Speeches 1984 - Thursday, 8 November 1984

I pray also to the Apostles Peter and Paul, whom you have come to venerate in Rome, that through their intercession the Lord may shower his abundant blessings on you and on all the people whom he has entrusted to your pastoral care.



Friday, 16 November 1984

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

it is a particular pleasure to welcome you today, members, consultors and staff of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. It is a pleasure because I am able to greet a number of new members, diocesan Bishops from different parts of the world who gladly come here in the exercise of their collegial responsibilities to assist the Holy See in its universal of unity. It is a pleasure because my meeting with you occurs within a few days of the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation by the Second Vatican Council of its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and its Decree on Ecumenism, foundation documents that are, so to speak, the Magna Charta of your particular service of the Church. And it is a pleasure because during this week you are examining the ecumenical dimensions of the new Code of Canon Law.

In the Apostolic Constitution the new Code, "Sacrae Disciplinae Leges", I spoke of it as "a great effort to translate... conciliar ecclesiological teaching into canonical terms" and as "a complement to the authentic teaching proposed by the Second Vatican Council". In listing the elements which characterize the true and genuine image of the Church, I was careful to make mention of "the Church’s commitment to ecumenism".

One canon is of particular importance in this respect. Echoing a fundamental concern of "Unitatis Redintegratio" it states without ambiguity: "It pertains especially to the entire College of Bishops and to the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement, the purpose of which is the restoration of unity (Unitatis Redintegratio ) between all Christians, which by the will of Christ the Church is bound to promote" (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 755, § 1).

The promulgation of the Code, a work so carefully prepared and discussed over many years, is an example of the way in which our fidelity to the Gospel and to the mystery of the Church must lead us on from words to deeds. Inevitably the Code is brief and succinct, but in its application to pastoral life it is intended to be "an effective instrument by the help of which the Church will be able to perfect herself in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II, Sacrae Disciplinae Leges). It has been your task in these days to reflect further on the many ways in which the ecumenical implications of this "law of the Council" can and must find practical expression in the daily life of the Church.

A few months ago we had a striking example of this. During the visit of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Moran Mar Ignatius Zakka I was last June, we were happy to sign a Common Declaration. In this we were able, as a result of a long and careful dialogue, to profess one faith in the mystery of the Incarnate Word. But also we went on to give practical expression to this common faith by authorizing close pastoral collaboration between our Churches, and also the administration of the Sacraments to those members of either Church who have no access to their own priests. This is not yet the full communion for which we ardently long, but already it gives fuller expression in deeds to that growing communion which already exists between us.

But, as this example shows, words can lead to deeds only to the extent that we are truly one in the faith we profess. It is for this reason that such importance attaches to the many dialogues to which the Catholic Church is now committed through the work of your Secretariat and its generous collaborators. These dialogues are too many to list in this short address, but I must state my satisfaction that an official dialogue has now commenced with the World Baptist Alliance.

The main topics in our dialogue of faith with the Orthodox Churches relate to the mystery of the Church and the Sacraments. Because of the progress of this dialogue I was particularly happy during my visit to Switzerland earlier this year to visit the Orthodox Centre of the Ecumenical Patriarchate at Chambésy. My visit was necessarily brief, but in the warm welcome I received there I was able to re-live something of the experience of my visit to the Ecumenical Patriarchate five years ago, an experience which is renewed and fostered in the annual exchanges of visits between Rome and Constantinople on the feast days of the holy Apostles, our patrons.

It is particularly encouraging to see that many other dialogues have also now arrived, each in its own way, at a point at which their chief topic is the mystery of the Church herself; thus the doctrine that lay at the heart of the Council’s teaching is today at the heart of the ecumenical dialogue. This is true, for example, of the new phase of the dialogue with the Anglican Communion, which has made a good beginning even while the Final Report of the earlier Commission is the object of prolonged study and evaluation according to the respective procedures of our two Communions.

