Speeches 1989 - Friday, 10 February 1989




Saturday, 11 February 1989

Dear Brothers Bishops,

1. It gives me great pleasure to meet you today, precisely when many of the Catholic faithful of Bangladesh are taking part in the National Pilgrimage to the Miriam Ashram at Diang. As they honour the Mother of God under the title of Our Lady of Lourdes, the priests, religious and laity of your local Churches implore her maternal care and protection for the “little flock” that is the Church in Bangladesh. United as we are in the fullness of ecclesial communion, on the occasion of your ad Limina visit we too pray for the growth and vitality of your communities and for the peace and development of your country.

The special circumstances of your ministry in Bangladesh are well known. The Nation is still in the early stages of its independence. Economic and social development are often hampered by repeated natural disasters affecting that area of the world. I refer in particular to the suffering and grave loss of life caused by the floods last September and the devastating cyclone in November. On various occasions I have appealed for assistance for your country and people, and I am happy that Caritas Internationalis has been able to provide some immediate help. In this way you have had a practical experience of the universal solidarity which should always characterize the life of the Church, the Body of Christ in which we are all members one of another (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,25). Naturally, the needs of your people go far beyond the relief provided, and I am sure that the Nation will search for ways to meet the challenges of widespread poverty and illiteracy which hinder progress and the promotion of human dignity.

2. From the religious point of view, you constitute a small minority among people of other religious traditions, even though the Church has been present since the sixteenth century. The question of minorities, including religious minorities, is “one of the most delicate questions affecting contemporary society, a question which, with the passing of time, has become even more pressing since it is related to the organization of social and civil life within each country, as well to the life of the international community” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem favendam dicatum pro a. D. 1989, 1, die 8 dec. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 3 [1988] 1738).

There are two fundamental principles involved in a proper approach to minorities. The unity of the human family created by God calls for the formation of a world community radically open to solidarity across all borders and free from discrimination. Likewise, within the one human family all individuals are to be respected in the inalienable human dignity that is their birthright, irrespective of racial, ethnic, cultural or national origin (Ibid., 3: loc. cit., p. 1738). Differences between the members of the human family are legitimate and must be respected. The State in particular has a duty to safeguard the dignity and freedom of all its citizens, ensuring the existence of the legislative and juridical instruments, as well as the cultural and educational means, which promote understanding, banish prejudice and create effective harmony between all sectors of society.

In the case of Bangladesh the Holy See has been encouraged by the message to Christians issued at Christmas by his Excellency President Ershad, and by the words of the new Bangladesh Ambassador on the occasion of the presentation of his Letters of Credence. It is my fervent hope that the Catholic community will, as much as it can, continue to contribute to the progress and well-being of the Bangladeshi people in a climate of trust and freedom.

3. Dear Brothers in Christ, the local Churches over which you preside in love have been the subject of our private conversations. With God’s grace and through the generous efforts of your priests, religious men and women, both local and missionary, and of the catechists and lay community leaders who sustain and encourage your scattered communities, the redeeming love of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and made present in the lives of many. Since your last ad Limina visit the new Diocese of Mymensingh has been erected. The seed sown is indeed bearing fruit (Lc 8, 11ss.) and will continue to do so in a further consolidation of ecclesiastical structures. As Pastors you know that it is not the structures themselves that are paramount, but rather the grace and virtue from which they proceed and the ecclesial life to which they contribute. The principal object of your ministry is always the Christian holiness of your faithful, “who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed” (1Petr. 1, 5).

In this perspective the Pastoral Plan for the Church in Bangladesh, while open to constant renewal and adaptation, continues to offer valid guidelines for your apostolate and service. May the life-giving gifts of the Holy Spirit accompany you and your fellow-workers, so that the implementation of the plan may strengthen the proclamation of the Good News and inspire ever more generous service to the needy: the poor, the weak and those without voice.

