Speeches 1982


Thursday, 17 June 1982

Dear brothers and sisters,

You are heartly welcome. I hope that your pilgrimage will bring you many blessings. Travel is meant to broaden our horizons, to add to our experience of the world and of mankind. But a pilgrimage is meant to do even more. It should give us contact of some kind with what is more solid and lasting than this changing world. It should give us inspiration and strength for the future, and make us truly wiser and better.

May your journey be a real pilgrimage. May your visit to Rome give you something of the spirit of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, the founders of the Church in this city, and assure you of their heavenly protection. May God be with you on your way, and may he show his favour to you, to your dear ones and to your country. God bless Sri Lanka.



Friday, 18 June 1982

My brothers in Christ,

It is a great joy for me to welcome all of you here. As we gather in faith and in love, our meeting gives evidence of the deep bond of unity that joins the Holy See and the Churches in Harare, Bulawago, Gwelo, Umtali, Wankie and the Prefecture Apostolic of Sinoia. It is particularly significant that this is your first ad limina visit since Zimbabwe gained its independence as a nation two years ago. I know that you share in the happiness that this new status has evoked in the hearts of your countrymen, and I am pleased that you have dedicated yourselves to the continuing efforts aimed at bringing about a just and peaceful society, wherein the dignity of every person is guaranteed. Your defence of human rights provides a firm hope that all prejudice based on race, origin or culture will be eliminated.

I am confident that the Church in Zimbabwe will continue to demonstrate its wisdom by working for reconciliation and for building up a society that is truly Christian, one therefore in which all races will feel at home and in which a welcome is given to the specific contribution that each can make to the general welfare. Pursuit of the common good of the whole of society calls for continued collaboration between the hierarchy and the civil authorities, in an atmosphere of freedom and of respect for the different competences of Church and State. The Church willingly cooperates in efforts to advance the integral development of peoples. Her members are also part of the civil community, but she keeps her own identity, an identity based on the teaching of Christ, one that can never be confused with that of any political party. No political group can arrogate to itself the right to represent her. No political programme can claim to exhaust the riches of her message. She must therefore be careful to preserve her identity and freedom, while working wholeheartedly for the greater good of all.

The se are challenging days for Zimbabwe - for the country and for the Church. Each member of the faithful and every local ecclesial community must be prepared to be renewed, in order to meet the demands of a changing situation. This requires a process of purification, a consistent conversion of mind and heart, so that the authentic values of the Gospel may penetrate and act as a leaven throughout society, transforming it into an ever more human reality. The Church finds the motivation for this in her obedience to the will of God. For it is God’s plan that all men and women share in the gifts of unity and justice, integrity and peace. In his loving Providence, God has revealed this desire in the person of Jesus Christ and he continues to offer the Good News of salvation through the ministry of the Church. In every age, then, the Church labours to proclaim this divine message and thereby to further the coming of the Kingdom. In this context, we are able to say with Saint Paul, “We are ambassadors of Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2Co 5,20). The message of reconciliation, then, has been entrusted to us and its proclamation is urgently incumbent upon us. Thus we know well the sentiments of Saint Paul when he exclaims: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1Co 9,16).

In the history of Zimbabwe, we find an excellent example of this spirit in the courageous determination of Father Gonçale Silveira, S. I., who first brought the Catholic faith to the kingdom of Monomotapa over four hundred years ago. This same apostolic zeal has inspired the work of so many missionaries in your country during the last century, among whose number there have been exemplary witnesses. In our own day the work of evangelization is no less demanding, as God calls worthy human instruments from among the local clergy and religious to proclaim the saving truth of the Gospel.

From the earliest days, the intention of the missionaries was to impart a deep love of God and neighbour, a love fostered by the celebration of the sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist. The reverence and devotion which Zimbabwean Catholics have always shown towards the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is one of the most noble aspects of their spiritual heritage.

