Speeches 1995 - San Carlos Seminary of Manila
Our meeting is taking place against the background of the Tenth World Youth Day which has just concluded. We are all witnesses of the generous response of the young to the Church’s summons to take up the pilgrim Cross of Christ. In this case, tribute must be given to the Filipino Bishops who gave close attention to the spiritual preparation of the young people taking part. Yet, in a real sense it is these young people, and others like them all over the world, who are calling the Church – inviting the Pastors of the Church – to ever greater efforts to present Christ to them in the fulness of his grace and truth. My words therefore are meant to be a fraternal encouragement, exhorting you as Saint Paul exhorted Titus: that as he had already made a beginning, he should also complete the gracious work of his ministry (cf. 2Co 8,6). It is your ministry as Bishops, and the situation in which it is exercised, that is the underlying theme of these thoughts which I share with you.
3. Since the establishment of your Federation 25 years ago, rapid technological progress and economic growth have revolutionized the face of Asia. While affirming the benefits of this development, the Church must nevertheless make a realistic assessment of the price paid for this modernization and confront those aspects which pose "an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself" (John Paul II, Letter to Families LF 21). Even more striking than Asia’s recent material progress has been the transformation of the spiritual landscape of the Continent. Religious indifferentism and exaggerated individualism now threaten the traditional values which, generally speaking, bestowed meaning and harmony on the life of individuals and on the communities they composed. The forces of secularization tend to undermine your rich religious and cultural heritage. This great Continent is at a spiritual crossroads.
Such a moment can only confirm the Church’s resolve to carry out her primary mission: the proclamation of Jesus Christ, and the promotion of the values of God’s Kingdom (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 34). And in co–operation with every force for good, Catholics on this continent should feel the urgency of building up "the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice and liberty, which find their full attainment in Christ" (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 52).
4. Jesus Christ, the God–Man, Crucified and Risen, is the hope of humanity. He is the foundation of our faith, the reason for our hope and the source of our love. The Incarnate Word, the Savior and Mediator between God and man (cf. 1Tm 2,5), is "the only one able to reveal God and lead to God" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 5). And Christ alone can fully reveal the ultimate grandeur and dignity of the human person and his destiny (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 22). The mystery of God’s saving love revealed in Jesus Christ is a doctrine of faith, not a theological opinion. And this Good News impels the Church to evangelize! It impels Bishops to foster evangelization as a primary task and responsibility of their ministry.
The magna charta of evangelization remains the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" of Pope Paul VI, with the complement of the Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" which I wrote in 1990 in order to defend and promote the concept of "missionary evangelization" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 2) or the mission ad gentes, which seemed to have lost appeal and even validity in the eyes of some.
Paul VI’s notion of evangelization faithfully restates Christ’s teaching, the Church’s tradition, and the insights of the Second Vatican Council. It is a comprehensive notion which avoids the pitfall of overemphasis on one or other aspect of this complex reality, to the detriment of others. In Pope Paul’s view, evangelization includes those activities which dispose people to listen to the Christian message, the proclamation of the message itself, and the catechesis which unfolds the riches of truth and grace contained in the kerygma. Moreover, evangelization is directed not only to individuals but also to cultures, which need to be regenerated by contact with the Gospel. Human development and liberation are integral parts of this evangelizing mission, but they are not identical with it, and they are not the end of evangelization. Paul VI was clear about the fact that evangelization cannot be reduced to a merely temporal project of human betterment. It must always include a clear and unambiguous proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who brings that "abundant life" (Jn 10,10) which is no less than eternal life in God.
5. Allow me to make some general remarks about evangelizing this continent. A first requirement of this ecclesial task is the renewal of the Catholic community at every level – Bishops, priests, Religious and laity – so that all may contribute to spreading the faith in which we stand. Our prayer must be that the priests, Religious and laity in your pastoral care will never lose heart in accomplishing the prophetic mission entrusted to each one. "Every disciple is personally called by name; no disciple can withhold making a response: ‘ Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’(1Co 9,16)" (John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 33). Indeed, to repeat something I once said to the Italian Bishops, the new evangelization "is not born of the will of those who decide to become propagators of their faith. It is born of the Spirit, who moves the Church to expand" (John Paul II, Address to the Bishops taking part in a Liturgical Course, 4 [12 Feb. 1988]). Everyone who has received the Spirit, every person who is baptized and confirmed, is called to be an evangelizer.