4. Your closest fellow-workers are your beloved priests.As Bishops, endowed with the fullness of the priesthood, you understand very well the essential part your priests play in the life of your local Churches. “By the power of the sacrament of orders, and in the image of Christ the eternal High Priest they are consecrated to preach the Gospel, shepherd the faithful and celebrate divine worship as true priests of the New Testament” (Lumen Gentium LG 28). Through their ministry priests make Christ visible among men, and all the more when they are profoundly moved by a love that is pure and self-giving. Awareness of their sacramental brotherhood leads them to a lively sense of collaboration with each other and with their Bishop, in an attitude of service and respect towards lay people, promoting their spiritual growth and sharing pastoral tasks and responsibilities with them (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 8-9). In all of this, your attention and support is of particular value to your clergy.

In the special circumstances of your local Churches it may not as yet be possible to put into effect all the juridical and organizational structures foreseen in ecclesiastical law. But I am heartened to know that you are proceeding in that direction and that there is an ever greater confidence and solidarity between you and the priests, both diocesan and religious, who form the presbyterium of each local Church. A true sharing of the tasks connected with evangelization and with the building up of the ecclesial body, while leaving undiminished the responsibility and authority of the Bishop, can only have a positive effect on the morale and spiritual life of your priests.

5. A source of well-founded hope for the future of the Church in Bangladesh is the National Major Seminary in Dhaka, serving the five Dioceses and the Religious communities. I send affectionate greetings to the Staff, and assure them of my prayers for the success of the delicate task in which they are engaged. I also encourage those Bangladeshi priests doing further studies in preparation for the training of future priests. With their assistance the seminary curriculum will be strengthened, to the great benefit of the whole Church in your country.

I especially invite all the major and minor seminarians to reflect on the importance of a solid spiritual formation. Let us give thanks to the Most Blessed Trinity for the increase in the number of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life which you are experiencing. This is a sign of the dynamism of the Catholic community and is a primary responsibility for you, the Pastors.

6. I can only briefly mention the life and work of the men and women religious of Bangladesh, who “adorn the Bride of Christ” (Lumen Gentium LG 46) and through their consecration make the truths and values of his Kingdom more visible in the Church and in society. To each of them I send a word of greeting and support as they spend themselves generously and without discrimination in catechesis, education, health-care and charitable activities.

I also ask you to assure your catechists and lay community leaders that they have a special place in my prayers, and that their work in union with the priests and with you, the Bishops, is vital for the Church’s presence in your country. The National Social and Catechetical Centre at Jessore offers a means which can be further developed for continuing reflection on the major moral and ethical problems of today, and for providing an effective training of zealous Catholic leaders in these matters.

7. My brother Bishops, the tasks before you are many and formidable. They will continue to demand zeal and energy on your part. I know that you seek the courage and motivation for your pastoral endeavours in a close and personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In administering the Sacraments, in preaching the word and shepherding the portion of God’s people entrusted to you, you “seek first the kingdom of God” (Mt 6,33) so that you may be found faithful, “like the householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Ibid. 13, 52).

May God bless Bangladesh, and may his grace flow abundantly through the Church in your land.





Friday, 24 February 1989

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It is a pleasure to receive the members and consultors of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, in this year which is so significant for the Commission.

Just over twenty-five years ago, in December 1963, the Second Vatican Council promulgated the Decree "Inter Mirifica", on the means of social communication. Three months later, my predecessor Paul VI issued the Motu Proprio "In fructibus multis", by which the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications was established. At the beginning of next month, in conformity with the Motu Proprio "Pastor Bonus", the Commission becomes a Pontifical Council which, under this new title, and acting in close cooperation with the Secretariat of State, will continue to concern itself with the important task of the proclamation of the message of salvation as transmitted and recorded by the communications media.

Thus, your plenary meeting marks an important moment in the history of the Commission and is also a precious opportunity for studying some of the pressing issues which the Church is facing in relation to the spread of the Gospel message. I would like to share with you some of my own concerns in this area, concerns which indeed are also yours and those of the Church at large. I offer them to you in a spirit of service and mutual trust.

2. First, we know that the communications media exert a great influence in the formation of consciences, and consequently of moral attitudes. We should therefore earnestly see to it that the media help people to form their consciences and those moral attitudes, in a way which not only upholds the law of God but also defends their very nature as human beings created in God's image and endowed with an innate and inalienable dignity which must be respected in every circumstance.

