It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, the founding members of the Society of the Vatican Observatory. Your visit enables me to express my gratitude for your cooperation in two initiatives of the Observatory: first, the construction of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope in Arizona; and secondly, the planning of further work on issues related to the encounter between faith and science.
With respect to the telescope, it is gratifying to see how, in a remarkably creative way, the practical elements of engineering, the theoretical understanding of light and the desire to see further and more accurately into the Universe, have blended to achieve what previously had been only a dream – a new generation of the world’s most powerful telescopes. This new telescope will be the first in a series of instruments which will enable scientists to see ten times further into the Universe than ever before.
In order to function as efficiently as possible, these telescopes must be located on remote mountain sites, many of which are treasured ecological zones. I know that, as scientists, you cherish and respect nature. Hence, while striving to fathom the ultimate frontiers of the Universe, you have sought to interfere as little as possible in the natural processes of the earth, that small but precious part of the Universe from which you observe.
I am pleased to learn that, with all the demands placed on the financial and physical resources of a country so abundantly blessed as the United States, you have been able to generate from private donors the resources needed for the new telescope, the astrophysics facility and post-doctoral fellowship. Upon all who have contributed to this initiative I invoke God’s loving guidance and protection.
Because the work of the Vatican Observatory proceeds under the auspices of the Church, it is only natural that you should address the many questions which arise from the relationship between science and faith. You have taken a decisive step in that direction through the publication of Physics, Philosophy and Theology. I express my wholehearted encouragement for this endeavour.
It is clear that you are only at the beginning of these new ventures, but we can be grateful to the Lord that they have begun well. With his continued blessings and the collaboration of yourselves and your associates, I pray that you will succeed in your service to the Church and to the human family. God be with you all!
Chers Frères dans l’épiscopat,
1. J’éprouve une grande joie à vous accueillir ici, vous tous membres du Conseil de l’Assemblée spéciale pour l’Afrique du Synode des Evêques, alors que vous vous réunissez à Rome pour la première fois en vue de préparer cet événement ecclésial très important pour l’Eglise en Afrique comme pour l’Eglise universelle.
Le 6 janvier dernier, après avoir célébré dans la Basilique Saint-Pierre la liturgie solennelle de l’Epiphanie du Seigneur et l’ordination de treize nouveaux évêques, j’ai annoncé, au moment de l’Angélus, qu’une Assemblée spéciale pour l’Afrique du Synode des Evêques se réunirait sur le thème: «L’Eglise en Afrique à l’approche du troisième millénaire».
En annonçant cette convocation, j’en ai aussi expliqué les motifs. En effet j’ai voulu accueillir «la requête souvent exprimée depuis un certain temps par des évêques africains, des prêtres, des théologiens et des responsables du laïcat, dans le but de favoriser une solidarité pastorale organique dans tout le territoire africain et les îles adjacentes».
L’Afrique est un immense continent, divers et complexe. Les pays qui le composent sont souvent affrontés à des problèmes semblables mais aussi très différents. C’est un continent qui connaît une forte expansion et qui est en pleine évolution. L’Eglise est présente dans tous les pays, à travers des communautés importantes ou plus réduites mais toujours animées d’un incomparable dynamisme missionnaire. Elle participe en tant que telle et avec tous les citoyens à la vie de chaque nation et du continent.
2. Depuis ses origines, l’Eglise a toujours cherché à s’insérer dans les réalités quotidiennes de la vie humaine et dans les diverses cultures pour qu’elles puissent accueillir le message de salut de son Fondateur. C’est pour l’Eglise un devoir constant d’être sans cesse au service de la manifestation du Christ auprès de tous les peuples, dans tous les temps, au coeur des situations culturelles et historiques concrètes. Ce faisant, comme le dit le Concile Vatican II, elle «ne retire rien aux richesses temporelles de quelque peuple que ce soit; au contraire, elle favorise et assume, dans la mesure où ces choses sont bonnes, les talents, les richesses et les coutumes des peuples, et, en les assumant, elle les purifie, elle les renforce, elle les élève».
