Speeches 1979 - Paul VI Hall



30 June 1979

1. The word of God has now spoken to us with its power, which is suitable for the moment we are living. While these our venerable and dear Brothers in the Episcopate, whose names are already known to the Church and to the world, are about to receive the sign of cardinalatial dignity, it is necessary that the meaning of this dignity should become crystal-clear for them and for us in the light of the words of God himself. And thus, listening with gratitude to these words taken from the First Letter of Saint Peter and from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, we meditate for an instant on what the Lord wishes to express through them in this important and unusual moment.

2. Above all, through the words of the Apostle, the Lord manifests pastoral-care for the Church, that is, for the flock. These words are truly marvellous! In them is fully opened up the soul of him to whom was given, "as a witness of the sufferings of Christ", the task of becoming the first shepherd of the flock. In his pastoral care for the Church, Peter has Christ continually before his eyes—Christ, who was revealed as the Good Shepherd giving his own life for his sheep, and who, as the chief Shepherd, will be revealed in that "glory of the Father" (cf. Jn Jn 17,24) to which he leads us all. Fixing his gaze on him, on Christ, the Apostle Peter—an "Elder", the Bishop of Rome—shares in turn his pastoral care with others, teaching them and, at the same time, asking how they must, together with him, conduct themselves as "elders and superiors". A particular reference to their personal example, to their selfless dedication and to their creative zeal. To be a shepherd of the flock means to be vigilant, so that a wild animal will not enter the flock.: To be a shepherd of 'people's souls means to be vigilant, so that they will not be deceived and entrapped, and so that they will not be misled, losing their vital contact with the source of love itself and of truth. To be a shepherd of souls means, finally, to trust: to trust above all in him who by his own blood acquired over these souls a divine right.

Venerable and dear Brothers, accept today this message of the first Bishop of Rome—you who in a particular way must become sharers in the pastoral care of his unworthy successor. The more deeply we draw from the very Gospel sources of this care, the more it will become effective and blessed. The present "time" (kairós) of the Church and of the world requires us to draw with particular diligence precisely from these sources.

3. The word of God to which we have just listened contains in itself an appeal for courage and fortitude. In a significant way Christ invites us to courage and fortitude. We have heard him say repeatedly: "Do not be afraid"; "do not fear these who kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Mt 10,28); "have no fear of men" (cf. Mt Mt 10,26). And at the same time, side by side with these decisive appeals for courage and fortitude, there is the exhortation: "Have fear"; "rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt 10,28). These two appeals, seemingly opposed, are reciprocally so closely connected that one results from the other, one conditions the other. We are called to fortitude and at the same time to fear. We are called to fortitude before men and, at the same time, to fear before God himself; and this fear must be the fear of love, filial fear. And only when this fear penetrates into our hearts can we be truly strong with the fortitude of the Apostles, martyrs, and confessors. Strong with the fortitude of pastors. The invitation to fortitude is linked in an especially deep way with the tradition of the Cardinalate, which even through the colour of the cassock recalls the blood of martyrs.

4. Christ asks us above all to have this fortitude to confess before men, his truth and his cause, without counting whether these people will be favourable or not to this cause, whether they will open their ears and hearts to this truth, or whether they will close them so as not to be able to hear. We cannot be discouraged before any programme in which the ears and the intellect are closed. We must make our confession and proclamation in deepest obedience to the Spirit of Truth. He himself will find the ways to reach the depths of consciences and of hearts. We must rather make our confession and render witness with such strength and ability that responsibility does not fall on us for the fact that our generation has denied Christ before men. We must also be "wary as serpents, innocent as doves" (Mt 10,16).

And finally we must be humble, with that humility of interior truth that permits man to live with magnanimity. Because "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jc 4,6). This magnanimity, evolving from humility, evolving from cooperation with the grace of God, is a particular sign of our service in the Church.

5. Venerable and dear Brothers, here is a programme! The ample and demanding programme which the Church links to your great dignity.

