Speeches 1989




Monday, 29 May 1989

Mr Ambassador,

I accept with pleasure the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belize to the Holy See. I am grateful for the cordial greetings which you have brought to me from the Governor-General, Her Excellency Dame Minita Gordon, and from the Government and people of your country, and I would ask you to convey my own good wishes, with the assurance of my prayers for the peace and well-being of all the people of Belize.

As I welcome Your Excellency to the Vatican, I am pleased to recall my Pastoral Visit to your country in March 1983. At that time, it was my privilege to experience at first hand the warmth and hospitality of your people. My visit to Belize also marked the establishment of full diplomatic relations between your Nation and the Holy See. It is my fervent hope that the high esteem and mutual respect which exist between Belize and the Holy See will be further strengthened by your mission.

In your address, you made kind mention of my Message for this year’s World Day of Peace, a message which spoke of the need to respect the inalienable dignity and rights of minorities in the pursuit of an enduring world peace. As Your Excellency has stated, Belize is composed of people from many ethnic, cultural and religious groups. The desire of your Government to guarantee a peaceful society and to promote unity by fostering the rights of the minorities living in your country is a sign of true maturity. In any genuinely democratic society, respect for minorities remains the cornerstone of true civic concord and growth as a Nation.

In our own days, the task of growing as a Nation in peace and unity is a demanding one. This is especially so in Belize, given the political tensions throughout your region. It is imperative to seek the path of negotiation and to make use of dialogue for the resolution of all conflicts that may arise. True peace can only be attained when individuals and societies base their life and activity upon a commitment to respect the dignity of each person. As I said in my first Encyclical, “ peace comes down to respect for man’s inviolable rights – Opus iustitiae pax – while war springs from the violation of these rights and brings with it still graver violations of them. ...Indeed, it is a significant fact, repeatedly confirmed by the experiences of history, that violation of the rights of man goes hand in hand with violation of the rights of the nation, with which man is united by organic links as with a larger family ” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 17).

In today’s world, the safeguarding of the right to life and the guarantee of educational opportunities are essential conditions for the development of a social order that truly promotes the dignity and well-being of every human person. The Catholic Church in Belize has long dedicated herself to the social welfare and education of your people. Through her efforts, she strives to improve the quality of their life and to secure the blessings of peace, harmony and cooperation. She considers this activity an integral part of her religious mission, according to the spirit of the Gospel.

In this regard, I wish to assure Your Excellency that the Church is ever willing, as far as she can, to help the poor, the sick, the unemployed and the needy. The Church in Belize will also continue her humanitarian aid on behalf of the numerous refugees within your borders. I am pleased to note your mention of the valuable assistance which your Government has received in this area from both the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and from donors in the European Community. These praiseworthy efforts are the fruit of a generous solidarity, and bear clear witness to the inviolable dignity of every human person.

You will recall, Mr Ambassador, that during my visit to your country I expressed a hope contained in the words of your National Anthem: that your nation may truly be a land of the free with the freedom of the children of God (Cfr. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VI, 1 (1983) 675). Today, I wish to renew that hope on behalf of all your fellow citizens. I assure you of the continuing cooperation and assistance of the Holy See as you seek to serve your country. May Almighty God, the source of all that is good, grant you wisdom and strength in the accomplishment of your mission. As a pledge of his love, I invoke abundant divine blessings upon Your Excellency, your Government and all the beloved people of Belize.




Consistory Hall

Tuesday, 30 May 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you on the eve of the programme “European-American Cardiology in Rome”, sponsored by the American College of Cardiology, the European Society of Cardiology, the “Società Italiana di Cardiologia” and the “Associazione Nazionale dei Medici, Cardiologi, Ospedalieri”. You have chosen the Cardiology Institute of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart as the site of your Symposium. In doing so, you honour an institution which carries on its research concerning the latest medical issues in the light of the human and Christian principles which govern the preservation and advancement of human life and its quality.

