Speeches 1987 - Thursday, 4 June 1987

6. Another focus of evangelization is the world of work.The technological advances of our time, which are having such a profound impact on individuals, families and society, require a pastoral response which will help people understand their work in the light of their Christian faith. As I have explained in Laborem Exercens, the human person is the subject of work and the primary basis of its value. This conditions the ethical nature of all work and the rights and responsibilities of workers, who are called to a spirituality of work in the footsteps of Christ, himself a "Man of Work". As Bishops, you are called to offer dedicated and generous pastoral care, including competent religious and ethical guidance, to those involved in all the many aspects of the world of work.

7. Like work, culture too must be ordered to the well-being of the individual and of society, especially today in the midst of the many rapid changes which promote development but also create new challenges. As Evangelii Nuntiandi tells us, in every age cultures must be regenerated by an encounter with the Gospel. (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 20) It is important for the Church in Malta to ensure that this encounter takes place. Her higher cultural institutions, such as the Faculty of Theology, relying on suitably trained clergy and laity, can exercise a very positive influence through planned interaction with others who have an important role in shaping the nation’s culture: teachers and university students, scientists and scholars, and members of the professions. It is a matter of proclaiming the Gospel as an alternative to the ideologies of our day which judge individuals and culture solely in terms of efficiency, profit and power.

8. In the end, the Church’s mission to evangelize embraces all of society. "Gaudium et Spes" describes this in a striking manner when it says that the Church is called to be "a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society" (Gaudium et Spes GS 40). Her religious mission can be "a source of commitment, direction and vigour in establishing and consolidating the human community according to the law of God" (Ibid. 42). Likewise, although the Church and the political community are autonomous and independent, "both are devoted to the personal vocation of man, though under different titles" (Ibid.76). I am confident that the Church in Malta will continue her dedicated work for a society that is at once more Christian and more human by further promoting the freedom and responsibility of its citizens; by fostering mutual respect and harmony so as to create true dialogue among all; and also by not hesitating to pass moral judgments, even in matters relating to politics, whenever fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls requires it (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 76).

9. Dear Brothers: the work of evangelization demands a profound communion of all the members of the Church, united in purpose and in action – a communion of Bishops, clergy, religious and laity in which the divine gifts we have received are made fruitful through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is especially the laity who, by exercising their vocation directly in the world of human affairs, bear witness in that world to the "richness, complexity and dynamism" of the reality of evangelization (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 17). I join you in looking to them with hope, and I commend you for shepherding them with dedication and zeal.

As we prepare to celebrate the Marian Year, may Mary the Mother of God, to whom the Maltese people are so devoted, sustain all of you in the great task of making her Son ever better known and loved. May she always be for you a sign of fidelity and a source of strength.




Friday, 5 June 1987

Mr Ambassador,

it is my pleasure to welcome Your Excellency as you present your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uganda to the Holy See.

I am grateful for the greetings which you have conveyed to me from your President, His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and I would ask you to assure him of my prayers for the peace and well-being of all the people of Uganda. I too recall with satisfaction my meeting with His Excellency here at the Vatican, and I take this opportunity to say once more how pleased I am to accept his gracious invitation to visit Uganda at some future date.

Your kind words in my regard are deeply appreciated. You specifically mention those initiatives which have been undertaken to confront some of the major problems of mankind: namely, the urgent needs of those who live in poverty, the discrimination experienced by those governed by racist and totalitarian regimes, the plight of those in refugee camps and the immense suffering of innocent people caught in areas of armed conflict. We cannot help but be distressed by these matters, each of which poses a threat at present and for the future. None the less we are hopeful that solidarity and collaboration will finally triumph over these evils.

With reference to the problem of discrimination, based on racial prejudice, I said in my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace that "exploitation, threats, forced subjection, denial of opportunities by one section of society to another are unacceptable and contradict the very notion of human solidarity". Discriminatory tactics are sometimes used as a means of curtailing public displays of protest and of maintaining a semblance of social order. But they are unjust and they necessarily lead to ever more violent methods of repression. Inherent in all forms of institutionalized injustice is the potential for tragic conflict. The sure path towards solving the problem of oppression and racism will be found in a generous effort to work together in order to promote and defend the legitimate freedom and dignity of every person. It is only through a heightened sense of human solidarity that justice will finally overcome all forms of selfishness and discrimination.

