Speeches 1984 - Tuesday, 2 October 1984

6. One of the biggest tasks that can be carried out by the use of satellites is the elimination of illiteracy. About one billion people are still illiterate. Again, satellites can be used for a wider spreading of culture in all the countries of the world, not only in those where illiteracy has already been eliminated but also in those where many can still not yet read or write, for culture can be spread with the use of pictures alone. I hope that the scientific and technological progress which you are now discussing will cooperate in the spreading of a culture that will truly promote the all-round development of man.

But the transmission of culture must not be identified with the imposition of the cultures of the technologically advanced countries on those still developing. Peoples with ancient cultures, though sometimes still partly illiterate but endowed with an oral and symbolic tradition capable of passing on and preserving their own cultures, must not fall victim to a cultural or ideological colonialism that will destroy those traditions. The rich countries must not attempt, through the use of the instruments at their disposal and in particular modern space technology, to impose their own culture on poorer nations.

7. Satellites will carry out a beneficial task when instead of imposing the culture of the rich countries they favour a dialogue between cultures, which means a dialogue between the nations, essential for the peace of the world. Nations have cultural frontiers that are more deeply rooted than geographical and political ones: it must be possible to cross these latter, for every human being is a citizen of the world, a member of the human family. These barriers must not however be altered in a violent way. Similarly, cultural frontiers must not impede a fruitful dialogue between cultures, nor must they be violated by forms of cultural or ideological dictatorship. Modern space technology must not be used by any form of cultural imperialism, to the detriment of the authentic culture of human beings in the legitimate differences that have developed in the history of the individual peoples.

8. Modern space technology properly understood also provides observations useful for the cultivation of the earth, far beyond anything that can be done by any system working on the earth’s surface. Through the use of satellites it is possible to obtain exact data regarding the condition of tracts of land, the flow of water and weather conditions. These data can be used for the purpose of improving agriculture, checking the state of woodlands and forests, evaluating the condition of individual zones or of the whole earth, thus making it possible to draw up particular or global programmes in order to meet concrete situations.

This so-called "remote sensing" is of fundamental importance in the fight against hunger, provided that the economic and political powers that possess these special means of observing the world situation help the poorer countries to draw up programmes of economic development and help them in a practical way to carry out these programmes.

9. With your knowledge and practice of modern space technology, you are well aware of how it would be possible to work out adequate programmes for helping the world to overcome the imbalance of agricultural practices, the advance of deserts, ecological disasters caused by human rapacity against the earth, in the waters and in the atmosphere, with the ever more alarming destruction of animal and plant life, and with grave and mortal illnesses affecting human life itself.

Order and justice must be re-established, harmony between man and nature must be restored. We must strive for a technology that will free the poor peoples and relieve oppressed nature, that will promote projects and agreements. Space technology can make a highly effective contribution to this cause.

10. Ladies and Gentlemen, true peace is born from the heart of those who are open to the gift of God, that God who at the coming of Christ promised peace to people of good will. In your scientific researches and technological inventions I invite you to seek the God of peace, the Invisible One who is the source of everything that is visible. I exhort you to seek him by listening to the silence of space. Heaven and earth proclaim that they are only creatures, and they urge you to rise into the supreme heaven of transcendence, in order to open your minds and hearts to the love that moves the sun and the other stars. Thus you will be the creators not only of ever more perfect instruments but also of that civilization which is the only one desired by God and by men and women of good will: the civilization of truth and love, so necessary to guarantee peace between the nations of the world.




Thursday, 4 October 1984

Dear Friends,

I am happy to welcome to the Vatican the Board of Directors of "Encyclopaedia Britannica". Your desire to meet with the Pope on the occasion of your Board Meeting in Rome pleases me personally and expresses at the same time your own convictions about the importance which you attribute to faith, religion and spiritual values. I am well aware, too, of the love for learning and deep interest in culture which each of you exemplifies. Your collaboration in the direction of this well-known encyclopedia shows your dedication to the advancement of learning and knowledge and to the development of peoples through the sharing of this great resource.

