Speeches 1987 - Clementine Hall
Sunday, 18 October 1987
Dear Filipino Friends,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During my visit to your country, on February 18, 1981, the whole Philippine nation rejoiced in the Beatification of sixteen martyrs, among them the first Philippine Beatus. Now today, Filipinos have their first native-born Saint: Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. This is indeed a day of joy and happiness for the nation and for the Church in your land. It is a time of prayerful gratitude to God for all who see in this new Saint - and in his European and Asian companions, many of whom are related in one way or another to your country - the highest recognition of the work of evangelization begun nearly four hundred and fifty years ago.
Through that work of evangelization and conversion, Jesus Christ became a Filipino. He entered the hearts of your forefathers. He shared the hopes, the sufferings, all the dramatic events of your nation’s history. His grace transformed lives. His saving message shaped your culture. And he did not hesitate to call a humble son of Binondo, of Manila extra muros”, to become one with him in the great mystery of his saving passion and death, not in his own land, but far away in Japan, as a seed transported to another field, at the beginning of another heroic page in the history of evangelization in Asia.
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz calls Philippine Catholics of today to uphold and strengthen their nation’s baptismal consecration. His example urges you to meet the challenges of the present with the same strength of character and trust in God with which he faced the supreme test of love. In a special way, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz calls Philippine families to grow in dignity, harmony and responsibility as the "domestic Church, where each one learns to be at the service of all, witnessing to the sanctity of human life at every stage and in every condition. For all of this we must pray to God through the intercession of Mary, for whom you have such great devotion, and through the intercession of the newly canonized martyrs.
I wish to greet each one of you present at this commemorative act. I welcome the representatives of the Philippine Government: the Bishops, priests, Religious and laity who have come from the Philippines and from other parts of the world to celebrate this great occasion. I greet the sons and daughters of Saint Dominic: the representatives of the University of Saint Thomas in Manila: the staff and students of the Pontifical Filipino College: and all of you present here close to the tomb of Saint Peter.
Through your new Saint, Jesus Christ renews his call to persevere in the genuine work of evangelization. Faith rests, not on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God (Cfr. 1Cor. 1Co 2,5). You must look to Jesus Christ and to the grace of our heavenly Father for the light and courage to proclaim "God’s design in all its entirety” (Act. 20, 27). The sign that you belong to God will be that his love has been poured into your hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to you (Cfr. Rom Rm 5,5).
May Almighty God bless you all; together with your families and friends, your children, your sick and all who need your care and solidarity. God bless the Philippines.
Thursday, 29 October 1987
as Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter the Apostle, who died and was buried in this city, I am happy to welcome you in the name of God, the Creator and Redeemer of the world.
You have come here, invited by a group, mostly made up of lay men and women, the Community of Sant’Egidio, which exercises its ministry to the poor, the derelict and the sick, particularly in the Trastevere section of this city of Rome.
It is certainly a very good thing that the local Churches in the larger unity of the Catholic communion invite others to pray for peace; our Christian brothers, in the first place; but also, when possible and desirable, brothers and sisters from other religions. When this is done with due respect for the faith convictions of each one, with due openness to the truth, and with reverence for the ways of prayer of all concerned, including the host, then an important witness is given to the deep commitment of all religious men and women to the building of peace.
You have gathered here in Trastevere, to pray for the great gift of peace, on a date very near to the first anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace at Assisi. While that event remains unique, it is good that, locally, believers of many religious persuasions meet for prayer and meditation. This can be done on various dates during the calendar year. However, as you are aware, every year I publish a special Message on the subject of peace, inviting all religious men and women, indeed all men and women of good will, to reflect and commit themselves anew to the cause of peace, meeting also for prayer. This has been done for the last twenty years. The theme of next year’s World Day of Peace, 1 January 1988, is: Free to call upon God and so live peace, linking as it were freedom to believe and practise religion, privately and publicly, with peace in each nation and among all nations.
I earnestly hope that you will take this thought home from your meeting here in Rome, and, as you commit yourselves once more to peace, be always and everywhere true representatives and defenders of the freedom to believe and practise religion.
