Speeches 1988 - Tuesday 2 February, 1988
To my Venerable Brothers
the members of the Regional Episcopal Conference of China
and the participants in the Symposium on Evangelization
After four years of intense preparation, you are engaged in a Symposium on Evangelization which constitutes an important landmark in the history of your local Churches. The preparation of this event has already produced abundant fruits of Christian life among your people, including the establishment of many prayer and study groups, the spiritual renewal of parishes and religious communities, the training of the laity in pastoral and missionary activities, the organization and training of catechumens, the apostolate among students, conferences and seminars on evangelization, and many others.
As the Symposium itself comes to an end, there begins the even more important stage of implementing its resolutions and directives. At this special time I wish to be spiritually present among you, to greet you in the Lord Jesus Christ and to encourage you in your generous and committed response, in the strength of the Holy Spirit, to the will of the Father for the Church entrusted to your ministry.
Your Symposium has a double purpose: one pastoral or ad intra, and the other missionary or ad extra. Both of these aspects are intimately connected. The task before you is to establish Christian communities full of faith, hope and love, dedicated to prayer, living in the joy and peace of God’s family, holding their members together and attracting others to the message of salvation which you clearly and courageously proclaim to those near and far. In order to reach this pastoral goal, your Symposium has directed its attention to many significant aspects of the life of your communities, seeking a spiritual and organizational renewal of those forces already at work among you, and fostering the emergence of new pastoral programmes and energies which are designed, among other goals, to sanctify the family and consolidate the local Church in its union with the universal Church.
The long-range goal of your Symposium is none other than to imbue Chinese society with Gospel values and to bring Christ’s salvation to many more of your own people.
The Church everywhere is at the service of the human person. She seeks to express her respect and love for the human family through generous solidarity with every individual and group. No one can be excluded from the love that “has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rm 5,5). Her loving service is directed to the whole person, body and soul, and to every person and group, without discrimination of frontiers.
Alongside the ministry of Bishops and priests within the ecclesial community, your Symposium has rightly given attention to the mission and responsibility of the Laity in the Church and the world, which was the theme of the Synod of Bishops held in October of last year. The laity have their own specific and active part to play in evangelization. By giving authentic witness to evangelical values they enable the truth of the Gospel to penetrate into every corner of society, to every profession and trade, to all kinds of people. Christians are becoming more and more aware that precisely through their faith they are enabled to offer a rich and effective service to the society in which they live. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, “they should acknowledge themselves as members of the group in which they rive, and through the various undertakings and affairs of human life they should share in their social and cultural life” (Ad Gentes AGD 11).
In your case it is a matter of making Christ known and of “incarnating” the Gospel message and the Church in Chinese culture, one of the richest cradles of intellectual and moral values in the history of mankind. In this context a properly inculturated liturgy becomes the visible sign and expression of the dialogue between faith and culture traditions. Your local Church is called to be both Catholic and authentically Chinese in its Liturgy, which is “the outstanding means by which the faithful can express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church” (Sacrosantum Concilium, 2).
By comparison with these needs which bear upon your ecclesial responsibility, you are conscious of your limits both as individuals and as members of your local Church. You may be tempted to hesitate. How often, though, do we read in the Gospels the Lord’s injunction to “fear not”? It is his presence and his strength which give us courage to go forward and to bear witness.
Before you lies the great Chinese family. The renowned Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci and his first companions used to say: “We have become Chinese in order to win the Chinese for Christ”. But you are already Chinese and as such you are the natural evangelizers of the great Chinese family for which you are the privileged witnesses to the Christian message. Moreover, through your own living experience you show that to accept Christ and his Gospel in no way means to abandon one’s own culture or to be less loyal in regard to one’s own nation. For you a major task is to pray for all your brothers and sisters in the Faith that, after all the obstacles have been removed, unity may be fully expressed, in communion with Peter whom the Lord himself instituted as “a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and fellowship” (Lumen Gentium LG 18).
With prayerful trust in Mary, Mother of the Church, you too, in a way that is special to you, are called to hear and fulfil the command of the Risen Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and look, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28,19-20).
