Speeches 1994 - Consistory Hall
We must be deeply grateful to all who work to secure ever wider and fuller recognition of the "bond" and "common spiritual patrimony" which exist between Jews and Christians (Nostra Aetate NAE 4). In the past, these links have inspired deeds of courageous solidarity. In this regard, as a matter of historical fact, one cannot forget that in my own homeland, as in other countries and also here in Rome, in the terrible days of the Shoah, many Christians together with their Pastors, strove to help their brothers and sisters of the Jewish community, even at the cost of their own lives. In the face of the perils which threaten the sons and daughters of this generation, Christians and Jews together have a great deal to offer to a world struggling to distinguish good from evil, a world called by the Creator to defend and protect life, but so vulnerable to voices which propagate values that only bring death and destruction.
As we listen together this evening to the music that will be performed for us, may we all be moved to repeat in our hearts Davidís Song of Ascents: "How good and how pleasant it is, when brothers live in unity!" (Ps 133,1).
This is the hope I express for Jews and Christians everywhere. This hope enlivens my prayer for peace in the Holy Land which is so close to all our hearts.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. It is a great joy for me to welcome you, the Bishops of Kenya on your quinquennial ad limina visit. While every encounter with my brothers in the Episcopal College is an experience of faith and ecclesial communion, two circumstances coincide to give a special spiritual intensity to our meeting at this time. You are here in the Easter Season, a motive for increased confidence in our service to Godís people since we are aware that the bonds which make us "of one heart and soul" (Ac 4,32)are the work of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the Church by her Risen Lord. At the same time, how can we not see that your presence here during the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops is a further call to open your hearts fully to the dynamic action of the Holy Spirit who is leading the Church on your Continent into all truth, justice and love? I am confident that this providential coincidence will make your visit an occasion for a renewed awareness of the true measure of authentic apostolic witness, by leading you to concentrate in prayer and reflection on the "hour" that the Church in Africa is living.
Your presence brings to mind the priests, Religious and lay faithful entrusted to your care and, recalling my visits to Kenya in 1980 and in 1985, my heart embraces them once again. Mindful of how I was received with ardent love and warm hospitality, I ask you to assure all the faithful that, as I promised, "neither distance nor time" has diminished the communion which the Bishop of Rome feels towards them (cf. John Paul II, Address at the Departure from Kenya (Nairobi), 1 [8 May 1980]).
2. During your pilgrimage ad trophaea Apostolorum, you, as Bishops, will renew your contact with realities which lie at the very foundation of the Church. As you stand at the sites which marked the final stages in the missionary journeys of Saints Peter and Paul, and as you pray on ground made holy by their heroic confession of the Gospel, you will understand more deeply the nature of your own vocation. By becoming more vividly aware of all that was involved in the Apostlesí being sent forth from Jerusalem as the Lordís witnesses (cf. Acts Ac 1,8), you will better appreciate what God requires of their Successors in terms of holiness of life and steadfastness of faith.
Like the Apostles, Bishops are called to testify "in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2) to the word revealed for our salvation. This saving word is a sacred trust passed on, first by the Apostles and then by their Successors from one generation to the next, along with the gifts of the Spirit required for its integral proclamation. The Bishop is "sanctified in the truth" (Jn 17,17), so that by his preaching and teaching the light of that truth might shine forth in his life and ministry. In our day, when so many voices call into question the truth about man, about his transcendent dignity, about his supernatural destiny and the means to achieve it, it is more important than ever that a Bishop bear unambiguous witness to the Creatorís plan for the human person and his design for a society in which this plan can be brought to fulfilment (cf. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor VS 114-117).
3. After reviewing the reports submitted in preparation for your quinquennial visit, it would not be possible to overlook the fact that in these last few years you have been called upon with ever increasing urgency to enunciate the truth about the moral order in an uncertain political and social context. In your pastoral letters and related statements you have spoken of the challenge facing your people with a courage and forthrightness that express your genuine love for Kenya and your concern for all its citizens. You have pointed out the evil of fomenting ethnic divisions for selfish purposes. Your protests against violence, your defence of human rights, your reproof of those who seek personal advantage by exploiting their neighbours, your calls to the civil authorities to renew their honest dedication to ensuring the common good, and your summons to national reconciliation-all of these are signs of your fidelity to the demands of your apostolic ministry. They mark you out as authentic heirs of those who said: "We cannot do anything but speak" (Ac 4,20); "We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth" (2Co 13,8).
