Speeches 1989 - Saturday, 11 March 1989

You have discussed conversion in its sacramental form and efficacy. One of the universal needs of the Church which is also among the special requirements of the Church in the United States, is the restoration of the Sacrament of Penance and the renewal of its use (Eiusdem Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 28). Such a renewal will have an important influence on families, the young and on all the laity; its proper and frequent use can profoundly affect religious life, the fostering of vocations, the spiritual preparation of seminarians and the ministry of our brother priests.

7. At this point we return to the difficulty which has surfaced time and time again in our discussions, the task of handing on the truths of the faith in a cultural context which questions the integrity and often the very existence of truth. Much of what has been discussed reflects this fundamental challenge to the contemporary Church as she seeks to evangelize. You have pointed to the many ways in which the various agents of evangelization might be helped to proclaim the truths of Scripture and Tradition more effectively. I encourage you to give these suggestions serious consideration.

It is essential that the agents, and in the first place we the pastors, speak the true message, “the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son... through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” (Rm 1,1-5). We are guardians of something given, and given to the Church universal; something which is not the result of reflection, however competent, on cultural and social questions of the day, and is not merely the best path among many, but the one and only path to salvation: “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Act. 4, 12). The People of God and those near and far must hear the name. We are all – you and I – bound to make an examination of conscience about how we are fulfilling the task, “lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1Co 1,1). The true measure of our success will consist in greater holiness, more loving service of those in need, and the advancement of truth and justice in every sphere of the life of your people and your country. As one of our brothers so rightly said: “Success cannot be the criterion or the condition of evangelization. The criterion and condition of evangelization must be fidelity to mission”.

8. Difficulties will not be lacking. What is important is that challenges or even opposition to the saving truth which the Church professes be met within the context of faith. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in this and in all things points the way for us. Recall Saint John’s account of Jesus’ teaching which the Church understands as revealing the Eucharist (Cfr. Io Jn 6). Peter’s response then must be Peter’s response today, a response spoken in the name of the Apostles and their Successors: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Ibid.6, 68).

In the final analysis, in evangelization we are concerned with proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ and his Church, the truth that gives life, the truth that alone sets free. Jesus Christ reveals to us the Truth who is God, and the truth that is the totally free human person. The Lord speaks to us as we face our task when he says: “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8,31-32).

9. I am sure that in this meeting we have all become even more aware of the reasons for our certitude about our mission and its value for today’s world. The source of our confidence is God himself. But we are also deeply encouraged by the holiness and willing service of so many of God’s people: young and old, rich and poor, priests, religious and laity. You will go back to particular Churches which are spiritually rich and already possess the resources for a renewed evangelization. You will report to your brother Bishops that the central theme which we discussed in brotherhood and love was the need to be found faithful in handing on what we ourselves have received (Cfr. 1Co 4,2), faithful in ensuring the full and solid formation of seminarians, faithful in ministering to the life and charism of religious, faithful in catechesis, faithful in encouraging the laity to take their proper and rightful place in the Church’s life and mission, faithful in upholding the values of life and love in marriage and family life.

As I thank you and your brother Bishops for the ministry you exercise with love and self-giving, and encourage you to pursue further the reflections of these days, I invite the whole Church in the United States to live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us (Cfr. Ga 2,20).

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and for the glory of the Most Blessed Trinity, may “the God of peace be with you all. Amen” (Rm 15,32).





Thursday, 16 March 1989

Your Excellency,

It is my pleasure to offer you a cordial welcome on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uganda to the Holy See. I am grateful for the warm greetings and good wishes which you have expressed on behalf of your President, His Excellency Yoweri K. Museveni, and I would ask you to convey the assurance of my prayers for himself personally and for the peace and wellbeing of all the people of Uganda.

Your Excellency’s reference to the recent history of your country and to the changes which have occurred in the life and outlook of its citizens cannot but encourage the widely shared hope that Uganda will at last enjoy the climate of justice, social harmony and national cohesion needed for the work of rebuilding after so many years of strife and turmoil. The Catholic Church in Uganda has repeatedly called for such a national effort and has offered its full collaboration in the great tasks which confront the Nation.

