Speeches 1993 - Thursday, 16 September 1993
Saturday, 18 September 1993
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am pleased to welcome you, leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, together with Bishop Paul Cordes whom I appointed some years ago to accompany the Renewal and to support and encourage its Catholic identity. I warmly greet the Bishops and many priests who are a part of your gathering.
You have just completed a spiritual retreat in Assisi, the city of Saint Francis and also of Saint Clare, the eighth centenary of whose birth falls this year. These great figures of holiness in the Church made their own the words of Saint Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Ga 2,20). Is this not the ideal and the goal which permeates the Charismatic Renewal? Is it not the programme of life which your prayer groups and communities have set themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? May the example and intercession of the great Saints of Assisi strengthen your resolve to grow continually in evangelical love and service "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ep 4,13).
At the recent "World Youth Day" in Denver I reflected with the young people present on the words of the Lord to the Prophet Isaiah: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Is 6,8). We reflected on these words as applied to vocations to the priesthood and the religious life in the context of the new evangelization. Today it is a fact of the Church’s life that many vocations arise and blossom in the heart of the various Movements and Associations. I wish to encourage you to give close attention within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal to this particular mode of God’s love for his People. The prayerful response of your members and associates to this grace will be a further, explicit sign of the Renewal’s sharing in the life and mission of the Church, the visible body of Christ (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 12,27).
The Church today has great need of your prayer and commitment. Together let us praise our Heavenly Father for all that he has done in your lives, and let us implore his grace so that your apostolates will bear abundant fruit. As a token of my encouragement, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Tuesday, 21 September 1993
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all, making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the gospel" (Ph 1,3-5). With these sentiments of the Apostle Paul I cordially welcome you – the Bishops of New England. Paul’s journeys to Jerusalem to meet Peter (Cf. Gal. Ga 1,18 Ga 2,1-2) provide the first example of those fraternal encounters which have become the Bishops’ visits "ad Limina Apostolorum". We have conversed and prayed together as brothers in the Lord. Thus, these meetings foster the bonds of hierarchical and affective communion between us. Through them we are mutually strengthened – in the words of "Lumen gentium" – "by the common sharing of all things and by the common effort to attain to fullness in unity" (Lumen Gentium LG 13).
Today I wish to thank the whole Church in the United States, particularly the Archdiocese of Denver, for hosting the Eighth "World Youth Day". My visit in the Rocky Mountain State, where hundreds of thousands of young people gathered to profess their faith in Christ, experience communion with the Church and commit themselves to the pressing task of the new evangelization, was a time of great joy and renewed hope. I was moved many times by the young people’s obvious and joyous love of God and of the Church. They told us their stories of suffering for the Gospel, of conquering seemingly overwhelming obstacles with divine help, and of their anguish before a world tormented by despair, cynicism and conflict. I came away from Denver praising God who reveals to the young the secrets of his Kingdom (Cf. Mt. Mt 11,25). All of us, Bishops of the Church, should reflect anew on our ministry to young people and on our responsibility to present to them the full truth of Christ and his Church.
The young people gathered at Denver certainly deserved to hear the words of Saint Paul which I used at the closing Mass: "I have great confidence in you, I have great pride in you; I am filled with encouragement, I am overflowing with joy" (2Co 7,4). From the very many letters I have received, I share with you what one young woman, who is about to begin her university studies, wrote to me. She says: "We were asleep in the arms of Christ: it was (the "World Youth Day" which.) awakened us from our nightmares of self-indulgence and loneliness, to look up into the eyes of that God-Man who is our way, our truth and our life". In such words we Pastors must read a continuing challenge to accompany young people in their pilgrimage of faith, the journey they make in response to God’s grace at work in their hearts, that journey which from time to time needs moments of special intensity, such as pilgrimages, prayer-meetings, retreats. It requires time and attention to listen to young people, to teach them, to encourage them. The apostolate to youth must be a priority of the Church at the approach of the third millennium.