Without forgetting other important components of this renewal, "the signs of the times" urgently call for enabling the laity to assume their specific role in bringing the truths and values of the Gospel to bear on the realities of the temporal sphere. In fact, when we try to imagine the future of evangelization on this continent, do we not see it as the irradiation of a vibrant, living faith practised and declared by individual Christians and Christian communities, big or small, which, with few exceptions, form a pusillus grex in the midst of numerically superior "hearers" of the word?
To "irradiate" the faith implies the highest standards of Christian living – a rich life of prayer and sacramental practice, and moral integrity – on the part of everyone. To proclaim to others "eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rm 6,23) demands of each member of the Church the holiness and integrity of one for whom "to live is Christ" (Ph 1,21). Proclamation becomes credible when it is accompanied by sanctity of life, sincerity of purpose and respect for others and for the whole of creation. The Encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" exhorts the Church’s members: "You must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage, in generous devotion to God and neighbour. In a word, you must set yourselves on the path of holiness. Only thus can you... re–live in your own countries the missionary epic of the early Church" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 91).
Herein lies a great challenge which confronts each Bishop, as the principal teacher and guide of the faithful in truth and holiness of life. But here too we have the source of our certain hope and of our optimism. The Church’s future will not be solely the result of our human efforts but, more fundamentally, the result of the workings of the Divine Spirit, whom we must not impede but assist.
6. A further consideration is the cultural framework in which evangelization in Asia has to be carried out. The religious traditions of very ancient cultures remain powerful forces in the East, and present you with particular challenges. The Church esteems these spiritual traditions as "living expressions of the soul of vast groups of people. They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God, a quest which is incomplete but often made with great sincerity and righteousness of heart" (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 53). While the Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in the great religions (Nostra Aetate NAE 2), she can only hope that one day this preparation for the Gospel will come to maturity in ways which are fully Christian and fully Asian. As Bishops of the Churches in Asia, part of your concern must be to stimulate the growth of the seeds of truth and goodness found in those religions.
Under your pastoral supervision efforts are being made to increase understanding, respect and cooperation between Christians and followers of other religious traditions, and in many cases, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, various forms of dialogue are now taking place and bearing fruit. Interreligious dialogue should not remain only a matter of theological discussion. Where possible, it must reach to the grass–roots, correcting misunderstandings which communities have of one another, and fostering solidarity in the building of a more just and human society. This "dialogue of life" must go forward with balance, sincerity and openness (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 57), always in the conviction that authentic dialogue is achieved only by "speaking the truth in love" (Ep 4,15).
7. Furthermore, as Bishops you have the demanding task of accepting Saint Paul’s invitation to become "all things to all men" (1Co 9,22), identifying yourselves with the life and traditions of your people so that the perennial truth of Revelation can be expressed in ways that are meaningful and convincing. On you rests responsibility for fostering with wisdom and fidelity the most suitable means for communicating the Gospel to the various Asian cultures. The more you take into account the questions, religious formation, language, signs and symbols of those whom you wish to lead to Christ, the more effectively you will serve the cause of evangelization (cf. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 63).
However arduous this task of authentic inculturation, we can take consolation from the experience of the early Church. Although the preaching of Christ Crucified and Risen ran counter to the religious culture of those to whom the Gospel was first preached, the Holy Spirit guided the Church’s growth. Beginning at Pentecost and continuing from generation to generation, the Spirit of Truth has ever accompanied the Church’s proclamation, leading its hearers to the "obedience of faith" (Rm 1,6) which has then purified and elevated their way of life, imbuing customs and behaviour with a Christian outlook and spirit.
