Speeches 1985 - Friday, 6 September 1985
Saturday, 14 September 1985
Signor Presidente del Comitato Organizzatore dei Campionati Europei per i Ciechi,
carissimi giovani atleti e sportivi,
e voi tutti accompagnatori, organizzatori e assistenti di questo raduno internazionale!
1. Siate i benvenuti a questo incontro, che è per me motivo di gioia e insieme di commozione. Ho accolto con piacere la vostra richiesta di potermi rendere visita in occasione della vostra presenza a Roma. Noi ci fissiamo gli uni agli altri prevalentemente con gli occhi dello spirito, e ciò intensifica il significato dell’attuale udienza, aumentando, con l’emozione, il comune affetto e la spontanea amicizia.
2. Ho notato nel manifesto delle vostre gare queste parole che mi hanno profondamente colpito: “Non vedere non significa non amare; non vedere non significa chiudersi in se stessi; non vedere non significa non godere delle bellezze della vita; non vedere non significa non potere praticare lo sport”.
Queste parole sono un messaggio, rivolto come un forte richiamo ricco di speranza a tutti coloro che non vedono; ma sono altresì un impegnativo monito per tutti coloro che vedono e che con voi entrano in contatto nelle molteplici circostanze della vita quotidiana.
Parole gravi, perché fanno appello a chiunque ha il dono della salute, della vista, dell’efficienza, affinché comprenda che dentro ogni uomo, portatore di qualche limitazione operativa, c’è sempre una persona umana, c’è un cuore umano con tutte le ricchezze di un’individualità che va non solo rispettata, ma aiutata a svilupparsi secondo le doti e le inclinazioni proprie, per il bene suo e per il vantaggio dell’intera comunità.
Tali parole affermano, e giustamente, che pur non vedendo voi avete sviluppato le altre capacità sensoriali in maniera tale che, nonché precludervi ai rapporti umani, voi anzi vi aprite ad un contatto con gli altri sotto certi aspetti più profondo e intenso. La percezione più attenta in particolare, l’affinamento dell’udito, vi consentono di cogliere le più profonde sfumature di un discorso, facendovi esperti del valore dei suoni per l’orientamento e la conoscenza dell’ambiente circostante. Le gare che state compiendo sono prova di ciò e dimostrano in maniera eccellente quali mete siete in grado di raggiungere.
3. Dear young athletes and those accompanying you, I greet you today with great affection.
Although your sporting activities are very surprising to people not accustomed to attending them, they have a very deep meaning: they are a sign of your great human capabilities. You do not allow yourselves to be overcome by difficulties, but are determined to conquer them. In this you show courage and great gifts of mind and will.
Man has received from God many talents, and you show that you are aware of these talents and that you can use them with distinction and determination. The practice of sport in your own particular situation shows not just a natural need for physical activity, nor is it merely linked with the spontaneous instinct for friendly competition. It also shows your human abilities and the wealth of capacities at your command. In this way you say to the world that there are many goals that you can reach also in your social activities.
4. In the writings of the New Testament the Christian vocation is often likened to a road or journey. You know from experience what a problem exists for those who cannot actually see which way to take. But everyone knows that the road to be taken does not consist of steps but of a choice which will give meaning to the whole of life, it is a very different outlook that is needed. The power of reasoning and reflection, the proper use of judgment, the wisdom of the heart: these are the gifts which guide us along the paths of life’s commitment.
With silent dignity you can offer a great lesson, a healthy sign to the people among whom you live, to the men and women of our age who are often discontent and deeply disturbed within. To them you can point out the right direction on the road of life. You can show in a convincing way that a person is not impoverished when, guided by the voice of God, he or she knows how to reach decisive goals and achievements. This calls for an attitude of faith, founded on the word of the Lord, a faith which truly knows how to listen. You are magnificent listeners, and you know that it is precisely through the word that God comes to meet us. You give to the world the precious and meaningful example of people who know how to pay attention to the suggestions of the inner voice of God.
