Speeches 1965 - Monday 4 October 1965
We congratulate Our Brother, Cardinal Spellman, and all those who have collaborated to produce this wonderful and prayerful result. No expense and sacrifice has been spared to prepare a setting worthy for such a subject.
We have offered Our prayers to Christ, the Good Shepherd, Whose message of peace and concord We have come to proclaim, and We are confident that through the intercession of Our Blessed Lady Our prayers will bear fruit.
As We gazed on this moving masterpiece, We could not but think of the religious convictions which moved the young Michelangelo to such heights and to such a magnificent result. We feel that these same religious convictions can move men in a similar way to seek peace and harmony among the peoples of this world.
We bless all of you, invoking upon you an abundance of heavenly blessings and graces
Monday, 4 October 1965
To the Students
of Rice high School:
We received your kind invitation, and, during Our mission of World peace to the United Nations, We are very happy to see you and to bless you. You are very dear to Our heart, and We pray for you that God may give you all the graces you need to be good students, loyal companions, obedient children and, later on, exemplary citizens of your great country.
We ask you to pray for Us, for Holy Mother Church, for the Vatican Council, and for peace and justice between all the rates of mankind. In return, We lovingly bless you, your parents and families, your teachers and your friends.
We are sincerely grateful to you all, for the greetings which you express to Us by your presence here.
We thank the President, the Secretary, General and all the members of the United Nations; the President of the United States of America and the federal authorities; the Governor of the State of New York and the state officials; the Mayor of the City of New York and municipal officials. Our gratitude goes also to the Cardinal Archbishop of the City, and to his priests, religious and faithful people. And We are grateful to all the citizens of this great metropolis and of all the United States of America, for their enthusiastic and affectionate welcome.
Our very brief visit has given Us a great honour; that of proclaiming to the whole world, from the Headquarters of the United Nations, Peace! We shall never forget this extraordinary hour. Nor can We bring it to a more fitting conclusion than by expressing the wish that this central seat of human relationships for the civil peace of the world may ever be conscious and worthy of this high privilege.
To America, Our prayerful wishes for prosperity and peace, under the rule of law, in concord with the other nations of the world; and Our heartfelt blessings upon its people, their families, their government, their homes and schools and churches, one Nation, under God, free and indivisible. God bless America! God bless you all!
* * *
To the representatives of the Press, Radio, Television and Cinema:
Gentlemen of the Press, Radio, Television and Cinema,
Our crowded schedule did not permit Us the time to meet with you, but We cannot depart without expressing a word of admiration and respect for your profession and vocation. Communications have experienced a remarkable advance since our first contact many years ago. As a result the world has become much smaller. Behind each one of you is a vast network working to bring the latest news to everyone. Responsibility is in proportion to knowledge and you are in possession of much weighty knowledge. You can lead men to be aware of the complex problems, and you can encourage them to make their own personal contribution, without which true peace and harmony cannot ever become a reality.
Your labours are often hidden and go unheralded, but be sure that We appreciate them and value them highly. We are confident that you will not falter in bringing the message of peace to all men of good will, that you will continue to teach men that all are brothers of one human family, and that you will help them understand one another and to cooperate in an atmosphere of mutual respect and affection. Our good wishes and Our heartfelt thanks go to you for your most important work. May God bless you!
We extend a very special welcome to the Representatives of the Chief Executives Forum, meeting for the first time in Rome.
We praise the purposes of your group, which are to subordinate the private good to the common good, and to become better directors and citizens with a sense of responsibility towards the social community.
You have discussed social and civic responsibilities of free enterprise, together with the professors and students of the Pro Deo University. We are happy that you have thus illustrated one of the great themes of the Encyclical Mater et Magistra of Our Predecessor Pope John the Twenty-third; and have thereby considered the duty, of which We spoke in Our discourse to the United Nations on the fourth of this month, namely, to assure to every human being a standard of living which satisfies the demands of his dignity and integrity.
We therefore gladly invoke upon you, your studies, your directors and assistants, copious divine graces and heavenly favours.
Distinguished representatives of Trans World Airlines.
Your presence here this morning refreshes the pleasant memory of Our unforgettable visit to the United Nations where We made an appeal for peace on behalf of men everywhere. We take this occasion to thank you for having provided Us with comfortable and efficient transportation. Each one of you, in your own way, made an effort to guarantee that Our voyage would be a safe and happy one. We thank each one of you for your share because We know how hard you worked.
