Speeches 1985 - Saturday, 12 October 1985
My dear Cardinal Sin and brother Bishops,
I greet you, Pastors of the region of Luzon, with warm sentiments of fraternal esteem, which I express in the words of Saint Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rm 1,7).
During these days of your ad Limina visits you have represented the reality of your local Churches before the tomb of Saint Peter, the “rock” on which our Lord Jesus built his Church as the sacrament of salvation for all nations until he comes again. In this way the organic and stable unity of the local Churches with the universal Church is made manifest in a particularly eloquent and vital way.
I pray that you will return to your dioceses strengthened by the experience of the universal communion which is the Church, and that you will share that universal vision with your priests, men and women religious, and with the faithful, your brothers and sisters in discipleship. For although each of you has particular responsibility for that portion of God’s people entrusted to his daily care, all of you, together with your brother Bishops throughout the world, form a unique fraternity in which the burdens of one are the burdens of all in a communion of love and pastoral concern for the whole Church of God.
1. The entire Church will shortly celebrate the Extraordinary Synod which marks the Twentieth Anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. I have called this Synod with the intention of reawakening the authentic sense of the spiritual and pastoral achievements of that precious moment of ecclesial life. Recently, to the pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square I said that “such an initiative has the purpose of stimulating all of the members of the People of God to an ever-deepening awareness of the Council’s teachings and to an ever more faithful application of the principles and directives which have issued from that impressive Assembly” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Allocutio ad precationem “Angelus” habita, die 29 sept. 1985: vide supra , pp. PP 802 s.).
There is hardly any aspect of the Church’s life which the Council has not touched and for which it did not offer doctrinal and pastoral motivations capable of producing a new upsurge of holiness and vitality in the life of the whole body of the Church’s membership. It is extremely important that we all share the conviction that the Council represented an extraordinary moment of the working of the grace of God in the Church, and that moment was decisive for the reality and form of the Church’s presence in the world today and in the future.
It is true that not all the potential life-giving energies which the Council fostered have come to fruition for the unambiguous benefit of the Church and the world. But precisely because the Council was “a kind of milestone . . . in the almost two thousand year history of the Church and . . . in the religious and cultural history of the world” (Ibid.), we “vicars and ambassadors of Christ”? (Lumen Gentium LG 27), must not cease to reflect on its content, nor fail to realize our grave responsibility before Christ, before the Church and the world, for its full and faithful implementation.
Together with you, I give thanks to our heavenly Father for the benefits which the Church in the Philippines as reaped from the teachings of the Council and from the pastoral insights and impulses which, as a consequence, the Holy Spirit - who “vivifies ecclesiastical institutions as a kind of soul” (Ad Gentes AGD 4) - has brought forth among your people.
2. In this respect I recall that one of the great lines of ecclesial renewal which emerged from the Council has been the better definition of the role of the laity in the Church’s life and mission. In union with their Pastors the laity are truly responsible in their own right for the Church’s ministry of salvation: each one “according to the grace received” (1 Petr. 4, 10).
The Bishops of the Philippines gratefully recognize that much progress has been made in this area. The faithful are, generally speaking, more aware of their specific role within the community of faith, and they assume the various services and ministries proper to them with joy and generous dedication.
You and your priests realize too that this is not a mere organizational and functional necessity. Rather, as a result of their baptismal configuration with Christ the laity have - in the words of the Code of Canon Law - “the duty and the right to work so that the divine message of salvation may increasingly reach the whole of humankind in every age and in every land” (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 211).
There is a freshness and vigor in the Christian lives of many of your faithful, as a result of a more widespread “discovery” of the word of God in the Bible. Much more perhaps than before, individuals and groups find in the Scriptures the nourishment for their prayer and a support for their daily endeavors to live in holiness and justice before God and their neighbors.
