Speeches 1989 - Friday, 15 September 1989





Castel Gandolfo

Friday, 15 September 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you to Castelgandolfo during the International Congress on Recent Advances in the Research and Management of Vitreoretinal Disorders which is being held under the auspices of the Schepens International Society. On many occasion in the past, my predecessors and I have met specialists in ophthalmology gathered in Rome for Congress. There is a fitting symbolism in this, since the Pope is the servant of the One who marked his saving mission in the world with many cures of the blind, as narrated in the Gospels. In speaking to another group three years ago, I mentioned how the Gospel of Saint John describes at length the cure of a man born blind because, in that instance, the physical healing was clearly associated with spiritual healing (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad eos qui conventui ophtalmicorum interfuerunt, die 5 maii 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 1, [1986] 1243 ss.). In the symbolism of sight, Christ unveils the mystery of our spiritual journey to salvation.

The eye is, as it were, the point of contact between the reality of the world and the interior reality of the human person, just as the intellect is the meeting point between science and faith. At this time you are assembled to study new methods of restoring the function of the eye, and in particular of the retina, with the aim of protecting it from the damaging effects of age and various pathological factors. You can speak proudly of positive advances which work for the good of the person and for the healing of the sick. Your work is one of noble and expert research.

Together with my best wishes for the success of your scientific endeavours, I would express the hope that this kind of expertise can be made more readily available to the poorest sectors of humanity where blindness is most widespread. We are told that there are still some forty million victims of blindness in the world, and most of them are found in the underdeveloped nations. Unfortunately, the imbalances existing in the world are also evident in the sphere of science and medicine. The hope which I express is that science will join forces with faith and human solidarity in an effort to bring relief where it is most clearly needed. May we pray together for the day when the Lord “will wipe away every tear” from the eyes of suffering humanity (Cfr. Apoc Ap 21,4). It is in the name of the Lord of Life that I manifest my esteem for your work and for the dignity of your mission. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.



Wednesday, 20 September 1989

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to have this meeting with you, monks of the Christian and Buddhist traditions. I greet you, Rimpoche’, and the monks accompanying you on your peace pilgrimage, present her today with the Benedictine Abbot Primate and the members of the Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue.

In order to deepen your contacts with Christians you wished, during this pilgrimage, to meet with monks of the ancient Benedictine tradition. You have spent some days in the beautiful surroundings of Camaldoli, with those who are engaged in a spiritual search similar to your own in some respects, even though you belong to very different religious traditions.

You were welcomed by Benedictine monks whose motto is precisely PAX – peace. You have encouraged one another to promote this peace of which our world is in such dire need. All human persons, conscious of the realities of today’s world, must commit themselves to the cause of peace, through service, through negotiation. You, as monks, make us of the means that are particular to you: prayer and the search for interior peace. As Saint Benedict says to his monks in the Prologue to his Rule: “Seek peace: pursue it”.

We experienced this truth in Assisi, on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for Peace. If prayer is neglected, the whole edifice of peace is liable to crumble. Your dialogue at the monastic level is truly a religious experience, a meeting in the depths of the heart, animated by the spirit of poverty, mutual trust and profound respect for your own traditions. It is an experience which cannot always be translated adequately into words, and which often can best be expressed in prayer-filled silence.

I assure you of my prayers and invoke upon all of you abundant divine blessings.




Castel Gandolfo

Friday, 22 September 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you, the distinguished members of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and to welcome you and your spouses to Castelgandolfo. As trial lawyers, you are committed to the resolution of conflicts and the pursuit of justice through legal and rational means. This work is indispensable for the construction of a truly humane and harmonious social order, as the centuries-old juridical experience of the West bears eloquent witness.

