Speeches 1989 - Anglican Cathedral of Lusaka






International Airport of Lusaka

Thursday, 4 May 1989

Mr President,

Distinguished Members of the Government of Zambia,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Zambian Friends,

1. The time has come for me to leave your beautiful country. I have been very happy among you, and I take away with me the joy that we have shared during these days. I will always remember you with affection in my prayers.

You welcomed me with kindness, and since my arrival I have been accompanied every step of the way by your extraordinary hospitality.I have experienced at first hand the warmth of your human relations and the depth of your aspirations to live in a society based on respect for the dignity of every human person.

I will be very pleased if my visit leaves you convinced of my friendship and esteem. I thank you, President Kaunda, and the members of your Government for all that you have done to make this journey to Zambia truly memorable.

2. I came in fulfilment of my mission as Successor of the Apostle Peter: to proclaim the Good News of salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ, to confirm the faith of my brother bishops and of the Catholic community, and to begin the celebrations of the centenary of the Church’s presence in this region. It has been my special joy to witness the steadfastness and vigour of the Catholic Church in Zambia.

Brothers and sisters in Christ: I have seen the fruits of the missionary endeavour in your lives and I have seen how eager you are to grow in the knowledge and love of God’s saving word. With intense devotion we have celebrated the Eucharist together. I have been happy to meet the priests, religious and seminarians, and I have been edified by you all, young and old, by your families, and by those of you who are sick and offer your sufferings for the Church and for my ministry.

I have seen more closely the problems and challenges facing the Church, and I encourage all of you to place your trust in God and to persevere in his grace. I know your determination to serve God and country with all the strength of your love and compassion. May your light so shine that all may see your good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven! (Cfr. Mt 5,16)

3. To you, the young people of Zambia, I wish to say a special word of gratitude for taking such an active part in the various events of this visit and for sharing your joy so spontaneously. The future of Zambia and of Africa can indeed depend on your sense of responsibility and your willingness to strive for the noblest ideals. Take the future into your hands by preparing yourselves now, as fully and as actively as you can. Love your country! And be ever faithful to the grace of God at work in you!

4. My thanks go to all who have helped in the preparation and realization of this visit. I thank the representatives of the media who have brought my words not only to those who could not be present at the various meetings, but also to people throughout the world. I am deeply grateful to all those everywhere who have prayed for the success of my visit.

5. As I prepare to depart, I express once more my confidence and hope for this country: I pray that Zambia will ever keep close to God, and take to heart the words of the Prophet Micah:

“What does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?” (Mi 6,8)

God bless you, Mr President! God bless Zambia!






Chileka Airport, Blantyre

Thursday, 4 May 1989

Your Excellency President Banda,

Distinguished Members of the Government of Malawi,
My Brother Bishops,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Dear Friends,
Moni Nonse!

1. My first thought on stepping on to Malawi soil is to give thanks to God for the privilege of visiting your country. I rejoice in the Divine Providence which for the first time has brought a Pope, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, to this part of Africa.

I am grateful to you, Mr President, for this warm welcome. Your kind invitation and that of the Catholic bishops have made possible my visit, to which I have been looking forward with joy and expectation. This year Malawi celebrates the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of its Independence. In terms of world history you are a young nation. In terms of your own experience you have already worked hard to consolidate the structures of peace and harmony which are fundamental for your development and growth. My stay among you allows me to share in your just pride in the achievements obtained so far.

2. The challenge of building Malawi into a united, just and peaceful society calls for the best efforts of all sectors of the population. Together you must work out your common destiny. With vision you have fixed your sights not only on economic advancement but on authentic human development, that is, development which responds also to the cultural, moral and spiritual dimensions of the people. Only by pursuing this more far-reaching goal can people find the freedom to be completely themselves, in the fullness of their rights and duties within the human family (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 46). As a true friend of Malawi, I wish to encourage you all – the President, Government and people of this beautiful country – to persevere with courage and dedication in building a society worthy of the highest ideals.

