Speeches 1979 - Tuesday, 30 January 1979
Tuesday, 30 January 1979
Beloved Enclosed Sisters,
In this Cathedral of Guadalajara, I wish to greet you with the beautiful and expressive words that we frequently repeat in the liturgical assembly: "May the Lord be with you." (Roman Missal). Yes, may the Lord, to whom you have dedicated your whole life, always be with you.
How could a meeting of the Pope with contemplative Sisters fail to take place during the visit to Mexico? If I would like to see so many persons, you have a special place because of your particular consecration to the Lord and to the Church. For this reason, the Pope, too, wishes to be close to you.
This meeting wishes to be the continuation of the one I had with other Mexican Sisters. I said many things to them which are also for you, but now I wish to refer to what is more specifically yours.
How often the Magisterium of the Church has shown its great esteem for, and appreciation of, your life dedicated to prayer, silence and to an exceptional way of dedication to God! In these moments when everything is changing so much, does this type of life continue to have a meaning or is it something that is already outdated?
The Pope tells you: Yes, your life is more important than ever, your complete consecration is fully relevant today. In a world that is losing the sense of the divine, in the light of the over-estimation of material things, you, beloved Sisters, committed from your cloisters to be witnesses of certain values for which you live, be witnesses to the Lord for the world of today, and instil with your prayer a new breath of life into the Church and into modern man.
Especially in contemplative life, it is a question of realizing a difficult unity: to manifest to the world the mystery of the Church in this world and to enjoy here already, teaching them to men, as St Paul says, "the things that are above" (Col 3,1).
Being a contemplative does not mean breaking radically with the world, with the apostolate. The contemplative has to find her specific way of extending the kingdom of God, of collaborating in the building up of the earthly city, not only with her prayers and sacrifices, but also with her testimony, silent, it is true, yet which can be understood by the men of good will with whom she is in contact.
For this reason you have to find your own style which, within a contemplative vision, will let you share with your brothers the gratuitous gift of God.
Your consecrated life comes from baptismal consecration and expresses it with greater fullness. With a free response to the call of the Holy Spirit, you decided to follow Christ, consecrating yourselves to him completely. "The more stable and firm this bond (the unbreakable bond of union that exists between Christ and his Church) is,"—the Council says—"the more perfect will the Christian's religious consecration be" (Lumen Gentium LG 4).
You contemplative religious women feel an attraction that brings you to the Lord. Relying on God, you abandon yourselves to his fatherly action which raises you to him and transforms you into him, while he prepares you for eternal contemplation which is the ultimate goal for us all. How could you advance along this path and be faithful to the grace that animates you, if you did not respond with your whole being, by means of a dynamism the impulse of which is love, to this call that directs you permanently to God? So, consider any other activity as a testimony, offered to the Lord, of your deep communion with him, so that he may grant you that purity of intention which is so necessary in order to meet him in prayer itself. In this way you will contribute to the extension of the kingdom of God, with the testimony of your life and with a "hidden apostolic fruitfulness" (Perfectae Caritatis PC 7).
Gathered in Christ's name, your communities have as their centre the Eucharist, "a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 47).
Through the Eucharist, the world also is present at the centre of your life of prayer and offering, as the Council explained: "Let no one think that their consecrated way of life alienates religious from other men or makes them useless for human society. Though in some cases they have no direct relations with their contemporaries, still in a deeper way they have their fellow men present with them in the heart of Christ and cooperate with them spiritually, so that the building up of human society may always have its foundation in the Lord and have him as its goal: otherwise those who build it may have laboured in vain" (Lumen Gentium LG 46).
Contemplating you with the tenderness of the Lord when he called his disciples "little flock" (cf. Lk Lc 12,32) and announced to them that his Father had been pleased to give them the Kingdom, I beg you: keep the simplicity of the "little ones" of the Gospel. Know how to find it in intimate and deep relations with Christ and in contact with your brothers. You will then know "overflowing joy through the action of the Holy Spirit", the joy of those who are introduced into the secrets of the Kingdom (cf. Apostolic Exhortation on the Renewal of Religious Life, 54).
