Speeches 1988

Friday, 7 October 1988

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. In you, the Bishops of Region III, I greet with deep pastoral love all the People of God in the States of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. During your ad Limina visit the bands of hierarchical communion are being strengthened between the Bishop of Rome and his Brothers in the Episcopate, together with their local Churches. At the same time, the horizon of our pastoral service opens wide to view the Church as “a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race”.

In this context we are called to renew our zeal for the unity of all Christians, as well as our openness to those who profess other religions and indeed to all people of good will. This is the reflection that I would now like to make with you.

Our faith in the Church is inseparable from our profession that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

The mysterious communion between God and man in Christ is prolonged in the Church. The Church is the fruit of that hypostatic union which achieved its full redeeming efficacy in the Paschal Mystery. And the Church is the means that the Holy Spirit uses to incorporate all people into Christ by incorporating them into the Church. Indeed, the Church belongs to the work of redemption. In Christ she is throughout all history the instrument of saving communion which is open to all humanity.

There is a close relationship between the temporal and visible ecclesial communion and the eternal and invisible communion of the Most Holy Trinity. They are not parallel realities. As the Second Vatican Council says, citing Saint Cyprian, the Church is “made one with the unity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”. The communion of the Blessed Trinity is the source from which is derived the communion of the pilgrim Church, that earthly sphere of saving union with God. With deep faith the Second Vatican Council teaches that “this pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation”.

2. A great love of God’s plan of salvation in Christ and the conviction of the necessity of the Church are at the root of that zealous sense of mission which should animate all Catholics. Opposed to this zeal is the relativism which would deny the unique value of Christ’s Gospel and his Church. To offer Christ and his message to the world will always be a challenge to Christian fidelity and pastoral wisdom.

If we are convinced – and we are – that Christ is the fullness of Truth; if we profess – and we do – that the Church has been instituted by Christ for the salvation of all, then, to be consistent we will want to engage constantly in the dialogue of salvation, so that as many as possible may find joy in the Good News of God’s merciful love revealed in his Son Jesus Christ.

Since it is charity that spurs us on in our task, we will carry out this mission with prayer, good example and sacrifice – with a charity that expresses the beliefs of others. Zeal for the Gospel of Christ, which should characterize all of the faithful, leads us to understand, to forgive and to respect the action of God’s grace which works through human freedom.

We do not subject people to pressure or offend anyone when we follow in Christ’s footsteps and travel the path of self-denial and service that began in Bethlehem, was consummated on the Cross and reaches us in the Eucharist.

3. It is also necessary to increase unity and fraternal love among Catholics. This is essential if our ecumenical zeal is to be credible: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. As my Predecessor Paul VI so clearly said at the time of the Council: “The unity of the Church must be received and recognized by each and every member of the Church, and it must be promoted, loved and defended by each and every member of the Church. It is not enough to call oneself a Catholic. We must be truly united”. And he continued: “Today people speak a great deal about reestablishing unity with our separated brethren, and this is good. This is a very worthwhile endeavor, and we all ought to cooperate in it with humility, tenacity and confidence. But we must not forget our duty to work even more for the Church’s internal unity, which is so necessary for her spiritual and apostolic vitality”.

On the occasion of our meeting today, dear Brothers, when there is manifest a communio which is both affective and effective, I cannot but repeat what the Council said about our role in this regard: “The Roman Pontiff, as the Successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the Bishops and of the faithful. The individual Bishops, however, are the visible principle and foundation of unity in their particular Churches”. May all of us work together to foster the inner unity of the Church which is the will of Christ and which also guarantees the effectiveness of our ecumenical efforts.

4. Within the Catholic Church herself we have to live the well-known maxim: in necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas. In this way we can properly combine unity with diversity and ensure the necessary climate of freedom within the ecclesial community. This principle sustains the common patrimony of faith and moral teaching while leaving options in theological studies, spirituality, means of evangelization, and ways of infusing the Christian spirit into the temporal order. In the one Body of Christ there will always be room for a variety of ministries and for the development of associations, groups and movements of different types. As Pastors of God’s people we must love legitimate diversity in the Catholic Church, and loyally respect and help direct to the common good all authentic charisms wherever they are found among the faithful. It is a part of our own charism to authenticate the discernment of these gifts. The diversity of ministries and institutions allows individuals and communities, under the leadership of the Bishops in effective communion with the Bishop of Rome, to find their proper way within the universal pilgrimage of the Church.