3. Difficulties are not lacking, and some of them are the result of events outside your borders. I am thinking in particular of the hundreds of thousands of people who have sought refuge in your land because of civil strife in neighbouring Mozambique. The international community acknowledges your generosity in feeding and sheltering these refugees, despite the great burden this places on your own resources. The situation has been further strained by drought last year and then by floods in recent months. Truly, you have acted in accordance with your best traditions and in a true spirit of compassion. I renew my appeal to the consciences of other nations and peoples to assist you in meeting the needs of those who are suffering on such a large scale.

4. My journey to you began in Rome, the City of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who gave their lives to bear witness to their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. As the Successor of Peter in the Apostolic ministry, I greatly rejoice in this visit to the Catholic community of Malawi. I am happy to meet my brother bishops, the priests, religious and laity, with whom I am linked by bonds of grace and love in the great mystery of the Church. It has been a century since the first Catholic missionaries arrived in Malawi. They brought the gospel message of God’s love made manifest in Jesus Christ and poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Cfr. Rom Rm 5,5). The faith has taken root, and I am happy to know that the Church is continuing to make an ever greater contribution to Malawian society. By this visit I wish to confirm you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, in the faith which you have received, and encourage you in your wise and loving service to your country.

5. The evangelical message of love and of solidarity with our fellow men and women has a universal appeal. My encouragement is directed also to the Christians of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as the members of other religions, to join with one another and with men and women of good will everywhere in working for the good of mankind. I express this hope in the conviction that the true welfare of the individual and of society has a definite and important religious dimension. Each one has been given talents by God for the service of others, for we are all God’s children, members of his household (Cfr. Hebr. 3, 26).

6. Mr President and dear friends: I offer a special prayer today for the people of Malawi. With God’s help may your society be peaceful and harmonious, built on the solid foundations of justice and respect for the dignity and rights of all. May your lands yield rich harvests to compensate your labours, so that you may enjoy the fruit of your work and an ever greater share of material benefits. May your faith in God and love of neighbour ever increase, so that you and your children may rejoice in abundant divine blessings.

To all who have prepared my visit, to all who have come to welcome me today, and to all who are listening to my voice, I say: Zikomo Kwambiri.








Limbe Cathedral in Blantyre

Thursday, 4 May 1989

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Dear Friends in Christ,

1. It is with affection and gratitude that I greet each of you and all the priests, men and women religious and seminarians of Malawi. I have just set foot in your country, and already I sense that your hearts radiate the love of Christ. I am deeply moved to recall what has been accomplished here over the years through the efforts of the early missionaries: dedicated men and women like yourselves who brought the Good News of salvation out of love for Christ and for others, who heeded the Lord’s command “to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15,16).

Many of you are long-time residents of Malawi who came here from abroad. You have taken to heart the words of the Gospel by leaving parents, relatives and homeland in order to put your hand to the plough without looking back (Cfr. Luc Lc 9,62). I pray that your many sacrifices will redound to the glory of God. May you receive the heritage reserved for those who have made the Lord their chosen portion and cup (Cfr. Ps Ps 16,5-6).

Others of you are part of an increasing number of Malawian vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. I join the whole Church in praising God for this harvest, which manifests the growing maturity and depth with which the Gospel is received and lived among the families and communities of this country. These special vocations represent the finest flowering of a seed planted and nurtured by those who have gone before you.

2. My meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians is an important part of each pastoral visit that I make, and today is no exception. Our time together this evening provides a special opportunity for me to confirm you in your faith, to encourage you in perseverance and hope, and to remind you of the love that Christ has for each one of you. I have come as Bishop of Rome, as Successor of Peter, as Pastor, but I stand before you as a brother, as a fellow worker in the Lord’s vineyard, who like you has been called to preach the Gospel of God’s mercy and love and to manifest that love to others.

