Speeches 1996


ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO H.E. Mr NIKOLAOS KALANTZIANOS

NEW AMBASSADOR OF GREECE TO THE HOLY SEE

Monday, 3 June 1996

Mr Ambassador,


It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hellenic Republic to the Holy See. I am grateful for the cordial greetings you have brought from President Stephanopoulos and the Government, and I ask you kindly to convey my own good wishes and to assure them of my esteem for your nation.

As you have observed, recent history has seen vast and significant changes, both ideological and political, on the European continent. These changes carry great promise. Individuals have a real prospect of building ever more just and harmonious relations with one another and between all members of society. However, there also persists a certain tension: even as the "Old Continent" moves toward increased integration and mutual support, there still remains a danger of fragmentation and isolation. As I had occasion to note two years ago in my Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See: "On the one hand, Europe possesses a network of multi-state institutions which ought to help it to bring to fulfilment its noble community project. But on the other hand, this same Europe is, as it were, weakened by growing tendencies to individualism which are giving rise to reactions inspired by the most primitive forms of racism and nationalism" (I?annis Pauli PP. II Sermo ad Legatorum Ordinem apud Sanctam Sedem, 6, die 15 ian. 1994: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVII, 1 (1994) 120 s).

The terrible consequences of these tendencies are perhaps seen most clearly in the tragic conflict which has brought untold horror and destruction upon your neighbours in the Balkans. The Holy See encourages the international community to persevere in its efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace. This is nothing less than an expression of that solidarity which should unite all nations as members of the one human family throughout the world.

Fostering solidarity and cooperation between peoples and nations is one of the principal motives behind the Holy See's presence and activity in the field of international diplomacy. A great new era is opening before the world community, an era which calls for a renewed sense of collective moral responsibility in the work of promoting integral human development, safeguarding human rights and freedoms, promoting more participatory forms of government, and establishing effective structures for the equitable resolution of disagreements between nations and ethnic and social groups. It is especially in light of this latter point that I express my hope that every obstacle to peace in the Mediterranean will be overcome through sincere and open dialogue.

Indeed, it is precisely dialogue and commitment to peace which must characterize the relations between peoples and nations. Moreover, in today's interdependent world, the construction of peaceful societies requires close cooperation between the richer nations and those still in the process of development. The scandal of poverty, violence and political oppression which still afflict vast sectors of humanity must be addressed, and it is encouraging to note that at the World Summit for Social Development held last year in Copenhagen these very issues were taken up with new resolve. The Summit acknowledged that in various parts of the world rapid processes of change and adjustment have caused an intensification of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration. The challenge now facing the community of nations is to determine how best to deal with these situations, in such a way as to enhance the benefits which changes can bring for the whole human family and at the same time enabling the developing nations to be the principle agents of their own social and economic advancement.

In the official Declaration on Social Development, endorsed by the Summit, the various Heads of State and Government committed themselves to a "political, ethical and spiritual vision for social development" which would fully respect the "various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of people" (Declaratio de progressu ad societatem pertinente Hafniae habita, 26). Such a vision and such respect are indeed necessary if integral human development is to take place. In fact, only when the value, dignity and rights of the human person are upheld and promoted is the social fabric truly strengthened and the priorities of individuals and nations properly ordered.

The Church's mission includes the specific task of defending the whole range of human rights, especially the rights to life and to religious liberty: for these are the basis of human freedom and dignity, which are themselves a consequence of the fact that men and women have been made in the image and likeness of God. It is for this reason that the Church is an active partner in the quest for genuine progress and authentic development; and this is likewise the reason for her specific contribution in the fields of education, health care and social services. In this same context the Catholic Church remains committed to pursuing and promoting ecumenical dialogue with the different Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. If credible witness is going to be borne to the vital spiritual and cultural role which Christianity has to play in the Third Millennium, then mutual respect and love among Christians, as well as effective cooperation, must be strongly encouraged and nurtured.

