Speeches 1989


                                                    January 1989




Thursday, 12 January 1989

Dear Friends,
“Grace to you and peace” (1Th 1,1).

I am happy to welcome you, distinguished representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, during your visit to the city of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. Their witness in Rome – preaching the word of God and shedding their blood here – is the common heritage of all Christians and, despite the divisions which we continue to experience, it speaks to us of our common faith in Christ.

I would ask you to convey my heartfelt greetings to Bishop Chilstrom, whom I had the pleasure of meeting last January. I am grateful for his letter which you kindly brought on his behalf, together with the draft document on Ecumenism now being prepared for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I appreciate the commitment to seeking Christian unity which has been expressed once more.

Jesus called his followers to the task of evangelization, telling them to make disciples of all nations, to baptize and to teach in his name (Cfr. Matth Mt 28,19-20). In the light of this responsibility, the question of Christian unity becomes a clear and pressing ecclesial priority. The world hungers for spiritual food; men and women need to hear the Gospel message. “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it!”, said the Lord (Lc 11,28). Unhappily, divisions among Christians place obstacles in the way of evangelization, and often distract from the message of reconciliation which is at the heart of the Gospel.

We must heed Saint Paul’s powerful plea to the faithful at Ephesus: “I... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called... eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ep 4,1-3). Lutherans and Catholics, indeed all Christians, have a responsibility before God to continue to seek full communion and to encourage one another in that effort, for the sake of the Gospel.

I am happy therefore to hear what has been said about improving relations between Lutherans and Catholics in the United States during the past year. Your visit here is a further sign of encouragement for us, and I pray for you too.

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2Petr. 1, 2). God bless your ecumenical pilgrimage.



Friday, 13 January 1989

Eminent Cardinals,
Dear Friends,

1. I am happy to offer a most cordial welcome, this morning, to all of you who have come from various parts of the world to participate in the meeting of the Pontifical Council for Culture. This is the seventh consecutive year that I have the pleasure of receiving this Council. In the Constitution Pastor Bonus, in clarifying the tasks and the organization of the Roman Curia, I was anxious to confirm that "the Council fosters relations between the Holy See and the world of culture, especially encouraging dialogue with the various cultures of our times, so that human civilization may become more and more open to the Gospel and so that those who practice the sciences, letters and the arts may feel that the Church recognizes them as persons devoted to the service of the true, the good and the beautiful" (Art. 166).

Your annual session represents a high point in your common reflection and engagement for the concrete promotion of the meeting of the Church with all human cultures, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council and of the Synods of Bishops. According to the mandate which I have entrusted to you, every year you conduct a general survey of the principal cultural trends which affect the milieus, the regions and the disciplines which you represent. In this way you pass on to the Pope and to the Holy See the tendencies and aspirations, the anxieties and hopes, the cultural needs of the human family, and you ask yourselves what the best way is for the Church to respond to the crucial questions posed by the contemporary spirit. The diagnosis that you supply on the state of present cultures is a great service to the Church, and I encourage you to continue to improve it constantly. Beyond your personal witness and experiences, you are called, in fact, together with other individuals and qualified groups, to a spiritual discernment of the cultural trends which affect the men and women of today. By way of meetings, research and publications, you are providing a new thrust within the Church for responding to the challenges which the evangelization of cultures and the inculturation of the Gospel represent. This discernment is a matter of some urgency if we are to be better able to understand present mentalities, to discover therein the thirst for truth and love which only Jesus can fully satisfy, and to find the ways for a new evangelization through an authentic apostolate of culture.

2. By looking at the world from a universal point of view, you are better able to grasp the apostolic significance of your labours and to find a solid motivation for pursuing your mission. Through this work of evangelical discernment, the Church has but one objective: to proclaim better to every conscience and to every culture the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ - inasmuch as all human reality, individual and social, has been liberated through Christ, individuals as well as human activities, of which culture is the most eminent and the most incarnated expression.

The salvific action of the Church with cultures is exercised in the first place through the mediation of individuals, families and educators. Thus an adequate formation is indispensable to help Christians learn to show clearly how the Gospel leaven has the power to purify and elevate the modes of thought, judgement and action which constitute a specific culture. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, offers his light and hope to all those men and women who cultivate the sciences, the arts, letters and the numerous fields developed by modern culture. All the sons and daughters of the Church should then be aware of their mission and discover how the dynamism of the Gospel can penetrate and regenerate the dominant mentalities and values which inspire each of the cultures as well as the opinions and the attitudes which flow from them. Everyone in the Church, through prayer and meditation, will be able to carry the light of the Gospel and radiate its ethical and spiritual ideals. In this way, through this patient work of gestation, humble and hidden though it is, the fruits of Redemption will gradually penetrate cultures and will enable them to open themselves fully to the riches of the grace of Christ.

