Speeches 1970 - Manila, Philippines
Sunday, 29 November 1970
To you the countless millions of men and women, Our brothers and sisters who live in Asia, this crossroads of cultures ancient and modern, and in a special manner to those among you who are Our own children in Christ-the blessing of God, abiding peace and fraternity.
We are happy to address these words to you on the occasion of the inauguration of Radio Veritas, to which We desire to offer Our encouragement for an ever more enlightened, generous and fruitful activity. We also express Our appreciation to Cardinal Rufino Santos, who promoted this great enterprise, and to all those who have made possible the realization of this important work. It is Our fervent wish that through it there may reach you the echo of the teachings of Christ, to raise your hearts to the God of love and truth. We hope that it will knit among you, its listeners, bonds of evangelical love, so that, made conscious of «the joys and hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor» (Gaudium et spes GS 1), you may together undertake the construction of a more just and more united society.
Brethren, this is the first time the head of the Catholic Church has come to this part of your continent, and providence has decreed that it should be in Our humble person. We are grateful, for We regard Asia with love and reverence for the venerable antiquity and richness of its millennial culture. This immense land is the source of great civilizations, the birthplace of world religions, the treasurehouse of ancient wisdom. We are now in a region where the cultural currents of the East and the more recent ones from the West have merged in mutual enrichment.
2. As We address Our words to you, We cannot omit mention of a consideration which is as obvious as it is worthy of being kept constantly in mind, Your continent, stretching from the limits of ancient Europe and Africa to the Pacific and covering very nearly a third of the lands given to man for his home, is inhabited by more than a half of all mankind. This fact alone gives some idea of the magnitude of the problems that face your people. At the same time it shows the importance-We might say the weight-that Asia has for the present, and, even more so, for the future of the entire world. This double aspect We regard with great interest, and with respect for those whose task it is to ensure with far-sighted wisdom, that development takes place with the necessary speed and care, not with clamorous and dangerous disorder, but in a beneficial and rational way. Our interest also goes hand in hand with Our good wishes and with Our willingness to contribute all that We can to this end. Our interest is mingled too with great hope.
No one more than Ourself sincerely wishes to see you take your rightful place in the world and receive your legitimate share in the means and opportunities of economic and social welfare. No one more than Ourself is aware of and deplores the situations of incomplete development or of unequal distribution that still exist among you, in the relations of one nation with another or among citizens of one and the same nation. No one more than Ourself - because of justice and out of affection for your peoples, without distinction or preference except for the weakest and the most needy, through the very interest We have in peaceful coexistence and in good and fruitful cooperation within your countries, throughout your vast regions and also outside and beyond them -expresses the fervent wish that such situations may be eliminated at the earliest possible moment and as completely as possible, in conformity with the natural rights of individuals, of the various social groups and of all peoples.
We are aware that the difficulties are many, also in the technical sphere. These difficulties cannot be bypassed without worldwide cooperation and mutual and disinterested assistance. Happily the consciousness of this necessity is gaining ground and the realization of the duty of solidarity is growing among the nations of the world. We exhort you to act generously in this great movement. We exhort also those outside the continent of Asia who have the ability and the duty to do so, to offer ever more generous cooperation for the integral development of all.
In like manner We feel the pressing duty to exhort all those in positions of responsibility to deal decisively with injustices in situations and in relations among various social groups, wherever such injustices are found. We exhort them further to give an ever stronger impulse, with open minds and hearts and with a firm hand, to the human betterment of all citizens, giving particular attention to the needs and rights of the most impoverished and abandoned among those citizens: from the workers who aspire to just wages to those who work on the land, where there is often a crying need for wise agrarian reform.
3. As We utter these exhortations We are sustained by a great hope. This hope We would like you to know, is based not only on the help of God and on the responsible commitment of all of you -from the most humble to the most exalted in your respective functions-but also on an awareness of the virtues and natural qualities which, in spite of the countless differences between one people and another, are common to all your peoples and of which certain ones constitute for those peoples a characteristic mark.