Among your principal duties, the great challenge of evangelization is the burden which the Lord daily lays on your shoulders (cf. Mt. Mt 11,30 1Co 9,16). In your earnest efforts to spread the faith you are being faithful to the heritage which has come to you from those who brought the Gospel to your nation over a century ago. This work, begun with such confidence in God, has already brought forth much good fruit. Evidence of this fruitfulness is the fact that since the hierarchy was established in Kenya in 1953 three new ecclesiastical provinces have been set up in order to accommodate the development of the local Churches, with the newest Diocese being erected only last year. This abundant return, in the overflowing measure promised by the Lord himself (cf. Lk. Lc 8,8), should inspire all those who serve the Gospel to work ever more generously. In this regard I extend a special word of appreciation to the men and women who have come from abroad in order to help their Kenyan brothers and sisters to take the places appointed for them at the banquet of the Son of our Heavenly King (cf. Mt. Mt 22,1-10). Tribute is likewise due to all those, especially the catechists and teachers, who give so generously of themselves in order to share the good news of our salvation in Christ. Your support of these heralds of the word of salvation, and especially your efforts to see that they receive adequate formation for the mission entrusted to them, remains indispensable for their success. Of particular importance in the current situation is your concern to see that all those who teach the faith are able to meet the challenge posed by the increasing spread of sects.
4. Your quinquennial reports indicate that Kenya has been particularly fertile ground for the growth of Religious life. The exemplary witness given by so many men and women consecrated to chastity, poverty and obedience shows the wisdom of insisting on the careful selection of candidates and their thorough formation. Religious who have been properly prepared to respond to the gifts of the Holy Spirit will continue to earn the admiration of believers and non-believers alike for their service in parishes, schools, hospitals, among the poor, the elderly, the disabled and the abandoned. All the faithful of Kenya, especially the clergy, should be continually invited to support Religious in their consecration and mission. I am also certain that you will be close to them by involving the whole Catholic community in Kenya in a prayerful and fruitful reflection on Religious life in preparation for the General Assembly of the Synod in October.
5. A further thought is inspired by the Churchís celebration of the International Year of the Family. As Pastors you well know the importance of the example and testimony given by Christian spouses. In a sense, the strength of Christian marriages and of Christian family life is the measure of the penetration of the Gospel in a given culture. As the Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes" states: "By the joys and sacrifices of their vocation and through their faithful love, married people become witnesses of the mystery of that love which the Lord revealed to the world by his dying and his rising up to life again" (Gaudium et Spes GS 52). And as the Fathers of the Council remind us in another place, this testimony to the Paschal Mystery, while "priceless... at all times and places", is particularly so "in areas where the seeds of the Gospel are being sown, or where the Church is still in her infancy" (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 11). This is surely the voice of the Spirit speaking to the Churches of Africa. Do we not sense here a promise from the Paraclete about the spiritual power to be unleashed on the Continent when strong family ties, which have been an outstanding characteristic of African society, are transformed and deepened by his action in the Sacrament of Matrimony? Like "cities set on mountains" (Mt 5,14), the Christian homes of Africa will be so many beacons of light showing how the New Adam conquered sin and restored the innocence bestowed upon the human family at its creation (cf. Nuntius paschalis "Exsultet").
As has frequently been pointed out at the present Synod, the future of the Church in Africa depends greatly on the energies given to catechesis and formation of the laity at every level. In order that in their homes, as well as in all their social relationships, the laity "can make Christ known to others, especially by a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity" (Lumen Gentium LG 31), adequate formation is indispensable (cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 59-60). It is so important that sound foundations be laid during childhood, and reinforced during adolescence and early adulthood. When they reach full maturity, the lay faithful will thus be equipped to play their proper role as a leaven in society. The high priority given to the catechesis of the young and the care of families in your pastoral planning is a clear recognition of this fact.
