Speeches 1990 - Friday, 27 April 1990



Saturday, 5 May 1990

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome the Officers and Men of HMAS Oxley on your visit to the Mediterranean for the seventy-fifth anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli. On this occasion I join you in commending to Almighty God the brave men who lost their lives in military action on the shores of Turkey.

Honouring their memory calls to mind the tragedy of the First World War and the massive death and destruction that it brought to much of the world. Unfortunately the events of those years were only the beginning of a century which saw even more suffering and bloodshed as a result of war, oppression and persecution. As the century comes to a close, I know that you and your countrymen, together with all people of good will, join me in working and praying for peace. This is the greatest tribute that can be paid to those who died seventy-five years ago in the belief that they were defending their country and their loved ones.

Today I invite each of you to make a personal contribution to world peace by doing your part to promote respect and esteem for all people, especially the poor and downtrodden, and by supporting cooperation and dialogue in order to avoid conflict. In this way you will bear witness to the very best of Australian traditions and values for which the men at Gallipoli gave their lives.

My prayers accompany you on your long voyage home. May God bless you and your loved ones with his gifts of joy and peace.




Saturday, 5 May 1990

Dear Brothers Bishops,

1. It is with great joy and with affection in the Lord that I welcome the members of the Antilles Episcopal Conference on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. Through you I extend my heartfelt greetings to all the clergy, religious and laity of the Antilles. Since our last meeting, I have had the pleasure of adding Trinidad and Tobago in 1985 and Santa Lucia in 1986 to the countries I have visited in your region. I now eagerly look forward to being in Curaçao, and to the day when I will be able to make still further visits in response to the kind invitations that I have received. My special welcome goes to Bishop Rivas from the new Diocese of Kingstown, which only recently took its place among the local Churches represented in your Conference.

The Second Vatican Council tells us that the Church born at Pentecost "speaks every language, understands and embraces all tongues in charity, and thus overcomes the dispersion of Babel " (Ad Gentes AGD 4). This is reflected in a very striking way in the cooperation and harmony of your Episcopal Conference, which encompasses many territories with a diversity of races, languages, and cultures. It is fitting that you should give this example of ecclesial solidarity, which can serve as an encouragement to the peoples of the Antilles to work together on other levels too whether political, social or economic for the good of all. Your current visit happily coincides with the fifteenth anniversary of the definitive approval of your Conference’s Statutes, granted some years after its establishment as one of the first International Conferences of this kind. I am confident that it will continue to be an effective instrument for pastoral planning and action in the years to come.

2. Dear Brothers, in the Gospel we find parables that compare God’s action in the world to the working of nature. His kingdom is like a seed planted in the ground (Cfr. Matth. Mt 13). If properly nurtured and cared for, it yields a rich harvest; if neglected or trampled on, it fails to bear fruit. This law of life and growth applies to the whole Body of Christ and to each of its members. The working of the Holy Spirit in our midst is powerful, but it unfolds with the cooperation of human beings who, like Mary at the Annunciation, consent to be servants of God’s saving action. Assisted by the Spirit, Christians engage in a constant struggle to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel, to grow in holiness by an ever more perfect gift of self, to live in faith, hope and love as signs of salvation for others. The good seed is known by fruits that are patiently cultivated and harvested over a lifetime.

As Christ’s Bride, the Church gives spiritual birth to God’s people through the power of the Holy Spirit. She nourishes her sons and daughters with the sacraments and preaches the word of Truth so that they may truly be free (Cfr. Io. Jn 8,31 ss). She is always seeking to deepen and strengthen the gift of faith which they have received, so that they may transform the world through Christian living.

