I am pleased to welcome you to Rome. It is always a joy for me to meet with young people in the service of their country and who wish to visit the Pope when their duties bring them overseas. It is a special joy for me to meet with members of the American Sixth Fleet today, when the Church in the United States commemorates the first native born American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton.
During this season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of Peace. The world is filled with joyful hope at the prospect of true and lasting peace for all. Peace is the message proclaimed by the angels to the shepherds at Bethlehem. But as the Sacred Scriptures quickly remind us, our Redeemer is born into a world overshadowed by sin and death, as we see in King Herod’s massacre of the Innocents and in the prophecy made to the Mother of Jesus: “And you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lc 2,35).
It is only after the death and resurrection of Jesus that we come to understand the peace that he brings to the world. By accepting the cross with perfect love, Jesus revealed the path to reconciliation with God and neighbour. By forgiving even his executioners, he conquered hatred in the world.
You yourselves know that the light of Christ continues to shine in the darkness of sin and death, in the darkness of human suffering and senseless acts of violence. We must be believers in peace – for ourselves and for the world – the peace that begins in our own hearts when we renounce hatred and evil and seek to overcome evil with good. Yes, when it comes to peace we must be true believers. We must not lose hope in the message of Christmas. We must recognize that peace is the heritage that Christ won for us, and that it is therefore possible.
I know that during this season your thoughts and prayers are with your loved ones at home and with the young men from among your ranks who recently suffered death or injury, and with their families. I join with you in prayer for them and for all those who are suffering in the world today.
Upon each of you I invoke God’s gift of peace, so that like Christ you may overcome evil with good. May peace be in your hearts and in your homes, and throughout all America.
I am pleased to offer Your Excellency a cordial welcome as you present your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zambia to the Holy See. I ask you to express my gratitude to your President, His Excellency Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, for his kind greetings and for the good wishes which you have conveyed to me. I would also ask you to assure him of my own good wishes and prayers for the harmony and well-being of all the citizens of your country.
You have referred, Mr. Ambassador, to the warm and cordial relations which exist between Zambia and the Holy See. And I trust that the cooperation and understanding which have characterized our diplomatic relations in the past will, with your able assistance, be further strengthened and developed in the future.
I wish to thank Your Excellency for the kind tribute which you have paid to my efforts and those of the Church to bring about peace, understanding and reconciliation among all the nations and peoples of the world. Surely it is the duty of every person to work and pray for these desired goals.
As you are aware, the Church’s mission is essentially a religious one, but her recourse to diplomacy responds to the pressing need on the international level of affirming and reinforcing the unity of the human family. It is the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that “the promotion of unity belongs to the innermost nature of the Church” (Gaudium et Spes GS 42). This truth is a consequence of the fact that “by her relationship with Christ, the Church is a kind of sacrament of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind” (Lumen Gentium LG 1).
In accord with her mission to bring about an authentic union of minds and hearts, “the Church admonishes her own sons and daughters, and also humanity as a whole, to overcome all strife between nations and races in the family spirit of God’s children” (Gaudium et Spes GS 42). It is in this context that I wish to assure Your Excellency of the Holy See’s continuing efforts to follow closely the growing political tensions associated with racial discrimination in your region. As I stated in a letter to your country’s President, “Notwithstanding the awareness, so widespread and intense, that racial discrimination represents a grave violation of the dignity of the human person and of his fundamental rights – sanctioned, for example, by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by solemn international Conventions – it is an unfortunate fact that frequent and systematic violations of these rights and norms can still be found. As long as this scandal endures, the Catholic Church will not shirk her duty of urging the consciences of leaders and citizens to show respect for the moral law, and to accept the serious responsibilities of bringing their conduct into line with this moral law” (Die 10 maii 1985).
Your Excellency has also referred to the serious and complex economic problems which Zambia is experiencing at this time. In this regard I can assure you that the Church, well aware that the resolution of these difficulties requires the commitment of all, is ready to make her specific contribution. She strives to rouse the consciousness of all her members so that they can respond to the necessities of the present moment. Moreover she exhorts every person to promote justice, solidarity and the common good with particular concern for the most poor and needy. Thus the Catholic Bishops in your country, in a recent document concerning “Christian Liberation, Justice and Development”, published in conjunction with the Christian Council of Zambia and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, have affirmed: “Our churches are determined to play their role in helping to overcome the present difficulties and in working towards the attainment of a more just and human society” (N. 1. 32).