As you know, during my visit to Switzerland I had a meeting of outstanding importance at the Ecumenical Centre of the World Council of Churches, and there, in a climate of prayer, I was able to speak once more of the commitment of the Catholic Church to the work for unity. I was likewise able to speak with the staff of the various practical steps in which our growing collaboration is increasingly finding expression, whether in the field of the multilateral theological dialogue or in the realms of cooperation to meet the countless needs of a sorely divided humanity. Such a meeting, like the many ecumenical meetings which are an important part of my apostolic journeys, was indeed an encouragement and a joy.

Thus our words are beginning to find translation into deeds. Our dialogues and other contacts are meant to lead, in truth and love, to profound changes of relationships with our fellow Christians, and I thank God that through his grace such changes are now beginning to become manifest. But we must not be too complacent about this; such a change of relationships must not be confined to a simple matter of mutual courtesies that takes no account of serious difficulties still to be faced. It must lead us to that collaboration which enables us with one heart and one voice to proclaim the Word of God, a collaboration which we hope will, as it progresses, lead us to that fullness of communion in faith and charity which is God’s will and for which we long.

For this reason we who are Bishops have a grave responsibility to promote the will for unity among the people who are entrusted to our care. The careful and sensitive implementation of the new Code of Canon Law, with its constant emphasis upon the importance of ecclesial communion, must be a primary means of intensifying that "spirit of the Council" which should characterize Catholics everywhere. In your collaboration with the Apostolic See through your work in the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, and in your work as pastors in your own dioceses and as members of your Episcopal Conferences, I urge you to carry on this great work with courage and fidelity, for these are real elements of true pastoral prudence. Saint Paul says to all, not only "be watchful", but also "stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong". "Let all that you do be done in love" (1Co 16,13-14). As the canon I have quoted already says "It is a matter likewise for Bishops and, in accordance with the law, for Episcopal Conferences, to promote this same unity and, in line with the various needs and opportunities of the circumstances, to issue practical norms which accord with the provisions laid down by the supreme authority of the Church" (Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 755, § 2).

As we recall once more the twentieth anniversary of the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism, a decree which means even more to us after the rich experience of twenty years of these new relations with our fellow Christians, a decree which challenges us constantly to new and ever more vigorous action at every level of the Church’s life, I thank you again for being present at this plenary meeting. I ask the God of unity to bless you and everyone who collaborates with you and with the Secretariat in working for the restoration of unity between all Christians - a task "which, by the will of Christ, the Church is bound to promote" (Ibid. can. 755, § 1).

And may Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word of God, assist you in directing all your activities to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.



Monday, 19 November 1984

Chers Frères et Soeurs dans le Christ,

1. C’est une grande joie pour moi que cette rencontre avec vous, membres nouvellement entrés au Conseil pontifical pour les Laïcs et participant pour la première fois à son Assemblée plénière annuelle! Je vous salue tous et de tout coeur. Et je me tourne en particulier vers le Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, qui préside ce Conseil depuis quelques mois, et vers tous les membres qui oeuvrent habituellement à l’animation du Conseil pour les Laïcs. Ma reconnaissance s’étend à tous et à chacun. J’apprécie vivement votre collaboration et je mesure les fatigues que vous vous imposez pour servir l’Eglise. Ma gratitude se veut encouragement chaleureux à l’égard des membres nouveaux, pour leur généreuse acceptation de contribuer à la vitalité de l’Organisme romain pour l’apostolat des laïcs. Chacun de vous a son expérience personnelle, vécue et mûrie dans un engagement au sein de mouvements apostoliques, de conseils nationaux de laïcs et de bien d’autres formes de collaboration à la vie missionnaire de l’Eglise.

Chacun a parcouru son itinéraire particulier de foi, a trouvé Dieu à travers le déroulement de son existence.

L’Eglise ne se construit pas sans la coopération de tous les membres du Corps du Christ. De même que tout membre a besoin du Corps, le Corps a également besoin de tous ses membres. C’est ce que l’Apôtre Paul rappelle aux chrétiens de Corinthe: “De même en effet que le corps est un, tout en ayant plusieurs membres, et que tous les membres du corps, en dépit de leur pluralité, ne forment qu’un seul ainsi en est-il dans le Christ. Aussi bien est-ce en un seul Esprit que nous tous avons été baptisés pour ne former qu’un seul corps . . .” (1Co 12,12-13).