Thus, drawing upon the great wealth of your humanity, you will be able to show to all who meet you that a greatness of spirit and an attentive capacity for listening are the correct way to discover in the depths of the soul the light which illumines every one who comes into the world (Cfr. Io Jn 1,9).
5. Finally, a word to you who accompany and assist these young people.
You help your visually handicapped friends to discover and to achieve their potential, you encourage them to have the fortitude and confidence to apply themselves responsibly to all the activities of which they are capable. You are the ones who lead them to the full realisation of their human capacities. Your work begets a deep friendship between you, and it is accompanied by generous diligence and strong concern for one another. I thank you and I congratulate you for the successes which you obtain; I thank you especially for that great joy, comfort and security which you succeed in instilling in your blind friends.
And now as a pledge of my deep affection, I invoke upon you, my brothers and sisters, and upon your loved ones and all those who give you their loving care, the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
I would like to add a further word for the athletes taking part in the third European Marathon Cup. I thank you for your visit, and I would remind you that being young means seeking the right path for one’s life, a path that makes it possible to carry out personal commitments by following truth, justice and service of the common good. Keep this thought in mind while you are running your long race, and may God bless you.
I welcome you warmly to Rome, the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2Th 1,2).
I know that your visit here is one phase of a remarkable journey you are making for ecumenical understanding. You have been to Geneva and Instanbul and will go to Canterbury. In each place witness is being given to the need for Christian unity. I appreciate your purpose in coming now to Rome, namely, to deepen your knowledge of the Catholic Church and to understand better her commitment to ecumenism. I commend this effort that you are making, for it relates so clearly to the prayer of Christ: “that they may all be one” (Jn 15,21).
On three occasions I have met the Presiding Bishop of the Lutheran Church in America, Bishop James Crumley. I appreciate his kind words that have just been read. I know of this deep commitment to the cause of Christian unity from our conversations and from the letters that we have exchanged. Please extend to him my most cordial greetings.
When we come together in ecumenical encounters such as this, there is always a sense of joy and hope and gratitude, but of sorrow as well. There is joy and hope, because the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue over the last twenty years has made us increasingly aware of how close we are to each other in many things that are basic. We experience sorrow too, because there are important issues which still divide us in the profession of faith, preventing us from celebrating the Eucharist together. But still we can be grateful, for every new encounter of persons seeking the unity of Christians is a fresh response to the Holy Spirit who is always challenging us to overcome our divisions.
Dear brothers in Christ: you are most welcome here. Let us rejoice that an encounter such as this can take place. Let us resolve to be open to the Lord so that he can use this meeting for his purposes, to bring about the unity that he desires. Thank you for the efforts you are making for full unity in faith and charity.
In an address that I gave to the Roman Curia in June, I reviewed some of the achievements of ecumenism over the last twenty-five years. I expressed a hope then, which I believe is appropriate to all of us now: “May the Lord grant . . . that we may be courageously docile to his will, so that he may bring to a conclusion what he has begun in us”. And with Saint Paul we are convinced that he who has begun this good work in us “will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,6).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to greet the participants in the Twenty-first Administrative Symposium of the European Broadcasting Union. You have come to Rome during these days to study the economic and organizational problems associated with broadcasting. At the same time, you have wished to include in your activities this meeting with the Pope, the universal Pastor of the Catholic Church. I am honoured by your presence and I welcome you most cordially to the Vatican.
1. As we meet today, I am reminded of the tremendous potential for good which radio and television possess, and which is constantly increasing. At the same time, I am aware that the opposite possibility is also there, the ever greater capacity for evil, because of the temptation to use these sophisticated means of social communications in ways that distort the truth, or which offend the dignity and freedom of the human person.
Thus a truly heavy responsibility rests on your shoulders. You hold a privileged position in our technological society. Your decisions and activities can greatly shape the education and the cultural development of vast numbers of people. You can significantly influence the thinking and the modes of work and leisure of present and future generations.