Modern science and new techniques have produced marvelous results. Not too many years ago, a trip such as Ours would have been unthinkable. The world has become very small and travel to every corner of this earth is within the reach of everyone. Men everywhere have come to know that all citizens of the world have similar ambitions and desires. They want a peaceful climate in which they can grow and develop. How wonderful it would be if people, realizing that they are all brothers of one human family, would work with and for one another in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and affection, and would share their knowledge and their riches so that all could benefit from the munificence of God’s creation!
Your work brings people into contact one with another. It is an important work even though at times you might not reflect upon it. You are helping to break down barriers which have separated peoples. You assist them in getting to know each other. With knowledge comes admiration and love. Unless men come to love one another there can be no real collaboration productive of an environment of peace. We urge you to motivate your work with such sentiments, and We are confident that you will make a precious contribution to universal understanding.
We thank you once again for your efforts in Our behalf, and in expressing Our sincere appreciation or these efforts, We invoke upon all of you and your co-workers an abundance of heavenly blessings.
Dear Catholic Youth,
We send you Our affectionate greetings. We desire, first of all, to praise and encourage your Organization. Your presence at its Biennial Congress shows that you appreciate its importance, that you love it and are faithful to it. For this reason, you deserve Our commendation and Our exhortation; because, in modern times, Organization is necessary in order to complete and fulfil your training. Your Organization trains you to be aware of, and to be faithful to, your own ideas and your faith; it provides you with a group of good friends; it enables you to be apostles in your own state in life, and throughout all society.
Secondly, Our greetings are meant to assure you of Our trust and confidence in you. We have confidence in youth, especially as you belong to an openly Catholic Organization such as yours. It is often said that the youth of today is not as good as youth in past years, and even that youth represents a danger to good social traditions and moral customs. But We are quite sure that such criticism and such fear are not directed at you, because you are Catholic youth. In other words, you are a source of spiritual and moral energy; you possess Christian and human values which can make of you strong, generous, free men, from whom society has nothing to fear, but everything to hope for. With your decisive wills and your civil and Christian rectitude, you are the agents of good, the renovators of modern family and social life.
Finally, Our greetings to you intend to invoke upon you the aid and assistance of Our Lord. We urge you to pray, to pray always, to pray well! This is necessary if your lives are to be truly sensitive to the values of the spirit, aimed and directed towards man’s true goal, which is God.
We pray to Him for you, for your parents, families and friends, and for your Chaplains; and to all We lovingly send Our Apostolic Blessing.
Today we are concluding the Second Vatican Council. We bring it to a close at the fullness of its efficiency: the presence of so many of you here clearly demonstrates it; the well-ordered pattern of this assembly bears testimony to it; the normal conclusion of the work done by the council confirms it; the harmony of sentiments and decisions proclaims it. And if quite a few questions raised during the course of the council itself still await appropriate answers, this shows that its labors are now coming to a close not out of weariness, but in a state of vitality which this universal synod has awakened. In the post-conciliar period this vitality will apply, God willing, its generous and well-regulated energies to the study of such questions.
This council bequeaths to history an image of the Catholic Church symbolized by this hall, filled, as it is, with shepherds of souls professing the same faith, breathing the same charity, associated in the same communion of prayer, discipline and activity and—what is marvelous—all desiring one thing: namely, to offer themselves like Christ, our Master and Lord, for the life of the Church and for the salvation of the world. This council hands over to posterity not only the image of the Church but also the patrimony of her doctrine and of her commandments, the "deposit" received from Christ and meditated upon through centuries, lived and expressed now and clarified in so many of its parts, settled and arranged in its integrity. The deposit, that is, which lives on by the divine power of truth and of grace which constitutes it, and is, therefore, able to vivify anyone who receives it and nourishes with it his own human existence.
What then was the council? What has it accomplished? The answer to these questions would be the logical theme of our present meditation. But it would require too much of our attention and time: this final and stupendous hour would not perhaps give us enough tranquillity of mind to make such a synthesis. We should like to devote this precious moment to one single thought which bends down our spirits in humility and at the same time raises them up to the summit of our aspirations. And that thought is this: what is the religious value of this council? We refer to it as religious because of its direct relationship with the living God, that relationship which is the raison d'etre of the Church, of all that she believes, hopes and loves; of all that she is and does.