You can be justifiably proud today of the way in which the " good seed " of the Gospel is bearing fruit in the Antilles, thanks to the pastoral charity of the clergy, the apostolic witness of men and women religious, and the dedicated commitment of the laity. You are seeking ways to ensure that this faith grows deeper and stronger for the Church’s life and mission. I am pleased to note the Regional Assembly on the mission of the laity which will be held this summer, and the pastoral plan of evangelization adopted by the Archdiocese of Castries for the 1990s. I am confident that this effort, as well as the synods which have been held in the Dioceses of Belize City-Belmopan, Saint John’s-Basseterre, and Basse-Terre et Pointe-à-Pitre will assist greatly in eliciting a renewal of faith and mission within your local Churches. Nor can I fail to mention in this regard the various diocesan assemblies that have been held elsewhere in the Antilles.

3. How does one prepare God’s people to live a Christian life and to evangelize? In taking up their Christian duties in the world, people need to grasp the contents of that faith. In the words of Saint Peter, they must " be able to make a defence to any one who calls them to account for the hope that is in them " (Cfr. 1 Petr. 3, 15). This is essential at a time when various sects, sometimes using unworthy means, are disturbing Catholics in their beliefs, especially when their instruction in the faith is limited. Sound formation, imparted with trust in divine grace and with fidelity to Christ and the Gospel, ensures that the Church’s faith will be safeguarded, strengthened and extended.

Some aspects of this formation deserve special mention. For example, great importance must be attached to the mystery of ecclesial communion in and through the Diocesan Bishop and with the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter. Only within the perspective of communio can the authentic goals of Christian ecumenism and dialogue with people of other religions be properly understood and pursued with honesty and seriousness, avoiding gestures that fail to address real differences. Nor may we forget the role of the Church’s social teaching in the formation process. As the peoples of the Antilles seek a more just and peaceful society, Catholics can turn to a body of teaching which offers an inspiring and challenging vision of authentic human development, of the value of work, and of the dignity and rights of every person.

Formation in the faith must be rooted in personal prayer and in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, " the source and summit of all Christian life " (Lumen Gentium LG 11). Without this wellspring, spiritual growth is stunted and fails to flower in holiness as it should. For the Eucharist to be received worthily, attention must be given to the Sacrament of Penance (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 20). Catechesis on the intimate relationship of these two sacraments is properly given when in childhood First Confession precedes First Communion. The reluctance people sometimes feel to confess their sins poses a special challenge for the renewal of this sacrament in our day, but it is a challenge that the Church cannot ignore if she wishes her members to be reconciled with God in the way which Christ has established as a great gift and sacred trust: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you shall retain, they are retained " (Jn 20,22 s).

Marriage and family life are also a concern of yours which I share, especially with regard to non-sacramental unions among some of your faithful. If the grace of the sacrament is lacking, then the "domestic Church" of the family is not established as it should be. The union of husband and wife "in the Lord" establishes a home in which the fundamentals of Christian living can be fully lived and shared. It is within this "cradle" of human life and love that people learn the true meaning of freedom and responsibility, and are thus prepared to hear and to embrace God’s call to serve others through a particular vocation. I urge you to continue challenging your people to live in accordance with Christian teaching about these most fundamental of human relationships. I also offer you every encouragement to establish programmes designed to strengthen marriage and the family in your Dioceses.

Like pastors everywhere, you are also concerned about the spiritual well-being of young people. They too must be awakened and prepared for an evangelizing mission in the Church and the world. In the Antilles there is a long tradition of Catholic education, which is widely respected and esteemed. May this tradition continue, so that new generations of Catholics will receive a solid foundation on which to build their lives in accordance with the Gospel. And may those outside the Catholic schools and universities likewise find ecclesial instruction and support for a life of Christian faith and virtue.

4. Knowledge of the faith, sacramental life, a sense of mission: these are fundamental aspects of the formation of the laity. But for these goals to be realized, attention must also be given to the number and quality of priests who "under the authority of the Bishop sanctify and govern that portion of the Lord’s flock assigned to them" (Lumen Gentium LG 28), and to the men and women religious who, through their special consecration, " strive for the perfection of charity in the service of God’s Kingdom " (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 573). Priests and Religious not only remind the laity of their mission but also assist in their formation and encourage them in their role in the Church and the world.

