Speeches 1984 - Québec International Airport





Wednesday, 12 September 1984

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
dear People of Newfoundland,

1. It was from their fishing boats on the Sea of Galilee that Jesus called Simon Peter and James and John to share his mission. As the Gospel reminds us, Jesus spent much of his time in the ordinary circumstances of daily life, sharing the hopes and hardships of the people. This is why I am immensely pleased to be with you, the members of the fishing community. I extend a special greeting to you, Archbishop Penney, and to those of you who are the spiritual leaders of the other Churches and Communions represented here. The joyful event that unites us is the blessing of the Fishing Fleet here at Flatrock.

It is in this context that I have come today to express my solidarity with you, and to profess with you faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.This faith of ours, in the Eternal Son of God made man, offers an uplifting message for the whole human community. Our faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, opens up before us a vision of great hope and, at the same time, it speaks to all of us about Christ’s commandment to love and serve one another.

2. Long before they settled on these shores, Europeans fished these banks. From fishing villages along these coasts you and your ancestors have set out in all kinds of weather to wrest a living from the sea, often at the risk of your lives. Your wives and families have shared the uncertainty and fear that your way of life involves. In Christian pain and hope they have mourned the loss of many loved ones that did not return. As a Newfoundland poet wrote: "It took the sea a thousand years, / A thousand years to trace / The granite features of this cliff, / In crag and scarp and base. / It took the sea an hour one night, / An hour of storm to place / The sculpture of these granite seams / Upon a woman’s face".

3. Today your lives are touched by another kind of insecurity, coming not from the sea but from the changed conditions in the fishing industry and in the world economy. Not even Canada with its immense natural resources and limited population has escaped the effects of world-wide economic uncertainty. Here in Newfoundland, even more than in other parts of Canada, you feel the heavy burden of unemployment, which has settled like a blight on the hopes of so many, especially the young, who experience in their own lives how the absence of rewarding employment affects the many aspects of their existence and of society, destroying prospects for the future, affecting the livelihood of families and disturbing the social fabric of the community.

In my Encyclical "Laborem Exercens" I have emphasized "the fact that human work is a key, probably the essential key, to the whole social question". Men and women are meant to contribute by their work to the building up of the human community, and so to realize their full human stature as co-creators with God and co-builders of his Kingdom. Prolonged failure to find meaningful employment represents an affront to the dignity of the individual, for which no social assistance can fully compensate. The human costs of such unemployment, especially the havoc it brings to family life, have frequently been deplored by the Canadian Bishops. I join with them in appealing to those in positions of responsibility, and to all involved, to work together to find appropriate solutions to the problems at hand, including a re-structuring of the economy, so that human needs be put before mere financial gain. The social doctrine of the Church requires us to emphasize the primacy of the human person in the productive process, the primacy of people over things.

4. Canada has been called the breadbasket of the world, and it was one of the world’s largest exporters of fish before the recent recession. It is a cruel paradox that many of you who could be engaged in the production of food are in financial distress here, while at the same time hunger, chronic malnutrition and the threat of starvation afflict millions of people elsewhere in the world.

With careful stewardship, the sea will continue to offer its harvest. However, during the last few years the means of processing and distributing food have become more technically sophisticated. The fishing industry has also been concentrated more and more in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Around the globe more and more small or family fishing concerns lose their financial independence to the larger and capital intensive enterprises. Large industrial fishing companies run the risk of losing contact with the fishermen and their personal and family needs. They are exposed to the temptation of responding only to the forces of the marketplace, thus lacking at times sufficient financial incentive to maintain production. Such a development would put the security and distribution of the world’s food supply into ever greater jeopardy, if food production becomes controlled by the profit motive of a few rather than by the needs of the many.

5. The current economic situation, especially with regard to fishing, demands courageous decisions in order to overcome all negative consequences. Our Christian view of man and what constitutes his good must be the guiding principles in looking for alternate solutions. The promotion of cooperatives of fishermen, collective agreements between workers and management, some form of joint ownership or partnership - these are some of the possible solutions that would aim at ensuring that the workers have a voice in the decision-making affecting their own lives and the lives of their families.