Could we speak of having given glory to God, of having sought knowledge and love of Him, of having made progress in our effort of contemplating Him, in our eagerness for honoring Him and in the art of proclaiming Him to men who look up to us as to pastors and masters of the life of God? In all sincerity we think the answer is yes. Also because from this basic purpose there developed the guiding principle which was to give direction to the future council. Still fresh in our memory are the words uttered in this basilica by our venerated predecessor, John XXIII, whom we may in truth call the originator of this great synod. In his opening address to the council he had this to say: "The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be guarded and taught more effectively.... The Lord has said: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice.' The word 'first' expresses the direction in which our thoughts and energies must move" (Discorsi, 1962, p. 583).
His great purpose has now been achieved. To appreciate it properly it is necessary to remember the time in which it was realized: a time which everyone admits is orientated toward the conquest of the kingdom of earth rather than of that of heaven; a time in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favor of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism seems the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society; a time, moreover, in which the soul of man has plumbed the depths of irrationality and desolation; a time, finally, which is characterized by upheavals and a hitherto unknown decline even in the great world religions.
It was at such a time as this that our council was held to the honor of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit: who "searcheth all things," "making us understand God's gifts to us" (cf. 1Co 2,10-12), and who is now quickening the Church, giving her a vision at once profound and all-embracing of the life of the world. The theocentric and theological concept of man and the universe, almost in defiance of the charge of anachronism and irrelevance, has been given a new prominence by the council, through claims which the world will at first judge to be foolish, but which, we hope, it will later come to recognize as being truly human, wise and salutary: namely, God is—and more, He is real, He lives, a personal, provident God, infinitely good; and not only good in Himself, but also immeasurably good to us. He will be recognized as Our Creator, our truth, our happiness; so much so that the effort to look on Him, and to center our heart in Him which we call contemplation, is the highest, the most perfect act of the spirit, the act which even today can and must be at the apex of all human activity.
Men will realize that the council devoted its attention not so much to divine truths, but rather, and principally, to the Church—her nature and composition, her ecumenical vocation, her apostolic and missionary activity. This secular religious society, which is the Church, has endeavored to carry out an act of reflection about herself, to know herself better, to define herself better and, in consequence, to set aright what she feels and what she commands. So much is true. But this introspection has not been an end in itself, has not been simply an exercise of human understanding or of a merely worldly culture. The Church has gathered herself together in deep spiritual awareness, not to produce a learned analysis of religious psychology, or an account of her own experiences, not even to devote herself to reaffirming her rights and explaining her laws. Rather, it was to find in herself, active and alive, the Holy Spirit, the word of Christ; and to probe more deeply still the mystery, the plan and the presence of God above and within herself; to revitalize in herself that faith which is the secret of her confidence and of her wisdom, and that love which impels her to sing without ceasing the praises of God. "Cantare amantis est" (Song is the expression of a lover), says St. Augustine (Serm. 336; P. L. 38, 1472).
The council documents—especially the ones on divine revelation, the liturgy, the Church, priests, Religious and the laity—leave wide open to view this primary and focal religious intention, and show how clear and fresh and rich is the spiritual stream which contact with the living God causes to well up in the heart of the Church, and flow out from it over the dry wastes of our world.
But we cannot pass over one important consideration in our analysis of the religious meaning of the council: it has been deeply committed to the study of the modern world. Never before perhaps, so much as on this occasion, has the Church felt the need to know, to draw near to, to understand, to penetrate, serve and evangelize the society in which she lives; and to get to grips with it, almost to run after it, in its rapid and continuous change. This attitude, a response to the distances and divisions we have witnessed over recent centuries, in the last century and in our own especially, between the Church and secular society—this attitude has been strongly and unceasingly at work in the council; so much so that some have been inclined to suspect that an easy-going and excessive responsiveness to the outside world, to passing events, cultural fashions, temporary needs, an alien way of thinking...may have swayed persons and acts of the ecumenical synod, at the expense of the fidelity which is due to tradition, and this to the detriment of the religious orientation of the council itself. We do not believe that this shortcoming should be imputed to it, to its real and deep intentions, to its authentic manifestations.
We prefer to point out how charity has been the principal religious feature of this council. Now, no one can reprove as want of religion or infidelity to the Gospel such a basic orientation, when we recall that it is Christ Himself who taught us that love for our brothers is the distinctive mark of His disciples (cf. John Jn 13,35); when we listen to the words of the apostle: "If he is to offer service pure and unblemished in the sight of God, who is our Father, he must take care of orphans and widows in their need, and keep himself untainted by the world" (Jc 1,27) and again: "He has seen his brother, and has no love for him; what love can he have for the God he has never seen?" (1Jn 4,20).
