Speeches 1990 - La Valletta
3. The Apostle Peter urges us all to be "good stewards of Godís varied grace" (1 Petr. 4, 10), using the gifts which we have received for one anotherís benefit. As we recall the generosity with which Maltaís many missionaries have shared the faith which they had first received, we can truly thank God for the rich harvest which he has reaped through their witness. Today there are several hundred priests, religious and lay people from Malta who are bringing the light of Christ to Australia, North and South America, Africa, India and many parts of Europe. In addition, Maltese families who have emigrated are supplying vocations to their countries of adoption, while Maltese religious houses abroad are now receiving vocations from among the people they went forth to serve.
As we rejoice in their service of the Lord and his Church, let us never cease to assist these missionaries by our spiritual solidarity in prayer and works of penance. In particular, let us ask God to bless a hundredfold (Cfr. Marc. 10, 30). those of their number who endure all sorts of trials for the sake of the Gospel. And in union with Mary, let us pray that the Lord will raise up many others to follow them in the work of leading all people to the knowledge of the truth (Cfr. 1Tm 2,4), so that "the glory of God which shines in the face of Jesus Christ might shed its light upon all men through the Holy Spirit" (Ad Gentes AGD 42).
To all of you go my deep affection in the Lord and my special Apostolic Blessing.
Saturday, 26 May 1990
Dear Bishop Cauchi,
My Brothers and Sisters,
"Praised be Jesus Christ".
1. It is with great joy that I repeat these words in your midst today, for it is in the name of Christ that I come to Malta as a pastor and pilgrim. To the Church in Gozo I bring the love and greetings of all Godís people throughout the world, for as members of Christís Body we all are united in a living bond of charity and peace; we all are one in praising Christ the Head through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father.
I am deeply grateful to Bishop Cauchi for his kind words of welcome, and to all of you for coming here today to be with the Pope in this magnificent Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven. This Mother Church of Gozo and the other beautiful churches for which your Diocese is known raise our minds and hearts to the eternal beauty that is God. They inspire prayer and contemplation of the mysteries of faith.
But without youĖ the People of God who form this local ChurchĖ without your living faith, these buildings, for all their beauty, would remain empty and lifeless. They are only outward signs of the far deeper reality which Saint Paul had in mind when he wrote: " You are Godís building " (1Co 3,9); " You are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit " (Ep 2,19-22).
2. Dear friends, your presence here today expresses both the unity and the diversity of the spiritual temple that you are. The whole Diocese is represented here: both clergy and people together with their Bishop. It is precisely out of a variety of ministries, charisms and states of life that you are "joined together" by the Holy Spirit in preaching the Gospel, professing the Creed, celebrating the sacraments, and in striving to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Cfr. Matth. Mt 5,13-14). Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "It has pleased God to make people holy and to save them, not merely as individuals without any mutual bonds, but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges him in truth and serves him in holiness" (Lumen Gentium LG 9). I give thanks today for the fidelity with which your local Church "acknowledges God and serves him" in the Catholic Faith. You can all be proud of your strong religious traditions, the large number of priests and religious, the many Catholic initiatives in the fields of education, charity and social services, the various lay movements, as well as the increasing lay involvement in diocesan and parish life. In all of these ways the Church in Gozo is "built into ... a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Ep 2,22).
Saint Paul remarks that "upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets "Christians" grow into a holy temple in the Lord" (Cfr. Ibid. 2, 20). Growth is the sign of life. As the spiritual heirs of those whom the great Apostle evangelized in Malta soon after the birth of Christianity, you must renew Godís spiritual temple through constant conversion as individuals and as a community in response to the challenges of today. Having been entrusted with the Good News of salvation, you will want to do everything possible to live it to the full, and to share it with others. This is the work of evangelization, the great mission which Christ entrusted to the first Apostles and which he now entrusts to you.