The theme of your present meeting is: prayer at the root of peace. Yes, prayer should accompany work for peace, from beginning to end, from intercession to thanksgiving, including fasting, silent meditation and service to others.
We Christians, as believers in Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, who came into this world in the name of peace, and offered his life “to gather into one all the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn 11,52), are convinced that only in him is true peace to be found.
It is therefore in his blessed name that I greet you here in Rome.
May he present to his Eternal Father whatever is done, in good faith and purity of spirit, everywhere, for the sake of peace.
The peace of the Lord be with you all.
Saturday, 31 October 1987
I am very happy to have this opportunity to greet such a large group of visitors from Sweden. I welcome each one of you present here in the company of His Excellency the Ambassador to the Holy See. May this visit to the Vatican remind you of the long history of contacts between your country and this City, the place of martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and may it also help to increase the friendship and Christian fellowship which unites us in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In a special way I am pleased to receive this visit from the young artists who have been performing a play based on the life of the great Saint Bridget, patroness of Sweden and foundress of the Bridgettine Order. This remarkable woman, who was esteemed and venerated especially for her kindness and meekness, lived throughout her life in great intimacy with God. In him she placed all her trust and prayerfully sought his counsel in her undertakings. Her life speaks to us of the supremacy of faith and love in our relationship with God, and of the humble service we are called upon to render to our brothers and sisters in their needs.
I pray that there may be ample space in your young lives for reflection and meditation on the life and work of Jesus Christ, so that the title of Christian may have authentic significance for you. Jesus Christ wishes to be your friend and companion on the road of life. He calls you to share ever more fully in the community of salvation by giving expression in your lives to the values of his kingdom of justice, peace and love.
I wish to encourage you too in your artistic activities. May you always give praise to God through the use of your talents in the service of beauty and in the promotion of harmony among peoples.
To the Bridgettine Sisters present I express my support and encouragement in your religious consecration. You are particularly committed to contemplation, liturgical worship and ecumenical hospitality. In this way you honour the Most Holy Saviour and you embrace the needs of the world, presenting them before God’s loving providence. In the perspective of faith, this is a most efficacious apostolate and it requires that your life of prayer be sustained by interior charity and genuine self-giving. In this Marian Year you will intensify your imitation of Mary who gave strength to the first Christian community which, in the words of the Acts of the Apostles, was of one accord and devoted to prayer (Cfr. Act. 1, 14).
To all of you I extend my heartfelt good wishes. Through you I greet your families and your fellow-citizens. I pray for your happiness and for the further progress of Christian unity among you.
May Almighty God bless you all.
Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. It is a joy for me to welcome you, members of the Episcopal Conference of Ghana, on the occasion of your ad limina visits. Our collegial assembly bears witness to the unity of the Church. "As servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1Co 4,1), you represent in a special way your local Churches, and together with the Successor of Peter and the other Bishops throughout the world you represent "the entire Church joined in the bond of peace, love and unity" (Lumen Gentium LG 23).
My dear Brothers: our unity is fellowship in the Holy Spirit and in the love of Christ, who for ever remains the chief cornerstone (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,20) and the shepherd of our souls (Cfr. 1Petr. 2, 25). Together we profess "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ep 4,5) and assist each other on our pilgrim way towards our heavenly homeland, always mindful that our unity in the Church finds its origin in the unity of the Holy Trinity. For as the Second Vatican Council states The Church shines forth as a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium LG 4).
Your ad limina visits offer an inspiring testimony to the truth of our faith that Christ chose Peter on whom to build his Church, promising him the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Cfr. Matth Mt 16,19). Your visit also underlines the fact that Christ entrusted the whole flock to Peter, commissioning him both to confirm his brethren in faith (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,32) and to shepherd them in perfect unity (Cfr. Io Jn 21,15-17). These responsibilities constitute Peter’s essential role in the Church. And each of you is called to fulfil in communion with Peter and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom you have received through the sacramental imposition of hands, your ministry of preaching the Gospel, administering the sacraments and serving in love the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care.
