Friday, 2 September 1988

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. With deep fraternal affection I welcome all of you, the Bishops of Regions XII and XIII. Our meeting today is meant to be not only an experience in ecclesial communion for us as Pastors of God’s people, but also a renewed commitment on the part of all the Dioceses in the Provinces of Anchorage, Portland, Seattle, Denver and Santa Fe to that unity which Christ wills between the particular Churches and the universal Church.

At this moment our program calls us to reflect together on our ministry and on the profound pastoral solicitude that we as Bishops must have for humanity and for every human being. To be authentic, our Episcopal ministry must truly be centred on man. At the same time it must be centred on God, whose absolute primacy and supremacy we must constantly proclaim and urge our people to recognize in their lives.

The Vatican Council has invited us to adopt both of these approaches – anthropocentrism and theocentrism – and to emphasize them together, linking them in the only satisfactory way possible, that is in the divine Person of Christ, true God and true man.

This task for us is both formidable and exhilarating. The effect it can have on the local Churches is profound. In my Encyclical on God’s Mercy I stated that the deep and organic linking of anthropocentrism and theocentrism in Jesus Christ is perhaps the most important principle of the Second Vatican Council (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Dives in Misericordia DM 1). The basic reason for this is the pastoral effectiveness of this principle.

2. In concentrating on Christ, the Church is able to exalt human nature and human dignity, for Jesus Christ is the ultimate confirmation of all human dignity. The Church is also able to concentrate on humanity and on the well-being of each human being because of the fact that in the Incarnation Jesus Christ united all humanity to himself. In Christ, God the Father has placed the blueprint of humanity. At the same time in concentrating on Christ, the Church emphasizes the centrality of God in the world, for in Christ – through the hypostatic union – God has taken possession of man to the greatest possible degree.

To proclaim Christ to the full extent willed by the Second Vatican Council is to exalt man supremely and to exalt God supremely. To proclaim Christ fully is to proclaim him in the Father’s plan of the Incarnation, which expresses man’s greatest glory and God’s greatest accomplishment in the world. Anthropocentrism and theocentrism truly linked in Christ open the way for the Church to a proper understanding of her pastoral service to humanity, for the glory of God.

3. As the Lawgiver of the New Testament, Christ links in his own person the two commandments of love of God and love of neighbour. While maintaining for the Church the priority of love of God, Saint Augustine clarifies its order of fulfilment: “Loving God comes first as a commandment, but loving one’s neighbour comes first as a deed” (Dei dilectio prior est ordine praecipiendi proximi autem dilectio prior est ordine faciendi) (S. Augustini In Ioan. tract., 17). In this sense Saint John’s words remain a lasting challenge to the Church: “One who has no love for the brother he has seen cannot love the God he has not seen” (Jn 4,20).

In Christ – in his person and in his word – the Church discovers the principle of her solicitude for humanity (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis RH 15). Her inspiration and her strength in all dimensions of her pastoral service are found in Christ. With a view to serving man, the Church will always reflect on him in relationship to Christ and she will endeavour to approach God only through Christ. From this viewpoint it is possible to hold that “man is the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission he is the primary and fundamental way for the Church” (Ibid 14). At the same time, without contradiction we proclaim that “Jesus Christ is the chief way for the Church” (Ibid. 13). This is so because Christ is the fullness of humanity. Christ is God’s expression of what humanity is meant to be, how humanity is meant to be transformed, how humanity is meant to be introduced into the communion of the Blessed Trinity, namely: “through him, and with him, and in him”.

4. In speaking here of anthropocentrism, that is, in emphasizing the dignity of humanity in relation to Christ and to Church’s mission, it is necessary to make reference to the immutable basis of all Christian anthropology, which is creation in the image and likeness of God (Cfr. Gen Gn 1,26-27). This God is the God who reveals himself as a communion of persons, a saving God, a God of love and mercy.

In the Church’s solicitude for man and for human dignity, which finds expression in every social program initiated by her, the Church must proclaim the reality of creation as it is renewed by the redemption and by the uplifting – effected in Baptism – of each individual person. In her inner being the Church feels impelled to proclaim human dignity: the dignity of man raised to the level of Christ, to the level of divine adoption. Hence, with the proclamation of natural human dignity, the Church also proclaims full Christian dignity: the dignity of the children of God called to a supernatural dignity, called to worship the Father with Christ.

In speaking to the American Bishops five years ago, I made reference to “the pastoral service of making God’s people ever more conscious of their dignity as a people of worship” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad quosdam episcopos e Foederatis Statibus Americae Septemtrionalis, occasione oblata 'ad Limina' visitationis coram admissos, 8, die 9 iul. 1983: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VI, 2 (1983) 49). In particular I noted “that we can render a great pastoral service to the people by emphasizing their liturgical dignity and by directing their thoughts to the purposes of worship. When our people... realize that they are called to adore and thank the Father in union with Jesus Christ, an immense power is unleashed in their Christian lives” (Ibid., 3: loc cit., p. 47).

With regard to rights within the Church, Pope John Paul I, ten years ago, on the occasion of one of the two ad Limina visits of his short Pontificate – on the very day he died – spoke in these terms: “Among the rights of the faithful, one of the greatest is the right to receive God’s word in all its entirety and purity, with all its exigencies and power” (Ioannis Pauli PP. I Allocutio ad quosdam sacros Praesules Insularum Philippinarum, occasione oblata eorum visitationis 'ad Limina', die 28 sept. 1978: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo 1P 100). Under every aspect the Church is irrevocably committed to the vigorous defence of all human and Christian rights, both in themselves and especially when these rights are threatened. With the realization that she lives in anticipation of the fullness of the Kingdom of God, she must pursue constantly the work of the Messiah, of whom the Psalmist says: “He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save. From fraud and violence he shall redeem them” (Ps 72,13-14). The Church must then always be at home among the poor, vigilant in the defence of all their rights.

