Speeches 1985 - Thursday, 14 November 1985




Thursday, 14 November 1985

Dear Friends,

1. I am happy to welcome you who are participating in the World Travel Congress of the American Society of Travel Agents. You come from more than a hundred different countries across the globe and in your assembly I see reflected the unity and diversity of the human family. I have learned that thirty-two years ago when the same Congress was held in Rome, my predecessor Pope Pius XII also met with the participants. And I am pleased to follow his example by welcoming you today to the Vatican.

Your presence here offers me the opportunity of reflecting on the important phenomenon of tourism. As a result of constantly improving means of transportation, tourism has become a prominent characteristic of our technological society. And the Catholic Church which carries out her mission in the midst of the world sees this as a sign of the times with powerful potential for good.

There are many authentic human values which are encouraged and enhanced by tourism, and I wish to speak of some of these today. Yet, as I begin, I cannot overlook certain negative factors also connected with this phenomenon. I refer to those practices which can demean the tourists themselves or serve to exploit the countries visited. What is important is that the basic dignity of every person be respected, both the dignity of the visitors and that of the people being visited.

2. In considering the positive developments that have taken place during the last several decades we can see in many cases how tourism has strengthened unity and fraternal solidarity between individuals and between nations. The world is becoming a global village in which people from different continents are made to feel like next-door neighbors. Modern transportation has removed many of the obstacles formerly imposed by geographical distances. It has enabled people to appreciate each other better and to engage in fruitful dialogue and mutual exchange. In facilitating more authentic social relationships between individuals, tourism can help overcome many real prejudices, and foster new bonds of fraternity. In this sense tourism can be a real force for world peace.

Through the recreation and leisure made possible by travel, people are restored and renewed, body and spirit. They return home to family and work with a new perspective and enthusiasm for life. The Church also attaches importance to the phenomenon of tourism because of the cultural enrichment that it offers. This corresponds to the deep longings of the human heart and can counterbalance certain dehumanizing tendencies in our highly technological society. The spirit is uplifted and refreshed in the contemplation of what is beautiful, whether it is embodied in the wonders of creation or expressed in works of art. When tourism truly fosters this contemplation of beauty, it elevates and invigorates, and favours a dialogue with the Creator, for God is the source of all that is truly beautiful in nature as well as in the arts. Not only for Christians but for all who believe in God the contemplation of beauty is a way to inner harmony and joy.

3. The Church likewise appreciates the complex reality of tourism as a means of furthering certain religious values. A clear example of this is the common practice of making a pilgrimage, that is, a journey to a sacred place or sanctuary for a religious motive. This practice is not restricted to any one people or religion. The spiritual value of going on pilgrimage has long been present in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it is found to penetrate all the aspects of the pilgrim’s life.

The Christian message has always emphasized service of others. As travel agents and tour operators, you indeed are people who serve.You are so often in a position to offer counsel and assistance to others. You help those who routinely make business trips. You assist individuals and families during their vacations and holidays. Some of you are in a position to offer a helping hand to the aged and the handicapped. You may, at times, be able to give particular attention to young people, helping them to appreciate the wonderful opportunity of discovering different cultures and broadening their horizons. As you give assistance to travelers in their journeys, may you know that special joy that God grants to those who place themselves at the disposal of others. In this context I would like to express my gratitude for all that your colleagues throughout the world have done for me during my various apostolic journeys.

By way of conclusion I wish you to know that I very much appreciate your efforts to cultivate human understanding and cultural enrichment through tourism. As people of good will strive to eliminate injustice and discrimination and seek to transform the world into a civilization of love, the encounters engendered among peoples through travel are not only a condition for the realization of peace but a positive contribution towards peace. May your efforts always promote this goal. Please accept my cordial best wishes for the success of your endeavors and may the God of peace be with you all.




Monday, 18 November 1985

Dear Cardinal and Brother Bishops,

Praised be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who gives us the grace of meeting again! This time in the Vatican on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1Co 1,3).

