Speeches 1993 - International Airport of Khartoum (Sudan)

I repeat what I said just three weeks ago to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See: "In this new Africa, it is important that the central role should be left to the population, which must be able to participate fully in development. For this purpose, the population needs regional and international cooperation to help to prevent crises on the one hand, and for this cooperation to support the process of democratization as well as economic growth on the other" (John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 9, 16 January 1993).

3. Africa! You have such great needs, but you also have so much to give! You have a deep sense of community and a vivid sense of the spiritual dimension of human life. Do not be led to think that an exaggerated individualism, which always ends in selfishness, is the right way forward. Maintain the strength of your family life, your love for children, your solidarity with those in need, your hospitality towards the stranger, the positive elements of your social and cultural traditions. Above all, do not exchange your spiritual values for a materialism that cannot satisfy the human heart nor form the basis of a truly just and caring society.

In bidding you farewell, I wish to re–affirm the Catholic Church’s continuing commitment to this Continent. The presence of Christianity in some regions goes back to the very dawn of the Christian era. In other places it has arrived more recently. In every case, the Church has been actively involved in educating the young, in caring for the sick, in promoting the human and spiritual development of Africa’s peoples. She has done so, not to seek a position for herself, and much less to impose a foreign way of life on Africans. She continues today in her apostolate and good works in order to bear witness to the fundamental hope which sustains her: the hope that all mankind will grow in unity and reach an ever greater communion with God (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 1). The very nature of her mission obliges her to foster cooperation with all men and women of good will in the service of the human family.

Africa! The Church, incarnate in the lives of your own sons and daughters, is determined to share the burden of your problems and the difficulties of your march towards a better future. She will not fail to encourage you in your search for greater justice, for peace and reconciliation, for an economic, social and political development that corresponds to the dignity of man. I urge all the members of the Church to bear clear witness to the Gospel’s saving message of hope, and to be faithful to the moral principles which ensure the defence and promotion of human dignity and human rights.

May God abundantly bless the peoples of Africa. May he protect the poor and the defenceless, and show his mercy to the young and old. May his peace reign in the hearts of all.

4. Dear Sudanese Friends, as I leave I express the hope that the path of understanding and dialogue will soon lead to a just and honourable peace for all the inhabitants of this country. I came to Khartoum with friendship and esteem for all the Sudanese people. I depart with the hope that a better relationship between North and South, and between the followers of different religious traditions, will soon be a reality, for it responds to the aspirations of true believers. God bless all those who work for this end. God bless the Sudan!

Manaha Allah as-
Sudan barakat as-salam.
(May God grant peace to the Sudan.)




Monday, 22 February 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3). I make my own these words of Saint Paul in greeting you, my Brother Bishops of Ghana. Even though it is over a decade since my Pastoral Visit to your country, I fondly recall the warm hospitality I received from your people. In welcoming you today I wish once more to embrace in love and communion all the priests, Religious and lay faithful of your Dioceses. I ask you to assure them of my closeness and of my constant prayers as they strive to grow in Christ and to put on that "new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Cf. Eph. Ep 4,24).

Among the important events in the life of the Church in Ghana since your last ad Limina visit has been the elevation of the Diocese of Accra to the status of a Metropolitan See, and the establishment of the new Diocese of Koforidua. These are welcome signs of the vitality of the Church in your land, and I join with you in thanking God, who has given this growth (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 3,7).

2. Down the centuries the visit ad Limina Apostolorum has had one constant aim: to give visible expression to the bonds of ecclesial communion uniting the Successor of Peter and the Bishops throughout the world. In visiting the Vatican and the Ostian Way, you pray at the very places where Peter and Paul completed their apostolic witness, and you strive to understand better the weighty office you have inherited as Successors of the Apostles. To you has been entrusted the mission to preach the word of God, in season and out of season, to convince, rebuke and exhort, and to be unfailing in patience and in teaching (Cf. 2Tm. 2Tm 4,2). Yours is the charge to persevere faithfully in the office of sanctifying and leading the people of God in the Christian life, no matter what the cost. This is what it means to be a Successor of the Apostles, today and always.

