Speeches 1979 - 31 March 1979



2 April 1979

My dear brothers and sisters,

I cannot hide my great joy and deep consolation in bidding a hearty welcome to you working men and women of the first Vicariate Forane of Genoa-San Pier d'Arena. While I was preparing for you these thoughts that I now have pleasure in confiding in you, I was already near you in heart and I looked forward eagerly to meeting you.

Let my warm greeting, therefore, go to you all, and in particular to your venerated and indefatigable Archbishop, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, who has accompanied you here, together with Monsignor Berto Ferrari, Episcopal Vicar for the sphere of work.

I am grateful to you for this visit and for your devoted homage. This I greatly appreciate because it is the reflection of a Christian testimony coming from the Ligurian land, rich not only in exceptional natural beauties, but also, and above all, in ancient and sturdy religious traditions, as well as recognized human virtues.

Welcoming you with a fatherly heart, which opens to everyone and shares aspirations, fears, and hopes with everyone, I wish to leave you some reflections and exhortations, in memory of this family meeting.

1. The first thought, in this time of Lent which is now drawing to a close with the celebration of the central events of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, cannot but be a call to seek Jesus.Let your life be a continual, sincere search for the Saviour, without ever tiring, without ever abandoning the undertaking; even though, at a certain moment, darkness should fall on your spirit, temptations beset you, and grief and incomprehension wring your heart. These are things which are part of life here below; they are inevitable, but they can also do good because they mature our spirit. You must never turn back, however, even if it should seem to you that the light of Christ, the "Light of the peoples", is fading; on the contrary, continue to seek with renewed faith and great generosity.

Deepen your knowledge of Jesus, listening to the word of the Ministers of the Lord, and reading some pages of the Gospel. Try to discover where he is, and you will be able to gather from everyone some detail that will indicate it to you, that will tell you where he lives. Ask souls that are meek, repentant, generous, humble and hidden; ask your brothers, far and near, because you will find in everyone something that indicates Jesus to you. Ask, above all, your soul and your conscience, because they will be able to indicate to you, in an unmistakable way, a mark of his passing, a trace of his power and his love. But ask humbly: that is, let your soul be ready to see, outside itself, those parts of his goodness that God has sown in creatures. To seek him every day means possessing him a little more every day, being admitted a little at a time to intimacy with him; and then you will be able to understand better the sound of his voice, the meaning of his language, the reason for his coming to earth and for his sacrifice on the Cross.

2. I will say to you further, as second consignment, have trust! This word "trust" expands the lungs and gives wings to the heart; it gives relief beyond measure, it is something like emerging from a nightmare. Our age is to a great extent marked by anguish and apprehension, anxieties and fears. Trust is opposed to that which troubles you. It is, in fact, serenity of commitment, sovereign fearlessness in adversities, reliance on the mysterious but active assistance of which Providence does not deprive anyone. Trust finds its greatest expression in the words spoken by Christ on the cross: "Father, into they hands I commit my spirit." (Lc 23,46). In the midst of the many, many difficulties, trust sustains you and makes you raise your eyes to Heaven, to tell the Father that when you have done everything, he should do that which is still lacking.

3. Finally, be agents of concord and peace. In this time, marked to such a great extent by social divisions and so many forms of violence, it is necessary that you should bear witness before the world to Christian brotherhood in the environment in which you live and work. A decided commitment for the construction of a more human, just, and united world is needed. It is not intended thereby to deny the legitimate defence of inalienable rights, as well as the economic and social advancement of the less favoured and less remunerated workers, especially of the humblest, poorest, neediest and most oppressed. I am glad, in fact, to take this opportunity once more to deplore situations not in keeping with human and Christian dignity, in which, unfortunately, so many workers find themselves owing to unemployment or exhausting labour beyond the bounds of all endurance. Modern technology has often become, instead of an instrument of the advancement of man, a mechanism destined to crush him, to the extent of depriving him sometimes of his most sacred and inviolable characteristics. As I already mentioned in the recent Encyclical: "The development of technology and the development of contemporary civilization, which is marked by the ascendancy of technology, demand a proportional development of morals and ethics." (Redemptor Hominis RH 15).

