Speeches 1995 - Friday, 16 June 1995




Saturday, 17 June 1995

Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has appointed you her Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. I greatly appreciate Her Majesty’s greetings, and I would ask you to convey to her my prayerful good wishes.

Your appointment comes at a time of well–founded concern about the unpredictable nature of changes taking place in many parts of the world, and not least in Europe. While the desire for peace, co–operation and development is felt with increasing intensity by peoples everywhere, in Europe the conflict in the Balkans is an open wound, offering the daily spectacle of misery, death and destruction. Speaking to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See in January of this year, I referred to the war in Bosnia–Hercegovina as something akin to "the shipwreck of the whole of Europe" because of the way in which international law and humanitarian law are being violated (cf. John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 4 [9 Jan. 1995]). I expressed the hope that there would be a firm and united response on the part of the community of nations. We must continue to hope and pray that the efforts of recent weeks, including those of your own Government, will bring the parties involved to serious and reasonable negotiations without further delay, so that the dreadful suffering of so many people will end, and reason and law will replace the appalling injustices being committed against innocent and defenceless peoples.

The situation in Bosnia, as in other areas of tension, continues to be a test of the international community’s will and capacity to give effective expression to the desire which emerged so strongly after the terrible experiences of the Second World War, namely to replace with structures of co–operation and greater integration the attitudes and policies of competition and rivalry which had hitherto prevailed in relations between States. In Europe, this desire has been the moving force of all that has been done to enhance security and co–operation, from the founding of the Council of Europe in 1949 to the most recent expansion of the role of the European Union. As you know, the Holy See has closely followed the steady development of the structures fostering co–ordination and co–operation in Europe, especially in matters referring to the defence and promotion of the dignity of individuals and their human rights, including their religious rights. On the effective permanence of these values depends the safeguarding of the legacy of freedom and democracy springing from the authentic sources of European civilization. I am confident that the United Kingdom will continue to contribute its own heritage of high standards of justice and solidarity to the task of strengthening the foundations of peace and progress in Europe and in the world, and that in this perspective the British contribution to a solution of the conflict in Bosnia will be productive and motivated by the highest humanitarian goals.

In a more general context, I have often expressed deep concern at the effects on the social fabric of increasing poverty and new forms of marginalization, often closely linked to unemployment and family breakdown. We cannot remain indifferent to increasing social tensions, including intolerance, xenophobia and antisemitism, nor can we ignore, on a more profound level, the consequences of a loss of awareness of certain human values and fundamental ethical principles which have always been the basis of European civilization. The Holy See is concerned to ensure that fundamental values such as a sense of personal responsibility and of obligation to family and community will not be undermined and weakened as a result of an ill–conceived and superficial "culture" of individualism. In the international forum, the Holy See therefore makes a point of calling attention to the need for rights and freedoms to be established on more than simple agreement between individuals – even if they constitute a majority. All rights and freedoms must be based on objective and binding truths and values, and on the awareness shared by responsible people that certain intentions and actions are in conformity with our human dignity and destiny, while other intentions and actions do not lead to the good of the individual or the well–being of society. As I wrote in my Encyclical Letter "Veritatis Splendor", "in every sphere of personal, family, social and political life, morality – founded upon truth and open in truth to authentic freedom – renders a primordial, indispensable and immensely valuable service not only for the individual person and his growth in the good, but also for society and its genuine development" (John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor VS 101). It is my hope that the peoples of Europe, as they face present challenges, will build on the solid basis of the genuine truths and values of their spiritual and cultural heritage.

Greater co–operation between believers is an essential part of building a more humane and peaceful world. As Your Excellency has mentioned, in recent years there has been a considerable growth of mutual understanding between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church, the result of a shared desire to be faithful to the word of Christ as the source of Christian life (cf. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint UUS 68). More and more Christians in Britain are working together to defend human dignity, to promote peace, to apply the spirit of the Gospel to social life, and to the worlds of science and the arts. They are increasingly united in striving to relieve suffering and to meet the needs of our time (cf. ibid., 74). Believers have a duty to treat all men and women as brothers and sisters in the one human family; prejudice and enmity have no place in true religion and can never be justified on religious grounds.