May the beloved Mother of the Lord, whom you invoke in Mexico with the sweet name of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and following whose example you have dedicated your life to God, obtain for you, on your daily path, that unfailing joy that only Jesus can give.
Receive my warm Apostolic Blessing as a great greeting of peace which is not exhausted in you present here, but which extends invisibly to all your contemplative Sisters in Mexico.
Tuesday, 30 January 1979
Dear Seminarians, Diocesan and Religious, of Mexico,
May the peace of the Lord be with you always!
The exuberant and affectionate enthusiasm with which you have received me this afternoon, moves me deeply. I feel an immense joy on sharing with you these moments which confirm beyond any doubt, on your side, the appreciation you feel before God for the Pope; and this instils in me consolation and new courage (cf. 2Co 7,13).
Through you, my inner joy extends to my dear Brothers in the Episcopate, to priests, religious and to all the faithful. Let my deepest gratitude go to all for so many attentions and for such filial cordiality, and even more for remembering me in their prayers to the Lord. I can assure you that your unanimous response to this "pastoral visit" of mine to Mexico, has given form in me, during these days, to a welcome presentiment. I will express it in the words of the Apostle: "I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you." (2Co 7,16)
1. It is a motive of satisfaction for me to know that Mexican seminaries have a long and glorious tradition which goes back to the times of the Council of Trent, with the foundation of the College "San Pedro" in this city of Guadalajara, in 1570. In the course of time, many other centres of priestly formation, scattered all over the national territory, were added to this one, as a persistent proof of a fresh and vigorous ecclesial vitality. I do not want to pass over in silence the already centenarian Mexican College in Rome. It has a very important mission: to keep alive the bond between Mexico and the Pope's Chair. I consider it the indispensable duty of all to help it and sustain it, so that it can carry out this fundamental task in full faithfulness to the norms of the Magisterium and to the guidelines given by Peter's See.
This historical concern to create new seminaries arouses in me feelings of satisfaction and approval; but what particularly fills me with hope is the continual flourishing of priestly and religious vocations. I feel happy to see you here, young people overflowing with joy, because you have answered "yes" to the Lord's invitation to serve him, body and soul, in the Church, in the ministerial priesthood. Like St Paul, I wish to throw my heart wide open to you, to say to you, "Our heart is wide... In return... widen your hearts also" (2Co 6,11-13).
2. Just over two months ago, when I had just begun my Pontificate, I had a eucharistic audience with the seminarians of Rome. As I did then, today I invite you, too, to listen carefully to the Lord who speaks to the heart, especially in prayer and in the liturgy, to discover and to root in the depths of your being the meaning and the value of your vocation.
God who is truth and love, manifested himself to us in the history of creation and in the history of salvation: a history that is still incomplete, that of mankind, which "waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" (cf. Rm 8,18 f.). The same God chose us, called us to instil new strength into this history, already knowing that salvation "is the gift of God, [coming] not because of works, we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus" (Ep 2,8-10). A history, therefore, which is in God's plans, and is also ours, because God wishes us to be workers in the vineyard (cf. Mt Mt 20,1-16); he wants us to be ambassadors to go and meet everyone and invite everyone to his banquet (Mt 22,1-14); he wants us to be Good Samaritans who have pity on our unfortunate neighbour (Lc 10,30 ff.).
3. This would already be enough to see from closer up how great is the vocation. To experience it is a unique event, inexpressible, perceived only as a sweet breath through the awakening touch of grace: a breath of the Spirit who, while he gives a real form to our frail human reality—a clay vessel in the hands of the potter (Rm 9,20-21)—also lights in our hearts a new light, instils an extraordinary strength which, consolidating us in love, incorporates our existence with the work of God, with his plan of re-creating man in Christ, that is, the formation of his new redeemed family. You are therefore, called to construct the church—communion with God—something far above what one can ask or imagine (cf. Eph Ep 3,14-21).
