Speeches 1987 - Monday, 9 February 1987

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Cfr. Phil Ph 1,2). I am very happy to welcome you to Rome, for so long a centre of European civilization and culture! Here, from the beginning, the question of the relationship between the Gospel and culture has been of immediate relevance. For at Rome, in the design of Providence, Peter concluded his journey of faithful discipleship and service. Here he paid the price of his blood, giving proof of his love for Christ. At Rome, Paul preached the Gospel and also gave the supreme witness. Thus the Church of Rome became the Church of Peter and Paul. In the Catholic belief its Bishop received as his inheritance the mission of strengthening his fellow Bishops (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,32) and teaching the flock of the whole Church.

I hope that your visit here may be a further encouragement for each of you in your commitment to Christ and the Gospel. May it inspire you in the ecumenical task so that when you go back to your own countries you may bring a heart and mind even more ready to serve Godís loving purpose for his Church, for the unity of Christian people and for the renewal and reconciliation of the human family.

"May the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sigh, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Cfr. Hebr.13, 20-21).

March 1987




Friday 20 March 1987

Dear Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers,
My brothers and sisters in Christ.

1. It is a pleasure to greet you and to thank you as you conclude the annual plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications.

Your work is immensely important for the Church and for the world. Our Lord asked his disciples to teach all nations, and the communications media are now able to reach all nations, so that a word spoken once can indeed be a word that reaches and teaches the entire human family.

The word spoken once which should reach and teach the entire human family is Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. His truth is the good news for which the world is hungry. His love is the lifegiving fountain which the world craves.

2. The word of God is able to reach a waiting world when the celebration of the Mass is transmitted to many nations. The Liturgy of the Word introduces or makes known more deeply the saving message of Christ; the Liturgy of the Eucharist truly proclaims the mystery of our faith: that Jesus died and rose again that we might live forever, and that he continues to offer himself to those who believe as spiritual nourishment on our pilgrimage to eternal union with him.

Thus, I cannot stress enough the importance of the international transmissions of the liturgies of Christmas and Easter begun by the Commission. These transmissions enable millions of the faithful to pray in union with the Pope and with their fellow Catholics throughout the world, and they enable millions of others to experience what we believe and to pray with us.

Television and radio trasmissions also bring together people throughout the world to follow in prayer the Way of the Cross on Good Friday.

Furthermore, last October, many religious leaders came together in Assisi to pray for peace. Radio and television enabled many others to join in that prayer; reports in the print and electronic news media enabled yet others to renew that prayer and to seek that conversion of heart without which true peace is not possible.

Next June, on the vigil of Pentecost, the day when the Mother of God joined her Son's disciples in the Upper Room to await the coming of the Holy Spirit, television and radio will not only make it possible for hundreds of millions of people to join in prayer with the Pope in Rome but will also transmit their prayers and responses so that we will experience a worldwide community of prayer to Jesus through his Mother Mary. As on the first Pentecost, when all heard the message preached by the Apostles in their own languages, so on this Pentecost many will hear the message of Christ in their own languages and will have their own prayers heard throughout the world in a symphony of praise to God: Creator, Saviour and Sanctifier.

3. The instruments of communication which make such shared experiences possible are the "mirifica", the "wonderful things", of which the Second Vatican Council spoke in its Decree a "Inter Mirifica".

I know that your Commission is considering ways in which to recognize the efforts of those who have utilized these instruments of communication to the best advantage possible. I am also aware that you are preparing a document of guidance and support for families, to enable them to make fruitful use of these communications media and to resist the use of the media for images and messages which destroy rather than strengthen the moral fibre of the family and of society.

All of these initiatives are timely and significant, so that the communications media may indeed serve to "teach all nations" the good news of the dignity and the destiny of those who are truly children of God and heirs of heaven.

May Our Lord, through the intercession of his Blessed Mother, continue to guide your work. I willingly impart to you, your loved ones and your associates in this most important work of communications my Apostolic Blessing.