The Church in the Antilles is very blessed to have had a long line of zealous priests and religious who have come as missionaries from other countries. Today, as the roots of the Church grow deeper, there are more and more vocations from among the sons and daughters of the local peoples, and for this we should be immensely grateful to God. We also pray that he will grant a still further increase, especially in vocations to the monastic life. At this time of transition both missionaries and native-born clergy and religious are important for the vitality of many of your Dioceses. Both groups contribute to the building up of that Church which " understands and embraces all tongues in charity " (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 4), without distinction of nation, race or culture.

If the increase of vocations to the priesthood is to be truly fruitful for the Church, the seed of the divine call must be nurtured with great love and care. So crucial is priestly formation in our day that it has been chosen as the theme of the Synod of Bishops this coming October (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Epistula ad Sacerdotes occasione oblata Feriae V in Cena Domini pro a. D. 1990, die 12 apr. 1990: vide supra, p. 885). Formation is first of all a work of the Holy Spirit, but it takes place within a human context which must be provided for with all wisdom and prudence. I ask you to continue your joint efforts to strengthen the formation programme at the Regional Major Seminary in Trinidad. The appointment of one of your own number, Bishop Mendes, as the new Rector is an impressive sign of your commitment to this urgent task, and I wish to offer him every encouragement in his work.

J’ai déjà parlé de l’importance de la communion ecclésiale. Les futurs prêtres, en particulier, ont besoin d’approfondir leur sens de la communio, entendue dans toutes ses dimensions, à la fois doctrinale et disciplinaire, grâce à une vie spirituelle de qualité et à des études sérieuses. Cela reste absolument essentiel pour affermir les autres dans la communion et vivre eux-mêmes, avec joie et fidélité, « l’obéissance et le respect » promis à l’Evêque lors de l’ordination; pour prêcher la foi de l’Eglise, sans compromis ni altération, aux catholiques comme aux non-catholiques; pour célébrer les saints mystères suivant les normes liturgiques.

La sollicitude de l’Eglise pour la vie et le ministère des prêtres diocésains s’étend également aux religieux et aux religieuses, qui ont donné leur vie au Seigneur pour le service de l’Eglise par les voeux de chasteté, de pauvreté et d’obéissance. La fécondité spirituelle de leur témoignage est fonction de la fidélité avec laquelle ils observent les obligations de leur état, à la fois dans leur vie intérieure et dans l’expression extérieure indispensable de leur consécration et de leur identité. Pour que les religieux de vos diocèses donnent le meilleur d’eux-mêmes dans le service ecclésial, vous aurez à coeur de les encourager et de les aider à vivre en parfaite harmonie avec leur vocation particulière et le charisme propre de chaque communauté. J’ai confiance que grandiront encore les bonnes relations que vous entretenez avec les différents Instituts religieux qui apportent une contribution si importante à la vie de vos Eglises particulières.

5. Chers Frères, comme l’enseigne le Seigneur lui-même, «le Royaume des cieux est comparable à un homme qui a semé du bon grain dans son champ» (Mt 13,24). Malgré les épines, le sol pierreux et le soleil de plomb, l’Eglise nourrit la semence du Royaume pour que, par la puissance de l’Esprit Saint, elle produise du fruit à raison de trente, soixante et cent pour un (Cfr. ibid. 13, 23). L’Evêque de Rome se sent proche de chacun d’entre vous dans l’accomplissement de votre mission, en union avec les prêtres, les religieux et les fidèles laïcs, pour le salut du monde. Que le Maître de la moisson soit avec vous! Qu’il guide vos pas et qu’il vous accorde ses dons de joie et de paix! A tous, je donne de grand coeur ma Bénédiction Apostolique.






Fort Amsterdam Palace, Willemstad

Sunday, 13 May 1990

Your Excellency,

1. My first sentiment on arriving in the Netherlands Antilles is one of joyful gratitude to Almighty God who has made this visit possible. In your person I greet the authorities and the entire population of these beautiful islands.