Zeal for making known to all the salvation offered in Jesus Christ must thus be the motivating force for all of your pastoral efforts. The Bishop’s preaching and teaching of God’s word is the clearest way for him to obey the Lord’s injunction to give freely what he has received freely (Cf. Mt. Mt 10,8). Your zeal for the Gospel is ultimately the best expression of your gratitude for the priceless gift you have received in Christ, and there is no more fitting way to discharge the debt you owe to those who at great personal cost brought the Gospel to Ghana in the last century than to take up their work with similar generosity and self–sacrifice.

In the work of evangelization in Ghana, as indeed in all of Africa, the Church faces many obstacles, yet she does not give way to discouragement. She knows that she has received a strength and energy far beyond the sum of her human resources, and so she is confident that from the seeds she scatters God will bring forth an abundant harvest. In truth, the word of God cannot be constrained (Cf. 2Tm. 2Tm 2,9) and it will always be clear that it is not to us but to the "Lord of the harvest" (Cf. Mt. Mt 9,38 Lc 10,2) that the glory is due.

3. In these last years leading up to the Third Christian Millennium we are invited to look forward with confidence to the dawning of a new missionary age, consequent upon a renewed zeal on the part of all Christians to share the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 92). The forthcoming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa is a gift from Providence which will surely result in a heightening of this zeal and its spreading among the members of the Church.

The Instrumentum laboris released at Kampala during my Pastoral Visit earlier this month in preparation for the Special Assembly of the Synod reminds us that those who are set apart for the work of preaching (Cf. Acts. Ac 13,2) must not fail to read the signs of the times, both positive and negative (Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, Instrumentum Laboris, 22-23), . Significant among the latter is the growth of sects and other new religious movements, which often appeal to alleged apparitions, prophecies and miraculous cures. The attraction of these movements sometimes lies in their apparent success in responding to the spiritual needs of people–the hunger of their hearts for something deeper, for healing, consolation and contact with the transcendent. We must humbly acknowledge that in certain cases the baptized have not yet, for whatever reason, discovered the fulfilment of these needs in the mystery of the Incarnate Word entrusted to the Church. In your response to this challenge, you will want to foster sound devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the "Image and Mother of the Church" (Cf. Lumen gentium LG 53-63 Collectio Missarum Beata Maria Virgine LG 25-27). As the "Health of the Sick" and "Fountain of Salvation" (Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine, 44. 31), she is the exemplar of the Church as the Saviour’s chosen means for communicating his gifts of grace and healing. As the "Comforter of the Afflicted" (Collectio Missarum de Beata Maria Virgine, 41), she is the model of a Church called to stand in solidarity with all who share Christ’s sufferings. As the "Gate of Heaven" (Ibid. 46), she is the type of the Church, the Body of Christ, in which all men and women are called to become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.

4. The inculturation of the Gospel in your country faces a number of particular challenges, especially in the areas of marriage and family life. Your unremitting efforts to lead couples to discover the truth and beauty of the demands of their new life in Christ are an essential part of your pastoral responsibilities. The 1980 Synod of Bishops on the Family reflected the concern of the whole Church for that unit of ecclesial life which is the "domestic Church". The doctrine contained in the Post–Synodal Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio" still needs to be more widely disseminated. It provides a suitable framework for an ever more effective catechesis, especially in the urgent area of marriage preparation. An indispensable element of such preparation must be the presentation of the Church’s complete teaching on responsible parenthood (Cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 28-35). Likewise, I wish to encourage you to do all you can to give special pastoral preparation to Catholics entering marriages with non–Christians, and care to those couples in irregular matrimonial situations.

