Speeches 1990 - Tuesday, 16 October 1990

November 1990




Friday, 16 November 1990

Your Excellency,
Distinguished Visitors,

I am pleased to welcome to the Vatican the members of the British Council for Christians and Jews, and I greet you with a joyful word that has profound significance for us all: Shalom!

Peace is, before all else, a gift of God: the fullness of redemption for humanity and for the whole of creation. That peace, which is so seriously threatened today, is at the same time something which is integral to the rational and moral nature of men and women, created as they are in the image and likeness of God. In the human order, peace requires and implies justice and mercy, and culminates in the love of God and of neighbour which is the high point of the teaching of the Torah and of the Prophets.

On this matter Jesus Christ himself affirms: "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets. I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mt 5,17). Truly great is the spiritual patrimony shared by Christians and the Jewish people (Cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 4)! For this reason, in the period after the Second Vatican Council, cooperation between Christians and Jews has become ever more intense, and I am very pleased that important contacts continue, such as the recent meetings which took place in Prague.

At the thirteenth meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee the themes of anti-semitism and of the Shoah were addressed, as well as the wider question of human rights. It was rightly acknowledged that anti-semitism as well as all forms of racism are "a sin against God and humanity", and as such must be rejected and condemned. In a renewed spirit of collaboration, Catholic and Jewish delegates set out new orientations for joint efforts aimed at defending human rights, safeguarding freedom and dignity where they are lacking or imperilled, and promoting responsible stewardship of the environment. I offer my heartfelt encouragement to the British Council of Christians and Jews to continue actively to foster friendly dialogue, brotherly understanding, and the exchange of spiritual values at the national level, as well as at the level of the International Council of Christians and Jews of which you form part.

Finally, I take this occasion to express once again the sorrow - but also the hope - that I share with the peoples of the Holy Land, the land of our fathers in faith. With you and with all who are heirs to the faith of Abraham - and I am thinking also of our Islamic brothers and sisters - I raise up the prayer of the Psalmist:

"For the peace of Jerusalem pray, / 'Peace be to your homes, / May peace reign in your walls, / In your palaces, peace'" (Ps. 121 (120): 6-7).

May God grant that progress towards peace in the Holy Land will not be long in coming!




Monday, 19 November 1990

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. For the third time this year I have the joy of meeting a group of Bishops from the Philippines on their ad Limina visit. Your presence brings before my eyes the warm and friendly character of your people and their joyous living of the faith by which they have been regenerated in Jesus Christ to become "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1P 2,9). In the communion which binds us together in the apostolic ministry, we must never cease to give thanks to God for his designs of loving mercy, made manifest in the holiness and generous service which mark the lives of so many of your priests, religious and laity.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (Ibid. 1:3).

2. In my meetings with the other groups of Philippine Bishops I referred to your pastoral leadership in helping your people acquire a deeper knowledge of the Church's teachings so that the message of the Gospel may continue to penetrate and uplift Filipino society. The challenge is particularly acute in the area of priestly formation. But it is also pressing as regards the spiritual and doctrinal preparation of suitable lay leaders whose special role it is to apply the truths and values of the Gospel to the realities of the economic, social and cultural life of the nation. The "evangelization" of a people's culture includes the external and popular expression of devotion in rituals of life based on religious motives, but it must go even further, to the very heart of human behavior, to a clarifying of human problems in the light of Christ and an interior personal renewal in the "new life" which has its source in the very Spirit of God.

That new life is life in the Body of Christ, which is the Church. It embraces each individual who is baptized into the life of grace. But it is not a merely private matter. The ecclesial and catholic nature of the Christian life needs to be clearly presented to the faithful, especially in the face of contentious tactics used by organizations and sects with which there is generally little or no possibility of dialogue, and which are often a serious obstacle to ecumenical efforts. As Bishops, you understand that the proper response to the proselytizing activities of these groups lies in the genuine renewal of your own communities, whereby they become more fraternal, more caring about the real situation of their members, more lively in their love and fellowship, and more outgoing and witnessing in their profession of faith (Cf. Sects or new religious movements: Pastoral Challenge, n. 3. 1.).

The "National Catechetical Year" which is now drawing to a close shows how completely you have taken to heart the task of fostering a richer and more organized program of instruction in Catholic doctrine. I encourage you to pursue the intent of this Year in other ways, by seeking to use all available resources in the enterprise of deepening the Christian formation of your people.

