Speeches 1996 - Friday, 5 October 1996

In recent years you have made great efforts to improve priestly training. The aim of those responsible for seminaries must be to provide "an atmosphere that fosters and ensures a process of formation, so that the person who is called to the priesthood by God may become, with the sacrament of orders, a living image of Jesus Christ, head and shepherd of the Church" (Ibid., 42). As a body, your Conference should examine the situation in order to overcome regional disparities in the training of priests, seeking to raise the educational level of all seminaries through a greater exchange of personnel between Dioceses, and from religious congregations. The role of superiors, spiritual directors and educators is of such importance for the future growth and well-being of the whole ecclesial community that no Bishop should hesitate to commit personnel and resources to this work.

6. As those primarily responsible for the Church's life in your Dioceses, you also have duties regarding the solid training of the members of religious institutes, of both men and women. With respect for the internal autonomy of such communities, as laid down by the law of the Church or by particular legislation, your personal closeness and support can do much to strengthen consecrated men and women in their specific vocation to serve Christ and his Kingdom through the witness of the evangelical counsels. I heartily encourage you to intensify the dialogue between the Bishops' Conference and the Conferences of Major Superiors, especially where there is a need to offset any theological disorientation in consecrated persons and groups, or where a lowering in the tenor of the spiritual and communal life has brought a loss of identity, a weakening of the public witness of the consecrated life in society, or a disregard for the genuine charismatic and sacrificial character of consecration. Religious are called to represent in the Church and the world the obedient, chaste and poor Christ. All that you do to sustain them in this splendid but demanding vocation will redound in abundant blessings upon your particular Churches.

7. While it is not possible, or necessary, for me to mention every aspect of your ministry, I do wish to confirm you in the commitment you have repeatedly expressed regarding the care of migrant workers. Your Pastoral Letter "Comfort my people, comfort them"—to mention only the most recent one on the subject—speaks forthrightly about this immense problem, and draws attention to the sufferings of many Filipino migrants, to the needs of their families left at home, and to the ecclesial community's duty to help these people wherever they go. A generous and loving identification of Bishops, priests, religious and laity with the Good Samaritan will enable the Church in the Philippines to expand its efforts in this direction

Another area of your mission involves the tribal populations, concentrated in certain areas of your country. Their way of life is undergoing profound changes, not all of which are positive, and not least as a result of the fact that their habitat is being destroyed by industrial deforestation. This pressure on their traditional culture makes them vulnerable to various forms of fundamentalism, and this is a matter which should engage the whole Church in the Philippines. A concerted program of human development: and evangelization, respectful of all the values to be found in those people's cultures, is another of the challenges which call for generosity and zeal on the part of priests, religious and committed lay volunteers. I recommend to your collective pastoral concern the work of your Conference's Commission on Tribal Filipinos, so that the welfare aspects of the approach to these groups will be accompanied by a serious and confident evangelization,

8. Dear Brother Bishops, in reflecting with you on your ministry as Successors of the Apostles, my aim has been above all to encourage you in your fidelity to the Lord, and to urge you to place your trust in the power of the Holy Spirit, through whom you abound in hope (cf. Rom. Rm 15,13). Do not shrink from the hard work ahead, work often complicated by obstacles and difficulties, for, as St Paul reminds us, "in all these things we are more than conquerors because of him who has loved us" (Ibid., 8:37). All is possible with God's help. I pray that through your efforts and teaching the whole Church in the Philippines will be filled with the power of God, and that under your leadership the Catholic community will be tireless in building a civilization of truth and love. I commend you and all the faithful to the loving intercession of the Mother of the Redeemer, and as a token of my closeness I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Consistory Hall

Saturday, 5 October 1996

Cardinal Bevilacqua,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the "Stewards of Saint John Neumann" on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome and the Vatican. I deeply appreciate your promise of prayers as I prepare to celebrate my fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination.

Your association has been established out of a praiseworthy desire to assist the Archbishop of Philadelphia by making available to him the talents and resources of the lay faithful of the Archdiocese. Your patron, Saint John Neumann, was a great missionary Bishop who overcame many daunting challenges in his efforts to provide a firm foundation for the life and growth of the Church in Philadelphia. Today, as the Archdiocese faces new challenges and looks with confidence to the future, your association is committed to providing advice, encouragement and support to the Pastors who carry on that work. In this way you bear witness to the marvelous unity of the Body of Christ, in which each member is called to contribute in a particular way to the welfare of the whole.