5. In facing the tasks of evangelization and the building of a solid ecclesial life, the Church in Ghana is blessed by the many missionaries who continue to offer an irreplaceable service to your local Churches, often serving God’s People in the most difficult and challenging pastoral situations. Their presence is a positive sign of that "exchange of gifts" which so eloquently bespeaks the Church’s Catholic unity (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 85). I rejoice that their example has inspired many Ghanaians to embrace the missionary vocation, thereby manifesting the growing maturity of your communities. The preaching of the word of God remains the primary and vital mission of the Church, and in this task the catechists have played an outstanding role. I encourage your efforts to promote their sound, integral formation, for they are called not only to pass on the truths of the faith but also to be joyful and authentic witnesses to the moral life demanded of Christ’s followers. Your efforts to provide this formation will be assisted by the recently issued "Catechism of the Catholic Church", which lays the foundations for a catechesis inspired by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and renewed at the living sources of the faith (Cf. John Paul II, Fidei Depositum, 1).

The strength of the Church’s witness to the Gospel largely depends on the formation of an active laity, able to cooperate with you and your priests in planning and carrying out pastoral initiatives. The lay faithful are increasingly called to become missionaries to themselves, drawing nourishment from the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of the Church’s evangelizing mission (Cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5), and leading others in turn to a fruitful participation in the sacred mysteries. Here, as in other areas, your Episcopal Conference is meant to provide a forum for practical cooperation in directing and coordinating the pastoral life of the local Churches (Cf. Code of Canon Law CIC 447 Code of Canon Law, can. 447; Cf. Christus Dominus CD 38). and in supporting the promising spiritual renewal evident in the life and apostolate of lay movements.

6. A special sign of the growing maturity of your particular Churches has been the increase of vocations to the priesthood.Since priests are your chief cooperators in carrying out the Church’s apostolic mission, it is essential that your relations with them be marked by unity, fraternity and appreciation of their gifts. All who have been configured by Holy Orders to Christ the Head and Shepherd of the Church must share his attitude of complete self–giving for the sake of the flock and the progress of the Gospel. Carrying out the priestly vocation requires permanent formation, and especially a commitment to unceasing personal conversion. Your lives and those of your priests should reflect an authentic evangelical poverty and detachment from the things and attitudes of this world. The sign value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his Church must be carefully guarded, and any behaviour which could give scandal must be carefully avoided or corrected where necessary. You all know how important it is to pay particular attention to seminary formation, for the convictions and practical training imparted to future priests are essential to the success of the Church’s mission. A Bishop’s pride should be his seminary fully conformed to the Church’s expectations as set forth both in the Post–Synodal Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis" and in the Document Some Guidelines on Formation in Major Seminaries, issued by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

I would also mention as a positive sign the growth of vocations to the religious life, and in particular to the contemplative life. Religious have played an essential part in the growth of the Church in Ghana. Intrinsic to that vocation is concern for the ordered growth of the Church, the desire to think with the Church, and to foster her communion and missionary zeal. While the legitimate autonomy granted to religious congregations by the Church’s supreme authority is a sign of their commitment to the Church’s universal mission, religious–precisely because of their public consecration–are deeply involved in the life and mission of the local Church under the guidance of the legitimate Pastor, whose task it is to respect and foster the orderly cooperation of the variety of charisms in the one Body. Your concern for religious must not only extend to vigilance over those aspects of their ministry involving the care of souls, the liturgy and other works of the apostolate (Cf. Code of Canon Law CIC 678). All pastoral activity in fact must be carried out in a spirit of communion with the local Church and respect for the legitimate pastors (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 66).

7. The Church in Ghana can certainly be proud of her commitment to the good of the Nation, as manifested in the gamut of her social services such as education and work training, health–care and the promotion of agricultural development. Your concern for the common good was especially evident in the Pastoral Letter which you issued in conjunction with the leaders of other Christian Communities before the last elections, calling for prayer and inviting the Christians of your country to a responsible exercise of their citizenship. The challenges involved in the transition to multi–party democracy require of Ghana’s Catholics a continued willingness to support and take part in their country’s political development. Especially important in this regard is your own role as leaders of the Catholic community, who recognize the desirability and need for a constructive dialogue with all sectors of the population regarding the just and solid bases of life in society. Such a dialogue, while seeking to keep open all channels of communication in a spirit of patience and good will, will not prevent you from presenting openly and respectfully the Church’s convictions, especially regarding such important matters as religious freedom and the objective moral norms which ought to be reflected in civil legislation. I encourage you to continue your dialogue with the authorities regarding the proper place of religious instruction in the schools, in accordance with the Church’s teaching (Cf. Gravissimum Educationis GE 3).