3. Another theme of my conversations with previous groups of your brother Bishops has been the grave threats to the traditional values of Filipino society, about which you yourselves have issued frequent statements and Pastoral Letters. This loss of values has become evident in an increase of personal and social turmoil which, in turn, can often be traced to the serious difficulties being experienced by the family. Your visit enables me to share your profound pastoral concern for the state of the family and to confirm you in your desire to strengthen and defend it as the first and vital cell of a just and harmonious society.

A careful meditation on the real state of married love and family life reveals something of the ineffable mystery of how God's grace takes root and manifests its power in the life of a people. I referred to this in the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio", when I wrote that: "the central word of Revelation, 'God loves his people', is likewise proclaimed through the living and concrete word whereby a man and a woman express their conjugal love. Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God and his people. And the same sin which can harm the conjugal covenant becomes an image of the infidelity of the people to their God..." (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 12). Clearly, the more faithfully the sacramental grace of marriage is preserved and allowed to bear fruit, the more fully couples and families, and hence society, will reflect God's loving presence in their midst.

Filipino society has been truly blessed by God with a keen sense of the family. Innumerable benefits have flowed from the warmth of human relations, the goodness and effective solidarity with others generated by a tradition of strong family life.Today, the Church is called to defend this precious heritage, especially because of the difficult circumstances of so many families in your midst. Your pastoral response to present difficulties will spring from the evangelical love that animates your ministry.

To love the family means to appreciate and foster its values and capabilities. It means to identify the dangers and the evils that menace it, in order to overcome them. It means endeavoring to create for the family an environment favorable for its development. It is an eminent form of love to give back to the Christian family its reasons for confidence in itself, in the riches that it possesses by nature and grace, and in the mission that God has entrusted to it (Cf. ibid., 86).

Because the well-being of the civil community depends on the strength of its families, it is to be hoped that, alongside the Church, a great coalition of institutions, including the Government, schools and the communications media, will support family life and "do everything possible to ensure that families have all those aids — economic, social, educational, political and cultural assistance — that they need in order to face all their responsibilities in a human way" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 45).

4. Recently you published a Pastoral Letter regarding responsible parenthood. The Church's primary and overriding concern in considering the acceleration or deceleration of population growth is that God's will for the person and for the family be fully respected; that is, that everything be done within the parameters of freedom of conscience, the responsible decision of couples, and the principles of sexual and family morality. You are conscious of your grave duty to defend these principles and to proclaim and promote the moral law regarding the regulation of population. On the pastoral level, it is important that your teaching in this delicate area be clearly and adequately communicated to your priests, so that they in turn may enlighten married couples regarding their rights and duties. Catholics should not hesitate to defend publicly the Church's teaching about the primary role of married couples and parents in deciding matters regarding the generous acceptance of children. By so doing they are upholding the fundamental values of freedom and responsibility for the whole of society.

At the heart of the Church's teaching on marriage and procreation, as well as at the heart of her response to the population problem, is her immense confidence in the capability of married couples themselves to achieve a love that is fully mature and responsive to the truth of God's plan for them. During my visit to Burundi last September, I again emphasized the primary responsibility of parents in regard to decisions about their family: "it is up to them to live as responsible and generous parents, to be open to having the children whom they desire to have and whom they feel they are able to raise. That presupposes the spouses' great respect for one another, self-control in their life of intimacy, a love which preserves a constant respect for woman in her capacity for being a mother" (John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Gitega in Burundi, September 6,1990). The Church has a "good news" to proclaim regarding marriage and the family, a teaching of hope and true love of which the world has great need.

5. You are well aware that, as father and pastor, the Bishop is the one principally responsible for the pastoral care of the family. This is an area to which he must give time, personnel and resources, and above all his own support and encouragement to all those who assist him in the family apostolate (Cf. Familiaris Consortio FC 73). You will be careful not to overlook the fundamental importance of the spiritual aspects of this pastoral endeavor. You will make it your duty to promote family prayer and the frequent reception of the sacraments as the sure means of safeguarding and strengthening Christian family life.

Among the practices of piety which the Church has sometimes singled out for special recommendation, I am pleased to recall what Pope Paul VI wrote concerning the family Rosary: "We like to think, and sincerely hope, that when the family gathering becomes a time of prayer the Rosary is a frequent and favored manner of praying" (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 54; John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 61). In a country such as the Philippines, renowned for its Marian devotion, you know from experience how such a practice leads to Christ and to a more committed Christian life.