Dear friends, I pray that your visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul will strengthen you in your love of the Church and your desire to promote her mission of evangelization and service in society. May you always be "good stewards of God's manifold grace" (1P 4,10). To you and your families I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

November 1996




Tuesday, 12 November 1996

Dear Friends,

1. It gives me great pleasure to welcome this group of representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations and other Agencies which in the international forum promote and defend the dignity of the human person. You have wished to have this meeting precisely because you recognize a substantial convergence between the teachings of the Catholic Church and the policies and goals of your organizations on many issues crucial for the future of the human family.

2. You are gathered in Rome in conjunction with the Summit of the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is addressing the nutritional needs of the world, especially of the world's poor. In the Creator's plan, the universal destination of the earth's goods implies that every individual has a basic right to adequate food. The spectre of hunger and malnutrition is truly an offence against the Creator's image in every human being. This is especially so when hunger is the consequence of the misuse of resources or of excessive self-interest in the context of opposed political and economic groups, or when it results from the rigid application of the profit principle to the detriment of solidarity and co-operation for the benefit of all who make up the human family. Believers must feel compelled in conscience to work to reduce the differences between North and South, and to build just and honest relations on every level—social, economic, cultural and ethical—of human life on this earth (cf. John Paul II, Message for the World Day of Peace 1986, 8 Dec. 1985). Christians must draw encouragement and a sense of urgency from the words of Christ himself: "I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mt 25,35).

3. Many of you seek to address another, even more terrible indignity: namely, threats to life itself, and the systematic elimination of innocent lives, in particular the unborn. As we come to the end of a century unprecedented for its destruction of life, most often in the name of totalitarian ideologies, are we to conclude that democracy too has become the sponsor of unparalleled attacks on human life? On the one hand, the advance of democratic freedoms has given rise to a new affirmation of human rights, codified in important international declarations and agreements. On the other hand, when freedom is detached from the moral principles which govern justice and disclose what is the common good, democracy itself is undermined and becomes the instrument by which the strong impose their will on the weak, as we increasingly see happening around us.

4. As you well know, it is not enough to deplore this situation. There is much to be done in educating consciences and public opinion to the reality of what, for reasons of brevity but with solid justification, has been called "the culture of death". I invite you to renew your efforts to promote "the culture of life", and to seek a higher moral vision which will enable you to co-operate ever more closely in defending the sacredness of every human life. Harness your energies, your talents, your expertise, for this immense and vital effort in favour of humanity!

May God grant you the strength and courage to speak in the international arena for those who have no voice and to defend those who are defenceless. May he pour out his abundant blessings upon you and your families.

December 1996




Hall of Popes

Monday, December 2, 1996

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I extend to you a heartfelt welcome and thank you for having accepted the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace to take part in this meeting which is reflecting on the reality of the economy and the role of labour associations and unions in the defence and promotion of the dignity of workers. I am grateful to Cardinal Roger Etchegaray and his staff for the generous willingness with which they follow the complex social and economic questions of our day. This meeting with you, distinguished union representatives from many parts of the world, gives me the opportunity to encourage you in your commitment, with the conviction that "work is a fundamental dimension of man's existence on earth" (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens LE 4).

2. Today we are witnessing, with a mixture of hope and concern, a widespread restructuring of the world economy. This is taking place against the background of a profound transformation of productive systems, due to the introduction of new and sophisticated technologies on the one hand, and to the globalization of financial and commercial relations on the other. Technological innovations are leading to increased productivity, but this reorganization of the production process is having serious negative consequences for employment.

The demand for greater efficiency is inevitable and legitimate, on condition however that it is not motivated only by the quest for profit, but respects work itself as a good to be promoted and shared. The tragic and often unjust situation of those who do not find work, or have lost it, must be a major concern when seeking greater efficiency in economic and productive systems.

At the same time, how can we not recall the ways in which workers in some parts of the world are made the object of shameless exploitation, often as a result of ideas of the economy which disregard every moral value? How can we not condemn the unacceptable behaviour of those who, even in some regions with a solid industrial base, exploit the work of women, and especially of children?

3. In the dynamic and changing context of today's economy, the right to work has to be reaffirmed as a fundamental right, corresponding to people's fundamental responsibility to support themselves and their families. We are speaking not only of the right to subsistence, but of making it possible for workers to achieve fulfilment and to play an active part in the communities to which they belong (cf. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens LE 9-10).

