Speeches 1993 - Friday, 22 October 1993
Dear Friends in Christ,
I am pleased to welcome you, the staff and students of Saint Edmund’s College, as you make a pilgrimage to Rome to mark the two hundredth anniversary of your school’s location at Old Hall Green and its dedication to Saint Edmund of Canterbury.
Saint Edmund’s has a long and distinguished history, of which you are rightly proud. It can trace its roots back to 1568, when Cardinal Allen founded the English College at Douai to promote the education of young Englishmen in a properly Catholic atmosphere.
Your college gave them a sound foundation in the Christian faith, as well as in the arts and sciences, while at the same time preparing some of them for the priesthood. During difficult times the school helped to keep the flame of Catholicism alive in England.
It is a happy coincidence that you are here in Rome for the feast of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales, some of whom studied at the English College in Douai. These were brave men filled with faith and joy in the Risen Lord. In spite of the hardships which awaited them at home, they were determined to return there to pastor Christ’s flock. Above all they were faithful to the Holy See, suffering martyrdom for their loyalty to the Successor of Peter. Your presence here today testifies to the fruitfulness of their witness. As your motto suggests, you have preserved their heritage: Avita pro Fide.
Nowadays Saint Edmund’s College is dedicated to educating young men to take their place in English society as mature, well–educated Christians. More than ever, the Catholic layman has the responsibility of bearing witness to the truth of Christ. When you return to England, as your predecessors did, proclaim that Gospel message, and "be persistent whether the time is favourable or unfavourable" (2Tm 4,2).
The school’s staff too should be inspired by the wise and holy leaders of its past and be ever ready to foster a joyful faith and sound moral values among the students in their care.
May the intercession of Saint Edmund of Canterbury and the Douai Martyrs deepen your faith in Christ and your love of his Church. To all the staff and students of Saint Edmund’s College I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
I’m pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to receive the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zambia to the Holy See. Deeply grateful for the good wishes which you have expressed on behalf of His Excellency President Frederick J. T. Chiluba, I ask you kindly to convey to him my own cordial greetings. I vividly recall the generous hospitality shown to me during my Pastoral Visit in 1989, and I take this opportunity to renew to the beloved Zambian people the assurance of my continuing prayers that they will work wisely for the development of their own country and for peace and justice in the region.
The Catholic Church in your nation is young and vigorous, and her members are sustained and strengthened in love and service of country by their religious commitment. From the first coming of the Gospel to the land that is now the Republic of Zambia, Catholics have been active in advancing the development of its people, especially through works of education and health–care, the effectiveness of which Your Excellency has so graciously acknowledged. Zambia upholds the principle of religious liberty, which enables the Church to obey freely the Lord’s command to preach the Good News of salvation and to bear witness to it with deeds of love. Her members are happy to contribute to the common good alongside their fellow-citizens of other Churches and ecclesial communities, ae well as with those of other traditions.
The political changes to which you referred mark Zambia’s transition to an important new phase in its history. As the nation moves into the second quarter century of independence it has a providential opportunity to reaffirm its noble ideals, especially those of justice, freedom and respect for every individual’s human dignity. This can be a time for all sectors of society to reconfirm their commitment to work wholeheartedly towards the full realization of those ideals. To attain such a goal, effective solidarity is essential. This virtue, based on a firm conviction about the interdependence of individuals and communities, is manifested in persevering service of neighbour (Cf. John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). It is the foundation for authentic development in a society and, ultimately, for good government.
Your Excellency has mentioned some of the obstacles which the Zambian people face as they seek to establish a society in which they and their children can prosper. In this regard, the burden of Zambia’s international debt is a matter of particular concern. The Church has consistently pointed out that the objective demands of justice never require that individuals be deprived of the means to satisfy fundamental human needs (Cf. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 35). Since part of the Holy See’s specific mission in international affairs is to represent the ethical principles that must shape the response to such problems, it encourages the efforts of those possessing expertise and authority in these matters to formulate solutions which are truly just, and it appeals at every possible opportunity for the speedy adoption of such measures.
