Sunday, 23 February 1992
Dear Bishop Cleary and my other Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Today God gives me the grace of seeing at first hand your fervour and devotion and of joining my voice to yours in praise of his Holy Name. You are "the leaders and workers in the missionary apostolate" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, VI) here in the Diocese of Banjul. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter I have come to confirm you in your service of preaching Christ. I extend cordial greetings to each one of you: Bishop Cleary, the priests, Religious, seminarians, catechists and lay leaders who have gathered for the celebration of Evening Prayer in this Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2. Tonight we make our own the words of the Psalmist: we "give thanks to the Lord with [our] whole heart", we worship him whose saving deeds are "great" and "full of honour and majesty" (). Here, in this congregation, the Lord "has caused his wonderful works to be remembered" (Ps 111,4). We are filled with the memory of how he "has shown his people the power of his works in giving them the heritage of the nations", of how "he sent redemption to his people" (Ibid.6 and 9).
As we sing this song of thanksgiving together, we are particularly aware of the many ways in which the Lord has sent redemption to The Gambia, to this corner of his beloved Africa. God’s word has gone forth and accomplished his purpose. As the Prophet proclaimed, this word does not return to God empty (Cf. Is. Is 55,11). All of you can testify that it has struck root in The Gambia; it has found a dwelling place in the hearts and minds, in the thoughts and actions of many people in this land.
3. All those who accept God’s word recognize that they are bound in turn to share this word with others. That greatest of missionaries, the Apostle Paul, gave voice to this "law" of the Christian life when he explained that, in preaching to the Corinthians, he had handed on what he himself had received (Cf. 1Co 11,23 and 15:3). Having accepted the Good News, you too are devoted to sharing this treasure of your hearts with others.
Such devotion to the saving word led the first missionaries to bring the Gospel to The Gambia despite the suffering and danger it entailed. Your forebears in the mission could have joined with Saint Paul in cataloguing the trials and hardships, the hunger and thirst, the dangers at sea and the dangers in the wilderness (Cf. 2Co 11,23-27) which they endured in order to bring the word of God to their Gambian brothers and sisters. Love moved them to take up the task of evangelization. Their way of giving thanks for this precious gift was to share it.
The same ardent love must be the motivating force of all your own efforts to make Christ known. The Encyclical Letter "Redemptoris Missio" repeats this conviction of mine: "Those who have the missionary spirit feel Christ’s burning love for souls... [They are] urged on... by a zeal inspired by Christ’s own charity" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 89). Once we have been captured by this love, like Peter and John we cannot but speak of it (Cf. Acts Ac 4,20), and like Paul each of us must say: "Woe to me if I do not preach" (1Co 9,16). Indeed, how can we rest until all those whom Christ wishes to call his own have come to hear of his love?
4. Dear Brother Priests: you have dedicated your lives to the service of the Gospel in this land. Each of you brings to this evening’s prayer of praise and thanksgiving his own memories of the times when he has been the instrument for God’s word to be welcomed in the hearts of others, especially through the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance.
Never cease being grateful to God for the priesthood, and never lose heart in the face of obstacles. Certainly, the harvest is great, and the presbyterate of Banjul is a small band. There is so very much to be done for the Master – much more than you could ever accomplish by yourselves. But when you have prayed to the Lord of the harvest to send more co–workers, and when you have entrusted yourselves to his care, go forward confidently. The work is Christ’s.It is he who gives the increase (Cf. 2Co 9,10).
By living in hope, disregarding the way the world judges success or failure, you will be faithful to the heritage of the priests who have served here before you. They too were few in number, their resources scarce, and the difficulties they faced great; and so it is all the clearer that what they accomplished was from God and not from themselves.
To the priests who are native sons of The Gambia, I extend an especially cordial greeting. In your preaching and your celebration of the sacraments, in your instruction and exhortation, the one Gospel preached by the universal Church has gained a distinctively Gambian "accent". When the Lord addresses your countrymen through you, they find it all the easier to recognize that his invitation is not something foreign or alien. They hear more clearly that they are called to a life which is the fulfilment and perfection of everything that is noble and praiseworthy in Gambian life.
