Speeches 1985 - Saturday, 6 July 1985

August 1985



Tuesday, 6 August 1985

To speak of Hiroshima and of Nagasaki is to become vividly aware of the immense pain and horror and death that human beings are capable of inflicting upon one another. But it is also to be conscious of the fact that such a tragic destiny is not inevitable. It can and must be avoided. Our world needs to regain confidence in its capacity to choose moral good over evil.

The Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the challenge of promoting genuine peace between peoples and nations, against war and death. The Church sees this challenge as a duty before God, the Lord of Life, and as inexorable service of love towards every man, woman and child on this earth.

I wish to take this opportunity to repeat something which I believe requires much thought. The vast majority of people want peace. Yet “the contemporary world is, as it were, imprisoned in a web of tensions . . . Humanity’s helplessness to resolve the existing tensions reveals that the obstacles, and likewise the hopes, come from something deeper than the systems (on which modern life and international relations are built). It is my deep conviction . . . and is, I hope, the intuition of many men and women of good will, that war has its origins in the human heart. It is man who kills and not his sword, or in our day, his missiles” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Nuntius scripto datus ob diem ad pacem fovendam Calendiis Iannuariis a. 1984 celebrandam, 1, 2, die 8 dec. 1983: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VI, 2 (1983) 1279. 1280) .

It is therefore the human “heart” that must change: from a new heart, peace is born.

In this perspective Hiroshima, from August 6, 1945, and Nagasaki from three days later, have a unique responsibility before the world. The people of these two cities can proclaim, with the force of their own experience, the value of life over death, of peace over war.

Hiroshima is a living witness to what can happen but need not and should never happen. When I visited Hiroshima in 1981 I wished to emphasize that “one must affirm and reaffirm, again and again, that the waging of war is not inevitable or unchangeable”.

Certainly it is not enough to say this, as if peace could be achieved through the repetition of slogans. What is needed is a serious and comprehensive education for peace, and a committed response to the inequalities and injustices rampant in our world. If each individual, group and nation is willing, honestly and sincerely, to follow this path, there will never be another Hiroshima.

The sad experience of forty years ago must be seen as the cornerstone of a new and universally accepted policy of just and peaceful ways to resolve present and future conflicts. Hiroshima’s special role in this process of education for peace is to teach that out of past horror a new outlook and a new hope can be born.

With God’s help Hiroshima’s experience of forty years ago will not be in vain. Each day I pray to the Creator that he may teach us to be effective instruments of peace and fraternal solidarity.



Wednesday, 7 August 1985

Dear Friends,

I welcome this opportunity to send greetings in the peace of Christ to the Knights of Columbus gathered for the annual Assembly of the Supreme Council. To think of you, the Knights of Columbus, prompts in me grateful sentiments for your constant loyalty to the Church and for your numerous programs of charity and fraternal service. I think with deep appreciation of the significant contribution you are making to the upkeep and improvement of the Basilica of Saint Peter’s in Rome. And I know too of your dedicated involvement in your local Churches and parishes, and of all your untiring efforts on behalf of evangelization, family life, the handicapped and the unborn.

I am speaking to you in order to assure you of my encouragement and prayers. I urge you to persevere in doing good works and to remain steadfast in the Catholic faith which has been handed on to you by the Church. A passage from Saint John expresses my sentiments well when he writes: “My reason for having written you is not that you do not know the truth but that you do . . . Let what you heard from the beginning remain in your hearts. If what you heard from the beginning does remain in your hearts, then you in turn will remain in the Son and in the Father” . Perseverance is a special grace from the Lord, one of vital importance for our pilgrimage of faith. Keep on believing what you have been taught, “remain rooted in the teaching of Christ” , and continue to build up the Church in love. And then, as Saint John says, “in truth and love, . . . we shall have grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son” (1 Io. 2, 21. 24). To all of you and your families I send my Apostolic Blessing.





Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - Nairobi (Kenya)

Friday, 16 August 1985

Mr President, Distinguished Members of the Government, Your Eminence Cardinal Otunga and my Brother Bishops, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear People of Kenya,

1. I am happy to set foot again on your beloved land. The enthusiastic welcome which you gave me five years ago remains fresh in my mind and heart. And now I have the pleasure once more of experiencing your warm hospitality, of walking in your midst as a brother and friend, of looking with joy upon the smiling faces of your children, the strong and eager faces of the young people, the welcoming faces of the whole family of Kenya.