The Church has always recognized in the law an essential aspect of human social and political life. Her concern for a legal order imbued with the spirit and values of the Gospel led not only to the formation of an immense and technically refined body of ecclesiastical law, the Corpus Iuris Canonici, but also to the elaboration of legal and canonical theories which combined profound human wisdom with a vision of man and society drawn from Christian faith. At the heart of this process was a profound conviction, born of faith, that an ordered and just society is a requirement of human nature itself, and consists in the pursuit of the common good through the cooperation of each of its members, under legitimate authority.

Today, as in the past, this conviction must be defended against those forces within our world which would deny and undermine the authentic human values upon which the rule of law and the pursuit of the common good are founded. More than ever, men and women are called upon to commit themselves to the belief that the law is an irreplaceable and morally worthy instrument for attaining a human society marked by justice and lasting peace. World events constantly remind us that the desire to build a society based on mutual respect, freedom and equity under the law is one which is inscribed within the human heart itself, and is fundamental to the progress of civilization.

As men and women engaged in the practice of law may your service of others always be inspired by a deep faith in man and in the goal of a just and genuinely human society. Conscious of the importance of your work, I invoke upon each of you the blessings of Almighty God, the author of peace and the source of all justice.



Castel Gandolfo

Monday, 25 September 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet with you, distinguished members of the British Parliament, and to welcome you and your spouses to Castel Gandolfo. I offer you my best wishes for the success of your important work as members of the British-Italian Parliamentary Group.

The promotion of a beneficial cooperation among peoples is an urgent task in a world that increasingly senses the interdependence of all nations. Within the international community, the Holy See has consistently sought to foster this cooperation. Its activity is based upon the conviction that social, political and economic solidarity among peoples is a requirement which springs from the moral order itself. The unity of the human race demands that all its members collaborate in the construction of a social order which safeguards peace, defends justice and respects human dignity.

As members of the British-Italian Parliamentary Group, you are particularly conscious of the importance of sound and responsible international cooperation. May your efforts towards attainment of this goal contribute to greater understanding, respect and collaboration in those sectors of society with which you are concerned. In assuring you of my prayers for the work of your Group, I invoke upon all of you the blessings and peace of Almighty God.




Saturday, 30 September 1989

Your Grace,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you this morning in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I extend a warm welcome to you, Archbishop Runcie, as well as the other representatives of the Anglican Communion who accompany you.

As we meet this morning, Your Grace, we are supported by the hopes and prayers for unity that rise from the hearts of Catholics and Anglicans throughout the world. We call to mind the groundwork that has been done by those who have gone before us in responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads and urges us along the path of unity in accordance with the will of Christ. In the course of the last decades, a new intensity of relationship has emerged at many levels between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. We rejoice in what has been achieved and seek God’s guidance for the future.

At the meeting in 1966 of our beloved predecessors of happy memory, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, a mandate was given to the first Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission. The intervening years have been a time of painstaking study by the Commission. Progress has been made, but it is also true that the character of and background to the differences that still separate us have come into clearer light. We must face our differences honestly, but always with openness and undaunted hope. I take this opportunity to assure the members of the Commission and all who work for fuller communion between Catholics and Anglicans that they have my continued prayers and support.

May the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit sustain us all in the ecumenical task to which we have been called. May his abundant blessings be upon Catholics and Anglicans everywhere.

                                                         October 1989




After worshipping together in the Basilica of Saint Peter and in the Church of Saint Gregory, from where Saint Augustine of Canterbury was sent by Saint Gregory the Great to England, Pope John Paul II, Bishop of Rome, and His Grace Robert Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, now meet again to pray together in order to give fresh impetus to the reconciling mission of God’s people in a divided and broken world, and to review the obstacles which still impede closer communion between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

Our joint pilgrimage to the Church of Saint Gregory, with its historic association with Saint Augustine’s mission to baptize England, reminds us that the purpose of the Church is nothing other than the evangelization of all peoples, nations and cultures. We give thanks together for the readiness and openness to receive the Gospel that is especially evident in the developing world, where young Christian communities joyfully embrace the faith of Jesus Christ and vigorously express a costly witness to the Gospel of the Kingdom in sacrificial living. The word of God is received, “not as the word of man, but as what it really is, the word of God” (1Th 2,13). As we enter the last decade of the second millennium of the birth of Jesus Christ, we pray together for a new evangelization throughout the world, not least in the continent of Saint Gregory and Saint Augustine where the progressive secularization of society erodes the language of faith and where materialism demeans the spiritual nature of humankind.