Saturday, 28 March 1987

Mr Ambassador,

I am very pleased to accept your Letters of Credence and to welcome you as Australiaís Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. I do so with vivid memories of my recent pastoral visit to your country, which enabled me to witness at first hand the warm and generous spirit of the Australian people. As I mentioned during that visit, I rejoice in the harmony, friendship and cooperation that characterize the relations between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Holy See.

Certainly we must continue to make it our common aim to seek those values which Your Excellency has mentioned: peace, justice and human rights. You spoke of the search for world peace through the control of weapons and through the creation of a more just and equitable world economy. I am grateful to you for expressing these aspirations, which echo the sentiments of the Church and indeed of all people of good will. The values underlying them transcend the interests of any one nation and are meant to serve the spiritual and material well-being of all humanity. At the heart of the search for justice and peace is the deep truth to which I referred in my Message for the 1987 World Day of Peace, that as one human family we are called to recognize our basic solidarity as the fundamental condition of our life together on this earth. This solidarity must be reflected in our attitude towards our fellow human beings, individually and collectively, and in the practical steps that nations take to foster the good of humanity or simply to promote good will. Among these we may include policies and programmes that encourage openness and honesty among peoples, particularly in their alliances for just purposes and in their cooperative endeavours.

The promotion of human solidarity in our attitudes and actions is a key to the peace we all seek, not only in the search for arms control and an end to war, but also in the search for ethical and just solutions to problems such as the international debt question. I note with satisfaction the consideration given by the Australian Government to the series of reflections on the last-mentioned subject recently published by the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. There can be no doubt that Australia has its own role to play in promoting solutions to this problem. As I said to the members of the Australian Parliament on the occasion of my visit: "I take the liberty of asking from you, who have received so much from God, something more than a generous response to the crises that afflict other people. Seize the initiative to go out to other people everywhere. You are a very important part of a world that needs to experience reconciliation and solidarity".

As you have rightly noted, Mr Ambassador, the pursuit of a more equitable and peaceful international order is extremely demanding. I believe, however, as I am sure you do, that it is possible to move people, as individuals and as nations, to act in ways that truly promote peace and dialogue rather than violence and injustice. One of the deepest motivating forces in this regard is the truth of our common humanity and common responsibility for the survival and well-being of the human family. I share the conviction of the Australian people and their Government that the patient and persevering dedication to the constructive social, economic and diplomatic initiatives can make a significant difference in a world that yearns for the blessings of justice and peace. The Catholic Church in your country has contributed to this process and will continue to do so, by supporting and participating in those endeavours which truly promote the good of Australia and the larger good of the family of nations.

In this spirit I wish to assure you of my prayers and best wishes for the success of your mission. Through the fulfilment of your diplomatic duties you will be rendering an important service not only to your own country but to all people who believe that there are other alternatives besides violence and oppression for resolving the conflicts that arise between nations. The Holy See willingly pledges its full cooperation with you in your responsibilities.

I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings to the Governor-General, to the Prime Minister and to all the members of the Australian Government. And upon yourself and all the people of Australia I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

April 1987



Monday, 27 April 1987

Mr Ambassador,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See. I gladly accept your Letters of Credence and I thank you for conveying the courteous words of greeting expressed by His Excellency President Chun Doo Hwan.

The fact that you are here as the diplomatic representative of your country reminds me of my unforgettable visit three years ago. I was deeply moved by the warmth of the hospitality of the Korean people, and I cherish that firsthand experience of the traditional qualities of goodwill, respect and industriousness which characterize them. I also understood more vividly the painful division which continues to cause so much suffering and which calls for the best efforts and enduring perseverance of all who serve the cause of justice and peace.

In the contemporary world we cannot ignore the fact that the economic, social and political questions affecting individual countries have a global and interdependent dimension. And furthermore such questions necessarily involve an ethical and moral dimension which has its roots in the unique value of every human life and the inviolability of human dignity.