The Holy See shares your nation’s desire to foster the cause of peace among its neighbours. While not losing sight of the encouraging signs in that part of Africa, I acknowledge how disturbing it is that in Angola there has been a return to armed conflict as a means of advancing political aims. Likewise, the unremitting violence in South Africa, despite the important progress being made, is a constant source of concern. It is my fervent prayer that the path of dialogue and reconciliation will replace hostility and destruction. An end to violence takes on an even greater urgency in the light of the fact that the peoples of the region are still struggling to recover from last year’s serious drought. Now more than ever an unimpeded cooperative effort is needed to fend off the consequences of that natural disaster. I pray that those who can help, both in Africa and abroad, will act swiftly to avert further malnutrition and starvation on this continent which has already known so much misery.
Mr Ambassador, it is my hope that during the term of your service as your nation’s representative the friendship and understanding which have marked relations between Zambia and the Holy See will continue to grow. I assure you of the full cooperation of the Roman Curia in the exercise of your lofty mission, and I invoke abundant divine blessing upon you and all the Zambian people.
On this auspicious occasion I extend to you, the first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Swaziland to the Holy See, a cordial welcome to the Vatican. I take particular pleasure in accepting your Letters of Credence from His Majesty King Mswati III, and I am grateful for the kind words spoken by your Sovereign when he received the Apostolic Nuncio earlier this year. I am confident that this exchange of permanent representatives will strengthen the ties of friendship which already exist between the Apostolic See and Swaziland, and that it will assist us in working together for the well-being of the peoples of Southern Africa. I vividly remember my meeting with the King during my Pastoral Visit to your nation five years ago, when the beloved Swazi People welcomed me with such warmth and hospitality. I ask you to convey to his Majesty, as well as to the Queen Mother, my sentiments of esteem and respect.
In past decades, when so many nations in Africa were affirming their determination to improve the lot of their citizens and to take their rightful place in the international community, that Continent seemed on the verge of achieving new levels of development. This process however was not always successful and did not everywhere produce the good results for which people yearned. To the point that at the beginning of the year, in my remarks to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, I voiced particular concern about the ways in which the two great threats to development – war and poverty – are growing in Africa (Cf. John Paul II, Address to the Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, 2, 16 January 1993).
In the face of situations of armed conflict, I cannot but urge all parties to lay down their weapons and have recourse to dialogue in order to resolve disputes on the basis of the norms of true justice and respect for human rights. In regard to the worsening of people’s material circumstances, the Church is an advocate of the poor before the world, a voice appealing on their behalf to the conscience of believers of all faiths and to every person of good will. In the international forum she seeks to encourage efforts to ensure that an appropriate share of mankind’s vast technological and material resources is devoted to programmes of authentic development. Without help from the world community, there is an all too real danger that the movements towards democracy and political renewal in Africa will not achieve their full flowering. Without development, mankind will never be free from the threat of violence, for the enormous number of people living in conditions of extreme poverty – with whole sectors of the population often finding themselves on the margins of civil life within their own countries – "is not only an affront to human dignity but also represents a clear threat to peace" (John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1993, 3, 8 December 1992).
When I was in Swaziland I was pleased to note the efforts being made "to ensure racial harmony, religious liberty, social welfare, and a hospitable welcome for refugees", all signs of a sound civic order (John Paul II, Holy Mass at "Somhlolo Stadium" of Mbabane, Swaziland, 16 September 1988). Continued progress in the life of a nation requires a model of development which is appropriate to its particular history and characteristics. The advancement of a people must defend and uphold the worthy values and elements of its traditional way of life. In your own country, as in many other parts of Africa, the profound sense of solidarity, especially among family members, and social structures which place human relations above economic gain must not be lost in attempts to achieve a higher level of material prosperity. This sort of clear recognition of the worth of the individual, together with an appreciation for a person’s place within the community and his indispensable contribution to it, should have as a logical consequence respect for the rights of every person in society (Cf. Paul VI, Africae Terrarum, 10-13).