You have stressed that your Government considers respect for human rights as a prerequisite for the existence of a truly democratic way of life. Indeed, a government which follows the rule of law permits its people to feel secure in the exercise of their rights and freedoms as they work for their country’s progress and development. This is the meaning of what I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, namely: “The common good that authority in the State serves is brought to full realization only when all the citizens are sure of their rights. The lack of this leads to the dissolution of society, opposition by citizens to authority, or a situation of oppression, intimidation, violence and terrorism, of which many examples have been provided by the totalitarianisms of this century” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 17).

Unfortunately, Ugandans can bear sad witness to the evil consequences of such a lack of security and respect for human rights. It is therefore my fervent hope that the process of rehabilitation and restoration of a democratic way of life already begun will proceed apace. I wish to encourage your Government and people in the efforts needed to overcome the vestiges of past difficulties and go on to rebuild your country after so many years of destruction and bloodshed.

The Church in Uganda makes available her resources, both spiritual and material, for people to lead a more dignified life in accordance with the inalienable human dignity of each individual. In conjunction with the Church’s religious and cultural mission, the Ugandan Catholic community is particularly involved in the areas of health-care and education. Through her charitable agencies the Church seeks to provide for the social development of the people and to seek an improvement of the conditions affecting the poorer and more needy sectors of the population. In this there exists a wide possibility of collaboration between the Church and the State which I am sure will continue to increase and produce excellent results.

In this respect I cannot but repeat the sentiments expressed by my predecessor Pope Paul VI during his historic visit to Kampala in 1969: “Have no fear of the Church; she honours you, she educates honest and loyal citizens for you, she does not foment rivalries and divisions, she seeks to promote healthy liberty, social justice and peace. If she has any preference at all, it is for the poor, for the education of little ones and of the people, for the care of the suffering and abandoned. The Church does not make her faithful sons strangers to civil life and national interests; on the contrary, she trains and engages them in the service of the public good” (Pauli VI Allocutio in oede Parlamenti Ugoudiensis habita, die 1 aug. 1969: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, VII [1969] 548).

This is the Church’s endeavour in every part of the world. And in this regard I am pleased to acknowledge Your Excellency’s reference to my recent pastoral visit to Southern Africa and my appeal there for the defence of human rights as well as for assistance to the poor and oppressed in that region. Respect for these rights and effective solidarity at every level of people’s needs are foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world. I therefore express the hope that the needs of the Ugandan people too will find a practical response in the solidarity and assistance of other governments and international organizations, so that the legitimate desires of the Ugandan people for peace and wellbeing may be satisfied.

As Your Excellency begins your diplomatic service here, I assure you of the Holy See’s assistance and collaboration in the fulfilment of your responsibilities. I offer you my prayers and good wishes as you seek to strengthen the good relations already existing between the Republic of Uganda and the Holy See. And upon Your Excellency and the Government and people of Uganda I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.





Thursday, 30 March 1989

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome you, the officers and staff of the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches, and to express encouragement for your work. Yours is a truly important and delicate task. It is important because you seek to serve the goal of all ecumenical activity, namely, the visible unity of all Christians in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship. And it is delicate because you seek this goal within a multilateral context, in a dialogue between representatives of the broadest range of Churches and Ecclesial Communities. The Catholic Church constantly renews its commitment to fostering the unity which Christ himself desired for all his followers (Cfr. Io Jn 17,21).

You are looking now towards the next Plenary Meeting of your Commission which will take place in Budapest next August. There you will review many activities, including the progress of the major studies now being undertaken. Besides Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, these include a study: “Towards the Common Expression of the Apostolic Faith Today”, and another on “The Unity of the Church and the Renewal of Human Community”. These efforts are important because the goal of Christian unity cannot be reached without agreement on the apostolic faith and the nature of the Church.

We can see the dedicated work that you are undertaking as an attempt to bring divided Christians closer to the vision of unity presented by Saint Paul: “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all” (Ep 4,4-6).

I pray that your efforts will be fruitful.

April 1989





Sunday, 2 April 1989

Dear Friends,

I am very happy that your stay at the Nato Defense College affords you this opportunity to visit the Pope. I extend a warm welcome to each of you during this Easter season, when Christians celebrate Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Many countries are represented among the faculty, staff and course members of the Defense College. This makes it possible for you to grow in mutual understanding and to deepen your appreciation of the cooperation needed to pursue the goal of peace, not only for the various Nato countries but also for the whole human family.