5. In giving us the basis for the defence of human rights, Christ proclaims a whole structure of human relationships. He teaches us that to save our life we must lose it (Cfr. Luc Lc 17,33). Indeed, the human being cannot fully find himself without first making a sincere gift of self (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 24). This is so because to be a person in the image and likeness of God is to exist in relation to another and to others. What Christ and his Church advocate is not the mere external defence of human rights, nor the mere defence of human rights by the organisms and structures at the disposal of the community – however providential and useful these may be – but the total commitment of giving on the part of each individual in the community so that the rights of all may be ensured through the great structure of proper human and Christian relationships in which the charity of Christ reigns supreme and in which justice is “corrected” by love (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Dives in Misericordia DM 14). This structure of personal relationships – the only one conducive to the full defence of human and Christian rights – must view the human being as created in the image and likeness of God as God exists: a communion of persons.

6. A phenomenon which militates against this whole structure of personal relationships and therefore against human rights, a phenomenon which I have brought to the attention of the whole Church is “the decline of many fundamental values, values which constitute an unquestionable good not only for Christian morality but simply for human morality, for moral culture: these values include respect for human life from the moment of conception, respect for marriage in its indissoluble unity, and respect for the stability of the family. ...Hand in hand with this go the crisis of truth in human relationships, lack of responsibility for what one says, the purely utilitarian relationship between individual and individual, the loss of a sense of the authentic common good and the ease with which this good is alienated” (Ibid.12). Each one of these areas would merit to be developed at length. In the past I have spoken to you in some detail on some of these topics. I am profoundly grateful to you for your persevering efforts in so many pastoral challenges, one of the greatest being the defence and support of human life.

7. A major area of human rights in need of constant defence is that concerned with the family and its members, both parents and children (Charter of the Rights of the Family, art. 5). The Charter of the Rights of the Family presented five years ago by the Holy See has spelled out these rights and deserves renewed attention at this time. One of the fundamental principles enunciated in this document is “the original, primary and inalienable right” of parents to educate their children according to their moral and religious convictions, and to supervise closely and to control their sex education.

The Church must continue to present human sexuality as linked to God’s plan of creation and constantly proclaim the finality and dignity of sex.

Ways by which the human family is greatly wounded include the unsolved problems of immensely lucrative drug trafficking and pornography. Both of these plague society, debase human life and human love and violate human rights.

8. In dealing with the specific rights of women as women, it is necessary to return again and again to the immutable basis of Christian anthropology as it is foreshadowed in the Scriptural account of the creation of man – as male and female – in the image and likeness of God. Both man and woman are created in the image of the personhood of God, with inalienable personal dignity, and in complementarity-one with the other. Whatever violates the complementarity of women and men, whatever impedes the true communion of persons according to the complementarity of the sexes offends the dignity of both women and men.

Through the first draft of your proposed document on the concerns of women for the Church and society, I know that you are making real efforts to respond with sensitivity to these greatly varying concerns, by presenting women as partners in the mystery of the Redemption as this mystery is lived out in our day. You are rightly striving to help eliminate discrimination based on sex. You are also rightly presenting Mary the Mother of God as a model of discipleship and a sign of hope to all, and at the same time as a special symbol and model for women in their partnership with God in the ministry of the Church.

Throughout the whole Church a great prayerful reflection still remains to be made on the teaching of the Church about women and about their dignity and vocation. I have already announced my own intention to publish a document on this subject, and this document will come out shortly. The Church is determined to place her full teaching, with all the power with which divine truth is invested, at the service of the cause of women in the modern world – to help clarify their correlative rights and duties, while defending their feminine dignity and vocation. The importance of true Christian feminism is so great that every effort must be made to present the principles on which this cause is based, and according to which it can be effectively defended and promoted for the good of all humanity. The seriousness of this commitment requires the collaboration not only of the entire College of Bishops also of the whole Church.

9. The status of all human dignity and all human rights is immeasurably enhanced by the supernatural condition and destiny of humanity, which are found only in relation to God, only in relation to Christ. Paul VI, in his powerful social Encyclical, “Populorum Progressio” wanted to present these elements together. He wanted the Church to follow a course of social action that would be solidly secure. In other words, he wanted to link human rights and dignity – indeed the whole of humanism – to God, in Christ. In a word, he wanted to insist that the Church can and must be both anthropocentric and theocentric at the same time, by being Christocentric, by concentrating on Christ, the Redeemer of man, the Redeemer of all humanity. This message of his is more important now than ever before for our people, namely that “by union with Christ man attains to new fulfilment of himself, to a transcendent humanism that gives him his greatest possible perfection” (Pauli VI Populorum Progressio PP 16). And again: “There is no true humanism but that which is open to the Absolute and is conscious of a vocation which gives human life its true meaning” (Ibid. 42). For all of us this vocation is the Christian vocation – essentially linked to the Incarnation and to the cause of human dignity and human rights as they are incomparably spelled out by the Incarnate Word.

And when human justice is not only practised but “corrected” by love, the cause of all humanity is immeasurably enriched. Through the charity of Christ the Incarnate Word, the horizons of service – exercised in the name of the Gospel and of the mission of the Church – are vastly extended.

As Pastors of God’s people, dear Brothers, we have known from experience how relevant all these principles are at every level of the Church, in every community of the faithful, no matter how small or how large. There is no other path to take than man and human dignity. There is no other direction in which to point him than to God. There is no other way to arrive than through Christ. In building up the Kingdom of God, there is no other cause than the cause of humanity understood in the light of Christ, who says: “As often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me” (Mt 25,40).

With these reflections, dear Brothers, I assure you of my prayers that all your local Churches will ever increasingly find in Christ the everlasting link between the cause of humanity and the Kingdom of God, and that in Christ they will experience inspiration and strength for their lives. May God reward you for your own zeal and generosity and for all the pastoral love with which you serve his holy people.