I have kissed the soil of Curaçao as a sign of my cordial esteem and friendship towards all the peoples of this region. As Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, I have done so in homage to all those who have testified here, in words of truth and deeds of love, to the power of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am filled with joy at the thought of meeting the Catholic faithful, especially at the Eucharistic celebration where they will gather with their priests, with Bishop Ellis and with many other Bishops of the Caribbean area.

2. As a fellow-pilgrim with the rest of the human family, living in a world which is witnessing dramatic social and political changes, my visit is meant to be an expression, before you and before all men and women of good will, of the Church’s profound solidarity with developing peoples. Individuals and peoples everywhere aspire to be truly free. They seek support in overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of their full development. They are willing to undertake and endure much in order to achieve a more human way of life.

The real challenge facing developing nations is as much spiritual as material. It is the challenge of enabling the sense of human dignity to develop and flourish. It is the task of building into the very fabric of society a profound sense of human rights and of the corresponding personal and social responsibilities of every citizen. In a word, it is the ever-present duty of considering and treating each human being according to his or her unique worth as a beloved child of the Creator.

3. I wish to encourage you in this great enterprise. And I pray to Almighty God that the people of the Netherlands Antilles, with wise counsel and generous endeavour, will build a just and caring society, a place of peace and well-being for all the inhabitants of these islands.

Your Excellency, thank you again for your warm welcome.

Madam Prime Minister,
Distinguished Members of Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

4. At the beginning of my Pastoral Visit to Curaçao, I wish to greet each of you and to thank you for your warm welcome to these islands. The Netherlands Antilles have been blessed with a natural beauty which has long attracted visitors from throughout the world. But God has also blessed you with a rich variety of races and peoples who are striving together to build a unified and harmonious society. It is my fervent prayer that the peace which comes from God will continue to find a home in your hearts, in your families, and in every area of your social and civic life.

Madam Prime Minister, I express my deep gratitude for this opportunity to come to Curaçao and to visit the people of the Netherlands Antilles. My presence among you comes at a significant time, as people, of the Americas and from elsewhere are preparing to commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the first voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean. It is my hope that this Visit of the Pope to Curaçao will help to recall the inspiration which the Christian faith provided to those who, in the midst of difficulties of all kinds, sought to uphold human dignity and lay foundations for a just and peaceful society.

Although my Pastoral Visit is primarily directed to the Catholics of the Diocese of Willemstad, I hope that all men and women of good will, whatever their religious beliefs, will find in my brief stay among you an opportunity to consider the significance of those religious and moral values which are necessary for the integral well-being both of individuals and of entire societies. Those values have inspired generations of your countrymen in their efforts to forge bonds of unity and harmony among disparate peoples and traditions. In the next hours, as I celebrate the Eucharist and pray with many of your fellow citizens, we shall beseech God that fidelity to those same values will always guide your progress as a people.

5. In the present world situation, marked by rapid social and political changes, it has become increasingly evident that the concerns which shape societies in their development cannot be limited to the narrow plane of local or national self-interest, but must take on a broader character. Indeed, what is required of all peoples in these last years of the twentieth century is a solidarity that embraces the entire human family and each of its members. The solidarity is "a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good ... to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all " (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38).

The fostering of this determination on every level of society is one of the great moral challenges of our time and the key to an effective collaboration of individuals, social groups and nations in providing for the needs and aspirations of the entire human race. Only through a resolute commitment to dialogue, cooperation and respect for objective principles of morality will your society be able to face the increasingly complex social, economic and political issues of the present day.

In this way, the Netherlands Antilles can make its rightful contribution to many other societies throughtout the world as they are confronted by similar challenges and strive to respond to them in a way worthy of their best traditions.

In this regard, I would note the important role played in the development of any society by its educators and its educational institutions. The Catholics of the Netherlands Antilles have long been committed to the work of educating the young in knowledge and virtue. The Church rightly considers this apostolate as a significant contribution to the life of your people, and is committed to cooperate constructively with the State on behalf of the education of all citizens.