It is my convinction that true peace cannot exist unless it is firmly rooted in a morality based on love of God and neighbour. Today there is a growing recognition of global interdependence and the need for human solidarity in promoting justice and peace. But as the Second Vatican Council so wisely pointed out, peace is ultimately the fruit of love, which goes beyond what justice can provide (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 78). This king of fraternal love can only be sustained by faith in God, our Creator and Judge. Without fidelity to God and to the moral order which is written in our hearts and in all of creation, there can be no lasting peace.

Dear friends, I am confident that through your participation in the Defense College each of you will be better prepared to make some contribution to world peace and to the authentic development of humanity. May Almighty God strengthen you for this task and bless you with every good gift.



Thursday, 6 April 1989

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. On 1st February 1986 I had the privilege of meeting all the Bishops of India gathered at New Delhi and of speaking to you about our common ministry as servants of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. My visit to “the shrine of the People of God” in your country allowed us visibly and concretely to manifest those bonds that unite us in the Church, in what I called “an hour of ecclesial communion”. In all our contacts I have endeavoured to exercise the ministry of Peter, to confirm you in the faith and in your arduous apostolic ministry. From you I receive the testimony of the Church’s pilgrimage of fidelity and service as she daily toils to manifest God’s love in the context of your country and its needs.

Now the Bishops of India are coming to Rome on their ad Limina visits. In this first group I greet you, the Latin Rite pastors of the Provinces of Agra, Bhopal and Delhi. In you I embrace the priests, religious and laity of each one of your Dioceses and I invoke God’s peace upon each particular Church. In our private conversations you have told me of the hopes and sufferings of your communities, of the “fruits of the Gospel” which you see flourishing in your regions, of the limitations placed on your ministry and the difficulties which you encounter, of the ways in which you and your fellow-workers are striving to carry out the pastoral and apostolic task entrusted to you.

2. The fundamental theme of every ad Limina visit is the Church, the great sacrament, that is, the sign and means of our union with God and of the unity and peace of all mankind (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 1). In speaking to Bishops from India I wish to touch on various aspects of this wonderful reality which fills our lives and inspires our every effort. Today I shall refer briefly to some basic concepts which must underlie our understanding of the Church and of our own role as Bishops. Later, in meetings with other groups of Bishops from India, I intend to refer to certain specific aspects of the Church’s mission.

3. Jesus Christ inaugurated the Church by preaching the Good News, that is, the coming of God’s Kingdom, which for centuries had been promised in the Scriptures: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Marc. 1, 15; cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 5). The Paschal Mystery of his Passion, Death and Resurrection, which we have recently celebrated and which is constantly re-enacted in the Eucharist, is the source of the Church’s power to proclaim and establish the kingdom among all peoples. The Council in fact teaches that the Church “becomes on earth the initial budding forth of the kingdom, and while she slowly grows, the Church strains toward the consummation of the kingdom and with all her strength hopes and desires to be united in glory with her King” (Lumen Gentium LG 5).

The kingdom is inseparable from the Church, because both are inseparable from the person and work of Jesus himself. He established the Church to be the revelation and instrument of the kingdom. It is therefore not possible to separate the Church from the kingdom as if the first belonged exclusively to the imperfect realm of history, while the second would be the perfect eschatological fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation. Nor can the kingdom be considered a purely interior or spiritual reality, in contrast with the Church considered as an historical and social realization of Jesus’ intention to establish a community of faith and salvation. Consequently it is not possible to relativize the Church’s role in bringing all to union with Christ.

The kingdom in fact is to be sought here and now, in the mystery of the Church which “grows visibly in the world through the power of God”, until she achieves her glorious fulfilment when all the just “will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church” (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 2 Lumen Gentium LG 3).

4. The Church is a mystery in the biblical sense of the term: a transcendent salvific reality made manifest in a visible way. In the Council’s teaching, the Church is a divine-human reality, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word (Cfr. Ibid, 8). The Mystical Body of Christ and the visible structure of God’s faithful people form one interwoven reality, complexam realitatem (Cfr. Ibid), the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church of which we are ministers and apostles.