Swazi Catholics, although a small minority within the Kingdom, are firmly committed to cooperating with their fellow-citizens in building up the nation. In particular, under the leadership of their Bishop and priests, the lay faithful are called to bear witness before all to the sacredness of life and marriage, and to show by word and example that the sanctuary of the home must always be protected, so that the family – the basic unit of society – can fulfil its educational, humanizing and socializing functions. The Church counts upon the legal guarantee of religious liberty so that in Swaziland she can zealously pursue her mission of leading people to worship God "in spirit and truth" (Jn 4,23) and to express the compassion of Christ in works of education, health care, and other forms of service.
I offer my best wishes to Your Excellency as you begin your mission on behalf of your King and your country. I assure you that you will receive full cooperation from the various departments of the Holy See as you discharge your lofty responsibilities. Upon his Majesty King Mswati III and all the citizens of Swaziland I invoke abundant divine blessings of peace and well-being.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Singapore to the Holy See. With heartfelt gratitude for the warm greetings which you have brought from your Government and people, I ask you to convey to President Ong Teng Cheong and your fellow-citizens my cordial good wishes and prayers for their peace and well-being.
Your Excellency has referred to your Government’s commitment to improving the quality of life of its citizens. This noble objective, beyond economic plans and technological projects, is first and foremost an ethical endeavour, for if initiatives aimed at political and economic advancement are to achieve their authentic purpose they must serve the integral development of every person and of the whole person (Cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1987, 5, 8 December 1986). In Singapore, people of various languages, races and religions live and work together in harmony. The unity of the human family, which takes its origin from the one God and Creator, and the inalienable dignity of each of its members are the fundamental principles which give rise to the mutual respect of men and women of different traditions and which sustain them in advancing the life of the nation out of the resources of their own particular heritage (Cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1989, 3, 8 December 1988). A genuine spirit of tolerance and mutual respect will ensure that every group can make its own contribution to the common good. By this "exchange of gifts" the nation is enriched.
Building a just and peaceful society requires a wholehearted commitment to the principle of religious liberty, which is the cornerstone of the entire structure of human rights. Freedom to seek the truth and freedom to profess one’s religious convictions – rights recognized and guaranteed by your Constitution, and protected by your juridical structures – are the sure guarantee that other fundamental rights will not be ignored and that efforts to ensure the well-being and progress of the national community will be profoundly motivated and generously sustained.
In this context I appreciate Your Excellency’s expression of esteem for the contribution which the Catholic Church makes to the life of the Republic of Singapore. While the Church always gives priority to her spiritual aims, it is also true that her religious mission "produces a function, enlightenment and resources which can be of service in constructing and strengthening the human community in accordance with the divine law" (Gaudium et Spes GS 42). Both the teaching and ancient practice of the Catholic Church lead her to alleviate the plight of those in need and those who are suffering in so many different ways (Cf. John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 31). Through her network of schools and social assistance programmes, the Church – through her priests, religious and laity – will continue to work for the well-being of all citizens, especially the younger generation – your country’s greatest resource.
The cooperation of the Republic of Singapore and its neighbouring States is an indispensable condition for friendly co-existence in the region and, as a consequence, for furthering the cause of world peace. As I had occasion to remark during my Pastoral Visit to your country in 1986: "Peacemaking is a task that is never finished, but always in progress, always in need of being confirmed and strengthened" (John Paul II, Eucharistic Celebration at the stadium of Singapore, 8, 20 November 1986). The foundation of peace is justice and its expression is international solidarity. The increasing gap between rich and poor, even within economically developed nations, is becoming more marked and presents an ever increasing threat to peace. To allow situations of extreme poverty to persist creates social conditions which breed resentment and division, destroying any hope for social harmony and world peace. As I noted with grave concern last year: "This is a problem which the conscience of humanity cannot ignore, since the conditions in which a great number of people are living are an insult to their innate dignity and as a result are a threat to the authentic and harmonious progress of the world community" (Cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1993, 1, 8 December 1992). I express the hope therefore that the Republic of Singapore will be a convinced champion within the international community of a more just and more equitable sharing of the world’s resources among the members of the one human family.
