Speeches 1990 - Saturday, 3 March 1990



Saturday, 3 March 1990

Dear Friends,

It is my pleasure to welcome the officers and men of the HMS Manchester. I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you and I would hope that your visit to Rome will help you to grow in your appreciation of the rich heritage of Christian faith reflected in many of her monuments and works of art. May it likewise lead you to think about the spiritual values which have served as the basis for so much of the history of the West. In our own days, this heritage has proved its enduring power as nations and peoples have found in it inspiration to affirm their desire for freedom, their belief in the dignity of each individual and their desire for a social order which ensures justice for everyone.

Amid the dramatic changes taking place in our world, you have a special part to play. As members of the armed forces, you serve your country in its efforts to promote security and safeguard freedom. The Second Vatican Council has taught that the proper fulfilment of this role makes a genuine contribution to the establishment of peace among nations (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 79). Together with those who are working out new models of cooperation on the political and economic levels, you too are sharing in the work of building a more peaceful world.

The Christian faith teaches us that the peace which the world longs for is a gift of God and the result of obedience to his will. Any lasting peace, whether it be within our own hearts, in our families, or between nations, had God as its author and source. I pray that each of you will come to experience the peace of God which surpasses all human understanding (Cfr. Phil. Ph 4,7). And may people everywhere be blessed with renewed strength and perseverance as they strive to overcome conflict and injustice through dialogue, cooperation and generous concern for the rights and aspirations of their brothers and sisters.

Upon all of you and upon your loved ones I cordially invoke the abundant blessing of God our Father.




Thursday, 15 March 1990

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It gives me great pleasure to have this meeting with the members and staff of the Pontifcal Council for Social Communications on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly. My special welcome goes to the new members who have graciously consented to give of their time and talents in furthering the important work of this Council.

As you know, this Dicastery was established at the specific request of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in the conviction that the modern means of social communication, if used properly, can "contribute greatly to the enlargement and enrichment of people's minds and to the spreading and consolidation of the kingdom of God" (Inter Mirifica IM 2). Today more than ever, the promise as well as the challenge of social communications summons human societies and the Church herself to greater attention and effort in this field. This is especially so in light of the urgent need being experienced in all parts of the world for spiritual, social and cultural development.

2. The countries of Central and Eastern Europe, for example, offer unprecedented opportunities for proclaiming the Word of God through the media. We must seek to satisfy the hunger and thirst for religious truth and instruction of those who for many years have had a press, radio and television that gave little space to specifically Christian themes. Opportunities are now being offered for printing religious news and reflections, and for broadcasting and televising significant religious events, to the great joy of many. By providing accurate information and a forum for the exchange of views, the media can also further the dialogue and participation that are essential for democratic life and social development.

In Western Europe, and to a certain extent in North America, the changes wrought by new communications policies and technologies create new challenges for the Church. As indicated in the "Criteria for Ecumenical and Interreligious Cooperation in the Media", recently published by this Pontifical Council, Catholics must work together with other Christians and with all believers to guarantee the right of a religious presence in the media. The air waves in particular are a public trust in which private profit is subordinate to the service of the common good. They should be used in such a way that they genuinely contribute to the integral well-being of the human person. Later this month, Bishops and others involved in media work in Europe will gather at Fatima to reflect on some of these same concerns. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, may their meeting be fruitful for a rediscovery of the common Christian roots of European culture and for a new evangelization of this continent.

3. Turning our attention to Latin America, we find that the Church there is making a renewed effort to preach the gospel in preparation for the Five Hundredth Anniversary of the first evangelization of the western hemisphere. There, as in Europe and elsewhere, we recognize ever more clearly that evangelization is not an effort which, once made, need not be repeated. Indeed, in every time and place the Church is constantly evangelizing herself so that, purified and renewed, she may fulfil her mission to live the Gospel and bring it to others.

Today, in fulfilling this task of evangelization, the ecclesial community can make use of forms of social communication which did not exist five centuries ago. I am pleased to note that the Church in Latin America is taking concrete steps to develop a computer network for the dissemination of information on Christian faith and culture. As I stated in my Message for this year's World Communications Day: "In the new 'computer culture', the Church can more readily inform the world of her beliefs and explain the reasons for her stance on any given issue or event". How much more can and shoud be done, by creative efforts in the communications media, to strengthen and deepen the living witness to the faith of so many Catholics in Latin America!

4. In Africa too there is a pressing need for evangelization through the communications media. This has prompted the Symposium of Bishops' Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) to schedule a special continental meeting in July exclusively on this theme. I am confident that this meeting will lead to greater awareness and effective action in employing the means of social communications for the Church's mission of preaching the Gospel to all people. The media are also important for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. Through their creative use, information can be shared and participation of the faithful increased in preparation for this important event.