Yes, the Church of the council has been concerned, not just with herself and with her relationship of union with God, but with man—man as he really is today: living man, man all wrapped up in himself, man who makes himself not only the center of his every interest but dares to claim that he is the principle and explanation of all reality. Every perceptible element in man, every one of the countless guises in which he appears, has, in a sense, been displayed in full view of the council Fathers, who, in their turn, are mere men, and yet all of them are pastors and brothers whose position accordingly fills them with solicitude and love. Among these guises we may cite man as the tragic actor of his own plays; man as the superman of yesterday and today, ever frail, unreal, selfish, and savage; man unhappy with himself as he laughs and cries; man the versatile actor ready to perform any part; man the narrow devotee of nothing but scientific reality; man as he is, a creature who thinks and loves and toils and is always waiting for something, the "growing son" (Gn 49,22); man sacred because of the innocence of his childhood, because of the mystery of his poverty, because of the dedication of his suffering; man as an individual and man in society; man who lives in the glories of the past and dreams of those of the future; man the sinner and man the saint, and so on.
Secular humanism, revealing itself in its horrible anti-clerical reality has, in a certain sense, defied the council. The religion of the God who became man has met the religion (for such it is) of man who makes himself God. And what happened? Was there a clash, a battle, a condemnation? There could have been, but there was none. The old story of the Samaritan has been the model of the spirituality of the council. A feeling of boundless sympathy has permeated the whole of it. The attention of our council has been absorbed by the discovery of human needs (and these needs grow in proportion to the greatness which the son of the earth claims for himself). But we call upon those who term themselves modern humanists, and who have renounced the transcendent value of the highest realities, to give the council credit at least for one quality and to recognize our own new type of humanism: we, too, in fact, we more than any others, honor mankind.
And what aspect of humanity has this august senate studied? What goal under divine inspiration did it set for itself? It also dwelt upon humanity's ever twofold facet, namely, man's wretchedness and his greatness, his profound weakness—which is undeniable and cannot be cured by himself—and the good that survives in him which is ever marked by a hidden beauty and an invincible serenity. But one must realize that this council, which exposed itself to human judgment, insisted very much more upon this pleasant side of man, rather than on his unpleasant one. Its attitude was very much and deliberately optimistic. A wave of affection and admiration flowed from the council over the modern world of humanity. Errors were condemned, indeed, because charity demanded this no less than did truth, but for the persons themselves there was only warning, respect and love. Instead of depressing diagnoses, encouraging remedies; instead of direful prognostics, messages of trust issued from the council to the present-day world. The modern world's values were not only respected but honored, its efforts approved, its aspirations purified and blessed.
You see, for example, how the countless different languages of peoples existing today were admitted for the liturgical expression of men's communication with God and God's communication with men: to man as such was recognized his fundamental claim to enjoy full possession of his rights and to his transcendental destiny. His supreme aspirations to life, to personal dignity, to his just liberty, to culture, to the renewal of the social order, to justice and peace were purified and promoted; and to all men was addressed the pastoral and missionary invitation to the light of the Gospel.
We can now speak only too briefly on the very many and vast questions, relative to human welfare, with which the council dealt. It did not attempt to resolve all the urgent problems of modern life; some of these have been reserved for a further study which the Church intends to make of them, many of them were presented in very restricted and general terms, and for that reason are open to further investigation and various applications.
But one thing must be noted here, namely, that the teaching authority of the Church, even though not wishing to issue extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements, has made thoroughly known its authoritative teaching on a number of questions which today weigh upon man's conscience and activity, descending, so to speak, into a dialogue with him, but ever preserving its own authority and force; it has spoken with the accommodating friendly voice of pastoral charity; its desire has been to be heard and understood by everyone; it has not merely concentrated on intellectual understanding but has also sought to express itself in simple, up-to-date, conversational style, derived from actual experience and a cordial approach which make it more vital, attractive and persuasive; it has spoken to modern man as he is.
Another point we must stress is this: all this rich teaching is channeled in one direction, the service of mankind, of every condition, in every weakness and need. The Church has, so to say, declared herself the servant of humanity, at the very time when her teaching role and her pastoral government have, by reason of the council's solemnity, assumed greater splendor and vigor: the idea of service has been central.
