Speeches 1988 - Friday, 10 June 1988
It is a pleasure to receive Your Excellency as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I thank you for conveying Her Majesty’s courteous greetings and I ask you to give her the assurance of my own good wishes.
As you have stated, thanks to the efforts of your distinguished predecessors and to a number of important initiatives, relations between the Holy See and Great Britain have continued to develop. You have pointed out a number of the issues where we share a common interest and desire to collaborate effectively – issues such as negotiated reductions in nuclear weapons; the means for overcoming drug-trafficking, terrorism and armed conflicts; joint measures aimed at securing peace, development and justice; and efforts to safeguard freedom and basic human rights.
I particularly appreciate your desire to collaborate closely with the Holy See in overcoming divisions of the European continent. As I stated in a recent Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the Millennium of the Baptism of Kievan Rus’, “In the differing cultures of the nations of Europe, both in the East and in the West, in music, literature, the visual arts and architecture, as also in modes of thought, there runs a common lifeblood drawn from a single source” (IOANNIS PAULIS PP. II Euntes in Mundum, 12). This source and unifying principle is constituted by Europe’s Christian roots. This heritage from the past remains both a gift and a responsibility for the future.
At all levels, the search for cooperation and peace in Europe and throughout the world must be built on respect for human rights. The Church, as you know, plays an active role in promoting the dignity and rights of every person. Accordingly, she encourages all her members to devote themselves generously to this task. She offers them the guidance of her social teaching, the inspiration of faith and the motivating energy of love. Her ultimate aim is the eternal salvation of all people but, at the same time, since she is interested in the liberation of the whole person, she cannot remain indifferent to the concrete conditions of society. She is deeply concerned with the social and physical needs of the human family, especially of its poorest and most defenceless members.
The concerns of my recent Encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, which you mentioned, call for concerted efforts on the part of all nations, based on respect for the dignity of every human person and on the right of all peoples to build a world worthy of man, one that secures the common good of humanity. In many developed countries, including your own, there is increasing public debate on the moral and ethical direction of progress and social programming. Grave questions such as unemployment are seen to have a deep and adverse effect upon the very fabric of society, because they damage or entirely negate the dignity of human life. This is even more so in the case of abortion. Many people are coming to recognize that such matters must be approached on the basis of the ethical principles governing them and not merely as aspects of a social theory or ideology. Nations can only truly safeguard and serve the well-being of their citizens by a constant reference to the demands of justice, moral rectitude and the spiritual dimension of the human person.
I welcome Your Excellency’s reference to the intention of your Government to continue to ensure religious education in your schools. The Catholic Church warmly supports this goal. At a meeting earlier this year with a group of Bishops from England, I endorsed precisely this point in the following terms: “It is the Church’s firm conviction that a complete education necessarily includes a religious dimension. If religion is neglected or set aside in the educational process that forms a nation’s heart and soul, then a morality worthy of man will not survive; justice and peace will not endure” (Ad Episcopos Angliae, 2, die 29 febr. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 1 (1988) 528).
Mr Ambassador, in your role as representative of your country to the Holy See, you may count, as your predecessors have done, on the ready collaboration of the various departments with which you will be in contact. I pray that Almighty God will abundantly bless you as you carry out your mission.
I pray too for Her Majesty and the members of the Royal Family and for all the people whom you represent.
Saturday 18 June, 1988
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican. Your presence here bears witness, in fact, to the close and friendly ties that exist between the Filipino people, whom you represent, and the Bishop of Rome, charged with a universal ministry of service to the Church in every land. In the course of my Pontificate I have had many opportunities to experience the strength of that relationship, especially on the occasion of my visit to your country in 1981, and in my frequent meetings with the numerous pilgrims from the Philippines who visit the City of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words of goodwill which you have expressed on their behalf.
The recent history of your country is filled with important events which continue to have a profound effect on the collective life of the nation. The new way of governing the country is positively encouraged by those who look to this process as a better way of meeting some of the most pressing problems affecting the well-being of the Filipino people. Many of your fellow-citizens are convinced that the good of the country can best be served along the path of a greater participation by all in national life and by a negotiated settlement of the major issues touching upon the unity and structure of the nation, including the important question of relations between the central Government and groups or movements claiming autonomy. The agrarian reform which is a no less important part of your Government’s program can help to meet at the deepest levels the challenge of building a more just society. The efforts made so far, in order to ensure improvements in many sectors of public and private life, offer encouragement to all to continue with ever greater determination in the service of the common good.
