Speeches 1996 - Friday, 13 September 1996
Tuesday, 17 September 1996
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you here today. I thank you for having wished to meet the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostolic See, which has played such a vital and substantial role in the history of Europe and in the formation of European civilization. It can surprise no one that the Holy See follows with the closest attention everything that affects the life and well-being of this continent and its peoples.
Although it is true that in the 20th century Europe has not always given a shining example of justice, peace and solidarity, we must rejoice at the fact that there is a clear new awareness of the need to bring about changes in European society which will ensure a future of security, cooperation and peace. I wish to think that you too are totally committed to building that better future for this continent.
Security cannot consist in a permanent and ever evolving armed peace. It must be the result of a certain way of living together in society. In order that peace may truly be a reality for the community of European nations, what is required is genuine solidarity, a solidarity which "is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual because we are all really responsible for all" (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 42). That solidarity must be open to everyone, for it is not possible to live in safety or with peace of mind when our brothers or sisters are beset by fear and anguish.
The vastness of the task is apparent. Will the leaders of countries and those who influence public life truly address the conditions which disrupt the equilibrium of society? Will Europe be governed by a vision which allows only the strongest to succeed, while the needs of the weak and defenceless are ignored? The Church never ceases to proclaim that every human being possesses an inalienable dignity and inalienable rights, independently of and previous to any concession of state or law. If Europe is to be built up in justice and peace, its culture, its legislation, its way of life cannot fail to recognize and defend the transcendent dimension of the human person. It is only by recognizing this fundamental aspect of human nature that society can persevere in upholding the rights and responsibilities which inescapably derive from human dignity. Otherwise everything will eventually depend on the arbitrary will of some to the detriment of others, and Europe will risk repeating the errors of the past.
As the present century draws to a close, Christians are preparing to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. We are called to follow the path of conversion and forgiveness, of respect and love. This is the path which on the eve of the third millennium will enable coming generations to learn the principles governing a society truly worthy of the human person. I pray that you will ever put your professional skills at the service of such a goal. May Almighty God bless you and your work on behalf of Europe and the entire human family.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1 . It is always a great pleasure for me to meet the Bishops of the Philippines, especially on the occasion of your ad limina visits, when you bring to the Successor of Peter the joyful testimony of your people's faith and of their union with this Apostolic See. I greet you - the first group in this series of visits - and, through you, all the faithful of the Philippines: "the favor of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Ga 6,18).
Seeing you here, I think back to the marvelous experience of the World Youth Day in Manila, in January last year. It was not just the number of Filipino young people present with such fervor that was so impressive. What remains impressed on my memory is above all the vitality, conviction and enthusiasm with which the Filipino Catholic community as a whole professed its love of God and of his Church. From the moment of my arrival on Filipino soil I wished to center my preaching on "the Good News of God's love and mercy - the word of truth, justice and peace which alone can inspire a life worthy of God's sons and daughters", and on "the special vocation" of the church in the Phi1ippines "to bear witness to the Gospel in the heart of Asia" (John Paul II, Address at the Welcoming Ceremony in Manila, 4 [12 Jan. 1995])! By word and attitude, Filipino Catholics showed that they were ready to respond to this vocation in answer to God's love; and that they would do so with "new light, new love, new commitment to meeting the great needs of humanity"(Ibid.)?
2. Yes, there is no doubt that the Church in your land, throughout your Islands, is vibrant, strong and full of life. Like the young bride of the Book of Revelation, she has full confidence in the steadfast fidelity of her Lord and Savior; she holds forth the promise of love and life: "Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready" (Ap 19,7). What are the signs of this youthful spiritual vitality? In the first place, the faithful ministry of your beloved co-workers, the priests, committed to realizing their priestly identity in the generous service of God's people. They draw strength from their sacramental configuration to Christ, the great High Priest (He 4,14), whose friendship they experience in personal prayer and liturgical celebration. Your seminarians too are a sure sign of hope for the future. They look to you for that solid formation that will lead them to "mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ep 4,13). And what about the numerous men and women religious? Their irreplaceable contribution to the evangelization of the Philippines is an essential part of your history, and continues today in your particular Churches' efforts to present the true face of Christ in every form of ecclesial service. And a particular sign of vitality is the glowing participation of the laity in the Church's mission. More and more you can count on their active and fruitful collaboration in responding to the magnitude of the challenges of the new evangelization and of integral human development, which form the framework of the Church's action as she enters the next Christian millennium.