In a world of growing interdependence, the responsible stewardship of all the earth’s resources, and especially food, requires long-range planning at the different levels of government, in cooperation with industry. It also requires effective international agreements on trade. It must take account the problem of food-aid and aid to development, and be responsive to those in need.

6. My dear friends: hard work and a strong sense of family and community have sustained you in the past in your upright Christian lives. Above all, your faith in Jesus Christ and the hope that it generates in you are at the basis of all your aspirations for a better future. For this reason, in the efforts and struggles of daily living you can say with Saint Paul: "To this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God" (1Tm 4,10).

Avec vos pasteurs et vos animateurs spirituels rassembles ici autour de moi, je prie pour vous tous et pour vos familles. Que Dieu notre Père rende fécond le travail de vos mains! Que son divin Fils, notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ, lui qui multiplie les pains et les poissons pour nourrir la foule affamée, étende l’horizon de votre solidarité fraternelle a tous ses frères et soeurs! Que l’Esprit Saint vive dans vos coeurs et vous remplisse de sa paix, aujourd’hui et a jamais!

Let us never forget, dear people of Newfoundland, the values that Christ taught from Peter’s boat on the Sea of Galilee and throughout all his life. And let us heed the words of the Apostle Paul: "Let everything you do be done in love" (1Co 16,14).



St. John's Memorial Stadium - Newfoundland

Wednesday, 12 September 1984

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

as I visit the Province of Newfoundland, I am pleased to have this special meeting with handicapped and disabled persons. I greet you in the joy and peace of our Risen Saviour. I greet you from all my heart and from all my compassion. I extend greetings too, to your families and friends who are with you today and to all who are close to you through their prayers and concerns. And I promise you to be close to you through my own prayer.

1. In recent years, I have had the opportunity to meet large numbers of handicapped and disabled persons: pilgrims who have to Rome, groups such as this one today whom I have met on my pastoral journeys, and many special groups such as handicapped children on the occasion of their First Communion or Confirmation. I have always welcomed these meetings, for they have afforded me the opportunity of getting to know you better and of coming to understand your struggles and achievements, your sorrows and joys. Such meetings have made me even more aware of how effectively you participate in the life of the community, and of how you must not be relegated to some marginal place in society. In the Church, too, you have an important part to play. You are called to share fully in her life and mission in the world.

2. Each of you, through Baptism, enjoys the gift of new life in Christ and the dignity of an adopted son or daughter of our Father in heaven. In Baptism, you have also been given a share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly functions of our Lord Jesus Christ; and you are called to exercise your role in order to build up Christ’s Body, the Church, and to further the Kingdom of God in this world. Your personal call to holiness and to loving service of others is not separate from your daily life. Rather, your patient acceptance of your disabilities and your joyful hope in the face of difficulties are in their own way a proclamation of the Gospel, for they bear silent witness to the saving power of God at work in your lives.

"Try then", as Saint Paul said, "to imitate God, as children of his that he loves, and follow Christ by loving as he loved you" (Ep 5,1-2). Seek to accept all things in a spirit of faith and in the light of the Cross. And may you find in the Eucharist and in prayer the strength needed to overcome any obstacle - the liberating power of Christ’s love that has conquered the world.

3. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: be assured that you are never alone. God loves you and has given you a special place in the Church. And the Pope loves you, too, and blesses you with all his heart. And he the Pope invites you to be near to him every day when he celebrates the Holy Eucharist and when he says the Holy Mass offering Christ himself as the victim of the whole world. Your place is near to the suffering and crucified Christ in the victory of the Eucharist. The Pope is also closed to your families and all your dear ones. May Christ fill you with his peace.




St. John's Basilica - Newfoundland

Wednesday, 12 September 1984

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. This evening in this Basilica dedicated to Saint John the Baptist I feel very close to all of you. I feel that I belong very much to Newfoundland.

