Speeches 1987

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1987

January 1987




Thursday, 8 January 1987

Mr Ambassador,

I am very pleased to greet you today as you present the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America. You come to continue and to build upon the work which was initiated by your esteemed predecessor. I welcome you most cordially and I offer my prayers and best wishes for the successful fulfilment of your mission.

A primary purpose of diplomatic relations is the promotion of that spirit of understanding which is essential for true justice and peace in the world. In conformity with the mission of the Church, the Holy See engages in this privileged forum of dialogue not for political purposes, but in order to serve the principles and values which underlie the common good of the whole human family.

In your role as the diplomatic representative of the United States, you serve as the spokesman for your Governmentís policies, initiatives and programs. At the same time, you represent all the people of your country, in the rich diversity of its cultural and ethnic traditions. Thus, in welcoming you today I wish to extend my warmest greetings to all your beloved fellow-citizens. I am grateful that Divine Providence has already made it possible for me in the past to make a Pastoral Visit to the Catholic faithful in your land, and I look forward with joy to visiting the southern and western parts of your country later this year.

In my message for the 1987 World Day of Peace, I drew attention to two key elements of peace: development and solidarity. My reflections were based on the fact that we are all members of one and the same human family. This means that no matter what may separate or divide us, what unites us is far greater and more fundamental. We are brothers and sisters in a shared humanity. The task that lies before us is therefore to accept with deep respect and openness one anotherís differences of language and race, culture and creed. And, at the same time, we must keep ever in mind what it is that makes us one: our human nature. Upon this we have to build our future.

In the promotion of an effective solidarity, governments have a crucial role to play through the policies and programs that they approve. Genuine human solidarity is rooted in the basic equality of all men and women. Thus, every public policy should protect the basic dignity and the human rights of every person or group of persons, from the unborn child to the oldest members of society. In addition, government programs can contribute in a significant way to the development of open and honest human relationships, and to the establishment of strong bonds within families and communities. This is not to ignore the real racial, linguistic, religious, social and cultural differences which exist among peoples; nor does it minimize the great difficulties entailed in overcoming long-standing divisions and injustices. We must keep constantly before our eyes those elements which unite us, those authentic human values which we hold in common.

Such concerns will, I am sure, find a ready response in your country, in connection with the pastoral solicitude shown by the Catholic Bishops of the United States towards the needs of the less prosperous sectors of society at home and of the vast numbers of poverty-stricken members of the human family taken as a whole. Problems of such great import and urgency cannot fail to call for an examination of conscience based upon an objective moral code.

I know that your country has always been deeply committed to extending aid to those in need. As you have remarked, the American people have welcomed numerous refugees to their shores while also reaching out in fraternal concern to the poor in other nations. This distinguished record of generosity and compassion deserves the admiration of all.

At the same time, it is obvious that the many immigrants who have been received with hospitality in your land have in turn contributed in no small way to the human, social and civil development of the American nation. Through a great moral effort on the part of all the ethnic groups of widely differing origins have forged a united society with common ideals of tolerance, mutual respect and harmony. Such a moral effort should never diminish, but should steadily develop and grow, inspired by faith in God and by genuine human solidarity.

The problem of refugees has certainly not been solved. It remains a major problem of our age. I am therefore pleased that the United Nations Organization has designated 1987 as the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. In calling attention to this important concern, the United Nations has also reminded us of the need for renewed collaboration between the Governments of all countries, with the assistance of International Organizations and Non-Governmental institutions.

In all these efforts, diplomacy and dialogue play a key role. You and your colleagues will be able to contribute in a significant way to relieving the sufferings of the millions who have nowhere to live and lack the means essential for a decent human life. It is one of the many ways in which diplomacy serves the common good of humanity.

Mr Ambassador, I hope that your mission to the Vatican will be a most useful and fulfilling one for you. May God assist you in your efforts. And I invoke his blessings of peace and harmony upon all the beloved people of the United States of America.





Thursday, 8 January 1987

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of the Interterritorial Episcopal Conference of The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Our meeting today calls to mind in a special way the collegial communion that we are privileged to share. It was the Lordís will that Saint Peter and the other Apostles should form an apostolic college. We are gathered here as their successors while sharing the bonds of unity, charity and peace (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 22).