1. The Church in Korea of which you are the pastors is experiencing a very dynamic period in its growth and development. The seed of faith which was sought out and nurtured by the first generation of Korean Christians two hundred years ago is developing towards a maturity which is already characterized by abundant fruits of holiness and martyrdom.

With much joy and spiritual fervor you have celebrated the Bicentennial of the Church's presence in your country, culminating, in the canonisation of Andrew Kim and his companion martyrs, a ceremony which, through the loving kindness of our heavenly Father, I was able to perform during my visit to Korea in May of last year. I fully rejoice with you in the gifts of faith and Christian life which the Holy Spirit, the giver of Life, has bestowed on your communities in the preparation and celebration of these extraordinary events. Let us humbly recognize this time of grace, and “let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart” (Ga 6,9).

I have followed closely the many pastoral activities which you and your collaborators have initiated and carried out, and I encourage you to continue along this path of hope, imagination and resourcefulness, in leading the portion of the Church entrusted to you towards that “charity and unity of the Mystical Body, without which there can be no salvation” (Lumen Gentium LG 26).

This is still that “special hour in the history of the Church in Korea” of which I spoke when we met at the Major Seminary of Seoul on May 3, 1983. It is a time “to proclaim anew the nature of the Church, to assert her priorities, to manifest and exemplify her holiness”. Again I would repeat that “all the structures of the Church, all the services she renders . . . are linked to holiness o f life and to that zeal which only holiness can make possible and sustain over a long period of time” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in Seminario Maiore Seulensi habita, passim, die 3 maii 1984: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 1 (1984) 1222 ss.).

The Council reminds us that it is above all the bishops who “by praying and laboring for the people, channel the fullness of Christ's holiness in many ways and abundantly” (Lumen Gentium LG 26). May the Lord himself sustain you in this task, and may you feel its particular urgency as you contemplate the growth and vitality of your local Churches.

2. One of the consolations of your pastoral office and one which surely gives you confidence in relation to the future needs of the Church in your country is the generous and dedicated service of your priests, both Korean and those from other countries. Through the testimony of their lives and by teaching the word of God and administering the sacraments, they share the tasks and burdens of your ministry and assist you in making the Church of Christ truly present. They do this in response to the specific configuration with Christ himself which they received at ordination. It is important, therefore, that this special relationship to the Chief Shepherd should be made evident to everyone in their priestly formation, life and activity. Priests have a unique responsibility “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which (they) have been called” (Ep 4,1). Out of their “loyal association” with Christ (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 8), they will draw the strength to walk always in the footsteps of the One who came not to be served but to serve (Cfr. Matth Mt 20,28), “in a program of humble living and in a spirit of self-denial” (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 9).

3. The men and women Religious in your dioceses are also your effective fellow-workers in the vineyard of the Lord. By placing the special charism of their lives at the service of the local Church they enable it to respond to many special needs of the evangelizing mission, while at the same time they manifest the inner vitality o f the ecclesial community which gives rise to such varied forms of Christian living.

Women religious especially look to your guidance, so that in full respect for the specific aim of each Institute they may find ever more effective ways of assisting in the building up of God's people and particularly in programs of pastoral life. To each of the Religious Institutes in Korea I would ask you to take my warm greetings in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. As pastors you perceive your people's need for adequate formation in the faith, in order that the grace poured out through Baptism may bear abundant fruit. The Church in Korea will benefit immensely from a supreme effort o f catechesis and theological formation at every level.

I am pleased to know that your Conference is implementing various programs of permanent formation for priests, including the establishment of a special center for that purpose; I know too that the Associations of Religious Superiors are doing the same for their members. Together with an intensification of the initial theological, spiritual and cultural training given in your seminaries and religious houses, this project will undoubtedly promote an increased effectiveness in the proclamation of the word and a constant renewal and improvement in the methods of evangelization and catechesis.