I thank His Excellency the President for his kind welcome. It is a confirmation of the mutual respect and esteem which have always characterized our relations, and for which I am deeply grateful. I offer cordial greetings to all the citizens of this country: to the elders and local leaders, to the young people, to the sick and suffering, and in a special way to the families, the backbone of your society. I want my words to convey the deep sentiments of love and brotherhood which fill my heart for each of you.

2. It is indeed a joy to be in Kenya again, this time with the main purpose of taking part in the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress. As you know, this is the first time that a Eucharistic Congress has ever been held in the heart of the African continent. It has been made possible by the openness and hospitality of all the Kenyan people and their leaders, as well as by the generous co-operation of the local Bishops and faithful. At the same time, it is a sign of a new stage of maturity and vigour in the life of the young and thriving Church in Africa. The prayers and sacrifices of the many missionaries who came here and the open hearts that received the Gospel message are now bringing forth a rich and plentiful harvest. The Church in Africa is entering a new era, an era in which she will be called increasingly to reach out generously beyond her national and continental frontiers and to place her resources and gifts at the service of the universal Church. What you have received as a gift you now wish to give as a gift. The Church in every land rejoices with you at this new stage of dynamic life and mission. A living confirmation of this new era can be seen in the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa which I shall formally inaugurate here in Nairobi during the course of these days.

3. The Eucharistic Congress, which has brought pilgrims to Nairobi from many parts of the world, focuses our attention on two of the central realities of the Christian community: the Eucharistic and the Family.

In the Eucharist, we commemorate the most important events in the life of Jesus Christ: the Last Supper with the Apostles, his Passion and Death on the Cross, his Resurrection and Ascension into glory, his continuing presence in the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, we Christians have communion with him whom we profess to be the Saviour and Redeemer of all humanity.

The Eucharistic Congress also invites us to reflect on that fundamental element of society and the Church which is the family, the life-long, loving communion of husband and wife and the children who are the fruit of this union. Without healthy family life there can be no stable life in any country, nor vigorous life in the Church.

The Christian family is like the Church-in-miniature. United in Christ through Baptism and the Eucharist, the family is the first school of prayer, faith and the most basic values of human life. And the Sacrament of Marriage is so closely related to the life of the Church that the love of husband and wife is a symbol of the very love of Christ for the Church. For me, as the Successor of Peter and Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, it is a great joy to come to Kenya for the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress. For months we have been praying for its success. I am now pleased to be here in Nairobi, to join in this great ecclesial event with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with the Church in Kenya and all Africa, with pilgrims from every continent.

4. I am pleased, too, that this visit will enable me to meet many fellow Christians and members of other religions, with whom we share a common dignity as children of the same God and Father in heaven. I look forward as well to visiting the Centre for the United Nations Environment Programme, and to meeting in the people associated with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. In an age when advanced means of travel and communication are making our world ever smaller, we are witnessing a growing need for dialogue and cooperation between individuals and nations. The Church wishes always to offer support to initiatives which seek to meet this need. The Church encourages all efforts to promote unity, brotherhood and peace.

I again express my thanks to all who have come to welcome me today. It is very good to be with you. I pray that the Lord will bless each of you abundantly, and that the words of the prophet Isaiah will be a true description of your families: “My people will live in a peaceful home, in safe houses, in quiet dwellings” (Is 32,18). Peace be to all Kenya!





Nairobi (Kenya)

Saturday, 17 August 1985

Dear young people of Kenya,

I am grateful to you for the sentiments that you have expressed to me through your representatives. You are right when you speak about the Pope’s love and concern for the youth in the world.

And today I have come here in order to communicate this love and concern especially to you, the young people of Kenya. The particular message that I have wished to offer to you during the Eucharistic celebration is the Word of Jesus, as it relates to the great mystery of human love and human life in the sacrament of marriage. You have understood perfectly the secret of successful Christian living when you proclaim, as you do, that Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is our strength, courage, source of inspiration and enthusiasm.

Yes, dear young people, Jesus is your life and it is on the basis of his Word, on the foundation of his Gospel, that you must build the future of your lives, the future of Africa, the future of the world.

The Church does not proclaim simplistic solutions to those problems of the world which you know so well and of which you speak. She does not offer you some magic formula. You, yourselves, must work hard and perseveringly. But, with all the power of her being, the Church proclaims the supreme relevance of the Word of Christ, as it applies to all the concrete situations of your personal lives, your nation and whole world.

To reinforce your own conviction, Christ himself repeats to you today: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the life”. And this same Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the Word incarnate, the Son of Mary, will be with you always, as you work and struggle and pray to build the Kingdom of God on Earth. The Eucharist in the pledge of this, and the end of the Eucharistic Congress is only the beginning: the beginning of a new challenge to live fully with Christ and to build a world community of justice and truth, of freedom, love and peace.