In fact, contemplating the past history elf your nations, brethren, We are impressed most of all by the sense of spiritual values dominating the thoughts of your sages and the lives of your vast multitudes. The discipline of your ascetics, the deep religious spirit of your peoples, your filial piety and attachment to the family, your veneration of ancestors-all of these point to the primacy of the spirit; all reveal your interminable quest for God, your hunger for the supernatural.
These characteristics are not of value for your spiritual life alone. Taken together, they not only do not constitute an obstacle to the attainment of that technical, economic and social progress to which your numberless peoples rightly aspire; but indeed, they offer a foundation of incalculable value to favour full progress in such a way so as not to sacrifice those deepest and most precious values which constitute man as the being that is directed by the influence of the spiritual - the master, at least potentially, of the cosmos and of its forces, and likewise the subduer of himself.
Science and technology are proof of the conquest of the material order by the spirit of man. And yet it is under the shadow of these achievements that materialism has taken shelter. Wherever technology is introduced on a large scale, there materialism also tries to insinuate itself. With your traditional spiritual outlook, however, your sense of discipline and morality, and the integrity of your family life, you must be able to counter materialism and even help Western civilization to overcome the dangers that its very progress brings in its wake.
4. But materialism with all its negative consequences is only the outward symptom of a deeper malaise now afflicting large sections of the human family: a weakening of faith in God, or even the total loss of it. And when atheism turns militant and aggressive, as it has done, it becomes immensely more dangerous to individuals and nations. All the God - fearing peoples of your continent and their religious leaders have to face this common danger. Asia, where great world religions were born, must not succumb to godlessness. We pray, and invite you all to pray with us, that God’s light and love may preserve your peoples from such a danger.
5. Here it is Our duty to say a word about the presence and action of the Catholic Church in your midst. We do so all the more willingly from this land of the Philippines, in which the Catholic Church has for centuries been fully at home. The Church feels at home not only here but in all your nations. What she has to bring to you also, that is the message of Christ, is not imposed upon its hearers but rather proclaimed in open and friendly words. It is offered for your instruction and meditation, and it is not such as in any way to cancel out or lessen the cultural and spiritual values that constitute your priceless heritages.
Christ is light and truth and life. And We proclaim him to you as he appears to our unshakeable faith. We are obedient to his charge, his command: Go, preach to all nations the good, the happy news, instructing them in my teaching of love and life. This We do, brothers and sisters, with humble love for you, with deep respect for yourselves and for your ancient and venerable traditions.
In fact, the Church, by virtue of her essential catholicity, cannot be alien to any country or people; she is bound to make herself native to every clime, culture and race. Wherever she is, she must strike her roots deep into the spiritual and cultural ground of the place and assimilate all that is of genuine value.
Our predecessors, the Second Vatican Council, and We Ourself, have not only encouraged this movement but also furnished the necessary guidelines for it. Thus, while preserving the cultural excellence and individuality of each nation, the Catholic Church will be able to communicate what is of universal value in each of them to all the others, for their mutual enrichment.
Christ and his message certainly have a divine charm which the deeply religious East can appreciate. Your faith and love, overflowing into your daily life and activity, can make this message, and Christ himself, visible and acceptable to your countrymen as no preaching can do.
6. This mission of bringing Christ and his Church close to the men and women of Asia belongs not only to the hierarchy, the priests and the religious brothers and sisters, but to each one of you, Our dear Catholic sons and daughters of the different nations which We are now addressing.
Together you make up the People of God. Together you must show forth Christ to others. In imitation of Jesus Christ who went about doing good (Cfr. Act. 10: 39), Christians are the best friends of their fellowmen. Their faith ,must impel them to work for the sanctification of the world (Cfr. Lumen gentium LG 31) and to take the lead in that indispensable movement of brotherly solidarity. It is this which must satisfy all men in their hunger for bread, employment, shelter and education; this movement must bring a response to men’s yearnings for responsibility, freedom, justice, the moral virtues, and in a word, a «complete humanism» (Populorum progressio PP 42).
