Speeches 1989 - Lutheran Cathedral of Uppsala






University of Uppsala

Friday, 9 June 1989

Your Majesties,
Your Royal Highnesses,
Rector Magnificus of the University of Uppsala and Rectores Magnifici of the Swedish Universities and Institutes of Higher Learning,
Your Grace, Archbishop Werkström,
Distinguished Guests and Dear Students,

1. It is not without a deep sense of history that I participate, as your guest, in this august assembly. I thank you, Honourable Rector, far your kind words of welcome. Allow me to express to all of you my profound gratitude.

As Bishop of Rome, I cannot but rejoice in the fact that this University of Uppsala owes its birth to an official act of my predecessor, Pope Sixtus IV, in the year 1477. At the request of the then Archbishop of Uppsala, Jakob Ulfsson, the University was founded with the aim of strengthening the intellectual and spiritual relations between the Nordic Countries and the whole of Europe. The fact that, more than five centuries later, the successor of Sixtus IV is privileged to visit this prestigious University, once created by the Holy See, moves me deeply.

Times indeed have changed immensely since the foundation of the University of Uppsala. The very modest institution which started in the late fifteenth century with a small group of lecturers and students was an heir to the highest intellectual ideals of the Christian Middle Ages. The University soon became identified with the history of Sweden and closely linked with the destiny of its kings, its nobility, its people. The Studium Generale of Uppsala took its place very honourably in the family of great European universities that spread in time over the Continent. Famous masters from Uppsala became household names in the intellectual history of Europe and the world: just to mention a few, we may recall Celsius, Swedenborg and Linnaeus. The University pursued a tradition of excellence in the disciplines of the liberal arts, jurisprudence, science, philosophy, medicine and theology. Although it experienced the unfortunate events which caused European Christians to part company at the Reformation, the University has also witnessed in recent years the growing aspiration of many Christians for a restoration of unity in Jesus Christ, an aspiration which has found expression in the ecumenical commitment of many Lutheran personalities of Uppsala, including Nathan Söderblom, former Lutheran Archbishop of this city.

2. Ladies and Gentlemen: it is in the name of our common Christian heritage that I propose to reflect with you today on the mission of a university in the service of the human person within the historical and cultural circumstances of our day. We must work out together, for our own times, a form of higher education that will bring to the younger generations the lasting values of an intellectual tradition enriched by two millennia of humanistic and Christian experience.

In the past, the ideal of the Universitas was to strive for the unification of knowledge by seeking to reconcile all the elements of truth attainable from the natural and sacred sciences. What was revealed through human study was understood in the light of the Revelation found in the Gospel. The truth of grace is also the truth of nature, as was once beautifully expressed in the University of Uppsala’s motto: “Gratiae veritas naturae”.Of course, today’s scientific development and the prodigious scale of modern research render unthinkable any simple synthesis of present-day knowledge. There exist no modern versions of the ancient Summa, Compendium or Tractatus. But many among the best minds in the university world today insist on redefining for our time an original concept of Universitas and Humanitas, which should still pursue in new ways a necessary integration of knowledge, if we are to avoid the pitfalls of a too pragmatic professionalization and unrelated overspecialization in university programmes. The future of a truly human culture, open to ethical and spiritual values, is at stake.

3. A new Christian humanism and a new version of liberal arts education is clearly called for, and the Catholic Church follows with the greatest interest the research and experiments that are taking place in relation to this question. In the first place, we have to accept realistically the development and transformation of modern universities, which have grown immensely in number and complexity. Modern countries are proud of their universities, which are key institutions for the progress of advanced societies. This makes it all the more urgent therefore to reflect on the European universities’ specific vocation to keep alive the ideal of a liberal education and the universal values that a cultural tradition, marked by Christianity, brings to higher learning.

The days are now past when the European universities unanimously referred themselves to one central authority in Christianity. Our societies have to live in a pluralistic context, which calls for dialogue between many spiritual traditions in a new quest for harmony and collaboration. But it is still essential for the university, as an institution, to refer constantly to the intellectual and spiritual heritage that has shaped our European identity over the centuries.