With my Apostolic Blessing.




Thursday, 8 September 1988

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. It is a pleasure to welcome today the participants in the Tenth Annual Meeting of the European Academy of Anaesthesiology. I am pleased that you have wished to include this audience in the programme of your meeting in Rome, for it affords me the opportunity to express my esteem for your worthy profession and to assure you of the Church’s prayerful support for all who serve humanity through medical science and the art of healing.

In a particular way, I wish to express my appreciation of the goals of your Academy, such as your commitment to improving the practical and theoretical training of those who are preparing to serve in the field of anaesthesiology. I am thinking, too, of your promotion of scientific research in this and related fields of medicine and of your desire to facilitate fruitful dialogue with institutional and political authorities on topics of mutual interest and concern. Another contribution of special significance would be your efforts to develop greater collaboration between medical personnel of all the countries of Europe, thereby ensuring a richer cultural exchange and better use of medical resources and the latest findings of scientific research.

2. The medical profession, like the Church herself, places itself at the service of the human family, and more particularly at the service of people who are sick and suffering. It is in light of this exalted mission of yours that I share with you some reflections on the ethical nature of your vocation.

As anaesthetists, you seek to relieve the pain of those persons who have been injured in an accident or who for some other medical care. In your medical operation, or receive other medical care. In your work, you are always collaborating with other specialists, making possible surgical interventions or some other form of medical treatment. In every case, you are placing your talents and expertise at the service of people who are ill and suffering.

However, as you know well, no matter how dedicated and effective your efforts, you can never overcome completely the reality of pain and suffering. You can suspend it for a certain length of time; in many cases, you can reduce its intensity to a significant degree, but suffering and pain remain an inevitable part of the earthly experience of every human person. This means that your professional work compels you again and again to face the mystery of human suffering.

3. In my Apostolic Letter on the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering, I wrote of how Christ, by becoming a man and especially by taking suffering upon himself, gave meaning and redemptive value to the pain and suffering of human life. For it was precisely by means of his own suffering that Christ accomplished our eternal salvation. Suffering was the means God chose for expressing his eternal love for us and for offering us the gift of the Redemption.

By his own example, Jesus taught us to care for our brothers and sisters who suffer; and he told his disciples, when he sent them forth, “heal the sick... and say to them ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Lc 10,9).

To relieve pain, then, and to care for the sick is a profession of great moral value. At the same time, it is a profession that demands both high moral standards and courageous ethical conduct, especially at a time in history when fundamental moral truths are being called into question. For example, some of our contemporaries are advocating the termination of human life through euthanasia as a supposedly compassionate solution to the problem of human suffering.

4. You who work in the field of anaesthesiology are perhaps particularly sensitive to the pleas of those who clamour for the so-called compassionate solution of euthanasia, precisely because your profession aims at reducing the pain that others are suffering. This is especially true in instances of intense and prolonged suffering. While being sympathetic to the subjective feelings which may prompt these pleas for euthanasia, you must not lose sight of the objective facts and ultimate truths which necessarily enter into the question.

In this regard, I would like to call your attention to the guidelines contained in the “Declaration on Euthanasia “issued with my approval by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In this document, the question at hand is dealt with in readily understandable terms.

It states: “It may happen that, by reason of prolonged and barely tolerable pain, for deeply personal or other reasons, people may be led to believe that they can legitimately ask for death or obtain it for others. Although in these cases the guilt of the individual may be reduced or completely absent, nevertheless the error of judgment into which the conscience falls, perhaps in good faith, does not change the nature of this act of killing, which will always be in itself something to be rejected. The pleas of gravely ill people who sometimes ask for death are not to be understood as implying a true desire for euthanasia; in fact it is almost always a case of an anguished plea for help and for love” (Congr. Pro Doctr. Fidei Declaratio de Euthanasia II).

When confronting this grave moral evil and other serious threats to the dignity of the human person, we must remain steadfast in the conviction that no medical solution could be truly compassionate which would violate the natural law and stand in opposition to the revealed truth of the word of God. In the end, we must recall that no doctor, no nurse, no medical technician, indeed no human being, is the final arbiter of human life, either of one’s own life or that of another. This realm belongs only to God, the Creator and Redeemer of us all.

5. There are many other difficult ethical questions which you inevitably face in your noble profession, questions which require careful judgments of conscience in addition to your well-informed medical insights.

That is why there is an increasingly evident need for a serious ethical formation of all those engaged in the medical field. Such formation is appropriate and necessary in light of the fact that your aim is not only to serve each patient by your professional diligence and competence but also to provide a “fully human” care that meets the needs of the whole person. In this entire field, I want to assure you of the interest and concern of the Church, which is eager to offer you assistance through the guidance of her moral teaching and the wealth of her spiritual patrimony. It is in mutual collaboration that we can best serve those who suffer.

Along these lines I wish to recall a point which I emphasized a few years ago, in an address to the World Medical Association: “One cannot but render homage to the immense progress achieved... by the medicine of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But, as you are aware, it is necessary now more than ever to overcome the separation between science and morality, to rediscover their profound unity. It is man whom you are dealing with, man whose dignity it is precisely the province of morality to safeguard” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad eos qui XXXV coetui Consociationis medicorum ab omnibus nationibus interfuerunt coram admissos, die 29 oct. 1983: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VI, 2 (1983) 917 ss).

My words this evening are intended, dear friends, to be, above all, an expression of esteem and encouragement in your generous efforts to assist those in pain. I gladly commend you and your work to the Lord of Life, the God and Father of all. May he grant his abundant blessing to you and to all your dear ones.




International Airport of Harare, Zimbabwe

Saturday, 10 September 1988

Mr President,
My brother Bishops,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Dear Friends,

1. In kissing Zimbabwe's soil, I have wished to honour the entire nation and show my gratitude to Almighty God who enables me to visit our beloved country. I give thanks to him from the depths of my heart for ringing me once more to Africa: continent of hope and promise for the future of mankind.

