Speeches 1989 - Consistory Hall




Consistory Hall

Thursday, 11 May 1989

Dear Cardinal do Nascimento,
Your Excellencies, Dear Friends in Christ,

I am happy to meet you, the members of the Executive Committee Bureau and General Secretariat of Caritas Internationalis. You have come from almost all parts of the world to discuss and determine ways of implementing the mission which the Church has entrusted to your Organization: the fostering of charity and social justice. Love – caritas – is of the essence of our Christian vocation and of the witness which the ecclesial community must bear before the world. We read in the First Letter of John: “For this is the message wich you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another... let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1Io.3, 11. 18).

In greeting each one of you, therefore, I express my personal appreciation and the Church’s gratitude for the innumerable forms of solidarity carried out under the auspices of Caritas Internationalis through all its member organizations and by means of its regional, national and local activities. I also manifest the prayerful hope that your discussions and resolutions will lead to an ever increasing awareness on the part of all concerned that the loving service you promote has its deepest roots and guarantee in the love of God himself: “we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments” (Jn 5,2). May your hearts continue to be filled with supernatural love so that your personal and collective commitment to the service of the poor and the suffering will always truly reflect the love of Christ himself, who came “not to be served but to serve” (Mt 20,28).

In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, the Second Vatican Council offered a broad description of the nature and conditions of the works of charity which the Church claims as her inalienable duty and right (Cfr. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 8). Works of assistance and development, of charity and justice, are intimately connected with the transformation of temporal society, which is the special role of the Laity in the Church. It is therefore heartening to know that you are giving special attention to the spiritual and professional formation of Caritas workers, especially lay personnel. In doing so you are enabling them to fulfil their ecclesial role for the transformation of human communities into visible signs of God’s kingdom through an evangelical life and professional competence (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Christifideles Laici CL 41).

The task of providing training for the lay men and women engaged in Caritas work is an essential requirement for the successful outcome of your endeavours, which seek to offer a better Christian service to individuals and society. The appropriate formation of your collaborators is a matter which vitally affects the quality and effectiveness of the service rendered in the name of Christ and of the Church. I wish to encourage you to use every available means to provide such a formation.

In all forms of ecclesial service pride of place must be given to the individual, created in the likeness of God and redeemed through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. All have a home in the Church.All are objects of her concern. But, the poor and the suffering in particular need to feel themselves individually and personally welcomed and sustained in their inalienable dignity. In my Post-Synodal Exhortation I referred to the fact that all too often in today’s world the more complex institutions become in their organization, the more they lose their effectiveness as a result of an impersonal functionalism, an overgrown bureaucracy, and unjust private interests (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Christifideles Laici ). It is not enough to give; it must be done in a true spirit of solidarity and brotherhood.

By imitating the humility and compassion of Christ, all those engaged in Christian service walk the paths of the dispossessed and those who seek justice. They walk in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (Ph 2,7). To him I entrust each one of you and all those connected with the work of Caritas Internationalis. May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.





Friday, 12 May 1989

Distinguished Rectors and Professors,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you here today for this cordial exchange of greetings. Your coming together in Rome can be seen as a further sign of the fruitfulness of the Agreement for Academic Cooperation existing between the University of Ankara and the Pontifical Gregorian University. I am happy to learn that this Agreement has been renewed during the course of your meeting.

Cooperation between the two universities has up till now taken the form of reciprocal visits and the exchange of professors. In this way you have sought to promote mutual knowledge and understanding. I am happy to know that the present seminar, organized by the two universities and with the support of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, has given an extra stimulus to collaboration between you.

The theme you have chosen for your discussions, Collaboration in Theological Education: Communicating Religious Values to Youth Today, is one of considerable importance. Some people in today’s world may tend to attach less importance to theology and religious education, as compared to the burning questions of justice, peace, development, respect for nature, and scientific research. But precisely with regard to these questions there is need for a reflection on the underlying truths and values. Of basic importance among them are the dignity of the human person and the fundamental equality of all human beings, which we, as Christians and Muslims, see grounded in the relationship between the human person and God. As I said to young Muslims in Casablanca on 19th August 1985: “Important as the economic problems may be, man does not live on bread alone; he needs an intellectual and spiritual life; it is there that he finds the soul of this world” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio Albae domi, in Marochio, ad iuvenes muslimos, 9, die 19 aug. 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 2 (1985) 504s).