Dear Seminarians: from all that I have said to the priests, you will clearly understand that the life to which you aspire is to be Christ’s heralds, preachers of his Gospel and ministers of his sacraments (Cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 4-5). Your service to the Kingdom of God at this time is measured by the devotion and zeal which you bring to the prayer, studies, and pastoral formation which make up the seminary programme. You will become pastors after the very pattern of Christ, the Good Shepherd, insofar as you subordinate your own plans to the responsibilities the Church gives you to fulfil, and to the degree that all your words and actions are directed to bringing others to our Eternal Father.
5. It is a special joy for me to say a word of deep appreciation and encouragement to the men and women Religious: to the priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, which has been present in The Gambia since 1848; to the Christian Brothers who have arrived more recently; to the spiritual daughters of Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, who continue to labour here after the example of their Foundress, to the Presentation of Mary Sisters, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy, the Marist Sisters and the School Sisters of Notre Dame. I cannot fail to mention with gratitude that many of the missionaries both now and in the past have come from Ireland, including the recently deceased and dearly remembered first Bishop of Banjul, Michael Maloney. I thank you all in the name of the Church for the witness of your consecration and your dedicated apostolate.
Within the Church, Religious bear a special witness to Christ through their example of chastity, poverty and obedience for the sake of the Kingdom. The evangelical counsels reveal the heart of the Gospel: the Good News that God loves us and invites us to respond to his love with the total gift of ourselves. Religious life is therefore of its very nature apostolic. The various pastoral and apostolic tasks which you perform, your teaching, your works of charity and Christian service are the expression of this love. All your activities, therefore, must flow from prayer and contemplation. Saint John reminds us that those who are sent to announce the Word of life do so by testifying to what they have come to know personally and intimately. He says: "That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you" (1Jn 1,3). Dear Religious, know that you have a special place in the Pope’s heart.
Perhaps those of you who have come to The Gambia from far away sometimes wonder whether what you are doing is worthwhile. Dear missionaries: I can only assure you that your sacrifice is most pleasing in the Lord’s sight. You have been set apart so that all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (Cf. 1Tm 2,4). Be confident in your special vocation! (Cf. Ad Gentes AGD 23). Every day I pray earnestly that God will sustain with his gracious presence the men and women "on mission", often in difficult, remote, demanding situations. The Son of God, who whole–heartedly accepted his mission to come among us, will not leave you without "the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him" (Jc 1,12).
6. To you, the catechists of The Gambia, the Pope has come to affirm the priceless value of all that you do to spread knowledge of the faith. In many cases you are the first messengers of the Gospel to those who are not Christians. From you they gain their first impression of what it means to be a Christian. It is by your example that the Lord speaks most clearly and persuasively.
It is my hope that a firm conviction of the importance of the help which you give the Church will lead you to study her teachings all the more diligently, so that you will offer inquirers, catechumens and the baptized the full riches of our Apostolic faith. Take new heart; be strong against every form of discouragement. Thank you for your unfailing fidelity to the Church!
7. Some members of Christ’s Body are set aside completely for the preaching of the Word (Cf. Acts Ac 13,2), but every Christian is "a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church" (Lumen Gentium LG 33). This means that the lay leaders of this local Church have their own indispensable role to play in proclaiming the Word of God in The Gambia. And so – in the words of the Second Vatican Council – I appeal to you, members of the laity, to "stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus Christ and as a sign that God lives" (Ibid. 38). By striving to order the affairs of the various spheres of Gambian society according to the New Law of Christ, you bring your fellow–citizens face to face with the Gospel. God’s revelation, as it shines out from your homes and businesses, schools and farms, will exercise its own inherent power to attract hearts which are well–disposed.
All the members of the Church are called to live in communion, for although we are many we form one body in Christ (Cf. 1Co 12,12-27). Remain united in love and try to outdo one another only in humble service.
8. Dear Friends in Christ: as we celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours we are united in the worship which the whole Church offers to the Blessed Trinity. We give thanks that the family of God in The Gambia is growing through your fidelity to God’s grace. In your devotion to spreading God’s word the Church’s essential missionary dimension shines out and she responds anew to the Lord’s summons: "Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mc 16,15).
