Speeches 1989 - Apostolic Nunciature, Jakarta






Apostolic Nunciature, Jakarta

Friday, 13 October 1989

I greet all the bishops gathered here, the bishops of Indonesia, and I express my gratitude for this visit as a lived experience. Providence has given me, has given us the possibility of this experience. Before the visit I prepared a text addressed to the bishops, and I shall distribute the copies of the text provided for this occasion. But after the experience of this visit, I should say that all that constitutes the content of this letter, of this speech is true, but for me it is not quite sufficient. So I should analyse this visit, the many aspects of this visit, once again. I should reflect upon so many elements I have lived here, I have seen, I have heard, I have experienced – to arrive at a personal and deeper vision of what Indonesia is and of what the Church in Indonesia is. What is Indonesia? That is, of course, a question for history. Asking what Indonesia is, we ask at the same time what Indonesia was, the ancient part of the world of humanity, of so many people. What especially is modern Indonesia, Indonesia of the last forty-five years?

And then, what is the Church in this context, and then, what was it in the former, historical context? Christianity in Indonesia, for instance in Flores, is some centuries old. But today we see a new realization of the same Christianity, of the same Church. It seems to me that this new realization corresponds deeply to the vision of Vatican II. It is necessary to have before our eyes, before our mind, the vision of the Church in herself and of the Church in the world, according to the documents of Vatican II, and then to enter into this experience. Yesterday in the seminary at Maumere I was asked why I am making this visit. So I answered that I am making the visit because our Lord has said. “Go to the ends of the earth”, but because of Vatican II I have a special reason for doing so. It seems to me that Vatican II has not only facilitated but stimulated such an exercise of the Petrine office in the Church. And as it facilitates the following of the main idea of Vatican II, we feel that the best realization of this main idea is simply this: go, experience, meet, talk, touch. The Pope, of course, has a duty, a duty expressed by our Lord, and then by many of the Fathers, Saint Irenaeus and others: the duty of maintaining the unity and the universality of the Church. In our time, this task of maintaining the unity and universality of the Church may be realized and obtained in this way: to touch; to hear; to participate. Of course, my experience of Indonesia and of the Church in Indonesia is not complete. It is only partial, some points of this great area, with its vast expanses of water, its many islands and people.

This is not enough. I especially deeply regret that I could not visit the northern and north-eastern part of Indonesia, but I shall try at least to complete the vision. It is a growing Church that is visible, maturing. It was a missionary Church. Here among us there are several missionary bishops, especially Dutch bishops who brought Christianity to Indonesia. But now it is an Indonesian Church, and here the majority of the bishops are Indonesian, and they are taking in hand more and more the responsibility for the Church and the future of the Church, and also for the future of society.

I should perhaps say a word about the part played by the men and women religious missionaries in this great apostolic task. But I was deeply touched, especially yesterday, by the presence, activities and apostolate of the lay people. Some elements – I present them together with the text already prepared – seem to me to be new, to be directly experienced during this visit. I shall continue my reflections together with my brother Cardinals, the whole Roman Curia, the Secretary of State, and especially with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. I am sure that Cardinal Tomko also has his special observations, his special experiences during this visit. We shall reflect together after our return to Rome on how to deepen this experience, how to make this Indonesian experience more fruitful for us, for the Church of Rome, for the Holy See which has the responsibility for the unity and universality of the Church. But how do we make this experience more fruitful for you also, for the Church in Indonesia? You know that the structure, the spiritual, divine and human structure of the Church is the structure of communion; and what is communion? “Lumen Gentium” says that communion is bringing; one brings to the others, the others receive, and, in receiving, they also bring: it is exchange. I hope that the Church in Indonesia can bring very new forces, a very new life, very new elements, very new charisms of the Spirit to the universal Church, to the Church in different places in the world, to the world in the different continents.

So, I finish this allocution which is not prepared in writing, but prepared in my heart, not complete, but to be completed.



