Speeches 1998 - Monday, 28 September 1998

You lay people, the “christifideles laici”, heirs to a great history of faith which preceded you and was given to you as the most precious of gifts, your first duty is the vocation to personal holiness. This will be achieved precisely in the situations in which you are called to live, that is, in the realities of the world (cf. ibid., n. 17): the family and educational processes, the school and its programmes, openness to social involvement in the various forms of volunteer service, political activity, work and the economy, culture and communications, leisure time and tourism (cf. ibid., n. 40- 44), that is, the various areas in which you live your life.

This vocation to holiness will require, as its essential human aspect, a journey of doctrinal, catechetical and cultural formation (ibid., nn. 60), so that your participation in the history of your surrounding may be more and more powerfully marked by Christianity. It is here that the constructive activity of the parishes and the various Christian associations find their most noble goal: their purpose in fact is to prepare mature Christians within society like the leaven in the dough. Here you can find the full meaning of the readiness shown by many lay people, in the context of the diocesan mission for the Jubilee, to proclaim Christ the Redeemer, so that the doors of homes and hearts will be opened to salvation.

4. How can we not think, in this context, of a witness who left an indelible mark on history? As you have already understood, I am referring to Pope John Paul I, who exactly 20 years ago today closed his eyes to the world to open them to the light of eternity. His memory is still very vivid in our hearts. I remember wishing in the first year of my Pontificate to pay homage to him by visiting Canale d’Agordo, his birthplace. Later, in 1988, the 10th anniversary of his death, I visited the “Centre of Spirituality and Culture” named after him.

And now, on the 20th anniversary of his death, you have wished to make your pilgrimage to the See of Peter in memory of John Paul I, to begin in prayer and recollection the great mission that I mentioned earlier. May the example and teaching of one who took “God's smile” from your land and gave it to mankind, encourage your “work of faith”, your “labour of love”, your “steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1Th 1,3).

With this wish, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.





Monday, 28 September 1998

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the International Study Conference on the theme: “Biblical Language and Contemporary Communication”, organized by Lux Vide. I thank Dr Ettore Bernabei, President of the Lux Company, for his courteous words to me on behalf of you all. I extend a cordial greeting to everyone present, scholars in biblical exegesis and experts in the modern means of social communication, who are taking part in this interesting congress.

Your visit offers me the welcome opportunity to express my esteem and appreciation for your professional commitment to studying and spreading the biblical message among a broader public by the powerful means of communication, in particular through cinema and television. This is a service of high human and spiritual value, which deserves to be increasingly broadened and enhanced. For this reason, an international study conference on the subject cannot fail to arouse interest. Providentially, it is one of the many hermeneutical efforts which at various levels today are leading to ever new ways of expressing the sacred text in contemporary form.

2. When the meeting between divine Revelation and the modern media is conducted with respect for the truth of the biblical message and the correct use of technical means, it bears abundant good fruits. On the one hand, it means elevating the mass media to one of the its noblest tasks, which in some way redeems it from improper and sometimes trivializing uses. On the other, it offers new and extraordinarily effective possibilities for introducing the general public to God’s Word communicated for the salvation of all mankind.

It should immediately be noted that the nature of Sacred Scripture has two basic features which differ from one another but are closely connected. They are, on the one hand, the absolutely transcendent dimension of God’s Word, and, on the other, the equally important dimension of its inculturation. Because of the first characteristic, the Bible cannot be reduced to human words alone and, therefore, to a mere cultural product. However, because of the second characteristic, it inevitably and profoundly shares in human history and reflects its cultural co-ordinates.

Precisely for this reason — here is the important consequence — the Word of God has “the capability of being spread in other cultures, in such a way as to reach all human beings in the cultural context in which they live”. This is what was fittingly recalled in the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s Instruction on The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (Part IV, B, Vatican City 1993, p. 117), which says specifically: “The ever increasing importance of the instruments of mass communication (‘mass media’) — the press, radio, television — requires that proclamation of the Word of God and knowledge of the Bible be propagated by these means. Their very distinctive features and, on the other hand, their capacity to influence a vast public require a particular training in their use. This will help to avoid paltry improvisations, along with striking effects that are actually in poor taste” (ibid., Part IV, C, 3, p. 125).