The presence of so many experts in cardiology inspires great hope for the progress of research and scientific reflection in the important areas of the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of cardiac disease. It also remonstrates your awareness of the need for effective collaboration in coordinating scientific and technological advances for the ultimate benefit of those you serve.

2. Throughout the ages, the human heart has been regarded as more than simply one physical organ among others. In the Scriptures, the word “heart” refers to the source of life itself, not merely physical life (Cfr. Gen Gn 18,5), but also the life of the soul as it lies open to God (ISam. 16, 7; 1Petr. 3, 4). It is the heart which characterizes the individual in his relations with God and with others (Mt 5,8 Mt 15,19). In biblical language, the heart is the abyss (Ps 64,6) which conceals the fathomless mysteries of human desires, motivations and yearnings. When God wishes to assure his people that he will bring them to himself and grant them every blessing and fulfilment, he promises them a new heart. As the Lord says through the Prophet Ezechiel: “I will give you a new heart, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ez 36,26).

In effect, the Scriptures bear witness to the universal perception that knowledge of the human heart unveils the mystery of man himself and his place in the world. In a striking way, recent progress in cardiology has reflected the truth of his ancient conviction. The latest advances in the fields of prevention, diagnosis, therapy and transplant technique, when seen from a higher perspective, have all served to further the cause of human life and its sublime dignity. This, of course, has always been medicine’s highest aspiration: to serve life, in all of its nobility, as a gift to be accepted and lived to the full at every moment. Were it not for this goal, the most sophisticated surgical methods would no longer be truly medical, but reduced to mere techniques and nothing more.

3. The topics which your Symposium will discuss reveal the extent to which medicine is, and must always be, both a science and an art. Its scientific aspect stands out in the diagnostic and therapeutic technology which so many of you have helped to develop. But no less important is another aspect of the topics which you will discuss: medicine is an art, and your medical expertise must depend upon an inspiration derived from a higher awareness that all that you do aims at the betterment of your fellow men and women, and seeks to serve their well-being.

This vocation to service is what ennobles your scientific research and directs it to its ultimate goal: the healing of your brothers and sisters who suffer. As healers of the heart, you have often experienced the delicate balance between fear and hope, physical pain and spiritual tranquillity which is felt by so many of your patients. You know the truth of an observation I made in my Apostolic Letter on the meaning of human suffering: “As important and indispensable as institutions are, no institution can ever replace the human heart, human compassion, human love or human initiative when it comes to dealing with the sufferings of another. This is true of physical sufferings, but it is even more true when it comes to dealing with the many kinds of moral suffering, and primarily when it is the soul that is suffering” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Salvifici Doloris, 29).

4. Ladies and Gentlemen: the learned Societies to which you belong were founded with goals that are eminently humanitarian. They serve their purpose best when they foster a blending of service and love, professional skill and human sensitivity, and lead to a deeper awareness of the mystery of man himself – man who is a finite being and yet a creature of God, subject to frailty and yet destined to immortality, physically weak yet sustained by hope in a life beyond death. May the desire to serve the ultimate good of others inspire all the proceedings of your Symposium, and upon all of you I invoke the blessings of God our Heavenly Father.



Wednesday, 31 May 1989

My dear Friends,

As the time for my pastoral visit to the Nordic countries approaches, and as I intensify my preparations for this important moment, I wish to send to all of you this message of heartfelt greetings. I am looking forward very much to this visit, which is being made at the gracious invitation of the respective Heads of State and Governments, of the Lutheran Church in each country, and in particular of the small but beloved Catholic communities in your midst.

My journey is meant above all to be a pilgrimage of faith to the Christian people of your lands. I wish to honour your Christian heritage, the great saints of the past, the men and women who fashioned your history, not least through the strength of their fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In union with all those who will join me in prayer I wish, on your soil, to give thanks to God for the life and achievements of the Nordic peoples, past and present. It is also my fervent hope that the presence of the Bishop of Rome will serve to further promote the ecumenical movement which is drawing Christ’s followers out of longstanding rivalry into thoughtful and sincere dialogue, and into collaboration on issues of mutual concern.

