Speeches 1985 - Friday, 25 October 1985
I am pleased to welcome Your Excellency and to accept the Letters of Credence which accredit you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the Holy See. Your expression of good wishes on behalf of the Government of Canada for the continued success of my apostolic ministry is gratefully acknowledged. And I thank you for your kind remarks regarding my pastoral visit to your country last year.
Although that historic visit was primarily a celebration of faith for the members of the Catholic Church, I also remember with joy the enthusiastic and loving welcome extended to me by Canadians of all creeds. I am very pleased that this unforgettable pilgrimage “a mari usque ad mare” allowed me numerous opportunities to come to know the many different people of your country, so rich in its ethnic diversity and cultural heritage. Furthermore, the fact that my visit enabled Canadians to know themselves better causes me to give thanks to Almighty God for the abundant graces which he bestowed at the various encounters of prayer, sharing and dialogue during my visit. Many deep and lasting impressions remain in my heart. I wish to express my gratitude once again for the great honour and respect that your people showed to me as chief Pastor of the Catholic Church.
I have noted with pleasure your reference to the beloved young people of Canada. Like youth everywhere, they, as you say, are searching for a meaning to their lives in a world where confusion, indifference and violence often seem stronger than the forces of peace. Their searching and longing is a sign of the need for world leaders and all people of good will to devote themselves to untiring work for peace and justice. In responding to this challenge, those who exercise the art of diplomacy make a vital contribution. And I am sure that you will make it your task to contribute to a constructive dialogue and thereby inspire confidence among the generous and courageous youth of Canada in a new vision of peace. I truly believe that peace can be attained in the world community. But as I stated to the members of the Canadian Parliament and the representatives of the Diplomatic Corps when I met them in Ottawa, “True peace will come about only when the hearts and minds of all are converted to compassion, to justice and to love”.
I am pleased that the two founding peoples of Canada, while each retaining its own cultural identity, continue to live and work together in harmony and mutual respect. Respect for the dignity of the human person in a culturally diverse society offers a solid base of hope for the future. For the core of the problems of today’s society lies in the quality of the relationships which exist between individuals and between peoples. When these relationships are built on respect for the dignity and sacredness of every human being, then human rights are safeguarded and society enjoys true harmony and stability.
As you have rightly observed, Mr Ambassador, there are a number of areas where there is a convergence of views and activities between your government and the Holy See. This convergence makes more effective those efforts which promote the active defence of human rights and which seek to provide economic and humanitarian aid to less fortunate peoples and States. I commend your resolution to build upon these convergences in accomplishing the task which has been assigned to you.
I ask you to convey to the Government and people of Canada my greetings and good wishes. It is my hope that you will have a very fruitful mission. May God bless you and your fellow citizens with his abundant favours.
Dear Brothers in Christ,
I welcome you here today in the grace and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Meetings with my brothers in the Episcopate who come to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and to tell me of the anxieties and expectations of their pastoral ministry are among the most important and gratifying moments of my service as the Successor of Peter.
I wish to share your joys and preoccupations, your difficulties and your earnest hopes, so that I can help you and confirm you in the faith.
1. This meeting is taking place - and it is a great pleasure for me to recall the fact - after the significant hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of the evangelization of Taiwan and in the midst of the intense preparations for the National Symposium on Evangelization which you have wisely planned for 1987. This is a ecclesial event which will produce at every level - of the dioceses, parishes, institutions and families - a deeper appreciation of the word of God and of the teaching of the Council for a more effective evangelization of your compatriots.
2. Yes, as you are well aware, the great Chinese family, so outstanding for its human and cultural values and for its lofty moral traditions, is what I have in mind. You are part of it, and you share its deepest aspirations for authentic progress and prosperity.
You are called upon to be heralds of the message of life, and you do this precisely as Chinese and as men who have had the experience of realizing that to accept the faith in no way implies an abandonment of your own culture and still less a reduction of loyalty and commitment in the service of your country. On the contrary, faith stimulates believers to make a more human and more qualified contribution. Your communities - and one cannot be unmindful here of the numerous and active communities of the diaspora - have the responsibility of giving, as my predecessor Paul VI put it, “a greater common witness to Christ before the world” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 77). And I add this: you, precisely because you are Chinese, are the natural evangelizers of the Chinese family.