Vous êtes insérés dans la vie et dans la mission d’un Organisme de la Curie romaine, voulu par les Pères du Concile Vatican II et institué par mon prédécesseur Paul VI. Cet organisme a grandi en expérience et en maturité. Il a donné les signes évidents d’un service fidèle, de l’importance de ses tâches pour la vie de l’Eglise et le ministère du Pape. Les charges qui lui sont confiées son très exigeantes. Soyez de plus en plus persuadés que je compte sur votre collaboration, mais également que vous pouvez compter vous-mêmes sur mon attention et mon soutien pour le travail des années à venir.

2. Vous êtes appelés à prendre part à la vie du Conseil pontifical pour les Laïcs en un moment privilégié. Voici vingt ans, s’achevait le Concile Vatican II. Et la route de l’Eglise, fécondée par ce grand événement, arrivera bientôt à la date prévue pour le Synode des évêques sur “la mission des laïcs dans l’Eglise et dans le monde”. Ces deux événements sont intimement liés. Vous savez très bien avec quelle profondeur théologique, avec quelle sagesse ecclésiale, avec quel esprit de renouveau, le Concile Vatican II a souhaité et stimulé la participation accrue et consciente des laïcs aux activités apostoliques et missionnaires de l’Eglise.

Dans le plan conciliaire qui comporte deux axes principaux, celui de “Lumen Gentium” et celui de “Gaudium et Spes”, et qui a été par la suite enrichi grâce aux Synodes des évêques et vérifié par des expériences positives de renouveau spirituel, se trouve la base féconde d’un nouvel élan de vie chrétienne dans le laïcat. J’ai toujours désiré que mon Pontificat ait comme but fondamental de réaliser pleinement et légitimement le Concile. Et le prochain Synode des évêques nous appelle à avancer sur cette route, en ce qui concerne la mission des laïcs dans l’Eglise et dans le monde.

3. The sun of your experiences, problems and challenges must be considered and discerned in the light of the Gospel and of the Magisterium of the Church. In the consultations leading up to the Synod, encouragement must be given to a widespread participation of the laity and of their movements and associations. Today the laity are present and active in the Liturgy, in catechetical activities, and in the various structures of the local Churches. They fulfil different roles in the non-ordained ministry; they support priestly and religious vocations, taking their inspiration from the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church; they work to promote justice and to defend dignity and freedom. They bear witness to their Christian convictions in the family, among the poor, in schools, in the working world - from everyday matters to international life. Various ecclesial movements, in addition to the traditional forms of associations, are growing and reaching maturity, thus enriching the living forces of the Church.

So many experiences, so many problems, so many hopes! Today I wish to leave with you just one thought, one which I consider fundamental in this field. The dynamic proclamation of the Gospel began with the coming of the Holy Spirit as wind and fire. The message of the Death and Resurrection of Christ is not a static fact. It demands movement. It seeks to reach out to others. It demands to be spread far and wide. And the world is waiting. For materialism cannot satisfy the human heart.

How do we increase the quantity and quality of lay Christians, ever more aware of their own dignity, of their responsibilities, of their specific tasks, who will help to make the great insights and impulses of the Second Vatican Council a reality for not just elite minorities but for the whole People of God? This is your task and the challenge that awaits you. The training of lay people demands catechetical work throughout the Church. It demands the banishment of all separation between faith and life in the experience of the baptized. Intellectual analysis, however necessary, is not enough. We must create environments which favour conversion, which are open to rejuvenating the impulse of receiving God’s word, and which welcome its demands and its transforming power.