On your return to your homes, your families, and your place of work, I would like to take my greeting and blessing to all your dear ones and to all your colleagues. Tell them all that I commend them in prayer to God and to the Blessed Virgin, so venerated by all true Genoese, under the title of Our Lady of Safekeeping, in her celebrated Sanctuary in Val Polcevera. I now put in her "safekeeping" your aspirations, your sufferings, and your labours, while I willingly impart the propitiating Apostolic Blessing.




Wednesday, 4 April 1979

Beloved Brothers and Sons,

Allow me to address, in the first place, the Cardinal Prefect Gabriel-Marie Garrone, to whom I wish to express sincere thanks both for his presence, and for the noble words he has just pronounced. Everyone knows the commitment with which he has striven, for long years, as the principal person responsible for the guidance of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education. Well-known, too, is the contribution which, with the sensitiveness of a Pastor attentive and open to the requirements of the new times, from the preparatory phase, to the Second Vatican Council. These are merits which I wish to acknowledge publicly today, while to the Cardinals who, as Members of the same Congregation, have gathered for the annual plenary session, to the Secretary, and to the Under-Secretary, I extend my deepest gratitude. I then address my cordial greeting to the Professors, Superiors, and Students of the Roman Centres of Academic Studies.

At the opening of the meeting, I would like to start with a personal reference: for several years I had the opportunity to take part in the work of this Sacred Congregation, and it was a very precious experience for me. Because not only did I draw great benefit from it, but, at the same time, I was able to compare it with experiences in my field of pastoral work in Poland.

As you well know, Catholic Schools of every order and level are the object of the concern of this Congregation; but the ecclesiastical Seminaries are the object of very special concern. This immediately brings up the serious and delicate problem of priestly vocations, without forgetting, of course, the problem of the Superior Institutes of various types: the Universities, Theological Faculties, the other Faculties of Ecclesiastical Studies, etc. And also in this connection, I must recall that I took part in the important work of the Congregation for the preparation of the new Apostolic Constitution, which will replace—as legislative document—the Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus. On the basis of the mandate of the Second Vatican Council, a "temporary" document had already been published in May 1968: Normae quaedam ad Constitutionem Apostolicam "Deus Scientiarum Dominus" de studiis academicis ecclesiasticis recognoscendam.

Subsequently, after consultation of all the sectors interested in doctrine and in Catholic teaching, abundant material has been collected to draw up the new Constitution, which will have to be promulgated shortly. Now—and this is a third premise of psychological and personal character—all the problems concerning Christian education, the particular significance of science in the historical experience of the Church, the present mission of the Church herself in this field, are subjects especially close and congenial to me. In fact, I greatly appreciate this sector of the Church's activity, because I have great esteem for human culture: Genus humanum arte et ratione vivit. If man—as I wrote in my first Encyclical—is "the primary and fundamental way for the Church" (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 14), how could the latter not take an interest in what, even at the simple natural level, is directly connected with the elevation of man? How could she remain extraneous to the needs and the ferments, the labour and the goals, the difficulties and the achievements of culture today? Would not such a lack of interest and extraneousness be almost a shirking of her own responsibilities and an act of omission owing to the "vulnus" that would result in her own evangelizing function? In interpreting the supreme command of Christ, I am of the opinion that the pregnant significance and the multiple implications of the words docete and docentes (cf. Mt Mt 28,18-19 in the Greek text matheteúsate and didáskontes ), are never stressed enough.

You understand, therefore, how, according to such a broad and high perspective, today's meeting takes place not only with you here present, but, at least indirectly and certainly intentionally, includes teachers and students of all Catholic Institutes of instruction and education, scattered all over the world. Their tasks, their mission, their "creative" contribution to the universal mission of the Church, are, as it were, the background to this solemn audience today.

2. In a more immediate and direct environment, however, the audience gathers a select and large group of representatives of the Superior Institutes of Rome, and that gives me great joy. I desired this meeting deeply, and I am happy that it takes place just at the time when the Cardinals and other representatives of the episcopate are gathered for the annual session at the Sacred Congregation, which is in charge of the organization and animation of the mission of the Church in the scientific and educational field.