The appearance too of “basic Christian communities” in your local Churches has, in many cases and notwithstanding certain deficiencies, given support to a greater sense of spiritual communion and human solidarity. As Pastors you rejoice in these factors of renewal, and you hope that these and other positive aspects of the life of the Church in the Philippines will contribute to the consolidation of a truly Christian culture capable of imbuing the life of the nation with evangelical principles of conduct and public policy.
At the same time you are called to make every effort to offset the danger of fragmentation which a too personal interpretation of the revealed word, or an excessive concern with specific local problems seen in the light of ideologies not inspired by the Gospel might cause in your local Churches. As successors of the Apostles in the College of Bishops, we have a fundamental obligation to defend and strengthen the unity of the one Church of Christ. That unity cannot be achieved at any level except through the bonds of professed faith, of the sacraments, of pastoral government, and of communion . Christ’s prayer “that they may be one” (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 14) is applicable indeed to the universal Church. It is also Christ’s will for the particular realization of that Church which is the diocese, and, in their own way, the parish and other local and regional groupings which constitute the richness of the Church’s presence in each place.
3. In some of the statements and Pastoral Letters which you, the Bishops of the Philippines, have issued on aspects of the present situation of your country, you have not failed to draw attention to the serious crisis of moral values affecting some sectors of the population.
Certainly, you do not overlook the reality and depth of goodness which characterizes today - as regards living conditions, health services, educational programs, employment and working conditions, your people, and which is clearly manifested in their love of justice, their respect for the dignity and rights of others, their attachment to truth, and their sense of brotherhood and solidarity, especially towards the poor and the needy.
Yet as Pastors you are troubled by a certain breakdown in public and private morality. This is undoubtedly a subject about which you reflect and pray.
In this context I would refer to one area of concern. At the fundamental cell of society and of the Church, the family is particularly affected by the economic, social and moral conditions of society. A major challenge facing the Church, and indeed humanity as a whole, is that of defending the family against those forces which increasingly undermine its stability and effectiveness in serving life and love.
In your country you are engaged in clarifying the doctrinal and pastoral lines of the Church’s service to marriage and family life. What the Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio” states in general has particular significance in the circumstances of the Philippines: “At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way deform it . . . the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 3).
Society as a whole, and therefore Christians singly and collectively as responsible citizens of their country, and more so if they hold public office, has a grave duty to work for the solution of the many ills that beset the family and assistance to the poor and the poorest. In this matter the Church as a community of faith has a specific role. Her task is to “evangelize” marriage and family life, to proclaim God’s plan and to help the faithful to share in the mystery of God’s love through the love which is the heart of married and family life.
In relation to marriage the Code of Canon Law underlines the need for young couples to be properly prepared for receiving this Sacrament, and the need for a fruitful liturgical celebration of the marriage itself (Cfr. Codex Iuris Canonici, cann. 1063-1064). An abundant literature and many programs of formation for priests and catechists show that this is indeed a pastoral priority among you.
Forces which in the past have worked against the stability of family life are compounded today by factors such as the high rate of unemployment, especially among the young, and by the fact that thousands of Filipinos are obliged to seek work abroad. Your people are also experiencing the influence of a culture that is marked by exaggerated individualism and a consumer mentality which leads to a practical materialism impatient of religious and ethical values. In fact, one of the matters frequently mentioned during these ad Limina visits has been the widespread and growing religious ignorance which in turn leads to indifferentism and a weakening of moral response.
By defending the values of marriage and family life you are safeguarding the cultural identity of the Filipino people, which is particularly marked by the special love shown to children and by the place and role of women in private and public life. Unfortunately the traditional dignity of women is often contradicted today by forms of exploitation which, as well as degrading their victims, threaten the very fabric of social life, by their pervading accessibility.
As “Mater et Magistra”, Mother and Teacher of the faithful, the Church in the Philippines faces these problems with a sense of urgency and with a conviction that your people are hungry for the word of God and for the united voice of their Pastors. Perhaps without realizing it, in their hearts your people repeat the words of Peter before Christ: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6,68). For this reason I have keen interest in your “Bible for every Family” project.
