Speeches 1993 - Monday, 21 June 1993
Dear Brothers in Christ,
1. It is a joy to welcome you – Pastors of the particular Churches in the Provinces of Baltimore, Washington, Atlanta and Miami. Gathered in the name of "Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith" (Ep 3,12), this meeting is meant to manifest and strengthen the communion that binds us together in the grace of the Holy Spirit, the living and enduring source of all the Church’s life. Your "visit to Peter" (Cf. Gal. Ga 1,18) coincides with the Solemnity of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, founders of this "greatest and most ancient Church" (Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, III, 3, 2). United in giving testimony to their faith through a cruel martyrdom, these glorious martyrs labored together for the sake of the Gospel. They exchanged the "right hand of fellowship" (koinonia) (Ga 2,9), recognizing that the Lord Jesus himself had made Peter the universal Shepherd of his flock (Cf. Jn. Jn 21,15-17) and the visible foundation of the Church’s unity (Cf. Mt. Mt 16,18). In that same spirit of cooperation I share these reflections with you on some aspects of the care of God’s beloved people.
It was thirty years ago, on the Feast of the Commemoration of Saint Paul, that my predecessor Pope Paul VI solemnly began his papal ministry. With full realization of the mission entrusted to him, Paul VI expressed on that occasion a commitment which I too fully endorse and for the fulfillment of which he has been a constant model and example: "We will defend the Holy Church from errors in faith and morals which from within or without threaten her integrity and cloud her beauty; we will strive to maintain and increase the Church’s pastoral vigor" (Paul VI, Homily, 30 June 1963). Dear Brother Bishops, this is an objective which I know you too share. Herein we have a pastoral duty which belongs to the essential core of our ministry, and which imposes itself with evangelical urgency. As Pastors, we bear responsibility for "rightly handling the word of truth" (2Tm 2,15), by proclaiming in a way that is clear and uncompromising, yet attractive and encouraging, "the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ" (2Co 4,4). My reflections with the various groups of Bishops from the United States are inspired by concern for the fulfillment of this primordial task.
2. One of the strengths of the Church in the United States has always been the role of the parish as the focal point not only of sacramental life but also of Catholic formation and education, of charitable and social activity. The fragmentation which marks modern living has caused a certain weakening of the sense of belonging to the parish community, especially where there has been polarization around issues of doctrine or liturgy. A great effort is needed by priests and laity to renew parish life in the image of the Church herself, as a communion benefitting from the complementary gifts and charisms of all her members. Communion is a dynamic reality which implies a constant exchange of gifts and services between all the members of the people of God. The vitality of a parish depends on merging the diverse vocations and gifts of its members into a unity which manifests the communion of each one and of all together with God the Father through Christ, constantly renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The point of departure is an awareness on the part of priests, laity and Religious that their gifts – hierarchical and charismatic (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 4) – are different though complementary; and that they are all necessary "for building up the body of Christ" (Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 17). In our conversations, some Bishops have mentioned that the emphasis on baptismal equality – a truth solidly rooted in the Church’s tradition – sometimes leads to minimizing the real distinction between the royal priesthood of all believers and the ministerial priesthood conferred by sacramental ordination. It is necessary to insist on the fact that the difference "in essence" between them has nothing to do with "power" understood in terms of privilege or dominion. Both are derived from the one priesthood of Christ and they complement each other, ordered as they are to serving each other.
Authentic communion involves a mutual abiding in love (Cf. 1Jn. 1Jn 4,12-13) which ensures that clergy and laity support each other with respect for the identity of each one.What you refer to as "collaborative ministry", when completely faithful to the Church’s sacramental doctrine, provides a sure foundation for building communities which are internally reconciled, and the spiritual energies of which are positively harnessed for the new evangelization (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 3).