In each particular Church the mystery of God’s eternal love communicated through the Son in the Holy Spirit is made present in the assembly of the faithful through the grace conferred by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and through the charity which animates the community’s life and work. In India, the Church manifests God’s love especially through her many religious and social activities and through the joyful witness of her members in their daily lives. An important part of your task as pastors is to remind the ecclesial community that, if ministry and service are to bring forth fruits in the power of the Spirit, all are called to bear witness to humility and self-sacrifice, to give special attention to the weak and the poor, and to pursue the path of penance and renewal (Cfr. Ibid).

5. The Church in every place, but especially so in India, can bear effective witness only if she is present as the humble servant of all those in need. In this she follows the example and teaching of her divine Master, who “came not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20,28). Her whole way of life must be marked by the same love which moved Jesus to compassion for the people (Cfr. ibid. 9, 36), by the love which led him to give his life for our redemption (Cfr. Io Jn 10,15). In proclaiming the word of truth and love, the Church seeks the complete well-being and development of all individuals. But her evangelizing mission must never be a search for mere material advantage. As she responds to Christ’s command to go to all peoples, she does so with respect and love, but also with a full awareness of the unique value and importance of the message she brings.

With eyes fixed on the forth-coming significant event of the beginning of a new Christian millennium, the Church is called to a renewed effort to proclaim the Good News of salvation to the men and women of our time. The Church in India can look to the example of a host of ardent heralds of the Gospel who have sown the seeds of what are today your local Churches “endowed with their own vitality and maturity” (Ad Gentes AGD 6). Among the most famous of these preachers of the Good News are Saint Thomas the Apostle, Saint Francis Xavier and Saint John de Britto, and to their intercession I commend you and your ministry.

I am aware that your own part of India is marked at present by an instability deeply rooted in ethnic, religious and social differences. The nation as a whole is struggling to overcome situations of grave poverity, unemployment, and often a lack of safeguards for the rights of women and children. The Catholic community is a small minority scattered over a large area and often subject to serious difficulties of different kinds. These circumstances are a challenge calling for dedicated effort and fresh thinking in relation to evangelization and ministry.

6. The laity, in harmony with their specific role in the Church, as described in the recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Christifideles Laici”, must be urged and helped to play their part in the task of evangelization and service in the spirit of the Gospel. “A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Christifideles Laici CL 3). Young people too should be encouraged to give of their talents and time, perhaps in a programme of voluntary service for specific periods as “apostles” to their peers and to their “world”. I also wish to encourage you in all that you are doing to promote prayer groups, the Bible apostolate and the diffusion of Christian doctrine through the press and the modern means of communication.

7. A particularly urgent aspect of the Church’s service is the presence of lay people “as signs of courage and intellectual creativity in the privileged places of culture, that is, the world of education – school and university – in places of scientific and technological research, the areas of artistic creativity and work in the humanities” (Ibid. 44). The Church in India is already widely present in society through her educational activities, and indeed she is esteemed by non-Christians for her contribution in this field, since they themselves often benefit from her institutions. The ecclesial community cannot but make every effort to ensure that Catholic education transmits and promotes truths and values in harmony with the message of salvation, and prepares people to avoid falling victim to selfishness. I am aware that the education of the poor has always been a priority and a part of the success of Catholic schools in India, and that fresh efforts in this regard are constantly being made. This option for the poor requires special generosity and enterprise, but it is indeed a necessary application of the Church’s teaching on social justice.

While the pastors of the Church have a special role to play in ensuring that the objectives and policies of Catholic institutions are in line with the Church’s teachings and with the spirit of service proclaimed in the Gospel, it is the responsible dedication of so many religious and lay men and women which effectively sustains the Church’s testimony and service to society in this apostolate. To all of them I send cordial greetings and an invitation always to see their efforts as a valid and necessary contribution to the coming and revelation of Christ’s kingdom. By letting their light shine pure and undefiled before their contemporaries, they are bearing witness to Christ, the true light of the nations.

Dear Brother Bishops: in the love of the Risen Lord I renew the expression of gratitude which I addressed to all the Bishops of India on the occasion of my visit, my gratitude for your proclamation of God’s saving love. Upon you and your fellow-workers, particularly the priests, I invoke God’s abundant gifts of faith, hope and love, of strength and perseverance in the ministry which has been entrusted to you for the uplifting and salvation of our brothers and sisters.