4. What is that heritage? Let us think for a moment of the following fundamental values of our civilization: the dignity of the person, the sacred character of life, the central role of the family, the importance of education, the freedom to think, to speak and to profess one’s own convictions or religion, the lawful protection of individuals and groups, the cooperation of all for the common good, the concept of work as a sharing in the Creator’s own work, the authority of the State, itself governed by law and reason. These values belong to the cultural treasure of Europe, a treasure which is the result of much thought, debate and suffering. They represent a spiritual achievement of reason and justice which honours the peoples of Europe as they strive to implement in the temporal order the spirit of Christian brotherhood taught by the Gospel.

Universities should be the special place for giving light and warmth to these beliefs, which are rooted in the Greco-Roman world and which have been enriched and uplifted by the Judeo-Christian tradition. It was this tradition which developed the higher concept of the human person, seen as an image of God, redeemed by Christ and called to an eternal destiny, endowed with inalienable rights, and responsible for the common good of society. The theological discussion about the two natures of Jesus Christ permitted the development of the concept of person, which is the cornerstone of Western civilization.

The individual was thus situated in a natural order of creation with objective conditions and requirements. Man’s position no longer rested on the whim of statesmen or ideologies, but upon an objective, universal natural law. This basic principle was stated expressly in the Bull of Foundation of the University of Uppsala: The human race is governed and ordered by the natural and moral order – “Humanum genus naturali iuri et morali regitur et gubernatur” (Bolla Si iuxta sanctorum, ed. di J. Liedgren, in Acta Universitatis Upsalensis, c. 44, Uppsala 1983).

5. Today there is a growing moral consciousness of the truth of this principle, shared by peoples every-where. An individual’s worth and dignity does not depend on political or ideological systems but is grounded on the natural order, an objective order of values. Such a conviction led to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, a milestone in the history of humanity, which the Catholic Church has defended and expanded in several official documents. The tragic events of this century have shown how human beings can be threatened and destroyed when governments deny the fundamental dignity of the person. We have seen great nations forgetting their cultural traditions and decreeing laws for the extermination of entire populations, and for tragic discrimination against ethnic or religious groups. We have also witnessed the moral integrity of men and women who have heroically opposed such aberrations through courageous acts of resistance and compassion. I cannot fail to mention your compatriot Raoul Wallenberg, who in praiseworthy fashion rescued so many members of the Jewish people from Nazi concentration camps. His example inspires a dedicated fight for human rights.

The dignity of the person can be protected only if the person is considered as inviolable from the moment of conception until natural death. A person cannot be reduced to the status of a means or a tool of others. Society exists to promote the security and dignity of the person. Therefore, the primary right which society must defend is the right to life.Whether in the womb or in the final phase of life, a person may never be disposed of in order to make life easier for others. Every person must be treated as an end in himself or herself. This is a fundamental principle for all human activity: in health care, in the upbringing of children, in education, in the media. The attitudes of individuals or societies in this regard can be measured by the treatment given to those who for various reasons cannot compete in society – the handicapped, the sick, the aged and the dying. Unless a society treats the human person as inviolable, the formulation of consistent ethical principles becomes impossible, as does the creation of a moral climate which fosters the protection of the weakest members of the human family.

6. As I had the occasion to state last year, on the ninth centenary of the University of Bologna, one of the richest legacies of the Western university tradition is precisely the concept that a civilized society rests on the primacy of reason and law. As Bishop of Rome, a son of Poland and once a member of the Polish academic community, I whole-heartedly encourage all the representatives of intellectual and cultural life who are engaged in revitalizing the classical and Christian heritage of the university institution. Not all teachers, not all students are equally involved in the study of theology and the liberal arts, but all can benefit from the transmission of a culture enriched by that great common tradition.