3. This providential meeting between the Word of God and human cultures is already contained in the very essence of Revelation and reflects the “logic” of the Incarnation. As the Council stresses in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum: “The words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men” (n. 13).

This general principle finds a particular application in the mass media. It is a question of aiding the shift, or more precisely, the transposition from one form of language to another: from the written word, largely dormant in the hearts of believers and in the memory of a great number of people, to the vi- sual communication of cinematic “fiction”, apparently more superficial, but in some respects even more powerful and gripping than other languages.

In this regard, the efforts repeatedly made down to the present day, which include your own professional work, are worthy of attention because in many cases they have attained a remarkable artistic level. I am therefore pleased to express my heartfelt appreciation of this renewed cinematographic interest in both the Old and New Testaments, especially since, despite its various, inevitably partial cinematic interpretations, your intention is to present the Bible in its integrity. It helps to keep alive in people that “hunger” and “thirst” for the Word of God which the prophet Amos said continues to grow on the earth (cf. Am Am 8,11).

Mindful of the Apostle’s words, “only that in every way ... Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice ... and I shall rejoice” (Ph 1,18-19), I hope that your service of promoting an ever greater dissemination of the biblical message will continue with renewed commitment, with the intention of producing works which can combine the artistic aspect with profound religious inspiration, and which can arouse in the audience not only aesthetic admiration but also interior participation and spiritual growth.

Therefore, as I entrust you and all your activities to the heavenly protection of Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, I assure you of a constant remembrance in my prayer and cordially bless you all.




Tuesday, 29 September 1998

1. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ep 1,3), who has gathered us together today through his Holy Spirit, to experience “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 132,1).

We are all deeply aware of the solemnity and importance of our meeting today. When my Predecessor Pope Leo XIII of venerable memory, who worked so hard for the Catholic East, met the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs on 24 October 1894, he addressed them in these words which today I make my own: “To give you a sure proof of our affection, we have called you to Rome, desirous of conferring with you and of increasing the prestige of the patriarchal authority”.

We have come a long way since then. Perhaps the most fruitful moment in that process occurred at the Second Vatican Council, which some of you had the joy of attending, so that the voice of the Christian East could be heard there.

Following the lead of the Council, on 18 October 1990, I had the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium promulgated, in order to confirm the distinctiveness of the Eastern Churches which are already in full communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

Three years ago, I intended to show once again my reverence for the treasures of the Eastern Churches in the Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen, so “that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity [may] be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other; and that we too may all be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church” (n. 1).

The same esteem and love which dictated those words led me to have today’s meeting with the Eastern Catholic Churches in the persons of you who are their Patriarchs and preside over them “as fathers and heads” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 9).

The Great Jubilee is approaching and urges us all to preach the Gospel of salvation “in season and out of season” (2Tm 4,2): “We listen together to the cry of those who want to hear God’s entire Word. The words of the West need the Words of the East, so that God’s word may ever more clearly reveal its unfathomable riches” (Orientale lumen, n. 28).

2. The Eastern Catholic Churches, together with the other Churches of the East, are living witnesses of the traditions that date back through the Fathers to the Apostles (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 1); their tradition is “part of the divinely revealed heritage of the universal Church” (ibid.).

The Church, in the image of the Holy Trinity, is a mystery of life and communion, Bride of the incarnate Word, dwelling place of God. The Lord Jesus chose the Twelve to shepherd and govern his Church, and wanted their successors, the Bishops, to be shepherds of God’s People on its pilgrimage towards the kingdom, under the guidance of the successor to the Coryphaeus of the Apostles (cf. Lumen gentium LG 18).