Since you, the Bishops, have a unique and central role in meeting these challenges, I wish to invite you to be serenely confident in the Lord, the Chief Shepherd (1P 5,4), who never abandons his flock. No matter what difficulties arise as times and circumstances change, he is present with his grace and the power of his word to guide and sustain your ministry and service. Indeed, the Lord "continually distributes in his body, that is in the Church, gifts of ministries through which, by his power, we serve each other unto salvation so that, carrying out the truth in love, we may through all things grow up into him who is our head" (Lumen Gentium LG 7). It is your responsibility as Bishops to discern and judge the gifts and charisms, but above all to encourage their growth for the benefit of all, and to harmonize them in a great chorus of praise to God. This is the truest sense of the communion of discipleship which the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines posited as a goal for your pastoral planning and activity.
3. With your brother Bishops in the rest of the country, and responding to the call of the Second Vatican Council and your own Second Plenary Council, you are working to communicate a greater sense of community and mission, an awareness among the faithful of belonging to and sharing in a reality, the Body of Christ, which transcends them, and yet embraces them and depends on them and makes them responsible for the present and future of that same reality. In this communion, Bishops are, as it were, the elder brothers. To us, the Successors of the Apostles, has been principally entrusted the task of evangelizing and teaching so that all may attain to salvation by faith, Baptism, and the fulfillment of the commandments (cf. ibid., 24). We are called to exercise this role and this authority, not with pride or relying on our own strength, but with love and humble obedience to the truth, as "servants of the Lord's servants" (St. Augustine, Letter 217: PL 33, 378). In fact, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, "that duty, which the Lord committed to the shepherds of his people, is a true service, and in sacred literature is significantly called diakonia or ministry" (Lumen Gentium LG 24). Your ad limina visit is an excellent occasion for you to reaffirm and strengthen that inner commitment and ready availability which daily inspire your prayer, your activity and your efforts on behalf of the Dioceses entrusted to you. You know that the way you yourselves respond to God's grace is not without effect on the progress of God's people "made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (St. Cyprian, De Oratione Dominica, 23: PL 4, 553; cf. Lumen Gentium LG 4).
The conciliar Constitution « Lumen Gentium » places the bond between Pastors and faithful on a profound theological footing, as part of the divine plan for the Church, as an expression of their common dignity deriving from their rebirth in Christ: "The distinction which the Lord made between sacred ministers and the rest of the people of God entails a unifying purpose, since pastors and the other faithful are bound to each other by a mutual need the very diversity of graces, ministries, and works gathers the children of God into one, because all these things are the work of one and the same Spirit' (1Co 12,11)" (Lumen Gentium LG 32). You, the Pastors, are saying to the faithful: yes, we have received from Christ a ministry of spiritual leadership, of teaching and of guidance, but this too is a service to the whole body; ours is "a hierarchy of service, and not of Christian excellence" (Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 96). In other words, it is as if you were telling the faithful: no one has a merely passive role; the contribution of every individual and family is essential; Christ needs every one of you. And, with the help of the priests, religious and committed lay people, you are directing your pastoral efforts to turning the evangelical concept of commotion into a reality of everyday life in each local community.
4. In this great pastoral effort, one of your priorities is the spreading and strengthening of basic ecclesial communities, as well as the formation of their leaders. You are well aware of the great potential of such communities, but also of the challenge which they entail. A fundamental text of the Magisterium in this regard remains the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" of my predecessor Pope Paul VI, to which I invite you to return from time to time in order to be reminded that this pastoral approach is valid only in so far as such groups "come together within the Church in order to unite themselves to the Church and to cause the Church to grow ... having solidarity with her life, being nourished by her teaching and united with her pastors" (Acts and Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, 58).