Your present Symposium on Evangelization derives, ultimately, from that command. What it requires of you and of your local Churches is inseparably linked to the Lord’s promise. He is with you. In him lie your trust and your strength! May the whole Catholic community of Taiwan therefore be comforted, encouraged and strengthened by the celebration of this Assembly.
As a token of my fraternal and spiritual participation, I gladly impart my special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 2 February 1988.
Dear Friends from the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to the Vatican during your pilgrimage to Rome. I greet you with the words of the Apostle Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,2).
For the past five months in your Graduate School you have been studying the theme of “The Unity and Mission of the Church”. You have done so by reflecting on the various efforts being made by the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communions in the quest for the unity that Christ intended for his followers.
You will have realized that there exists an essential and profound relationship between Christian unity and the proclamation of the Gospel. Indeed, Christian unity and mission are inseparable, as can be seen in Jesus’ own prayer for unity: “That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17,21).
The task of working towards full communion is therefore an urgent one, for it is the means to an ever fuller witness to Christ before the world. Our common Baptism is already a call and an incentive to work together in every way possible, overcoming divisions and expressing that which already unites us in Christ Jesus.
May your visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul be a spiritual enriching experience and an inspiration for your ecumenical work when you return to your own countries. I pray that the Lord will keep alive in your hearts the renewed vision and desire for Christian unity that you have acquired, so that you may make an effective contribution to the unity that Christ wills.
Together we can express our ecumenical hope in the words of the Letter to the Ephesians: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen” (Ep 3,20-21).
Dear Friends from the United States,
It is a pleasure to welcome you, distinguished members of the House of Representatives, together with the friends and family members who have accompanied you to Rome. Less than five months ago, I had the joy of making a second pastoral visit to your homeland, travelling especially to the regions of the American South and West. As I greet you today, I assure you that the vivid memories of those days remain a source of deep gratitude.
One of the striking features of your country is its pluralism, a rich diversity of ethnic origins and religious beliefs, of cultural traditions and customs. As members of the Congress of the United States, this feature of national life presents you undoubtedly with challenging opportunities and not a few difficult problems. For your public service is aimed at the unity and common good of all, and it demands that you make every effort to safeguard and enhance the rights and dignity of every human person, from the moment of conception until natural death.
As elected public officials, you fulfil an important and honourable service in American society. You help shape polices that have an impact not only on the quality of life of your fellow citizens but on the lives of people of other nations too. You have a particularly serious responsibility to promote justice and to overcome the scandalous inequalities that exist between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless. Belonging, as you do, to a nation which has been particularly blessed by Providence, your responsibility takes on even greater proportions, and in a certain sense is more urgent.
I know that your sense of dedication and duty makes you eager to play your part in building a world of true justice and peace. In this most worth while task, I assure you of my personal support and prayer. I likewise assure you of the readiness of the Church to offer spiritual and moral assistance.
Upon yourselves and your families, and upon all those whom you serve, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the Sudan Episcopal Conference, on the occasion of your ad limina visit. We are gathered here today in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and in the love of Christ who forever remains the chief cornerstone (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,20) and shepherd of our souls (Cfr. 1 Petr.2, 25). Our meeting is for us a special moment of ecclesial communion and offers us the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of unity, charity and peace which unite us in the College of Bishops (Lumen Gentium LG 22).
Each of you represents a local Church in the Sudan and brings the hopes, joys, sufferings and difficulties of the priests, Religious and laity entrusted to your pastoral care. You are witnesses too of the sufferings of your peoples. As “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1Co 4,1), you are especially concerned by the serious consequences of a breakdown of moral values resulting from situations of insecurity and from the lack of opportunities for education and development.
Among the manifestations of this crisis are the destruction of family bonds, the loss of the sense of the value and dignity of human life, the growth – in other words – of a mentality of violence, and the spectacle of youth in disarray and confusion. This difficult situation bears upon your pastoral responsibility and upon the response of the Church as a whole.
