S. John Paul II Homil. 612
National Stadium of Kingston (Jamaica)
Tuesday, 10 August 1993
"Jesus is Lord"! (Rm 10,9). He is "rich in mercy toward all who call upon him" (Ibid. 10: 12).
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
613 1. The Liturgy today repeats these words of Saint Paul, the Apostle of the Nations. Jesus is the Lord! He is our Redeemer, the Saviour of all peoples. "There is no other name in the whole world by which we are to be saved" (cf. Acts Ac 4,12).
This Good News of salvation comes to us from God himself. "He has made his salvation known; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice... All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God" (Ps 98,2).
The message of salvation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son who is one with the Father. After the Resurrection, Christ sent forth his Apostles to proclaim this Gospel to all creation. Through the preaching of the Church, all peoples are called to accept the message of salvation, to become Christ’s disciples and to be baptized in his name (cf. Mk. Mc 16,15).
2. In the fullness of time, the Gospel of Jesus Christ also came to Jamaica! The seed of God’s word was planted on this Island through the preaching of the missionaries who five hundred years ago first taught the name of the Saviour to the Arawak inhabitants. Although the progress of God’s word has at times been held back by sin and human failures, it has been an unfailing source of light and hope to generations of Jamaicans. Today the truth of the Gospel continues to provide a sure foundation for the growth and renewal of Jamaican society.
As Jamaica prepares to celebrate the Quincentenary of the arrival of Columbus and the first evangelization, the Successor of Peter has been given the grace of coming to confirm you in your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God (cf. Lk. Lc 22,32 Mt 16,16). Together let us give thanks to God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon Jamaica and its people.
I greet all of you with affection in the Lord. My fraternal greetings go first to Archbishop Carter, to Bishop Clarke and to Bishop Boyle, together with the clergy, Religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Kingston, the Diocese of Montego Bay and the Vicariate Apostolic of Mandeville.
My respectful greetings also go to the Governor-General, to the Minister for External Affairs representing the government and civil authorities who are present. I also welcome the Right Honourable Edward Seaga, Leader of the Opposition, and the representatives of the various Churches and Christian communities of the Island.
3. In the Old Testament, Israel’s hope for salvation was symbolized by the mountain of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. In the First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah invites Israel to draw near to God’s Temple and to live in holiness: "Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths" (Is 2,3).
Today the way to salvation leads no longer to the mountain of the Temple but to Jesus Christ himself, to the Son of God, the Word made flesh who dwells among us (Cf. Jn 1,14). Jesus said: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up" (Ibid. 2: 19). Saint John tells us that he was speaking of himself: "he was talking about the temple of his body" (Ibid.2: 21). Jesus’ own Body, risen from the dead and filled with the Spirit of Life, has become a Living Temple.
Saint Paul reminds us that our bodies too, as well as our souls, are meant to give glory to God; that we are called to walk according to the Spirit, and not to yield to the cravings of the flesh (Gf. Gal. Ga 5,16). "You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within... You are not your own... So you must glorify God in your body" (1Co 6,19). When we were baptized into Christ, we were given a share in his divine life; our bodies became temples of God’s presence, dwelling–places of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who fulfils in our hearts the prophecy of Isaiah: he instructs us in God’s ways, that we may walk in his paths (Cf. Is 2,3).
4. We have heard Saint Paul assure us: "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rm 10,9). But the faith which brings salvation must be seen in every aspect of our lives, in the way we think, in the way we act, in the way we treat others.
614 Jesus puts this question to each of his followers: "Do you believe...?" (Jn 9,35). Echoing the Lord’s words here tonight in Kingston, I appeal to you, Christians of Jamaica: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ"! Be confident that your faith in the Good News has the power to transform your lives and to purify and ennoble the life of your society.
Jamaica needs to hear the truth of the Gospel! Since the Gospel reveals the full truth about man and his noble calling, it gives the vision and strength needed to meet the many challenges which your society is facing. The Gospel has the power to inspire in every heart an unselfish commitment to the common good and the rejection of everything that stands in the way of building a renewed society, a society of justice, peace and solidarity.