8. Another recurring aspect of your pastoral activity is the relationship between proclamation and human development. Briefly, let us acknowledge that no human need, no human suffering can leave Christ’s disciples indifferent or insensitive. Yet, the Church does not have and cannot claim to have a "technical" solution to all the ills which afflict humanity. Rather the Church herself, like a pilgrim in a foreign land, presses forward amid the difficulties and even persecutions of the world, strong only in the consolations of God (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 8). At the same time it is her duty always to seek to make her voice heard in the conscience of individuals and the consciousness of society, defending the dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and upholding the principles and values of faith, truth, freedom, justice and solidarity. She knows that the terrible evils which affect humanity have their source not only in man’s injustice towards man but in man’s radical injustice in the sight of God. In fulfilling her evangelizing mission therefore, the Church cannot neglect the needs of the poor, the hungry, the defenceless, the oppressed and the culturally deprived. But those involved in that mission must know that their responsibility goes far beyond healing the wounds of this life. They must also communicate the "new life" which comes through the grace of Jesus Christ. The Church’s mission and destiny is to save man, the whole man. At this level there is no distinction of persons, neither Jew nor Greek (cf. Rom. Rm 10,12), neither rich nor poor. All are offered God’s word and the grace of redemption, because all are sinners (cf. ibid., 5:12).
9. Dear Brother Bishops, if ever you feel discouraged by the seemingly impossible task of a more effective evangelization – perhaps due to the fact that some Asian cultures seem disinclined to listen to the Gospel message – I urge you to remember that, when you proclaim "Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1,24), "it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Mt 10,20).
At the same time, you have to make it clear that the act of faith, and reception into the communion of the Church through Baptism, must always be entirely free (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 160). Evangelization must never be imposed.It involves love and respect for those being evangelized. While ever insisting on the Church’s right and duty to proclaim with joy the Good News of God’s mercy, Catholics must carefully avoid any suspicion of coercion or devious persuasion (cf. Dignitatis Humanae DH 4). On the other hand, accusations of proselytism – which is far from the Church’s genuine missionary spirit – and a one-sided understanding of religious pluralism and tolerance should not be allowed to stifle your mission to the peoples of Asia.
10. Before I end, I wish to appeal to you to do all you can to foster what is generally called the mission ad gentes. Despite the fact that some try to minimize this holy duty, the Church cannot renounce her vocation to "make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28,19).
She can never be content as a small minority or an inward–looking community. Indeed, the Church firmly believes that every person has "the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ – riches in which we believe that the whole of humanity can find, in unsuspected fulness, everything that it is gropingly searching for concerning God, man and his destiny, life and death, and truth" (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 53). As the dawn of the Third Millennium draws near, it is "particularly in Asia, towards which the Church’s mission ad gentes ought to be chiefly directed" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 37).
The mission ad gentes, which often implies the idea of setting out towards new lands and new peoples, today implies above all setting out towards new areas of Asia’s human geography: towards those sectors of society made up of the urban poor, migrants and their often abandoned families, refugees, young people, and the modern areopagus of the media of social communication.
I ask you to pay careful attention to missionary evangelization in all your pastoral planning: in catechesis, preaching, priestly formation, the training of Religious, the apostolate to families and youth, the allocation of personnel, the sharing of resources, and in the prayer which Christians must always offer for the propagation of the faith. All individuals, associations and communities should ask themselves if there is more that they could do in order to open wide to Christ the doors of Asia.
11. In these years of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, your particular Churches are fully committed to giving a fresh impulse to the evangelization of Asia. Just as in the first millennium the Cross was planted on the soil of Europe, and in the second on that of the Americas and Africa, we can pray that in the Third Christian Millennium a great harvest of faith will be reaped in this vast and vital Continent. If the Church in Asia is to fulfil its providential destiny, evangelization as the joyful, patient and progressive preaching of the saving Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ must be your absolute priority.
The Church must face all these tasks with the means which the Second Vatican Council has given us, one of which is the Synod of Bishops. In the Apostolic Letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" I have mentioned also a "plan for a continent–wide Synod" for Asia. I urge you to give serious consideration to such an event which could greatly help to lead the Church in Asia more firmly into the next Millennium.
In your work you are strengthened by the example and intercession of the great host of Martyrs who have given life to the Church in Asia through the shedding of their blood. Ablaze with love of Christ and his Church, those great men and women – from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam and elsewhere – were baptized "with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Lc 3,16). With your missionaries and the Saints who have borne witness to the Gospel, they became the seed of Christianity in your lands.