By creating a deeper bond between their members, a bond sustained above all by the Church's sacramental and liturgical life, these fraternal communities become the leaven of Christian life, of care for the poor, destitute and marginalized, and of commitment to social transformation. You see these communities as a way to teach the tenets of the faith through a catechesis that is closely related to real life situations, and therefore as an effective means of safeguarding the community from the inroads of fundamentalism. They also serve to channel popular devotions in the right direction, by giving them a solid biblical and theological foundation. In many of your Dioceses you have seen that through the basic ecclesial communities the teachings of the Magisterium, the pastoral letters of the Bishops' Conference and the documents of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines are more easily brought to the grassroots level of the parish communities.
5. As Pope Paul VI recognized, such communities will become a hope for the universal Church to the extent that they seek their nourishment in the word of God, do not allow themselves to be ensnared by political polarization or fashionable ideologies, and avoid giving in to the temptation of systematic protest and a hypercritical attitude, under the pretext of authenticity. It is essential that they remain firmly attached to the local Church to which they belong, and to the universal Church, thus avoiding the danger of becoming closed within themselves, to the exclusion of other ecclesial realities.
If the experience of basic ecclesial communities proves successful in fostering a deeper, more fraternal and more practical witness of Christian life and solidarity, then a new image of the Church will appear, the image of an active and responsible community which truly reflects the model offered by the early Christians of Jerusalem as described in the Acts of the Apostles. At the same time, pastoral activity, especially in parishes, cannot overlook the majority who do not participate, and those who are lax or have fallen away. The Church is also the home of the sinner, of those who doubt or need encouragement. She must never become the exclusive domain of an elite of committed members.
6. It is the duty of the Church's Pastors to correct centrifugal tendencies leading to fragmentation or division. Indeed, within the Christian community the Bishop is the center of unity, a fact illustrated by these striking words of the Council: "For their part, the faithful must cling to their Bishop, as the Church does to Christ, and Jesus Christ to the Father, so that everything may harmonize in unity and bring forth abundant fruit unto the glory of God". In every way possible the Bishop must work for union among the priests, religious and laity, a harmony based above all on principles of faith and manifested most particularly in the unity of God's people around the Altar of Sacrifice. He needs to instruct, watch over and defend the portion of the Lord's inheritance committed to his care, knowing that peace is the result also of a thorough and far-reaching program of catechesis which enlightens and strengthens consciences for the responsible choices which have to be made also in civil and social matters.
All the Church's members, as active and responsible citizens, are called to be builders of peace in society as a whole, and this task is all the more pressing where religious differences or cultural and social conditions generate tensions. Some of your Dioceses are not immune to a certain instability and violence. Everywhere the Church prays and works for social peace founded primarily on respect for people's fundamental rights, beginning with the cardinal right to freedom of religion and conscience. By its very nature, peace-making calls for sincere and constructive dialogue on the part of everyone involved. Peace can only be achieved if the integral good of the whole of society is everyone's overriding goal. When I visited the Southern Philippines in 1981, I had the pleasure of meeting members of the Muslim community and of encouraging the dialogue which was already taking place and which, in spite of difficulties, has continued. What was said then is just as true today: "Society cannot bring citizens the happiness that they expect from it unless society itself is built upon dialogue. Dialogue in turn is built upon trust, and trust presupposes not only justice but mercy". As you yourselves have written: "The journey to peace is the journey of people of different faiths, people who pray to the same almighty God, who for the sake of peace creates in our hearts the attitudes of mutual respect and trust and love for justice, truth and freedom, which are the pillars of a house of peace". May God bless your efforts to build that house of peace in your own region!
7. In Manila in 1995, I urged the Bishops to bring the liberating power of the Gospel to bear on the pastoral challenges facing you. It is in fact "the obedience of faith for the sake of Christ's name" which is the definitive and ultimate answer to man's problems and the fulfillment of his aspirations. In our preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000, next year will be devoted to reflection on Christ, the Word of God, made man by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my ardent prayer that you will lead the people of God to "a renewed appreciation of Christ, Savior and Proclaimer of the Gospel a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Incarnation. As you come ever closer to Christ, you and your people will drink at the true wellspring of salvation and hope. "Straining forward to what lies ahead ... press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus". May the Lord himself guide you and sustain you. May the Mother of the Redeemer intercede for the beloved Filipino people.