Thursday, 19 October 1989

Dear Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood,

1. It is a pleasure for me to meet you during the celebration of your Fifteenth General Chapter which you are holding in this city where your Founder was born and exercised part of his priestly ministry – the great missionary and apostle of the Blood of Christ, Saint Gaspar del Bufalo. It is significant that this meeting takes place almost on the eve of the day in which your Congregation and the Diocese of Rome celebrate the liturgical memorial of this Saint. Like so many of the faithful, we too go in spirit to his tomb in the ancient church of Santa Maria in Trivio, as did my predecessor Pope John XXIII, on 4 January 1963, to meditate on the lessons of his life and to beg his heavenly favours.

2. More than a few times Pope John XXIII linked Saint Gaspar in a symbolic way to the devotion to the Most Precious Blood, going so far as to call him “the true and greatest apostle of the devotion to the Most Precious Blood in the world” (AAS 52 (1960) 306). Saint Gaspar invites us to reflect on the mystery of the Blood of Christ flowing forth from the side of “him whom they have pierced” (Jn 19,37). What boundless horizons this reflection opens up to us! On the one hand, that Blood, shed violently for the injustices of mankind, is the symbol of every violence perpetrated in the history of mankind, beginning with the cry of the blood of Abel (Cfr. Gen Gn 4,10) until the end of the world. On the other hand, that Blood can be seen as a symbol of the whole work of salvation, which, originating from the Father, reaches even to us and is spread throughout the world for the salvation of all through the ministry of the Church of God “which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Act. 20, 28). In the vision of faith of your holy Founder, the Blood of Christ is an image of the Redeemer’s perfect love for us, and calls for a response of faithful love of God and of our brethren.

In his assiduous study of the word of God and of the holy Fathers of the Church, his contemplation of the Crucified Christ and his sufferings for the sake of the Church, Saint Gaspar delved deeply into the mystery of the Blood of the Redeemer, so much so that this mystery became the light of his spirit and the strength of his apostolic activity.

3. Dear brothers: I wish to repeat on this occasion the exhortation I made on October 22, 1986, on the second centenary of the birth of your Founder: “The spirituality of Saint Gaspar... is truly at the heart of the Christian life: the Most Precious Blood of our Lord has always been the object of a special attention on the part of all the Saints: it is the school of sanctity, of justice, of love... Never cease... to delve deeply into this mystery of justice and of love: diffuse it into the whole world” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sodales Congregationis Missionarium Pretiosissimi Sanguinis, die 22 oct. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 [1986] 1152).

I was pleased to be informed of the meetings and studies which you have been conducting on this subject in the various parts of the world where your Congregation works. I whole heartedly bless these efforts, and encourage you to continue them, and to model on the cult of the Precious Blood the spiritual path of your lives and your apostolic activity. Be witnesses of that communion which Christ brought about through the gift of his Blood.

4. I am certain that Saint Gaspar, in this spiritual pilgrimage that we make together to his tomb, can speak to you not only as the Apostle of the Blood of Christ, but also as a great missionary. After his return from exile in February of 1814 and in response to the wishes of Pope Pius VII who strove to revive the faith among the Christian people by means of popular missions, your Founder devoted himself to the preaching of missions and spiritual retreats up until his death in 1837. In the ministry of preaching, he emulated his special patron, Saint Francis Xavier. For the most efficacious and lasting exercise of that ministry he founded your Society: the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood, entrusting it to the heavenly protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was firmly convinced that just as the faith is spread through preaching of the word of God, so through the same preaching “its revival is awaited” (Writings of Saint Gaspar, XII, 48). Your Founder is a model of evangelization, whom you must always imitate.

In the General Chapter which you are celebrating, you have studied the specific topic of the mission of your Congregation, making an analysis of the situation in the various places where you work in order to meet present challenges according to the charism of your Congregation. This charism, in fact, is the ministry of the word of God, as stated in the Constitution of your Congregation. In a society which too often ignores the signs of the presence of God, you must be the word that knocks at the door of every human heart, so that it may open to receive the Saviour. In a society which often fails to uphold human dignity, especially the dignity of the poor, you must awaken the voice of conscience that sustains the primacy of truth and love. You are called to do this in many forms of apostolic activity but especially through the preaching of spiritual exercises, retreats and missions (Cfr. Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 770).