3. It is a blessing for the Church that in so many parishes the lay faithful assist priests in a variety of ways: in religious education, pastoral counseling, social service activities, administration, etc. This increased participation is undoubtedly a work of the Spirit renewing the Church’s vigor. In some cases, where a temporary dearth of priests makes it necessary, members of the laity can be made responsible for administering a parish according to canonical norms (Code of Canon Law CIC 517,2 cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 23). When such situations arise, Bishops have the sensitive task of seeing that the faithful do not confuse these "ministerial" responsibilities with the specific sacra potestas proper to the ordained priesthood. It is not a wise pastoral strategy to adopt plans which would assume as normal, let alone desirable, that a parish community be without a priest pastor. To interpret the decreased number of active priests – a situation which we pray will soon pass – as a providential sign that lay persons are to replace priests is irreconcilable with the mind of Christ and of the Church. The royal priesthood of the laity is never furthered by obscuring the ministerial priesthood of the ordained, which makes priests not only celebrants of the Eucharist, but also spiritual fathers, guides and teachers of the faithful entrusted to them.
4. The development in the United States of what is commonly called "lay ministry" is certainly a positive and fruitful result of the renewal begun by the Second Vatican Council. Particular attention needs to be paid to the spiritual and doctrinal formation of all lay ministers. In every case they should be men and women of faith, exemplary in personal and family life, who lovingly embrace "the full and complete proclamation of the Good News" (John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 9) taught by the Church. Clear diocesan guidelines are needed for the initial and continuing formation of the lay people who are officially involved in parish and diocesan life. But guidelines need to be correctly implemented, and therein lies a challenge to your leadership.
As I said to you during my last Pastoral Visit to the United States, a sound ecclesiology must take pains to avoid either "laicizing" the ordained priesthood or "clericalizing" the lay vocation (John Paul II, Address to the representatives of the Catholic Lay People of America in San Francisco, 5, 18 September 1987). The laity should be conscious of their own standing in the Church: not as mere recipients of doctrine and the grace of the sacraments, but as active and responsible agents of the Church’s mission to evangelize and sanctify the world. It falls especially to the lay faithful to bring the truth of the Gospel to bear on the realities of social, economic, political and cultural life. Theirs is the specific charge to sanctify the world from within by engaging in secular work (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 31 John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 15). Their task is to order society to the fullness which dwells in Christ (Cf. Col. Col 1,19), always in communion of faith and order with the Bishops who "preside in place of God over the flock... as teachers of doctrine, priests of sacred worship, and officers of good order" (Lumen Gentium LG 20). Perhaps, as the Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles Laici" points out, more attention should be given in catechesis and preaching to the "deep involvement and the full participation of the lay faithful in the affairs of the earth, the world and the human community" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 15), so that the laity may better understand that this is their primary apostolate within the Church. They need your constant encouragement. They expect their Bishops to strengthen them in holiness and guide them with authentic teaching, while at the same time leaving them room for initiative and freedom of action in the world (Cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 7).
5. A question closely connected with what we are saying here is that of the role of women in the life of the Church, a question which needs to be addressed with a keen sense of its importance. At the same time the question as it affects the Church is influenced by the fact that the place and role of women in society at large is undergoing profound transformations. Respect for women’s rights is without doubt an essential step towards a more just and mature society, and the Church cannot fail to make her own this worthy objective.
Your Bishops’ Conference has given much attention to the place of women in society and in the Church, and you will continue to do so. Other Episcopal Conferences and I myself have spoken and written extensively on the subject. However, in some circles there continues to exist a climate of dissatisfaction with the Church’s position, especially where the distinction between a person’s human and civil rights and the rights, duties, ministries and functions which individuals have or enjoy within the Church is not clearly understood. A faulty ecclesiology can easily lead to presenting false demands and raising false hopes.
What is certain is that the question cannot be resolved through a compromise with a feminism which polarizes along bitter, ideological lines. It is not simply that some people claim a right for women to be admitted to the ordained priesthood. In its extreme form, it is the Christian faith itself which is in danger of being undermined. Sometimes forms of nature worship and the celebration of myths and symbols take the place of the worship of the God revealed in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately this kind of feminism is being encouraged by some people in the Church, including some women Religious, whose beliefs, attitudes and behavior no longer correspond to what the Gospel and the Church teach. As Pastors we are to challenge individuals and groups having such beliefs and to call them to the honest and sincere dialogue that must go on, within the Church, on women’s expectations.