In closing, I make my own the memorable words spoken by Pope Paul VI twenty–five years ago here in Manila: "Jesus Christ is our constant preaching; it is his name that we proclaim to the ends of the earth (cf. Rom. Rm 10,18) and throughout all ages (Ibid., 9:5). Remember this and ponder on it: the Pope has come among you and has proclaimed Jesus Christ" (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VIII  1237 ff.).
To you, dear Brothers, this grace has been given in South, Southeast and East Asia: "to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Ep 3,8). I entrust you, your pastoral endeavours and all your people to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and Star of the New Evangelization, and I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
10th WORLD YOUTH DAY
Sunday, 15 January 1995
What I wrote, I wrote and what is written, is written, and may be read. What is meditated, should be revealed. And so my visit here in the Philippines, in Manila, it is for me an extraordinary experience. Of course, this visit is established after some deliberation. What the Pope received these days are all the words that say: "Papa dei giovani", "the Pope of the Youth". And so, he is still looking for the young people, how to meet them, how to stay close to them and so on. That is now how they call him: "Papa dei giovani" and also "Papa delle famiglie". But what I would like to underline in this moment is of the other nature. Perhaps, the present Pope will be called once the "Pope of the Synod", "Synodal Pope". But my intention is the fruit and the heritage of Vatican II. Vatican II reminds the Church, the Pope, all the Popes, all of us that Christ chose not only one but twelve and so, He created the first collegio, (collegiality), the first episcopal body, apostolic body, episcopal body.
And this apostolic body and episcopal body should invent and should look for global expressions of that body just as the Church did at the beginning. The first council was during the life of the Apostles, the apostolic council in Jerusalem and now we have the great councils and many synods of the first millennium, the first thousand years of the Church. They are so important for maintaining the tradition, the magisterium, the spirit, and the collegiality as such of the episcopal body. We owe so much to all these great synods, this synodal movement of the first millennium. And Vatican Council II inspired a new synodal epoch, a new synodal era in the Church and that is the great thing about the end of the second millennium. I am convinced that it is necessary to return to this experience, the synodal experience of the Church.
Synodal experience is a very nice experience like the experience of the young people, the family experience, synodal experience. There is also the fact that we are meeting every five years for the "ad limina". We are meeting not only officially in an audience but we are meeting together in the chapel to celebrate the Holy Mass.
We are meeting at the table at the dining-room, having also the "cafe". And all that is collegiality. All that is synodal. What we need is to meet together sometimes as representatives of the whole Bishops collegium in the synod.
The general experience of the synodal Bishops is one form but we have also a more specific form of synodal experience. That is, for instance, last year, we had two kinds of synods of Bishops: the Synod of Africa, the continental synod and the other one was the general synod, the Synod for the Religious Life.
And so, I thought, I reflected about the need to organize as we are approaching the Third Millennium. I thought it could be useful to organize some continental session of the synod, like this African synod and like perhaps a Pan-American one and so also for Asia and the Far East and also for Australia. In other words, Australia and New Zealand, perhaps the Pacific Islands. It is necessary to look how to organize, how to assemble the Bishops according to the principles, the vital principles of culture, and of tradition and so on. So this is my thought, the fruit of my meditation this day. Yesterday, I meditated on another thing. I communicated that to the Bishops of Manila, of the Philippines, and today for the other Bishops. That is the fruit of my meditation.
The "synodal pope" is a good thing I would say. It means also to pray together more, to pray more in private and also to meet together more, to be at the table, at the dining-room. Maybe it is sufficient as an introduction for the next step which we have to do. The dining-room expects us. For this reason, I bless you! Maybe we can now pray the "Angelus Domini". It is the time for "Angelus Domini".
It was very nice yesterday at the "Radio Veritas" meeting.
10th WORLD YOUTH DAY
Monday, 16 January 1995
Dear Filipino Friends,
1. My Pastoral Visit to the beautiful Philippines is now at an end. I wish to thank everyone for the warmth and graciousness of the hospitality I have received from the first moment of my arrival. In a special way I am grateful to His Excellency President Ramos and the members of the Government for their close participation in each stage of the visit. I cordially thank Cardinal Sin and Cardinal Vidal and all my Brother Bishops and their collaborators for making my pilgrimage to the Church in these Islands such a fruitful and joyful celebration of our faith in Jesus Christ.