Mr Ambassador, I am confident that during the term of your mission the friendship and understanding which have always marked relations between Greece and the Holy See will continue to grow, and I assure you of the full cooperation of the various offices of the Roman Curia. Upon yourself and all the people of your country I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION

FOR THE REAL PROPERTY CLAIMS OF DISPLACED PERSONS

AND REFUGEES IN BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA

Saturday, 8 June 1996

Professor Saulle,

Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the Commission for the Real Property Claims of Displaced Persons and Refugees in Bosnia-Hercegovina, on the occasion of your important meeting in Rome, and to have this opportunity to share with you "the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties... those who are afflicted" (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 1) as a result of the conflict which has devastated Bosnia-Hercegovina.

You are committed to alleviating and, as far as possible, to healing the wounds inflicted by the hostilities which for almost four years have forced half the population of Bosnia-Hercegovina to look for decent living conditions elsewhere. Every refugee is an uprooted person, constantly looking for the means of survival and hoping that better days will come, when it will be possible to go home or to settle in a new place in which to live and work.

When the social, cultural and even geographical bonds which for centuries had enabled different ethnic and religious groups to share important common values are tragically shattered, the rebuilding of a fraternal society must have as its absolutely indispensable basis an inner attitude of forgiveness and reconciliation.The victims of "ethnic cleansing" will not be able to return to their homes in Bosnia-Hercegovina unless there takes place a "purification of hearts" both in those who stayed behind and in those who hope to return.

Your Commission is called to be the instrument of this rebuilding of social harmony. I am pleased to see that the Commission is itself a living symbol of this goal, made up as it is of distinguished representatives not only of the three components of Bosnian society in the form of two "entities" but also of the international community.

Upon your difficult but extremely necessary and commendable work I invoke the blessing of the Most High God, that he may watch over and guide the long process of peace-making. I earnestly appeal once more to the refugees and displaced persons not to yield to despair but to take heart in the hope of a new life, and to respond to the assistance programmes proposed by your Commission. Finally, I once again invite Governments and the International Organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, to give priority in their assistance programmes to the reuniting of families, to respect for personal freedoms and to the promotion of the fundamental values of social harmony.



ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN A CONFERENCE ORGANIZED BY

THE VATICAN OBSERVATORY SCHOOL IN ASTROPHYSICS

Friday, 28 June 1996

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of this fourth conference in the series devoted to dialogue between philosophy, theology and science. As you continue to consider God's action in the physical world, you turn now to the complex issue of the nature of life itself, seeking to arrive at a fuller understanding of the universe and man's place within it. Your dedication to this undertaking is in line with the Church's long tradition of intellectual commitment, as expressed for example by Saint Augustine: "Intellectum valde ama" (S. Augustini, Epistula 120, 3, 16) truly love the intellect, truly seek after understanding.

2. If scientific endeavour, philosophical inquiry and theological reflection are to bring genuine benefit to the human family, they must always be grounded in truth, the truth which "shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God" (I?annis Pauli PP. II Veritatis Splendor, Introductio). This is the truth which "enlightens man's intellect and shapes his fr??d?m" (Ibid.). When related to this truth, advances in science and technology, splendid testimony of the human capacity for understanding and perseverance, spur men and women on to face the most decisive of struggles, those of the heart and of the moral conscience (Cfr. Ibid.1).

3. What you do as scientists, philosophers and theologians can contribute significantly to clarifying the vision of the human person as the focus of creation's extraordinary dynamism and the supreme object of divine intervention. Thus there is an intimate link between the development of scientific perspectives on divine action in the universe and the betterment of mankind. Those who work through the sciences, the arts, philosophy and theology in order to advance our understanding of what is true and beautiful are walking a path of discovery and service parallel and complementary to that followed by those who engage in the struggle to improve peoples' lives, fostering their genuine good and development. In the final analysis, the true, the beautiful and the good are essentially one.

4. From this point of view, I consider that this series of Conferences, seeking to relate and unify the knowledge derived from many sources, offers an important contribution to that exchange between religion and science which I have made every effort to promote since the first days of my Pontificate. Grateful for the work you have already done in this field, I pray that you will continue to pursue with professional expertise this important inter-disciplinary dialogue.