The present social, economic and political situation calls for an increased awareness of the spiritual dimension of life, a dimension which transcends national boundaries and ethnic and cultural differences. If man is to discover himself and the “inner person” in the midst of so many changes, it is imperative that he should develop his spirit and his conscience in the service of goodness and truth. This is the first step in resolving the crisis of identity which is so prevalent in the world we share.

Twenty-four years ago the Second Vatican Council, in its Declaration “Nostra Aetate”, made an appeal for cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Your seminar is an expression of the spirit of the Council. May I express the hope that it may indeed be an encouragement to a “renewed effort of research and investigation”, conducted together for the benefit of your own students and for the whole of society. Such cooperation can only be genuinely effective where social and political conditions respect the freedom of conscience which is the right of every person, and where the freedom of religion is guaranteed in law and in practice. An important part of your dialogue therefore will be to seek ways of promoting these fundamental and legitimate aspirations. With this in mind I invoke upon you and your colleagues in the different universities you represent the blessings of God Almighty. All-Wise and All-Merciful.




Redemptoris Mater Chapel

Saturday, 20 May 1989

Dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,

1. I am pleased to welcome you, members of the Episcopal Conference of Indonesia, for this collegial meeting on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. This assembly is for us a privileged moment of ecclesial communion. It offers us a specific opportunity of renewing the fraternal bonds of unity, charity and peace which we share as members of the apostolic college (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 22). Your presence here today at the tomb of Peter is a manifestation of the catholicity of the Church. Our Catholic unity “in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship, and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God” (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 2) is deeper than the bonds of origin, race or nationality, and goes beyond all that distinguishes particular cultures. In all the variety of her members throughout the world, the Catholic Church is gathered in unity by the communion which you as successors of the Apostles share with the successor of Peter (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 23).

We are fellow servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (Cfr. 1Cor 1Co 4,1). You and I in different ways share a common pastoral responsibility for sanctifying, teaching and serving the People of God. Following the heroic witness of the Apostles, we are called “with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, ...to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ep 4,2-3). Accordingly, on this occasion of your ad Limina visit I ask the Lord Jesus by the power of his Spirit to assist each of you in your episcopal ministry.

2. My brothers, each of you represents a particular Church in Indonesia and as you come “to visit Peter” (Ga 1,18) you bring with you the hopes, anxieties, joys and sorrows of all the clergy, religious and laity whom you serve. You come in the spirit of Saint Paul who laid before the Church his preaching and his activity (Cfr. ibid. 2, 2). Each day as I present to God the many needs of the Church throughout the world, I pray for you and those entrusted to your care. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for all of you..., thankful for your partnership in the Gospel” (1Phil. 1, 3-5).

Your local Churches form individual expressions of the one redeemed People of God. Your laity form part of the fabric of Indonesian society in order to transform it by the light of the Gospel. Giving expression to the Gospel in the customs and cultures of your people forms one of the greatest challenges for the Church in your country at the present time. It is by your people patterning their lives according to the teachings of Christ that an authentic inculturation of the Gospel takes place, and this enriches the whole Church. In this regard the Second Vatican Council teaches: “The good news of Christ continually renews the life and culture of fallen humanity; it combats and removes the error and evil which flow from the attraction of sin which are a perpetual threat. It never ceases to purify and to elevate the morality of peoples... Thus by the very fulfilment of her own mission the Church stimulates and advances human and civic culture” (Gaudium et Spes GS 58).

3. Following in the footsteps of my predecessor Paul VI, who travelled personally to your country to confirm you and your people in the profession of the Catholic faith, I am looking forward with joy and great expectation to making a Pastoral Visit to Indonesia later this year. For me, these visits are always undertaken in the tradition of the journeys of the first Apostles. I come to Indonesia to proclaim the saving truth about God and man. As I preach the good news of salvation to all the members of the household of the faith, I also wish to hear and see at first hand all the mighty works which the Lord has accomplished in the midst of his people. I want to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for the many blessings which the Church in Indonesia has received over the past four centuries, and I want to encourage all your people to persevere in faith, hope and love.