Each of your countries has attained a high degree of economic and social development. You are deeply concerned that the same progress should be extended to other parts of the world, especially to the developing countries. For this generosity and expression of brotherhood, the international community is indebted to you. The Catholic Church, for her part, has made the integral development of peoples a major objective for her service throughout the world. In the fulfilment of my office I have endeavoured to apply the Church’s social teaching to the pressing problems now facing humanity. I am convinced that the way forward for the human family is closely linked to the growing worldwide awareness of the central importance of the individual person and his or her basic human rights. Not just material well-being needs to be fostered and supported, but the interior freedom of the spirit which is at the very heart of the personal being. In each of your countries therefore I hope to pay tribute to what has already been achieved in this direction, and to offer some reflections on our common responsibility for the further advancement of peace, justice, freedom and solidarity in human affairs.

I thank all those who are preparing for my visit, especially those concerned with the spiritual preparation being made, so that our meetings may prove to be truly a dialogue of the heart. I commend my visit to Almighty God’s inspiration and loving protection.

To Norway I say: Gud velsigne dere alle.
To Iceland: Gud blessi ykkur oll.
To Finland: Jumala siunatkoon teita kaikkia.
To Denmark: Gud velsigne jere alle.
To Sweden: Gud valsigna er alla.

God bless you all.

June 1989






Fornebu International Airport, Oslo

Thursday, 1st June 1989

Madam Prime Minister,

Members of the Government,
My brother Bishops,
Your Excellencies,
Dear People of Norway,

1. Standing here on Norwegian soil, I am fully conscious of the special significance of this occasion. For the first time ever, a Bishop of Rome, a Successor of the Apostle Peter, has come to Norway and to the Nordic countries. I come, not as the representative of a political or national interest, but as a witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as a brother deeply concerned with the well-being of his brothers and sisters in every part of the world. I come to Norway as a friend, full of esteem and love for its noble people and its millenary Christian heritage.

2. My words of greeting are directed in the first place to His Majesty King Olav V and to the members of the Royal Family, whom I look forward to meeting shortly.

To you, Madam Prime Minister and Members of the Government, I express my appreciation and gratitude for all you have done to make this visit possible, and for the warm welcome you have given me.

3. I assure the bishops and members of the Catholic community that it is with intense joy I am making this pastoral visit. I am immensely grateful to God whose loving Providence enables me to carry out the Petrine ministry also by way of personal contact with the particular Churches in many parts of the world. Through the Eucharist and through prayer our union in faith and love will grow; together we shall proclaim our allegiance to Christ and receive strenght from him for ever greater Christian service.

4. My pilgrimage to Norway is also in response to the gracious invitation of the Lutheran Church to participate in a service of prayer for Christian unity at Nidaros Cathedral, the hallowed national shrine where Saint Olav, King and Martyr, is buried. I thank you, dear Lutheran brothers and sisters, for that kindness and for the climate of friendship and ecumenical understanding it displays.

My visit to the Nordic countries is a confirmation of the Catholic Church’s commitment to the ecumenical task of fostering unity among all Christians. Twenty-five years ago the Second Vatican Council clearly impressed the urgency of this challenge on the Church. My predecessors have pursued this goal with persevering attention to the grace of the Holy Spririt, who is the divine source and guarantor of the ecumenical movement. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have made ecumenism a priority of my pastoral concern and action. God grant that my visit will bring us ever closer to that full fellowship in faith and love which Christ himself wished for his followers (Cfr. Io Jn 17,21).