It is in such a perspective that the urgent quest for Christian unity must be viewed, for the Lord Jesus Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17,21). Moreover Christian disunity has itself contributed to the tragedy of human division throughout the world. We pray for peace and justice, especially where religious differences are exploited for the increase of strife between communities of faith.

Against the background of human disunity the arduous journey to Christian unity must be pursued with determination and vigour, whatever obstacles are perceived to block the path. We here solemnly re-commit ourselves and those we represent to the restoration of visible unity and full ecclesial communion in the confidence that to seek anything less would be to betray our Lord’s intention for the unity of his people.

This is by no means to be unrealistic about the difficulties facing our dialogue at the present time. When we established the Second Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission in Canterbury in 1982, we were well aware that the Commission’s task would be far from easy. The convergences achieved within the report of the First Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission have happily now been accepted by the Lambeth Conference of the bishops of the Anglican Communion. This report is currently also being studied by the Catholic Church with a view to responding to it. On the other hand, the question and practice of the admission of women to the ministerial priesthood in some Provinces of the Anglican Communion prevents reconciliation between us even where there is otherwise progress towards agreement in faith on the meaning of the Eucharist and the ordained ministry. These differences in faith reflect important ecclesiological differences and we urge the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and all others engaged in prayer and work for visible unity not to minimize these differences. At the same time we also urge them not to abandon either their hope or work for unity. At the beginning of the dialogue established here in Rome in 1966 by our beloved predecessors Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, no one saw clearly how long-inherited divisions would be overcome and how unity in faith might be achieved. No pilgrim knows in advance all the steps along the path. Saint Augustine of Canterbury set out from Rome with his band of monks for what was then a distant corner of the world. Yet Pope Gregory was soon to write of the baptism of the English and of “such great miracles... that they seemed to imitate the powers of the apostles” (S. Gregorii Magni Epistula ad Eulogium Alexandrinum). While we ourselves do not see a solution to this obstacle, we are confident that through our engagement with this matter our conversations will in fact help to deepen and enlarge our understanding. We have this confidence because Christ promised that the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth, will remain with us forever (Cfr. Io Jn 14,16-17).

We also urge our clergy and faithful not to neglect or undervalue that certain yet imperfect communion we already share. This communion already shared is grounded in faith in God our Father, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, our common baptism into Christ, our sharing of the Holy Scriptures, of the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds; the Chalcedonian definition and the teaching of the Fathers; our common Christian inheritance for many centuries. This communion should be cherished and guarded as we seek to grow into the fuller communion Christ wills. Even in the years of our separation we have been able to recognize gifts of the Spirit in each other. The ecumenical journey is not only about the removal of obstacles but also about the sharing of gifts.

As we meet together today we have also in our hearts those other Churches and Ecclesial Communities with whom we are in dialogue. As we have said once before in Canterbury, our aim extends to the fulfilment of God’s will for the visible unity of all his people.

Nor is God’s will for unity limited exclusively to Christians alone. Christian unity is demanded so that the Church can be a more effective sign of God’s Kingdom of love and justice for all humanity. In fact, the Church is the sign and sacrament of the communion in Christ which God wills for the whole of his creation.

Such a vision elicits hope and patient determination, not despair or cynicism. And because such hope is a gift of the Holy Spirit we shall not be disappointed; for “the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen” (Ep 3,20-21).

2nd October 1989.