4. Dear Seminarians, who one day will be ministers of God to plant and water the Lord's field, take advantage of these years in the seminary to fill yourselves with the feelings of Christ himself, in study, prayer, obedience, and the formation of your character. In this way, you will yourselves see how, in proportion as your vocation matures in this school, your life will joyfully assume a specific character, a precise indication: the orientation towards others, like Christ, who "went about doing good and healing all" (Ac 10,38). In this way, what might seem a misfortune on the human plane, is transformed into a luminous project of life, already examined and approved by Jesus: to live not to be served but to serve (Mt 20,28).
As you well understand, nothing is further from the vocation than the incentive of earthly advantages, than pursuit of benefits or honours; and the vocation is also very far from being escape from an environment of frustrated hopes or from one which is hostile or alienating. The good news, for him who is called to service of the people of God, in addition to being a call to change and improve one's own existence, is also a call to a life already transformed in Christ, who must be proclaimed and spread.
Let that suffice, dear Seminarians. You will be able to add the rest yourselves, with your open and generous hearts. I want to add just one thing: love your directors, educators, and superiors. On them there falls the agreeable but difficult task of leading you by the hand along the way that goes to the priesthood. They will help you to acquire a taste for interior life, for the demanding habit of renunciation for Christ, and for disinterestedness; above all, they will infect you with "the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ" (cf. 2Co 2,14). Do not be afraid. The Lord is with you, and at every moment he is our best guarantee: "I know whom I have believed" (2Tm 1,12).
With this trust in the Lord, open your hearts to the action of the Holy Spirit; open them in a resolution of dedication that knows no reservations; open them to the world which is expecting you and needs you; open them to the call already addressed to you by so many souls, to whom, one day, you will be able to give Christ, in the Eucharist, in Penance, in the preaching of the revealed Word, in friendly and disinterested advice, in the serene testimony of your lives as men who are in the world without being of the world.
It is worth dedicating oneself to the cause of Christ, who wants valiant and decided hearts; it is worth devoting oneself to man for Christ, in order to bring him to Him, to raise him, to help him on his way to eternity; it is worth making an option for an ideal that will give you great joys, even if at the same time it demands a good many sacrifices. The Lord does not abandon his followers.
For the Kingdom, it is worth living this precious value of Christianity, priestly celibacy, the centuries-old heritage of the Church; it is worth living it in a responsible way, although it calls for a good many sacrifices. Cultivate devotion to Mary, the Virgin Mother of the Son of God, so that she may help you and urge you to carry it out fully!
But I would also like to reserve a special word for you, educators and superiors of houses of formation to the priesthood. You have a treasure of the Church in your hands. Look after it with the greatest attention and diligence, so that it may produce the hoped-for fruits. Form these young men to wholesome joy, cultivating a rich personality adapted to our time. But form this personality staunch in the faith, in the principles of the Gospel, in awareness of the value of souls, in the spirit of prayer, capable of facing up to the onslaughts of the future.
Do not shorten the vertical view of life, do not lower the exigencies that the option for Christ imposes. If we propose ideals that are distorted, the young will be the first not to want them, because they desire something that is worthwhile, an ideal that is worthy of an existence: although there is a price to pay.
You who are responsible for vocations, priests, religious, fathers and mothers of families. I address these words to you. Commit yourselves generously to the task of procuring new vocations, so important for the future of the Church. The shortage of vocations calls for a responsible effort to remedy it. And this will not be obtained if we are not able to pray, if we are not able to give the vocation to the diocesan or religious priesthood the appreciation and the esteem it deserves.
Young Seminarians! I give all of you my blessing. Christ is waiting for you. You cannot disappoint him.
Sanctuary of Guadalupe
Wednesday, 31 January 1979
Beloved Brothers and Daughters of the Catholic University world,
1. With immense joy and hope I come to this appointment with you, students, professors and lecturers of the Catholic Universities of Mexico, in whom I also see the University world of the whole of Latin America.
Receive my most cordial greeting. It is the greeting of one who feels so much at home among the young, in whom he lays so many hopes; especially when it is a question of such qualified sectors as those that pass through University halls, preparing for a future that will be determinant in society.