Our presence together in this cathedral likewise reminds us of the mystery of hierarchical communion which is at the very heart of the Church’s life and mission. None of us labours alone in the Lord’s vineyard. Bishops exercise their ministry as members of the College of Bishops with one another and with the Successor of Peter, who is the source and foundation of unity (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 18 Lumen Gentium LG 22). Priests, whether diocesan or religious, are co-workers and cooperators with their bishop with whom they constitute a single presbyterate in the service of the local Church; they are brothers to one another by virtue of their ordination and their common mission (Cfr. ibid. 28). And all men and women religious are called to respect one another and their pastors (Cfr. Perfectae Caritatis PC 6); they are to heed the bishops in all that pertains to the unity of the local Church and to the apostolate undertaken within its boundaries (Cfr. Christus Dominus CD 35).

3. Dear brothers and sisters: the “soul” of ecclesial communion and of these relationships within the Church is found in the commandment we heard a few moments ago in the Gospel. Jesus tells his disciples: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 15,12). Today Jesus speaks these same words to his disciples in Malawi and throughout the world, and he addresses them in a special way to us, the priests and religious of his Church. For we must be examples to the flock of the Good News of salvation that we proclaim in and through our respective vocations: we must be examples of love. Otherwise, as Saint Paul so pointedly reminds us, we are nothing more than “a noisy gong or a clashing cymbal” (1Co 13,1).

Christ speaks of love in the context of his redemptive work: the “laying down” of his life for his friends. Concerning this, Saint John writes: “By this we know love, that Christ laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1Io. 3, 16). We are to love as Christ has loved us. We must see our priesthood and religious consecration as a “laying down” of our lives for the salvation of our friends, that is, of every human person.

For us the imitation of Christ includes a free choice of celibacy, which “has always been considered by the Church ‘as something that signifies and stimulates charity’: it signifies a love without reservations, it stimulates to a charity which is open to all” (Pauli VI Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 24). Christ’s example of love is also the source of the special consecration that belongs to men and women religious. In the words of the Second Vatican Council: “They follow Christ, who, virginal and poor, redeemed and sanctified men by obedience unto death on the cross. Under the impulse of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts, they live more and more for Christ and for his Body, the Church” (Perfectae Caritatis PC 1).

Dear brothers and sisters: I urge you to reflect often on the love of Christ which is the origin and goal of your respective vocations. Always look for ways to deepen your fidelity to that love with your eyes fixed on him – the Eternal Priest, Shepherd and Bridegroom of your souls. For it is love that draws people to communion with the Lord in the Church. It is a life of self-sacrifice and self-giving that confirms the truth of the message we preach.

4. This evening’s Gospel text also presents another aspect of Christ’s love which has important consequences for priests and religious. The disciples are Christ’s friends because “he has made known to them everything he learned from the Father” (Cfr. Io Jn 15,15). His love for them led him to reveal the life-giving mysteries of God’s kingdom. Love made him their teacher.

From this passage and from others in the Gospel, we know that Christ commissioned those he loved to be teachers after him, “to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last”. He entrusted to the Church the sacred mission of teaching in his name to the ends of the earth, and in fulfilling this mission priests and religious have always exercised a special role.

If we would know how to teach, we must also know how to love “as Christ loved us”. He was often called “teacher” (Cfr. ibid. 1, 38), and he taught with authority – not an authority which he imposed, but one which people recognized as authentically from God. By his manner of teaching he perhaps reminds us of the elders of African villages to whom people go for guidance and instruction. These elders share their knowledge and experience freely, and for this they are respected.