The fact that the Church in Asia constitutes a small minority among so many peoples presents a special challenge in the use of the media. Evangelization and pre-evangelization can be greatly supported by a more committed effort in this field. A forthcoming meeting of representatives of Bishops of Asia, scheduled to take place in Indonesia in July, will be an occasion for reflection on the Church's presence in the media in this vast continent.

5. Finally, I wish to mention the document "Pornography and Violence in the Media: A Pastoral Response", published last year by this Pontifical Commission. Addressing public officials, media professionals and families, the document offers wise guidelines and encouragement for healthy initiatives and sound programming in publications, films, telecasts and videocassettes. It likewise urges those involved in these activities to protect all members of society, especially women and children, from base exploitation.

The document concludes with the words of Saint Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rm 12,21). There is indeed much that needs to be done to overcome evil with good in every area of communications: films, radio and television, as well as the new culture of the computer.

As you direct your efforts to this important task, I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill your minds and hearts with wisdom and perseverance. To all of you and your loved ones I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Friday, 16 March 1990

Mr President,

Distinguished Members of the American Jewish Committee,

1. Shalom! This is my greeting to each of you as I welcome you to the Vatican. Our meeting today reminds me of a similar visit of the American Jewish Committee in 1985 for the purpose of commemorating the twentieth anniversary of "Nostra Aetate", the Second Vatican Councilís Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. That Declaration does not cease to impart an important and timely message, inspiring us with hope and promise for the future.

Although the Catholic teaching concerning Jews and Judaism is summarized in Article Four of the Declaration, many of its fundamental elements are also present in other documents of the Council. References to the same topic can be found in the Dogmatic Constitutions on the Church and on Divine Revelation, in the Declaration on Religious Freedom, in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, and in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. Perhaps the time has come, after twenty-five years, to make a systematic study of the Councilís teaching on this matter. We would do well to pursue this as part of our dialogue. Today, I would like to limit myself to some general observations.

2. "Nostra Aetate" speaks of "the spiritual bond linking the people of the New Covenant with Abrahamís stock" (Nostra Aetate NAE 4). This reference is complemented by another text found in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. There we read: "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the People of God. In the first place there is the people to whom the covenants and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh (Cfr. Rom. Rm 9,4-5). On account of their fathers, this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues" (Cfr. ibid. 11, 28-29). (Lumen Gentium LG 16).

The origin of our "common spiritual heritage" (Cfr. Nostra Aetate NAE 4), therefore is to be found in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Within this common heritage we may include veneration of the Holy Scriptures, confession of the One Living God (Cfr. Ex. Ex 20,3 Ex. Ex 20,23 Dt 6,4), love of neighbour (Cfr. Lev. Lv 19,18), and a prophetic witness to justice and peace. We likewise live in confident expectation of the coming of Godís Kingdom, and we pray that Godís will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As a result, we can effectively work together in promoting the dignity of every human person and in safeguarding human rights, especially religious freedom. We must also be united in combatting all forms of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination and hatred, including anti-semitism. I am pleased to note the significant level of cooperation that has been achieved in these areas over the past quarter century, and it is my fervent hope that these efforts will continue and increase.

3. In the new and positive atmosphere that has developed since the Council, among Catholics it is the task of every local Church to promote cooperation between Christians and Jews. As the Successor of Saint Peter, I have a special concern for all the Churches, and I am therefore committed to furthering such a policy throughout the world. At the same time I gratefully acknowledge the initiatives taken by yourselves in this area. I hope that your forthcoming meeting in Poland with the Episcopal Commission for Dialogue with the Jews will be a very fruitful one. May it be a hopeful sign of genuine brotherhood between Christians and Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, and thus contribute to the process of peaceful and democratic development taking place there.

This initiative and the continuing exchange of information between your Committee and the Holy Seeís Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews reflect our common desire for better understanding and greater harmony. May this serve to benefit both of our communities and to foster justice and peace in the world, especially in the land of the Fathers and in Jerusalem the Land and the City considered holy by millions of believers: Jews, Christians and Muslims.

May that day come when all nations "shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks", when "nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Is 2,4). Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.





Friday, 23 March 1990

Mr Ambassador,

I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican at the beginning of your mission as Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to the Holy See. In accepting your Letters of Credence, I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings and good wishes to President Vassiliou. It is my fervent hope that your mission, like that of your late and distinguished predecessor, Mr Polys Modinos, will strengthen the bonds of mutual esteem and fruitful cooperation which characterize relations between the Holy See and the people of your ancient and noble Island.

