Speeches 1973

Saturday 5, May 1973

Dear Brother in Christ,

The words you have addressed to us have been particularly moving ones. We are truly happy to welcome Your Holiness to our home. From the day of your elevation to your position as Father and Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, God has granted us the grace to maintain frequent relations through letters and through the ministry of our representatives. Now we have this opportunity to meet face to face. It is a solemn moment and a joyful one.

It is also a joy for us to greet the distinguished members of your delegation and through them the entire community of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

In his goodness, God has been wisely and patiently following out the plan of his grace for us. We meet at a time when Christians are asking themselves about the meaning of the faith they profess and the mission they have to the world. You come to this ancient See of Rome, bearing with you the traditions of the ancient See of Alexandria, of its apostles, its martyrs, its doctors, its holy monks and the vast army of its people, who have given witness to their faith in periods of joy and in periods of great darkness. It is our hope that through our discussions and prayer we may make a significant contribution towards understanding each other better, thus making it possible to help Christians find valid answers to the questions they are asking themselves today.

We realize that God is presenting us with a great challenge. We do not expect to overcome immediately the difficulties that fifteen centuries of history have created for us. But we do hope to be able to set out upon a way which will lead to our overcoming these difficulties. For our part, we approach these meetings in a spirit of great confidence. We are confident that our Churches are determined to reach out to each other in an effort to carry out better the mission God has entrusted to us. We strive to be faithful servants of the tradition which has been handed on to us from the Apostles through the Fathers and great spiritual leaders of this Church. But that tradition is a living one. The efforts at renewal which are going on in the Catholic Church and in the Coptic Church give testimony to this. We are confident therefore that our meetings during these days will strengthen the bonds of brotherly love between us and between our people. May God enlighten us and guide us and grant us new insights as we strive together to see how we may attain that full unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace which Christ asks of us and which is his gift.



Thursday 10, May 1973

Dear Brother in Christ,

After a week of meetings, visits and conversations, during which Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation have come to a more intimate knowledge of the Church and the people of Rome, we meet personally once again.

We wish to express our heartfelt thanks for your visit which has enabled us to know more profoundly yourself and the Church of the teaching of Saint Mark. We have been able to see even more clearly how God is calling us to a more perfect unity in Him, for the glory of His name and for the service of all men who have been redeemed by the blood of His incarnate Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. With humility, but with confidence, we renew our resolution to strive to fulfil that calling, mindful of the exhortation of Saint Paul: «If there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind» (Ph 2,1-2).

We also see in the visit of Your Holiness a significant step towards strengthening the foundations of the relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Alexandria. We look forward to a growth in these relations, always based on our total commitment to that living Christian faith which has been handed down to us through the Apostles and the Fathers, and to the exigencies of Christian love. May our commitment always be that of the great Saint Athanasius, the sixteenth centenary of whose death the Church of Rome celebrated during your visit.

As you return to your See and to your country, may we ask Your Holiness to convey our greetings to the faithful of your own Church and to all the people of your country, whom we love very much. How great a privilege it would be if it were ever possible for us to meet them personally.

May God accompany Your Holiness on your journey and may He always be close to us with the inspiration of His Holy Spirit in our endeavours for the building up of His Kingdom.




Thursday, 10 May 1973

Paul VI, Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Catholic Church, and Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St Mark, give thanks in the Holy Spirit to God that, after the great event of the return of relics of St Mark to Egypt, relations have further developed between the Churches of Rome and Alexandria so that they have now been able to meet personally together. At the end of their meetings and conversations they wish to state together the following:

We have met in the desire to deepen the relations between our Churches and to find concrete ways to overcome the obstacles in the way of our real cooperation in the service of our Lord Jesus Christ who has given us the ministry of reconciliation, to reconcile the world to Himself (2Co 5,18-20).

In accordance with our apostolic traditions transmitted to our Churches and preserved therein, and in conformity with the early three ecumenical councils, we confess one faith in the One Triune God, the divinity of the Only Begotten Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word of God, the effulgence of His glory and the express image of His substance, who for us was incarnate, assuming for Himself a real body with a rational soul, and who shared with us our humanity but without sin. We confess that our Lord and God and Saviour and King of us all, Jesus Christ, is perfect God with respect to His divinity, perfect man with respect to His humanity. In Him His divinity is united with His humanity in a real, perfect union without mingling, without commixtion, without confusion, without alteration, without division, without separation. His divinity did not separate from His humanity for an instant, not for the twinkling of an eye. He who is God eternal and invisible became visible in the flesh, and took upon Himself the form of a servant. In Him are preserved all the properties of the divinity and all the properties of the humanity, together in a real, perfect, indivisible and inseparable union.