6. Ladies and Gentlemen: almost five hundred years ago, the first meeting of Europeans with the peoples of the Americas signalled the beginning of a new chapter in mankind’s history. At the present moment, when men and women throughout the world ardently hope for the beginning of a new era of peace and cooperation among nations, I encourage you in your efforts to build a society marked by justice and respect for the dignity of all.

May Almighty God pour out his abundant blessings on you and all the people of Curaçao, of the Netherlands Antilles and the entire Caribbean.




Dear Young People of the Diocese of Willemstad,

1. My journey to your local Church would be incomplete if I failed to share some reflections with you who are so close to the Pope’s heart. I address these words to you in light of the questions which have been directed to me on your behalf. Your concerns all reflect your efforts to live the Christian vocation that is yours as members of Christ’s Church, and I wish to encourage you in your quest and in your generosity. You may feel that you are geographically far from the centre of the Church in Rome, but I assure you that you are very close to the Pope’s heart and affection.

Most of your questions have to do with the obligations connected with the Christian state of life in marriage and the family or in the priesthood and religious life. You deeply feel the plight of the poor and you wonder if the Church could not do more for them. You are concerned about the gap that often exists between the way things should be and the way things are, between Christian teaching and the way Christians live, between the Good News of the Gospel and the harsh realities of life. How, you ask, are we to accept Church teaching on marriage in the midst of divorce and family problems? How can we feel called to the priesthood or religious life, including a life of celibacy, when we are surrounded by a consumer culture and a pervasive hedonism? In a word, how can we be faithful members of a Church that calls us to ideals that go against the dominant trends of contemporary culture?

2. In order to respond to these questions, something much more fundamental must first be asked: What is our relationship to Jesus Christ and what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ, a "Christian"?

At the beginning of the Gospel of Saint John we read a fascinating account of two young men who met Jesus and became his first disciples. They were Andrew and John himself. "Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, ‘What are you looking for?’" (Jn 1,38). Jesus asks you the same question: "Young people of the Netherlands Antilles, what are you truly looking for from life?" It is Jesus’ way of putting before you the basic question of life’s meaning and direction. Like young people everywhere, you want a life that is worth living. In young hearts you feel a powerful yearning for a world filled with goodness, with justice, with understanding and harmony between people and between nations. You want to live on the level of light and truth in human relations, and therefore of trust and genuine freedom.

Where will you find all this? Jesus said to Andrew and John: "‘Come and you will see’. So they went and saw ... and they stayed with him" (Ibid. 1, 39). They stayed because they saw that with Jesus Christ they could aspire to what their hearts most desired. Not that Jesus offered simple solutions. On the contrary, both Andrew and John would suffer much for his sake. But their meeting with Jesus made them realize that here they had the key to their existence; here they found the deepest meaning of life; they had found the way to give the highest value to their lives. The Second Vatican Council, in more universal terms, said it this way:

"Christ fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling" (Gaudium et Spes GS 22).

3. Dear young people, this high calling which Christ reveals is also your calling: to be sharers in the divine nature, to be a new creation, to turn away from sin and to be restored in your likeness to God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you. Christ is your Saviour, your Redeemer. He alone is "your way, your truth and your life" (Cfr. Io. Jn 14,6). His way of salvation, however, is not what we might expect from a purely human way of thinking. The crucified and risen Lord does not promise you a perfect and comfortable life in this world. If you reflect on this you will realize that even people who enjoy an abundance of earthly pleasures, possessions and power often feel empty and unhappy. This cannot be the answer to the deepest longings of the human heart.

What Jesus does promise is that his victory over sin and death can also be your victory if in imitation of his Cross you consent to "lose your life" together with him, that is, to offer your life to the Father; to spend your life in love for others, even strangers, enemies and those who sin against you; to seek God’s will and not your own in all things. This is what it means to be a new creation, to share in divine life, to be freed from sin and restored to the likeness of God so that here and now you may build his kingdom of peace, justice and love, and one day share eternal happiness with him in heaven.