Allow me to recall in the first place the members of the Catholic University La Salle, within which this meeting was to have taken place. I recall no less cordially, however, the other Mexican Catholic Universities: the Iberian American University, the Anáhuac University, Monterrey University, the Superior Institute of Educational Sciences in Mexico City, the Faculty of Public Accountancy at Vera Cruz, the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Studies at Guadalajara, Motolinia University, Puebla University for Women, the canonical Faculty of Philosophy in this city, and the Faculty—still in embryo—of Theology, also in this metropolis.
These are young universities. You have, however, a venerable ancestor in the "Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico", founded on 21 September 1551 with the explicit purpose that in it "the natives and sons of Spaniards should be instructed in matters of the holy Catholic faith and in the other faculties".
There are also among you—and they are certainly extremely numerous in the whole Mexican territory—Catholic professors and students who teach or study in universities of different denomination. I address my affectionate greeting to them, too, and express my deep joy at knowing that they are all engaged in the same way in establishing the kingdom of Christ.
Let us now extend our view to the vast Latin-American horizon. Thus my greeting and thought will dwell with satisfaction on so many other Catholic University Centres, which are a motive of legitimate pride in every nation, where so many enthusiastic looks converge, from whence Christian culture and civilization irradiate, There, persons are formed in the atmosphere of an integral concept of the human being, with scientific precision, and with a Christian view of man, life, society, moral and religious values.
2. And now what more can I say to you in these moments that will necessarily be short? What can the Mexican and Latin-American Catholic University world expect from the words of the Pope?
I think I can sum it up, quite synthetically, in three observations, following the line of my venerated predecessor Paul VI.
a) The first one is that the Catholic University must offer a specific contribution to the Church and society, setting itself at a high level of scientific research, deep study of problems and an adequate historical sense. But that is not sufficient for a Catholic University. It must find its ultimate and deep meaning in Christ, in his message of salvation which embraces man in his totality, and in the teaching of the Church.
All this presupposes the promotion of an integral culture, that is, one that aims at the complete development of the human person; one in which emphasis is laid on the values of intelligence, will, conscience, and brotherhood, all of which are based on God the Creator and have been marvellously exalted in Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 61): a culture that aims in a disinterested and genuine way at the good of the community and of the whole of society.
b) The second observation is that the Catholic University must form men who are really outstanding for their knowledge, ready to exercise important functions in society and to bear witness to their faith before the world (Gravissimum Educationis GE 10). This aim is unquestionably decisive today. Moral and Christian formation must not be considered as something added from outside, but rather as an aspect with which the academic institution is, so to speak, specified and lived. It is a question of promoting and realizing in professors and students a more and more harmonious synthesis between faith and reason, between faith and culture, between faith and life. This synthesis must be obtained not only at the level of research and teaching, but also at the educative-pedagogical level.
c) The third observation is that the Catholic University must be an environment in which Christianity is alive and operating. It is an essential vocation of the Catholic University to bear witness that it is a community seriously and sincerely engaged in scientific research, but can also be characterized by a real Christian life. That presupposes, among other things, a revision of the figure of the professor, who cannot be considered a mere transmitter of knowledge, but also and above all a witness and educator to true Christian life. In this privileged environment of formation, you, dear students, are called to conscientious and responsible collaboration, free and generous, to realize your formation itself.
3. The establishment of a University apostolate, both as an apostolate of intelligences and as a source of liturgical life, and which must serve the whole University sector of the nation, will not fail to yield precious fruits of human and Christian elevation.
Dear Sons, who dedicate yourselves completely or partially to the Catholic University sector in your respective countries, and all you who, in any University environment, are engaged in establishing the Kingdom of God:
— create a real University family, engaged in the pursuit, which is not always easy, of truth and good, the supreme aspirations of the rational being and the foundations of a solid and responsible moral structure;
— pursue a serious research activity, directing the new generations towards truth, towards human and religious maturity;
— work indefatigably for real and complete progress in your countries. Without prejudices of any kind, take the hand of those who propose, like you, to construct the real common good;
— unite your forces as bishops, priests, religious men and women, laity, in the planning and implementation of your academic centres and of their activities;
— walk joyfully and tirelessly under the guidance of Holy Mother Church. Her Magisterium, the prolongation of Christ's, is the only guarantee not to stray from the right path, and is a reliable guide to the imperishable inheritance that Christ reserves for those who are faithful to him.
