Speeches 1987 - Dade County, Miami

3. At the same time, our common heritage, task and hope do not eliminate our distinctive identities. Because of her specific Christian witness. " The Church must preach Jesus Christ to the world". In so doing we proclaim that "Christ is our peace" (Guidelines, 1974. I). As the Apostle Paul said: "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2Co 5,18). At the same time, we recognize and appreciate the spiritual treasures of the Jewish people and their religious witness to God. A fraternal theological dialogue will try to understand, in the light of the mystery of redemption, how differences in faith should not cause enmity but open up the way of "reconciliation", so that in the end "God may be all in all" (1Co 15,28).

In this regard I am pleased that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Synagogue Council of America are initiating a consultation between Jewish leaders and bishops which should carry forward a dialogue on issues of the greatest interest to the two faith communities.

4. Considering history in the light of the principles of faith in God, we must also reflect on the catastrophic event of the Shoah, that ruthless and inhuman attempt to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe, an attempt that resulted in millions of victims – including women and children, the elderly and the sick – exterminated only because they were Jews.

Considering this mystery of the suffering of Israel’s children, their witness of hope, of faith and of humanity under dehumanizing outrages, the Church experiences ever more deeply her common bond with the Jewish people and with their treasure of spiritual riches in the past and in the present.

It is also fitting to recall the strong, unequivocal efforts of the Popes against anti-Semitism and Nazism at the height of the persecution against the Jews. Back in 1938, Pius XI declared that "anti-Semitism cannot be admitted", and he declared the total opposition between Christianity and Nazism by stating that the Nazi cross is an "enemy of the Cross of Christ" (Eiusdem Allocutio in die Navitatis Domini, 1938). And I am convinced that history will reveal ever more clearly and convincingly how deeply Pius XII felt the tragedy of the Jewish people, and how hard and effectively he worked to assist them during the Second World War.

Speaking in the name of humanity and Christian principles, the Bishop’s Conference of the United States denounced the atrocities with a clear statement: "Since the murderous assault on Poland, utterly devoid of every semblance of humanity, there has been a premeditated and systematic extermination of the people of this nation. The same satanic technique is being applied to many other peoples. We feel a deep sense of revulsion against the cruel indignities heaped upon the Jews in conquered countries and upon defenceless peoples not of our faith" (Conf. Episc. Foederatarum Civitatum amer. Sept. Declaratio, die 14 nov. 1942).

We also remember many others, who, at risk of their own lives, helped persecuted Jews, and are honoured by the Jews with the title of "Tzaddigę ‘ummôt ha-’olâm" (Righteous of the Nations).

5. The terrible tragedy of your people has led many Jewish thinkers to reflect on the human condition with acute insights. Their vision of man and the roots of this vision in the teachings of the Bible, which we share in our common heritage of the Hebrew Scriptures, offer Jewish and Catholic scholars much useful material for reflection and dialogue. And I am thinking here above all of the contribution of Martin Buber and also of Mahler and Levinas.

In order to understand even more deeply the meaning of the Shoah and the historical roots of anti-Semitism that are related to it, joint collaboration and studies by Catholics and Jews on the Shoah should be continued. Such studies have already taken place through many conferences in your country, such as the National Workshops on Christian-Jewish Relations. The religious and historical implications of the Shoah for Christians and Jews will now be taken up formally by the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, meeting later this year in the United States for the first time. And as was affirmed in the important and very cordial meeting I had with Jewish leaders in Castelgandolfo on 1 September, a Catholic document on the Shoah and anti-Semitism will be forthcoming, resulting from such serious studies.

Similarly, it is to be hoped that common educational programs on our historical and religious relations, which are well developed in your country, will truly promote mutual respect and teach future generations about the Holocaust so that never again will such a horror be possible. Never again!

When meeting the leaders of the Polish Jewish community, in Warsaw, in June of this year, I underscored the fact that through the terrible experience of the Shoah , your people have become "a loud warning voice for all of humanity, for all nations, for all the powers of this world, for every system and every individual... a saving warning" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad hebraicam communitatem in Polonia commorantem, die 14 iun. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 2 (1987) 2221).