The seven ecclesiastical provinces of your archipelago, like the seven Churches spoken of in the Book of Revelation, have been a fertile seedbed for God’s word. The lives of your people have borne much fruit in works of holiness, justice and peace, as a result of God’s word planted in their hearts. The tireless labours of many courageous and dedicated missionaries have resulted in the present strength of the Church in your midst. The fortitude and dedication of those heroic men and women are a source of much encouragement for those taking up the continuing challenge of evangelization in your country.

4. Today your local Churches are abundantly blessed by the Lord with vocations to the priesthood and religious life. These young Indonesian men and women offer to young people everywhere in the Church a splendid and inspiring example of the joy and fulfilment which are to be found in responding to Christ’s call to leave all things and follow him (Cfr. Matth Mt 4,19-22). Considering the extraordinary increase of vocations among you, we can truly say that “the word of God increased; and the number of disciples multiplied” (Act. 6, 7). This happy situation serves to remind the Church throughout the world of the importance of clearly presenting the need for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, of encouraging the faithful to pray for this particular intention, and of inviting young men and women to take up the challenge of lifelong commitment to the service of Christ and his Church.

At this time I wish to thank you the Bishops for the careful attention which you give to your seminarians and to their programmes of priestly formation in the major seminaries of your country. On many occasions you have stressed that an essential prerequisite for this ecclesial task is the presence of well-qualified priests to serve as spiritual directors and professors on the theological and philosophical faculties. Every effort needs to be made to provide suitable priests for this important work. The question of priestly formation is vital to the life of the Church and, as you know, it will be the theme of the next Ordinary Session of the Synod of Bishops, to which you can offer the testimony of your present joyful experience.

I note that just as the number of candidates for the priesthood has steadily increased during the past ten years so has the number of vocations to the religious life. In your work with men and women religious I encourage you to continue to manifest the Church’s great esteem and appreciation for their consecrated life. You have recently urged them to reflect ever more clearly the specific charism of their Congregations in appropriate forms of apostolate. The life and work of religious in your local Churches bears witness in a special way to the presence of Christ’s kingdom among your people.

5. Dear brothers, the growth and vitality of your Dioceses is a cause of deep joy and thanksgiving. The Church in your country offers a clear sign of God’s love for his people. The faithful are to be commended for their active participation in many aspects of the Church’s life, even in the most remote mission stations where they gather for liturgical worship, catechesis, mutual support and missionary activity.

In your pastoral ministry to the family, the basic unit of society, the first school of Christian sanctity, you can count on the solidity and strength of family ties in traditional Indonesian culture. Cultural differences and the high number of mixed marriages call you to assist the faithful in their commitment to living the Sacrament of Christian Marriage in unity and holiness. The admirable dedication of your local Churches to the education and social development of the Indonesian people is highly regarded and esteemed by your fellow-citizens. The fact that more than a million students are receiving instruction in Catholic educational institutions eloquently testifies to the concern of the Church in Indonesia for promoting the well-being, harmony and progress of society. The importance of this service to the development of a people is incalculable and it is truly deserving of the care and dedication which the Church has always given it. In this regard, the Government of Indonesia has recognized the important contribution which the Church is making to the building of a more just and equitable society. It is to be hoped that the laws which govern the civil life of your country will continue to defend the value of educating the consciences of your students in freedom. This point honours your people and displays the wisdom which lies at the heart of your civilization.

6. I have already mentioned the heroic lives of the missionaries who first preached the Gospel in your islands. Following their example, your local Churches are called upon to carry forward the task you have inherited from them. Some of your Dioceses are unfortunately experiencing a scarcity of priestly ministers while others are better supplied. I would encourage you therefore to persist in your plan for a more equal distribution of priests on the national level. One of the certain signs of the inculturation of the Gospel in your Indonesian society will be the replacement of many of the foreign missionaries still serving in the poorest and most remote areas with your own local clergy. We have reason to hope that the state authorities, who show great concern for the people’s welfare, will consent to allowing the ecclesiastical personnel, even if not native-born, to remain at their pots, serving the community in its spiritual and temporal needs.