The world events of recent months have vividly demonstrated how profound and enduring is the desire of entire peoples to live in peace, to lay aside old hostilities and to unite in forging a new era of international understanding. Yet the existence of a just social order still remains a distant ideal for many societies. Indeed, as Your Excellency has frankly pointed out, Cyprus itself has been the scene of continuing division and conflict. In spite of deeply rooted disagreements, hope for their just settlement must never be abandoned. The Holy See remains firmly convinced that the solution to longstanding division between peoples is to be found in patient dialogue and in respect for the principles of justice embodied in international law.

For this reason, the Holy See has sought, through its presence within the international community and through its diplomatic activity, to further all efforts aimed at "strengthening and perfecting the unity of the human family" (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Exc.mo Legatos et Oratores apud Sedem Apostolicam permanenter missos, 4, die 13 ian. 1990: vide supra, p. 70.). While the proper contribution of the Catholic Church to the establishment of peaceful relations between Nations and peoples ultimately derives from her religious mission, she strives to promote effective dialogue and harmony among believers and non-believers alike. The Church is convinced that the search for unity and peace in our increasingly interdependent world is a necessity imposed upon all by God, the Creator of mankind. Indeed, submission to the will of God demands of all believers an unfailing commitment to this goal.

Within this context, there is an urgent need for "a solidarity which will take up interdependence and transfer it to the moral plane" (Cfr. Eiusdem Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 26). Your Excellency has spoken of the moral principles which must necessarily be the foundation for policies that lead to peace and security. Among these, I would emphasize the grave obligation to seek out and explore every avenue of potential agreement. It is obvious that any attempt to promote authentic dialogue must respect racial, religious, social and cultural differences. An enduring unity of peoples and diverse social groups can only be achieved when legitimate pluralism is respected and guaranteed by all members of society.

At this time, I wish to mention the presence and activity of the Catholic community on your Island. For centuries these Maronite and Latin Rite Christians have professed and practised their faith in full communion with the Holy See. Despite their small numbers, they too have wished to share in the quest for a social order marked by justice, harmony and peace. In the education and religious formation imparted in their schools, in developing new channels of cooperation with other Christians, and in the proclamation of the Gospel values of respect and love for others, the Catholics of Cyprus are committed to the task of developing the full potential of your national community. I am confident that the Churchís work will continue to foster peace in your country.

Mr Ambassador: as you begin your mission, I wish to express once again my warm best wishes and to assure you that the various offices of the Holy See are always prepared to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God upon you and upon all the beloved people of Cyprus.




Thursday, 29 March 1990

Dear Brothers in Christ,

1. I am pleased to have this opportunity to welcome the members of the Twenty-seventh general Chapter of the Congregation of Christian Brothers. My cordial greetings and best wishes go to your newly-elected Superior General and his Assistants as they begin their term of office. The Christian Brothers are renowned for their dedicated and self-giving apostolate in educating the young. It is my fervent prayer that the deliberations of this Chapter will contribute to confirming and strengthening you in this necessary ecclesial service.

2. In the period after the Second Vatican Council, your Institute has been compelled to adapt to new circumstances and to make new beginnings as it strives to be faithful to its distinguished tradition of excellence in education within the framework of the Churchís evangelizing mission. It was in order to respond more fully to those challenges that your Twenty-sixth General Chapter sought to revise the Constitutions of the Congregation of Christian Brothers in a way most appropriate to the ecclesial realities of our own day. In doing so, it laid the foundations for the renewal of community life and structures called for by the Council. May this latest General Chapter, dedicated to assessing the impact of the new Constitutions upon the life of your Congregation, foster that deeper growth in holiness and vocational commitment which is the very heart of the authentic renewal of religious life.

An essential part of that commitment will always be fidelity to the charism and example of your Founder, whose desire to bring the ennobling power of the Gospel to the poor has borne abundant fruit in the dedicated lives of countless Christian Brothers in Catholic Educational Institutions all over the world. The vision and zeal of the Servant of God, Edmund Ignatius Rice, remain stable points of reference for your entire Institute as it seeks to fulfil the role assigned it by God in the advancement of his Kingdom. A generous concern for the poor and an unfailing dedication to the education of the young in sound doctrine and virtue must continue to be the hallmark of every school and apostolic undertaking of the Christian Brothers.