It is fitting that my pastoral visit to five countries of Southern Africa should begin here, in Zimbabwe, a nation making a new beginning, where a new era of peace and reconciliation is taking shape – in the midst of not a few difficulties – a nation to which the whole of Africa, and indeed the world, looks for a sign that a better future can be built on the basis of justice and brotherhood under God, without discrimination.

2. Mr President, I wish to express to you my deep gratitude for the welcome to Zimbabwe which you have extended to me. When you visited the Vatican in May 1982 you asked me to come to your country, and recently you renewed that cordial invitation. I express my heartfelt appreciation to you, to the members of the Government and to the entire population who have so warmly welcomed me as a friend.

Within Africa Zimbabwe is the country which has most recently come to independence. Your people vividly recall the midnight between 17 and 18 April 1980 when the national flag was raised and the new Republic was proclaimed, inaugurating what you yourself called a “time for reconciliation, reconstruction and nation-building”. These noble words still constitute the goal which inspires your efforts and those of your fellow-citizens. Such a programme offers an appropriate framework for the effective and practical collaboration of all sectors of society on the path of progress and peace. I assure you of my prayerful support and encouragement.

I also wish to greet you, Mr President, in your capacity as current Chairman of the International Movement of Non-Aligned Nations. Zimbabwe and the other members of this group affirm what I spoke of in my recent Encyclical, namely: “the right of every people to its own identity, independence and security, as well as the right to share, on a basis of equality and solidarity, in the goods intended for all” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 21). In this regard I would repeat something I said on a previous visit to this continent: “It is my conviction that all Africa, when allowed to take charge of its own affairs, without being subjected to interference and pressure from any outside powers or groups, will not only astound the rest of the world by its achievements, but will be able to share its wisdom, its sense of life, its reverence for God with other continents and nations, thus establishing that exchange and that partnership in the mutual respect that is needed for the true progress of all humanity” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Exc.mum Virum Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Nigeriae Praesidem in palatio vulgo 'State House' cognominato habita, 3, die 12 febr. 1982: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V, 1 (1982) 372 s).

3. Unfortunately, in the Southern African region these rights are far from being fully respected, these aspirations far from being fulfilled. Powerful political, economic and ideological forces endanger the still fragile stability of countries which are only beginning to consolidate their recently acquired independence. Those forces impede the self-determination of peoples; they foment ideological, ethnic and tribal conflicts; they delay the process of development.

Where instances of serious injustice have caused and continue to cause immense suffering, hope for a peaceful outcome and just solution must include genuine and sincere dialogue between opposing viewpoints. This is true for the grave issue of apartheid and for all violations of human rights. I appeal to all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of the peoples of this region, of whatever racial extraction or ideological inspiration, to renounce the use of violence as a method for achieving their ends. They have a duty before history to resolve their differences by peaceful means, in the only way consonant with man’s transcendent calling. The time for such steps is now!

4. The main purpose of my present pilgrimage is to visit my brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith. I am overjoyed to be among you and to rejoice with you in the faith and sacramental life that unites us in the Body of Christ. I look forward to celebrating this unity with you in the Eucharist. I come to encourage you all, especially you, my brother bishops and priests, in the great task of evangelization and in your many services to the national community.

I also greet my brothers and sisters, representatives and leaders of the other Ecclesial Communities in Zimbabwe. I express to you my sincere affection in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As a pilgrim of peace, seeking to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, I salute all the citizens of Zimbabwe: the men and women of every walk of life, the children, the young, the old; in a special way, the sick and the poor, and all who are burdened in body or in spirit. May God’s love embrace every one of you.

God bless Zimbabwe! God bless Africa!






Convent of the Dominican Sisters, Harare

Sunday, 10 September 1988

“I shall be with you all days,
even to the end of the world” (Mt 28,20).

Dear Cardinals and brother Bishops,
Members of the Interregional Meeting
of Bishops of Southern Africa,

1. With confidence in Jesus’ promise to be forever with his Church, we are gathered here in Harare – in his name – at the closing session of the Second Plenary Assembly of IMBISA. We recognize that the collegial bond which unites us exists “for the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God” (Lumen Gentium LG 18). Christ willed that the successors of the Apostles should be shepherds in his Church until the end of time.

It is a source of great joy for me to meet once more the bishops of the Church in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé e Príncipe, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. It was not possible to include all your countries in this visit. Therefore, I ask you, the bishops from Angola and São Tomé e Príncipe, from South Africa and Namibia, to convey my greetings and blessing to your priests, religious and laity, and to assure them that I look forward to being able to visit each of your countries on some future occasion. I ask you all to pray that the Lord will give me this consolation without too much delay.

Many of you have been to Rome in recent months on your ad limina visit. There, you bore witness to the joys and sorrows of your particular Churches. There, you renewed your faith and the faith of your people at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and deepened the ecclesial communion which unites you with the Successor of Peter and with the whole Catholic and apostolic Church. My visit today is meant to be a further affirmation of the bonds of unity, charity and peace (Lumen Gentium LG 22) which unite us. In tomorrow’s solemn Concelebration we shall proclaim that unity in the deepest way possible, by together offering and partaking of the very Body of Christ, which is the highest expression of our unity and its source (Cfr. ibid. 11).

2. The kingdom which the Son of God established by coming into the world has been entrusted to our Episcopal ministry. This is the measure of our responsibility. This kingdom is the realization in time of God’s eternal plan: it reveals the “wisdom” which was hidden and has now been made known through the Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God (Cfr. 1Co 2,7-10). “The mysterious design which for ages was hidden in God” is made manifest in Christ and in his Church (Cfr. Eph Ep 3,9-10 Col 1,26-27).