The search for truth and beauty, and efforts to further their advancement, are indeed a special service to humanity. We Christians believe that, as Jesus said, "The truth will set you free". And we are all aware of how the beauty of God’s creation or of man’s artistic genius uplifts the mind and heart and enriches the quality of human life. Whoever engages in the advancement of truth and beauty finds in the Church a friend and ally. For together we stand before a great mystery which all our artistic and academic efforts could never exhaust nor our minds ever fully comprehend.

In a spirit, then, of respect and solidarity, I encourage you to continue your worthy endeavours to promote the cause of truth and the sharing of knowledge, and to contribute to the building up of culture. May the Lord bless your dedication to this special service to humanity. And may God bestow his blessings of peace and joy upon you and all the members of your families.




Monday, 15 October 1984

Dear Brothers in Christ,

1. I know that the occasion of our meeting today is one that has great meaning for all of you, the alumni and students of the Pontifical North American College. It is the 125th Anniversary of the founding of your College! At the same time, the event that you are celebrating in Rome has profound significance for the whole Church in the United States; it has a deep bearing on a long period in the history of your country.

Today is truly a day for reflection, for gratitude, and for the rededication of yourselves to the service of God’s people in America.

2. In your reflecting you will surely be thinking about the meaning that the College has for you and for the Church. It immediately becomes clear that the reason for the existence of the College, and its destiny, are forever linked to the mystery of the ministerial priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The College was founded at a given moment in your nation’s history and in circumstances greatly different from those of our own day, and yet its purpose remains the same: to help young men prepare for the priesthood. The Graduate Division at Casa Santa Maria, as well as the Institute for Continuing Theological Education, are likewise related to the same mystery of faith, as they assist priests to exercise their ministry in a particular service to the Church in America. And all the training and formation received take place within the context of a National College in Rome.

For you this involves many things. It means having the advantage of living in a community either of priests or seminarians, and having access to the scholarship available in or through the Roman universities.

It means being witnesses, day after day, of the living tradition of the faith as it is proclaimed in the See of Peter. Your situation permits you to live the supernatural reality of communion with the Church of Rome and with the Bishop of Rome. And in the ecclesial experience of this communion, you enter into yet another reality: you experience communion with all those who are themselves in communion with the Church of Rome.

To be a student at your College is to be a privileged participant - even if to a modest degree - in an immensely vital exchange between the local Churches in the United States and the universal Church.

Each of you brings to Rome a lived experience of faith and grace, which - when combined with the lived experiences of other individuals of the same culture and other cultures - constitutes a great enriching contribution to the Church which all Christianity reveres as "Mother of all the Churches". Through her, moreover, you place your talents, your prayerful insights, and all the generosity of your hearts at the service of the universal Church.

And in this act of ecclesial communion, which by its nature must be open to the whole Body of Christ, you yourselves are enriched by the See of Peter and confirmed in ecclesial communion with all the other particular Churches, whose identity is recognized, protected and guaranteed by the Bishop of Rome. Ad your personal enrichment there-upon becomes a gift that you are charged to take back to your people, so that they too may increasingly progress in the experience of Catholicity.

As you reflect together here in this City on the reality which you have lived in past years, or are now living as students, you can see that you are in an excellent position to be individual and corporate witnesses before all your brothers and sisters in your local Churches of the great mystery of the Church’s unity manifested in legitimate diversity, lived in oneness of faith and consummated in self-sacrificing love.

Dear brothers: these are the values to which your presence today bears witness. You have come to proclaim your adherence to the Catholic priesthood within the mystery of the Church. You have come to profess with all the energy of your being that you believe in the unity of the Body of Christ as it exists in your local Churches, precisely because they are Catholic, unite you in the communion of the universal Church. And, yes, I believe that you have come - your hearts filled with that special love acquired in Rome - in order "to visit Cephas" (Ga 1,18), to show your support for the office and person of the Roman Pontiff, and, with the Second Vatican Council, to profess the faith of the Church according to which, as Successor of Peter, he is "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful" (Lumen Gentium LG 23). And be assured, dear brothers, that your act of faith and witness of love have great value for the life of the Church and for the effectiveness of your ministry, and that they are deeply appreciated by me.