6. In all these activities, your priests are "your indispensable co-workers and advisers", for with you "they share... the one identical priesthood and ministry of Christ" (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 7). I join with you in giving thanks to God that your Dioceses are blessed with many devoted priests and that the prospects for the future appear bright, in no small part because of your zealous promotion of priestly vocations. As always, the need remains for careful screening of applicants to the seminary, in order to ensure that they possess sound motives, genuine piety and sufficient talent, and that they are of irreproachable moral character. Such candidates will respond generously to the demanding formation programme which the Church expects them to follow. Under the care and direction of well-qualified priests - men outstanding not only for their learning but above all for their likeness to the Good Shepherd - these candidates will grow to be "shepherds after the Lordís own heart" (cf. Jer. Jr 3,15). Because the quality of the seminary staff determines the efficacy of any formation programme, the Bishop, in accordance with the apostolic injunction against ordaining those who are not considered worthy (cf. 1Tm 5,22), must act decisively to ensure that seminarians are placed under the authority of those whose influence nurtures their progress in priestly virtue. In all that concerns the training of priests, I draw your attention once more to the results of the 1990 Synod of Bishops, which I took up anew in the post-synodal Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis". It is my hope that in this document you will hear the voice of Peter helping you, his Brothers (cf. Lk. Lc 22,32), to meet your grave responsibility for the formation of priests who are capable of truly building up the Body of Christ in the face of todayís challenges.
The recently published Directory for the Ministry and Life of Priests is a further fruit of the 1990 Synod, and it will, I am confident, be most useful to you in directing that permanent formation of the clergy which the Second Vatican Council described as an object of "greatest care" for a Bishop, upon whom, "above all, rests the heavy responsibility for the sanctity of his priests" (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 7). I encourage you in your efforts to assist your sons and brothers in the presbyterate "to rekindle the gift of God" that is within them (2Tm 1,6).
7. As I had occasion to say at the opening of the current Synod: "Our Church, which has spread all over the earth and which expresses herself today in a particular way through the presence of the African Bishops, firmly believes that the power and mercy of the one God were manifest above all in the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Son who is consubstantial with the Father, who acts with the Father through the Holy Spirit and who, in this trinitarian unity, receives full glory and honour" (John Paul II, Homily for the Opening of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, 5 [10 April 1994]) . The Father who loves you in Christ and who pours forth the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon all who believe is the source of your trust and courage. God is asking much of the Church in Kenya, and your response depends to an essential degree on the reality of the interior life and personal and community prayer which you and all the faithful foster. By Godís grace at work within you and your flock, you will - in the words of Saint Paul - be "able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen" (Ep 3,20-21). Commending you and the priests, Religious and lay faithful to the loving intercession of Mary, Star of Evangelization, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Sisters, Dear Friends,
I offer a warm welcome to you, Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, on the happy occasion of the centenary of your Institute, and through you I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the members of your Community who cannot be present today. Likewise I offer a cordial greeting to you, the friends and benefactors of the Sisters, who have come to Rome in order to join with them in giving thanks to God for the abundant graces which he has bestowed upon his Church through the first hundred years of their service.
This celebration cannot fail to remind us of the venerable figure of Blessed Maria Teresa Ledůchowska, your beloved Foundress. Her heart and mind caught the fire of evangelizing zeal from such outstanding missionaries as Cardinal Lavigerie; she became convinced that "there is nothing more sublime that gives glory to God, than to cooperate with him in the salvation of souls"; and for the rest of her life she was moved by the Holy Spirit to enkindle in others the pressing desire to bring all peoples of the earth, and especially the sons and daughters of Africa, to the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel.
Like Blessed Maria Teresa, you too are called to bear witness to the truth that none of the faithful can stand aloof from the work of evangelization. Every believer must be a co-worker in some way. As I wrote in "Redemptoris Missio": "For each believer, as for the entire Church, the missionary task must remain foremost, for it concerns the eternal destiny of humanity and corresponds to Godís mysterious design and merciful plan . . .. We cannot be content when we consider the millions of our brothers and sisters, who like us have been redeemed by the blood of Christ but who live in ignorance of the love of God" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 86).
Your Foundress began with the idea of setting up an association of lay people who, through prayer, work and cooperation, would support the missionaries directly engaged in evangelizing the great continent of Africa. Without lessening her efforts to create a network of cooperators, she soon realized that Godís will involved the founding of a religious congregation of dedicated women, to continue and spread the missionary zeal which animated her own spiritual life. You are the heirs of that missionary project and of the ideals that gave it birth. The present celebration of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, by focusing on the needs of the Church there, testifies to the continuing timeliness of Blessed Maria Teresaís charism. May you be faithful to it, and may it become more known and fruitful! I gladly invoke the intercession of your Foundress upon all the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver and upon your friends, cooperators and benefactors. With my Apostolic Blessing.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome this group of national leaders of the Polish American Congress - Charitable Foundation Incorporated, on the occasion of your visit to Rome.
