Speeches 1989 - Thursday, 13 April 1989

As pastor, father and guide of a Diocese, each Bishop must work wisely and unceasingly to ensure that God’s people entrusted to him are taught the true faith and are led to the fullness of life which the Spirit breathes into Christ’s followers. The above-mentioned Apostolic Exhortation calls on Bishops “to proclaim with authority the word of God, to assemble the scattered People of God, to feed this people with the signs of the action of Christ which are the sacraments, to set this people on the road to salvation, to maintain it in that unity of which we are, at different levels, active and living instruments, and unceasingly to keep this community gathered around Christ faithful to its deepest vocation” (Ibid. 68). No other concern or work can take the place of this daily toil. The Lord’s injunction to work while it is day (Cfr. Io Jn 9,4) can well be extended to the importance and urgency of our pastoral ministry.

But all of this needs to be expressed in each situation through the presence of the Christian community, especially priests and religious in close contact with the local culture. In the past, missionaries made praiseworthy efforts to learn the languages of the peoples they served and to understand their customs and mentality. Today, the means are available to facilitate this process and, while this effort is always necessary, it has special relevance where there are distinct ethnic groups which are coming to the faith for the first time.

4. In her outward service to a society in distress, the Church in your regions is called to realize her role in a multicultural, multireligious environment by joining hands with all people of good will in a loyal interreligious dialogue and in effort to raise the social and cultural levels, and to improve the conditions of those in need. As the sacrament of the unity of the whole human family, the Church cannot but be an ardent promoter of human solidarity. She fosters attitudes of brotherhood and friendship. So many of her works and institutions are open to all.

In India the Church has a special vocation to teach and foster reconciliation between individuals and groups, between people of different ethnic, social or cultural origins. This she can do only if she herself is a reconciled community, if her members reject in practice every form of discrimination and demonstrate in word and deed that they truly regard all men and women as brothers and sisters, children of the same Father and heirs to the same kingdom.

Immediately there comes to mind the example of the many people in your particular Churches, in particular the many women religious, who are close to the poorest and the most destitute, who lovingly care for the sick and share the lot of villagers and slum-dwellers for the sake of the Gospel. How many examples of heroic evangelical love might we recall? And is not this love the great sign of Christ’s presence and the authentic expression of the vitality of your Christian communities?

5. There is one other theme that I wish to touch upon in speaking to you, Bishops of the Church in India. It is the question of Respect for Life and the need for a serious dialogue with society as a whole on the ethical and moral implications of public policies in this field.Two events prompt this reflection. One was my visit to Nirmal Hriday Ashram in Calcutta on 3rd February 1986. There, in the midst of so much suffering and death, one is struck not by hopelessness but by hope, and by the power of love which succeeds in transforming pain into a marvellous lesson on the full truth of the worth of every human life. My reflection is also inspired by the Festival of Life organized in Bombay in December 1988 by the International Federation of Catholic Medical Guilds, with the collaboration of people of other religious traditions.

As Bishops you have frequently spoken out on the sacredness of all human life. In your regions this sacredness is often denied through abortion, female foeticide or infanticide, attempts to introduce legalized euthanasia, dowry deaths, bonded labour, terrorism and other forms of violence. In a country like India where philosophy and religion are closely connected, priests and seminarians should be well trained in moral philosophy and medical ethics, so that they can take part in interreligious dialogue on questions related to the natural transmission of life and the value and inalienable dignity of every human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Where there are natural family planning and pro-life associations and movements, inspired by Catholic doctrine or in full harmony with it, the Catholic laity should be encouraged to work with them; where these groups do not exist, they should be established so that the Church’s position on these important matters may be better known and seen to be in perfect harmony with the true wellbeing and development of society.

6. The family is the primary unit of society, and it must be remembered that the educative influence of the home on individuals in much greater than that of any other group. Moral and religious influences and the social virtues which every society needs are first learnt in this basic community. Nowhere else is the power and intimacy of love so universally experienced. It is at this starting point that the individual and communitarian dimensions of life are strengthened. It is in the family that people learn healthy self-esteem. It is in the home that the art of communication begins and has to be fostered. It is above all in the home that religious truths are assimilated and a personal relationship with God developed. No pastoral plan can overlook the priority that should be given to the family as the basic unity of society and the Church herself.

7. My dear Brothers: be assured of my constant prayer for you and for God’s people in India. The universal Church looks to you with admiration for the growth and vitality of your communities, for the abundance of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The fruitfulness of God’s grace in your midst is at the same time a challenge to your pastoral responsibility. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, intercede for you in all your needs, and may her example of faith and discipleship continue to inspire in you and your people an ever closer fidelity to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I ask you to take by blessing to the priests and religious, the seminarians and catechists of your Dioceses. “May the Lord increase you and make you overflow with love for one another” (1Th 3,12).