But the missionaries were also aware that “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the increasing interplay of the Gospel and men’s concrete lives” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 29), and so they sought to serve the whole person, realizing that the response of faith demands a total commitment to one’s entire life. For this reason they attended to the practical needs of education, medical care and job training, in order that the internal conversion of faith might manifest itself externally and, in this way, become the cause of deepening faith throughout the whole community.

It is evident, however, that in present times many obstacles have to be overcome for the full accomplishment of the work of evangelization. For example, the suffering caused by violence within your nation has placed a heavy burden on the personal and material lives of your people. In addition to this, the scarcity of financial resources has caused curtailment of plans for increased charitable works. The relavitely small growth in the number of clergy, for the service of an ever increasing population, has also placed a straim on programmes of cathechetical instruction and other important aspects of the Church’s mission.

Yet, in spite of these difficulties, the Church in Zimbabwe continues to grow in the strength of the word of God, while it reaches out in service of the common good. The past and present contribution of your primary and secondary schools, together with that of the homecraft schools and teacher-training colleges, have made an important contribution to the country’s development. The Catholic hospitals, medical dispensaries and orphanages have shown in a concrete manner the concern of the Church for the suffering and the poor, the lonely and the abandoned. The work of evangelization involves not only the proclamation of the faith by word but also its demonstration by works of love and compassion.

Here I cannot fail to mention the remarkable role that women religious have assumed on behalf of the faith in Zimbabwe. As teachers, nurses and administrators, and in various other roles, they have served most generously and admirably. The witness of missionary Sisters in your land has been truly impressive; and now your local Churches can boast of four indigenous congregations who continue this esteemed tradition. Certainly this is a sign of divine favour and a cause of great rejoicing for the whole Church.

Finally, my dear brothers, you have expressed the wish that the Church in Zimbabwe be truly Catholic and truly African. It is my own fervent prayer that it may be so. I repeat here what I said during my pastoral visit in Nigeria: “The Church truly respects the culture of each people. In offering the Gospel message, the Church does not intend to destroy or to abolish what is good and beautiful. In fact she recognizes many cultural values and through the power of the Gospel purifies and takes into Christian worship certain elements of a people’s customs. The Church comes to bring Christ; she does not come to bring the culture of another race. Evangelization aims at penetrating and elevating culture by the power of the Gospel”.

I encourage you to make the divine message of the Gospel incarnate in the customs and culture of your people. At times this will require great powers of discernment, prudence and patience on your part. But we know that Christ is the centre of all human history and every human culture finds in him its completion and perfection. Be ready to accept all that is compatible with the Gospel and offer it to your people as an opportunity to grow in holiness.

Let us always appreciate, moreover, that the path to holiness involves the way of the Cross. There is no genuine growth in Christ, no interior transformation, that does not to some extent demand suffering and self-denial. Jesus himself made this point when he said, “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you” (Jn 15,20). If we desire therefore to share in his glory, we must be willing to join in his Passion.

With this thought in mind, we are moved to rely more fully on the power of prayer. I ask you to encourage your people to find frequent opportunities for prayer and to seek through prayer strength for daily living. In doing this, let us, as bishops, be the first servants of prayer, constantly beseeching the Lord for the grace of fidelity, perseverance and wisdom. And let us not forget the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of all who are Christ. She has known a deep intimacy with her Son and she has experienced the joy of abandoning her life to the will of the Father. Let her be for you an example and a guide.

From the depths of my heart, I wish you peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. I invoke upon you his grace and favour in your sacred ministry and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, together with your clergy, religious and laity.



Thursday, 24 June 1982

Mr Ambassador,

With pleasure I receive you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. I thank you for conveying to me the greetings of His Excellency President J. R. Jayewardene, and I would ask you to assure him of my sincere good wishes and of my prayers for him and for all the people of Sri Lanka.

Christianity, as Your Excellency has remarked, came early to your country. There is a tradition that knowledge of Christ was brought by Thomas himself, one of the twelve appointed by Jesus to be with him and to be sent out to preach. Today the members of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, deeply conscious of the centuries-old connection between their faith and their native land, are proud to play their part in promoting their country’s welfare and development.

