Monday, 4 January 1993
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome to the Vatican the Presidents and members of the American Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association, together with officers and members of other psychiatric and psychoanalytic associations of the United States and other countries. This meeting affords me a welcome opportunity to express the Church’s esteem for the many physicians and health care professionals involved in the important and delicate area of psychiatric medicine. Your patient efforts to understand the conditions of general mental health and to provide care to those suffering from psychic disorders have an immense potential for good for individuals and for the life of society. Associations like your own serve a valuable purpose in promoting high standards of scientific knowledge as well as a deep awareness of the professional and ethical requirements demanded by the practice of psychiatry.
By its very nature, your work often brings you to the threshold of the human mystery. It involves a sensitivity to the often tangled workings of the human mind and heart, and an openness to the ultimate concerns which give meaning to people’s lives. These are areas of utmost importance to the Church, and they call to mind the urgent need for a constructive dialogue between science and religion for the sake of shedding greater light on the mystery of man in its fullness. The Church’s own history of commitment to caring for the sick, especially the poor and the emarginated, is rooted in the conviction that the human person is a unity of body and spirit, possessing an inviolable dignity as one made in the image of God and called to a transcendent destiny. For this reason, the Church is convinced that no adequate assessment of the nature of the human person or the requirements for human fulfillment and pyscho–social well–being can be made without respect for man’s spiritual dimension and capacity for self–transcendence. Only by transcending themselves and living a life of self–giving and openness to truth and love can individuals reach fulfillment and contribute to building an authentic human community.
Your Association is rightly concerned to promote human dignity and the inviolability of individuals and of their freedom. The foundations of human dignity are to be found in the truth about man, and in his human freedom to form his instincts and passions according to the objective requirements of the moral order. As the Scriptures suggest, there is an unbreakable link between authentic freedom and truth (cf. Jn 10,47); indeed, "freedom attains its full development only by accepting the truth" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 46). It follows that no genuine therapy or treatment for psychic disturbances can ever conflict with the moral obligation of the patient to pursue the truth and to grow in virtue. This moral component of the therapeutic task makes great demands upon psychiatrists, who must be committed to attaining a more adequate grasp of the truth of their own lives and to showing profound respect for the dignity of their patients.
Psychiatrists must also feel themselves responsible for the social ramifications of their practice. This is especially true today, when there is ever more clearly a relationship between the appearance and aggravation of certain illnesses and mental disturbances and the crisis of values which society is experiencing. You and your associates will make an important contribution to the future of society by seeking to point out, in the light of a dispassionate commitment to truth, the limits of certain models of social life which can lead to the manipulation of persons and to an unhealthy conditioning of human freedom. In your work to overcome the stigma which has often been associated with mental illness, to end the abuse of psychiatry for ideological reasons, and to strengthen the family as the basic unit of society, as well as in your efforts to draw society’s attention to the special needs of the poor, the homeless and the abused – you can be certain of the Church’s appreciation and ready cooperation.
The task of healing others and ensuring their psycho–social equilibrium is indeed important and delicate. Together with scientific knowledge there is need of great wisdom in those who devote themselves to this work. Assuring you once more of the Church’s esteem, I cordially invoke upon you and the members of your Associations the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Sunday, 10 January 1993
Dear Muslim Brothers and Friends,
1. Perhaps it can be said that no other Saint of the Church has sung the praises of peace and of the universal brotherhood of all God’s children as has Saint Francis of Assisi. We are gathered here, in the town of his birth and death, to implore peace for the peoples of this continent of Europe, and especially for the Balkan countries. I wish to thank you, distinguished leaders of the Islamic community in Europe, for having accepted the invitation to take part in this Day of Prayer. We have prayed, and it is our deepest hope, that 1993 will be a year of peace everywhere, not excluding any area of the world where conflicts are taking place.
2. In the testimonies given yesterday evening, we heard how greatly people are suffering in the war–torn regions of the Balkans. The most tragic aspect of that war, as of every war, is the fact that those who are suffering most are ordinary citizens–parents, elderly people, women, children–people who simply want to bring up their families, do their work, lead their lives and perform their religious duties in peace. It is these people, whose voices are too seldom heard on the international stage, who must claim our first attention.