3. What does evangelization entail? In Gozo the task is not so much to bring the Gospel to people who have never heard of it, as to live the Gospel ever more perfectly and fully, so that the weak, the alienated and the sceptical may not turn from Christ but embrace him and his gift of salvation. In the words of the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi", the experience of intimate fellowship among church members like yourselves "only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News" (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 15).
Nor does evangelization come to an end even when a whole society has accepted Christianity. Without the "growth" of which Saint Paul speaks, religion can quickly be reduced to an empty tradition. In the words of our Lord and Master, a tree is known by its fruits (Cfr. Luc. Lc 6,44), and thus a truly Christian society will bear the good fruits of the Spirit, that is, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Ga 5,22-23), as well as compassion and mutual forgiveness (Cfr. Col. Col 3,12-13). Although the practice of these virtues begins with individuals, the goal of evangelization is to weave them into the very fabric of society and social institutions: in the family, education, politics, the workplace, and in every sector of life.
4. Brothers and sisters, many of you already play an important part in your diocese and your parishes, and in society as well. You have responded generously to the needs of the Church in Gozo, and even abroad through the work of the missionaries whose relatives are here today. I offer a special greeting to these families and to all of you who further the Churchís life and mission by acting as extraordinary ministers of Communion to the sick, as members of parish councils, as members of associations engaged in various apostolates, and in many other ways too. I also wish to greet the priests present who, in cooperation with Bishop Cauchi, minister to the Lordís flock, as loving shepherds and zealous leaders of the apostolate.
To all of you I offer an invitation to rededicate yourselves with fresh vigour to the great task of evangelization. I urge you to ask yourselves as individuals and as a local Church: how can the healing and ennobling power of the Gospel be brought to bear on life in Malta today? In what ways is Christ absent in the lives of individuals and in the life of society? What more can be done to christianize consciences and to bring the light of the Gospel to human and social problems, particularly for the benefit of the poor and the troubled? How can the gifts of the Spirit be made to shine forth ever more brightly within the Church as a beacon to others, especially the young?
It is by meeting these challenges that the true beauty of Godís house increases in you midst: the "holy temple into which you are built as a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Cfr. Eph. Ep 2,21). Yes, dear friends, you are the "living stones" (Cfr. 1 Petr. 2, 5), of a spiritual building which exceeds in splendour anything that human art or ingenuity can devise. It is a masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, who invites your cooperation through words and deeds worthy of your Christian calling.
5. Upon each of you I invoke the Spiritís gift of wisdom, so that you may discern ever more clearly the significance of your vocation and the obligations of your mission for the Church and the world today. With great affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones, both near and far. "Praised be Jesus Christ".
Saturday, 26 May 1990
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I thank God for this opportunity to be with you. This meeting which the workers of Malta is one of the high points of my Pastoral Visit, and I have been looking forward to it as a moment of friendly dialogue with you, the men and women whose daily toil is the very life-blood of Maltese society.
My wish would be to greet each of you individually. I ask you to take the Popeís words of affection and encouragement to your loved ones, especially your children, and to your fellow-workers who could not be present.
I greet you all: those who work in agriculture, in industry including the many who work in the nearby shipyards in offices and in the tourist industry. I greet the representatives of the various trade unions and workersí organizations, as well as the public officials and the members of the business community.
To all of you I repeat the Churchís great esteem for the world of work. Work is a fundamental part of our life here on earth. It often involves heavy fatigue and even suffering, but it can also be the forge of strong character and vigorous personality, the means by which we build up the world according to the values in which we believe. For the Christian, work is our way of taking an active and responsible part in the marvellous work of the Creator which surrounds us everywhere and completely fills our being.
2. But why should the Pope talk about work? Perhaps some people may think that he has no right to do so; they think that work has little or nothing to do with religion. I might answer by saying that my own personal experience of work was one of the most interesting and formative periods of my life. I have expressed the richness of that experience in some of my writings. Today I have come to you, the workers of Malta, as a friend who shares the concerns and hopes of the men and women who in the words of the book of Genesis earn their bread by the sweat of their brow (Cfr. Gen. Gn 3,19). I have also come as the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter, and therefore as a messenger of One who was known as a carpenter and the son of a carpenter (Cfr. Matth. Mt 13,55 Marc. Mt 6,3).