You have just come from Gdansk where you have actively co-operated in equipping a clinic specializing in eye-care. This is one more of the many charitable works which your group has sponsored over the years in a spirit of generous solidarity with the land of your forbears. Naturally, I join my fellow countrymen in expressing deep gratitude for the support and assistance which your association gives to worthy causes and to people in need of special help.
I hope that your visit to Rome will offer you an opportunity not only to gaze in admiration at the marvelous monuments and works of art which make this city unique in the world, but also and above all an opportunity to realize in a vivid and personal way the permanence down through the centuries of the witness to Christ given by Saints Peter and Paul. Upon their testimony and their sacrifice the Church of Rome stands steadfast in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. May this witness speak to your hearts and inspire in you a fresh commitment and new energies for doing good.
I send greetings to your families and to all associated with you in the Polish American Congress.May God bless you all.
Friday, 23 September 1994
I am happy to meet the participants in the Interreligious Colloquium: Marriage and the Family in Todayís World organized by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for the Family.
Your Colloquium has brought you together for an exchange of ideas on a theme which concerns human society in every part of the globe. Within the context of the International Year of the Family the object of your discussion has already received widespread attention.
The Church has had many occasions to speak out about the Family during this year, including my own World Day of Peace Message on the theme: The Family creates the Peace of the Human Family. Church doctrine stresses that the Family is the basic cell of society, the first place in which cultural, social and religious values are transmitted and assimilated. It is normally within a family that a person first experiences love and compassion, and learns to show them to others. The family is the place in which each individual is helped to come to full maturity and so to build up a society of harmony, solidarity and peace.
At the same time, we must recognize that the family is today under threat in many ways. Where a materialistic vision and an individualistic approach to life reign, there develops a tendency to question the fundamental truths and values on which marriage and the family are based. Elsewhere it is harsh material conditions, outright poverty, or the dispersion brought about by armed conflict, which prevents the family from fulfilling its mission with dignity.
As members of the one human race, ever more conscious of our interdependence, and united as believers, though belonging to different religious traditions, we must work together so that civil society may recognize and safeguard the sacredness of human life at every stage and promote the family as the one way to defend human dignity.
May God, from whom all good things come, assist us in carrying out this common commitment. And may his blessings be upon each one of you.
Thursday, 29 September 1994
I am very pleased to welcome the representatives of the Anti-Defamation League of Bínai Bírith.It is with great joy that I greet you.
In your kind words, Mr. Chairman, you have spoken of friendship and its unifying force in our lives. Friendship is a great gift from God and is a blessing for everyone who experiences it. Genuine friendship has a strength which is capable of building indestructible bridges, resisting many evils and overcoming all kinds of difficulties. At the same time it poses a constant challenge to those who seek to be friends.
These convictions lie behind the following words which I wrote on the occasion of the Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto: "As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world (cf. Gen. Gn 12,2). This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another. This will effectively occur if we are united in the face of evils which are still threatening: indifference and prejudice, as well as displays of antiĖSemitism" (John Paul II, Message on the 50th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, [6 April 1993]).
Was it not the bond of friendship which in many cases during the terrible days of the past inspired the courage of Christians who helped their Jewish brothers and sisters, even at the cost of their own lives? Truly, nobody has greater love than the one who lays down his life for his friends (cf. Jn. Jn 15,13). Friendship stands against exclusion and makes people stand together in the face of threat.
Let our friendship, strengthened by our respect for divine Providence, bring us ever closer, for the good of the whole world.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. With the words of the Apostle Paul I greet you, beloved Pastors of the Church in Pakistan: "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 15,5-6). Your visit to the tombs of the "glorious Apostles" who founded the Church in Rome through the joint witness of their martyrdom is a treasured moment of collegial communion. As Pastors of particular Churches in communion with this See which divine Providence has ordained to be "the source and principle of unity" (Saint Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae, 4) you bring the burdens, sorrows, hopes and aspirations of your people to the heart of the universal Church. It is a joy to receive the assurance of the prayers of the faithful of Pakistan, whom I remember with affection from my brief visit to Karachi in 1981. Through you I embrace them, praying that by the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound in hope (cf. Rom. Rm 15,13)!
Your presence brings to mind our departed brother Cardinal Joseph Cordeiro, whose unaffected fidelity to the Gospel and love of his people made him a gift to the Church and to your Nation.