Accept this programme with the same great confidence with which your predecessors in the same episcopal sees and in the same posts of the Roman Curia have accepted it! Accept it!

Look at the great, the magnificent examples they have left us.

On this new way may you be accompanied by the beloved Mother of the Church and also the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in whose solemnity we rejoiced yesterday. In everything may God be specially adored: Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I wish to renew publicly, venerable and dear Brothers in the Episcopate who have been elevated to the cardinalatial dignity, my affectionate esteem and my sincere appreciation for the witness that you have given to the Church and to the world by your lives as priests and bishops completely dedicated to God and expended for souls in all the tasks entrusted to you in the course of your lives.

I likewise express my cordial and respectful greeting to the delegations from different countries, to the representatives of numerous dioceses and to the delegation sent to Rome by my beloved Brother, Patriarch Dimitrios I, and to all who have come here to form a joyful circle around the new members of the Sacred College.

The Holy Father then greeted various groups who had come for the ceremony. To the English- speaking group he said:

With great affection in our Lord Jesus Christ, I extend a word of welcome to the English-speaking individuals and delegations that have come to Rome for this Consistory. Today, in a special way, we are all experiencing together the universality of the Church. We are experiencing the strength and joy of being united in Christ, and in his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church,

At the end of the Holy Father's address, the new Cardinals took the oath of faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors.

The Holy Father then assigned to the new Cardinals their respective titles:

— Agostino Casaroli, the presbyteral title of the church of the Twelve Apostles:

— Giuseppe Caprio, the diaconal church of St Mary in via Tuscolana;

— Marco Ce, the title of St Mark;

— Egano Righi-Lambertini, the diaconal church of St John Bosco in via Tuscolana;

— Joseph-Marie Trinh Van-Can, the title of St Mary in Via;

— Ernesto Civardi, the diaconal church of St Theodore;

— Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, the title of Mary Immaculate al Tiburtino;

— Joseph Asajiro Satowaki, the title of St Mary of Peace;

— Roger Etchegaray, the title of St Leo I;

— Anastasio Alberto Ballestrero, the title of S. Maria sopra Minerva;

— Tomás O'Fiaich, the title of St Patrick;

—Gerald Emmet Carter, the title of St Mary in Traspontina;

— Francis Macharski, the title of St John at the Latin Gate;

— Wladyslaw Rubin, the diaconal church of St Mary in via Lata.

The Pope then exchanged the embrace of peace with each new Cardinal.

Pope John Paul II then began the recitation of the universal prayer. In conclusion, the Holy Father intoned the Pater Nosier, in which the whole assembly joined.

                                                    July 1979




Friday, 13 July 1979

Mr Ambassador,

TODAY, AS YOU present your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, I extend to you a cordial welcome to the Holy See.

I thank you for the greetings that you bring from the President and people of your country. And through you I reciprocate this thoughtful gesture in expectation of being able to greet your President personally.

I am also grateful for the kind words you have spoken about the Holy See’s concern for peace in the world. The question is indeed intimately linked to the other issues that you mentioned: poverty, social justice and spiritual values. In all these fields, and in others, the Catholic Church has pledged her contribution. As she pursues her spiritual mission, she is keenly aware of the nature of man in the fullness of his human condition, and of his multiple needs. In speaking in my Encyclical Letter of the Church’s solicitude I stated: "The object of her care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality, which keeps intact the image and likeness of God himself".

The quest for human betterment in accord with the dignity of man is long and difficult. But the Church is intent on continuing her course under the sign of hope. Her activity finds expression at both the local level and the international level.

In Bangladesh itself the Catholic Church is engaged in various initiatives of service that benefit the people. Her charitable and educational undertakings are consonant with her commitment to generous and unselfish service. This aim, in turn, reflects the very constitution of the Church.

And from this centre of international activity, the Church endeavours to put all her energies at the service of humanity. What she does in the field of social justice, development and world peace is oriented to the concrete good of each people and of all the peoples of the earth. By the means proper to her she works to encourage and support the efforts being made throughout the world to enlist the grass-roots participation of everyone in the cause of human advancement. This support and encouragement and service find concrete expression also for Bangladesh and for all its citizens.