2. In the statement which you issued at the end of your annual meeting last July, you expressed well your episcopal ministry of loving service to the People of God in Ghana. You wrote: “we the Catholic bishops of Ghana render thanks to the almighty and eternal God, the loving Father of all mercies and our Father for his ineffable goodness to us. Under the inspiration and guidance of his Spirit, we have been able humbly to renew our commitment to him and to his service as his prophets and to examine a few issues of importance to us both as Ghanaians and as Christians, under the light of the Gospel of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. We have done this in the full conviction that we have been chosen to be leaders, to love our brothers and sisters, to intercede for them before the eternal and ever-loving Father, and to lay down our lives for them” (Statement by the Bishops of Ghana, die 11 iul. 1987).
In thanking you for your pastoral zeal, I also thank you for the devoted sentiments which you have expressed to me on behalf of all your priests, Religious, seminarians and lay people. I send my heartfelt greetings of grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ to all those entrusted to your care. Mindful of the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the People of God in Ghana, especially of those who are poor and afflicted, and sharing spiritually in the concerns of their daily existence, I would ask you to convey to all the faithful my encouragement and the assurance of my prayers. In the words of the Apostle Paul: We have not ceased to pray for you asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1,9-10).
3. My dear Brothers: as the pastors of the nine local Churches of Ghana, you are responsible for the care of all the Ghanaian Catholic faithful. You bring with you today their strong and enthusiastic faith, first brought to your land over a century ago.
It is a joy for me at this time to recall my Pastoral Visit to Ghana in 1980 for the Centenary of your country’s evangelization. During that visit I was able to witness the great love of your people for Christ and his Church. As I said in my address to you at the time of your last ad limina visit: Indeed, the purpose of my visit to Ghana was to proclaim with you Jesus Christ and his Gospel. It was my hope to give, by God’s grace, a new impetus to evangelization and to confirm you in your own mission as pastors of the flock” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Ad Ganae episcopos occasione oblata «ad limina» visitationis coram admissos, 2, die 12 nov. 1981, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IV/2  614).
My presence in the midst of your clergy, Religious, seminarians and laity filled me with a deep and abiding hope for the future of the Church in your country. I praise the many courageous initiatives that you continue to undertake for the proclamation of the Gospel in your multi-religious society. As pastors of the Church in Ghana you have, together with your clergy, Religious and lay catechists, dedicated yourselves to the Church’s mission of evangelization, announcing the Good News of salvation to the many who have not yet heard of or accepted Christ. With great solicitude you have also given yourselves to your own Catholic faithful, and have engaged in ecumenical dialogue with the various groups of nonCatholic Christians. You have likewise engaged in concrete works of human advancement with our Christian brethren, in both the educational and medical fields.
4. I encourage you in the great task of evangelization which is “the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14). In this regard you are familiar with the often repeated words of Pope Paul VI: "To reveal Jesus Christ and his Gospel to those who do not know them has been, ever since the morning of Pentecost, the fundamental programme which the Church has taken on as received from her Founder” (Ibid. 51).
In practice, the Church’s vocation to evangelize means above all living the Gospel more deeply. In your own particular cultural setting the Gospel message must be spread above all by the witness of an exemplary Christian life. Such a dedicated daily witness is an initial act of evangelization. I hasten to add that Christian witness through personal example also needs to be accompanied by the proclamation of Jesus Christ, who by his Death and Resurrection has won us our salvation. This clear message of salvation in Christ as a free gift of God’s grace and mercy is at the heart of all the Church’s efforts at evangelization.
