Speeches 1984 - Yellow Knife Airport




Vancouver Stadium

Tuesday, 18 September 1984

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. This evening we have come to celebrate life in Jesus Christ. In this stadium vibrant with music and dance, as a family comprised of young and old, disabled and strong, as friends united in Christ, we praise God for the gift of life. We join our hearts and voices to glorify the Creator of heaven and earth, the Lord and Giver of life. On my part I thank you for your warm welcome and for this outpouring of love expressed in song and gesture.

In this beautiful region of British Columbia, with your towering mountains, your rushing waters, your dense green forests and mineral-rich soil, you are surrounded by an abundance of natural life, with wild animals and a plentiful supply of fish. Captivated by this grandeur and beauty, one of the first explorers of this region, Captain George Vancouver, spoke of "the innumerable pleasing landscapes and the abundant fertility that unassisted nature puts forth". How true are the words of this explorer whose name is honoured by this thriving city.

We also celebrate the gift of human life, including the ethnic richness that has characterized the people of this area. There have been the Indian people, the first inhabitants of this land, who, in seeing life as the gift of a Supreme Spirit, were led to receive the Gospel of Christ when it was preached to them by the missionaries. There have been those of British extraction, too, who were the first settlers. Then came those from the Far East, those from India who came to work on the railways and in the development of resource industries. Later came immigrants from Eastern and Western Europe to push back further the frontiers of this new land. These varied immigrant peoples, together with the Indians, are represented by the performers this evening. In them we see how the many immigrant streams have contributed to the rich cultural diversity characteristic of this area. May all who have inherited these blessings truly appreciate them and thus avoid any form of discrimination against people "in law or in fact, on account of their race, origin, colour, culture, sex or religion" (Pauli VI, Octogesima Adveniens, 16). All such discrimination is an affront to human dignity and a degradation of human life.

Above all, we celebrate tonight the gift of eternal life, which was won for us by Jesus Christ through his death on the Cross. In the reading from Saint John’s Gospel this evening, Jesus says to us: "I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full" (Jn 10,10). Natural life and human life are precious gifts of God. But eternal life is an even greater gift, because it is the gift of life for ever.

The grace we receive in Baptism raises the quality of our life to a level far exceeding anything we could ever imagine, for we receive the pledge of eternal or everlasting life. This everlasting life begins now; through faith in the word of God and through the Sacraments of the Church, it will reach its completion in the world to come. This is the life described by Saint Paul: "The things that no eye has seen and no ear has heard, things beyond the mind of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him" (1Co 2,9).

I am very pleased that in the stadium tonight celebrating life with me are children and young people, senior citizens, and our brothers and sisters who suffer disabilities or handicaps of various kinds. I want to speak to each of these groups in turn.

2. Dear children and young people: my first words are for you. Do not let anyone deceive you about the real meaning of your life. It comes from God. You are here on earth because God made you. You come from him. You belong to him. And you will go to him. God is the source and goal of your life. He who has given you natural life has desired that you grow up in a rich and vibrant area of God’s world. He has blessed you with many opportunities. Through Baptism, God has even given you a share in his own life. He has adopted you as his children. You are brothers and sisters of Christ.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus warns us that in the world there are thieves who come "only to steal and kill and destroy" (Jn 10,10). You will find these thieves trying to deceive you. They will tell you that the meaning of life is to have as much pleasure as you can. They will try to convince you that this world is the only world there is, and that you must grasp everything you can for yourselves, now. You will hear some people telling you: "Look after yourselves, and do not worry about others". There will be those, moreover, who will say: "You will find your happiness in accumulating money and as many consumer goods as you can, and when you feel unhappy use the escape of alcohol or drugs".

None of this is true. And none of this brings true joy to your lives. True living is not found in one’s self or in things. It is found in someone else, in the One who created everything that is good, true, and beautiful in the world. True living is found in God and you discover God in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ reveals God to us, and to know Christ is to know God. And in order to know yourself, your real self, you have to know Christ. That is why Saint Paul can exclaim: "I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Ph 3,8).

