Speeches 1993 - Saturday, 20 March 1993
5. As you wrote in your recent Statement, The Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop: A Pastoral Reflection, Bishops best respond to "insufficient, defective or erroneous teaching" by a "positive, effective, consistent and forthright" presentation of Catholic doctrine (Bishops of the United States of America, Statement, The Teaching Ministry of the Diocesan Bishop: A Pastoral Reflection, prooem.). Indeed, only when your teaching is clear, unambiguous and united will it rise above the clash of conflicting opinions with the forcefulness and power of the truth. While certainly acknowledging the fact that the Church presents her teaching with varying degrees of magisterial authority (Cf. ibid. II. 2), it is necessary to recover a sense of the wholeness and interior logic–the "symphony" of the faith. Undoubtedly the greatest service you can render to the Church at this present time is to make every effort to present anew the fullness and beauty of the apostolic faith, and thereby end the disharmony and confusion produced by teachings on questions of faith, morals and discipline which are at odds with the Church’s Magisterium.
With the extensive system of Catholic schools at all levels, parish catechetical programs for children and adults, and the Catholic press and other media available to the Church in the United States, you have the means to enrich the members of the Church with a deeper and more secure knowledge of the faith, so that they will be better equipped to bear witness to that faith in the family and in the wider community. It is my prayerful hope that the new Catechism will provide the impetus for a national recatechizing endeavor, of young and old alike, so that the Catholics of America will be more and more able to account for the hope that is in them (Cf. 1Pt. 1P 3,15). In this way they will be able to make an ever more specific and effective contribution in addressing the serious ethical and social questions facing the nation.
6. The Millennial Jubilee of the year 2000 invites the whole Church to prepare to commemorate the Eternal Son’s redemptive Incarnation. The National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization recently approved by your Conference offers a framework for such preparation. A continuing conversion of mind and heart accompanied by intensified prayer, joyful and frequent celebration of the Sacraments and a moral life compatible with Christian discipleship, will make the Catholic community in the United States ready to welcome the Jubilee with total confidence in Jesus Christ, the Lord of History, who is "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebr. 13: 8). Moreover, beyond all strategies and objectives, all plans and assessments, let us never forget that the Holy Spirit is the driving force of all conversion and growth in holiness; and there are many promising signs of his presence and action in every one of your Dioceses.
I am confidently looking forward to the celebration of the World Youth Day in Denver, in August, as a magnificent occasion to proclaim anew to young people the saving mystery of Christ who said: "I came that they might have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10,10). I thank you for all that you are doing in your Dioceses to enable as many young people as possible to take part in this important ecclesial event, as a sign and testimony of the vitality of the Church in your country.
7. Dear Brother Bishops, at the Last Supper Jesus invited his disciples to friendship with himself, telling them that they were no longer servants (Cf. ibid. 15: 13-14) and sealing this intimacy with the Eucharist. The Lord continues to draw you, Successors of the Apostles, into his confidence, in order to confirm you in his truth so that you, in turn, may proclaim its fresh and liberating power to the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care. The greatest witness of the Apostles lies in their martyrdom, and this is the example which we must keep before our eyes as we seek to build up and strengthen God’s beloved people in faithfulness to the chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ (Cf. 1Pt. 1P 5,4). I entrust to Mary, Mother of the Church, the burdens and joys of your office and the needs and hopes of the Church in the United States. To each of you and to all the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Saturday, 20 March 1993
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am very pleased to welcome the members of the Knights of Columbus and their families visiting Rome on pilgrimage, together with the Supreme Knight and the Supreme Chaplain. I greet all of you with affection in the Lord.
Your presence in the Eternal City, and our meeting this morning, are signs of the deep bonds of fidelity and filial affection binding the Knights of Columbus to the See of Peter. From its foundation, your Order has been committed to the material and spiritual well–being of its members and to the promotion of the Church’s mission in communion of mind and heart with the Successor of Peter. I assure you of my gratitude for the many ways in which these noble ideals have been realized in the abundant good works of your Order, particularly in your concern for the needs of your brothers and sisters throughout the world and in your defence of the sacredness of God’s gift of life.