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, whose faithful presence in the midst of the Apostles did so much to sustain the first Christian community (Cfr. Act. 2, 14), intercede for the needs of the Church in the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Agra, Bhopal and Delhi.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all (Cfr. Apoc Ap 22,2).




Clementine Hall

Thursday, 6 April 1989

Dear Bishop Hanus,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I am very pleased to welcome you here during your pilgrimage to Rome as part of the centenary celebrations of the Diocese of Saint Cloud.The joy of this occasion is increased by our recent celebration of the Easter mysteries. May the Risen Christ fill your hearts with wonder and praise for all the mighty deeds that God has accomplished in your Diocese over the past hundred years. With the Psalmist we can say: “Forever will I sing the favors of the Lord” (Ps 89,1).

Your anniversary celebrations include this pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles: Saint Peter, upon whom the Lord built his Church, and Saint Paul, the Apostle to the nations. Faith tells us that we enjoy a living communion with these Apostles, these pillars of the Roman Church. You have also come to see the Successor of Peter, who is the lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and all God’s people (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 23). I am confident that our meeting today will strenghthen the bonds of unity, charity and peace that link the Church in Saint Cloud to the universal Church spread throughout the world.

While we commemorate the establishment of the Diocese of Saint Cloud by my predecessor Pope Leo XIII, we realize that the origins of the Church in central Minnesota go back much further. One thinks of the pioneering efforts of priests like Father Francis Pierz, a Slovenian missionary, whose love for the Gospel was such that at the age of sixty-seven he began working among the native Americans of Minnesota. His enthusiastic efforts prepared the way for various groups of men and women religious. Of these special mention must be made of the Benedictines of Saint John’s Abbey, who have played a prominent role in the life of your Diocese over the years.

Nor can I fail to mention the intrepid Catholic pioneers of various nationalities who brought the faith with them to America. They persevered in the face of much adversity so that you, their descendants, might enjoy the blessings of religion as well as the many material benefits your country has to offer. I join you then in thanking God for all the priests, men and women religious and laity who have sowed the good seed of the Gospel in Saint Cloud over the past century.`

Dear brothers and sisters: Today you face new challenges in living the Gospel and in bringing it to others. With the example of your parents and grandparents before you, I urge you to hold fast to your Catholic faith. See in every circumstance an opportunity to grow in that holiness which is the supreme vocation of every baptized person. Work to transform your society from within in accordance with the truth that Christ has entrusted to the Church for the salvation of all.

I commend all of you to the loving protection of Mary, who under the title of her Immaculate Conception is the Patroness of the United States. May she intercede for you in the great work of making her Son better known and loved in today’s world. To all of you and to your families at home I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Clementine Hall

Friday, 7 April 1989

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, the newly ordained deacons of the North American College, accompanied by the Rector and faculty of the College and by your families and friends. I warmly greet all of you and offer you my heartfelt good wishes on this joyous occasion.

My dear Deacons. In the words of Saint Paul, I “pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill your every good resolve and work of faith by his power” (2Th 1,11). By virtue of the sacramental grace conferred through the imposition of hands, you have been ordained for the service of God’s people. Christ has called you to share in the Church’s mission of offering worship to “the Father in spirit and truth” (Jn 4,23), of preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all nations (Cfr. Matth Mt 28,19), and of serving in charity the needs of your brothers and sisters (Cfr. ibid. 23, 31-46).

In the depths of your hearts be confident that Christ speaks to you his loving words: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (Jn 15,16). Never allow the voices of a society often at odds with the Gospel to drown the voice of the Good Shepherd, who calls you to follow him and to model your life upon him who humbled himself so as to become the servant of all.

You will find the strength to fulfill your responsibilities in the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Hours and daily personal prayer. Your knowledge and love of the Lord needs to grow and deepen continually as you dedicate yourselves to the service of others. The commitment of your time to meditating on his word will never fail to be fruitful for your ministry. Your efforts to cultivate a spirit of poverty, sacrifice and self-control will ensure your growth in holiness and enable you to proclaim the Gospel ever more effectively. It is the Lord who through his grace at work in you will accomplish infinitely more than you can imagine.