In fact these improvements invite the Government and the Filipino people not to diminish their efforts to uphold and strengthen the values for which your country is rightly esteemed throughout the world. With particular emphasis I mention the values of human dignity and family life, on which the whole good of the nation depends directly and immediately. The Philippines cannot survive as a peace loving, just and humane society unless Filipino families preserve their unity and resist the breakdown of the moral and ethical values which are society’s support. This is a time to call upon the traditional Filipino commitment to the family and to the community, and the ethos of solidarity which so deeply mark the Filipino character. In your tradition there exists a spontaneous sense of certain aspects which I underlined in my recent Encyclical on the Church’s Social Doctrine: the centrality of the human person in every process of development, and the need for a constant overcoming of the moral obstacles to development, obstacles such as an unbridled desire for profit or power, which is diametrically opposed to the Gospel invitation “to ‘lose oneself’ for the sake of the other instead of exploiting him, and to ‘serve him’ instead of oppressing him for one’s own advantage” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). The Filipino people, Madame President, possess those traditional qualities called pakakaisa and bayanihan which can contribute to promoting social justice and to ensuring that each person’s dignity and rights are respected and defended.
The Church has no specific political or economic programs to offer, but buy pursuing her own mission, in a context of religious freedom, she makes present in every area of life the religious truths and values which strengthen the resolve to serve the common good with wholehearted dedication and unfailing honesty. She teaches a special love for the neediest and most deprived members of society, and she thereby fosters effective works of charity and justice which greatly “humanize” society. Her teachings on faith and morality are not remote from daily life, but rather call for unfailing coherence between belief and behavior. The Church’s social doctrine is a permanent appeal to conscience both for the followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and for men and women of good will everywhere who recognize the welfare of the human person as the appropriate criterion of all progress. Filipino Catholics, as well as their Muslim brothers and sisters, can find in their respective religious traditions the motivation and moral energy needed for a concerted effort to lead their country forward, out to present tensions, to a period of harmony, characterized by hard work in the cause of development and a high morality in all spheres of private and public life.
The tasks that history has set Your Excellency in the service of your country are by no means light. I would assure you that I remember you and your fellow-citizens in my prayers. In this Marian Year I entrust you and your family and the entire Filipino people to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy. Filipinos are proud to call themselves a “pueblo amante de María”. May her spiritual presence continue to comfort and sustain Filipino families in responding to the demands of the present challenging hour of your history!
God bless the Philippines.
Dear Cardinal Nsubuga,
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. After the private conversations we have had concerning the situation of your Dioceses, I am very happy to have this further moment of fraternal communion with you, the pastors of the Catholic Church in Uganda, a country very close to my heart by reason of the glorious memory of its Martyrs and because of your recent sufferings. I welcome you and I join my prayer to yours, asking our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to send his peace and love and mercy upon your people and your country.
Today you are here, in the City which preserves the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, to make your ad limina visit: ad limina Apostolorum. In this way you further bind your people’s profession of faith to the apostolic faith handed down from generation to generation within the ecclesial community and guaranteed by the ministry of unity and fellowship which the Lord entrusted to Peter (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 18). I give thanks to God for your fidelity to Jesus Christ, the “chief Shepherd” (1 Petr. 5, 4), and I encourage you in your pastoral service of God’s people in Uganda.
Moreover, your presence enables me to praise the steadfastness and perseverance of the Churches over which you preside in charity. The thought of your beloved people, so tried by years of strife, becomes a heartfelt prayer to the Prince of Peace, that he may send his gifts of reconciliation and harmony into the hearts of all your fellow citizens: “Peace on earth to those on whom his favour rests” (Lc 2,14).
2. The Church in Uganda is constantly nourished by the memory of her own Martyrs. Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions are the special witnesses of your people’s calling to share in the redemptive mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection. They stand for the essential priority of the truths and demands of the Gospel, over all other interests, in determining Christian behaviour. The memory of the Martyrs serves to assure us in every circumstance that “the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed”. Indeed, “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2Co 1,15). The Christians message has its centre in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is therefore a message of hope and courage. In union with Christ, in the strength of God’s love which the Spirit pours forth into our hearts (Cfr. Rom Rm 8,18), you are never alone as you face the trials and dangers of this earthly pilgrimage. The Lord himself sustains you and your people.