2. The transmission of information, and even programmes aimed primarily at leisure and light entertainment, always have an impact on the moral and spiritual values of the human person. That is why I stated earlier this year in a message for the Nineteenth World Communications Day: “Information cannot remain indifferent to values which touch human existence down to the roots, such as the primacy of life from the moment of its conception, the moral and spiritual dimension, peace and justice. Information cannot be neutral in the face of problems and situations which on the national and international levels damage the connective fabric of society, such as war, the violation of human rights, poverty, violence and drugs” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Nuntius scripto datus ob diem ad rectum usum fovendum instrumentorum Communicationis Socialis statutum, 2, 26 apr. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 1118).
Your request for this audience today is a sign of your recognition of the impact of television and radio on the minds and hearts of viewers and listeners. I urge you to seek always to place the electronic media at the service of humanity and the good of all. Be attentive to the deeply rooted cultural and religious values of your audiences, for these have a primary influence on the social and interpersonal character of human existence. They determine, to a great extent, the unity and harmony of society. If your efforts serve to strengthen these values, you will be offering an invaluable service to humanity.
3. We who belong to the Catholic Church seek in every age to proclaim the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we seek ever more effective means of carrying out this mission in the world. You can easily understand, then, why we have such great interest in the latest developments in radio and television. We have much to learn from people like yourselves. It is our conviction that the mass media can and must be employed in the Church’s pastoral work That is why Vatican Radio was established over fifty years ago with the help of Guglielmo Marconi, and it has constantly expanded and improved its services over the years. Many local Churches around the world also have taken advantage of the resources of radio and television in order to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation and to serve God’s people in truth and freedom. In obedience to her mission from Christ, the Church welcomes the opportunity to come to know professionals in radio and television and to collaborate with them for the good of all.
I wish to take this occasion therefore to assure you of my genuine interest in your work and in your efforts to promote communication. As you know very well, communication is more than the process of passing on information or stirring up emotions. At its deepest level, it is a personal act of love, a generous giving of self, both mind and heart. May God give you the grace to be good communicators whose work fosters unity and peace. And may he grant abundant blessings to you and your families.
Saturday, 5 October 1985
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Members of the Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches.
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20,26).
1. Thank you most warmly for coming to see me during your meeting at Riano. I value your visit highly especially because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the setting up of the Joint Working Group, and I wish to associate myself with you in thanking God for what has been achieved in that time and in renewing the desire to go along the paths which he will show us.
As you know, I am convinced of the necessary place of Catholic collaboration with the World Council of Churches and its member Churches and have repeatedly asked that it should increase wherever possible. That is why I visited the Council at its Ecumenical Centre in Geneva last year. I regard that visit as an important part of the pastoral office which places me in a special way at the service of unity. I would like to see the positive impulse given by that visit translated into action for the benefit of our collaboration and of the ecumenical movement as a whole.
Over the past twenty years the Joint Working Group has gone about its task modestly and discreetly and perhaps for that reason its importance has not been fully appreciated. It has done much to keep collaboration alive and develop it, and it has done so with the confidence of its authorities. The work of the Group is one in which you can feel proud to take part. It calls for your best gifts, your imagination, your courage and a deep sense of responsibility. It is a service you give to the whole ecumenical movement, for collaboration between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches has an importance that is both practical and highly symbolic for that movement.
2. When the Joint Working Group was set up it was clearly recognized that the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church are not comparable organisms. On the one hand there is the Council, which is a community of many Churches and Ecclesial Communities of different confessional traditions. On the other hand there is the Catholic Church, with all her pastoral responsibility as Church. Therefore collaboration poses particular problems. Furthermore, the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches do not have the same approach to all issues. Necessarily then the way of collaboration is at times limited. This makes your task more difficult, but not impossible and no less important. It means that you are working with the real problems of our divisions which, through God’s grace, the ecumenical movement enables us to face with hope and determination.