4. In this perspective we see outlined a great task for an ever growing number of lay people aware of their fundamental and specific vocation: to be builders of a world more fitted to the dignity of every individual and of all human beings. The world needs the presence and the particular contribution of Christians in many spheres: at the point where scientific and technological progress has to be harmonized with ethics; where the battles against war and hunger are being fought; where the human value of work is made manifest in the solidarity of the workers themselves; where a culture that stands for life and not for death is defended and promoted; where individuals and peoples become aware of the bondage of the different forms of materialism, and resist the lies of ideologies on which materialism is based; where true brotherhood and communion is being built. In a word, the world needs the contribution of Christians wherever there are the promising signs of a new civilization of truth and love.

As you travel these paths in the company of Christ, it is above all the young who might be called upon. As I have often repeated, they are the hope of the Church, the world of tomorrow. And this conviction of mine is even stronger today, after that extraordinary event, the Youth Jubilee, organized by your Council with the generous collaboration of various youth movements and groups in Rome. I personally experienced that event with joy and enthusiasm. I felt the touch of that breath of Pentecost which can transform hearts. I experienced its fruits as I watched the faces of those young people. It would be a mistake not to grasp the pastoral opportunity that such gatherings offer. It is for this reason that I once more encourage you to carry forward the project, which I have very much at heart, of the international youth gathering being proposed by the Pontifical Council for next Palm Sunday and the preceding Saturday, in connection with International Youth Year. It is my lively hope that while the gathering is being held in Rome, similar celebrations will take place in all the local Churches, also with the help of the Catholic international youth organizations.

I realize that I am asking much of you, but I know that you will entrust to the Lord your responsibilities as members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, in the knowledge that it is only he who can give fruitfulness to your work and efforts. With Christ all things become possible. Stay united, therefore, in your prayer and in your work. I count on your service and your fidelity. And I count on your prayers for my intentions for all the world. May the Virgin Mary accompany you. May she, the first disciple, be for each of you a model and example, who will teach you to do whatever the Lord Jesus desires.

It is for the glory of the name of Jesus that we toil and strive. It is his mystery that we endeavour to communicate to the world. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (2Th 3,17).





Monday, 19 November 1984

Mr Ambassador,

It is my pleasure to greet you today as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kenya to the Holy See. I deeply appreciate the sentiments which you have just expressed and I thank you for the cordial greetings you have conveyed on behalf of your President, His Excellency Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, as well as those of the Government and the people of Kenya. I would ask you in turn to give them the assurance of my own cordial good wishes.

My pastoral visit to Kenya a few years ago gave me the opportunity to experience the warm hospitality of the people of Kenya, a people so rich in promise, proud possessors of a wealth of noble human qualities which distinguish them and endow them with a character of greatness.

The democratic guarantees provided by your nation’s Constitution include freedom of conscience and worship for all citizens and residents. This constitutional protection for the free practice of religion manifests an attitude of respect for spiritual values, values which are deeply rooted in the hearts of your people. It implies acceptance of the truth about man, of his dignity and eternal destiny. It is likewise a recognition of the valuable contribution that true believers in God can make to the future of your country.

I am grateful to you for kind reference to the important contribution that the Catholic Church has made in Kenya over the years. It is indeed the task of the Church to work for the well-being and harmony of all the citizens.

I look forward with anticipation to the celebration of the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi in 1985. I thank you, as representative of the Government and people of Kenya, for your assurance of support and cooperation so that this important event for the Church in Africa, and indeed for the universal Church, will achieve its goals and bring numerous spiritual benefits to those who participate.

Mr Ambassador, the Holy See too wishes to collaborate with the Government of Kenya and to assist, in ways proper to its mission, all efforts which promote authentic human development. Through its intense commitment to the fostering of mutual understanding among all peoples and nations, the Holy See desires to further the cause of just progress for everyone, regardless of race, colour or creed, as well as to foster the conditions whereby Kenya may ever enjoy its rightful place in the community of nations.

For yourself I pray that God may assist you in your high mission of working for the continued deepening of understanding and friendship between the Holy See and the Republic of Kenya. You may always be assured of my ready willingness, and that of the offices of the Holy See, to give you all the cooperation in our power so that you may effectively fulfil your duties. Upon the people of Kenya I invoke God’s choicest blessings.



Tuesday, 20 November 1984

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,

through the Embassy of the United States of America I was informed that you would be visiting Rome, and it is now a pleasure for me to greet you in the Vatican.