3. The Pontifical Council for Culture is already engaged in an effort which stimulates the Church in this great modern undertaking, the evangelization of cultures and the cultural advancement of all human beings. You have managed to establish a promising collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences, with the international Catholic organizations, with Religious Institutes, with the Catholic associations and movements, with cultural and university centres. In close and fruitful collaboration with them, you have held meetings in various parts of the world, and noteworthy results have already been achieved, to which a number of publications as well as your Bulletin attest.

I observe too that your work is developing in connection with several Departments of the Holy See, in such a way as to render more visible the cultural dimension which is an important component of the apostolic mission of the Roman Curia.

4. Among your current projects, two initiatives merit special attention, first of all because of their own importance, and also because they have been conducted in collaboration with various departments of the Holy See, in the spirit of the reform of Roman Curia.

With satisfaction I would first point to the study on the Church and university culture, which you are pursuing with the Episcopal Conferences, in collaboration with the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for the Laity. You have already published a synthesis which illustrates the significant tendencies and the spiritual needs of the university milieus, as well as the new aspects of the university apostolate for the local Churches. I urge you to continue this common reflection which will, I am sure, give rise to concrete recommendations and beneficial exchanges of apostolic experiences. The Church finds in the university world a privileged place for dialogue with the trends of spirit and styles of thought which will distinguish tomorrow's culture. Christian hope should go to meet the new aspirations of consciences and animate the minds of university youth who will very soon be in charge of so many responsibilities, "so that human civilization may become more and more open to the Gospel".

With all my heart I encourage this university apostolate which gives students the concrete possibility of reflecting on their faith at an intellectual level paralleling their scientific and humanistic development in the other disciplines, and which helps them to express that faith in believing and praying communities.

5. Finally, I wish to underline the active role which the Pontifical Council for Culture has played in the work of the International Theological Commission on the subject of faith and inculturation. You participated closely in the drawing up of the document which has just been prepared under this title and which will further our understanding of the biblical, historical, anthropological, ecclesial and missionary significance of the inculturation of the Christian faith. The stakes here are decisive for the Church's activity, both within the various traditional cultures and with the complex forms of modern culture. Your responsibility is henceforth to translate these theological guidelines into concrete programmes of cultural apostolate, and I am delighted that a number of episcopal conferences, notably in Latin America and in Africa, intend to devote themselves to this. I encourage these pastoral experiments and hope that their fruits may be shared with the whole Church.

6. I have often had occasion to say, but I would like once more to do so, that it is through culture that man lives a truly human life. The fundamental link of the message of Christ and the Church with the human person in his or her humanity helps develop culture at its most intimate foundation. This means that the cultural upheavals of our times invite us to return to the essentials and to rediscover the fundamental concern which is man in all his political and social dimensions, to be sure, but the cultural, moral and spiritual ones as well. Indeed, it is nothing less than the very future of humanity that is at stake. To inculturate the Gospel is not to bring it back to the ephemeral, and to reduce it to the superficial which influence the changing current situation. On the contrary, it is with full spiritual courage that we insert the force of the Gospel leaven, and its newness, which is younger than anything modern, into the very heart of the profound disturbances of our time, to give life to new modes of thinking, acting and living. It is fidelity to the covenant with eternal wisdom which is the ceaselessly self-renewing source of new cultures. Individuals who have received the newness of the Gospel appropriate and interiorize it in such a way as to re-express it in their daily lives, in accordance with their particular genius. In this way, the inculturation of the Gospel goes hand in hand with the renewal of cultures and thus promotes them in the Church as well as in the State.

7. In conclusion, I can only thank God for the work of apostolic discernment and evangelical inculturation which your Council contributes to the Church's service. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, I invoke upon your work the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

All my best wishes go with you, beginning with you, Your Eminences: Cardinal Paul Poupard, whom I have asked to replace dear Cardinal Garrone as President of the Council; Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, who continues to enable you to benefit from his experience; and Cardinal Hyacinthe Thiandoum, who regrets not having been able to participate in this assembly. I assure all members of the International Council, as well as your collaborators at Palazzo San Calisto, a place in my prayers.

As a pledge of my affection for you, your families, and for all those who are the subject of your concern, I cordially give you my Apostolic Blessing.


Thursday, 26 January 1989

I thank his excellency the dean for his words of greeting, and I express my sentiments of esteem and gratitude to all who work in the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota: the prelate auditors, the promoters of justice, the defenders of the bond, the other officials, the advocates, and also the professors of the Studio Rotale.