5. My dear brothers: I fervently hope that the teachings which we have learned from the life of your Founder – contemplation of the mystery of the Blood of Christ and commitment to the ministry of the word – will be an inspiration for your personal and communitarian renewal, so that you may present yourselves to the people of God, not only as teachers of the word, but also as convinced witnesses to Christ, who loved us and gave his Blood for us (Cfr. Gal Ga 2,20).

I commend your Congregation to the intercession of the Ever-Virgin Mary, and gladly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.




Monday, 23 October 1989

Your Eminence,
Brothers and Sisters from Thailand,

The beatification of the holy Martyrs of Thailand offers us this opportunity to meet and to share the joy which fills the hearts of all Thai Catholics on seeing Blessed Philip Siphong and his companions solemnly proclaimed before the entire Church as faithful witnesses to Christ. They were found worthy to be honoured among the men and women who have given the highest testimony of faith, the testimony of their lives!

Your presence in this City of Rome allows you to renew your own faith at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord entrusted a universal service to the faith and unity of all Christ’s followers. The faith in Christ that Peter expressed at Caesarea Philippi: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16,16) is the same that the Thai Martyrs confessed in the sacrifice of their lives. It is the same faith to which we are all called through the grace of Baptism and our Confirmation in the Holy Spirit. I am certain that in Saint Peter’s Basilica you have prayed that the seed of faith which was so deeply rooted in the lives of your Martyrs will blossom into an ever greater maturity in Christ (Cfr. Col Col 4,12).

I recall that on the occasion of my visit to your country in 1984, while speaking to the Catholic community gathered in the national Stadium, I underlined the fact that “ you may form a small part of the population of your country and be a small flock of Christ’s followers, but Christ the Good Shepherd cares for you and watches over you with a special love” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia Bancokii, ad Christifideles congregatos habita, 1, die 10 maii 1984: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 1 [1984] 1356). I pray that the Church in Thailand will grow each day in this conviction and that the love of the Good Shepherd will sustain you in joyfully and actively building up your families and society in goodness and mutual service. There is no better way to honour your Martyrs than to follow their example of humble trust in God and obedience to his will manifested in your Christian calling.

May Mary, the Mother of the Church, to whom the Catholics of Thailand are deeply devoted, intercede for you and guide you in your following of her Son. May the prayers and example of Blessed Philip, of Blessed Agnes Phila and Lucy Khambang and their companions be a great source of spiritual strength for you all.

Through you I send my cordial greetings to your families and friends, and to the wonderful Thai people. Invoking divine protection upon you, I gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing.




Thursday, 26 October 1989

Your Eminence,
Dear Brothers in Christ,

I am happy to welcome you, distinguished representatives of the United Bible Societies, on the occasion of your visit to Rome. We meet in the awareness that the life in Christ which we share is clarified and sustained in every way by the word of God, which is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Cfr. Rom Rm 1,16). It is therefore with joy and gratitude that I take note of the spirit of ecumenical collaboration which prevails in your work as you seek to make the Scriptures increasingly known and understood.

You concluded your Council Meeting in Budapest last year by committing yourselves in a spirit of service and prayer to spread the word of God all over the world. I am confident that the United Bible Societies and the World Catholic Federation for the Biblical Apostolate will foster the fraternal collaboration which already inspires your efforts. One path forward in this regard lies in observing the Guidelines for Interconfessional Cooperation for Translating the Bible. Next year, the General Assembly of the Biblical Federation in Bogota on the theme “The Bible in the New Evangelization” will offer another opportunity for your common service to God’s word.

According to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, “like the Christian religion itself, all the preaching of the Church must be nourished and ruled by Sacred Scripture” (Dei Verbum DV 21). Holy Scripture nourishes faith, strengthens ecclesial unity and is an important element of our common spiritual patrimony with Abraham’s stock, our Jewish brothers and sisters. But the word of God is also an essential part of the cultural heritage of all humanity. It plays a decisive role in man’s search for the living God, for the meaning of life, for reconciliation, justice and peace in human affairs. Hence, the followers of Islam, those who adhere to the other great world religions, and even non-believers can also benefit from a knowledge of Sacred Scripture. To penetrate the Scriptures is to enter into the very mystery of God and of man. Your endeavours therefore are of the greatest importance and service to the Church and to the whole human family.