Yes, the world of work is not alien to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord understood perfectly the reality of human labour. His words were filled with references to workers and their various occupations: the farmer who plants the seed and the labourer who harvests the crop, the vinedresser and the shepherd, the one who mends the nets beside the sea, the builder and the domestic servant, the merchant and the housewife, the soldier and the State official. They all had a place in Jesusí interest and teaching. And the Apostles he chose to carry on his redemptive mission were workers and fishermen.
3. In every age the Church continues to present Jesusí teaching about work, and especially today when economic relations and production processes are complex and increasingly impersonal, and threaten to turn against man himself. The Church preaches a Social Doctrine because the great questions affecting society, not least the question of labour, have a powerful impact on peopleís lives and cannot be separated from the moral and ethical responsibilities of everyone involved.
Unfortunately, it is the experience worldwide that the history of labour relations, especially during the last two centuries, has often developed as a social struggle between workers and employers. Only with great difficulty has the ideal of social justice made headway. Today, with the opening of so many previously closed frontiers and the determination of peoples to live in freedom from ideological oppression, it is becoming clearer that although the quest for justice can be opposed and delayed, it cannot be suppressed. It is a fundamental aspiration of the human spirit. Systems built on untruths about the spiritual nature of man and of human relations cannot last. The dignity of the human person is the only solid basis of a social system capable of giving the right direction to human relations, and of fostering mutual understanding, dialogue and cooperation. In an increasingly interdependent world, there can be no other way forward. In Malta, too, this is imperative.
4. Even though there are many kinds of work, in a sense all work shares the same nature. Its purpose is to transform and organize reality in a way that is useful and productive. Work is the implementation of Godís original command, recorded in the first pages of the Bible: " Fill the earth and subdue it " (Gn 1,28). Whether through physical, intellectual or spiritual effort, " each and every individual takes part in the giant process whereby man Ďsubdues the earthí through his work " (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Laborem Exercens LE 4).
This is the beginning of what I call the "Gospel of work " which the Church wishes to transmit to the modern world. Whoever hears this " Gospel " and lives by it can no longer look upon labour as a mere commodity to be bartered in exchange for pay. In a wider and more noble view, work must also be seen as the path to self-development and as the normal means for people to create the conditions that permit a healthy cultural, social and religious life (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 67).
Because the nature and organization of labour affects people so totally, Catholic Social Doctrine insists that the human person is the centre and norm of all economic processes. That is why the Second Vatican Council made this earnest appeal: "The entire process of productive work must be adapted to the needs of the person and to the requirements of his life, above all of his family life" (Ibid). A change of priorities is needed in the world economic order if the reality of work is truly to serve people and not oppress them in new forms of slavery. This is especially evident in the condition of workers in the developing countries of the South, but also in the industrialized countries of the North. Maltese society too is called to strive for those changes which are necessary for promoting a development which embraces all sectors (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 21).
5. The "Gospel of work" holds that all honest labour, competently carried out, has an innate dignity and confers dignity on those engaged in it. That is why unemployment is such a deadly thing. It leaves its victims without adequate economic support, but more than that, it deprives them psychologically and socially. For that reason, I urge you: do not abandon the unemployed, especially young people seeking a livelihood. The unemployed and their families have a right to the effective solidarity of the State, of business interests and of workersí organizations themselves.
Workers are the subjects of rights and duties. People who work, especially dependent workers, have a right to be treated for what they are: free and responsible men and women, called to have a share in the decisions that concern their lives. A society that seeks the true well-being of its members will make appropriate provision for family support. It will make it possible for mothers to give their primary attention to their children and homes, and, where necessary, it will provide for the special needs of working mothers. And particular classes of workers need the special attention and protection of society. Agricultural workers, for example, often feel that their contribution to society is not fully appreciated. The " Gospel of work ", then, preaches that economic, social and political systems must be sensitive to the complete well-being of individuals and to the needs of their families.