Your university system has kept alive the teaching of theology, and this offers an open forum for studying the word of God and its meaning for the men and women of today. Our times are in great need of interdisciplinary research in meeting the complex challenges brought by progress. These problems bear on the meaning of life and death, the threats involved in genetic manipulation, the scope of education and the transmission of knowledge and wisdom to the younger generation. We certainly have to admire the marvellous discoveries of science, but we are also aware of the devastating power of modern technology, capable of destroying the earth and all it contains. A mobilization of minds and consciences therefore is urgently needed.

It is vital for the future of our civilization that questions such as these should be jointly examined by scientific experts as well as by expert theologians, so that all aspects of technical and moral issues may be carefully considered. Speaking to UNESCO in Paris on 2 June 1980, I made a special appeal to the moral potential of all men and women of culture. I said then and repeat before this distinguished assembly today: “All together you are an enormous power: the power of intelligences and consciences! Show yourselves to be more powerful than the most powerful in our modern world! Make up your mind to give proof to the most noble solidarity with mankind: the solidarity founded on the dignity of the human person”. In this great task you will find an ally in the Catholic Church, an ally willing to cooperate fully with her Christian brothers and sisters and with all people of good will.

7. We Christians openly proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but we do not impose our faith or convictions on anyone. We acknowledge the lack of unanimity in the way in which human rights are grounded philosophically. Nevertheless, we are all called to defend every human being, who is the subject of inalienable human rights, and work towards achieving among our contemporaries a consensus about the existence and substance of these human rights. This attitude of realistic dialogue has been decisive in the emergence of international organizations such as the United Nations, charged with the task of building peace and encouraging collaboration in the world. Sweden has been deeply committed to the spirit and achievements of the United Nations, not least through the dedication of Dag Hammarskjöld, a noble son of this land.

Our times call for a generous commitment of the best minds in universities, in intellectual circles, in research centres, in the media, in the creative arts, to exploring the shape of a new worldwide solidarity linked to the search for dignity and justice for every individual and every people. Nordic scholars and students have a specific contribution to make.Your cultural tradition gives you a vantage point which brings together all the living traditions of the Continent: the Scandinavian, German, Celtic, Slav and Latin. You are at the crossroads, at a junction point between East and West, and you can encourage a dialogue aimed at bringing the universities of Eastern and Western Europe into closer collaboration, an enterprise that would be intellectually decisive in the construction of tomorrow’s greater Europe.

Europe still bears a great responsibility in the world. Because of its Christian history, Europe’s vocation is one of openness and service to the whole human family. But today Europe has a very special obligation towards developing nations. A major challenge of our time is precisely the development of all peoples in full respect for their cultures and spiritual identity. Our generation has still much to do, if it is to avoid the historical reproach of not having fought with all its heart and mind to defeat the misery of so many millions of our brothers and sisters.

This is the message I have presented in my Encyclical Letter “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, on the development of peoples. We have to fight against all forms of poverty, physical as well as cultural and spiritual. Development certainly has an economic dimension, but it would not be true human development if it were limited to material needs. “Development which is not only economic must be measured and oriented according to the reality and vocation of man seen in his totality, namely, according to his interior dimension” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 29). We rightly speak today of the cultural dimension of development, and I am sure that in promoting such a model of development, intellectuals and university scholars have an indispensable contribution to make.

8. In conclusion, I would repeat the sentiments expressed in the Second Vatican Council’s Closing Message to Men and Women of Thought and Science: “Happy are those who, while possessing the truth, search more earnestly for it in order to renew it, deepen it, and transmit it to others. Happy also are those who, not having found it, are working towards it with a sincere heart... Never has there been so clear a possibility as today of a deep understanding between true science and true faith, mutual servants of one another in the one truth... Have confidence in faith, this great friend of intelligence!”.

Ladies and Gentlemen: I leave you with these thoughts, expressed with esteem and in friendship. May God sustain you, men and women of learning, in your service of the Truth, your dedication to Goodness and your love of Beauty. May our host University, the great University of Uppsala, thrive for centuries to come. God bless you all! Thank you.