Be assured therefore, Mr Ambassador, as you begin your new diplomatic mission, of the understanding and cooperation of the Holy See. Be assured of my own personal good wishes. Be assured of my prayers.



Saturday, 14 July 1979

Mr President,
Dear Friends,

YOUR CONFERENCE in Rome is dealing with a subject of extreme importance for the destiny of the human family, and one of lively interest for the Church, which by virtue of her mission feels a commitment to making an impartial contribution, corresponding to her nature, to the human uplifting of those who live and work on the land.

There can be no doubt that the agrarian reform and rural development that you are dealing with will mark a further step forward along the path that the international Organization specialized in this matter, among them FAO, have always followed since they were set up.

I am happy to make use of this special occasion in order to reaffirm, in continuity with my predecessors, the heartfelt appreciation of the Apostolic See for the incisive and efficient action that the Organizations of the family of the United Nations carry out in the sphere of nutrition, agriculture and rural development[1].

Your meeting offers you the chance to share with one another information on a great variety of experiences, and it is very probable that from this variety there will emerge orientation that will be an invitation and stimulus to fruitful collaboration in the spheres that you are studying. I express the hope that these orientations will enable you to outline really practical solutions that can be adopted in internal policies, such as to make possible the attainment of a greater harmonization on the international level, taking into consideration the cultural originality, legitimate interests and autonomy of each people, and responding to the right of those living and working on the land to growth in individual and collective life.

The divine command to master nature in the service of life of course implies that the reasonable improvement and use of natural resources should be directed towards attaining fundamental human aims[2]. This is also in conformity with the basic principle that all the goods of the earth are meant to benefit all the members of the human family. Undoubtedly, "development demands bold transformations, innovations that go deep"[3].

With conditions as they are within the individual countries, one foresees a land reform involving a reorganization of land holdings and the stable and direct assigning of productive areas to the agricultural workers, together with the elimination of forms and structures that are unproductive and damaging to the community.

The Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes has already done justice to these requirements[4], by including the legitimate quest for a more effective productive use of the land within the more basic preoccupation that the work of agricultural workers should be carried out in conditions and ways that harmonize with their dignity as persons, and for objectives that are similarly in harmony therewith.

The words that I addressed in Mexico to the Indios at Cuilapan hold good here: "The depressed rural world, the worker who with his sweat waters also his affliction, cannot wait any longer for full and effective recognition of his dignity, which is not inferior to that of any other social sector. He has the right to be respected and not deprived, with manoeuvres which are sometimes tantamount to real spoliation, of the little that he has. He has the right not to be impeded in his aspirations to share directly in his own advancement. He has the right to be rid of the barriers of exploitation, often made up of intolerable selfishness, against which his best efforts of advancement are shattered. He has the right to real help – which is not charity or crumbs of justice – in order that he may have access to the development that his dignity as a person and as a child of God deserves"[5].

As I said on another occasion, the right to ownership of land always involves a social mortgage[6]. Therefore, in the reform of structures, I permit myself to invite you to take into the deepest consideration all forms of agrarian contracts that make possible efficient use of the land through work, and guarantee the primary rights of workers.

Reference is made not only to the possibility of working the land efficiently but also to the guarantee of an adequate return from agricultural work.

It is urgently necessary to attain the objective of the right to work, with all the presuppositions required for widening the possibilities of absorbing the available resources of agricultural manpower and of reducing unemployment. Equally, one must promote among the workers a responsible attitude in the functioning of agricultural enterprises. This will also have the aim of creating, as far as possible, a special relationship between the worker of the land and the land that he works.

Furthermore, this right to work the land must be guaranteed together with the greatest possible improvement of human and civil life in rural conditions. This in the only way of ensuring the active presence above all young people in the economy of agricultural development, and of avoiding excessive flight from the land.

Agrarian reform and rural development also demand that consideration be given to reforms aimed at reducing the gap between the prosperity of the rich and the anxiety and need of the poor.

