Speeches 1998 - Thursday, 28 May 1998
1. I am pleased to receive the Letters of Credence appointing you as the first Ambassador of the Principality of Andorra to the Holy See. In offering you my cordial welcome on this occasion, I would like, through you, to meet a beloved people surrounded by the Pyrenees, with deep Christian roots, who from their origins has always maintained a very special bond with this Apostolic See.
In fact, as you also recalled, history teaches that close union with the Church was decisive in the birth of Andorra as an autonomous country, in the defence of its independence down the centuries and in the consolidation of its identity as a people. Christian tradition and moral values have forged the life- style of its inhabitants, who are particularly appreciated for their openness to dialogue, hospitality and cultural exchange.
2. In recent years considerable efforts have been made to improve and adapt to contemporary circumstances the constitutional and juridical provisions governing the community, thereby guaranteeing the identity of the principality and its active presence in the concert of nations. This process was bound to include the establishment of formal relations with the Holy See in order to strengthen and increase a close co-operation that will redound to the benefit of the human, social and spiritual progress of all the children of this noble people, in a climate of respect, understanding and dialogue.
3. These relations lay the institutional and juridical foundation that make it possible to work more effectively for the common good of the Andorran people, whom the other institutions are meant to serve. The contribution of the Church, so much a part of the history and society of the principality, stems from her firm conviction that “faith throws a new light on all things and makes known the full ideal which God has set for man, thus guiding the mind towards solutions that are fully human” (Gaudium et spes GS 11). For this reason, on the basis of her total and transcendent vision of man, she will never tire of encouraging all initiatives that promote the inalienable dignity of individuals as children of God redeemed by the blood of Christ. By fulfilling her mission, without encroaching on or usurping the responsibility of the civil authorities, she will encourage people to lead a life in accord with their vocation and to build an increasingly human society.
In her relations with States, the Church does not seek privileges, nor does she pursue any interests other than the good of individuals and peoples, whose future depends chiefly on their ability to embody the fundamental values of freedom, justice and solidarity on which every peaceful society and authentically human progress is based.
In this regard, the Church in Andorra carries out an important educational role at various levels, which we hope will be strengthened in the future through more appropriate measures. In fact, the new generations must not lack a sound, well-organized formation which enables them to grow in harmony with the deep convictions of their ancestors, who, jealous of their freedom, lovers of their homeland and devoted to their Catholic faith, were able to keep the principality united, prosperous and, at the same time, open to history. This will be the best guarantee for the future of a nation which aspire to no other greatness than the nobility of its people.
4. The Christian roots and moral values that have characterized Andorra throughout history can also make a valuable contribution to the international order and to building the new Europe,€whose institutions it has recently€joined. This fact is important for everyone, because it is born of the belief that nothing must be done without first listening to all voices, and that no one can avoid facing the great responsibilities of the present historical moment. The community of the principality has also wished to take its proper role in the world, to contribute its experience and age-old wisdom to the task of strengthening the foundations of peaceful coexistence between peoples in the context of justice and solidarity. I fervently hope that this aspect of diplomatic relations will also serve as an effective way to promote in international institutions the basic values that enable man to live in accord with his own authentic dignity and to build, on the threshold of the third millennium, the new global civilization of life and love.
5. Mr Ambassador, before ending this meeting, I would like to assure you of my esteem and appreciation, along with my most cordial wishes that the important mission entrusted to you will be fruitful for your country. Please convey these sentiments and wishes to the distinguished authorities of Andorra. I pray through the intercession of Our Lady of Maritxell, the principality’s heavenly patroness, that the Almighty will assist with his gifts you, your family, your co- workers, the governors of the principality and the beloved people of Andorra, who are ever close to the Pope’s heart.
Distinguished Members of the Delegation from Al-Azhar,
I am pleased to greet you today, one day after the creation of a Joint Committee for Dialogue, established by the agreement signed yesterday by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue between the Monotheistic Religions. This is a further step in the building of ever stronger and more friendly relations between Christians and Muslims.