3. The proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, can enlighten the human reality from within, for “by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and his love, Christ fully reveals man to man himself” (Gaudium et Spes GS 22). This proclamation will not be expressed in a timid dialogue or in rigid and overbearing affirmations, but rather in the manner so wisely indicated by the Council: like Christ himself, “so also his disciples, profoundly penetrated by the Spirit of Christ, should know the people among whom they live, and should establish contact with them. They themselves can learn by sincere and patient dialogue what treasures a bountiful God has distributed among the nations of the earth. But at the same time, let them try to illuminate these treasures with the light of the Gospel, to set them free, and to bring them under the dominion of God their Savior” (Ad gentes AGD 11).
In the significant evangelizing commitment which the Catholic community in Taiwan has decided to undertake for the benefit of all their brethren on the Island, first place must be given to this central proclamation linked to the salvation of man, which also requires the authentically human promotion of all the aspects that make up human life.
I know that you are rightly concerned, in this regard, by certain situations connected with ambiguities in the economic progress achieved by your compatriots. For this progress is accompanied by obvious forms of consumerism and practical materialism which have led to a marked weakening of the moral values, and in a number of cases of the traditional and cultural values which are the true soul of your people.
4. Dear Brothers, the Church carefully examines these situations which stimulate her vocation of service and which demand a response that truly reaches the very depth of the human heart in all its genuine needs. While appreciating the lofty cultural traditions of the Chinese family and while following with courageous discernment the signs of the times, with great confidence in Christ the Lord the Church must be constantly committed to promoting the dignity of every person and to ensuring respect for and the defense of human life.
You are aware that, in the present social and cultural context, the work of evangelization cannot be satisfied with following only methods of the past, however good they may have been. The Church must also be courageous in devising new methods while remaining ever willing, in not a few cases, to return to activities proper to the first apostolic proclamation.
This new commitment, which you have so opportunity decided upon in communion with your closest collaborators - be they priests, religious or lay people - has become so pressing and urgent as to demand an authentic missionary style.
On the one hand, there is need for fidelity to the word of life as it has been preserved and transmitted in the Church. “To the successors of the Apostles, sacred tradition hands on in its full purity God’s word, which was entrusted to the Apostles, by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. Thus, led by the light of the Spirit of Truth, these successors can in their preaching preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known” (Dei Verbum DV 9).
On the other hand, one must proceed with an apostolate which is vigorously renewed, and this means one that is creative and courageous.
5. In this regard it would be good to give a fresh impulse to all centers of education and formation. In these, an ever greater emphasis should be given to the fact that only by taking into account man’s spiritual and religious dimension can the avoidance of partial and incomplete definitions of man be ensured. Such definitions lead to development projects that destroy man’s soul and his most genuine aspirations.
I am aware of the meritorious cultural activities performed by Fu Jen University, which previously experienced the untiring zeal of the late Cardinal Yü Pin and is now entrusted to the attentive and diligent care of the present Rector, dear Archbishop Stanislaus Lokuang. The Church looks with attentive interest to this important instrument of the formation of the people of today: formation of their consciences in good, in a spirit of service, in a sense of discipline, in ethical rectitude in every field of action. All are aspects of a delicate moral sensitivity, already recognized as values by traditional Chinese humanism.
This center of higher studies will be a special and high level setting for the encounter between the message of salvation in its manifold expressions and lofty Chinese culture, profiting from the contribution of scholars and experts. This is called for by the sublime nature of the Gospel message, as well as by the dignity and nobility of the traditions and human values proper to Chinese culture.
6. A special role in this important evangelizing mission belongs to the Christian laity, who by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation have a full part to play in the mission of the Church. We must never cease to remind ourselves and them of what Christ the Lord said to his disciples: “You are the light of the world . . . Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5,14-16). It will also be appropriate to return to the enlightening words of the Council inspired by this Gospel text in order to deal with the subject of the apostolate of the laity and of the mission which makes them sharers in the life of the Church and in service to society (Cfr. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 6).
And if it were ever necessary, my predecessor Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi”, thus specified the spheres of the apostolate: “The vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, suffering”. And he concluded: “The more Gospel-inspired lay people there are engaged in these realities, clearly involved in them, competent to promote them and conscious that they must exercise to the full their Christian powers which are often buried and suffocated, the more these realities will be at the service of the Kingdom of God and therefore of salvation in Jesus Christ” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 70).