As concerns the weighty responsibility of ensuring the “inculturation” of the Gospel in the customs and life of the Ghanaian people, permit me to recall the words that I spoke to you during our meeting at the Minor Seminary at Kumasi: “And so with serenity and confidence and with profound openness towards the universal Church, the Bishops must carry on the task of inculturation of the Gospel for the good of each people, precisely so that Christ may be communicated to every man, woman and child. In this process, cultures themselves must be uplifted, transformed and permeated by Christ’s original message of divine truth, without harming what is noble in them. Hence worthy African traditions are to be preserved. Moreover, in accordance with the full truth of the Gospels and in harmony with the magisterium of the Church, living and dynamic African Christian traditions are to be consolidated” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Allocutio ad Ganae episcopos in Seminario Minore in loco v.d. "Kumasi", 3, die 9 maii 1980, Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1(1980) 1266).
5. My dear Brothers: in your labours to adopt the means most appropriate for proclaiming the Gospel in your multi-religious cultural setting, I wish to emphasize the Church’s deep respect for non-Christian religions. For "they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people. They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God, a quest which is incomplete but often made with great sincerity and righteousness of heart" (Pauli VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 53). Moreover, since the plan of salvation encompasses all those who acknowledge the Creator, there exists between Christians and non-Christians a basis for fraternal dialogue and harmonious exchange. I thus encourage you to “reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church both to dialogue and to the proclamation of the Gospel. There can be no question of choosing one and ignoring or rejecting the other. Even in situations where the proclamation of our faith is difficult, we must have the courage to speak of God who is the foundation of that faith, the reason of our hope, and the source of our love” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Allocutio ad Secretariatum pro non-Christianis, die 28 apr. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/1  1450).
6. I cannot fail to mention at this time the important contribution that your brother priests, both diocesan and Religious, together with the assistance of expatriate and Ghanaian missionaries, are making to the evangelization and social development of your country. They are dosely associated with you in proclaiming the word of God and presiding over the assembly of the faithful for the celebration of the Sacraments. It is through their obedience to you in all the aspects of their priestly ministry that their dedicated lives of service can bear fruit and build up God’s people in unity.
I am pleased to learn that the number of diocesan priests continues to grow each year. This is truly a great blessing for the Church in Ghana. It is the careful attention which you yourselves give to each of your seminarians and to their programmes of priestly formation in your local Minor Seminaries and two Major Seminaries at Pedu and Tamale which will ensure the solid spiritual, academic and pastoral training of your future priests. I wish to assure you of my solidarity in this endeavour, and may each of you with active and loving concern be a true father in Christ to each of your seminarians (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 5).
Also worthy of note is the important contribution which the members of the Institutes of consecrated life are making towards the whole work of evangelization in your country, especially in the spheres of health care and teaching. Their public witness to the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and their example of community life enables the Christian Gospel to be better known and accepted. On this occasion I give thanks to Almighty God for all those men and women Religious who laboured as missionaries for many years despite great difficulties in order to establish the Church in Ghana. I also praise all those Religious who at the present time are devoting their lives in the various apostolates of Christian service.
7. My dear Brothers: as I reflect upon the sacramental life of the Church in Ghana I wish to direct my attention in particular to the Sacrament of Christian marriage. We read in the documents of the Second Vatican Council that marriage is "a mutual gift of two persons", and that "this intimate union, as well as the good of children, imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreakable oneness between them" (Gaudium et Spes GS 48). Thus we need to insist that the conjugal communion of marriage is characterized by its unity and also by its indissolubility.
The Church clearly teaches that the communion of love constituted by marriage is contradicted by polygamy. Let us with greatpastoral love explain to the faithful that the practice of polygamy“ directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Familiaris Consortio FC 19). The love of husband and wife in the conjugal communion of marriage is a sharing in the mystery of the life and love of God himself. With this in mind the Church devotes herself to the special mission of protecting the sacredness and dignity of marriage in every place.
I take this occasion to express my solidarity with all the Ghanaian people in their aspirations for peace, justice, harmony and social progress. The Church is always open to dialogue with the civil authorities, precisely because she desires the true well-being of all the people of Ghana.
Dear Brothers: it is my prayer that these reflections which I have proposed for your ad limina visits will serve to renew you in faith, strengthen you in hope and confirm you in the love of God and humanity.
Commending you to Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, and in the love of Jesus her Son, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the clergy, Religious and faithful of the Church in Ghana.