Today, dialogue between our two religions is more necessary than ever. This dialogue needs to be credible and marked by mutual respect, knowledge and acceptance. The long history shared by Christians and Muslims has had its lights and its shadows. Yet there remains a spiritual bond which unites us and which we must strive to recognize and develop. This may require much effort, but it will prove essential for building that peace which we hope future generations will be able to enjoy. Your newly-formed Joint Committee for Dialogue therefore has much work before it. And I am confident that as its members give the best of themselves in sincerity and truth the goals agreed upon will be attained.
May the Almighty and Merciful God, from whom all things take their origin and to whom all things make their return, richly bless your endeavours.
Dear Cardinal George,
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. In the course of this series of ad Limina visits, the Bishops of the United States have again borne witness to the keen sense of communion of American Catholics with the Successor of Peter. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have experienced this closeness, and the spiritual and material support of so many of your people. In welcoming you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical regions of Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee, I express once more to you and to the whole Church in your country my heartfelt gratitude: “God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the Gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers” (Rm 1,9). Continuing the reflection begun with previous groups of Bishops on the renewal of ecclesial life in the light of the Second Vatican Council and in view of the challenge of evangelization which we face on the eve of the next millennium, today I wish to address some aspects of your responsibility for Catholic education.
2. From the earliest days of the American Republic, when Archbishop John Carroll encouraged the teaching vocation of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and founded the new nation’s first Catholic college, the Church in the United States has been deeply involved in education at every level. For more than two hundred years, Catholic elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities have been instrumental in educating successive generations of Catholics, and in teaching the truths of the faith, promoting respect for the human person, and developing the moral character of their students. Their academic excellence and success in preparing young people for life have served the whole of American society.
As we approach the third Christian millennium, the Second Vatican Council's call for generous dedication to the whole enterprise of Catholic education remains to be more fully implemented (cf. Gravissimum Educationis GE 1). Few areas of Catholic life in the United States need the leadership of the Bishops for their re-affirmation and renewal as much as this one does. Any such renewal requires a clear vision of the Church's educational mission, which in turn cannot be separated from the Lord’s mandate to preach the Gospel to all nations. Like other educational institutions, Catholic schools transmit knowledge and promote the human development of their students. However, as the Council emphasized, the Catholic school does something else: "It aims to create for the school community an atmosphere enlivened by the Gospel spirit of freedom and charity. It aims to help the young person in such a way that the development of his or her own personality will be matched by the growth of that new creation which he or she has become by baptism. It strives to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life, and of the human family" (ibid., 8). The mission of the Catholic school is the integral formation of students, so that they may be true to their condition as Christ’s disciples and as such work effectively for the evangelization of culture and for the common good of society.
3. Catholic education aims not only to communicate facts but also to transmit a coherent, comprehensive vision of life, in the conviction that the truths contained in that vision liberate students in the most profound meaning of human freedom. In its recent document The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium, the Congregation for Catholic Education drew attention to the importance of communicating knowledge in the context of the Christian vision of the world, of life, of culture and of history: “In the Catholic school there is no separation between time for learning and time for formation, between acquiring notions and growing in wisdom. The various school subjects do not present only knowledge to be attained but also values to be acquired and truths to be discovered" (No. 14).
The greatest challenge to Catholic education in the United States today, and the greatest contribution that authentically Catholic education can make to American culture, is to restore to that culture the conviction that human beings can grasp the truth of things, and in grasping that truth can know their duties to God, to themselves and their neighbors. In meeting that challenge, the Catholic educator will hear an echo of Christ's words: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (Jn 8,32). The contemporary world urgently needs the service of educational institutions which uphold and teach that truth is "that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished" (Veritatis Splendor, No. 4).