Mais, dès l’époque apostolique, l’Eglise s’est aussi rendue compte qu’il faut promouvoir la collaboration, l’expression de l’unique foi dans des contextes divers et, là où cela s’avère nécessaire et possible, la coordination pastorale et missionnaire afin de rendre plus convaincante la transmission du message évangélique et de mieux répondre aux exigences qui se présentent. C’est ainsi qu’aujourd’hui il est apparu opportun de convoquer cette Assemblée spéciale.
3. A travers les échos que j’en ai eus et qui continuent d’arriver, je peux dire que la convocation d’une Assemblée synodale des évêques du continent africain a été généralement accueillie avec joie et vive satisfaction. Des évêques et des épiscopats entiers ont tenu à m’exprimer leur joie et à me remercier de leur donner l’occasion de se rencontrer, de se concerter sur les plans pastoraux et missionnaires, de mieux vivre leurs propres responsabilités de Pasteurs et de voir affirmer la personnalité et l’identité de l’Eglise en Afrique.
Je suis heureux, à l’occasion de cette rencontre, d’exprimer ma reconnaissance à ceux qui ont fait partie de la Commission antépréparatoire. Immédiatement après l’annonce de la convocation du Synode pour l’Afrique et l’institution de la Commission, ses membres se sont réunis par deux fois, du 7 au 9 janvier et du 1er au 3 mars derniers, pour une élaboration préliminaire, dans leurs grandes lignes, du thème, de la structure et des normes de la célébration du Synode.
Malgré la charge de leurs propres diocèses, les engagements dans leur Conférence épiscopale ou dans divers organismes régionaux, continentaux ou universels, les membres de la Commission ont fait preuve d’une généreuse et prompte disponibilité dont je les remercie de grand coeur. Je vous remercie également de votre contribution qualifiée et de l’aide que vous avez apportée au Secrétariat général du Synode afin de jeter les bases d’un bon départ du processus synodal.
4. Nous voici donc parvenus au moment où il nous faut entrer dans le vif de ce processus synodal et entreprendre avec détermination la phase suivante des travaux. Dans ce but, j’ai institué le Conseil du Secrétariat général pour l’Assemblée spéciale pour l’Afrique du Synode des Evêques, composé des membres de la précédente Commission antépréparatoire auxquels s’ajoutent huit membres que je viens d’appeler à en faire partie.
Le Conseil, en effet, a pour but essentiel d’aider le Secrétariat général à préparer comme il convient les assemblées du Synode et à veiller ensuite à l’exécution de ce qui a été décidé par le Synode des Evêques et approuvé par le Souverain Pontife. Le Conseil de l’Assemblée spéciale développe ainsi son activité en parallèle avec celle de l’Assemblée générale.
5. This is the first time that a Synod at continental level has been convoked. This involves a great effort on everyone’s part, and in the first place on the part of the Council itself. Your first task will be to prepare the " Lineamenta ", in order to foster joint reflection and in order to encourage suggestions and useful ideas on the general subject laid down for the celebration of the Synod.
The joint reflection should cover all the important aspects of the life of the Church in Africa, and in particular should include evangelization, inculturation, dialogue, pastoral care in social areas and the means of social communication.
– The Church is missionary by her very nature. Evangelization is a duty laid upon all members of the Church by the Lord Jesus himself, so that all people my come to believe and be saved. As my predecessor Paul VI said in an address to the College of Cardinals, " the conditions of society compel us all to review methods, to try by every possible means to study how to bring to modern man the Christian message, in which alone he can find the answer to his questions and the strength for his commitment to human solidarity ".
– Just as Jesus in proclaiming the Gospel used all the elements which made up the culture of his people, so the Church too must use elements taken from human cultures in order to build up the Kingdom. However, inculturation does not mean just and external adaptation. Inculturation means the " intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through the integration of Christianity and the planting of Christianity in the various human cultures ".
– The Catholic Church in Africa lives side by side with other religions. The Second Vatican Council exhorted Catholics living in a multireligious environment to bear witness to their Christian faith and life with prudence and charity, through dialogue and cooperation with people of other religious. At the same time it encouraged them to recognize, preserve and promote all the positive spiritual, moral, social and cultural values that the latter possess. The Church is bound ceaselessly to proclaim Christ who is the " Way, and the Truth, and the Life ". Hence there must never be any opposition between dialogue and mission.