3. The goal of a truly Christian education, as the Council itself pointed out, is " to relate all human culture eventually to the news of salvation, so that the light of faith will illumine the knowledge which students gradually gain of the world, of life and of mankind " (Gravissimum Educationis GE 8) . The Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which the ultimate meaning of all human life and activity is revealed, is indeed the measure of all authentic progress in personal growth and apostolic effort. The history of your Congregation bears eloquent witness to the Churchís conviction that the education of the young is a privileged expression of the ministry of evangelization which she has received from her Lord.

In this context, I recall the observation of my predecessor Pope Paul VI, that in preaching the Gospel the Church begins by being evangelized herself (Cfr. Pauli VI Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 15) . Cannot this insight, which derived from a profound understanding of the nature of the pilgrim Church in her mysterious growth toward the fullness of Godís Kingdom, also be applied to those who undertake the apostolate of educating the young in their growth to human maturity? As teachers, you are called to form the minds and hearts of children and adolescents at a very significant time in their lives. With wisdom, prudence and great patience, you seek to ensure that the development of their personalities will be matched by the growth within them of the "new creation" (Cfr. 2Co 5,17), which they became at the moment of their Baptism (Cfr. Gravissimum Educationis GE 8). In order to accomplish this delicate task, how essential it is that each of you should have first known what it is to be educated at the school of the Gospel, to come to a rich and integrated understanding of Godís fatherly love for us as revealed in the life and teaching of Jesus, and to experience the purifying and enlightening power of the spirit who has been poured into our hearts!

4. Dear Brothers: I express the fervent hope that the Christian Brothers will uphold the great traditions of competence, zeal and holiness of life that have marked your Congregation since its beginning. I encourage you to set the noble ideal of your vocation before new generations of young people in the certainty that the Lord of the harvest will provide where needs are most urgent. I also take this opportunity to express the Holy Seeís gratitude for the generous way in which the Christian Brothers have assisted in its work over the years.

Commending you to the loving protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, model of all holiness, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ.





Friday, 30 March 1990

Mr Ambassador,

Your presence here today represents a further strengthening of the cordial ties existing between the Republic of Korea and the Holy See. It gives me great pleasure therefore to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed your countryís Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. I am grateful for the kind words you have spoken regarding the role of the Holy See in the international community and in particular for the greetings you have conveyed on behalf of President Roh Tae Woo. I would ask you kindly to assure His Excellency of my own good wishes.

As Bishop of Rome with special responsibility for the Church in every part of the world, I have had the happy and consoling grace of visiting your country on two occasions, in 1984 and again last year on the occasion of the Forty-fourth International Eucharistic Congress. I have been able to see at first hand the challenges facing your people in their search for a more just and peaceful society. I am aware of the Korean peopleís desire for reunification in a spirit of mature democracy and respect for human rights. Your Excellency has expressed the hope, which we all share, that the processes of openness and dialogue which have brought a lessening of tensions and greater freedom elsewhere will eventually bring more peaceful conditions to your own country. May Almighty God sustain the Korean people in their hope and in their persevering journey towards this goal.

In many parts of the world radical transformations are giving rise to new forms of political organization and new relations between nations and blocs. That process is the tangible expression of these peoplesí irrepressible thirst for freedom: freedom of thought, conscience, religion, expression, and political and cultural pluralism. These are eminent aspirations of the human spirit which, of themselves, should lead to a strengthening and perfecting of the unity of the human family.

Unfortunately, the processes to which we refer are not without their handicaps. Past experiences have left the heritage of a widespread and profound crisis of trust between individuals, and between peoples and States. As a result, old ethnic and nationalist rivalries come to the fore and threaten the positive achievements emanating from the decline of ideological opposition. The international community needs to recall that policies based on ambition, self-interest, competition and material greed have not led to peace and development, and that these tendencies need to be replaced by a truly universal solidarity and effective respect for human rights.

Allow me, Mr Ambassador, to refer to one urgent form of the new solidarity required for the very survival of our world, namely, the adoption by all of a moral approach to the use of the environment based on the acceptance of nature as Godís creation and gift, destined to be shared by all. People everywhere are becoming more sensitive to this question and I have drawn attention to it on a number of occasions, most recently in my Message for this yearís World Day of Peace. The defense of the environment is a global problem and its solution calls for responsible action on the part of all States, both within their own borders and in conjunction with other States, in effectively implementing scientifically based and internationally agreed standards. The solidarity that is required must truly be universal, for " the newly industrialized States cannot, for example, be asked to apply restrictive environmental standards to their emerging industries unless the industrialized States first apply them within their own boundaries. At the same time, countries in the process of industrialization are not morally free to repeat the errors made in the past by others, and recklessly continue to damage the environment through industrial pollutants, radical deforestation or unlimited exploitation of non-renewable resources " (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendam dicatum pro a. D. 1990, 10, die 8 dec. 1989: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XII, 2 [1989] 1469).