The divine life is given to us and is nourished in us through the seven sacraments of Christ in His Church: Baptism, Charism (Confirmation), Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony and Holy Orders.

We venerate the Virgin Mary, Mother of the True Light, and we confess that she is ever Virgin, the God-bearer. She intercedes for us, and, as the Theotokos, excels in her dignity all angelic hosts.

We have, to a large degree, the same understanding of the Church, founded upon the Apostles, and of the important role of ecumenical and local councils. Our spirituality is well and profoundly expressed in our rituals and in the Liturgy of the Mass which comprises the centre of our public prayer and the culmination of our incorporation into Christ in His Church. We keep the fasts and feasts of our faith. We venerate the relics of the saints and ask the intercession of the angels and of the saints, the living and the departed. These compose a cloud of witnesses in the Church. They and we look in hope for the Second Coming of our Lord when His glory will be revealed to judge the living and the dead.

We humbly recognize that our Churches are not able to give more perfect witness to this new life in Christ because of existing divisions which have behind them centuries of difficult history. In fact, since the year 451 A. D., theological differences, nourished and widened by non-theological factors, have sprung up. These differences cannot be ignored. In spite of them, however, we are rediscovering ourselves as Churches with a common inheritance and are reaching out with determination and confidence in the Lord to achieve the fullness and perfection of that which is His gift.

As an aid to accomplishing this task, we are setting up a joint commission representing our Churches, whose function will be to guide common study in the fields of Church tradition, patristics, liturgy, theology, history and practical problems, so that by cooperation in common we may seek to resolve, in a spirit of mutual respect, the differences existing between our Churches and be able to proclaim together the Gospel in ways which correspond to the authentic message of the Lord and to the needs and hopes of today’s world. At the same time we express our gratitude and encouragement to other groups of Catholic and Orthodox scholars and pastors who devote their efforts to common activity in these and related fields.

With sincerity and urgency we recall that true charity, rooted in total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for each one’s traditions, is an essential element of this search for perfect communion.

In the name of this charity, we reject all forms of proselytism, in the sense of acts by which persons seek to disturb each other’s communities by recruiting new members from each other through methods, or because of attitudes of mind, which are opposed to the exigencies of Christian love or to what should characterize the relationships between Churches. Let it cease, where it may exist. Catholics and Orthodox should strive to deepen charity and cultivate mutual consultation, reflection and cooperation in the social and intellectual fields and should humble themselves before God, supplicating Him who, as He has begun this work in us, will bring it to fruition.

As we rejoice in the Lord who has granted us the blessings of this meeting, our thoughts reach out to the thousands of suffering and homeless Palestinian people. We deplore any misuse of religious arguments for political purposes in this area. We earnestly desire and look for a just solution for the Middle East crisis so that true peace with justice should prevail, especially in that land which was hallowed by, the preaching, death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and by the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we venerate together as the Theotokos. May God, the giver of all good gifts, hear our prayers, and bless our endeavours.

From the Vatican, 10 May 1973.



Saturday, 19 May 1973

We are especially pleased to welcome today a group of pilgrims from Ireland. We think it is significant that you should make a pilgrimage to both Lourdes and Rome, for two prominent features of the faith of the Irish people are surely a special devotion to the Mother of God and a strong veneration for the See of Peter.

We know that you come from the shrine of Lourdes refreshed by the prayerful contemplation of Mary Immaculate. We hope that also here in Rome you may derive abundant spiritual graces from visiting the tombs of the ApostIes and the many places sanctified by the blood of Christian martyrs. It is our earnest hope that through the deepening of your faith and the strengthening of your love for the Church of Christ you may give effective witness of true Christian living. To each of you and to your dear ones at home we cordially impart our Apostolic Blessing.




Monday, 21 May 1973

Dear brothers and sons in Jesus Christ,

We know that you are coming to the end of your course in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, and it is with joy that we respond to your desire to have an audience with us. We know that these months spent in Rome have offered an occasion of grace for all of you. You have been able to draw closer to Jesus Christ and understand better your own ministry of service, which is a sharing in his glorious and eternal priesthood.

We believe that the function of this Institute is wise and providential. In the first place, it can bring back to you so many basic truths that you once studied and perhaps forgot: aspects of God’s Word ever relevant for your own lives and the lives of those to whom you minister.