6. It is also desirable that in every diocese Catholics should implement, under the direction of the bishops, the statement of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent instructions issued by the Holy See regarding the correct way to preach and teach about Jews and Judaism. I know that a great many efforts in this direction have already been made by Catholics, and I wish to express my gratitude to all those who have worked so diligently for this aim.

7. Necessary for any sincere dialogue is the intention of each partner to allow others to define themselves "in the light of their own religious experience" (Guidelines, 1974, Introd.). In fidelity to this affirmation, Catholics recognize among the elements of the Jewish experience that Jews have a religious attachment to the Land, which finds its roots in biblical tradition.

After the tragic extermination of the Shoah , the Jewish people began a new period in their history. They have a right to a homeland as does any civil nation, according to international law. "For the Jewish people who live in the State of Israel and who preserve in that land such precious testimonies to their history and their faith, we must ask for the desired security and the due tranquillity that is the prerogative of every nation and condition of life and of progress for every society" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptionis Anno, die 20 apr. 1984: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 1 (1984) 1072).

What has been said about the right to a homeland also applies to the Palestinian people, so many of whom remain homeless and refugees. While all concerned must honestly reflect on the past– Muslims no less than Jews and Christians – it is time to forge those solutions which will lead to a just, complete and lasting peace in that area. For this peace I earnestly pray.

8. Finally, as I thank you once again for the warmth of your greeting to me, I give praise and thanks to the Lord for this fraternal meeting, for the gift of dialogue between our peoples, and for the new and deeper understanding between us. As our long relationship moves towards its third millennium, it is our great privilege in this generation to be witnesses to this progress.

It is my sincere hope that, as partners in dialogue, as fellow believers in the God who revealed himself, as children of Abraham, we will strive to render a common service to humanity, which is so much needed in this our day. We are called to collaborate in service and to unite in a common cause wherever a brother or sister is unattended, forgotten, neglected or suffering in any way; wherever human rights are endangered or human dignity offended; wherever the rights of God are violated or ignored.

With the Psalmist, I now repeat: "I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for he proclaims peace to his people, and to his faithful ones, and to those who put in him their hope" (Ps 85,9).

To all of you, dear friends, dear brothers and sisters; to all of you dear Jewish people of America: with great hope I wish you the peace of the Lord: Shalom! Shalom! God bless you on this Sabbath and in this year: Shabbath Shalom! Shanah Tovah weHatimah Tovah!





Church of Saint Peter, Columbia

Friday, 11 September 1987

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Mt 16,16)

Dear Bishop Unterkoefler,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

These words, which are recorded in the Gospel Saint Matthew, were spoken by Simon Peter, the first Bishop of Rome. They are full of meaning for every one who believes in Christ, but they have special meaning for us who are gathered here today in this Church of Saint Peter in Columbia, which the Successor of Peter is privileged to visit.

It is a great joy for me to come to the Diocese of Charleston. I thank you for receiving me with such warmth and fraternal love. Your famous "southern hospitality" makes me feel at home.

As you know, I have come to Columbia to take part in ecumenical dialogue with national leaders other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and to join with a large gathering our brothers and sisters in an ecumenical prayer service. Our Lord prayed "that all may be one " (Jn 17,21). We all want to do our part to make this unity come about.

2. "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God".

These words of Peter express the heart of our faith, for they reveal the mystery of Christ; they reveal Christ as the Son of the living God, the eternal Word who became man and was born of the Virgin Mary.

Peter was the first of the Apostles, the first disciple to make a public declaration of his faith in Jesus the Messiah. The words of Peter's profession of faith were words spoken with real personal conviction; and yet, these words did not find their ultimate origin in him. As Jesus told him : "Blest are you, Simon son of Jonah! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father" (Mt 16,17). Faith in Christ is a gift. It is not a human. achievement. Only God the Father can draw us to Jesus, only he can give us the grace to know Jesus, to accept him as the eternal Son of God, and to profess our faith in him.