Your Excellency has referred to the support of Church leaders for the peace process in Northern Ireland. Each day seems to bring a strengthening of resolve not to go back to the confrontational attitudes of recent decades, but to approach each difficulty on the road to peace with realism and a determination to succeed. The specific contribution of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities will be to facilitate a meeting of minds and hearts in a new spirit of openness and reconciliation, based on obedience to the Gospel commandment of love. As the Third Christian Millennium approaches we are all called upon to examine ourselves in relation to the evils which continue to threaten and degrade humanity, but above all in relation to the good that must be done to remove injustices, alleviate suffering and educate people to full respect for the unique value and dignity of every human being.

Your Excellency, I am certain that as you perform your diplomatic duties you will contribute to strengthening still further the friendly relations already existing between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. I assure you of the cooperation and assistance of the various departments of the Roman Curia, and I pray that you will find much personal fulfilment and satisfaction in carrying out your mission. May God’s blessings accompany you, and may he guard and protect the Nation which you represent.



Clementine Hall

Monday 19, June 1995

Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome today to the Vatican the Cadets of the New York Maritime College, accompanied by your chaplain Father Moynihan. I am confident that your visit to Rome will be not only a time of rest and relaxation, but also an educational experience and a reminder of the truths of our Christian faith which are everywhere present in the history and artistic monuments of this City.

As you train for your professional duties, I invite you always to serve your country in a universal spirit of openness and solidarity towards everyone, without bias or discrimination. In travelling the world’s oceans from one country to another, be builders of peace among peoples. Peace flows from justice, and justice is dependent on truth, the truth concerning God and concerning the meaning and purpose of human life, for we have been created in the image and likeness of God himself.

I wish you every success in your training and in your future responsibilities. I will gladly pray for you and your families, that God’s peace and joy may always abide in your hearts.

                                                      July 1995




Thursday, 6 July 1995

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It is a great pleasure for me to greet you, members of "Serra International", and to welcome you to Rome at the conclusion of your Annual Convention, held this year in Genoa. I am especially happy to have this occasion to address these words of appreciation and encouragement to you for the important work which you do in promoting vocations in the Church.

2. A vocation is a gift from God, a gift for the person who receives it, and a gift for the whole Church as well (cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 41). It may be likened to a seed planted in the deepest part of a person’s being. This seed needs to be watered and tended so that it may develop and grow. If given the proper attention and care, it will come to full maturity and bear much fruit in the Church and in the world.

The gift is given by God; it is he who plants the seed. But the Church is responsible for nurturing its growth and attending to its needs. The Second Vatican Council reminds us very clearly that "the duty of fostering vocations is incumbent on the whole Christian community" (Optatam Totius OT 2), and I emphasized this very point in the Post–Synodal Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis". Referring to priestly vocations, I wrote that "there is an urgent need, especially nowadays, for a more widespread and deeply felt conviction that all the members of the Church, without exception, have the grace and responsibility to look after vocations" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 41).

I know that you Serrans share this conviction very deeply, and that with great commitment you have taken this responsibility to heart. Through various activities and projects, with your moral and material support, and above all by your prayers, you make an important contribution to the promotion of priestly vocations in the Church. I ask you to continue to perform this valuable service and to make others aware of this vital task!

3. Dear friends: in your local Churches, under the direction of your Bishops, work to create an environment which truly fosters vocations. Such an environment can be understood as a necessary part of that "culture of life" about which I wrote in the Encyclical Letter "Evangelium Vitae", insofar as it presupposes and includes an essential supernatural dimension. For, "the life which the Son of God came to give to human beings cannot be reduced to mere existence in time", rather it presents "a perspective which is beyond time" because it is "eternal life" (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 37). Certainly priesthood and the promotion of priestly vocations is intimately connected with this eternal life, which is "the life of God himself" (Ibid., 38). This truth about life fills us with wonder and gratitude, and reveals our destiny as that of "fellowship with God in knowledge and love of him" (Ibid., 38)

Consequently, this culture of life puts humanity back in touch with its Creator and with itself; it helps people re–discover the great value of faith, prayer and contemplation; it enables men and women to recognize and experience anew the sublime workings of the Spirit. Such a culture will strengthen Christian families, that "domestic Church" which offers great prospects for the birth of vocations. It will encourage schools and the educating community at large to provide a correct understanding of the human and divine dimensions of vocation. This culture will inspire other lay faithful, each according to their own particular walk of life, to inculcate in all people – especially youth – an appreciation of vocation and mission in the Church.