Wisdom requires that in seeking appropriate solutions to the grave problems which each country experiences in its own particular way, the common good and the ethical principles governing it be given priority over all forms of partisan interest.

The Holy See holds that just relationships between countries can only be built upon a shared sense of solidarity and responsibility for the well-being and authentic progress of the human family as a whole. Justice in human affairs demands respect for the dignity of every human being. It rejects selfishness, both personal and collective, which favours inequalities and domination by the strongest. In this light the moral qualities and the religious vitality of a nation have an essential contribution to make to the building of a society based on mutual trust, co-responsibility, the defence of human rights and attention to the needs of the poor and the weak.

As the Church fulfils her mission in the midst of the world, her religious, educational and charitable activities cannot but contribute to the building up of a more humane and just society. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, "whoever... seeks first the kingdom of God will as a consequence receive a stronger and purer love for helping all his brothers and for perfecting the work of justice under the inspiration of charity" (Gaudium et Spes GS 72). This has also been the experience of the Church in Korea, the bicentennial of whose presence I was privileged to celebrate on your soil.

I mention these general principles as an example of the attention to the moral and humanitarian aspects of public life which characterizes the approach of the Church and of the Holy See. It is with such matters that your mission here will be principally concerned.

I would assure you of the fullest cooperation of the Holy See in strengthening and developing still further the ties already existing between us, and I invoke abundant divine blessings upon you in the fulfilment of your duties, and upon your fellow citizens in the pursuit of harmony, justice and peace.
May 1987



Friday, 15 May 1987

Dear Friends,

I am happy to welcome you, the directors and members of the International Federation of the "Arche". In our present-day society, which is sometimes described in terms that are excessively negative, there exist wonderful humanitarian endeavours and movements of evangelical inspiration, whose efforts are completely dedicated to the loving service of those persons who are marked in body or in spirit by suffering or a handicap of one kind or another. The "Arche" is one such initiative. It is a source of joy for the Pope to meet you and to encourage you in your good work.

It is my prayerful hope that you will continue and increase in your care of the young, of the poor, of the handicapped of all ages. In this you are bearing witness to the Good News brought to the world by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. You are contributing to the effective realization of that Good News. In the name of the Church, I thank you for acting with respect for the human person and for his or her inalienable dignity.

I am aware that the religious dimension plays an important part in the life of the "Arches", even if it varies from one Foyer to another. Opportunities for individual and community prayer are offered; the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance are celebrated frequently; appropriate spiritual retreats are organized. Indeed, by means of these different forms of encounter with him, the Lord offers light, peace and joy to those who are gathered in the "Arches". And to your great happiness, these same people are often capable of wonderful spiritual progress.

The extension of your movement leads you to welcome young people and adults of different religious denominations. In this regard, you know how important it is always to respect the faith of each person and to encourage understanding and mutual esteem.

Yours is a representative group of lay men and women, responsible for the life and activity of the "Arches". I would ask you, as members of the laity, to pray in a special way for the work of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place here in Rome next October, on the Mission of the Christian Laity in the Church. This will be the first Synod to deal with this important question.

On the eve of the opening of a year specially dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, I earnestly invite you and all the residents of the "Arches" to direct your hearts and prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church.

Dear Friends, may the witness of your closeness to those who suffer, your respect and kindness towards them, your selfless service, your evangelical and ecclesial spirit, shine forth, so that our contemporaries "may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5,15). On all of you, priests and laity present here, and on all the "Arches" throughout the world, I invoke Almighty Godís abundant graces and blessings.




Friday, 15 May 1987

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. In the peace and joy of the Holy Spirit I welcome all of you who have come to Rome for the Sixth International Leaders Charismatic Renewal. I am very happy to meet you today and, as I begin, I wish to assure you that your love for Christ and your openness to the Spirit of Truth are a most valuable witness in the Churchís mission in the world.

You are prayerfully considering, during these days, the words of the Prophet Isaiah which Jesus made his own at the very beginning of his public ministry: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor" (Cfr. Luc Lc 4,18).