Upon you and your work I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.



July 1996



ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO THE BISHOPS OF MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE AND BRUNEI

ON THEIR "AD LIMINA VISIT"

Monday, 1st July 1996

Dear Brother Bishops,


1. It is with great joy and fraternal affection that I greet you, the Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, on your ad limina visit, which has brought you to Rome to venerate the Tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul: "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (1Tm 1,2). As I did when I visited Singapore almost 10 years ago, so now I wish "to encourage and confirm you in faith and to deepen the bonds of faith and charity which link you with your brothers and sisters in Christ throughout the world" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in civitate Singaporensi habita, 2, die 20 nov. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986) 1502).

Your pilgrimage is an expression of your union with the Successor of Peter in the service of the Gospel. It is also a confession of the apostolic faith, according to which the Church is the Bride of the Divine Redeemer and is his instrument for the salvation of all peoples. "All are called to belong to the new People of God; indeed the whole of mankind is called to salvation by the grace of God" (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 13). This is the task which has been entrusted to you as Successors of the Apostles; it is the message which you preach "in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2). It is the great concern of your daily ministry. Together here today, we have an opportunity to give thanks to God for all that he accomplishes through you in communicating the grace of redemption to the peoples of your part of the vast continent of Asia.

2. In your countries, the Catholic Church forms a small minority of the population; moreover, the social and cultural climate often makes evangelization and interreligious dialogue difficult. But the Lord himself says: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom" (Lc 12,32). Taking our Saviour's words to heart, the particular Churches of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei show a consciousness of being heirs to this promise by proclaiming the Gospel's power to transform human hearts and by a constructive presence in the fields of education, social solidarity and health care, as well as by increasingly lending support to the Church's universal mission of evangelization.

In this you give eloquent expression to that missionary vocation which "belongs to the very nature of Christian life" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 1). Your local communities, with their rich blend of ethnic and cultural diversity, are in a unique position to spread knowledge of Christ to those of your Asian brothers and sisters who still do not know him. Your communities are renewed and draw enthusiasm from their missionary outreach, since "faith is strengthened when it is given to others" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 2). Precisely in this regard, you have a valuable contribution to make to the forthcoming Special Session for Asia of the Synod of Bishops.

3. The religious traditions of your peoples, as well as certain significant aspects of the political and social circumstances in which you live, differ widely from place to place. Nonetheless, you share many of the same spiritual joys and trials. This provides a solid basis for a lively spirit of co-operation within your Episcopal Conference, and for the co-ordination of diocesan and interdiocesan programmes of evangelization and catechesis. The series of meetings taking place in some of your Dioceses, at which priests, religious and members of the laity are coming together to discuss themes relevant to the life of the Church in your region is a hopeful sign of a fresh and fruitful approach. These gatherings rightly emphasize that life in the Church is life in communion: as members one of the other, all render mutual service according to the different gifts bestowed on each (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 32). In particular great space needs to be given to the laity, who are eager to assume their proper role. As you seek to foster ever fuller participation by all the faithful in the life of the Church, I encourage you also to make sure that the consultative bodies envisioned by the Code of Canon Law, such as presbyteral and finance councils, are in place and operating properly. These bodies will provide you and your priests with valuable assistance, and enable you to dedicate the best of your energies to what is primary, namely, the spiritual and pastoral care of those entrusted to your ministry (Cfr. Codex Iuris Canonici, Cann. 469. 492. 495).

4. Your priests, of course, remain your closest and most important co-workers in the task of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God. Because, as ministers of the Sacraments, they act in persona Christi they must be "deeply and fully immersed in the mystery of Christ" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 18). On a practical level, the daily life and ministry of the priest should be centred on the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other Sacraments, according to the mind and discipline of the Church. Whatever you do to encourage your priests to offer the Eucharist with devotion, to receive the grace of the sacrament of Penance frequently and to pray the Liturgy of the Hours faithfully is as it were the heart of your own ministry. The vigour of the Church's mission depends more than anything else on Bishops and priests who are nourished by prayer and are aflame with love for the living God (Cfr. Congregationis pro Clericis Directorium de Presbyterorum ministerio et vita, 38-42).