Among the various aspects of your task is first of all collaboration between the appropriate partners on the Catholic side and the various sub-units and programmes of the Council. I said recently that a fruitful collaboration has developed since 1965 “in the social field and in the sphere of the search for Justice and peace; on the problems of mission and evangelization as well as the dialogue with the other religions” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Allocutio ad Patres Cardinales Romanaeque Curiae Sodales habita, die 28 iun. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 1987 ss). It must be your concern to be alert to the possibilities and encourage them wisely.
The Joint Working Group also has a role to play in searching out promising areas for study and investigation in the quest for unity. Here it can support and complement the important work being done together in the Faith and Order Commission. Since it looks to collaboration as a whole, the Joint Working Group must always focus on the visible unity which is the goal of the ecumenical movement. There is likewise room for it to take up some of the broad questions facing Christians in their mission in the world.
Without repeating what is already being done by the different Catholic or World Council agencies, there does seem to be a place too for more systematic ecumenical discussion of questions such as the handing on of the faith today, the nature of secularism and its consequences, the problems of culture and world peace. “There is a need above all to be always docile to the Holy Spirit and to how the Holy Spirit speaks to the Churches today (Cfr. Apoc Ap 2,7). There is a need to have concern, in everything and wherever possible, that we give joint witness to Christ and his Gospel in our world, so rich today in possibilities but also afflicted by so many ills” (Ibid.).
3. When the Joint Working Group was founded, Cardinal Bea said that one of its tasks would be dialogue. This is not only the theological discussion which takes place in Faith and Order.
It also means the continuing relation between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches which, like all relationships, calls for unceasing communication, acts of friendship and courtesy, careful attention to each other, a concern for each other’s joys and sorrows and great occasions. This dimension of dialogue can be easily overlooked under the pressure of daily work, but surely it is more necessary in these times when the ecumenical movement has advanced so greatly that we are facing some of the important questions which divide us.
Not least the Joint Working Group will interpret the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches to each other; it will interpret what is happening on the international level to those working locally; it will interpret the ecumenical movement to a wider audience. By now it has a certain accumulated wisdom which enables it, from time to time, to give clear expression to some aspects of collaboration or of the ecumenical movement. Its role can be to stir the imagination, to interpret, to stimulate, to give counsel which will consolidate the steps toward unity.
My hopes for your work are high and I encourage you in it. I pray that God may give you the vision, the perseverance, the patience and the insight which it demands. May he bless you and your families and all those for u1hom you are responsible. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Petr. 1, 2).
Dear Friends, Dear Young People,
I know that you have been looking forward to this meeting. The Pope has too. So let us together thank our Father in heaven for the faith and Christian life that unites us in the Church, the Body of Christ!
I am truly happy that you are commemorating the Fourth Centenary of the birth of Mary Ward with this pilgrimage to Rome. It is an occasion for you to discover better the special spirit that animates the international family of the Mary Ward Schools. It is also an occasion for you to reflect on the life and work of this great woman, who knew so well how to harmonize the demands of her life as a faithful member of the Church with the new requirements of the age in which she lived.
I pray too that your visit to Rome will give you a deeper love of the Church as the universal family of the followers of Christ.
1. My friends, you are in that wonderful time of life called youth. These years of your lives are a significant stage in your personal history, as well as in the history of your families and of society.
This is International Youth Year. On Palm Sunday I wrote a letter to you and to the youth of the whole world about your specific role and responsibility at this moment of history, and about Christ’s message of life and love to young people: “In you there is hope, for you belong to the future just as the future belongs to you” (IOANNIS PAULI PP.II, Epistula Apostolica ad iuvenes, Internationali vertente Anno Iuventuti dicato, 1, die 31 mar. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 757 s.).