We stand in solidarity with these victims of oppression, hatred and atrocities, with all those whose villages have been burned and bombed, with those who flee their homes and take refuge elsewhere, with those unjustly arrested and placed in camps. Both Christianity and Islam inculcate in us a commitment to persevere in the pursuit of justice and peace for them and for all victims of conflict.
We have also heard testimonies regarding cooperation on behalf of those in need. In the face of so much suffering how can anyone fail to react? Since all human beings have been created by God, and all are members of the one human family, we have a duty to come to the aid of all.
3. We have gathered together to place ourselves as humble suppliants before Almighty God. To our prayers we have added an act of fasting. Can we not see in this a double sign: that we acknowledge our own weakness, and that we are open to divine assistance? Our prayers for peace include the plea that we too may be strengthened to act always as peace–makers.
In this respect, the call of the Second Vatican Council for Christians and Muslims to work together remains valid today: "For the benefit of all humankind, let them together preserve and promote social justice, moral values, peace and freedom" (Nostra Aetate NAE 3). Again I assure you that the Catholic Church is desirous and ready to continue to cooperate with Muslims in these various domains. May God bless the initiatives already taken in this sense, and may he strengthen our willingness to continue to work together.
Your presence in Assisi on this occasion is of great significance: it proclaims that genuine religious belief is a source of mutual understanding and harmony, and that only the perversion of religious sentiment leads to discrimination and conflict. To use religion as an excuse for injustice and violence is a terrible abuse, and it must be condemned by all true believers in God.
4. You have come to this Day of Prayer from various countries of Europe. You have come because you desire peace with justice for all the peoples who live on this continent. You are concerned, as Christians are, about forms of racism and ethnic hatred which seem to be on the rise. These are evil, and we who believe in God and want to do his will must forcefully condemn such wrongdoing, whenever and wherever it appears in the world.
There can be no genuine peace unless believers stand together in rejecting the politics of hate and discrimination, and in affirming the right to religious and cultural freedom in all human societies.
In thanking you for your presence, I take the opportunity to offer to you and to the Islamic communities which you represent my prayerful best wishes. May Almighty God bless our efforts to serve the cause of justice and peace.
Thursday, 28 January 1993
I am pleased to welcome to the Vatican the distinguished members of a delegation from the World Islamic League taking part in meetings sponsored by the Community of Sant’Egidio. It is my hope that your discussions will promote better understanding between Muslims and Christians and more effective cooperation in the cause of peace.
At a time when conflicts and wars are causing immense suffering to members of the human family throughout the world, there is an urgent need for a witness by the followers of the different religions to our common convictions regarding the dignity of man. This is especially the case in those situations where religious differences have been invoked as a motive for animosity, violence and contempt for the rights of others. Christians and Muslims alike are called to combat the misuse of religion and to foster reconciliation and dialogue. As I said to the followers of Islam gathered in Assisi earlier this month, at the special prayer meeting for peace in Europe: "Your presence... proclaims that religious belief is a source of mutual understanding and harmony, and that only the perversion of religious sentiments leads to discrimination and conflict" (John Paul II, Address to Representatives of the European Islamic Community in the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis in Assisi, 3 [10 Jan. 1993]).
Dear friends: I am convinced that the various religions, now and in the future, must play an important part in preserving peace and in building a society worthy of man (cf. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 60) . Your presence today is a sign of your desire to work together in order to create the necessary conditions for a just and peaceful world. I encourage you to continue your dialogue with patience and perseverance, and I cordially invoke upon you the choicest blessings of the Most High God.
Most reverend prelate auditors,
Dear officials of the Sacred Roman Rota!
1. I offer my respectful and cordial greetings to all. I thank His Excellency the Dean for the noble words he addressed to me in the name of the College of Prelate Auditors and of the whole Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and I congratulate him for the generous service he has given over many years marked by diligent and faithful devotion.
I am very pleased at the beginning of each judicial year to meet with those who perform praiseworthy work in this apostolic tribunal. Indeed, as His Excellency the Dean pointed out, there is an important relationship between this Chair of Peter and the serious office entrusted to it of judging in the name and with the authority of the Roman Pontiff.