Thursday, 13 April 1989

Dear Bishop Daly,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Faithful People of Derry.

I am very happy to have this occasion to greet all of you during your diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, and at the same time to express my esteem and prayerful support for you, your families and your loved ones – for all the children of Saint Colmcille in the Diocese of Derry.

The people of Northern Ireland are very often in my thoughts and prayers. It is always deeply saddening to hear of continuing violence in a land whose missionaries have brought the message of Christ, the Prince of Peace, to so many other peoples. We must not lose hope that those responsible on every side will recognize that the only path to true justice in the path of reconciliation, dialogue and non-violence. Together with your Bishops, priests and all Irish people of good will, I offer my heartfelt prayers for an end to the tragic violence which has been so much a part of your lives over the past twenty years.

Your strong faith and your love of God go back to Saint Patrick and Saint Colmcille. I am told that your city is often called “Doire Choilmchille”, Saint Colmcille, also known as “Columba” – the “dove” of the Church – is so-called because of the long hours he spent in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. I encourage you today to remain steadfast in prayer in your homes and in your churches.

Through the intercession of your great Patron, may peace and justice flourish once more throughout the whole of Ireland. May her children grow up in freedom without hatred in their hearts. May Saint Colmcille inspire the young people of your towns and countryside to take up the personal challenge of peace and brotherhood, and to learn the importance of mutual acceptance and loving forgiveness.

May our Lady of Knock, Queen of Peace, spread her mantle of peace over the whole land.

God Bless Derry!

Beannacht Dé oraibh go léir!





Thursday, 13 April 1989

Mr Ambassador,

It is my pleasure to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Malawi to the Holy See. I deeply appreciate the greetings and good wishes which you have conveyed on behalf of your President, Ngwazi Dr H. Kamuzu Banda, and I would ask you to assure him of my continued prayers for the peace and well-being of all the people of your country.

I am very much looking forward to my forthcoming Pastoral Visit to Malawi. It takes place in the year marking the centenary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries. Through this visit I wish to strengthen my Catholic brothers and sisters in their faith and to join them in thanking Almighty God for the many blessings received by the Church in Malawi over the past hundred years. At that time I will also have the privilege of meeting your President officially, and although the visit will be principally pastoral in character, my message will be one of peace and good will to all the people of Malawi. Thus it is my fervent hope that the visit will serve, as Your Excellency has mentioned, to further the good relations existing between the Government of Malawi and the Holy See.

You have kindly referred to the Holy See’s efforts to encourage dialogue in order to safeguard world peace. Indeed the economic gap separating North and South, and the ideological contrasts between East and West make it necessary for the peoples of the world to follow the path of dialogue. True dialogue goes beyond contrasting ideologies and helps to break down preconceived notions and opinions, while focusing attention on the aspirations for solidarity present in all people’s hearts. It means abandoning the divisive kind of thinking that defends personal privilege and power, and replacing political, economic, social and cultural tensions with a new openness to sharing and collaboration in a spirit of mutual trust (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem govendam dicatum, pro a. D. 1986, 4, die 8 dec. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 [1985] 1468s.).

Your country has enjoyed the blessing of peace during its twenty-five years of independence. You stated that this is due in large measure to your Government’s protection of the people’s right to freedom of worship and association. Likewise, an important factor contributing to your country’s national unity has been the Government’s respect for the diversity and uniqueness of the different ethnic and religious groups which make up the population. In my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace I repeated the Holy See’s firm conviction that it is only through whole-hearted commitment at every level of society that all forms of religious, cultural or ethnic discrimination can be eliminated and national unity achieved. I emphasized that “reconciliation according to justice and with respect for the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of the community must be the rule. Above all and in all, the patient effort to build a peaceful society finds strength and fulfilment in the love that embraces all peoples. Such a love can be expressed in countless ways of serving the rich diversity of the human race, which is one in origin and destiny” (Cfr. Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem govendam dicatum, pro a. D. 1989, 12, die 8 dec. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI 3 [1988] 1788).

I note with satisfaction your Government’s appreciation of the Church’s continued social involvement, especially in the areas of education and health care. The mission which Christ entrusted to his Church is to lead all of humanity to God so as to share his divine life and happiness for all eternity. Stemming from this strictly religious mission, however, there follows the Church’s service to the human community, in conformity with the divine precept of charity (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 42).

Accordingly, the Church in Malawi strives, as far as her resources permit, to assist in programmes of social development. Working in collaboration with your Government, the Church through her different forms of apostolate seeks to serve as a leaven for the betterment of society.