1. It is a distinct pleasure for me to welcome those taking part in the study week arranged by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the subject of A Modern Approach to the Protection of the Environment. This topic merits most careful attention and is truly one of tremendous importance at the present moment in the history and development of our modern world.
Science is a human work and must be directed solely to the good of humanity. Technology, as the transfer of science to practical applications, must seek the good of humanity and never work against it. Therefore science and technology must be governed by ethical and moral principles.
Theory aimed only at profit has produced in the last century a technology that has not always respected the environment, that has led to situations causing great concern by reason of the irreversible damage done, both locally and world-wide.
Similarly, inadequate farming systems in many countries and the need for energy have continued to create very serious inroads on forest resources. The adverse effects on the environment can be corrected in the causes that produce them only by teaching people a new and respectful attitude towards the environment, an attitude that ensures the rational use of the natural resources which have to be preserved and passed on for the use of future generations.
2. Plans for the rational use of resources must include a harmonization between nature and human settlements. This will be done through education and through planning which is gradual but which takes into account the enormous problem of poverty.
In 1983 the Academy of Sciences carried out a specific study of the damage done to the environment by the increase of carbon dioxide and by the reduction of the ozone layer. In developing countries–which are generally characterized by a hostile climate and adverse weather conditions–there is the acute problem of the destruction of the forests in the wet tropics and of desertification in the dry tropics, problems that threaten the feeding of the population. The findings of science must be put to use in order to ensure a high productivity of land in such a way that the local population can secure food and sustenance without destroying nature.
In the industrialized countries there is the worrying problem of waste products in gaseous, liquid, solid or radioactive form. Imprudent practices have caused very serious damage to nature. Uncontrolled discharges have resulted in acid rain, trace substances in the environment and the contamination of the seas, as for example the Mediterranean.
3. Many people have contributed to the effort to protect the environment, but the skill and good will of individual experts and scientists are not capable of solving the complex problem. Profound worldwide economic and moral changes must be dealt with at the level of groups of communities and governments, which must include interregional and international exchanges and agreements. Fundamental to this action is educating people about the environment and creating an attitude of understanding, respect, and genuine mutual goodwill.
4. I wish to thank all those present here who have contributed their scientific knowledge and their enthusiasm. I likewise thank the representatives of the international bodies such as the European Economic Community and the United Nations Environment Programme, whose headquarters in Nairobi I visited in 1985.
I also wish to thank the experts who last week concluded an important working meeting, developing reports and scientific discussions on Aspects of the Uses of Genetic Engineering: the production of drugs and vaccines, and the improvement of the nutritional situation especially on behalf of the developing countries. The prospects of genetic therapy for treating diseases are likewise hopeful and deserve the commitment of science and the skill of those carrying out research. But in genetic therapy extreme care must be taken to avoid endangering the physical integrity and the life of each individual. Above all, any attempt or danger of altering the inviolable genetic identity of the human person must be stopped.
Finally, I send in advance my greetings and welcome to the scientists who will next week begin discussions on an important subject of modern astrophysics: Large Scale Motions in the Universe. Twenty scientists will seek to increase our understanding of the degree of homogeneity in the universe on a broad scale, the distribution and nature of "hidden mass", the question of whether the universe will continue to expand or is destined to fall into another “singularity”.
May your efforts, individually in your particular fields of competence and as a body associated with the activities of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, be crowned with every success, as you labour for the good of all humanity.
Friday, 13 November 1987
Distinguished Delegates and Observers,
1. It gives me great pleasure to have this opportunity of meeting you, representatives and experts of the States and Organizations associated in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. On this occasion I welcome you, participants in the Twenty-fourth General Assembly now taking place here in Rome. This Vatican encounter, many times renewed since the beginning of your Organization in 1945, has become almost a tradition of your Assemblies.
At this time I extend cordial best wishes to the Director-General, Mr Edouard Saouma, as he begins a new term of office. I assure you all of my esteem for the work being done by your Organization and I confirm the Holy See’s special interest in matters related to hunger and malnutrition in the world, as indicated in the message I recently sent on the occasion of World Food Day.