Together we shall sing Mary’s Canticle, the Magnificat, joining our voices to hers in praise of God for the great things which he has done to save his people. Mary was with the Apostles on that Pentecost Day when they first went forth boldly to proclaim the Lord Jesus. For two thousand years she, the Queen of Apostles, has never ceased to watch over the spread of the Good News. I commend to her powerful intercession the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I ask you to pray with me that she will obtain for all who contribute to that Assembly a clear understanding of the evangelizing mission of the Church in Africa and the strength to respond wholeheartedly. I ask you to make this intention your own especially when you say the Rosary, a most efficacious prayer, one which has a strong tradition here and which you must strive to preserve and see grow (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 61).
To you and to all those for whom you, like Mary, are the humble servants of the Word of Life, I impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Monday, 24 February 1992
Your Excellency President Jawara,
1. My brief but intense pastoral visit to The Gambia is coming to an end. The time has come to say goodbye. At every moment I have been surrounded by your gracious hospitality. As I leave you, I shall take with me many happy images of the people of this beautiful place. Mine is a goodbye full of esteem and gratitude towards all Gambians.
I thank all those who have contributed to the organization of this visit. I am grateful to you, Mister President, to the VicePresident and to the authorities who are present here at this moment. You have made it possible for me to have a first–hand experience of this dynamic, growing nation. May God always inspire the leaders of this country to promote the genuine welfare of the people and to act with deep respect for the dignity and rights of every individual. Only on such a basis will a just and peaceful world be forthcoming.
2. My meeting with the Catholic community has been a joyous celebration of our faith. We have prayed together, thanking God for his blessings and commending our needs to his loving mercy. The Church is catholic because she is open to peoples of every race, tongue and social condition. She is as much at home here in The Gambia as in every other part of the world. Her desire and commitment is to foster the spiritual life of her children and to cooperate with all believers and men and women of good will in serving the good of the human family.
I give thanks to God for the Catholic community’s vitality and fidelity to his word. I am confident that my Brothers and Sisters in the faith will continue to reflect the image of the earliest Christian community when all "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Ac 2,42). The Successor of Peter will carry you always in his heart.
3. In bidding farewell to this peace–loving country, my thoughts turn with concern to another part of West Africa. It had been my wish to visit the nearby nation of Liberia but a terrible fratricidal war has ravaged that country and caused immeasurable suffering among its people. I pray for the victims of this conflict. I am deeply disturbed by the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, and so many homeless and hungry people. In addition to the deaths, injuries and sufferings which armed violence always brings with it, we cannot fail to see that such a situation destroys any chance of economic development and political stability for the peoples involved.
The interdependence of all the countries of West Africa has found expression in concerted efforts to arrive at a solution to this difficult situation. It is my hope that the leaders of the region will persevere in this endeavour and that the parties in conflict will put the genuine good of the local populations before all other considerations.
4. While I encourage all those who can influence situations of conflict to pursue the urgent work of peacemaking, I also invite all who believe in Almighty God’s dominion and providence over the affairs of men to pray unceasingly for the great gift of peace. Let us beseech the Lord of Life and History to turn hatred into love, and rivalry into solidarity. Let us pray that Africa will not fall into a spiral of conflicts and power-struggles, but that it will set itself firmly on the path of responding to the needs of its peoples and creating conditions that will favour growth and prosperity.
It is clear that the international community has a grave moral duty to implement just and helpful policies in relation to this Continent. A new era of solidarity with Africa is needed. In the name of our shared humanity, and on behalf of those who are without voice, I renew my appeals to those Governments in a position to help, and to the international organizations engaged in assistance to developing countries, to hurry to Africa’s side in this decisive hour.
Again, Mister President, I express my deep gratitude to you and all your fellow–citizens.
Upon Bishop Cleary and all the members of the Catholic community I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Na yalla barkel Gambia bi! (God bless The Gambia!).