Now is the time for the Island’s Christians to strive to ensure that the principles which guide political, social and economic life are in conformity with God’s law and with the Gospel. Now is the time to work together to overcome the effects of injustice and exploitation, to counteract the lack of concern for the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged, the lack of respect for the dignity and value of each person, especially women and children. Now is the time for Christians to reject the temptation to lethargy and hopelessness, to reliance on the excuses of the past, and easy recourse to useless quarrels. Now is the time for everyone to build together, inspired by the Gospel, one people, a united society, a better future.
5. Jesus Christ says to all men and women: "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt 11,28). But Christ does not invite us to come to him for some empty consolation. He renews us and strengthens us to go forth to share with others the salvation he has brought.He tells his Apostles: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mc 16,15). Christ – the one sent by the Father – now sends others forth: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20,21).
These words remind us that the work of evangelization is at the heart of the Church’s mission in the world. The Church began through evangelization–and she is ceaselessly renewed through evangelization. In every time and place the preaching of the Gospel must be the Church’s first duty, her central priority. It must be the duty of every Bishop and priest, of every Religious, of every lay man and woman. Today, in Jamaica as elsewhere, there is urgent need for a "new evangelization", a new proclamation of Jesus Christ amid the challenges of our times. And every believer, every member of the Church, is called to share in this great task.
In a particular way, the new evangelization is entrusted to the laity, for it is especially through them that the Church of Christ becomes present in the various sectors of society as a sign and source of hope and of love (Cf. John Paul II Christifideles Laici CL 7). I encourage you all to share the light and joy of your faith with others. Your witness to the Good News will be a leaven of renewal in the life of the Church on this Island. For "faith is strengthened when it is given to others" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 2).
6. In this regard I wish to say a special word to Christian married couples. In God’s plan for the human race, "a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (Gn 2,24 cf. Mt. Mt 19,5). The family, born of the faithful love of man and woman, is the basic unit of society, a cradle of life and love where God’s gift of new life is welcomed, nurtured and allowed to develop. The future of society is essentially linked to the strength of its families (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 86).
Christian married couples! The witness of your lives must be ever more clear! Your faithful love must shine forth and stand in contrast to ways of living that are not in accord with the Gospel. Your families must be sanctuaries of love in the midst of the many difficult situations caused by the misuse of God’s gift of sexuality.
As a people, Jamaicans have known the evils of slavery, a system which stripped human beings of their dignity as images of God, denied people’s spiritual worth and reduced them to mere objects to be used and exploited. But apart from its exploitation of individuals, one of the greatest evils of slavery was its destruction of family bonds. Slavery stole men away from their wives; wives were left alone with the burden of raising children; and children were deprived of the presence of their fathers. The tragic fruits of this evil system are still present in attitudes of sexual irresponsibility. They are painfully obvious in the lives of too many children who miss the love and support of their parents and a healthy home life, and in too many women who struggle, often singlehandedly, to provide for their children.
Complete liberation from the past of slavery must also involve efforts to heal the deep scars left in the life of society. And in healing and rebuilding family life, Christian married couples have a fundamental witness to offer. As teachers of faith and virtue to their children, Christian parents point the way which the next generation will take. And by their lives of faith, fidelity, openness to life, and reconciling love, Christian families will be the primary evangelizers of other families.
7. Saint Paul writes: "Faith comes from hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ" (Rm 10,17). Salvation comes from hearing God’s word and responding in faith: "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Ibid. 10: 13). But the Apostle goes on to ask: "How shall they call on him... unless they have heard of him? And how can they hear unless there is someone to preach? And how can men preach unless they are sent?" (Ibid. 10: 14-15).
615 The same questions which Saint Paul asked in the Letter to the Romans must be asked again today. Who will bring the Good News? How can there be evangelization without evangelizers?
Jamaica has received the Gospel. She has heard the preaching of those who first brought the Good News to this Island so long ago. They came in response to Christ’s call; they came in obedience to his command: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mc 16,15).
And in fact, those preachers were heard: "their voice has sounded over the whole earth, and their words to the limits of the world" (Rm 10,18).
But it is also true that the Good News needs to be proclaimed over and over again: to every generation, to every people, to all the corners of the earth and to all the Islands!