Like my venerable predecessors, I am happy to take this opportunity year after year to bring to your attention, and through you to all those in the Church who work in the specific area of administering justice, what my apostolic concern suggests to me.
2. With the recent prayer meeting in Assisi still resounding, a meeting attended by many brethren of the Churches and Christian Communities of Europe, as well as by other believers sincerely involved in the cause of peace, I cannot but emphasize that the principal fruit of your work too must always be to strengthen and restore peace in ecclesial society.
The reason for this is not only, as the Angelic Doctor says following St. Augustine all things desire peace (omnia appetunt pacem), in fact: “it follows of necessity that everyone desiring anything desires peace, insofar as one who desires anything, desires to attain, with tranquillity and without hindrance, to that which one desires: and this is what is meant by peace, which Augustine defines as the ‘tranquility of order’ “ (Summa theologiae, II–II, q. 29, a. 2), but also because law, justice, and peace relate to one another, form one whole and are mutually complementary.
The distinguished jurist, Francesco Carnelutti, wrote in this regard: “Law and justice are not the same thing. They are related as a means to an end; law is the means, justice the end. . . . But what is this end? People above all need to live in peace. Justice is the condition for peace . . . People reach this state of mind when there is order in and around them. Justice is conformity to the order of the universe. Law is just when it really serves to put order into society” (F. Carnelutti, Come nasce il diritto, 1954, p. 53).
3. These reflections are sufficient to prevent any yielding to inappropriate forms of an anti-juridical mentality. Law in the Church, as well as in states, is a guarantee of peace and a tool for preserving unity, although not in the sense of inflexibility; legislative activity and the work of jurisprudence actually help to ensure a necessary updating and to allow for a unified response to changing circumstances and evolving situations.
It is with this intent—which transcends the Church’s external aspect in order to reach the innermost dimension of her supernatural life—that canonical laws are enacted: thus, in particular, the Pio-Benedictine Code was promulgated in 1917 for the Latin Church, and followed by the 1983 Code, prepared with lengthy, laborious study, in which the episcopates of the entire world, the Catholic universities, the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and many experts of canon law had a hand. In this regard I also had the joy in 1990 of finally promulgating the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
Nevertheless, the supreme goal of this legislative effort would ultimately have been in vain not only if the canons were not observed —“by their very nature canonical laws are to be observed”—I wrote in the Constitution promulgating the Latin Code, but also, and with no less serious consequences, if their interpretation and, hence, their application, were left to the arbitrary will of individuals or of those who have been entrusted with the task of seeing that they are observed.
4. We should not be surprised by the fact that sometimes—due to imperfections natural to human efforts—the text of the law may give rise and in fact does give rise, particularly when a Code first goes into force, to problems of interpretation. The legislator himself foresaw this possibility and consequently laid down precise norms of interpretation, even going so far as to anticipate situations taking the form of lacunae of law (Code of Canon Law, c. 19) and to indicate the appropriate criteria to supply for them.
In order to avoid arbitrary interpretations of the Code’s text, I followed the similar provisions of my predecessors and on January 2, 1984 with the motu proprio, Recognito Iuris Canonici Codice, established the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code, which I then changed with the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus to the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, and broadened its area of competence.
It is certain, however, that quite often situations arise in which the interpretation and application of canon law is entrusted to those who exercise either executive or legislative power in the Church. The office entrusted to tribunals is situated within this framework of the Church’s legal system (cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 16, §3) and, in a particular way and for a specific purpose, it is entrusted to the Roman Rota, inasmuch as the latter “fosters unity of jurisprudence, and, by virtue of its own decisions, provides assistance to lower tribunals” (John Paul II, Pastor bonus ).
5. In this regard it seems appropriate here to recall some hermeneutical principles. When they are disregarded, canon law disintegrates and ceases to be such, with dangerous results for the Church’s life, for the good of souls, and particularly, for the inviolability of the sacraments instituted by Christ.
If ecclesiastical laws are to be understood first of all “according to the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context,” it would as a result, be totally arbitrary even patently illegitimate and gravely culpable (gravemente colposo), to attribute to the words used by the legislator, not their “proper” meaning, but one suggested by disciplines different from the canonical one.
