Speeches 1987 - Thursday, 27 August 1987



Friday, 28 August 1987

Dear People of the United States of America,

I greet you all with joy and affection: Catholics, Protestants and Jews; all believers and non-believers alike. I greet you all in the love of God, and I look forward to being with you again.

Eight years ago I made my first pastoral visit to your country. How vividly I recall the warmth and kindness with which you welcomed me! How eagerly I anticipate returning to your great land!

An important theme has been proposed for my second visit: Unity in the Work of Service. It leads us to consider the ways in which the followers of Jesus Christ can serve the world by selfless deeds. For, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of our time - "especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted" - are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of all the followers of the Lord.

This theme also leads us to consider another reality: I mean the growth in unity which takes place among Christ’s followers precisely through the service which they render to others. The Church’s identity as a community of faith and love shines forth in the loving deeds of her members. Through their ministries and apostolates the Church’s unity is built up and made stronger.

The Apostle Paul shares this vision with us when he speaks in this way of the community of followers of the Lord: "It is he who gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in roles of service for the faithful to build up the body of Christ, till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son..." (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,11-13).

In this spirit, then, I return to you and your beloved land-a pilgrim Pope, who wishes to join with you in celebrating these noble works of service, and in building up our unity in the Lord. May God, who is the Father of us all, bless the United States richly now and in the days to come. May he bring us together once again in truth and peace, in justice, love and service.

                                                       September 1987




Wednesday, 2 September 1987

Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I wish to express my appreciation for the kind invitation of Cardinal Willebrands to be with you today, here in the summer house of the Pontifical English College, so close to my residence in Castelgandolfo, on the occasion of this plenary session of the second Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission.

This meeting calls to mind that day in 1982 when I journeyed to Canterbury at the invitation of Archbishop Runcie. It was then that this Commission was constituted with a mandate to examine all those things which stand in the way of fuller communion between Roman Catholics and Anglicans. With the publication of Salvation and the Church the Commission shared the fruit of its labours in probing the heart of the Reformation controversies. Your present study of the theology of communion is also of great importance. It is my hope that in pursuing this topic you will be able to discern more clearly the steps towards that unity which is the will of Christ for his followers.

The path of dialogue may be long, but we must not lose heart. The Holy Spirit has called us to the ecumenical task and it is he who will sustain us with his grace. We may draw inspiration and strength from the words of the Prophet: "From this time forth I make you hear new things, hidden things which you have not known. They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them’" (Cfr. Is Is 48,6-7).

These words of Isaiah remind us of the humility required of those who would search for unity along the road marked by God. We must respond with an open heart to his grace–that grace which summons us to conversion, to new knowledge and to new life.

My friends: I assure you of my prayers for yourselves and for the important work in which you are engaged. May God enlighten your minds and bless your deliberations, so that you may discern his will and know his purpose.

"(To) him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen" (Cfr. Eph Ep 3,20-21).


Wednesday, 2 September 1987

Dear young Athletes,

1. Thank you for this visit on the occasion of the Athletics World Championships being held in Rome. I am happy to meet you and welcome you in friendship, and I wish you every success in your demanding competitions.

I am happy to greet, and also thank in a particular way, the Council members of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the Council of the Italian Athletic Federation, all the members of the International Sports Organizations, the leaders, the coaches and all the athletes from the 167 countries who are taking part in these Championships.

A special word of welcome, prompted by happy memories of meetings similar to this one, goes to the sport veterans, all the participants in past competitions, who have come to the present meeting in order to honour sport and admire the achievements of the new champions.

I also wish to greet the journalists and the representatives of the press and television, promoters of information and interest in the world of sport among people of all ages and especially among youth.

A particular word of thanks goes to Doctor Primo Nebiolo for his kind address and the gift of the gold medal of the Championships.

2. This year’s meeting coincides with the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the foundation of the International Amateur Athletic Federation. I would therefore like to express my cordial best wishes to the Federation and to commend you for your work. You aim not only to coordinate and develop athletic disciplines within the member countries, but you also strive to create, through international sports meetings, opportunities for the fostering of friendship, brotherhood and understanding between peoples.

The Church gives willing support to such initiatives. The Second Vatican Council observes in this regard that people are enriched with mutual understanding also "by means of physical exercise and sport, which can help... to foster friendly relations between peoples of all classes, countries and races" (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 61).