8. Dear Brothers, on the happy occasion of your visit I rejoice with you in the graces which the Lord has lovingly bestowed upon the Catholic people of Ghana. I pray that your pastoral service will be favoured abundantly, so that in unity of mind and heart, you and your people will draw nearer to the sources of God’s mercy in the Sacraments and "continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel which you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven" (Col 1,23). I commend you and your Dioceses to the loving protection of the Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, and to you and all the priests, religious and laity of Ghana I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Monday, 22 February 1993

Your Excellency,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea. It is a fitting occasion for us to reaffirm the existence of friendly and cooperative links between your country and the Holy See, links which have steadily been consolidated since Diplomatic Relations were established thirty years ago. I am grateful for the greetings which you conveyed on behalf of His Excellency President Roo Tae Woo, to whom I express my good wishes and renew the assurance of my prayers for peace and harmony among all the Korean people.

Your Excellency has referred to two questions keenly felt by your fellow–citizens, and which are of great importance for everyone concerned with developments in the international field. Those questions have to do with overcoming the division between North and South in your own country, and with creating conditions that will ensure a stable peace in that region of the globe. Both realities are intimately connected since, in an increasingly interdependent world, what happens in one area or country has repercussions far beyond. Northeast Asia is a sensitive area and while it is true that in recent times many threats to peace on a global level have been removed or greatly lessened, nevertheless future stability remains uncertain. The international community must further develop secure guarantees of just and harmonious relations between peoples and States, the foundations of which are already substantially laid out in many International Accords which need to be accepted by all and the effective implementation of which should be verifiable before public opinion.

As a keen observer of world events, the Holy See is encouraged by the increasing awareness among individuals and wide sectors of world opinion of the intrinsic relationship between peace and respect for human rights. Almost twenty–five years ago my predecessor Pope Paul VI wrote: "Peace and Rights are reciprocally cause and effect, the one of the other: Peace favors Rights, and Rights in their turn favor Peace" (Paul VI, Message on the occasion of the World Day for Peace 1969, 8 December 1968). Where there is a clear understanding of the worth of every human being, with a corresponding and juridically guaranteed respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, justice and fairness become criteria of human behavior at every level, including the level of national and international politics. In such a view, peace is not just the absence of conflict or the stalemate brought about by the balance of opposing forces. It is a convergence of mind above all regarding what can and should be done for the development of people and the true progress of civilization. As Pope Paul indicated: "Peace must first be in men’s minds, so that it can then exist in human events" (Ibid.). Hence, all lovers of peace rejoice in the more frequent and higher level of contacts between North and South Korea, and I concur completely with Your Excellency when you express the hope that reunification will be achieved through love and reconciliation. Love and reconciliation are in fact crowning qualities of mind and heart, and they denote the maturity of a people’s self–image and cultural development.

I am well aware of how anxious the Catholics of Korea are to build society on the solid foundations of justice and respect for human dignity. They seek cooperation with people from different religious backgrounds and with all people of good will in the great cause of building bridges of understanding, mutual esteem and common enterprise in the peaceful ordering of life in their own land and in the world, in such a way that even profound differences of outlook and conviction need not stand as obstacles to peace. As believers, they know that peace is a divine gift to be implored, and they therefore pray unceasingly for the reunification of their country, as the proper response to the deepest aspirations of the Korean heart.