On this beautiful Island of Jamaica, may God raise up worthy preachers of his word. May he raise up convincing witnesses to the power of his salvation!
May Mary, whom Jamaica honours under the title "Queen Assumed into Heaven", intercede for the peoples of the Caribbean, so that more and more they will be faithful listeners to the word, and ardently proclaim their faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Lord! Amen.
8th WORLD YOUTH DAY
"On this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16,18).
Dear Brother Bishops,
616 1. These words of Christ, which he pronounced near Caesarea Philippi, resound again today in the Cathedral of Denver. Here, in Colorado, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, they acquire a special significance. What is this rock on which Christ builds his Church? Rather, who is this rock? This is the order of the questions which Christ’s words suggest.
Illumined by the grace of revelation, Simon says who Jesus is: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Mt 16,16). The Father himself communicates the truth about Jesus to Peter, in whom this truth comes alive through his obedience of faith (cf. Rom Rm 16,26). "Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father" (Mt 16,17). First, Peter receives the inner revelation of truth in his heart, then he confesses this truth on his lips.
Replying, Jesus says who Simon is – "You are Peter" (Mt 16,18); that is, you are Rock. It is the person of Peter, in so far as he confesses the apostolic faith, who is the living stone, assimilated to Christ as the Church’s foundation (cf. Eph Ep 2,20).
This is the rock on which Christ built his Church from the beginning.
2. From the Altar of the Cathedral of Denver I warmly greet each one of you, who are taking part in the World Youth Day. You are here, just as I am, out of fidelity to our specific ministry in the Church. We are here to be with the young pilgrims, during these days in which we are witnesses of the grace of the Holy Spirit at work in so many generous young hearts.
In a sense we, the Pastors, have been called here by the young people themselves. Their response to the "World Youth Day" clearly indicates that they have perceived something of what the Eternal Father reveals to the "little ones" (cf.Mt 11,25). They are thirsty to know more, to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of Christ and the Church. They know that the Father can open that door to them, just as he revealed the heart of the mystery to Peter at Caesarea Philippi.
In this interior advancement of grace, we Bishops and priests have a great responsibility. Are we always ready to help the young people discover the transcendent elements of the Christian life? From our words and actions do they conclude that the Church is indeed a mystery of communion with the Blessed Trinity, and not just a human institution with temporal aims? Through our ministry the young people present here need to be able to discover, above all, that they are Temples of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in them (cf. 1Cor 1Co 3,16).
These are the days in which the light of the Gospel must shine before them with a particular brilliance.
For they are the Church of today and tomorrow – the Church that rises on the rock of Divine Truth, on the rock of the apostolic faith. The Church of the Third Millennium needs to be firmly planted in the heart of the new generation of the sons and daughters of the Living God.
3. Venerable and dear Brothers!
Let us commend these days to Mary, the Seat of Wisdom.Let us entrust to her all the young people who have come here. Let us entrust to her the Church of the young throughout the world, in every country and on every continent.
617 Let us entrust to her prayers ourselves and our brother priests, all those who live the consecrated life, all our brothers and sisters in the faith. May she guide our ministry here in Denver. And may this whole experience of the World Youth Day be for us a re–awakening of trust in the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" which Christ entrusted to the Church in the person of Peter (cf.Mt 16,19). Amen.
8th WORLD YOUTH DAY
Saturday, 14 August 1993
"Go into all the world" (Marc.16, 15).
1. The final words of Christ to his Apostles in Saint Mark’s Gospel are these: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation". This is the missionary mandate. This is the command which began the great expansion of the Church from the first group of disciples in Jerusalem to the great Christian family spread throughout the world. The Church lives among every people and nation: as is clearly demonstrated here by your presence, young representatives to the International Youth Forum, from almost every country in the world.
Christ addressed those challenging words to the Apostles; the same ones to whom he had already said, some time before: "Follow me" (Marc 1,17). He had said: "Follow me" to each one, individually, in a personal way. And between that initial calling and the final sending "into all the world", each one of those disciples underwent an experience, a process of growth, which prepared them intimately for the enormous challenge and adventure, which was Christ’s parting summons to them.