7. Dear Brothers, this meeting with you, the Bishops of the Chinese Regional Episcopal Conference, cannot but remind us of so many brethren, united in the same faith, who are called to bear witness to the Word of life on the great Chinese mainland.
That Church, so dear to me, is continually in my mind and I daily beseech the Spirit that the day may soon come when, often the obstacles of va1ious kinds have been removed, there will come the desired moment of communion fully lived, expressed and enjoyed.
In the meantime, there is entrusted to us the fruitful mission of praying for those communities, that their faith in the Redeemer of humanity may be lively and deeply experienced in the communion of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, which has in Peter and his Successors the “permanent and visible source and foundation both of the Bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium LG 23).
Yes, as you know, it is a question of a bond which joins every local Church with the Pope and with the Catholic communities of all the other countries, and which is essential for the faith of Catholics.
This does not diminish the reality of each local Church but highlights it and gives it added significance for, while it encourages and promotes an ever richer and more mature acceptance of responsibility by the Bishops, priests and laity of each country, it gives the local Churches the opportunity and the joy of co-responsibility in the life of the universal Church.
At the same time, we will ask the Giver of every perfect gift, that the capacity of our brothers and sisters to love, still more purified by trials and suffering, may extend to the demand of the welfare and progress of their country, and that they may make a generous and fitting contribution of competence, commitment, patriotic love and uprightness.
Also for the Chinese brethren who are living in the various countries of the world you certainly beseech from the Lord all prosperity and well-being, and you hope that they will increasingly undertake ever wider cooperation in evangelizing those with whom they share a common origin and cultural heritage.
8. At the end of last year’s meeting I entrusted to you, the Pastors of the Church in Taiwan, the mission of being a living witness of faith for the brethren in Mainland China. I know that the invitation has echoed deeply in your hearts as Bishops and in the communities entrusted to your pastoral care. Let us give thanks to the Lord Jesus, entrusting ourselves still more completely to his guidance in discovering and subsequently carrying out his inscrutable plan.
You are called to be a witness of faith, in the building up of a Church which, being authentically Chinese, is completely devoted to the service of man, of every individual, in the light of the word of God and in communion with the Universal Church, “cum Petro et sub Petro”.
May Mary, Mother and Queen of China, accept these desires and your resolutions and obtain from the Father their total fulfilment.
1. J’éprouve une grande joie à vous rencontrer, Recteurs et responsables des Instituts d’études supérieures confiés à la Compagnie de Jésus dans des pays très divers, accompagnés de quelques autres Recteurs, et de vous recevoir ici, à Rome, ville du successeur de Pierre, et cela d’autant plus qu’il existe un lien particulier entre votre Compagnie et le Siège de Pierre.
A cette joie se joint un très vif remerciement à l’ensemble de votre Compagnie - à commencer par votre Supérieur général - pour la générosité avec laquelle elle assure la direction et la promotion de vos nombreux Centres académiques répartis à travers le monde entier.
Notre rencontre d’aujourd’hui nous remet en mémoire celle qui eut lieu le 8 août 1975 avec mon vénéré prédécesseur Paul VI. L’allocution qu’il adressa alors aux Recteurs et aux dirigeants de vos Centres académiques visait à affermir et à intensifier l’effort apostolique de la Compagnie dans le secteur de la culture de haut niveau, et plus précisément dans le domaine des Universités catholiques. La parole de Paul VI a fait ressentir plus vivement et plus efficacement à la Compagnie de Jésus, tout au long de ces dernières années, l’importance de sa mission spécifique au sein des Universités catholiques. On pourrait dire que cette allocution a renforcé, chez un certain nombre de Jésuites, l’amour et même la passion pour un secteur de l’apostolat qui s’avère fort délicat et difficile, mais combien décisif pour la vitalité de l’Eglise!
Il faudra toujours aller de l’avant, avec persévérance, avec courage, avec enthousiasme, en dépit des difficultés que l’on peut rencontrer sur le chemin.
2. Il est bien certain que la Compagnie de Jesus a un lien tout à fait particulier avec la culture. Son Fondateur lui a en effet assigné, parmi d’autres apostolats, celui qui concerne la culture et la jeunesse étudiante. Fidèle à cette mission, la Compagnie de Jésus s’est employée et s’emploie encore à faire en sorte que non seulement ses Instituts supérieurs soient à la hauteur de leur tâche pour le sérieux de la recherche et la qualité de l’enseignement, mais aussi et surtout qu’ils soient caractérisés par la poursuite du but spécifique pour lequel la Compagnie a été fondée: la défense et la propagation de la foi.