Your organizations were established with the purpose of affirming the value of work and the dignity of the worker. Today, that same purpose calls you to undertake fresh initiatives in order to help build a society whose guiding light will be the integral good of all its members. The new questions being raised by the globalization of the economy and by the introduction of new technologies require a re-thinking of the union's role and a renewal of the way in which it represents the labour force in different situations. This renewal should not compromise the right which workers have to assemble freely in associations in order to protect their rights and those of others. From this point of view, labour unions will continue in the future to play an important role in representing the interests of workers.

4. The road to follow is undoubtedly the road of solidarity—a solidarity which goes counter to the dangerous trends towards social fragmentation. A shared commitment to the virtue of solidarity is the necessary pre-condition for determining policies which, in the final analysis, will point to a new kind of economy, one which never fails to recall that "man's principle resource is man himself '(John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 32). Unions ought to be effective instruments of such a solidarity, which can be achieved only by means of dialogue, cooperation and a correct and long-range convergence among the different sectors of society. Along with other social bodies, unions have a direct part to play in building a truly just and democratic world, a world enriched by everyone's responsible and active participation in the economy, as in other important areas of life (cf. John Paul II, Laborem Exercens LE 8,14). Everyone has a duty to work for the good of the whole community, national and international.

I encourage you therefore to continue to represent your fellow workers with all your professional skills and in a spirit of service to the whole human family. Upon the workers of the world, upon all of you, your organizations and your countries, I invoke God's abundant blessings.



Monday, 4 December 1996

Your Eminence,
Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to welcome you, Cardinal Winning, together with the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the many faithful who have accompanied you on this pilgrimage to Rome as you celebrate your silver jubilee of episcopal ordination.

It is doubly appropriate that the actual anniversary celebrations fell on the feast of the Apostle St Andrew, patron of Scotland. It was Andrew who first brought his brother, Simon Peter, to the Lord. Today, following in the footsteps of countless Scottish pilgrims down the centuries, you have come to Rome to visit the tomb of Peter at the Vatican. May this pilgrimage confirm the bonds of communion uniting you with Peter’s Successor and bring you, even as Andrew brought Peter, ever closer to Jesus Christ. I am confident that the Catholics of Scotland, well-known for their fidelity to the Lord and his Church even amid suffering and trials, will be granted the grace to persevere in joyful witness to the Gospel and its message of enduring hope.

Commending all of you to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in Christ our Saviour.





Tuesday, 3 December 1996

Your Grace,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I warmly welcome Your Grace on this, your second visit to the See of Rome, a visit which continues a series of such meetings going back to just after the Second Vatican Council. I also recall with gratitude the occasion during my pastoral visit to Great Britain in 1982 when I was able to pray in Canterbury Cathedral with your predecessor, Archbishop Runcie. These precious moments have been significant milestones on a journey prompted and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and witness (cf. Jn. Jn 15,26).

Through these visits, and especially through the prayer which accompanies them, we have been reminded again and again that, even in our sad separation, Anglicans and Catholics have not ceased to be brothers and sisters in the one Lord. The task before us is to strengthen that bond, until we reach the full unity that is Christ's will for us. Let us earnestly ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to reconciliation and unity in a single communion of faith, life and mission, to the glory of the Father.

During Your Grace's stay in the City of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, may the God of hope fill us all with joy and peace.




Tuesday, 5 December 1996

Your Grace,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I greet your in the love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts (cf. Rom. Rm 5,5).

1. Thirty years ago, after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Archbishop Michael Ramsey made an official visit to Pope Paul VI. That first official visit to the Holy See by an Archbishop of Canterbury since before the tragic separation of the 16th century was to have great significance for relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. It signalled to Catholics and Anglicans that they should, in Christian charity, put conflict behind them and work to re-establish unity. Our predecessors did not underestimate the difficulties involved. Nor did they fail to understand the urgency of the task. They declared their intention to inaugurate a serious theological dialogue, which continues today, especially through the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC).

2. In the years since Archbishop Ramsey's visit some of the fruits hoped for have begun to appear. There has been above all a rediscovery of the degree of real though imperfect communion which exists between Anglicans and Catholics. In many parts of the world there is a new spirit of co-operation between us: we have joined more fervently in prayer for the gift of unity; we have begun to work together, to bear witness together, whenever possible, on the basis of so much that is common in our heritage. The Final Report of the first stage of our international dialogue has highlighted points of convergence and even agreement not thought possible before ARCIC began its work. The path ahead may not be altogether clear to us, but we are here to recommit ourselves to following it.