Moreover, in interpreting the present Code one cannot hypothesize about a break with the past, as if in 1983 there had been a leap into a totally new reality. In fact, the legislator positively recognizes and unambiguously asserts the continuity of canonical tradition, particularly where his canons refer to the old law (cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 6, §2).
Certainly, many innovations were introduced into the present Code. However, it is one thing to note that innovations were made regarding a number of canonical institutes, and another to try to attribute unusual meanings to the language in which the canons are formulated. In truth, the constant concern of the interpreter and of the one applying canon law must be to understand the words used by the legislator in accord with the meaning that long-standing tradition attributes to them in the Church’s juridical system, using well-established doctrine and jurisprudence. Each term, then, must be considered in the text and context of the norm, in a vision of canonical legislation which allows for its uniform evaluation.
6. Specifically in matrimonial matters, the attempt at a none-too-well defined humanization of canon law must not depart from these principles that have also been sanctioned, as we have seen, by the same positive norm. With this line of reasoning, in fact, there is frequently an intention to endorse its excessive relativization, as if to impose, so as to safeguard alleged human needs, an interpretation and application of the law that thus ultimately pervert its characteristic features.
Correlating the majesty of canon law with those to whom it is directed is certainly not to be omitted or underestimated as I recalled in last year’s allocution; however, this entails the need for a proper knowledge of the Church’s legislation, but without forgetting, in the light of a correct Christian anthropology, the reality of human beings for whom it is intended. Subjecting canon law to capricious or contrived interpretations, in the name of an ambiguous and indefinite humanitarian principle, would mean destroying the very dignity of the humans, even before the norm.
7. Thus, to give an example, it would could cause serious harm to the stability of marriage and so to its sacred nature, if the fact of simulation was not formulated concretely on the part of the alleged simulator in a “positive act of will” (actus positivus voluntatis, cf. Code of Canon Law, c. 1101, §2); or if the so-called error of law (error iuris) regarding an essential property of marriage or its sacramental dignity did not acquire such intensity as to condition the act of will, thus causing the consent to be null (cf. Ibid., c. 1099). However, in the matter of error of fact (error facti) too, specifically when it is a question of “error of person” (error in persona, cf. Ibid., c. 1097, §1), one may not attribute to the terms used by the legislator a meaning alien to canonical tradition; even as “error about a quality of the person” can impugn the consent only when a quality, neither frivolous nor trivial, was “directly and principally intended” (cf. Ibid., c. 1097, §2), that is, as Rotal jurisprudence has effectively asserted: “when the quality is intended before the person” (quando qualitas prae persona intendatur).
This is what I wanted to call to your attention today, my dear auditors, officials, and advocates of the Roman Rota, in the certainty of this tribunal’s constant fidelity to what is demanded by the seriousness and the authentic study of canon law, in the specific field proper to it.
In extending my cordial best wishes for tranquil and productive work, I impart to you all, as a sign of sincere esteem and as a pledge of God’s constant assistance, the propitious Apostolic Blessing.
Friday, 5 February 1993
Your Excellency President Museveni,
Honourable Members of the Government,
My Brother Bishops,
Dear Ugandan Friends,
1. At the beginning of my Pastoral Visit to Uganda, I cannot fail to offer a fervent prayer of thanks to Almighty God who has given me the joy of this moment. To all of you who have come here to welcome me with characteristic African hospitality I am truly grateful. I thank Your Excellency and the Bishops for inviting me to Uganda, and I ask God to reward all who have worked to make this visit possible.
2. I come to Uganda with deep affection for all her people. My journey brings me here at a significant turning–point in her development. This is a period of reconstruction, not just of the economy but especially of the moral fibre of the nation. No one can ignore the considerable challenges that must be faced, but you are already showing that Ugandans, drawing above all on their own rich human resources, are fully capable of making this land a peaceful, secure home for everyone.
All Ugandans are called to put aside the conflicts of the past, to seek reconciliation with one another, and to work together to build a society in which the dignity of the human person and respect for human rights will be the norm of conduct for all.In this great endeavour the Catholic Church will continue to play her part, in accordance with her religious nature and mission, in effective and generous cooperation with all sectors of the population.
