Speeches 1990 - Saturday, 7 April 1990

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to greet you, distinguished representatives of the European automobile industry and members of the Committee of Common Market Automobile Constructors, on the occasion of your associationís meeting in Rome.

In her social teaching, the Church insists that all sound economic progress should be guided by respect for the demands of justice and by reverence for the dignity of the human person. I recently had occasion to repeat this fundamental moral principle within the context of my Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Nuntius ob diem ad pacem fovendum dicatum pro a. D. 1990, 6, die 8 dec. 1989: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XII, 2 [1989] 1466). As leaders of an industry which employs vast numbers of people throughout Europe and whose products are so important for modern living, you are familiar with the tensions which can arise as you strive to balance concern for productivity and profit with a sensitivity to the increasingly complex ethical questions associated with the management of your business interests. Inasmuch as many of those questions transcend national boundaries, organizations like yours can be of great service to society.

By deepening their awareness of the ethical dimensions of development and by adopting an approach of effective solidarity, the leaders of industry can do much to address issues such as unemployment, the protection of the natural environment, and the need for a more equitable distribution of the worldís goods. These, in fact, are essential conditions for the establishment of more just social and economic structures, with consequent improvements on both the material and the spiritual dimensions of the lives of millions of human beings.

Ladies and Gentlemen: it is my hope that your meeting will enable you to attain a closer and more fruitful cooperation in pursuing such a noble and urgent ideal. I offer my encouragement for your efforts and I willingly invoke upon you and your families the abundant blessings of Almighty God.




Saturday, 24 April 1990

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. In the joy of the Risen Christ I welcome you, members of the Bishopsí Conference of the Philippines, on your ad Limina visit, and I look forward later on in the year to meeting other groups of Bishops from your beloved country. You have come to the City which preserves the "trophaea" of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the See of Rome which presides in love over all the Churches, to manifest the communion which unites us in the College of the Successors of the Apostles. This communion with the Successor of Peter is the guarantee of your membership of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and it calls forth and strengthens your solicitude for the welfare of the universal Church in the unity of faith and discipline and in love for all her members, especially the poor and those who suffer want or persecution for the sake of justice (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 23).

The whole Church shines with the light of the Easter Mystery which we have just celebrated. In the Risen Lord we recognize the "chief Shepherd" who has sent us to tend the flock of God that is our charge (Cfr. 1 Petr. 5, 2-4). The certainty of Christís final victory over sin and death fills us with joy and hope in the exercise of our episcopal ministry. Today we entrust to him your priests, the men and women religious who cooperate in your apostolate, the people you serve in the Lordís name in each of your particular Churches. I ask you to take back to all of them the assurance of my deepest affection in Christ and my prayers for their spiritual and temporal progress.

2. My Brothers: You have been called to shepherd the Church of God in the Philippines at a time when very specific demands are being made on faith and fidelity. In your own Pastoral Letters of recent years you have indicated and described some of the burning issues facing society and the Church in your country. On many occasions you have spoken out against the high level of violence which takes the lives of so many innocent victims (Cfr. Episcoporum Philipp. Epistula pastoralis "Solidarity for Peace", die 12 iul. 1988). You have expressed your deep concern for the massive poverty and inequality affecting the lives of the majority of your people (Eorundem Epistula pastoralis "Thirsting for Justice", die 14 iul. 1987). You have called attention to the moral evils that have become "an ordinary fixture of (your) nationís public life" (Eorundem Espistula pastoralis "Thou shalt not steal", die 11 ian. 1989).