In your parishes and educational institutions, in programs of adult education, in Movements of spiritual and apostolic life, in the “basic Christian communities” which have a clear ecclesial identity, you have the framework of a dynamic and effective presentation of Christ’s message. Among the priests, religious and laity you find excellent collaborators in the task of evangelization and catechesis, in which the Christian view of marriage is an essential element.
I can only encourage you in your endeavors to enlighten the consciences of the faithful and of the leaders of the nation to the dangers inherent in certain trends. In this respect you spoke eloquently about respect for life in your 1984 Pastoral Letter on this theme.
4. Two final considerations are close to my heart. The first is my desire to express my appreciation of the spirit of openness and generous hospitality with which you have welcomed large numbers of refugees from South East Asia. As the principal Catholic nation in Asia, you have not failed to give a clear example of human and evangelical love towards these brothers and sisters who bear in their bodies the testimony of much suffering and pain, who are the victims of a human tragedy beyond telling. In this you have again shown your sense of brotherhood with the great peoples of the Asian continent.
Nor can I forget the magnificent contribution given to the evangelization of Asia by Radio Veritas Overseas Service. By broadcasting the Christian Gospel in various languages, it reaches peoples and cultures hungry for this message and becomes a stimulus of authentic human values and an instrument of salvation in Christ our Lord.
I understand that difficulties of all kinds are not lacking, and I am grateful to all those who, according to the responsibility of each one, support the valid and effective utilization of this means of evangelization. They can be sure of my personal appreciation and of the gratitude of those who in the intimacy of their homes are enabled to receive the light of the Gospel. This is particularly so where Radio Veritas is the only voice of the Church which they may hear.
5. My brother Bishops, I assure you that all of your pastoral concerns are reflected in my prayer and in the intentions of the apostolic ministry which the Lord, for his own purposes, has entrusted to me.
My great wish is to stand by you and confirm you as living witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Council reminds us: “In the Bishops . . . our Lord Jesus Christ, the Supreme High Priest, is present in the midst of all those who believe” (Lumen Gentium LG 21). May he who is our strength sustain you in this sublime but difficult mission. And may Mary, Mother of the Church, be with you as you continue the redemptive work of her Son!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I extend a most cordial welcome to all of you. And I rejoice with the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and its illustrious President, Professor Carlos Chagas, for having succeeded in bringing together two groups of such distinguished scientists to reflect on the themes: “The Artificial Prolongation of Life and the Determination of the Exact Moment of Death”, and “The Interaction of Parasitic Diseases and Nutrition”.
In the specialized areas encompassed by these themes, the men and women of science and medicine give yet another proof of their desire to work for the good of humanity. The Church is joined with you in this task, for she too seeks to be the servant of humanity As I said in my first Encyclical “Redemptor Hominis”: “The Church cannot abandon man, for his ‘destiny’, that is to say, his election, calling, birth and death, salvation or perdition, is so closely and unbreakably linked with Christ” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 14).
2. Your presence reminds me of the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, the one who cared for an unnamed person who had been stripped of everything by robbers and left wounded at the side of the road. The figure of that Good Samaritan I see reflected in each one of you, who by means of science and medicine offer your care to nameless sufferer, both among peoples in full development and among the hosts of those individuals afflicted by diseases caused by malnutrition.
For Christian, life and death, health and sickness, are given fresh meaning by the words of Saint Paul: “None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 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 14,7-8).
These words offer great meaning and hope to us who believe in Christ; non-Christians, too, whom the Church esteems and with whom she wishes to collaborate, understand that within the mystery of life and death there are values which transcend all earthly treasures.
3. When we approach the theme which you have dealt with in your first Group, “The Artificial Prolongation of Life and the Determination of the Exact Moment of Death”, we do so with two fundamental convictions, namely: Life is a treasure; Death is a natural event.