This is your second ad limina visit since the formation of your joint Conference. I wish to thank you for the kind greetings and for the assurance of prayers which you have expressed to me on behalf of the clergy, religious and laity of your three countries. Each of you represents in a special way your local Church, and I wish to reciprocate by offering through you my cordial greetings to all the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care. "May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word" (Cfr. 2Th 2,16).

2. During the years since your last visit, your young Churches have experienced continued growth and development. The Apostolic Vicariates of Monrovia and Cape Palmas have been erected as an Archdiocese and a Diocese respectively, and just recently the new Diocese of Gbarnga has been established. These three new Dioceses bring to seven the total number which constitute your Conference.

It was my privilege to ordain two of your brothers to the Order of Bishop on the Solemnity of the Lordís Epiphany. These episcopal ordinations here in Rome near the Tomb of the Apostle Peter, surrounded by brother Bishops not only from West Africa but also from other countries, serve to strengthen and manifest clearly universal communion of the Episcopal College. May you both - Bishop Sekey of the new Diocese of Gbarnga and Bishop Biguzzi of the Diocese of Makeni - find great joy and peace in Christ as you dedicate yourselves to work in close collaboration with your brother Bishops. Always remember that as Pastors of your local Churches you are entrusted with this charge by Christ the Lord. He summons you to feed the faithful in word and sacrament, exercising in their midst the role of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Cfr. Matth Mt 20,28).

3. It is my fervent prayer that you will renew yet again your efforts in the great task of evangelization which is the essential mission of the Church. I praise the many courageous initiatives that you have already undertaken for spreading the Gospel. And I take this opportunity to repeat the words of Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World: Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say in order to preach and teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God and to perpetuate Christís sacrifice in the Mass, which is the memorial of his Death and glorious Resurrection" (Cfr. Pauli VI , Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14).

There are considerable difficulties that you must face in proclaiming the Good News of salvation to the many who have not yet heard of Christ. You are called upon to bear witness to him daily in a multireligious society where the majority of the population is Muslim and where many others are adherents of traditional African religions. The truth of our faith that the plan of salvation in some way includes all those who acknowledge the Creator certainly offers us a basis for dialogue and peaceful coexistence with non-Christian believers.

The teaching of the of the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to non-Christians encourages all Christians and Muslims to overcome the difficulties of the past and "to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind let them make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom" (Cfr. Nostra Aetate ).

In your particular countries of West Africa, the Gospel must be spread above all by the witness of an exemplary Christian life. Such a witness is already an initial act of evangelization, though it must be added that personal Christian witness in the ordinary events of daily life needs to be accompanied by the public proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the person of Jesus Christ our Saviour. For at the centre of all the Churchís attempts at evangelization is the clear message of eternal life offered to all people in Christ as a free gift of Godís grace and mercy.

4. In the areas of education and health care your local Churches are making a noteworthy contribution towards the work of evangelization. I am told that the Catholic schools in your countries enjoy the reputation of being among the best, especially on the secondary level. At the same time I know that the Churchís role in health care is greatly esteemed by your Governments and by the general population. We can see clearly that in these two sectors of loving dedication the members of your local Churches are exerting an influence far beyond their limited numbers, thus enabling the Christian way of life to be better known and accepted.

The Churchís presence in the spheres of health care and education is primarily carried out by the members of the various Religious Institutes. I know that you willingly join me in expressing thanks to Almighty God for all the men and women Religious who for many years have laboured despite great difficulties to plant the Church in your particular region. By a truly evangelical life they have given witness to the Lord and borne abundant fruit. I likewise praise and thank God for the dedication of the local clergy, who are gradually growing in numbers.

5. It is with special satisfaction that I have learned of the ever-increasing role that the laity of your three countries is assuming in the Churchís activities. The laityís particular vocation is to act as a leaven in the midst of the world and thus to exercise a vital role in the great work of evangelization. Their specific field of spreading the Gospel includes professional work, and, in the case of the married, their role as parents entrusts them with the primary responsibility for the Christian education of their children (Cfr. Gravissimum Educationis GE 3).

Your Conference has placed great emphasis on the formation of the laity, particularly through the establishment of national and diocesan pastoral centres for their education and for the formation of catechists. The close cooperation of these centres with the Interterritorial Pastoral and Social Development Centre in Kenema, Sierra Leone, is making an important contribution not only to your own Conference but to the work of the whole Church in Africa.