To educate in the truth, and for genuine freedom and evangelical love, is at the very heart of the Church’s mission. In a cultural climate in which moral norms are often thought to be matters of personal preference, Catholic schools have a crucial role to play in leading the younger generation to realize that freedom consists above all in being able to respond to the demands of the truth (cf. Veritatis Splendor, No. 84). The respect which Catholic elementary and secondary schools enjoy suggests that their commitment to transmitting moral wisdom is meeting a widely-felt cultural need in your country. The example of Bishops and pastors who, with the support of Catholic parents, have persevered in leadership in this field should encourage everyone’s efforts to foster new dedication and new growth. The fact that some Dioceses are involved in a program of school building is a significant sign of vitality and a great hope for the future.
4. Almost twenty-five years have passed since your Conference issued To Teach as Jesus Did, a document which is still very relevant today. It emphasized the importance of another aspect of Catholic education: "More than any other program of education sponsored by the Church, the Catholic school has the opportunity and obligation to be . . . oriented to Christian service because it helps students acquire skills, virtues and habits of heart and mind required for effective service to others" (No. 106). On the basis of what they see and hear, students should become ever more aware of the dignity of every human person and gradually absorb the key elements of the Church's social doctrine and her concern for the poor. Catholic institutions should continue their tradition of commitment to the education of the poor in spite of the financial burdens involved. In some cases it may be necessary to find ways to share the burden more evenly, so that parishes with schools are not left to shoulder it alone.
A Catholic school is a place where students live a shared experience of faith in God and where they learn the riches of Catholic culture. Taking proper account of the stages of human development, the freedom of individuals, and the rights of parents in the education of their children, Catholic schools must help students to deepen their personal relationship with God and to discover that all things human have their deepest meaning in the person and teaching of Jesus Christ. Prayer and the liturgy, especially the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance, should mark the rhythm of a Catholic school’s life. Transmitting knowledge about the faith, though essential, is not sufficient. If students in Catholics schools are to gain a genuine experience of the Church, the example of teachers and others responsible for their formation is crucial: the witness of adults in the school community is a vital part of the school’s identity.
Numberless religious and lay teachers and other personnel in Catholic schools down the years have shown how their professional competence and commitment are grounded in the spiritual, intellectual and moral values of the Catholic tradition. The Catholic community in the United States and the whole country have been immeasurably blessed through the work of so many dedicated religious in schools in every part of your country. I also know how much you value the dedication of the many lay men and women who, sometimes at great financial sacrifice, are involved in Catholic education because they believe in the mission of Catholic schools. If in some cases there has been an eroding of confidence in the teaching vocation, you must do all you can to restore that trust.
5. Catechesis, either in schools or in parish-based programs, plays a fundamental role in transmitting the faith. The Bishop should encourage catechists to see their work as a vocation: as a privileged sharing in the mission of handing on the faith and accounting for the hope that is in us (cf. 1P 3,15). The Gospel message is the definitive response to the deepest longings of the human heart. Young Catholics have a right to hear the full content of that message in order to come to know Christ, the One who has overcome death and opened the way to salvation. Efforts to renew catechesis must be based on the premise that Christ’s teaching, as transmitted in the Church and as authentically interpreted by the Magisterium, has to be presented in all its richness, and the methodologies used have to respond to the nature of the faith as truth received (cf. 1Co 15,1). The work you have begun through your Conference to evaluate catechetical texts by the standard of the Catechism of the Catholic Church will help to ensure the unity and completeness of the faith as it is presented in your Dioceses.
6. The Church’s tradition of involvement in universities, which goes back almost a thousand years, quickly took root in the United States. Today Catholic colleges and universities can make an important contribution to the renewal of American higher education. To belong to a university community, as was my privilege during my days as a professor, is to stand at the crossroads of the cultures that have formed the modern world. It is to be a trustee of the wisdom of centuries and a promoter of the creativity that will transmit that wisdom to future generations. At a time when knowledge is often thought to be fragmentary and never absolute, Catholic universities should be expected to uphold the objectivity and coherence of knowledge. Now that the centuries-old conflict between science and faith is fading, Catholic universities should be in the forefront of a new and long-overdue dialogue between the empirical sciences and the truths of faith.