With these words I wished to invite you young people to recognize the great challenges that lie before you as you propose to lead your societies and the entire human family along the paths of progress, justice and peace. I also wished to point out that your success in this will depend on how far you open your hearts to the truth and love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. If you ask yourselves what resources, what ideals, values and truths you possess in order to face the responsibilities of the Year 2000, and in order to begin the Third Millennium in a spirit of universal brotherhood, then you must turn to the theme of this International gathering: “Behold, I am going before you”.
Yes, Christ is going before you to show you the way!
These words remind us of the Risen Lord. They recall the message of the angel to the women at the tomb: “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen . . . and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him” (Mt 28,5-7).
Saint Luke is even clearer. According to his account, the angels asked the women: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Lc 24,5).
Why do you seek the living among the dead?
Yes, Christ is living still. His Death and Resurrection, which gave him power over sin and death, are the very source of our hope. They mark the cornerstone of the Christian vision of life and history. It is a vision that is essentially optimistic, because it believes in our ability to choose good over evil, to choose peace over violence and hatred.
Naturally, to discover the power of Christ and to share in his saving mission we must approach him in openness and trust.
Your visit to Rome has given you the opportunity to pray at the tomb of Saint Peter. Who was this Peter? The Gospels tell us that he was a humble fisherman from a small village in Galilee.
One day Jesus asked the disciples what people said about who he was. After they had given different answers, Jesus asked them directly: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16,15). Peter answered: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
Peter was the first of the disciples to make this explicit act of faith in Jesus. On that faith, as on a rock, Jesus built the Church - the assembly of those who profess their faith in Christ and live according to his teachings. Peter’s faith is a model for your response to Christ in openness and trust.
3. Young people of the Mary Ward Schools, before you leave Rome to go back to your homes and families, take courage and give your response to Jesus Christ!
He will not fail you. Just as he did not fail Mary Ward. No matter how great were the difficulties which she had to undergo - ill-health; dangerous journeys; imprisonment; above all, being misunderstood even by important people within the Church - in all of this she never lost her trust and good humour. And look how fruitful her life has been! All because she built her whole life on the friendship of Jesus.
To the members of the Institutes which have as their Foundress this “incomparable woman” - as Pope Pius XII called her - I wish to express my greetings and appreciation. The whole Church admires the work that you do in the formation of the young and in other forms of apostolate in various parts of the world. As members of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto and of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Toronto, you find in the charism of your Foundress the wisdom and insights needed to persevere in the mission which Christ has entrusted to you. Continue to live your vocation in joy and humility, as true daughters of that Pilgrim of hope whose abiding treasure was the life of grace within her, from which she draw energies for a task which because of its dynamism and enterprising spirit seemed unusual and inexplicable to many of her contemporaries.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for your Institutes, that they may flourish with new members and give ever increasing testimony of holiness and zeal!
To all of you, and to your families and friends at home, I say: be strong, be happy in your Christian life! Make our Lord Jesus Christ your best friend! May God bless you!
Liebe Schwestern und 13rüder der weltweiten Maria-Ward-Familie!
Zu Ehren dieser großen Frau und Ordensgründerin aus England habe ich mich zuerst in englischer Sprache an euch gewandt. Dabei vertraue ich darauf, daß die überaus große Gruppe unter euch aus Deutschland und Österreich meine Worte ebenfalls verstanden hat, weil ihr die englische Sprache gewiß gut beherrscht.
Wie zahlreiche andere vorbildliche und heiligmäßige Christen der Vergangenheit hat Maria Ward die engen Grenzen ihrer eigenen Nation überschritten und auch in anderen Kulturen und Sprachen ihr fruchtbares Wirken entfaltet. Auf der Grundlage eines starken Vertrauens in Gottes Führung und in die weltweite Sendung der Kirche hat ihr Erziehungswerk auch in fremden Ländern Heimat gefunden und so auch dort die Botschaft Christi unermüdlich weitervermitteln können.