Within this communion, “it has come about through divine Providence that, in the course of time, different Churches set up in various places by the Apostles and their successors joined together in a multiplicity of organically united groups which, while safeguarding the unity of the faith and the unique divine structure of the universal Church, have their own discipline, enjoy their own liturgical usage and inherit a theological and spiritual patrimony. Some of these, notably the ancient Patriarchal Churches, as mothers in the faith, gave birth to other daughter-Churches, as it were, and down to our own days they are linked with these by bonds of a more intimate charity in what pertains to the sacramental life and in a mutual respect for rights and obligations” (ibid., n. 23).

Although the Council was aware of the divisions which have occurred down the centuries, and despite the fact that communion between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches has not been completely reestablished, it did not hesitate to declare that the Churches of the East “have the power to govern themselves according to their own disciplines, since these are better suited to the character of their faithful and better adapted to foster the good of souls” (Unitatis redintegratio UR 16 cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 9)

Does this not apply now to your Churches, which are already in full communion with the Bishop of Rome? And should not the rights and duties of the Patriarchs, who are their fathers and heads, also be reaffirmed? Within the Catholic Church your Churches represent that Christian East to which we continue to extend our arms for the fraternal embrace of full communion. In their own territories and in the diaspora, the Eastern Catholic Churches offer their particular liturgical, spiritual, theological and canonical riches. You, who are their heads, have received from the Holy Spirit the vocation and mission to preserve and enhance this specific patrimony, so that the Gospel may be given in ever greater abundance to the Church and to the world. And it is the duty of the Successor of Peter to assist and help you in this mission.

3. “The Patriarchs with their Synods are the highest authority for all business of the Patriarchate” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 9). Indeed, Episcopal collegiality is exercised in a particularly significant way in the canonical structure of your Churches. The Patriarchs in fact act in close union with their Synods. The aim of any authentic synodal action is harmony, so that the Trinity may be glorified in the Church.

You believe, my dear Brothers in Christ, that “among all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the Catholic Church is conscious that she has preserved the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome, whom God established as her ‘perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity’ (Lumen gentium LG 23) and whom the Spirit sustains in order that he may enable all the others to share in this essential good” (Ut unum sint UUS 88). It is a question of “an attitude that the Church of Rome has always felt was an integral part of the mandate entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter: to confirm his brothers in faith and unity (cf. Lk Lc 22,23) This commitment is rooted in the conviction that Peter (cf. Mt Mt 19,17-19) intends to place himself at the service of a Church united in charity” (Orientale lumen, n. 20).

Your presence here at our meeting today is the living witness to this communion founded on the Word of God and on the Church’s obedience to it.

4. You are particularly aware of how this Petrine ministry of unity, as I wrote in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, constitutes “a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections” (n. 88). In the same Encyclical Letter, I invited the other Churches to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on the ways to exercise this ministry of unity (cf. nn. 96-97). With much more insistence and affection, I extend this invitation to you, venerable Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is first up to you to seek, with us, the most suitable forms so that this ministry can carry out a service of charity recognized by all. I ask you to give the Pope your help in the name of that responsibility for re-establishing full communion with the Orthodox Churches (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 24) which belongs to you as Patriarchs of Churches that share so much of the theological, liturgical, spiritual and canonical patrimony with Orthodoxy. In this same spirit and for the same reason, I would like your Churches to be fully associated with the ecumenical dialogues of charity and of doctrine at both the local and universal levels.

5. In harmony with the tradition handed down from the earliest centuries, the Patriarchal Churches have a unique place in the Catholic communion. One need only think that in these Churches the highest authority for any action, including the right to elect Bishops within the borders of the patriarchal territory, is constituted by the Patriarchs with their Synods, without prejudice to the inalienable right of the Roman Pontif to intervene “in singulis casibus” (cf. Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 9).