If Catholic universities are to become leaders in the renewal of higher education, they must first have a strong sense of their own Catholic identity. This identity is not established once and for all by an institution’s origins, but comes from its living within the Church today and always, speaking from the heart of the Church (ex corde Ecclesiae) to the contemporary world. The Catholic identity of a university should be evident in its curriculum, in its faculty, in student activities, and in the quality of its community life. This is no infringement upon the university’s nature as a true center of learning, where the truth of the created order is fully respected, but also ultimately illuminated by the light of the new creation in Christ.
The Catholic identity of a university necessarily includes the university’s relationship to the local Church and its Bishop. It is sometimes said that a university that acknowledges a responsibility to any community or authority outside the relevant academic professional associations has lost both its independence and its integrity. But this is to detach freedom from its object, which is truth. Catholic universities understand that there is no contradiction between the free and vigorous pursuit of the truth and a “recognition of and an adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, No. 27).
7. In safeguarding the Catholic identity of Catholic institutions of higher education, Bishops have a special responsibility in relation to the work of theologians. If, as the whole Catholic tradition testifies, theology is to be done in and for the Church, then the question of theology’s relationship to the teaching authority of the Church is not extrinsic — something imposed from outside — but rather intrinsic to theology as an ecclesial science. Theology itself is accountable to those to whom Christ has given responsibility for overseeing the ecclesial community and its stability in the truth. As the discussion on these questions deepens in your country, it must be the Bishops’ aim to see that the terms used are genuinely ecclesial in character.
In addition, Bishops should take a personal interest in the work of university chaplaincies, not only in Catholic institutions but also in other colleges and universities where Catholic students are present. Campus ministry offers a notable opportunity to be close to young people at a significant time in their lives: “...the university Chapel is called to be a vital center for promoting the Christian renewal of culture, in respectful and frank dialogue, in a clear and well-grounded perspective (cf. 1P 3,15), in a witness which is open to questioning and capable of convincing” (Address to the European Congress of University Chaplains, May 1, 1998, No. 4). Young adults need the service of committed chaplains who can help them, intellectually and spiritually, to attain their full maturity in Christ.
8. Dear Brother Bishops: on the threshold of a new century and a new millennium, the Church continues to proclaim the capacity of human beings to know the truth and to grow into genuine freedom through their acceptance of that truth. In this respect, the Church is the defender of the moral insight on which your country was founded. Your Catholic schools are widely recognized as models for the renewal of American elementary and secondary education. Your Catholic colleges and universities can be leaders in the renewal of American higher education. At a time when the relationship between freedom and moral truth is being debated on a host of issues at every level of society and government, Catholic scholars have the resources to contribute to an intellectual and moral renewal of American culture. As you work to strengthen Catholic education, and as you promote Catholic intellectual life in all its dimensions, may you enjoy the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom. On the eve of the Feast of Pentecost, I join you in invoking the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in the United States. With affection in the Lord, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses
"Suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Ac 2,2-3)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. With these words the Acts of the Apostles bring us into the heart of the Pentecost event; they show us the disciples, who, gathered with Mary in the Upper Room, receive the gift of the Spirit. Thus Jesus' promise is fulfilled and the time of the Church begins. From that time the wind of the Spirit would carry Christ's disciples to the very ends of the earth. It would take them even to martyrdom for their fearless witness to the Gospel.
It is as though what happened in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago were being repeated this evening in this square, the heart of the Christian world. Like the Apostles then, we too find ourselves gathered in a great upper room of Pentecost, longing for the outpouring of the Spirit. Here we would like to profess with the whole Church "the same Spirit ... the same Lord ... the same God who inspires them all in everyone" (1Co 12,4-6). This is the atmosphere we wish to relive, imploring the gifts of the Holy Spirit for each of us and for all the baptized people.