3. As Pastors, you realize that your task is to guide the People of God to acknowledge and welcome their Christian vocation and dignity and to seek “that holiness without which no one can see the Lord” (Hebr. 12,14). You are mindful of your obligation “to set a personal example of holiness, in charity, humility and simplicity of life... (and) to make every efforts to promote the holiness of the Christian faithful according to each one’s own vocation” (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 387). I encourage and support you in this task, and I commend you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, towards whom the whole Church looks with renewed devotion and confidence in the Marian Year.
In your Pastoral Letter, “With a new Heart and a new Spirit”, you have drawn your people’s attention to the imperative of holiness and apostolate to which all are called, and for which the Holy Spirit distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 12). One of the unfortunate consequences of the civil disorder that has afflicted your country has been the disruption of spiritual and catechetical formation. As a result you have noted a moral decline in many aspects of private and public life. The reconstruction of which the nation stands in great need is not only material, but above all spiritual and moral. Consciences need to be awakened to the ethical values which are essential to the building of a just and humane civilization. In this enormous task the Bishops, priests, Religious and lay people of Uganda are called to contribute their energies and, above all, the vision of faith and the force of hope that flow from authentic Christian living.
4. The task is not an easy one, especially when a spirit of materialism and selfishness forcefully asserts itself and exercises a particularly strong attraction upon the young. Through small Christian communities and through the evangelization of families, you are seeking to offset the negative trends which you recognize in the lives of the faithful. You have taken up the challenge of evangelizing the youth of your country. They are the hope of the Church in your land and everywhere. It is good that you insist on bringing them to a personal and prayerful experience of Christ, which is the sure path to spiritual and human development. Only when they realize that the Lord loves them, is calling them and sending them into his vineyard as his loyal collaborators in the work of redemption and authentic liberation will they experience the inner light and courage to give of improving society and of building up the ecclesial community – each according to the grace received.
Your priests have a unique role to play in evangelizing and catechizing Ugandan youth. They can be particularly close to them as guides and friends, teaching Catholic doctrine in parishes and schools, and stimulating them to take part in cultural, social and charitable activities. In this task you must continue to give encouragement to your priests, and invite them to give the best of themselves, of their time and energies, to the spiritual and moral formation of the younger generation. This is a great contribution to the Church and to society.
5. The increased number of vocations which you note in some regions constitutes a sign of hope, and is a further pastoral responsibility for you as Bishops. I know that you are striving to offer to those young people who feel called to the priesthood and to the religious life an appropriate preparation for the life and tasks that await them. Every effort and sacrifice made in this field is important for the future of the Church in your country. Your concern to improve the cultural level of priests, Religious and laity, through programmes of continuing education, in order to enable them to face the increasing challenges to Catholic doctrine and moral principles, shows how clearly you perceive that all genuine social progress depends on the awakening of consciences to a sense of responsibility and solidarity in every aspect of life.
The Church’s mission embraces the whole human person – body and soul – living in this world but destined for eternal life. Social services and development schemes are a very important aspect of the community’s Christian witness, but they cannot take the place of the Church’s primary mission to evangelize and to spread Christ’s Kingdom. This is especially true for Bishops and priests, whose principal task is to act in persona Christi, in order to communicate the fruits of the Redemption accomplished by the Lord Jesus in his Cross and Resurrection.
6. The Church’s is the “sign and means of intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind” (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 1). The theme of unity in the Church and in the civil society to which you belong is very close to your hearts. In the context of Uganda, and indeed of all Africa, the members of the Church are called to serve the cause of that unity and harmony between individuals, group and entire nations which respects differences of origin, language, culture and religious traditions, but which at the same time emphasizes and promotes the more fundamental unity of all men and women in their common humanity and their dignity as God’s beloved children. You know how much prejudice and opposition has to be overcome. Your experience in Uganda shows that the building up of national unity in freedom and respect for everyone is a delicate and demanding task which requires great wisdom and tact. The ecclesial community has its own special role to play in promoting that unity.