Christ made known everything he had learnt from the Father (Cfr. Ibid. 15, 15). Since the first Pentecost this knowledge has been passed on and shared by those with an official teaching office, but also by others, especially within the family and school. From our own experience we know what it means to be taught by parents for whom teaching and love are inseparable. It is from their example above all that we learn the meaning of human life and of virtue. Just as their teaching is very often unspoken or limited to small gestures, so too our own good influence on others may be greatest in work that goes unnoticed or in example that strikes no one as extraordinary. Priests and religious who have been “schooled” in Christ can accomplish wonders – “mirabilia Dei” – by the love which transforms every action, however humble or routine, into a living example of the Gospel. It is this kind of love radiating from Christ’s friends that draws others to him.

This evening I wish to encourage all of you to be teachers after the heart of Christ, both in formal teaching settings and in the influence you exercise elsewhere by your example. He has made himself known to you out of love so that you in turn might bring him to others. Rest assured that the more faithful you are to your own special vocation in the Church the more effective you will teach the love of Christ to others.

5. I would now like to say a few words to the seminarians who, God willing, will one day share the life of service of which I have spoken this evening. You are the future pastors and teachers of God’s people. You too are Christ’s friends.

Your years of training in the seminary are a precious period of growth and development in your personal relationship with the Lord. Before you can give your life to the rewarding yet challenging service of the Gospel, you need to deepen through prayer and study your understanding of the mystery of Christ and of his Church. Priesthood is a permanent commitment by which you are called to love as Christ loved us, that is, by laying down your life and by teaching as Christ did. If you persevere in this commitment of love not only up to the day of ordination but through all of life, you can be certain that God’s grace will never fail you. You will know abundant joy and peace in the service of the Lord.

In a special way I commend to you young men the closing words of this evening’s Gospel: “You did not choose me but I chose you” (Perfectae Caritatis PC 15,16). Yes, the gift of a vocation to the priesthood is not something you seek for yourselves. It has nothing to do with status or privilege as the world understands these things. Your great privilege will be to lay down your lives with Christ the Eternal Priest if you are truly called to this vocation. May God help each of you to discern his will so that you too may “go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last”.

6. Upon all of you – the priests, men and women religious and seminarians of Malawi – I invoke an outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit for building up Christ’s Body, the Church. And in this cathedral dedicated to Mary, the Queen of Hearts, Mother of Divine Love, I commend your daily labours to her powerful protection. With confidence in her prayers for you and for all those who make her Son known and loved in the world, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.






Limbe Cathedral in Blantyre

Friday, 5 May 1989

The first Catholic missionaries claimed Malawi for the Mother of God. Those who resumed their work placed a medal honouring her at the foot of a baobab tree, in order to consecrate this land to her. Following their example, I, John Paul II, also wish to entrust the Church and the whole country of Malawi to Mary, Our Lady of Africa:

Blessed Lady, you are truly the Queen of our Hearts, for our inmost thoughts are revealed to you. Look with kindness upon this land of Malawi, upon its people and their leaders. See the goodness in their hearts and their desire for God, and lead them along the path of peace, harmony and prosperity. Fill them with love for one another and for all mankind.

You who are both Virgin and Mother, intercede for all families, especially those that are troubled. Help husbands and wives to live in mutual and lasting fidelity, and to bring up their children in the love of God and neighbour. May the women of Malawi find in you the perfect model of their femininity.

Comfort the many refugee families who have fled their native lands in search of safety and peace. Be a Mother of Compassion to those who suffer from illness, poverty, misfortune or despair.

I entrust to you the local Churches in Malawi: all the bishops, priests, religious and laity. Mother of the Church, intercede for them. Strengthen and encourage the clergy in the ministry of the word and the celebration of the sacraments. Inspire their preaching and teaching with the power of the Holy Spirit. Fill all men and women religious with joy and zeal in their special consecration to God for the service of the Church. Help many more young people to heed God’s call to the priesthood and religious life.

The laity of Malawi look to you as their Guide and Protectress. Through your intercession may they grow in faith. By word and example may they bear witness to God’s love in their local communities and in the public life of their country. Lady of the Magnificat, inspire them to work for greater justice in the world through the conversion of hearts away from sin and towards your Son.