3. From that day in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, Peter's life was radically changed. And not only his life ! The other Apostles, the other disciples as well, were granted the gift of faith and they too became witnesses of the words and deeds of Jesus. A whole new era began in the history of the world, in the history of salvation. And so it has continued down through the ages. People of all centuries, people from all countries have, like Peter, come to know Jesus, to accept him as God's Son one in being with the Father to profess their faith in him, and to make his holy Gospel the basis of their Christian lives. The person o f Jesus Christ and his word are forever the centre o f the Church's life.

4. But the wonderful gift of faith is not separate from the Cross. Belief in Christ is not free from difficulties. It is not without cost. In fact, our faith in Jesus Christ is often put to the test. Peter came to know this only too well. And therefore he writes: "You may for a time have to suffer the distress of many trials; but this is so that your faith, which is more precious than the passing splendour of fire-tried gold, may by its genuineness lead to praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ appears" (1 Petr. 1, 6-7) .

We recall too the time, after our divine Master spoke of the mystery of the Eucharist, when "many of his disciples broke away and would not remain in his company any longer. Jesus then said to the Twelve, 'Do you want to leave me too?' Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.We have come to believe; we are convinced that you are God's holy one'" (Jn 6,66-69).

When our faith is tested, when we are tempted to doubt and turn away, we can find courage and renewed hope in these words of Peter : "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life". Christ gives us the strength to live according to our faith, and to meet all the challenges against it. From Christ we must learn the way to overcome those sad divisions which still exist today among Christians. We must be eager to be fully one in faith and love.

5. I know that you share this ecumenical conviction with me. Indeed, Catholics in South Carolina have long felt the need for ecumenical dialogue and collaboration, first of all, because you are a distinct minority, less than three per cent of the population. Moreover, the Catholic Church here has a long tradition of ecumenical initiative. Your first Bishop, John England, accepted the invitations of other Christians to preach in their churches and to explain the teachings of our faith. And, with the passage of the years, you have never lost this ecumenical spirit.

In more recent times in particular, you have joined with other Christian believers to promote justice and truth, to further mutual understanding and collaboration. This cooperation has been particularly striking in regard to efforts to improve racial relations among citizens of your State. I commend you in these deserving endeavours, so worthwhile and so important.

At the same time, you must never cease to strive for personal holiness and conversion of heart.For, as the Second Vatican Council has sad: "This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 8) .

6. Dear friends in Christ, representatives of all the Catholics of the Diocese of Charleston: thank you for coming to greet me. I wish to assure you of my esteem for all of you who make up this local Church, spread out across this entire State of South Carolina. Know that the Pope admires all the efforts you and your forebears have made to preserve your faith in Jesus Christ, to live this faith, and to transmit it to your children.

And now I ask you to take home with you those other words ascribed to Peter words which explain so well what it means to believe in Christ, the Son of the living God. He wrote: "Although you have never seen him, you love him, and without seeing you now believe in him, and rejoice with inexpressible joy touched with glory because you are achieving faith's goal, your salvation" (1 Petr.1, 8-9).

Dear Catholic people of this Diocese of Charleston: never forget that faith in Jesus Christ brings you to salvation and eternal life!







Friday, 11 September 1987

Dear Dr Holderman,
Dear Friends,

1. Thank you for your thoughtful words of greeting and for the cordial welcome which you have extended to me. I am most grateful. For many months I have looked forward to my visit to South Carolina. It is a great joy for me finally to be here. At the same time, I come to this State in response to a solemn duty. Indeed is it not the duty of every follower of Christ to work for the unity of all Christians? To desire anything else would be not only a scandal, but a betrayal a betrayal of the Lord who himself prayed that his disciples would be one, and who died on the Cross in order " to gather into one all the dispersed children of God " (Jn 11,52).

I pray that the ecumenical initiative which we are undertaking today will be pleasing in God's sight and bring us all closer to the full union of faith and love in our Saviour.

2. It is a pleasure for me to come to the campus of this major university. As you know, I myself have had a long and happy association with the university world in my homeland. I know how important universities are for the advancement of research and for the development of knowledge and culture. I offer all of you my personal encouragement for the educational programme which you carry out here in Columbia and for the contribution that you are making to the future of society. To place human knowledge at the service of humanity is a great task.