I welcome you as members of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, together with your principal advisors and collaborators. Permit me at this time to offer you a word of fraternal support, encouragement and friendship. And, because by reason of your activities you are in fact representatives of your country, my sentiments are meant for all the people of the United States. The friendship of which I speak has been fostered by numerous personal contacts over the past years and, of course, by my unforgettable Pastoral Visit in 1979.

The role that you perform as representatives of the American people, exercising as you do a sacred trust, brings with it an immense responsibility toward your fellow-citizens and a formidable accountability. At the same time you have enviable opportunities for serving your people in particular areas such as unemployment, social security, aid to the elderly and indigent, and assistance to families in need. And each true service rendered in these ways to promote "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" is a contribution to the whole fabric of America.

You are likewise the instruments of America’s openness to others and of her concern for a world in need. A spirit of human solidarity motivates you to assist other nations, at times those from which your own forebears came - nations, that, on their part, have contributed to making America what she is today. In looking beyond yourselves and finding so many other in greater need, you are in fact helping to consolidate the internal identity of your own United States. Is not America fully herself when, craving justice, she endeavors to promote conditions for freedom and world peace, and, assisting others, she offers to the world a witness of friendship and fraternal love?

May the God of peace and Father of us all enable you to contribute effectively to world peace, and may his own peace find a home in your hearts and in the hearts of your loved ones.




Thursday, 22 November 1984

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. Less than a year ago, members of both State-owned and private organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe gathered in Dakar for the First Joint Meeting on International Cooperation for Technological Development in Africa, organized by the United Nations Financing System for Science and Technology and the African Regional Centre for Technology. And now, with the collaboration of ENEA, you have assembled in Rome for a second meeting, sponsored by the Department for Cooperation for Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by the Ministry of Scientific and Technological Research and by the National Institute for Nutrition, and you have desired on this occasion to meet with the Pope. It is a pleasure for me to welcome you today. And I wish you to know how happy I am to have this opportunity to offer my support and encouragement for the attainment of your important goals. Your collaborative efforts for the advancement of the peoples of Africa is a true expression of worldwide fraternal solidarity and concern for justice and peace.

2. During the present meeting, you are focusing your attention on ways to develop and improve food and energy technologies in Africa, and especially on how to promote effective international cooperation for the achievement of these aims. In these very days when you are engaged in discussion and planning, millions of our brothers and sisters in Africa, and in Ethiopia in particular, are being threatened with death because of drought and famine. Who cannot recognize the immense value, indeed the vital urgency, of joint efforts to assist them? It is for this reason that I have recently launched a pressing appeal on behalf of those suffering from this terrible scourge of catastrophic proportions. In you and the organization you represent I see a concrete response to deep human needs. For this, I give thanks to Almighty God, and at the same time I pray that your efforts may inspire many others to make a similar response of fraternal solidarity.

3. Helping to provide food, health care, shelter and other assistance is a true expression of universal human solidarity and respect for the dignity of every human person. For those of us who are Christians, it is a response to the call of God to imitate the love of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Emergency situations such as those presently affecting numerous countries of Africa call for urgent response. They require immediate and sustained international assistance. But together with these, there is need for more long-range programmes of international collaboration, programmes which promote basic scientific research and its technological application, and which include the economic means to put them into effect. It is in this area most particularly where your meeting can make its greatest contribution.

Nearly twenty years ago, the Bishops of the Catholic Church, gathered at the Second Vatican Council, stated that "advanced nations have a very serious obligation to help developing peoples" (Gaudium et Spes GS 86). In applying this statement more specifically, they went on to speak of how international cooperation is needed in the area of food production: "Some peoples would greatly better their conditions of life if they could be duly trained to abandon ancient methods of farming in favour of modern techniques. With necessary prudence they should adapt these techniques to their own situations. In addition they need to establish a better social order and regulate the distribution of land with fairness" (Gaudium et Spes GS 87). Cooperation in the fields of science and technology is one of the most effective means not only of contributing to the physical welfare of peoples but also of fostering the dignity and worth of every person.