I am happy to note Your Excellency’s reference to the material and spiritual contribution being made by the Church in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of your country. The Church in Uganda is indeed convinced of the urgent need to build up social structures which are more just and more respectful of human dignity and rights.

The task of human promotion is a duty incumbent upon all, and the Church views it as part of her fundamental mission. She believes that she has an important contribution to make in improving the quality of life of the human family. As the Second Vatican Council expressed it, the Church fulfils this authentic mission of human promotion "by her healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, by the way in which she strengthens the seams of human society and imbues the everyday activity of men and women with a deeper meaning and importance" (Gaudium et Spes GS 40). Mindful of the uniqueness and dignity of every individual, the Church prays that she will be enabled to accomplish her mission of revealing God’s love to each one of them. In particular she strives to heal and reconcile divisions between individuals and groups, for as the same Council teaches, "the promotion of unity belongs to the innermost nature of the Church" (Ibid. 42). For this reason the Church cannot but approve of the efforts being made both by the Government authorities as also by social groups and individual citizens, aimed at overcoming division and conflict by means of dialogue. Such efforts can effectively lead to the consolidation of peace and social harmony throughout the country.

I am confident, Mr Ambassador, that the Church’s vision of a more humane world is also shared by every person of good will in Uganda and indeed in every land. This common vision is the basis of the good relations which exist between your country and the Holy See. At the beginning of your mission, I wish to assure you of the Holy See’s full cooperation in furthering those relations and in assisting you to carry out your responsibilities. May you be favoured by abundant divine blessings in exercising the high and noble mission that has been entrusted to you.



Saturday, 6 June 1987

Mr President,

This is the second time that I have the pleasure of welcoming you to the Vatican. Although this visit is somewhat brief, I am grateful for the opportunity to assure you again of my great esteem for all the people of the United States of America.

On the occasion of your previous visit, I spoke of the importance of building society on "the strong foundation of moral and spiritual values", and I expressed the hope that world peace might be fostered through greater trust between peoples and nations-"a trust that is manifested and proved through constructive negotiations aimed at ending the arms race, and at liberating immense resources that can be used to alleviate misery and feed millions of hungry human beings".

I am confident, Mr President, that you share my continued concern about these issues. Whenever moral and spiritual values are rejected, or even given mere lip-service and not truly integrated into daily life, then we, as individuals or groups, as communities or nations, fall short of what we were intended to be as men and women created in the image of God. At the same time, the absence of trust, and an unwillingness to work together for the good of all. breed division in the world and become a great stumbling block to the pursuit of true justice and peace.

In order to secure a brighter future and to overcome the obstacles to peaceful coexistence in the world, we must keep in mind a fundamental truth about human life, namely that together we make up a single human family. We are sons and daughters of one and the same God, brothers and sisters in a common humanity. As I stated in my Message for the 1987 World Day of Peace: "By simply being born into this world, we are of one inheritance and one stock with every other human being. This oneness expresses itself in all the richness and diversity of the human family: in different races, cultures, languages and histories. And we are called to recognize the basic solidarity of the human family as the fundamental condition of our life together on this earth" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1987, 1, die 8 dec. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986) 1886).

The consequences of this important truth are many and profound. If taken to heart, this truth will shape the attitudes of mind and spirit which make it possible for peoples and nations to collaborate effectively for the good of all - to overcome strife and conflict, to promote authentic integral development and to assist refugees and victims of natural disasters. The oneness of humanity must have an impact on the policies and practices of governments, providing a solid foundation for international cooperation which reaches beyond political, racial, geographical and ideological boundaries and forges new bonds of trust and mutual service. Even those who have previously been labelled as enemies can be seen in a new perspective, as brothers and sisters in the one human family.