Your catechists and the members of lay apostolic associations, many of which are particularly deserving of recognition, should be encouraged in their efforts to acquire ever greater competence in transmitting the faith. Today no less than in the past the laity of Korea are called upon to express their love of the Church in a genuine holiness o f life corresponding to their state and to their mission of “consecrating the world itself to God” (Lumen Gentium LG 34).

It is heartening that the National Pastoral Council celebrated last year to mark the Bicentennial produced wise initiatives, some of which you have evaluated positively and are now seeking to implement.

In this respect the attention which you are giving to making the Social Doctrine of the Church known and understood cannot but strengthen the commitment of many Catholics who are engaged in the difficult but fruitful dialogue between faith and the surrounding culture. It is especially relevant that the Church's social teaching is to be included in the new catechism which the Bishops' Conference intends to publish. In this way the social dimension o f the Gospel message can be given renewed emphasis and be made known to the faithful at all levels.

5. In keeping with your pastoral duty to promote and defend human dignity and because of your legitimate concern for justice in the world o f work, you have recently published a joint Pastoral Letter on this theme. The complexity of the matter is not hidden from you; nor do you underestimate the vastness of the challenge facing society and the Church in this field. As a mother and teacher, the Church has to enlighten the consciences of individuals and of groups regarding the true value and purpose of human life and activity in God's plan. You have shown particular pastoral sensitivity to the need to give greater attention to the social development and evangelization of agricultural workers and the urban poor, especially those who are young and unemployed.

Human institutions, both private and public - as the Council teaches - “must labor to minister to the dignity and purpose of man . . . Indeed human institutions themselves must be accommodated by degress to the highest of all realities, spiritual ones, even though meanwhile, a long time will be required before they arrive at the desired goal” (Gaudium et Spes GS 29). Your solicitude for the values of human dignity, justice and freedom are highly commendable and have the support of the entire Church. I pray that you will succeed in leading the process of social development as pastors of a pilgrim people on its way towards “a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace” (Cfr. ibid. 39).

6. In your reports in preparation for this ad Limina visit, you have mentioned some of the areas in which your evangelizing mission is facing special challenges. Some stem from particular conditions Korean society, others from the difficulties affecting the proclamation of the Gospel in a troubled world.

A very important part of your pastoral activity is directed to family life. The entire Church is committed to the protection and care of the family. By courageously proclaiming the Creator's plan for marriage and the family, the Church contributes to the well-being of the whole of society, since the family is the “first and vital cell of society” (Apostolicam Actositatem, 11). As indicated in the Apostolic Exhortation “Familiaris Consortio”, this concern extends to all families. “For all of them the Church, will have a word of truth, goodness, understanding, hope and deep sympathy” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 65).

The “Happy Family Movement” which you have established has proved an excellent means of making known the Catholic teaching on marriage and the family. Couples are assisted in exercising their responsibilities according to the ethical demands of their human and Christian dignity. May God abundantly bless your efforts and strengthen the family life of your people in the face of the powerful challenges which they have to face. It is particularly appropriate that you have chosen the theme “The Eucharist and the Family” as the subject of your pastoral reflection for next year.

I have followed with great interest the various initiatives which have led to the reunion of members of families separated for many decades, and I pray that this process may continue, for the joy of those concerned and as a testimony to the world of the singular goodness of genuine family love and affection.

Your young people too are a particular object of your ministry. They look to the Church for help in understanding and coping with the world in which they live. What they expect from the Church is the truth: a truth which presents the highest ideals of justice and love, and imposes the greatest demands of humble service and persevering commitment. You have the difficult but rewarding task of accompanying with wise guidance and courageous leadership their search for their right place in the Church and society.

7. My dear brothers, the Lord himself is your strength and your shield (Cfr. Ps Ps 3,3). He it is who has called you to the episcopal ministry. He has entrusted the Church in Korea to your love and service. I invoke the sanctifying gift of the Holy Spirit upon each one of you for the faithful fulfilment of this task.