With my Apostolic Blessing.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican today and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the Holy See. I am very grateful for the good wishes which you have brought from His Excellency President Mubarak; our meeting of two years ago is still vividly etched on my memory. Please convey to His Excellency my own cordial greetings. Assure him of my profound respect for the Egyptian people and of my prayers for the progress, peace and prosperity of your country.
I very much appreciate your kind remarks regarding the Holy See's efforts to promote the advancement of peace in the world. In her service of the cause of peace, the Church has a role which is distinct from that of civil authority. This distinctiveness, while precluding any identification of the Church with the political community, in no way lessens the urgency with which she seeks to serve the good of all people, individually and as members of society (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 76). Precisely by reason of her close attention to transcendent matters, the Church is able to be present in the temporal order by educating consciences to the truths and values fundamental to society's well-being. She strongly proclaims the truth of human dignity and works to strengthen the harmony and solidarity which can lead to effective action in favour of the common good. While her mission is primarily spiritual and religious, with her efforts directed in the first place to the Catholic faithful, the Church remains firmly committed to working for the integral good of the whole human family. She willingly lends her support, moral and material, to all men and women of goodwill who actively oppose those things which imperil the moral health of nations and peoples, or which threaten the peace which should reign between them.
The Holy See affirms and unequivocally espouses the position that authentic religion rejects all forms of violence and extremism, in accordance with what His Excellency President Mubarak asserted on the occasion of the Eighth Conference of the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs held in Cairo last July. In fact, it is of the very nature of religion to promote an increasingly respectful relationship between individuals, peoples and nations. For this reason, I have written that "it would be a mistake if religions or groups of their followers, in the in interpretation and practice of their respective beliefs, were to fall into forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism, justifying struggles and conflicts with others by adducing religious motives. If there exists a struggle worthy of man, it is the struggle against his own disordered passions, against every kind of selfishness, against attempts to oppress others, against every type of hatred and violence: in short, against every thing that is the exact opposite of peace and reconciliation" (John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Prayer for Peace 1992, 7 [8 Dec. 1991]).
Your Excellency's reference to the conflict and strife which have often been the historical scourge of your region reminds us of the present situation in the Middle East. I warmly commend Egypt's efforts to help bring peace and stability to an area still beset by tension and violence. Much has been accomplished in the past few years, and yet many basic questions of justice and the recognition of the legitimate rights of the peoples of that region still remain. As the Governments involved and members of the international community continue to work to resolve existing difficulties, the Holy See cannot state strongly enough that the right to religious freedom, and the corresponding juridically guaranteed respect for this right, are the source and foundation of truly peaceful coexistence. Moreover, it is not sufficient that the commitment to ensuring such freedom be expressed; it must influence in a real and practical way the actions of political and religious leaders, and the behaviour of believers themselves. In this context, I am pleased to note your emphasis on the importance of mutual respect, understanding and dialogue among the different religious traditions present in Egypt. Not only is this important for national unity; it also means that all believers, as equal citizens, are able to play their part in the building up of Egyptian society. The whole life of the nation is enhanced by the harmonious blending of its people's different religious and cultural traditions.
Mr Ambassador, I am confident that as you fulfil your mission the cordial bonds of friendship which exist between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Holy See will be further strengthened and enriched. I offer you my good wishes and assure you that the different offices of the Roman Curia will be ever ready to assist you. Upon Your Excellency and your fellow-citizens I invoke abundant divine blessings.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican for the ceremony of the presentation of the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of China to the Holy See. I am grateful for the kind greetings which you convey from His Excellency President Lee Teng-hui., to whom I offer my good wishes for his new term of office.
You have referred to the approaching Third Millennium, when Christians will celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. This event has great significance for all the Church's members, not least those belonging to the great Chinese family, always particularly close to my heart. But the Jubilee of the year 2000 has a significance which goes beyond the Christian community and affects the whole human family: the truths and values of the Gospel play a fundamental role in the advancement of moral principles and social concepts which are at the heart of the debate going on in almost all societies and cultures regarding the future direction which humanity should take.