I know that some of you go to Catholic schools. Why? So that you can more readily discover Christ and, in him, the full meaning of life. So that you can live life to the full. The Church has her schools because she wants to communicate Christ to you. She wants you to come to full maturity in him who is the perfect human being, and at the same time, the Son of God. Dear children and young people: look to Christ. When you wonder about the mystery of your life, look to Christ who explains to you its full meaning. When you wonder about your role in the future of Canada and the world, look to Christ. He will inspire you to fulfil your potential as Canadian citizens and as citizens of the world community. When you wonder about the life to come, look to Christ. Love him and serve him in your neighbour now, so that the fullness of eternal life may one day be yours.

3. Dear senior citizens: I now greet you, you who bear witness to the fact that the value of life lies in who you are, not in what you possess or in what you are able to do. Your life shows the continuity of the generations and gives you a horizon from which to judge new events and discoveries. You remind the world of the wisdom of earlier generations while you contribute your insights to this one.

I am happy to hear all the initiatives happening here in British Columbia to enhance the quality of your life and, in particular, to provide you with proper housing arrangements. In its Charter of the Rights of the Family, issued in 1983, the Holy See States: "The elderly have the right to find within their own family or, when this is not possible, in suitable institutions, an environment which will enable them to live their later years of life in serenity while pursuing those activities which are compatible with their age and which enable them to participate in social life" (Charter of the Rights of the family, art. 9).

The passing of the years brings its frailties. You may be forced to give up activities that you once enjoyed. Your limbs may not seem so pliable as they used to be. Your memory and your eyesight may refuse to give service. And so the world may cease to be familiar – the world of your family, the world around you, the world you once knew. Even the Church, which you have loved for so long, may seem strange to many of you as she goes forward in this period of renewal. Yet, despite changes and any weaknesses you may feel, you are of great value to all. Society needs you and so does the Church. You may not be able to do as much as before. But what counts above all is what you are. Old age is the crowing point of earthly life, a time to gather in the harvest you have sown. It is a time to give of yourselves to others as never before.

Yes, you are needed, and never let anyone tell you are not. The Masses you have attended throughout your life, the devout Communions you have made, the prayers you have offered enable you to bestow rich gifts upon us. We need your experience and your insights. We need the faith which has sustained you and continues to be your light. We need your example of patient waiting and trust. We need to see in you that mature love which is yours, that love which is the fruit of your lives lived in both joys and sorrow. And yes, we need your wisdom for you can offer assurance in times of uncertainty. You can be an incentive to live according to the higher values of the spirit. These values link us with people of all time and they never grow old.

Be aware of your dignity, then, and once again offer your lives to our Lord Jesus Christ. Take time to know him better than you have ever known him before. Listen to him in prayer as he says to you in your hour of weakness, sorrow or pain: "I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me" (Jn 10,14). He is close to you in the trials of your daily life. On your part, seek to be his faithful companions along the way of the Cross. And never forget that the troubles you have to undergo are foreseen in God’s plan of preparing you to live to the full, in the company of Mary and all the saints, in the Kingdom of heaven.

4. Now I wish to speak to those suffering from disabilities and to those who offer them assistance. First of all, I rejoice at the sensitivity being shown to our disabled and handicapped brothers and sisters in Vancouver and throughout Canada, through worthy agencies, associations and institutions.

Dear brothers and sisters who are disabled in some way: the value and dignity of the human person does not arise from physical or mental qualities, from efficiency, productivity or speed in one’s actions. It comes rather from the fundamental fact that each individual is created by God and redeemed by the blood of his Son Jesus Christ. God calls each of you by name. He wishes you to make your individual contribution to the world and to live life to the full in the service of others. God’s fatherly care embraces the healthy and the sick, the disabled, the handicapped and the strong.

Dear friends who sometimes feel so discouraged: I am filled with joy being with you today. I have come to tell you that Christ loves you and that the Church and the Pope love you, too. You are special friends of Jesus. He says to you in a very personal way: "Come to me all who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and by burden light" (Mt 12,28-30). Christ is asking you to help him to carry his Cross. You fulfil in our day the role once exercised by Simon of Cyrene. You teach us, by your example, to unite our human limitations with the sufferings of Jesus, and to find joy in life.