Saturday, 7 March 1992
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here this morning on the occasion of your gathering in Rome for the bi–annual Meeting of the Presbytery of Europe of the Church of Scotland. Such personal contacts have notable importance, especially in view of the great task to which the Lord Jesus Christ himself has called us, that of seeking the unity for which he prayed at the Last Supper (Cf. Jn. Jn 17,21). It is therefore with deep joy that I greet you in the words of the Apostle: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ph 1,2). Contacts between us have increased over the decades since that first historic meeting in 1961 between the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Doctor Archibald Craig, and my predecessor Pope John XXIII. Your presence reminds me of my own visit to Scotland in 1982 and of the warm welcome I received there from the Moderator of the General Assembly. Most recently, last autumn, at the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops we had the benefit of the presence of the Reverend D. W. Shaw, who took part as a Fraternal Delegate. He has been long acquainted with the Catholic Church’s ecumenical activity, having served as an Observer at the Second Vatican Council for the World Alliance of Reformed Churches.
In these times when the continent of Europe is undergoing profound transformations, the witness of Christians takes on a renewed urgency.It is important that the nations of this continent be helped to rediscover the deepest source of their culture, and of that "civilization" which makes it possible to speak of a European identity and to aspire to a unity which goes beyond merely geographical and economic considerations. That source is the Christian faith in which the peoples of Europe were baptized and confirmed, and from which they drew inspiration for their achievements and for their consciousness of the inalienable dignity of individuals as the basis of justice and peace in society. Perhaps as few times in the past, Europe needs to hear the reconciling word of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. All Christians must be committed to giving this witness, and as a fundamental part of it they must feel the urgency of following together those paths which will lead to overcoming our divisions. May God give us the strength to continue in this direction.
I trust that your meeting in Rome will be a fruitful one, and I ask God to bless you and your families abundantly.
Saturday, 14 March1992
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. In the joy and peace of the Holy Spirit I welcome the Council of the "International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office". As you celebrate the twenty–fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I willingly join you in giving praise to God for the many fruits which it has borne in the life of the Church. The emergence of the Renewal following the Second Vatican Council was a particular gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It was a sign of a desire on the part of many Catholics to live more fully their Baptismal dignity and vocation as adopted sons and daughters of the Father, to know the redeeming power of Christ our Saviour in a more intense experience of individual and group prayer, and to follow the teaching of the Scriptures by reading them in the light of the same Spirit who inspired their writing. Certainly one of the most important results of this spiritual reawakening has been that increased thirst for holiness which is seen in the lives of individuals and in the whole Church.
At the end of this Second Millennium, the Church needs more than ever to turn in confidence and hope to the Holy Spirit, who unceasingly draws believers into the Trinitarian communion of love, builds up their visible unity in the one Body of Christ, and sends them forth on mission in obedience to the mandate entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Christ. We must be convinced that a deepened awareness of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit responds to the needs of our times, for the Spirit "is at the centre of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal" (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 2). Indeed, the Holy Spirit is "the principal agent of the Church’s mission" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 21), sustaining and guiding her efforts to bring the graces of Pentecost to all people.
2. Since the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given for the building up of the Church, you, as leaders of the Charismatic Renewal, are challenged to seek increasingly effective ways in which the various groups you represent can manifest their complete communion of mind and heart with the Apostolic See and the College of Bishops, and cooperate ever more fruitfully in the Church’s mission in the world. On the international level, your Office’s close links with its Episcopal Advisor, Bishop Paul Cordes, and the coordination of Ecclesial Movements and Associations provided by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, are important means for fostering such cooperation, which is so essential for the prudent stewardship of the Spirit’s manifold gifts. Only in this way will the Renewal truly serve its ecclesial purpose, helping to ensure that "the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God" (Col 2,19).
3. At this moment in the Church’s history, the Charismatic Renewal can play a significant role in promoting the much–needed defence of Christian life in societies where secularism and materialism have weakened many people’s ability to respond to the Spirit and to discern God’s loving call. Your contribution to the re–evangelization of society will be made in the first place by personal witness to the indwelling Spirit and by showing forth his presence through works of holiness and solidarity. "The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, RMi 42). What more effective means can there be for drawing those who have lost their spiritual bearings towards that truth which alone can calm the restlessness of the human heart than the living example of fervent Christian believers? To bear witness is to be a powerful leaven among people who perhaps do not fully recognize the value of the salvation that only Jesus Christ can offer.