4. As you meet the demands and face the challenges of this apostolate of yours, I assure you of my prayers and commend you to the maternal care of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who remains forever the perfect model for those who seek to be united with her Son in his saving work for all humanity.

In the love of Christ the Redeemer, I impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your families and loved ones at home.



Friday, 7 July 1995

Dear Young Scholars,

1. I am pleased to greet the participants in the fifth Summer School in Astrophysics sponsored by the Vatican Observatory. I am sure that the weeks you have spent at Castel Gandolfo will prove to be an unforgettable experience, and that your differences in cultural and national background will help you to appreciate both the diversity of the members of the human family and their fundamental affinity when knowledge and truth are pursued with integrity and generosity. I welcome you today and offer you my prayerful best wishes for your future scientific work.

2. There is no doubt that the search for scientific understanding is intimately connected with the betterment of mankind. The quest for truth, beauty and the good, whether in the world of the arts or science, or in the efforts of those who strive to improve the social, economic and political conditions of people, leads to the realization that the true, the beautiful and the good are essentially one. In fact, it is precisely when the pursuit of the good of peoples is separated from what is true and beautiful that aberrations occur in the social fabric of societies. One such aberration is the idea that the economic good of peoples represents the highest goal to be achieved.

We have all witnessed the failure of such a limited view of human aspirations.

I remind you, then, that your scientific research, even if regarding matters far removed from daily human concerns, has importance and relevance for everyone, especially when it contributes to that vision of reality which leads to an understanding of the human person as an integral element in the physical universe.

The integration of an understanding of ourselves and the universe requires that we be open to the many different channels through which we come to knowledge: the sciences, the arts, literature, philosophy, theology. In this context your scientific research is of greatest benefit to humanity when it helps to synthesize and consolidate the knowledge derived from all these other sources, and when it enables you as scientists to enter into a true and honest dialogue with these other disciplines.

3. From the very beginning of my service in the See of Peter, I have sought to promote this dialogue and to remove obstacles which might impede its development.Speaking to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in November of 1979, on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the birth of Albert Einstein, I called for a scholarly and scientific review of the history of the Copernican–Ptolemaic controversies of the seventeenth century so that we might "honour the truth of faith and of science and open the door to future collaboration" (John Paul II, Address in Commemoration of the Birth of Albert Einstein, 6 [10 Nov. 1979]) . Thus emphasis was placed on looking to the future, but with honest knowledge of the past. This task is immense and calls for dedication on the part of both the Church and the scientific community.

On the occasion of the three hundredth anniversary of the publication of Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, the Holy See sponsored a Study Week investigating the multiple relationships among theology, philosophy and the natural sciences. As the papers presented during that Study Week were being prepared for publication, I sent a written Message to the Director of the Vatican Observatory in which I reviewed the status of the dialogue between the Church and the scientific community. In that Message, I noted that, in the relationship between religion and science, "there has been a definite, though still fragile and provisional, movement towards a new and more nuanced interchange. We have begun to talk to one another on deeper levels than before, and with greater openness towards one another’s perspectives... In so doing we have uncovered important questions which concern both of us, and which are vital to the larger human community we both serve. It is crucial that this common search based on critical openness and interchange should not only continue but also grow and deepen in its quality and scope" (John Paul II, Letter to Father George V. Coyne, Director of the Vatican Observatory, 1 June 1988).

4. To you young scientists belongs the future of this dialogue: I urge you to carry it forward with sincerity and humility. Strive for excellence in your scientific endeavours, and keep your minds and hearts ever open to the different channels which lead us to a better understanding of ourselves and the universe in which we live.

May God, whose infinite love and wisdom fashioned the heavens and established the moon and stars (cf. Ps 8,3), ever guide you into his grace and peace.



Clementine Hall

Friday, 7 July 1995

Dear Friends,

I am happy to welcome to the Vatican the group of pilgrims from Indonesia, led by Bishop Kherubim Pareira of Weetabula. You have been in Lourdes to pay homage to Mary, the Immaculate Mother of the Redeemer, and to ask her intercession for your own needs and those of your families and your country. Now you have come to Rome, "to see Peter" (cf. Gal. Ga 1,18), to profess your Catholic faith at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. I hope that your visit will confirm you in your life of prayer and in your love of the Church.