These words, when read by Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth, had a profound effect on those listening. As he finished the reading, rolled up the scroll and sat down, "the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him" (Ibid. 4, 20). Even in our own time, these prophetic words strike to the heart. They draw us upward in faith to the person of Christ and deepen our desire "to fix our eyes on him", the Redeemer of the world, the perfect fulfilment of all prophecy. They stir up our longing to enter ever more completely into the mystery of Christ: to know him better and to love him with greater fidelity.

2. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me". While Jesus applied these words to himself that day in Nazareth, they could likewise be applied, at Pentecost and thereafter, to the Body of Christ, the Church. "When the work which the Father had given the Son to do on earth (Cfr. Io Jn 17,4) was accomplished, the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost in order that he might forever sanctify the Church, and thus all believers would have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit" (Lumen Gentium LG 4). As a result, the history of the Church is at the same time the history of two thousand years of the action of the Holy Spirit, "the Lord, the Giver of Life" who renews Godís people in grace and freedom, and is "the Spirit of Truth" bringing holiness and joy to people of every race and tongue and nation.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church. The vigour and fruitfulness of the Renewal certainly attest to the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit at work in the Church in these years after the Second Vatican Council. Of course, the Spirit has guided the Church in every age, producing a great variety of gifts among the faithful. Because of the Spirit, the Church preserves a continual youthful vitality. And the Charismatic Renewal is an eloquent manifestation of this vitality today, a bold statement of what "the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Ap 2,7) as we approach the close of the Second Millennium.

For this reason, it is essential that you seek always to deepen your communion with the whole Church: with her Pastors and teachers, with her doctrine and discipline, with her sacramental life, with the entire people of God.

In this same regard, I have asked Bishop Paul Cordes to assist as Episcopal Adviser to the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office. I am sure that he will help you in fostering a dynamism that is always well-balanced and in strengthening your bonds of fidelity to the Apostolic See.

3. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me". In addition to the meaning of these words for Jesus and for the Church throughout the world they also remind us of our own personal identity as men and women who have been baptized into Christ. For the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, each one of us, who have been born anew in the saving waters of Baptism. And the Spirit prompts us to go forth in faith "to preach good news to the poor": the poor in material things, the poor in spiritual gifts, the poor in mind and body. The Holy Spirit gives us the courage and strength to go out to all who, in a particular way, are "the little ones" of the world. Each of us responds in a unique manner, according to our own special talents and gifts. But we shall be able to make a generous and authentic response only if we are firmly grounded in a regular habit of prayer.

Accordingly, I recommend that you meditate on these words of Isaiah frequently, pondering the great mystery of how the Spirit of God over shadows your life in a manner not altogether dissimilar to the experience of the Virgin Mary. As the truth penetrates your heart and soul, it fills your whole being with gratitude and praise and a sense of awe at Godís great love.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me". These words stand at the foundation of our prayer, our service to others, our life of faith. They direct us towards the invisible God who dwells within us as in a Temple, to the one whom we profess in the Creed to be "the Lord, the Giver of Life", the one who "has spoken through the Prophets". In prayerful reflection on these words, we meet and adore the Holy Spirit.

In prayer, too, we come to see the stark reality of our own poverty, the absolute need we have for a Saviour. We discover in a more profound degree the many ways in which we ourselves are poor and needy, and thus we begin to feel an increasing solidarity with all the poor. In the end, - we realize more fully than ever before that Good News for the poor is Good News for ourselves as well.

4. Dear Friends in Christ, you have come to Rome in the month of May, Our Ladyís month. You come just prior to the Feast of Pentecost and the beginning of the Marian Year. And in considering the theme, "Good News to the Poor", you are considering a theme dear to the Mother of our Redeemer. As I stated in my recent Encyclical on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Church, "Mary truly proclaims the coming of the ĎMessiah of the poorí (Cfr. Is Is 11,4 Is 61,1). Drawing from Maryís heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Mater RMA 37).