Not long ago it became possible to establish full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United States. You view such relations as an important way of furthering mutual understanding and constructive collaboration. The Holy See has no political ambitions, but it does consider it part of its mission in the world to be vitally concerned about human rights and the dignity of all. especially the poor and suffering. Drawing its inspiration and guidance from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who came " to bring glad tidings to the poor" (Cfr. Luc Lc 4,18), the Holy See seeks to promote the highest spiritual values and ethical principles. In this regard, diplomatic relations are meant to facilitate a more fruitful dialogue on the basic questions facing the international community.

In sharing these thoughts with you today, I also wish to say how I look forward to my forthcoming visit to the United States. Memories of my previous visit remain for me a source of joy. I am grateful for this further opportunity to travel to a number of cities in your country, and thus to be once again in the midst of the American people, so as to join my heart and voice with theirs in praise of the living God.

May the Lord assist you, Mr President, in all your lofty responsibilities, and may his blessing be upon you and all the people of the United States of America.




Tuesday, 16 June 1987

Dear Friends,

1. I an indeed pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to thank you for your presence at the Conference on Circumstellar Polarization to which the Vatican Observatory has invited you. It is always a pleasure to know that the Church, through the Observatory, is able to contribute in some way to the continuing quest for a deeper understanding of the universe in which we live.

You have been engaged during these days in collaborative evaluation of the results obtained from observations extending from radio waves to X-rays of some of the most interesting types of variable stars that are known to astronomers. I am told that some of these are very dense and have immense magnetic fields, and are actually accumulating matter from companion stars. Others are pulsating as they try to adjust to unstable conditions in their supply of energy. Still others represent some of the highest temperature stars known or stars which are actually in the process of being born.

I am further informed that these stars have in common the fact that at least some radiation which they emit is polarized. Through various techniques which you have developed to observe that light, you are able to obtain information which has proved very useful for the understanding of stellar evolution and especially of the evolution of binary stars.

2. You seek to understand these objects which you observe by a simplification and unification of the information available the fundamental physical processes which are taking place. As we speak of this process of unification, so fundamental to your science, we are reminded of the commemoration we celebrate this year of the three hundreth anniversary of the publication of Isaac Newton’s Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, whereby the one fundamental law of gravity explained the myriad observations of motions accumulated over the centuries.

This event is surely one of the most celebrated examples of the success of the quest for unification, which is characteristic of your scientific pursuits. We are quite aware that this quest is not ended and that you continue to search both for a wider and more profound application to your astronomical data of the fundamental physical laws you already know and also for even more fundamental unifying physical laws.

3. This quest for unification, characteristic of the physical sciences you pursue, is as it were a general law of human endeavour, with a particular application also in the field of religious experience. From my most immediate predecessors beginning especially with Pope John XXIII the Church has received a heritage which is very dear to me: that of fostering unity among all the followers of Jesus Christ, and that of promoting understanding and dialogue with the followers of other religious traditions. Among the initiatives taken to forward this quest, I would mention the encounter of prayer for peace held at Assisi last year, when religious leaders, Christian and non-Christian, gathered in friendship and prayed in their respective ways for the divine gift of peace for a world that sorely needs it.

I pray that you too will always be men and women of peace and human solidarity. May Almighty God, the vastness of whose creative work you constantly examine and study, grant you success in your many worthy endeavours to serve mankind. May God’s love fill your hearts and may his blessings descend in abundance upon you and your families.



Clementine Hall - Saturday, 20 June 1987

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

i am happy to welcome you who have come from the Diocese of Corpus Christi in Texas to celebrate here in Rome your patronal feast. You come as pilgrims of faith, eager to pray at the places made holy by the Apostles and Saints, desiring to deepen your love for Christ and the Church. I greet you most cordially in the peace of the Lord.

The name of your Diocese, Corpus Christi, draws attention to the mystery of the Eucharist, the central action of the Church’s life and worship. During his public ministry, Jesus told his disciples: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world” (Jn 6,51). This saving truth lies at the centre of our Christian faith. Our lives are made up of many activities which can draw us closer to the Lord and help to build up the Kingdom of God. But there is no action of the Church which can match the Eucharist for its power and fruitfulness. It is the Sacrament that gives life and nourishes the whole Church: the Universal Church, the Church in each individual Diocese, the "domestic Church" that is every Christian family.