I recommend you all to Eternal Wisdom: "Wisdom is radiant and unfading, and she, is easily discerned by those who love her, and is found by those who seek her" (Sg 6,12).
May the Seat of Wisdom, which Mexico and the whole of Latin America venerate in Guadalupe Sanctuary, protect you all under her motherly mantle! Amen. And many thanks for your presence.
31 January 1979
Dear friends from the world of information,
On many occasions during these days that the enthusiasm of the Mexicans has made feverish and moving, moments, full of beauty and religious significance, spent in unforgettable places and environments, I have had the opportunity to observe you as you went from one place to another, full of the determination and commitment that distinguishes your task of information.
I am now on the point of returning to Rome, having attended the beginning of this important ecclesial event, the Puebla Conference—marvellous because of its deep significance of unity and creativity for the future of the Church—and having made a pilgrimage through the unforgettable lands of the Virgin of Guadalupe. I am grateful to Providence for granting me at this moment the hoped-for opportunity of meeting the professionals of information, who have wished to accompany me on this journey.
Many of you will remain here, to continue to bring the Puebla event to public opinion, others will accompany me on my return, while still others will be claimed by further tasks. In any case it is worth taking some minutes from our crowded timetable to be able to be together, to reflect and chat a little, this time face to face. For once, we do not have as intermediary any means of transmission nor do we have the task of making distant audiences present spiritually. Let us enjoy, without more ado, the joy of being together.
Of course, I do not forget that behind the cameras there is a person, that it is a person speaking over the microphone, that it is a person who corrects and perfects every line of the article that tomorrow's newspaper will publish. I would like, at this short meeting, to offer my gratitude and respect to everyone, and address each one by name. I feel the desire and the necessity to thank each of you for the work of these days, which will continue in Puebla. It will reflect a Church that welcomes all cultures, lifestyles, and initiatives, provided they aim at the construction of the kingdom of God.
I understand the tensions and difficulties in which your work takes place. I am well aware of the effort that the communication of news requires. I can imagine the labour involved in transferring all this complicated equipment of yours from one place to another, putting it up and taking it down. I also realize that your work calls for long journeys, and separates you from yours family and friends. It is not an easy life, but, in return, like all creative activities, especially those that signify a service for others, it is particularly rewarding. I am sure that you all have experience of this.
I remember now a similar occasion, a few weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to chat with the professionals who had come to give information on my election and on the inauguration of the Pontificate. I referred to this profession as a vocation. One of the most important documents of the Church, that on social communications, declares that "modern man cannot do without information that is full, consistent, accurate and true" (Communio et Progressio, 34); and it proclaims that when such information is furnished through the media of social communication, it makes "every man a partner in the business of the human race" (Communio et Progressio, 19).
With your talent and experience, your professional competence, the necessary inclination and the means at your, disposal, you can facilitate this great service for humanity. And, above all, like the best of yourselves, you wish to be seekers of truth, to offer it to all those who wish to hear it. First of all, serve truth, that which is constructive, that which improves and dignifies man.
To the extent to which you pursue this ideal, I assure you that the Church will remain at your side, because this is also her ideal. She loves truth and freedom: freedom to know the truth, to preach it and to communicate it to others.
The time has come to say goodbye and to express to you again my gratitude for the service rendered to the diffusion of the truth which is manifested in Christ, and which is being expressed in these days in acts of utmost importance for the life of faith in these American countries, so close to the Church. We take leave of each other with respect and friendship, ready to be consistent with our best ideals. The Pope is happy to greet you and bless you—remembering the media you represent: newspapers, television networks, broadcasting stations—and also your families. I frequently offer my prayer for you yourselves and for them. May the Lord accompany you.