The Republic of Korea, Mister Ambassador, has progressively strengthened its democratic and participatory structures and processes. A further step along this path will be the forthcoming inauguration of a new civil administration under the incoming President, Mister Kim Young Sam. I would ask you kindly to assure him of my prayerful best wishes as, in a few days time, he assumes the highest responsibilities in the service of his country.

In the fulfillment of your own duties as your country’s Representative, be assured of the ready assistance of the various departments of the Roman Curia. I wish you well during your stay in this City of ageold and ever vital religious, cultural and artistic traditions. Upon you I implore divine protection, and I invoke abundant blessings upon the beloved Korean people.

March 1993




Consistory Hall

Friday, 12 March 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It is a pleasure to receive the members and experts who have come from every continent to take part in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Conscious that in the new evangelization which should prepare the dawn of the Third Christian Millennium "the Church's manifold apostolate regarding instruments of social communication calls for reinforced vigour", (Cfr. Inter Mirifica IM 18) you are meeting in order to report, to plan and indeed to stimulate worldwide efforts to make the Church more effectively present in the vast world of the communications media. I therefore greet you with warm gratitude and esteem for the expertise and dedication with which you serve the Holy See in this specific task.

2. You have had much to report from this year which has followed the publication of the Pastoral Instruction on Communications, "Aetatis Novae". That document was meant to become an instrument of reflection in the hands of the Bishops and of the Catholic communicators of the world. Not only the international Catholic communications organizations but also many Dioceses and Episcopal Conferences have already begun to put it into effect by formulating pastoral plans for communications and by including communications in every pastoral plan. I hope that you will continue your efforts to spread awareness of the need fol sound planning in the task of proclaiming the truths and values of the Gospel through the various media.

Your reports also include references to new realities. There are, for example, many new Catholic radio stations in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa and in Europe. There are new Catholic television stations in Europe and in Latin America.

There are many new Catholic publications, especially in Eastern Europe. New efforts are being made to ensure fruitful dialogue with media professionals, including those of the world of entertainment, especially in North America.

Throughout the world - including here in Rome itself - there is an increasing number of centres providing needed formation not only in the techniques of communication but also in that philosophical, theological and spiritual reflection so necessary to sound communication. Communicators who strive through the media to serve the integral well-being, spiritual as well as cultural, of their audiences need an ethical and theological reflection on the way in which they are involved in the work of communications and on the motives for this involvement. In a sense, you yourselves have come together for just such a purpose: to deepen your own realization of the proper place of the media in the Church's saving mission and to help others in the Church to have that same vision.

3. You have also come together to plan: to plan how better to coordinate Catholic communications efforts throughout the world so that they become complementary and not competitive, so that precious resources are used to develop Catholic media, not to duplicate them; to plan how to ensure the right of the Church to proclaim the message of Christ, the truth of the Gospel, through the communications media. In this way you are fulfilling the mandate given to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications: to stimulate worldwide efforts to proclaim the Gospel through the marvellous instruments which man has invented to enhance his capacity for communication. The Church's teaching in this field can become a dead letter if it is not repeated and acted upon, and I am therefore pleased to note that you have published a collection of the principal conciliar and post-conciliar documents on communications: the Decree "Inter Mirifica" and the pastoral Instructions "Communio et Progressio" and "Aetatis Novae". It is also encouraging to hear that you will soon be publishing on the thirtieth anniversary of "Inter Mirifica" - a collection of the messages which my predecessor Pope Paul VI and I myself have issued for successive World Communications Days.

4. Among the many items on the agenda of your meeting, you are studying how the Pastoral Instruction "Aetatis Novae" is being implemented and seeing what needs to be done to promote its further application throughout the Church. You have again been looking at such important aspects as the training of Catholic communicators, the promotion of moral standards in advertising, and greater coordination in the field of Catholic radio broadcasting.