Diese großen Christen haben der Kirche Jesu Christi einen wichtigen Dienst erwiesen: Sie haben ihr konkret geholfen, Menschen verschiedenster Sprachen und Kulturen auf den Weg der Gotteskindschaft zu führen und sie über alle Granzen und Schranken hinaus zu einen Auf diese Weise konnte und kann die Kirche immer wieder wahrhaft katholisch werden, allumfassend und offen für jeden, der Gott ehrlichen Herzens sucht und die erprobten Wege su ihm hin beschreitet.
Euch jungen Menschen wünsche ich von Herzen, daß euch das Leben und Lernen in euren Schulen hilft, diese große Weite und Offenheit zu erwerben. Sie ist ja zugleich auch Voraussetzung für wahren Frieden und echte Gerechtigkeit unter den Menschen.
Unser Herr Jesus Christus segne euch auf die Fürsprache seiner Mutter Maria; er segne auren Alltag und eure Feste, eure Sorgen und eure Freuden, eure Hoffnungen und eure Ängste. Er sagt auch euch allen und jedem einzelnen: ”Ich gehe euch voraus“.
Vaya también mi más cordial saludo a los jóvenes y a las jóvenes aquí presentes procedentes de España, Chile, Argentina y Brasil.
Que esta peregrinación al centro de la catolicidad con motivo del IV Centenario de Mary Ward os afiance en vuestra fe y os infunda nuevo entusiasmo en vuestro empeño por construir una sociedad más justa, pacifica y fraterna.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am very pleased to see you gathered here in the company of Cardinal Vidal.
After the private meetings which I have had with each one of you during these days of your “ad Limina” visit, we now have the opportunity to come together in the name of him who appointed us and sent us to bear much fruit (Cfr. Io Jn 15,16), our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I greet you with great personal satisfaction, and through you I feel very close to the Filipino people. You are pastors of the regions of Mindanao and Visayas, and soon I will meet the bishops of the other regions of the Philippines. Your presence here is not only the fulfilment of a duty incumbent on all the bishops of the world; it is also the expression of the deeply-felt bonds of faith and loyalty that unite Filipino Catholics to the See of Peter.
I wish to assure you that the pains and sorrows, the joys and hopes of the entire Nation are very much the subject of my concerns and prayers.
1. Our conversations and the reports which you have prepared for this visit show how deeply you feel the responsibility of the task entrusted to your episcopal ministry. At times you may feel weighed down by the mission and by the obstacles which confront your endeavors. But there is one thing of which you are certain and which inspires your trust and confidence. It is the response of Christ to the anxieties of the Apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2Co 12,9). In this conviction you will find the courage to place your whole lives at the service of the mystery of salvation being accomplished in the midst of your people.
It is fitting, in this context, that together we should raise our voices in joyful, thanksgiving to God, our heavenly Father from whom all good things come, for the vitality and progress of the Church in the Philippines. Your communities are imbued with life-giving energies, a dynamism which is evident from the numerous institutions, activities and initiatives that have ever marked the uninterrupted development of the Church. There is always room for improvement and correction, but let us not forget the “great things” which the Lord has done and continues to do in the hearts of the Filipino people. Like Mary, the whole Church in the Philippines can magnify the Lord for the abundance of his grace (Cfr. Luc Lc 1,46 Luc Lc 1,49).
2. Precisely because you are close to the daily life of the members of your local Churches, to their sufferings and aspirations, you have been concerned to offer guidance and leadership to your people in their search for a more dignified human condition and for greater participation in the important choices which affect the life of the nation. The whole Church is grateful to you for the example of compassion and solidarity with those in need which you have given and for your encouraging participation in the development and progress of your people.
You are undoubtedly strengthened in your pastoral ministry by the mutual understanding, respect and support which marks the activities of your Bishops’ Conference, especially when you gather to discuss the various questions that require attention and collaboration of the whole episcopal body.