Tuesday, 3 October 1989

Mr Ambassador,

With great pleasure I welcome you to the Vatican and accept the Letters accrediting you as the Ambassador of the United States of America to the Holy See. It is my fervent hope that your mission will contribute to strengthening the good relations existing between the United States and the Holy See, and that the fruitful dialogue which was begun under your two predecessors will continue. I ask you to convey my cordial greetings to President Bush, assuring him and all your fellow citizens of my prayerful good wishes.

In your address, you referred to a growing conviction within the international community that religious freedom is to be recognized and protected as a fundamental human right. The Holy See has constantly proclaimed that the human person has an inalienable right to pursue the truth, to worship God and to act in accordance with the dictates of conscience (Cfr. Dignitatis Humanae DH 2). This right to religious freedom must be safeguarded by the laws which govern nations. Wherever freedom of religion is denied or curtailed, human dignity itself is violated, and genuine progress toward a social order marked by justice and peace is seriously compromised.

In my recent Encyclical, “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, I argued that the violation of fundamental human rights constitutes a kind of impoverishment as serious as any material poverty (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 15). In this regard, I have often stressed the necessity of democratic and participatory forms of government for the growth of an orderly political life. Indeed, “the 'health' of a political community – as expressed in the free and responsible participation of all citizens in public affairs, in the rule of law and in respect for and promotion of human rights – is the necessary condition and sure guarantee of the development of 'the whole individual and of all people'” (Ibid. 44). Only where human freedom is fostered and protected can a social order develop which is capable of responding to the needs and aspirations of the men and women of today.

Two years ago, in the course of my second Pastoral Visit to the United States, I was pleased to recall that from the very beginning of America’s history freedom has been the principle at the basis of the formation of a well-ordered society. The Constitution of the United States bears eloquent witness to your country’s belief that the freedom of individuals is indispensable for the pursuit of the common good. Accordingly, the United States has come to enjoy an experience, tested by time, that a disciplined and generous freedom is the path to peace, to a just social order and to the achievement of the good of the nation.

During my Pastoral Visit I recall having spoken on the theme of freedom at the Ecumenical Prayer Service held in Columbia, South Carolina. On that occasion, I expressed the conviction that there can be no true freedom without moral accountability. The conquest of freedom does not lie in rejecting objective norms of conduct or in refusing to assume personal responsibility. True freedom implies that we acknowledge our accountability for the good that we fail to do and the evil we commit. The strength or weakness of individuals and of whole societies depends on how clearly they grasp this moral imperative (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio, in urbe “Columbia”, ad sodales aliarum communionum christianarum, die 11 sept. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3 [1987] 400 ss.).

Dramatic events in recent months have drawn the world’s attention to the enduring desire of entire peoples to experience the blessings of freedom and self-determination. Yet, as the lessons of your country’s history have demonstrated, these blessings are often secured at great sacrifice, and may not be taken for granted from generation to generation. In every age, new challenges arise and must be confronted with confidence and resolution. The profound threat to human freedom posed by the illegal traffic in narcotics is but one example. The curse of drug addiction, which hovers like a dark could over entire nations, is surely one of the most serious menaces to freedom in our time.

I thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for your reference to Lebanon. The present situation in that country is of utmost concern to the Holy See, as I have repeatedly manifested in appeals and public prayers for the end of violence and for the beginning of a new era of peace and progress in that sorely tried land. The Apostolic See hopes that present and future efforts to secure the normalization of life m Lebanon will help to strengthen the unity of her people as a free and sovereign nation.

You have also drawn attention to the Holy See’s work for the promotion of peace and a just social order in Africa. I am particularly pleased to note the assistance given to Africa’s many developing countries as they continue to take their place within the family of nations. In calling for a spirit of solidarity with them, I am well aware of the great human resources which they have to offer to the world at large. Your own knowledge and experience of that Continent will surely confirm this judgment. I am confident that the United States will continue its generous support of these nations which are seeking development in accord with their own highest aspirations.