7. We cannot bring Our words to a close without directing a heartfelt and particularly affectionate greeting to those peoples of your continent who are still oppressed by the tragedy of war. Our heart is heavy at the thought of the thousands of victims of the conflicts now taking place, at the thought of the orphans and widows abandoned, of the homes and villages destroyed, at the thought of the hate which is ‘spread abroad and which often explodes, even today, in acts of war and terrorism, affecting also many innocent and defenceless people. We have not ceased - nor shall We cease - in urgent appeals, both in public and in Our meetings with leaders, that an unflagging search be carried out, with wise and persistent goodwill, for the means to suspend hostilities and to reach at last a just and honourable peace, which will ensure for all the peoples involved freedom from disturbance, liberty and the chance for a serene and fitting existence. This appeal, this fervent plea, We wish solemnly to renew here and now. And to all those who are suffering, to all those who are seeking to alleviate their sufferings and to all those who are working for peace We send Our most sincere good wishes.
8. At the same time We renew from Our heart the expression of Our profound sharing in the bitter grief that in these recent weeks has struck a great and dear land, Pakistan, which has been the victim of a natural disaster the like of which probably does not exist in human memory.
9. Upon everyone, finally, upon all the peoples of Asia, upon their heads of state and rulers, whom We greet with respect, We invoke from on high wisdom and the will and sufficient strength to ensure the happy and rapid development of their respective nations throughout this entire continent.
To the heads of the religions of Asia and to their faithful We express Our esteem for the religious sense which they foster with such great concern for the well-being of their brothers. To Our dear Catholic sons and daughters, whom We once more recall with paternal affection, We extend Our good wishes and impart Our blessing.
Sunday, 29 November 1970
In order to have a special meeting with you it was Our wish to devote for you a few moments, in spite of quite a heavy programme. Because of your diverse activities in the apostolate, you are the object of the Church’s particular consideration. Animated by the grace of baptism, of confirmation and, for some of you, of marriage, you have responded to the call of God who asks each Christian to be «at the same time a witness and a living instrument of the mission of the Church itself» (Lumen gentium LG 33). May God be thanked for this great grace, that your hearts are encouraged to persevere in your commitment to burn with the spirit of Christ and to exercise your apostolate in the world as a kind of leaven (Cfr. Apostolicam actuositatem AA 2).
The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Lay Apostolate, which you all know and which today forms in a sense the charter of the whole lay apostolate, insists on the spirit with which that apostolate must be lived. «The apostolate is carried on through the faith, hope and charity which the Holy Spirit diffuses in the hearts of all members of the Church» (Ibid.).
The temptation would be to place our faith merely in the carrying out of certain religious acts. We know how fond the Christians of the Philippines are of external demonstrations of their faith-and rightly so. You are not unaware that you must go further: your faith must be enlightened by study of the Sacred Scriptures, of the Church’s teaching, and in particular of the decisions of the recent Council. To be a witness capable of drawing men to God, your faith must find expression in your life. Because they are Christians, lay people engaged in the apostolate must be the best citizens, the most honest ones and those most concerned for the common good. «Neither family concerns nor secular affairs should be excluded from their religious programme of life» (Apostolicam actuositatem AA 4).
Asia, the most populous continent of our globe - Asia is on the move. Millions and millions of men aspire today to better conditions of life and to the satisfaction of their profound religious restlessness, which is a thirsting for God. The immense obstacles that slow down or impede their advance towards this integral development carry the risk of causing feelings of despair. «The laity must take on the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation», declares the Council. «As citizens they must cooperate with other citizens, using their own particular skills and acting on their own responsibility. Everywhere and in all things they must seek the justice characteristic of God’s kingdom» (Ibid.). How could they reach that goal, if they were not impelled by hope, by the assurance which is founded on God’s strength and help. Delays, difficulties or failures do not unsettle or overcome a person who is animated by this God-given certitude.