But workers and their organizations also have solemn duties towards the common good. The first of these duties is to work well, to contribute effectively to building a better society. This too is part of the " Gospel of work ", proclaimed two thousand years ago in the life and activity of Jesus of Nazareth, the Incarnate Son of God. The value which Jesus placed on work during the long years of his hidden life was not lost on the early Christians. Saint Paul boasted of the fact that he worked day and night in order not to be a burden to others (Cfr. 2Th 3,8), and he summed up the spirituality of work in these words: " Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward " (Col 3,23-24).
These words are an invitation to integrity and competence on the part of everyone, workers and employers, people engaged at every level of economic and productive activity. At the same time, the Apostle is calling us to widen the horizon of human activity to include Godís plan for the world and for our eternal salvation. The world of work must not be seen as a part of reality somehow opposed to faith and religion, as if in conflict with God and his Church. Work can be a source of satisfaction and development, as well as of cultural and spiritual growth, only if society sees it as cooperation in the creative intention of God and respects each personís unique dignity and higher aspirations, including the rights of conscience, as inalienable gifts of the Creator (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 35).
6. The outstanding virtue of the working men and women of Malta should be solidarity: a commitment to the common good; a rejection of selfishness and irresponsibility. We must become responsible for one another. What are needed are concrete acts of solidarity: between employers and employees, between working men and women themselves, with special sensitivity for the poor and the defenceless. In all of this, workersí unions have a specific part to play. It is their task to defend the rights of their members through the legitimate means at their disposal, keeping also in mind the rights of other categories of workers, the general economic situation of the country and, in short, the common good. In the present state of technological progress and social development they are being challenged to adopt a broader view of their social function and responsibilities. Their great task is to harmonize the quest for material progress with the cultural and spiritual advancement of society. In other words, a great wave of social solidarity, not conflict, is the proper response to the increasingly interrelated and interdependent nature of todayís problems.
But solidarity, dialogue and cooperation must be built on a firm foundation. These values demand a "readiness, in the Gospel sense, to Ďlose oneself í for the sake of the other instead of exploiting him, and to Ďserve himí instead of oppressing him for oneís own advantage" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). Thus the essence of the " Gospel of work " is also the heart of the Christian message itself. Jesus Christ sums up his teaching in these familiar words: " You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, " You shall love your neighbour as yourself " (Mt 22,27). The first direction of work, then, is vertical towards God: your work itself is an unfolding of the Creatorís intention and a contribution to the realization in history of the divine plan (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 34). The second direction of work is horizontal: it is an effective way of putting into practice love of neighbour. Your work, insofar as it brings benefits of all kinds to society, is a magnificent form of service to others.
The task then which the Pope leaves to the workers of Malta is to integrate the world of work into the world of faith. There can be no separation between the traditions of Catholic faith, manifested at Sunday Mass, and the sense of commitment, honesty, justice and brotherhood shown in the workplace during the week.
7. Dear friends, it is in this spirit of the " Gospel of work ", which was proclaimed by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago and continues to be proclaimed by the Church in our day, that I invite you to:
Say No to injustice at every level of society!
Say No to the individual and class selfishness that seeks its own interests without concern for the common good of the whole of society!
Say No to the materialism that deadens conscience and the spiritual dimension of life!
Say Yes to a new solidarity between all the members of the work force, and between workers and employers, between the world of work and the whole of Maltaís people!
Say Yes to the full material and spiritual development of every inhabitant of these islands, with special provision for the poorest and neediest!
Say Yes to Godís plan for creation and to his Truth written in nature of all things and in the depths of the human heart!