5. I have come to the Nordic countries as a spiritual pilgrim to honour the memory of the Saints who called your ancestors to the faith, led them to Baptism and bore valiant witness to Christ, even at times to the shedding of their blood for his sake. The great Saints of the North were men and women rooted in their own historical context, individuals who knew how to apply the message of God’s eternal love – revealed in Jesus Christ – to the important questions affecting their peoples and the world around them. Their example still speaks to us today about the profound truths and values on which the whole of European civilization was built and in which your own Norwegian culture developed – truths and values which have lost nothing of their relevance for contemporary society, since they reveal “man’s deepest sphere” and give back “meaning to his life in the world” (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Hominis, 10). To remember the events and influences which have shaped a nation is to understand better the sources of its present historical direction.

6. Here in Oslo, I wish to pay tribute to the special attention which present-day Norway gives to fostering and defending freedom and human rights. In the international forum you have taken a keen interest in the welfare of other peoples and you strive to raise your voice whenever human dignity and fundamental rights are threatened or violated. Norway is generous in giving aid to developing countries. Your soldiers – at no little sacrifice – play an important part in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. All of these forms of solidarity manifest the maturity of your national life and your awareness of the interdependence of peoples in achieving higher standards of development and a greater sharing in social and political life. Peace is solidly served when the deeper aspirations of peoples to justice, freedom and dignity are upheld.

7. Norway, and indeed all of Scandinavia, has opened its doors to many refugees forced to flee their homelands in search of safety and freedom. They have lost so much that is dear to them, and you have given them new hope. From you they have received genuine compassion and humanitarian care. In coming here they have had to adapt to much that was strange to them, but, in turn, you have received from them the treasures of their cultural and spiritual background. You love and serve them best by enabling them to preserve and develop their own unique qualities. I am aware that many of your new immigrants are Catholics, and I look forward to meeting them during this visit.

8. Madam Prime Minister, dear Norwegian friends: again I express my gratitude for the welcome you have given me. My stay among you will be short but intense. May it serve to strengthen the friendship between us, a friendship confirmed by the establishment in 1982 of full diplomatic relations between Norway and the Holy See.

Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet. (Yes, we love this country) (Excerptus "Inno Nazionale").
Gud velsigne Norge! (Goa bless Norway).
Gud velsigne hele det norske folk! (God bless the Norwegian people).







Pro-Cathedral of Saint Olav, Oslo

Friday, 2 June 1989

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It is a great joy for me to see assembled here in the Pro-Cathedral of Saint Olav the priests of the diocese, the religious sisters and representatives of the laity. In you I embrace the whole Diocese of Oslo, gathered around your Pastor, Bishop Gerhard Schwenzer, and I greet you all with the words of Saint Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,2).

The cathedral is always the heart of the diocese. It is the centre from which radiates the glow of Christian life, manifested in faith - filled worship of the Lord and in lives of holiness and service. So it is fitting that it is precisely here that the Successor of Peter should be called upon to strengthen his brothers and sisters (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,32) and encourage them to persevere in the sacramental life, in evangelization and catechesis, and in all forms of Christian service. Peter’s profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi stands at the heart of the ministerium petrinum.Today and for ever the Bishop of Rome is bound by those simple and clear words spoken by Peter who answered Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?” with the words “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt 16,16). This is the faith which I share with you and which I reaffirm here today before the priests, religious and lay people of Oslo.

2. In the first place I greet the priests who labour in the Lord’s vineyard in this diocese. My wish is to encourage you in your ministry. You have been “set apart for the Gospel of God” (Rm 1,1). Nothing m your lives can take the place of your special relationship with Christ, your sacramental configuration to him and your sharing in his Paschal Mystery. For you are really witnesses to and ministers of a life other than this earthly one. You are the spokesmen, the special builders of the Kingdom won by Christ through his victory over sin and death. As “heralds of the Gospel and shepherds of the Church”, you have the special task of caring for the spiritual growth of the Body of Christ (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 6).

My prayer for you is that you will be ever more authentic witnesses to Christ, with a deep life of prayer, faithful in the celebration of the sacraments by which the Church is built up, tireless in teaching. You have to work in the difficult conditions of the diaspora where distance and climate often make it difficult for the parishioners to come together, and difficult for you to reach them. Never be disheartened or dismayed by the small numbers of your flocks. Remember that you are always linked by unbreakable bonds with the whole Church both on earth and in heaven. Jesus Christ has chosen you and he loves you. He will keep you faithful to the end! His grace will uphold you in your generous service of his Church!