I wish to encourage the ecclesial community in the Sudan to be united in facing the challenges of the present, in order effectively to bear witness to the presence of God’s kingdom among his people. As we meet today it is my heartfelt desire to confirm you in that living hope to which we have been born anew through the Resurrection of Jesus (Cfr. 1 Petr. 1, 27). As I said on the occasion of your last ad limina visit: “My message is a message of hope motivated by love... Through you and through all your people, united by word and sacrament as a community, the Lord Jesus wishes to keep alive the invincible hope of his Gospel. And at this juncture of history, you yourselves are called to shepherd your people, to lead them to place their hope in the merciful Saviour of the world, in the Redeemer of man” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sudaniae Episcopos occasione oblata "ad limina" visitationis coram admissos, 6, die 30 oct. 1981: AAS 73 (1981) 725 s).
2. I am gratefully aware of the courageous initiatives which you have undertaken for proclaiming the Gospel in the face of great difficulties. You have ordered your pastoral activity in two basic directions. On the one hand, together with your priests, religious and catechists, you have dedicated yourselves to the Church’ s great task of announcing the Good News of salvation to the many who have not heard of or accepted Christ. On the other hand, with great solicitude you have given yourselves to your own Catholic faithful, sustaining them by word and sacrament, exercising in their midst the role of the Good Shepherd.
I take this opportunity to encourage your endeavours in the work of evangelization which is “the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity” (Pauli VI Evangelii Nintiandi, 14). In your particular cultural setting the Gospel message must be spread above all by the witness of an exemplary Christian life. Such a dedicated witness is already an initial act of evangelization.
3. I know that as bishops you deeply appreciate the invaluable contribution which your brother priests, both diocesan and Religious, Sudanese and missionaries, are making to the evangelization and social development of your country. Their splendid pastoral work and charitable concern, despite great personal sacrifice and in the face of many obstacles, are an integral part of the Church’s service to the People of God in the Sudan. An essential aspect of your apostolic charge is to confirm your brothers priests in their identity as ministers of word and sacrament. Always strive to help them by your understanding and compassion. It is important that you and your priests should be closely united and that the presbyterium of each local Church should gather around the Bishop in one heart and one mind. In this way the intimate nature of the Church as a communion of faith and love is shown forth more clearly.
I have noted with satisfaction that even in spite of difficulties vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are increasing in the Sudan. I wish to assure you of my prayerful support for all your endeavours directed to the selection of worthy candidates for the priestly ministry. Moreover, I share with you the important concern that your seminarians should receive an adequate spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation for their future service as priests of Jesus Christ. May you always be true fathers in Christ to all of your seminarians.
The Church’s presence and involvement in the spheres of health care, social welfare and education depend largely on the members of the Institutes of consecrated life at work in your country. And I gladly join you in giving thanks to Almighty God for all those men and women religious who through their tireless labours at the service of the Gospel in the fields of human advancement have enabled your local Churches to exert an influence far beyond their limited numbers.
4. In your local Churches lay catechists play a fundamental role in the education of children and adults in the faith. Catechesis is one of the essential moments of the whole process of evangelization, especially when it involves the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Catechesi Tradendae CTR 18).
As for the religious formation of the faithful, I encourage you to direct your attention to the establishment and promotion of continuing educational programmes, giving special emphasis to the preparation of the laity for various roles of service and leadership in the civil and ecclesial communities. This more complete formation is especially important for those Catholics who have responsibilities in public life. These men and women are indeed to be encouraged and supported in their service of the common good of their fellow-citizens.
5. You and those entrusted to your pastoral care are called to bear daily witness to Christ in a multi-religious society. In this setting, it is your task to reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church both to dialogue and to the proclamation of the Gospel. As I have remarked on another occasion: “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” Eiusdem Allocutio ad eos qui plenario coetui Secretariatus pro non Christians interfuerunt coram admissos, 3, die 28 apr. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 1 (19879 1450).
The Church has a deep respect for all non-Christians because she believes that the plan of salvation includes all those who acknowledge the Creator. Thus there exists a solid basis for mutual dialogue and peaceful coexistence with the Moslems. It is the specific teaching of the Second Vatican Council that Christians and Moslems are “to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind let them make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom” (Nostra Aetate NAE 3). On our part dialogue means a readiness to cooperate with others for the betterment of humanity, and a commitment to search together for true peace and justice.