Your praiseworthy initiative in the erecting of these pastoral centres gives a clear response to the appeal of the Second Vatican Council: "There should, then, be an increase in the number of schools, both on the diocesan and on the regional levels, in which future catechists can study Catholic doctrine, especially in the fields of Scripture and the liturgy, as well as catechetical method and pastoral practice. Let there be more schools in which they can develop Christian habits in themselves and can devote themselves tirelessly to cultivating piety and sanctity of life" (Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 17).

6. In the ecclesial structure of your local communities, lay catechists play a fundamental role by dedicating their lives to the education of both children and adults in the Christian faith. The growth of these communities is in a large measure the result of their labours. At the same time there exists a need to clarify the specific role of lay catechists and their place in the Churchís mission of evangelization. Great care should be given to their formation as teachers of the faith and witnesses to the Gospel.

With regard to their role in the whole process of evangelization, I wish to reiterate "that there is no separation or opposition between catechesis and evangelization. Nor can they be simply identified with each other. Instead, they have close links whereby they integrate and complement each other" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP II , Catechesi Tradendae CTR 18). In a word, catechesis is one of the essential moments of evangelization and can be defined as "an education of children, young people and adults in the faith, which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP.II, Catechesi Tradendae CTR 18).

7. One of the primary means of catechesis suggested by the Second Vatican Council and adopted in your Dioceses is the catechumenate.As the Council says: "the catechumenate is not a mere expounding of doctrines and precepts, but a training period for the whole Christian life. It is an apprenticeship of appropriate length during which disciples are joined to Christ their Teacher. Therefore, catechumens should be properly instructed in the mystery of salvation and in the practice of gospel morality". ( Cfr. Ad Gentes AGD 14) Given the importance of the catechumenate as an apprenticeship in Christian life, it is clearly necessary to insist on a period of appropriate duration for this intensive baptismal preparation. The radical newness of Christian life is to be emphasized throughout the period of the catechumenate.

8. It is with much hope for the future of your Dioceses that I refer to Saint Paulís Major Seminary and your other four minor seminaries. I note that Saint Paulís Seminary serves in the preparation of candidates for the priesthood not only from the seven Dioceses of your Episcopal Conference but also from some of the Dioceses of Ghana. The growing number of seminarians, representing different ethnic groups, and many of them coming from non-Christian families, is a source of great promise.

I know that you face great difficulties in supporting financially and in staffing your major seminary and the minor seminaries. I encourage you in your efforts to obtain qualified professors for the theological education and spiritual formation of your students. Be assured of my prayers in this overall endeavour of priestly formation, so essential to the future of the Church in your countries. May you always be true fathers in Christ to each of your seminarians (Cfr. Optatam Totius OT 5).

9. In union with you, my dear Brothers, I continue my own mission as the Chief Pastor of the universal Church. As we serve the Gospel, let us recall that it is "primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus - the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity" (Cfr. Pauli VI , Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 41).

I take this occasion of your ad limina visit to commend you once again to Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, asking her to help you by her prayers. In the love of Jesus her Son I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and all those entrusted to your pastoral care.




Friday, 9 January 1987

Mr Ambassador,

It is my pleasure to welcome Your Excellency as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kenya to the Holy See. On this auspicious occasion of the presentation of your Letter of Credence I express my gratitude for the cordial greetings sent by your President, His Excellency Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi, and by the Government and people of Kenya. I ask you to assure the President of my continued prayers for the prosperity of your country.

Todayís ceremony reminds me vividly of the pastoral visits that I made to your country both in 1980 and more recently in 1985 on the occasion of the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress. During those visits I was able to experience your warm hospitality and to appreciate the beauty that Kenya manifests in her natural scenery and in the noble qualities which enrich your people and culture. I shall long remember looking upon the smiling and hope filled faces of your children and young people.

I note with satisfaction your reference to the role exercised by the Church in Kenyaís development. It is my fervent prayer that the Church, in obedience to Christís command of love expressed through service to others, may continue to take an active part in the progress of your country, especially in the fields of health care, education and needed social services.

The Churchís involvement in the advancement of society is to be understood as an aspect of her religious mission. The Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, explains clearly that "the purpose which Christ set before the Church is a religious one. But out of this religious mission itself come a function, a light, and an energy which can serve to structure and consolidate the human community according to the divine law. As a mater of fact, when circumstances of time and place create the need, she can and indeed should initiate activities on behalf of all men. This is particularly true of activities designed for the needy, such as the works of mercy and similar undertakings" (Gaudium et Spes GS 42).