Mr Ambassador, there are reasons for gratitude as we contemplate the signs of hope reflected in the present world situation. Yet many of these signs of hope are fragile and in need of wise and careful stewardship. The presence of the Holy See in the international community seeks to promote a deeper reflection on the basic spiritual truths and values involved in human life. As a nation which exercises great influence throughout the world, I pray that America will be ever sensitive to this spiritual dimension of all human activity.

While assuring you of the cooperation of the various departments of the Holy See in the fulfillment of your new mission, I express once again my abiding esteem for the people of the United States of America. May God bless you and your important work.




Thursday, 5 October 1989

Dear Friends,

I am happy to have this opportunity to greet you, the distinguished members of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights on the occasion of your meeting in Rome. In welcoming you to the Vatican, I wish to express my deep appreciation for the many ways in which the members of your Orders have contributed to the material and spiritual growth of the Church in our time.

In the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Christifideles Laici”, I recalled that the Church, in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, has become the servant of all humanity (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Christifideles Laici CL 36). Within her mission of service to the individual and to the whole of society, Catholic charitable and fraternal organizations like yours have a important role to play. I am pleased that you have devoted your meeting this year to the subject of “The Family, Cradle of the Christian Vocation”. As Christian laity who strive to imbue the temporal sphere with the spirit of Christ (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 36), you have rightly attached great significance to the task of safeguarding the dignity of the family.

Through your commitment to this vital apostolate, the Church’s mission of service to the family and to society is greatly advanced.

I assure you of my prayers for the continued success of the many worthy projects which your Orders have undertaken. As you conclude your meeting, I invoke upon all of you the grace and peace of Christ our Lord, and cordially impart to you and to your families my Apostolic Blessing.





Military Airport, Seoul

Saturday, 7 October 1989

Mr President,

Your Eminence,
Dear people of Korea,

Oraemmane tashi mannege toe'o chamuro pan'gap-ssumnida.

1. Five years have passed since last I was here, in Korea. Throughout these years I have cherished many happy and inspiring memories of my previous visit. And now, today, I have returned to this beautiful peninsula! I greet all of you, from the heart, with a prayer that God will bless Korea and all its people with his gifts of spiritual well-being and fraternal harmony. I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind words of welcome. In them, I hear the voice of the Korean people, welcoming me to share again in the life, the hopes and the deep spiritual yearnings of this ancient land.

In a particular way, I wish to greet my Catholic brothers and sisters. The joy of our last meeting, which reached its peak in the Mass for the canonization of the Korean martyrs, remains fresh in my mind and heart. And now, I have come to Korea, together with Catholic pilgrims from many other parts of the world, to participate in the great Eucharistic Congress which is being held here in Seoul. With them, I have come to worship Christ our Peace (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,14), and to pray that our heavenly Father will bless every human heart, every family and nation, with his peace, a peace that surpasses all human understanding (Cfr. Phil Ph 4,7).

I wish also to extend my greetings and sentiments of friendship to my fellow Christians and to the followers of other great religious traditions.

2. “Even rivers and mountains change after ten years”. Dear friends: this popular Korean saying reflects a profound truth. Our world is undergoing rapid, even bewildering changes. Here in Korea, much has happened even in the five years which have passed since last I was among you. Like the world at large, Korea has experienced some changes which are disturbing, while others fill the human heart with new hope and confidence. Together with other peoples throughout the world, you have had to face the struggles encountered by all those who strive to build a society marked by social harmony and economic opportunity for all. Most importantly, as Koreans, you have had to continue building a society which is worthy of the great heritage received from your ancestors, and worthy as well of your children and of generations yet to come.

In the past five years, the eyes of the world have increasingly turned to Korea. The unforgettable celebration of the Olympics in Seoul helped to unite the peoples of the entire world in friendship and harmony. The fame of your country’s industrial progress and economic development has spread far abroad. Despite many daunting challenges, this progress has set an example for other developing nations. These achievements point to an important role that Korea can play within the world community.They lead us to hope that this nation will continue to be an example, not merely of material prosperity and progress, but also, and more importantly, of the spiritual strength which must underline any mature and humane society.For only a strength that springs from the spirit will be equal to the task of healing old wounds, overcoming deep divisions, and enabling all Korea’s citizens to take an active part in the political life of their nation as it struggles to achieve true peace.