In offering my good wishes at the beginning of your mission, I take this opportunity to assure Your Excellency of the readiness of the Offices of the Holy See to assist you in your work. Upon yourself and upon all the citizens of the Republic of Singapore I cordially invoke abundant divine blessings.
I am happy to welcome you to the Vatican today, and I assure you that it is for me a particular source of satisfaction to accept your Letters of Credence as the first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Holy See. This day marks a new chapter in the relations between the Catholic Church and the noble Mongolian people, and I hope that these ties will grow ever stronger. I ask you kindly to convey to President Punsalmaagiyn Ochirbat and to the members of the Government my cordial good wishes, and I express my sentiments of esteem and respect for all your fellow-citizens.
Today’s ceremony is closely connected with the transition which has been taking place in Mongolia in recent years. A fair appraisal of this development requires that it be considered within the context of the whole complex process of current global transformations. In your remarks, Your Excellency indicated the breadth and depth of the changes which have resulted in your country. The peaceful substitution of democratic structures for a long – established totalitarian regime, the ratification of a constitutional order enshrining respect for human rights – especially religious liberty – and the entry of Mongolia into the community of nations as an autonomous and fully participating member: all of these are monumental achievements.
As we think of the new Mongolia and its immediate future, one word comes immediately to mind: development.This is the aspiration of your people and the expressed goal of Mongolia’s leaders. The transition from a centrally – planned and directed economy to one which is market – based is an important aspect of this growth and development. However, as both reason and experience show, economic progress requires a parallel social progress, with the creation of the educational, cultural and spiritual conditions for the full personal development of the men and women who make up the national community. "Development is a question of people" (John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1987, 6, 8 December 1986), and the citizens of your country are both the subject and the aim of development efforts. Government at every level effectively serves the common good to the extent that it helps people to discover the values which enable them to build a new life and to take their rightful place in society with dignity and justice (Cf. ibid.). In a democratic society, this service to the common welfare of the social body is the moral justification of political leadership.
As is so often the case with such historic accomplishments, recent transformations have brought with them a whole new series of challenges which must be met in order to bring to full fruition their great potential for improving the life of the people. The establishment in Mongolia of a new civil order provides a providential opportunity for an era of authentic progress. Efforts to improve the lot of a people through reorganizing the economy and making it more productive of essential goods and services, securing a healthy environment and ensuring the prudent management of natural resources, increasing the literacy rate and broadening access to education, and improving and extending medical care – such efforts will ultimately be sterile unless they are rooted in and directed by a firm belief in the truths of the ethical order which ought to rule the actions of individuals and communities. Respect for universal moral norms protects "the inviolable personal dignity of every human being" and helps "to preserve the human social fabric and its proper and fruitful development" (John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor VS 97).
In today’s interdependent world, the development of one country cannot come about without the concourse of many others, and without reference to the international community and its structures of trade and production. The construction of a peaceful world, one in which the security of peoples and of states is ensured, requires a great solidarity between the developed and developing nations. In this respect, I express the ardent hope that Mongolia will receive the aid it needs as, with enthusiasm and renewed commitment, it moves forward as an independent and equal member of the family of nations.
The presence of the Holy See in the international community is directed towards the building of a more just and peaceful international order along the path of solidarity, dialogue and universal brotherhood. I am confident that the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mongolia will serve this very purpose. In reiterating the Catholic Church’s desire to be of assistance in your country’s present circumstances, especially by helping to overcome the moral and religious void left by past experiences, I wish to reaffirm that the Church will always be motivated by profound respect for the cultural and religious traditions of the Mongolian people.
With fervent prayers for Your Excellency and your fellow citizens, I invoke abundant divine blessings on your country, and I wish you well in the fulfilment of your diplomatic mission.
It is a pleasure to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words recalling my recent Pastoral Visit. I am deeply grateful to Almighty God who granted me the opportunity to visit Latvia, to express my deep affection for its people and to offer encouragement at this significant moment in the nation’s history. With vivid memories of the gracious welcome accorded me by President Guntis Ulmanis, I ask you to convey to him my sentiments of esteem and goodwill.