At the same time you have a duty to "support and help consecrated persons" (I?annis Pauli PP. II Vita Consecrata VC 49); they too have a particular claim to your pastoral care. The presence of men and women religious in your local Churches ensures "an especially rich manifestation of Gospel values and a more complete expression of the Church's purpose, which is the sanctification of humanity" (Ibid. 32). The work of the various religious congregations is decisive in fostering the Church's mission in Asia. The example of holiness, community life, apostolate and charitable service on the part of so many consecrated men and women is a priceless witness to authentic Christian living.

5. I know that you are particularly concerned about the proper training and formation of candidates to the priesthood and the religious life, and that you are making concerted efforts to build on what has already been achieved. You count very much on the commitment and dedication of the formation teams at your three Major Seminaries, whose task it is to seek "really and truly to initiate the candidate into the sensitivity of being a shepherd, in the conscious and mature assumption of his responsibilities, in the interior habit of evaluating problems and establishing priorities and looking for solutions on the basis of honest motivations of faith and according to the theological demands inherent in pastoral work" (Eiusdem Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 58).

Your attention in this area will also have a positive influence in fostering vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Indeed, vocational awareness and promotion is one of the most pressing needs facing your Churches, also in view of the diminished presence of missionaries from other parts of the world. A commitment to prayer for vocations on the part of all the faithful, both at the parish level and in individual families, will help young men and women to be open to the Lord's call to follow him more closely. "The harvest is plentiful, but labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest" (Lc 10,2).

6. At the same time, the clear witness to Christian values which the lay faithful give in the family and in society is vital to a dynamic and penetrating Christian presence (Cfr. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 4). In the formation of the laity, special emphasis must be placed on a solid and systematic study of Scripture and of the Church's social teaching. Committed and well-trained catechists are essential: they are often the lifeline of their communities and the future of the Church depends greatly on their fidelity (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 73). May God reward them with strength and joy!

All the various ecclesial groups and organizations present in your Dioceses need to work in accord and harmony. This is possible above all because the Liturgy, the summit towards which the Church's activity is directed, inspires the faithful to become "of one heart in love" (Cfr. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10). Your efforts to provide for the celebration of the Mass and the Sacraments in the principal local languages should continue in a manner which will ensure the theologically sound inculturation of the Christian message (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 52).

7. Your local Churches are very much involved in the education of children and young people, an apostolate which the Church highly esteems, as her whole history testifies. In some cases public policies do not support your efforts. I can only encourage you to continue to ensure the Church's presence in this important field, as well as in the pastoral care of Catholic university students. Whatever the situation, specific programmes and initiatives aimed at the Christian training of young people should be primary concerns of the whole community; the younger generation must be nurtured and sustained in its Christian identity, for the good of the Church and of society. It is the young people of your parishes and associations who will proclaim and spread the Kingdom of God in the Third Christian Millennium (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 58). I am heartened to know that you are already actively involved in preparing your local Churches for the Great Jubilee.

8. Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are all experiencing rapid socio-economic growth. The Church must not grow weary of pointing out what constitutes authentic human development, that is, a development which responds to the cultural, ethical and spiritual needs of men and women (Cfr. Eiusdem Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 33). In this way the Church will continue to be a leaven in society, lending support to initiatives which seek to protect and defend true values, especially the values of family and community solidarity, against the threat of materialism and self-centred individualism. These are matters in which the promotion of understanding and co-operation between different religious, cultural and ethnic groups takes on special significance. Continue to promote ever more genuine and effective dialogues, both ecumenical and interreligious. Especially important is the "dialogue of life", whereby people of different backgrounds join together in helping others in need, in bringing comfort to the suffering, in ensuring respect for the rights of minorities, refugees and immigrants. There are also many Catholics among the immigrants arriving on your shores, and I urge you to offer them the pastoral support and care they need. "As you have opportunity, do good to all people, especially those who are of the household of faith" (Cfr. Gal Ga 6,10).