7. In your Pastoral Letters you have given clear and detailed teaching on many important aspects of life. You have repeatedly called for reconciliation and forgiveness among all sectors of the population. You have urged respect for human dignity and for the rights of every man, woman and child. I pray that your voices will be heard and that the whole country will put aside all selfishness and partisan prejudice and devote itself to a recovery of the moral and spiritual values weakened during the years of strife.
Unity needs an open and respectful attitude of mind and heart. Here the pastoral role of the Church has a vast field of action open before it. Bishops, priests, Religious and laity, in collaboration with other Christians and with all men and women of good will, in every part of the country, must be firm in rejecting divisions and courageous in taking steps to build up the one, peaceful and law-abiding nation that will truly be a home for every Ugandan. I encourage you to continue to call your people to this task.
8. Your own example of mutual understanding, support and collaboration within the framework of the Uganda Episcopal Conference strengthens the force of this call. In the restoration of unity it is also important to continue the policy of integrating young men from different backgrounds into a united and harmonious seminary environment, especially in your major seminaries, so that they may learn to accept each other as brothers in Christ and as heralds of the one Gospel of grace (Cfr. Act. 20, 24). The same can be said of religious communities. I note that you have already called for a return to the practice whereby Catholics from different parts of the country meet one another in faith and brotherhood on the occasion of special pilgrimages and celebrations. May these and other initiatives, including the services rendered by the Catholic Secretariat, bear abundant fruit for the Church and for the whole of civil society.
Steps taken to advance ecumenical relations also contribute directly to overcoming long-standing divisions. I am happy to know that the “Joint Christian Council” has resumed its activities and that in several areas collaboration with non-Catholic Christians is progressing steadily.
The unifying action of the Church in Uganda can be further strengthened through the fostering, within each Diocese, of fraternal and friendly relations between the Bishop and his priests, both Ugandan and missionary, and between priests, Religious and laity with themselves and with their Bishop. Underlying the principles and directives contained in the Council documents and in the Code of Canon Law regarding the structures of the local Church there is a call to everyone to accept a share of responsibility for the life and growth of the Church. Without any lessening of the specific role and authority of the Ordinary, it is appropriate that the members of the local Church, including the laity, should acquire a sense of their own responsibility for evangelization and for apostolate. Through Baptism and Confirmation the laity are entrusted with a task within the ecclesial community for which it is essential that they be ever more effectively equipped and motivated.
9. Dear brother Bishops: before you lies the challenge of consolidating the Church in your land. While you rely principally on God’s grace, for it is God who gives the increase (Cfr. 1Co 3,7), you will continue to make every effort to encourage and confirm all sectors of the local Church to strive earnestly for the holiness of life, the evangelizing zeal and the works of charity that flow from fidelity to the Lord. In many ways you benefit from the fraternal love of other local Churches, from whom you receive missionary personnel and forms of assistance which play an important role in the Church’s life in Uganda and which are, in their own right, an expression of catholicity or universality. I am happy to know that you respond to this generosity by yourselves seeking to meet the needs of surrounding regions, and that you are sending help to Ethiopia and the Sudan. I pray that you and your priests will always have a spiritual and supra-national outlook on your ecclesial mission and pastoral service.
May Almighty God powerfully assist you, the Bishops of Uganda, as you strive to build up the Church in your land. In conclusion, I repeat to you the words of Saint Paul, with which I wish to express my closeness to you and my fraternal and heartfelt support: “We give thanks to God always for you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope” (1Th 1,2-3).
With my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear brothers Bishops,
1. It gives me great joy to welcome you today during the course of your ad Limina visit. Your presence here in the city of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul is a tangible expression of the faith of your local Churches. It manifests the sense of ecclesial communion which unites you and your priests, religious and laity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which the Lord himself fills with his divine gifts (Cfr. Eph Ep 1,22-23) so that she may grow and reach all the fullness of God (Ibid. 3, 19).
In you I embrace the entire Church in Zimbabwe: the household of God in Harare, Bulawayo, Chinhoyi, Gweru, Mutare and Wankie. “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have towards the Lord Jesus and all the saints” (Phm 1,4-5).