Church of Saint Lawrence, Uppsala

Friday, 9 June 1989

Dear Sisters, Religious Superiors of Sweden,
Dear Friends in Christ,
Peace be with you!

1. I am very happy to have this opportunity la be here, albeit briefly, to share with you the joy of following Christ of serving him and of leading others to him. The presence of women religious is a great blessing to the Church in Sweden. You live the evangelical counsels in a spirit of charity and self-denial, and exercise apostolates that include teaching in schools and kindergartens, caring far the sick, publishing, as well as other forms of service. You work in a true ecumenical spirit, respecting the faith of others while giving an eloquent Catholic witness to Christ among people who are often unfamiliar with the Church and her teaching.

Fidelity to Christ challenges you to grow in your witness of chastity, poverty and obedience. In today’s world the witness of poverty in particular strikes a chord in many hearts. Vowed poverty speaks a language of trust in Divine Providence which is contrary to the trends in society towards excessive consumerism and purely material progress. By following in the footsteps of Christ who was poor, my dear Sisters, you inspire many others in their search for a simpler and more authentic way of life. You can become true teachers in the ways of giving, following the example of Christ who, “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2Co 8,9).

You are no doubt concerned about the future of religious life in Sweden, considering that the number of those choosing the religious life is not as great as you would wish. Always remember, however, that the Lord’s call can never be understood in merely human terms; it is a mystery, the work of the Holy Spirit. A vocation “does not always emerge in an atmosphere favourable to it; sometimes the grace of vocation passes through an unfavourable environment and even through occasional resistance by parents or families” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Epistula universis Presbyteris, Feria V in Cena Domini, anni MCMLXXXIX missa, 7, die 12 mar. 1989: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XII, 1 [1989]). For this reason, we must continue to pray that the voice of God will not be stifled or go unheeded among young people.

2. I wish to thank you, the Members of the Parish Council, for your work in the service of the Church and for the gift of your time and talents in building up the parish which, as the Second Vatican Council said, “offers an outstanding example of community apostolate” (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 10). I thank you too for your generous cooperation with your priests in meeting the pastoral challenges that face the Church. As members of the Parish of Saint Lars, you can draw upon the prayers and example of your holy patron. Inspired by Saint Laurence’s example of service and martyrdom as a deacon in ancient Rome, may you and your fellow parishioners bring Christ to modern-day Sweden – to your families, neighbours and friends.

3. To all who are here today I wish to offer encouragement in the Lord. May you continue with joy and confidence along the path to which God has called you. May your love for God and neighbour be ever more visible in Sweden, as you proclaim the Gospel to those both far away and near (Cfr. Is Is 58,19). As a pledge of our faith in the constant help and protection of Mary, the Mother of God, let us commend our lives and actions to her in prayer.






Airport of Linköping

Sunday, 10 June 1989

Mr Prime Minister,
Dear People of Sweden,
Dear Friends,

1. As I prepare to board the plane that will take me back to Rome, I wish to express my gratitude to each and every one of you for the warm welcome and generous hospitality which you have shown me. In these three days, I have seen something of the magnificent natural beauty with which God has blessed Sweden. But more importantly. I have been impressed by a people who are proud of their country, steadfast in their commitment to build a better world for their children, and open-hearted in their welcome to those who come from afar. I will treasure these impressions, and I encourage you to persevere in the great religious traditions and values which are at the source of your national identity.

My visit to Sweden concludes my pastoral journey to the Nordic Countries. I came as the Successor of Saint Peter to proclaim the saving truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God (Cfr. Matth Mt 16,16). I came as a brother in Christ to bear witness to the truth which unites all of us Christians in spite of our divisions.