The Holy See has high regard for the many treasures of intellectual culture and moral wisdom enshrined in the heritage of all elements of the Sri Lankan population. It appreciates the declared intention of the civil authorities to “strive to create the economic and social climate necessary for permitting people of all faiths to make their religious principles a living reality”.

Sri Lanka has since independence played a notable part in the effort to reduce international tension and to build understanding and cooperation between States, especially between those that possess less material wealth. This efforts is of the highest importance for the future of mankind. Mankind needs peace. But peace is stable and genuine only if the material and spiritual needs of individuals and peoples are respected and cared for.

Human dignity requires, at the least, certain minimum standards in such necessities as food, clothing and housing. Efforts must therefore be directed at eliminating poverty, wherever it is found. This calls for good will and openness of heart on the part of people both within the country concerned and in other countries also. In such situations, selfishness in truly inhuman. The Catholic Church endeavours to awaken consciences to the demands of human solidarity and supernatural charity. She tries, to the extent that she is able and in the ways that are proper to her, to relieve want, to bring healing to the sick and suffering and to provide an education that will enlighten and uplift.

But man does not live by bread alone. Concentration on material matters to the neglect of the higher realities produces spiritual atrophy. Human beings must be able to develop integrally, to grow fully in accordance with their conscience and faith. They need to be able to establish and strengthen their relationship with the transcendent, which is more solid and lasting than this changing world with its essential inadequacy. In other words, they need to be able to direct themselves to God, who alone can give meaning to their lives and satisfy their hope and their longing for love.

The Catholic Church wishes to make her own specific contribution to man’s welfare in all these respects, and she hopes to find everywhere willing agreement and active cooperation. In particular, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka wishes to serve the country by being an agent of peace and reconciliation, an advocate of understanding and a builder of harmony.

I express once more my warm respect and affection for all the people of Sri Lanka and I pray God to bless them and their leaders. The Holy See welcomes Your Excellency and willingly offers you its aid in fulfilling your high mission in your country’s service, and I assure you of my personal goods wishes and prayers for its success.

July 1982



Thursday, 1 July 1982

Mr Ambassador,

It is with much pleasure that I receive Your Excellency as your country’s first Ambassador Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. At the centre of the Catholic Church there is now a presence of Papua New Guinea in your person, and I am confident that this will strengthen further the happy relations to which you referred and which have been steadily developing in the years since your nation achieved its independence.

My personal relationship with Papua New Guinea began before I was chosen for the See of Rome and thus given a special responsibility with regard to the Church in every part of the world. As Archbishop of Krakow I had the pleasure of visiting your country, meeting its people and getting to know at first hand some of its characteristics, its needs and its points of strength. I learnt to esteem the people of Papua New Guinea and I continue to have a deep interest in their welfare. Through the diplomatic relations that exist between Papua New Guinea and the Holy See and with the help provided by Your Excellency and by my own representative in Port Moresby, I hope to maintain fruitful contact not only with the Church in your land but also with your nation as a whole.

Papua New Guinea has but recently initiated its history as an independent state within the comity of nations. It has done so with the help of excellent principles, largely inspired by the Christian faith which your people have overwhelmingly accepted in the course of a single century. You have built up a precious heritage to pass on to future generations: a heritage of respect for the freedom, dignity and rights of each individual human being and of concern for those who are suffering or are in any kind of need. These values will provide guidance, strength and inspiration for your nation in time to come. I pray that Papua New Guinea may ever preserve them undiminished, and may always enjoy their benefits.

As you have remarked, the Catholic Church is willingly cooperating in bringing about your country’s development: an integral development both of individuals and of the whole people, with attention to health and other bodily needs, to intellectual and technical advancement, and to spiritual growth. The Church personnel that come from other lands to assist in this process have as their sole motive to respond out of fraternal love to an existing need, and they have as their aim to hasten the day when that need disappears and they themselves can be replaced by local people with an equal or even greater preparation and spirit of service. I am confident that the civil authorities will continue to appreciate their great contribution to society and will ensure that they enjoy all the conditions necessary for the satisfactory fulfilment of their task.