The normalization of diplomatic relations between Latvia and the Holy See is an occasion of particular happiness, for it signifies the resumption of a respectful dialogue which began over 70 years ago and was interrupted only when your country lost its freedom at the time of the Second World War. The joy at Latvia’s restored independence is tempered by the memory of trials endured, by the consequences of long years of oppression and by the challenges which the nation presently faces. Nevertheless, the rebirth of independence is surely an incentive to all Latvians to cooperate in promoting their country’s development and well-being in a spirit of generous commitment to the common good.
During my Pastoral Visit, I emphasized the importance of your nation’s cultural patrimony as a source of inspiration for building a society marked by harmony, cooperation and authentic progress. In fidelity to its history as a meeting-place for different peoples, ideas and traditions, Latvia can "offer its own special contribution to peace and development, and will be able to do so if it can express its rich heritage of religious and social values, enhanced by the sacrifice of so many men and women who paid for it personally" (John Paul II, Address at the international airport of Riga, 4, 10 September 1993). The Christian faith which first reached your nation through the preaching of Saint Meinhard was an essential element in the formation of its culture and identity. Today too the Gospel can provide new inspiration as Latvia faces the future with hope and determination.
In meeting the challenges of the present, the sons and daughters of your country are called to "redeem themselves from their distressing negative experiences... with an overwhelming wave of good" (Ibid. 3). Having experienced the emptiness and oppression of systems of thought and of social structures which leave no room for God and the divine law written on the human heart, Latvians know that openness to spiritual values represents an indispensable condition for putting their new-found freedom at the service of their own authentic development. By renewing their spiritual resources, your fellow-citizens will have the strength to protect and promote the family as the basic cell of society; to face the difficulties of moving from one political and economic system to another; to build harmony between the diverse cultural groups living within the national borders; and to foster reconciliation with former enemies.
It is my hope that the normalization of diplomatic relations between Latvia and the Holy See will contribute to this process of renewal. Freedom to carry out her spiritual mission enables the Church to cooperate in the formation of a sound and spiritually vital society. While respecting the legitimate autonomy of civil society, the Church’s "contribution to the political order is precisely her vision of the dignity of the person revealed in all its fullness in the mystery of the Incarnate Word" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 47). For this reason, I assure Your Excellency of the readiness of Latvia’s Catholics to cooperate in a spirit of unity and brotherhood with all the social and religious elements of your nation in the great task of rebuilding society. They are eager to offer this contribution together with their brothers and sisters of other Christian confessions.
Your Excellency, I repeat today the promise which I made at the conclusion of my Pastoral Visit to Latvia: "I shall... keep at heart the troubles with which your country is fraught, and I assure you that I shall beg God to give you the necessary far-sightedness, wisdom and courage to face them" (John Paul II, Address at the international airport of Riga, 4, 10 September 1993). With good wishes to you as you begin your diplomatic mission, I assure you of the ready cooperation of the Offices of the Holy See in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon yourself and all the beloved people of Latvia I invoke God’s blessings of prosperity and peace.
Dear Pastors of the Church in the Pacific,
1. “Wishing you the grace and the peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,3).
I offer a cordial welcome to you, the members of the Episcopal Conference of the Pacific, in Rome for your visit “ ad limina Apostolorum ”. I fondly recall my Pastoral Visit to some of your particular Churches, where the Lord gave me the grace to join in the hymn of praise and thanksgiving which, with such remarkable devotion, rises to God our Father from that strikingly beautiful part of the world. Your visit is marred by the sadness of the sudden death of Bishop Patelisio Finau of Tonga who was called to our Heavenly Father’s house while on his way to this meeting. May the God of all mercies grant him the reward which awaits the faithful servants of the Gospel.
The ancient practice of "coming to see Peter" reminds us of the days that Paul spent with Cephas in Jerusalem (Cf. Gal. Ga 1,18).