I appreciate in particular your statement concerning the religious freedom that is guaranteed to the citizens of Kenya through the State Constitution. The basic right to religious freedom, with immunity from any form of external coercion, is clearly defined in the Vatican Councilís Declaration on Religious Freedom. This document points out that the foundation of such freedom is the dignity of the individual human person, and it is out of respect for each individual that freedom of worship is to be recognized by constitutional law. Furthermore, since the exercise of religion consists primarily in those free acts whereby an individual directs his life to God, such acts can neither be imposed nor prohibited.

At the same time we must keep in mind that the right to religious freedom is expressed not only individually but in society. Thus its exercise must ensure respect for the rights of others and for the common welfare of all. A nationís well-being can be safeguarded when all its different ethnic and social groups are able to live in mutual respect for each otherís fundamental rights while engaging in frank and open dialogue. The Church as far as it is within her competence is always ready to play her own part through respectful and harmonious cooperation with the Government and the other civil and religious authorities of the country.

It is with genuine concern that the Holy See observes the problem of refugees, which especially in your own region of the African continent has taken on preoccupying and to times tragic aspects. Your country, and I am pleased to note this fact on this occasion, is sensitive to the plight of the many refugees crossing its frontiers, and has offered them prompt hospitality and generous assistance.

Mr Ambassador, the role of the Holy See in work for international peace and human rights is grounded in the conviction that human beings are formed in the image and likeness of God and therefore all have equal dignity. This shared dignity demands that we should live always in harmony, respecting each other and devoting ourselves to work for the common good. International peace will only be achieved when we become thoroughly convinced of the universal brotherhood of the human family and truly seek the good of others and of the whole human community.

As you begin your mission, Mr Ambassador, I assure you of the complete cooperation of the Holy See in the fulfilment of your duties. It is my hope that you will further in every way the good relations which already exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Kenya. Upon Your Excellency, and upon the President, Government and people of Kenya I invoke Godís blessings of peace and well-being.





Monday 12 January 1987

Dear Bishop Browning,

It is a great joy for me to welcome you and your party to Rome. I am happy that you chose to make a visit to the Vatican at an early stage of your ministry as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. I assure you of my prayers that your service to Christ will bear great spiritual fruit.

As I greet you this morning my thoughts return to that occasion, less than three months ago, when I welcomed here the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was the day after the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. The Archbishop was accompanied at Assisi by the Anglican Primates of Nigeria, Tanzania, Japan, Jerusalem and the Middle East. Together they represented the Anglican Communion and their presence was truly appreciated. I recall with gratitude the service in the Cathedral of Assisi at which Christians from all over the world prayed together. The unity in prayer on that day was not only a marvellous spiritual experience for those of us who were there, but was also a sign to the world of the growing solidarity between us, a solidarity which is rooted in our baptism into Christ.

I know, Bishop Browning, that like those of us who gathered at Assisi you share a great uneasiness about the conflicts and the violence which beset our world. I pray that in the years to come our voices will always speak as one about social justice, the search for peace, and the dignity and right to life of every human being.

We thank God for the progress that has so far been made along the path to unity of faith between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. May that progress continue, and may our prayer today be a sign of the real though imperfect communion that exists between us and of our desire to deepen it.

Welcome to Rome, dear brother in Jesus Christ. welcome to the city which has been honoured by the blood of the first Christian martyrs. I know that you carry in your heart the hopes and aspi-rations as well as the pain and suffering of many Episcopalians in the United States. I would ask you, when you return to your country, to convey to all those for whom you have pastoral care the cordial greetings of the Successor of Peter.
February 1987




Tuesday, 3 February 1987

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome you today and to celebrate the Eucharist with you in a spirit of gratitude to God for the Centenary of the Evangelization of Nigeria. This important occasion causes us to reflect on the wonderful way that so many people of your country, in the past hundred years, have heard and embraced the Good News of salvation. Each one of you stands as a witness to this happy achievement of Godís grace. You are living symbols of the fruitfulness of the Gospel.

It is a great joy for me to be with you then around this Altar of Sacrifice. For as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, the Eucharist is ďthe source and the summit of all the preaching of the GospelĒ (Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5). In the Eucharist, we praise the Holy Trinity for the blessings of the past; we celebrate Christís presence with us now; and we are strengthened to fulfil our own role in the saving mission of the Church.