Since life is indeed a treasure, it is appropriate that scientists promote research which can enhance and prolong human life and that physicians be well informed of the most advanced scientific means available to them in the field of medicine.
Scientists and physicians are called to place their skill and energy at the service of life. They can never, for any reason or in any case, suppress it. For all who have a keen sense of the supreme value of the human person, believers and non-believers alike, euthanasia is a crime in which one must in no way cooperate or even consent to. Scientists and physicians must not regard themselves as the lords of life, but as its skilled and generous servants. Only God who created the human person with an immortal soul and saved the human body with the gift of the Resurrection is the Lord of life.
4. It is the task of doctors and medical workers to give the sick the treatment which will help to cure them and which will aid them to bear their sufferings with dignity. Even when the sick are incurable they are never untreatable: whatever their condition, appropriate care should be provided for them.
Among the useful and licit forms of treatment is the use of painkillers. Although some people may be able to accept suffering without alleviation, for the majority pain diminishes their moral strength. Nevertheless, when considering the use of these, it is necessary to observe the teaching contained in the Declaration issued on 4 June 1980 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
“Painkillers that cause unconsciousness need special consideration. For a person not only has to be able to satisfy his or her moral duties and family obligations; he or she also has to prepare himself or herself with full consciousness for meeting Christ”.
5. The physician is not the lord of life, but neither is he the conqueror of death. Death is an inevitable fact of human life, and the use of means for avoiding it must take into account the human condition. With regard to the use of ordinary and extraordinary means the Church expressed herself in the following terms in the Declaration which I have just mentioned: “If there are no other sufficient remedies, it is permitted, with the patient’s consent, to have recourse to the means provided by the most advanced medical techniques, even if these means are still at the experimental stage and are not without a certain risk . . . It is also permitted, with the patient’s consent, to interrupt these means, where the results fall short of expectations. But for such a decision to be made, account will have to be taken of the reasonable wishes of the patient and the patient’s family, as also of the advice of the doctors who are specially competent in the matter . . . It is also permissible to make do with the normal means that medicine can offer. Therefore one cannot impose on anyone the obligation to have recourse to a technique which is already in use but which carries a risk or is burdensome . . . When inevitable death is imminent in spite of the means used, it is permitted in conscience to take the decision to refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted”.
6. We are grateful to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, for having studied in detail the scientific problems connected with attempting to define the moment of death. A knowledge of these problems is essential for deciding with a sincere moral conscience the choice of ordinary or extraordinary forms of treatment, and for dealing with the important moral and legal aspects of transplants. It also helps us in the further consideration of whether the home or the hospital is the more suitable place for treatment of the sick and especially of the incurable.
The right to receive good treatment and the right to be able to die with dignity demand human and material resources, at home and in hospital, which ensure the comfort and dignity of the sick. Those who are sick and above all the dying must not lack the affection of their families, the care of doctors and nurses and the support of their friends.
Over and above all human comforts, no one can fail to see the enormous help given to the dying and their families by faith in God and by hope in eternal life. I would therefore ask hospitals, doctors and above all relatives, especially in the present climate of secularization, to make it easy for the sick to come to God, since in their illness they experience new questions and anxieties which only in God can find an answer.
7. In many areas of the world the matter which you have begun to study in your second Working Group has immense importance, namely the question of malnutrition. Here the problem is not merely that of a scarcity of food but also the quality of food, whether it is suitable or not for the healthy development of the whole person. Malnutrition gives rise to diseases which hinder the development of the body and likewise impede the growth and maturity of intellect and will.
The research which has been completed so far and which you are now examining in greater detail in this colloquium aims at identifying and treating the diseases associated with malnutrition. At the same time, it points to the need of adapting and improving methods of cultivation, methods which are capable of producing food with all the elements that can ensure proper human subsistence and the full physical and mental development of the person.