6. Dear Brother Bishops, the circumstances in which your local Churches are called to live and grow and expand are varied and difficult. In many cases poverty and violence reach extremes which seriously disrupt efforts to foster development and the search for a more humane existence. The common good is often subordinated to personal interest. Reconciliation and peace seem far from being achieved.

Do not become discouraged at the size and seriousness of the task before you. "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through his Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny" (Gaudium et ). With that confidence may the Church in the Philippines press forward "Like a pilgrim in a foreign land... amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, announcing the cross and death of the Lord until he comes... (overcoming) patiently and lovingly the afflictions and hardships which assail her from within and hardships which assail her from within and without" (Ibid.).

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother and Model of the Church, guide you in your ministry and give you courage to remain ever faithful to the "burden" which the Lord has placed upon your shoulders. "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Rm 12,12). With my Apostolic Blessing.




Thursday, 22 November 1990

Dear Friends,

As members of the "Together for Peace Foundation" you have gathered in Rome to honour a group of men and women especially distinguished in their service of friendship and peace among the peoples of the world. I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to encourage you in your work.

The aspiration to peace is deeply felt by the vast majority of men and women of good will, and all the more so when the threat of war seems to take increasingly concrete form. The memory of past conflicts and the sad consequences of a world divided into opposing blocs are still vivid enough for people everywhere to understand that only peace is capable of bringing progress and justice. In the Christian view, furthermore, peace corresponds to a call by God to recognize all human beings as belonging to the one family, created in the image of the same Father. To serve the cause of brotherhood and solidarity among peoples is truly a noble ideal. To alleviate want and suffering is a most necessary and constructive act of peace-building.

Peace is the fruit of moral responsibility and respect for the rule of law. It requires the efforts of everyone. It is the result of individual and collective endeavour. Organizations such as the "Together for Peace Foundation" can play a substantial role in educating for peace and in bringing the talents of many to bear on the work for peace. May you persevere in the lofty mission you have set yourselves and "may the God of peace be with you all" (Rm 15,33).




Friday, 30 November 1990

Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops,

1. Our meeting today gives me the opportunity to continue the reflections which the ad Limina visits of various groups of Philippine Bishops have enabled me to make on themes related to your pastoral ministry. These visits have a specific purpose: the strengthening of hierarchical communion and of commitment to the Church’s mission on the part of the Successors of the Apostles. They also manifest the special bond of faith and love which unites the pastors of the particular Churches and the Successor of Peter. I wish to assure you that through your presence I have felt very close to the Filipino faithful. After our private conversations and our prayer together for the Church in your country I "give thanks to God always for you, brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing" (2Th 1,3).

2. The recent Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences drew attention to conditions in Asia where "change is the most constant factor of (your) societies...traditional values and attitudes are called into question" (Cf. Final Statement, 2, 1). In particular, the context in which you are called to evangelize is marked by light and darkness: a strong sense of family life and community, but also a degradation of certain fundamental values, and sometimes a situation of widespread conflict which can foster violence and a loss of trust in political and social institutions. These are some of the characteristics of the "hour" in which the Lord of the harvest sends you into his vineyard (Cf. Jn. Jn 4,35). As the Final Statement of the Assembly of the FABC states: "God speaks to us from the travails and the progress of our countries, and bids us from the contemporary challenges of our world to renew our sense of mission" (Final Statement, 3, 0).

3. A fundamental challenge facing the Church in your country is that of giving a fresh impetus to the task of bringing the Christian message to society. What is needed is a deeper and more effective evangelization. You, more than anyone else, are aware of the vastness and urgency of this task, because you know the extent of the spiritual as well as the material needs of your people. This is a time for the whole Church in the Philippines to renew her fidelity to the Lord, to place her whole trust in him who alone gives supernatural effectiveness to the activities of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry.

I am reminded of the exhortation which, in "Evangelii Nuntiandi", Pope Paul VI addressed to "all those who, thanks to the charisms of the Holy Spirit and to the mandate of the Church, are true evangelizers"; he urged them to "be worthy of this vocation, to exercise it without the reticence of doubt or fear, and not to neglect the conditions that will make this evangelization not only possible but also active and fruitful" (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 74). Among these conditions, he gave priority to the action of the Holy Spirit who is the soul of the Church, the principal agent of evangelization, the one who explains to the faithful the deep meaning of the teaching of Jesus and of his mystery, who places on the lips of the evangelizer the words he could not find by himself, and who predisposes the soul of the hearer to be open and receptive to the Good News and to the Kingdom.