The Church's relationship to the media is a complex one and requires constant reflection on your part. On the one hand, the Church sees the means of social communication as having endless potential not only for the diffusion of information, the creation and communication of art and culture, the refreshment and refinement of the human spirit, but also for the spread and strengthening of God's kingdom. At the same time she is painfully aware of the damage which can be inflicted on individuals and society by the misuse of these instruments (Cfr. Inter Mirifica IM 1 et 2).In concrete situations, it is the duty of the Church, her pastors and her members to acknowledge and encourage programmes and publications which promote unity, peace, virtue and true brotherly love. Likewise, it can be the duty of the Church and her shepherds, and indeed of all the faithful, to protest against programmes and publications which are morally objectionable and which threaten to violate personal and public integrity and the sanctity of family life. The increasing number of occasions in which Church leaders and communicators meet for fruitful exchange and dialogue can help the members of the Church to understand the media and its special "language" more clearly. It can also help the media to gain a better understanding of the Church and of what she does by word and action to communicate the message and the love of Jesus Christ.

It only remains for me to encourage you in your work and to assure you of the Holy See's gratitude. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, may your efforts to foster an ever better use of the media by the members of the Church bear abundant fruit, so that the world may know the creative, redemptive and sanctifying love of her Divine Son. I invoke upon you and your loved ones God's gifts of strength and joy, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Saturday, 20 March 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "I bow my knees before the Father... that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Ep 3,14-17). As we begin this series of ad Limina visits of the Bishops of the United States, this is the prayer which I make for the Church in your great and beloved nation: that the faith of the Church’s Bishops may be renewed and strengthened so that all the faithful may be helped to live their Christian vocation with integrity and courage! This morning I welcome you, the first group of Bishops – from Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. Your ad Limina visit brings you to Rome to venerate the tombs of the glorious martyrs, Peter and Paul, who established this "greatest and most ancient Church" (Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses, III, 3, 2), and to meet Peter’s Successor in this Apostolic See which "presides over the universal communion of charity" (Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Romanos, prooem.). I greet you with warm fraternal affection in the Lord.

Over the course of the year I shall meet with successive groups of Bishops from the United States. These meetings have a profound meaning for all of us. They are expressions of the collegial structure of the Church’s hierarchical communion. On these occasions we deeply experience the spiritual solidarity of those who have "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism", and are "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ep 4,5 Ep 3). While our private conversations deal with the situation of your individual Dioceses, these group meetings give me an opportunity to share with you and your brother Bishops in the United States some thoughts on more general aspects of your ministry and of the Church’s life in your country. I wish to do so in the light of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, recently published, and which should soon be available in its English translation. This gift of Divine Providence–the result of a desire expressed by the Bishops at the 1985 Extraordinary Synod (1985 Extraordinary Synod, Relatio finalis, II, B, a, 4) is authoritative expression of the full riches and marvellous harmony of the Catholic faith. I consider its publication among the principal fruits of the Second Vatican Council and one of the most significant events of my Pontificate. It is an invaluable instrument of the genuine ecclesial renewal which the Council intended. Following the structure of the Catechism, I wish to meditate with the various groups of Bishops on certain aspects of believing, praying, celebrating and living "the Catholic faith that comes to us from the Apostles" ("Prex Eucharistia I").

2. From the beginning, I make these reflections in the context of a trusting and steadfast profession of the Church’s faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We ourselves must be constantly renewed in our own faith if we are effectively to fulfill our mission as Successors of the Apostles. As Bishops we, above all, are "witnesses of Christ before all people" (Christus Dominus CD 11), "preachers of the faith who lead new disciples to Christ" (Lumen Gentium LG 25). "Rightly handling the word of truth" (2Tm 2,15), we must hand on what we ourselves have received (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 15,3). As Bishops we have been configured to Christ in the fullness of the priesthood in order to proclaim that word and teach it, not as our own, but in accord with the whole of the Church’s tradition and in communion with the other members of the Episcopal College, always in union with its head.