Our Episcopal ministry is inseparable from the mystery of Christ and of the Church. The Second Vatican Council reminds bishops that they have been “appointed by the Holy Spirit... sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor... made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, shepherds” (Christus Dominus CD 2). In this time and place you have been called to be the “servants of Christ and administrators of the mysteries of God”(1Co 4,1) in Southern Africa, in each of the countries represented in IMBISA.

3. Na vossa primeira Assembleia Plenária propusestes-vos como objectivo discernir a missão profética da Igreja, na complexa e variada realidade social, cultural e política da região. Propusestes-vos tornar mais conhecido o ensino social da Igreja, de maneira que esta região possa tomar uma nova orientação, inspirada no Evangelho. Nessa ocasião escrevi-vos, para reafirmar a doutrina da Exortação Apostólica “Evangelii Nuntiandi” do Papa Paulo VI, sobre a validade perene da mensagem do Evangelho, pelo que diz respeito ao homem, na complexidade de sua existência. Quis desse modo ajudar-vos e encorajar-vos, na vossa solicitude pastoral por todo o povo da África Austral, e recordar que toda a forma de ministério e de serviço na Igreja deve ser uma expressão do amor que está no Coração de Jesus, um amor que abraça todos os homens e mulheres na sua única realidade humana.

Na Segunda Assembleia Plenária quisestes reflectir ulteriormente sobre o vosso ministério, à luz do tema que vos tínheis proposto: a dignidade da pessoa humana. E se bem que a vossa reflexão parta de uma penosa visão e experiência das muitas formas com que a dignidade humana é negada e violada entre os vossos povos, ela verifica também com agrado muitas formas de fraternidade, de solidariedade e de sede genuína de justiça, que mesmo no meio de dificuldades, preocupam os corações e as vidas de muitos.

4. Numerosos povos olham hoje para a Igreja na esperança de que ela lhes mostre como é que se poderá viver a vida com maior dignidade e liberdade, como se poderá construir una sociedade mais justa e humana e como se poderá alcançar e defender a paz com maior eficiência. Numa palavra, o mundo olha para a Igreja à procura de um testemunho convincente da salvação total oferecida por Cristo. O caminho do testemunho da Igreja está exposto nos Documentos do Concilio Vaticano II. Os seus frutos constituem a grande graça e o dom que o Espírito Santo oferece ao Povo de Deus peregrino nas presentes circunstãncias da sua caminhada terrena.

O Sínodo Extraordinário dos Bispos de 1985 focou algumas das dificuldades deste período pós-conciliar. Mas deu também indicações válidas para promover o implemento do Concílio “em continuidade com a longa tradição da Igreja” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, 1, 5). O Sínodo apela para uma maior difusão e compreensão, nas Igrejas particulares, dos ensinamentos do Concílio e para um discernimento mais correcto entre a legítima abertura ao mundo e a aceitação da mentalidade secularizada do mesmo mundo e a hierarquia dos valores (Cfr. ibid. 1, 4).

5. Passo a referir brevemente alguns pontos salientes do ministério da Igreja:

É fundamental para a autoconsciência da Igreja, conforme foi expresso pelo Concílio, que ela se capacite de sua chamada à santidade.

A Igreja é santa porque Cristo se entregou a si mesmo por ela, para a santificar (Cfr. Eph Ep 5,25-26). Mas os seus membros, se bem que pela fé e pelo Baptismo comecem a participar dessa santidade, devem todavia ratificar ainda mais amplamente a sua condição de filhos adoptivos de Deus e de discípulos do Senhor, até “alcançarem a medida da plena estatura de Cristo” (Cfr. ibid. 4, 13). Devem esforçar-se por possuir os frutos do Espírito na santidade (Cfr. Gal Ga 5,22 Rm 6,12). O testemunho da Igreja diante do mundo só será verdadeiramente convincente quando a santidade de vida – que é “a perfeição da caridade”(Lumen Gentium LG 40) – se manifestar claramente concretizada em homens e mulheres santos.

Daqui a alguns dies, no Lesotho, participaremos na beatificação do Padre José Gerard. Este acto, que será um reconhecimento público da santidade deste filho de Deus, não é simplesmente mais um acontecimento no decorrer da minha visita. Na realidade, ele será o fulcro do significado espiritual da mesma visita. A fidelidade a Cristo, claramente exemplificada no longo serviço missionário do Padre José Gerard na África do Sul e no Lesotho, é a essência da vida eclesial e do nosso próprio ministério. A linha que vai da santidade à evangelização é directa, como testemunha a história da mesma evangelização em todos os tempos. E se bem que seja Deus quem faz crescer (Cfr. 1Cor 1Co 3,6), ao apóstolo compete plantar e regar como “fiel colaborador de Deus” (Jn 17,21) até que a messe esteja madura. A fidelidade do apóstolo a Deus, com a graça de Cristo, é uma condição para que a Igreja produza frutos abundantes.

6. The Church’s pastoral endeavours, even those which clearly manifest her preferential option for the poor and most neglected, will be ineffective unless they are grounded in the evangelizer’s own untiring search to progress in Christian holiness. According to Jesus, the disciple’s union with the Father and the Son is essential “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17,21). That is what the bishops of the Council and the Fathers of the Extraordinary Synod proposed for the present circumstances of the Church and of the world. This is what you must proclaim to the priests, religious and laity of your particular Churches. This is what we must proclaim together in the College of Bishops. Certain statements of the Extraordinary Synod which perhaps did not receive sufficient publicity merit repetition. The Final Report says: “Today we have tremendous need of saints, for whom we must assiduously implore God... In our day above all, when so many people feel an interior void and spiritual crisis, the Church must preserve and energetically promote the sense of penance, prayer, adoration, sacrifice, self-giving, charity and justice” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, A, 4).