It is my fervent hope and prayer that your deliberations will encourage the governments and peoples of the economically more advanced countries to help the populations more severely affected by malnutrition.
8. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Catholic Church, which in the coming world Synod of Bishops will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, reconfirms the words which the Council Fathers addressed to the men and women of thought and science: “Our paths could not fail to cross. Your road is ours. Your paths are never foreign to ours. We are the friends of your vocation as searchers, companions in your labours, admirers of your successes, and, if necessary, consolers in your discouragement and your failures”.
It is with these sentiments that I invoke the blessings of God, the Lord of life, upon the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, upon all the members of the two present Working Groups and upon your families.
Dear Brother Bishops,
Today I have the pleasure of meeting you, the Bishops of the Northern Luzon and Bikol regions of the Philippines. I greet you with fraternal esteem and affection, in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. The underlying theme of the talks I have had with the groups of Philippine Bishops during their “ad Limina” visits has been - as is to be expected - the Bishop’s pastoral mission to the Church entrusted to his care. Perhaps one of the best syntheses of this mission is expressed in the words of the Council: “In exercising his office of father and pastor, a Bishop should stand in the midst of his people as one who serves. Let him be a good shepherd . . . a true father . . . Let him so gather and mold the whole family of his flock that everyone, conscious of his own duties, may live and work in the communion of love” (Christus Dominus CD 16).
In this way the Council laid before us bishops a program of life and pastoral activity wholly centered on the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ, the “great shepherd of the sheep” (Hebr. 13, 20). It is Jesus himself who is our model and the measure of our commitment and pastoral solicitude. Because of our sacramental configuration with him, he is our example in a close and intimately personal way. In the multiple actions of our ministry of teaching, sanctifying and governing God’s people, Christ himself is present and operative. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps 127,1). Indeed, through the ministry of the Bishop, as the Council states, the Lord himself “directs and guides the people of the New Testament in their pilgrimage towards eternal happiness” (Lumen Gentium LG 21).
Such a consideration reminds as that the success of the apostolate cannot be gauged in terms of bureaucratic organization or statistical data. Rather, the ultimate criterion of the value of our ministry is the realization of what we petition in the Lord’s prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth” (Mt 6,10).
The pastor’s aim is to hasten the coming of God’s kingdom by leading his people “to live and work in the communion of love” (Christus Dominus CD 16). In the sharing of Christ’s gifts to the Church and the world through the profession of faith, the sacramental economy and participation in the ordered life of the community under the leadership of the legitimate pastors, there arises that profound unity which necessarily characterizes “the whole assembly of charity” (Cfr. S. Ignatii Antiocheni Ad Romanos, praef.). In each local Church the realization of that communion of Christian love and unity is brought about primarily by the Holy Spirit “who is the principle of our coming together and remaining together in the teaching of the apostles and in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and of prayers”. For this reason I wish to invite you and your brother Bishops of the Philippines not to cease from ardent prayer for the Church in your country that it may be each day more truly a communion of love and unity, in the strength of the Holy Spirit and in the concrete witness of brotherhood and solidarity at every level.
2. A practical consequence of the nature of the Church as a communion of faith and love is the need to discover, foster and coordinate with pastoral effectiveness the various ministries and charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes among God’s people. A fundamental support of this task of coordination and unity of purpose is the developed sense of collegial responsibility and team-work which you, the Bishops, exercise through the meetings and activities of your Episcopal Conference. In fact, when you speak with one voice in obedience to the Gospel and when in its light you read the “signs of the times” and are seen to sustain each other through effective forms of ecclesial cooperation, then society will receive the message of peace and reconciliation which the Church in the Philippines continues to proclaim notwithstanding difficulties and contrary impulses.
3. One aspect among others deserves consideration. I refer to the task of fostering and coordinating for the good of the whole Church in the Philippines the fruitful cooperation between the Bishops and Religious, both at the diocesan and national levels.