But I have also come in order to assure you that the Church proclaims in a special way your right to work, as she strives to further the goal "that disabled people may be offered work according to their capabilities" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Laborem Exercens LE 22). She insists that to deny work to those who are not fully functional is also "a serious form of discrimination" (Ibid.).

Dear friends whose particular vocation is service to these brothers and sisters: your work requires generosity of mind and heart, a greatness of spirit; for God calls you to love with a special intensity. I know, however, that you are the first to say that you receive much more than you give. The disabled and handicapped call forth energies from our hearts that we never suspected were there. They teach us humility, too, for they show us that human and Christian greatness does not consist in being stronger or more active than others. They show all of us the need for continual dependence upon God. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. I thank you for all the care you give these important members of Christ’s flock. You are the Lord’s helpers in assisting these men, women and children to share life to the full.

5. Dear brothers and sisters: on this evening when we celebrate life, we are also mindful of the many threats to life which exist in our technological society. Of incalculable danger to all humanity is the rate of abortion in society today. This unspeakable crime against human life which rejects and kills life at its beginning sets the stage for despising, negating and eliminating the life of adults, and for attacking the life of society. If the weak are vulnerable from the time of conception, then they are vulnerable before the might of an aggressor and the power of nuclear weapons.

But there is a way for humanity to escape its own tyranny and avert the judgment of God: in the face of these evils which threaten life in our day, it must again proclaim in practice the sacredness of human life as a precious gift of a loving Creator – a gift to be accepted, respected and protected. "Against the pessimism and selfishness which cast a shadow over the world, the Church stands for life: in each human life she sees the splendour of that ‘Yes’, that ‘Amen’, who is Christ himself" (Eiusdem, Familiaris Consortio FC 30).

The Church proclaims God’s plan for all human life, God’s plan for the love that generates life, and God’s plan for the family which, as a community of life, has the mission "to guard, reveal and communicate love" (Ibid., 17). This plan of God has been inscribed into the being of man and woman and gives a two-fold dimension to their conjugal union – that conjugal union which must express intimate communion of love and life, as well as openness to procreation. Because of the inseparable connection willed by God of the unitive and procreative meaning of the conjugal act, the Church proclaims that there can be total self-giving in marriage only if these two elements are not artificially separated (Ibid. 32). In the plan of God, respect for the meaning of the body and for openness to life is a necessary condition for ensuring the full dignity of the human person, the full dignity of human life.

Il faut défendre la vie dès la conception contre tout ce qui la menace, comme la faim et la guerre; il faut la guérir de ce qui l’affaiblit ou la déshonore, comme la maladie et les excès de l’alcool e de la drogue; il faut la protéger de ce qui la dégrade, comme la violence, les conditions de vie infra-humaines, les conditions de travail indignes et tant de maux de cet ordre.

Contre les malfaiteurs de notre époque qui ne viennent “que pour voler, égorger et détruire” (Jn 10,10), nous sommes appelés à réagir avec les armes de la vérité, de la justice et de l’amour. Soyons fermes dans la foi: nous croyons que le Christ a déjà remporté la victoire décisive sur le péché et la mort par sa Croix et sa Résurrection, et que par la foi il nous donne la vie en son nom.

Dans cette célébration de la vie, ce soir, nous tournons nos regards vers la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie, Mère de Dieu et Mère de l’Eglise. Elle a donné naissance au Sauveur, qui est la vie du monde; elle est avec nous dans cette célébration de la vie. Elle est proche de nous dans tous nos efforts pour favoriser la vie, pour guérir la vie, pour améliorer la vie et la défendre contre tout ce qui pourrait la blesser, l’affaiblir ou la détruire. Oui, elle est proche de nous dans nos efforts pour suivre Jésus, le Bon Pasteur, qui nous conduit vers la vie éternelle.

Dear brothers and sisters: This is our destiny: to live life to the full, in communion with the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom "be all praise, honour, glory and power, for ever and ever" (Ap 5,13).