Dear friends from Corpus Christi: in a special way your Diocese is associated with this saving mystery. Both in name and in fact you are the Body of Christ. This is a wonderful work of Divine Providence. I hope that you will always value the honour and privilege which is yours, and that you will always be joyful witnesses to the presence of Christ in the world.

To all of you I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Saturday, 27 June 1987

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. It gives me great joy to greet you today, Lithuanian brothers and sisters who have come from various parts of the world with your pastors and led by Bishop Paulius Baltakis, to celebrate the Sixth Centenary of the "Baptism" of your beloved nation. Your presence here in Rome is an eloquent sign to the Church and to the world: a sign of your fidelity to your cherished homeland - a land all too often beset by trials and sufferings; a sign of your profound attachment to the faith which your forefathers received six centuries ago; a sign of your love for the Catholic Church and for the Successor of Peter, who is the visible source of unity for all God’s people.

On this occasion the Church in Lithuania, represented here by Bishop Antanas Vaiius and a group of eight priests, gives thanks to God for the gift of the "Baptism".Baptism is a gift for which all believers are called to rejoice, not only for themselves but also for others, as Saint Paul says: "I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me" (Ph 2,17-18). It is our unity in the Body of Christ that enables us to rejoice in the marvellous gift of salvation in Jesus Christ offered to us and to all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.

You feel especially close to the Church that is in Lithuania since your are joined to her like the living branch of a tree that is rooted in the rich Lithuanian soil. With your brothers and sisters there, and under the guidance of your Pastors, you have prepared yourselves spiritually for this Jubilee celebration. And now, in communion with them-a communion of mind and heart and fervent prayer - you are celebrating with them this solemn commemoration.

You have preserved your Catholic faith, that priceless treasure carried from your land of origin. And your parishes, schools, associations, cultural centres and Catholic newspapers and periodicals are concrete expressions of the vitality of your faith and of your attachment to your cultural and religious traditions Furthermore, by preserving these traditions you have enriched the cultures of the countries where you have been received and which have become your new home.

2. Through this celebration you have chosen to give renewed emphasis to your Christian faith as the fundamental spiritual value of your people, a force which has had a decisive role in the history of the nation, a powerful influence on her cultural and moral life, as well as a source of strength and support in the dark times of her history.

For each one of you, the Six Hundredth Anniversary of the "Baptism" of Lithuania constitutes an urgent call for your own spiritual renewal. It is your task to give life now to the grace of your "Baptism". The Jubilee observance, in fact, will be fruitful to the extent that each person is converted to a more convinced life of faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

You have been called to be men and women who live by the Spirit. Indeed, it is your vocation to be a nation enlivened by the Spirit, and "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience... faithfulness..." (Ga 5,22) .

This is an appropriate time for you to renew and give new life to the beautiful Christian traditions of your people; to give rightful expression to the artistic, cultural and religious sensitivity that you have inherited. Preserve and integrate into your lives the traditional customs of family and social life, and pass them on to your children.

Likewise, this Jubilee Year is a time for ever more intense spiritual solidarity with the Church in your land of origin. Continue to express your support and encouragement to your brothers and sisters living there, especially to those who suffer for reasons of religious conscience. In this way the truth of the words of Saint Paul will increasingly become a part of their spiritual experience: "For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too" (2Co 1,5). They look to you with confidence, knowing that they are sustained by your prayer.

3. Jusu ir jusu broliu s?s?ru širdys, be abejones, yra kupinos džiagsmo, nes žinote, kad rytoj bus paskelbtas Palaimintouju ?rkiw?sku??s Jurgis ??tul?itis, tas nepalaužiamas jusu ?r?teviq tikejimo liudytojas. K?i? uolus Dievo tarnas jis ištikimai seke Kristu ?v?ng?liniu ??t?rimu keliu, su didele meile vykdydamas savo rienuolini pašaukima ir pasišvesdamas žmoniu - viru ir mot?ru - tarnybai, karštai trokšdamas nuvesti ju?s i išg?n?ma Jezuje Kristuj?.