It is indeed a joy privilege to join this gathering of educators to speak to those who carry out one of the most important tasks of the Church and of society. The task of the teacher and the school is indeed a sacred trust conveyed to them by parents and families. As Catholic educators you have accepted a special responsibility given by parents. These parents and families have invested in you their precious confidence. On her part the Church looks upon you as co-workers, with an important measure of shared responsibility, in helping to fulfill Christ’s mandate transmitted through the Apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28,20).

To you it is given to create the future and give it direction by offering to your students a set of values with which to assess their newly discovered knowledge. Few challenges are more exalting and rewarding than the instruction and guidance of young people, and few more difficult. You are preparing for adulthood and Christian maturity a generation of Newfoundlanders, of Canadians, who will build the Church and the society of tomorrow.

2. As you pursue your professional and spiritual goals as teachers, or as educational administrators, you experience the ambiguities and conflicts which characterize our contemporary society. In the span of a single lifetime, we have seen enormous changes in social values, in economic circumstances, and in technological innovation. As educators you must cope with these changes since they are the daily experience and fare of your students.

At the same time as a teacher and a school system seek to adapt continually to the new, they must affirm and preserve the meaning and importance of perennial truths and values. Educators must be ready to grasp firmly the challenge of providing a kind of education whose curriculum will be inspired more by reflection than by technique, more by the search for wisdom than the accumulation of information.

In the same way, the radically different cultural expressions and activities of our time, especially those which catch the popular attention of young people, demand that educators be open to new cultural influences and be capable of interpreting them for young people in the light of the Christian faith and of Christ’s universal command of love.

It has always been difficult to be a Christian, and even more difficult to be a truly Christian teacher, especially if that teacher is called to bear witness from within a secular system. Every age presents a new set of problems as well as fresh opportunities to witness to the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.

You are called to bring professional competence and a high standard of excellence to your teaching. To influence your students at this juncture of history to grow in faith and in love, you must be aware of the pressures upon them and at once respect the natural stages of their growth toward maturity. But your responsibilities make demands upon you which go far beyond the need for professional skills and competence.

3. An extremely important aspect of your role is that you are called to lead the young to Christ, to inspire them to follow him, to show them his boundless love and concern for them, through the example of your own life. Through you, as through a clear window on a sunny day, students must come to see and know the richness and the joy of a life lived in accordance with his teaching, in response to his challenging demands. To teach means not only to impart what we know, but also to reveal who we are by living what we believe. It is this latter lesson which tends to last the longest. En masse, the students of the world are today repeating to their Catholic teachers those words recorded in the Gospel of Saint John and originally addressed to the Apostle Philip: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21). This is indeed a vital task of the Catholic teacher: to show Jesus to the young. Saint Paul looked upon his own ministry as a prolonged travail in forming Christ in those whom he was called to serve (Ga 4,19).

4. As teachers and educators, you also share in the proclamation of the word in the service of truth. You seek to liberate the mind and spirit of those whom you teach, guiding them to maturity in faith, knowledge and understanding. By offering your students the truth of Christ you are likewise helping them to experience his freedom. You are thus engaged in the authentic liberation of this generation of students, to whom Jesus Christ, who calls himself the "Truth", repeats his Gospel promise: "If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (Jn 8,36). You are called to serve and spread Christ’s liberating truth.

5. Young people today are buffeted in every direction by loud and competing claims upon their attention and allegiance. From around the world, they hear daily messages of conflict and hostility, of greed and injustice, of poverty and despair. Amidst this social turmoil, young people are eager to find solid and enduring values which can give meaning and purpose to their lives. They are searching for a firm place - a high ground - on which to stand. They seek a sense of direction, a goal which will give meaning and purpose to their lives.