7. Dear brother Bishops, it is your particular pastoral responsibility to adopt the means most appropriate for proclaiming the message of salvation. The Church does not hesitate to show a deep respect for other religions which are the living expression of the soul of peoples. When Christians and the followers of other religious traditions are united in their belief in the Creator, there exists a profound basis for mutual understanding and peaceful exchange. I encourage you to continue and intensify your collaboration with your Moslem brethren in meeting the challenges of increasing secularization.

As your people continue “to grow in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ep 4,15), it is important for you as their pastors and teachers to inspire them to uphold and announce with courage and frankness the fundamental “kerigma”, the good news that Christ is “the Alpha and the Omega” (Ap 2,8). A pluralistic culture like yours in some respects resembles the environment in which the early Christians bore witness to their faith in Christ. May you and your collaborators be filled with fortitude and courage as you witness to the Gospel and may you never yield to fear or hesitancy. The ecclesial community’s role in Indonesian society is very much like that of the leaven in the dough (Cfr. Matth Mt 13,33) which pervades all of society, giving it a new quality and manner of life.

8. As you return to your pastoral labours, my brothers, I ask you to convey my greetings to your priests and people. Assure them that I am eager to meet them later this year.

I pray that you may always prove faithful to the charge given to you by the Lord, namely to lead the People of God in the way of salvation. May the prayers of Saint Francis Xavier, who personally evangelized some of your islands, and of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus to whom the Catholic people of Indonesia are devoted, sustain you in faith and fidelity. May Mary who is “a sign of sure hope and solace for the pilgrim People of God” (Lumen Gentium LG 68) intercede for you and may the peace of Christ be always with you. With my Apostolic Blessing.




Consistory Hall

Monday, 22 May 1989

Distinguished Members of the “Together for Peace” Foundation.

As women who hold significant positions within your own countries and in areas of international life, you have come together in support of the cause of peace and mutual understanding between peoples. I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican this morning, during the course of your Seminar. May these days in Rome foster the friendship and cooperation which have already grown up between you, and strengthen you in your commitment to the noble goals of your Foundation.

Your Seminar is entitled “Women and Solidarity”, and aims at a deeper understanding of the role of women in the worldwide effort to bring aid and encouragement to those who suffer or are in need of our help. In a world which is discovering more clearly every day the interdependence of all men and women and of all nations and peoples, you seek to explore the specific contribution which women can make to bringing about an era of authentic peace, based upon justice and respect for the dignity of each and every individual.

As you well know, all efforts to help our brothers and sisters in need must proceed from a deep desire to enable them to attain their fullest human potential, both as individuals and as members of society at large. This desire, which is fundamentally religious, and which has its source deep within the human heart, is an expression of the common humanity we share. Beyond all differences of language, culture and economic status, all of us are one, members of one family and responsible for one another. Whenever our common humanity is forgotten, or the dignity of one human person is prejudiced, all of us suffer, and each of us is somehow lessened.

In these days of study and reflection, may you come to a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension of the work which you have undertaken. The very word “solidarity”, as it appears in the title of your Seminar, points to a profound spiritual truth, namely, that all contributions to the improvement of peoples and societies are rooted in a vision which both recognizes a brother or sister in every human person and which inspires us to acknowledge our own personal responsibility for their good and for the good of all (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). As women, you bring unique gifts, insights and concerns to the world’s search for peace. People everywhere are yearning to experience true freedom and authentic human fulfilment, and the many women whose generosity and self-sacrifice you represent have an important and essential role to play. May all your efforts flow from a heart at peace and from a generous desire to share with others the gifts which you yourselves have received.

The Catholic Church greatly appreciates what you have done and are doing on behalf of the needy. I thank you, and invoke upon you all the blessings of him who is “the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation” (2Co 1,3).

May God’s love accompany you always!