I assure you of my heartfelt good wishes for all the people of the still young nation of Papua New Guinea. May God grant all of you harmony and a spirit of cooperation, all round progress and the ability to combine the best in both the old and the new. May he guide and assist your leaders now and in years to come. And may he bestow his blessings abundantly on each one of you.



Monday, 5 July 1982

Mr Ambassador,

I deeply appreciate the sentiments which you have just expressed as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kenya to the Holy See. I thank you for conveying the courteous greetings of your President, the Honourable Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, together with those of the government and the entire people of Kenya. In turn, I ask you to give them the assurance of my own cordial good wishes.

I have happy memories of my pastoral visit to Kenya two years ago. From the moment of my arrival in your land, I experienced a wonderful outpouring of hospitality and affection – qualities that are so characteristic of your people. The joy of being with the members of the Catholic Church in Kenya and the opportunity to greet your President and so many of your fellow countrymen reconfirmed in a very personal manner the warm and cordial relations between the Holy See and your nation. The celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi will be, as it were, a seal on the freedom and respect that the Church enjoys in your country.

I also appreciate your reference to the role that the Catholic Church has played in assisting the development efforts in Kenya. Following the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church teaches that each man, woman and child is endowed by God with a unique dignity that reserves as the foundation for any authentic human development. It is in the promotion of this dignity that the Church, in Kenya and throughout the world, undertakes initiatives in the fields of education, health care and other areas of social concern. And she desires to continue to collaborate with your government in fostering and improving the welfare of the Kenyan people.

You are aware, I know, of the delicate mission that is assigned to each nation of preserving and building peace in the world today. In truth we are able to compare the world to a global village wherein the tensions affecting one of its members place pressure on all the others. Wherever relationships between persons are marked by discrimination based on race, origin, culture, sex or religion, there the well-being of every member of the human family is threatened. Conversely, wherever genuine freedom of conscience is guaranteed and the demands of justice and social love are observed, there one finds a positive contribution to human development. In this regard it is heartening to know that your country wishes to support those principles which truly ennoble the human person. May your nation always adhere to the ideals of justice and respect for human rights which are enshrined in her constitution.

Your Excellency, I ask Almighty God to bless your mission to the Holy See with much success. I pray that God may grant to all the citizens of Kenya the gifts of peace and well-being in abundance.



Monday, 12 July 1982

Mr Ambassador,

It is a pleasure for me to accept the Letters accrediting Your Excellency as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of The Gambia to the Holy See. I welcome you and cordially thank you for the kind words which you have addressed on behalf of your President, Alhaji Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara. In turn I would ask you to reciprocate this greeting with a message of my own good wishes.

Your Excellency is the second Ambassador to be assigned to this mission since its establishment four years ago. These diplomatic relations, as you have just indicated, are a sign of mutual willingness to work harmoniously for the betterment of the Gambian people. The Catholic population in your nation is not numerous, and yet the Catholic Church seeks to do all that she can to assist the advancement of each human person. This commitment derives from the Church’s belief that man is the way for the Church to exercise her divine mission in the world. For this reason I pointed out in my first Encyclical that the Church’s “solicitude is about the whole man and is focused on him in an altogether special manner. The object of her care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality, which keeps intact the image and likeness of God himself” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 13).

In this regard I am grateful for the reference to your country’s resolve to promote peace and understanding among the family of man. It is my conviction that the people of the African continent possess a genuine sensitivity to the noble ideal of creating a just and peaceful world. In fact, during my departure address at the end of my second pastoral journey to Africa, I said: “The African man has above all else a sense of mystery sense of the sacred, the absolute . . . He aspires, then, to be in harmony with the Master of Nature, free from alienating fears. He is ready to enter into communion with the God of peace” (February 19, 1982).