2. We cannot ignore the deep desires that are stirring in people’s hearts today. In spite of negative signs, many hunger for an authentic and challenging spirituality. There is "a fresh discovery of God in his transcendent reality as the infinite Spirit" (John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 2), and young people especially are looking for a solid foundation upon which to build their lives. The youth of America look to you to lead them to Christ, who is the only "existentially adequate response to the desire in every human heart for goodness, truth and life" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 24). Allow me to repeat what I said to the Bishops last month in Denver: "Are we always ready to help the young people discover the transcendent elements of the Christian life? From our words and actions do they conclude that the Church is indeed a mystery of communion with the Blessed Trinity, and not just a human institution with temporal aims?" (John Paul II, Mass with the Bishops gathered in the Cathedral of Denver, 2, 13 August 1993).
3. Among the concrete lessons of the "World Youth Day" we should not overlook young people’s capacity and desire for prayer. They expect their pastors to be teachers of truly Christian prayer, which leads to sharing in the Son’s own filial dialogue with the Father in accordance with Saint Paul’s marvelous expression in the Letter to the Galatians: "because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’" (Ga 4,6). Prayer is not one occupation among many, but is at the center of our life in Christ. It turns our attention away from ourselves and directs it to the Lord. Prayer fills the mind with truth and gives hope to the heart.Without a deep experience of prayer, growth in the moral life will be shallow. The authentic renewal of your Dioceses calls for the apostolate of prayer rooted in faith, strengthened by the sacramental and liturgical life, and active in charity (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 2558).
4. Hand in hand with nurturing the spiritual vitality of young men and women goes the challenge of presenting them with "the fullness of the truth which God has enabled us to know about himself " (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 5). It is clear that the controversies and dissent of past decades are of little interest to them. They are not inspired by a Gospel which is diluted, disguised or made to seem effortless. Every effort should be made to guarantee that catechetical and religious education programs, Catholic schools and Institutions of higher learning and, in particular, the preaching ministry of the Church, present serenely and convincingly – but without embarrassment or compromise – the whole treasury of Church teaching.
Only by forming young people in genuine Catholic spirituality and in the fullness of Catholic doctrine can you help them to assume fully their role and responsibilities in the Church, something of which they themselves are very conscious. With their enthusiasm and boundless energy, they should be encouraged to be "leading characters in evangelization and participants in the renewal of society" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 46). Not just evangelized, they are themselves evangelizers who bring the Gospel to their peers, including those alienated from the Church and those who have not yet heard the Good news. Likewise, many young people have an enormous potential for generosity, dedication and commitment and are attracted to forms of volunteer work, especially in serving the needy. With them, the leaders of the Church in the United States should continue to explore ways in which their talents and desire to participate in the Church’s mission can be more fully realized. The ordinary means of "youth ministry", which focus on the parish, should continue so that the young are not isolated from the broader community. But, as your own experience tells you, it is often helpful to supplement this through associations, movements, special centres and groups that meet their particular needs (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 37).
5. As the increased interest in ethical questions and the growing debate about "values" in American life demonstrate, the need for moral formation through the work of families, schools and other institutions is being felt more and more. Given this situation, Pastors have many opportunities to provide leadership in the area of moral development, bearing as they do the truth of Christ, the wisdom of God (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 1,24). who sets us free (Cf. Jn. Jn 8,32). Yet direction and vision will only be effective when there is a consensus about how to live. The Church has that vision of life’s meaning and purpose in the "one faith" of the Gospel. Is it not true that the question asked by the young man in the Gospel, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Mc 10,17) is being asked of us today with an urgency that demands our close attention?
The needed renewal of social and political life can only take place if the intrinsic connection between faith and morality is clear. Young Catholics are sensitive to the need for consistency between faith professed and faith lived. They demand a clear sense of what it means in practice to be Catholic. Pastors ought to preach with a new confidence and zeal the "answer" about morality that the Lord has entrusted to his Church. Among the themes of this Good News is the essential bond between human freedom and truth, in the sense that a freedom which refuses to be bound to truth loses its foundation (Cf. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 41). Young people sense – perhaps sometimes without knowing why – that religious, moral and cultural relativism does not lead to happiness and that freedom without truth is illusory.