However, it has to be borne in mind that to overcome imbalances and the strident inequalities in living conditions between the agricultural sector and the other sectors of the economy, or between the social groups within a given country, the public authorities must have a well-planned policy, one that is committed to the redistribution of income to the advantage of the very poor.

I think it fitting to repeat what I said on another occasion, namely that a wider reform and a more just and equitable distribution of wealth is foreseen "also in the world in general, ensuring that the stronger countries do not use their power to the detriment of the weaker ones"[7].

The reform necessarily extends therefore to that of a new regulation of relationships between countries.

But for reaching such an objective "it is necessary, in international life, to call upon ethical principles, the demands of justice... Primacy must be given to what is moral... to what springs from the full truth concerning man"[8].

In brief, it is a question of restoring to agriculture its proper place in the sphere of internal and international development, and of modifying the tendency which, in the process of industrialization, has until recent times tended to give a privileged position to the secondary and tertiary sectors.

One is pleased to note that it is now clear, on the basis of experience, how necessary it is to correct the onesided industrialization of a country, and to abandon the utopian expectation that industrialization will certainly and directly lead to economic development and civil progress for everyone.

The great importance of agriculture and the rural world is obvious from the decisive contribution made by agriculture in providing society with basic foodstuffs.

But today there is also a growing awareness of the decisive function of agriculture both in preserving the environment and as a valuable source of energy.

Love for the land and for work on the land is not an invitation to a nostalgic return to the past, but an affirmation of agricultures as the basis of a healthy economy in the totality of the development and civil progress of each country and of the whole world.

Active collaboration by the rural population in the whole process of the growth of the community is taking on increasing importance.

It is obvious that it is always preferable and desirable that collaboration in economic, labour-related and political decision should take place in a personal and responsible way. This certainly constitutes, in the different economic and political systems, the gradual maturing of an authentic expression of that freedom which is an essential ingredient of true progress.

One likewise notes the ever clearer importance of various form of associations which can lead to new expressions of solidarity between rural workers, and facilitate the inclusion of qualified young people, as well as women, in agricultural activity and the civic community.

Naturally, one always has to bear in mind that the suggesting and carrying out of real and effective reforms presuppose good will and a fundamental change of attitude on the part of everybody, as was recognized by John XXIII in his words to the Directors and Officials of FAO on 4 May 1960: "We are all jointly responsible for the undernourished peoples; people’s consciences must be trained to the sense of responsibility that weighs upon the community and upon each individual, especially those who are most favoured"[9].

I appeal to all of you who are responsible for the choices and orientations of internal and international policies.

I appeal to all who are in a position to act as experts, officials and promoters of undertakings that will aid development.

I appeal especially to all those who are able to work for education and training, particularly of the young.

Permit me to express my firm confidence that everyone will be moved by this appeal to the generosity of each individual.

Finally, I ask almighty God to assist all of you, the members of this World Conference assembled in the name of human solidarity and fraternal concern. I pray that the efforts that you are making before the witness of history and in the face of the pressing challenges of this generation will bear abundant fruit for the betterment of humanity – fruit that will last.

[1] Cfr. Ioannis XXIII Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961) 439.

[2] Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis, 15.

[3] Pauli VI Populorum Progressio, 32.

[4] Cfr. Gaudium et Spes, 71.

[5] Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad "Indios", quos dicunt, in pago "Cuilapan", die 29 ianuarii 1979: AAS 71 (1979) 199.

[6] Cfr. Eiusdem Allocutio ad Episcopos, in urbe Puebla aperiens Coetum Generalem Episcoporum Americae Latinae, III, 4, die 28 ianuarii 1979: AAS 71 (1979) 199.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.




Saturday, 14 July 1979

Mr Ambassador,

IT IS WITH GREAT PLEASURE that I welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of your Letters of Credence. I thank you for the kind sentiments that you have expressed on behalf of the Government and people of New Zealand. For me the ceremony today also evokes the remembrance of my personal impressions of your country: the beauty that I saw, the hospitality that I enjoyed, the hopes that I experienced in your midst.