2. Our ministry - rooted in the Lord who, from the throne of the Cross (cf. Jn. Jn 12,32), draws all humanity to himself - is placed at the service of manís deepest vocation: that of knowing "the one true God, and Jesus Christ" whom he has sent (Ibid., 17:3). We pray and work for no less a goal than communion with the Triune God. As the Church approaches the Third Millennium, our common and individual responsibility before the Lord, "the righteous judge" (2Tm 4,8), for the stewardship placed in our hands takes on an urgency which must challenge and stimulate us in our own lives of prayer and in our ministry to the People of God entrusted to us.
What does the Year 2000 mean for the Church in Pakistan? It means that the Lord is calling you - as he is calling the Church throughout the world - to be rejuvenated with the perennial freshness of the Word of Life. He is beckoning his virginal Bride (cf. Eph. Ep 5,27) to a renewed fidelity to the Gospel, to a more radiant holiness and to a more serene courage in the apostolate. With the help of your firm but gentle guidance, the whole Church in Pakistan is called to strengthen the "living sense of the faith", which is the heart of the new evangelization (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 33).
3. The heartfelt fervour and creative methods which the new evangelization calls for demand above all "priests who are deeply and fully immersed in the mystery of Christ and capable of embodying a new style of pastoral life, marked by a profound communion with the Pope, the Bishops and other priests, and a fruitful cooperation with the lay faithful" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 18). At the core of the priestly ministry is the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments according to the mind and discipline of the Church. No effort should be spared in encouraging your priests to offer the Eucharist daily, to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Penance frequently and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in unison of intentions with the Bride of Christ. The vigour of the Churchís mission depends on priests who are nourished by prayer and who are aflame with love for the Living God (cf. Congregation for the Clergy, Directorium pro presbyterorum ministerio et vita, 38-42). The love, the time, the energies you spend in caring for the spiritual and material well-being of your priests cannot but bring excellent results for the Churches over which you preside.
I join you in thanking God for the increased number of vocations to the priesthood that the Church in Pakistan is experiencing. The Seminary - both the Theologate in Karachi and the Philosophy House about to be inaugurated in Lahore - is a vital factor in promoting the new evangelization. During their formation, candidates should be carefully guided to "putting on the Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. Rom. Rm 13,14) who "emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Ph 2,7). Seminarians should be formed in the pastoral charity of the Good Shepherd, whose power was expressed as service and whose honour was the ignominy of the Cross. It is the Bishopís personal responsibility to select candidates for Holy Orders who are motivated by a genuine desire to serve Godís people with humility and simplicity.
The Bishop, as the "first representative of Christ in priestly formation" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 65), should likewise ensure an effective continuing education of the members of the presbyterate. Even taking into account the enormous needs of the apostolate in your country, priests too need time to implement Saint Paulís exhortation: "I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (2Tm 2,6). Continuing formation will help the priests, whose spiritual fathers you are, to overcome the temptation to reduce the ministerial priesthood to a merely external activism or the provision of services. When you provide the clergy with opportunities for maturing in Christ (cf. Col. Col 1,28), you enable each fellow-worker "to safeguard with vigilant love the Ďmysteryí which he bears within his heart for the good of the Church and of mankind" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 72).
4. Fervent Christian life and effective evangelization require that Catholic communities, gathered in parishes or, as is often the case in your country, in small communities guided by generous Religious, lay leaders or catechists, should be well grounded in the fundamentals of the faith. The recently published "Catechism of the Catholic Church" will assist you in opening the treasure of the Gospel to your people. Initiatives which seek to make the Catechism available and known deserve your enthusiastic support.
In this Year of the Family, we must not overlook the fact that the faith is transmitted in the first place in the home, where "Christian parents are the primary and irreplaceable catechists of their children, a task for which they are given the grace by the Sacrament of Matrimony" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 34). Priests, Religious and catechists have the noble task of guiding and sustaining the family as it grows to its full stature as a "domestic church". There is ample room for a more active and visible presence of all the laity in the Churchís life. You and your priests should seek ways to make their collaboration more general and more effective.