May Mary, Mother of the Church, and your saintly Martyrs intercede for you before our heavenly Father. To the whole Church in Korea I gladly express my deep affection and impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Friday, 22 November 1985

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am happy to welcome you, the Bishops of the Latin Rite Dioceses of Kerala, who are making your quinquennial visit to the tombs of the Apostles, ad Limina Apostolorum. For me this is a moment of profound spiritual communion with your local Churches. I would ask you to take to your priests, Religious and laity my affectionate greetings and the assurance that I look forward with joy to the pastoral visit which, with God’s grace, I will make to various parts of India in February of next year.

1. We are meeting almost on the eve of the celebration of the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which marks the Twentieth Anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. The Synod “has the purpose of stimulating all the members of the People of God to an ever-deeper awareness of the Council’s teachings and to an ever more faithful application of the principles and directives which have issued from that impressive Assembly” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Allocutio ad praecationem «Angelus Domini» habita, die 29 sept. 1985: vide supra, p. 802).

In this sense the Synod represents a moment of reflection for the whole Church and a time of further dedication to the ecclesial renewal which the Council intended and for which it offered the necessary teachings and guidelines.

The Latin Rite Dioceses of Kerala too are engaged in the process of assimilating and implementing the doctrinal and pastoral legacy of the Council.

2. The call to holiness which the Council presented as directed to all Christians constitutes an obligation, in the first place, for the Bishops themselves. This holiness is intimately related to your sacramental configuration with Christ and to your faithfulness to him in love and discipleship. “For a bishop”, in the words of Saint Paul, “as God’s steward, must be blameless” (Tt 1,7).

Indeed, as the Council states: “Bishops in an eminent and visible way undertake Christ’s own role as Teacher, Shepherd and High Priest, and they act in his person” (Lumen Gentium LG 21). Christ himself is the chief Shepherd of your people (Cfr. 1 Petr. 5, 4) and in your lives and ministry the faithful wish to see his reflection.

You for your part wish to see the portion of God’s people entrusted to your ministry grow “into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ep 2,21).

I pray for your Churches, so that under your ministry they may benefit ever more fully from a renewed awareness of the call to holiness of life. I pray that you and your priests, the men and women Religious and the laity who collaborate with you in the apostolate may generously respond to Saint Paul’s teaching: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1Th 4,3).

3. The Latin Rite Dioceses of Kerala, like the whole Church, have the supreme duty of making known the Gospel message of salvation. The Church “exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, and to perpetuate Christ’s Sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of his death and glorious Resurrection” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14).

The ecclesial community itself needs to be constantly evangelized. This is also true of your Dioceses. Your people have strong Christian convictions and traditions. They have a developed sense of their Christian identity. Yet in the face of the many challenges which the Church faces as she approaches the end of the second millennium, there exists a great need for a sustained effort to evangelize and catechize the faithful, especially the young.

In fulfilling this task, the agents of evangelization cannot be content with the methods of the past alone. Social and cultural changes present new demands. On the pastors especially “rests the responsibility for reshaping with boldness and wisdom, but in complete fidelity to the content of evangelization, the means that are most suitable and effective for communicating the Gospel message to the men and women of our times” (Ibid. 40).

Allow me to refer briefly to one aspect of evangelization within the ecclesial community: the important work of catechetical instruction. Again “Evangelii Nuntiandi” reminds us that “the methods must be adapted to the age, culture and aptitude of the persons concerned; they must seek always to fix in the memory, intelligence and heart the essential truths that must impregnate all of life” (Ibid. 44).

I ardently wish to encourage you and your collaborators, especially the catechists, to continue to give careful attention to the work of instructing the laity in the faith, with fidelity to the Church’s teachings and with resourcefulness in the manner of presenting the message. This is a task of great importance for the well-being of your communities. May the Holy Spirit sustain you in this endeavour!