Peasants, Clerks and, above all, Workers of Monterrey,
Thank you for all that I have been able to hear. Thank you for all that I can see. Many thanks to one and all.
I thank you heartily for this warm and cordial welcome to your industrial city of Monterrey. Your existence revolves around it, and your daily work to earn a living for yourselves and for your children takes place in it. It is also a witness to your sorrows and to your aspirations. It is your work, the work of your hands and your intelligence; and in this sense it is a symbol of your pride as workers, and a sign of hope for new progress and for an increasingly human life.
I am happy to be among you as your friend and brother; as a fellow worker in this city of Monterrey, which is for Mexico something similar to what Nueva Hutta means in my distant and beloved Krakow. I do not forget the difficult years of the World War in which I myself had direct experience of physical work such as yours, of daily toil and its dependence, its heaviness and monotony. I shared the necessities of the workers, their rightful demands and their legitimate aspirations. I know very well the need that work should not alienate and frustrate, but should correspond to man's higher dignity.
I can testify to one thing: in the most difficult moments, the Polish people found in their faith in God, in their confidence in the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, in the ecclesial community united around its pastors, a light greater than the darkness, and an unshakeable hope.
I know that I am speaking to workers who are aware of their state as Christians, and who want to live this state with all its dynamism and consequences.
For this reason, the Pope wishes to make some reflections to you which concern your dignity as men and as sons of God. From this double source will spring the light to give shape to your personal and social existence. In fact, if the spirit of Jesus Christ dwells in us, we must feel priority concern for those who do not have enough food, clothes, housing, and those who do not have access to cultural goods. Since work is the source of one's livelihood, collaboration with God in improving nature, a service for brothers which ennobles man, Christians cannot fail to take an interest in the problem of the unemployment of so many men and women, above all, young people and heads of households, whom unemployment leads to discouragement and despair.
Those who have the fortune to work, wish to do so in more human and secure conditions, to participate more justly in the fruit of the common effort as regards wages, social insurances, and the possibilities of cultural and spiritual development. They want to be treated as free and responsible men, called to take part in the decisions that concern their lives and their future. It is their fundamental right freely to create organizations to defend and promote their own interests and to contribute responsibly to the common good. The task is an immense and complex one. It is complicated today by the world economic crisis, the disorder of unjust commercial and financial circles, the rapid exhaustion of some resources, and the risks of irreversible contamination of the biophysical environment.
To take a real part in the united effort of humanity, the Latin-American peoples rightly demand that there should be returned to them their rightful responsibility over the goods that nature has bestowed on them, and general conditions that will enable them to carry out a development in conformity with their own spirit, with the participation of all the human groups that make them up. Bold and renewing innovations are necessary in order to overcome the serious injustices inherited from the past and to meet the challenge of the prodigious transformations of mankind.
The new realities call for new attitudes at all levels, national and international, and on the part of all social groups and of all systems. Unilateral denunciation of the other and the easy pretext of alien ideologies, whatever they may be, are more and more ridiculous excuses.
If mankind wishes to control an evolution that is slipping from its hand, if it wants to avoid the materialistic temptation that is gaining ground in a desperate flight forwards, if it wants to ensure true development for men and for peoples, it must radically revise the concepts of progress which, under different names, have let spiritual values waste away.
The Church offers her aid. She does not fear forceful denunciation of attacks on human dignity. But she keeps her essential energies to help men and human groups, contractors and workers, in order that they may become aware of the immense reserves of goodness they have within them, which they have already caused to yield fruit in their history, and which must give new fruit today.
The working-class movement, to which the Church and Christians have made an original and different contribution, particularly in this continent, claims its rightful responsibility in the construction of a new world order. It has the common aspirations of freedom and dignity. It has developed the values of solidarity, brotherhood and friendship. In the experience of sharing, it has brought forth original forms of organizations, improving substantially the fate of many workers, and contributing, although people do not always want to admit this, to making a mark in the industrial world. Relying on this past it will have to commit itself to looking for new ways, it will have to renew itself and contribute even more decisively to constructing the Latin America of the future.