I cannot fail to mention that the Holy See continues to note with concern the growing number of refugees who have entered your country in recent years seeking safety, food and shelter. Most of them are from the areas of conflict in Mozambique. I commend and encourage your Government in its efforts to deal with this difficult problem. I also call upon the worldwide community and international humanitarian relief agencies to assist Malawi in providing all the forms of assistance needed by these poor and homeless people.

Mr Ambassador, as you begin your mission I assure you of the Holy See’s complete cooperation in the fulfilment of your responsibilities. The Holy See values its bonds of friendship with your country and through your work it looks forward to strengthening them even more. Upon Your Excellency, your President and the Government and people of the Republic of Malawi I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.





Friday, 14 April 1989

Dear Friends in Christ,

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you, Delegates of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, during your visit to Rome. At this Easter season we rejoice at the angel’s message to the women at the tomb: “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said” (Mt 28,6). May this Good News of life and salvation renew our hope today and always.

I have very happy memories of my meeting with Christian leaders in Columbia, South Carolina, during my Pastoral Visit to the United States in 1987. Our conversation, as well as the prayer service devoted to Christian witness which followed, were both moving occasions. I am grateful for the warm welcome I received and for all that the National Council of Churches did in cooperation with the Catholic Bishops to ensure the success of the events that day. I know that some of you were personally involved and I wish to thank you.

Your presence here today continues, in a sense, the conversation that took place in Columbia. You have expressed the hope that your meeting this week will help to deepen ecumenical relations between your Council and the Catholic Church as we approach the Third Millennium of Christianity. I share this hope in the firm conviction that we must walk the path of reconciliation together in obedience to Christ’s will for us.

The topics of your meeting are of great concern to Christian Churches. The questions of inculturation, racism, collegiality, the reception of the results of ecumenical dialogue as well as ecumenism’s future possibilities – all call for continuing prayerful study as part of our search for deeper fellowship. As followers of Christ we share the joys and hopes, the sufferings and sorrows of people today. Together we are called to bear witness to Christ in a world that searches for faith, hope and love.

As we strive for greater communion, the Scriptures offer a fundamental perspective for our efforts: it is the perspective of fidelity to the Risen Christ. In the words of Saint Paul, we must “stand firm in the Lord” (Ph 4,1). Dear friends, is not fidelity to the Lord the only sure foundation of our ecumenical efforts and of all our endeavors for justice and peace? I am confident that, as we seek to remain ever faithful to the Lord, the cause of ecumenism in the United States will steadily progress. Through the prayers and example of Saints Peter and Paul, who gave their lives for Christ in this City, may we grow together in being “rooted and built up in Christ” (Col 2,7).

Upon each of you and the Churches and Ecclesial Communities you represent I invoke a full measure of grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.




Thursday, 20 April 1989

A Uachtaráin uasal, (Dear Mr President)
Céad míle fáilte romhat chuig an Vaticáin. (A hundred thousand welcomes to the Vatican).

1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today and through you to extend my warmest greetings to the beloved people of Ireland who cannot but hold a special place of affection in the heart of the Successor of the Apostle Peter. In God’s design for his Church, Saint Patrick’s preaching to the Irish stands out as one of the most extraordinary illustrations of the Gospel parable of the sower who went out to sow the seed. The seed fell on good soil and brought forth an hundredfold (Cfr. Matth Mt 13,8). The singular contribution which Ireland has made to the evangelization of Europe and the development of European culture, as well as to the Church’s worldwide missionary expansion in more recent times, has forged an unbreakable bond between your country and the Holy See.

During my memorable visit in 1979, I experienced for myself the depth of this “union of charity between Ireland and the Holy Roman Church” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia ad “Phoenix Park” habita, 1, die 29 sept. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 [1979] 413). For all this, I considered my visit “a great debt to Jesus Christ, who is the Lord of history and the author of our salvation” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia ad “Phoenix Park” habita, 1, die 29 sept. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 [1979] 413). Our meeting today is a solemn recognition and joyful celebration of that genuine friendship which, on my part, embraces all the people of Ireland, including those who follow other religious traditions.

2. Modern Ireland was founded on a vision of a society capable of responding to the deepest aspirations of its people and ensuring respect for the dignity and rights of all its citizens. That vision is linked to a prolonged yearning for the effective realization of the profound human and Christian values that have never ceased to resound in the minds and hearts of the Irish people. Ireland can certainly be proud of the progress made. Difficulties – even very serious ones – are not lacking, but she is, on the whole, a warm and loving society, secure in the rule of law and rooted in the highest ideals of justice, freedom and peace.