In the fraternal embrace of Peter and Paul, the original community acknowledged Paul’s converts as true brothers and sisters in the faith. In Paul’s account of the abundant outpouring of grace upon the Gentiles, the community found even greater reason to praise the boundless goodness of God (Cf. Acts. Ac 15, 6ss.). Similarly, through our meetings in these days the union of your particular Churches with the Church Universal is reaffirmed, and before the whole world you bear witness to the fact that in Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia the words of the Prophet Isaiah have attained surpassing fulfilment: "In the islands they give glory to the Lord, in the islands of the sea, to the name of the Lord, the God of Israel" (Is 24,15).
2. In the near future, a number of your Churches will celebrate the centenary or sesquicentenary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries. These festivities will show what a bountiful harvest has already been reaped from that first plantatio Ecclesiae. To him who gives the increase (Cf. 2Cor. 2Co 9,10) let us offer heartfelt thanks for the countless men and women who left home and family in order to spread the Good News of the salvation won for us by Christ. They were impelled by that same zeal for the Gospel which led Saint Peter Chanel and Blessed Diego de San Vitores to seal their missionary consecration with the shedding of their blood.
At the same time, we are all very much aware that in your lands, as in the other young Churches throughout the world, the task of evangelization is not yet completed.As my predecessor Paul VI said when he visited Western Samoa: "Missionary work... is always necessary and urgent", for there are still many people "who have not found the truth" (Paul VI, Mass in Leulumoega, Western Samoa, 30 November 1970). It must be our constant prayer that many generous hearts will respond to the call to share with their brothers and sisters the grace of Redemption which God has so generously given (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 65-66). I pray with special fervour that out of the Christian families of your far-flung islands young men and women will come forward in ever greater numbers to fill the ranks of priests and Religious.
You have organized the commemorations of the first evangelization of your communities in such a way that they will be an occasion of recommitment to the task of spreading the light of the Gospel. In this way you are calling upon the faithful to keep alive the proud missionary heritage of the Church in the Pacific, even as they grow "fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself" (Ep 4,13 Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 65-66). Because evangelization "is not considered a marginal task for the Church but is situated at the centre of her life, as a fundamental commitment of the whole People of God" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 32), dedication to this enterprise is a source of growth in all other aspects of the life of a Christian community; for "missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (Ibid. 2).
3. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council affirmed that the College of Bishops, headed by the Successor of Peter, has the primary responsibility for fulfilling the Lord’s command to "proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mc 16,15 cf. Ad Gentes AGD 38). That "holy union of energies" (Christus Dominus CD 37), which the Council envisaged as the fruit of the exchange of insights and resources within an Episcopal Conference, is of great help to you as you strive to carry out the missionary mandate. During this XXV anniversary of the founding of your Conference, it is a pleasure to acknowledge the remarkable unity of vision and action which you have achieved, especially when one considers the great challenges which you face. Not only are your communities widely scattered over vast distances, but they differ in culture, language, history, political life and ecclesiastical heritage. In the face of these circumstances, which could possibly be pretexts for estrangement and division, your communion is all the more compelling as a witness to the power of God’s Spirit, who gathers the one Body of Christ from "every race, language, people and nation" (Ap 5,9). For the Church’s Pastors, united in the love of the Lord, differences are not barriers obstructing, that "carrying of each others troubles" which fulfils "the law of Christ" (Ga 6,2); they are gifts to be shared in mutual solicitude and service, for mutual enrichment and edification.
The duty of Pastors "to promote missionary activity, to direct it, and to coordinate it" (Ad Gentes AGD 3) requires you to pay special attention to the sound formation of the clergy, the fostering of religious life, and the thorough training of catechists (Cf. ibid. 16-18). In preparing these heralds of the Gospel, we must never lose sight of the fact that without holiness of life whatever talents and accomplishments are devoted to announcing the kingdom of Heaven have little effect. In this regard the celibacy and virginity of priests and Religious and the chaste married life of deacons and lay leaders is especially significant. Temperance and purity of life are powerful signs that in the Paschal Mystery the old self with its old ways has been stripped off (Cf. Col. Col 3,9), and a new way of living has been acquired (Cf. Eph. Ep 4,24).