Bearing in mind that the papal discourses to the Roman Rota, as is known, are addressed in fact to all engaged in the administration of justice in the ecclesiastical tribunals, I intend in today’s annual meeting to emphasize the importance of the right to defense in canonical trials, especially in cases for the declaration of nullity of marriage. Though it is not possible to treat here every problem regarding this issue, I wish, however, to insist on some points bearing on this question.

The new Code of Canon Law attributes great importance to the right of defense. In relation to the obligations and rights of all the faithful, c. 221, §1 states: “Christ’s faithful may lawfully vindicate and defend the rights they enjoy in the Church, before a competent ecclesiastical forum in accordance with the law.” Paragraph 2 continues: “If any members of Christ’s faithful are summoned to trial by the competent authority, they have the right to be judged according to the provision of the law, to be applied with equity.” Canon 1620 of the Code explicitly determines the irremediable nullity of the judgment if one or other party was denied the right of defense, while one can deduce from c. 1598, §1 the following principle which must guide all judicial activity in Church: “the right of defense always remains intact.”

It must be noted immediately that the absence of such an explicit norm in the Pio-Benedictine Code certainly did not imply that the right of defense was disregarded in the Church under the regime of the previous Code. That Code, in fact, contained opportune and necessary dispositions to guarantee this right in canonical trials. Even though c. 1892 of the previous Code did not mention the “denial of the right of defense” among the cases of irremediable nullity of the judgment, it should nevertheless be noted that both the doctrine and the rotal jurisprudence held for the irremediable nullity of the judgment whenever one or other party was denied the right of defense.

One cannot conceive of a just judgment without the contention (contraddittorio), that is without the concrete possibility granted to each party in the case to be heard and to be able to know and contradict the requests, proofs, and deductions adopted by the opposing party or ex officio.

The right of defense of each party in the trial, that is, not only of the respondent but also of the plaintiff, should obviously be exercised according to the just dispositions of positive law. It is not the function of positive law to deprive one of the exercise of the right of defense, but to regulate it so that it does not degenerate into abuse or obstructionism, and at the same time to guarantee the practical possibility of exercising it. The faithful observance of the positive law in this regard constitutes therefore a grave obligation for those engaged in the administration of justice in the Church.

Obviously a de facto defense is not required for the validity of the process provided its concrete possibility is always present. Therefore the parties can renounce the exercise of the right of defense in a contentious trial; in a penal case, however, there must always be a de facto defense, indeed a technical defense, because in a penal trial the accused must always have an advocate (see cc. 1481, §2, and 1723).

Certain clarifications regarding matrimonial cases must immediately be added. Although one of the parties may have renounced the exercise of the right to defense, the judge in these cases has the grave duty to make a serious effort to obtain the judicial deposition of the party concerned and also of the witnesses whom the party could have called. The judge should weigh carefully each individual case. Sometimes the respondents do not wish to be present at the trial without offering any adequate motive, precisely because they cannot understand how the Church could possibly declare the nullity of the sacred bond of their marriage after so many years of common life. True pastoral sensibility and respect for the party’s conscience will oblige the judge in such a case to offer the respondent all opportune information regarding cases of matrimonial nullity and to seek patiently the party’s full cooperation in the process, also for the sake of avoiding a partial judgment in a matter of such gravity.

I deem it opportune to remind all engaged in the administration of justice that according to the sound jurisprudence of the Roman Rota, in cases of matrimonial nullity the party who may have renounced the exercise of the right of defense should be notified of the formula of the question to be judged, of every possible new demand of the opposing party, as well as of the definitive judgment.

The right of defense demands of its very nature the concrete possibility of knowing the proofs adduced both by the opposing party and ex officio. Canon 1598, §1 therefore lays down that when the evidence has been assembled, the judge must, under pain of nullity, permit the parties and their advocates to inspect at the tribunal office those acts which are not yet known to them. This is a right of the parties and their advocates. The same canon provides for a possible exception. In cases that concern the public good, the judge can decide that, so as to avoid very serious dangers, some of the acts are not to be shown to anyone; he must take care, however, that the right of defense always remains completely intact.

With regard to the aforementioned possible exception, it must be observed that it would be a distortion of the norm of law and also a grave error of interpretation if the exception were to become the general rule. One must therefore abide faithfully by the limits indicated in the canon.