Jesus Christ teaches us that love of God cannot be separated from love of one’s neighbour. The apostle must seek a charity that is ever more real, ever more universal. His love for his brothers, especially the weakest and poorest, will have its root in the love which God has for all, particularly for the least of those who are his (Cfr. Matth Mt 25,40). Love for God is not something for oneself alone; it must be shared. The committed layman will be urged on by charity to study the concrete situations of his brothers; he will display imagination in the application of solutions to problems and he will show concern for the unfolding of the real values of his people’s culture, whether the values be artistic, intellectual or religious. Having assimilated the Church’s teaching, he will be faithful to the aim of every authentic social apostolate: a humanism open to the values of the spirit and to God, who is their source (Cfr. Populorum progressio PP 42). He will keep before his mind «that the new command of love is the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world’s transformation» (Gaudium et spes GS 38). You live in a relationship of trust with the hierarchy. Adding your collaboration to their apostolate, in docility and dialogue, you make use of your special experience and your own responsibility, and you are aware of having a vocation to sanctify the world in the very exercise of the duties of your state. You will thus work with men of goodwill to build a city based on brotherhood, where a man will be respected for his unique dignity as being one created «in the likeness of God», and where personal, family and social life can be orientated to Jesus Christ, «the goal of human history» (Gaudium et spes GS 45 cfr. Apostolicam actuositatem AA 20 Gaudium et spes GS 40-45).
We commend your generosity to the Virgin Mary, who is so much loved here. The Mother of God, whose glory comes entirely from her Son, will guard your commitment and will pray that your apostolate may respond to the deep hope of men, and thus cause this great land, with its deeply religious soul, to shine with the brightness of the good news-the source of justice, truth, liberty and love.
Sunday, 29 November 1970
In spite of Our great desire, it was not possible for Us to accept the pressing invitation which your Cardinal extended to Us in your name. We do have, however, the pleasure of meeting here a delegation from your island, and it is with particular affection that we greet you. We thank Cardinal Rosales and all who made it possible for you to come here to Manila.
Tell your fellow-citizens that the Pope loves them, that he gives his blessing to the clergy, the religious, the laity - to all the families and to all the people of the island. The message We give you for them is the very one Jesus Christ gave to his apostles before he left them : «Love one another». That is the sign by which to tell the true disciples of the one who came to save all men of every rate and language and country (Cfr. Io Jn 13,34-35).
With deep sentiments of fatherly affection in Our heart We bestow on you Our Apostolic Blessing.
On the occasion of Our passing through Manila We are greatly gratified to bless these new houses.
Our ministry is that of the Gospel. The aim of Our journey to Asia is therefore of the spiritual order: it is to proclaim the infinite riches of Christ, the hope that comes to us from his resurrection and which cannot be confounded (Cfr. Eph Ep 3). Our mission is to see to it that by his grace this seed of the Word should grow and multiply in hearts, that this hope should begin now to be realized in the lives of men of today in the course of their pilgrimage on earth. We too must share with all, especially with those who are poor or in any way afflicted, their joys and hopes, their griefs and anxieties (Gaudium et spes, preface). This is the meaning of Our presence here.
We know the serious housing problem which affects so many thousands of families in your capital, as happens in the greater part of the large cities throughout the world. The growth of population and the flight from the land towards metropolitan centres complicate extremely the activity of those in charge. Besides, it seems to Us not to be enough to expect everything from the competence of the public authorities: it is a social problem of so broad a scope and of such deep seriousness that every conscience should be touched by it. Lack of housing or the absence of the minimum to make it livable is one of the chief causes of the degradation of family life and of the evil temptation to violence.
It is a world-wide problem, and a particularly crucial one in developing countries. If it is to be resolved, it calls for the readiness of all to give proof of imagination, social solidarity and generosity. That is why We extend Our warm felicitations to the individuals and organizations who have made the execution of this project possible; We publicly express the wish that their example may be followed for the greater well-being of all.
We pray Almighty God to bless them and their families, to bless the families about to occupy these dwellings and to comfort those who are waiting to have the joy of living in such conditions.
We greet you in the love of Christ as members and representatives of various Christian communions. Although your communities and the Catholic Church are not as yet linked in bonds of full unity, nevertheless we are brothers (Cfr. Unitatis redintegratio UR 3). We share the faith which makes us subject to one Lord. We acknowledge one Baptism. The «written word of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and charity and many other gifts of the Holy Spirit» (Ibid.) are the common heritage bestowed on us by the Father because of the merits of the saving sacrifice of his beloved Son.