– It is true of course that the Kingdom of God is not identifiable with any merely temporal achievement. But this does not exempt the Church from concerning herself with people in their actual personal situations and in their life in society. The conditions of extrem poverty and underdevelopment in which millions of our brethren on the Continent of Africa live ought to make all African Christians realize that they have a duty to promote equal human dignity and solidarity as well as economic and social development at the service of the individual and the family.
– Reflection must also extend to the means of social communication. In recent years the communications media have vastly developed, and exercise an enormous influence an young people and all sections of society. They have also created new and serious problems. But if they are properly used, they can effectively contribute to social and cultural development, and can spread and consolidate the Kingdom of God.
6. Dear Brothers: I thank you for your prompt response to my request for your help and for the valuable contribution which you are making and will continue to make to the preparations for this meeting. If it is prepared well, the Synod Meeting will be able to involve all levels of the Christian community: individuals, small communities, parishes, dioceses, and local, national and international bodies. It will have positive results and will benefit the Church not only in Africa but throughout the world.
I place this Synod under the protection of Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, and I impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.
 Lumen Gentium, 13.
 Pauli VI Allocutio ad sacrum Cardinalium Collegium, omina et vota Summo Pontifici promentium ob euis diem nominalem atque expletum X Pontificatus annum, die 22 iun. 1973: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XI (1973) 633.
 Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, D, 4.
 Io.14, 6.
Dear Archbishop Schulte,
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am pleased to welcome all of you who have accompanied Archbishop Schulte on pilgrimage to Rome and to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in order to be present for his reception of the Pallium. You represent the People of God in New Orleans as well as other parts of the United States where the Archbishop has served as a priest and Bishop. To those whom you represent I would ask you to convey the Pope’s affectionate greeting in the Lord Jesus, whose Spirit unites us as one holy people who are called to proclaim his name to the ends of the earth.
The liturgical vestment of the Pallium symbolizes “the bonds of unity, charity and peace” (Lumen Gentium LG 22) which the Successors of the Apostles share in the Episcopal College. It is a sign of jurisdiction for the Metropolitan Archbishop, testifying to the hierarchical communion that unites him with the Successor of Peter, and it serves as a reminder that together with the Bishop of Rome he is called to exercise a pastoral solicitude for the whole Church.
I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome for this ceremony will help you to understand and appreciate ever more fully the mystery of ecclesial communion, that mystery which joins us in professing our faith that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16). I ask you to assist Archbishop Schulte with your prayers, that his faith may be strong so that he in turn may continue to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith.
And may the prayers and intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Divine Love, assist you and the whole Church in your country to bear witness to the merciful love of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. I willingly impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Archbishop Keeler,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is a great pleasure to meet this representation of the historic Archdiocese of Baltimore, as well as relatives and friends from other parts of the United States who have accompanied Archbishop Keeler for yesterday’s ceremony of the conferral of the Pallium. I greet all of you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, asking him to strengthen you in faith and to increase your love for his Body, the Church. A pilgrimage to Rome can be a privileged moment to grow in love of the Church, and I pray that the Lord will grant this special grace to each one of you.
The conferral of the Pallium is meant to be a sign of communion between the Bishop of Rome and the Metropolitan Archbishop who receives it. It manifests a special bond of fraternity in the Episcopal College. It is also a tangible reminder to all who see it worn by the Archbishop that the unity of faith and fellowship which characterizes the Church as truly Catholic extends beyond regional and national boundaries, precisely because it is a spiritual communion rooted in Christ himself. It is Christ who joins us together as one holy people, hierarchically distinguished by our particular ministries and services but always united inseparably in our love and service of him.
Dear friends: as you return to the Unites States I urge you to help your brothers and sisters at home to come to know and experience ever more profoundly this mystery of the Church’s unity and catholicity. Treasure this ecclesial gift, and assist Archbishop Keeler by your prayers as he proclaims this mystery by his preaching and by his living witness of communion with the Bishop of Rome and with all his brother Bishops throughout the world.