3. Dear Sisters,

In you I pay tribute to a long history of devoted consecration and witness to Christ in the diocese. The Church’s presence in Norway, both in the last century and in our own, would not have been possible without you. Many Norwegians have had their first contact with the Catholic Church through your hospitals, schools and kindergartens. They have seen in your generous service Christ the servant, healer and teacher.

The evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience for the sake of the Kingdom are the expression of the supreme love of God: God’s love for you, which is at the origin of your vocation, and your love for him, which is a clear sign to the rest of the community of “a new and eternal life acquired by the redemption of Christ” (Lumen Gentium LG 44). This means that your place as consecrated women is at the very heart of the Church. In you, your fellow Catholics and all others should see the essence of what baptismal life means. What you do as consecrated persons has great importance, but what you are through your religious consecration is even more central to the mystery of God’s saving presence in human affairs. Thus, whatever the form your individual religious families take – contemplative or apostolic – your consecrated life is an immensely powerful witness to Christ’s love.

Dear Sisters: you know how much the Catholic community in Norway needs you. The Pope encourages you and the ecclesial community is grateful to you. May God’s grace uphold you and fill you with joy!

4. I greet the representatives of the laity who are here and also the many lay people whom they represent.

Dear friends: in the midst of society it is your special task to be witnesses to Christ and to bring your Christian faith to bear on the realities of family, social and working life, so that all things may be made new in Christ (Cfr. 2Cor 2Co 5,17). To be a Christian is to bring a “newness” to life and to the world around us. This responsibility is rooted in our baptism, in which each one of us has shared in the death of Christ. The words of Saint Paul describe what has happened to each one of us: “We were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6,4).

Today, the pressure brought to bear on people, young and old alike, to conform to the values of the secular society in which they live is great. But Saint Paul tells Christians: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Ibid. 12, 2). This “renewal” has taken place once and for all in the waters of baptism, but it must become a reality that takes an ever deeper hold of our lives, “transforming” us so that our thoughts and values are the thoughts and values of Jesus Christ himself.

How is this to happen? The sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, conform our lives more and more closely to Christ’s, so that we do indeed live in a way “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Ph 1,27). By coming together with others to pray and to serve the Church and the civil community – working among refugees and immigrants, in your parish councils, caring for the needy, belonging to the Fellowship of Young Catholics, the Association of Catholic Women and the other councils and organizations that render such valuable service in this diocese – in all these ways you experience the Church as a community, indeed a communion, like a great symphony of worship, prayer and service.

5. Dear brothers and sisters: in this great symphony each person has a specific place and role. Each one of us – priest, religious and lay person – is called to play a particular “instrument”, and all together we are called to active and harmonious participation. Thus for example parish worship on Sundays, wherever your diaspora conditions make it possible, should be a joyous gathering of the whole community. Prayer in families and in small groups – especially when the distance to the Mass centre is very great – can also help to safeguard the community dimension of faith, for faith cannot and must not be confined to the personal and individual domain.

In worship and service everybody is called to work together: “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Petr. 4, 10). Pastoral ministry and service in the Church must bear the marks of unity and harmony. In the well-known words of the Council, the Church is the “sacrament or sign of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” (Lumen Gentium LG 1). Living this unity and harmony can sometimes be hard; sometimes we have to give up our own ideas for the sake of broader and higher perspectives, and this can cause suffering. But this too is a form of conformity to Christ, who came not to do his own will but the will of the Father who sent him (cf. Jn Jn 6,38).

