
Those who support and sustain Catholic educational institutions make a contribution of untold worth to the future of the Church and the world. New generations are guided towards spiritual and human maturity. They are prepared to carry on the cultural and religious heritage which has been handed on to them and to face the challenges and difficulties presented by our changing times. For these reasons, therefore, I am pleased to meet with you today and to offer my grateful encouragement for your worthy efforts. I wish also to greet all the members of your families, including those who were unable to travel with you. May God, the source of all truth and the Father of peace, bless you abundantly in his love.
My dear Brothers in Christ,
1. Our celebration of faith and ecclesial communion during your visit to Rome culminates on this day as we gather together as brothers in the episcopal ministry. My words to you echo those of Saint Paul: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Ph 1,3-5).
Your presence in Rome to pray at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul manifests your desire to strengthen the bonds of collegial unity which link you to the Successor of Peter. On my part, I welcome you with fraternal affection in the Lord Jesus, and I wish to let you know of my eagerness to share in your joys and sorrows as ministers of the mysteries of God and Pastors of the Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
2. Jesus Christ is he “whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1Co 1,30). He took flesh in order to redeem the human race. As the Son of God, he had no other aim than to fulfil the will of the Father: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (Jn 4,34). Likewise, he willed to make us share in his divine sonship and he enabled us to come to understand the mystery of God’s Fatherhood, indeed to cry out: “Abba! Father!” (Cfr. Rom Rm 8,16).
This grace of divine filiation encourages us to have the same attitude towards his heavenly Father as Jesus himself had: to pledge our whole heart and life to God’s service. We serve him not with the heart of slaves but with that of children - sons and daughters who respond to the Lord’s call with dedication, generosity and joy.
At the same time, as children of God we are joined by a bond which has an implication for our relationship with each other. Saint Paul states: “For as many of you as were baptised into Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Ga 3,17-28).
Oneness in Christ signifies an equality which surpasses the obvious differences of physical capacity and intellectual and moral powers. We are created in God’s image; we have the same nature and origin and, being redeemed by Christ, we enjoy the same divine calling and destiny. Our solidarity as brothers and sisters in the one Lord transcends cultural, racial and ethnic divisions, because Christ has made known to use the mystery of God’s will "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ep 1,10).
The unity which we share in Christ has universal relevance, but it has particular importance in those circumstances where cultural and ethnic differences may obscure the light of truth proclaimed by Christ and his message of salvation. I wish to offer my encouragement to you as Pastors and Teachers for all you have done and continue to do in order to call the People of God in your respective Dioceses to ever greater unity in Christ.
3. Your efforts at evangelization, at proclaiming the message of Christ “in season and out of season” (Cfr. 2Tm 4,2), also deserve special commendation. The light of Christ must shine for all to see and its rays of hope must reach the farthest corners of the earth. Hence the work of evangelization is a constant challenge, one that is not foreign to any social or cultural environment.
The Church offers to the people of every age the good news of the mystery of salvation and the means of sharing in the life of our Triune God. She does this by implanting herself among those people, taking to herself, insofar as they are good, the abilities, resources and customs of each people, which she in turn purifies, strengthens and ennobles. She establishes relationships of respect and love with them and through a sincere dialogue, deeply pervaded by the Spirit of Christ, she can penetrate those hearts which are not yet marked with the sign of faith and gently lead them to the light of the Gospel (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 11).
Sterling examples of this realous spirit were the Apostles of the Slavs, Saints Cyril and Methodius, whose work of evangelization I recently commemorated with my Encyclical Epistle, “Slavorum Apostoli”. In referring to those great missionaries I wrote: “Their generous decision to identify themselves with those people’s life and traditions, once having purified and enlightened them by Revelation, make Cyril and Methodius true models for all the missionaries who in every period have accepted Saint Paul’s invitation to become all things to all people in order to redeem all” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Slavorum Apostoli, 11).
In this regard, I am aware that the Bishops of Malaysia are currently studying the methods of introducing the Malay language into the Sacred Liturgy. It is a matter which needs your careful and patient attention.
In this same context I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the ministers of the Gospel in your own lands. I am speaking of the many dedicated missionaries - and I know the difficulties and challenges they have to face - as well as the local priests, the men and women religious and the lay catechists who spend themselves so that the seed of God’s word may take root, flourish and grow strong. Their tireless efforts to build up the Kingdom merit our admiration and deep appreciation. Only the Lord can adequately reward them.
4. I also wish to praise your efforts in issuing last year’s Joint Pastoral Letter on the role of the Church him building an ever firmer national identity among your people. Indeed, the Church, by reason of her unique role and competence, is not identified with any political system. Yet she is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendent dimension of the human person (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 76). This sublime role impels her to contribute to the good of each nation by promoting all that will favour the welfare and the personal vocation and destiny of every individual. This she has done in your countries in many ways, especially in the fields of heath care, social work and education.
Individual Christians furthermore should strive to be ever conscious of their proper role in the political community and be generous and loyal patriots. They should be examples by their sense of responsibility and their dedication to the common good (Cfr. Ibid. 75).
In a special way, the young people should be encouraged to take an active part in the life and development of their own nation. I repeat to the youth of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei what I wrote in this year’s World Day of Peace Message: “I invite all of you, young people of the world, to take up your responsibility in this greatest of spiritual adventures that a person will face: to build human life, as individuals and in society, with respect for the vocation of man . . . During your whole lifetime, you must affirm and reaffirm the values that favour life, that reflect the dignity and vocation of the human person, that build a world of peace and justice” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Nuntius scripto datus ob diem ad pacem fovendam Calendis Ianuariis a. 1985 celebrandum, 10, die 8 dec. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 2, (1984) 1559).
5. My brothers, how much I wish to express my spiritual unity with you and all who collaborate with you in our common partnership in the Gospel! I encourage you to strive for ever greater unity among yourselves and to be vigilant in preserving unity with the universal Church.As I recalled in another context: “For full catholicity, every nation, every culture has its own part to play in the universal plan of salvation. Every particular tradition, every local Church must remain open and alert to the other Churches and traditions and, at the same time, to universal and catholic communion; were it to remain closed in on itself, it too would run the risk of becoming impoverished” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. Slavorum Apostoli, 27).
I am very pleased to greet each of you as the heads of your local Churches and I offer my best wishes for the activities of the new President and officers of the Episcopal Conference, especially as you undertake the important task of preparing your Regional Pastoral Handbook. I extend too a special welcome to the Archbishop Emeritus of Kuala Lumpur, Dominic Vendargon, who has joined you on this pilgrimage to Rome. Not physically present among us but very much in our thoughts and prayers is Bishop Simon Fung of the Diocese of Kota Kinabalu. His illness, which he has accepted in faith and trust in the Lord’s provident designs, serves to remind us that none of us lives for himself, since “if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” (Rm 14,8-9).
I commend Bishop Fung and all of you to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary most holy, who watches over the priests, sisters, brothers and laity of your Dioceses with special care. May Jesus her Son sustain you in his grace and love as you go forth to proclaim his message with steadfast hope and abiding joy. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 1985 - Morocco