In this regard, the right to religious freedom is a master on which the followers of all religious traditions should be willing to collaborate, since religious freedom is a measure of all other fundamental rights in so far as it touches the most intimate sphere of the human spirit. No individual or group, nor the State, can claim authority in the sphere of religious convictions. Where the State grants a special status to one particular religion, as representing the belief of a majority of its citizens, it cannot claim to impose that religion on all its people or restrict the religious freedom of other citizens or of foreigners living within its territory. As I wrote in this year’ s message for the World Day of Peace: “In no case may the civil organization set itself up as the substitute for the conscience of the citizens, nor may it remove or take the place of the freedom of action of religious associations. A social order requires that all – as individuals and in groups – should be able to profess their religious convictions with full respect for others”(Ioannis Paulii PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D.1988, pars I, die 8 dec. 1987. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3 (19879 1334 s).
6. I cannot fail to mention my concern at the armed conflict currently taking place in the Southern Sudan and in the Southern Kordofan area, marked as it is by loss of life, serious injury to civilians, destruction of property and widespread famine. In addition, the continued fighting has rendered relief efforts nearly impossible. I pray that a negotiated solution to the hostilities will soon be found, in respect for the just aspirations of the people involved. With the wellbeing of the Sudanese people at heart I appeal to all parties to pursue the path of a negotiated settlement.
I also wish to express my concern for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons who live concentrated in the principal cities of the South and of the North. While I encourage you to continue your efforts to provide relief for these poor and homeless people, I renew the hope I expressed on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters of Credence of the Sudanese Ambassador that “the worldwide community will answer the Sudan’s appeal for humanitarian assistance in confronting this difficult problem” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad exc.mum virum awad Elkarim Fadulalla, Sudaniae apud Sanctam Sedem constitutum Legatum, die 7 ian. 1988: vide supra, p. 49 ss.). This whole question manifests the serious imbalance existing within the international community, where it is sometimes difficult or impossible to organize or deliver needed emergency food assistance and set up the educational and health programmes which should be an important and integral part of relief services, and yet the trade and shipment of arms knows no frontiers and goes on without limitations.
7. I thank all of you, beloved Brothers, for your generous dedication as pastors to the flock that has been entrusted to your care. In your daily labours I am close to you in the love of Jesus. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom you recently consecrated the Sudan, intercede for you and strengthen you in your pastoral labours. Recently you have had the joy of consecrating your homeland to the Blessed Virgin Mary. By this solemn act of filial love and devotion, you have followed the example of Christ who, as he was dying on the Cross, entrusted the beloved disciple to the care of his Blessed Mother. “Woman, behold your son!”, Christ said to her. And you in turn have said: “Mary, behold your sons and daughters in the Sudan; behold all those who have recourse to you”. And indeed we can be sure that the Virgin Mother hears this prayer. For she always sees the Church as the Mystical Body of her Son. She shows a Mother’s tender care to the needy and the weak, to those who are most loved by her Son.
In the name of Jesus, peace to you and to all your clergy, Religious and faithful. With my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. The spiritual significance of your ad limina visit, which is a return to the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, offers us a magnificent opportunity to confess once more together the faith we share and which has been handed down to us from the Apostles, the privileged witnesses of all that Jesus said and did “beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up” (Act.1, 22). It affords us an occasion to experience in ourselves the intense joy of the special fraternal and apostolic communion which unites us in the College of the successor of those first witnesses, in whose place we have been appointed.
My dear Brothers, in this joy and union of hearts and minds I gladly welcome you and greet you. In your presence here I perceive the entire Church in Kenya, its priests, Religious and laity. I give thanks to God for the grace and holiness of life that he continually bestows on those who seek him with a sincere heart, for the vitality of your local Churches, for the love that unites and builds up the entire community of faith in your land.
2. In the course of my apostolic ministry in the See of Peter I have already had a number of occasions of addressing you, the pastors of the Church in Kenya. I remember with great pleasure my two visit to your country: the first in 1980 and the second on the occasion of the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress held in Nairobi in 1985. We likewise met when you came on your previous ad limina visit in December 1982. On these occasions I have sought to fulfil the task entrusted to me in the Church: to encourage and confirm you in the faith and to strengthen you in unity, in love and in communion with the whole Body of Christ.