It has become increasingly clear also that any attempts at the resolution of economic problems requires the promotion of a new worldwide solidarity. In this way, adequate solutions can best be found to the conflicts of North and South, East and West. As I stated in my Message for the 1986 World Day of Peace: “The right path to a world community in which justice and peace will reign without frontiers among all peoples and on all continents is the path of solidarity, dialogue and universal brotherhood. This is the only path possible. Political, economic, social and cultural relations and systems must be imbued with the values of solidarity and dialogue which, in turn, require an institutional dimension in the form of special organizations of the world community that will watch over the common good of all peoples” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1986, 4, die 8 dec. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 (1985) 1468).
As you begin your duties, Mr. Ambassador, I assure you of my prayers for the successful and happy fulfilment of your diplomatic mission. The Holy See wishes to assist you in the accomplishment of your responsibilities. Upon Your Excellency and the President, Government and people of Zambia I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am happy to offer cordial greetings to all of you who have come to Rome from the United States and elsewhere to rejoice with Bishop Nolan and to give him prayerful support on the occasion of his Episcopal ordination. As you know, one of the marks of the Church is that it is catholic, or universal. It embraces men and women of every language, race and culture, who are called by Christ from every corner of the earth to form one holy people, united in faith and love.
For many years, Bishop Nolan’s ministry has borne witness to this universal dimension of the Church, serving as President of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine and as National Secretary of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association. You are all aware of his dedicated efforts, and many of you, I am sure, have supported these efforts through your own personal assistance and prayers. What a wonderful sign of the mark of Catholicism when local Churches encourage one another through mutual sharing of God’s manifold gifts!
It is the duty of a Bishop to have pastoral solicitude for the Church throughout the world, even as he exercises his Episcopal ministry in one particular part. The preaching of the Gospel of salvation, the most important work of a Bishop and the heart of the Church’s mission in the world, demands this universal outreach. For, when our Saviour entrusted this task to the Apostles and their successors, he told them: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19).
As Bishop Nolan undertakes his new responsibilities for the Military Archdiocese of the United States, I am certain that you will continue to pray for him, asking the Lord who calls him to Episcopal ministry in the Church to sustain him in joyful and generous service for the good of God’s people everywhere.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
On this great feast of the Epiphany, you have followed the path of Peter, coming to Rome to receive from his successor the fullness of the priesthood and the mission of giving a shepherd’s care to the faithful of the Latin rite who live in that blessed land where the Son of God was born as a man. I am very pleased to have this occasion to tell you again of the joy it has been for me to confer Episcopal ordination on you at the tomb of the fisherman of Galilee who became the Prince of the Apostles.
Your cultural heritage and your academic and spiritual training, together with your vast pastoral experience, have prepared you for the heavy ministerial responsibilities which you are now assuming. Those who are gathered here with you know this very well. In their presence I assure you of my deep communion with you and of my closeness in prayer with all the Christians of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The presence of your relatives and friends, and of other members of your local Church, bears witness to the vitality of the faith and hope which sustains you. I wish to express to all of you who have accompanied your new Patriarch and to all those whom he will serve in his ministry the gratitude and the encouragement of the Pope. My gratitude, because the one who has become your Bishop was born in the midst of a community which has remained faithful to its baptism down through the centuries, living in the footsteps of Christ the joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries and the glorious mysteries of the Redemption. And I offer you my encouragement, for it is your responsibility to bear witness to the faith which you have received as a precious gift and to the love which Christ gives to his friends, doing this under the guidance of this new Pastor who will gather you together to hear the words of our Saviour and be the first celebrant of the sacraments instituted by Jesus in your land.
On the way from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, on the paths which Jesus walked, and on all the roads taken by the Apostles as they went out to all the world to proclaim the Good News of salvation, you can be certain, dear friends, that the Lord is still present today.
“Know that I am with you always”, he says, “yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28,20). Live, then, with confidence in the presence of the Lord. And live in loving communion with the universal Church: with the other disciples present in the Holy Land, with the pilgrims who come there from around the world, with your brothers and sisters of every continent.