In my address last year to the United Nations General Assembly, I noted that "on the threshold of a new millennium we are witnessing an extraordinary global acceleration of that quest for freedom which is one of the great dynamics of human history" (John Paul II, Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 2 [5 Oct. 1995]). Men and women in every culture are coming to a more precise awareness of their inestimable dignity as free human beings, and they are demanding to be given a place in social, political, and economic life which is commensurate with that dignity.
In fact, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, endorsed by the United Nations in 1948, remains one of the highest expressions of the human conscience of our time, and people in every part of the world appeal to this document in support of their claims for a fuller share in the life of society. The letter and spirit of that Declaration received a recent solemn confirmation at the World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995, when Heads of State and Government committed themselves "to a political, economic, ethical and spiritual vision for social development that is based on human dignity, human rights, equality, respect, peace, democracy, mutual responsibility and cooperation, and full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of people" (Declaration on Social Development [March 1995]).
It is in this context that the political community and the Church, while remaining mutually independent, can—each according to its own nature—serve the personal and social vocation of the same human beings (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 76). The Church readily recognizes that her mission is not of the political, economic or social order but is a religious one. Consequently, she is bound to no particular form of human culture, nor to any political, economic, or social system. At the same time, "out of this religious mission itself come a function, a light and an energy which can serve to structure and consolidate the human community according to the divine law" (Ibid., 42). By her universality, the Church can create a very close bond between diverse human communities, provided they have trust in her and guarantee her right to true freedom in fulfilling her mission (Ibid., 42). In this respect, I gladly recognize that in your own country the Church enjoys this freedom, a freedom which enables the Catholic community to work for the common good in a specific way, namely by promoting truth, justice and solidarity, All Chinese Catholics are eager to play their part in this mission of service. They only wish to have the freedom to contribute to the spiritual and material progress of their brothers and sisters, their fellow citizens. It is my ardent prayer that the Chinese people as a whole will have trust in the Church, even as the Church is confident that they will play an indispensable role in serving the cause of peace and development for the benefit of the entire human family.
Your Excellency, as you begin your mission as the Republic of China's diplomatic representative to the Holy See, I assure you of the full cooperation of the various Departments of the Roman Curia. It is my hope and prayer that your service here will further strengthen the bonds between us. I wish you every personal happiness in the fulfillment of your noble task, and upon Your Excellency and your fellow citizens I cordially invoke Almighty God's abundant blessings.
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. I warmly welcome you, the second group of Philippine Bishops, on the occasion of your "ad limina" visit. I greet you as "God's beloved, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 1,7). Our meeting and your prayer at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul constitute a visible, joyful expression of the bonds of fraternal unity which the Holy Spirit has created between us through our sharing in the fullness of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. I pray that your visit will serve to encourage each one of you in the ministry entrusted to you: to proclaim, in all its integrity and with all the force of its demands, the mystery of Christ, the Word made flesh, and to confirm and strengthen your people in the faith which leads to salvation.
From your reports it is clear that the Church in the Philippines is experiencing a time of renewed commitment. In 1991 you celebrated the Second Plenary Council (PCP-II), the Decrees of which, revised and confirmed by the Holy See, offer a valid and demanding program for your pastoral ministry in the years ahead. Many regional and provincial Councils, diocesan Synods and pastoral assemblies have been held or are being prepared, as effective ways of implementing the National Pastoral Plan deriving from the Plenary Council. A great effort has been made and much has already been achieved. But you, the Pastors, are the first to recognize that so much more still needs to be done in the renewal of priestly life and training, in the youth apostolate, in involving the laity more fully in the Church's mission, in the service of the poor: all of which constitute priorities of your pastoral efforts. Your Conference has a vital role to play in organizing and giving impulse to the program of evangelization and renewal which the PCP-II has opened up before you. But it is also true that it will be the personal commitment and pastoral leadership of each one of you in your particular Churches that will, to a great extent, make it possible for God's grace to thrive and blossom,
2. Everywhere in your land there are signs of the Filipino people's rich religious traditions and devotion. Your churches and shrines, your holidays and festivals, all speak of a spontaneous, confident approach to the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, to the saints, and especially to the Mother of the Savior, honored and invoked under titles which ex press her maternal role and her example of discipleship. Devotion to the Santo Nino is a well-known feature of popular religiosity in your country. I well remember the enthronement of the image of Our Lady of Antipolo at the Vigil of the 10th World Youth Day! All of this is a treasure of faith and piety to be preserved and communicated to each new generation. If any aspect of this popular piety needs to be purified of elements not in accord with the principles of faith, this should be done, gradually, through solid instruction and catechesis aimed at imbuing religious sentiment and external involvement with a true sense of inner conversion.