I am fully aware of your generous dedication to your Episcopal ministry, to the demands of your prophetic, priestly and pastoral role in the Dioceses committed to your care. Know that I implore God to sustain you in this ecclesial service, for the spiritual and integral wellbeing of those whom you shepherd in Christ’s name, for the benefit of those who have not yet believed in the Gospel message and for the good of the future generations of Kenyans who will also have a right to receive from you the gift of faith, genuine and complete. As your brother in the apostolic ministry I rejoice “to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ” (Col 2,5).
3. Today I wish to refer briefly to some of the principal themes of your ministry, especially in view of the hundredth anniversary of the current evangelization of your country which began with the arrival of the Spiritan missionaries in 1889, soon to be followed by other generous disciples of Christ, both men and women. Such an anniversary serves as a vantage point from which to consider what has been done so far and what is being done to build up and consolidate “the house of God” (1Tm 3,15) in your midst.
Your seminaries and religious houses of formation are full. Kenya today can count on many candidates for the priesthood and religious life. This is indeed a blessed gift to the whole Church. It is a situation that calls for gratitude to the “Lord of the harvest” who wishes to send workers into his vineyard (Cfr. Luc Lc 10,2). And it calls for attention and adequate policies on your part and on the part of Religious Congregations regarding the selection and formation of candidates. The recent introduction of a “spiritual year” prior to the beginning of studies in philosophy is an indication of your desire to take all necessary steps to ensure that your future priests have the necessary time and opportunity to mature their sense of vocation and their response in love to Christ.
The future of the Church in Kenya will depend especially on the life and ministry of her priests. They in turn will be properly equipped for their ministry if your seminaries offer them an intense and complete spiritual, intellectual and human formation, especially in relation to the rising general level of education in the country. Seminary directors and teachers should be keenly aware of the importance of their work, and they ought to be given the local Church’s full encouragement and support. It goes without saying that they should be chosen from among the best and be appropriately prepared for their tasks (Cfr. Luc Lc 10,2). Bishops have to resist the temptation to keep their best priests for “duties which, though in appearance of greater import, can in no way be compared with that of seminaries which is foremost and indispensable” (PII XI Ad Catholici Sacerdotii, die 20 dec. 1935: AAS 28 (1936) 37).
4. Seminarians need the personal attention of expert staff, especially with regard to their deeper spiritual formation. They need teachers and directors who know how to create a climate of mutual trust, friendship and openness within the seminary community, essential for the development of proper attitudes of respect and obedience to authority in the way required by the Gospel and strongly reaffirmed by the Decrees of the Council. A supportive seminary environment helps in the development of the Christian virtues and a priestly life-style. In particular it contributes to establishing a well-grounded appreciation and practice of chastity. It would be an injustice to the individuals involved and to the ecclesial community itself to present for ordination candidates who are not sufficiently qualified spiritually and intellectually. However urgent the needs of a diocese, the conciliar principle must be upheld that in all selection and testing of seminarians, necessary standards must always be firmly maintained. I wish to encourage you, dear brother Bishops, to make this one of the highest priorities of your common endeavours.
Through you I send cordial greetings to your Kenyan priest and to the many missionary priest and Religious engaged in formation work. My own involvement in teaching gives me an understanding of their hopes and deep commitment, as well as of the difficulties they willingly accept for the building up of the Body of Christ, the Church. May all of you be convinced of the centrality of this task.
5. Bishops are called to establish a special relationship of friendship and trust with all their priests, their closest and most effective collaborators in the pastoral ministry. The peace and well-being of a diocese, as well as its drive and zeal, depend to a great extent on the existence of a healthy relationship between the Bishop and priests and Religious (Cfr. Christus Dominus CD 16).
You, more than anyone, know the goodness and commitment of your priests. You also know the difficulties they face when certain cultural and social factors clash with Christian doctrine or the requirements of their Catholic priesthood. Sometimes they are without sufficient fraternal support because they may have to live alone and far from one another. Experience shows that there is only one really effective remedy: a deep personal faith nourished by constant prayer, and a life-style based on self-giving and humility, in an effort to identify ever more fully with Christ, the high priest who offered himself up unblemished to God (Cfr. Hebr. 9, 11-14). For this reason everything that you do in collaboration with each other and with the religious communities involved, in order to sustain and increase the spiritual growth and fraternal communion of the priests working in your Dioceses, is a magnificent service to them and to the Church.