3. Dear people of Korea: You who have received so much of lasting spiritual value from your forebears – are you not in a privileged position to show that material prosperity can, and indeed must, go hand in hand with authentic spiritual sensitivity and growth? In the face of the tragic divisions which continue to separate your own people, do you not have the urgent mission to prove to a world torn by mistrust, strife and hatred that mankind does have the resources to end division and war, and to forge an enduring peace? Those resources are yours: the spiritual virtues of mutual trust and reconciliation, of selfless generosity and brotherly love. They are a part of your heritage and your vocation as Koreans. They are a treasure that you can and must bequeath to your children and to all the world.

4. True peace, that peace for which we all long, is a gift of God. It is as a messenger of God’s peace that I have returned to Korea. I pray that God’s peace may grow within the heart of each and every Korean, and bring forth rich fruit for the future of your nation and that of the world. May God bless all of you and make you true instruments of his peace!

Yorobun, uri modu himul moa cham pyong'hwarul iruk-hapshida.






Blue House, Seoul

Sunday, 8 October 1989

Mr President,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. On the occasion of my second visit to Korea, I wish to express to you my deep appreciation for the hospitality and consideration with which you have welcomed me. The Forty-fourth International Eucharistic Congress, held this year in Seoul, is a moment of prayer, of brotherhood and of spiritual unity far all Catholics. I am certain that many thousands of pilgrims will return to their homes grateful to all the people of Korea because of the heartfelt generosity with which you have received them and made them feel at home in this beautiful land.

2. Within the world community, Mr President, the Holy See has long been committed to the search for a just and peaceful international order. My former visit to Korea provided me with an opportunity to observe at first hand the difficulties and challenges which face the Korean people in their efforts to create a society of justice, peace and prosperity.

This present visit enables me to note the strong desire of all your people to proceed along the way to full democracy, a prosperous and tranquil civic life, and to generous and fruitful cooperation with the other nations of the world.

As you plan for the future and provide for the present needs of the nation, may you continue to exercise a wise stewardship of both the cultural values bequeathed to you by your ancestors, and of the natural resources which God has destined for the use of future generations of Koreans.

In a nation which has to face difficult, even painful, decisions in many areas of public life, and which still bears the scars of division and conflict, you are confronted with the challenge of seeking peaceful and just pathways towards a national life and reunification based on authentic justice, freedom and inalienable human rights. May your efforts to secure these goals be blessed by God and bear rich fruit for Korea and all its people.

3. More than ever, the future of Korea will depend upon the presence among its people of many wise, virtuous and deeply spiritual men and women. Concern for Korea’s future must unite all of its citizens: young and old, rich and poor, students and workers, members of government and civil service. In this regard, Mr President, I am pleased to know that there are numerous Catholics who are associated with you in the work of governing this nation. The presence of these able men and women among your Ministers, within Parliament, and in the civil and military services, is an indication of the active contribution that Korea’s Catholic community is making to the life of the country. Together with their fellow citizens of other faiths, Korea’s Catholics may be counted on to offer their varied gifts for the common good.

4. Finally, Mr President, conscious of the many and weighty concerns which press daily upon you and all those who work for the well-being of Korea, I assure you of my own prayers and good wishes. Like a seed, which is planted in fertile ground and cultivated with great patience and care, may the yearnings for peace and unity which lie deep in the Korean heart come to blossom in this great land. May all Koreans work together, hand in hand, to build a society worthy of your ancient traditions, of the expectations of your children and of your children’s children.

God bless all of you and guide you in the ways of his peace!

Speeches 1989 - Friday, 15 September 1989