In announcing the mystery of God’s love, Christ “reconciles the world to himself” (2Co 5,19). Christ crucified and risen from the dead, our Shalom, is the centre of the message of salvation which we proclaim. On the occasion of our meeting today, I gladly express the hope that the members of the United Bible Societies will continue to participate, according to their particular gifts, in the proclamation of the Gospel which calls for the conversion of all mankind to Jesus Christ in “the Church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ep 1,22-23).

May the divine blessings of grace and peace be upon each one of you.




Friday, 27 October 1989

Your Excellency,

Mr President,
Distinguished Members of the Academy,

1. It gives me great pleasure to greet all of you who have participated in the Study Week organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the theme “Society for Development in a Solidarity Framework”. The topic which you have addressed is indeed complex, and will certainly require the sort of further study which only eminent scientists like yourselves can provide. Nonetheless, the topic is one of vital importance for the solution of one of the most urgent problems facing today’s world: that of a development which can take place within a framework of genuine solidarity among peoples and States.

2. The Church has always had a special concern for the full development of peoples, as is evident from the impressive body of her social doctrine. This is particularly true in our own day, when this issue has taken on such immense proportions. Indeed, throughout its long history, mankind has never known an era of prosperity even vaguely comparable to that which the world in this second half of the twentieth century has come to enjoy. And yet, this prosperity, on closer analysis, has proved to be distorted and unbalanced. It is a prosperity which benefits but a small proportion of mankind, while leaving the majority of the world’s inhabitants in a state of underdevelopment.

Development has thus given rise to very serious problems which the Church could hardly fail to address. These problems are not only of the political and economic order; they likewise involve the moral order. In effect, what is at stake is man himself. And the Church’s primary duty is to make her voice heard in every problem where man comes into play – in his dignity as a human person; in his right to free association in view of a better and more humane growth; in his right to freedom.

3. In essence, the Church has chosen to intervene in the problem of development for two reasons. First, she desires to proclaim God’s plan for mankind as that plan emerges from Christian Revelation, which has its culmination and definitive expression in the teaching of Jesus. But the Church also desires to offer a “reading” of the problem of development in the light of the Gospel and the natural moral law which she has the duty both to safeguard and to apply to changing historical situations. In doing this, she hopes to make evident the distortions and injustices which do harm to human persons, to indicate their causes, and to point out those principles and courses of action necessary for a balanced and just development. This, in fact, is precisely what Pope Paul VI attempted to do in 1967 with his great Encyclical “Populorum Progressio”. In the twenty years that have passed since that important document was issued, great changes have taken place in the world. In some areas, signs are present which allow some hope of resolving the problem of development. Yet, in other areas, the lack of progress towards development has reached truly catastrophic proportions. For this reason, I considered it my duty to take up the teaching of Pope Paul VI and to develop it further in my Encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis” of 30 December 1987. I am very pleased that this Study Week echoes an important theme of that Encyclical.

In the Encyclical, I noted that the conditions of developing countries “have become notably worse” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 16) because of “a too narrow idea of development, that is a mainly economic one” (Ibid. 15). The developed countries bear responsibility for this, for they “ have not always, at least in due measure, felt the duty to help” countries that are cut off from the world of prosperity (Ibid. 16). I felt it necessary to “denounce the existence of economic, financial and social mechanisms which, although they are manipulated by people, often function almost mechanically, thus accentuating the situation of wealth for some and poverty for the rest” (Ibid.). Moving beyond merely political or economic readings of the situation – as important and as valuable as these may be – and making a theological reading of those mechanisms or processes, I went on to speak of certain “structures of sin”. Two factors in particular have contributed to creating, fostering and reinforcing these “structures”, thus making them even more capable of conditioning human conduct: an exclusive desire for profit and the thirst for power which aims at imposing one’s own will upon others. “Obviously, not only individuals fall victim to this double attitude of sin; nations and blocs can do so too. And this favours even more the introduction of the ‘structures of sin’ of which I have spoken. To diagnose the evil in this way is to identify precisely, on the level of human conduct, the path to be followed in order to overcome it” (Ibid. 37).