4. The Charismatic Renewal can also help foster the growth of a solid spiritual life based on the Holy Spirit’s power at work in the Church, in the richness of her Tradition, and particularly in her celebration of the Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist and regular use of the Sacrament of Penance are essential for a genuine life in the Holy Spirit, for these are the means which Christ himself has given us to restore and sustain the Spirit’s gift of grace. Since the ways of the Spirit always lead to Christ and his Church, and since it is the Spirit himself who guides those he has established as Bishops to care for the Church of God (Cf. Acts Ac 20,28), there can be no conflict between fidelity to the Spirit and fidelity to the Church and her Magisterium.Whatever shape the Charismatic Renewal takes – in prayer groups, in covenant communities, in communities of life and service – the sign of its spiritual fruitfulness will always be a strengthening of communion with the universal Church and the local Churches.
Your role as a coordinating organization is to help all these various facets of the Renewal to work together in union with the Pastors of the Church for the good of the whole Body. At the same time, the deepening of your Catholic identity by drawing from the spiritual wealth of the Catholic Tradition is an irreplaceable part of your contribution to genuine ecumenical dialogue which, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, must lead to the perfection of "fellowship in unity: in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 2).
5. Dear friends: at the beginning of this Lenten season, I pray that your work will contribute to the growth of the Church, in fidelity to the Lord’s will and to the mission which she has received. I commend all of you to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, who "through the same faith which made her blessed..., is present in the Church’s mission, present in the Church’s work of introducing into the world the Kingdom of her Son" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater RMA 28). May her prayers accompany those who strive to extend the Kingdom of Christ in obedience to the prompting of his Holy Spirit. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Tuesday, 17 March 1992
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. With immense joy I welcome you, members of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, the Pastors of the Provinces of Westminster, Southwark and Birmingham. One of the principal purposes of the quinquennial visits of the world’s Bishops to this Apostolic See is to venerate the tombs of the Princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. In this sense the ad Limina visit is a spiritual pilgrimage to the origins of the Church in time, when her divine Founder entrusted the riches of his grace to the Apostles for "the nurturing and constant growth of the people of God" (Lumen Gentium LG 18). Your presence is not merely the fulfilment of an administrative or juridical obligation of your Office, but a manifestation of genuine brotherhood and fellowship in the love of Christ, the Chief Shepherd (1P 5,4) who continues to send his vicars and ambassadors, "so that as sharers in his power they might make all peoples his disciples, sanctifying and governing them"(Lumen Gentium LG 19).
I greet each one of the Churches over which you preside in charity and service. With you I thank God for the faith and dedicated Christian life of your priests, religious and laity, for the union of all the faithful around their Pastors and with the Successor of Peter, the centre and visible foundation of the Church’s indefectible unity. I warmly encourage you to continue to strengthen the affectus collegialis which should characterize all relations between Bishops, in your own Conference and towards your Brother Bishops around the world. In this way the Conference, without weakening the personal responsibility of each member, will enable you better to work together in facing the not indifferent challenges of the present moment of evangelization and mission.
2. Reflecting on our episcopal ministry as we approach the end of the Second Christian Millennium, we realize how almost every question and every activity is closely connected with the idea we have of the Church herself. We are heirs of a long and fruitful development, in which the Church has acquired a deeper awareness of her own nature and encompassing mission (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 1). In his Encyclical "Ecclesiam Suam", Pope Paul VI indicated this awareness as the unifying theme of the immense work of study and reflection then being carried out by the Second Vatican Council: "the Church in this moment", he wrote, "must reflect on herself to find strength in the knowledge of her place in the divine plan; to find again greater light, new energy and fuller joy in the fulfilment of her own mission; and to determine the best means for making more immediate, more efficacious and more beneficial her contacts with mankind" (Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, 1). We must indeed give thanks to God that, by the power of the Risen Lord, the Church in our time "is given strength... to show forth in the world the mystery of the Lord in a faithful though shadowed way, until at last it will be revealed in total splendour" (Lumen Gentium LG 8).