One of the key pastoral problems facing us is the widespread misunderstanding of the role of conscience, whereby individual conscience and experience are exalted above or against Church teaching. The young women and men of America, and indeed of the whole Western world, who are often victims of educational theories which propose that they "create" their own values and that "feeling good about themselves" is a primary guiding moral principle, are asking to be led out of this moral confusion. All those who teach in the name of the Church should fearlessly honour the dignity of the moral conscience as the sanctuary in which the voice of God is heard (Cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 16); but with equal care they should proclaim, in opposition to all subjectivism, that conscience is not a tribunal which creates the good, but must be formed in the light of universal and objective norms of morality. Clear teaching on these matters is also an essential part of the necessary return to the practice of the Sacrament of Penance. The thousands of Confessions heard by the priests present in Denver show that the young people know the value of this Sacrament, in spite of the widespread crisis affecting it (John Paul II, Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 28).
6. Clear teaching on all such matters is liberating because it presents the true meaning of discipleship: Christ calls his followers to friendship with him (Cf. Jn. Jn 15,15). In fact, the personal following of Christ is the essential foundation of Christian morality. The "obedience of faith" (Rm 16,26) is both an intellectual assent to doctrine as well as a life commitment which draws us into ever more perfect union with Christ himself. The Church must always be careful not to reduce "the word of truth" (Col 1,5) to an abstract code of ethics and morality, or a treatise of rules for good behavior. The preaching of Christian morality, so closely linked to the new evangelization, must not empty the Cross of Christ of its power (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 1,17).
I am confident that the Bishops of the United States will continue to give special pastoral attention to young people, in whom the Church recognizes her own divinely given youthfulness as the Bride of Christ (Cf. Eph. Ep 5,22-23). I entrust all the priests, Religious and faithful of your Dioceses to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, that she may remain with you in prayer (Cf. Acts. Ac 1,14), and make you messengers of hope and bearers of life to the world. With affection in the Lord I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and all the faithful of New England.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. With affection in the Lord I welcome you, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, in Rome for your visit "ad Limina Apostolorum". Four years ago I was a pilgrim to your homeland in order to visit, as I said, "the sanctuary of the People of God" which he has established as his dwelling place in that part of Africa (Cf. John Paul II, General Audience, 1, 10 May 1989). Now, at the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul you bear witness to the communion linking the Churches of Blantyre, Chikwawa, Dedza, Lilongwe, Mangochi, Mzuzu and Zomba to the Bishop of Rome and through him to the Church Universal. It is fitting that on this occasion we should rejoice in the intimate fellowship that is ours in the body of Christ.
Through you I greet the dear priests, Religious and laity of Malawi, and I ask you to assure them that they are never far from my thoughts and prayers. I continue to give thanks to God for granting me the consolation during the visit to your country to see for myself the faith of Malawian Catholics, and to join with them in proclaiming Christ’s Gospel and in offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
2. Being so near to the very places where the Princes of the Apostles freely laid down their lives in witness to Christ gives us a vivid sense of how the grace of their calling to serve the Gospel reshaped their lives and their destinies. For us, who have been made successors of the Apostles by Episcopal Ordination, the transformation worked in us by the imposition of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit entails our complete consecration to the task of spreading the Gospel (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 25). We must repeat with Paul: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1Co 9,16), and we should say with Peter: "We have the prophetic word made more sure" (2P 2,19).
The youthfulness of the Churches which you shepherd makes you keenly aware that evangelization is the fundamental responsibility laid upon a Bishop. The Gospel was first effectively planted in Malawi little more than a century ago. I know from participating in your centenary celebrations that the self–sacrifice of those earlier generations of missionaries is a continual stimulus for you to imitate and continue their generous service in sowing the seed of God’s word. Even today many of your co–workers come to you from abroad out of dedication to the missio ad gentes. The Church is grateful to them. She prays that they will be strengthened to persevere in their labours in your midst, and she asks her Lord to send many more faithful servants to work in his vineyard, already ripe for the harvest.
3. The task of incarnating the Gospel in the culture of Malawi, which began only a few generations ago, will continue until the end of time. With you I thank God for the positive fruits that it has already borne, and I pray that God will give you, the Pastors of Church in Malawi, the gift of discernment and right judgment so that you may exercise ever more effectively your indispensable role as leaders in this process. I likewise share with you and all the Bishops of Africa the hope that through the forthcoming Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops the genuine inculturation of the Gospel will receive new impetus throughout the Continent.