Let us join our hearts and voices this day in praying for the entire Church in Nigeria: for her clergy and religious, for all her laity and in a special way for the sick and suffering. May the Word of God continue to bear fruit and flourish in your land.



Saturday, 12 February 1987

Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to meet you, the Officers and men of HMS "Intrepid" and HMS "Fife", which are now visiting some Italian ports. You have wished to make a visit to the Pope a part of your tour, and I am happy that this has been possible.

Your presence here gives me the opportunity to encourage you to see your naval service in the light of what it has to be today: the service of true peace. This must be the goal of all your efforts, especially in the present circumstances of international life and the present levels of the arms race.

Allow me to express the hope that you will always be guided by sentiments of true peace and brotherhood towards all; that you will acknowledge the human dignity and respect the human rights of every individual. Remember the golden rule: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you" (Cfr. Matth Mt 7,12). Then you will deserve the gift that Jesus Christ promised to men and women of peace: "Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Cfr. Matth Mt 5,9).

I will pray for you and your families, and I invoke upon you Godís abundant blessings. Tell your dear ones that the Pope sends his greetings to them and wishes them well. God be with you!



Monday, 9 February 1987

Mr Ambassador,

I am happy to accept from Your Excellency the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Sweden. In welcoming you, I wish also to thank you for the cordial greetings which you have conveyed on behalf of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf, and I would ask you please to reciprocate his good wishes.

I appreciate your kind reference to our shared commitment to the ideals of brotherhood and solidarity. There is urgent need to emphasize these ideals in the present context of international relations. In the modern world, obstacles to solidarity abound, obstacles arising from racial prejudice or religious intolerance, or resulting from ideologies and systems which spawn hatred, distrust and conflict. In the face of these obstacles, we must be convinced of the value and real effectiveness of solidarity and fraternal collaboration. Policies can be established and programmes can be designed which will enable the peoples of the world to live in honest relationship and to develop the trusting and fruitful cooperation needed to consolidate the peace which men and women of good will everywhere long for and, as it were, demand as their right.

Diplomacy can make an important contribution to the ever wider establishment of international solidarity. For it is the task of diplomats to foster dialogue and mutual understanding. As I said in my Message for the Twentieth World Day of Peace, "This spirit of solidarity is a spirit that is open to dialogue. It finds its roots in truth, and needs truth to develop. It is a spirit that seeks to build up rather than to destroy, to unite rather than to divide" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II , Nuntius ob XX diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum, a. D. 1987,4, die 8 dec. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986), 1890).

I am pleased to note your reference to disarmament negotiations and to the work of the United Nations Organization. The extent of your countryís commitment to such international cooperation is clearly manifested in the generous way in which Sweden has offered assistance to developing countries. I warmly commend this significant record. As you know, the Holy See too looks favourably upon the work of the Untied Nations in this sphere and would be happy to see far greater cooperation at the international level.

International solidarity is not just an expedient recommendation of the practical order. It is a moral necessity. For the human family is one; by the simple fact of our birth into this world, we share with every other human being the same inheritance and the same eternal destiny. We are all made in the image and likeness of the one God. And it is heartening to observe an ever greater appreciation of this fact, together with a growing awareness of the increasing interdependence between nations and the consequent necessity for international collaboration in pursuing the common good. The friendly diplomatic relations existing between Sweden and the Holy See constitute a valid expression of our shared conviction of the supremacy of understanding, dialogue, peace and collaboration over all forms of division between people and in the realm of international life.

My thoughts cannot fail to turn to the long history of Christianityís presence in Sweden, a presence which goes back at least to the first recorded Christian mission at Birka in the year 830. Although the number of Catholics in your country today is small, I am happy that there exists a very favourable climate of understanding and ecumenical endeavour between the various Churches. Is my ardent hope that this form of religious solidarity will grow apace and serve to meet the urgent spiritual needs of our times. Mr Ambassador. I trust that your mission here will be a fruitful one. I assure you that you will receive the cooperation of the Holy See in its fulfilment. May God assist you in your new mission, and upon all the beloved people of Sweden may he bestow his abundant blessings.




Monday, 9 February 1987

Dear Directors and Students of
the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey,

Speeches 1987