Despite the inroads of secularization, people crave a genuine experience of God in prayer and an inner spiritual life as antidotes to the dehumanizing elements in modern living (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 38). Sometimes even Catholics have lost or have never had the chance to experience Christ personally: not Christ as a mere "paradigm" or "value", but the living Lord: "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14,6). In addressing this need we, like Saint Paul, must never drift far from the core of the message: "Christ crucified... Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1Co 1,23-24). In fact, the mystery of the Eternal Son’s Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection: this is the unfathomable "treasure" (Cf. 2Cor. 2Co 4,7) which is preached, celebrated and lived in the Catholic Church. This is the "saving grace" which God offers through our ministry to those who are searching for him, to everyone without distinction. Jesus Christ is the Good News which the world is waiting for, and it is our duty to speak that message clearly in his name.

3. Furthermore, because people are moved more by the witness of our lives than by the power of our speech, they have a right to see in their Pastors men whose entire lives are centered on Jesus Christ, "the only Son who is in the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1,18). They expect that, like the Apostles, the first witnesses, we too will transmit what, by God’s grace, we have "seen with our eyes... looked upon and touched with our hands" (1Jn 1,1): contemplata aliis tradere. It falls above all to the Bishop to build up a believing community by handing on the Church’s faith and by explaining her authoritative teaching and discipline in a positive way, in a way that is relevant to the difficulties and problems which worry people and weigh them down (Cf. Christus Dominus CD 13).

Since "the word of God is living and active" (Hebr. 4: 12), its full power comes alive in communities where the "obedience of faith" (Rm 1,5) is given freely and with love. Our own profession of faith, sustained by fervent prayer, is therefore extremely pertinent to our efforts to communicate, with serenity, enthusiasm and courage, the communion of life which we share with the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit (Cf. 1Jn. 1Jn 1,3). Every day I pray for you and your fellow Bishops that you "be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ep 4,23-24). The same favor I would ask of you: continue to pray that I fulfill faithfully my ministry as primary guardian of the deposit of faith, for the good of the Church throughout the world.

4. In meeting the challenges of your Episcopal office you confront a cultural climate in which many are suspicious of, if not hostile to, any claim of certainty in the knowledge of the truth. A positivist approach has produced a tendency to exclude questions of ultimate truth from the public sphere, and to confine religious belief and judgements on basic moral values to the private sphere. Consequently, the direction which society takes is often the result of the prevailing "consensus", which itself is open to various forms of conditioning by those who have the means to make their voices heard above those of others. In the end, even the law, which has a powerful formative influence on the way people think, can be separated from its foundation in morality. In this case it is seen as an instrument for externally regulating society without reference to the objective moral order.

It follows that you face particular difficulties in preaching and teaching "the word of truth, the gospel of... salvation" (Ep 1,13). The majority of American Catholics understand that the assent of faith is sublimely consonant with human dignity insofar as it is a free act of intelligence which welcomes God’s word, received through the Church’s preaching and teaching, trusting in God who can neither deceive nor be deceived (Cf. First Vatican Council , Dei Filius: Denz.-Schönm., 3008; Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 156). At the same time, the moral, psychological and cultural pressures of life in the United States today are tempting some in the Church to compromise her teachings and her discipline, to the grave detriment of souls. In a climate of religious individualism, some assume the right to decide for themselves, even in important matters of faith, which teachings to accept, while ignoring those they find unacceptable. Selectivity in adhering to authoritative Church teaching, as I said to you in Los Angeles during my 1987 Pastoral Visit, is incompatible with being "a good Catholic", and by its very nature it poses an obstacle to full participation in ecclesial life (Cf. John Paul II, Meeting with the Bishops of the United States of America in Los Angeles, 5, 16 September 1987). It is the Bishops’ task to call the whole Catholic community to accept in its fullness the Church’s authoritative teaching on faith and morals. And Pastors and others of good faith should not be discouraged, as though the Church’s teaching on certain issues has been irretrievably lost. With the help of Christ, who has "overcome the world" (Jn 16,33), it is never futile to preach, teach, and work against error, following Saint Paul’s advice to be "urgent in season and out of season..." (2Tm 4,2).

Speeches 1993 - International Airport of Khartoum (Sudan)