Christ first invites, then he reveals himself more fully, and then he sends. He invites in order to make himself known to those whom he wishes to send. He sends those who have come to know the mystery of his person and of his kingdom. For the Gospel must be proclaimed through the power of their witness. And the strength of their witness depends on knowledge and love of Jesus Christ himself. Every apostle must be able to identify with what the First Letter of John says: "This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched – we speak of the word of life" (1Io 1,1).
2. That same Gospel experience penetrates the whole "World Youth Day". The young people who are gathering here from all parts of the world, and you in particular, participants in the International Youth Forum, are involved in a similar process: at some point Christ entered your lives and invited you to a greater awareness of your baptismal consecration; with God’s grace and the help of a believing community you grew in understanding of your Christian identity and your role in the Church and in society. As mature Catholics, you began to take an active part in the apostolate.
Denver is the sum of countless experiences of this kind. In your families, parishes, schools, Catholic associations and movements, the seed of a genuine faith was planted and grew until you heard in your own hearts the echo of those original words: "Come, follow me" (Lc 18,22). Each one of you has followed a different path, but you have not been alone on this journey. At every stage the Church has assisted and encouraged you, through her ministers, her Religious, and so many active members of the laity. The path finally led to the International Youth Forum. And now, here in Denver, the challenge before you is to recognize the full implications of the Lord’s words: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news" (Marc 16,15).
Yes, Christ the Lord is the very heart of the "World Youth Day", and he continues to invite many young people to join him in the sublime task of spreading his Kingdom. He is here because the Church is here. He is here in the Eucharist, and through the ministry of his priests and Bishops, in union with the Successor of Peter. Christ is here through the faith and love of so many young people who have prepared themselves spiritually for this Meeting and have worked hard and made sacrifices in order to be able to make this pilgrimage of hope and commitment.
618 3. In a sense, the International Youth Forum represents the nucleus of the "World Youth Day". Not only are you praying and reflecting on the theme of the Life in abundance which Christ came to give (cf. Io Jn 10,10), but you are comparing experiences of the apostolate in different parts of the world, in order to learn from one another and to be confirmed in the Christian leadership which you are called to exercise among your contemporaries. Only a great love of Christ and of the Church will sustain you in the apostolate awaiting you when you return home.
As leaders in the field of the youth apostolate, your task will be to help your parishes, Dioceses, associations and movements to be truly open to the personal, social and spiritual needs of young people. You will have to find ways of involving young people in projects and activities of formation, spirituality and service, giving them responsibility for themselves and their work, and taking care to avoid isolating them and their apostolate from the rest of the ecclesial community. Young people need to be able to see the practical relevance of their efforts to meet the real needs of people, especially the poor and neglected. They should also be able to see that their apostolate belongs fully to the Church’s mission in the world.
Have no fear! Denver, like the previous "World Youth Days", is a time of grace: a great gathering of young people, all speaking different languages but all united in proclaiming the mystery of Christ and of the new Life he gives. This is especially evident in the catecheses being given each day in various languages. In prayer and song, so many different tongues ring out in praise of God. All this makes Denver a reflection of what happened in Jerusalem at Pentecost (cf. Act 2,1-4). Out of all the diversity of the young people gathered here – diversity of origin, race and language – the Spirit of Truth will create the deep and abiding unity of commitment to the new evangelization, in which the defense of human life, the promotion of human rights and the fostering of a civilization of love are urgent tasks.
4. To be committed to the new evangelization means that we are convinced that we have something of value to offer to the human family at the dawn of the new millennium. All of us who have come here – young people and their Pastors, Bishops and the Pope – must be aware that it is not enough to offer a "merely human wisdom, a pseudo – science of well–being" (Redemptoris missio RMi 11). We must be convinced that we have "a pearl of great price" (cf.Mt 13,46), a great "treasure" (cf.Mt 13,44), which is fundamental to the earthly existence and eternal salvation of every member of the human race.
The call of the Prophet Isaiah, narrated in the First Reading of this Mass, can begin to unveil the mystery to us. Whenever God communicates with a human being, the essence of that communication is a revelation of his own holiness: "My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts... Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" (Is 6,5 Is 6,3). And our response can be none other than joyous openness to that divine glory and acceptance of its implications for the meaning and purpose of our lives.