It might be said that all this and everything else we might say about the human values of the council have diverted the attention of the Church in council to the trend of modern culture, centered on humanity. We would say not diverted but rather directed. Any careful observer of the council's prevailing interest for human and temporal values cannot deny that it is from the pastoral character that the council has virtually made its program, and must recognize that the same interest is never divorced from the most genuine religious interest, whether by reason of charity, its sole inspiration (where charity is, God is!), or the council's constant, explicit attempts to link human and temporal values with those that are specifically spiritual, religious and everlasting; its concern is with man and with earth, but it rises to the kingdom of God.
Consequently, if we remember, venerable brothers and all of you, our children, gathered here, how in everyone we can and must recognize the countenance of Christ (cf. Matt. Mt 25,40), the Son of Man, especially when tears and sorrows make it plain to see, and if we can and must recognize in Christ's countenance the countenance of our heavenly Father "He who sees me," Our Lord said, "sees also the Father" (Jn 14,9), our humanism becomes Christianity, our Christianity becomes centered on God; in such sort that we may say, to put it differently: a knowledge of man is a prerequisite for a knowledge of God.
Would not this council, then, which has concentrated principally on man, be destined to propose again to the world of today the ladder leading to freedom and consolation? Would it not be, in short, a simple, new and solemn teaching to love man in order to love God? To love man, we say, not as a means but as the first step toward the final and transcendent goal which is the basis and cause of every love. And so this council can be summed up in its ultimate religious meaning, which is none other than a pressing and friendly invitation to mankind of today to rediscover in fraternal love the God "to turn away from whom is to fall, to turn to whom is to rise again, to remain in whom is to be secure...to return to whom is to be born again, in whom to dwell is to live" (St. Augustine, Solil. I, 1, 3; PL 32, 870).
This is our hope at the conclusion of this Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and at the beginning of the human and religious renewal which the council proposed to study and promote; this is our hope for you, brothers and Fathers of the council; this is our hope for the whole of mankind which here we have learned to love more and to serve better.
To this end we again invoke the intercession of St. John the Baptist and of St. Joseph, who are the patrons of the ecumenical council; of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the foundations and columns of the Holy Church; and with them of St. Ambrose, the bishop whose feast we celebrate today, as it were uniting in him the Church of the East and of the West. We also earnestly implore the protection of the most Blessed Mary, the Mother of Christ and therefore called by us also Mother of the Church. With one voice and with one heart we give thanks and glory to the living and true God, to the one and sovereign God, to the Father, to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Following is the text of the joint Catholic-Orthodox declaration, approved by Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople, read simultaneously (Dec. 7) at a public meeting of the ecumenical council in Rome and at a special ceremony in Istanbul. The declaration concerns the Catholic-Orthodox exchange of excommunications in 1054.
1. Grateful to God, who mercifully favored them with a fraternal meeting at those holy places where the mystery of salvation was accomplished through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and where the Church was born through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I have not lost sight of the determination each then felt to omit nothing thereafter which charity might inspire and which could facilitate the development of the fraternal relations thus taken up between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Constantinople. They are persuaded that in acting this way, they are responding to the call of that divine grace which today is leading the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, as well as all Christians, to overcome their differences in order to be again "one" as the Lord Jesus asked of His Father for them.
2. Among the obstacles along the road of the development of these fraternal relations of confidence and esteem, there is the memory of the decisions, actions and painful incidents which in 1054 resulted in the sentence of excommunication leveled against the Patriarch Michael Cerularius and two other persons by the legate of the Roman See under the leadership of Cardinal Humbertus, legates who then became the object of a similar sentence pronounced by the patriarch and the Synod of Constantinople.
3. One cannot pretend that these events were not what they were during this very troubled period of history. Today, however, they have been judged more fairly and serenely. Thus it is important to recognize the excesses which accompanied them and later led to consequences which, insofar as we can judge, went much further than their authors had intended and foreseen. They had directed their censures against the persons concerned and not the Churches. These censures were not intended to break ecclesiastical communion between the Sees of Rome and Constantinople.
4. Since they are certain that they express the common desire for justice and the unanimous sentiment of charity which moves the faithful, and since they recall the command of the Lord: "If you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brethren has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go first be reconciled to your brother" (Mt 5,23-24), Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I with his synod, in common agreement, declare that:
A. They regret the offensive words, the reproaches without foundation, and the reprehensible gestures which, on both sides, have marked or accompanied the sad events of this period.
Speeches 1965 - Monday 4 October 1965