6. In respect to not ordaining women to the ministerial priesthood, this "is a practice that the Church has always found in the expressed will of Christ, totally free and sovereign" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 51). The Church teaches and acts with reliance on the presence of the Holy Spirit and on the Lord’s promise to be with her always (Mt 28,20). "When she judges that she cannot accept changes, it is because she knows that she is bound by Christ’s manner of acting. Her attitude... is one of fidelity" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 4). The equality of the baptized, which is one of the great affirmations of Christianity, exists in a differentiated body, in which men and women have roles which are not merely functional but are deeply rooted in Christian anthropology and sacramentology. The distinction of roles in no way favors the superiority of some over others; the only better gift, which can and must be desired, is love (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 12,13). In the Kingdom of Heaven the greatest are not the ministers but the saints (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Inter Insigniores, 6).
I realize the amount of attention and prayerful reflection which you continue to give to these difficult questions, and I invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon you as you strive to present a fully Christian anthropological and ecclesiological understanding of the role of women, both for the renewal and humanization of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church (Cf. ibid.). We are called as Bishops to hand on to men and women alike the Church’s teaching in its fullness with regard to the ordained priesthood. It would amount to a betrayal of them if we fail to do so. We must help those who do not understand or accept the Church’s teaching to open their hearts and minds to the challenge of faith. We must confirm and strengthen the whole community by responding when necessary to confusion or error.
7. I shall shortly be returning your visit to Rome with my own visit to Denver. With great anticipation I look forward to joining the young people from all over the world who will make this spiritual pilgrimage to find Christ in the heart of the "modern metropolis". These biennial gatherings are unquestionably occasions of grace for the universal Church. They also release energies for spiritual renewal in the countries where they are celebrated. With thanksgiving we see from the experience of past "World Youth Days" that young people are a powerful force for evangelization! Their restless search for meaning and truth, their desire for close communion with God and with the ecclesial community, and their enthusiasm in serving their brothers and sisters are a challenge to all of us.
With filial trust I commend each of your particular Churches to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Mother of the Redeemer and Patroness of your nation. May God abundantly bless your "work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1,2-3). May his love be poured forth upon the priests, Religious and laity of your Dioceses.
I extend a cordial welcome to the members of the Young Leadership Section of the "International Council of Christians and Jews", and I thank your Chairman for his kind words on your behalf. You have set yourselves a worthy aim: to contribute to the creation of a world of greater understanding, by promoting and encouraging Jewish–Christian dialogue, by bringing together young people of monotheistic faiths, and by confronting the challenges of racism, prejudice, intolerance and all forms of xenophobia. I offer you my prayerful good wishes that your pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem will strengthen you for this work.
It is very fitting that young Christians and Jews should be united in such a great task. Our "common spiritual patrimony" spoken of by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (Nostra Aetate NAE 4) includes two fundamental principles which should guile your activities. The first is the knowledge that the order according to which God created the world and its inhabitants is the sure and secure basis for peace among individuals and nations. The law of the Lord of Hosts is the law of peace (Cf. Ps. ), and it is through obedience to the Lord’s will that mankind will achieve that harmony which all peoples long for. The second principle is the conviction that the ultimate source of violence is the corruption of the human heart. It follows that the way to achieve lasting victory over discord is through a change of heart (Cf. Jer. Jr 32,39), through moral conversion. These truths, preached by the Prophets of old and proclaimed in the Church and the Synagogue, are the heritage entrusted to you young people by your forebears. They are the wisdom which you can offer to the world through your united efforts.
Together you are going up to Jerusalem, the "City of Peace", a "symbol of coming together, of union and of universal peace for the human family" (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Anno, 20 April 1984). Your pilgrimage is one more hopeful sign of the cooperation which the world of today needs so desperately from believers (Cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1992, 1, 8 December 1991). Through such deeds of solidarity may the power of the Lord of all righteousness triumph over the antagonisms of the past and the strife of the present, so that in the days to come all men and women will live together in mutual concord and respect.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. I welcome you, the Bishops of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, and in the words of Saint Paul I ask that “the Lord of peace himself may give you peace at all times and in all ways. The Lord be with you all” (2Th 3,16). I am grateful for the devoted sentiments expressed on your behalf today, as well as for the kind message which you sent just a few days ago from the Annual General Meeting of your Episcopal Conference. I call upon the Holy Spirit to sustain and strengthen that unity of heart and mind, spirit and action which links you as the members of the Episcopal College with the Successor of Saint Peter, and I assure you of my prayers that God will bring to a fruitful conclusion your efforts to make your Conference an ever more effective instrument of your pastoral ministry.