May the bicentennial celebrations in Baltimore be a moment of intense ecclesial communion for each member of the great Archdiocesan family – priests, men and women religious and the thousands of lay faithful who witness daily to the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ.
Invoking upon you the guidance and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, I willingly impart to you and to your families and loved ones my Apostolic Blessing.
Monday, 3 July 1989
Dear Cardinal Cordeiro,
My dear Brother Bishops,
1. With great joy I greet and welcome each one of you. Your ad Limina visit brings into vivid focus the reality of the Church in Pakistan, where God has placed you to shepherd his people so that the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church may be present and operative in the hearts and lives of the faithful (Cfr. Christus Dominus CD 11). Through each one if you, I greet the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses: Karachi, Faisalabad, Hyderabar, Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Lahore and Multan. I encourage you all with the words of Saint Paul: “We give thanks to God always for you all... remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th 1,2-3). Although you are a “little flock” in your own country, you are filled with hope as you summon people to faith or confirm them in a faith already living (Cfr. Christus Dominus CD 12).
Your prayers at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and your conversation with the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, are the expression of the joyful communion of faith and love linking you and your local Churches with the Apostolic See and with the whole Body of Christ throughout the world. Today we celebrate the bonds which unite us in the Episcopal College and we renew our commitment to the ministry that is ours at the service of the revelation and realization of God’s kingdom in the world (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,29). As members of the College of Bishops we have succeed the Apostles, chosen to shepherd the Church until the end of the world (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 18). To the Bishops has been entrusted in a special way the task of proclaiming and teaching the hidden “wisdom of God” which was made manifest in Christ and which lives on in his Church (Cfr. 1Co 2,7) for the salvation of souls and the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. This is the measure of our responsibility before God and the Church.
2. At this point of your ad Limina visit, I wish to confirm you in your dedication to the guiding and fostering of ecclesial life in your particular Churches. As Bishops, you are fully aware of how important is for all to be clear in mind and in ecclesial practice about the primacy of the Church’s transcendent mission. Without in any way diminishing the nature and value of the Catholic community’s manifold service to individuals and to society, it is important to recognize that the Church is above all the community of those who believe in Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word made flesh, and who live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Saint John’s Gospel says that to be in the Father and the Son is the essential condition “so that the world may believe” (Cfr. Io Jn 17,20). To be in the Father and in the Son through the Holy Spirit is an original and fundamental concept which gives meaning and purpose to all that the Church is and does in the world. It is a concept which cannot be overlooked in planning and executing programmes of pastoral activity.
The world looks to Christians for a convincing testimony of the total salvation offered by Christ. How familiar is the Gospel narrative describing Christ’s disciples who were approached by people who said to them: “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12,21). In the Gospel Jesus replies to those who sought him by speaking of the grain of wheat which falls into the earth and dies in order to produce much fruit (Cfr. Ibid. 12, 24). And he goes on to say: “If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honour him” (Ibid. 12, 26). The true vitality of the universal Church and of each particular Church is to be gauged in terms of God’s love and grace poured into the hearts of the faithful through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Cfr. Rom. Rm 5,5). The Church must always be actively engaged in a dialogue of truth and loving service with the whole of the human family. But she must herself be secure and confident in the “grace” of Christ which is at the depths of her life.
3. A primary part of our episcopal ministry is to promote the holiness of God’s people. No efforts must be spared in this task. Nor can we neglect this responsibility in favour of other more immediate concerns. Thus it is with great joy that I note your dedication to the spiritual and pastoral formation of the priests, the seminarians, and the many catechists in Pakistan. We are all well aware of the contribution made by the catechists, who are vital collaborators in the proclamation of the word of God to your people, especially in rural areas where Catholics are often widely scattered and far from a mission centre. You have likewise given considerable attention to the special role and needs of the men and women religious who so generously share the burden of the pastoral ministry. I note that in your recent meeting with the Major Religious Superiors you gave much attention to the question of formation.