As with all my journeys, this visit has an eminently religious and pastoral purpose. It is the visit of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Saint Peter, to the local Churches in this land. As the one entrusted with the care of the universal Church I feel a special responsibility towards the young Churches of Africa. As often as possible I have tried to visit them, praying with them and rejoicing in their fresh vitality and joy–filled fidelity to the Lord. On these visits it is my concern to strengthen the faith of my Catholic brothers and sisters (cf. Lk. Lc 22,32), and to encourage their unity in the one Gospel of Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again as the promise of new life (cf. Rom. Rm 4,25). I look forward to celebrating, in Kampala, in Gulu, in Kasese, in Soroti, the grace of our adoption as God’s beloved children (cf. 1Jn 3,1-2).
I also wish to extend the hand of friendship to the Christians of other confessions, to whom we are linked by being grafted on to Christ through the grace of Baptism. Be assured, dear Friends, of the Catholic Church’s firm commitment to the growth of ecumenical understanding and cooperation. To the followers of the other religious traditions too I offer my cordial greetings and good wishes.
3. I return to Africa at a decisive moment. A world divided into opposing economic and military blocs is being replaced by a world increasingly affected by a distressing imbalance between a developed North and a struggling South. As a new structure of international relationships emerges, it is vital for the cause of world peace and justice that Africa should be given its proper place.Is it a vain hope to think that this visit, in its own way, might serve to keep before public opinion the developed world’s responsibilities towards Africa? Neglect must not follow the former exploitation. It would indeed be tragic if this Continent, after enduring the unspeakable sufferings of the slave trade, the evil effects of colonialism and, more recently, the sad experiences of civil war, subservience to fruitless ideologies or misguided policies, should now be denied the help it needs in order to take its destiny into its own hands. Surely the nations of Africa have a right to expect disinterested help in securing genuine independence, so that at last they will be able to build their own future in their own way.
Yes, Africa, based on its noblest cultural values and traditions, can find in itself the strength and inspiration to develop in solidarity, harmony and justice. My prayer and hope is that Africans will help one another to progress towards a better life, a freer and more brotherly life on this Continent. This is my firm conviction: that such progress is possible, and that the Church which I represent can greatly contribute to it. I am convinced that Africa’s well–being is supremely important to the world, for what you have to offer is decisive: a sense of man, a sense of God. For me, therefore, this visit means drawing attention to this Continent, and to the problems it forcefully sets before us: poverty and need, the terrible human cost of chronic conflict, the plight of millions of displaced persons, and yet an abiding sense of the spiritual dimension of man, of human dignity and respect for people.
4. Mister President, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends: My pilgrimage has brought me to the Uganda of the Martyrs. May the freedom to profess one’s faith, to which the martyrs’ sacrifice bore the supreme witness, be the guarantee of every citizen’s right and duty to share effectively in the nation’s life. May the vital relationship with God, so characteristic of African culture–the opposite of a materialism which ends in slavery to selfish individualism–sustain you all in serving the common good, in building society on strong ethical principles, in opening your hearts to the suffering and needy among you. May your faith in God inspire you to give the best of yourselves to the construction of a new and better Uganda, where justice and peace will reign.
Nsanyuse nnyo okubalaba.
Katonda Kitaffe abakuume,
Era akuume Uganda
(I am very glad to see you.)
(May God our Father bless you, and may he bless Uganda).
Saturday, 6 February 1993
Blessed be God who gives joy to our youth (cf. Ps. Ps 42,4)!
Dear Young People of Uganda,
1. How happy I am to meet you! In your joyful enthusiasm and love I see reflected the light of Christ. Tonight you are sharing your youth with the Pope and make him young again! Here in Nakivubo Stadium, through Christ, the Light shining in the darkness (cf. Jn. Jn 1,5), we are united as friends (cf. Mt. Mt 18,20). I give back to each one of you – and all the youth of Uganda – that same love of Christ which overwhelms us (cf. 2Co 5,14) and which you have shown to me. Let us always love one another, "for love is of God" (1Jn 4,7).