3. Your anniversary celebration is likewise a day for giving thanks. The memories of your past must express themselves in gratitude: gratitude to the pioneers of your College; to those who led the way at the time of its founding by Pius IX, and sustained the burdens of its inception and growth; to all who helped to form you in the mystery of Christ. In the words of the Letter to the Hebrews: "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you; consider how their lives ended, and imitate their faith" (Hebr. 13, 7).

A debt of gratitude is owed to the Bishops of the United States for the pastoral insight and generosity that has inspired them to maintain the North American College throughout the years, and for their devoted interest, encouragement and support. The Holy See joins you, the alumni and students, as you express your own deep thanks to the Hierarchy of your country.

In your reflection you will also certainly recall all your fellow students, living and dead, who in the bond of friendship did so much by their fraternal charity and their individual and corporate example to help you to be faithful to the Gospel ideals of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. This too is a debt that can be sufficiently repaid only in prayer. At the same time you must preserve for the future of your College the strength that is found in fraternal support and in mutual unassuming spiritual edification: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" (Ps 133,1).

Your celebration is, above all, an occasion to offer thanks to God for everything that he has accomplished through the North American College as an instrument of his grace during the past century and a quarter. Generations of priests have been formed in the likeness of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. A great band of apostles has been sent forth to preach the Gospel in the United States and to build up in charity, justice and truth the community of the faithful. It is an hour to render thanks for all the blessings given to the Church in the United States through your providential institution. It is a time to render thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for hundreds of vocations to the priesthood, nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Penance and the word of God, and protected in the constant Christian struggle against sin by the loving care of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

4. And finally, in the midst of your celebrations it is entirely fitting that you should rededicate yourselves to the ministry of the sacred priesthood. Together with Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of all Priests, continue to listen to the saving word of God, to embrace it in your own lives so that you may faithfully and effectively proclaim its fullness, within the unity of the Church. For the honor of your College and for the needs of your homeland, renew the offering of your lives to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and High Priest of the New Testament. His priesthood must remain the ideal of your youth, the center of your lives and the joy of your hearts.

Dear brothers: as you reflect and give thanks, and as you rededicate yourselves for what lies ahead, remember always: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebr. 13, 8). It is to him that your lives belong. He alone fully explains the past history, present existence and future destiny of the Pontifical North American College. And it is in his love that you must be steadfast, in order to serve God’s people in America: the heart of each one of you steadfast forever in his love, according to the motto of your College: Firmum est cor meum!





Friday, 10 October 1984

Mr Ambassador,

it is a pleasure for me to accept the Letters of Credence accrediting Your Excellency as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt. I welcome you and thank you for the greetings that you have conveyed from your President, His Excellency Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. In turn I would ask you to reciprocate with the assurance of my own cordial good wishes.

I am grateful to Your Excellency for your reference to the Holy See’s readiness to promote the cause of peace in the world whenever and wherever it is able. Your country’s desire to find a just and lasting peace in the Middle East is one that I share with all my heart. I too am hopeful that a true and comprehensive peace can be achieved for that region through the cooperation of all those who live there. But, as you have rightly pointed out, such a peace must be rooted in a spirit of justice that recognizes the rights of all peoples in the area.

As you mentioned, I addressed an Apostolic Letter earlier this year to the Bishops, clergy, religious and faithful of the whole Church on the City of Jerusalem. In that message, I recalled that the destiny of the Holy City, homeland of the hearts of all believers in the One God and a symbol of coming together, union and peace for the whole human family, remains a cause of continuing tension. I am convinced that the religious identity of Jerusalem, and in particular the common monotheistic tradition, can provide a way to promoting a coming together among all those who feel the Holy City to be their own.