As members of a Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group you realize very clearly how important it is to strive for holiness, that God’s will may be done in your lives and in your apostolate. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the building up of the whole Body of Christ which is the Church (cf. 1Co 14,36). I encourage you to let the Spirit work through you by making you courageous witnesses to the Gospel of life and love in your own homes, in your work and in society. Be joyful helpers of your pastors in your parishes and communities, according to the spirit of the Beatitudes and in the joy which the Lord gives to his faithful ones (cf. Jn 16,11).

With affection and esteem for the Church in Indonesia, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones.

Semoga Allah memberkati Indonesia dengan damaiNya. Semoga Allah memberkati anda sekalian.
(May God bless Indonesia with his peace. May God bless you all).




Monday, 10 July 1995

Your Excellency,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See. I am also grateful for the good wishes you convey from His Excellency President Kim Young Sam, to whom I express my own greetings together with the assurance of my prayers.

Your presence here today evokes vivid memories of my two Pastoral Visits to Korea. I treasure still the warmth and hospitality with which I was received by the people of the "Land of Morning Calm", and I remember the good will, courtesy and industriousness which are so characteristic of them. I know too the pain and suffering which the present state of division causes them. Fully sharing your desire to see the Korean Peninsula once again united, I encourage your Government to persevere in its commitment to work for a peaceful resolution of the current situation. Policies ensuring sincere dialogue, openness and collaboration offer the only real possibility of arriving at just and lasting solutions to conflicts and disputes. Only in this way can authentic freedom be guaranteed and awareness of the dignity of the human person be fostered.

The world is fast approaching the dawn of a new millennium, and it is the Holy See’s fervent hope that this significant occasion will usher in a new era of peace and understanding. The increase in co–operation between individual nations and international organizations in addressing many of the world’s more pressing problems offers positive indications that this hope can become a reality. Joint efforts show that members of the world community are becoming ever more aware of their interdependence. The economic, social and political difficulties faced by individual countries not only affect those countries but have an impact on the whole family of nations.

It has never been truer that when the peace of one is threatened, the peace of all is endangered. And today, despite the many profound and constructive changes which recent history has recorded, there still remain myriad situations representing very real threats to peace: situations where fundamental human rights are ignored; where the integral well–being of the human person is not recognized, promoted and safeguarded; where the common good is subordinated to special interests; where the poor are exploited by the rich, the weak by the strong, the innocent by the unscrupulous; where individuals are made victims of science and technology rather than beneficiaries of the progress and development which human genius has generated.

In all such circumstances, questions are raised which have definite ethical and moral implications, especially regarding the unique value of every human life and the inviolability of human dignity. As I said in my Message for the World Day of Peace earlier this year, "Work for peace cannot be concerned merely with the external conditions of coexistence; rather, it must affect people’s hearts and appeal to a new awareness of human dignity" (John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1995, 1 [8 Dec. 1994]).

It is precisely this "new awareness of human dignity" which constitutes the basis of the Holy See’s activity in the sphere of international diplomacy and which inspires its efforts to foster reverence for humanity. When the inalienable rights of human beings are respected, injustice and aggression are seen for what they really are, namely, arrogance which easily degenerates into a moral chaos and which, if not checked, will sooner or later make victims of everyone.

One of the fundamental human rights which must be cherished and safeguarded is the right to religious freedom. Such freedom has enabled Catholics in Korea to make significant contributions to all sectors of society: in government, in civil and military service, in schools, in hospitals and other health–care facilities, in the home, in business and industry. Their work is ultimately aimed at the glory of God and inspired by love of neighbour. The efforts of the Catholic Church in Korea serve to reinforce that respect for human dignity which is at the basis of all peace and prosperity. The preservation and strengthening of the good relations between Church and State can only redound to the common good, which, as the Second Vatican Council observed, "comprises the sum of the conditions of social life which enable individuals, families and associations to reach their own perfection more completely and more readily" (Gaudium et Spes GS 74).