Seat of Wisdom, obtain for all students and teachers an ever greater understanding of the mysteries of faith and their application to daily life. May the young people of Malawi seek God’s will in their lives and build a future bright with hope for all the people of this land and for all humanity.

Today, dear Mother, we are spiritually united with the missionaries of a century ago whose hearts leapt for joy on hearing “Jambo Maria” (Ave Maria) for the first time on the lips of the sons and daughters of this land. Like them we do not fear the future, for we know that Malawi is truly yours, in the hearts and souls of all who belong to Christ.

“Jambo Maria”: Daughter as well as Mother of your Son. To him be glory for ever. Amen.






Archbishopric of Blantyre

Friday, 5 May 1989

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. I give thanks to God for the grace which has made possible this visit to Malawi. I pray for you, the bishops, in the words of Saint Paul that “God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him” (2Th 1,11-12).

It is a great joy for me to be here during this year in which you commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the first Catholic missionaries at Mponda. We can look back at a century of remarkable growth from the implantation of the Church in Malawi, thanks to the zeal and self-sacrifice of many missionaries. Truly, “the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been “glorified” among the people of Malawi, and they in him.

Today the presence of missionaries from abroad remains an important part of the Church’s life here and throughout Africa. What they have done and continue to do is a sign that faith in Christ transcends the divisions of race, nation and culture. At the same time, in Malawi the phase of intense missionary activity from abroad is gradually giving way to another phase. The Catholics of Malawi are assuming an ever greater responsibility for their own local Churches and are seeking a deeper appreciation of what it means to be both Catholic and African. It is my hope that the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, now in the pre-preparatory stage, will provide an opportunity to examine in depth the various challenges facing the Church on this vast continent, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit discern the response that is called for.

2. While we give thanks to God for the freedom with which the Church in Malawi is able to carry out her mission, we also recognize that, as in every country, she sometimes experiences difficulties and problems both from within and from without in evangelizing herself and others. This is especially true because she preaches a Gospel of repentance. Saint Paul writes: “We are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?” (2Co 2,15-16). And Paul’s answer to this question also applies to us: “Our sufficiency is from God” (Ibid. 3, 5).

Archbishop Chiona, as part of his kind welcome, has alluded to some of the difficulties and problems that you face. The concerns that we share were also mentioned during your ad limina visit to Rome last year. On that occasion I spoke to you about some aspects of the Church in order to confirm you in your mission as pastors and thus give a fresh impetus to evangelization in Malawi (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Malaviae episcopos in visitatione sacrorum limirum, die 23 aug. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 3 [1988] 436).

3. Among these aspects, dear brothers, the religious situation in which evangelization takes place here should be given careful consideration. We note first of all that you preach the Gospel in a society which includes Christians of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. As I mentioned during the ad limina visit, the common bonds which unite Christians need to be more fully appreciated. These bonds can be strengthened by common prayer, joint social action and informed theological discussion.

There is also a significant number of people in Malawi who are followers of Islam. What is required is mutual respect, as well as mutual recognition of those things that we share in common. As I said to the young Muslims whom I met in Morocco in 1985: “Christians and Muslims, in general... have badly understood each other, and sometimes, in the past, have opposed and even exhausted each other in polemics and in wars. I believe that today, God invites us to change our old practices. We must respect each other, and also we must stimulate each other in good works on the path to God” (Eiusdem Allocutio Albae domi, in Marochio, ad iuvenes muslimos, die 19 aug. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 [1985] 497 ss.).

Both among Christians working for unity in obedience to Christ and among believers of different religions, there is no place for aggressive proselytism which disturbs and hurts, still less for the use of unworthy methods. For our part we uphold our principles and beliefs, respect for the human person, respect for religious freedom, and faith in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in inscrutable ways to accomplish God’s loving plan for humanity. As “Evangelii Nuntiandi” reminds us: “The Church seeks to convert solely through the divine power of the message she proclaims” (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 18). Entrusted by her Lord with the fullness of revelation, she bears faithful witness to it in Malawi before other Christians, the members of other world religions, and those who follow the traditional religious practices inherited from their ancestors.