So much attention to the mystery of the Church, prompted and guided by the Council, is in fact a great gift of God and has been the source of untold benefits for the world. Certainly, it has been a rich source of spirituality and apostolic commitment for millions of the faithful at every level of ecclesial life. The 1985 Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops, twenty years afterwards, called the Council not only "a grace of God and a gift of the Holy Spirit", but also "a legitimate and valid expression and interpretation of the deposit of faith as it is found in Sacred Scripture and in the living tradition of the Church" (1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, Final Report, 1, 2). This is the clear truth and conviction which must characterize all teaching, all ministry and all pastoral activity. It is the truth on which the post–conciliar documents of the Papal Magisterium have all been based, fostering a renewal and adaptation that is not only useful and beneficial, but also one that strictly conforms to authentic Catholic doctrine and tradition. At the same time we must be sobered by the fact that the 1985 Extraordinary Session of the Synod, called to reflect on how the Church had moved to implement the Second Vatican Council, raised a voice of warning in this respect. The Bishops at the Synod acknowledged that a "partial reading of the Council" and "a unilateral presentation of the Church as a purely institutional structure devoid of her mystery" have led to serious deficiencies, not least among the young, who "critically consider the Church a pure institution" (Ibid.).
3. We must surely see that one of the pressing tasks of the Magisterium, and of your own concrete pastoral ministry, is to ensure that a genuine Catholic ecclesiology is presented at every level of the Church’s teaching, and that diocesan and parochial structures and activities, as well as the various associations and movements, are all imbued with a true sense of what the Church really is. In your particular Churches there has been a significant development of Diocesan and Parish Pastoral Councils, and some have had Diocesan Assemblies or Synods. At the national level, the National Conference of priests, the Conference of Major Religious Superiors, the Catholic Union and other bodies allow for a high degree of consultation and cooperation in the life and mission of the Church. The National Board of Catholic Women can be of particular help at this time when the role of women in society and in the Church is undergoing such a radical questioning and transformation. It is essential that all these structures and their activities be inspired by genuine love for the Church, with a sense of belonging to her mystery and to her transcendent destiny.
It is painful to see that energies which should be used for the building up of the Body of Christ sometimes produce an opposite effect, due to a faulty ecclesiology which fails to take account of the supernatural nature of the Church’s mission and of the means with which Christ has endowed her for its realization. Pastors should feel a responsibility to address this question, and all that it implies, fully trusting that only an authentic reading of the Council offers the inspiration and enlightenment needed for that renewal of the Church which was a principal reason for the Council’s convocation in the first place, a renewal which is still in the process of being achieved.
4. Only an ecclesial life firmly based on the truths of the faith can help the members of the Church to remain faithful to Christ and to grasp the implications of the Gospel message in relation to everyday cultural, political and economic choices. In a very secularized society, there is a temptation to preach "values" on which a majority can agree, thus veiling to some degree the true nature of the Gospel as "the power of God for salvation" (Rm 1,16). The Church in England and Wales is blessed with a vast network of Catholic schools and colleges, of Catholic publications, of programmes for the religious education of adults, such as the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, or the Catholic Enquiry Centre for those interested in the faith, to mention only these. This "world" of teaching the faith calls for your personal and dedicated pastoral guidance.
Bishops have a responsibility to see that in preaching and catechesis, in religious instruction and theological studies, as well as in Catholic publications, the mystery of the Church is presented in a complete way, as a mystery of truth and grace, at once human and divine (Lumen Gentium LG 8), having the Holy Spirit as its principle of life (Ibid., 7). At this point in time a great effort is required to reaffirm the truths of the faith, to arouse the supernatural sense of the faith, by which God’s people "clings without fail to the faith once delivered to the saints, penetrates it more deeply by accurate insights and applies it more thoroughly to life" (Lumen Gentium LG 12) . No one should be surprised that Bishops correct whatever does not correspond to authentic Church teaching or that they challenge the Church’s members to loyal obedience. Bishops themselves are the first to owe obedience to the Holy Spirit and faithfulness to the deposit of faith.