I thank everyone who took part in the Masses and other events, those who organized them, those who maintained order and security, those who have worked to broadcast and televise the events, those who in any way served the needs of so many pilgrims. May God reward each and every one, each one of you!
2. With particular affection I say thank you to the young people who have been the main actors in the Tenth World Youth Day. How can we explain or measure the mysterious working of divine grace in so many generous young hearts? The Lord described the Kingdom as a seed which a man sowed, and which then produced a rich harvest. Here, the seed had already fallen on rich soil. Many people – parents, teachers, catechists, Religious, priests – have kept watch over the seed of faith and helped it grow. And God gives the increase (cf. 1Co 3,6). How far will it grow? How wide will it spread from here through the immense human geography of Asia? This is the challenge and the task which the young people of the Tenth World Youth Day and the whole Church in the Philippines have taken up and will carry into the next century and next millennium.
All of this fills my heart with gratitude and joy. I will continue to have boundless hope in the youth of the Philippines and of the world: Christ is working through them for the new springtime of Christianity on this continent. We see the early stages of the planting; others will rejoice in the rich harvest.
3. I take with me a thousand images of the Filipino people. I know your desire for greater justice and a better life for yourselves and your children. No one can underestimate the difficulties you face and the hard work that lies ahead. Above all, no one should pull back from the great demand of real and effective solidarity, a new solidarity between individuals, in families and throughout society.There has to be progress in sharing. There has to be a renewed sense of responsibility of everyone for everyone else; we are, each of us, our brother’s keeper. May God help you to follow the path you have already begun: towards a continuing development that preserves and promotes the true values of your Filipino culture!
4. My parting wish can be none other than the one I expressed for you when I came here almost fourteen years ago: may you always enjoy peace in your hearts and in your homes; may justice and freedom reign throughout your land; and may your families be faithful forever, united in joy and love!
May God bless you all!
God bless the Philippines! Mabuhay!
Monday, 16 January 1995
Your Excellency the Governor-General,
Mr Prime Minister,
My Brother Bishops,
Dear People of Papua New Guinea,
1. For me it is a great joy to return to this beautiful country of Papua New Guinea. I am most grateful for your warm welcome. I have looked forward to this visit to experience again the lively Christian faith of your people and to see at first hand the progress of your Nation. Your Excellency the Governor-General, I thank you for your kind words. To all of you who have come here to greet me with such hospitality I express my heartfelt thanks. I am indebted to my Brother Bishops and to everyone who has worked to make this visit possible: may God abundantly bless you all!
2. My visit has a twofold character. I come to my Catholic brothers and sisters in this young nation as the Successor of Saint Peter, to whom the Lord entrusted a special ministry of safeguarding the apostolic faith and of preserving the unity of God’s People in love. It is my desire and purpose to strengthen the Christian faithful of this country as they bear witness to Jesus Christ, and to encourage them to remain ever steadfast in the Gospel which they received through the preaching of the missionaries. At the same time, I come to all the people of Papua New Guinea, Christian and non-Christian alike, as a friend and a brother, on a pilgrimage of solidarity and good will, and with profound respect for every one of you.
3. As you are aware, the central event of my visit is the Beatification of Peter To Rot, catechist and martyr. You can be truly proud of your Melanesian brother; he has brought distinction and honour to your people. Peter To Rot is an outstanding example of a family man, a Church leader and a person prepared to lay down his life for God and neighbour.
I regret that I am not able to be with Peter To Rot’s beloved Tolai people on this occasion, but circumstances have not permitted me to go to New Britain. I wish I could visit all the people in the various parts of these Islands, but I can only stay very briefly. Therefore I assure all of you, wherever you are, that I am thinking of you. I am especially aware of the whole country’s concern for the suffering people of Bougainville. To you, people of Bougainville, I send a special word of encouragement. If you have been treated unjustly, I invite you to remove bitterness from your hearts. If you bear arms unjustly, I urge you to put them down and seek reconciliation. To the refugees in the Gazelle Peninsula, the Southern Highlands and other parts of Papua New Guinea I extend a warm greeting. I urge you to take heart, be courageous. Although I cannot come to you, I am close to you in your difficulties and I assure you of my fervent prayers.