This is fundamental for a just peace in the region of the Middle East, as are the safeguarding of Lebanon and a just solution for the Palestinian people. The wounds of division and the feelings of animosity can indeed be overcome if all those who believe in the One God and who are committed to the defence of fundamental human values recognize what they hold in common and admit that peaceful coexistence is the most promising prospect for the future of everyone concerned.

I am also happy to hear Your Excellency confirm the fact that your country is continuing the efforts of its five-year plan by which special attention is being given to the spiritual as well as the material well-being of its citizens. I am certain that these efforts enjoy the cooperation of all the communities that make up the Egyptian people. The history of Egypt, in fact, is characterized by the presence of different religious communities, each of which, in its identity of faith, considers itself an integral part of the nation, and desires to make its own contribution to the progress and peaceful life of the country.

For this fruitful and peaceful life a fundamental element is the religious liberty to which you have alluded, as a right of every person and a guarantee of respect for the conscience and dignity of others.

Your Excellency, I trust that your stay here will be a fruitful one. You may be assured that you will receive the ready cooperation of the Holy See as you fulfil your mission. May God pour out upon you and the Egyptian people his abundant favours and his choicest blessings.



Saturday, 27 October 1984

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. In you and through you I greet all those who make up the Church in the vast area of the Caribbean, in which you are called by God to exercise the pastoral ministry: "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour" (Tt 1,4).

Our gathering together today is an expression of the great reality of Catholic unity in the ecclesiastical province of Port-of-Spain, Kingston, Castries and Fort-de-France. This catholic unity is a characteristic of the universal Church and, at the same time, is truly lived in all the local Churches that you represent. Your presence here is a beautiful witness to the one Church made up of "every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Ap 5,9). Through this Catholic unity you likewise bear witness to the brotherhood of peoples, showing that their destinies are so closely linked, one to another. And as you exemplify the great value of fraternal solidarity, you show the effectiveness of close collaboration for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.

2. Since the last ad Limina Visit of the Bishops of the Antilles, in May 1979, many changes have taken place in your lives and in the lives of your people. Five of you have been named to the Episcopacy and have been ordained Bishops. Four new States have acceded to independence: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts-Nevis. In addition to diplomatic relations already existing between the Holy See and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, and Barbados, diplomatic relations have also been established between the Holy See and five other nations: Jamaica, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Belize and Saint-Lucia. In addition the Ecclesiastical Province of Fort-de-France has been incorporated into the area of the Antilles Episcopal Conference. Last year I was pleased to be able to make a short visit to Belize, as I had previously done to the Bahamas, and as I hope to do early next year to Port-of-Spain. I also hope with God’s help to be in a position later on to accept the other invitations that have been extended to me.

I mention these considerations and events in order to assure you once again that I share with you all your pastoral cares, and that I am close to you in your zealous service to your people. Indeed, I wish to express to you my sentiments of fraternal love and support in Christ. I want you and your priests to know of my gratitude "for your partnership in the Gospel" (Ph 1,3). I thank you for all your efforts to lead your people to the fullness of their Christian vocation in holiness of life.

3. We ourselves at this moment are celebrating the unity of the Church in our own profound hierarchical communion. It is my prayer that this celebration will strengthen you in your important mission of presenting the Church in the Antilles as "a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium LG 1). As Bishops living, in faith and love, the mystery of the Church’s unity and reflecting together on its meaning, we receive the power to proclaim it, preserve it, reinforce it. And the unity in question is a unity modelled on the unity of the Most Holy Trinity, a unity to be lived by all the People of God.