Clementine Hall

Tuesday, 23 May 1989

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends:

1. I salute each one of you, organizers and participants in this International Symposium on Trisomy 21.

On this occasion, I am happy to meet the distinguished scientists who have presented the results of their research at this Meeting. Your work aims at a deeper understanding of the pathogenesis of Down’s syndrome, as well as the development of an effective treatment of those affected by it. At a time when the allocation of funds for this sort of research tends to be reduced, your continuing involvement in this work reflects a generosity and commitment for which we are all grateful.

I also wish to greet the health-care workers among you. As people devoted to caring for those afflicted by Down’s syndrome, you offer your own experience, together with your research on the clinical, psychological and social levels, in order to improve their living conditions. By your efforts, you enable these patients to develop their native gifts and abilities in a way that allows them, in various degrees, to overcome the limitations brought on by their illness. My greeting also goes to the families who give such love and self-sacrifice to these children. You, more than anyone, know that, despite their handicaps, these children are worthy of loving care, and readily give so much affection in return.

2. Reaching out to the suffering and less fortunate is at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The image of the Good Samaritan which Christ himself so fully embodied, reappears time and again – even though we often fail to realize it – in the scientist at work in his laboratory, where he works in hope of preventing or curing illness through the discovery of its causes. The figure of the Good Samaritan also appears in the health-care and social workers who care for the sick and help them to live a truly human life in everyday society. And it appears in all its greatness in those parents who, despite their own limitations and a frequent sense of frustration at not receiving the support they would expect, nevertheless strive to ensure for their children a truly loving upbringing. Each one of you, in his or her own way, is a reminder of that beautiful image from the Gospel. The gratitude which I express to you is the same gratitude which Christ himself felt, when he said: “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me” (Cfr. Matth Mt 25,40).

3. Your presence here offers me an opportunity to refer to an important development in present-day society. More and more, the word “special” is being used to describe people whose physical or psychological make-up or behaviour appears to diverge in some way from what is considered “normal”. Whatever meaning we may wish to give to the term, one thing is certain: the person who is “special” is still a human person, possessing the same inalienable dignity and deserving exactly the same respect as any other person.

This truth makes us realize how necessary it is to reaffirm the universal nature of the transcendent values connected with human life.It urges us to insist that these values should be recognized in each and every person, and that they should be promoted with genuine love. It demands that society make every effort to ensure that sufficient numbers of health-care personnel and adequate facilities be made available for the care of the sick. Where necessary, existing structures should be adapted to suit new needs, thus providing an environment conducive to more humane living. Scientific skill and professional experience are necessary and indeed indispensable in the delicate work you have undertaken. But it is to be hoped that these qualifications will always be accompanied by a spirit of sincere dedication and by concern for the patient as a person – not only as someone requiring therapeutic treatment, but also as one who needs comforting and moral support.

The Church calls for a profound commitment to the promotion of Christian values within our social and healthcare institutions.As a case in point, the increasing use of selective abortion as a means of preventing the birth of handicapped children requires a firm response from Christians. In our search for genuine social progress, we can never ignore the law of God. The right answers to the problems our society is facing will always be marked by justice, respect for human dignity and the defence of the innocent lives of the vulnerable and the unborn. The Gospel affirms that every individual is a creature whom God chose to fashion in his own image, and both Christian revelation and reason affirm the existence of a moral order which transcends man himself. These truths and values require of you a generous commitment to scholarship, a scholarship enlightened both by rigorous scientific investigation and by objective ethical and moral principles.

4. The protection and defence of the human person – every person and the whole person, especially those who are vulnerable and most helpless: this is a task which the Catholic Church, in the name of Christ, cannot and will not forsake. We are all heartened when we see science, medicine, society and the family co-operating in the effort to meet, in a genuinely humane way, the particular problems of the person who is “special“ – in your case, the person with Down’s syndrome.

In paying tribute to the progress made in the past thirty years, from the time when the causal connection between a clearly defined chromosomal anomaly and Down’s syndrome first became apparent, I express the hope that science and medicine will soon be in a position to overcome the developmental difficulties experienced by individuals with this condition. All of you, including the families concerned, have my appreciation and support. God bless you and your efforts. May his protection be with those you treat and care for.