3. I wish to add a special word of greeting and support for the students of the University of South Carolina. Before you lies the wonderful world of knowledge and the immense challenge of truth. Here you can come to a much greater understanding of yourself and of the universe. You can delve into the wealth of literature handed down from the past. You can explore the vast fields of the sciences and the arts. You can engage in research and future planning. Here in this centre of higher education you must prepare yourselves to make your own contribution to society.

My special hope for you is this : that you will always have a great love for truth - the truth about God, the truth about man and the truth about the world. I pray that through truth you will serve humanity and experience real freedom. In the words of Jesus Christ: "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free"? (Jn 8,32).

May God, the source of life and truth, bless all of you at the University of South Carolina.







Friday, 11 September 1987

Dear Friends, dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I praise "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens!" (Ep 1,3). In particular I give thanks to him today for granting me the opportunity of this meeting with you, representatives of Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the United States. I believe that our meeting is important not only in itself, for the reflections and Christian experience that we share with each other, but also as an outspoken testimony on our part that we are definitively committed to treading the path which the Holy Spirit has opened before us the path of repentance for our divisions and of working and praying for that perfect unity which the Lord himself wishes for his followers.

I am grateful to you for your presence, and for the statement with which you have wished to open this meeting. And in the wider perspective, I wish to thank you for the ecumenical contacts and collaboration in which you so willingly engage here in the United States with the National Conference of Bishops and the Catholic dioceses. Indeed I am grateful for all the earnest ecumenical activity carried out in this country.

2. In recent decades, especially under the impulse of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has placed renewed emphasis on the term "communion" (koinonia) as an especially appropriate way of describing the profound divine and human reality of the Church, the Body of Christ, the unity of the baptized in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Our communion is primarily with the Triune God, but it intimately unites us among ourselves.

This communion is increased in us as we share in the gifts with which Christ has endowed his Church. Some of these are eminently spiritual in nature, such as the life of grace; faith, hope and charity; and other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 3). In addition, there are exterior gifts, which include the word of God in Sacred Scripture, Baptism and the other Sacraments, as well as the ministries and charisms which serve ecclesial life.

Although we are not yet in agreement as to how each of our Churches and Ecclesial Communities relates to the fullness of life and mission which flow from God's redemptive act through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is no small achievement of the ecumenical movement that after centuries of mistrust, we humbly and sincerely recognize in each other's communities the presence and fruitfulness of Christ's gifts at work. For this divine action in the lives of all of us we offer thanks to God.

3. I wish to note in particular the reference made in the opening statement to the sense of spiritual yearning among Christians in this country, a yearning which in part manifests itself in an increasing interest in the life of prayer, in spirituality and in ecumenism. In a word, it is a yearning for deeper insights into our Christian identity and, consequently, for a renewal of our ecclesial life. This important phenomenon can be found to a greater or lesser degree in all Ecclesial Communities, not only in the United States but throughout the world. Surely it is a sign of the action of the Holy Spirit in the People of God. As leaders in our respective Communions, we have the awesome task and privilege of collaborating to ensure that this grace will not be received by us in vain (Cfr. 2Co 6,1).

From the Catholic perspective, a primary factor relating to ecumenical involvement with other Christian bodies has been, from the outset, the purification and renewal of Catholic life itself. The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism indicated: "In ecumenical work, Catholics must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches towards them. But their primary duty is to make an honest and careful appraisal of whatever needs to be renewed and achieved in the Catholic household itself" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 4).

It is not difficult to see how the internal renewal and purification of the ecclesial life of all of us is essential to any progress we may make towards unity, for Christ's call to unity is at the same time a call to holiness and a call to greater love.It is a call for us to render our witness more authentic. Only by becoming more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ can we hope to travel the path of unity under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in the strength of his grace. Only by fully accepting Jesus Christ as the Lord of our lives can we empty ourselves of any negative thinking about each other.

It is important for all of us to realize how much conversion of heart depends on prayer, and how much prayer contributes to unity. The Second Vatican Council spoke about a "spiritual ecumenism" which it described as "the soul of the whole ecumenical movement", and which it identified as "a change of heart and holiness of life, coupled with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians" (Ibid. 8)

4. In speaking of the priority of internal renewal and prayer in the ecumenical task, I do not intend in any way to minimize other important factors such as our common Christian service to those in need or our common study carried out in theological dialogues.