May you be inspired by the heroic example of love given by the Virgin Mother of our Redeemer, and may you entrust yourselves with confidence to her intercession and maternal care. In the love of her Son, our Saviour Christ the Lord, I impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.




Friday, 15 May 1987

My dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Ethiopia, on this joyous occasion of your ad limina visit. We are gathered today in unity, in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and in the love of Christ who forever remains the chief cornerstone (Cfr. Eph Ep 2,25) and the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (Cfr. 1 Petr. 2,25).

The devoted sentiments which Cardinal Paulos has expressed to me on your behalf and in the name of all your priests, religious and faithful are deeply appreciated. I wish to take this opportunity to acknowledge the strong ecclesial communion that exists between the Catholics of Ethiopia and the See of Peter.

To the entire Church in Ethiopia I repeat the words of Saint Paul: "We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Cfr. 1Th 1,2).

2. Each of you is called in communion with Peterís Successor and in the grace of the Holy Spirit to fulfil your ministry so that the Body of Christ may be built up and increase. Through your faithful preaching of the Gospel, through your administration of the sacraments and through your loving exercise of authority, you serve the People of God entrusted to your care.

Your collegial communion with the Successor of Peter is the work of the Holy Spirit. Together we confess "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,5) in the common celebration of the divine liturgy which finds expression in two different rites. We share in the fraternal charity of the children of God and together we make our pilgrim way towards our heavenly homeland. We are always mindful that the unity which is ours in the Church finds its source in the unity of the Holy Trinity. For as the Second Vatican Councilís Dogmatic Constitution on the Church states, "the Church shines forth as a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit" (Lumen Gentium LG 4).

3. The long history of Christianity in your country has known moments of great splendour and extraordinary vitality, as well as times of trial and suffering for the sake of your faith. You have a wonderful history of saintly men and women who stood as steadfast witnesses of the faith in every age. The monasteries of Ethiopia in particular have been centres of learning and culture for generations of Christians.

At present one Metropolitan See, two Eparchies, five Vicariates Apostolic and one Prefecture Apostolic make up your ecclesiastical jurisdictions. Although the Catholic Church forms a small part of the total population, you are particularly active in the areas of social services, education and health. We have witnessed a clear example of this in the generous assistance that has been given through agencies of the Catholic Church to the many victims of the recent famine which beset your country. Likewise, the local Church, and the missionaries in particular, are deeply committed to rehabilitation following on that famine. They work for social progress in schools, hospitals, dispensaries and a multiplicity of development projects. It is my prayer and my earnest expectation that the Government of Ethiopia will afford the missionaries all the facilities necessary to continue that service to the country, while you spare no effort to train Ethiopian personnel who may take over their apostolate in the future.

4. My dear Brothers: I wish to praise the many courageous initiatives that you have undertaken for proclaiming the Gospel. As pastors of the Church in Ethiopia you have directed your activity in two directions: ad intra and ad extra. On the one hand, with great pastoral solicitude you have given yourselves to the Catholic faithful, nourishing them by word and sacrament, exercising in their midst the role of the Good Shepherd. On the other hand, together with the cooperation of your clergy, religious and laity, you have not neglected the Churchís great task of evangelization, proclaiming the Good News of salvation to the many who have not yet heard or accepted Christ.

I take this opportunity to encourage all your efforts in evangelization, which, in the words of Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World, is "the fundamental programme which the Church has taken on as received from her Founder" (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 61).

It is your particular responsibility, my Brothers, to adopt those means most appropriate for proclaiming the Gospel message in a multi-religious society. The Church has a deep respect for non-Christian religions because "they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people" (Cfr. Ibid. 53). Since the plan of salvation encompasses all those who acknowledge the Creator, there exists between Christian and non-Christians a profound basis for understanding and peaceful coexistence. In relation to non-Christian religions, the Church affirms her commitment not only to dialogue but also to the proclamation of the Gospel. "Neither respect and esteem for these religions nor the complexity of the questions raised is an invitation to the Church to withhold from these non-Christians the proclamation of Jesus Christ" (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 61). The Lord clearly exhorts his followers to make disciples of all nations, to baptize and to teach the observance of the commandments (Cfr. Matth Mt 28,19-20).