The family is at the heart of the life of society and its members, and for this reason is one of the most important objects of the Church’s ministry and care. This is especially true in the African context, where the family and the ties binding together its members are of such great significance. The goal of your ministry in this field cannot be other than to foster that form of family life which is at one and the same time truly rooted in Malawi and completely filled with Christ.
4. In the process of the transformation of family life through the grace and light of the Gospel, one aspect which calls for particular attention – because it is always in need of being purified and elevated – is that of procreation: something which is so highly prized among the peoples of Africa. In the context of the new creation achieved by grace, parenthood takes on the sense of having a share in God’s work as the author of all life. From him, all parenthood in heaven and on earth is named (Cf. Eph. Ep 3,15).
It follows that the proper context for engendering a new human life is the permanent and exclusive union which spouses establish by the complete and irrevocable gift of self to each other. The Church’s insistence on monogamous marriage is not an imposition of a foreign reality displacing local traditions. Rather, in fidelity to her Lord, the Church proclaims – as the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" states – that "Christ renews the first plan that the Creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman... Just as the Lord Jesus is the ‘faithful witness’, the ‘yes’ of the promises of God and thus the supreme realization of the unconditional faithfulness with which God loves his people, so Christian couples are called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the Church his bride, loved by him to the end" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 20). The understanding of marriage and parenthood given us by Christ is the key for unlocking the fullest meaning of these realities in every time and place. As the Exhortation concludes: "To bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples... in a humble and courageous manner, they perform the role committed to them of being in the world a ‘sign’ – a small and precious sign, sometimes also subjected to temptation, but always renewed – of the unfailing fidelity with which God and Jesus Christ love each and every human being" (Ibid.).
5. Living this renewed reality is the vocation to which the vast majority of the Catholics in Malawi are called by God. In order to respond well to his invitation, the faithful must receive the necessary formation, in regard not only to marriage and family life in particular, but to the whole Christian mystery which is their foundation. The efforts being made in your Dioceses to impart this training, especially to young people, who from the earliest age should be educated to walk in the ways of the Spirit, are the sure sources of the future strength of Catholic family life.
I share, dear Brothers, your concern that a merely generic syllabus of religious education in schools is insufficient. I am confident that when such programmes are measured against the "Catechism of the Catholic Church", recently promulgated as "a sure norm for teaching the faith" (John Paul II, Fidei Depositum, 4), any inadequacies will be easily detected and corrected. To the devoted catechists, working tirelessly to help catechumens and the baptized to mature in the life of faith, I express the Church’s appreciation. I pray that God will aid and sustain them in their vital work.
6. The witness given in Malawi by Religious is indispensable for evangelization. Through their lives of chastity, poverty and obedience in this world, Religious are signs of the life of the world to come. By giving up home and marriage, by forgoing the privilege of physically engendering new life, they show all the more clearly that the gift of self made under the impulse of grace is – even contrary to appearances – the true source of life (Cf. John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem MD 21).
With a powerful clarity their lives of self-denial remind us that it was on the seemingly most sterile tree, the Cross, that God brought forth the most abundant harvest.
Since religious life bears witness to the presence of God’s Kingdom and to the power of the Gospel to transform the realities of daily existence into channels of supernatural life, your efforts to foster an increase of vocations to the consecrated life and your support of initiatives aimed at strengthening formation are vitally important.
7. Priestly zeal and dedication is likewise so necessary for the growth of the Church that Bishops must give their primary care to the members of their presbyterates. Priests must be encouraged to support one another and to challenge one another to achieve an ever closer identification with Christ the Good Shepherd. Especially important in this regard is the good influence which older priests of proven virtue can have, in trying situations, upon those who have just begun their ministry. When difficulties arise, a Bishop must earnestly seek guidance in prayer, and be like the Lord himself who was "gentle and lowly in heart" (Cf. Mt. Mt 11,29), always ready to save the brother who was lost and is found (Cf. Lk. Lc 15,32).
The celibate life of priests fittingly expresses the new identity received at Ordination. Sacramental configuration with Christ calls for total dedication to the pastoral care of God’s people. Priests’ manner of living should show that zeal for the salvation of others has become the all-consuming purpose of their activities. Through a priest’s spiritual fatherhood the Holy Spirit brings to birth new children of God, and these brothers and sisters of Christ are brought to their full stature in Christ (Cf. Eph. Ep 4,13).