In relation to the right of defense, it cannot be a matter of surprise to speak also of the necessity of publishing the judgment. How could one of the parties defend himself or herself in the court of appeal against the judgment of the lower tribunal if deprived of the right to know the reasons, both in law and in fact, supporting it? The Code therefore requires that the dispositive part of the judgment must be prefaced by the reasons on which it is based (see c. 1612, §3). This is not only to render its acceptance easier when it goes into effect, but also to guarantee the right of defense in the event of an appeal. Canon 1614 therefore decrees that a judgment has no effect before publication, even if the dispositive part has been made known to the parties with the permission of the judge. One cannot therefore understand how it could be confirmed in the appeal court without due publication (cf. c. 1615).

To guarantee still more the right of defense, the tribunal is bound to indicate to the parties the ways in which the judgment can be challenged (see c. 1614). It seems opportune to recall that the court of first instance, in fulfilling this duty, must also indicate the possibility of approaching the Roman Rota already as the court of second instance. Moreover, in this context is must be borne in mind that the time for lodging an appeal begins only from notification of the publication of the judgment (see c. 1630, §1), while c. 1634, §2 prescribes: “If the party is unable to obtain a copy of the appealed judgment from the originating tribunal within the canonical time-limit, this time-limit is in the meantime suspended. The problem is to be made known to the appeal judge, who is to oblige the originating judge by precept to fulfill his duty as soon as possible.”

It is sometimes said that the obligation to observe the canonical rules in this regard, especially concerning the publication of the acts and the judgment, could impede the search for the truth because of the witnesses’ refusal to cooperate in the trial in such circumstances.

In the first place it should be quite clear that the publication of the canonical trial as far as the parties are concerned does not affect its reserved nature as regards all others. It also should be noted that canon law exempts from the obligation of replying in a trial to questions all those who are bound by the secret of their office in respect to matters subject to this secret, and also those who fear that, as a result of giving evidence, a loss of reputation, dangerous harassment or some other grave evil will arise for themselves, their spouses, or those related to them by close consanguinity or affinity

(see c. 1548, §2). A similar norm exists in regard to the production of documents for a trial (see c. 1546). It is obvious that in the judgment it suffices to set out the reasons in law and in fact on which it is based, without having to refer every item of testimony.

Having said all this, I cannot but point out that full respect for the right of defense is particularly important in cases for the declaration of matrimonial nullity, both because they concern so profoundly and intimately the person of the parties in question, and also because they treat of the existence or non-existence of the sacred bond of marriage. These cases therefore require a particularly diligent search for the truth.

It is evident that witnesses must have explained to them the true meaning of the legislation in the matter, and it is also necessary to confirm that one of the faithful, who has been lawfully summoned to appear by the competent judge, is bound to obey and speak the truth, unless exempted by law (see c. 1548, §1).

On the other hand, a person should have the courage to assume responsibility for what is said, and should not be afraid if the truth was actually spoken.

I have said that the publication of the canonical judgment regarding the parties in the case does not affect its reserved nature for all others. In fact, in a penal trial the judges and tribunal assistants are bound to observe always the secret of the office; in a contentious trial, they are bound to observe it if the revelation of any part of the acts of the process could be prejudicial to the parties. Indeed, whenever the nature of the case or of the evidence is such that revelation of the acts or evidence would put at risk the reputation of others, or give rise to quarrels, or cause scandal or have any similar untoward consequence, the judge can oblige witnesses, experts, the parties, and their advocates or procurators, to swear an oath to observe secrecy (see c. 1455, §§1–2). Moreover, without an order from the judge, notaries and the chancellor are forbidden to hand over to anyone a copy of the judicial acts and documents obtained in the process (see c. 1475, §2). Besides, the judge can be punished by the competent ecclesiastical authority for the breach of the law of secrecy (see c. 1457, §1).

Ordinarily the faithful approach an ecclesiastical tribunal for a solution of their problem of conscience. For this reason they often say things that they would not otherwise have said. The witnesses also frequently testify under the condition, at least tacit, that their evidence will be used only for the ecclesiastical trial. The tribunal—for which the search for the objective truth is essential—must not betray their trust by revealing to outsiders what should remain secret.

Ten years ago, in my first address to this tribunal, I had this to say: “The task of the Church and her historical merit, which is to proclaim and defend in every place and in every age the fundamental human rights, does not exempt her but, on the contrary, obliges her to be herself a mirror of justice (speculum iustitiae) for the world” (February 17, 1979, supra p. 162).

I invite all who are engaged in the administration of justice to safeguard in this perspective the right of defense. While thanking you profoundly for your tribunal’s great sensibility to this right, I cordially impart to you my apostolic blessing.