4. I am grateful to you for all your initiatives in proclaiming an uplifting Christian vision of the human person, created in God’s image and destined to share fully in the unity of the Most Holy Trinity. I support you as you insist on human dignity, on respect for human lives and human rights, on the need for liberation from everything that impedes or offends man’s relationship with God. It is indeed the task of the pastor to hold up before each individual the fullness of his or her dignity in Christ, the dignity of being a child of God, an heir of heaven, the need to live according to God’s plan and to share in the sacramental life of the Church.

In your zealous efforts to further justice and peace and true freedom and development as they affect the Caribbean, you have great support from the Holy See and your brother Bishops throughout the world. The Second Vatican Council has summoned the whole Church to proclaim and live the requirements of Christ’s Gospel of love.

5. It is encouraging to note how the Holy Spirit is ever active in the young people, and how he does not abandon the Church. For some of your local Churches the grace of God has recently supplied and increased number of vocations to the priesthood and for this, as pastors, we must be deeply grateful. It is the great responsibility of the Bishops to ensure the best possible training for these young men. The seminary programmes, for years to come, will influence the whole life and progress of the Church in the Caribbean. The Holy See has a special interest and concern in the worldwide formation of seminarians precisely because so much is at stake. There are many aspects to preparation for the priesthood, but none is more important than a true formation in the world of God as proclaimed by the Church and interpreted by her Magisterium.

6. In the spheres of your pastoral endeavours you are in a position, week after week, year after year, to bear witness to the importance that the Church attaches to ecumenism. The commitment of the Second Vatican Council is irrevocable because it corresponds to the will of God and the prayer of Christ. In this matter, the value of prayer and the need for conversion and purification have been repeatedly emphasized, and it must always be so. The challenge of ecumenism is a call to holiness. And because it requires fidelity to God’s plan for his Church, there can be no unity without truth and charity. In the long striving for perfect unity, fraternal and sincere collaboration in the cause of the Gospel remains an indispensable mark of true discipleship.

7. At this point in the evangelization of your people, I know how much you rely on the Catholic laity and how much hope you have placed in them. Your own aspirations correspond fully to those of the whole Church and are mirrored in her desire that the next Synod of Bishops should be devoted to the vocation and mission of the laity.

As the laity continue to be formed by the word of God and nurtured by Christ’s sacraments they will be in a position to be ever more effective in their own tasks of evangelizing the world and of permeating the temporal order with the spirit of the Gospel. In order, however, that the laity may properly fulfil their vocation, the role of the clergy is extremely important. And it is only a well formed laity, in their turn, who can give the gift of priestly and religious vocations to the Church.

8. I wish to offer you a word of special encouragement all your apostolic activities on behalf of the family. In proclaiming God’s plan for the family you have likewise striven to help the faithful reach the goal that God has set for them. Be assured that all your efforts to exalt human love and to defend human life are a great service to all humanity. Programmes to help young people prepare for marriage are worthy of much praise, as are initiatives aimed at promoting Natural Family Planning. In discovering the rightful connection between the unitive and procreative aspects of human love, numerous couples will simultaneously discover greater happiness and fulfilment in God’s plan. The good of the family in the Caribbean is truly worthy of all your pastoral energy.

9. At the centre of the Christian community is the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy and in particular the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Human and Christian fulfilment absolutely requires the worship of God, communion with him and the experience of his love. The importance of Sunday Mass for the vitality of a local Church cannot be overemphasized. In this regard I would like to recall the words that I spoke at your last ad Limina Visit: "I ask you to remind your faithful of the real privilege that is theirs to assemble for Sunday Mass, to be united with Christ in his worship of the Father. Sunday Mass is indeed of primary value in the life of the faithful, not in the sense that their other activities lack importance and meaning in Christian living, but rather in the sense that Sunday Mass sustains, enobles and sanctifies all that they do throughout the week".