On these occasions you deal with the matters that affect your communities as Pastors of the Church of God: as bishops, whose principal task is to teach the whole truth of the Gospel, to teach the whole truth about man (Cfr. IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 12). The full truth about human life and human destiny is to be found in the revelation of the Gospel, in the person of the Incarnate Son of God and through the salvific event of his Death and Resurrection which is made present in every age and place through the mystery of the Church.
3. The community of those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is united by a profound bond of life and love. While endeavoring to serve this bond, one cannot place the Gospel message at the service of any objective other than the fullness of life and love emanating from the Paschal Mystery.
The love of which we are speaking is the eternal merciful love of God, which “has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rm 5,5). This love is incompatible with the use of division, opposition, hatred or violence as a program of Christian life or as progress in justice.
In this regard it is enlightening to re-read certain pages of Pope Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi”. There he reminds us that any reduction of the whole message of salvation preached by the Church deprives her of her “originality” and exposes her “to monopolization and manipulation by ideological systems and political parties” (Cfr. PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 32).
In the face of the social, economic and ideological tensions which exist in some of your dioceses you have to be wise and courageous in order to remain faithful to Christ, the Chief Shepherd of the flock (Cfr. 1 Petr. 5, 4). Time and again you have to proclaim that no merely temporal and imminent liberation can be the object of the Church’s evangelizing mission. Does this mean that the Church has no message of liberation to proclaim to those who long for release from whatever forms of oppression or injustice are diminishing their God-given dignity? Or that the Church in the Philippines has no concrete contribution to make to development, peace and progress?
Here again the words of “Evangelii Nuntiandi” are an authoritative statement of the Church’s real participation in the cause of genuine liberation. They also indicate the means to be used if the end result is to be truly for the benefit of peoples and not to their detriment. In fact the Church “is providing . . . Christian ‘liberators’ with the inspiration of faith, the motivation of fraternal love, a social teaching which the true Christian cannot ignore and which he must make the foundation of his wisdom and of his experience in order to translate it concretely into forms of action, participation and commitment. All this must characterize the spirit of a committed Christian, without confusion with tactical attitudes or with the service of a political system. The Church strives always to insert the Christian struggle for liberation into the universal plan of salvation which she herself proclaims” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 38).
4. Sometimes a concept of a Church “of the people” is contrasted with the concept of the “institutional” Church, as if the latter had as it were failed in her mission and were now an enemy of human development and even of the Gospel message itself, while the former is expounded as the true source of hope and happiness.
The fallacy in such a presentation is evident. The Church is the sacrament of salvation only if she continues to be all that her divine Founder intended. In a very special way it is incumbent upon bishops, individually and collectively, to penetrate ever more fully the divine and human mystery of the Church. In this task we have the splendid teachings of the Second Vatican Council to guide us, in particular the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium”.
As bishops we are entrusted with the task of proclaiming and defending the whole of the Church’s teaching in all its authenticity.We must also be vigilant that others who preach and teach in the name of the Church should not be allowed to distort that teaching, to the consequent confusion and disturbance of the consciences of the faithful.
This matter will often be for you a source of suffering and trial. You will sometimes be a sign of contradiction. Your love in these cases, sometimes for your closest collaborators, will be a love marked by forgiveness, patience, forbearance and courage. Your love should not become a false compassion that ends by undermining the truth and destroying the very harmony that it claims to preserve. The pastoral love that you have for your communities sometimes demands that you should not hide the “hard sayings” (Cfr. Jn 6,60) which bridge the distance between sinful human nature and the moral requirements of life in the Spirit of Christ.
May the Lord Jesus send comforting gifts of the Holy Spirit as you speak in his name and guide your local Churches along the path of life and love!
5. In many of your dioceses the Catholic faithful live side by side with members of the Muslim faith. Here and there certain tensions have arisen in the area of political aspirations. Yet, on the basis of the common bond of faith in the Most High God and out of respect for one of the world’s great religious traditions, your local Churches are actively maintaining good relations with the Muslim community and are already offering a fruitful collaboration and service in educational and social activities. It is important to make further progress along this path of mutual understanding and harmony.