4. As men and women engaged in science and technology, you appreciate the great gift which human intelligence is for all peoples. Because of its importance it needs to be cultivated with care, and its is necessary that educational opportunities be made available for gifted persons of every nation, especially for the youth. It is also important that every effort be made to ensure that intelligence and learning not become the object of permanent exportation from poor countries to rich ones because the poor countries lack the adequate cultural, scientific and technical environments and institutions to utilize them. A poor country will always remain in a state of inferiority and subjection as long as it is not in a position to carry out basic scientific research and make technological applications in ways adapted to its own cultural, political and economic system. In view of this, it is necessary that the international scientific community not limit its membership to those coming from countries of high technological development, but that it be comprised of people from all the countries of the world, united in a spirit of mutual collaboration.

5. Technological cooperation can pose a serious threat to the culture of developing countries, but it need not be so. And in order to avoid this danger, this cooperation must be carried out in a spirit of fruitful dialogue, one which appreciates the worthy traditions of the peoples concerned and the many different values of each culture. And let us not forget that those nations which are less developed in the scientific field often much to give from the rich storehouse of their culture to the people of the more advanced nations. Such a fraternal exchange enriches all who are engaged in these collaborative efforts.

6. In a spirit of admiration and appreciation, then, I address these words to you today. I assure you of the encouragement and support of the Catholic Church for such deserving endeavours of international collaboration. From the cooperation and assistance which you are able to promote, I am confident that there will result a growth in knowledge and integral development, a new spirit of fraternity and peace. May God bless you and strengthen you in your work.

Je voudrais saluer cordialement tous ceux qui se dévouent avec compétence aux tâches complexes du développement technologique en Afrique ou qui y participent dans les autres continents. Je vous adresse mes voeux, ainsi qu’à vos familles, vos collaborateurs et les personnes que vous représentez. Et je prie Dieu de bénir vos efforts pour qu’ils portent tous leurs fruits.





Thursday, 22 November 1984

Mr Ambassador,

it gives me great pleasure pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. I appreciate the kind words which you have just now addressed to me, and I avail myself of this moment to reaffirm my cordial goodwill and prayerful concern for all the people of Sri Lanka.

As you are well aware, the diplomatic mission of the Holy See has special characteristics which respond to the essentially religious and spiritual nature of the Catholic Church’s role in the world. The activities of the Holy See are directed to the integral development of the human family, with particular reference to the safeguarding and promotion of fundamental values rooted in the inalienable dignity of every human being.

Because the Church endeavours to carry out this service in a way that effectively promotes the good of the men and women of our time. The Holy See is greatly interested in maintaining close and cordial relations with the civil authorities responsible for the well-being of the peoples of the various countries. It seeks an exchange of views on ways to promote the common good and is actively present in international life to support efforts aimed at facilitating the just and equitable development of each people according to its specific character and traditions.

In this work the Holy See follows the guidelines set forth by the Second Vatican Council when it stated that "in their proper spheres, the political community and the Church are mutually independent and self-governing. Yet, by a different title, each serves the personal and social vocation of the same human beings. This service can be more effectively rendered for the good of all, if each works better for wholesome mutual cooperation, depending on the circumstances of time and place" (Gaudium et Spes GS 76).

Mr Ambassador, an important part of your task as representative of your country to the Holy See consists in furthering this "wholesome mutual cooperation". I wish to assure you of the full collaboration of the various organisms of the Holy See. And I would assure you that the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka wishes wholeheartedly to be a source of understanding and peace, of development and tolerance.

I recall what I stated publicly on 31 July 1983, at a time of painful tension in your country: "The Christians, even though not numerous, certainly shall not fail to contribute effectively to the longed-for reconciliation, by giving an example of true dialogue, an essential condition for social peace".

It is my ardent prayer that such a dialogue will proceed with success and that the Sri Lankan history of respect and mutual acceptance between different religious and cultural traditions will prevail over whatever difficulties exist or will present themselves in the future.

Speeches 1984 - Thursday, 8 November 1984