At this moment one cannot but think of the important calling of the peoples of the Philippine Islands. This land has a special vocation to be the city set on the hill, the lamp standing on high (Cfr. Matth Mt 5,14-16) giving shining witness amid the ancient and noble cultures of Asia. Both as individuals and as a nation you are to show forth the light of Christ by the quality of your lives.
In the first place this calls for a living unity in charity and truth. Our Savior asked that for us of his Father when he prayed that his followers might be one, united by the very life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit «so that the world may believe it was you who sent me» (Jn 17,21).
We are all painfully aware that this unity is not yet perfect among us. But we are heartened because our Lord has prayed for his followers «that they may become perfectly one» (Jn 17,23).
And indeed it is in God’s goodness that we have become aware again in these times of the very real bonds already existing between us. We have rediscovered what is common in our heritage and therefore now we are able to pray together. Now we are able to engage in dialogue and in study of theological problems.
Moreover, in a way that is particularly needed at this time, we can now pledge ourselves to work together to promote justice for all, in our own lands as well as among the family of nations. And you have many opportunities to do this here in the Philippine Islands.
There is the boundless desire of your young people to achieve a society in which honesty and integrity are paramount. There is the desire of Christians, both of the Catholic Church and of the communions to which you belong, to be the new leaven that will help purge out all corruption (Cfr. 1Co 5,7-8) in particular that which proliferates when all the concern of men’s hearts is set on power and wealth. And in this happy moment of encounter We would like to stress what We have already said: «We are sure that all Christians, our brethren, will wish to expand their common cooperative effort in order to help mankind vanquish selfishness, pride and rivalries, to overcome ambitions and injustices, to open up to all the road to a more human life, where each man will be loved and helped as his brother, as his neighbor» (Populorum progressio PP 82).
This is the direction to which the Catholic Church is committed. The task of assisting the whole development of human beings is to be served by Catholics working together with their fellow Christians, and indeed with all men of good will.
As you thus proclaim the Good News of Christ by the quality of your lives and by the integrity of your social order, may it also become increasingly possible for you and for the sons of the Catholic Church «to make together before the nations a common profession of faith in God and in Jesus Christ» (Ad gentes AGD 15).
Dear friends, We thank you for the gracious courtesy of your visit to us and We pray that Our presence with you at this time may serve the cause of «him whose name unites us» (Ibid.).
We were pleased to know that Jewish people in the Philippines expressed joy and expectation when they learned about Our desire to visit this country. Now that We have come, We wish them to know that Our heart responds to theirs with joy. We hope that the feeling of expectation will be replaced with one of spiritual fulfilment, both in their hearts and in ours, as they and We together recall on this occasion what the Second Vatican Council called «the spiritual bond linking the people of the New Covenant with Abraham’s stock» (Nostra aetate NAE 4).
We are grateful for the gift of these specially inscribed copies of the Gospel of Mark presented to us by the Philippine Bible Society, a member of that worldwide organization, the United Bible Societies, with which the Catholic Church now shares many fruitful cooperative programs.
We know that, with the approval of the bishops, there are interconfessional translations of the Bible in five of the languages of this country, made in accordance with the guidelines approved by Us and by the authorities of the United Bible Societies.
It is a pleasure to have in Our hands today the firstfruits of that work in the Philippines, the Gospel of Mark in Tagalog and Ilocano.
We fervently hope that deeper acquaintance with Christ through the word of God will bring about better and ever more widespread witness to Christ in the Philippines.
Your desire that We should also speak to you who represent all the religions practised in this beautiful archipelago coincided with our own desire. It is with joy that We have found the occasion for this meeting.
Placed as We are at the head of a Church that is called Catholic and experiences catholicity - that is to say, universality - Our thoughts and Our concern cannot be halted by any barrier of place, people or religion; they extend to all men. With all the more reason We feel Ourself close to those who have in common with Us the momentous search for the divine and a trusting submission to the laws of heaven, those who look to religion for answers to the great problems which confront and torment mankind and who also find therein their strength and their hope.