4. The variety of religions in Malawi makes is all the more important that Catholics should be well informed about the teachings of their faith and well formed in putting that faith into practice. Through membership in Small Christian Communities and in lay movements and associations, as well as through the apostolate of catechists, teachers and lay leaders, people can derive a greater sense of belonging and of participating in the Church’s life and mission. In all these many ways the laity are confirmed in their Catholic faith. They are challenged to grow in holiness. They are motivated and effectively prepared for the work of evangelization. I encourage you to continue your efforts to ensure adequate religious and moral training for all the faithful, especially the young. By growing in the new life of grace, they will be able to make an important contribution to your society through their good example and leadership.

The well-being of Christ’s flock depends in large measure on the care it receives from its shepherds, and therefore the formation of the clergy is always of the utmost importance. During your ad limina visit I encouraged you to provide suitable priests as instructors and role models for the growing number of seminarians.

After ordination every priest must continue his spiritual and intellectual formation if he is to grow in the service of God’s people in union with his bishop. My predecessor Pope Paul VI made mention of this with reference to priestly celibacy: “The priest”, he wrote, “should apply himself above all else to developing, with all the love which grace inspires within him, a close relationship with Christ, exploring its inexhaustible and enriching mystery; he should also acquire an ever deeper sense of the mystery of the Church, apart from which his state of life might run the risk of seeming to be unfounded and incongruous” (Eiusdem Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, 75). Bishops have a special responsibility to provide opportunities for this renewal and growth to take place among their priests (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 22).

The need for lifelong formation applies to religious Sisters and Brothers too. Their special consecration also needs to be deepened so that they will remain deeply rooted in Christ and so that the high ideals of their vocation will continue undimmed in their own hearts and before the people to whom they are a special sign of God’s Kingdom. As bishops you have the role of leading, challenging and uniting all those working in the Lord’s vineyard, in a true spirit of ecclesial love and service. May you always rely on God’s power to sustain you in all these tasks (Cfr. 2Thess 2Th 1,11).

5. Within the context of evangelization and formation, the Church is deeply committed to the promotion of the dignity of the human person and the good of society through authentic human development. Within the plurality of religious confessions in Malawi this means a commitment to justice and peace in collaboration with all who have true human values at heart. As I stated in my Encyclical Letter “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”: “The condemnation of evils and injustices is also a part of that ministry of evangelization in the social field which is an aspect of the Church’s prophetic role. But it should be made clear that proclamation is always more important than condemnation, and the latter cannot ignore the former, which gives it true solidity and the force of higher motivation” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 41). As you rightly pointed out in your letter to Catholics in preparation for my visit, the Kingdom of God means working for justice, peace and reconciliation in this world, as well as proclaiming their full realization in the next.

6. My brothers: in ministering to the flock entrusted to your care you have sought to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd, who “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10,11). I commend you as teachers who have given firm witness to the truths of the Catholic faith.I also gladly reciprocate the love and affection you show for the Successor of Peter within the universal communion of the Church.

May my visit to Malawi strengthen your faith and increase your trust in the Lord. The words of Christ to the first disciples are also addressed to you: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Lc 12,32). And again: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16,33).

For a hundred years, the Blessed Virgin Mary has interceded for the Church in this land in answer to the prayers of the first missionaries at Mponda and those who followed them. She watches over each of you, her beloved sons, and all your people. Today I wish to commend you to her once again, so that in the midst of every joy and sorrow she may be for you “a sign of sure hope and comfort... until all families of people, whether they are honoured with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know the Saviour, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity” (Lumen Gentium LG 68-69). To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 1989 - Anglican Cathedral of Lusaka