As committed lay Catholics you are fully aware of society’s need for clear and courageous witness to the moral values taught by the Gospel. The Second Vatican Council called on the laity to make combined efforts to remedy institutions and conditions which are customarily an inducement to sin, so that society may more and more conform to the norms of justice and may favor the practice of virtue rather than hinder it (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 36). With gratitude for the many ways in which your organization seeks to promote higher moral standards in family and public life, I wish to encourage you to continue in this endeavor, knowing that the greatest service you can render to others, especially to the young, is to teach and promote a way of life in harmony with our dignity as God’s beloved children.
Dear friends: it is my heartfelt prayer that this Lenten pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul will deepen your faith in Jesus Christ, your love for the Church, and your resolve to live always as joyful and authentic witnesses of the Gospel. I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in Christ her Son.
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am happy to welcome you, Bishop Wadensjö and members of the Diocese of Karlstad, on the occasion of your visit to Rome. In this Easter Octave, when the Church sets her gaze on the Risen Lord "who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" (Rm 4,25). I cordially greet you with the words of the Apostle Paul: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3). With great joy I recall the ecumenical service held in St Peter’s Basilica on 5 October 1991 to celebrate the Six Hundredth Anniversary of the canonization of Saint Bridgit of Sweden. That celebration vividly pointed to a rich common heritage which Catholics and Lutherans share and which we must continue to foster.
According to the Scriptures, the first community of those who believed the testimony to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead "were of one heart and soul" (Ac 4,32). Although during the course of centuries full communion among those "born of water and the Spirit" (Jn 3,5) has sadly been fractured, I wish to reassure you that the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to restoring that full visible unity.
With the power of the Risen Christ at work within us (Cf. Eph. Ep 3,20), let us pursue that ecumenical journey together. By our persistent prayer, sincere and honest dialogue, and common defense of the authentic religious and ethical values rooted in the Gospel, let us remain confident that God will bring to completion the good work that he has already begun in us (Cf. Phil. Ph 1,6).
May "he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead" (Rm 8,11) bestow upon all of you abundant blessings of peace and joy.
Dear Friends in Christ,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today, pilgrims to Rome from the Church of England and from the Diocese of York. In particular I greet the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable George Austin, and through him I wish to convey my good wishes to your Archbishop and to all the clergy and laity of your Diocese.
In May 1982 it was my joy to visit York during the course of my pastoral visit to the Catholic Church in Great Britain. That visit had special significance in our common quest for the fulness of unity among Christ’s followers. Although the path to unity is beset by trials and by serious obstacles, we must continue to rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit, who will in his own time bring about the fulfilment of the prayer of Christ himself: "May they all be one" (Jn 17,21).
More recently, at the Day of Prayer for Peace in Europe and especially in the Balkan region, which was convened at Assisi in January of this year, the Archbishop of York represented the Church of England. His presence was deeply appreciated. In the face of the terrible violence and injustice that confronts us in the world today, it is vital that Christians should bear united witness to the Prince of Peace, who alone can free us from the sin and disorder which lie at the root of the evil in the world.
I am aware that you are visiting Rome in support of the Anglican Centre, which stands as a symbol of the longing for reconciliation between Catholics and Anglicans. That longing is shared by the Bishop of Rome, and it is in such a spirit of hope and confidence in God that I invoke abundant divine blessings upon you and your families.
Dear Brothers in Christ,
1. In the love of the Risen Lord I welcome you, the United States Bishops from Michigan and Ohio, on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. My prayer for you in these days of the Church’s Easter joy is that your lives and ministry will testify with ever increasing power that "Christ has been raised from the dead" (1Co 15,20). In this way you will be authentic witnesses and teachers of the faith, and so effectively fulfill the mission entrusted to you as members of the Episcopal College. God’s people need, now and always, to be able to count on the clear witness of the faith of the Church’s Bishops: "Since in Jesus, the Son of God, we have the supreme high priest who has gone through to the highest heaven we must never let go of the faith we have professed" (Hebr. 4: 14).