5. Desidero rivolgere, ancora, un saluto in lingua italiana esprimendo compiacimento per tutti coloro che si dedicano ai problemi riguardanti la sindrome di Down e la malattia di Alzheimer, ed in particolare per i componenti dell’istituto di genetica umana della facoltà di medicina e chirurgia “Agostino Gemelli” dell’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, che hanno organizzato questo simposio.

Alle famiglie qui presenti e a tutte le famiglie dico che la loro sofferente attesa di un futuro migliore per i loro figli Down è anche la nostra attesa, l’attesa della Chiesa di Cristo; ma voglio assicurarle che la loro coraggiosa fiducia, che le vede già fortemente impegnate per promuovere un più attento e giusto riconoscimento della persona Down da parte della società, ha il mio sentito apprezzamento e tutta la mia adesione.

Con questi voti imparto a tutti la mia benedizione apostolica.




Saturday, 27 May 1989

Mr President,

Your visit this evening represents the latest of many contacts between the United States of America and the Holy See. A number of your predecessors, and many other illustrious Americans, have been welcomed here before you. Our meeting offers me the opportunity to reciprocate the much appreciated hospitality that I received in your country, and to recall the kind personal attention that as Vice President you showed me as I left Detroit in September 1987, the year of the Bicentennial of your Constitution.

Our encounter at this time has also a special historical context, coming as it does in a year that now commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of your first Congress under the Constitution and likewise the two-hundredth anniversary of the establishment at Baltimore of the first Catholic diocese in your land. For the Holy See this is an occasion to express again its esteem for all the American people and for two centuries of that ethnic and fraternal experience in history called “United States of America”.

Thirteen years ago your country celebrated another historical Bicentennial – connected with your Declaration of Independence. It was then that my predecessor Paul VI spoke words that are applicable once again and that merit new attention. “At every turn”, he said, “your Bicentennial speaks to you of moral principles, religious convictions, inalienable rights given by the Creator... We earnestly hope that... this commemoration of your Bicentennial will constitute a rededication to those sound moral principles formulated by your Founding Fathers and enshrined forever in your history” (Pauli VI Allocutio ad quosdam repraesentantes Nationum Unitatam Americae Septentrionalis, die 26 apr. 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV [1976] 289). It is America’s dedication to the great heritage that is hers – to those values of the spirit, a number of which you alluded to earlier this year in your Inaugural Address, that offers hope and confidence to those who look to her with friendship and esteem.

In that Inaugural Address, Mr President, you made reference to power as existing “to help people”, “to serve people”. This is true at different levels, including power at the political and economic level. We see this too at the level of each community with its power of fraternal love and concern. In all these areas an immense challenge opens up before the United States in this third century of her nationhood. Her mission as a people engaged in good works and committed to serving others has horizons the length of your nation and far beyond – as far as humanity extends.

Today the interdependence of humanity is being reaffirmed and recognized through world events. The moral and social attitude that must constitute a response to this interdependence is found in worldwide solidarity. In treating this question in a recent Encyclical, I have stated that solidarity “is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good, that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38). Truly, the hour of international interdependence has struck. What is at stake is the common good of humanity.

Mr President, I know how deeply committed you are to the efforts being made to liberate the youth of America from the destructive forces of drug abuse and to alleviate poverty at home and abroad. Material poverty and drug abuse, however, are only symptoms of a deeper moral crisis eating away at the very texture of society in almost every part of the world. All men and women of good will are called to take up the challenge and assume their responsibilities before the human family to address this crisis and to counteract the “spiritual” poverty that lies at the basis of so much of human suffering.

By reason of her history, her resources, her creativity – but above all by reason of the moral principles and spiritual values espoused by her Founding Fathers and institutionally bequeathed to all her citizens – America truly has the possibility of an effective response to the challenges of the present hour: justice for all her citizens, peaceful relations beyond her borders, international solidarity and in particular a worldwide solidarity in the cause of life, in the cause of every human person.

In leaving Detroit and in saying goodbye to America in 1987, I expressed this thought: “ Every human person – no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how useful or productive for society – is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn”.

Mr President: may God bless America and make her strong in her defense of human dignity and in her service to humanity.

Speeches 1989 - Consistory Hall