To greet you here is to extend my affection to all the beloved priests, men and women Religious, and the lay faithful of your Dioceses. Although it is almost ten years now since I visited your region, I have not forgotten the warmth of the welcome which I received, the ardour of your prayer and the firmness of your determination to be faithful sons and daughters of the Church.
2. The visit "ad Limina Apostolorum" is a moment of profound ecclesial communion, a providential opportunity to express and confirm the ties of faith and charity which bind the local Churches with the See of Peter and with the Church Universal. The communion of which we speak extends not only in space but through time. Peter and Paul and the other Apostles are living members of the Body of Christ, and they continue to be active in the Church, for as the Liturgy affirms – "from their place in heaven they guide us still" (Praefatio Apostolorum I).
We share in their mission, entrusted to us through the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who led the Apostle to cry out: "Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel" (1Co 9,16). This is no "spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power" (2Tm 1,7), of boldness – the boldness of Peter and Paul, who faced with serene confidence the forces of a great empire so hostile to their mission. This is our inheritance, and in the days following the Solemnity of these Holy Apostles we ask for a double share of their spirit (Cf. 2Reg. 2: 9), so that we may faithfully imitate their missionary labours.
3. The local Churches which you govern are among the youngest in the world. In some cases the initial plantatio ecclesiae is not yet completed. The missio ad gentes in your nations is not finished; the priests and Religious who have gone there from other lands continue to play a vital role and many more are needed. And yet, by God’s grace, a great deal has been accomplished in a very short time, often in conditions which made the work difficult and even dangerous. Praise and thanks is due first of all to the Lord, who wondrously brings forth from the seed of his word a hundredfold harvest (Cf. Lk. Lc 8,8). And in the name of the whole People of God I pay tribute to the missionaries of yesterday and to those of today, who selflessly announce the love of God poured forth in Christ his Son and who invite their hearers to accept the incomparable possibility of becoming God’s children.
4. In carrying forward the work of evangelization, much depends on the formation of those sons and daughters of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands whom God has called to be the priests and Religious, instruments of salvation for their fellow–countrymen. Dedicated to sharing the light of truth, these servants of Christ rely on your fatherly support to sustain them in their work of spreading his Kingdom. Among the many qualities to be cultivated as part of their continuing formation, I would single out thinking with the Church – sentire cum ecclesia. However novel the Gospel message and its demands may sound to some of their hearers, there is never a justification for offering anything but the authentic form of Christian existence found in the Catholic Church and faithfully safeguarded by her Bishops in union with the Successor of Peter. Peoples of mission lands are no less capable of accepting God’s demands than were those to whom the word was proclaimed generations earlier. I wish to encourage you all to have great trust – in the Lord and in the power of the Gospel to save (Cf. Rom. Rm 1,16).
While there is a welcome increase of priestly and religious vocations, I share your concern at the fact that the number of those responding to God’s call is not sufficient to give adequate instruction to the catechumens and the baptized. "How are (men) to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?" (Rm 10,14). I encourage you and all our co–workers to make one of your highest priorities the pastoral care of those whom the Lord of the harvest invites to enter the priesthood or religious life.I invite Catholic families to pray each day for vocations, and especially to pray that God will bestow such a gift on a son or daughter of their own household.
In this regard one of the encouraging signs is the need you have felt to establish two seminaries for teaching philosophy. I understand that this happy development has required a reorganization of your system of seminary formation. I am confident that the latest Post–Synodal Exhortation, "Pastores Dabo Vobis", taken together with the Conciliar Decree "Optatam Totius" and other authoritative documents, especially the Congregation for the Evangelization of People’s Guidelines on Formation in Major Seminaries, will help you complete the Programme for Priestly Formation intended for the running of your seminaries.