Gathered here near the tomb of Peter, whom the Lord, after the Resurrection, confirmed in the role of strengthening his brothers (Cf. Jn. Jn 21,15-19), we are joined in a communion that is both fraternal and hierarchical. This union in Christ reaches out to embrace the clergy, religious and laity of your local Churches. With you I praise the Holy Spirit for the gifts and services he inspires in them, and for his power to bind all together in a marvelous unity (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 12, 4ss.).
2. With trust in the same Spirit we continue our reflections on the pastoral challenges facing the Church in your country. Building on what I said last month to the first group of Bishops with reference to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I wish once more to underline the significance for the Church’s life of a better knowledge of the truths of the Creed, the expression of the Church’s faith, the guarantee of her doctrinal apostolicity and unity. It is not possible to think of the Church without her Creed, without the truths which must be professed by those who wish to remain within the bounds of her visible communion.
Consequently, within the communion of the one Church of Christ, each particular Church must stand steadfast in authentic Catholic doctrine, most especially through the teaching of the Bishop.
The Church’s growth and vitality, her capacity to sanctify and transform, her service to the human family and her missionary expansion, all depend on guarding the truth entrusted to her (Cf. 1Tm. 1Tm 6,20). The Second Vatican Council reminds Bishops that one of their chief duties is to "expound the mystery of Christ in its entirety... to point out the divinely revealed way to give glory to God..." (Christus Dominus CD 12). The revitalization and true renewal to which the Council called Bishops, priests and deacons in the ministry of the word, both as proclamation and as catechesis, involves not only an adaptation to the needs of the times but also – as the Council explicitly indicates – that all should guard the doctrine, teaching the faithful to defend and spread it (Cf. Christus Dominus CD 13).
3. This is an important point, for among the ways in which the grace of Christ reaches us, singly and together in the Mystical Body, the word of proclamation has special significance. A false or superficial preaching will not serve to actualize the mystery. It will not lead to faith, grace and sacrament. It will not foster the realization in time of the salvation gained "through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebr. 10: 10). I urge you to consider carefully the essential values at stake. The time is ripe for concentrating your planned, sustained and prayerful pastoral efforts on reappropriating and deepening the full riches of the Catholic tradition. This monumental endeavor, an essential part of the "new evangelization", will be successful only if it is accompanied by a new fervor, only if it embodies a style of pastoral life which in all things conforms to the pattern of the Good Shepherd (Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 18). If the "new evangelization" is to bear fruit that will last (Cf. Jn. Jn 15,16), it is first necessary to assess soberly the present situation. Only then can we ensure a proper response to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Churches today (Cf. Rev. Ap 3,22).
4. From recent publications of your Conference and from our conversations during this ad Limina visit, it is clear that many of you perceive a strengthening of catechetics as one of the most significant tasks facing the Church in the United States. In some places young people have not received adequate instruction in the basic truths of the faith. Parents are often ill–equipped to fulfill their role as primary educators in the faith. Even well–educated adults sometimes lack the ability to formulate their faith in relation to the many questions raised by the wide diversity of outlooks present in society. Pastors may be inclined to delegate too much of their teaching responsibility. Professional catechetical organizations and centers of training for catechists sometimes fail to recognize the ineffectiveness of those programs and publications which do not give enough importance to the content of the faith. Certain methods have been adopted, in which the fides quae creditur is too much neglected. I appeal to each one of you personally, and to the body of Bishops as a whole, to face this challenge. The Catechism of the Catholic Church will be a most valuable instrument, an indispensable point of departure for helping you and the faithful to meet contemporary challenges with the inexhaustible riches of the Gospel (Cf. John Paul II, Letter to Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday 1993, 2, 8 April 1993).