The Gospel tells us where the high ground is to be found. It is beside our Lord, sharing in his strength and love, responding eagerly and generously to his challenge to love and serve him, as he has loved and served us. Who can show young people the way to that secure place, to that dynamic and fulfilling life, better than the teachers to whom they look for guidance? No one else will ever be where you are. No one else will ever have the opportunity you have to accompany students in the search for truth, to foster in them a thirst for justice, and an appreciation of the goodness of God, to lead them patiently and lovingly in their journey of faith.

6. Young people are hungry today for truth and justice because they are hungry for God. To respond to that hunger is the highest calling of the Christian educator. In partnership with the parents, who bear the primary responsibility for the education of their children, the teacher is called upon to reflect, in faithful and discerning fashion, God’s presence in the world.

Teachers and parents must strive for a mature spirituality in their own lives, a strength and relevance of faith which can withstand the assault of conflicting values upon the home and the school. If the teaching of the Gospel is visible in your daily lives, it will have visible influence upon the young whom you teach. When young people see their teachers and parents, whom they love, as people committed to Jesus Christ, people whose lives are inspired by that commitment, the meaning and the message of faith is spontaneously communicated to them and the Good News is announced once again in and to the world.

7. The specific goals of Christian education as described by the Second Vatican Council take into account the many needs of the young. These goals are a constant challenge to you and spell out your lofty work: "Christian education . . . aims above all at ensuring that the baptized . . . may grow ever more conscious of the gift of faith which they have received; that they may learn to adore God the Father in spirit and in truth (Jn 4,23), especially through liturgical worship; and that they may be prepared to live their personal lives according to a new nature in justice and holiness of truth (Ep 4,22-24), so that they may reach perfect maturity, the measure of the fullness of Christ (Ibid. 4, 13) and make their contribution to the increase of the Mystical Body" (Gravissimum Educationis GE 2) .

8. Here in the Province of Newfoundland and in other Provinces throughout Canada, your forebears struggled over the years to have a Catholic educational system where these ideals for Catholic teachers and principles of Catholic education might best be applied. It is a precious heritage which has been confided to you, a heritage which makes a positive and valued contribution not only to the Church but to society as well.

Catholic schools can provide young people with insights and spiritual incentives badly needed in a materialistic and fragmented world. Catholic schools speak of the meaning of life, of values and of faith that make for a meaningful life. Similarly, since individualism is often alienating, Catholic schools must hand on and reinforce a sense of community, of social concern and the acceptance of difference and diversity in pluralistic societies. While professing an institutional commitment to the word of God as proclaimed by the Catholic Church, they must inculcate an attitude of profound respect for the conscience of others and a deep desire for Christian unity.

While striving for excellence in the areas of professional and technical training, Catholic schools must never forget that their ultimate purpose is to prepare young people to take up, in Christian freedom, their personal and social responsibility for the pilgrimage of all humanity to eternal life.

For these same reasons Catholic schools, while always committed to intellectual development, will also heed the Gospel imperative of serving all students and not only those who are the brightest and most promising. Indeed, in accord with the spirit of the Gospel, and its option for the poor, they will turn their attention particularly to those most in need.

9. All men and women - and all children - have a right to education. Closely linked to this right to education is the right of parents, of families, to choose according to their convictions the kind of education and the model of school which they wish for their children (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, art. 26). Related as well is the no less sacred right of religious freedom.

In a society such as Canada’s, people’s freedom to associate and enter into certain group or institutional endeavours with the aim of fulfilling their expectations according to their own values is a fundamental democratic right. This right implies that parents have a real possibility to choose, without undue financial burden placed upon them, appropriate schools and educational systems for their children. Here in Newfoundland I note that you view education as a partnership between the Church and the Province. Fortunately, in other parts of Canada similar cooperation between Church and government exists. I realize that this varies from Province to Province.

Society is called to provide for and support with public funding those types of schools that correspond to the deepest aspirations of its citizens. The role of the modern State is to respond to these expectations within the limits of the common good. A state thereby promotes harmony, and, in a pluralistic situation such as Canada, this effectively fosters respect for the wide diversity of this land. To ignore this diversity and the legitimate claims of the people within various groups would be to deny a fundamental right to parents.