6. As for the life and ministry of priests and Religious in your country, it is clear that they have a special role and responsibility in “incarnating” the Gospel in the culture of the people whom they serve. The word of God is directed to all cultures, and the task is to translate the treasure of the faith, in all its originality and without betrayal, into the legitimate variety of expressions found among the various peoples of the world. Inculturation is not the simple assimilation of local customs, expressions or outlooks into the life of the Church. It proceeds above all from the very power of the Gospel to transform, purify and elevate the genius and values of every culture. Once the elements of a particular culture are seen truly to conform to the revealed message as held and transmitted by the Church, then can they be incorporated into the worship, life and ministry of the ecclesial community. There is always a need for a genuine discernment that is subject to a corresponding pastoral charism entrusted to the magisterium of the Bishops.
7. To recall the important role of catechists and Catholic teachers in evangelization in your country is to mention something that is self-evident to you who work with them daily and depend on them in your pastoral ministry. I am aware of the many efforts you are making to give them the formation and support they need. To all of them I send a special greeting in the Lord, and I ask him to strengthen their faith and sustain them in consolidating the Christian communities in which they work.
Today there is a need too for improved adult catechesis, both for those who are coming to the faith for the first time and for the faithful in general who are called upon to live their Christian lives in an increasingly complex and sometimes secularized environment. The defence of the Christian family, the upholding of the dignity of the human person in the face of old and modem forms of violence against the image of God in every individual, including the unborn child, are serious challenges requiring unity and collaboration between clergy and laity. These are also areas in which a spirit of ecumenical collaboration with members of other Christian Communities, and dialogue with the followers of other religious traditions, can bring results beneficial to all concerned.
In the wake of the recent Synod of Bishops on the theme of the Laity, the Church is called to foster lay involvement at all levels, in parishes, through lay organizations and by enabling lay persons to assume their proper roles of responsibility in Church activities. Much has already been done in this field, and you have expressed your intention to pursue this path still further in your local Churches, by seeking to intensify the formation of the laity for their specific tasks, both ecclesial and social. Do not hesitate to promote the formation of Catholic leaders capable of taking a prominent place in the cultural and public life of your country. To achieve this purpose, you are blessed to have in Nairobi the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa, which I had the joy of inaugurating at the time of International Eucharistic Congress in 1985. This Institute offers invaluable resources for the training of lay leaders, as well as for the entire spiritual and ecclesial life of your ever maturing local Churches. I can only encourage you to pursue the many ideas which you are already considering for the constant improvement of Catholic education.
In this respect too it is heartening to know that more attention is being given to the Catholic presence in the media, and that you are in the process of responding to the need for a Catholic newspaper. Leaders in these endeavours should be moved by a sincere desire to serve the genuine progress and well-being of their fellow-citizens.
8. My dear brother Bishops: whoever looks at the state of the Church in Kenya is immediately impressed by the sense of commitment, the hard work and self-giving which characterizes you, the Pastors, and your collaborators. So much has been achieved in the past hundred years! And new projects are constantly being initiated. The progress of the Church in your land is symbolized, in a sense, in the creation of four new Dioceses in the past four years. Nairobi itself is the seat both of various International and Regional Organizations and of the African offices of various Catholic Organizations, all of which I greet and encourage in their respective activities.
But it is above all the inner life of the spirit, the increase of grace and holiness, that is your principal concern and task. And here too we must give humble thanks to God for his graciousness and mercy. May you ever more successfully fulfil the words which the Council addresses to Bishops: “Intent upon prayer and the ministry of the word” (Act. 6, 4) they should devote their labour to this end, that all those committed to their care may be of one mind in prayer and through the reception of the sacraments may grow in grace and be faithful witnesses to the Lord” (Christus Dominus ).
In this Marian Year I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her intercession and the example of her discipleship constitute one of the most fruitful sources of strength and inspiration for your and our brothers and sister in the faith.
I ask you to take back to your peoples my greetings and my love in the Lord Jesus Christ. With my Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 1988 - Tuesday 2 February, 1988