4. It is only within this perspective of the total Christian vocation that you will find answers to the questions you ask about marriage and the family, or the priesthood and religious life. For in all things Christ is the pattern of Christian life and behaviour. Celibacy, for example, is meant to enable the priest or religious to imitate Christ’s total self-giving for the sake of all. It frees a man or woman from exclusive affections and family ties in order that he or she may be totally dedicated to the service of God and of humanity. It is a special grace given to some, a sign of God’s special love for those who have accepted a call to consecration or sacramental configuration with Christ. In this way celibacy constitutes a sign of the heavenly kingdom to come, in which people "neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mt 22,30), and in which God is "everything to every one" (1Co 15,28).

Marriage too finds its full meaning in Christ. It is the sacrament in which a man and woman make an exclusive and unbreakable gift of self to each other out of love. Through their faithful love they continue the work of the first creation, cooperating with God in the task of bringing new life into the world. Their life-long communion becomes a sign of the perfect love that Christ the Bridegroom showed for his Bride the Church when he "gave himself up for her" (Ep 5,25), on the Cross.

Perhaps you feel that you have known priests, religious, married couples and family members who have failed to live up to their high calling. Only God can judge the hearts of others; and we must not use their weaknesses and failures to excuse ourselves from the duties of our Christian calling. Where will we get the strength necessary to meet all the challenges that being a Christian involves? Andrew and John "stayed with him", with Jesus (Cfr. Io. Jn 1,39). His company, his friendship, his divine love became the source of their transformation and fidelity. And at a certain moment Christ sent the Holy Spirit - "the giver of life" - upon the Apostles and they were filled with courage to take the "Good News" to the ends of the earth. The same gift of the Holy Spirit is given to each follower of Christ, to enable us to live up to the standards that he sets us. God’s grace builds on our human nature, so that we may "stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God" (Col 4,12).

5. Your reflection on the Christian life must now go a step further. Whatever your vocation, how are you to know what is right and wrong when you make moral decisions? As followers of the crucified and risen Christ, your first question should not be "what do I want?", but rather "what is God’s will for me at this moment, in this situation?". God’s will is made known in Revelation and in its authentic interpretation and transmission by the Church. That law is also written in every person’s heart (Cfr. Rom. Rm 2,16), and its highest expression is the perfect love of God and neighbour which Jesus demanded of his disciples and which the Holy Spirit pours forth into our hearts.

The same Holy Spirit continues to be present in his Church, helping her to apply the Gospel to moral questions, old and new. Hence, the Church’s teaching is not just one voice among others, but a voice that speaks with Christ’s authority. Our conscience, then, is not autonomous in deciding what is right and what is wrong. Consciences must be formed in the way of truth and love.

The eminent English Cardinal, John Henry Newman, who died a hundred years ago, wrote often and with great clarity on the question of conscience. In your Christian doctrine classes and discussions you may wish to reflect on these words of his:

"The rule and measure of duty is not utility, nor expedience, nor the happiness of the greatest number, not State convenience, nor fitness, order and the ‘pulchrum’. Conscience is not a longsighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives...

I am using the word ‘conscience’ ... not as a fancy or an opinion, but as a dutiful obedience to what claims to be a divine voice, speaking within us...

Conscience has rights because it has duties; but in this age, with a large portion of the public, it is the very right and freedom of conscience to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations. It becomes a licence to take up any or no religion, to take up this or that and let it go again, to go to church, to go to chapel, to boast of being above all religions and to be an impartial critic of each of them. Conscience is a stern monitor, but in this century it has been superseded by a counterfeit, which the eighteen centuries prior to it never heard of, and could not have mistaken for it, if they had. It is the right of self-will " (John Henry Newman Difficulties of Anglicans, Westminster, Md, II, PP 248 PP 255 PP 250).