4. The Gospel message of salvation in Christ is related to the concrete personal and social circumstances in which the hearers of the message are called to put it into practice.

Your people are involved in a process of economic and social development which has already produced fruits of better living conditions and fuller participation in public life for some, but which at the same time serves to highlight the situations that force others to remain on the margin of life. In this situation the Church has the duty of giving witness to the inalienable dignity of man and of seeking his genuine liberation in justice and evangelical love.

The liberation which the Church proclaims cannot be exclusively identified with the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions of development. It must always and simultaneously propose and promote the spiritual and eschatological dimension of the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

In the exercise of the teaching office within the Church, through preaching, catechesis and religious instruction in every form, it is essential to present the saving message of the Gospel in its fullness. It is also important that the members of the Church work for the realization of this liberation, each according to the grace received and in conformity with each one’s state in life. In particular it devolves upon the laity to transform society and “imbue culture and human activity with moral values” (Lumen Gentium LG 36).

5. My dear Brother Bishops: I fully recognize the vastness of the task which is yours in making Christ’s Kingdom present among your people. Let us give thanks together to our heavenly Father, who blesses your Churches with lively ferments of Christian life, with the vitality of your institutions, the abundance of vocations, the witness of holiness and evangelical service of so many priests, Religious and lay men and women. Let us commend your local Churches to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, so that you may all go forward in fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (Cfr. 1 Io. 1, 3).

December 1985




Monday, 9 December 1985

Mr Ambassador,

With great pleasure I welcome you to the Vatican. And I am happy to underline the special significance of this moment in which I gladly receive the Letters accrediting you as the First Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Nepal to the Holy See.

I am grateful for the kind greetings which you have expressed on behalf of His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, and I would ask you kindly to convey to His Majesty my good wishes and the assurance that the Holy See profoundly desires to maintain and promote further the mutual good will and friendly relations existing between us.

Your country is experiencing a period of economic and social development, and, as you pointed out, your people are concerned to share more fully in the benefits of an improved quality of life. From your words it is also apparent that your leaders and citizens are aware that this development should always be placed at the service of the whole human person. Development brings true progress when it responds to material needs and, at the same time, satisfies the requirements of the cultural, moral and religious life of individuals and of society. Nepal is rightly proud of its cultural and spiritual heritage. Indeed your people are known and esteemed for the qualities of perseverance and courage, united to an innate sense of independence, which characterize the life and history of your country.

By taking an active part in international affairs, your peace-loving, people are manifesting their particular sensitivity to the urgent need for a solid basis of peace and justice in relations between peoples and between States. In the context of this concrete search for peace in collaboration with the world community, I wish to express to you, Mr Ambassador, the Holy See’s appreciation and respect for the proposal put forward by His Majesty the King to declare Nepal a “Zone of Peace”.

Following the teachings and example of her Founder, the Catholic Church seeks to promote a right order of values in human affairs. To work for peace is to serve the cause of human dignity; it is to defend the fundamental rights of individuals and groups; it is to act according to the principles of solidarity and brotherhood in the service of the common good. The safeguarding of these values is essential to the well-being and happiness of all. The Holy See hopes that the voice of Nepal will be raised in the international arena in support of a vision of humanity that respects the deepest aspirations of the human heart to peace and goodness.

Mr Ambassador, your role as representative of your country to the Holy See has a specific character, corresponding to the religious and humanitarian mission and goals which the Holy See pursues in its relations with the various States and International Organizations. You may count on the sincere collaboration of the various departments with which you will be in contact. I pray that Almighty God will abundantly bless you in your service to your country, and that you will be happy in the fulfilment of your task.

I pray too for the health and well-being of His Majesty and of all the people of Nepal. May God be with you!