I would repeat to the Church in the Philippines what I said to a gathering of Muslim young people during my recent visit to Morocco: “Dialogue between Christians and Muslims is today more necessary than ever . . . 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 this fact . . . 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” (Cfr. “L’Osservatore Romano”, edit. anglica, die 16 sept. 1985, PP 6-8).
6. You are well aware that the success of your ministry greatly depends on the faith and Christian life of your collaborators, especially your priests, and the men and women Religious and catechists who work strenuously at your side in the task of evangelization. In this respect we cannot forget the generation of Missionaries, men and women, who have served the Church in the Philippines with generous dedication. I wish to assure the missionary personnel who are working in your local Churches that their pastoral collaboration is necessary and appreciated.
Priests and Religious in particular should be encouraged “to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (Col 1,10). They will pray and should also be seen to pray; thus they give primacy to the power of the grace of Christ and of the Holy Spirit in their pastoral activities. In this respect they will greatly benefit from willing and attentive recitation of the Divine Office, which is the prayer of Jesus himself, who joins the entire community of mankind to himself in this canticle of divine praise (Cfr. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 83). Then too, the importance of the Sacrament of Penance in their own personal quest for holiness of life cannot be overstated. In all of this you must assist them by your example and leadership.
The progress that the Church in the Philippines is making in providing new seminaries for the large numbers of vocations with which you are blessed, and new centers of formation for all those who respond to Christ’s invitation to work in his vineyard, heightens the need to ensure that priority be given in this formation to genuine spirituality and fidelity to the teachings of the Church. For this task you have a wealth of guidelines in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and in the relevant documents of the Holy See.
And you must present to your seminarians an image of the priesthood that truly corresponds to their future role in the Church, a role which follows from their configuration with Christ. They must be shown that the life they have chosen is not a mere profession or form of employment. They should be encouraged and trained to live their vocation with joy and in the liberating generosity of total abandonment to God. And a sense of justice in their regard tells us that from their first days in the seminary they should be instructed in the value of celibacy in the service of Christ and his Kingdom (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 10).
Likewise I wish to say to you that I am fully convinced that a bishop will be successful as the pastor and father of the flock entrusted to him only if he gives the greatest attention and energy to cultivating personal, friendly and frank contacts with his priests, with Religious, and with the laity who make their own specific and irreplaceable contribution to the good of the local Church.
7. My brother Bishops, there are many other matters which deserve our attention. Some of them I will touch upon when I have the pleasure of meeting the other members of your Conference, in the same fraternal manner in which I have sought to express my thoughts to you.
I know that the challenges which face you are not small. In this respect I wish to recall the tragic deaths of Father Tullio Favali of the PIME Fathers, and of Father Alberto Romero. And I cannot but share with you my deep personal concern for the fate of the Redemptorist Father Rudy in Cebu on July 11 of this year.
But your trust is in Christ. You can be confident too of the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, who is so greatly loved and honored by the Filipino people. This year you are celebrating a special Marian Year, a time of grace and devotion which manifests the very soul of your people and shows how deeply the faith of the Church has penetrated the temperament of the Nation.
In my prayers I commend to Mary’s loving care the whole Church in the Philippines, and I ask her to gain for you and your people the gifts of peace and reconciliation.
Finally, I avail myself of this occasion to say a word of appreciation to Archbishop Mabutas, the President of your Conference, as he approaches the end of his term. I join with you all in giving recognition to the zeal and energy with which he has carried out the many burdens of that office. May the God of peace amply reward him!
From January Cardinal Vidal will be your next President, and I take this opportunity to wish him every success in that office. I know that you will give him your fullest cooperation and assistance.
And may grace and peace be multiplied to you all! (Cfr. 1 Petr. 1, 2).
Speeches 1985 - Friday, 6 September 1985