Governments have the responsibility, therefore, to ensure the freedom of ecclesial Communions to have appropriate educational services with all that such a freedom implies: teacher training, buildings, research funding, adequate financing and so forth.

In a pluralistic society it is surely a challenge to provide all citizens with satisfactory educational services. In dealing with this complex challenge one must not ignore the centrality of God in the believer’s outlook on life. A totality secular school system would not be a way of meeting this challenge. We cannot leave God at the schoolhouse door.

10. Dear teachers and parents, the Catholic school is in your hands. It is a reflection of your convictions. Its very existence depends on you. It is one of those privileged places, together with the family and the parish community, where our faith is handed on. The Catholic school is a community effort, one that cannot succeed without the cooperation of all concerned - the students, the parents, the teachers, the principals and pastors. As parents, you claim a special responsibility and privilege. You are the first witnesses and artisans of the awakening in your children of the sense of God. You bear the first responsibility of bringing them to the Sacraments of Christian initiation. In this work you are assisted and helped by the school and the parish.

Our world searches for a new sense of meaning and coherence. A Catholic school through the ministry of Catholic teachers is a privileged, place for the development and communication of a world-view rooted in the meaning of Creation and Redemption. You are called, dear educators and parents, to create those schools which will transmit the values which you would hand on to those who will come after you. And always remember that it is Christ who says: Go and teach!




Memorial University

Wednesday, 12 September 1984

Dear Young People, Brothers and Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I thank you for your warm welcome here today in Newfoundland. It is a great joy for me to join you as you celebrate your faith in Jesus Christ at this festival of youth. I thank God for you and for young people everywhere, for the special gifts of your youth, and for the part you play among us in building a more just, peaceful and loving world. In the words of Saint Paul: "I thank my God whenever I think of you, and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy" (Ph 1,3).

2. To live in this immense country which has been blessed with peace and freedom is cause for thanksgiving. You have freedom of speech, of worship and movement - and you have political options. And yet you are not without your problems. I know that many of you young people have no jobs and look to the future with deep anxiety. You are challenged by chronic and painful unemployment to keep alive a spirit of hope, to try to use creatively the enforced leisure which joblessness creates. Others among you are in school, where there is also uncertainty. You are sometimes tempted to give up and to ask: What is the use of all this effort? What is the meaning of human life? Where is it all leading?

These are questions that are being asked by young people all over the world. They are being asked by young men and women who, in many countries, do not have enough to eat and have no chance for a formal education. They are being asked by young people who live in the midst of injustice, violence and persecution. They are being asked by young people who are searching for peace, craving for justice and longing for God. They were asked this year by the young people who came to Rome to celebrate with me the Holy Year of the Redemption.

3. As a pastor and as a brother, I wish to offer you today a powerful reason to hope and to see life as a great and precious gift of God. And this reason is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came into the world to teach us the full meaning of human life. Through the power of his Spirit, the same Jesus who died on the Cross and rose from the dead is alive in his Church; he is alive in you who bear his name as Christians and who strive to listen to his words of life.

I am here to proclaim this presence of Jesus in your lives and the power of his love working in your hearts. Because of this presence and this power you can do great things. This is your life’s call, a call of God to serve your community and your Church. Perhaps you will be called to serve as a husband or wife, a parent, a single person, a religious or a priest. But in every case it is a call to a personal conversion, a call to open your hearts to the message of Christ and to his power in your lives. Every economic, social or political structure in the world that needs reform can be adequately changed only when our hearts are purified, because the source of all injustice is the human heart.

Young people of Newfoundland and of all Canada, you are invited by Christ to a conversion of heart, to a life lived in union with him. For this reason you must not let yourselves be overwhelmed by anxiety, by the painful sense of helplessness, or by the temptation to revolt or drop out. No one can deny that much of the world is in frightening disorder: the inhumanity of many persons and the injustice of certain systems cause unspeakable human misery; the possibility of nuclear confrontation creates anxiety and fear. But you are in a position to face all problems with a new attitude, a new heart, a new power: your faith in Jesus Christ who is alive in you. In the words of Saint John: "This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith" (1 Io. 5, 4).