Your short plays have honestly and creatively described the struggles facing young Ugandans today. I share your sadness and frustration at the works of darkness that surround you (cf. Ep 5,11). Despite your many trials – of students lacking family support and future opportunities, of workers facing unemployment and economic hardship, of young people from the rural areas who are often exploited and without services, of those who are suffering from AIDS – you are not overcome by discouragement. Darkness has not extinguished your light. I know that in your hearts you feel pain when you see the apparent triumph of injustice, corruption and violence. As your father and your friend, the Pope understands how difficult it can be to keep the light of hope burning in your hearts.
2. But, you may ask, what can we do to guarantee that the darkness of evil will not defeat the light of goodness in our world? The Church has only one answer, ever ancient and ever new. Open your hearts and your minds to Jesus Christ. He is your brother, who is always faithful. He is your Redeemer, who died and rose for you. He is your Lord, who leads you to glory.
With Christ, the "Light of the world" (Jn 8,12), you can conquer the darkness of sin which casts its shadow over this land of the sun. With Christ, the Saviour of the world, you will be victorious (cf. Ibid., 16:33).
Christ is standing at the door of your heart (cf. Rev. Ap 3,20). He wants to enter there and share with you the flame of his sacrificial love. But if you are to open the door so that Christ can shine on you (cf. Eph. Ep 5,14), you must first hear him knocking.
This means that every day you must escape from the turmoil of noise and confusion and, for a few minutes, be silent and calm. "Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray!", Saint James tells us (Jc 5,13). Even more than speaking, prayer is listening. The Father tells us: "This is my beloved Son, listen to him" (Mc 9,7). Through prayer you will be enlightened, refreshed and strengthened for life’s journey.
When you are praying, some of you will hear the Lord inviting you to follow him as a priest or Religious. If you hear his gentle voice calling you, do not be afraid! Say with enthusiasm: "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening" (1S 3,9). Rely on God’s strength (cf. Phil. Ph 4,13) and believe that the love of Jesus will sustain you.
3. Because you are baptized, the light of day is already shining in your hearts. You have been called from darkness into God’s marvellous light (cf. 1P 2,9). You are "children of the light" (Jn 12,36).
In his Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul reminds Christians that they must lead lives worthy of God’s call (cf. Eph. Ep 4,1). "You must live like people who belong to the light" (Ibid., 5:8). In your families, communities and nation the light of Christ has already shone brilliantly – in the heroism of your martyrs, in the vitality of your noble traditions, in the charity of the believers. They have passed this shining torch of evangelical love to you – the generation of Uganda’s tomorrow, the hope of the Church’s future!
God invites you – each and every one of you – to walk in the light as a companion of Christ (cf. 1Jn 1,7).. The Prince of this world, however, often tries to extinguish your light. We have heard the sober words of Saint John: "Every one who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light" (Jn 3,20). Your songs and plays tell me that you do not want to stumble and fall. Like young people everywhere you yearn to walk in the light. But how can you shine "like stars lighting up the sky" (cf. Phil. Ph 2,15)? Uganda needs a well–prepared generation of young people. You must prepare for future responsibilities through your dedication to study, your love of chastity and your solidarity in community.
4. You are convinced, I know, that a sound education is necessary both for your personal maturity and for your Nation’s development. Yet you have told me that remaining in school is often very difficult and that you are tempted to give up. You ask: What is the use of so much effort?
From my own experience of studying during the time of war in my land I can assure you schooling is one of the main paths leading us out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of truth. To seek, discover and rejoice in the truth are among life’s most thrilling adventures. Education frees you, so that you can become a fully–integrated man or woman. Remaining in school requires perseverance and patience; it requires self–denial and discipline. Above all, it calls for courage! Do not give in to defeatism and discouragement. The truth alone can make you free (cf. Jn. Jn 8,32), so pursue it fearlessly. Christ calls you to cure the blindness of ignorance with the light of truth.
May the lamp of learning radiate in every corner of the "Pearl of Africa’s Crown!" In a few years, my dear friends, you will be the men and women of the Third Millennium. Uganda and the Church are counting on the harvest of your talents (cf. Mt. Mt 25,14-30)!
5. Secondly, most of you will walk the path of life in marriage. This too requires a kind of education. You need to equip yourselves for the magnificent commitment of marriage and founding a family–the most important unit of the Christian community. As young Christians, you must carefully prepare to become good spouses and good parents with families of your own.