3. We all know that sport is a highly disciplined exercise of the human body. It seeks to develop a person’s physical faculties, such as strength, stamina, skill–all working together toward a harmony of movement and action. Through sport we try to attain physical excellence, by means of necessary training and practice. Its aim is perfection in a given event, as well as the breaking of significant records, as has already happened during these competitions.

However there is another dimension to sports activity. Sport is also an important moment for guaranteeing the balance and total well-being of the person. In an age that has witnessed the ever-increasing development of various forms of automation, especially in the workplace, reducing the use of physical activity, many people feel the need to find appropriate forms of physical exercise that will help to restore a healthy balance of mind and body. And from here arises that special interest and attention to sporting events, which today attract great masses to athletic competitions of every kind.

This phenomenon exposes you athletes to considerable psychological pressures because people tend to extol you as heroes, as human models who inspire ideals of life and action, especially among youth. And this fact places you at the centre of a particular social and ethical problem. You are observed by many people and expected to be outstanding figures not only during athletic competitions but also when you are off the sport field. You are asked to be examples of human virtue, apart from your accomplishments of physical strength and endurance.

4. For this reason there are certain values in your life which cannot be forgotten. These values will set you on that clear track which has to be followed in order for you to reach life’s ultimate goal.

Primary among them is the religious meaning of human existence. Sport, as you well know, is an activity that involves more than the movement of the body: it demands the use of intelligence and the disciplining of the will. It reveals, in other words, the wonderful structure of the human person created by God as a spiritual being, a unity of body and spirit. Athletic activity can help every man and woman to recall that moment when God the Creator gave origin to the human person, the masterpiece of his creative work. As the Scriptures tell us: "Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Cfr. Gen Gn 2,7). We are reminded then that even the laws of sport belong to a certain order, which is basically that of all creation. The observance of this order is the condition for success.

May this truth never be overlooked or set aside in the world of sport, but may it always shine forth clearly. For athletic activity is never separated from the activities of the spirit.

If sport is reduced to the cult of the human body, forgetting the primacy of the spirit, or if it were to hinder your moral and intellectual development, or result in your serving less than noble aims, then it would lose its true significance and, in the long run, it would become even harmful to your healthy and full growth as human persons. You are true athletes when you prepare yourselves not only by training your bodies but also by constantly engaging the spiritual dimensions of your person for a harmonious development of all your human talents.

5. My prayer for you, young athletes, is that you will always grow in respect for the authentically human values of sport, thanking God the Creator who has endowed you with extraordinary talents–talents that can be used to work for true peace and fraternal understanding among all peoples of the world.

May your meeting in these days serve this worthy aim. I entrust to the Lord all your noblest hopes and aspirations and I invoke divine blessings upon you, your families and all the persons who are dear to you.




Thursday 3 September 1987

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, members of the Episcopal Conference of Nigeria, for this privileged moment of collegial communion during your ad Limina visit. Our assembly today bears witness to the truth that the Lord Jesus willed that Peter and the other Apostles should form an apostolic college and thereby be linked in bonds of unity, charity and peace (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 22). We are gathered here in the name of Jesus, "the chief Shepherd" (Cfr. Petr. 5,4), of the Church and the Lord and Saviour of us all. Through him and in the Holy Spirit we give thanks and praise to the Father for the abundant graces and blessings bestowed on the Church in Nigeria. The power of the Gospel has taken root in the hearts of the faithful and enabled the Church to grow.

The kind words of greeting which Cardinal Ekandem has expressed to me on your behalf and that of all your priests, Religious and faithful are deeply appreciated. Each of you represents the members of your local Church and thus I wish to offer through you my cordial greetings and the assurance of my prayerful remembrance to all the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care. In the words of Saint Paul: "I pray that God will bestow on you gifts in keeping with the riches of his glory. May he strengthen you inwardly through the working of his Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life" (Cfr. Eph Ep 3,16-17).

2. It is for me a joy at this time to recall the vivid memories of my apostolic visit to Nigeria some five years ago. During my visit I was able to see firsthand the vitality and enthusiasm of the faith of your people. My brief tour filled me with hope for the future of evangelization in your country. As you will remember, it was with the hope that my coming would initiate a new era of evangelization in Nigeria that I undertook the pastoral visit. I am pleased to learn that it has brought about a new missionary impetus, a greater pride in the people for their identity as Christians, and the discovery of the need of greater unity on all the levels of pastoral action.