Young people of Kenya, lift up your eyes in hope and keep them fixed on Jesus in the mystery of his Eucharistic love.

I wish at this time also to mention that the young people of Verona in Italy, have entrusted to me a gift for the needs of the young people of Kenya. This gift is given as a sign of their love and fraternal solidarity.






Nairobi (Kenya)

Sunday, 18 August 1985

Dear Brother Bishops, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” (Ep 1,17) in his loving Providence enables us, through this meeting, to give visible expression to the profound ecclesial communion in which the faithful are united with the successors of the Apostles, appointed by the Holy Spirit as pastors of souls and sent to continue the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor (Christus Dominus CD 1).

I am filled with a sense of gratitude to God for this gathering to which I have looked forward with great anticipation, and I ask you to join me in praising God who is rich in mercy (Ep 2,4) for the mutual comfort and confirmation which it brings us. I greet all of you who are members of the Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa and those of you from other African countries, and from other continents. I thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome.

My appreciation goes also to the civil authorities and dignitaries who have wished to share this happy moment in the life of the Church in Eastern Africa. I express my cordial esteem and respect for the members of the various Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other religious bodies. May we be united in our sincere desire to serve the cause of peace and progress among all people without exception or distinction, a cause which we hold dear precisely because of our common faith in God, the common Father of the human family.

To all of you present here - to the priests, to the men and women Religious, to the members of missionary Congregations and Societies, to the seminarians, to all I say: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ph 1,2).

1. The particular purpose of this meeting is the formal opening of the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa.

This magnificent campus represents a project which has as its objective goal “the building up of the body of Christ” (Ep 4,12), as it exists in Eastern Africa. This Institute is a project for which the Bishops of this region have laboured with dedication and love.

Through the Chairman of AMECEA, Bishop Mazombwe, the Hierarchy has expressed its commitment to the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa as a symbol of the ever more mature presence of the Church in this region, and as a practical response to the pressing need for qualified collaborators in the task of evangelization and catechesis.

You therefore have great hopes for this Theological Faculty. You expect that it will effectively strengthen the spiritual and ecclesial life of your local Churches. I fully share these hopes with you, and I encourage you to pursue the goals of the Institute with wholehearted enthusiasm.

2. The Institute is being inaugurated in the context of the Forty-third Eucharistic Congress. This circumstance immediately raises our thoughts to the sublime reality which constitutes the object of all genuine theological reflection in the Church: the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh for the Redemption of the human family. In words of the Second Vatican Council, the intention of the sacred sciences is “to unfold ever increasingly . . . the mystery of Christ, that mystery which affects the whole history of the human race, influences the Church continuously, and is mainly exercised by the priestly ministry” (Optatam Totius OT 14).

The task of proclaiming the Gospel message of the saving mystery of Christ, in its objective conceptual content as well as in the existential dimension in which it unfolds in history, belongs to the whole community of believers.

Yet, in a special way, “the word of life” (1 Io. 1, 1) is entrusted to the teaching authority of the Church uniquely invested in the College of Bishops. As successors of the Apostles, Bishops are servants of the “word” and their first duty to that “word” is to assume with responsibility the ministry of preachers and teachers of the Gospel message. The Bishops of the Church are, in fact, as the Council reminds us, “teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice” (Lumen Gentium LG 25).

This Catholic Higher Institute is, in a real sense, an instrument of the particular teaching office (munus docendi) entrusted to the Bishops of this region. It expresses their collegial desire and decision to exercise that teaching office in enlightened dialogue with the theological culture of the universal Church as it has developed through the centuries and as it is developing in the present circumstances of the history of God’s people.

3. The proclamation of the Gospel is destined for all individuals, and for all peoples. The faith which the Church professes in response to that proclamation belongs to all her members, and all are called to understand and live that faith in as full a way as possible.

While it is true that the teaching office of the Church, through various forms of evangelization and catechesis, reaches vast sectors of God’s people, a strictly theological culture, especially at a higher academic level, is available only to a limited number of the faithful. Yet, the deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ which theological reflection provides is a gift of the Holy Spirit given for the common good of the entire ecclesial community.

Theologians and those who pursue theological studies in the name of the Church must therefore realize that their activity is not an end in itself, but a service rendered to the Bride of Christ. They are called to act, not as a privileged elite, but all the more consciously as the humble administrators of a “talent” entrusted to them (Cfr. Matth Mt 25,14-30).