The ineffable experience of God’s holiness lives on in the Church. Every day in the very center of the Eucharistic Liturgy we repeat the words: "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory" (cf. Is Is 6,3).
This treasure lives on in the Church because the holiness of God is revealed in all its fullness through Jesus Christ: "For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, has shone in our hearts, that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ" (2Co 4,6).
The holiness of God shines forth in Christ, the Emmanuel, God with us. Behold, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son coming from the Father" (Jn 1,14) – and we have seen him, heard him and touched him: at the Lake of Galilee, on the Mount of the Beatitudes, on Mount Tabor, on Golgotha, along the road to Emmaus, in the Eucharist, in prayer, in the tangible experience of every vocation, especially when the Lord calls certain individuals to follow him more closely along the path of religious consecration or priestly ministry. We know that Christ never abandons his Church. At a time like this, when many are confused regarding the fundamental truths and values on which to build their lives and seek their eternal salvation, when many Catholics are in danger of losing their faith – the pearl of great price – when there are not enough priests, not enough Religious Sisters and Brothers to give support and guidance, not enough contemplative Religious to keep before people’s eyes the sense of the absolute supremacy of God, we must be convinced that Christ is knocking at many hearts, looking for young people like you to send into the vineyard, where an abundant harvest is ready.
5. "But we – we human beings – have this treasure in earthen vessels" (cf. 2Cor 2Co 4,7). That is why we are often afraid of the demands of the Redeemer’s love. We may try to appease our conscience by giving of ourselves, but in limited and partial ways, or in ways that we like – not always in the ways that the Lord suggests. Yet, the fact that we carry this treasure in earthen vessels serves to make it clear that "its surpassing power comes from God and not from us" (cf. 2Cor 2Co 4,7). Wherever young men and women allow the grace of Christ to work in them and produce new Life, the extraordinary power of divine Love is released into their lives and into the life of the community. It transforms their attitude and behavior, and inevitably attracts others to follow the same adventurous path. This power comes from God and not from us.
The One who has invited you to Denver, and who can call you at any stage of your pilgrimage through life, wants you to have the treasure of knowing him more fully. He wants to occupy the central place in your hearts, and therefore he purifies your love and tests your courage. The realization of his hidden but certain presence acts like a burning coal that touches your lips (cf. Is Is 6,7) and makes you able to repeat the eternal "Yes" of the Son, as the Letter to the Hebrews says: "Then I said, ‘As it is written of me in the book, I have come to do your will, O God’" (Hebr 10,7). That "Yes" guided every step of the Son of Man: "Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing’" (Jn 5,19). And Mary gave the very same "Yes" to God’s plan for her life: "Let it be done to me as you say" (Lc 1,38).
6. Christ is asking the young people of the "World Youth Day": "Whom shall I send?" (Is 6,8).
619 And, with fervor, let each one respond: "Here am I! Send me" (Is 6,8).
Do not forget the needs of your homelands! Heed the cry of the poor and the oppressed in the countries and continents from which you come! Be convinced that the Gospel is the only path of genuine liberation and salvation for the world’s peoples: "Your salvation, O Lord, is for all the peoples" (Psalmus Responsorius, 95).
Everyone who, in response to Christ’s invitation, comes to Denver to take part in the World Youth Day must hear his words: "Go... and proclaim the good news" (Marc 16,15).
Let us earnestly pray the Lord of the harvest that the youth of the world will not hesitate to reply: "Here am I! Send me!" "Send us!" Amen.
8th WORLD YOUTH DAY
"The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain" (Is 2,2).
Dear Brother Bishops and Sisters in Christ,
Dear Archbishop, Pastor of this beloved Church of Denver,
1. Upon arriving in Denver I lifted up my eyes towards the splendor of the Rocky Mountains whose majesty and power recall that all our help comes from the Lord who has made heaven and earth (Cfr. Ps Ps 121,2). He alone is the rock of our salvation (Cfr. Ps Ps 26). God has given me the grace to join my voice with yours in praising and thanking our Heavenly Father for the "mighty works" (Act 2,11) that he has accomplished since the Gospel was first preached in this region.