2. The concerns which gave rise to FAO have not lost any of their urgency in the years since the establishment of the Organization. The member countries are pledged to raising the levels of nutrition and standards of living of their peoples, to improving the production and distribution of food and agricultural products, with particular attention to improving the conditions of rural populations. And FAO’s special goal is world food security, according to which all peoples would, at all times, have physical and economic access to the food they need.
Simply to mention these aims is to recognize the global nature of the tasks being undertaken. As in other fields of human activity, the production of food, its availability and distribution, are matters which today extend beyond the frontiers of single nations and even of the continents themselves. As a result, the framework of your efforts must be one of international understanding, collaboration and good will. Unless States are willing to assume an attitude of openness and solidarity in the one human family, your efforts will meet with serious obstacles and delays.
The original ideal and inspiration that led to FAO’s establishment need constantly to be upheld and strengthened. It is from the moral conviction of the goodness of the original intention that you draw the strength needed to face the technical and human tasks in hand. By sharing ever more fully in that conviction the member States will find the encouragement to work together in the great cause of banishing from the face of the earth the age-old plague of hunger.
The extent and variety of FAO’s worldwide activities and technical assistance projects in so many developing countries speak clearly of the world’s need for your Organization. It is to be hoped therefore that your continuing dedication and wise management will consolidate the member States regarding the goals to be achieved. The capacity of any International Organization to act effectively depends greatly on the strength of consensus and unity of purpose of its members.
3. In considering the present state of the food situation in the world, one is impressed by the contrast between the existence in some areas of large surpluses, especially of cereals, and the present state of crisis in other areas because people lack sufficient food, to the point that there exists a real danger of death through starvation. In responding to this tragic situation there is an urgent and inescapable need for international solidarity. There exists a duty, now and in the future, to make resources available to those whose lives and welfare are most threatened. This is particularly true in so far as world food production exceeds the needs of the present world population. In fact it is objectively foreseeable that in the future sufficient food can be produced even for an increased world population. scientific and technological progress in the cultivation and use of the earth’s resources, resulting in new and better products, can guarantee that abundance.
While such a view is valid when considering food production as a whole, there remain immediate and acute shortages in certain countries and regions in relation to their present levels of population, shortages sometimes aggravated by social and political factors. These affected areas stand in need of expert assistance in order to develop their own resources for the benefit of their populations. But their immediate welfare depends also on the implementation of a better system of distribution, with provision for the use of food surpluses to meet the urgent needs of the victims of drought and famine. Ways need to be further developed to balance the rightful demand of the producers for a just prince for their goods, and the real ability of the poorer nations to pay for urgently needed goods.
This is a complex problem which requires a re-thinking of priorities by both the developed and the developing countries. The whole international community is called to address the question of imbalances in international trade. Above all, a new mentality is required, directed at achieving a genuine form of justice in international relations, in which the interests of the less powerful will be proportionately better defended and the excessive protection of particular interests will be replaced by a sincere pursuit of the true common good of the human family as a whole.
4. It is now more obvious than ever that problems in the area of food and agriculture have to be approached in the context of the world’s overall economic situation. Concrete policies are greatly affected by the strengths and weaknesses, the oscillations and crises of the world’s economy. Only in this context is it possible to formulate and implement viable economic, monetary, social and political processes of growth in individual countries and internationally.
A particularly impressive instance of this fact are the difficulties experienced by countries burdened with huge external debts. Even when other conditions are favourable to real growth, these countries see their progress halted by the immensity of their indebtedness, with the consequent drain of resources because of debt servicing.