"Rideau Hall" of Ottawa

Wednesday, 19 September 1984

Madame le Gouverneur Général,
Monsieur le Premier Ministre du Canada,
Mesdames et Messieurs les membres des deux Chambres du Parlement et des Institutions judiciaires,
Mesdames et Messieurs les membres du Corps Diplomatique,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

1. Depuis le début de mon voyage pastoral et tout au long des diverses étapes de mon périple dans votre incomparable pays du Canada, je désirais cette rencontre dans la capitale du Canada avec tant de personnalités distinguées. Je suis très heureux d’avoir pu m’entretenir cet après-midi avec Madame le Gouverneur Général et d’avoir pu évoquer avec elle les sujets qui intéressent le Canada et le monde. Je suis vivement touché de votre présence à tous ici et je voudrais vous remercier très cordialement de l’honneur que vous faites ainsi à l’Evêque de Rome, premier Pasteur de l’Eglise catholique. Il ne m’est pas possible, à cette heure, de tenter, même brièvement, une analyse des impressions profondes et durables éprouvées si souvent au long des heures inoubliables de ma visite auprès du peuple du Canada. Permettez-moi de dire simplement que je remercie le Dieu tout-puissant pour les moments de grâce qu’il m’a accordés au cours des nombreuses rencontres de prière, de partage et de dialogue avec tant de personnes dans ce pays.

2. En vous rencontrant aujourd’hui, vous qui représentez non seulement le peuple du Canada mais aussi les peuples de tant de pays, je pense une fois encore au monde entier et aux liens qui unissent toute l’humanité: le Nord et le Sud, l’Est et l’Ouest, les hommes, les femmes et les enfants, les jeunes et les anciens.

Toute action menée dans une nation ou une région pour résoudre ses problèmes propres a forcément une répercussion sur la vie et les objectifs d’autres nations, en raison de mécanismes économiques, monétaires, financiers et politiques inéluctables. Mais en même temps, on constate que tous les peuples acceptent plus consciemment de s’engager davantage dans une responsabilité commune à l’égard du bien commun universel. Le sens de la solidarité et de la responsabilité partagée entre les nations progresse, et ceci constitue l’un des signes d’espérance de notre temps qui doit inspirer à tous les peuples une disponibilité toujours plus grande à collaborer entre eux. Les objectifs nationaux légitimes ne peuvent être poursuivis dans de stériles confrontations, mais seulement grâce à une coopération et un dialogue confiants, continus et ouverts. Tous les individus et tous les peuples doivent savoir qu’ils sont les intendants d’un héritage commun et les serviteurs d’une commune destinée.

3. Aujourd’hui, le cadre et les circonstances particulières de notre rencontre, en cette capitale du Canada, à la En de mon pèlerinage “a mari usque ad mare”, me permettent d’exprimer mon estime au peuple canadien et à ses dirigeants pour les actions nombreuses qu’ils ont accomplies et qui traduisent de manière tangible leur sens de la solidarité mondiale. Enrichi par son expérience de la collaboration entre beaucoup de groupes différents dans la recherche commune du bien-être de tous les Canadiens, ce pays a aussi entrepris, dans le champ de la collaboration et des responsabilités internationales, de suivre la voie d’un engagement effectif en faveur de la paix mondiale et d’une contribution désintéressée au développement des nations moins favorisés.

4. A tous les peuples et à toutes les nations qui ont sincèrement et honnêtement lutté, au cours des décades qui ont suivi la seconde guerre mondiale, pour créer un monde de relations pacifiques et de justice internationale, nous sommes redevables de ne pas laisser notre conception de la situation mondiale s’obscurcir par le pessimisme et de défaitisme. Un progrès réel a été effectivement accompli dans bien des domaines et il convient de le reconnaître avec estime.