The words of Saint Paul to the Ephesians regarding the various charisms are applicable here, and they formulate a programme for those engaged in the field of theological studies: “Some should be . . . teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Ep 4,11-13). By preserving a clear vision of its specific “vocation” within the ecclesial body, and by maintaining an acute sense of service to God’s people and of communion with the Bishops, this Faculty can become a source of great creative vitality in your local Churches.

4. In this respect I am pleased to note that, in determining the aims of the Institute, the Bishops have given priority to two aspects of their pastoral responsibility for which they seek the able assistance of those who will teach and study here. The first is the strengthening and development of the spiritual life of your communities. The second is the consolidation of the family, “the domestic church”, and those other small Christian communities which as natural groups “spring from the need to live the Church’s life more intensely, or from a desire and quest for a more human dimension such as larger ecclesial communities can only offer with difficulty” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 58).

The task of the Institute will be to form the spiritual and intellectual life of the pastoral collaborators - priests, religious and lay men and women - who will serve and animate these communities “which come together within the Church in order to unite themselves to the Church and to cause the Church to grow” (Ibid.).

5. Alongside these pastoral concerns, and as a guarantee of effectiveness in responding to them, the specifically theological function of the Institute has special significance for your Churches.

In the concrete circumstances of the unfolding of the mystery of salvation in your dioceses and in your countries, it is important for your local Churches to be actively present in the cultural life of society by offering a properly developed theological presentation of the Gospel message and of the human problems for which people are seeking an explanation.

The presence of the Church as a community of believers within the social, economic and political realities of life is, to some extent, mediated by theological reflection. In order to be truly Christian, this theological reflection must be guided by the revealed word of God and by the teaching of the Church as it has developed from the beginning through the exercise of the prophetic office of Christ, which has been transmitted in a particular way to the Roman Pontiff and to the Bishops in communion with him.

The application of a “scientific” method to this reflection is the specific task of the theologian. Theological reflection clarifies the structure of intelligibility of the Christian message, discovers its intrinsic coherence, and illustrates the relationship of the unchanging content of the tenets of faith to the varied and changeable cultural contexts in which the message is proclaimed and preached.

Against the background of the momentous social and cultural transformations taking place throughout the world, including those in your own countries here in Africa, the challenge facing theologians is not without great difficulties and risks.

The dangers of a theological study which is divorced from life in the Spirit, and the harm caused by a pseudo-theological culture devoid of a genuine spirit of service to the mystery of the Redemption, are, in a sense, evoked by the solemn words of Saint John: “Every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist . . .” (1 Io. 4, 3).

The “spirit of truth” and the “spirit of error” (Cfr. ibid.4, 6) struggle for the minds of those who would seek the Truth.

While a rightful and necessary freedom of research is essential to the progress of theological science, those engaged in theological investigations should not understand this freedom as a transposition in to the field of theology of the methodological criteria of other sciences. Christian theology has its specific point of departure in the word of God transmitted in Tradition and in the Scriptures, and it possesses a constant point of reference in the Church’s Magisterium, the authentic guardian and interpreter of the full doctrine of Christ.

The well-being of the Church in Eastern Africa requires that the Catholic Higher Institute should become not only a centre of study but also a focal point of prayer and liturgical life, in which staff and students will grow to full maturity as men and women of faith and evangelical witness.

May this Institute become not only a part of the mind of the Church in Eastern Africa, but also, and principally, an important part of her heart: “He who loves is born of God and knows God” (Ibid. 4, 7).

6. The Apostolic Constitution “Sapientia Christiana” and the Code of Canon Law explicitly refer to the obligation of Bishops and of Bishops’ Conferences to promote the fidelity of ecclesiastical Faculties to the Church’s doctrine (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sapientia Christiana, praef., IV, et Codex Iuris Canonici CIC 810 § 2). The reason behind this vigilance on the part of the Bishops is nothing other than the inexorable duty incumbent on the entire ecclesial community to persevere in the mission entrusted to the Church by the Lord himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” .

This supervisory role of the Bishops is especially applicable in the important and delicate area of what has come to be known as “inculturation”.

7. Throughout the course of the Church’s history, teachers and missionaries have engaged in an apostolic dialogue between the Christian message of salvation and the cultures in which the various peoples express their characteristic spiritual and human experience. In my recent Encyclical Epistle in commemoration of the Eleventh Centenary of the evangelizing work of Saints Cyril and Methodius among the Slav Peoples, I thought it proper to draw attention to their magnificent example in this regard.

An active dialogue between faith and culture is necessary on all levels of the proclamation of the Christian message: in evangelization, in catechesis, and in theological reflection. As a requirement stemming from faith itself, the supreme criterion of this dialogue - also in the field of theological investigation - must be the power of the Gospel to transform, elevate and regenerate human life in every culture and in all circumstances.