One area in which the media exert an almost irresistible influence on society is the area of family life. The support which the media will give to the family and to its role in society will determine to a great extent the strength and stability of this essential institution in the coming decades. All too often, unfortunately, the family is inadequately presented in the media. Infidelity, sexual experimentation outside marriage, and the absence of a moral and spiritual vision of the marriage covenant are presented uncritically. The Church is concerned that the media, through films, television programmes, and magazine and newspaper articles should play a more constructive part in fostering the value of permanent loving commitment in family life, for the good of individuals and of society.

While the media investigate and present the events and views of our time, it is imperative that this be done in a balanced manner. The sensitivity of the world media to basic human rights is a case in point. Indeed many people in communications deserve to be acknowledged for their dedication to the cause of improving the situation of human rights around the world. But it is not enough to champion certain rights while neglecting other even more fundamental human rights, as for example the right to life itself--a right which exists from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. In this context, we should also reflect on how the media treat the question of religious freedom: the freedom to worship God and to communicate to others that religious message which we believe to be the truth revealed by God.

3. How does the Church herself use the media?

This and the following questions require our careful attention. Do we encourage the faithful to use the media intelligently - not only to avoid publications, films and programmes which can damage the moral integrity of the person, but also to profit from the media as one profits from good books for intellectual and moral growth, for an ever deeper appreciation of the good things God has done for us and for an ever deeper understanding of the dignity of every human being?

Do we cooperate as fully as possible with other Christians, with other believers and with all men and women of good will in order to influence the media to work for the common good, for the moral well-being of society and for peace, mutual respect and greater unity within the human family? Do we seek to encourage and prepare men and women with creative gifts to use their talents responsibly and imaginatively in the media?

The Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to spread the Good News of salvation to the ends of the earth, and the Church must employ all the means at her disposal in reaching this goal. The publications, programmes and films which appear in the name of the Church should aim for the highest possible standards of professional excellence, and at the same time be truly edifying in the sense of contributing to authentic human and religious growth.

4. Your Commission has already prepared a suggested pastoral response to the scourge of pornography and violence in the media and has sought to encourage programmes of media education for adults and in schools. Such efforts should continue and intensify so that individuals may be protected from manipulation by the media, and may be able to use the media ever more intelligently for the enrichment of their minds and for wholesome relaxation.

Your Commission has also established as one of its priorities the formation of media professionals, men and women primarily skilled in the techniques of communication but also endowed with an informed Christian outlook. Such media professionals should be men and women of unquestioned integrity and honesty and should give an example of a sound moral life, for they are often viewed by others as models to be imitated. It is also particularly important that those who will be called upon to speak for the Church should truly think with the Church - sentire cum ecclesia.

5. In this way, as we prepare to celebrate the second millennium of the birth of Jesus Christ, we will be able to evangelize effectively through programmes and publications of professional excellence which touch the hearts and minds of those searching for that truth and love which can only be found in the one true God.

Just over twenty-five years ago, the Second Vatican Council opened its Decree on the communications media with the words: "Among the marvels of technology which God has destined human genius to discover in his creation, those which have a powerful effect on minds are those which interest the Church most" (Inter Mirifica IM 1)

. That interest of the Church in the communications media should intensify as the media themselves become ever more pervasive in our society and as they exercise an ever great influence over human minds. You especially, as members, consultors and staff of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, must dedicate yourselves - once again in the words of the Second Vatican Council - to this end "that, as with the artistic achievements of former times, the Name of the Lord will be glorified in this new age of technology" (Ibid. 24)

. In whatever period of human history the Church has proclaimed the Gospel, whether in this age of technology or in the centuries which gave rise to the great cathedrals and the masterpieces ol religious art, it is the same Lord whom we proclaim: "Jesus Christ, yesterday and today and the same forever" (Hebr. 13, 8).

In his Name, I now invoke on you, on your loved ones and on your important work the blessing of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

March 1989




Wednesday, 8 March 1989

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I am particularly happy to welcome you, the Metropolitans of the United States, and with you my co-workers in the Roman Curia on the occasion of this special Assembly. This historic meeting which begins today is an opportunity to give a clearer expression to the bonds of ecclesial and ministerial communion which unite us. We already know each other well, since one of the first pastoral visits of my Pontificate was to the United States in 1979. During that visit I was able to learn a great deal about the Church in your country: I had a chance to listen to and observe, to speak and pray with the people of the East and Midwest. In 1983 you came to Rome on your ad Limina visits and I had the opportunity of learning more about your work. In 1987 I was pleased to accept your kind invitation to make my second visit to the United States, this time concentrating on the regions of the South and West. And finally, last year you came again for your ad Limina visits, during which time we reflected once more on aspects of our common pastoral mission.