7. Fidelity to Christ is also the motivating force of all evangelization. The Church exists to evangelize (Cfr Lumen Gentium LG 17 Ad Gentes AGD 1). As the “universal sacrament of salvation”, she is impelled by her own catholic nature to preach the Gospel to all peoples. And the “plantatio Ecclesiae” (Ad Gentes AGD 6) throughout this Southern African region is far from complete. The calls made on her to respond to so many immediate needs and emergencies of a humanitarian and social nature must not cause her to forget the Lord’s specific command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28,19).

I encourage you to continue to face with courage and wisdom the challenge of the evangelization of Africa. Africa needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Southern Africa thirsts for his kingdom of “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2Tm 2,22). If asked what is the Church’s overriding concern in Southern Africa, we should not hesitate to say: The Church is here to proclaim salvation in Jesus the Lord, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Act. 4, 12). The primary task of each of the particular Churches over which you preside is to evangelize, so that “all things can be restored in Christ, and in him mankind can compose one family and one people” (Ad Gentes AGD 1).

8. In every age and in every place the preaching of the Gospel is made more difficult by divisions among Christians. This is a painful fact, and it goes against the explicit will of Jesus who founded the Church as the sign and instrument of universal unity (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 1). To improve relations between the different Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities is a pressing concern of our Episcopal ministry. It is a task that is not always easy, since there exist fundamental differences regarding the essential content of the faith. But the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the cause of a genuine ecumenism which acknowledges the action of the Spirit of Christ wherever it appears; she knows that it is the Spirit who urges all Christ’s disciples to embrace the fullness of the means of grace and truth (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 3).

One of the important tasks is to educate the faithful in respectful ecumenical collaboration, without compromising the fullness of the Catholic faith, while avoiding any sense of rivalry in the apostolate. I know that IMBISA and the individual Conferences are already deeply engaged in this work.

9. A Constituição dogmática sobre a Igreja ensina expressamente que existe uma estreita ligação entre a santidade de vida e a promoção de uma sociedade mais humana (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 28). Não existe oposição entre a chamada da Igreja à fé e o seu empenhamento no serviço do amor e da justiça. “O amor que impele a Igreja a comunicar a todos os povos a participação gratuita na vida divina impele-a também... a buscar o verdadeiro bem temporal dos homens... e a promover uma libertação integral de tudo aquilo que pode impedir o desenvolvimento das pessoas. A Igreja quer o bem do homem em todas as suas dimensões: em primeiro lugar, como membro da cidade de Deus; e depois, como membro da cidade da terra” (Congr. Pro Doctr. Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 63). Estes dois objectivos entram na sua missão, mas de maneira diferente (Ibid. 64). Completam-se mutuamente, mas um não pode ser reduzido ao outro. É preciso que haja sempre um anúncio explícito de que em Jesus Cristo a salvação é oferecida a todos os homens, como dom do amor de Deus misericordioso.

10. No vigésimo aniversário da Encíclica de Paulo VI “Populorum Progressio”, achei por bem publicar a Encíclica “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, sobre o desenvolvimento social no actual momento histórico, como um apelo às consciencias (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 4). O Papa Paulo VI resumiu o anelo que o mundo tem pela justiça nesta frase: “o desenvolvimento é o novo nome da paz” (Cfr. Pauli VI Populorum Progressio PP 87 Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 10). Os esforços em prol do desenvolvimento devem inspirar-se em princípios éticos; e é por isso que a Igreja tem o dever de proclamar as exigências do Evangelho sob a forma da Doutrina Social Cristã, que compreende a promoção da justiça e da paz entre os povos, a defesa da dignidade do homem o os direitos sociais, culturais e morais da pessoa humana. Os membros da Igreja, têm o dever de fazer com que este ensinamento impregne as realidades da vida quotidiana.

Vós estais justamente preocupados com os sofrimentos causados pelos conflitos nesta região, com o entrincheiramento de posições ideológicas (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 20), e com o deterioramento da situação sócio-económica nos vossos países. A discriminação racial, os conflitos que causam um número sempre crescente de refugiados, a morte de pessoas inocentes e outras formas de violência são evidentemente um mal moral. Tudo isso é fruto de pecados pessoais; a cumplicidade ou indiferença dos indivíduos conduziu a “estruturas de pecado” permanentes nas vossas sociedades.

Cada Igreja particular e a Igreja em cada país é encorajada a promover uma resposta cristã aos problemas da justiça e da paz, apresentando o ensinamento social da Igreja e fomentando o diálogo e o desenvolvimento. No mesmo ano em que escreveu a “Populorum Progressio”, o Papa Paulo VI instituiu a Pontifícia Commissão “Justitia et Pax”, para estudar estes problemas e para estimular o Povo de Deus a um maior empenhamento nestes campos. O Simpósio “Justiça e Paz” da IMBISA que realizastes em 1987, e o Seminário Pan-Africano sobre a Justiça e a Paz da SECAM, organizado pela IMBISA em Junho do corrente ano, representam um passo em frente importante, no serviço da Igreja em prol da paz e do desenvolvimento na África. De igual modo, o trabalho do Secretariado para as Comunicações Sociais da IMBISA, dando maior amplitude a cada Conferência no uso dos meios de comunicação na evangelização e desenvolvimento merece o vosso encorajamento e ajuda. Que Deus vos inspire, amados Irmãos Bispos, a permanecerdes pessoalmente vigilantes e responsáveis em relação a estes esforços; e que Ele mantenha os vossos colaboradores firmes na fidelidade aos ensinamentos da Igreja e à suprema lei do amor, pela qual é regido todo o serviço na Igreja.