5. Among your pastoral initiatives you have given particular attention to the evangelization of culture. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council remind us, "the term culture in general refers to everything by which man develops his many spiritual and physical endowments" (Gaudium et Spes GS 53). It follows that when a people – or some portion of it – is elevated and transformed by divine grace there will be a renewal of attitudes and behaviour, in short a renewal of society in conformity with the Gospel. Your commitment to evangelization continues an approach which from the first has marked the preaching of Christ in your lands, and has had notable success. The challenge which new religious movements and sects present today to the Church in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands is evidence of the pressing need to pursue this course with even greater dedication.
The central place which you gave to discussing the pastoral care of families at the recent meeting of your Conference is a clear indication of your concern to evangelize this basic institution of Melanesian culture. The reports which you submitted in anticipation of your quinquennial visit identify a number of ways in which opinion and behaviour in regard to married life and human sexuality, even among the baptized, are sometimes not in accord with God’s original plan for married love, what I have called "the truth from the ‘beginning’" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 13 cf. Mt. Mt 19,5 and Gn 2,24). Progress in this matter is often slow, and it is easy to become disheartened, but I am confident that you and your co–workers, especially your priests, will put full trust in the efficacy of God’s word. You must preach the word in season and out (Cf. 2Tm. 2Tm 4,2), certain that God who began this good work in you "will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus" (Ph 1,6).
6. An important and indeed indispensable help to the lay faithful in their struggle to live married love according to God’s will is the fidelity of priests and Religious in their commitment to celibacy and virginity. "Marriage and virginity or celibacy are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the covenant of God with his people" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 16), and what is required in a covenant is faithfulness. In our age, so much in need of a profound change of heart about sexual morality and married love, we can be confident that the Lord is even more urgent in calling many of his disciples to be celibate "for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Mt 19,12) and that he is even more generous in strengthening them in their response. The Pastors of the Church are aware of the profound sacrifices demanded by a wholehearted response to the vocation to celibacy or virginity, but we echo the Lord’s call without hesitation. The example of chaste priests and Religious will help the laity to bear the sacrifice, mortification and self–denial demanded by obedience to God’s plan for human sexuality. In this way they will lead truly fruitful lives and find lasting happiness (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 16).
7. From the first days of the Church in your lands, Pastors and faithful have sought to give expression to the love of God in works of education, health care and social development. In this matter the Catholics of modern Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands seek to carry on this worthy tradition. The "Statements Issued for Publication", which have become a regular part of your Conference’s Annual Assembly, clearly testify to your resolve to apply the teachings of the Church, especially her social doctrine, to the milieux in which the faithful are called to live out their baptismal promises. A climate of moral confusion and the breakdown of the structures and values which traditionally provided for a cohesive communal life make such initiatives all the more necessary.
It is important to support the laity’s efforts to live out their specific vocation to be a "light" and "leaven" in their communities. Here special mention should be made of the need to provide the faithful with a thorough catechesis in preparation for receiving the Sacraments, the necessary sources of strength for them to fulfil their mission. For this purpose the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", published last year, is a providential help. The current social situation also shows the importance of a renewed dedication to the pastoral care of young people, so that the future leaders of the Church and society will be formed in habits of virtue, solidarity and generosity.
8. With regard to the civil order of your nations, I cannot fail to express my continued concern at the situation in Bougainville, and especialiy my anxiety for the personal security of the Bishop of the Diocese and for the clergy and Religious. I pray that the All–Merciful Lord will guard and protect all who have been caught up in this unrest, especially the innocent victims of violence. I join my voice to yours in urging all involved to use every possible means to find a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict. The way of reconciliation is the only path to this goal. May the Prince of Peace strengthen the citizens of your lands and all the peoples of the region and enable them to walk this path and support one another in preserving and spreading a spirit of concord.