The Commission's current study of teaching authority in the Church can be of great help in the face of new areas of disagreement which have emerged in recent years. Sadly, these difficulties seem to loom large on the way to the reconciliation which the dialogue intended to promote. My particular responsibility as the Successor of Peter for the faith and unity of the Church leads me to invite my brothers and sisters of the Anglican Communion to reflect on the motives and reasons of the positions I have expressed in the exercise of my teaching office. Our shared desire to respond to the Lord's will cannot fail to lead us to a common understanding of the mind of Christ in every crucial aspect of the constitution of the Church.

3. The approach of a new Christian Millennium, with its preparations to celebrate in a more intense way the mystery of our Saviour's Incarnation, constitutes a unique context for our ecumenical dialogue. In fact, the dialogue with which we are concerned is primarily "directed towards the One who, as the Redeemer of the world and the Lord of history, is himself our Reconciliation": it is the dialogue in which "Christ, the source of the Church's unity, can effectively act, with all the power of his Spirit, the Paraclete" (cf. John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint UUS 35).

My brother in Christ, dear friends: may this be the subject of our prayer when we gather together again this afternoon in the Church of Saint Gregory on the Caelian Hill.




Thursday, 5 December 1996

Rome, San Gregorio al Celio, 5 December 1996

Once again in the city of Rome an Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace George Carey representing the Anglican Communion, and the Bishop of Rome, His Holiness Pope John Paul II have met together and joined in prayer.

Conscious that the second Christian millennium, now in its closing years, has seen division, even open hostility and strife between Christians, our fervent prayer has been for the grace of reconciliation. We have prayed earnestly for conversion—conversion to Christ and to one another in Christ. We have asked that Catholics and Anglicans may be granted the wisdom to know, and the strength to carry out, the Father's will. This will enable progress towards that full visible unity which is God's gift and our calling.

We have given thanks that in many parts of the world Anglicans and Catholics, joined in one Baptism, recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and give expression to this through joint prayer, common action and joint witness. This is a testimony to the communion we know we already share by God's mercy and demonstrates our intention that it should come to the fullness willed by Christ. We have given particular thanks for the spirit of faith in God's promises, persevering hope and mutual love which has inspired all who have worked for unity between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church since our predecessors Archbishop Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI met and prayed together. In the Church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill, we have remembered with gratitude the common heritage of Anglicans and Catholics rooted in the mission to the English people which Pope Gregory the Great entrusted to St Augustine of Canterbury.

For over 25 years a steady and painstaking international theological dialogue has been undertaken by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC). We affirm the signs of progress provided in the statements of ARCIC I on the Eucharist and on the understanding of ministry and ordination, which have received an authoritative response from both partners of the dialogue. ARCIC II has produced further statements on salvation and the Church, the understanding of the Church as communion, and on the kind of life and fidelity to Christ we seek to share. These statements deserve to be more widely known. They require analysis, reflection and response. At present the International Commission is seeking to further the convergence on authority in the Church. Without agreement in this area we shall not reach the full visible unity to which we are both committed. The obstacle to reconciliation caused by the ordination of women as priests and bishops in some provinces of the Anglican Communion has also become increasingly evident, creating a new situation. In view of this, it may be opportune at this stage in our journey to consult further about how the relationship between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church is to progress. At the same time, we encourage ARCIC to continue and deepen our theological dialogue, not only over issues connected with our present difficulties but also in all areas where full agreement has still to be reached.

We are called to preach the Gospel, urging it "in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2). In many parts of the world Anglicans and Catholics attempt to witness together in the face of growing secularism, religious apathy and moral confusion. Whenever they are able to give united witness to the Gospel they must do so, for our divisions obscure the Gospel message of reconciliation and hope. We urge our people to make full use of the possibilities already available to them, for example in the Catholic Church's Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism (1993). We call on them to repent of the past, to pray for the grace of unity and to open themselves to God's transforming power, and to co-operate in all appropriate ways at local, national and provincial levels. We pray that the spirit of dialogue may prevail which will contribute to reconciliation and prevent new difficulties from emerging. Whenever actions take place which show signs of an attitude of proselytism they prevent our common witness and must be eliminated.

We look forward to the celebration of 2000 years since the Word become flesh and dwelt among us (cf. Jn 1,14). This is an opportunity to proclaim afresh our common faith in God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son, not to condemn the world but so that the world might be saved through him (cf. ibid., 3:16-17). We encourage Anglicans and Catholics, with all their Christian brothers and sisters, to pray, celebrate and witness together in the year 2000. We make this call in a spirit of humility, recognizing that credible witness together, when Anglicans and Catholics, with all their Christian brothers and sisters, have achieved that full, visible unity that correspond to Christ's prayer "that they may all be one . . . so that the world may believe" (Ibid., 17:21)


TO H.E. Mr Felipe H. PaolillO,


Friday, 6 December 1996

Mr Ambassador,

1. I am pleased to receive you on this solemn occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay to the Holy See, and I am sincerely grateful to you for the words you have kindly addressed to me, expressing the good relations existing between this Apostolic See and your country, whose inhabitants have been able to preserve in their traditions deep human and Christian values, the legacy of a glorious past, which is having positive repercussions in social life today.