The particular role of the Eastern Catholic Churches corresponds to the one left unfilled by the lack of full communion with the Orthodox Churches. Both the Second Vatican Council’s Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum and the Apostolic Constitution Sacri canones (pp. IX-X) which accompanied the publication of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches have pointed out how the present situation, and the rules governing it, look towards the full communion we desire between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Your collaboration with the Pope and with one another will show the Orthodox Churches that the tradition of “synergy” between Rome and the Patriarchates has been maintained — although limited and wounded — and perhaps also strengthened for the good of the one Church of God present throughout the world.

In the same spirit, it is equally important that the Churches of the East, presently subject to considerable migration, keep their rightful place of honour in their own countries and in “synergy” with the Church of Rome, as well as in the territories where their faithful now reside.

6. In re-establishing the rights and privileges of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs as desired by the Council, the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum offers us valuable advice: “These rights and privi- leges are those which existed in the time of union between East and West, although they must be adapted somewhat to present-day conditions” (n. 9). And the Council of Florence, after affirming the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, went on to say: “We also renew the order of the other venerable Patriarchs which has been handed down in the canons, that the Patriarch of Constantinople should be the second after the Most Holy Pope of Rome, that of Alexandria the third, that of Antioch the fourth and that of Jerusalem the fifth, without prejudice to all their privileges and rights”. I am certain that the plenary meeting of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which plans to include this matter among the subjects to be studied, will give me useful suggestions in this regard.

Venerable Brothers in Christ, on the threshold of the Great Jubilee the evangelizing power of your Patriarchal Churches represents an unparalleled challenge for a faithful and open proclamation of the Gospel, and for the renewal of the life and mission of the Church and of your Churches. The Spirit and the Church pray: “Come, Lord Jesus” (Ap 22,20).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary obtain all this for us through her intercession. We would like to call upon her in the words of an ancient Coptic hymn, which later became part of the devotion of the Byzantine and Latin Churches:

“We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God. Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin”.

As a pledge of my affection, I give you all my Blessing.
                                                            October 1998





Thursday, 1 October 1998

Your Beatitudes,
Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

1. It is a great joy for me to meet you during your Congregation’s plenary assembly, while you are reflecting on several lines of action for the dicastery over the next few years to serve the Eastern Catholic Churches.

In particular, I thank Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, for his courteous greeting on behalf of you all.

I would also like to express my gratitude for the service of the Congregation, which assists the Bishop of Rome “in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office for the welfare and service of the universal Church and the particular Churches. This strengthens the unity of faith and the communion of the People of God and promotes the Church’s mission in the world” (Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, Art. 1).

2. Among the various dicasteries of the Roman Curia, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches has a particularly delicate task because of its institutional competence and the present moment in history.

Your Congregation “deals with matters, whether regarding persons or things, concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches” (Pastor Bonus, Art. 56). Its competence “extends to all matters which are proper to the Eastern Churches and which are to be referred to the Apostolic See, whether concerning the structure and organization of the Churches, the exercise of the functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing, or persons and their status, rights and duties” (Art. 58, §1). Moreover, “in regions where Eastern rites have been preponderant from ancient times, apostolic and missionary activity depends solely on this Congregation, even if it is carried out by missionaries of the Latin Church” (Art. 60).

The Congregation’s work, made particularly laborious by the difficult situations in which the Eastern Churches currently find themselves, requires a multitude of skills. This is expressed in particular through the work of the Special Commissions, such as those for the liturgy, for studies on the Christian East and for the formation of clergy and religious, which have been set up by the supreme Pontiffs.

3. The Second Vatican Council underscored the riches that the Eastern Churches bring to the universal Church, displaying their plurality in unity. In fact, the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum begins with the solemn affirmation that “the Catholic Church values highly the institutions of the Eastern Churches, their liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and their ordering of Christian life. For in those Churches, which are distinguished by their venerable antiquity, there is clearly evident the tradition which has come from the Apostles through the Fathers and which is part of the divinely revealed, undivided heritage of the universal Church” (n. 1). It is because of this vocation that the Council Fathers expressed the desire that the Eastern Churches were to “flourish and to fulfil with new apostolic strength the task entrusted to them” (n. 1).