En même temps, nous ne pouvons pas fermer les yeux sur la persistance de nombreux problèmes non résolus et sur les nombreuses situations de conflit et d’injustice qui demeurent encore comme une tache sombre sur la scène internationale et un défi que la communauté internationale ne peut éviter de relever. Nous ne pouvons pas fermer les yeux, et nous ne devrions pas laisser se durcir notre coeur, en face des souffrances et des détresses sans nombre qui affectent des millions de nos frères humains. Aujourd’hui, la société ne manque pas d’informations et de statistiques sur les malheurs du monde. Mais elle y est peu sensible dans la mesure où elle ne permet pas à certains faits d’influencer son action. J’évoquerai notamment l’absence d’accords pour ralentir et par la suite arrêter la course aux armements; l’investissement des capacités scientifiques et des ressources dans les armes de destruction massive; les guerres limitées qui continuent à tuer des hommes et des femmes ailleurs que dans son propre pays; le non respect de la valeur et de la dignité de la vie avant la naissance; les expériences sur les embryons humains; la malnutrition ou la mort des enfants dans les pays affectés par la sécheresse chronique ou le sous-développement; le manque de soins primaires de santé; l’exode rural massif et les concentrations urbaines où font défaut les emplois, l’éducation ou l’alimentation; la perte de la liberté, y compris celle de pratiquer sa religion. En tout cela, on constate qu’il n’est pas tenu suffisamment compte des dimensions éthiques sous-jacentes aux problèmes de société et qui s’y rattachent.

5. Je fais appel à vous aujourd’hui, Mesdames et Messieurs, et à travers vous à toutes les personnes que vous représentez à des titres divers: soyez les défenseurs d’une conception nouvelle de l’humanité, une conception qui n’envisage pas seulement les problèmes de société en fonction des équations économiques, techniques ou politiques, mais en fonction des personnes vivantes, des êtres humains créés à l’image et à la ressemblance de Dieu et appelés à un destin éternel; une conception fondée sur les valeurs humaines véritables et donc qui les défende; une conception qui inspire l’action et surmonte l’auto-satisfaction, l’insensibilité et l’égoïsme.

N’est-ce pas spécialement la mission de tous ceux qui ont reçu la charge d’une responsabilité publique - tant dans le cadre national qu’international -, de promouvoir cette conception de l’humanité qui rend capable de mettre en oeuvre la bonne volonté présente au coeur de tout citoyen? N’est-ce pas leur responsabilité de susciter la volonté politique de réaliser les changements nécessaires à la bonne utilisation du potentiel humain et technique disponible dans la société? Aucun de nous ne peut rester passif devant les défis de notre époque; nous savons que le monde moderne possède d’immenses réserves de connaissances techniques et de richesses que l’on peut employer pour aider à résoudre les problèmes de l’humanité. Je suis convaincu que dans vos compétences gouvernementales, législatives et judiciaires au Canada, ainsi que dans vos fonctions internationales pour chacun de vos pays, vous êtes à des postes privilégiés pour promouvoir, par toutes vos initiatives, la conception nouvelle de l’humanité qui s’étend à tous les domaines des tâches humaines et qui se trouve à la base de toute la législation, de toutes les activités publiques et de tous les rapports sociaux. Soyez assurés de mon soutien et de mes encouragements.

6. Nobody will deny that today’s world is truly in need of a new vision of peace. People are being killed in war-torn countries. People live in fear of the ever present possibility that tensions and conflicts will be settled by the might of weapons and not by the force of reason. People feel threatened by the very existence of powerful arsenals of destruction and by the absence of meaningful progress in disarmament negotiations. People suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. Many lack education and the possibility of living meaningful lives, while at the same time they see immense funds being engulfed in the arms race. It is important to state again and again that war is made in the hearts and the minds of the men and women of our times, and that true peace will come about only when the hearts and minds of all are converted to compassion, to justice and to love.

In the new vision of peace there is no place for self-centredness and antagonism. We are all involved; we all carry the responsibility for our own conversion to thoughts and actions of peace. One person alone cannot change the world, but all of us together, strong in the conviction and determination that peace begins in our own hearts, will be able to create a peaceful and peace-loving society. On my part I have decided to devote my annual Message for the forthcoming celebration of the World Day of Peace to the theme: "Peace and youth go forward together". Today’s world population is made up in large measure of young people. Their commitment to peace will make a meaningful difference for the future of the world, and the contributions of everyone - when put together - will change the world.

7. The relationships between individuals and between peoples are at the core of the problems of society. The relationships must be based on a vision of the human person that proposes and extols the dignity and sacredness of every human being. The dignity of the human person is the basis of all human rights. We cannot but rejoice at the growing awareness that exists of the importance and centrality of respect for human rights for the building up of society in peace and in justice. It remains necessary, however, in the promotion of respect for human rights, to refer to their ultimate foundation: the human person and his or her dignity viewed in all their dimensions. Every human being lives at the same time in the world of material values and needs and in that of spiritual aspirations and achievements. The needs and the hopes, the freedoms and relationships of the human person never concern one sphere of values to the exclusion of the other. It is in this light that human rights and liberties, and the corresponding duties and responsibilities, have to be viewed.