Em particular quero fazer-vos aqui um apelo a continuardes a procurar as vias para ajudar os refugiados e os deslocados nos vossos países. Eles perderam tudo, inclusive muitas vezes as suas famílias e os seus entes queridos. Os seus direitos com frequência foram violados e a sua dignidade humana ofendida. São dignos de especial encómio aqueles Sacerdotes e Religiosas que compartilham a vida e as dificuldades dos refugiados, a fim de acudir às suas necessidades espirituais e materiais. A comunidade eclesial sozinha não pode resolver os problemas dos refugiados ou aliviar todos os sofrimentos que daí se seguem. Mas pode e deve procurar corresponder com amor a esta tragédia. Quem receber um destes irmãos e irmãs em nome de Cristo atrai as bênçãos de Deus sobre a terra (Cfr. Marc. 9, 37).

11. Cada um dos países aqui representados constitui uma grande esperança para a Igreja. Sinto-me animado a repetir as palavras de São Paulo: “Alegro-me, pois, de poder contar, em sudo, convosco” (2Co 7,16). Uma vez que nos próximos dies terei outros encontros com os Irmãos Bispos do Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Suazilândia e Moçambique, seja-me permitido dirigir agora uma mensagem especial aos Irmãos Bispos de Angola, são Tomé e Príncipe, África do Sul e Namíbia.

12. Senhor Cardeal Nascimento e veneráveis Irmãos Bispos de Angola:

Começo por certificar-vos de que vós estais sempre presentes no meu pensamento e nas minhas orações ao Altíssimo, a implorar que Aquele que começou em vós a boa obra, tão excelente, a leve até ao fim (Cfr. Phil ). Recordo-me bem da vossa visita ad Limina em Maio de 1986, quando compartilhastes comigo esperanças e aspiraçoes vossas e das gentes da vossa terra, bem como provaçoes e sofrimentos.

Reafirmo aqui tudo o que vos disse nessa ocasião, acerca da minha proximidade espiritual em relação a vós e aos vossos Sacerdotes, que, apesar dos muitos obstáculos, continuam a “prolongar” o Bom Pastor, alimentando as comunidades cristãs com o Pão da Vida e a Palavra da salvação. Exorto-vos a continuardes a assistir muito de perto os vossos Sacerdotes, que são “a porção escolhida” dos vossos rebanhos. Orientai-os na sua vida e ministério sacerdotal, como verdadeiros pais e mestres espirituais; e esforçai-vos por os ajudar nas suas dificuldades, tendo presente sobretudo o bem das almas.

Confio-vos que sejais portadores da expressão do meu apreço e da minha gratidão a todos os Religiosos e Religiosas, tanto os nativos de Angola como os de outras nações, que se dedicam sem reservas ao serviço da comunidade da fé e da sociedade. Estou muito desejoso de poder falar-lhes directamente, num próximo futuro, para lhes dizer quanto a Igreja e o Papa apreciam a sua coragem, perante tantas adversidades, e reconhecem o valor da sua fidelidade ao Senhor “no meio de muitas dificuldades, com a alegria infusa pelo Espírito Santo” (1Th 1,6).

Aos catequistas e aos leigos, homens e mulheres, que se mostram cada vez mais activos na comunidade eclesial, à juventude, que é particularmente atingida pelas presentes dificuldades, aos doentes, às vítimas da guerra e a todos os necessitados, peço-vos que leveis uma palavra de encorajamento da minha parte.

Constitui objecto da minha oração ardente que a Igreja em Angola, começando por vós, Bispos, se mantenha intimamente unida numa profunda comunhão de fé e de solidariedade; e que vós vos ampareis uns aos outros na mesma esperança a que fostes chamados (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,4).

Alguns acontecimentos recentes dão-nos razões suficientes para esperar que a missão pastoral da Igreja, inclusive as actividades sociais e culturais a favor do povo, continuarão a processar-se num clima de maior compreensão e de subsidiariedade mais eficaz. Em Setembro do ano passado senti grande alegria ao receber no Vaticano a visita de Sua Excelência o Presidente da República, José Eduardo dos Santos, e de outros membros do Governo de Angola. Mais recentemente, o Senhor Cardeal Roger Etchegaray fez uma visita ao vosso País em meu nome, a qual incluiu encontros úteis com o mesmo Presidente e com outras Autoridades angolanas. É de esperar que se possam efectuar contractos mais regulares, entre os membros da Conferência Episcopal e as Autoridades políticas, em espírito de diálogo e de colaboração. Com tudo isso, a Igreja quer somente dispor de espaços de liberdade para continuar a sua missão de reconciliação entre os povos e de reconciliação do homem com Deus. É seu desejo servir a causa da dignidade humana na verdade e na liberdade.

Asseguro-vos, amados Irmãos no Episcopado, que rezo constantemente para que as causas que estão por detrás dos conflitos em curso no vosso País possam ser esclarecidas nos colóquios que estão a desenrolar-se e que se encontrem soluções para as remover e iniciar uma nova era de paz e de serenidade para o Povo angolano.

Convencido de que “Deus suprirá a todas as vossas necessidades, com magnificência proporcionada à sua riqueza, em Jesus Cristo” (Ph 4,19), rezo para que a fé, profunda e espontânea, do vosso povo seja ulteriormente consolidada através das provaçõe que ele foi chamado a enfrentar. Confio a Igreja em Angola à intercessão de Maria Santíssima, Rainha da Paz.

13. Queria também confiar ao Senhor Dom Abílio Ribas que transmita as minhas saudações aos fiéis da sua dilecta Diocese de São Tomé e Principe. Sua Excelência o Senhor Presidente da República, Dr. Manuel Pinto da Costa, convidou-me com amabilidade para visitar o seu País; e eu aguardo com interesse essa possibilidade.

Sei que o Senhor Bispo acalenta no coração a esperança de poder dotar com clero nativo a circunscrição eclesiástica e que para isso está empenhado na construção de um seminário local. Peço ao Senhor que o ampare em todos os seus esforços pastorais e que abençoe todos os Missionários, Sacerdotes, Religiosos e Religiosas, que compartilham o seu ministério de graça e de paz em Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo.