Today I greet all those whom Christ – the "pescador de hombres", the divine fisherman – has gathered into the net of his Church. "With the affection of Christ Jesus" (Ph 1,8), I thank Archbishop Stafford of Denver, Bishop Hanifen of Colorado Springs, Bishop Tafoya of Pueblo, Bishop Hart of Cheyenne and the other Cardinals and Bishops present: the priests, the Religious and every one of you, for being "sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness" (Tt 2,2).
620 I cordially greet the Governor of Colorado, the Mayor of Denver, and the representatives of other Churches, Ecclesial Communities and religious bodies. Your presence encourages us to continue to strive for ever greater understanding among all people of good will and to work together for a new civilization of love.
2. The World Youth Day is a great celebration of life: life as a divine gift and an awe – inspiring mystery. Young people from all over the world are gathering to profess the Church’s faith that in Jesus Christ we can come to the full truth about our human condition and our eternal destiny.
Only in Christ can men and women find answers to the ultimate questions that trouble them. Only in Christ can they fully understand their dignity as persons created and loved by God. Jesus Christ is "the only Son from the Father... full of grace and truth" (Jn 1,14).
By keeping the Incarnation of the Eternal Word before her eyes, the Church understands more fully her twofold nature – human and divine. She is the Mystical Body of the Word made flesh. As such she is inseparably united with her Lord and is holy in a way that can never fail (Cfr. Lumen gentium LG 39). The Church is also the visible means which God uses to reconcile sinful humanity to himself. She is the People of God making its pilgrim way to the Father’s house. In this sense she is constantly in need of conversion and renewal, and her members must ever be challenged "to purify and renew themselves so that the sign of Christ can shine more brightly on [her] face" (Lumen gentium LG 15). Only when the Church generates works of genuine holiness and humble service do the words of Isaiah come true: "all nations shall stream toward her" (Is 2,2).
United to Christ as a visible communion of persons, the Church must take as her model the early Christian community in Jerusalem which devoted itself "to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Act 2,42). If the Church is to be a credible sign of reconciliation to the world, all those who believe, wherever they may be, must be "of one heart and one soul" (Act 2,32). By your fraternal communion the world will know that you are Christ’s disciples!
3. The members of the Catholic Church should take to heart the plea of Saint Paul: always be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ep 4,3). With gentleness and patience, revere the Church as Christ’s beloved Bride who is ever vigorous and youthful. So many problems arise when people think of the Church as "theirs", when in fact she belongs to Christ. Christ and the Church are inseparably united as "one flesh" (Cfr. Eph Ep 5,31). Our love for Christ finds its vital expression in our love for the Church. Polarization and destructive criticism have no place among "those who are of the household of faith" (Ga 6,10).
The Church in the United States is vital and dynamic, rich in "faith and love and holiness" (1Tm 2,15). By far the vast majority of her Bishops, priests, Religious and laity are dedicated followers of Christ and generous servants of the Gospel message of love. Nevertheless, at a time when all institutions are suspect, the Church herself has not escaped reproach. I have already written to the Bishops of the United States about the pain of the suffering and scandal caused by the sins of some ministers of the altar. I have told them that I share their concern, especially their concern for the victims of those wrong–doings. Sad situations such as these invite us anew to look at the mystery of the Church with the eyes of faith. While every human means for responding to this evil must be implemented, we cannot forget that the first and most important means is prayer: ardent, humble, confident prayer. America needs much prayer – lest it lose its soul (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Epistula ad Episcopos Foederatarum Nationum Americae Septentrionalis, die 11 iun. 1993: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVI, 1 (1993) 1476ss).
4. On many issues, especially with regard to moral questions, "the teaching of the Church in our day is placed in a social and cultural context which renders it more difficult to understand and yet more urgent and irreplaceable for promoting the true good of men and women" (Familiaris consortio FC 30). Nowhere is this more evident than in questions relating to the transmission of human life and to the inalienable right to life of the unborn.