I have noted with satisfaction your words of appreciation for the Church’s contribution to the spiritual, as well as the socio-economic development of your nation. Whether in the field of education, health service or agriculture, the Church hopes that material advancement will be joined by moral progress and spiritual growth. With this purpose in mind the Church willingly cooperates with the civil community in every effort that truly fosters the common good.

During your stay here, which I trust will be a fruitful one, you may be assured of the deep interest and cooperation of the Holy See in the accomplishment of your task.


Monday, 12 July 1982

Dear friends,

I am happy to extend once again a cordial welcome to the members of the NATO Defense College. As you pursue your course of studies here in Rome, it is a pleasure for me to be able to reflect with you on some aspects of world peace.

1. You have been given a special opportunity in your programme to consider various issues facing the world, and to assess them within the broader context of defence and world peace. Coming as you do from a dozen countries, you appreciate the value of international solidarity, both in its positive expression, which is international peace, and in its negation, which is discord and war.

2. Peace in its highest form is the full expression of fraternal love. In turn, peace brings forth its own fruits which are so necessary for society: it offers security to people’s lives and gives to mankind the possibility of fruitful exchange; it constitutes the only really effective defence for the cultural patrimony of nations, as well as for a number of other human values.

War, too, has its own proper fruits. Only yesterday I spoke of some of them in relation to the strife in Lebanon: bombings, privations, the threat of famine and epidemics, and the nightmare of further victims and still greater suffering.

3. Peace is indeed the only setting in which adequate defence is possible. Peace has its requirements and brings its blessings. If you want to ensure defence, promote peace. Yes, peace is the new name for defence.

In all her pronouncements on peace, the Catholic Church has not failed to speak about defence. In his Peace Message for 1974, Paul VI warned about confusing “Peace with weakness (not just physical but also moral), with the renunciation of genuine right and equitable justice, with the evasion of risk and sacrifice, with cowardice and supine submission to others’ arrogance, and hence with acquiescence to enslavement”. He further explained: “This is not real Peace. Repression is not peace. Cowardice is not peace. A settlement which is purely external and imposed by fear is not peace”.

4. At the same time there is emerging ever more clearly the absurdity of war as a means of promoting peace. This concept I too endeavoured to emphasize during my recent visit to Britain, pointing out that “the horror of modern warfare - whether nuclear or not - makes it totally unacceptable as a means of settling differences between nations” (Coventry, 30 May 1982).

The relevance of these statements is seen in practical applications: the unacceptability of the arms race and the need to face the issues behind it; the need to substitute positive values that will engage people’s attention and orient them to the building of a peaceful world founded on human solidarity.

5. I have recently proposed at length for the world’s reflection, during my visit to Geneva, the vital concept of solidarity in work and the “humanization” of all work. There are many considerations of this nature, and all of this is worthy of your attention and relevant to the cause you are striving to serve, for here is a way in which the progress of humanity is truly achieved and the defence of nations ensured.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is up to your ingenuity to relate these great issues, day after day, to your own programmes, for they offer you insights and means to achieve the defence of your countries, your homes and all your cherished values.

May the God of peace bless you and your families and defend you from all evil.

August 1982




Tuesday, 31 August 1982

Reverend Fathers, Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to you for this visit which you make on the occasion of these days of study which are aimed at commemorating the 400th anniversary of the reform of the calendar that took place under my predecessor, Pope Gregory XIII. I realize that your work is sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Vatican Observatory, two institutions for which I have a very real affection since they form a valid link between the life of the Church and the world of scholarly research in the sciences and the history of science, a link which I deem to be of tremendous assistance both for the life of the Church and the cultural aspirations of mankind as a whole. As you know, I have emphasized many times that it is necessary for this relationship between faith and science to be constantly strengthened and for any past historical incidents which may be justly interpreted as being harmful to that relationship, to be reviewed by all parties as an opportunity for reform and for pursuing more harmonious communication. In brief, it must be the sincere desire of all to learn from history so as to gain insight into the positive direction that we must take together in the future.