Ses Universités et ses Instituts supérieurs sont donc appelés à garantir et à promouvoir en premier lieu et plus que tout autre leur caractère de Centres académiques catholiques en tant que participant à la mission évangélisatrice de l’Eglise. Tel est l’esprit qui anime et qui doit principalement animer les Institutions universitaires confiées à la Compagnie de Jésus si elles veulent répondre, avec le maximum de fidélité, à leur vocation, à leur charisme.
3. The history of the Church teaches us how difficult evangelization is in times of cultural transformation such as our own. We are aware that the academic Institutions entrusted to the Society of Jesus are today engaged in promoting a courageous dialogue between faith and culture. Particularly commendable is the effort which these Institutions are making, in the light of Catholic doctrine, to resolve the problems arising from social progress. New scientific discoveries frequently offer serious challenges to faith in the doctrinal, moral and social fields. These challenges call for dialogue between theologians and scientists, with a view to pinpointing and describing the problems involved and to finding an answer to them which is in harmony with science and with faith. The Catholic University is the special place for this dialogue.
4. There are two fundamental requirements for the correct promotion of the dialogue between faith and culture.
The first is the need for fidelity to the word of God, to its truth, its saving power for all people of every age, to its intrinsic ability to purify, transform and ennoble. Fidelity to the word of God involves a courageous proclamation of the Gospel. The Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” rightly highlights the fact that dialogue between the Gospel and culture cannot take place unless the Gospel is proclaimed (Cfr. PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 20). It is the task of the Catholic Universities to be fearless proclaimers of the Good News of salvation. To them too can be applied the words of Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1Co 9,16). The necessary and constant appeal, in evangelization, to fidelity to the truth revealed to us by God through his Incarnate Son has been heard in every age, from the first centuries of Christianity. Here one might quote a Church writer who lived at a time of great cultural transformation and who attempted to promote a close dialogue between the Gospel and cultural development: Clement of Alexandria. He wrote: “There is truth in geometry, there is truth in music, there is truth in genuine philosophy . . . but the only authentic truth is the one which is taught to us by the Son of God . . . We have been taught by God and instructed by his Son in the Scriptures which are truly sacred” (CLEMENTIS ALEXANDRINI Stromata, I, 20: PG VIII, p. 816). The Word made flesh is indeed the incarnation of all truth.
Fidelity to the word of God means studying that word in depth, meditating upon it and putting it into practice. It also means fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church, the Church to which Christ entrusted this word so that it might be preserved in its purity and integrity and interpreted authentically. Without such fidelity there can be no effective dialogue between faith and culture.
5. The second requirement is an urgent need for philosophical reflection concerning the truth about man. Today there is widespread and prevalent an historicism idea of man and his history. This idea, by relativizing fundamental values, leads to an unfounded primacy of freedom over truth, practice over theory, becoming over being. It results in an ideological and moral relativism.
A careful examination of cultural tendencies today makes clear the need for a solid philosophical anthropology aimed at unravelling the mystery of man. Such metaphysical reflection on man, by establishing a common ground for people of good will, will facilitate discernment and a correct integration of what is valid in human progress today. It will help to avoid what is deviant in certain ideological currents and forms of moral conduct. Moreover, it is essential for preparing an adequate evangelization of culture.
Fidelity to the word of God and fidelity to the truth about man: these are two forms of fidelity which will help to ensure that human progress takes into account the mystery of God. For the better one knows the mystery of man, the more open one becomes to the mystery of transcendence. And the deeper one penetrates the divine mystery, the more one discovers the true greatness and dignity of the human person.
6. Es también cometido específico de la Compañía de Jesús el cuidado de los jóvenes que frecuentan sus centros educativos.
Es conocido y es de alabar el hecho de que en las instituciones universitarias confiadas a la Compañía de Jesús se imparte una enseñanza altamente cualificada, de cara a preparar a los estudiantes para un desarrollo adecuado de su futura profesión.