The Congregation therefore has the task of expressing the universal Church's concern for these Churches so that everyone can “be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church’s catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other” (Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen, n. 1).

4. Historical circumstances put these Churches in the position of having to rely on the support, affection and particular care of the Holy See, as do the particular Churches of the Latin rite. In fact, some of these Eastern-rite Churches have emerged from the persecution of communist regimes and are experiencing the labour of rebirth. Others instead operate in politically unstable areas, where interreligious coexistence is not always inspired by brotherhood and mutual respect. Lastly, the growing phenomenon of migration requires the Apostolic See to support and promote the pastoral care of Eastern Catholics in the diaspora.

5. I can still vividly feel the joy and excitement of the important meeting I had two days ago with the Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches. On that occasion I had the opportunity to stress that this event was an act of homage by the Apostolic See to their own dignity.

Two aspects, already recalled at the meeting I had with the Patriarchs, seem particularly significant to me: the synodal authority that the Churches over which they preside exercise in a special way and the ever greater contribution they are called to make to the restoration of full communion with their Orthodox Sister Churches.

The synodal authority of the Bishops around their Patriarch, which distinguishes the Eastern Churches, is a very ancient way of living Episcopal collegiality, recommended and described by the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium (cf. n. 22).

In their ecumenical commitment, by virtue of their theological and cultural closeness to the Orthodox Churches, they are called to proceed with courage and determination, even if there is still a memory of past wounds and it is at times difficult to fulfil this mandate in the present circumstances.

6. The agenda for your plenary meeting is a sign of the effort you are called to make in mapping out the dicastery’s future activity. I would be grateful if you would pay special attention to the pastoral care of the Eastern faithful in the diaspora. In this regard, it is necessary for everyone, both Latin and Oriental, to grasp the sensitive implications of the situation, which is a real challenge for the survival of the Christian East and for a general reconsideration of its pastoral programmes.

Indeed, the Pastors of the Latin Church are first of all invited to deepen their own knowledge of the existence and heritage of the Eastern Catholic Churches and to encourage the faithful entrusted to their care to do the same. Secondly, they are called to promote and defend the right of the Eastern faithful to live and pray according to the tradition received from the Fathers of their own Church. “Regarding the pastoral care of the faithful of the Eastern rites who are living in Latin-rite Dioceses, in accordance with the spirit and letter of the Conciliar Decrees Christus Dominus, n. 23, 3 and Orientalium Ecclesiarum, n. 4, the Latin Ordinaries of such Dioceses are to provide as soon as possible for an adequate pastoral care of the faithful of these Eastern rites, through the ministry of priests, or through parishes of the rite, where this would be indicated, or through an Episcopal Vicar endowed with the necessary faculties, where circumstances would so indicate” (Letter to the Bishops of India, 28 May 1987, n. 5c).

Moreover, the Pastors of the Eastern Churches must continue to care for their own faithful who have left their country of origin by diligently discerning the forms in which to express their tradition, in a way that responds to the contemporary expectations of those faithful, in the particular circumstances of the society where they live.

7. I believe it is important at this point to offer some guidelines for the tasks that the Congregation for the Oriental Churches must carry out in the years to come.

The Congregation is called to help and to support Eastern Catholic communities, thus expressing the “anxiety for all the Churches” (cf. 2Co 11,28) which is proper to every local Church, but in a particular way is the specific vocation of the Church of Rome, which “presides in charity”, according to the happy expression of Ignatius of Antioch.

There are two practical ways to fulfil this task. First, the Congregation is called to formulate general guidelines, the fruit of its richly varied experience, which the individual Churches will then develop and adapt to their own specific situation. This is what the Congregation did, for example, with the Instruction for Applying the Liturgical Prescriptions of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches. In this regard, I am sure that the Pastors of every Eastern Church will soon proceed to draft the liturgical directories requested by this Instruction, since they are an indispensable means for fully expressing their own liturgical heritage.