For your wise commitment to this all-important task, and for what you do to support and improve the activities of your seminaries and houses of formation, especially the National Major Seminary in Karachi, I thank you in the name of Christ and his Church. In the same way I encourage you to continue to give special care to the National Catechetical Centre at Khushpur, as well as to the other Diocesan and local centres of Christian training.
4. It is significant for the life of the Church that the Fathers of the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops stated that “today we have tremendous need of saints” (Synodi extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, 11 A 4). In this sense we are called to understand better and to esteem the Church’s great spiritual traditions of holiness and discipline. The fostering of penance, prayer, self-giving, charity and justice (Ibid.) is the fundamental path of renewal. It is therefore also the path of the Church in Pakistan. Again to be in the Father and the Son, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, is the essential condition and challenge of your ministry and of your pastoral effectiveness.
Particularly in the pastoral care of youth, Bishops and their collaborators should not fail to present the full challenge of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. From such a spiritual encounter an increase can be expected in the number of young men and women who, in spite of obstacles, are deeply committed to Christian living. Among them there are surely many who will listen to the call of Christ to follow him more closely in the priesthood and religious life. This is one of the most urgent needs of the Church in your country at present, as in many other parts of the world. May the Lord of the harvest grant you the joy of an increasing number of vocations to meet the growing demands of the Christian community
5. There exists a close connection between holiness of life and the promotion of a more human way of life in society (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 40), for it is from a converted and reconciled heart that goodness and justice flow forth in human relations. Time and energy taken away from service. The same love impels the Church to serve man as a member of the earthly city (Congr. pro Doctr. Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 63). The same love that inspired Christ to give himself on the Cross as the Redeemer of mankind also moved him to have compassion on the multitude and to raise the widow’s son. The two forms of service complement each other, but one cannot be reduced to the other or made independent of the other.
The Church’s many activities in Pakistan, in the areas of education, health-care, social assistance and development, are ultimately channels of love, whereby Christ’s disciples bear witness to the primacy of the new commandment of love which he gave at the Last Supper. From that love all these activities receive their impulse and direction. Their purpose is to ensure people a way of life in harmony with their inalienable value and dignity as children of God. To all engaged in these endeavours I send my encouragement and prayerful support.
The Church in Pakistan is deeply involved in the field of Catholic education. I know that the difficulties which you encounter in this area are not small, and that through the Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Education you are seeking to identify needs and to set a programme in each Diocese and on the national level in order to serve better the ecclesial community and effectively contribute to the development of the nation as a whole. It is to be hoped that understanding and collaboration between the public authorities and the Church will bring a solution to any outstanding questions regarding freedom of education, and that all will be convinced of the need to do everything possible to provide this basic service to young Pakistanis at every social level.
6. As a small minority in a predominantly Muslim society, the Church in Pakistan lives and moves within a framework which calls for sensitivity and great love for Muslim brothers and sisters, while at the same time advocating respect for that freedom of religion and of conscience which is the hallmark of a just and peaceful society. In your good relations with the Muslim community there are some questions on which it is necessary to seek a sincere and enlightened interreligious dialogue. I am aware that you are attentive to this need and that in all things you proceed in the way outlined by the Council Decree “Nostra Aetate” (Cfr. Nostra Aetate NAE 3). There are many areas of social justice, moral values, peace, development and freedom in which Christians and Muslims can make common cause, in a spirit of brotherhood proper to those who adore the one God and Father in heaven.
7. My brothers in the Episcopate: you are entrusted with the Good News of Christ’s Kingdom of “righteousness faith, love and peace” (2Tm 2,22). You manifest a great concern for the Church in Pakistan. May you continue to be generous and self-sacrificing in your ministry. Support one another in prayer and effective collaboration in the many and difficult tasks which comprise your ecclesial service.
Upon you and your Dioceses I invoke the maternal and loving help of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May she inspire you as you work to restore all things in Christ. May his peace be with you all.
Wednesday, 5 July 1989
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to have this opportunity of meeting this Delegation from the United States Congress during your visit to Rome. I greet you most cordially, a greeting which I extend to your spouses and staff members.
I have learned with much pleasure that you are involved in foreign assistance programs, and so I take this occasion to encourage you in this work of providing material and financial aid to those who have suffered as a result of war or civil strife. And I thank you for the generosity you have shown to date.