The initiative for our meeting came from the Rectors of the Roman Institutes, with whom I have already had an opportunity to discuss the preliminaries of problems so important for the life of the Church in the Eternal City. These Institutes, in fact, represent a special wealth of this Church: on the one hand, they welcome a large group of professors, scientists, and scholars who, thanks to their intelligence and their preparation, do honour to doctrine and to the faith; on the other hand, they are open to students all over the world, and constitute, therefore, a significant and inspiring "sample" of the nationalities, languages, cultural elements and ritual varieties of the Catholic world. For this reason, and not only now, they have won well-deserved international recognition.

As for me, I wish to name them separately here, as a proof of my esteem and confidence in them, and these sentiments are intended to confirm and extend in time—I would say—those of so many predecessors of mine on Peter's Chair. Here in the first place, is the group of Universities that bar the title "Pontifical": the Gregorian, entrusted to the Sons of St Ignatius and rich in a centuries-old and well-tested teaching and scientific experience; the Lateran which, being close, and not just topographically, to St John's Patriarchal Basilica and the Major Seminary of Rome, has a typical Roman character and a special function; then the Urbanian University, intended specifically for the primary cause of evangelization and for the formation of the Clergy for the Missions; and then the University of St Thomas Aquinas, known as the Angelicum, at which I had the good fortune to attend an industrious two years' course, which I have always remembered; and finally the Salesian which, though recently founded, wishes to win recognition with a note of originality in the area of the pedagogical disciplines.

These follow the Anselmian and Antonian Pontifical Athenaea, directed by the Religious of St Benedict and St Francis. Then, further, the Biblical and the Oriental Institutes and the Institutes for Sacred Music and Christian Archaeology. And finally the Theological Faculties of St Bonaventure, Teresianum, Marianum. Including also the Institute of Arabic Studies and the Auxilium Faculty, the Academic Centres existing in Rome amount altogether to 16, with a total number of over 950 lecturers and about 7,000 matriculated students. Are they many, are they few? Beyond the quantitative datum, which is variable in itself and, in any case, not absolute, there is the grandiose and consoling panorama of a whole series of living and highly qualified forces; there is the reality of wealth which, before being cultural and doctrinal, is of a spiritual nature; this admirable complex of didactic structures is at the disposal not only of the Catholic Church, but also of the human society which the Church is called to serve.

To confirm the prestige and the further potentialities of these forces, it is sufficient to draw attention to two facts:

a) The first is the multiplicity of the scientific specializations, which exist within these same Centres. It is not possible to talk of duplication or of useless schools, because, if the schema of the fundamental sacred disciplines (beginning with the queen-science, theology), is found and functions—as is obvious—in them all, there is in each one a characteristic note, as it were, such as to give it an original place in the general framework of ecclesiastical studies. I am thinking, in this connection, of the various "specialities" and "superior schools" of modern conception, which have been created, with brilliant intuition, in more recent years. This is a response to the cultural growth of the world.

b) The other fact that I wish to recall in terms of praise, is that the above-mentioned "specialties" and, therefore, the specialized Institutes in question, are available for a fruitful collaboration with other "specialties" and Institutes. In this way, to the objective requirement, which today is emerging more and more in scientific activity and methodology—the requirement of so-called interdisciplinarity—and to the need of avoiding cultural particularism and fragmentation, you have likewise responded with open, intelligent, generous, and fruitful collaboration. And it is a pleasure for me to recognize the importance of this active cultural exchange, which means improving the coordination of initiatives, a timely comparison of results, and balanced assignment of the researches to be carried out. All that, while it promotes the general increase of good studies, also multiplies contacts between persons to their mutual advantage, stimulates integration among tile various Institutes, and bears witness to the liveliness and vitality of the pace of studies within the Church.