5. I am pleased to learn that the ecumenical dialogue between the various Christian denominations in Ethiopia is evidenced by common prayer as well as by collaboration in forms of social activity. Similarly, I am glad to know that as an Episcopal Conference you are preparing a document on ecumenical relations in your country.

I wish to emphasize that, according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, "the Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized are honoured with the name of Christian" (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 15). This is particularly true of the way in which Catholic and Orthodox Christians find themselves at one in the love and praise of Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church. In my recent Encyclical on the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the pilgrim Church, I referred precisely to the long tradition of Coptic and Ethiopian devotion to Mary when I observed that "the Coptic and Ethiopian traditions were introduced to this contemplation of the mystery of Mary by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, and in their turn they have celebrated it with a profuse poetic blossoming" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP II. Redemptoris Mater, RMA 31).

6. As regards the internal life of the Church in your country, I wish to assure you my full support and understanding in the face of the difficulties being experienced by your communities. I cannot fail to praise the humble and dedicated service rendered by your brother priests, both diocesan and religious, together with the numerous missionaries, all of whom are making an important contribution to the evangelization and social development of your local communities. I give thanks to Almighty God for their work.

I am aware that at the present time there is an urgent need for a more equal distribution of the priests in your country. I therefore express the hope that all priests will have at heart the pastoral care of the faithful wherever they may be, and that, with the permission or at the suggestion of their own Bishop, they will be willing to exercise their ministry in other regions, missions, or activities which are suffering from a shortage of clergy (Cfr. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 10). Likewise, I would encourage all Religious Superiors to an ever closer cooperation with the Bishops for a better coordination of the activities of all priests and men and women Religious in the spiritual service of your people.

Special recognition is due to the evangelization work being done by the lay catechists in the villages and small communities. The catechists educate children and adults in the faith, prepare catechumens and lead the community in prayer. May the Holy Spirit strengthen them, and may they find in you and in your priests the encouragement and support they deserve.

7. My dear Brothers in Christ: as I reflect together with you on the present life of the Church in Ethiopia, I note with gratitude to Almighty God how many of your faithful make frequent use of the sacraments.I am especially pleased that the Sacrament of the Lordís mercy and forgiveness, the Sacrament of Penance, is held in such high esteem. In a special way I wish to encourage your young people to receive this Sacrament the source of reconciliation and peace with God, with oneself and with oneís neighbour. Through catechesis may the faithful come to appreciate ever more fully the importance of all the sacraments in their spiritual growth.

Another aspect of the Churchís inner life which I wish to consider with you is the Sacrament of Marriage. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World clearly states that "as a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union, as well as the good of the children, imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreakable oneness between them" (Gaudium et Spes GS 48). The communion of marriage is characterized always by its unity and also by its indissolubility. Furthermore, the Church strongly affirms that the communion of love constituted by marriage is radically contradicted by polygamy, which "directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women, who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. Familiaris Consortio, 19).

We must always be solicitous to remind the faithful that the love of husband and wife is a sharing in the mystery of the life and love of God himself. This is why the Church stresses the dignity of marriage and the serious responsibility of the transmission of human life. She considers it her duty "to promote human life by every means possible and to defend it against all attacks, in whatever condition or state of development it is found" (Cfr. Ibid. 30).

8. My dear Brother Bishops: I assure you of my spiritual closeness to all the Ethiopian people in their hopes for peace, national harmony and development. It is my fervent prayer that you will return to your pastoral responsibilities renewed in faith, strengthened in hope and confirmed in your pastoral love. I commend you to Mary, the exalted Daughter of Sion, who helps all her children. And in the love of Jesus her Son I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all those entrusted to your pastoral care.

Speeches 1987 - Monday, 9 February 1987