There is a fundamental truth about humanity which is self-evident for a Christian but nonetheless worth repeating frequently: we are one human family, irrespective of race, culture, language or history. This truth calls us to recognize the underlying solidarity and interdependence of the human family as the basis for peaceful co-existence. When we see our brothers and sisters in need there is a spontaneous desire to reach out and help those who are affected by natural disasters, war or famine. The human spirit can and does respond with generosity to the plight of the suffering and the less fortunate. The call to solidarity and assistance impels us to do all we can to break down the barriers which prevent us form reaching out with love and trust to all who need our help. True human solidarity does not recognize political or ideological boundaries. It has an ethical dimension which is all-embracing.
I hope that our meeting today will strengthen our common resolve to work for a world where human dignity is properly respected and effectively safeguarded. I pray that Almighty God will continue to grant you the gifts of wisdom and understanding, so that in your noble office you will give inspiring leadership and ever more generous service according to the best aspirations of your people and on behalf of the genuine good of men, women and children everywhere.
God bless you all.
Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of Sri Lanka, for this special moment of collegial communion during your ad Limina visit. We are gathered here in the name of Jesus, “the chief Shepherd” (1Petr.5, 4) of the Church and the Lord and Saviour of us all. Through him and in the Holy Spirit we give thanks and praise to the Father for the presence of the Church in Sri Lanka. The power of the Gospel has taken root in that good ground which is the “Pearl of the Orient” and enabled the Church to grow.
The kind words which Archbishop Fernando has expressed on your behalf and in the name of all your priests, religious and faithful are deeply appreciated. Each of you represents one of the ten local Churches in Sri Lanka, and thus I wish to offer through you my affectionate greetings in Christ Jesus and to send the assurance of my prayerful remembrance to all the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care. In the words of Saint Paul I say: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life” (Ep 3,17).
I am confident that all of you, like myself, will be strengthened by our meeting today, because we are renewing “the bonds of unity, charity and peace” (Lumen Gentium LG 22) which bind us together as successors of the Apostles in the Episcopal College. My brothers, as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1Co 4,1), be comforted by the truth that you do not work alone, for you are supported by the Successor of Peter and the entire College of Bishops. I encourage each of you in your pastoral ministry and I give thanks to God for “your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Th 1,2).
Your presence here bears witness to the truth that the Lord Jesus appointed Simon Peter as the shepherd of the whole flock (Cfr. Io Jn 21, 15ss.) and made him the principle and foundation of the Church’s unity in faith and fellowship. Our meeting enables us to renew once again Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus as “the Christ the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16).
2. In my pastoral solicitude for your local Churches, I wish to assure you of my solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka, who are being sorely tried by the prolonged violence, terrorism and armed conflict occurring in your country. I follow with great concern your complex situation. In the pursuit of reconciliation according to justice there is a need to respect the legitimate aspirations of the different groups involved. It is my fervent prayer that the various ethnic and religious components of society will strive to follow the path of dialogue and negotiation in order that a just solution will be found for the problems which obstruct lasting peace.
In the face of the continuing conflict and divisions within Sri Lanka, God has entrusted to you “the ministry of reconciliation” (2Co 5,18), and indeed you have dedicated yourselves to this task. I am aware of the many clear and reflective statements which have been issued by the Episcopal Conference in recent years. I invite you to persevere in this particular mission as a sign of fervent hope, even though certain situations may give rise to discouragement on the part of many. Here you are called to be witnesses to the Paschal Mystery in the concrete circumstances of daily life, witnesses who offer the radiant light of Christian hope, especially in moments of darkness and fear.
It is above all by Christian witness that the Church can bring about mutual respect between different ethnic, cultural and religious groups. Seeking to influence the temporal order through her mission as the Gospel leaven (Cfr. Matth Mt 13,33), she devotes herself to working for everything which ensures human dignity and development. She shows concern for unity by encouraging people to reject prejudice, by condemning terrorism, by seeking to improve the quality of education and health-care, and by promoting all conditions aimed at easing ethnic tension and securing peace.