2. I greet and thank Cardinal James Francis Stafford, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for the words he has wished to address to me, also in your name, at the beginning of this meeting. With him I greet the Cardinals and Bishops present. I extend an especially grateful greeting to Chiara Lubich, Kiko Arguello, Jean Vanier and Mons. Luigi Giussani for their moving testimonies. With them, I greet the founders and leaders of the new communities and movements represented here. Lastly, I wish to address each of you, brothers and sisters who belong to the individual ecclesial movements. You promptly and enthusiastically accepted the invitation I addressed to you on Pentecost 1996, and have carefully prepared yourselves, under the guidance of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, for this extraordinary meeting which launches us towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
Today's event is truly unprecedented: for the first time the movements and new ecclesial communities have all gathered together with the Pope. It is the great "common witness" I wished for the year which, in the Church's journey to the Great Jubilee, is dedicated to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is here with us! It is he who is the soul of this marvellous event of ecclesial communion. Truly, "this is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps 117,24).
3. In Jerusalem, almost 2,000 years ago, on the day of Pentecost, before an astonished and mocking crowd, due to the unexplainable change observed in the Apostles, Peter courageously proclaims: "Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God ... you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. But God raised him up" (Ac 2,22-24). Peter's words express the Church's selfawareness, based on the certainty that Jesus Christ is alive, is working in the present and changes life.
The Holy Spirit, already at work in the creation of the world and in the Old Covenant, reveals himself in the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery of the Son of God, and in a way "bursts out" at Pentecost to extend the mission of Christ the Lord in time and space. The Spirit thus makes the Church a stream of new life that flows through the history of mankind.
4. With the Second Vatican Council, the Comforter recently gave the Church, which according to the Fathers is the place "where the Spirit flourishes" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 749), a renewed Pentecost, instilling a new and unforeseen dynamism.
Whenever the Spirit intervenes, he leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; he radically changes persons and history. This was the unforgettable experience of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council during which, under the guidance of the same Spirit, the Church rediscovered the charismatic dimension as one of her constitutive elements: "It is not only through the sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people, leads them and enriches them with his virtues. Allotting his gifts according as he wills (cf. 1Co 12,11), he also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank.... He makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church" (Lumen gentium LG 12).
The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church's constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God's People. It is from this providential rediscovery of the Church's charismatic dimension that, before and after the Council, a remarkable pattern of growth has been established for ecclesial movements and new communities.
5. Today the Church rejoices at the renewed confirmation of the prophet Joel's words which we have just heard: "I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh" (Ac 2,17). You, present here, are the tangible proof of this "outpouring" of the Spirit. Each movement is different from the others, but they are all united in the same communion and for the same mission. Some charisms given by the Spirit burst in like an impetuous wind, which seizes people and carries them to new ways of missionary commitment to the radical service of the Gospel, by ceaselessly proclaiming the truths of faith, accepting the living stream of tradition as a gift and instilling in each person an ardent desire for holiness.
Today, I would like to cry out to all of you gathered here in St Peter's Square and to all Christians: Open yourselves docilely to the gifts of the Spirit! Accept gratefully and obediently the charisms which the Spirit never ceases to bestow on us! Do not forget that every charism is given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church.
6. By their nature, charisms are communicative and give rise to that "spiritual affinity between persons" (Christifideles laici CL 24) and that friendship in Christ which is the origin of "movements". The passage from the original charism to the movement happens through the mysterious attraction that the founder holds for all those who become involved in his spiritual experience. In this way movements officially recognized by ecclesiastical authority offer themselves as forms of self-fulfilment and as reflections of the one Church.