4. In God’s plan you were not meant to inherit a broken world. It is the responsibility of all of us to change the dangerous course of events on which human beings have embarked. You, the youth of this country, are called to play a special part in shaping and building a better world. Your efforts can succeed, but you must make them in union with the Christ who is powerful within you and who speaks to your hearts.

In union with the Lord begin your task by looking critically at yourselves and then at the society in which you live. To do this you have to know how to judge and with what set of rules. You need the right scale of values, a clear vision of the world, of human work, of human life, of love. How, you may ask, do you acquire all this?

Every day the media and the example of people around you present certain models of life. Very often these show selfishness winning over generosity. Today I invite you to look at another model of humanity - one which can fully satisfy your thirst for meaning. The person that I present over and over again to the youth of the world is the Jesus about whom we are speaking. Although he is Son of God, he is also Mary’s Son and he shares completely in our human nature. He experienced joy and suffering, hunger and pain; he knew the beauty of nature and the love of friendship. Forever he remains the true image of what it is to be human. He is Jesus of Nazareth and we get to know him in the pages of the Gospels. He was put to death for having cast his lot with the poor and exploited, for having come to serve and not to be served. But God his Father raised him from the dead. Through his Holy Spirit he remains in our midst and within us: he is the source of strength in the daily struggle to uplift our world. This is our Christian faith: with his help, we can carry out the program he left us, so simple and yet so all-embracing: "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15,12).

5. On every page of the Gospel, Jesus keeps telling us that we must never despair, that love triumphs over every obstacle, over every failure, over suffering and hatred, even over death itself. This love, dear young people, and the peace that it brings, will anchor you firmly amid the chaos of the world; it will also lead you into deeper involvement with that world. Jesus invites you to love and to serve.

Begin by doing something concrete in your own situation. Do not look too far afield. Begin now where you work or study, in your youth groups, in your family circle, in your parish. Never allow anyone among your acquaintances to be deprived of his or her rights, or put down by others because he or she is not of your social milieu, or your colour, or does not speak your language or share your faith. Refuse to build barriers between yourselves and older people. Be present also in their situations, because there your voice is needed and you will contribute and learn. Give your enthusiastic support to those local groups which are seeking to build a more human world, and then broaden your horizons and work with the joyful energy of youth for the cause of justice everywhere. Learn to deprive yourselves, in order to share with the hungry and with young people who have received less than you. In solidarity with your brothers and sisters of different nations and races and cultures, it is possible for you to change the world and to shape a better future for all - a future in which persons are more important than profits; in which the world’s resources are justly shared, and in which peaceful negotiations replace threats of war.

6. But in order to do this you need God’s help. And God’s help comes to you through prayer. Your union with Christ will be the secret of your effectiveness, and it is strengthened by your prayer, your conversation with God, the lifting up of your heart to him. But Jesus has also provided for your needs through the Sacraments of the Church, particularly the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. The conversion of your hearts is brought about by Christ’s action and Christ reaches out to you in his Sacraments, which will always be for you an expression and celebration of your faith and your life in Christ. Sin is a human reality and we all need to experience forgiveness, reconciliation and peace in a personal encounter with Christ. God’s providence supplies this opportunity for us in Confession, and makes available in the Eucharist an access to his love that responds to our deepest yearning for an interpersonal relationship.

Yes, to build a civilization based on love and truth and justice is surely a gigantic task. But you are equal to it! Why? Because of Christ, living in you, because of his Sacraments, because of your union with him through prayer. Take courage then, dear young people, for we are celebrating together our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of the world. As we approach the end of this millennium, remember that Christ needs you, the youth of Newfoundland, of Canada and the world. He needs you with pure hearts and generous love to help him in his mission of uplifting humanity and bringing his salvation to the world. This is Christ’s mission and he shares it with you!

Speeches 1984 - Québec International Airport