9. Dear Brother Bishops, I am fully aware of the responsibilities which the Lord has placed on you in calling you to the episcopacy, and I promise you the support of my prayers. I wish you to take away from our meetings a renewed sense of the communion which, as Successors of the Apostles, we share in the service of Christ and his Kingdom. May Mary, Queen of Peace and Star of Evangelization, guide you and protect the Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Upon you and upon the clergy, religious and lay faithful of your region, whom, with God's help I hope to be able to visit again at some time in the future, I invoke an abundance of divine graces, and to all I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO A DELEGATION OF BUSINESS AND CIVIC LEADERS

FROM THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND (U.S.A.)

Monday, 1st July 1996

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am pleased to welcome your delegation of business and civic leaders from the State of Rhode Island on the occasion of your visit to Rome. As you and your fellowcitizens prepare to celebrate America's Independence Day, I offer cordial good wishes that your country will be strengthened in its commitment to the democratic ideals so nobly expressed in its founding documents.

For many generations the United States has been an inspiration to younger nations as they strive to build harmonious societies on the solid principles of democratic values. The aspirations of individuals and peoples throughout the world have been greatly influenced by America's historic commitment to liberty and self determination, equality under law, respect for human rights, including the free exercise of religion. These principles, for which young Americans even in recent days have given their lives, represent a precious heritage which each generation is called to appropriate and pass on. Indeed, "the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Evangelium Vitae EV 70). Authentic freedom has its necessary foundation in the truth about the human person; it is precisely in the search for truth that we become free (Cfr. Io Jn 8,32). When the demands of truth are ignored or repressed, the pursuit of freedom can easily become a mere pretext for license, a new form of tyranny, the first victims of which are always the weak, the defenceless, those who have no voice.

Dear friends, I pray that your efforts to serve society will always be guided by Almighty God, the Creator of the human family and the ultimate source of all justice, truth and peace. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke his abundant blessings.



ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL CHAPTER

OF THE MISSIONARY SERVANTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Friday, 5 July 1996

Dear Sisters,


1. It gives me great joy to welcome the participants in the General Chapter of the Missionary Congregation of the Servants of the Holy Spirit. I greet the newly elected Superior General, Sister Agada Brand, and I send an affectionate greeting to all the members of the Congregation, which for over a hundred years has borne dynamic witness to the value and fruitfulness in the Church of the specifically missionary vocation.

In the Lord's vineyard, the Servants of the Holy Spirit form a living, robust tree now present in almost 40 countries in different parts of the world. You are nourished by the very holiness of your Founders: Blessed Arnold Janssen and Blessed Maria Helena Stollenwerk. Only last year I had the joy of beatifying Maria Helena Stollenwerk, a remarkably gifted woman whose obedience to the Holy Spirit and devotion to the Eucharist provided the inspiration she needed for the work to which God called her in founding your Institute, entirely committed to the ideal of missionary service.

2. As required by your Constitutions, you are examining the state of the Congregation and seeking ways of increasing your fidelity to your founding charism, especially as regards living your religious and missionary vocation in community. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Vita Consecrata" contains many reflections which are particularly suited to your experience. Your spirituality is specifically Trinitarian, and the Exhortation speaks at length of the evangelical counsels as a gift of the Trinity. Your vocation draws its vitality from your faith in the Triune God who dwells in your hearts. Your community life is rooted in that same sublime mystery; indeed, the very purpose of that life is "to extend in history the gifts of communion proper to the three divine Persons" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Vita Consecrata VC 41). Your missionary vocation too springs from the same source: "Those who love God... cannot remain indifferent to the fact that many men and women do not know the full manifestation of God's love in Christ. The result, in obedience to Christ's commandment, is the missionary drive ad gentes" (Ibid. 77).

3. You have wished to have this meeting with the Successor of Peter for no other reason than to be confirmed in your faith and in your complete dedication to our Lord Jesus Christ. Trusting in your serene, mature and Gospel-centered vision of your religious consecration, I invite the Missionary Servants of the Holy Spirit to respond generously to the concern which was at the heart of the Synod on the consecrated life: "To tend towards holiness: this is in summary the programme of every consecrated life, particularly in the perspective of its renewal on the threshold of the Third Millennium" (Ibid. 93).