Your Excellency has just enunciated a principle of great importance: that efforts made to increase the quality of life redound to peace. In this regard you have spoken about the aid and assistance given by New Zealand to developing countries. On its own part the Holy See cannot but encourage all generous and just initiatives that promote human dignity and fraternal concern. The humanitarian commitment of the nations of the world, working in international cooperation, is indeed an effective means of promoting a stable peace. And the Holy See will continue, with God’s help, to uphold this cause and to support all those who make it their own.

At the centre of the quest for peace and progress in individual countries and in the world is the human person – every human being. Numerous situations in different places urgently call for redoubled efforts on the part of all people of good will in the particular area of human rights. In this last quarter century of the Millennium a pressing obligation faces all humanity to proclaim and to safeguard all human rights – and to respect them in their concrete application in each man and woman.

In attesting to these priorities I note with pleasure your reference to the commitment of New Zealand in this area. In the spirit therefore of friendly collaboration touching vital areas of human living, may your mission be happy and successful. On you, Mr Ambassador, and on the authorities and all the people of your country I invoke the sustaining blessings of God.



Castel Gandolfo

Sunday, 9 September 1979

Brothers and sisters of the World Federation of Christian Life Communities,

YOU HAVE been so good as to come to see me at the beginning of your General Council Meeting. I am happy to meet you and to assure you of my prayerful interest as you undertake a period of reflection on how to work for a world community at the service of one world.

This aim of yours means making people open out in order to enter into communication with others, saying to them, as Jesus said to the deaf mute in today’s Gospel reading "Ephphatha", that is, "Be opened." We must break out of the narrow limits of self-centredness, questioning our life-style in order to see in what way it fails to respond to God’s call to live as the one human family of which we are all members, and trying to discern the spiritual and material needs of our brothers and sisters throughout the world that require our assistance.

This task is not an easy one. But through the power of Jesus it is not impossible. I invoke his assistance on your deliberations and on the efforts of the individual Christian Life Communities to achieve this aim. And in his name I bless each one of you and the other members of your movement.



Monday, 24 September 1979


I THANK YOU for your visit at the end of the important conference which brings to completion your discussions at Madrid. It offers me this happy occasion of meeting you and of expressing to you my profound esteem and encouragement for the work of peace to which you dedicate your exceptional talents by sharing in common your experiences.

The "World Peace through Law-Center" and the associations affiliated to it rightly pride themselves in being "the first association on a world scale to coordinate the efforts of thousand of judges, lawyers, professors and students of law from all the nations of the world in a positive drive to involve themselves in the common problems of humanity, in trials, procedures, principles and institutions universally accepted by the rule of law". To this task, the Holy See wishes to make its own impartial contribution within the limits and in the spirit of the mission entrusted to the Church by Christ our Lord.

The rapid development, both in extension and in depth, of relations between men and nations calls for an unprecedented effort to be mastered by man, lest it be carried away on the tumultuous wave of self-interest and instinct, so that an ordered structure be found which expresses and promotes the unity of the human family with respect for the paramount dignity of every individual, of every human group.

This endeavour finds in the rule of law, the imperium legis, and indispensable support that guarantees its continuity, its rectitude and its creative force. The rule of law in no way implies a rigid immobility. Being founded on a rich tradition and on lasting human values, which themselves draw force from it and have thereby also been refined, it becomes more capable than ever of facing with resolve the constantly changing situations and of impressing upon them the hallmark of man. Its traditional and essential application to all circumstances finds precisely in the present unification of humanity a vast new terrain for devising fresh ways and at the same time rejuvenating the varying accepted expressions that it has forged according to the traditions of different nations.