4. In its Constitution, Papua New Guinea declares itself to be a Christian country, openly professing its belief in Jesus Christ. During the time of my Pastoral Visit, then, let us pray together, so as to strengthen our faith in Christ the Redeemer. To all of you who look to Jesus as Lord I pray that you will open your hearts to one another, come together in prayer and work joyfully for unity.
May all the people who live in this land strive to build a society in which the dignity and rights of each individual will be respected by everyone. In this great task the Catholic Church will continue to do her part, in accordance with her religious nature and mission, and will generously co-operate with all sectors of the population.
[The Pope greets those present in Pidgin].
(Dear People of Papua New Guinea: My presence in your country is an expression of my great affection for this Nation and for each one of you. God bless Papua New Guinea! God bless you all!)
Monday, 16 January 1995
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. With affection in the Lord I greet all of you, Bishops, priests, seminarians, Religious, lay faithful and catechists, who have come here this evening to sing God’s praises for the "great things" he has done in your land (cf. Lk. Lc 1,49). I am grateful to Archbishop Kurongku and the other Bishops here present, to the parish priest, to the Salesians, and to all who have worked so hard to make possible our meeting here in the Parish of Mary Help of Christians, in Gabutu, in the Archdiocese of Port Moresby.
Tomorrow the name of Peter To Rot – a son of New Britain and of the Tolai people – will be added to that glorious book, the Martyrology, the Church’s record of those who have died for love of God and of his People. We should remember the words of Saint Augustine, who said that the Church in a nation "becomes the more fruitful the more it is watered by the blood of martyrs" (St. Augustine, De Catechizandis Rudibus, 24.44). Nor can we forget at this time the many other men and women of these Islands – including those from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities – who gave their lives for the Gospel during the dark period of military occupation fifty years ago. The witness which they bore to Christ, even to the shedding of blood, is now a common inheritance of all Christians and therefore a "convincing form of ecumenism" (John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 37).
2. The fact that your first Blessed is not only a martyr but also a lay catechist, a husband and the father of a family, is very significant for the spiritual history of your people. When the early missionaries came to Papua New Guinea they recognized that the word of God would take root only when the people themselves became the active agents of their own evangelization (cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 18). Peter To Rot was one of those who came forward to help plant the seed of truth among his own people of the Tolai tribe. The priests at Rakunai encouraged and guided him, and he for his part fulfilled with devotion and commitment the responsibilities entrusted to him. Priests and catechists at the Mission Station of Rakunai worked together to build up the Body of Christ, and left a spiritual heritage for the coming generations to imitate.
3. Dear Brother Priests: your ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood of the faithful, which is "directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1547). In the person of Christ, the "great Shepherd of the sheep" (He 13,20), you exercise the sacred power which you received in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, in order to proclaim God’s word, make present Christ’s acts of forgiveness and his offer of salvation, particularly in Baptism, Penance and the Eucharist, and to show his loving concern to the point of a total gift of self for the flock (cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 15). With gratitude to each one of you, and to all your brother priests who have not been able to come, I urge you never to lose sight of the great spiritual dignity and gift which you have received!
To the Seminarians I wish to recall that you must make Christ the Good Shepherd the centre, the model and the strength of your future lives and action as priests. Learn to live in Christ, and meditate constantly on the unfathomable riches of salvation in him (cf. Eph. Ep 3,8), so that you will be able to proclaim the Good News to others. Be "rooted and grounded in love" (Ibid., 3:17). Otherwise you will become nothing more than "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1Co 13,1). It is undivided love for the Lord which will make your priestly ministry in the Church effective and allow others to see his unmistakable presence in you.
4. Dear Men and Women Religious: In Peter To Rot all Religious have a challenging model of fidelity. Here is a man whose "sincere gift of self" was like that of his Lord who "loved to the end" (cf. Jn. Jn 13,1). Like his Lord, he was a "faithful witness" (Ap 1,5). I urge you to live your religious consecration with generosity and unfailing fidelity to the demands of perfect charity. Each of your Religious families brings its own gifts to the Church’s evangelizing mission. Your names are too many to mention, but I thank all the Congregations in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands for the testimony and fruitfulness of your consecration and your apostolate.