Según el espíritu del propio carisma, dichas instituciones se esfuerzan también mediante una enseñanza adecuada, por introducir a los estudiantes en un conocimiento más profundo del mensaje cristiano. De este modo se pone en práctica lo dicho en la Declaración conciliar “Gravissimum Educationis”, sobre la educación cristiana de la juventud, respecto al cometido de las Universidades Católicas de capacitar a sus estudiantes, de manera que “puedan formarse como hombres de auténtico prestigio por su doctrina, preparados para de sempeñar las funciones más importantes en la sociedad y testigos de la fe en el mundo” (Gravissimum Educationis GE 10).
7. En esta ocasión, mientras reconozco vuestros generosos esfuerzos, os invito a prestar una atención especial a la formación integral de los estudiantes en la que ocupe un lugar destacado una sólida formación religiosa, teórica y práctica. Práctica, en cuanto la formación religiosa de los estudiantes de una Universidad Católica no puede ser solamente teórica mediante la enseñanza, sino que debe procurar que ellos, en la misma vida universitaria, aprendan a vivir concretamente la doctrina cristiana asimilada intelectualmente. De ahí la urgencia de ofrecer en el “campus” de la Universidad Católica un ambiente idóneo para la integración de la formación intelectual con la práctica. Para ello habrá que promover cada vez más la pastoral universitaria, bajo la guía de celosos sacerdotes religiosos, que asistan espiritualmente a los estudiantes y fomenten todas las iniciativas adecuadas para ayudar al joven a profundizar en el conocimiento y la práctica de la vida cristiana, en una armoniosa síntesis entre fe y vida.
En diversos encuentros con los estudiantes universitarios del mundo entero, he tenido ocasión de percibir personalmente como surge de ellos, de manera significativa, la cuestión religiosa, principalmente como una necesidad de dar sentido a su vida. Conviene saber leer en su espíritu, comprendiendo que ellos esperan ejemplos de vida auténticamente cristiana. Más que por las doctrinas teóricamente expuestas, ellos se sienten atraídos por los ejemplos de las doctrinas concretamente vividas.
8. En la profunda transformación que atraviesa nuestro mundo, a vosotros se os encomienda una enorme responsabilidad. Estoy seguro de que también vosotros estáis convencidos de ello. Por eso os aliento a seguir adelante en vuestra difícil misión. La Iglesia necesita más que nunca de vosotros, de vuestras Universidades, cualificadas como católicas y como científicas.
Como bien sabéis, la Congregación para la Educación Católica ha organizado un estudio para preparar una Constitución Apostólica sobre Universidades Católicas, acerca de la misión indispensable de la Universidad Católica en el mundo de hoy. Vuestras Universidades e Institutos Superiores darán sin duda a tal estudio su valiosa aportación, cosa que ya desde ahora os agradezco.
A nadie escapa la oportunidad de dicho Documento, que viene exigido por la profunda evolución cultural versificada en estos últimos años, y también por la misma comunidad eclesial, la cual desea que sus Universidades sean más eficientes en ofrecer al hombre el contenido y el dinamismo del pensamiento católico.
9. Al terminar estas reflexiones, deseo referirme a vuestra loable tradición cultural, que os quiere presentes, activos y creadores en nuestros días, pero al mismo tiempo os quiere fieles: fieles al espíritu de vuestro Fundador, a la Iglesia y a su Magisterio.
Que vuestras Universidades Católicas sean sensibles a los signos de los tiempos; sensibles a las múltiples instancias culturales actuales, y a la vez abiertas al espíritu de las Iglesias particulares, mediante una fraterna y estrecha vinculación con sus Obispos, y al espíritu de la Iglesia universal, mediante vuestra sincera adhesión a la Santa Sede.
Con estos deseos imparto a vosotros, a los profesores y estudiantes de vuestros centros educativos una especial Bendición Apostólica.
Dear Brother Bishops, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”! (Ph 1,2)
It gives me great joy to meet you, the Pastors of the Church in Thailand, here in Rome for your ad Limina visit. Our last meeting took place in your own country during my visit in May 1984, an experience of which I have vivid memories and for which I am grateful to the ecclesial community as also to the people of Thailand and their leaders.
1. “This is indeed the mystery of the Church: to live Christ’s life and to live it together”.