Dear Sisters, this is my wish for all the members of your Congregation. May the Holy Spirit continue to pour out his gifts on all of you. May he kindle in the hearts of the young people you serve a readiness to respond to the call to the consecrated missionary life.

I renew to you my prayerful support and I express my earnest hope that you will continue to love and serve the Church with all your personal and community resources. "Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things"! (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Vita Consecrata VC 110) As a pledge of peace and joy in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

TO THE BISHOPS OF MYANMAR

ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT

Friday, 5 July 1996



Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With warm affection I welcome you, the Bishops of Myanmar, on the occasion of your ad limina visit. "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father ... comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word" (2Th 2,16). You have come to venerate the tombs of the Princes of the Apostles and to meet the Bishop of Rome who "presides over the universal communion of charity" (Cfr. S. Ignatii Antiocheni Ad Romanos, prooemium). Our fraternal encounter manifests the collegial spirit which unites Bishops with the Successor of Peter, with one another and with the whole People of God throughout the earth. Our meeting therefore gives expression to the profound mystery of the Church as a communion - that blessed fellowship with the Most Holy Trinity - the sharing in the life of the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit (Cfr. Io Jn 1,1-3) which is both the path and the goal of her pilgrim journey. I encourage the Church in Myanmar to have a lively sense of the supernatural koinonia of grace which transcends all human divisions and enables the various ministries and charisms to converge and work together in building up the "temple of the living God" (2Co 6,16).

2. Your presence is an occasion for us to rejoice together and to give thanks to God for the way in which the seed of faith grows and matures in your communities, which, although they form a "little flock", are full of signs of hope. Many of your Dioceses are experiencing a marked growth in vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life. This is a marvellous sign of ecclesial vitality and maturity, just as it brings with it important responsibilities. As the ones primarily charged with the training of your priests, you must build on what has been done so far, ensuring that candidates follow a solid and complete programme of priestly formation. You must be satisfied that the time spent in formation is leading them to the human, psychological, moral, intellectual and spiritual maturity which will make them fit for the presbyterate. In a special way I encourage you always to appoint to this work priests who bear visible, joyful testimony to the value and virtues of the priesthood, lived as a welcome grace from God and sustained by fervent prayer, self-sacrifice and pastoral charity. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis", like a Magna Charta of priestly life and formation, offers in synthesis the Church's wisdom and experience in this field. When you return to your Dioceses, assure your priests that you and I acknowledge their work and thank them once again. Urge them to continue joyfully on their chosen path, for the same God who called them remains with them every day of their lives (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 4).

3. In the light of a wisdom acquired down the centuries under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth (Cfr. Io Jn 14,26), Church law requires that certain structures of communion be established in every particular Church. Prominent among these structures is the presbyteral council, which serves as the Bishop's senate and assists him in the governance of the Diocese according to the norm of law for the pastoral welfare of the people entrusted to his care (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 495 1). Also important are the diocesan finance council for the management of temporal affairs (Ibid. can. 492 1), and the pastoral council, which can be of great help in organizing the ecclesial activities of all the various components of the Diocese (Cfr. ibid. can. 511). Continue your efforts to establish and make ever more effective these means of communion and co-operation which enable each particular Church to be truly and practically united in the praise of God and service of neighbour.

4. You are the builders of communion, and your pastoral care embraces all the Church's members: the clergy, the men and women religious, and the laity. Each state of life expresses in its own way one or other aspect of the mystery of Christ (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Vita Consecrata VC 32). The consecrated life, because it entails a closer following of Christ's own way of life, is an especially rich manifestation of Gospel values. It testifies to the fact that the world cannot be transfigured and offered to God without the spirit of the Beatitudes (Cfr. ibid.33). Make it one of your principal pastoral concerns to help the members of religious communities acquire that solid preparation which will enable them to "live consistently and fully their freely assumed commitments" (Ibid.103).


Speeches 1996