The plantatio Ecclesiae progresses in a very significant way through the selection and formation of worthy candidates to the Religious Life. I see many young Religious present: Be fully aware of the importance of your vocation not only for yourselves but for the future of the Church among the peoples of Melanesia. Listen attentively to the words spoken to your heart: "Come, follow me", says the Lord to each one of you.
I wish to say a special word of encouragement to the members of the contemplative communities.Through your continuous prayer and penance, in solitude and silence, you provide an indispensable witness to the glory of the heavenly Kingdom which is already "revealed to his holy ones" (Col 1,26). Dear Sisters, pray for the Church, continue to pray for me; be guides to those seeking a deeper experience of God. Your way of life constitutes a reminder and challenge to the Church and to society: God is to be honoured above all else.
5. Dear members of the Laity: there is special significance in the fact that the first Blessed of Papua New Guinea was a lay man and a catechist. I hope that Peter To Rot will become a source of inspiration throughout the Church for all who work in the lay apostolate, especially for catechists who "represent the basic strength of Christian communities, especially in the young Churches" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 73).
The villagers of Rakunai were drawn to Christ and helped to follow him by the radiant charity and zeal of Peter To Rot. His spiritual maturity showed in his apostolic maturity. He paid particular attention to those who had become lukewarm in the practice of the faith or who had abandoned it. As a catechist devoted to the spiritual welfare of others – even in situations where he risked arrest and imprisonment – he went in search of the sheep who had gone astray, and did not rest until he had found it (cf. Lk. Lc 15,4). How the young Churches of this part of the world need men and women of Peter To Rot’s calibre! At tomorrow’s Beatification I encourage you to renew your faith and your commitment. Remember: "You are the light of the world... let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to the Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5,14).
6. To all of you I say this: what I see before me is a great hope for the Church! Do not be discouraged about the future of evangelization! Do not hesitate to preach the Good News clearly and boldly, for the there is only one true hope for humanity: Jesus Christ, the Word – made – flesh who dwelt among us (cf. Jn. Jn 1,14).
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, protect you and fill you with spiritual strength and courage, and guide your feet into the way of peace (cf. Lk. Lc 1,79). Amen.
As you know I come here from the Philippines. I come here from Rome but immediately from the Philippines. The Philippines, the World Day of Youth, young people, young men and women. It was a wonderful experience. The sixth time, yesterday, Sunday, there was a big celebration, Eucharistic Celebration for all the participants of the day; about four million young people. And what was important was that there were not only Filipino young people but young people from the whole world, from all continents, from America north, south and central, from Africa, from Europe, different countries, from Asia, from different countries of Asia, different nationalities, and of course those from Australia and from Oceania were represented. The richness of languages, of cultures, and the same faith, and the same love and the same hope. In the spirit of this experience I come here to Papua New Guinea for tomorrow’s beatification, and it is for me a great hope also and great pleasure, great joy, to be among you. You are speaking different languages, you are speaking all English, Pidgin English. I learnt Pidgin English for my visit ten years ago. I was here. I celebrated a great Eucharistic celebration for the community of Papua New Guinea. This time I hoped to be able to go to Rabaul. I know that our brothers and sisters of this city, of this region, of this island, are suffering because of the volcanic eruption but we are spiritually united with them that they should be consoled throughout.
The missionaries among you also speak different languages. They speak your languages, even your languages, but they brought with them their languages. They speak English, they speak German (Gelobt sei Jesus Christ), they speak Italian (Sia lodato Gesù Cristo, sempre sia lodato), they speak Polish (Niech bedziech pochwalony Jezuz Chrystus). That is the cultural richness of the old world and the young world. You are young like me (laugh). Even if you are not young as ethnic groups you are young as Christians, as Church. If one is young we have reason to address to him these words: Long Life! Long Life! to the young Church of Papua New Guinea. So many Christians, many baptised, many seminarians, many novices, many religious women and men, many priests and many Bishops of Papua New Guinea. For the Pope this improvisation is rather long. Now we should continue our prayer.
Speeches 1995 - San Carlos Seminary of Manila