Your Excellency, I am confident that your service as the Representative of the Republic of Korea will benefit both your nation and the Holy See in the common quest to build a civilization truly worthy of the human person. I assure you that the offices of the Roman Curia will co–operate with you in the discharge of your responsibilities. I pray that in his loving kindness Almighty God will abundantly bless you, your family, your country and all the people of Korea.

                                                     August 1995



Pontifical Palace of Castel Gondolfo

Saturday, 19 August 1995

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With deep affection in the Lord I greet you, the Bishops of Taiwan, on the occasion of your "ad Limina" visit. Last year marked the seven hundredth anniversary of the arrival in Beijing of the first evangelizer of that region, the Franciscan John of Montecorvino. Let us begin by thanking God for the remarkable things which this one missionary, impelled by an unshakeable love of Christ, was able to accomplish for the extension of God’s kingdom in what is present-day China. It is my prayer that your visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and this meeting with Peter’s Successor, who has been especially charged with the solicitude for all the Churches (cf. 2Co 11,28), will strengthen you in the same mission of proclaiming the Gospel and of shepherding God’s flock. May you have a renewed appreciation of God’s grace at work in the Church, and its power to accomplish immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine (cf. Eph. Ep 3,20-21).

2. Such confidence in the surpassing power of God’s grace must be increasingly evident in the lives of Christians as the Church approaches the Third Millennium of Christ’s Birth. The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 is meant to be a worldwide celebration of the joy of the Redemption bestowed on humanity in the Incarnation of the only–begotten Son of the Father. Through Christ’s Paschal Mystery, the unity of the whole human family has been definitively accomplished, and the Church, established as the sacrament of union with God and as the sign of the unity of all mankind (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 1), has been sent forth to proclaim to the world the reconciliation and hope offered through the Gospel. In convoking the Jubilee, the Church invites all her members to rejoice in the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ and to work ever more effectively to bring its power to every people and every culture (cf. John Paul II, Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 16).

I am pleased to know that the need for a renewed evangelization is being emphasized in the novena of years programmed by the Chinese Regional Catholic Bishops Conference in preparation for the Great Jubilee, and that next year, 1996, will be specifically devoted to the themes of Catechesis and Evangelization. A great resource in this regard will be the Chinese translation of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church". The Catechism transmits a profound sense of the unity and coherence of the Christian message, a message which speaks directly to the hearts and minds of people in every age and situation. The overwhelming response to the Catechism discloses the remarkable thirst for God and for the spiritual life which is present even in highly secularized societies. When we consider the emptiness and aridity of so much of modern life, can we not see in this interest yet another sign that in our time "God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 3)?

3. As Shepherds of the People of God in Taiwan, you will want to make every effort to encourage your people to pray and work in communion with the whole Church that the spiritual and material preparations being made for the Great Jubilee of the Holy Year 2000 will bear fruit in inner renewal and the growth of an authentic missionary spirit in all the baptized. I am confident that your Conference’s Episcopal Commission for the Celebration of the 2000th Anniversary of the Birth of Jesus will seek to make this celebration awaken throughout the Church in Taiwan an ever more lively sense of its links to the Universal Church through communion with the other particular Churches and with this Apostolic See.

In this time of grace for the whole Church, Chinese Catholics too must feel deeply committed to the new evangelization and to the preaching of the Gospel ad gentes. Both aspects of the Church’s missionary mandate are essential to authentic ecclesial renewal. Asia is waiting to hear the Word of God, and it must be above all Asians themselves who ensure that it takes deep root in the Continent’s ancient cultures. In your case, the inculturation of the Gospel in your own culture must show that there can be no opposition or incompatibility between being at one and the same time truly Catholic and authentically Chinese.

4. For this very reason I encourage you to involve all Taiwan’s Catholics in the work of evangelization. I am thinking especially of the significant contribution waiting to be made by women, by young people, by men and women Religious, by the Catholic University and the Seminaries, and by Catholic professionals in the fields of art, science and social communication. The lay faithful need to be encouraged to recognize and overcome all separation between their faith in Christ and their daily activities at home, at work and in society (cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 34). At every level of ecclesial life the Gospel should be experienced and shared as a liberating gift which enables men and women to live in joy and peace, to foster reconciliation and to work with self–giving love for the spiritual and material good of others.