You also recognize that maintaining the ecclesial character of major institutions,–primarily the vast educational, health care and social service facilities of which American Catholics are justly proud–presents the Church in the United States with ever increasing challenges. Changes in the cultural climate of the nation call for such institutions to be more active in fostering their Catholic identity, and thereby fulfill their responsibilities to the Church and to society (Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Leaders in Catholic Higher Education, New Orleans, 3, 12 September 1987). If the mission and policies within such institutions have too uncritically followed secular models, you, the Bishops, must call them to embrace anew the perennial freshness of the Gospel.
5. Previous generations of United States Catholics made great sacrifices to build a system of parochial schools which has been immeasurably successful in transmitting the faith and in offering an excellent educational experience. This has been made possible by the boundless dedication of so many Religious and lay persons, and I avail myself of this occasion to thank all those who give so generously of themselves in this task and mission. These schools, based on an educational philosophy in which faith, culture and life are brought into harmony, are integral to the Church’s evangelizing and catechizing mission (Cf. Congregation for Catholic Education, The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School, 34, 7 April 1988). Likewise, they have an enormous social value, inculcating as they do sound ethical and moral principles, the primacy of the person, and universal and effective solidarity with those in need. Your efforts, despite financial hardship and population shifts, to preserve Catholic schools in urban areas and to serve minorities and newly arrived immigrants, demonstrate the firm commitment of Dioceses and religious communities to multicultural solidarity as a requirement of evangelical love. Your pastoral leadership is now required in order to reconfirm the Catholic community in the "deep conviction that Catholic schools must exist for the good of the Church" (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, In Support of Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools, 14 November 1990, 1).
6. I would also repeat what I said in New Orleans to the leadership of Catholic higher education: "the greatest challenge is, and will remain, that of preserving and strengthening the Catholic character of your colleges and universities – that institutional commitment to the word of God as proclaimed by the Catholic Church" (John Paul II, Address to the Leaders in Catholic Higher Education, New Orleans, 9, 12 September 1987). The Catholic academic community as such, and not just individuals within it, is called to embrace this vision, without false dichotomies between the roles of reason and revelation, between academic freedom and the demands of Catholic identity. The claim to be Catholic involves a relationship to the Church’s teaching in all aspects of the life of such an institution: in the ethical and moral implications of its scholarship, the witness of intellectual integrity and principled conduct of its professors and teachers, and the models of goodness, discipline and knowledge offered to students.
In some instances, the local Bishop can strengthen the Catholic identity of a College or University through his juridically recognized role in the institution’s internal governance. In other cases the Bishops must carry out this grave responsibility indirectly, through the Religious and lay people involved. In every case, Catholic institutions must recognize the Bishop’s role as the chief teacher of the faith in the Diocese. As I pointed out during my last Pastoral Visit to the United States, the Bishops must not be seen "as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University" (Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Leaders in Catholic Higher Education, New Orleans, 4, 12 September 1987). As Pastors of the whole of God’s people entrusted to you, you rightly support, encourage and, when necessary, offer fraternal correction to those engaged in the noble cause of Catholic higher education.
7. Finally I wish to say a brief word about the health and social services in your pastoral charge. Testifying to the inalienable dignity of the human person and sharing with compassion the sufferings of the sick and the elderly, those engaged in these services bear striking witness to the love of the "Good Samaritan" (Cf. John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, 29). To maintain, but even more, to make such institutions flourish, precisely as Catholic, is a task requiring determination and courage. Within the Church and in society at large further explanation and education concerning their Catholic identity and their specific contribution to the common good are needed. Christians engaged in medical research, health care and social services need your firm support in resisting pressures to tolerate or engage in immoral practices which compromise the true dignity of the human person. Furthermore, Bishops should encourage all those dedicated to alleviating human suffering to see their activity as an eminent form of Christian love. The evangelical inspiration of their service must not be obscured or undermined by the increasing "industrialization" of health care.