The function of the Institute is likewise to help you to examine more deeply the truths of faith. You are well aware that these truths are fixed in their dogmatic formulation, but they are inexhaustible in their content and their study (Cfr. DS DS 3016). Christ invites us constantly to meditate on his salvific message, and his Church has given you the opportunity to pursue this goal wholeheartedly for three months. This privilege brings with it a great challenge to each of you. For this reason we repeat the exhortation of Saint Paul: "Let us, then, be children no longer, tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine . . . Rather, let us profess the truth in love and grow to the full maturity of Christ the head" (Ep 4,14-15). And in another letter Saint Paul continues to encourage us: "Brothers, I do not think of myself as having reached the finish line. I give no thought to what lies behind but push on to what is ahead . . . It is important that we continue on our course, no matter what stage we have reached" (Ph 3,13).

There is yet another purpose of your Institute: it is to help you to respond to the urgent questions of the modern world. You recall that Gaudium et Spes enumerated “marriage and the family, human culture, life in its economic, social and political dimensions, the bonds between the family of nations, and peace” among the many subjects arousing universal concern today (Loc. cit. 46). And the same document expresses the hope that on each of these topics there may shine the radiant ideals proclaimed by Christ. It is our hope that you and your Institute will contribute greatly to this lofty goal.

Dear brothers and sons, our prayers and affection accompany you as you return to your people, even more mature in your responsibility to them and to all Christ’s Church. And may you be sustained and strengthened in your faith and love by our Apostolic Blessing.



Monday, 28 May 1973

Once again we wish to extend our welcome to the students of the Istituto Pio XII, from Florence. We know well the scope for which your Institute was founded and we know likewise the generosity and dedication of those responsible for its coming into being as a Graduate School of Fine Arts.

The Second Vatican Council has spoken to us about the dignity of art. In the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy we are given this assurance: "Very rightly the fine arts are considered to rank among the noblest expressions of human genius. This judgment applies especially to religious art and to its highest achievement, which is sacred art" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 122). And in the document on the Church in the Modern World we read: "Literature and the arts are also, in their own way, of great importance to the life of the Church. For they strive to probe the unique nature of man, his problems and his experiences, as he struggless to know and perfect both himself and the world. They are preoccupied with revealing man’s place in history and in the world, with illustrating his miseries and joys, his needs and strengths, and with foreshadowing a better life for him. Thus they are able to elevate human life . . ." (Gaudium et Spes GS 62).

The implications of this teaching are a challenge for all who are devoting themselves to this field. In a special way, these words constitute a challenge for you who have the great privilege of studying art in a Florentine environment. We hope that you will use your opportunities well and that you will indeed profit from your studies. We hope that all of you will open up your heart to the Supreme Artist and be docile to his promptings.

May you find inspiration in the great themes of the Christian faith which you see around you. May you be able to render authentic service to your fellowmen by helping them to lift up their hearts to the Father of us all, from whom comes every good and perfect gift (Cfr. Iac. 1, 17).

June 1973




Saturday 2, June 1973

It is a pleasure for us to welcome today the delegates of the International Superphosphate and Compound Manufacturers Association, who have come to Rome from no less than ninety-six countries for their annual congress.

We know the importance of the subjects that you have been discussing in these days. To those who live in highly industrialized communities they may seem to be matters of little importance, but we are well aware that the lack of the means to draw from the earth i:s full fruitfulness can mean real disaster to those places whose economy is based upon agriculture. Here we cannot but think of the developing countries, the well-being of which must be our constant concern and the object of our practical solicitude.

For our part, we express the fervent hope that your efforts will ever be directed towards working to redress, as far as is in your power, the grievous imbalance between the living standards of the rich and of the poor regions of this world. Indeed one may say that upon your efforts in this sphere depends to a large degree the very survival of whole sections of the human family.

As we assure you of our good wishes, we pray that Almighty God will further your efforts and make you effective instruments for ensuring the prosperity of the greatest possible number of our brothers and sisters. By being thus assisted in their pressing needs, they will be able more easily to raise their hearts to the higher and eternal destiny offered to them by the Lord, in whom all of us "live and move and have our being" (Act. 17, 28).




Friday 15, June 1973

Mr Ambassador,

It is a pleasure for us to receive you today and to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Liberia to the Holy See. We extend to you a cordial welcome, and thank you for conveying the greetings and good wishes of your esteemed President, His Excellency Dr William R. Tolbert Jr. These sentiments we warmly reciprocate.

As you have so rightly said, we live in a world in which distances have been reduced to insignificance by the marvellous achievements of modern science. The peoples of all nations have been brought closer together than has ever before been possible. To match this conquest of distances we have to strive to attain that harmony of throught and intent which alone can ensure that the new contacts and communications will contribute to the true progress of the human race in a world governed by the ideals of peace and justice.