We are meeting within a few weeks of my forthcoming visit to your country. I look forward very much to that opportunity which Christ, the Good Shepherd, gives me of having a firsthand experience of the vitality and steadfastness of your local Churches. It will also be an opportunity for reaffirming the Catholic Church’s desire for increasing understanding and collaboration with our non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ and with all men and women of good will. At the same time it will give concrete expression to the Church’s interest in and support for the growth and development of Zimbabwe in these still early stages of its independence and national consolidation. I am pleased to know that the spiritual preparation for my visit has involved your local communities in many activities directed to a renewal of Christian life and service.
Above all, my visit will be a proclamation and a celebration of our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer. At Harare and Bulawayo, in meetings with the faithful and with specific groups I look forward to addressing a number of topics relevant to your ministry. Today I wish to encourage you and exhort you, as men of God, to place your trust in the power of the Lord Jesus, the chief Shepherd of your flocks. Indeed, in the words of the First Letter of Peter, I urge you to “cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Petr. 5, 7).
2. The Church, after a sporadic presence in previous centuries, has been permanently established in Zimbabwe since 1879, when the Jesuit missionaries under the direction of Father Henry Delpechin arrived. From the beginning she has sought to manifest and implement the mystery of God’s eternal love and his plan to gather the entire human family into a “people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 4). This she accomplishes by introducing the baptized into communion: communion with God through sharing in the life of the Spirit which Christ pours forth in our hearts, and communion in the ecclesial body, the sacrament of union and of reconciliation of people with God and with one another.
The ecclesiology of communion, which the Second Vatican Council did so much to revitalize, provides the theological and pastoral framework for the Church’s life and activity at every level. Much serious reflection is required, especially on the part of the pastors of the Church, to ensure that the reality of communion penetrates ever more deeply into the lived experience of the people of God. In its most profound sense this communion is a sharing in the election, the mercy, the charity of God, made manifest in salvation history through Jesus Christ, the Redeemer (Cfr. SYNODI EXTR. EPISCOPORUM 1985 Relatio finalis, II, A, 2). Its highest means and expression are found when the Christian community gathers around the Bishop in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, partaking in the mystery of faith with awareness and hope: “the communion of the Eucharistic Body of Christ signifies and produces, that is, builds up, the intimate communion of all the faithful in the body of Christ which is the Church” (Ibid., C, 1; Cor. 10, 16).
3. Communion in the Church means sharing in divine life through grace and bearing witness to that grace in personal and community life. Every aspect of the Church’s life must be understood in relation to the profound and mysterious communion which animates and sustains the ecclesial body.
The “collegial spirit” which is the soul of the collaboration between Bishops, on the regional, national and international levels, and the soul of their union with the Successor of Peter, springs directly from each Bishop’s willingness to respond to the requirements of communion. The unity of the presbyterate, the mutual esteem, support and collaboration between priests, religious and laity, bear witness to the vitality of that communion in the local Church. Sharing in communion means giving priority in our thoughts and actions to that love which Christ commanded (Cfr. Io Jn 13,34) and which constitutes the most authentic testimony of our fidelity to the Lord: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25,40).
Dear Brothers: I wish to encourage you in your continuing efforts to promote a dynamic sense of participation and co-responsibility at all levels of the Church in Zimbabwe. Such a spirit requires an increase of personal and collective maturity on the part of all concerned. With no weakening of the principle of authority properly exercised, it requires teamwork involving self-giving and joyful collaboration in responding to the urgent challenges of evangelization. It should never be used to justify individualism or lack of discipline or of coordination in pastoral activities.
4. In your daily ministry, you feel that so much more could be done if only there were many more agents of the Church’s mission to evangelize and build up Christ’s kingdom.
The promotion of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a responsibility of the whole Christian community, and especially of families. After the difficulties of the years of struggle for independence, the number of those following Christ’s call is steadily growing. I am greatly encouraged to learn that the number of major seminarians has almost doubled within the past three years. I would ask you to provide in the best way possible for the appropriate formation of these generous young men, and for the candidates entering your minor seminaries. However, even in the face of very pressing needs, what counts is the quality and commitment of your priests. Therefore, as the Council reminds us, the supreme law in this matter is the solid formation of seminarians (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 7).