14. Dear Cardinal McCann and brother Bishops of South Africa,

A great part of your pastoral ministry consists in promoting a Christian response to the divisions existing within your society. The question of apartheid, understood as a system of social, economic and political discrimination, engages your mission as teachers and spiritual guides of your flocks in a necessary and determined effort to counteract injustices and to advocate the replacement of that policy with one consistent with justice and love. I encourage you to continue to hold firmly and courageously to the principles which are at the basis of a peaceful and just response to the legitimate aspirations of all your fellow-citizens.

I am aware of the attitudes expressed over the years by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, from the first corporate statement of 1952. The Holy See and I myself have drawn attention to the injustices of apartheid on numerous occasions, and most recently before an ecumenical group of Christian leaders from South Africa on a visit to Rome. To them I recalled that “since reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel, Christians cannot accept structures of racial discrimination which violate human rights. But they must also realize that a change of structures is linked to a change of hearts.The changes they seek are rooted in the power of love, the Divine Love from which every Christian action and transformation springs” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Ad quosdam seiunctos fratres ex Africa, 3, die 27 maii 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 2 (1988) 1661).

As you call for progress towards the recognition of the rights of all South Africans and their full participation in the life of their country, you find yourselves caught up in the current dramatic confrontation between opposing positions. It is important that you should keep your determination to find a solution through a dialogue sustained by prayer. You must be fully convinced that only a negotiated settlement of differences can bring true peace and justice. A loss of confidence in the possibility of a peaceful solution could easily lead to further frustration and violence, increasing the threat to peace, not limited to this region.

The programme of pastoral planning which you have initiated seeks to involve the faithful of each local community in a process of building their unity in Christ and applying the teachings of the Gospel to their own situation. In this regard I would make reference again to the great need of the present hour of which I spoke to you during your ad limina visit last November: “The mobilization of the whole ecclesial community in the spirit of the Gospel – which is the spirit of conversion of individual hearts – with the weapons of the Gospel, to bring about in the power of the Gospel the Christian transformation of society” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad episcopos regionis Africae Meridionalis occasione oblata visitationis 'ad limina' coram admissos, 4, die 27 nov. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3 (1987) 1220).

As bishops, you must take steps to ensure that the one Catholic Church, in the unity of her faith, sacraments and hierarchical order, will always be present in these communities. You must also ensure that – as the 1985 Synod pointed out – a clear distinction is made between legitimate pluriformity and divisive pluralism: “When pluriformity is true richness... this is true catholicity. The pluralism of fundamentally opposed positions instead leads to dissolution destruction and the loss of identity” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, C, 2).

Dear brothers, as you strive to promote authentic reconciliation among the peoples of South Africa, as the only path to a just and peaceful society, it is extremely important to emphasize the need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Without a renewed emphasis on this sacrament, without vigorously promoting it in your local Churches, your efforts in reconciling human hearts would be incomplete. But through the sacramental ministry of individual Confession, a whole new power of reconciliation in the Blood of Christ is unleashed throughout your land.

As servants of the Gospel, you scrutinize the “signs of the times” in the light of your prophetic and priestly office. Today those “signs” are accompanied by much pain and anguish. The bishops gathered from around the world at the Extraordinary Synod saw this as a universal phenomenon: “Today, in fact – they wrote – everywhere in the world we witness an increase in hunger, oppression, injustice and war, sufferings, terrorism and other forms of violence of every sort. This requires a new and more profound theological reflection”. Far from merely offering a condemnation of this negative picture, the bishops of that Synod expressed the belief that “in the present difficulties God wishes to teach us more deeply the value, the importance and the centrality of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore – they conclude – the relationship between human history and salvation history is to be explained in the light of the Paschal Mystery” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, D, 2). Truly, the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are the sure basis of our hope (Cfr. 1 Petr.1, 3) and “the foundation and the measure of all liberating action” (Congr. Pro Doctr. Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 3).

15. Dear Bishops Hauxiku and Schlotterback,

I assure you and the Catholic faithful of Namibia that your sufferings and hopes for a better future are the object of my deep concern and constant prayer. The theme of this visit, “Human rights: the dignity of the human person”, is immediately relevant to the painful situation being experienced by the people of Namibia. The international community has expressed itself clearly and forcefully in favour of their right to self-determination. The Holy See has fully supported this legitimate aspiration and encourages the parties involved in the negotiations currently taking place not only to arrive at a swift and positive recognition of Namibia’s right to sovereignty and independence, but also to take the steps necessary to make this at long last a reality.

We hope that the authorities concerned will be moved by the longstanding sufferings of the peoples of the area to do everything possible to remove the remaining obstacles to a final settlement of this question with justice for all. We must always remember that there can be no true solution without fraternal love. Hatred is the first enemy of justice and peace.

The Church is already active through her educational and charitable works, and she embraces the challenge of helping to build up the national community in true harmony. The important ecumenical collaboration already taking place between the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican communities in Namibia constitutes a solid hope of even greater cooperation in the future.

16. Dear members of IMBISA: in conclusion I would underline the concern that is at the heart of my conversation with you. The task of evangelization and service calls for spiritual renewal at every level of the Church. The Council’s Decree on Missionary Activity reminds us that fervour in the service of God and charity towards others are needed to “cause new spiritual inspiration to sweep over the whole Church: Then she will appear as a sign lifted up among the nations, (Cfr. Is Is 11,12) ‘the light of the world’ (Mt 5,14), and ‘the salt of the earth' (Ibid. 5, 13)". (Ad Gentes AGD 36). As we approach the Third Millennium this is the true measure of the challenge facing the Church in each of your countries.

It is my constant prayer that Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, will support you with her loving care. We, the pastors, will fulfil our essential role – on condition that, like Mary, we show ourselves to be the humble servants of the Lord (Cfr. Luc Lc 1,38).

May God bless you and the Churches over which you preside in love. The peace of Christ be with you all!

A paz de Cristo esteja com todos vós!