In the international forum, Ireland holds a place of particular relevance. Millions of people in other parts of the world trace their origins to that land, and large numbers of Irish men and women of the Church, as well as volunteers in social and development work, serve in almost every corner of the earth. Equally notable is the fact that your country has also sought to be a committed and active partner in such organizations as the United Nations and the European Community.

You yourself as Minister of Foreign Affairs negotiated Ireland’s entry into the European Community and served as Vice-President of the Commission of the European Communities with special responsibility for Social Affairs. I have noted from The Jean Monet Lecture which you delivered at the European University Institute last year the depth of your personal commitment to the ideal of a common European community which, at the same time, takes into account the richness of its different cultures and the uniqueness of each people’s history. Ireland’s voice in Europe and the world is particularly suited to be a voice of friendship, good will and peace. Ireland can contribute the wisdom of a calm and impartial reflection on the lessons of history, a reflection made in the context of the profound Christian humanism which is its most genuine ethos.

3. As Your Excellency knows, in Saint Peter’s Basilica there is a chapel dedicated to the great Irishman, Saint Columbanus. The mosaic behind the altar shows Columbanus and his followers as “peregrinantes pro Christo”, ambassadors and heralds of Christ’s Gospel. How often has that role been repeated by Irish men and women who have been and continue to be witnesses of Christ in every continent! The mosaic bears this inscription: “Si tollis libertatem tollis dignitatem” – if you take away man’s freedom you destroy his dignity (Epist. n. 4 ad Attela, in S. Columbani opera, Dublin 1957, p. 34). The phrase might have been uttered, not by Columbanus in the early seventh century, but by one of your later patriots or by someone today who looks upon the world and perceives with regret and sadness that not all people are truly free. Alongside the old oppressions, modern societies are exposed to new forms of subjugation. These new bondages are particularly destructive of human dignity.

It was with this in mind, during my visit to Ireland ten years ago, that I spoke of a confrontation with values and trends alien to Irish society. Developed societies too often experience that the most sacred principles “are being hollowed out by false pretences” (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia ad “Phoenix Park” habita, 3, die 29 sept. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 [1979] 415). Selfishness takes the place of moral courage and solidarity. Self-worth is then measured in terms of having, not being. As a consequence, a climate is formed of big and small injustices and myriad forms of violence. What is accepted as true freedom is in reality only a new form of slavery.

In such circumstances, the words enshrined in Saint Columbanus’ chapel echo loud in all their wisdom and warning: if true freedom – the willingness to choose good and truth – is lost, then the dignity, value and inalienable rights of the person are threatened. Ireland has the spiritual and human resources to pursue the path of authentic development which would respect and promote all the dimensions of the human person, in the exercise of a just and generous solidarity, especially towards the weakest members of society. I know, Your Excellency, that you share this concern and this conviction. I assure you that my frequent prayer for your fellow citizens reflects the confidence that Ireland will succeed in meeting this challenge.

4. As a country, Ireland stands firmly on the side of peace, and the Irish people truly cherish peace in their hearts. Yet the life of the whole island is convulsed by the deadly climate of intimidation and violence which has caused so much suffering to both communities in Northern Ireland during the past twenty years. Violence of the kind being perpetrated in Northern Ireland offers no solution to the real problems of society. It is not the method democratically chosen by the people of either side. It offers no truth that can attract and convince the minds and hearts of ordinary people. Its one argument is the terror and the destruction it produces.

Only a genuine willingness to engage in dialogue and courageous gestures of reconciliation goes to the heart of the underlying causes of the present complex situation of conflict. As I wrote in this year’s Message for the World Day of Peace, where there exist side by side communities marked by different ethnic origins, cultural traditions or religious beliefs, each has a right to its collective identity which must be safeguarded and promoted (Cfr. Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovemdam dicatum pro a. D. 1989, 3, die 8 dec. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 3 [1988] 1788). At the same time all must conscientiously judge the correctness of their claims in the light of the truth, which includes historical developments and the present reality. Not to do so would involve the risk of remaining prisoners of the past without prospects for the future (Cfr. ibid.11: l. c., p. 1788).

Yet the future is already there before us. It exists in the young people of Ireland, Catholic and Protestant, who desperately want to inherit a land at peace and a society built on justice and respect for all its members. When they see how the youth of Europe react positively to growing unity between peoples of different countries and different backgrounds, do they not demand the same chance for themselves? Who can claim the right to deny them their future and their freedom?