I assure you of my prayers for your new Pastor, for his auxiliary Bishops, for the priests and religious, for the families and for each person of the Patriarchate. May the Lord be your strength, making the rough ways smooth, removing all obstacles from the path he asks you to walk in trust. May he help you to establish a respectful and fraternal dialogue with all those among whom you live and make you servants of unity and peace.
With all my heart, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Friends in Christ,
1. It is a great joy for me to meet with you today, on the occasion of the fifth meeting of the second phase of the International Reformed-Catholic dialogue commission.Through dialogue sustained by prayer you are seeking solutions to the problems that have divided our communities for centuries.
With God’s help you will be able to make a valid contribution to the restoration of unity among Christians. As I welcome you warmly to this city, where the Apostles Peter and Paul shed their blood in witness to Christ, I assure you of my prayerful support.
The work you are engaged in is important because divisions among Christians are contrary to Christ’s will. Ecumenical dialogue is a means which God’s providence uses to overcome this tragic situation. Whatever the reasons that caused it, disunity among Christians hinders the Church’s mission of proclaiming and spreading the Gospel, and raises obstacles to experiencing fully the reconciliation which is at the heart of the saving mysteries of Christ. I would repeat what I wrote concerning the earlier phase of Reformed-Catholic dialogue to Dr James McCord in 1982, when he was President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches: “The path we have walked together permits of no going back, only of further progress” (Die 26 iul. 1982).
2. Your dialogue does not take place in a vacuum, but is supported by the many factors which show the real, though imperfect communion already existing between us. Baptism, as the Decree on Ecumenism says, “constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn” (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 22). It is also our common faith that “there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all” (1Tm 2,5-6). Jesus Christ alone is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14,6), the cornerstone, the head of the Church which is his Body. The Second Vatican Council pointed out the many elements that Catholics share in common with other Christians, as well as differences between us (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 19-23, Lumen Gentium, 15). We have much to build on therefore in our efforts to achieve deeper fellowship, and to work towards perfect unity in faith.
Dialogue helps us to learn from one another, and to go more deeply into the truth (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 4). But in this process we always need to be open to the Spirit who, as Scripture teaches, guides us into all truth (Cfr. Io Jn 15,26). All our efforts at reconciliation – prayer, dialogue, collaboration, common witness – must be linked to the conviction that the Holy Spirit, if we are open to his prompting, can lead us out of the scandal of division. Our commitment to the ecumenical task requires in us a faith deep enough to allow ourselves to be led by him to reconciliation.
3. The Second Vatican Council spoke of ecumenism in this context of faith. The movement for the restoration of unity, it said, is “fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 1). It also expressed the hope that our ecumenical initiatives “will go forward, without obstructing the ways of Divine Providence, and without prejudicing the future inspiration of the Holy Spirit” (Ibid. 24).
These words of the Council capture something of the profound importance of the efforts of Christians to heal divisions. In seeking reconciliation we are truly responding to God’s will.
I express my thanks to you for what you have done thus far, and I ask God to sustain you in the cause of Christian unity, for his own glory: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen” (Ep 3,20).
It is a pleasure for me to welcome Your Excellency as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Sudan to the Holy See. I gladly accept your letters of Credence and I thank you for conveying to me the courteous greetings expressed by the Head of the Council of State, His Excellency Ahmed Ali Almirghani, and by the Prime Minister, in the name of the people of the Sudan. I would ask you kindly to transmit my own greetings and good wishes to the Sudanese Government and people, with the assurance of my continued prayers for the peace, harmony and social development of your country.
I have noted your reference to the great need for humanity to recognize that it shares a common destiny. I myself said in my Message for the 1986 World Day of Peace: “Today countless human beings in all parts of the world have acquired a vivid sense of their fundamental equality, their human dignity and their inalienable rights. At the same time there is a growing awareness that humanity has a profound unity of interests, vocation and destiny, and that all peoples, in the variety and richness of their different national characteristics, are called to form a single family” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1986, 4 die 8 dec. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 (1985) 1468..
With reference to the unity of the human family it is important to stress that the world community’s aspiration to justice and peace must be implemented through forms of solidarity, dialogue and universal brotherhood. International organizations already exist whose purpose is to ensure that political, economic, social and cultural relations will be strengthened through such dialogue and fraternal solidarity. These organizations need the wise and fair-minded support of their member States for effective service of the common good of the entire family of nations.