Their birth and spread has brought to the Church's life an unexpected newness which is sometimes even disruptive. This has given rise to questions, uneasiness and tensions; at times it has led to presumptions and excesses on the one hand, and on the other, to numerous prejudices and reservations. It was a testing period for their fidelity, an important occasion for verifying the authenticity of their charisms.
Today a new stage is unfolding before you: that of ecclesial maturity. This does not mean that all problems have been solved. Rather, it is a challenge. A road to take. The Church expects from you the "mature" fruits of communion and commitment.
7. In our world, often dominated by a secularized culture which encourages and promotes models of life without God, the faith of many is sorely tested, and is frequently stifled and dies. Thus we see an urgent need for powerful proclamation and solid, in-depth Christian formation. There is so much need today for mature Christian personalities, conscious of their baptismal identity, of their vocation and mission in the Church and in the world! There is great need for living Christian communities! And here are the movements and the new ecclesial communities: they are the response, given by the Holy Spirit, to this critical challenge at the end of the millennium. You are this providential response.
True charisms cannot but aim at the encounter with Christ in the sacraments. The ecclesial realities to which you belong have helped you to rediscover your baptismal vocation, to appreciate the gifts of the Spirit received at Confirmation, to entrust yourselves to God's forgiveness in the sacrament of Reconciliation and to recognize the Eucharist as the source and summit of all Christian life. Thanks to this powerful ecclesial experience, wonderful Christian families have come into being which are open to life, true "domestic churches", and many vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the religious life have blossomed, as well as new forms of lay life inspired by the evangelical counsels. You have learned in the movements and new communities that faith is not abstract talk, nor vague religious sentiment, but new life in Christ instilled by the Holy Spirit.
8. How is it possible to safeguard and guarantee a charism's authenticity? It is essential in this regard that every movement submit to the discernment of the competent ecclesiastical authority. For this reason no charism can dispense with reference and submission to the Pastors of the Church. The Council wrote in clear words: "Those who have charge over the Church should judge the genuiness and proper use of these gifts, through their office not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good (cf. 1Th 5,12 1Th 19-21)" (Lumen gentium LG 12). This is the necessary guarantee that you are taking the right road!
In the confusion that reigns in the world today, it is so easy to err, to give in to illusions. May this element of trusting obedience to the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, in communion with the Successor of Peter never be lacking in the Christian formation provided by your movements! You know the criteria for the ecclesiality of lay associations found in the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici (cf. n. 30). I ask you always to adhere to them with generosity and humility, bringing your experiences to the local Churches and parishes, while always remaining in communion with the Pastors and attentive to their direction.
9. Jesus said: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" (Lc 12,39). As the Church prepares to cross the threshold of the third millennium, let us accept the Lord's invitation, so that his fire may spread in our hearts and in those of our brothers and sisters.
Today, from this upper room in St Peter's Square, a great prayer rises: Come, Holy Spirit, come and renew the face of the earth! Come with your seven gifts! Come, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Communion and Love! The Church and the world need you. Come, Holy Spirit, and make ever more fruitful the charisms you have bestowed on us. Give new strength and missionary zeal to these sons and of daughters of yours who have gathered here. Open their hearts; renew their Christian commitment in the world. Make them courageous messengers of the Gospel, witnesses to the risen Jesus Christ, the Redeemer and Saviour of man. Strengthen their love and their fidelity to the Church.
Let us turn our gaze to Mary, Christ's first disciple, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of the Church, who was with the Apostles at the first Pentecost, so that she will help us to learn from her fiat docility to the voice of the Spirit.
Today, from this square, Christ says to each of you: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mc 16,15). He is counting on every one of you, and so is the Church. "Lo", the Lord promises, "I am with you always to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20).
I am with you.
Dear English-speaking friends, on the vigil of this great feast of Pentecost, I pray that the Holy Spirit will increase the flame of his love in your hearts so that you may be ever more effective in bringing the Gospel message to the world of the new millennium. The Church needs your commitment and your love!
Speeches 1998 - Thursday, 28 May 1998