                                                     February 1989




Monday, 6 February 1989

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, Members of Parliament and distinguished citizens of the Republic of Korea, sons and daughters of a people gifted with a millenary tradition of wisdom and cultural achievements.

I have many happy memories of my visit to Korea in the Spring of 1984, as a pilgrim to the Church that lives and grows in your country. That event gave me the opportunity to proclaim to the whole Catholic world the example of faith and courage of the many martyrs who gave their lives for Christ in your land.

Following the teaching of Christ and the example of the martyrs, the Church in your country is responding to new challenges which constantly arise. As your Bishops have often pointed out, the present situation calls for a renewed commitment to the promotion of moral truths and values, especially respect for the sacredness of human life, which is often not sufficiently safeguarded in the context of modem ideologies and consumerism.

There is a specific area in which the laity of the Church are called to work with special competence and energy so that the Gospel message may bear fruit in the world, namely, in the promotion of justice and peace. In the recently published Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation I again emphasized that it is necessary for humanity to free itself from the countless repetition of conflict which has marked its history. In ways that accord with each one’s calling, all have a role to play in society in furthering the genuine peace and justice for which all people yearn (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP II Christifideles Laici CL 6 CL 36 et 42).

I am well aware of the efforts which are being made also in your country to perfect democracy and the observance of human rights. I am sure that in this task Christians will bear in mind their responsibility to be “the salt of the earth and the light of the world” (Mt 5,13-14).

The International Eucharistic Congress which will be celebrated in Seoul next October on the theme of “Christus Pax Nostra” will be a splendid occasion for reflection and prayerful support of the work of those who promote peace among peoples and nations. In the faith and love taught by the Gospel, the Christian community will find the motivation and strength to present the ideal of peace and reconciliation to all men and women of good will.

Certainly your fellow-citizens are filled with this aspiration and they look forward to the healing of the great anguish stemming from the division which history has imposed on families and individuals. Cardinal Kim himself has reminded you recently that reconciliation is born of prayer and a conversion of heart.

I join him and all the Bishops, and all who nourish sentiments of peace, invoking the assistance of the Prince of Peace so that this deep movement of reconciliation will be strengthened through the Eucharistic Congress and will more and more enlighten and guide the hearts and lives of all the Korean people.

On you and your families, and on all the Korean people I implore God’s abundant blessings.




Friday, 10 February 1989

Dear Friends from the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey,
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2Co 1,2).

I am very happy to welcome you here today as you begin your pilgrimage to Rome. I hope that this visit will be an occasion for each of you to grow in your understanding of the Catholic Church. Through the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity the Holy See is pleased to offer you its hospitality as a sign of appreciation and esteem for the work of the Institute.

During the past five months your professors have helped you to reflect more deeply on “Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation”, a theme which is of great concern to the Catholic Church. As I had occasion to state last year: “The Church has always considered it part of her pastoral mission to defend and support the basic rights of the human person and in a prophetic way to denounce poverty and oppression through charitable activity and by joining projects to eliminate them” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio Salisburgi habita, ad Christianos fratres seiunetos, 7, die 26 iun. 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 2 [1988] 2209). As followers of Jesus, who was deeply moved by the needs of the people around him (Cfr. Matth Mt 9,36), we too are called to concern ourselves with the needs of those who are bearing the intolerable burden of poverty. Their sufferings often lead to a hopelessness which destroys the very will to work for effective remedies (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 13).

As we seek to understand the true meaning as well as the challenge of justice and peace, we must not lose sight of the fact that man is made in the image and likeness of God (Cfr. Gen Gn 1,26 s.). Nor must we forget that “when man disobeys God and refuses to submit to his rule, nature rebels against him and no longer recognizes him as its ‘master’ for he has tarnished the divine image in himself” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 30). Thus even our concern today to protect the environment must have as its point of reference the human person: “God is glorified when creation serves the integral development of the whole human family” (Eiusdem Allocutio Nairobiae habita, ad Organismos ab omnibus nationibus ibi extantes, 2, die 18 aug. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 [1985] 479). Concern for the wholeness and integrity of creation, and a growing awareness of the need to protect the environment and to conserve non-renewable resources are part of the moral demands of true Christian stewardship.

The present world situation makes it imperative for Churches and Ecclesial Communities to work together to promote justice, peace and responsible stewardship of the environment. In this way we bear witness to the “good news” of Creation and Redemption, and thus lead others to Christ, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17,21).

As you will shortly be returning to your own countries and to your local Churches and Communities, it is my hope and prayer that the Lord will keep alive within you the spirit of your studies at Bossey. May the same Lord Jesus Christ bless you and your families and give you every help and encouragement in your future work.

Speeches 1989