That was the basic theme of my conversation with you when we met in Bangkok on 11 May 1984. It is a reflection to which the entire Church must return over and over again, in order to understand ever more fully her own innermost nature and in order to fulfil her specific mission. It is a theme which lies at the very heart of your life and mission as Bishops. For in you, the Bishops who have succeeded to the place of the Apostles as shepherds of the Church, “our Lord Jesus Christ, the supreme High Priest, is present in the midst of those who believe” (Lumen Gentium LG 21). Through your ministry, Christ himself builds up the people of the New Testament in faith and Christian life.
It is especially incumbent on Bishops, as “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1Co 4,1), to bear authentic witness through a holiness of life centred on the person of Jesus Christ, the Mediator who leads the human family back to God and reconciles people among themselves. The call to holiness, which the Second Vatican Council acknowledges as addressed to everyone in the Church, is directed “in the first place” to the shepherds of the flock, who “ought to carry out their ministry with holiness, eagerness, humility and courage, in imitation of the eternal High Priest” (Lumen Gentium LG 41). This they do “through prayers, sacrifice and preaching, as through every form of a Bishop’s service” (Ibid.).
In recalling these words, I am describing your ministry to the Churches entrusted to your daily care. I know how deeply you love your people and how much you have at heart the well-being of your priests, and that of the religious and laity who share your burdens and duties through generous collaboration. As your brother in the apostolic ministry, I encourage you along this path of ecclesial service. You are certainly aware that the example of the Bishop’s life has an immediate impact on the life and zeal of his collaborators and on the progress of the evangelizing task committed to him.
2. My visit to Thailand was a brief one. Nevertheless, in my meetings with His Majesty the King and the members of the Royal Family, as well as with members of the Government, with the Supreme Patriarch and leaders of the various religious traditions, I noted the general atmosphere of good will and freedom in which the Church in Thailand, as a little flock, seeks to live out the Gospel message and at the same time to contribute to the common good of the entire nation. In my meetings with the various ecclesial communities I experienced the lively hope that animates your local Churches. Their Christian vitality will always reflect how well they live Christ’s life in spiritual union with him and in effective communion of life with his entire Body, the Church, for “from him the whole body . . . derives its increase to the building up of itself in love” (Ep 4,16).
3. In union with the universal Church, the Church in Thailand shares in the urgent duty of bringing the saving work of Christ into the lives of the people. The Council Decree “Ad Gentes” offers many considerations concerning this responsibility which are applicable to your situation.
It is a matter of entering into the dialogue of salvation with the world in which the Gospel message is being proclaimed. This dialogue needs the support of the testimony of authentic Christian living, and especially the proof of Christian love, both within the ecclesial community and in relationship to other civil and religious bodies.
It is a source of comfort for me to acknowledge that you and your collaborators - in the words of the Decree “Ad Gentes” - “bear witness to Christ by charity and works of mercy, with all patience, prudence, and great confidence. Thus (you) prepare the way for the Lord and make him present in some manner” (Ad Gentes AGD 6).
This attitude of practical charity and solidarity, made tangible in the numerous educational, social and welfare works sponsored by your dioceses, is a genuine response on your part to the fundamental law of the Gospel: the law of love. “If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Io. 4, 12).
Is it not a motive of profound joy in the Holy Spirit that the Church in Thailand, small as it is, is called above all to make manifest and visible the “surpassing and merciful kindness” of the Father, who has “generously poured out his divine goodness and does not cease to do so”? (Ad Gentes AGD 2)
And because God’s love is universal and embraces all people, the apostolate of Christian charity “truly extends to all, without distinction of race, social condition, or religion. It looks for neither gain nor gratitude. For as God has loved us with a spontaneous love, so also the faithful in their charity should care for the human person himself by loving him with the same affection with which God sought out man”. Obedience to this fundamental law is a condition of the fruitfulness of your episcopal ministry and of the well-being of the Churches entrusted to your care.
An important part of your task consists in maintaining and furthering fraternal relations with your Buddhist brethren. I express once again in their regard my own sentiments of esteem and fraternal good will.
4. As regards the internal life of the Church, I wish to refer briefly to a number of pastoral concerns and hopes which we share in our common responsibility for God’s people.
In the first place, I am happy to learn of the increasing numbers of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life which the Spirit of Truth is raising up in your midst. Vocations are a mark of the faith and Christian life of the whole community. They appear especially where family life is based on the Church’s teachings, where the members of the family are trained in Christian virtue, and where they pray together in awareness of their belonging to the wider community of the Church. In this respect parents should be the primary promoters of vocations. Priests and men and women Religious also have a large role to play, by showing their joyful intimacy with Christ, by being close to young people, and by explicitly inviting them to reflect on the priestly ministry and religious consecration as a special way of responding to Christ’s words: “Come follow me” (Mt 19,21).