Today I wish to draw your attention in a particular way to what I consider to be extremely fundamental in the whole question of all human rights: the right to religious freedom. Religious liberty is a right that directly concerns what is essential in the human person and what fully manifests his or her dignity: the relationship to God, the Creator and the ultimate destiny of every human being. It is all the more reprehensible that various forms of denial of religious freedom and of discrimination against believers and the whole community of the Church still take place, notwithstanding the existence of constitutional legislation and international instruments which guarantee the right to religious liberty.

I wish at this time, in union with all men and women of good will, to proclaim again the right to life, and to make a renewed plea that the right to life of the unborn be respected. We must abhor the fact that in not a few societies abortion has become socially acceptable and is made readily available. Abortion is being presented as the ready answer to many problems: the problems of unwanted pregnancy, the problems of the unmarried pregnant woman, the problems of a fast growing population, the problems of the poor. Not only does society permit the destruction of unborn human beings, it often tries to justify that destruction. When respect for human life is systematically denied or refused, the dignity of every human being and the sacredness of all human life is being attacked.

8. In inviting you, ladies and gentlemen, to be the bearers of a new vision of peace and justice, I must speak of a phenomenon of increasing urgency today - one in which, I know, you have a great interest: I am referring to refugees and those who migrate. There are many factors to account for this reality and situations vary greatly from place to place. There are political refugees, and refugees forced from their homes by human or natural forces. There are those seeking to flee from injustice, oppression and persecution. There are immigrants seeking an opportunity for work, so that they can take care of the needs of their family, and those who migrate in order to find better and more promising opportunities. Whatever the reasons, the refugee and the immigrant must be understood in a basic twofold relationship: a relationship to the homeland or country of origin, and to the new land that is theirs by choice or necessity.

This new situation, which has taken on wide dimensions in many parts of the world, entails losses and raises challenges both to the individuals and to the nations concerned, and to all humanity as well. It is important today that we all share a greater understanding of refugees and immigrants, whatever the causes of their present circumstances or whatever the possibilities they might have before them. And from this understanding may there develop a greater sensitivity to their needs and to their human dignity. Above all, the world needs to understand the detachment and pain entailed in every sort of migration.

Every one of these persons carries into new environments those traditions and values belonging to a culture which is a precious heritage. At times these new environments can be inhospitable to the refugee or immigrant, or hostile to his or her background. The sons and daughters of a culture and a nation - of any culture or any nation - have a right to maintain their just traditions, to take pride in them and to have them respected by others. While it would not be right for them to seek to impose their inherited cultures on others, it is quite proper for them to expect that the respect and honour their cultures deserve will be accorded to them as a rightful inheritance. They are entitled to expect that this respect will be a first step to a complementarity of traditions that will enrich the citizens of the host country as a whole, as well as sustain and support the refugees and immigrants themselves.

Here in Canada, as I mentioned in Winnipeg, so much has been done over the years to honour and help the refugees, all those who have immigrated to this land, all those who have known the problems of migration. Besides official assistance, the whole private sector, including families and many religious groups, has generously endeavoured to serve these brothers and sisters. The results in this field have also been a great credit to the government policy of this country and to all its people. Today I would encourage Canada and all the nations represented here to pursue these splendid efforts, and to resist any temptation to grow tired in performing this good work. Be assured that the Holy See supports this cause and stands by all of you in order to proclaim before the world the importance of your activities and their effectiveness in helping to build true peace.

9. Ladies and gentlemen: I present to you these elements of an uplifting vision of humanity for your reflection and encouragement as you discharge the lofty responsibilities that are yours. Be always the bearers of this vision here in Canada and throughout the world. Let it become an incentive and a moving force towards actions and commitments that will make the world a world where peace and justice reign. This, dear friends, is the world which God in his goodness has entrusted to our care.





Urban Cathedral of Ottawa

Thursday, 20 September 1984

Loué soit Jésus-Christ!