4. Si l’on ne peut, certes, faire la même analyse de la situation pour chacune des sociétés dans lesquelles les membres de vos Eglises particulières vivent leur condition de baptisés, c’est un fait que les nations insulaires du Pacifique connaissent une transformation profonde de leur manière de vivre. Au cours des années écoulées depuis l’indépendance, la part plus grande de responsabilité prise par tous dans l’ensemble des activités politiques et économiques a exercé inévitablement une influence sur les structures sociales. Les peuples du Pacifique, comme tant d’autres dans les pays en voie de développement, sont désormais placés devant l’énorme défi de parvenir à un modèle de développement qui protège et affermisse les meilleures valeurs traditionnelles de leur vie en commun.
Dans ces domaines, comme dans tous les “ divers domaines où les hommes et les femmes déploient leur activité à la recherche du bonheur, toujours relatif, qui est possible en ce monde ”, l’Eglise “ apporte sa première contribution à la solution du problème urgent du développement quand elle proclame la vérité sur le Christ, sur elle-même et sur l’homme, en l’appliquant à une situation concrète ” (Jean-Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 41). A l’imitation du Christ qui éprouvait de la compassion en voyant les foules (Cf. Mc 6,34), il nous faut continuer de proclamer à temps et à contretemps (Cf. 2Tm 4,2) que tout le système économique et social doit être mis au service de la personne humaine, en renforçant la solidarité entre les peuples, en assurant une gestion prudente des ressources naturelles et en protégeant l’environnement de toute forme de pollution (cf. Jean-Paul II, Message pour la célébration de la XXIIIème Journée Mondiale de la Paix 1990, 12, 8 décembre 1989).
Le progrès véritable des peuples est d’ordre moral: il “ne vient pas d’abord de l’argent, ni des aides matérielles, ni des structures techniques, mais bien plutôt de la formation des consciences, du mûrissement des mentalités et des comportements” (Jean-Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 58). A cet égard, j’espère que la récente encyclique “Veritatis Splendor”, avec sa réflexion sur les principes fondamentaux de la morale, vous aidera, ainsi que tous ceux qui enseignent sous votre autorité, à apporter une contribution significative au renforcement du tissu social de vos nations. L’Eglise donne aux peuples du Pacifique, comme à tous les peuples du monde, la certitude qu’il y a une vérité éternelle en fonction de laquelle tous les actes humains peuvent être jugés. Du moment que cette vérité peut être connue, les personnes et les sociétés sont responsables de leurs actes. L’édification d’une société vraiment digne de la personne humaine ne résulte pas de processus déterministes ou de choix aléatoires, mais des actes libres d’hommes et de femmes qui recherchent ce qui est bon, vrai et juste.
5. The high priority you give to the pastoral care of families and of youth demonstrates your solicitude for those who are placed under a particular strain by the cultural transformations occurring in the Pacific. A systematic and complete catechesis about the purpose of human existence, the dignity of life from conception until natural death, the sacredness of sexuality and married love, and the nature of real happiness and fulfilment is a safeguard against the excesses of a materialistic and consumerist culture. As I wrote in the Encyclical "Centesimus Annus": "it is not wrong to want to live better; what is wrong is a style of life... which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself. It is therefore necessary to create life-styles in which the quest for truth, beauty, goodness and communion with others for the sake of the common growth" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 36) will determine the choices people make. The "shield of faith" in Christ (Ep 6,16), who is the "power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1,24), is a sure defence against the forces which produce that spiritual void which pushes men and women, especially the young, to hopelessness and selfdestructive behaviour. In this regard, the success of lay associations and movements in supporting their members in the struggle to be faithful to the way of Christ is a factor to be kept in mind in all pastoral activity, especially in the light of the growing spread of sects in the Pacific region.
6. Beloved Brothers, I pray that your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul will give you renewed strength for your Apostolic ministry, so that you will never grow weary of preaching God’s word, celebrating the sacraments, guiding the flock entrusted to you and seeking the sinner who has strayed. I join with you in interceding for the safety of your people, especially against the tropical storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters which come upon them with such suddenness and frequency. I entrust you and your clergy, along with the Religious and laity, to the loving protection of Our Lady Help of Christians, and I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in Christ Jesus.
Speeches 1993 - Friday, 22 October 1993