Rule of law does not ignore the tensions that arise from life, nor the aspects of truth contained in the protests and contestation of those people which a given legal system refuses to recognize as legitimate aspirations[1]. But it has sufficient confidence in itself, in the law of the heart and of reason from which it emanates, to look for solutions, not in the further exasperation of those tensions, but rather in an appeal to the higher faculties of man, capable of devising and creating organized systems more appropriate to the present development of humanity. It is this conviction that has led you to examine at Madrid the whole range of challenges of our times: Human Rights and the Helsinki Agreements, Maritime Law, the codification of rules governing multinational corporations, the rights of the family, data processing technology and the right to privacy, international control of alternative sources of energy, the progressive reduction of the sale of conventional weapons, international arbitration, etc.

The Holy See actively participates in the international conferences that deal with these diverse problems and its original contribution of an ethical nature, finds the ground all that more fertile where the patterns of legal systems have been better worked out, thanks especially to your efforts. It does so from a standpoint of change and evolution which must characterize law, because it is also characteristic of the development of mankind and of nations.

As I have said already, the Declaration of Human Rights and the setting up of the United Nations Organization certainly had as its aim not only to depart from the horrible experiences of the last world war, but also to create the basis for a continual revision of programmes, systems, and regimes, precisely from this unique and fundamental point of view, namely the welfare of man, – or, let us say, of the individual in the community, – which must, as a fundamental factor in the common good, constitute the essential criterion for all programmes, systems and regimes[2].

Yes, man is at the basis of everything. He must be respected in his personal and unsurpassed dignity. His social dimension must be respected: the human and the Christian personality cannot realize itself, in effect, except in the degree that exclusive self-centredness is rejected, because its call is both personal and social. Canon Law admits and favours this characteristic improvement because it leads to overcoming egoism: abnegation of self, as exclusive individuality, leads to the affirmation of self in an authentic social perspective, in the recognition and respect of the other as a “person” having universal, inviolable, inalienable rights, and a transcendental dignity[3].

Human values, moral values are at the basis of everything. Law cannot set them aside, neither in its objectives nor in its means. Its rightful ordered autonomy is intrinsic to the moral law, in which, besides, it encounters, not really a brake, or a restriction, but the fertile soil of its dynamic and planned development.

You know – and I know too – that it is difficult to define man in what constitutes his permanent being and his universality in time and space, beyond customs and different cultures. It is likewise difficult to trace the institutional elements that favour human growth in solidarity, while taking into account the variety of man’s convictions and counting on his creative conscience, thus assuring the indispensable freedom wherein this conscience can be formed, re-formed and in which it can act. But the whole history of law shows that law loses its stability and its moral authority, that it is then tempted to make an increasing appeal to constraint and physical force, or on the other hand to renounce its responsibility – in favour of the unborn or the stability of marriage, or, on the international plane, in favour of entire populations abandoned to oppression – whenever it ceases to search for the truth concerning man and allows itself to be bought off with some harmful form of relativism.

A difficult search, a groping search, but a necessary search of which the jurist least of all may divest himself.

For the Church, the solid foundation of this pursuit is Jesus Christ. But, whatever the believer discovers in the light of faith, he believes and affirms about all men, believer or non-believer, because Christ is united in some way to all men, to each man. Moreover, it is our certainty: the life of Christ speaks, also, to many who are not capable of repeating with Peter: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God". He, the Son of the living God, speaks to people also as Man: it is his life that speaks, his humanity, his fidelity to the truth, his all-embracing love[4].

Ladies and Gentlemen, with deep respect for your convictions, allow me to invite you to listen to the voice of Christ, to the message of the Gospel concerning man. It cannot but strengthen you in your desire to build world peace through law.

In repeating my profound esteem for the work you have already accomplished and in encouraging you to continue with in without pausing, I invoke upon you and your families, and above all on your work, the blessing of almighty God.

[1] Cfr. Ioannis XXIII Pacem in Terris, 39 et ss.

[2] Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis, 17, 3.

[3] Cfr. Eiusdem Allocutio ad Sacram Romanam Rotam, die 17 febr. 1979.

[4] Cfr. Eiusdem Redemptor Hominis, 7, 4.

Speeches 1979 - Paul VI Hall