10. Vénérables Frères dans l’épiscopat, bien des fois j’ai eu à coeur d’exprimer l’estime de l’Eglise pour la vie religieuse, son amour pour les hommes et les femmes consacres, prêtres, religieux et religieuses. Je sais ce qu’ils représentent pour vous et pour l’évangélisation dans vos diocèses. Avec vous, je les remercie pour ce qu’ils sont et pour ce qu’ils font en faveur du royaume de Dieu. Et je leur demande de continuer à témoigner de l’amour du Christ par leur fidélité aux conseils évangéliques, par leur généreuse consécration à Jésus Christ. D’une manière particulière, je me tourne vers ceux et celles qui se dévouent aux taches de l’éducation, les encourageant à continuer d’aider les jeunes à découvrir le Christ et à en vivre, afin d’assurer l’évangélisation des générations à venir.

11. Chers Frères, en considérant avec vous la vie ecclésiale de vos communautés locales, nous ne pouvons pas ne pas voir les problèmes et les défis, les joies et les espérances qu’elles portent. Mais en même temps, nous ne pouvons pas ne pas nous unir dans un grand acte de foi en la grâce de Dieu, en la puissance du mystère pascal, et dans les mérites infinis de Jésus Christ.

C’est lui, Jésus Christ, le Bon Pasteur, le Fils de Dieu, le Verbe éternel fait chair, c’est lui qui guide son Eglise, qui pourvoit à ses besoins, qui soutient sa foi et la conduit à la vie éternelle. Le grand privilège de l’épiscopat est d’avoir part à la mission pastorale de l’Unique “Chef des pasteurs” de l’Eglise (1 Petr. 5, 4). C’est en son nom que nous proclamons l’Evangile du salut et que nous construisons l’Eglise. Notre confiance est en lui seul et en son pouvoir.

Remettons cette activité d’importance vitale, ce ministère pastoral qui est le nôtre, entre les mains de Marie, Mère de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ et Mère de son Eglise.

November 1984



Thursday, 8 November 1984

Your Holiness,

the love which unites all the disciples of Christ as urged you to visit the Church of Rome and its Pastor. I have not forgotten that you were also present at the inaugural Mass of my ministry as Bishop of Rome. I thank you for this new expression today and I bid you a heartfelt welcome.

After long centuries of separation our Churches are drawing near again, for "the Lord of ages wisely and patiently follows out the plan of grace on behalf of us sinners. In recent times he has begun to bestow more generously upon divided Christians remorse over their divisions and a longing for unity". It is in him, the only Lord of all, that we put our hope of one day establishing full communion between us.

Your Church, founded in ancient Mesopotamia, took root in the biblical revelation and is counted among the most ancient Churches of the East. The treasures of faith that we have in common are such that what unites us is already stronger and greater than what still separates us. But it is necessary to clarify the misunderstandings and eventually to resolve the differences which might still remain between us. By doing this, we can reach towards full communion, and so work that by fervent prayer and fraternal dialogue we may be able to respond to the aspiration of Christ, who prayed "that they may all be one . . . so that the world may believe" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 1).

I know that in many places the clergy and the faithful of our Churches are living in friendly harmony, and trying, in conditions that are sometimes difficult, to bear witness together to the Gospel of Christ. And you also have in common with Catholics of the Chaldean Patriarchate a prestigious missionary history, the witness and teaching of numerous saints, the courageous example of many martyrs, and a rich theological, liturgical and spiritual patrimony. My wish is that a heritage such as this may be for all a continual invitation to pray and to work so that the visible unity of the Body of Christ may be re-established. In order to contribute to this great purpose, the pastors and the faithful are called to a constant conversion of heart, so that each Church may bring the strength of its charity and the wealth of its own patrimony to the building up of the one Church of God.

Your Holiness come from a region where a terrible war has plunged the people into suffering and mourning for many years. I do not cease to be preoccupied by this tragedy, and I assure you that the Apostolic See is using all the means at its disposal in order to contribute to a rapid re-establishment of peace. With you I ask the Lord to raise up among the faithful of our Churches and among all people of good will artisans of peace, so that everywhere in the world humanity may be able to live in peace and dignity.

Speeches 1984 - Tuesday, 2 October 1984