I am likewise grateful for the greeting of Dr Julio María Sanguinetti, President of the Republic, who was kind enough to visit me last May, thereby stressing not only his personal sentiments of esteem and friendship, but also appreciation of and desire for mutual co-operation between Church and State for the attainment of the common good.I am most grateful to you and I ask you to be so good as to convey to your country’s leader my very best wishes for his lofty and delicate mission.

2. The Church, Mr Ambassador, faithful to her task of bringing the message of salvation to all people, is fully committed to promoting all that can further uphold the dignity and advancement of the human being since “man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission” (Redemptor hominis RH 14). In fact, respect for the values of the person, especially of his condition as a child of God, should shape relationships between individuals and peoples, so that the legitimate rights of each one may be safeguarded and society enjoy stability and harmony. For this reason, I am pleased to point out how the Church in Uruguay, through her Pastors, has not ceased to advance, by her evangelizing mission, the great causes of man and Uruguayan society. As in other places in the world, the local Church carries out her activity, remaining faithful to her vocation and mission, which is to proclaim Jesus Christ and the salvation he brings to us, thus serving all men and especially the needy, the poor and the marginalized. In fulfilling this mission, dialogue and co-operation with the various social institutions must be well received, keeping intact the respective fields of competence and the areas of independence.

3. In my concern for the whole Church, I follow with interest the events in the political and social life of your country, in which it is necessary to recognize and point out a series of significant changes. Your Government is committed to encouraging economic and social development, as well as to fostering peaceful and harmonious coexistence among all, based on justice and solidarity. To achieve these goals, all the means used must be inspired by ethical principles, so that society may always rest on the inalienable dignity of man and the family.

In this regard, the protection given to the family in the current Constitution of Uruguay (art. 40) which considers it the basis of society, should be recognized. For this reason “the State will care for its moral and material stability, so that children may receive a better education within society”. Today, facing the threats which are hanging over this institution such as divorce, irregular unions or the lack of job security which prevents young people from facing the demands of marriage, the Church is actively engaged in promoting conditions which help to overcome these problems. However, it is necessary also to recall that the family and protection of life must be at the centre of government policies.

4. I had the opportunity to remind the President of the Republic that: “It is to be hoped that constructive dialogue between the civil authorities and the Pastors of the Church in your nation will strengthen the relations between the two institutions, and that the State and the other public authorities will offer concrete and effective collaboration, in the important work that the Church in Uruguay is undertaking in Catholic educational centres. Among those I would like to mention the Catholic University of Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga, oriented to training consciences in the true and essential spiritual values” (Address to the President of Uruguay, n. 5, 25 May 1996, L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 12 June 1996, p. 4). In fact, in a field as important and transcendent as teaching, the Church does not ask for privileges, but only for the space and the means which are her due, in order to fulfil her mission, and she desires to co-operate for the purpose of serving man better.

The Church makes a notable contribution in Uruguay to the field of education, which is shown by her work directed to the integral formation of children and young people, the future of the nation, many of whom could one day occupy positions of responsibility in running the country.

In this regard, also safeguarding teaching in public institutions, it should be realized that a monopoly in the distribution of subsidies destined for education would harm the freedom of teaching itself and would endanger the exercise of the right of parents to choose the type of education they desire for their children.This is why I would like to repeat the appeal I made when I visited the Catholic University in Montevideo on 7 May 1988: “I harbour the desire that those who are responsible shall make sure that subsidies from the State are distributed in such a way that the parents, without distinction of religious belief or civic convictions, may be truly free in the exercise of their right to choose the education of their children, without having to bear unacceptable burdens” (Address to the World of Culture, n. 3; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 23 May 1988, p. 3).

5. Mr Ambassador, before concluding this meeting, I would like to express to you my best wishes that the mission beginning today may be fruitful and successful. I ask you again kindly to convey my sentiments and hopes to the President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay and to the other authorities in your country, as, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Thirty-Three, Mother of all Uruguayans, I invoke God’s blessing and the gifts of the Spirit upon all the beloved children of your noble nation, which I always recall with warm appreciation.

Speeches 1996 - Friday, 5 October 1996