3. But at this point, I would like to emphasize above all the importance of a real scientific formation in priestly formation as a whole, as I recall also in the Letter that I will address to Priests for the forthcoming Holy Thursday. If the Church sets such store by the promotion of higher studies and, therefore, the preparation of adequate structures, she does so, "ultimately" to carry out better her mission in the world and to serve the cause of man better. But she does so "directly" to prepare those to whom, to such a large extent, this mission and this service are delegated: that is the Priests. To be complete and adapted to the requirements of the times, the formation of Priests must also be scientific.

And the reason, or rather, reasons for this more demanding preparation are so evident that all explanation seems to me superfluous. Necessary, first and foremost, in the sacred ministries is a sound general culture, as a fruitful and receptive soil for new seeds, admitting of more luxuriant developments. Then they must be started on their way and helped to reach a real and proper specialization at the University level, which will make them capable of taking part in the creative processes of culture in any type of society in which the Church finds herself carrying out her mission (cf. Decree Optatam Totius OT 38).

Here, then, are the two elements of this formation: general culture and specialized culture. Actually, the necessity of a rich doctrinal store for the formation of a mature priestly personality, such as is suitable for one who must be a pastor and teacher and is called to carry out multiform services connected with the vocation of the priest, pastor, and teacher, can never be sufficiently stressed.

Today this is a task of unusual and great responsibility. We need men with a deep knowledge of the problems of man and of the world. But this knowledge cannot stop at the purely human and secular level: it will have to be based, above all, on the "science of faith". It will have, in fact, to spring from a precise attitude of faith, from an active exercise of faith, which means communion and conversation with the Word of God, the Teacher who teaches and dictates "ab intus": Ille… qui consulitur, docet, qui in interiore homine habitare dictus est Christus, id est incommutabilis Dei Virtus atque sempiterna Sapientia (St Augustine, De Magistro 11, 38; P.L. 32, 1216; cf. Ephes. 3:16; 1Co 1,24). We need Priests endowed with a sound theological sense, listening attentively to Holy Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. We need Priests who, teaching faith and morality, will construct and not destroy. All this presupposes doctrinal completeness, intellectual honesty, faithful adherence to the "sacred deposit", awareness of participation in the "prophetic function" of Christ: in a word, a maturity of superior quality is necessary.

4. In this vast set of problems, reference to which would deserve a far longer development, I wish to point out another aspect. I consider, in fact, that special attention must be paid to the "existence of Rome", as an element of that formation which brings to every local Church a wholesome and extremely fruitful leaven of universality. Saying this, I draw on the memories of the time of my studies in Rome and also of the experiences I had during my subsequent contacts with "sacred Rome", which offers vital sap and nourishment to every Christian, and particularly, to every Priest. What does Rome teach? Hic saxa ipsa loquuntur, it can rightly be said. Oh, it is not rhetorical to lay stress on this historico-environmental fact: Rome, a unique city in the world, is the centre of irradiation of Christian faith. It is necessary, therefore, to be aware of this fact, it is necessary to be worthy of it; it is necessary to respond to—and to collaborate with—the exemplary function that is incumbent on Rome with regard to the whole Catholic world. And you young people, who have the fortune to study in Rome, must "profit" by this stay and by the teaching that is imparted to you here. You must draw firmness of faith and breadth of perspectives from the memories that the witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the blood of the innumerable Martyrs, the vestiges of a religious situation that is now bimillenary, have concentrated here.

5. It is in this spirit that, as Easter draws near, I address my confident good wishes to all members of the Superior Institutes. And it is in this spirit that I express my fervent good wishes to the Congregation for Catholic Education, to its venerated and well-deserving Prefect, to the Cardinals and Bishops. To one and all, connected by a commitment which, though having different expressions and forms, is in purpose unitarian because it is directed to the same goal, I recommend to live this solemn hour of the Church with attentive and clear awareness (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 1). As mankind is approaching the year two thousand, it is not permissible for the People of God to delay, to stop, or to move back. The Church must walk in history with her eyes turned backwards (Ecclesia retro-oculata) and at the same time forwards (Ecclesia ante-oculata), but, above all, fixed upwards towards Christ, her Lord (Ecclesia supra-oculata): levatis ad Dominum oculis... It is from above, in fact, it is from him that she gets inspiration, strength, resistance, courage. And how could the members of the People of God remain inactive?