8. Dear Brother Bishops, your ministry embraces in a special way the rising generation of United States Catholics, the young people of your Dioceses, who have a right to expect that you, and their families, schools and parishes, will pass on to them the treasure of a full and authentic faith. I am looking forward to seeing many of them at the World Meeting of Youth at Denver in August.The spiritual preparation leading up to that event will have important consequences for the realization of the goal which we all seek: that Christ, "the way and the truth and the life", be proclaimed to the world of youth. It is Jesus Christ, and none other, who answers the deepest aspirations of young people in their demand for a world of truth, justice and peace. I encourage you to continue being enthusiastic supporters of the meeting in Denver.
There are so many serious pastoral tasks before you as the next Christian Millennium approaches. The Church in the United States is experiencing a period of particular challenge. Her institutions are being called upon to embody ever more completely the Savior’s liberating truth (Cf. Jn. Jn 8,32) American Catholics face the challenge of being renewed in their "obedience of faith" to Christ and to his Church (Cf. Rom. Rm 1,5 Rm 16,26). In my prayers I commend you and the priests, Religious and laity of your Dioceses to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer.
May the Risen Lord himself support your determined efforts to remain ever faithful to the mission and ministry entrusted to you when you received the fullness of the priesthood. With my Apostolic Blessing.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to greet the officers of "The Papal Foundation" on the occasion of your annual visit to Rome. My particular appreciation goes to your President, Cardinal Krol, whom I thank for the kind words which he addressed to me in your name, and to the Cardinal members and the Trustees of the Foundation. Once again this year I express my deep gratitude for the practical assistance which you are providing me in my ministry of service to the universal Church. The work of your Foundation continues to bear impressive witness to the generosity of the Catholics of the United States and to the close bonds of communion uniting them to the See of Rome.
Today as ever, the demands of ecclesial communion call for a great sharing of gifts within the Church. Such sharing, whether the nature of the gift is predominantly material or spiritual, is a sign of the abundant graces which enliven and unify the members of Christ’s Body, and is a source of spiritual enrichment to receiver and to donor alike. In the unity of the Church, all Christians are called, as members of one another, to serve one another according to the gifts bestowed on each. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us: "This solidarity must be constantly increased until that day when it will be brought to perfection. Then, saved by grace, men will offer flawless glory to God as a family beloved of God and of Christ their Brother (Gaudium et Spes GS 32).
In this regard, I am particularly grateful for The Papal Foundation’s readiness to respond to the needs of the Church in the European countries where it has only recently been possible to return to a normal ecclesial life. Through your generosity, our brothers and sisters in those countries will be helped, among other things, to rebuild structures for the training of priests who will exercise the ministry of preaching the Gospel and celebrating the Sacraments. These projects are dear to my heart. They promise to bear abundant fruit in a renewal of Christian life and will thus contribute to the strengthening of the entire Church in faith, hope and love.
Dear friends: it is my fervent prayer that your desire to share in this practical way in my apostolic concern for all the Churches (Cf. 2Cor. 2Co 11,28). will inspire in you a renewed commitment to pray and work for the coming of God’s Kingdom. To you and to all who contribute to the work of The Papal Foundation, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in Christ our Savior.
I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican as the newly appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of China. In accepting your Letters of Credence, I thank you for the greetings and good wishes which you have conveyed on behalf of His Excellency President Lee Teng–hui, and I ask you kindly to assure him of my goodwill and of my prayers for his well–being and the happiness of all his fellow–citizens. I am happy for you personally, that you find special satisfaction in following the footsteps of your own father who at one time was his country’s representative to my predecessor Pope Pius XII.
The memory of your father takes us back to a very difficult period of your people’s history and to the moment when the Holy See’s diplomatic representative was obliged to leave continental China. After a brief interlude in Hong Kong, the Holy See’s diplomatic mission was welcomed in Taiwan, and a relationship was established, the deepest meaning of which is to be found in the Holy See’s desire to continue to maintain close and friendly relations with the great and noble Chinese family. The Church deeply appreciates the respect for freedom of religion which the Republic of China has upheld and fostered from the beginning in relation to all its citizens, and she is grateful that as a result she has been able to fulfill her spiritual and humanitarian mission without interference or discrimination, at the service of individuals and of the country as a whole.