3. This leads us to reflect on the figure of the Bishop as the teacher of the faith in his Diocese. Bishops are "authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ" (Lumen Gentium LG 25). In a sense this is your main task, for it is from the preaching of those who are sent that the believing community is born: ". How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?" (Rm 10,14-15). We have received the sacramental investiture which sets us apart as successors of the Apostles. To us has been entrusted the deposit of faith, along with the duty to preserve it intact and defend it against all threats. We must continually examine ourselves both regarding our fidelity to the truths of the faith which have been handed on and in relation to how we fulfill the divine mandate to pass them on. St Paul's admonition to Timothy is directly applicable to each one of us: "Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1Tm 4,16). From the time when I too be-came a Bishop this duty has been foremost in my mind and efforts. And later in my first Encyclical Letter, "Redemptor Hominis", I wrote: "Being responsible for that truth also means loving it and seeking the most exact understanding of it, in order to bring it closer to ourselves and others in all its saving power" (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis RH 19). Bishops are called to grow, through personal prayer and study, in intimacy with the Holy Spirit in order to be able to assimilate and communicate the full content of the Christian message: "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14,26) .
4. The duty of passing on the faith belongs so specifically to the Bishop that no one can substitute for him, although all can and ought to co-operate with him and share in that mission in differing degrees. The good Pastor will know how to enlist and encourage the active collaboration of everyone: priests, religious and catechists. He will ensure that resources and personnel are committed to theological and catechetical studies and teaching, and to evangelization in all its forms, not excluding the use of the media. In this great personal and collective responsibility to pass on the full content of the faith, every member of the Church has a role to play. But the role and responsibility of the Bishop is original and distinctive. Where necessary he will invite the faithful to remember that "it is the Bishop's role in the particular Churches to preserve and to interpret God's word and to judge authoritatively what is or is not in accord with it" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian: Donum Veritatis, 19 [24 May 1990]).
True, the Holy Spirit distributes his gifts of knowledge and grace without distinction: "The same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him" (Rm 10,12). Most often he does so in a quiet and hidden manner, leading souls to a deep inner union with God's will. Sometimes, though, it may seem that his gifts are more visible and striking in their effect on the lives of certain individuals or communities. The more apparent the gifts, the more discernment is required on the part of Pastors, lest "even the elect be led astray" (cf. Mt. Mt 24,24). The Holy Spirit who distributes his gifts is the same Spirit who inspired the Scriptures and who assists the Magisterium of the Church, to which is entrusted the authentic interpretation of these Scriptures" (cf. Dei Verbum DV 12)
5. In order to meet the challenges of a world which is approaching the new Millennium in a state of widespread spiritual and cultural uncertainty, the Church in the Philippines—as everywhere—is faced with the enormous challenge of strengthening catechesis at every level. All other forms of the apostolate and service will benefit from an ever more enlightened Catholic culture. Millions of children and young people need instruction in the basic tenets of the faith if they are to become committed members of the ecclesial community. Parents need help to fulfill their task as primary educators in the ways of God. Even the well-educated often need help to formulate their faith and live it fully in the face of the complexity of modern living and the multitude of views and opinions being expressed. How does a Bishop go about responding to such challenges? His immediate concern will be to ensure that his priests receive a solid human, spiritual, theological and pastoral formation, for when priests are able to transmit with certainty and conviction the content of the faith, the fides quae creditur, their ministry has lasting effects in the training of consciences and the animation of the apostolate: "the more the lay apostolate develops, the more strongly is perceived the need to have well-formed holy priests" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 3).
Speeches 1996 - Friday, 13 September 1996