6. Our calling is not to bear witness to any merely human doctrine (1Co 2,1), but to bear witness to Jesus Christ and the power of his Resurrection (Cfr. Phil Ph 3,10). This has been the constant task of the Church in Norway, from the earliest days of her presence here. Sometimes it has been the witness of blood, as with Saint Olav and with Saint Hallvard, the Patron Saint of Oslo, who gave his life in defence of the weak. For all of us here in this cathedral today, the task is the same: to point beyond ourselves, to point to Jesus Christ, who is our hope and our life, who alone can answer the questions and satisfy the longings of human hearts, Jesus Christ who alone is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14,6).

Dear brother priests, religious sisters and lay men and women: “I thank God... when I remember you constantly in my prayers” (2Tm 1,3).

I thank you, and those whom you represent, for the witness of your Catholic faith. I encourage you to go on, with joy and confidence, in the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Norway needs a new confidence in its Christian calling. It needs to look to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, for light and strength to meet the needs of a society which has made great material progress but which is sometimes unsure of how to answer the demands of the spirit. Such a renewal of faith depends greatly on each one of you.

May Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of his Church, support you with her prayers, and may all the Saints of Norway strengthen you.






Fornebu International Airport, Oslo

Friday, 2 June 1989

Madam Prime Minister,
Dear Friends,

1. My visit to Norway has begun in Oslo and now takes me to Trondheim, where I will participate in an ecumenical prayer service at the tomb of Saint Olav. At Trondheim and Tromsø, I will also meet the pastors and people of the Catholic communities there.

In leaving Oslo, I express my gratitude to both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities for their kind help in making this visit possible. In a particular way, I thank His Majesty King Olav and you, Madam Prime Minister. It is my earnest hope that the good relations which exist between Norway and the Holy See will continue and grow stronger in the service of world peace achieved through greater understanding between all peoples. Peace and understanding are causes close to the hearts of all Norwegians, and have their source in the highest aspirations of the human spirit. By your nation’s generosity and commitment to help those in need, and through your membership of the appropriate international organizations, you have displayed a striking determination to work for a better world. May God bless you in your efforts to share the many blessings you have received.

2. The warmth and kindness of the Norwegian people were nowhere more evident than in yesterday’s Mass and subsequent ecumenical meeting. This response was particularly gratifying to me, because my ministry as Pope commits me to strengthening the bonds which unite all who believe in Christ. It is my hope that all Christians here in Norway, by deepening their faith and cooperating with one another, will foster the virtues and values that have stood as the basis of your country’s character and way of life for a thousand years. I am deeply grateful for the freedom with which the Catholic Church can proclaim her teachings, and for the generous support which Catholics receive from Norway’s educational system, which encourages them in their efforts to educate their children in the knowledge of their faith and the service of all that is good.

3. Norway’s Catholics, despite their small numbers, are an important part of the universal Catholic Church and are very close to my heart. Their faith, rooted in the truths of the Gospel message, has much to offer Norway as it faces the future. A significant role in the Catholic Church in Norway is played by people from elsewhere who have made this country their new home.These Catholics bring many gifts to both their Church and their adopted land. I thank all of you for the concern and help that you have given to these immigrants, especially to those who have come here in the hope of beginning a new life in freedom and peace.

4. Dear friends: in today’s world, there is a great thirst for true peace and harmony based upon justice for all people and on respect for the world we live in. Today more than ever we sense the interdependence of all individuals and nations. In my Encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, I used the term “solidarity” to describe the moral response which is now being demanded of us.Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit ourselves to the common good, the good of all and of each individual, based upon our responsibility to and for each other (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). I expressed the conviction that this solidarity is the path to peace and genuine development (Ibid.39). Among the nations, Norway has played an important diplomatic and humanitarian role in strengthening the bonds of international cooperation. The Catholic Church, which seeks the authentic development of man and of society, a development which respects and promotes all the dimensions of the human person, is grateful for your efforts. As I leave your capital city, I pray that Norwegian society will continue to grow in the ways of peace and in accordance with the best of your traditions.

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in all ways”. God bless Norway! God bless you all!

Gud velsigne Norge! (God bless Norway).
Gud velsigne hele det norske folk! (God bless the Norwegian people).

Speeches 1989