Thursday, 12 December 1985

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Your presence here is an indication of the resolve of your country and of the Holy See to strengthen the cordial relations already existing, and to work together in every way possible to promote understanding and peace at a time when it is especially important to encourage a genuine dialogue between the nations of the world.

I thank you for the words of greeting which you expressed on behalf of His Excellency President Banana, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, and I gladly reciprocate with my good wishes for the stability and well-being of the entire nation.

At this stage in history when the human family is making such remarkable strides in many fields of human endeavour, it is painful to see that progress and peace are constantly threatened by the disunity that exists between individuals and group and nations. Tensions exist which seem beyond the power of reason and goodwill to resolve.

And yet, at the same time, there is a widespread realization that situations of conflict can only be redressed through dialogue and negotiation between the parties involved, in which the welfare of all becomes the object of discussion, agreement and mutual collaboration. Such dialogue and negotiation proceed from the profound desire for peace present in the human spirit. They proceed also from freedom of thought and expression, and from respect for the inalienable rights of all people.

Your words about justice without discrimination for all of Zimbabwe’s citizens, about genuine liberation, and about peace with all your country’s neighbours, constitute a noble expression of the sentiments that lie deep in the hearts of your fellow-citizens. I pray that Almighty God will enlighten and strengthen your people to achieve these goals for their own happiness and well-being, and as an example to the other peoples of Africa who aspire to a life of justice, harmony and dignity for all.

The Catholic Church, following the teachings of her Founder, is convinced that the path of progress is the path of respect for the inviolable dignity of every man, woman and child. The Church has always held that every human being, created in the image of the Creator, is the subject of inalienable rights and duties. It is a principle which is engraved on man’s conscience and which makes itself felt in the face of every form of violence or exploitation.

The Church seeks to collaborate with governments and other social forces in order to create a climate in which individuals and families can fulfil their duties and safeguard their rights. The Bishops of Zimbabwe have repeatedly expressed their intention to work for the whole nation, since such a task corresponds to their pastoral mission and service of the common good.

Mr Ambassador, your mission as Representative of Zimbabwe assumes a particular character in view of the specific role which the Holy See seeks to exercise in the world community. This role is directly related to the fundamental questions of peace, development, respect for human rights, assistance to those in need, and the ordering of international relations according to justice and equity.

It is my prayer that you will find satisfaction in the fulfilment of your duties, and I assure you of the ready collaboration of the various departments of the Holy See.

May Almighty God guide and protect you in your task, and may he pour out his abundant blessings on the beloved people of Zimbabwe!





Thursday, 19 December 1985

Venerable and dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. It is with great joy that I welcome you, Pastors of the Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara Churches, who have come to Rome to make your quinquennial visit "ad Limina Apostolorum" and to manifest thereby the bonds of unity, charity and peace by which you are linked with one another and with the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter, "head of the Apostles on whose firmness our Lord built his faithful Church" (Officium in festo Ss. Petri et Pauli Liturgiae Syro-Orientalis).

In your persons I greet and embrace two individual Churches, unique in character: two Churches witnessing to two ancient, distinct, yet complementary forms of Oriental Christianity; two Churches rooted in the Indian soil and adapted to the Indian way of life, living in peace and harmony with their neighbours who are overwhelmingly of another religious tradition.

It has been solemnly affirmed that the Oriental Churches, "distinguished as they are by their venerable antiquity, are bright with that tradition which comes from the Apostles through the Fathers" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 1). And we know that you are linked to the living tradition of your Churches and through the ecclesial reality that embodies it, notably, your liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and whole spiritual heritage. At the same time your ecclesial tradition forms part of the Indian reality and is inseparable from it.

My encounter with you today is marked by consciousness of the grace of full ecclesial communion, heightened by the expectation of those encounters I shall have with you and with your numerous faithful February next during my pastoral visit to India. Meanwhile, I would ask you to convey to your priests, religious and lay people the assurance of my ardent desire to be among you and to celebrate with you the Eucharistic Liturgy.