We therefore gladly avail ourself of the occasion to confirm the desire of the Holy See to continue to contribute as far as possible both to the spiritual well-being and integral development of your country, and to offer its assistance in furthering the programmes to which you have alluded. In offering this cooperation the Catholic Church is guided solely by the command given to her by her Founder, Jesus Christ, namely to bring all men to the knowledge of their true destiny and to help them to attain it. We are pleased that this aim is fully appreciated and shared by the Government of the Republic of Liberia and by its people.

As we reiterate our welcome, we would ask you to assure the Authorities of your country that we keep them in our prayers, invoking upon them and those whom they serve the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

We assure Your Excellency that the Holy See is ever at your disposal to aid you in your task, and we extend our personal good wishes for the happy and successful accomplishment of your mission.

*AAS 65 (1973), p.375-376;

Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XI, p.601-602;

L’Attività della Santa Sede 1973, p.219-220;

OR 16.6.1973, p.1;

ORa n.26 p.4.



Saturday, 23 June 1973

It is a great pleasure for us to receive the Newark Boys Chorus, to welcome you to the Vatican and to tell you how happy we are with your visit.

We are looking forward to this evening and to your participation in the musical program that will take place in the Audience Hall.

You are young, and yet what a great and wonderful contribution you can make to the world by your singing. You can actually help your fellowmen to lift up their hearts to spiritual values, and to come into closer contact with the beauty of God’s creation.

We wish you success in your singing and success in your entire lives. We hope that your spirit of generosity will continue, that your enthusiasm and love will grow, and that the guiding principles of your lives will unite you ever more closely in true brotherhood under God our Father.

July 1973



Monday 2, July 1973

Beloved sons in Jesus Christ,

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it" (Ps 118,24).

Yes, dear sons, you are joyful on this day of your Ordination. And the entire Church shares your joy and the whole community of God’s people is with you, sustaining you with prayerful support and affection and love.

For you and your families, for your classmates and friends, today is likewise a day of faith: faith in Jesus Christ and in his Church, faith in his ministerial priesthood, faith in the economy of salvation willed by the Father and accomplished through his Son and in the Holy Spirit, and perpetuated in the Church even to this our day - your day! And so to all of you we repeat this morning the solemn challenge found in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "Let us hold fast to our profession of faith" (Hebr. 4, 14).

You have studied about faith; since your baptism you have lived by it, having received an example from your parents, families and the Christian community. And yet totday you are called upon to live by faith even more deeply and profoundly. It will make an essential difference to your lives and to your ministry. Exercised without faith, a living faith animated by love for Christ and his brethren, your ministry would make little impact on anyone. But with faith and love and a constant effort and discipline to perfect these gifts of God, your ministry can make a great contribution to Christ’s Church. Although performed in only one section of the world, your ministry, in God’s plan, can have beneficial effects on the whole Church. Why? Because we are all a communion of faith and love in Jesus Christ. Your exercise of the priesthood will indeed be effective for the entire Body of the Church to the extent that, having "set all your hope on the gift to be conferred on you when Jesus Christ appears" (1 Petr. 1, 13), you vigilantly await the coming of the Lord with true dedication to the welfare of those ontrusted to your pastoral care.

Go forward then dear sons with confidence in the ministry to which you have been called, and on this day of joy-and alwaysmay the Lord grant salvation through you (Cfr. Ps Ps 117,25). And all together let us "give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his kindness endures forever" (Ps 117,25). May Christ Jesus then strengthen you, today’s new priests and those who are soon to be ordained. May he reward all those who have brought you to this day: especially your beloved parents. To all f o you, in the name of the Lord and as a sign of our affection in him, we impart our Apostolic Blessing.




Thursday 5, July 1973

Mr Ambassador,

It gives us great pleasure to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to the Holy See. We welcome you here as the worthy representative of your Government and people and we wish to assure you of all the deep affection and regard we have for your country.

As you have mentioned, last year we had the pleasure of receiving a State Visit from His Excellency General Suharto, President of Indonesia, who thus honoured us by repaying the visit which we ourself had the good fortune to make to your country in 1970. This exchange of visits has, we believe, contributed greatly to a deeper understanding and friendship between your nation and the Holy See, and we cherish the most positive memories of these significant occasion. Today we are pleased to accept and reciprocate once again the greetings and good wishes of President Suharto.