You are certainly aware that in these days the Church has wished to open herself still more to fraternal contact with all peoples of all civilizations and all religions. She respects and admires the treasures bestowed on all people, and she invites them to join with he wherever collaboration is possible for a more perfect and universal reign of justice and peace, and for the eradication of the great misfortunes or miseries afflicting so many millions of our brothers. It is always a joy to find such unitedness as is the case in your country. We pray God to preserve it and increase it, for his honour and service, and for your welfare and that of the whole world.
There would be something missing during Our visit to Manila if We did not have a moment to say a word to the representatives of the press - to those to whom gales the merit of publicizing Our journey by means of the marvels of mass media.
These marvels have today attained a rare degree of perfection. The registering of events and their transmission are absolutely prodigious. It seems to Us that this is accompanied by a notable increase of fatigue on the part of those who are involved in this difficult mission.
We appreciate the fact that you must be constantly attentive, that you must concentrate on making summaries which are at the same time rapid and exact. Often the external conditions under which you work are unfavourable. Besides all this there is the necessary work involved in completing your articles and stories. Be assured that We are conscious of how trying your work can be. We acknowledge its great merit and the debt of gratitude due to you from those who benefit from your labours.
We are Ourself one of those beneficiaries and We are pleased to state Our thankfulness and to give public expression to it in this Our meeting.
Your activity is a difficult one - as We have said - but let Us now add that it is an exalted one. You know that the greatness of a mission is measured in relation to the ideal which it serves and by the quality of the services that it renders. The ideal which you are serving is the truth itself. You must yourselves reflect this truth: it is up to you to accept it and to transmit it to others. And may this challenge, dear friends, never leave you.
Never disfigure the truth: never deceive those who read your reporting and look to you with confidence. How great is the good that journalists can do just by the way in which they present the news. What a difference there is between objective presentation and tendentious presentation. Your conscience judges this, and We pray that it may always be upright and intent on serving truth. We repeat with deep conviction: your mission is a great one: only you can do it. The World depends on you.
As We conclude, We would make one last remark. For those of you who are making an extensive following of Our trip, necessitating your absence from home, Me express Our appreciation also for the sacrifice and the inconvenience. When you return home, We would request you to convey Our greetings to your families.
Upon all of you We invoke in abundance the blessings of God.
Sunday, 29 November 1970
This brief stay in the Philippines has been a very great joy for Us. We have lived through these days surrounded by the affection and the inexhaustible kindness of the Filipino people. It has been Our good fortune to experience their spirit of hospitality and the fervor of their religious faith, and also to catch a glimpse of their dynamism. We bid them good-bye with emotion and an inexpressible gratitude.
Our thanks go to all those who have made this visit possible. First of all to His Excellency the President of the Republic, who has had the kindness to come to meet Us together with the members of his Government. Then also to the civic authorities of the city of Manila, who have prepared and organized Our stay remarkably well. We thank Cardinal Santos, Archbishop of Manila, and the episcopate of the Philippines, whose fraternal affection has made Our being among them so pleasant.
We shall never forget the country of the Philippines. We shall pray for it. May God sustain all those who hold authority in the land, both in the civil and the religious spheres, to assure this worthy people the benefits of civilization and of economic and social progress, as well as the graces of a clearsighted and generous Christian life. May they all, each in the sphere of his proper competence and yet in close collaboration for the common good, remain full of courage and hope in spite of the dimensions of their task.
We are continuing Our journey, comforted by this first stage which will ever remain imprinted on Our memory. The bond of love which links Rome-the mother and head and still more the friend and servant of al1 the Churches-to the Churches of Asia has been wonderfully reinforced. We see in this a pledge of the divine blessing upon Our spiritual and apostolic mission. May God bless the Philippines. May his blessing extend to all those who live in this immense archipelago, to the most farflung of its islands.
Nawla’y manatili sa inyo ang Pag-ibig at awang Diyos!
May the mercy and love of God be always with you!
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Long live the Philippines!
Speeches 1970 - Manila, Philippines