Your conviction of the importance of having priests truly filled with zeal for the Lord’s house (Cf. Jn 2,17) is the reason for your special concern for the Seminaries in your nation. It is indispensable to have exemplary priests as directors of priestly formation. This is the best guarantee that those to be ordained will receive the spiritual, intellectual, human and pastoral formation they require if they are to be worthy ministers of the Gospel. Those of your clergy assigned to this significant work are especially deserving of your support. Even when there is an urgent need for more priests, pressures to lower standards or to overlook deficiencies in candidates must be resisted. The Church’s wisdom, valid no less today than in the past, is that a lessening of demands is no real solution to the scarcity of priests. God is with his Church, and exemplary ministers of the altar are his most effective instruments for building up the Church and providing for the needs of the faithful.
8. The more deeply the Gospel takes root in Malawi, the greater will be the transformation of society, for evangelization offers the basis for authentic human development (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 58). Recently, your Episcopal Conference has devoted a great deal of attention to applying the wisdom and light of Christ’s message to current challenges. In this regard your Pastoral Letters "Living Our Faith" (Lent 1992) and "Choosing Our Future" (2 February 1993) have been of particular significance. In the evolving political context such help is especially important in guiding the members of your flock as they exercise their rights and duties in the life of the nation. I am pleased that the efforts of the Pontifical Representative and other officials of the Holy See have been of assistance in fulfilling your responsibilities as the chief teachers of your particular Churches.
What the Church seeks is her rightful freedom to teach the message entrusted to her by the Prince of Peace (Cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 13). By faithfully carrying out her divine mission she helps the peoples of the world to achieve their just aspirations. By conscientiously discharging your obligation to teach the Church’s social doctrine, you loyally serve the nation and make a necessary contribution to the common good. Dear Brothers, I share your hope that under the guiding hand of God’s Providence Malawi will move steadily along the path of justice and solidarity towards that authentic development which supports the whole good of the human person.
9. In Malawi, those who first planted the Gospel and those who preach it today have generously devoted themselves to works of charity and service, which are an essential part of proclaiming the Good News. They were so in Jesus’ own earthly ministry and they remain so today, for love remains the driving force of mission (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 60). Through schools, hospitals and dispensaries, indeed in all your efforts to promote full human development, the message of God’s love in Christ is made perceptible, and the dignity and transcendent destiny of every human person is upheld and promoted. I express the ardent hope that all these good works will be able to continue in a climate of peace and social harmony based upon the mutual respect and understanding of all sectors of society.
With full trust in the unfailing love of Mary Mother of the Church, I commend you and your Dioceses to her protection. To you and all the faithful I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Friday, 1 October 1993
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome to the Vatican the President and Board of Directors of the Associated Press.Your presence brings to mind the extremely important service to individuals and to the community which you and your colleagues provide in giving open and timely information about events, big and small.
The diffusion of information plays an ever increasing role in the lives of millions of human beings. To a great extent people’s views of the world around them are formed by what they receive from the media. This implies enormous responsibilities for journalism. If it is to remain a noble art and benefit society, the good of the human person – in effect the good of the readership or audience – must be the overriding aim which guides the complex and highpressure activity of gathering and reporting the news (Cf. Inter Mirifica IM 5). To acknowledge journalism’s high purpose is to be willing to measure one’s efforts by positive criteria such as, upholding the dignity and rights of every individual, absolute respect for the truth, and an objectivity which ensures that the news is not presented with pre-conceived bias.
As in all significant human endeavours, the discharge of your responsibilities can entail a temptation to use the power of the media for its own sake. I express the hope that you will always be guided by a deep commitment to the liberating power of the truth (Cf. Jn. Jn 8,31-32), and a concern for the demands of justice and the objective requirements of the common good. I also wish to pay tribute today to those fine journalists who have – sometimes even at great risk to themselves – contributed to improving the human community through the right exercise of their profession by exposing evil or publicizing the good.
In offering you my cordial good wishes for your meeting in Rome, I add a word of appreciation for the contribution which the members of your association made to the recent celebration of the "World Youth Day" in Denver through their coverage of that event.
With these sentiments I cordially invoke upon you and your families abundant divine blessings.