I wish to encourage you and your Brother Bishops to continue to emphasize the transcendent mission of the Church, and not to allow your ecclesial communities to lose sight of the real nature of the Christian life, which springs from communion with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in the life of grace through participation in our Savior’s Paschal Mystery.

4. Evangelization also depends greatly on the evangelizers themselves, who must be genuine witnesses, capable of responding to the thirst for authenticity prevalent among people today. Paul VI reminded evangelizers that the world wants them to speak to it of "a God whom the evangelists themselves should know and be familiar with as if they could see the invisible" (Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 76). How appropriate to the Church’s life in your own country is Pope Paul’s entreaty: "The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience and humility, detachment and self-sacrifice. Without this mark of holiness, our word will have difficulty in touching the hearts of modern man" (Ibid.)!

The evangelizer is a servant of the truth about God, about man and his mysterious destiny, and about the world. He should not neglect to study this truth; he should serve it generously, without making it serve him. Above all, the evangelizer should be filled with love for those to whom he is sent: a love that consists in transmitting the genuine truth of the Gospel and not doubts and uncertainties born of an erudition poorly assimilated; a love that respects the freedom of conscience and the spiritual situation of others but does not hesitate to engage them in serious dialogue concerning the deeper questions facing individuals and society.

Now, fifteen years after "Evangelii Nuntiandi" was issued, we cannot fail to be impressed by its continuing timeliness and relevance. I would recommend that when you reflect on your ministry you make that "Magna Charta" of the Church’s evangelizing mission a necessary point of reference in relation to your personal responsibilities as Bishops and the responsibilities of your collaborators in the pastoral care of the Churches entrusted to you. A more extensive application of its guidelines throughout the Church is surely necessary, so that "he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply (our) resources and increase the harvest of (our) righteousness" (2Co 9,10).

5. In every country where the followers of different faiths live side by side a great effort must be made to lay the solid bases of a peaceful and harmonious society. Some of you are pastors of communities which are in daily contact with followers of Islam. Interreligious relations between the two communities are generally marked by friendship and cooperation. I am pleased to know that opportunities for dialogue on matters of common interest and on religious themes are not lacking. I would encourage you to seek agreement with your Muslim brothers and sisters on the fundamental question of religious freedom. The foundation of mutual respect and understanding among those of different religious beliefs lies in the right of every individual to freedom of conscience. Everyone has an inalienable right and a solemn duty to follow his or her upright conscience in seeking and obeying religious truth. Religious freedom is not a privilege but a requirement of human dignity (Cf. Dignitatis Humanae DH 2).

During my recent visit to Africa I expressed the conviction that "Christians and Muslims can live in harmony and show their solidarity with one another in all the joys, sorrows and challenges that mark the life of a local community. As experience in many parts of the world shows, religious differences of themselves do not necessarily disrupt life together. Indeed, Christians and Muslims... can be partners in building a society shaped by the values taught by God: tolerance, justice, peace, and concern for the poorest and weakest" (John Paul II, Address to the Leaders of Other Confessions and Religions, 4) . This is a task and an objective for which you are called to work concretely and wisely in the interests of all your fellow citizens.

6. Before concluding this series of meetings with the Bishops of the Philippines I wish to express the Holy See’s appreciation of the humanitarian concern which moved your Government in the past to accept groups of Vietnamese boat-people seeking refuge. Over the past fifteen years, in line with its profoundly human and Christian traditions and in spite of the great burden involved, your country has been generous in giving such refugees "first-asylum" hospitality. Until an overall and effective solution to the problem of refugees is arrived at, much human suffering will need to be alleviated. It is my hope that, notwithstanding the difficulties involved, also at the international level, the Philippine Government will continue, where possible, to respond to this tragedy with a sense of universal brotherhood and moral responsibility. I am fully appreciative of what your Episcopal Commission on Migration and Tourism has done in this regard.

7. Dear Brother Bishops, as you prepare to return to your Dioceses I give thanks to God for the life and ministry of your priests, for the witness and work of the men and women Religious, for the faith and commitment of the laity. I encourage you in your efforts to provide high standards of formation in seminaries, religious houses and centers for the preparation of lay Christian leaders. Nothing of lasting value can be achieved without true knowledge of the faith and adequate religious instruction, capable of responding to the increasingly complex realities of the modern world. The renewal of mission is a challenge for all the members of the Church. Let us pray to the Lord for the whole Church in the Philippines that Saint Paul’s exhortation may be fulfilled in you: "Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer" (Rm 12,11-12).

May Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain this for you through her loving intercession with Jesus her Son.
December 1990




Consistory Hall

Monday, 3 December 1990

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. As participants in the Conference of Presidents of the Industrial Conferences of Europe, members of UNICE (l’Union des Confédérations de l’Industrie et des Employeurs d’Europe), I am particularly pleased to have this occasion to welcome you to the Vatican and to express my appreciation of your commitment to the arduous but important task of promoting development and progress. I am grateful to your President for the kind words spoken on your behalf.

As business leaders, you have come together to sign and publicize a Common Declaration in the framework of the so-called "new European architecture", the new situation of Europe resulting from the extraordinary political and institutional transformations which have been taking place internationally. When you met in Paris in December 1988 you stated that Europe was your "common enterprise" and you committed yourselves to greater cooperation in industry, and to solidarity with the Governments and peoples of Europe in the construction of a better future for this Continent. No approach to European development in prosperity and peace is possible without taking into account the specific contribution of business leaders to the present and future well-being of society.

2. The Church, in her social teaching, respects and defends the right of economic initiative as an expression of the subjective creativity of individuals and groups (Cf. John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 15). But she emphasizes strongly that the economic process, which has a decisive influence on the life of almost every inhabitant of the earth, does not end in the production of wealth and material goods.Economic activity has an intrinsic social and moral function stemming from the inalienable dignity of the people involved and from the principle of the prior universal destination of goods (Cf. Ibid., 42). Fortunately, a too narrow concept of development is giving way to a growing consciousness of the need to place economic growth at the service of the human, social, cultural and political advancement of peoples.

It is against the background of these general principles that I am pleased to note your concern to work for a development that improves standards of living in Europe, that respects the environment, that takes into account the special needs of less developed regions, that seeks to strengthen freedom and democracy, solidarity and peace. For this you intend to promote respect for the human aspects of all strategies and programmes.

3. Europe is your common enterprise. You are therefore committed to the advancement of the single European market, with all that it entails of freedom of movement for people, capital and goods. But you are also aware that Europe is not merely or primarily an economic reality: it is above all a sublimely rich and intense cultural and spiritual experience. Likewise, European integration cannot be envisioned except as embracing the whole extension of the continent, which is determined by geography but even more so by the common religious heritage shared by its peoples, almost all of whom were baptized at one stage or another into the Christian faith.

Europe has the historical foundations and the spiritual and cultural resources necessary to build a way of life based on a humanism capable of correcting the materialistic and technological excesses present in other models of development. Business and industry will contribute to the achievement of this goal in the measure that they pursue objectives that are not merely economic but truly human. The members of your Association have a significant role to play in the growth of a society that takes full account of the spiritual dimension of its people, overcoming outdated contrasts between faith and science, between religion and "progress". In this respect, the only worthy goal of all our efforts is the realization of a European continent which is ever more the expression of the highest values of the human spirit.

4. The Church has surely been the single most important factor in the formation of the "character" of Europe. From the Church’s two thousand year experience, allow me to draw the certain conclusion that no model of progress that does not take into account the ethical and moral dimensions of economic activity will succeed in winning the hearts of Europe’s peoples. The primacy of the "spiritual" - in the widest sense of this term - is a principle from which the peoples of Europe cannot depart without doing violence to their constitutive historical genesis and development.

Moreover, Europe has always been distinguished by its openness to the rest of the world. Without ulterior motives of domination, it now has a calling to be open to the so-called "South" of the world: those vast sectors of humanity which are in need of Europe’s help in order to be able to take charge of their own destiny. It is my hope that as business leaders you will always be convinced that poverty and the economic dependence of poorer nations is a moral category which makes serious ethical demands on the decisions to be made concerning the ownership and the use of the world’s wealth and goods (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 42).

5. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I appeal to you to work in your "common enterprise" for the well-being of the millions of human beings in Europe and elsewhere who stand to benefit from the realization of an authentically human development and progress. Recall the Gospel parable of the "faithful and wise steward", who gives the members of the household their portion of food at the proper time (Lc 12,42-44). We are all administrators, not absolute owners of the world that God has placed in our hands in order to make it bear fruit for the greatest benefit of all, and ultimately for his own glory. That glory is reflected not only in the beauty of nature but in the dignity of every human being, the image of God, and in the beauty of peace and brotherhood between all the members of the one human family. May he who is the Father of all give you the wisdom and courage to use your resources, to direct your economic, civic and political influence towards the construction of a world of justice, peace and solidarity.

Wishing you success in your deliberations, I invoke God’s blessings upon you and your families.

Speeches 1990 - Tuesday, 16 October 1990