Guidelines such as those already offered on the liturgy must now be developed as well in the areas of formation, catechesis and religious life.

The Congregation will prepare some general directives, which will then help the individual Churches to formulate their own Ratio studiorum (cf. CCEO CIO 330).

It would likewise be helpful to prepare a Catechetical Directory that would “take into account the special character of the Eastern Churches, so that the biblical and liturgical emphasis as well as the traditions of each Church sui iuris in patrology, hagiography and even iconography are highlighted in conveying the catechesis” (CIO 621, §2). In this regard, the catechetical method of the Fathers of the Church, which was expressed in “catechesis” for catechumens and in “mystagogy” or “mystagogical catechesis” for those already initiated into the divine mysteries, is enlightening.

In the Eastern Churches, special attention should be paid to encouraging the revival of the traditional forms of religious life, especially monasticism, which “has always been the very soul of the Eastern Churches” (Orientale lumen, n. 9).

8. Along with preparing general guidelines, it is the Congregation’s duty to help the Eastern Catholic Churches in the process of implementing these guidelines. It will therefore be concerned to create opportunities for meeting and working together at various levels, such as the meeting of the Eastern Catholic Bishops and Major Superiors of Europe with the Congregation, held in July 1997 in the Eparchy of Hajdúdorog, Hungary. I hope that the meeting of the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East planned for next year will have an equally positive result, and that a similar initiative can be considered and organized for the so-called “new world”.

9. Lastly, in the spirit of the Apostolic Letter Orientale lumen, the Congregation must be involved in bringing to the attention of the entire Church the existence and specific character of the Eastern Catholic Churches. To this end, particularly significant historical and theological studies must be encouraged and supported. This attention must also extend to the pastoral dimension, so that the Latin Bishops will know in a practical way how to make the most of the presence of Eastern Catholics in their own Dioceses; it will be the dicastery’s duty to give them appropriate guidance in this regard.

10. We are on the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. The contemporary world needs courageous evangelization. “The cry of men and women today seeking meaning for their lives reaches all the Churches of the East and the West. In this cry, we perceive the invocation of those who seek the Father whom they have forgotten and lost (cf. Lk Lc 15,18-20 Jn 14,8). The women and men of today are asking us to show them Christ, who knows the Father and who has revealed him (cf. Jn Jn 8,55 Jn 14,8-11)” (Orientale lumen, n. 4). The Eastern Churches have had an extraordinary evangelizing impact, knowing how to adapt themselves often to the cultural needs of the new peoples they have encountered. It is indispensable that they value this spirit and these methods and revive this experience in the present circumstances.

The children of the Eastern Churches, who did not hesitate to shed their blood to remain faithful to Christ and the Church, will also know how to bring about in their Churches that change of hearts and structures which will make their Christian witness shine in its fullness.

The Church looks with deep gratitude and admiration at the missionary efforts of the Eastern Churches in India. She hopes that they can be extended to other Churches and that everyone will be able to accept gratefully this wonderful collaboration for the growth of the kingdom, according to the various forms and traditions. As the Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches indicates, all the Churches under the pastoral governance of the Roman Pontiff “have the same rights and obligations, even with regard to the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world, ‘under the direction of the Roman Pontiff’ (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 3)” (Letter to the Bishops of India, 28 May 1987, n. 5b).

11. This commitment to evangelization also spurs us vigorously to seek full communion with other Christian confessions. Today’s world awaits this unity. And we have deprived it of “a joint witness that could, perhaps, have avoided so many tragedies and even changed the course of history... The echo of the Gospel — the words that do not disappoint — continues to resound with force, weakened only by our separation: Christ cries out, but man finds it hard to hear his voice, because we fail to speak with one accord” (Orientale lumen, n. 28).

In again expressing the hope that your work will be fruitful, I invoke upon you and your efforts an abundance of heavenly favours, as a pledge of which I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing to all.

Speeches 1998 - Monday, 28 September 1998