4. What, then, is the path to be followed?

It is the Church’s task to awaken consciences and invite them to face the fact that today, like Lazarus at the door of the rich man, millions of people are in dire need while a great part of the world’s resources are employed in areas which have little or nothing to contribute to the improvement of life on this planet. The Church has forcefully affirmed that solidarity is a grave moral obligation, for nations as well as for individuals.

The virtue of solidarity finds its deepest roots in Christian faith, which teaches that God is our Father and that all men and women are brothers and sisters. From this belief flows Christian ethics, an ethics which excludes every form of selfishness and arrogance and seeks to unite persons freely in pursuit of the common good. Christian ethics gives rise to the conviction that it is unjust to squander resources which might be necessary for the lives of others. Today a new awareness of this moral imperative is needed, given the present conditions of such large portions of the human race.

Solidarity also leads to the collaboration of all social groups, which are thus called to look beyond the horizons of their own self-interest, making solidarity a “culture” to be fostered in the formation of the young and made evident in new patterns of behaviour. Indeed, only a widespread “culture of solidarity” will permit that exchange of goals and energies which seems so necessary if a truly humane level of life upon this earth is to be reached.

5. Practically speaking, what must be done if the principle of solidarity among individuals and peoples is to take more widespread root? The Church, for her part, cannot offer technical solutions to the problem of underdevelopment as such, since she has neither the mission nor the ability to state those contingent ways and means by which human problems of the political and economic order can and should be resolved. At this point, the role of the sciences comes into play.

It is here that we find the real significance of this Study Week and of other similar undertakings aimed at developing the directions charted by the Encyclical. Their object is to analyse and study more intensively – making use of an interdisciplinary and scientifically tested approach – the cultural, economic and political causes of underdevelopment; to identify with a rigorous and precise analysis the processes that perpetuate underdevelopment; and to suggest models of development which can be considered workable in present historical circumstances. Such analysis seeks to indicate the ways and proper times to intervene, the conditions, means and tools necessary for passing from underdevelopment to a balanced development, that is, a “development in a solidarity framework”.

6. Among the many problems which must be taken into consideration, there is one in particular which I would like to bring to your attention. It is the problem of the international debt, a debt which weighs heavily, at times with devastating consequences, upon many developing countries. It is not a problem which can be seen in isolation from others; rather the debt problem is intimately connected with a host of other issues, such as those of overseas investment, the equitable working of major international institutions, the price of raw materials, and so forth. I would only observe that this problem, in recent years, has become a symbol of already existing imbalances and injustices whose burden is often borne by the poorest segments of the population, and it points to an apparent inability to reverse a baneful process which seems at times to take on a life of its own.

The Holy See has already had occasion to address this problem on an official level (Cfr. Pont. Commissionis “Justitia et Pax”: “At the Service of the Human Community: on Ethical Approach to the International Debt Question, die 27 dec. 1986). And yet, the Church continues to hear pleas of her Pastors in those countries which labour most under this enormous burden, a burden which seems without reprieve and which gravely compromises the very possibility of a free and positive development.

I have underlined the importance of this issue because, once it is dealt with equitably, competently and in a spirit of authentic solidarity, it has the potential to become a genuine symbol and model of creative and effective resolve in the face of the other complex and pressing issues of international development.

The solutions to these problems are neither simple nor close at hand; yet, once they are discerned with wisdom and courage, they foster hope for a world where solidarity would no longer be merely a word, but an urgent task and a conviction which bears fruit in action. The virtue of solidarity, practised at a deep and authentic level, will demand of all parties both a willingness to be involved and a deep respect for others. Only in this way will the great potential resources of the developing countries be transformed into a concrete reality that has much to offer to the entire world.