2. In fact, from the topics which I note you are discussing these days it is clear that you desire through your historical researches to help all of us understand better what has already taken place in such a fundamental area of human society as the establishment of a sound calendar. Your program indicates your recognition of the profound personal interest which the Church has had and continues to have concerning calendar revisions since such work influences the occurrence of religious feasts which constitute, as it were, the rhythm of the Church’s daily life. Your examination of both the astronomical and sociological aspects of the calendar reform will surely help for a more harmonious understanding of what has happened and what remains to be accomplished in the area of calendar reform. In particular your examination of how the Gregorian Calendar was received by various societies and by various Churches will surely be of great help to all of us in these days when we sincerely seek a strengthening of that unity which Christ desired for his Church.

3. You are, I believe, fortunate to be able to pursue research in that area where we seek to blend the rhythms of human life in society with the fundamental rhythms of the universe in which we live. I say you are fortunate because you are given the opportunity to help others to recognize that unity between man and creation which testifies to the existence of the one Creator of us all.

It is a pleasure for me to share these brief thoughts with you. I assure you of the Church’s appreciation for your efforts since she sees in this work the promotion of the common good for all persons. In a special bond of good will I join myself to you and to your loved ones. May Almighty God bless all of you with joy and happiness and may he grant to your endeavours every success.

October 1982




Saturday, 16 October 1982

Dear Friends,

1. I am pleased to have this occasion to welcome you as members of the New York Shipping Association and the International Longshoremen’s Association. In you I greet also all your fellow workers of the AFL-CIO and the International Transportation Workers. And may I add that my thoughts at this time go to all the workers of America.

2. Your visit to the Pope this morning is an opportunity for us to reflect together, howsoever briefly, on an important issue that touches your lives and the lives of millions of men and women everywhere, and it is this: the value of work and the dignity of the workers.

The Apostolic See and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world experience the need to reiterate this message in order to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to humanity. Work is a human participation in the creativity of God the Creator; in one form or another it is the task of all men and women. All people are called to understand the meaning of work in their lives and to see how it is related to the common good of society. In proclaiming the meaning of work and its value, the Church must necessarily insist on the rights of workers: rights which are given them by God and pertain to the nature of man, and which society is called upon to protect and foster – never to violate, or much less, to attempt to deny.

The rights of workers are the rights of the human person, which no human power can transgress with impunity. It is a question of inalienable rights and legitimate freedoms. Nine years ago my predecessor Paul VI put it this way: “For as long as, within the individual national communities, those in power do not nobly respect the rights and legitimate freedoms of the citizens, tranquillity and order (even though they can be maintained by force) remain nothing but a deceptive and insecure sham, no longer worthy of a society of civilized beings” (PAULI VI Allocutio ad Sacrii Collegii Cardinales, die 21 dec. 1973: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XI (1973) 1227).

3. With her proclamation of the rights of the workers, the Church likewise proclaims their duties: by honest work, workers are called to contribute to the well-being of society and to that of all mankind. Both the rights and duties of workers emphasize their opportunity for service to the world. It is through work that man’s humanity is actualized; it is through the proper conditions of work that life becomes more human for individuals and for society. For this reason, I pointed out in my Encyclical on this subject that human work is a key to the whole social question – “probably the essential key” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Laborem Exercens LE 3).

4. At this important moment in the history of the workers of the world, it is necessary to underline the “need for ever new movements of solidarity of the workers and with the workers” (Ibid. 8). You yourselves feel this solidarity with the workers of my native Poland, and I am grateful you. The power of your solidarity in a cause that is right is an immense contribution to the human dignity of workers everywhere. It is a matter of obtaining basic freedoms, which can only flourish, as you say in America, “with liberty and justice for all”.

On her part, the Catholic Church will continue to proclaim the value of work; she will labor and toil for this cause. But, above all, she will proclaim the dignity of the workers. And the Church will continue to pray, because this is her most effective contribution – the most effective contribution of us all.

And amidst your many activities, may you too lift up your hearts to God, the Creator of man, and continue to ask for liberty and justice for all.

Speeches 1982