Beloved Brothers and Sons, the post-conciliar period brought with it a set of questions for the Church, as if continuing the fundamental questions of the Second Vatican Council: Ecclesia Dei, quid dicis de te ipsa? Now it would be a form of reticence not to speak of the crisis that occurred; or to deny, for example, that certain questions were sometimes raised in a "radical" form and assumed a character of "contestation"; or to ignore that the latter among other things, concerned and almost attacked the ministerial priesthood, the priestly vocation, as well as the seminary as an institution. There is no need, moreover, to recall the heat of some debates and polemics. Yet so many discussions have brought about opportune clarifications and definitions. After study of those problems had been resumed—let it suffice to think of the 1971 Synod—after the objections or the new elements of the various questions had been thoroughly examined, things returned to their proper places, and significant confirmations have been derived. It can be said that, thanks to this critical and self-critical effort, we are already beginning to pass from the "negative" phase to a "positive" implementation of Vatican II, that is, to that authentic renewal or "aggiornamento" which was among the aims of the lovable Pontiff who courageously decided on it.

With all those present I pray to the Lord Jesus, in his paschal mystery, in order that such a renewal may be manifested in the vast sector of education and instruction, in particular by means of a new flourishing of holy vocations in all the local Churches, I say priestly, religious, and missionary vocations: vocations that are mature thanks to the Institutions in question, that is, Seminaries, Studentates and University Centres; vocations mature with that maturity of which witnesses to the Gospel have need in our times which are so difficult and heavy with responsibilities. Spes non confundit! (Rm 5,5). Not all the difficulties are overcome, but it is now time to go on our way, with hope that is never disappointed, relying on the unfailing help of him who, if he entrusted the Church to men, guaranteed that he would not abandon them: Ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus (Mt 28,20). With an expression that was dear to my Predecessor and Father, Paul VI, I will therefore say: Onward in the Lord's name and with my affectionate Blessing!



Thursday, 5 April 1979

Mr Ambassador,

IT IS GRATIFYING to note the sense of personal privilege and responsibility with which you undertake your diplomatic mission at the Holy See. Be assured of my cordial welcome and of my desire to assist you in the service you are called to render to your country. I also thank you for the good wishes you bring from your Government, which I willingly reciprocate.

You have spoken kindly about the beginning of my pontificate, about my predecessors, and about the role of the Holy See. These words are all appreciated. Your reference to human diversity as a stimulus for cooperative and creative relationships, and your reference to human concern, are particularly meaningful for both the Catholic Church and Australia.

The Catholic Church by her very nature embodies diversity to the point of universality, and, while respecting it, she incorporates it into organic unity. Diversity is likewise part of the very make-up of your country, which has become host to peoples from many lands and has been enriched by their contribution. During his visit to Sydney, Paul VI enunciated this principle when speaking to a group of Australia’s first inhabitants. "Society itself", he said, " is enriched by the presence of different cultural and ethnic elements"[1]. On that occasion he also spoke of human and civic rights in the master of diversity, and of brotherhood and collaboration for the sake of the common good.

The question of human concern is likewise an issue of great importance. Just yesterday, in Saint Peter’s Square I spoke about the need for this concern, for solidarity with every human being throughout the world – with those who suffer from hunger, want, mistreatment, humiliation, torture, imprisonment and social discrimination. I mentioned, moreover, the Church’s mission to protect the universal dimension of this human solidarity. In pursuing her own commitment, the Church willingly lends her support to the nations of the world for all their worthy initiatives in the service of man and in the cause of human dignity. In this regard, a particular word of praise is due to Australia for the welcome that it has recently afforded to large numbers of refugees.

Today I ask God to bless Australia, and to enable it to accomplish to the full its important destiny. I pray also that your own mission here will be successful and happy.

[1] Pauli VI Allocutio, 2 dec. 1970.




5 April 1979

Mr President,

I thank you for your visit and I am touched at the importance you thus give to a meeting with the Pope.