The carpenter of Nazareth and the workers of Malta ought to be of one mind and one heart. Remember the words of the Scripture Reading we heard at the beginning of our meeting: "Whatever you do, whether in speech or in action, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col 3,17). In union with Jesus Christ, your work and your efforts to transform the world take on the quality of a sacrifice pleasing to God. By offering "what earth has given and human hands have made" you prepare the way for Godís kingdom. That is the deepest meaning of your labour.
Dear brothers and sisters, may Christís kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace, take possession of your hearts, for the true progress and prosperity of Malta. God bless you all.
Sunday, 27 May 1990
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is for me a great pleasure to find myself among the esteemed representatives of Maltaís scientific, cultural and artistic life. Our meeting is a recognition of the importance which we all attach to learning, to the search for knowledge, to intellectual exchange and artistic achievement, to the sublime values of Truth and Beauty in mankindís arduous but also exciting quest for genuine human advancement.
"What man can know the intentions of God?
Who can divine the will of the Lord?" (Sap. 9, 13).
These words of the Book of Wisdom which introduced our conversation this morning encourage us to dwell for a moment on the present conditions of our culture and civilization.At a time of wide-ranging ideological and political transformations, of dangerous imbalances in the world economy, of new but not always comforting advances in science and technology, we are confronted with a burning issue which looms high on the horizon of the approaching new millennium. For societies threatened by insecurity, by instances of dramatic environmental degradation, by endemic unemployment, by political uncertainty, the pervading question which the future poses is this: what is to become of the human person?
Politicians and magistrates, engineers and lawyers, researchers and doctors, artists, educators, social workers and students: you all perceive a disquiet sometimes vague but ever present in your inmost consciousness. The question is being brought into ever sharper focus by the important events we are experiencing and the unknown elements of the months and years ahead. No one who claims to look critically at events can fail to feel a deep personal involvement. Why? Because, as this century and this millennium come to a close, what is at stake is the very meaning and direction of the human familyís pilgrimage through history.
2. You who are the intellectual and cultural elite of society are involved in a special way. The future depends to a great extent on the cultural perspective in which individuals and peoples are allowed to develop and work out their destiny.Recent history has drastically altered the cultural frame of reference. In particular, the series of events in Europe during the last few months shows clearly the inadequacy and failure of a culture which was not built on the primacy of the spiritual dimension of the human person.
Of course the economic, political and social dimensions of life require careful attention and forthright commitment on the part of all. But at the same time it is necessary to reaffirm adamantly the primacy of ethics over technology, the primacy of "being"over "having". This is especially imperative when we are immersed in a false culture of "appearances", the result of an unbridled consumer mentality detrimental to the deepest needs of individuals and communities. The present challenge facing Europe is to rediscover its own deepest roots. In accepting this challenge, European culture is forcefully called to account for the Christian faith that gave form to its peoples.
3. Dear friends, the principal task of those with responsibility for the lives of individuals and nations is to foster a way of life that fully responds to the unique and inalienable dignity of human beings. The task is enormous. It involves working for the full and genuine development of peoples in a climate of effective cooperation, for the defence of human rights, the promotion of family life, the protection of workers, the building of a more just and fraternal community, with respect for the Creatorís will in nature and in all areas of life.
Rediscovered freedom is leading peoples long condemned to silence, fear and want to proclaim aloud the value of the human person, the spiritual character of life, the need to express individual worth and personal responsibility by taking part actively in the processes determining civic and national life.
Men and women of culture that you are, you know that the restoration of external freedoms is only the first stage, the first step. The exercise of freedom must be accompanied by a growth in moral and spiritual maturity. Unfortunately, as we approach the third Christian millennium our dominant culture shows signs of a weakening of moral commitment and a narrow sense of spiritual inspiration. People are often more sensitive to feelings, emotions and impressions than to thought, reflection and discernment. To act without reason is not worthy of man, whose freedom is based on knowledge of the truth which enlightens his judgement.