Dear Brother Bishops,
"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father... comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word" (2Th 2,16).
1. With this prayer I welcome you – the Bishops of Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington – on the occasion of your "ad Limina" visit. Through you I warmly greet each member of the Churches in which the Holy Spirit has made you his overseers (Cf. Acts. Ac 20,28). In a special way I thank God for the profound solidarity – sacramental and fraternal – which unites us in the episcopal ministry for the service of God’s beloved people.
The Second Vatican Council reminded Bishops that it is their "duty to promote and safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church" (Lumen Gentium LG 23). Like the Apostles, who were missionaries with a mission extending far beyond a local community, we are "ambassadors for Christ" (2Co 5,20), called to serve the Church’s catholic unity and communion through a pastoral solicitude which embraces the whole Body of Christ. Through your union with the body of Bishops, your particular Churches remain open to universal koinonia, they welcome and receive the fullness of the apostolic faith, and they enrich the Church by contributing the wealth of their own gifts. Each of you is a living instrument of unity and catholicity, nourishing your particular Church’s fidelity to Christ by fostering the bonds of ecclesial communion with the Successor of Peter and the other members of the Episcopal College.
2. One of the recurring themes of this series of "ad Limina" reflections with the Bishops of the United States has been the urgent need for a genuine spiritual and moral renewal in the Church and in society. In the period remaining before the turn of the millennium and the great Jubilee celebration recalling the mystery of the Son’s Redemptive Incarnation, the Holy Spirit is summoning the Church to purification, repentance and renewed spiritual fervor. The whole Church needs to respond generously to this call, lest the grace of the millennium be offered in vain (Cf. ibid. 6: 1). For your Diocesan communities it is a question of ever greater commitment to being the salt of the earth and the light of the world in a society which is more and more fragmented through a loss of spiritual vision and purpose. For many people the truth of God’s loving providence over creation and of the grace of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ is less and less a vital part of their lives. The radical pastoral challenge which the Church and her members are facing at the end of the twentieth century is to show the relevance of the Gospel message for the individual’s transcendent destiny, as well as for authentic human development.
In God’s design, the Second Vatican Council constituted an outpouring of divine light and assistance, enabling the Church to meet with full confidence and security the challenges of the present. Our episcopal ministry must be decidedly oriented to the renewal and strengthening of the Church called for by the Council, so that through her activity – in the words of "Gaudium et Spes" – "the world might be fashioned anew according to God’s design and might reach its fulfilment" (Gaudium et Spes GS 2). The path of ecclesial reform passes through the ecclesiology of communion, which is the central and fundamental idea of the Council’s documents (Cf. Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, 1985, Final Report). Flowing from the living wellspring of sacred tradition, the ecclesiology of koinonia can bring the Church that necessary and authentic reform, that true ecclesial metànoia which "is to be measured not primarily in terms of external structures, but in deeper and more effective implementation of the core vision of her true nature and mission" (John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of the United States of America in Los Angeles, 16 September 1987).
3. Ecclesial communion in fact is a profound reality which reaches into the very heart of the Trinitarian Mystery, wherein the real distinction of Persons in no way diminishes the unity of the Godhead. The vertical dimension of communion – the love of God poured forth into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Cf. Rom. Rm 5,5), which raises us to new life in Jesus Christ – is the fundamental and central experience of our Christian life. This grace, which reaches its fulfillment only in the heavenly Church where "God may be everything to every one" (1Co 15,28), is the end for which every human person is created in his image and likeness (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1720-1722). It is the sublime mystery of God’s saving love which the Church must always proclaim in her teaching, celebrate in her sacraments and foster in all her life and activity. Every aspect of Church renewal, whether in the Liturgy, in catechesis, or in pastoral and canonical practice and discipline, must have as its goal the revitalization and growth of grace in our hearts, the deepening of communion with the Triune God.
For all its sublimity, the communion of which we are speaking is not a distant, abstract reality. It is the very foundation of the organization and activity of the Church at every level. It follows that the ministries, organisms and relationships which foster ecclesial communion in its horizontal dimension must have one overriding purpose: they must serve to bring people to Christ, they must lead the baptized to grow in faith, hope and love, and they must build up the body of Christ in unity of faith and discipline.
Speeches 1993 - Thursday, 16 September 1993