5. The climate of freedom in the Church should be accompanied by a truly adequate catechesis on ecumenism. Among all the Catholic faithful there should be an open and committed attitude with respect to the ecumenical movement, particularly where there is frequent contact with other Christians. There is a great tradition of pastoral activity in this area on the part of the Bishops of the United States. Without treating the subject at length, I would just like to emphasize several related points.

It is necessary to continue to explain the Council’s teaching that the one Church os Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church”, and to show how much the Catholic Church desires to see realized within the one Church the unity of all Christ’s followers, “so that the world may believe”.

Any progress which the Catholic Church makes along the path of ecumenism must always be in keeping with the organic development of doctrine. Although the patrimony of faith and moral teaching can be better explained and understood, the essential content of salvation which the Catholic Church has always proclaimed must remain intact. When new doctrinal and moral questions arise, the Church must resolve them with the same principles and with the same logic of faith with which she has acted from her origins under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

All the faithful should know the Church's principles governing common worship or “communicatio in sacris”. These principles were succinctly outlined by the Council. Their proper application, which has been the constant solicitude of the Holy See, is indeed an effective contribution to authentic ecumenism. Canon 844 is particularly relevant to the question as it concerns the Sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. When the reasons regulating the discipline of intercommunion are explained, the Eucharistic assembly can more easily understand that there is an indissoluble link between the mistery of the Church and the mistery of the Eucharist, between ecclesial and Eucharistic communion.

There are many practical opportunities for priests in parishes to explain these principles, such as weddings and funerals. Every effort made to encourage Christians to pray for full Christian unity and to promote it by proper means helps ecumenism. Explaining the conditions for receiving Holy Communion and the reasons for these conditions fosters the cause of both truth and fraternal love.

6. Much has been done in the United States to bring christians closer together. The strong desire for full communion has been expressed in ways that amply show the impulse given by the Second Vatican Council, an impulse which the Holy See has constantly upheld in its efforts to implement the Council. Catholics have come to acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments from our common heritage which are found among other Christians. An excellent climate has been created for the continuation of a fruitful dialogue between competent experts. Their efforts to find what is held in common and to formulate the controversial points in terms which render them more exact and more intelligible even to those who do not agree upon them are highly commendable.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has continued to emphasize the importance of prayer and other spiritual means to bring about the full communion in faith and charity that is our goal. We are convinced that the union of Christians can only be the fruit of grace, a sign of that forgiveness of God which we must first humbly implore from him.

Prayer in common has greatly strengthened our ties and advanced the cause of true Christian unity. I myself cherish the memory of the Service of Christian Witness at the University of South Carolina a little more than a year ago.

To be applauded also is the whole network of cooperation among fellow Christians in activities which have a social dimension and which ultimately serve to promote the welfare of all the citizens of your country.

I would encourage you, as I also mentioned on my first pastoral visit to the United States, to undertake in common a creative ecumenical action especially as regards the sacred value of marriage, family life and the unborn.

In all this, it is essential for us to live a more intense Christian life. The Council placed ecumenism in the context of the renovatio Ecclesiae, and saw its immediate source in interior conversion and in holiness of life. This profound conviction continues to be valid.

Special emphasis has to be placed on the dynamic Christocentrism of the ecumenical movement: union with Christ and love for him is the key to union and love in the Church. From this source we draw the strength to pursue the evangelizing mission with all its demands.

7. The Church must make herself available to all people. She comes forth from the redeeming love of Christ who died for all. An important part of this attitude is the Church’s respect for different religions. In them there can frequently be found the semina Verbi, the presence of a truth which, although hidden in shadow, leads people towards the complete encounter with God in Christ. The Church will always strive to defend these values.