I am pleased to recognize your Government’s firm conviction that religions have an important role to play in creating a spirit of universal brotherhood and cooperation. As you are aware, religious faith leads the believer to a new understanding of his human condition and brings the individual to make the gift of himself so as to create bonds of fellowship with others. Faith not only unites people as brothers and sisters but it causes them to be more responsible, generous and attentive to work for the common good of society (Cfr. Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatur pro a. D. 1988, 3 die 8 dec. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3 (1987) 1336 ss).
It is with satisfaction that I hear that your people and Government appreciate the Church’s labours in strengthening peace, understanding and spiritual values, and her endeavours to alleviate where possible the great human suffering of so much of humanity. The Church’s involvement in the advancement of the world community is to be understood as a part of her religious mission, which urges her to initiate activities of assistance and integral development on behalf of those in need, activities such as works of mercy and social, educational and cultural undertakings (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 42).
I wish to emphasize in particular your mention of the relief efforts which your Government is making on behalf of hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people who have crossed your borders from and homeless people are indeed praiseworthy, and they bear witness to the inviolable value and dignity of every human person. It is my fervent prayer that the worldwide community will answer the Sudan’s appeal for humanitarian assistance in confronting this difficult problem of your region.
Furthermore, I cannot fail to stress the grave concern with which the Holy See follows the serious situation of armed conflict in the southern Sudan, marked as it is by the loss of life, serious injury to civilians, and the destruction of property, while rendering relief efforts nearly impossible. In the face of this painful situation I pray to the Most High God that through mutual understanding and dialogue a peaceful resolution can be found to the hostilities, and that negotiations and agreements may lead to due recognition of the rights of the peoples involved.
As you take up your duties, Mr Ambassador, I assure you of my prayers for the successful and happy fulfilment of your diplomatic mission. Upon Your Excellency and the Government and people of the Sudan I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
Friday, 8 January 1988
I am pleased to welcome you today for the presentation of your letters of Credence as the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of New Zealand. I thank you for your kind words about my visit to your country just over a year ago. I will never forget the warm welcome extended to me nor the gracious and respectful manner in which my words were received not only by Catholics but by all the people of New Zealand.
You have alluded to the many material advantages that your nation enjoys as a result of God’s bounty and the stewardship which the people of New Zealand exercise over the gifts they have received. Through hard work and respect for the common good they have achieved a high standard of living. I join you and your fellow citizens in giving thanks to God for his many blessings.
At the same time you rightly point out that New Zealand also has a duty to fulfil within the family of nations. Working together with other countries on both the international and regional level, it has an important role to play in promoting true human development for all mankind. As I stated on the occasion of my pastoral visit: “Today we are becoming increasingly aware of the interdependence of all peoples and nations. The social and economic problems of one country have an impact far beyond that country’s borders. The fruits and achievements of more advanced nations give rise to a greater responsibility towards citizens of poorer and needier nations” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in urbe "Christchurch", in nova Zelandia habita, 6, die 24 nov. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986) 1589..
More and more the conviction is growing that peace and well-being are either for all or for none.
The desire to act responsibly and generously to promote justice and peace in the world develops within an ever wider circle of human relationships. It begins with the family and the local community, and then embraces all the fellow citizens with whom we share a common homeland and national identity. It must ultimately include all other nations and peoples as well, if mankind is ever to experience the fruits of true justice and peace and to attain human development that is worthy of the dignity that every person enjoys as a child of God.
In concrete terms, the noble desire for peace and justice requires that all should strive to live and work together with mutual respect and fraternal love. It is heartening to know that in a land like New Zealand, which brings together people of both Polynesian and European backgrounds, there is a growing awareness that the different cultures should complement one another within the unity of one society. As I said in Christchurch: “The presence of these two roots of your civilization gives you a great, even a unique, opportunity... (to) show in this land how these two great cultures can work together with other cultures... in the spirit of harmony and justice...” (Ibid).