It is my repeated prayer that zeal for evangelization will continue to animate the whole Church in Nigeria. I wish to praise the many courageous initiatives that you have already undertaken for proclaiming the Gospel and I encourage you, beloved Brothers, to renew your efforts in the great task of evangelization which constitutes the essential mission of the Church! it is her vocation, it is her deepest identity (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 14).

As I reminded you during my pastoral visit, "In practice the Church’s vocation to evangelize means above all living the Gospel more deeply. It means accepting Christ’s call to conversion and accepting the demands inherent in the faith preached by Jesus. Understood in this way, evangelization involves a process of purification and interior change that affects our local Churches. It means conversion unto salvation: the ecclesial community becoming ever more a community of living faith, a communion of prayer, a centre of charity radiating concern for the poor and the sick, the lonely, the abandoned, the handicapped, those with leprosy, those who are weak in faith, those who need support and are looking for someone to show them the love of Christ " (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio Laculopoli, ad Nigeriae episcopos habita, 3, die 15 febr. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V, 1 (1982) 463).

3. My dear Brothers: you come from different regions of Nigeria. You bring with you the hopes and aspirations, the joys and sorrows of your priests, Religious and laity. Sharing, as we do, a common pastoral responsibility for these local Churches of yours, I wish to reflect with you briefly on an issue of capital importance, namely, your unity and concerted action as Bishops.

The Episcopacy is but one ministry in the Church’s variety of ministries (Lumen Gentium LG 18). However, the Episcopal ministry is uniquely endowed with sacred and sacramental power to preside over the Church in service, as Christ provided that his Apostles and their successors should do after his return to the Father (Ibid.). Christ gave his Apostles a clear example how he wished them to exercise their authority. Mindful of their human weakness, Christ prayed that they would be confirmed by the Holy Spirit, by one another and in a particular way by Peter. The Lord tells Peter "I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers" (Cfr. Luc Lc 22,32).

4. The College of Bishops serves the unity of the Church in a special way. The constant underlying theme in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Episcopacy is unity–a unity of the Bishops with the Successor of Peter, of Bishops with one another, of Bishops and priests, and of Bishops with Religious and laity. As the Council states: "It is the duty of all Bishops to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church..., and, to foster every activity which is common to the whole Church, especially efforts to spread the faith and make the light of the full truth dawn on all people" (Lumen Gentium LG 23).

Even when a Bishop acts alone, he ministers to advance the redemption of all. Thus by preaching Christ, presiding over liturgical worship and administering a local Church, his ministry affects the other local Churches as well. The message, the worship, the administration–all involve the Bishop in realities which go far beyond the boundaries of his own diocese.

Surely, the doctrine of collegiality does not lessen the Bishop’s special ministry to his own diocese. The local Church must always be the object of the Bishop’s service. Through their Bishop, united in the common brotherhood of all the Bishops with the Successor of Peter, the individual members of each local Church are assured of their place in the universal Church.

5. The Episcopacy is given to the Church by the Lord’s divine institution precisely for her unity. As we contemplate this divine truth, it is my fervent prayer that the brotherhood which you share as Bishops of Nigeria will serve to further your harmonious actions on the level of your National Episcopal Conference. It is in the exercise of your fraternity, with all its manifestations, that you fulfil your ministry to your people, confirm the faith of your fellow Bishops, and keep faith in Christ through Peter. Moreover through your episcopal brotherhood in faith and love you provide the necessary conditions for the progress of the Church in Nigeria, as well as for her effective impact on the civil society of your country, upon our separated Christian brethren and upon the members of non Christian religions.

6. I am aware of the present difficulties that you are encountering in proclaiming the Gospel and engaging in dialogue with the followers of other religions. You are called each day as Bishops to be a sign of the love of Jesus Christ to all the individuals and groups of whatever religion. As Bishops of Nigeria, where there are an almost equal number of Muslims and Christians and many adherents of traditional African religions, I encourage you "to reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church both to dialogue and to the proclamation of the Gospel. There can be no question of choosing one and ignoring or rejecting the other. Even in situations where the proclamation of our faith is difficult, we must have the courage to speak of God who is the foundation of that faith, the reason for our hope, and the source of our love" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Secretariatum pro non Christianis, 3, die 28 apr. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 1 (1987) 1450).