2. It is significant that your collegial visit follows close upon the Extraordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops which was convoked in order to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. The intention of the Synod was to relive the Council in its atmosphere of collegiality and communion, and this for the special purpose of ensuring the constant promotion of the Council’s teachings. Your presence today is characterized by the same Pentecostal grace. It affords us the possibility of a brotherly sharing of common concerns and insights.

I know that you have sought in many ways to give concrete application to the decisions of the Council which had as its principal theme the Church herself: the renewal of the Church was to proceed from a deeper and more authentic understanding of her own nature. This, in fact, is the unifying theme of all the conciliar documents.

Never before had the dignity and position, the rights and duties, of the Oriental Catholic Churches been so unequivocally stated; never before had such explicit recognition been accorded to their spiritual heritage as the heritage of Christ’s universal Church: ". . . variety within the Church in no way harms her unity, but rather manifests it. For it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or rite retain its traditions whole and entire, while adjusting its way of life to the various needs of time and place" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 2). And the Holy See continues today to uphold and proclaim this true Catholic principle namely that the diversity of rites is an adornment of the Church and a manifestation and enhancement of her unity.

3. Quite rightly, the process of implementation of the conciliar directives has helped the Oriental Churches of India to realize the full measure of their commitment to the work of evangelization.The particular Churches of the East and of the West "are of equal dignity . . . and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, even with respect to preaching the gospel to the whole world (Cfr. Marc. 16, 15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 3).

The work of evangelization has been going on, at home, in the immediate neighbourhood, and abroad, whenever possible, while thousands of Oriental Christians, men and women, have been engaged in various ministries throughout India under Bishops of a different rite. Here we have a form of fruitful and zealous collaboration between the Eastern and the Western Catholic Churches that should not be forgotten.

4. The reports which you have placed at my disposal and at the disposal of my collaborators in the Apostolic See provide a clear outline of the state of your various Eparchies and of the dedicated and diligent service of the clergy, the religious and the laity. I cannot but be impressed by the seriousness of your pastoral and missionary efforts.

Your initiative is manifested in the field of education. Special importance is given to Christian upbringing in the family and to catechesis in the parish context. It is manifested also in the programmes, offered in some Eparchies, of common theological formation of young candidates to the religious life, especially Sisters. And it is manifested in the teaching of technical skills, even the humble, domestic skills which make for happier homes and help to ward off poverty and want, often restoring a sense of personal dignity.

You are present in the field of charitable and social assistance, through hospitals and dispensaries, orphanages and homes for the aged, for the handicapped, for those in moral distress or who need rehabilitation: the destitute find relief, the poor are befriended and helped. And I note that you are also undertaking developmental activities in the rural areas and in the high ranges, in favour of the more backward populations.

The charity of your local Churches, of your religious communities, is expressed in multitude of ways and is offered to all without distinctions of creed, race of rite. For all this I thank God and pray that he may mould you ever more in the image of Christ, the only Son to the Father who went about doing good.

5. In fulfilling your numerous and varied tasks, it is well to remember that all the structures of the Church, all the services she renders are linked to holiness of life and to that zeal which only holiness can make possible and sustain for any length of time. The charity of Christians is the expression of faith, an encounter with the living God; it is knowing Christ "and the power of his Resurrection" (Ph 3,10). In proclaiming her own nature, the Church at the same time establishes her priorities: she is to be Christ like, that is, holy. To manifest this holiness of the Church is the most precious service you can render to your motherland, for holiness is a language that India understands.

I urge you then to cultivate within you the sense of the absoluteness and transcendence of God; cultivate the sense of the presence of God, and entrust yourselves to him with confidence and joy. Inculcate the value of the sacramental realities as privileged moments and means of encountering God; foster a spirituality centred on the rich liturgical life your Churches. Do not neglect to teach prayer, and the significance of the task of contemplation and of praise: prayer which finds its culmination in the celebration of the Eucharist. Venerate the Holy Scriptures (Cfr. Dei Verbum DV 21-26), the Old and the New Testaments in their indivisible unity: "For the word of God is living and active" (Hebr. 4, 12).