A moral imperative lies on all parties involved to arrive at a political consensus that will respect the legitimate rights and aspirations of all the people of Northern Ireland. Signs of hope are not lacking, and we shall pray and be confident that a process guided by reason and mutual acceptance will not be long in bringing an end to bloodshed and the secure advent of a just reconciliation and peaceful reconstruction. May God sustain the perseverance and courage of those who work realistically and with fraternal love for the prompt arrival of that day.

5. Mr President, the Ireland I remember most vividly is reflected in a sequence of charming images: in the natural beauty of the countryside and the friendliness of her people; in the joyful and devout participation of an immense multitude in the Mass I celebrated in the Phoenix Park; in the noble enthusiasm of a sea of young people at Galway; in my meeting with the leaders of the other Churches and communities, as well as in so many other personal and collective encounters. And in the background lingers the image of the monastic ruins of Clonmacnois. The ruins speak of Ireland’s age-old fidelity to Christ. The faces of the people spoke clearly of Ireland’s fidelity to Christ today and of the confidence with which Ireland faces its future.

My personal happiness at your visit is therefore deep and full of appreciation. Furthermore, we are celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of cordial and fruitful diplomatic relations between Ireland and the Holy See. May Almighty God continue to bless this relationship, for his glory, for the good of the Church and for the peace and well-being of the Irish people.

I thank you, Mr President, for having wished to represent your country here today. I gladly invoke God’s loving protection upon you and your fellow-citizens.

Dia agus Muire libh. (God and Mary be with you).

Beannacht Dé is Muire libh go léir. (The blessings of God and Mary be with you all)





Friday, 21 April 1989

Mr Ambassador,

It is my pleasure to offer you a cordial welcome to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the Holy See. I am grateful for the greetings and good wishes expressed on behalf of your President, His Excellency Ranasinghe Premadasa, which I would ask you to reciprocate with the assurance of my prayers for his well-being, for peace in your country and for reconciliation among all its beloved people.

Your Excellency has referred to the good relations existing between your Government and the Holy See. It is my fervent hope that the cooperation and understanding which have characterized our relations in the past will serve to strengthen them even more in the future.

While not proposing a specific mission in the political, economic or social order, the Church extends her religious mission to the various fields in which men and women expend their efforts in search of the relative happiness which is possible in this world, always in line with their Godgiven dignity as persons (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 41). You have mentioned the important contributions which the Catholic Church is making to Sri Lankan society not only in the field of education but also in the various social, cultural and artistic spheres. Despite her limited resources, the Church in Sri Lanka is actively and fruitfully engaged in these areas, as well as in the promotion of family values. She fosters respect for the inalienable dignity of individuals and pursues the human development of peoples through the principles of her social doctrine. These principles do not form a political system or ideology, but rather are the result of the Church’s careful reflection on the complex realities and problems of human existence in the light of her faith and tradition 8Cfr. ibid. 41).

I am pleased to acknowledge, Mr Ambassador, your appreciation of the Holy See’s efforts to build peace both within the social and civil life of a given nation as well as in the international community. The Holy See is ever mindful that peace cannot be reduced solely to maintaining a balance of power, but involves a dynamic process which depends on many conditions and factors. Of singular importance among the conditions for peace is the existence of a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect among the various ethnic groups within a country. I dealt with this theme in my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace. There I stated two principles which form the necessary basis for all social life. “The first of these principles is the inalienable dignity of every human person, irrespective of racial, ethnic, cultural or national origin, or religious belief... And the second principle concerns the fundamental unity of the human race, which takes its origin from God, the Creator” (Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1989, 3, die 8 dec. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 3 [1988] 1788). With these principles as a foundation, the process of peace requires that the whole of humanity should strive to eliminate attitudes of prejudice and discrimination. This is an especially urgent task where such attitudes have been embodied in legislative policies.

The Holy See follows with great concern trends towards violence and terrorism within your country. I take this occasion to express my fervent hope for reconciliation through dialogue and negotiation as the obligatory path to a just resolution of the complex problems which obstruct peace in Sri Lanka. Acts of terrorism are crimes against humanity, and it is clear that “to strike blindly, kill innocent people or carry out bloody reprisals does not help a just evaluation of the claims advanced by the minorities for whom the terrorists claim to act!” (Eiusdem Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1989, 3, die 8 dec. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 3 [1988] 1788). Reconciliation through justice and with respect for the legitimate aspirations of all parties involved is the only acceptable course of action for bringing about a peaceful resolution of the present hostilities.

As you assume your new responsibilities, Mr Ambassador, I offer you my good wishes for the successful fulfilment of your mission. I take this opportunity to assure you of the Holy See’s collaboration. Upon Your Excellency, your President and the people of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.




Speeches 1989 - Thursday, 13 April 1989