The teaching of the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christians invites all Christians and Muslims to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. They are called to cooperate in the task of securing peace and social justice, freedom and human rights on behalf of all people (Cfr. Nostra Aetate NAE 3). Our dialogue with the Muslims means a readiness to cooperate with others for the betterment of humanity, and a commitment to search together for true peace.

7. My dear Brother: I wish to consider with you the important role of the Christian family, "the domestic Church", in evangelizing Nigerian society and in building up the Kingdom of God. Already there exists in your culture a great sense of the family bond which can greatly serve the Christian vision of married life in a community of conjugal love. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, "Christian spouses, in virtue of the Sacrament of Matrimony, signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and his Church (Cfr. Eph Ep 5,32). The spouses thereby help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and by the rearing and education of their children" (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 11).

Despite the practices of polygamy and divorce, which are accepted by many people today, you must never grow tired of proclaiming the truth about marriage. As "a mutual gift of two persons, this intimate union, as well as the good of children, imposes total fidelity on the spouses and argues for an unbreakable oneness between them" (Gaudium et Spes GS 48). Thus you are called to insist that the conjugal communion of marriage is characterized by its unity and also by its indissolubility.

The Christian family exercises its role as an evangelizing community in Nigerian society by believing in the Gospel, steadily maturing in faith and in turn proclaiming the Good News of salvation through the witness of an exemplary Christian life. Such a dedicated witness of Christian family life is already an initial act of evangelization which at some time needs to be accompanied by the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and the person of Jesus Christ. Concerning the Christian family’s role of evangelization, Pope Paul VI wrote: "The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of the mission, all members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighbourhood of which it forms part" (Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 71).

8. I thank all of you, beloved Brothers, for your dedication as pastors to the flock that has been entrusted to your care. I recall at this time the heroic sacrifices of many devoted missionaries who over the past century have preached the Gospel in Nigeria and sustained the faithful in giving an ever more authentic witness to the teaching of Christ and his Church. Their exemplary lives have inspired many Nigerian young people to offer themselves to Christ in the priesthood and in the religious life.

In your daily labours at the service of the Gospel, I wish to commend each of you to the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, asking her to assist you. And in the love of Jesus her Son, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your clergy, Religious and faithful.



Wednesday 9 September 1987

Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to welcome you, the participants in the "East-West Spiritual Exchanges". In particular, I greet Reverend Hirata Seiko, President of the Institute for Zen Studies, as well as the Japanese monks and nuns who have come to Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian spiritual traditions. Through the attentive listening and the mutual respect which characterize these exchanges interreligious dialogue can reach an increasingly more profound level.

At the previous inter-monastic exchange, the Christian monks who lived at your monasteries had the occasion to appreciate your time-honoured traditions. They were very moved by your fraternal hospitality. I wish to thank you for your exquisite courtesy and I would hope that such encounters will continue in the future.

Last year some of you joined us in Assisi, where we prayed for peace. More recently, representatives of the Catholic Church were present for the meeting at Mount Hiei. I believe that initiatives which are carried out in this spirit should be promoted and fostered, since we come to know each other better as we humbly tread the path of truth and universal love.

I also wish to offer a cordial greeting to the Christian monks and nuns who have organized this meeting under the leadership of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictines. I am happy that a Commission for Interreligious Monastic Dialogue is carrying out this work in close contact with the Secretariat for non Christians.

Your specific contribution to these initiatives consist not only in maintaining an explicit dialogue, but also in promoting a deep spiritual encounter, for your life is above all one devoted to silence, prayer, and a witness of community life. There is much you can do through hospitality. In opening your houses and your hearts, as you have done these days, you follow well the tradition of your spiritual father, Saint Benedict. To your brother monks coming from across the world and from a very different religious tradition you apply the beautiful chapter of the Rule concerning the reception of guests. In doing so you offer a setting wherein a meeting of mind and heart can take place, a meeting characterized by a shared sense of brotherhood in the one human family that opens the way of ever deeper spiritual dialogue.

May all of you–partners in interreligious dialogue–be encouraged and sustained by the knowledge that your endeavours are supported by the Catholic Church and appreciated by her as significant for strengthening the bonds which unite all people who honestly search for the truth.

God bless you all.