Sunkiose gyvenimo aplinkybese jis niekada n??r?r?d? drasos ir kuo pilniausiai panaudojo gausius savo t?l?ntus, kad jie br?ndintu vaisius jame paciame ir kituose, visiem tapdamas viskuo, kad visus išgelbetu (Cfr. 1Cor 1Co 9,22).

Arkivyskupas Jurgis Matulaitis daugeliui sunu ir dukteru tapo dvasiniu tevu. Sveikinu cia esancius Marijonu Vienuolijos narius ir Nekalto Prasidejimo seseris. Drauge su jumis prisimenu šiu kongregaciju narius Lietuvope. Jie taip pat džiaugiasi šiuo ivykiu, ji išgyvendami dvasineje vienybeje su mumis ir mes su jais.

Arkivyskupas Jurgis Matulaitis ypac šiuolaikiniam Lietuvos jaunimui yra tarytum švyturys, kuris nušviecia kelia i savo tautos geresni pažinima ir Tevynes meile. Ypatingai jis jaunimui kalba apie Kristu, kuris yra istorijos Viešpats ir sielu vadovas. Daugeliui iš jusu, jaunime, jo pavyzdys tepadeda atsakyti i didžiuosius klausimus, kurie iškyla, ieškant gyvenimo prasmes ir gyvenimo kelio. Iš visos širdies meldžiuosi, kad arkivyskupui Jurgiui užtariant daugelis iš jusu priimtu kvietima pasekti Kristu kunigystes ir vienuolinio venimo keliu. Tokiu budu tarnaudami žmonem, jus tapsite evangelines žmoniu meiles liudytojais ir savo gyvenimu bei darbais busimosiom kartom perteiksite Jezaus Kristaus Evangelija ir nuostabia Dievo meile.

4. Dievo Apvaizda leme, kad jusu tautos « Krikšto » šešiu šimtu metu jubiliejus sutampa su ?arijos Metais. Nuoširdus pamaldumas i Dievo Motina visada buvo jusu tautos krikšcioniškojo gyvenimo širdis. Didis šventasis Kazimieras pasižymejo ypatingai giliu pamaldumu i Švenciausiaja Mergele, panašiai kaip ir Jurgis Matulaitis. Meiles ryšys, jungiantis lietuviu tauta su Atpirkejo ?otina Marija nera vien tik tvirto tikejimo ir dvasines stiprybes žavinga išraiška. Tai drauge yra ir visos tautos isipareigojimas, jos pasiaukojimo Dievo Motinai ir pasitikejimo jos globa aktas, jai pavedant savo krašta ir savo tauta, einancia i pažanga istorijos keliais.

Kaip tik del do Marijos Metu maldoje aš isakmiai pavedžiau jusu tauta Marijos globai:

Tau, o krikšcioniu Motina, / ypatingu budu pavedame / ta tauta, kuri šiais Marijos Metais / mines šešiu šimtu metu Evangelijos priemimo jubilieju. / Su meile pažvelk i ja, / suteik jegu tiems kurie kencia del tikejimo. Baigdamas noriu užtikrinti, kad mano širdyje it maldoje jus užimate ypatinga vieta. Perduokite mano sveikinimus visiems, kurie yra jums brangus, ir pasakykite, kad Popiežius visada yra su jais. Musu Viešpaties Jezaus Kristaus meileje suteikiu jums visiems savo apaštalini palaiminima.

5. I wish to extend also a special greeting to the participants in the International Colloquium of Ecclesiastical History now taking place here in Rome under the auspices of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, on the theme "The Christianization of Lithuania". As eminent historians you are bringing your scientific knowledge to bear on a very significant moment of European history, the emergence of the Lithuanians as a Christian people in spiritual contact and harmony with the other great nations of Europe. I wish you well in your professional pursuits, and may the God of peace and love be with you always.

August 1987




Thursday, 27 August 1987

Dear Cardinal O’Fiaich and brother Bishops,

1. I am particularly happy to meet you, the bishops of Ireland, gathered here on the occasion of your ad limina visit. Your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and your report concerning the state of that part of the Church committed to your generous pastoral care, corresponds to a time-honoured ecclesiastical practice. Above all, it expresses and further vivifies the bonds of communion which unite us as Successors of the Apostles, entrusted with governing the house of the living God (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 18). I hope that this meeting will be for you, as it is for me, a moment of intense joy in the Holy Spirit, by whose power we are strengthened and confirmed "for the building up of the body of Christ" (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,12).