You have kindly referred to our mission as a “holy task”. The Church is indeed always present to serve: this is the “holy task” that God has laid upon our shoulders. The Catholic Church is always seeking to find a true expression in each nation’s culture and religious spirit; only thus can her works of service be fully beneficial. This is how we wish to see the Church in Indonesia, and it is in this spirit that we shall continue in our efforts and to the extent of our possibilities to contribute to the integral development of your people. In this regard we rely especially on the generous and selfless dedication of Indonesian and missionary clergy and religious.

We greatly appreciate that distinctive feature of your programme of development which insists that spiritual growth must go hand in hand with economic and social progress. This conviction surely has its roots in the prevailing faith of your people in the One Supreme God. We would add how happy we are that there is in Indonesia a spirit of interreligious harmony that contributes so much to the good relations between the Church and State and among peoples of different religious creeds.

We likewise wish to mention how pleased we are to see Indonesia take her share of responsibility in supporting the recently established peace in Vietnam. This is a manifestation of her commitment to the cause of world peace and an indication of the peaceful relations she enjoys with other countries; moreover it shows her readiness to contribute to the well-being of her Asian neighbours.

Finally, upon all the Authorities of your country and upon its beloved people we cordially invoke the choicest favours of the Almighty, praying that every citizen may enjoy to the full the blessings of human dignity and brotherhood under God. To you personally we extend our good wishes for the happy and fruitful accomplishment of your mission.




Saturday 14, July 1973

Mr Ambassador,

It gives us pleasure to welcome you today and to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Malawi. We thank you for your kind words, and would ask you to reciprocate the cordial greetings of your President, His Excellency Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

You have affirmed your intention of working to strengthen the ties already existing between the Republic of Malawi and the Holy See, and you may be assured that this aim is fully shared. You have likewise spoken of your country’s development programme and of the efforts being made to combat ignorance, poverty, disease and the other obstacles that must be overcome if the well-being, both spiritual and material, of all citizens is to be ensured. We appreciate the acknowledgment given to the Church’s contribution to this work, and we avail ourself of the occasion to reiterate the Holy See’s firm intention to continue to collaborate, as far as it is able, in the furthering of these worthy aims.

The Church’s mission is a spiritual development and the full flowering of human potential can scarcely be attained unless the basic requirements for a peaceful and prosperous existence are first secured. Such are the motives that impel us to devote our energies to the pursuit of peace and justice in all parts of the world. The support of your President for our efforts in this sphere is deeply appreciated.

Invoking upon the Authorities and the beloved people of the Republic of Malawi abundant divine blessings, we express to you personally our cordial good wishes for the happy and successful accomplishment of your mission.

*AAS 65 (1973), p.438;

Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. XI, p.724-725;

L’Attività della Santa Sede 1973, p.262;

OR 15.7.1973, p.1;

ORa n. 30 p.2.

August 1973



Sunday 5, August 1973

Today is a day of joy for us as we extend a special greeting to the Catholic Youth Council of Hong Kong.

Your presence here brings back memories of our visit to Hong Kong. We can still vividly remember so many moments of that happy day. We recall the welcome given us by your zealous pastor, Bishop Hsu, to whose memory we render on this occasion another testimony of our prayerful and loving respect. We can still see the crowds of young people who met us as we descended from the helicopter, and the large number of people who awaited us at the Stadium and with whom we offered up the Eucharist and to whom we addressed our words.

And today we wish to say again what we said then, because these words spring from our heart and express our inmost sentiments: "We are very happy to be with you, dear sons and daughters of Hong Kong . . . We want to encourage you to persevere firmly in the faith of your baptism and confirmation and to exhort you to an ever greater commitment in searching for the most apt means of rendering the Christian message of love more understandable in the world in which you live" (AAS 62, 1971, 78-79).

We repeat these words to you today because we know that you have a special mission as young people: "to contribute effectively in showing to all your brothers and sisters the perennial youth and reforming power of the Gospel of Christ and so give them hope for the building up in love of a more fraternal society" (Ibid. p. 79).

This is your task; this is what you are called upon to do within the communion of the Church, which is the effect of Christ’s love for us. The Church is indeed a sacrament of unity and of love; and, as we stated, "to love is her mission" (Ibid.). Through you and by means of all the energy that is in you and in the youth whom you represent, the love of Christ must spread and bring forth results in brotherhood and justice, in peace and joy for all men.

And again: "While we are saying these simple and sublime words, we have around us-we almost feel it-all the Chinese people wherever they may be" (Ibid.). Indeed, in you we greet your fellow students, your fellow workers and the vast numbers of Asian youth. Through you we extend our greeting to the entire Orient. We do this in the name of Christ and in fidelity to his message of fraternal love. With affection in the Lord we give you all our Apostolic Blessing.

Speeches 1973