In the part of Europe which you represent, the laborious construction of greater unity is entering an important phase this year, and elections are being prepared in each of your countries to give the European Parliament members who are elected directly for this purpose by the whole of their fellow-citizens. This consultation is a field in which the Pope intervenes only in the framework of his mission—of a religious and moral nature—among other things to call upon citizens to carry out their electoral duty well; and in that he willingly joins in the exhortations of the other European Bishops. His pastoral concern then beyond the sphere of partisan spiritual needs of hundreds of millions of men who are concerned by this political structure.

Every European Member of Parliament tries, of course, to direct this Europe in the direction he considers most favourable to the interest, the progress, and happiness of the peoples. In this he draws inspiration from his experience, his convictions, and the views of his political party. If I have a wish to formulate, it is that each one, going beyond the sphere of partisan spirit or, on the contrary, of resignation by which he may be tempted, will really ask himself, freely, and in conscience, the essential questions: how to have access to a widened brotherhood without losing anything of the precious traditions characteristic of each country or region? How to develop the structures of coordination without reducing responsibility at the base or in the intermediary bodies? How to allow individuals, families, local communities, peoples, to exercise their rights and their duties, while opening themselves up within this European Community and before the rest of the world—in particular the rest of Europe and the most deprived countries—to a wider common good and a greater harmony? The vaster and more complex an organism is, the more vigilance is necessary when it is desired to determine a common line of action. And the more necessary it is also to take into account the real needs of each of the partners, in order to avoid constructing a theoretical structure which would scorn these needs or let itself be guided by the interests of particular groups. Respect for the fundamental rights of the person remains the test.

To understand this clearly, one must reflect on the meaning of institutions. Institutions, those of a Europe moving towards unity as well as those of other national or international entities, must always be in the service of man, and not vice versa. The Community institutions are still instruments—indeed important instruments—but they carry out fruitful work only if they put man, the whole man, at the centre of their concerns. Institutions alone will never make Europe, it is men who will make it.

Even when seeking, as must be done, everything that will promote the unity of men and at the same time ensure their development, it is always necessary, as I indicated recently, to ask oneself: "Does this progress, which has man for its author and promoter, make human life on earth more human in every aspect of that life? Does it make it more worthy of man?... In the context of this progress is man, as man, becoming truly better, that is to say more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible, more open to others, especially the neediest and the weakest, and readier to give and to aid all?" (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 15).

It is therefore necessary, first of all, to set in place the moral responsibility that every human being must consciously assume before the challenge of the tasks that are incumbent upon him as citizen of a country, citizen of a region marked by a common history and destiny—and it is possible to speak here of a Christian history as regards Europe—or citizen of the world.

Man, strengthened by the sense of his moral responsibility, will be in a position to enter into communion with others; for the destiny of mankind is never played out in isolation but in solidarity, in collaboration, in communion with others, through others, for others,

I spoke of strengthening men's moral responsibility. But here the men who are drawing closer already belong to peoples who have their history, their traditions, their rights, and in particular the right to their sovereign identity. It is these peoples who are called to unite more closely. The association, therefore, must never lead to a levelling; on the contrary, it will have to contribute to highlighting the rights and the duties of each people, in respect for their sovereignty, and thus to reach a richer harmony making these nations capable of entering into a relationship with others, with all their values, in particular their moral and spiritual values.

Then, too, the partners thus united will not, of course, forget that they do not make up the whole of Europe by themselves. They will remain aware of their joint responsibility for the future of the whole continent; this continent which—beyond its historical divisions, its tensions and its conflicts—has a deep solidarity, to which the same Christian Faith has contributed to a great extent. It is, therefore, the whole of Europe that must benefit from the steps taken today, and also the other continents towards which Europe will be able to turn with its specific originality.

Yes, it is a great service, a delicate service, that is entrusted to the European Parliament. I beg the Lord to enlighten you, to assist you, to give you the courage to seek, at all costs, justice and truth, and respect for persons, situations, and peoples.

Speeches 1979 - 31 March 1979