Thus on several occasions in the past, I had the opportunity to express my gratitude for the way in which the Church in the United States, and particularly you its pastors, welcomed my visits there, as well as to manifest my appreciation of your pastoral zeal as I received each of you individually. At this time, I would like to voice again those same sentiments.

2. Today, then, dear brothers, as we continue our journey of faith together, I welcome you who are here precisely because of the office you hold. As Metropolitans you are in a special position to represent and to express the concerns of the particular Churches in your country.

We have come together to consider important matters regarding ecclesial life in the United States. Our gathering is the continuation of an exchange a truly open exchange, which aims to strenghten our partnership in the Gospel. We do so with an organic view of our mission as Bishops in mind, a view which “must take into account the perennial exigencies of the Gospel; it must also express the indisputable priorities of the life of the Church today, both in her universal needs and in the special requirements of the Church in the United States. At the same time it must faithfully reflect the call of the Second Vatican Council to reform and renewal” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad quosdam episcopos Foederatarum Civitatum Americae Septemtrionalis limina Apostolorum visitantes, 1, die 31 maii 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 2 [1988] 1969).

At the heart of our concern is “Evangelization in the Context of the Culture and Society of the United States with particular emphasis on the Role of the Bishop as Teacher of the Faith”. From the outset, I would ask you to discuss the urgent task of evangelization from the perspective of the Bishop as teacher of the Faith. In this precise context, you are invited to reflect on the agents, methods and beneficiaries of evangelization. Your mission as authentic teachers of the faith has as its purpose the building up of the Body of Christ. You, united with the Bishop of Rome, are the pillars upon which rests all the work of evangelization. Hence the strength and vitality of the local Church depend to a great extent on the steadfastness of your faith, hope and love.

3. As Pastor of the Universal Church, I wish to encourage you in your ministry. I am fully conscious of the challenges you face in bringing the Gospel message to a world that does not often readily accept it. Your people experience the difficulties of being Christians in today’s world. Yet at the same time they search for direction in following the path marked out by Christ. In these days together we shall attempt to clarify our own vision of where the Lord wishes to lead us and his people as we stand on the threshold of the third Millennium of Christianity. We can be confident in the outcome of our efforts because we know that the Lord of the Vineyard is in our midst. He is the one who has chosen us as his servants to carry out the mission of evangelization. In the words of Saint Paul, we have been “set apart for the Gospel of God... the Gospel concerning his Son” (Rm 1,1 Rm 1,3). As such, we accept his call and we do so joyfully. But we do not hesitate to turn to him in prayer for greater strength and guidance. This is why all our discussions will be placed in the context of prayer and will culminate in our celebration of the Eucharist together at the tomb of Saint Peter.

Let us go forward then, invoking the powerful intercession of Mary Immaculate, and trusting in the knowledge that the Lord is ready to assist us in our pastoral endeavors, for he has sent us his Spirit to be with us and to guide us in all truth and love. Dear brothers: in the power of the Holy Spirit let us continue to make every effort to assist all the Catholic people of the United States to proclaim by the holiness of their lives that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Ep 2,11).




Friday, 10 March 1989

Mr Ambassador,

I offer you a cordial welcome on this occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Ethiopia to the Holy See. The greetings which you have expressed on behalf of your President His Excellency Mengistu Haile Mariam and of the Government and people of Ethiopia are deeply appreciated. I would ask you to convey my own prayerful good wishes for the peace and wellbeing of all the people of your country.

As Your Excellency has mentioned, cooperation between the Holy See and your Government stems from contacts which the ancient State of Ethiopia has maintained with the Holy See for many centuries. Underlying this relationship is the Holy See’s great respect and esteem for the rich cultural and religious traditions of the Ethiopian people and of the Coptic Orthodox Church to which many of your fellow-citizens belong.