Essential to preparing for marriage is your vocation to chastity. I know that young people reject hypocrisy. You want to be honest with yourselves and others. A chaste person is honest. When God created us he gave us more than one way to "speak" to each other. Besides expressing ourselves through speech, we express ourselves through our bodies.Gestures are like "words" that tell who we are. Sexual actions are "words" that reveal our hearts. The Lord wants us to use our sexuality according to his plan. He expects us to "speak" truthfully.
Honest sexual "language" requires a commitment to lifelong fidelity. To give your body to another person symbolizes the total gift of yourself to that person. But if you are not married, you are admitting that you might change your mind in the future. Total self–giving would then be absent. Without the bond of marriage, sexual relations are a lie. And for Christians, marriage means sacramental marriage.
Chastity – which means respecting the dignity of others because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit – (cf. 1Co 6,19) leads you to grow in love for others and for God. It prepares you to make the "sincere gift of self" (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 48) that is the basis of Christian marriage. More important, it teaches you to learn to love as Christ loves, laying down his life for others (cf. Jn. Jn 15,13).
Do not be deceived by the empty words of those who ridicule chastity or your capacity for self–control. The strength of your future married love depends on the strength of your present commitment to learning true love, a chastity which includes refraining from all sexual relations outside of marriage. The sexual restraint of chastity is the only safe and virtuous way to put an end to the tragic plague of AIDS which has claimed so many young victims.
Helped by God’s grace in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, "be strong and of good courage" (Dt 31,6). The Pope urges you to commit yourselves to this spiritual revolution of purity of body and heart. Let Christ’s redemption bear fruit in you! The contemporary world needs this kind of revolution!
6. Thirdly, as you grow into the fullness of Christ (cf. Eph. Ep 4,13), clothed with the "armour of light" (Rm 13,12), you must continue to meet challenges presented by violence, racial discrimination, unemployment, poverty and injustice–all the terrifying darkness of sin. Do not flee from your social responsibilities by substituting passing pleasures for lasting commitment to your brothers and sisters.
Make your voice for truth and justice be heard. Do not be afraid! Keep up your courageous questioning and searching for "whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just and whatever is pure" (Ph 4,8). Claim your right to participate in deciding your political, social and economic destiny (cf. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis RH 17). Study carefully the Church’s rich tradition of social doctrine. It is the master resource for building a society where justice, solidarity and peace will thrive.
The Lord Jesus challenges you this evening. He asks you to lend him your hands and your feet, your hearts and your minds, so that – through you! – he may set the downtrodden free (cf. Lk. Lc 4,18). With Christ, I ask you to replace selfishness with solidarity. Solidarity is the opposite of escapism, laziness and loving only those who love you (cf. Mt. Mt 5,46)! Solidarity demands that you work with others and for others without exception.
I know that young people want to work together in love. That is the key to human liberation! Build a chain of solidarity – of cooperation in charity – that will extend from your families to include your school, your work place, your towns and your nation.If you live solidarity, justice will flourish (cf. John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 39-40).
7. My dear young friends: Because you have been baptized into Christ’s Death and Resurrection and inflamed by his Spirit at Confirmation, you have the power to dispel the dark shadows of pessimism and selfishness. As the new Millennium draws near, "God is preparing a great springtime for Christianity" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 86). And he is relying on you to be the messengers of this hope throughout Uganda!
Christ knows what is in your heart – and he loves you. His gaze of love has enlightened each one of you (cf. Jn. Jn 1,9). I thank the young people of Uganda for being children of the light and of the day (cf. Thess. 5:5). In your light I see the light of Christ! Now you must share that same light with your brothers and sisters!
Your energy and enthusiasm for the Gospel are pledges of confidence for the Church’s future in Uganda and Africa. As you take up responsibility for the coming century, may the word of God be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (cf. Ps. Ps 119,195)! With you – and all Ugandan youth – I pray that the Virgin Mary, the Morning Star who bore the Sun of Justice (cf. Mal. Ml 4,2), will fill you with the love of Christ. With your lamps burning for all to see, go out to meet the Lord of the Day! God bless you all. But he will look upon these young people with loving kindness and hear their prayers so that they may always keep their hearts and minds open to Christ our life.