Your presence here brings to mind the long and exemplary history of your people’s fidelity to Christ and to his Church. But it speaks also of the present faith and Christian commitment of your local Churches. As your brother Bishop, charged with the ministry of unity and charity for the universal Church, I rejoice with you in contemplating God’s favour constantly poured out on the Church in Ireland, and I gladly encourage you in your daily response to the many tasks of your Episcopal ministry. As Saint Paul said: "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart" (Cfr. Gal Ga 6,9).

Seeing you here, I am reminded of the figures of our dear brothers, Archbishop Dermot Ryan and Archbishop Kevin McNamara, who seemed set to serve the Church for many years to come, with the talents and personal qualities which characterized each of them. Yet the Lord, in his own admirable providence, saw fit to bring them quickly to himself, leaving us with the sadness of their absence, but also with the luminous memory of their ministry and leadership. Both were moved in their service of the Church by a profound sense of persona] accountability to Christ and a desire to uphold the teachings and guidelines of the Second Vatican Council in all their richness. Their lives evidenced a remarkable closeness to the Lord shrouded in quiet courage and deep humility. Together, let us rejoice in the thought that when the Chief Shepherd appears these good and faithful servants of the Gospel will obtain the unfading crown of glory (Cfr. 1 Petr.5, 4).

2. In recent decades your pastoral programming has benefited from regular and detailed studies and surveys of many aspects of the life of the Church in Irish society. You are undoubtedly grateful to perceive the strength and authenticity of Christian faith and life in vast sectors of the population. Your local Churches can count on numerous capable priests, men and women Religious, and lay persons who are active in all areas of ecclesial and civil life. You can draw on the vitality and dynamism of the faithful, and of the young in particular, to respond to the call of charity, mission and service, both at home and in many other parts of the world. The Irish contribution to the Church’s missionary activity, in the past as in the present, is a magnificent sign that the grace of God has not been given to you in vain (Cfr. 2Co 6,1).

You are also witnesses of new ferments of Christian life among the faithful, through prayer-groups or Bible-study groups, through a more active participation in the Liturgy, and their engagement in many forms of the apostolate. The words of Saint Paul come spontaneously to mind: "We give thanks to God always for you all... remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Cfr. Thess.1, 2-3).

3. Some of the special challenges confronting you as pastors are the result of profound changes taking place in the contemporary world and which are being widely and deeply felt within Irish society. Others are specific of the call to renewal which the Second Vatican Council has bequeathed to the Church in the latter part of the twentieth century. In the light of these circumstances your role as Bishops is invested with a particular urgency and responsibility, especially towards the younger generations of Irish men and women who have a right to be helped in every way to enter fully into their spiritual heritage.

You are well aware of the serious demands being made on your pastoral leadership. Economic development and higher standards of living have not benefited everyone in like manner. All too often you are witnesses of new and tragic forms of poverty and alienation which tend to affect in particular the old and the young. The scourge of unemployment has struck a heavy blow at Irish society, causing suffering for many families.

Other social and cultural transformations, which accompany material development, have led some to become uncertain and confused regarding fundamental truths and values, including what refers to such basic realities as the family and the value of life itself. Many, especially among the young, find it increasingly difficult to acquire a clear and integrated set of principles on which to build their response to life’s tasks and responsibilities. The situation is compounded by the aggressive quality of consumerism and the force of selfishness in the individual and in more or less large sectors of society.

4. Much has happened in Irish life since my visit to your country in 1979. Nevertheless, it seems appropriate to repeat what I said during the memorable Eucharistic celebration in the Phoenix Park: " Ireland, that has overcome so many difficult moments in her history, is being challenged in a new way today... The challenge that is already with us is the temptation to accept as true freedom what in reality is only a new form of slavery. And so, it becomes all the more urgent to steep ourselves in the truth that comes from Christ, who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Cfr. Io Jn 14,6), and in the strength that he himself offers us through his Spirit". My prayer for Ireland is that, in building a society capable of responding to the needs of all its people in justice and harmony, the truth that comes from Christ may instruct you in values that conform authentically to human dignity and lead to peace. And may your love of Jesus Christ, so clearly attested to in your history, grow ever more certain and operative in the face of present challenges.