En cette dernière étape de mon long périple pastoral au Canada, je rends grâce à Dieu pour tout ce qu’il m’a permis de voir et d’entendre, de l’est à l’ouest, dans des assemblées très diverses.

Nous voici en cette magnifique cité d’Ottawa, la capitale du pays. Elle a été choisie pour célébrer cet après-midi la messe pour la paix. Hier soir, j’ai rencontré les instances gouvernementales, parlementaires et diplomatiques dont le rôle est si important pour l’ensemble du peuple canadien et pour la communauté mondiale. J’ai salué les Autorités civiles de la région.

Dans quelques instants, je vais m’entretenir avec l’ensemble de mes Frères dans l’épiscopat qui ont la charge de l’Eglise catholique au Canada. Déjà, je tiens à remercier Monseigneur Joseph-Aurèle Plourde de son fervent accueil dans la cathédrale de son archidiocèse.

L’occasion m’est donnée ici d’exprimer ma gratitude chaleureuse à tous ceux qui, depuis des mois, ont participé à la préparation de ce voyage, puis à son déroulement. Souvent, je recevais à Rome des témoignages de cette préparation intense. Depuis douze jours, je suis témoin de leur travail.

Chers amis, avec vos évêques responsables et le Secrétariat général de la Conférence, vous avez pris bon nombre d’initiatives. Vous avez choisi les lieux ou les occasions qui vous semblaient les plus significatifs. Vous avez sensibilisé les populations en les informant sur l’Eglise au Canada, sur Rome et le pape, sur le sens de ma visite pastorale. Grâce à vous, beaucoup de vos compatriotes se sont préparés spirituellement à l’événement et, à mes yeux, c’était le plus important.

Mon merci va aux différents groupes de travail ici représentés qui ont pourvu à toute l’organisation sur le plan technique, dans des domaines aussi variés que les déplacements, les communications, l’impression et l’expédition des documents, la coordination des services d’ordre, de protocole, de sécurité.

Je tiens à citer nommément:

- le personnel permanent du Secrétariat de la Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada;

- les membres du Secrétariat spécial de la visite papale qui lui a été adjoint;

- les représentants des diocèses d’Ottawa et de Gatineau-Hull chargés de la partie de la visite qui les concernait;

- le groupe de travail du Gouvernement fédéral;

- les invités de Monseigneur Plourde qui ont apporté leur contribution, notamment pour un geste significatif qui commémorera cette visite.

I am particularly appreciative of the collaboration which was established for this undertaking between the Provincial and Federal Authorities and the various ecclesiastical groups. And through you I thank the thousands of people who have had a hand in all the services, at the various stops throughout the country, in a selfless and discreet manner, without always being able themselves to assist at the ceremonies, while they contributed to their success.

In addressing myself more especially to the faithful who have had responsible roles, I dare add that this fine work is not yet finished. It will be necessary to draw the maximum profit from this experience, to point out its value for the Canadian people, and permit them to meditate on it. I am sure that many of you are already part of those dedicated groups who have the habit of supporting similar services in your ecclesial communities. I congratulate you and I encourage you. The Church needs structures for the fulfilment of her mission in so many spheres. She needs competent and generous people. Indeed, she needs an impetus, a spiritual inspiration which she finds in prayer, in her liturgical life, in her commitment to charity, and I do not doubt that you have met these spiritual requirements in your work of organization.

We are here in the cathedral, and I cannot visit such churches without reflecting on the sense of the sacred which they help to develop in order to facilitate an encounter with the living God, and without evoking the image of the Christian assemblies for which they exist. It is of capital importance that these signs of God arise in the hearts of our cities, and above all that our faithful diligently strive to visit these spiritual places for personal prayer or for the celebration of the sacraments. In this way they can set out again on the roads of this world with the light and the strength of the Lord! This morning, our prayer consists above all in rendering thanks to God and recommending to him your intentions, in union with the Virgin Mary.

To all of you, ladies and gentlemen, dear brothers and sisters, I repeat my deepest thanks. I offer my fervent prayers for all the responsibilities which you exercise in society and in the Church. I pray that God will bless you and your families.

Speeches 1984 - Yellow Knife Airport