International Airport of Miami

Thursday, 10 September 1987

Mr President, dear Friends,

Dear People of America,

1. It is a great joy for me once again to be in your country, and I thank you for your warm welcome. I am deeply grateful to you all.

I express my special thanks to the President of the United States, who honours me by his presence here today. I thank the Bishops’ Conference and all the individual bishops who have invited me to their dioceses, and who have done so much to prepare for my visit.

My cordial greetings and good wishes go to all the people of this land. I thank you for opening your hearts to me and for supporting me by your prayers. I assure you of my own prayers.

2. To everyone I repeat on this occasion what I said on that memorable day in 1979 when I arrived in Boston: "On my part I come to you – America – with sentiments of friendship, reverence and esteem. I come as one who already knows you and loves you, as one who wishes you to fulfil completely your noble destiny of service to the world" (Ioannis Pauli II, Allocutio in aëronavium portu Bostoniense habita, die 1 oct. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II/2 [1979] 509).

Today, like then, I come to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all those who freely choose to listen to me; to tell again the story of God’s love in the world; to spell out once more the message of human dignity, with its inalienable human rights and its inevitable human duties.

3. Like so many before me coming to America and to this very city of Miami, I come as a pilgrim: a pilgrim in the cause of justice and peace and human solidarity - striving to build up the one human family.

I come here as a pastor - the pastor of the Catholic Church, to speak and pray with the Catholic people. The theme of my visit, "Unity in the Work of Service" affords me the welcome opportunity to enter into ever deeper communion with them in our common service to the Lord. It also enables me to experience ever more keenly with them their hopes and joys, their anxieties and griefs.

I come as a friend - a friend of America and of all Americans: Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and Jews, people of every religion, and all men and women of good will. I come as a friend of the poor and the sick and the dying; those who are struggling with the problems of each day; those who are rising and falling and stumbling on the journey of life; those who are seeking and discovering, and those not yet finding, the deep meaning of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".

4. And finally I come to join you as you celebrate the Bicentennial of that great document, the Constitution of the United States of America. I willingly join you in your prayer of thanksgiving to God for the providential way in which the Constitution has served the people of this nation for two centuries: for the union it has established, the tranquillity and peace it has ensured, the general welfare it has promoted, and the blessings of liberty it has secured.

I join you also in asking God to inspire you–as Americans who have received so much in freedom and prosperity and human enrichment–to continue to share all this with so many brothers and sisters throughout the other countries of the world who are still waiting and hoping to live according to standards worthy of the children of God.

With great enthusiasm I look forward to being with you in the days ahead. Meanwhile, my prayer for all of you, dear people of America, is this:

"The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace" (Nu. 6, 24-26).

God bless America!





Cathedral of Saint Mary

Thursday, 10 September 1987

Dear Archbishop McCarthy and my other Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Friends,

1. It is a great joy for me to begin my pastoral visit here in Miami, in this Cathedral of Saint Mary. This Church represents a long history of faith and dedicated Christian life and witness on the part of countless clergy, religious and laity in this city and in the State of Florida.

In coming among you, I wish to commend you for the Jubilee Year of Reconciliation that you have observed in preparation for my visit, and for the Archdiocesan Synod that you are holding. These events are meant to be of lasting spiritual value for all of you of the archdiocese, so that your Christian witness in everyday life may be ever more fruitful in the society of which you are a part. I also commend you for meeting the challenges of a rapidly expanding local Church. Over the years, you have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees, of different languages and cultures, fleeing religious or political oppression You have struggled along with them and for them to build a united community in Christ. I urge all of you – the clergy, religious and laity of Miami, in communion with your archbishop and with me – to continue seeking ways to deepen our ecclesial unity in the one Body of Christ.

This unity is expressed in many ways. It is unity in preaching the Gospel, professing the Creed, celebrating the liturgy and participating in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist. It is unity in going forward as a missionary Church to evangelize the world. But our very presence in this house of God reminds us of another source of unity. I am referring to the personal prayer of each and every one of us, whether offered here in a moment of silence or amid the many settings in which our daily life unfolds. "The spiritual life", as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, "is not confined to participation in the liturgy. The Christian is certainly called to pray with others, but he must also enter into his room to pray to the Father in secret; indeed, according to the teaching of the Apostle Paul, he should pray without ceasing" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 12).