In the case of dialogues, the results reached in them thus far merit the most serious consideration and gratitude from all of us. They tend to increase mutual understanding in ways that have already greatly changed our relationship for the better. Our meeting here today is itself a testimony of this.

Further, these dialogues continue to uncover the deep sources of our common faith and the extent to which that faith, even while we remain apart, is truly shared by our Churches and Ecclesial Communities. In doing so, such exchanges help us to face our remaining differences in a more intelligible context. It is the task of dialogue to face these differences and to work towards the time when it will be possible for Christians to confess together the one faith and to celebrate together the one Eucharist.

On the international level, the response of the Catholic Church to the document Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, which has now been sent to the Commission on Faith and Order, is an effort to contribute to this process directed towards confessing the one faith together. I am convinced that the Lord will give us the light and strength to pursue this course together for the glory of his name.

Indispensable as the work of dialogue is, and even though the act of dialogue itself begins to improve relations between us, our ultimate purpose goes beyond the statements and reports of ecumenical commissions. Those statements must be properly evaluated by out respective Churches and Ecclesial Communities in order to determine the level of ecclesial communion that actually exists, so that it may be properly reflected in the lifestream of ecclesial life. We must greatly rejoice in discovering the extent to which we are already united, while we respectfully and serenely acknowledge the factors that still divide us.

5. In regard to our common service and collaboration, the statement you have presented puts before all of us important questions. How may we collaborate to promote justice, exercise compassion, search for peace, bring the witness of the Gospel to unbelievers, and manifest our koinonia? These issues challenge all of us. Together we must seek to discover the concrete ways in which we may respond in common.

You rightly designate these questions as "points of conversation" among us. As an initial approach, an introduction to our conversation, I would like to make the following brief remarks. First, we are all convinced that the deepest lessons a Christian can learn in this life are learned at the foot of the Cross. When our Churches and Ecclesial Communities address one another and the whole human family, we must do so from the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, the well-spring of wisdom and the sources of our witness. From the Cross we learn the qualities required in our ecumenical search for unity. "For it is from newness of attitudes (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,23), from self-denial and unstinted love that yearnings for unity take their rise and grow towards maturity" .'Ecumenism is not a matter of power and human "tactics". It is a service of truth in love and humble submission to God.

Similarly, our collaboration in the important areas you list is not a matter of measured calculation. We do not collaborate simply for the sake of efficiency, or for reasons of mere strategy, or for advantage and influence. We collaborate for the sake of Christ, who urges us to be one in him in the Father, so that the world may believe (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 7).

6. The ecumenical community has now welcomed me twice to this country. I in turn have had the joyful opportunity of welcoming many of you to Rome, the City of the Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul. I believe that these and other cordial meetings have the effect, with God's grace, of breaking down the barriers of misunderstanding that have plagued us for centuries. How often we read in the Scriptures of encounters being occasions of grace, either encounters of the Lord with his disciples, or encounters of the disciples, with others to whom they are bringing the word. I believe (Cfr. Io Jn 17,21), that in meetings such as these, where two or three or more of are gathered in his name, Christ is here in our midst, asking from each of us a greater depth of commitment to service in his nary and therefore, a greater degree of unity among ourselves.

I join my prayer to yours that the Christian communities of the United States may continue to meet each other, to work with each other, and to pray with each other, so that the Father will be glorified in the fulfilment of Christ's prayer:

"That their unity may be complete.
So shall the world know that you sent me,
and that you loved them as you loved me" (Jn 17,23).
So be it.






New Orleans

Saturday, 12 September 1987

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!" (2Co 13,14).

Dear Archbishop Hannan,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. From this Cathedral of Saint Louis am happy to greet, in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, the whole Church in New Orleans – all those who make up her membership, all those who work together to fulfill her mission. In particular today I greet all of you, dear priests and religious of Louisiana. Here in this mother Church of the archdiocese, I give thanks and praise to the living God for your lives of dedicated service to Christ and his Church.