The contribution of men and women Religious to the life of the Church in your country constitutes a glorious history of enlightened service and dedicated evangelization. Today men and women Religious play a very significant part in the overall life of the Church in the Philippines. Worthy of special merit are those who give themselves to God alone in the prayerful solitude and silence of contemplative life. They are “the glory of the Church and an overflowing fountain of heavenly graces” (Perfectae Caritatis PC 7). Then again, the activities of Institutes engaged in the active apostolate respond to a specific mission which is theirs in the Church. In the words of the Council’s Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of the Religious Life, “a sacred ministry and a special work of charity has been consigned to them by the Church and must be discharged in her name” (Ibid. 8). As a result, Religious, and similarly members of Societies of apostolic life for their part, realize that their pastoral activities are inseparable from the Church’s evangelizing and sanctifying mission. The special charism and character of each community enriches the life of the local Churches where they operate with a dynamism and organizational ability which permits the Church to respond to the challenges and needs of each place.
Fully conscious of the ecclesiological vision which the Council proposes, Religious should always see their work as organically bound to the life and mission of the local Church in which the Bishop is “the visible principle and foundation of unity” (Lumen Gentium LG 23). Thus the relationship between the Bishops and members of Religious Institutes and Societies of apostolic life should be marked by cordial understanding, organic unity and a willingness to work together in a programmed way for the good of the entire community. The same Holy Spirit who sustains the Church on the foundation of the Apostles, brings forth in the body of the Church the charism of the evangelical counsels and missionary zeal to be a valid sign of the holiness to which God’s people are called and a prophetic testimony of the values of the kingdom. As a result there cannot be a separation or contradictory parallelism between Religious and Bishops. Rather, there should be a complementarity which is not a mere accommodation, but a living exemplification of what Saint Paul teaches about the parts of the body as applied to the Church: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’ (1Co 12,21), nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’”. All must work together in obedience to the one Lord.
4. As Bishops you will find essential guidelines for the fulfilment of your responsibilities towards the men and women Religious present in your dioceses in the document “Mutuae Relationes”. There you will read that the Bishop’s specific office is “to defend consecrated life, to foster and animate the fidelity and authenticity of Religious and to help them become part of the communion and of the evangelizing action of his Church according to their distinctive nature” (Mutuae Relationes, c. VII). All this requires regular contact between Bishops and Religious Superiors in order to maintain a spirit of openness and understanding with regard to pastoral objectives. Men and women Religious should be adequately represented in the various diocesan councils, especially pastoral councils. They can also usefully form associations of Religious which will serve as “organism for the discussion of mixed problems between Bishops and Superiors, as well as for coordinating the activities of religious families with the pastoral action of the diocese under the direction of the Bishop” (Ibid.). I know that you are already following this path and I encourage you to go forward with confidence and trust.
On the national level too the Church in the Philippines can only benefit from the consolidation of procedures of dialogue and collaboration between the Bishops and major Religious Superiors. In this respect it is always important that the diversity of Institutes be respected both by the Bishops and by the officials of such associations themselves. It is also important that regional and national associations of Religious give proper weight to the inalienable responsibility of the Bishops to oversee the development of pastoral activities in his diocese, as corresponds to the evangelical spirit of service which men and women Religious seek to embody and exemplify.
5. One particular area of collaboration between Bishops and Religious which requires much spiritual discernment in the present circumstances concerns the role of priests and of men and women Religious in the process of social development. In this respect I mention briefly two aspects of the Church’s service of your people, a service which implies a preferential, though not exclusive or restrictive option for the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters, the poor, the defenseless, the weak and those who excluded from the benefits of progress, especially from education, employment and the full achievement of their human and civil rights.