The many “unchurched” people of our cities and towns deserve our special attention and fraternal love. It is necessary that Catholics become closer to them and help them discover their true vocation in Christ. This is the best service we can render to them and the best expression of solidarity and friendship.

Dear Brothers: by God’s grace the Catholic Church in the United States of America has been very fruitful in holiness and love. This has happened in a society which from its origins has been pluralistic and open to all men and women. An important aspect of this vigor of Catholicism is found in the union of truth and freedom. Upon you, Pastors of the Church in the United States, rests this great heritage, with its immense challenges. I ask Saints Peter and Paul to support you in your arduous apostolic labors and I commend you all to Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of Christ’s Church.





Strasburg (France)

Saturday, 8 October 1988

Esteemed Presidents,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. By leaving the Hall of the Parliamentary Assembly and meeting again in this Palace of Human Rights, we are giving visible expression, as it were, to the organic relationship which unites the Council of Europe and the two distinguished Institutions which you embody. Indeed, the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights are emblematic of the lofty ideals and noble spirit which inspired the European Convention of Human Rights signed in Rome in 1950.

In you, distinguished judges and men and women of the legal profession, I salute the devotion of your peoples to the spiritual and moral values which are their common heritage. I greet each one of you and I pay honour to the Court’s and the Commission’s record of service to the strengthening of a civilization of freedom and justice in our times.

Indeed, the Court and the Commission form a unique judicial reality in international law and have become a model which other regional organizations around the world are seeking to imitate. These two Institutions bear witness that the member Nations of the Council of Europe recognize, not only that human rights and fundamental freedoms antecede the States which have the responsibility of seeing to it that they are respected, but that these rights transcend national boundaries themselves.

2. Such judicial progress is the result of a maturing of the concept of human rights and of the manner in which they are observed. In fact the idea of “human rights” implies not just a catalogue of positive rights, but a body of underlying values, which the Convention rightly calls the “common heritage” of ideals and principles of the Nations of Europe.

There is no doubt that the notion of “human rights”, especially as it was enshrined in the 1948 “Universal Declaration” of the United Nations, has become a kind of common good of the whole of humanity. But this notion, which is based on a precise understanding of the individual person and of his or her relationship to the State, has need of istitutional and juridical safeguards in order that its effective implementation be guaranteed.

3. In particular, there can be no certain implementation of human rights where the rule of law does not prevail. Your Court is, as it were, the epitome of a juridical system that guarantees the preeminence of the rule of law. The fact that an individual can appeal against a government must surely be seen as a positive development of the rule of law.

Government which respect the rule of law acknowledge, in effect, a limit to their powers and sphere of interests. Because such governments recognize that they are themselves subject to the law and not above it, they can effectively acknowledge the legitimate inviolability of the private sphere in the life of their citizens and defend it against outside constraint.

Public authorities and those responsible for civil life can have no more sublime goal than to safeguard effectively those essential rights and freedoms which are the expression of the inalienable dignity of the human person.

4. The rule of law, moreover, is inseparable from the exercise of civil and political rights, which were the first to have been defined historically. The tragic experience of two World Wars on European soil has taught that human rights are secure only when those who wield power are accountable to their fellow-citizens and when their tenure of office is subject to some form of public control. Progress in promoting human rights also entails free public debate regarding political and social priorities as well as objectives to be pursued. Time and again it has been shown that the participation of a people in forging their own political destiny ensures a public life that promotes human values and inalienable human rights, including the rights of minorities and of the poor and “powerless”.

Economic, social and cultural rights, which the member Nations of the Council of Europe have been greatly successful in codifying, notably with the “European Social Charter”, ensure the external structural framework of human rights and fundamental personal freedoms. But these rights themselves can only be effectively applied where they can be freely debated and defined.

The Europe that you represent has wisely discarded the illusion that the State can claim to embody the social concerns of its people while at the same time depriving those people of their civil and political rights.

5. The spiritual and moral values which the Council of Europe recognizes as the common heritage of its peoples constitute an almost inexhaustible source of new developments in the juridical sphere. So, one speaks today of “a third generation of human rights”: among which for example, is the right to a safe and healthy natural environment.