In the same way, your generous efforts in encouraging vocations to the religious and consecrated life are an excellent form of service to the Church in your country. Men and women religious not only provide valuable and absolutely necessary help for missionary activity, but through their more inward consecration to God in the Church they clearly show and signify the inner nature of the Christian calling (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 18). They make a specific and essential contribution to the growth and consolidation of your local Churches, a contribution which should always be recognized and respected. May Almighty God continue to raise up abundant vocations among you as a pledge of his love and protection.
5. You are keenly aware of your responsibilities in another field of pastoral activity: the evangelization and pastoral care of youth, in a country where most of the population is under twenty years of age. I am looking forward to meeting representatives of the youth of Zimbabwe in the course of my visit. I wish to remind them that Jesus Christ offers the truth that will truly make them free and the life that is more than food and clothing (Cfr. Matth Mt 6,25-33). In the youth lies the whole future of the Church and of civil society. Unfortunately, very many of your young people are burdened with the grave moral and social problems consequent on widespread unemployment. And many are alienated from the faith because of the experiences of war and of political and ideological indoctrination, or because of the increasing attraction of a materialistic approach to life which is altogether alien to authentic African culture. On the other hand, it is consoling to know that the National Catholic Youth Council is working hard to meet these challenges. I can only encourage the Catholic community in Zimbabwe to continue and extend its efforts and to seek better understanding and collaboration with governmental and other religious agencies active in this area of concern.
6. To speak of youth is to think also of the Church’s role in the present and future development of your country. Of its very nature, the community of faith and love is open to the world in mission and service. You have made it clear that in independent Zimbabwe the Catholic community is fully committed to building up the national community in truth and justice, and you have a particular concern for the poorest and weakest. Your pastoral statements on aspects of national life bear witness to the reflection in the light of God’s word which guides your action and your contribution to national reconciliation and to the improvement of living conditions. Though you are happy at the progress made since independence and the end of hostilities, you are also convinced that only in a climate of understanding and cooperation between the State and the various religious bodies can a proper solution be sought to the forms of moral and material poverty which hinder the course of peace and progress.
The Church has been very close to the people in their aspirations to freedom, dignity and progress, and she desires to serve the genuine well-being of all, through her religious mission and through education, health and social activities. To be effective, she must enjoy the freedom to develop these services according to her own specific vocation and in fidelity to her own doctrine.
7. One final word concerning evangelization and inculturation. Recently, the Secretariat for Non-Christians has drawn the attention of the Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar to the importance of adopting an appropriate pastoral approach to African Traditional Religion, to which also the majority of Zimbabweans adhere. From your own pastoral experience you are aware of the very delicate nature of this aspect of the Church’s apostolate. Evangelization and inculturation are intimately related. Much serious theological reflection is required to determine which values and factors of a particular culture are compatible with life in the new kingdom, the kingdom established by Christ and guided by the Spirit of truth towards fulfilment when Christ who is our life will appear in glory (Cfr. Col Col 3,4) On a pratical level, the adaptation of the burial and marriage rites in use in your local Churches, for example, shows how the Christian faith can be truly universal and at the same time close to the culture and way of life of each group.
It would be difficult to find better words to describe the dynamic relationship between the Gospel message of salvation in Jesus Christ and the various expressions of human culture than those of the Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World: “The good news of Christ... takes the spiritual qualities and endowments of every age and nation, and with supernatural riches it causes them to blossom, as it were, from within; it fortifies, completes and restores them in Christ” (Gaudium et Spes GS 58). A genuine inculturation of faith cannot be reduced to merely adopting the externals of a given culture. True inculturation is from within: it consists, ultimately, in a renewal of life under the influence of grace.
The evangelization of your culture is one of the great tasks which confront you in your ministry. I pray that the Marian Year, through the intercession of the Mother of the Redeemer, will bring to you, the Bishops, and to all the priests, religious and laity of the Church in Zimbabwe, a confirmation in faith and love, and a new outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit from which the whole apostolic work of evangelization proceeds (Cfr. Luc Lc 24,49). Until we meet again in your homeland, I ask you to take my cordial greetings to your brothers and sisters of the household of God in the Spirit (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,19-22). May God’s peace be with you!
Speeches 1988 - Friday, 10 June 1988