5. An inestimable gift which the Catholic Church can offer to society is the Gospel message concerning the dignity and vocation of women. The inner eye of faith recognizes that the way to promote the role of women and to overcome forms of discrimination in their regard is to make known the profound "truth about woman" which "she received on the day of creation and which she inherits as an expression of the Ďimage and likeness of Godí that is specifically hers" (John Paul II, Mulieris Dignitatem MD 10). I urge you to persevere in your firm opposition to anything which compromises the dignity and lofty vocation of women - particularly, programmes of family planning which do not respect their ethical and religious convictions, discriminatory laws and the practice of forced conversion. Within the Christian community, the Church should insist that women "ought to be recognized as co-operators in the mission of the Church, in the family, in professional life and in the civil community" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 51).
6. The value of Catholic schools, not only in the academic field but also as focal-points of dialogue and tolerance in Pakistani society, is well known and constitutes a great responsibility for the whole Catholic community. For these schools to fulfil their role, they must continue to defend and strengthen their Catholic institutional identity. Not only should they provide the high quality education so necessary for genuine human promotion: they should be vibrant communities in which educators and students are animated by the highest ideals of faith and religious practice, by a profound sense of solidarity, by insistence on the primacy of the person over material possessions. In this way they will lead students - regardless of their religious or cultural background - to the renewal of their minds through what is good and acceptable and perfect (cf. Rom. Rm 12,2).
Because you are a "little flock" (Lc 12,32) ecumenical co-operation with other Christians in social, cultural and civic life is ever more imperative. The Second Vatican Council foresaw that joint efforts among Christians would contribute to "a just appreciation of the dignity of the human person, the promotion of the blessings of peace, [and] the application of Gospel principles to social life" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 12). Likewise, for such collaboration to be a true instrument of ecclesial fellowship, it should be "accompanied by other forms of ecumenism, especially by prayer and spiritual sharing" (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms for Ecumenism, 212). I am aware that in union with the members of other Christian Churches and communities you seek to give a united witness against injustices and in promoting the common good. I shall continue to pray for the success of these efforts.
7. In the situation of your country, the promotion of inter-religious dialogue is an integral part of your pastoral mission.With Godís grace, your efforts to foster greater understanding between Christians and Muslims will lead to the overcoming of attitudes of distrust and mutual rejection. Fruitful inter-religious exchanges - those which will break down barriers of hostility - require a careful study of the religious values and traditions of Islam. Even when such dialogue is difficult or even unwelcome, the Catholic Church cannot forsake it.
From experience you know that the moral concerns affecting the future of the human family are a most fertile ground for common discussion with your Muslim brothers and sisters. In the Encyclical "Veritatis Splendor" I expressed my firm conviction that the universal and unchanging moral norms which derive from the order of creation are "the unshakable foundation and solid guarantee of a just and peaceful human coexistence, and hence of a genuine democracy, which can come into being and develop only on the basis of the equality of all its members, who possess common rights and duties" (John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor VS 96). The holiness of Godís law inscribed in our hearts (cf. Rom. Rm 2,15) is humanityís common treasure and a fundamental meeting point between people of different cultures and religious traditions. It establishes the best foundation for co-operation in promoting authentic social and political development. It demands that all believers in the God of Abraham "bear witness before each other in daily life to their own human and spiritual values, and help each other to live according to those values in order to build a more just and fraternal society" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 57). In this regard I urge the Church in Pakistan to proclaim vigorously the Churchís social doctrine. It can be a bridge linking Christians and Muslims in a shared commitment to promoting the dignity of the human person and the inestimable value of the family in conformity with Godís plan, in a just and equitable society.
8. Dear Brothers: I cannot pass over in silence the anxiety which you have expressed during your visit to the See of Peter regarding the hardships which many of your people are enduring for their fidelity to Christ. Sometimes they are treated with suspicion and have a painful feeling of being second-class citizens in their own country. On occasion, this injustice and intolerance are abetted by laws showing insufficient respect for the religious freedom of minorities. The Church in Pakistan has taken a courageous and effective stand in deploring actions which compromise the fundamental truth that religious freedom is the cornerstone of the entire structure of human rights. With profound respect my thoughts turn to all Pakistani Christians who are in any way suffering for their faith: I wish them to experience the spiritual closeness, the solidarity, and the comfort of the prayer which the Pope offers on their behalf to "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" (2Co 1,3). In the mysterious and loving design of divine Providence trials are a rich source of grace and blessing for the Body of Christ.
Brother Bishops, these are some of the reflections which your visit suggests. Your particular Churches are indeed close to my heart. I have every confidence that you will continue to preach the word boldly and shepherd your people zealously. Entrusting you, with all the priests, Religious and laity of your Dioceses, to Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.
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Speeches 1994 - Consistory Hall