6. The Church has always held what Newman was proposing, that conscience is the interpreter, not the inventor, of the objective moral order established by God. That is why Pope Paul VI wrote in the important Encyclical: "Humanae Vitae". "In the task of transmitting life, therefore, (husband and wife) are not free to proceed completely at will, as if they could determine in a wholly autonomous way the honest path to follow; but they must conform their activity to the creative intention of God, expressed in the very nature of marriage and of its acts, and manifested by the constant teaching of the Church" (Pauli VI Humanae Vitae HV 10).

You have asked me to comment also on other aspects of the Church’s teaching on human sexuality. During my pontificate I have given much time to a detailed analysis of the great gift of sexuality which God has impressed in the very structure of the body. I have explained how man and woman carry on in the ‘language of the body’ that dialogue which, according to Genesis 2:24-25, had its beginning on the day of creation (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio in Audientia generali, 4, die 22 aug. 1984: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VII, 2 [1984] 228 s).

The ‘language of the body’, as language of human beings, individual persons, is subject to the demands of truth, that is, to the objective moral norm (Cfr. ibid.).

I am sure that your parents and those who help them in your formation, especially your priests and catechists, will try to explain in more detail the richness of Catholic doctrine regarding marriage and the family. I exhort you to have the highest esteem for the ideals of chastity, marital fidelity, and self-control, so that in every way you will uphold the very great value of human love as God has wished it from the beginning. You are stewards of the many gifts of creation and redemption that God has given us. Through the exercise of a well-formed Christian conscience may you prove to be wise stewards of the master’s goods– both spiritual and material– until his return (Cfr. Matth. Mt 24,45 ss.; 25, 14 ss).

7. Finally, let me say a word about the question which was raised concerning the Church’s identification with the poor. The fact that the Church, following the example of Christ, expresses a love of preference for the poor means that you, as young Catholics, are challenged to work for the relief of those in need and the true liberation of those who are oppressed in any way. As well as engaging in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, your intelligent commitment is needed in seeking those structural changes in society which can secure living conditions worthy of the human person. I implore you to start by adopting a new way of thinking: value a person, including yourself, not for what that person has but for what he or she is: a unique realization of God’s creative love, the subject of an inalienable dignity and inalienable human rights! No situation or circumstances of poverty or abandonment can ever take away that dignity.

Then, as you take on greater responsibilities, strive to apply this " philosophy of being rather than having " in every area of your activity, and seek to make the whole of society more sensitive to the special needs of the poor and the weak, including the weakest of the weak: the unborn. Nor must you forget that the obligation to lead a simple life and to be detached from material things is an important part of Christian living.

What about material possessions? When it comes to the cultural, historical and artistic treasures of a nation or of the Church throughout the world, we are dealing with a spiritual as well as material heritage which belongs to everyone, both now and in the future. This heritage cannot be reduced to so many objects of commercial value to be bought and sold like any others. Although what is judged superfluous ought to be sold when the needs of the poor require it (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 31), we must not forget the words addressed to artists at the close of the Second Vatican Council: "Our world needs beauty so as not to sink into despair" (Patrum Conciliarium Nuntii quibusdam hominum ordinibus dati «Aux Artistes», die 8 dec. 1965). Through beautiful church buildings and works of religious art, the deep desire to confess the faith is made visible (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad eos qui conventui nationale italico artis sacrae interfuere coram admissos, die 27 apr. 1981: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IV, 1 [1981] 1052 ss). The Church is not free to dispose of what has been entrusted to her down the centuries for the glory of God, the honour of Mary and the Saints, and the instruction and edification of each succeeding generation of Christian people. This is a treasure which in a sense belongs to the whole human family and which the Church feels obliged to preserve for posterity.

8. Dear young men and women, I pray that these brief reflections of mine on the occasion of my visit to the Diocese of Willemstad will increase your love for Christ and his Church, and will enable you to live with perseverance and ever greater courage as responsible members of society. I also pray that many more of you will receive and heed a call from God to the priesthood or religious life in order to preach the Gospel and celebrate the sacraments, and bear witness in a special way to the new creation that we have all become through Baptism. To all of you and to your families I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Willemstad, 13 May 1990.

Speeches 1990 - Friday, 27 April 1990