The conquest of authentic freedom is radically jeopardized if truth, painstakingly acquired through reason and wonderfully deepened through openness to the word of God, is disregarded. Without reference to the truth, human beings can never free themselves from irresponsibility and fear. Jesus Christ stated quite plainly: " the truth shall make you free " (Cfr. Io. Jn 8,32). What applies to individuals applies also to nations. It is in accepting the full truth about our human conditionĖ which corresponds to Godís design for human beings, revealed in Christ, the way, the truth and the life (Cfr. Ibid. 14, 16) Ė that our contemporaries will reach their full stature as men and women freed from fear and vain illusions.
4. Malta is not unaffected by the problems and changes transforming the cultural as well as the political face of Europe and the world. Because of its geographical position and history, Malta presents a marvellous symbiosis of European and Mediterranean cultures and is thus well placed to observe and participate in the present changes of outlook. Being at the crossroads of fruitful exchanges between various civilizations, Malta has remained faithful to her traditions of hospitality, as shown recently by the meeting here between the United States and Soviet Heads of State. The Christian faith that came to you two thousand years ago has deeply imbued your family life, your traditions, and almost every manifestation of your character.
However, the decline of traditional values on the one hand and of ideological tensions on the other has left many of our contemporaries defenceless, disorientated, and in many cases with a dramatic crisis of identity. You who are among the leaders of the cultural life of your country cannot remain deaf to those who cry out in anguish in their quest for meaning and certainty. That would be to betray their expectations, especially in the case of young people on the threshold of adult life.
The extent and novelty of the problems affecting the evolution of society must not cause you to ignore your fellow-citizens, your brothers and sisters, considered in their real existence and not in the light of abstract ideological concepts. It is to real people in their actual condition that the Creator addresses the call to live in the fullness of dignity and freedom. Your mission, I repeat, is immense. It is no less than an untiring effort to seek and uphold the truth about manís life and destiny.
5. As Catholics you have an authentic vocation to evangelize the cultural environment in which you live and work. This task springs from your baptismal commitment. It has nothing to do with imposing a preconceived and unilateral model of cultural life. Rather, it concerns the "recognition and possible purification of the elements that critically burden existing culture... and the elevation of these cultures through the riches which have their source in the Gospel and the Christian faith" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Christifideles Laici CL 44). Your active presence as Catholic lay men and women in the world of scientific, intellectual and artistic endeavour is needed, both as individuals and as members of the various cultural and apostolic associations which permit you to work more effectively for the progress of your people. Your activities in this field should be marked by courage and intellectual creativity, and above all by a profound sense of love and service.
As men and women of faith you consider the mystery of human life in relation to the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. In him our human condition is raised and brought into a dynamic personal communion with the Creator. In the Incarnation, the Son of God has united himself in a certain way with every human person. He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 22). Through the sending of his Spirit and the life of grace Christ renews people from within, making them capable of fulfilling the new commandment of love which is to characterize the new humanity born from his Cross and Resurrection. It is in the construction of this civilization of love that your cultural endeavours and achievements reach their highest value and have their most beneficial effect on society. In following this path you know that your efforts call for a sharing in the wisdom which God alone can give.May you make your own the prayer in the Scripture Reading we listened to at the beginning of this meeting:
"Send wisdom forth from your throne of glory
to help me and toil with me
and teach me what is pleasing to you" (Sap. 9, 10)
6. Theologians, philosophers, specialists in the natural and human sciences, teachers and researchers, together with your students: you constitute a highly qualified community dedicated to intellectual endeavour, with a sublime mission of service to the wider Maltese society. I earnestly hope that you will always be motivated by a sincere passion for the truth and a profound love of your fellow human beings.
You who are heirs to an ancient heritage, lift your eyes to the full breadth of the surrounding Mediterranean and to the peoples inhabiting its shores. The challenge before you is to radiate an example. May your love of freedom, your love of truth, your love of justice make these Islands, set in the heart of the Mediterranean, a sanctuary of peace and brotherhood, steeped in the truth and love which Christ, the Redeemer of Man, came to bring.
Upon all of you and on your families I invoke Almighty Godís abundant gifts, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 1990 - La Valletta