It is one of the noble tasks of your Court to promote such developments, in particular by creating a jurisprudence which contributes to the elimination of all arbitrariness in relations between individuals and States. In effect, only when it is possible for an individual juridically to invoke respect for a particular freedom can one speak of human rights being effectively guaranteed.

6. Gentlemen, in this solemn setting I cannot but reaffirm the Church’s deep concern for matters relating to human rights and freedom. The Church’s commitment in this field corresponds fully to her religious and moral mission. The Church vigorously defends human rights because she considers them a necessary part of the recognition that must be given to the dignity of the human person created in the image of God and redeemed by Christ.

Her specific concern for human rights proceeds from a statement of fact and rests on a conviction.

The statement of fact is that the human rights of which we are speaking draw their vigour and their effectiveness from a framework of values, the roots of which lie deep within the Christian heritage which has contributed so much to European culture. These founding values precede the positive law which gives them expression and of which they are the basis. They also precede the philosophical rationale that the various schools of thought are able to give to them.

The conviction is that, within the sphere of the freedom of conscience and of religion which the rule of law should guarantee, the Church cannot renounce her mission to teach the message that has been entrusted to her. Her teaching, moreover, upholds the very values which form the substance of what constitutes human dignity. Her mission contributes to ensuring that those values will continue to be affirmed and lived. In a word, the Church is the ally of all those who defend authentic human freedoms. For freedom is inseparable from the Truth which every human being seeks and which makes human beings truly free. In the words of the Gospel of Saint John, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8,22).

Thank you for your attention.



Thursday, 13 October 1988

Dear brother Bishops,

1. As pastors of God’s people in Australia, you have come to Rome to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and to visit the Successor of Saint Peter, so that the Church’s unity and the bonds of faith, hope and charity may be strengthened. On my part, I welcome you with affection in the Lord Jesus Christ. I wish to express my gratitude, esteem and encouragement for your apostolic labours, and to assure you of my fraternal love and prayers. This is also an opportunity for me to acknowledge the faithful witness to the Gospel which is given by the Catholic people in each of your Dioceses.

As Australia celebrates its Bicentenary, we may recall with gratitude the deep faith and missionary spirit of those who brought the Word of God to your shores. They did so in obedience to the command which the Apostles received from Christ: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”.

2. As the successors of the Apostles, you exercise that preaching and teaching mission in Australia today on the solid foundation laid by those who have gone before you. The Second Vatican Council says that Bishops are heralds of the faith, authentic teachers endowed with the authority of Christ. They preach a faith that is meant to inform the thinking, and to direct the conduct, of the people entrusted to their pastoral care. Through the light of the Holy Spirit, Bishops make the faith shine forth and bear fruit. By their vigilance they ward off whatever errors threaten their flock. For each of us this means a direct and personal involvement in proclaiming the Gospel, as men whom God has appointed to exercise the role of Christ the Teacher, Priest and Prophet. Though we realize our unworthiness for so great a task, we also recognize the power of God’s word over people’s hearts and minds despite the human weakness of its messengers. We are constantly challenged by our teaching mission to purify our hearts, to grow in love for the things of God, and to deepen our faith in what is unseen.

And what is the goal of our preaching and teaching? With Saint Paul we can say: “My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you”. Is this not our fundamental goal: that through our labours Christ may be formed in every member of God’s People? This ministry is a travail, because we preach the prophetic message of a crucified Lord, and we are constantly calling people to a change of heart. It is also a travail because of the anxiety we feel for the flock entrusted to us. In the end, it is an act of love on our part, because the good shepherd willingly lays down his life for the sheep rather than flee from the wolf that would snatch and scatter them. By giving ourselves to this ministry with zeal and courage, we will find joy and the peace that comes from having “fought the good fight”, for having “finished the race”, for having “kept the faith”.