Precisely because of these long-standing links, the Holy See has followed with great sorrow the situation of distress suffered by the population in recent times. The whole world has been a witness to the devastating effects of famine, and while the considerable show of solidarity on the part of the international community, and also private groups, is welcomed and appreciated, there remains a sense of frustration that more was not or could not be done to save human lives.

Your Excellency has referred to the priority being given to eliminating disease and to providing opportunities for educational and economic advancement. This calls for a great effort on the part of the whole nation, and it is important to be able to rely on the free and intelligent collaboration of all sectors of the population. Development involves the will of a people to overcome negative situations. It cannot be implemented without a widespread sense of participation and collaboration. It begins and is most appropriately accomplished in the dedication of each people to its own social progress (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 44). To say this in no way denies the need for support from the international community, but underlines the fact that it is the developing nations themselves which are primarily responsible for creating conditions of internal peace and respect for the legitimate rights of citizens in the service of the common good, so that genuine development may take place.

The Catholic community in Ethiopia strives as much as it can to be actively involved in the process of development. Through her educational and charitable agencies, the Church defends and promotes human dignity by concerning herself with nutrition and health, general education, family life and moral integrity, always of course against the background of man’s relationship with God. In all of this she follows her religious and humanitarian mission. From the State she seeks above all the guarantee and protection of the religious freedom which is every individual’s inalienable right. In this respect I would repeat what I wrote in my Message for the 1988 World Day of Peace: “The freedom of the individual in seeking the truth and in the corresponding profession of his or her religious convictions must be specifically guaranteed within the juridical structure of society; that is, it must be recognized and confirmed by civil law as a personal and inalienable right in order to be safeguarded from any kind of coercion by individuals, social groups or any human power” (Eiusdem Nuntius ab diem ad pacem govendam dicatum pro a. D. 1988, 1, die 8 dec. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II X, 3 [1987] 1333s.). Far from being an abstract notion, religious freedom profoundly affects the lives of individuals and societies.

On this occasion I wish to stress the grave concern with which the Holy See is following the almost forgotten situation of armed conflict in some regions, which render humanitarian relief efforts most difficult. I pray that a solution will be worked out on the basis of a true and frank recognition of the rights of those involved, and that an early cessation of hostilities may be brought about through mutual understanding.

It is my fervent hope, Mr Ambassador, that through your mission the good relations existing between the People’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Holy See will be further strengthened, and I assure you that in your endeavours you will have the cooperation and assistance of the departments of the Holy See. Upon yourself and the people of Ethiopia I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.




Tomb of Saint Peter

Saturday, 11 March 1989

Dear Brothers,

It is most fitting that these days of prayer and consultation should culminate in this concelebration of the Eucharist, for it is here at the altar that the Church is revealed in her most intimate nature as a hierarchical communion of faith, hope and love.

We celebrate this Eucharist at the tomb of Saint Peter, who, together with the other Apostles, was chosen by the Lord to be the foundation of his Church. The calling of these Apostles is deeply related, both historically and in the order of grace, to their experience of Christ and to their profession of faith in him. As we venerate the memory of Peter, we ask his intercession that we may find the inspiration and strength we need in order to imitate the Apostles in bearing courageous witness to Christ.

The Lord’s words to Peter: “Do you love me?... Freed my lambs... Tend my sheep” are addressed to each of his Successors, the Bishops of Rome. But they also apply to all the Bishops, the Successors of the Apostles, who are entrusted with the care of a flock that is the Lord’s and not their own. Like Peter, what is asked of us is a love that puts its full trust in God and that perseveres to the end even in the face of misunderstanding and rejection. It is the love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”.

Today’s liturgy reminds us once again that Christ appeared as a sign of contradiction in the midst of those whom he came to save. In the darkness and confusion created by sin, he was destined to give his life as a ransom for many. Invoking the intercession of our Mother Mary who lived this redemptive mystery to the full, and of Saints Peter and Paul, we pray that God will continue to pour out his blessings on the whole Church in the United States. May he also bestow upon each of you, dear brothers, a full measure of his gifts as you seek to fulfill your mission as teachers of the faith and evangelizers in your beloved country, which is blessed with the protection of Mary Immaculate, the Mother of the Church.