At your ordination you made a promise to live a celibate life. Although this promise is motivated in part by a desire to serve your neighbour without reserve, its true foundation and inspiration is God’s love for you in Christ and the special calling you have received to bear witness to Christ’s kingdom which is already present but straining towards consummation (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 5). Your promise of celibacy is thus a response to God which clearly manifests to the world your love of him and your self-giving for the sake of his kingdom.

In a special way I wish to express my gratitude to the parents, relatives and friends of these new deacons. May the Lord bless you for the sacrifices which you have made for these chosen men. May you continue to accept and support their decision to serve Christ and his Church. I also express my gratitude to the Rector and faculty of the North American College and to all who have been responsible for the intellectual and spiritual formation of these new deacons.

May Mary Immaculate, Patroness of your College and your Nation, assist all of you with her loving care. And in the peace and joy of her Risen Son, I willingly impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.



Thursday, 13 April 1989

Cardinal Pimenta,
Dear brother Bishops,

1. Today I have great pleasure of welcoming the second group of Bishops from India, from the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Bombay, Nagpur, Goa and Calcutta. In speaking recently to the Bishops of the Agra, Bhopal and Delhi Provinces, I referred to basic aspects of our understanding of the Church and of our role as Bishops, especially in relation to the urgent task of evangelization. Everyone in fact who has been given a mission in the Church needs to grow constantly in the knowledge and love of the great mystery of God’s love made manifest in the world through the Incarnation of the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and continued through time in the mystery of the Church, his Body. It is the proclamation of God’s saving love, realized in the Paschal Mystery of our Redemption and made effective in the ecclesial community’s dedicated service to the human family, which we Bishops, successors of the Apostles, are called to foster and promote in all ways possible. I wish to encourage you in your daily commitment to this task and I invoke the gifts of faith, hope and love upon your priests, religious and lay faithful, as you all work together to proclaim the Good News and build up the Church.

Your regions have been blessed by the presence of two saints: Saint Francis Xavier, the Apostle of India, whose body is in Goa, and Saint Gonsalo Garcia, born at Vasi in Bombay, the first Indian Saint, who was martyred for the faith in Japan. I was honoured to visit the places connected with these Saints in February 1986. May the intercession of these heavenly patrons assist you and your particular Churches in the task of holding firm to the faith and of bearing witness to it in the society in which you live. May their example teach you to go about doing good, as Jesus also did, so that the Church in India may announce Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection until he comes (Cfr. 1Co 11,26).

2. The inner richness of the Church’s life is visibly represented in India by the presence and vitality of various Rites, namely the Latin Rite, to which you belong, and the Syro-Malabar and the Syro-Malankara Rites. The history of relations between the various Rites, as in most things human, offers examples both of loyal collaboration and of unfortunate rivalry. I am happily aware that today a profound sense of ecclesial and fraternal communion animates the Bishops of the various Rites in their shared pastoral solicitude for God’s people in India.

I take this opportunity to encourage you all to continue to seek ways to implement the contents of my letter of 28th May 1987 in relation to the pastoral care of Eastern-Rite faithful within Latin-Rite jurisdictions. In particular I thank the Ordinaries of Bombay, Pune and Nashik for what has been done to give birth to the new Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Kalyan. I am convinced that inter-ritual collaboration will grow and bear excellent fruits when priests, religious and laity are educated and formed to understand the true nature of the Church and the significance of her diversity in unity (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Epistula ad Episcopos Indiae, 6, die 28 maii 1987).

3. In different parts of the country there are Christian communities at various stages of growth and development. There are Christian communities which have had the faith for centuries and there are recent Christians. The latter are still in the process of building an ecclesial identity and Christian traditions. The former can count on an exemplary history and the resources of a deeply assimilated spirituality. Yet not all are always fully aware of the life of faith and the evangelical call to holiness and justice in daily living. We sometimes see a dichotomy between faith and life. Rightly therefore, the Magna Charta of evangelization in our times, the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” of Pope Paul VI, recalls that the Church is an evangelizer, but that she begins by being evangelized herself, by listening unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 15).

Speeches 1989 - Saturday, 11 March 1989