In various Pastoral Letters and Statements, you have addressed some of the more impelling and urgent concerns of your ministry. I recall your Letter, "Love is for Life", issued in Lent 1985, and your "Statement on Marriage, the Family and Divorce" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia ad "phoenix Park" in urbe "Dublino" habita, 3 et 4, die 29 sept. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 (1979) 415 et 416), published during the recent public debate in your country on these questions. Your personal witness of fidelity to the Church’s teachings and your unity and mutual support within the Episcopal Conference is an essential service to the community of faith over which you preside in love.

5. You have been called to shepherd God’s people in the wake of the Second Vatican Council, the extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church in our times. It is necessary to return time and time again to the documents of the Council in order to have a precise and complete image of the Church herself, of her mission, origin and structure, and of the divine and human elements which constitute her true nature as the sacrament and means of union with God and of the unity of all mankind (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 1).

As bishops it is your task to be imbued with that vision and to communicate it to your priests, who share the responsibility for the diocese with you. It will be your constant care to foster among your special collaborators, your priests, a truly spiritual outlook and a convinced attitude of service to God’s people. Your priests know that they are set apart for a special ministry within the Church and that they cannot be true ministers of Christ unless they are ministers and dispensers of a life other than this earthly one. At the same time they are aware that they cannot be of effective service to others if they remain strangers to the life and conditions of their brothers and sisters (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 3). They look to you therefore for an example of the holiness of life and dedication to the pastoral ministry to which all of you together have been called. Regarding them as friends in Jesus Christ (Cfr. Io Jn 15,15), you will know how to encourage them and sustain them in their difficult but sublime task.

6. The same can be said in its own way in relation to the men und women Religious who collaborate with you in building up and increasing the Mystical Body of Christ (Cfr. Christus Dominus CD 33 ss). The contribution offered by the many Religious Congregations present in Ireland to the life and mission of the Church both at home and abroad is immeasurable. It is extremely important that the entire ecclesial community welcome, respect and encourage their witness of the evangelical counsels as a reminder, in the midst of a growing secularism, of the laws and values of the eschatological kingdom towards which the whole People of God journeys in faith. On their part, Religious themselves are called to further enliven and make even more transparent the radical following of Christ which is at the basis of their special place in the community of faith.

In speaking of your priests and Religious, I share with you the concern which today affects large sectors of the Church, especially in traditionally Christian countries: the matter of decreasing ecclesiastical vocations. This is a question which we must recognize in all its importance and gravity. I am comforted by the interest with which you follow this question in your own dioceses and I take this occasion to echo the needs of the universal Church which owes so much to the missionary activity of Irish bishops, priests, and women and men Religious. While other forms of apostolate and service are to be highly recommended, the young especially need to be challenged to examine the direct call to the priesthood and the religious life. This is a matter in which the faith of the entire ecclesial community is called into play. Every vocation is a unique and personal response to Christ, but in many ways it also reflects the vitality and fruitfulness of the soil in which it takes shape.

7. One of the fondest memories of my visit to Ireland was to see so many priests, men and women Religious, missionaries and seminarians gathered at Maynooth, Ireland’s National Seminary, which is preparing to celebrate its second centenary in 1995. Maynooth has contributed immensely to the life and mission of the Church in Ireland and throughout the world. On the occasion of my visit I expressed the hope, which is not mine alone, but as it were a plea of the entire people of God, that Maynooth would have a future just as great.

Now, I understand that the Catholic people of Ireland are being asked to respond to an appeal for special financial support, required to meet urgent needs of the College. I gladly express my solidarity with such an effort, and I pray that Maynooth, as "a school of priestly holiness, an academy of theological learning, a university of Catholic inspiration" will continue in every way to merit the respect which it has achieved throughout the Catholic world (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio in aede Collegii S. Patricii apud "Maynooth" habita, 1, die 1 oct. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2, (1979) 487).