Twenty–five years ago Pope Paul VI published the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae". Your Bishops recently issued a Statement to mark this anniversary. They call everyone "to listen to the wisdom of "Humanae Vitae" and to make the Church’s teaching the foundation for a renewed understanding of marriage and family life" (NCCB, Human Sexuality from God's Perspective: "Humanae Vitae" 25 Years Later, conclusion). The Church calls married couples to responsible parenthood by acting as "ministers" – and not "arbiters" – of God’s saving plan. Since the publication of "Humanae Vitae", significant steps have been taken to promote natural family planning among those who wish to live their conjugal love according to the fullness of its truth. Yet more efforts must be made to educate the consciences of married couples in this form of conjugal chastity which is grounded on "dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and selfcontrol" (Familiaris consortio FC 32). I appeal especially to young people to re–discover the wealth of wisdom, the integrity of conscience and the deep interior joy which flow from respect for human sexuality understood as a great gift from God and lived according to the truth of the body’s nuptial meaning.
5. Likewise, building an authentic civilization of love must include a massive effort to educate consciences in the moral truths which sustain respect for life in the face of every threat against it. In her vigorous concern for human rights and justice, the Catholic Church is unambiguously committed to protecting and cherishing every human life, including the life of the unborn. As sent by Christ to serve the weak, downtrodden and defenseless, the Church must speak on behalf of those most in need of protection. It is a source of comfort that this position is shared by people of many faiths. Those who respect life must accompany their teaching about the value of every human life with concrete and effective acts of solidarity to people in difficult situations. Without charity, the struggle to defend life would be lacking the essential ingredient of the Christian ethic; as Saint Paul writes: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rm 12,21).
Archbishop Stafford has told me of the deep concern of many Americans about urban violence as a negative "sign of the times" that needs to be read in the light of the Gospel. Violence is always a failure to respect God’s image and likeness in our neighbor, in every other human person, without exception. Violence, in any form, is a denial of human dignity. The question which must be asked is: who is responsible? (Cfr. Gen Gn 1,26-27) Individuals have a responsibility for what is happening. Families have a responsibility. Society has a heavy responsibility.
621 Everybody must be willing to accept their part of this responsibility, including the media. Including the media!
So the Pope is speaking against the television who presents him!
I repeat once more – including the media which in part seem to become more aware of the effect they can have on their audiences. May I ask: who is responsible for the media? Who is responsible? And when the question is asked: what is to be done? Everybody must become committed to fostering a profound sense of the value of life and the dignity of the human person; the whole of society must work to change the structure and conditions which lead people, and especially the young, to the lack of vision, the loss of esteem for themselves and for others which leads to violence. But since the root of violence is in the human heart, society will be condemned to go on causing it, feeding it and even, to an extent, glorifying it, unless it reaffirms the moral and religious truths which alone are an effective barrier to lawlessness and violence because these truths alone are capable of enlightening and strengthening consciences. It is our responsibility. Ultimately, it is the victory of grace over sin that leads to fraternal harmony and reconciliation.
6. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I urge you to renew your trust in the richness of the Father’s mercy (Cfr. E Ph 2,4), in the Incarnation and Redemption accomplished by his beloved Son, in the Holy Spirit’s vivifying presence in your hearts. This immense mystery of Love is made present to us through Holy Church’s sacraments, teaching and solidarity with pilgrim humanity. The Church, through your Bishops and other ministers, in your parishes, associations and movements, needs your love and your active support in defending the inviolable right to life and the integrity of the family, in promoting Christian principles in private and public life, in serving the poor and the weak, and in overcoming all manner of evil with good.
May Mary, "full of grace", intercede for the Catholic community of Colorado and of the United States. May her example of discipleship draw each one of you to an ever more personal love of her Son our Lord Jesus Christ. May she who is the Mother of the Church teach you to love and serve the Church as she loved and served the first community of Christ’s followers (Cfr. Act 1,14).
Through the Church, may you abide in Christ, the Prince of Peace and the Lord of our lives. Amen.
The Pope has not spoken against human freedom, liberty, especially American liberty.... He has spoken for freedom, for a good use of our freedom. Only a good use of our freedom is real freedom. And the Pope has not spoken against American civilizaton, American television. He has spoken for an authentic promotion of what is civilization, of what is culture, of what is human dignity.
8th WORLD YOUTH DAY
S. John Paul II Homil. 612