The success of the local Churches in incarnating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the rich soil of your African cultures will depend on the extent to which your evangelizing and catechetical labours are solidly grounded in the theological patrimony of the universal Church. It will also depend on the extent to which your pastoral activities are accompanied by a serious reflection on the values which are present in each community and which can usefully be introduced into the life of the Church.

The Institute is called to assist the local Churches in the challenging dialogue between faith and culture, between the Church and human society, between the Kingdom of God and the temporal realities through which the human family moves towards its final destiny. The Institute has a role to play in implementing for Eastern Africa the dynamism of the Second Vatican Council. Let us never forget those words spoken by Pope John XXIII on the opening day of that collegial assembly: “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be more effectively guarded and taught” (Ioannis XXIII Allocutio in sollemni SS. Concilii Vaticani II inauguratione habita, session I, die 11 oct. 1962). May the Institute always be found worthy of the extremely important responsibility to which it has been called!

8. Brother Bishops, brothers and sisters in Christ: on the occasion of the inauguration of the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa I wish to express a warm word of gratitude to all those who have contributed inspiration, effort and resources to the realization of this important project. Too many to mention by name, I commend all the benefactors of this Centre to the loving care of Mary the Mother of God.

I invoke divine light and wisdom upon those who will teach and study here. In particular I propose to them the example of discipleship given to us by Mary. Humbly and assiduously following the unfolding of the history of salvation, “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lc 2,19). I pray that, like Mary, they too may respond joyfully to the challenges of their specific role in working for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ.

For the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the strengthening of the Church in faith and in the service of all the peoples of the nations which you represent - Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, the Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Seychelles - I am happy to declare formally open the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa.






Nairobi (Kenya)

Sunday, 18 August 1985

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is always an honour for me to visit one of the Agencies of the United Nations. The ever increasing importance of this prestigious Organisation becomes more evident every year. At no time in history has there been a greater need for dialogue and collaboration at the international level, and for joint efforts by nations to promote integral human development and to further justice and peace - precisely the goals to which the United Nations Organisation is dedicated.

I am very grateful then for the invitation to come to this Centre today, an invitation which was extended to me by Dr Mostafa K. Tolba, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. In greeting him, I also greet the staff and all associated in the Angecy’s work. At the same time, I offer a cordial greeting to the staff of Habitat: the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, also located here in Nairobi, and to its Executive Director, Dr Alcot Ramachandron.

2. For many years now, the Catholic Church has taken an active interest in questions concerning the environment. A Delegation of the Holy See participated in the Conference on the Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the meeting which prepared the way for the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. My predecessor, Pope Paul VI, sent a message to the Stockholm Conference, in which he said: “We would like to tell you and all the participants of the interest with which we follow this great enterprise. The care of preserving and improving the natural environment, like the noble ambition of stimulating a first gesture of world co-operation in favour of this good necessary for everyone, meets needs that are deeply felt among the people of our times” (Pauli VI Nuntius scripto datus ad Exc.mum Virum Mauricium Strong, secretarium generalem Conventus internationalis Consociatorum Natium de ambitu humano, Holmiae habiti, die 1 iun. 1972: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, X (1972) 606 ss.).

The Church’s commitment to the conservation and improvement of our environment is linked to a command of God. In the very first pages of the Bible, we read how God created all things and then entrusted them to the care of human beings who were themselves created in his image. God said to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gn 1,28).

It is a requirement of our human dignity, and therefore a serious responsibility, to exercise dominion over creation in such a way that it truly serves the human family. Exploitation of the riches of nature must take place according to criteria that take into account not only the immediate needs of people but also the needs of future generations. In this way, the stewardship over nature, entrusted by God to man, will not be guided by short-sightedness or selfish pursuit; rather, it will take into account the fact that all created goods are directed to the good of all humanity. The use of natural resources must aim at serving the integral development of present and future generations. Progress in the field of ecology, and growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve certain non-renewable natural resources, are in keeping with the demands of true stewardship. God is glorified when creation serves the integral development of the whole human family.

3. With the rapid acceleration of science and technology in recent decades, the environment has been subjected to far greater changes than ever before. As a result, we are offered many new opportunities for development and human progress; we are now able to transform our surroundings greatly, even dramatically, for the enhancement of the quality of life. On the other hand, this new ability, unless it is used with wisdom and vision, can cause tremendous and even irreparable harm in the ecological and social spheres. The capacity for improving the environment and the capacity for destroying it increase enormously each year.

Speeches 1985 - Saturday, 6 July 1985