This temple of God, this house of prayer and gate of heaven stands as the central point of the City of New Orleans, and from this place all distances are measured. Here Christ dwells in your midst, present in word and Sacrament, making this a place of grace and blessing for all the People of God. Here God the Father is adored in spirit and truth, (Cfr. Io Jn 4,23), and here the Holy Spirit is always at work in the hearts of the faithful, preparing them for the glory of the heavenly Jerusalem.

And just as this Cathedral of Saint Louis is the focal point of the City of New Orleans, so too Christ is the very center of your lives. Christ is for you "the beginning and the end" (Ap 21,6); he is for you "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Ga 2,20). So closely are you identified with Christ that each of you can say, as did Saint Paul: "The life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me". And together with Saint Paul you must proclaim: "Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord" (Rm 8,39).

The Church in Louisiana owes a great debt of gratitude to the many priests and religious who have laboured here from the beginning. That tradition of heroic dedication in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ by word and deed continues today in the service that you render to the People of God. Always remember that the supernatural effectiveness of your service within the Church is linked to the witness of your life lived in union with Christ. You are therefore called to conform your lives more and more to the person and message of Jesus Christ. And never forget that the precise goal of all apostolic service is to lead all people to communion with the Most Holy Trinity.

2. Our lives as Christians find their origin and destiny in the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, the fundamental mystery of our Christian faith. The one God whom we worship is a unity of Three Divine Persons, "equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, yet one Lord, one God, ever to be adored" (Praefatio de SS.ma Trinitate). The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit exist in an eternal communion of life and love with one another. In the Church we are privileged to participate now and forever in the communion of life and love, which is the mystery of God, One in Three.

The Second Vatican Council teaches that "it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that the Church takes her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father". Thus as members of the Church we benefit from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit which flow from "that fountain of love’ or charity within God the Father" (Ad Gentes AGD 2). It is from the Father," who is ‘origin without origin’, that the Son is begotten and the Holy Spirit proceeds through the Son" (Ibid).

In revealing to us the mystery of the Father the Son carries out the Father’s will and brings about our salvation. And in describing the mission of the Holy Spirit, the Council says: "When the work which the Father had given the Son to do on earth was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might forever sanctify the Church, and thus all believers would have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,18)" (Lumen Gentium LG 4).

3. In Saint John’s Gospel we read: "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, ever at the Father’s side who revealed him" (Jn 1,18). Although the Old Testament contained elements that prepared us for the revelation of Jesus, it did not unveil this profound mystery of God: the mystery of the Father, the intimate life of God, the communion of the Three Divine Persons. Only the Son of God made man bears witness to the truth about the Trinity; only he reveals it.

The truth about the divine Sonship of Jesus and the Trinitarian mystery of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are alluded to at the time of the Annunciation, as well as during the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Moreover, during his public ministry Jesus speaks about his Father and the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John we find many affirmations by Jesus about the intimate union that he shares with the Father. But is during his discourse at the Last Supper that Jesus discloses in a definitive way the truth about the Holy Spirit and the relationship which the Spirit has with the Father and the Son.

We can say that throughout his teaching Jesus "has opened up vistas closed to human reason" concerning the life of the One God in the Trinity of divine Persons. When he had completed his Messianic mission and was taking leave of his Apostles on the day of his Ascension, Jesus announced to them: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19). Thus with these last words Jesus solemnly entrusts to them the supreme truth of the undivided Unity of the Most Holy Trinity.

4. Dear brothers and sisters: your life of service dedicated to Christ and his Church bears witness to the reality of God’s love for his people. You joyfully proclaim the Good News of faith, that "God is love" (Jn 4,8). In Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus we hear those words: "Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life" (Jn 3,16). The Father so loved the world that he sent us his only Son, and through his Son he sent the Holy Spirit. Today and each day of our lives we celebrate the love of God the Father for each of us–the love revealed in the Word made flesh and in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, we proclaim that God sent his only Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Yes, we proclaim to the world God’s everlasting love.

May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Prompt Succour and Mother of Divine Love, help you and the whole Church in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana to bear witness to the merciful love of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Speeches 1987 - Dade County, Miami