It is a consolation to me, as I know it is to you, that the causes of Beatification of the Venerable Kyriakos Elias Chavara and of the Venerable Alphonsa, a son and a daughter of the Syro-Malabar Church, are in their Snal stage and await only the solemn rite, which as Pastor of the Universal Church, I shall celebrate, God willing, during my pastoral visit to India.

6. Among the important tasks the Syro-Malabar Episcopate has been tenaciously pursuing in response to the conciliar directives and in continuation of a process of renewal begun earlier under the aegis of the Holy See has been the revision and preparation of the series of liturgical books.The Second Vatican Council urged that "all Eastern rite members should know and be convinced that they can and should always preserve their lawful liturgical rites and their established way of life, and that these should not be altered except by way of an appropriate and organic development" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 6). It is, therefore, particularly gratifying to me that the liturgical renewal according to the directives and spirit of the Council is proceeding at a regular pace.

I comment you, the Pastors of the Oriental Catholic Churches of India, for your efforts to ensure the ecclesial formation of the faithful of all ages, especially those who are called upon to exercise the catechetical ministry. For the further strengthening of your Churches your efforts in this field need to be intensified and coordinated. Special attention should be given to the formation dispensed in Minor and Major Seminaries, houses of formation and novitiates of Religious Institutes.

7. The Holy See in well aware of your concern for the faithful of your rites who live in the various parts of India and beyond and who are committed to the care of the local Latin rite bishops. This question was given serious consideration in the Second Vatican Council and, precisely, in the context of inter-Church relations. While urging that “provision be everywhere made for the preservation and growth of the individual Churches”, the Council went on to direct that: “For this purpose, parishes and a special hierarchy should be established for each where the spiritual good of the faithful so demands” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 4). At the same time, it reaffirmed the norm that "each and every Catholic . . . should everywhere retain his proper rite, cherish it, and observe it to the best of his ability" (Ibid.).

This problem in India has not yet found a satisfactory solution. The Holy See desires that these faithful residing outside the Eastern rite circumscriptions be offered all the facilities of pastoral care and catechetical formation in their own tradition which the laws of the Church foresee. The Holy See also whishes to promote the harmony of inter-Church relationships and to further the development of a climate of mutual knowledge and esteem among clergy and laity of different racial, cultural and ritual backgrounds. I trust that the inter-ritual problems can be solved before long in a manner fully befitting the Church’s maternal and pastoral solicitude. The Oriental Bishops together with their Brother Bishops of the Latin rite can always expect from the Holy See sure support, protection of legitimate rights of each of the individual Churches and sensitivity to their needs and to the common good of the whole Church.

8. My dear Brother Bishops: It is customary, when speaking of the Oriental Churches, to refer to their venerable antiquity and to the richness of their traditions. This is right and good. But in considering the Oriental Churches of India, I am equally impressed by the extraordinary youthfulness they manifest. The universal Church needs your dynamism and your apostolic and ecclesial witness.

Before concluding, I would ask you to convey my Apostolic Blessing to your priests, to your men and women religious, your lay collaborators, and to all the laity. My warm encouragement is addressed to you for your work in fostering vocations to the priestly and the religious life. I particularly send greetings to your three Theological Faculties, in Alwaye, Bangalore and Kottayam, as well as the Major Seminary of the Syro-Malankara Church in Trivandrum.

Together with you, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, I thank God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who blesses you with an abundance of spiritual energy and fruitfulness, unto the praise of the glory of his grace. I commend you to the loving protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Mother of the Church, and to the patronage of your father in the Faith, Saint Thomas the Apostle. "My love be with you all in Christ Jesus" (1Co 16,24).

Speeches 1985 - Thursday, 14 November 1985