As the Republic of China developed into a complex and highly productive society, the Catholic community too extended its efforts in the fields of education, health–care and other related social services. In pursuing her spiritual goals, the Church is always ready to cooperate in as many ways as possible in assuring the common good. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, the Church and the political community serve the personal and social vocations of the same human beings, and "this service can be more effectively rendered for the good of all, if each works better for wholesome mutual cooperation" (Gaudium et Spes GS 76). The possible areas of cooperation extend as far as the needs of the members of the human family itself.
At the beginning of this year, in greeting the Representatives of over a hundred and forty countries having diplomatic relations with the Holy See, I spoke of two sorts of evil which still hold the human family in their grip and condemn millions of human beings to an existence which harms and jeopardizes their very dignity as men and women: war and poverty. Despite the monumental changes which have come about on the international level in the last five years, armed conflict, with its trail of death and destruction, has not disappeared from the world’s horizon. Indeed, new and terrible instances of bloody conflict and threats of violent strife are before the eyes of everyone. The Holy See cannot but hope that the leaders of nations will do everything possible to meet this challenge and definitively "win the war" of peace by establishing effective and just structures of harmonious coexistence and cooperation.
And what of poverty? Hundreds of millions of human beings are imprisoned in situations of material and moral poverty which constitute a serious attack on the value of life and strike at the heart of the peaceful development of society. To be poor is to suffer some form of exclusion from the banquet of life. There are countless ways in which this happens: through hunger, illness, homelessness, unemployment, illiteracy, to mention only a few. In my Message for the World Day of Peace this year I emphasized the threat to peace and social stability posed by poverty. The situation is all the more tragic insofar as the world does possess the technological and organizational capabilities to change this situation and to improve conditions of life.
The question therefore which stands before the international community and before public authorities, especially in the developed world, is not one of resources alone. It is a question of human solidarity, a question of the vision which underlies political policies and programs at every level. It is ultimately a question of moral responsibility.
Through its presence in the international community, the Holy See seeks to keep before public opinion the ethical and moral dimensions of public life: the demands of justice, the dignity of the individual, the inviolability of human rights, the nature of the family as the fundamental cell of society, the universal destination of the world’s goods, the duties of States and other corporate bodies to serve the integral wellbeing of people. In this regard I wish to recall what I said at the meeting with the Diplomatic Corps to which I have already referred: "The Catholic Church, present in every nation of the earth, and the Holy See, a member of the international community, in no way wish to impose judgments or precepts, but merely to give the witness of their concept of man and history, which they know comes from a divine Revelation. Society cannot afford to forgo this original contribution without becoming the poorer for it and without violating the freedom of thought and expression of a large part of its citizens" (John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 7, 16 January 1993).
It is here, Mr Ambassador, that your reference to the achievements of traditional Chinese philosophy and culture is particularly appropriate. The encounter between Chinese humanism and Catholicism has given rise to a very profound and fruitful exchange, not least in the life and work of Matteo Ricci whom you mentioned, but in a continuing way in the Catholic community in your own country and elsewhere. It is my earnest hope that this cultural and moral dialogue will advance at the deepest level, at the level of the vital questions facing all individuals and societies: the meaning of life and the path which leads to fulfilling that meaning. The Church intends to be a loyal partner in such a dialogue, with no pretence of privilege or exclusiveness, aiming only at the truth and acting only out of genuine love for the human family.
Mr Ambassador, your mission as Representative of your country to the Holy See will reflect the special nature of the diplomacy involved: not questions of power or commercial interest, but the promotion of man’s unique dignity and vocation, and the fostering of justice and peace in international relations. I assure you of the cooperation of the various departments of the Holy See in the exercise of your lofty duties. I pray that you will be happy here, and that you and your family will have many reasons for joy and satisfaction. Upon you and your fellow citizens I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.
Speeches 1993 - Saturday, 20 March 1993