It is ten years since my predecessor Paul VI went to Colombia. He wished to bring to the peoples of Latin America the consolation of the Common Father. He wished to open to the Universal Church the riches of the Churches of this continent. Some years afterwards, celebrating the eightieth anniversary of the first social encyclical, Rerum Novarum, he wrote: "The social teaching of the Church, with all its dynamism, accompanies men in their quest. Even if it does not intervene to give authenticity to a determined structure or to propose a prefabricated model, it does not confine itself just to recalling some general principles. It evolves by means of a reflection that matures in contact with the changing situations of this world, under the impetus of the Gospel as a source of renewal, since its message is accepted in its totality and in its requirements. It develops with the sensitivity characteristic of the Church, marked by a disinterested will for service and attention to the poorest. It is nourished, finally, by a rich experience of many centuries, which enables it to assume in the continuity of its permanent concerns the bold creating innovation that the present situation of the world requires." They are the words of Paul VI.
Dear Friends: in obedience to these principles the Church wishes to draw attention today to a serious phenomenon that is very topical: the problem of migrants. We cannot close our eyes to the situation of millions of men who, in their search for work and for livelihood have to leave their country and often their family. They have to cope with the difficulties of a new environment that is not always pleasant and welcoming, an unknown language, and general conditions that plunge them into solitude, and sometimes, social exclusion for themselves and for their wives and children; even when advantage is not taken of these circumstances to offer lower wages, to reduce social insurance and welfare benefits, and to give housing conditions unworthy of a human being. There are occasions on which the principle put into practice is that of obtaining the maximum performance from the emigrant worker without looking to the person. Faced with this phenomenon, the Church continues to proclaim that the principle to follow in this, as in other fields, is not that of allowing economic, social, and political factors to prevail over man, but, on the contrary, for the dignity of the human person to be put above everything else, and for the rest to be conditioned by it.
We would create a world unpleasant to live in if we aimed only at having more, and did not think first and foremost of the person of the worker, his conditions as a human being and a son of God who is called to an eternal vocation, if we did not think of helping him to be more.
Certainly, on the other side, the worker has obligations to carry out loyally, since otherwise there cannot be a just social order.
I make a forceful appeal to the public authorities, contractors and workers, to reflect on these principles and to deduce the consequent lines of action. It must also be recognized that there is no lack of examples of those who put into practice, in an exemplary way, these principles of the social doctrine of the Church. I rejoice at this. I praise those in charge, and encourage others to imitate their example. This will be to the advantage of the cause of harmony and brotherhood among social groups and nations. It will be to the advantage even of the economy. Above all, it will be to the advantage of the cause of humanity.
But let us not stop just at man. The Pope brings you yet another message. It is a message for you, workers of Mexico and Latin America: Open up to God. God loves you. Christ loves you. The Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, loves you. The Church and the Pope love you and call upon you to follow the irresistible force of love, which can overcome everything and can build-up. When nearly two thousand years ago God sent us his Son, he did not wait until human efforts had eliminated all types of injustice. Jesus Christ came to share our human condition, with its suffering, its difficulties, its death. Before transforming daily existence, he managed to speak to the hearts of the poor, to free them from sin, to open their eyes to a horizon of light and to fill them with joy and hope. Jesus Christ, who is present in your churches, in your families, in your hearts, in your entire lives, does the same today. Open all doors to him. Let us all, united in these moments, joyfully celebrate the love of Jesus and his Mother. Let no one feel excluded, in particular the most underprivileged, since this joy comes from Jesus Christ and is not offensive for any sorrow. It has the savour and the warmth of the friendship offered to us by him who suffered more than we, who died on the cross for us, who prepares an eternal dwelling for us by his side, and who already in this life proclaims and affirms our dignity as men, as sons of God.
I am with worker friends and I would like to stay with you far longer. But I must conclude. To you present here, to your companions in Mexico, and to all your fellow-countrymen working outside their native country, to all the workers of Latin America, I leave my greeting as a friend, my blessing and my memory.
My brotherly embrace for all of you, for your children and the members of your family.
Speeches 1979 - Tuesday, 30 January 1979