A related matter is the question of the formation of priests and members of Religious Congregations. I am aware of the attention which you have given to this important aspect of the Church’s life. Every sacrifice of personnel and resources made for this cause will be amply rewarded. I continue to pray for Lux Mundi National Major Seminary. I invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon the professors, staff and students, that they may lead a life worthy of the calling to which they have been called (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,1), and that they may be ever more effective agents of evangelization.
I ask you to take my affectionate greetings to all your priests, and to the men and women religious, both Thai and those from elsewhere, who are generously serving the Lord through the holiness of their lives and through the energy of their apostolate.
5. Another aspect of your ministry in which I wish to encourage your efforts is the care and attention which you must give to Christian family life. In fact, as “Familiaris Consortio” indicates, “no plan for organized pastoral work, at any level, must ever fail to take into consideration the pastoral care of the family” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 70). This is a “real matter of priority, in the certainty that future evangelization depends largely on the domestic Church” (Ibid. 65).
The essential form of the Church’s concern for family life is the proclamation of God’s plan for Christian married couples and for the family. Each local Church, then, through the parish, through special centres, through the many forms of pastoral support, must endeavour to defend this plan and assist the faithful in its implementation.
Your people’s particular appreciation of harmony in human relations and their spirit of tolerance and respect for each other is a magnificent environment for the development of a strong and loving family life. Their love of children and their special respect for the elderly are qualities which must be preserved and strengthened. In the face of the forces that tend to undermine the stability, fidelity and fruitfulness of marriage, your local Churches are called upon to intensify their catechetical activities in order to instruct the young and those preparing for marriage in the truths and values which sustain the holiness and integrity of married love. The rights and role of women in the family and in society have an important place too in this teaching.
With regard to family life the value of prayer by the family and for the family in the heart of the home cannot be overestimated. The awareness of God’s providence at work in the matters of everyday life will be a sure occasion of grace and joy for your people.
6. The Church in Thailand serves the well-being of the Thai people in many ways and the work of your Catholic schools and educational centres merits particular encouragement and should be supported and extended as far as possible. By promoting the full human development of their students and by helping them to fit better into their own social and cultural environment, Catholic schools offer a significant contribution to the life of the nation, as has been recognized on many occasions by the highest public authorities.
When education is based on the truth and values of the Gospel, it leads Catholic students to grow and mature in faith and to share more responsibility in the Church’s mission. At the same time, as the Council indicated, “the Church feels a most cordial esteem for those Catholic schools . . . which contain large numbers of non-Catholic students” (Gravissimum Educationis GE 9). In these schools, Catholic teachers and students have a special opportunity to witness to their own faith, fully recognizing the values expressed in other traditions. The Church in Thailand has much to be grateful for and much to expect from the dedicated work of those engaged in the educational apostolate.
7. During my brief stay in your country, when I visited the Refugees at Phanat Nikhom I was able to see for myself the enormous task to which the Government of Thailand and other national and international organizations are committed in caring for the thousands of persons displaced from their homes by continuing conflict in South East Asia.
I am aware that the situation continues to offer particular cause for concern. I appeal for increased international attention to the needs of these refugees, and I wish at the same time to express my encouragement to the Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees (COERR), which is responding to the immense human tragedy This is truly a work of love. In the words of the Apostle John: “It is a loyal thing you do when you render any service to the brethren, especially to strangers, who have testified to your love before the Church” (3 Io. 6).
How can we fail to be grateful to the Church personnel and to the many volunteers working to alleviate the sufferings of so many innocent people and to restore to them a sense of dignity and hope? Nor can we omit a word of thanks to the Organizations and individuals providing needed supplies of food, medicines and clothing, and ensuring educational and other essential services. Above all, let us continue to pray that peace may be restored, so that the fundamental right of peoples to live in freedom and justice in their own homeland is respected.
Dear Brothers in the service of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: take back to the priests, religious and faithful of your dioceses the assurance of the heartfelt esteem of the Successor of Peter. “I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus” (1Co 1,4).
Speeches 1985 - Friday, 25 October 1985