3. At the same time we know that we are not alone in fulfilling the Church’s teaching ministry. Although the office of preaching the Gospel to the whole Church has been entrusted principally to the Roman Pontiff and to the College of Bishops, each Bishop is also a “moderator of the entire ministry of the word” in his Diocese, a ministry that requires the active engagement of others. As Saint Paul writes: “(Christ’s) gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”. The whole People of God share in various ways in the Church’s teaching office. This is especially true of priests, our “brothers and friends”, who are “indispensable helpers and advisers” to us in teaching, sanctifying and shepherding God’s flock. It is true of deacons. It is also true of religious men and women, who by virtue of their consecration bear special witness to the radical demands of the Gospel. And it is true of the laity, who by Baptism and Confirmation are called to build up the one body of Christ and to transform the world from within.

There is thus a diversity of ministry, but a unity of mission in the Church. It is important that all of Christ’s faithful within the local Church should bear united witness to Christ and to the Gospel in communion with their Bishop. This applies in a particular way to priests, and to the unity and solidarity they should have with their Bishop and with one another. By building up a spirit of cooperation and by avoiding every harmful division, priests enter into the mind and heart of Christ the Teacher, who prayed to the Father that his disciples might “all be one... so that the world may believe”.

4. This leads us to another essential point concerning the teaching ministry; namely, that by her very nature the Church is a missionary Church. The preaching and teaching that form the People of God also prepare them to bring the Good News of salvation to others in a way that illumines all of human life with the light of the Gospel. In the words of the Council: “The Church... moves forward together with all of humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world; she is like a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God”.

5. Every believer needs to be instructed and trained in some measure for this mission, or to put it more accurately, every believer needs to be “formed” in Christian living in keeping with his or her state in life. For a person to be a Catholic by Baptism is only the beginning. That faith must be lived with perseverance; knowledge of it must be deepened; practice of it must be applied to personal choices and action; adherence to the faith must create the desire to share it with others and to transform the world in accordance with the Gospel. It is essential that Catholics have factual knowledge about the Church’s doctrine and discipline, but as Christ tells us, upon hearing the word, they must also hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.

Much emphasis is rightly given today to the task of forming the clergy, religious and laity for fulfilling the duties of their state in life and for participating in the Church’s mission in the world. I know that in Australia you have worked diligently to promote both the letter and the spirit of the formation described in various Church documents and in the Code of Canon Law. Every effort at Christian formation must be marked by a deep love for Christ and the Church. As the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” tells us, the Lord expects a special kind of love not only from pastors, but “from every preacher of the Gospel, from every builder of the Church”. A signs of this love is “the concern to give the truth to people and to bring them into unity”. Another sign is “devotion to the proclamation of Jesus Christ, without reservation or turning back”. Further signs of this love include “respect for the religious and spiritual situation” of others; a “concern not to wound” those who are weak in faith; and finally “the effort to transmit to Christians, not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated, but certainties that are solid because they are anchored in the Word of God”.

6. The practice of this love applies to the whole range of activities that constitute the ministry of the word. These include preaching and catechetical instruction, which hold pride of place. There is the doctrinal formation given in schools and universities, and in conferences and meetings of every kind. There are the public statements which the Church employs to comment on current events, as well as the press and the other means of social communication.

Special mention must be made of the formation which young people receive in Catholic schools and in catechetical programmes. Young people are searching for faith and for ideals by which they can live. In their desire to test the authority of their elders they are quick to perceive any discrepancy between word and deed. For these reasons, the Church is justifiably concerned that teachers be outstanding not only for their teaching ability, but also for Christian doctrine and for Christian living. Perhaps more than in any other area of formation, the words of my predecessor Paul VI apply: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”. If teachers are at peace with their Catholic faith, this will be communicated to their students to the great good of the Church. If they are not, this too will leave its mark. I know that you are seeking ways to provide for the formation and pastoral care of teachers so that they will have the resources and encouragement they need to bear faithful witness to their Catholic faith before their students. In the face of increasing enrolment and fewer religious vocations, Catholic education in Australia and elsewhere is more and more the work of lay people. I wish to commend the many Catholic school teachers in your country for whom their work is truly an apostolate, and I encourage all the Bishops to continue their efforts to promote the Christian formation of students and teachers alike.