Within the larger world community, the search for justice and peace requires that international relations be based on respect for the fundamental right of nations and peoples to pursue their own destiny peacefully and without hindrance by others. It requires a willingness on the part of the developed nations to facilitate the full participation of less developed countries in the world economy so that there is the possibility of establishing and maintaining a decent standard of living for all. The desire for peace and justice also demands that nations learn to act responsibly by resolving their differences through patient negotiation rather than violence and war. This can happen only when armaments far in excess of what is needed for reasonable defence cease to be added to throughout the world, among the smaller nations as well as the great powers. Nor can I fail to mention the continuing need for a further reduction of nuclear weapons.
I am grateful to you for your assurance that the Government and people of New Zealand are determined to work for world peace. The Catholic Church in your country makes a positive contribution to this effort by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and its message of peace and good will (Cfr. Luc Lc 2,14). She seeks to bear witness in word and deed to the fact that the dignity and rights of every person come from God and are inalienable from the first moment of conception until death. By promoting respect for human life and by teaching the spiritual truths upon which that respect is based, the Church in New Zealand helps to lay a solid foundation of faith in God and obedience to his law of love, without which there can be no lasting peace. By insisting on our heavenly citizenship and the passing nature of all created things, she seeks to instil in people an awareness of their transcendent vocation and their need to have trust in divine providence, without which there can be no true justice.
Your Excellency, I am confident that in the days to come the cordial relations that exist between New Zealand and the Holy See will not only be maintained but will be further strengthened. As you begin your mission at the service of harmony and peace in your country and in the world, I assure you of the Holy See’s full cooperation and support. May Almighty God assist you in fulfilling your responsibilities, and may he continue to bestow upon New Zealand an abundance of spiritual and material blessings.
Friday, 22 January 1987
It is my pleasure to welcome you today for the presentation of your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Jamaica. I am confident that the cordial relations that exist between your country and the Holy See will not only be maintained but also strengthened by your diplomatic mission.
I am grateful for your kind words concerning my efforts on behalf of peace and justice within the human family, and I thank you for the good wishes that you have extended to me in the name of the Government and people of Jamaica. In an increasingly interdependent world, in which the hopes of mankind as well as the dangers threatening it are so great, the Holy See seeks to promote international dialogue and understanding based on the fundamental human values which all people share as children of God created in his image and likeness.
At a time which offers great potential for technological, social, cultural and economic advancement, nations must not lose sight of the fact that development must be morally grounded and ethically pursued if it is to be development that is truly worthy of our human dignity. If we are to enjoy true justice, then no nation or people must be deprived of the good things that our stewardship of God’s gifts can produce for the betterment of humanity. If we are to enjoy true peace, no nation or people may be excluded from full participation in the social, political and economic life of the human family.
Likewise, if people are to free themselves from the destruction of war and threats of war, and from the economic burdens imposed by excessive arms production and the arms trade, nations must first learn how to live in peace within their own borders and then with other nations. The possibility of disputes and competition ought not to plunge the world or any part of it into senseless violence, nor lay waste to the human and economic resources that could be more productively employed in other ways.
Your diplomatic mission is at the service of greater human understanding and cooperation. You represent the interests of your nation in the widest possible sense: the Jamaican people’s desire for peace, for a just and equitable share of the world’s economic benefits, for a voice within the family of nations, for universal respect of human life and dignity. The national motto of Jamaica to which you referred, “Out of Many One People”, not only serves as a constant reminder of the need to build and preserve unity, but also provides inspiration for the Jamaican people to set the world an example of social harmony based on mutual respect.
I am pleased to note your words concerning the very positive contribution of the Catholic Church in Jamaica to the building up of national life, particularly in the fields of education, health and social welfare. By bearing faithful and dynamic witness to the Gospel in word and deed, the Church challenges her members and all people of good will to seek justice and to foster mutual love, reconciliation and understanding, so as to ensure an even better future for the Jamaican people and for all mankind. The Church constantly seeks, to renew herself in the light of her mission and to draw strength from the vision of what she is called to be by her Divine Founder and Lord. In doing so she also bears witness to the profoundly moral and religious foundations upon which nations must be built if they are to succeed in renewing their vision and sense of purpose with respect to the common good and the fundamental dignity and rights of each and every person.
Finally, Your Excellency, as you undertake your important responsibilities, I wish to assure you of the full cooperation and support of the Holy See. I likewise assure you of my fervent prayers for yourself and your work. May Jamaica prosper with God’s help, and serve as an example to all those who seek a more human and peaceful world.