The seriousness of the challenge which the phenomenon of international indebtedness presents to the world community recently induced the Holy See to publish a document drafted by the Pontifical Commission "Iustitia et Pax" concerning ethical aspects of the international debt question. The Church is convinced that economic relations cannot be divorced from moral and ethical concerns, for the human person is the very heart of every human activity and endeavour. In fact, as that Document’s Presentation points out, "economic structures and financial mechanisms are at the service of the human person and not vice versa". It expresses the hope that "relationships of exchange and the mechanism of finance which go with them can be reformed before short-sightedness and egoisms - be they private or collective-degenerate into irremediable conflicts" (At the Service of the Human Community: An Ethical Approach to the International Debt Question, Presentation). The Holy See is indeed hopeful that as a result of a growing sense of responsibility and solidarity among the nations of the world greater efforts will be made to establish international relations and international assistance on principles of genuine justice and mutual respect.
5. Another serious question affecting food and agriculture which must be faced from a global perspective is the urgent matter of the protection of the environment. In this respect I had occasion a few days ago to address a meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the theme A Modern Approach to the Protection of the Environment. Of particular concern is the increase of deforestation and desertification. "In developing countries–which are generally characterized by a hostile climate and adverse weather conditions–there is the acute problem of the destruction of the forests in the wet tropics and of desertification in the dry topics, problems that threaten the feeding of the population. The findings of science must be put to use in order to ensure a high productivity of land in such a way that the local population can secure food and sustenance without destroying nature" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Allocutio ad Pontificiam Academiam Scientiarum, 2, die 6 nov. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X/3  1019).
However, the environment is in danger not only in the developing countries. "In the industrialized countries there is the worrying problem of waste products in gaseous, liquid, solid or radioactive form. Imprudent practices have caused very serious damage to nature. Uncontrolled discharges have resulted in acid rain, trace substances in the environment and the contamination of the seas" (Ibid.).
If such serious problems are to be resolved a comprehensive and worldwide effort is needed on the part of governments and industry, as well as educational and cultural forces, assisted and encouraged by international organizations, including FAO.
Likewise, advances in genetic engineering, which in some cases give rise to legitimate concerns when applied to human genetics, nevertheless offer the hope of great benefits to developing countries when applied to plant and animal genetics. Real and beneficial progress in these fields will only be effective if there is a greater sense of worldwide interdependence and solidarity.
The Holy See expresses its support of FAO in its endeavours to offer guidelines for the effective application of plant genetics, especially as regards sharing the results of scientific research in a free and open manner, and particularly for the benefit of areas most in need of such scientific and technical assistance.
6. After more than four decades of the existence of the United Nations and the intergovernmental agencies associated with it, it is desired that the spirit of hope and solidarity which inspired the founding members will be renewed and increased, thus making the international community ever more capable of reaching the goals of peace, freedom and social progress which alone offer humanity the prospect of a better future.
In this respect FAO plays an important role, and its specific contribution to the well-being of the world’s peoples calls for responsible collaboration on the part of all the States which have given their support to its statutory goals. Of particular value is the factual and up-to-date documentation which you offer concerning the state of agriculture and food production in individual countries and in the world. Your Organization’s assistance in devising programmes and projects on behalf of Governments and other International Organizations is needed and appreciated; so too are your efforts to find adequate financing for projects in developing countries, not only on a bilateral basis but increasingly on a wider, multilateral basis.
The growing expansion and effectiveness of the technical cooperation undertaken by FAO are a boon for many countries, especially in so far as they strengthen the capacity of Governments to analyze local situations and to formulate and embark on appropriate programmes and projects of agricultural development. One particular aspect of FAO’s activity which deserves special praise is its timely response to the grave food situation affecting the African continent.
7. In expressing the Holy See’s appreciation of the positive results achieved so far, I wish to assure you, distinguished representatives and experts, of the Church’s continuing interest in your Organization’s goals and activities. She is concerned above all with the integral well-being of the human persons who are, in the last analysis? the beneficiaries of your service and expertise. I earnestly implore for you Almighty God’s gifts of wisdom, strength and compassion in the fulfilment of the lofty tasks which are yours in the service of humanity. May the whole international community become ever more sensitive to the needs of the world’s poor and hungry, and may it realize that concerted action on the part of all must not be delayed any longer.
God bless you abundantly.
Speeches 1987 - Clementine Hall