In taking my leave, I wish to express my deep thanks to His Majesty the King, to the Prime Minister, and to the Ambassador of Sweden to the Holy See. Your efforts on my behalf and your concern for the success of my visit have exemplified the good will of the Swedish people. I would also thank the Landshövding, together with the representatives of the municipal bodies and all who have contributed to the success of this pilgrimage. God bless you all, and may your dedicated work bear rich fruit for the future of Sweden and her people.

2. Before I leave Sweden, I will bless the first stone of the new Catholic church which is to be built here in Linköping. As a foundation stone, it symbolizes the solidity and growth of the Catholic community – made up of living stones – which is called to be built up into a spiritual house founded on Christ himself (Cfr. 1Petr. 2, 5). It serves as an encouragement to all of Sweden’s Catholics to hold fast to the faith which they have received and to pass it on to the next generation; it is a sign of hope to all who long to know Christ as the sure foundation which gives meaning to the whole of life. Like Saint Paul, who desired to forget what lay behind and to strain forward to what lay ahead (Ph 3,13), may this community persevere in its efforts to build up Christ’s Church in faith, hope and love. To Bishop Brandenburg and Bishop Kenney, I express my gratitude for their zeal on behalf of the Gospel and the spiritual life of the people entrusted to their pastoral care.

In this stone, I also see symbolized the strength and the promise of the Church’s young people. At Vadstena, I was filled with confidence in the future as I saw so many young hearts alive with the love of Christ. To you, the Catholic youth of Sweden and of all the Nordic Countries, I make a fervent appeal: Make Christ Jesus the foundation of your lives and the source of your joy. The future of the Church in the north of Europe is already in your hands. Do not be afraid of the effort, sacrifice and discipline that are necessary in order to love Christ with all your heart. Do not hesitate to spend your energies for the service of others, especially of those in need and those less fortunate than yourselves.

3. This stone is very precious for another reason, for it comes from the medieval Cathedral of Linköping, and has been presented to the Catholic community by Bishop Lönnebo and the entire Lutheran Diocese of Linköping. This noble gesture recalls our common heritage, and impels us towards an ever closer unity in Christ. It stands as a sign of great hope for all God’s people. In spite of our historical divisions, we are sincerely striving to respond to God’s grace and to build up together what once was torn apart. I count it a great blessing that yesterday I was able to meet and pray with the leaders of other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Uppsala. May this stone always remind us that Christ alone is the foundation of our unity and the perfecter of our faith (Cfr. Hebr. 12, 2). He is that “cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ep 2,20-21).

To Archbishop Werkström and Bishop Lönnebo, I renew my thanks for all the assistance I have received from the Swedish Church, and for your dedicated witness of ecumenical openness and cooperation. My gratitude extends as well to the representatives of the various Free Churches, for their presence and participation at these events. I would also like to say a word of thanks to the Cathedral Choir of Linköping for their music, which has helped us to lift up our hearts to the Lord in prayer.

4. Dear people of Sweden: I thank you once again, from my heart, for your kindness to me and your openness to the Gospel of Christ which I preach. That Gospel has been heard in Sweden for over a thousand years, and it has shaped the noblest aspirations of your society. Even now, it continues to be reflected in the lives and the faith of so many Swedes. May il continue to challenge you as individuals and shape your life as a people that recognizes and honours God as the Father of humanity and that works to build a world of true peace and universal solidarity, based on the brotherhood of all God’s children.

Gud välsigna Sverige. Gud välsigna er alla.




Friday, 16 June 1989

Dear Brothers in the Lord,

I am very pleased that your visit to Rome affords us this opportunity to meet in a spirit of fraternal esteem and mutual love. Your presence brings back happy memories of my Pastoral Visit to India three years ago, at which time I had an opportunity to meet many of you. It is a joy for me to see you again today.

Although we do not all share full ecclesial communion, we are conscious of the ecumenical responsibility that is ours as disciples of the Divine Master who prayed that all may be one (Cfr. Io Jn 17,21). All the baptized have a role to play in the great ecumenical movement towards the perfect unity which Christ willed for his Church. Both the faithful and their pastors are called to contribute to this task. It is my hope that your pilgrimage to the Church in Rome, including our meeting today, will strengthen you in perseverance, as well as prudence, in leading your people along the ecumenical path in India, especially in the beautiful land of Kerala.