7. Another field of endeavour for the ministry of the word is social communications, especially the Catholic press. The media not only serve the Catholic community, but also help to form public opinion at large with regard to the Church and its teaching. A Catholic press that is strongly committed to promoting the faith can render an invaluable service. It does so by providing accurate information, airing informed opinion, and fostering dialogue with fidelity to what the Church believes and teaches. Catholics have right to expect such a commitment on the part of Catholic social communications. For your part, you will want to do everything possible not only to ensure that the integrity of faith and morale is safeguarded, but also that the faith of Catholics is deepened and made known in the wider community through the Catholic media. As sharers in the ministry of the word, those involved in social communications also have a right to the formation and pastoral care needed to help them fulfil their responsibilities with fidelity to the Church.

Dear brothers, as “moderators” of the entire ministry of the word in your Dioceses, you are constantly seeking ways to promote and encourage sound teaching and Christian formation. In giving yourselves to this task with zeal and vigilance, you can be confident that the Holy Spirit is perennially guiding and consecrating the Church in the truth, so that she can fulfil her teaching office. May you and the members of your local Churches always experience an abundance of the Spirit’s gifts in order to build up the body of Christ and transform the world according to the Gospel. To each of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Thursday, 15 October 1988

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. It is a special joy for me to welcome all of you, my brothers Bishops from New York. On this occasion there come before my mind so many remembrances of my Pastoral Visit in 1979. At the same time I wish to honour in your persons the pilgrimage of faith and love that the millions of Catholic people living in your State are making, in union with Christ, to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.

Today we are gathered together as Pastors, conscious of the words of Jesus to his Apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”. These words must find a constant echo in our minds and hearts. As successors of the Twelve, we have as our pre-eminent duty the proclamation of the Gospel to all people. This is a task that is always necessary, but it is even more urgent wherever there is ignorance, error or indifference to the truth.

After commanding us to teach, Jesus assures us of his presence and support: “Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age”. This promise fills us with peace; it challenges us to confidence and hope. The Lord Jesus Christ sends us forth and remains with us! He wants us to do our part, to carry out our mission, to be vigilant. He wants us ourselves to walk in the light of Christ and to offer this light to the Church and to the world. Today I wish to refer to a concrete means of offering this light to humanity. It is the Catholic college and university, with its institutional commitment to the word of God as proclaimed by the Catholic Church.

2. As the Second Vatican Council states: “The destiny of society and of the Church herself is intimately linked with the progress of young people pursuing higher studies”. Accordingly, the same Council exhorts Bishops to pay careful pastoral attention to university students. They need this care if they are to sanctify themselves in the exercise of their obligations and “inform culture with the Gospel”. The re-evangelization of society depends in great part on today’s university students. While pursuing their higher studies, they have the right to receive a Catholic formation – both doctrinal and moral – at a level that corresponds to their scholastic endeavours.

The lofty mission of Catholic colleges and universities is to provide a public, enduring and pervasive influence of the Christian mind in the whole enterprise of advancing higher culture, and to equip students to bear the burdens of society and to witness to their faith before the world. Catholic institutions of higher learning, which educate a large number of young people in the United States of America, have a great importance for the future of society and of the Church in your country. But the degree of their influence depends entirely on preserving their Catholic identity. This Catholic identity has to be present in the fundamental direction given to both teaching and studies. And it must be present in the life of these institutions which are characterized by a special bond with the Church – a bond that springs from their institutional connection with the Catholic message. The adjective “Catholic” must always be the real expression of a profound reality.

3. We are convinced that it is necessary to respect the legitimate autonomy of human sciences. But we are also convinced that when Christians, with reason enlightened by faith, know the fundamental truths about God, man and the world, they are in a position to have their intellectual efforts produce more abundant fruits of authentic human progress.

Faith does not limit freedom in the pursuit of knowledge. On the contrary, it is its greatest guarantee. This leads us once again to focus our attention on the true significance of freedom in the service of, and the search for, truth.

“If you remain in my word”, Jesus tells us, “you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. These words of our Lord proclaim the liberating power of truth. Their profound meaning is easier to grasp when we realize that Christ himself is the Truth. It is he, Christ, who contains in himself the complete truth about man; it is he who is the highest revelation of God.

Speeches 1988