8. I have already mentioned the altogether special grace for the Church on the eve of the third Christian Millennium of the directives and impulses which the Second Vatican Council released into the lifestream of the Catholic community and indeed, in a sense, into the world. The renewal of Christian living which the Council intended is still very much a challenge to our Episcopal ministry.

Much has already been done, and we know that the Lord continues to call the Church in each place to a more dynamic presence in society and culture "by her healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, by the way in which she strengthens the seams of human society and imbues everyday human activity with a deeper meaning and importance" (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 40). A generous response to the universal call to holiness constitutes, undoubtedly, the inner force of such a renewal of ecclesial life. The spiritual energies for service must come from grace and holiness of life, and therefore from those means that promote spiritual progress, especially the Eucharist and the other sacraments.

In recent years appreciation for the Sacrament of Penance has diminished among some. Bishops and priests need to revitalize the frequent reception of this means of grace in order that the Church, the edifice of God’s (Cfr. 1Co 3,11), be raised on no other foundation than Christ, the stone which the builders rejected, but which has become the cornerstone (Cfr. Matth Mt 21,42).

Spiritual renewal calls for a deepening of piety, nourished by adequate forms of personal and popular devotion, especially those which have prove their validity in the past. As some examples among many, I mention pilgrimages, penitential traditions and the praying of the Family Rosary which has been traditional in many Irish homes, Such practices should not be discarded simply because they are not new.

9. The forthcoming Synod of Bishops on the mission and role of the laity in the Church has been widely received as an occasion for needed reflection on how the laity has responded to the Council’s call to assume their specific responsibility, especially as regards the extension of the kingdom of God in the temporal order. Within the ecclesial community itself lay men and women have taken on many tasks both in the liturgy and in the organisms through which the pastoral and charitable work of the Church is carried out. This is, of course, a positive development which you will do everything possible to encourage in ways that respond to the nature and mission of the Church herself.

Such positive support signifies however that when occupying posts which require their holders to represent the Church’s position or teaching in some field, lay persons as well as priests and Religious will in fact be one with the Church in heart and, mind and never present opinions which differ from the Church’s expressed teaching, thus creating confusion in the minds of the faithful or undermining the certainty of moral principles. This is a requirement of justice as well as an excellent form of ecclesial service. The same applies to commissions and agencies set up by the Episcopal Conference for educational or assistential activities both in Ireland and in other parts of the world. In all of this you, the pastors, have the authority and responsibility to act for the good of the Church.

10. Dear brother bishops, there are many other areas of your episcopal service in which I wish to encourage you and sustain you with my prayers and fraternal support. When I think of the Church in Ireland I see a people "marked with the sign of faith", a people which has shown the depths of its baptismal consecration in fidelity to the word of God and to its ecclesial vocation. I see you making every effort to further the cause of ecumenical understanding and collaboration "where reconciliation between Christians takes on a special urgency, but where it also has special resources in the tradition of Christian faith and fidelity to religion which marks both the Catholic and the Protestant communities" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio in aedibus religiosorum sodalium a S. Dominico in urbe "Dublino" habita ad Auctoritates Christianarum Ecclesiarum, die 29 sept. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2, (1979) 445).

I see the Catholic Church in Ireland teaching the ways of peace and solidarity, and working to change the conditions that generate political violence. Conflict is not inevitable. The peace of Christ can and should reign in the hearts of all. Every new generation of Irish men and women offers new hope that the prejudices of the past and the injustices of the present will finally give way to a society built on respect for the dignity of every human person and on love for each other in Christ Jesus. Through you, I wish to leave the entire ecclesial community in Ireland with a thought which I already expressed during my visit to Maynooth in 1979: "You must work with the conviction that this generation... could be crucial and decisive for the future of the faith in Ireland. Let there be no complacency. As Saint Paul said: ‘Be awake to all the dangers; stay firm in the faith; be brave and strong (Cfr. 1Co 16,13)' (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio in aede Collegii S. Patricii apud "Maynooth" habita, 3 die 1 oct. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2, (1979) 489)".

May the Blessed Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Queen of Ireland, intercede for you, the pastors, and for the beloved Church in your land.

Speeches 1987 - Thursday, 4 June 1987