Needless to say, an irreplaceable role in this great work of renewal falls to the clergy, both diocesan and religious. Today more than ever priests must have the mind and heart of missionaries, especially with regard to those who do not yet know Christ (cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 67). It is very important to ensure that a missionary spirit is fostered in seminary training and in programmes of permanent formation, so that the priest’s life and ministry will reflect the urgency of the mission expressed in those well-known words of Saint Paul: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1Co 9,16). The core of all priestly spirituality must be a constant rekindling of the grace received in Holy Orders, an ever closer configuration to Christ and a greater participation in the burning love of his Sacred Heart. Your own example and leadership must inspire your priests to cultivate the virtue of pastoral charity. Thus you and your co-workers will enter more fully into the hopes, needs, problems and situations of the people to whom you minister, in order to find ever more effective ways of proposing the Gospel to all (cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 70).

5. I emphasize the need for a renewed commitment to evangelization because you yourselves are aware of the difficulties which this entails, in particular when we consider the declining number of clergy and the increasing pastoral needs of the faithful, especially of those who are still young in the faith. This situation calls for creative solutions, wise stewardship of present resources and careful pastoral planning for the future. There is an urgent need to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life, intensifying the noteworthy efforts being made to help young men and women to recognize and respond to God’s call. Taiwan’s numerous Religious Communities have been and continue to be a great spiritual and material resource for the life of the Church. All around you there are signs of budding life in the Spirit. As Pastors, it is your task to discern, nourish and develop every new gift and hope.

6. As members of the great Chinese family, the Catholics of Taiwan feel an affectionate closeness to their brothers and sisters in the faith on the Mainland. Indeed, you gladly acknowledge your responsibility to assist them in their difficult spiritual situation. Even more than Catholics in other countries, you sense that you are a Sister Church to the Catholic community there, especially when there is a growing appreciation among them of their need to feel themselves more a part of the universal Catholic Church.

For my part, I know that the Catholic community throughout China, in union of faith with the rest of the Catholic Church, prays for the Pope, recognizing generally in this way the specific nature of the Petrine ministry as an essential aspect of Christ’s will for his Church. But the great majority of Chinese Catholics, precisely in order to live this fidelity in fullness, have chosen the path of suffering and silence. With deep affection, our hearts turn to these brothers and sisters of ours who suffer great hardship, thankful for their generous and heroic example. We hope and pray that also the others will work with renewed faith and strength for full communion and unity with the universal Church and the Successor of Peter.

I am well aware that the current situation of the Catholic community is a source of painful concern for all Chinese Catholics. Each of them has a special place in my heart as Pastor of the universal Church, and for all I pray the Lord who has willed that his Church be one, under one Shepherd. Today, through you, I repeat the exhortation which I addressed to them in Manila last January: "I earnestly invite you to seek paths to communion and reconciliation, paths which draw their light and inspiration from the Truth himself: Jesus Christ" (John Paul II, Message to Catholics in China, 14 Jan. 1995). I know that many are wondering how this reconciliation can come about. All need to move; all have to turn towards Jesus Christ, who calls us to unity and to communion. Everyone must discover the steps which lead to reconciliation. Everyone must bring along his whole self, his past, his moments of courageous witness and his moments of weakness, his present sufferings and his hopes for a better future. What we are speaking of is a long and difficult journey. The goal is clear enough, but the path leading to it seems still obscure. We need to invoke the light of the Spirit and to let ourselves be guided by his inspiration.

You, the Bishops of Taiwan, are called to do all you can to promote harmony, patience and understanding, fraternal love and reconciliation among all the Catholics of the great Chinese family, in a spirit of charity and with full respect for the growth of the Church on the Mainland. At this delicate moment, I ask all of you to pray unceasingly for this intention.

7. Dear Brothers, our meeting brings to mind all the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, to whom I feel very close. Please assure the priests, Religious and lay members of your local Churches in Taiwan of my deep affection in the Lord. At the same time, I renew the assurance of my love, encouragement and good wishes to all the Catholic members of the greater Chinese family. If these brothers and sisters of ours already pray for the Pope and in some way recognize in him the special ministry of Peter, how much longer will it be before he can embrace them and confirm them in faith and unity?

With these sentiments, I commend you and the whole Church in Taiwan to the loving intercession of Mary, Queen of Peace, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 1995 - Friday, 16 June 1995