Firstly this service is a response to the word of God.In the poor and suffering the Church strives to serve Christ (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 8). She approaches each child, each man and woman with a vivid sense of the unique personal dignity of each one. Following the example of her Founder, she refuses to see any group of human beings - much less the poor - as a mere socio-political or economic category and factor in a theory of social development. The Church serves human beings as persons, in full respect of their dignity and in support of each individual’s pursuit of his or her integral human and eternal destiny. This is the Church’s mission, which cannot be subordinated or postponed in favor of other economic, social or political finalities.
A second aspect to which I refer briefly concerns the role of leadership of priests and Religious in development. It is clear that this role does not consist in espousing particular political programs or ideologies. Priests and Religious certainly proclaim the Gospel message of liberation and they accompany their people in the quest for dignity and justice; but they must be careful not to subvert the message by imposing on it a reductive interpretation, or by putting it at the service of a particular form of political involvement, or by taking part in activities that do not appear in consonance with their ecclesial status.
I take this opportunity to express my spiritual closeness to the Filipino priests and Religious as well as to all missionary personnel who share the burdens of their people in poverty and simplicity, seeking justice and truth without violence, giving witness to Christ who “carried out the work of redemption in poverty and under oppression” (Lumen Gentium LG 8).
6. I also wish to encourage you, dear brother Bishops, in another matter, namely the programs of catechesis and theological formation of the laity which are being undertaken according to the guidelines of your National Catechetical Directory.
Each local Church is born from the proclamation of the “Good News” of salvation in Christ Jesus, and grows and develops in the measure in which that message is welcomed with love and practised in effective works of holiness and justice and charity. The strength of each Church is closely connected with the degree in which the faith is nourished and enlightened by an adequate program of catechesis, the purpose of which is “to make disciples, to help people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, so that believing they might have life in his name, and to educate and instruct them in this life and thus build up the Body of Christ” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Catechesi Tradendae CTR 1).
I simply wish to recall the importance of this task for the Christian life of your people. As you face the immense challenge of responding to the need and the thirst of your people for the word of God and for the teaching of the Church, I pray that you will continue with renewed energy and courage to give priority to catechesis. It is not exaggerated to say that the entire future of the Church in your country will depend on your success in the catechetical instruction of the faithful. May the Spirit of truth endow you and your collaborators with ever greater enthusiasm for this work!
7. Finally, in connection with the theme of catechesis, I mention the enormous value of the apostolate of Catholic education for the Church and for the Philippine nation. The sublime scope of Catholic education at all levels is to enable the faithful “to relate human affairs and activities with religious values in a single living synthesis” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sapientia Christiana, 1). Therefore I feel a great need to draw attention before you and the entire Church to the special merits of the Bishops and priests, of the teachers, and in a very particular way of the men and women Religious who have been and continue to be responsible for Catholic education in the Philippines in numerous schools of every level, including a large number of Catholic Universities. Let no one doubt the relevance of this work. On the contrary, it should be promoted and further extended. The financial and personnel problems involved are certainly very serious, especially if we consider the need to extend Catholic schools to areas in which this has not yet been possible. But with God’s help and with a sense of responsibility and collaboration on the part of the ecclesial and civil authorities concerned, the right of parents, as stated in the Code of Canon Law, “to make use of those aids to be furnished by civil society which they need in order to obtain Catholic education for their children” (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 793, § 2), will be ensured.
8. In the course of the “ad Limina” visits of the Philippine Episcopate we have touched upon many subjects of importance for the life of your Churches. The vastness of your pastoral duties is thus made evident. As we conclude this series of visits I wish to assure you again that you and your people are truly close to my heart and very present in my prayer. Your joys and sorrows, and the aspirations and anxieties of the Filipino people are my own. I commend you all to the motherly care of Mary, Mother of the Church, and to the intercession of the saintly men and women who have graced your homeland, especially Blessed Lorenzo Ruiz who was beatified during my visit to Manila in 1981.
“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways” (2Th 3,16).
Speeches 1985 - Saturday, 12 October 1985