An atmosphere of mutual respect and trust, not only between individual Christians but also between Churches and Communities as a whole, is necessary in order for progress to be made. Only on this basis can we hope to work together in the many areas where it is already possible to bear common witness to the Gospel. We must nurture within ourselves and within our Churches and Communities a desire for the gift of the Holy Spirit which will restore full unity among Christians.

Dear brothers, it is in this spirit that I join you in praying for the wisdom to discern the path towards unity and the courage to follow it. I also pray for all my Christian brothers and sisters in Kerala and South India, both Catholics and those belonging to other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. May Almighty God pour forth his abundant blessings upon you all, and grant you his gifts of joy and peace.




Consistory Hall

Saturday, 17 June 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased that the inaugural London-Rome flight of Air Europe has made possible your visit today with the Pope. I wish to greet each of you most cordially on this special occasion.

The relative ease of modern travel and communication opens up new possibilities for greater understanding and collaboration among people of different nations and cultures. Europe, in particular, is experiencing a renewed sense of unity in diversity on many levels. Your presence here today is a sign of the increasing exchange of ideas as a result of tourism, business, and cultural and academic activities.

With you I offer a special prayer today for all travellers, that their journeys may be safe and happy, and I invoke upon all of you your loved ones an abundance of divine blessings.




Monday, 19 June 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you here on the occasion of your visit to Rome. My cordial greeting goes to all of you and to your spouses.

Your position as business leaders and board members of a prestigious international bank enables you to understand and to influence the complex, interdependent economic life of today’s world. While there are positive signs of economic growth and prosperity for many people, there is an even greater number of men, women and children all over the world whose material well-being and development are seriously hampered by economic problems. I am thinking in particular of the international debt question, which remains a serious threat to the peace and progress of the human family. The Holy See has sought to make a positive contribution to the solution of this problem by calling attention to its ethical dimensions. It has urged greater human solidarity and mutual respect based on our common humanity and the common good of all mankind.

No doubt there will be those who believe that today’s economic, political and social problems are so vast and impersonal as to be beyond effective control. But it is my conviction that the attitudes and decisions of leaders like yourselves do make a profound difference for good or ill in shaping the future of humanity. I am confident that you who have been so richly blessed in your country share my concern for the plight of those who are poor, and that you will not fail to be compassionate as well as responsible stewards of the material goods entrusted to you.

I wish to assure you today of my prayers for you and your loved ones, especially your children and those who might be sick or troubled. May Almighty God guide you in your work and bless you with his gifts of joy and peace.


Monday, 19 June 1989

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very happy to welcome you here today on the occasion of your parish pilgrimage to Rome and to Lourdes: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ep 1,2).

It is very fitting that as part of your pilgrimage you should visit the tombs of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, who are the pillars of the Roman Church. As the Preface for the Mass of their Feast Day tells us: “Each in his chosen way gathered into unity the one family of Christ” – Peter “from the faithful flock of Israel” and Paul as “the teacher of the world”. Within his family of Christ we too are gathered together in bonds of unity, charity and peace. By honouring the martyrs and saints of Rome you bear witness to a living tradition of faith that unites people of all times and places in proclaiming Christ and his Gospel.

You have also come to Rome to visit the Pope, the Successor of Saint Peter. I am deeply grateful for your love and prayerful support, and I look forward to returning your visit later this year so that I may witness at first hand the Church’s life in your country. I urge you always to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel in word and deed. In this way you will lead others to Christ.

As you make your way to Lourdes I ask the Virgin Mother of God to intercede for you and your fellow parishioners, and for all the Catholic people of Indonesia. May she watch over your pilgrimage and keep you always in her care. With affection in the Lord I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to each of you and to your families and loved ones.

Speeches 1989 - Lutheran Cathedral of Uppsala