Distinguished Members of the Academy and eminent Professors: I have only wished to point out some of the more pressing issues and ideas which you have been discussing during this Study Week. In expressing my hopes that your labours have been fruitful, I invoke upon all of you abundant divine blessings.

November 1989




Thursday, 9 November 1989

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. During these days you have been pondering on the problem of the vocation and mission of the Gypsies in the Church and in the world.

The subject is very important and timely, and questions, not without uneasiness, our human and Christian society. In fact, the presence of these people, for the most part nomadic, and in any case scarcely integrated in the society of work and culture, regardless of the ferments that agitate them, especially those religious in nature, require an adequate response and commitment.

In the area of the Church's teaching, always aware of peoples problems, all discrimination against the Gypsies is unjust and harsh, because it is clearly against the teachings of the Gospel, for which each man is a Son of God, and a brother of Christ. Therefore, Paul VI was right when in 1965, at Pomezia, on meeting them on the occasion of their first international pilgrimage, which brought them to the Tomb of the Apostles, he said: "You are in the Heart of the Church, because you are poor, because you are alone" (Teachings of Paul VI, 111,1965, PP 491-492).

For this reason, dearest ones, the responsibility and your commitment is large and worthy, because you take upon yourselves the living conditions and concerns of travellers.

In fact, I would like to say that you have, that we all have also, a lot to learn in our contacts with them. They have suffered much and still suffer due to privations, insecurities and persecutions, and for this reason they have a lot to say. Their wisdom is not written in a book, but is no less eloquent for this reason. But it is up to you to make them part of your care and of your human and Christian culture.

2. Notwithstanding the Gospel's clear teaching, to which I have referred, it is often true that Gypsies are rejected and despised. The world, which is for the most part marked by the avidity of profit and contempt for the weakest, must change its behavior and receive our nomadic brothers not simply with tolerance, but with a fraternal spirit.

Your action, whether it be educative - in the form of literacy - or in the nature of assistance, health or justice, will allow those who have a social handicap, in particular Gypsies from another country, to take their place in society which is theirs by right. But this prospect is still a long way off. The Gypsies, too dispersed, too weak or simply not organized, need to be helped to become aware of their dignity and their responsibility.

You have all become especially concerned with these itinerants, complete the praiseworthy task of knowing them, and let them be known as they really are and not as they are now so ungenerously imagined to be. Study their history, their psychology, their language, share their joy and their suffering, and it is at this price that you can help them achieve their calling in the Church and in the world.

You must, in particular, bring them proof of your faith, share with them the bread of the Gospel. The discovery of the Word of God, above all on the part of the young, will allow them to fully develop their role and respond to the appeal made by the Word of Jesus Christ.

I am sure that you will all make invaluable use of this meeting for the realization of a common and detailed work program. Such an effort could be followed, if you think it opportune, by an even closer collaboration between all of you, and a closer relationship with the Church hierarchy.

3. I wish you success in helping more effectively our Gypsy brothers not to feel abandoned on their way. Even the Church is on its way to the end of time. On it she has left her marks as points of reference the local Churches, with their living communities, and their shrines are sure points of reference for those seeking protection and defense amid so many difficulties.

May the good heavenly Mother, to which the Gypsy world is especially devoted, always bless your activities and accompany you on the high ways of the world.



Thursday, 16 November 1989

Mr. President,

Mr. General Director,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I 1. As the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization continues to develop as an important point of encounter for the political experiences of all countries, the Holy See has followed attentively the decisions of the more important specialized inter-governmental agencies of the UN. It has been especially pleased to note the work of the General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization within the specific field of its competence. FAO has sought to play an indispensable role, together with other organizations involved in questions of agriculture and food supply, in safeguarding the basic human right to be fed adequately. This goal requires an effective and continuous effort to guarantee the access of individuals and peoples to sufficient food supplies as part of the greater process of development worldwide.

2. The complexity of mounting an adequate and effective campaign against hunger and malnutrition is becoming more and more apparent.

Speeches 1989 - Apostolic Nunciature, Jakarta