In an increasingly interdependent and complex world, the reality of progress which cannot be measured merely by the growth of material well-being but must provide for the realization of the highest aspirations of the human spirit needs to extend to all countries and to embrace all peoples. It should be the conviction of everyone that the obstacles to such integral development are not merely economic but rest on more profound attitudes the moral and spiritual attitudes which define each individualís relationship with self, with others and with nature itself (Cfr. EIUSDEM Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38).

The activity of the Holy See in the international forum seeks to favor the pursuit of these higher values in relations between peoples for the common good of the human family. The Holy See wishes to be a voice raised in defense of peace, of solidarity and of compassion towards those in greatest need.

In your own country the Church seeks to fulfill her duty to the human family by fostering awareness that these same values should inspire public and private life. Although a minority, the Catholics of Korea play a visible role in the life of the nation. They love their country and are deeply committed to its well-being. Their faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ impels them to be instruments of peace and reconciliation, and to work for the growth of justice and right in society.

Mr Ambassador, as you begin your mission to the Holy See I offer you my prayers for your country and its beloved people. I wish you well in the exercise of your duties and assure you of the collaboration of the various departments of the Holy See. May the blessings of God be upon you and your loved ones.

April 1990




Monday, 2 April 1990

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the Board of Trustees and members of the Papal Foundation in the United States. Our meeting today affords me a welcome opportunity of extending to each one of you my deep gratitude for your generous efforts aimed at offering direct assistance to the Successor of Peter in his ministry to the Church throughout the world. I thank you for the spirit of self-sacrifice with which you have undertaken the commitments asked of you.

Through your Chairman, Cardinal John Krol, and the other American Cardinals, as well as through Archbishop McCarrick and the other Bishops who have given so freely of their time, you have been made aware of the great needs of the Holy See. These needs arise from the very nature of the ministry entrusted to the Pope. In his "concern for all the Churches" (Cfr. 2Co 11,28), the Successor of Peter must reach out to Godís people the world over, fulfilling a charge given to him by the Lord himself. You are also familiar with the conscientious attempts of the Holy See, especially in recent years, to exercise responsible stewardship of the resources at its disposal. I assure you that these attempts will continue, in accordance with the increasing demands made upon all the offices of the Roman Curia.

As you know, the Second Vatican Council set before the Church a vast program of pastoral renewal. Particularly striking is the vision of the Council fathers presented in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Here we find an immense challenge for the Church to bring to humanity the light of the Gospel. By bearing witness and giving voice to the faith of the whole People of God, the Council fathers determined that they could provide no more eloquent proof of their solidarity with the entire human family than by engaging with it in fruitful dialogue about the problems which it must face, in order to put at its disposal those saving means which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, has received from her Founder (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 3).

It is incumbent upon the Bishop of Rome, as head of the College of Bishops, to foster and promote this dialogue, in conformity with the unique service he renders to the universal Church. I am confident that you are sensitive to this special role which I have been called to play within the "household of faith" (Cfr. Gal. Ga 6,10), since it is precisely this sensitivity which has motivated you to take up the challenges laid before you.

I therefore take this occasion to encourage you in your selfless efforts. And at the same time, I cannot fail to admit that your presence here is a source of encouragement to me, as I am informed of your ardent desire to work for the good of the Church and of your fervent devotion to the Successor of Peter, who ever remains " the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of all the faithful " (Lumen Gentium LG 23).

To each of you and to all your families and loved ones at home I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.





Friday, 6 April 1990

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet you, distinguished representatives of the Nippon Television Network Corporation and publishers of the Volume "New Light on Michelangelo". Your visit to the Vatican coincides with the holding of a Symposium on the restorations being carried out in the Sistine Chapel, and offers me a welcome opportunity to thank all those who are contributing to that important undertaking.

The Catholic Church has not hesitated to turn to the genius of outstanding artists to illustrate her teaching and worship, for she is conscious of the power of the arts to express something of the infinite beauty of God the Creator and to touch human hearts with a longing for all that is good and true. True works of art have an innate capacity to inspire contemplation of universal human experiences and values. Thus art draws people together in a way that transcends every difference of language, culture and time. It is my hope that the attention now being given to the artistic genius of Michelangelo Buonarroti will aid the rediscovery of the perennially valid religious vision which inspired his work. I am convinced that the power of that vision to elevate the human spirit can be of decisive importance in fostering the development of authentic unity and peace among the peoples of the world.






Saturday, 7 April 1990

Speeches 1990 - Saturday, 3 March 1990