Saturday, 11 March 1989

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. For four days we have been together. We have prayed, reflected on and discussed our ministry as Successors of the Apostle, called to be living signs of Jesus Christ: the compassionate Christ, the praying Christ, the faithful and contradicted Christ, the Christ who came “to preach the Gospel to the poor” (Lc 4,18). As our assembly draws to a close, I am sure that we share a great sense of gratitude to God for what this meeting has meant for us as pastors, individually and collectively, and for the life of the Church in the United States. Truly, Christ has been in our midst, the Holy Spirit has been our strength and guide, and we have done all things for the glory of the Father. Together we have experienced the joy which the Psalm extolls: “How good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling in unity!... For there the Lord gives his blessing, life for ever” (Ps 132,1 Ps 132,3).

Our contact during these days has further educated us in the collegial spirit and given us a chance to express the communion and solidarity that unite us in Christ and in the Church. A first general conclusion which can be drawn is the usefulness of this type of gathering for understanding on questions or situations affecting the pastoral life of the Church in the various geographical and cultural spheres of her activity.

2. The central theme of our discussions in the general context of evangelization has been the Bishop as Teacher of the Faith.It is not my intention here to review the important analyses made of the concrete cultural and social circumstances in which you are called to proclaim the Gospel message as pastors of the Church in the United States. It will be my concern and yours, and the concern of our brother Bishops, to continue this reflection on the relationship between the Christian message and the contexts in which it is preached and lived.

At this time I refer briefly to the more personal and more basic question of the Bishop’s role as Teacher of the Faith as it springs from the consecration we received with the fullness of the Sacrament of Orders.Jesus’ prayer for his disciples at the Last Supper calls us to consider the radical question of our responsibility for the truth: “(Father) ...sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, so that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17,17-19). As Peter in your midst, I must encourage and confirm you and your suffragans and the auxiliary Bishops, and the particular Churches over which you preside, in this consecration to the truth that is the word of God, that is the Son of God made flesh for the salvation of all.

3. In essence, during these days we have been speaking about faith and the transmission of faith. Underlying our discussion at all times has been the question of the faith reflected in the particular Churches of your nation, a faith alive in the laity, religious and clergy who form, with the Bishops, the Catholic Church in the United States. With my collaborators in the Roman Curia, I give thanks to God for the faith-filled history of the Church in your country, of which your saints are the most eloquent witnesses. The generous missionary spirit of your sons and daughters – religious, priests and laity – has been and is being evidenced in many parts of the world.

4. You have reflected at length on the ways in which you can better carry out your pastoral service to the women and men religious of your Dioceses, sustaining them in their demanding but extremely fruitful observance of the evangelical counsels. You have spoken of the immense contribution of individual religious and religious congregations to the life of the Church in your country, while at the same time recognizing that the state of religious life presents special problems and challenges which require your continuing attention. You have expressed your determination to pursue with responsibility and sensitivity your pastoral service in this regard.

5. Allow me to say a special word about the priests.In our discussion on their role as agents of evangelization, many spoke of the devotion and effectiveness of the priests in the United States. It was noted that in some ways they most directly bear the burden of the factors in your culture which clash with their mission to teach and evangelize. With you I thank the priests of the United States for their ministry, for all they do to proclaim more effectively Jesus Christ as Lord. As you and your suffragan Bishops gather with your priests for the Chrism Mass this year, please assure them of my gratitude, my affection and blessing. You have brought them even closer to my heart during these days.

6. You have given much attention to the celebration of faith in the Liturgy and the administration of the Church’s sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance. In fact one of the first requirements of evangelization, one of the very first demands that faith makes on each person who wishes to embrace Christ is penance or conversion. In the opening verses of Saint Mark’s Gospel Jesus himself presents a synthesis of this call to salvation with the word: “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Marc. 1, 15). To the Bishops of Region V on their ad Limina visits I suggested that “Conversion as proclaimed by Christ is a whole program of life and pastoral action. It is the basis for an organic view of pastoral ministry because it is linked to call the great aspects of God’s revelation” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad quosdam episcopos Faederatarum Civitatum Americae Septentrionales limina Apostolorum visitantes, 2, die 31 maii 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 2 [1988] 1696).

Speeches 1989 - Friday, 10 February 1989