9. The Catholics of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are the heirs of a great patrimony, the light of the Gospel, the faith of Peter and Paul, the faith of the Church. One of the first missionaries in your region, Blessed John Mazzucconi, eloquently gave voice to the depth of this faith when he said: "I know that God is good and that he loves me immensely. All the rest, calm and tempest, danger and safety, life and death, are nothing but changing and momentary expressions of the dear, immutable and eternal love" (John Paul II, Homily for the Beatification of the Martyrs of Angers and Fr Giovanni Mazzucconi in Saint Peter's Basilica, 2, 19 February 1984). May the faithful of your Dioceses have this same loving trust in Divine Providence, and in your own ministry and service which express the love of the Good Shepherd himself. May Saint Michael the Archangel defend you in the struggle against sin and evil. By the invocation of the Holy Name of Mary and through her intercession may you be led to ever greater service of Christ her Son. To you, my Brothers, and to all your clergy, religious and laity I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Monday, 9 August 1993
Mr Prime Minister,
My Brother Bishops,
Dear Jamaican Friends,
1. I offer a fervent prayer of thanks to God who gives me the joy of visiting your beautiful "Island in the Sun", after having had to postpone the visit planned for last year. To all of you who have come here to welcome me with the warm hospitality characteristic of the Caribbean, I am truly grateful. I thank Your Excellency Governor–General Sir Howard Cooke for your kind words; both you and Prime Minister Patterson have been most gracious in renewing your invitation for me to come to Jamaica. I ask God to reward all who have worked to prepare this meeting between the Successor of Peter and the beloved Jamaican people.
With fraternal affection I greet Archbishop Samuel Carter and the whole Archdiocese of Kingston, Bishop Clarke and the faithful of Montego Bay, as well as Bishop Boyle and the faithful of the Vicariate Apostolic of Mandeville. I look forward to meeting the members of the Catholic community and to celebrating the Eucharist with them.
I extend the hand of friendship to the representatives of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Your presence here, and our meeting tomorrow at Holy Cross Church, are signs of the excellent ecumenical relations which have existed in Jamaica for many years.
2. As you know, my journey will take me to the World Youth Day which is being celebrated this year in Denver, in the United States. But my visits to Jamaica, and later to Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula, have a significance all their own. They fit into the broad perspective of the year which marks the Five Hundredth Anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World. Last year I went to Santo Domingo to join the representatives of the Latin American Episcopate, as well as other Bishops of this Continent, in commemorating five centuries of evangelization. The Church could not miss this appointment. She is obliged to give unbounded praise to God, who watches over the course of history, for the marvellous enterprise of the first evangelization of the Americas.
That was the beginning of the Church’s presence in this part of the world, a presence made up of holiness of life and the witness of Christian charity on the part of many, but also of the faults and sins of others. In fact, last year Divine Providence also enabled me to visit Gorée in Senegal where there is a striking monument to the tragic enslavement of millions of African men, women and children, uprooted from their homes and separated from their loved ones to be sold as merchandise. The immensity of their suffering corresponds to the enormity of the crime committed against them: the denial of their human dignity. Gorée was the appropriate place to implore Heaven’s forgiveness in the name of humanity, and to pray that human beings will learn to look at one another and respect one another as God’s image, in order to love one another as sons and daughters of their common Father in Heaven (Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Catholic Community of Gorée Island, 3, 22 February 1992).
Now, here in Jamaica, I wish to remember the original Arawak people and your ancestors who were brought here from Africa. Let us pray that the wounds of past experiences will at last be healed and that everyone will work, with full respect for each person’s dignity, for a future in which justice, peace and solidarity will leave no room for hatred or discrimination.
3. The immediate future of Jamaica is closely linked to the efforts being made throughout the Caribbean to increase regional unity. I pray that greater integration will help the peoples of these Island Nations to face the many challenges before them. The Church, for her part, looks favourably on everything that increases understanding and cooperation among countries. She is particularly close to the world’s developing peoples. In fulfilling her religious mission she inspires and educates citizens who have the good of the whole of society at heart. By means of her social doctrine she "seeks to lead people to respond... to their vocation as responsible builders of earthly society" (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 1). Through her educational and health–care institutions and her social works, she contributes to the well–being of the whole national community. I am aware that here in Jamaica there is effective cooperation between the State and the Church in these matters. I thank the Government for this, and encourage the members of the Church in their service of the common good.
The beauty of these Islands, where the exuberant colours of nature speak so loudly of the glory of God, is matched by the kindness and goodness of their inhabitants. I would like to be able to meet every Jamaican, in a spirit of understanding and friendship. I assure you of my prayers and my esteem. May Almighty God abundantly bless the people of Jamaica, and all the peoples of the Caribbean. God’s peace be with you all!
Speeches 1993 - Monday, 21 June 1993