2. People always have a great interest in prayer. Like the Apostles, they want to know how to pray.The response that Jesus gives is one known to all of us: it is the "Our Father", in which he reveals in a few simple words all the essentials of prayer. The focus is not primarily on ourselves, but on the heavenly Father to whom we commit our lives in faith and trust. Our first concern must be his name, his kingdom, his will. Only then do we ask for our daily bread, for forgiveness, and for deliverance from trials yet to come.

The "Our Father" teaches us that our relationship to God is one of dependence. We are his adopted sons and daughters through Christ. All that we are and all that we have comes from him and is destined to return to him. The "Our Father" also presents prayer to us as an expression of our desires. Beset as we are by human weakness, we naturally ask God for many things. Many times we may be tempted to think that he does not hear or answer us. But as Saint Augustine wisely reminds us, God already knows what we desire even before we ask. He says that prayer is for our benefit,, because in praying we "exercise" our desires so that we will grasp what God is preparing to give us. It is an opportunity for us to "widen our hearts" (Cfr. S. Augustini Epist. ad Probam, epist. 30).

In other words, God is always listening to us and answering us – but from the perspective of a love far greater and a knowledge far deeper than our own. When it appears that he is not fulfilling our desires by granting the things we ask, however unselfish and noble they may be, in reality he is purifying those desires of ours for the sake of a higher good that often surpasses our understanding in this life. The challenge is to "widen our hearts" by hallowing his name, by seeking his Kingdom, and by accepting his will. Like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane we may sometimes pray either for ourselves or others, " Father, you have the power to do all things. Take this cup away!". But also like Christ we must add, "Not my will but your will be done" (Cfr. Matth Mt 26,39 Matth Mt 26,42 Marc Mt 14,36 Lc 22,42).

The act of praying is also meant to open us up to God and our neighbour, not only in words but also in action. That is why Christian spirituality, following Jesus himself (Cfr. Matth Mt 6), associates prayer with fasting and almsgiving. A life of self-denial and charity is a sign of conversion to God’s way of thinking, to his way of love. By humbling ourselves through penance, we open ourselves to God. By giving in charity, over and above the demands of justice, we open ourselves to our neighbour. Saint Peter Chrysologus gives witness to this tradition when he says: "Prayer, fasting, and mercy... give life to one another. What prayer knocks for upon a door, fasting successfully begs and mercy receives. For fasting is the soul of prayer; and mercy is the life of fasting... Fasting does not germinate unless watered by mercy" (S. Petri Chrysologi Sermo 43).

3. Dear brothers and sisters: we must never underestimate the power of prayer to further the Church’s redemptive mission and to bring good where there is evil. As I mentioned earlier, we must be united in prayer. We pray not just for ourselves and our loved ones, but also for the needs of the universal Church and of all mankind: for the missions and for priestly and religious vocations, for the conversion of sinners and the salvation of all, for the sick and the dying. As members of the Communion of Saints, our prayer also embraces the souls of those in Purgatory who, in the loving mercy of God, can still find after death the purification they need to enter into the happiness of heaven. Prayer also makes us realize that sometimes our own troubles and desires are small compared to the needs and to the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. There is the spiritual suffering of those who have lost their way in life because of sin or a lack of faith in God. There is the material suffering of millions of people who lack food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and education; of those who are deprived of the most fundamental human rights; of those who are exiles or refugees because of war and oppression. I know that Miami is no stranger to this kind of suffering. We must act to alleviate it, but we must also pray not only for those who suffer, but also for those who inflict suffering.

Greetings in Spanish:

Queridos hermanos y hermanas: como Pastor de la Iglesia universal he recibido la gracia de las oraciones de millones de Seles de todo el mundo, y hoy deseo expresaros mi profundo agradecimiento por las plegarias que habéis ofrecido por mi persona y ministerio como Sucesor de Pedro. Os ruego que sigáis rezando por estas intenciones. Con el Apóstol San Pablo os digo: “Orad por mí, para que al aprir mi boca se me conceda la palabra para dar a conocer con franqueza el misterio del Evangelio... para anunciarlo con toda libertad y hablar de él como conviene” (Ep 6,19). En este momento elevo mi oración de modo especial por todos aquellos de entre vosotros que han contribuido a construir y mantener la fe en esta Arquidiócesis. Hoy y siempre estamos llamados a permanecer unidos en la oración: para gloria del Padre, del Hijo y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.

Speeches 1987 - Thursday, 27 August 1987