At the same time you have not failed to express confidence in the capacity of the Filipino people to meet these challenges by drawing above all on the spiritual resources of their Christian heritage. You have called for a new social solidarity. And you understand this solidarity in the way I have described it in the Encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis": "Solidarity helps us to see the Ďotherí - whether a person, people or nation - not just as some kind of instrument, with a work capacity and physical strength to be exploited at low cost and then discarded when no longer useful, but as our Ďneighborí, a Ďhelperí (Cfr. Gen. Gn 2,18-20), to be made a sharer, on a par with ourselves, in the banquet of life to which all are equally invited by God. Hence the importance of reawakening the religious awareness of individuals and peoples" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 39). As one of you has stated: "The transformation of Philippine society is beyond the capacity of political and economic prescriptions. But it can be achieved through the involvement of men (and women) animated by a vision and vigor born of the Spirit" (Archiep. Leonardo Legaspi, Praes. Conf. Episc. Philipp. Ins. Allocutio occasione oblata XVI Coet. Plen., die 20 ian. 1990).

3. I ardently encourage you, the Pastors of Christís flock, to insist on this approach. What is your specific contribution to the needs of your people? What is the "spiritual gift" (Rm 1,11), that has been given to you for the good of your brothers and sisters? It is none other than the "Gospel" of our Lord Jesus Christ, that is, "the power of God for salvation" (Ibid. 1, 16). Thus, in the midst of Godís holy people, the Bishop in an eminent way is called to center his own life on Christ, the source of that salvation: to seek Christís friendship in prayer, to celebrate the sacred mysteries with spiritual fruitfulness for himself and his people, to act in such a way that his personal example leads his brothers and sisters to ever deeper Christian faith, hope and love.

The essential greatness of your ministry therefore lies in the fact that you present not a human doctrine, however clever, but the living reality of the Incarnate Word, so that believing all may have life in his name (Cfr. Io. Jn 20,31). It is this "life", then, which should shine forth in the personal and collective behavior of the Churchís members. Because of their particular sensitivity to spiritual values, Filipinos expect their Bishops, priests and religious to reflect that inner peace and nobility that comes from closeness to God. From your own experience you know that the priestly and episcopal ministry is nourished by personal conversion (metanoia) and untiring striving for holiness of life.

4. In order to emphasize the great need to transmit the essentials of the faith to the present generation of Filipinos, you have declared 1990 "National Catechetical Year", with the aim of providing a more effective, comprehensive and continuous catechesis in your Catholic communities.

In this respect it is appropriate to recall the words of the extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops of 1985: "Everywhere on earth today the transmission to the young of the faith and the moral values deriving from the Gospel is in danger" (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio finalis, II, B, 2). You have felt inspired to call your particular Churches to this specific effort in the field of catechesis because the children and youth who make up such a high percentage of the Filipino population often lack the opportunity to receive education, including religious instruction. You are also aware of the need to help your people apply their religious faith to the realities of life in a more practical way. A year devoted to the theme of catechesis can well serve to draw attention to this essential aspect of the Churchís life, while in the long term too there must be a deep commitment on the part of the Church in the Philippines to raising the level of religious knowledge and culture. Only in this way can the message of the Gospel truly penetrate and uplift Filipino society.

This new and deeper evangelization calls for dedicated and expert leadership. A Bishop has a personal responsibility to teach the faith of the Church. He himself therefore needs time to read, study and prayerfully assimilate the contents of the Churchís tradition and Magisterium. Many time-consuming demands are made on you in the fulfilment of your prophetic, priestly and pastoral roles, and I am fully aware of the generous way in which you respond. In this respect, the evaluation which the Apostles made of their activities - "It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables" (Act. 6, 2) - serves as a guideline to their successors in every age, reminding them that certain fundamental duties and far-reaching priorities must be pursued with wise determination. Administrative and social engagements, however unavoidable, must be harmonized with more basic tasks. Bishops also need to practise a subsidiarity which leaves ample room for the cooperation of priests and qualified lay persons in activities not strictly related to their pastoral office.

5. Of special importance for the future of the Church in your Dioceses and in your country, and indeed for the growth of the Church in all of Asia, is the question of the appropriate formation of your priests. In preparation of the forthcoming session of the Synod of Bishops, you held a meeting in January to discuss this matter. Some aspects of this ecclesial reality deserve further reflection. The first is the need to enunciate a proper and complete doctrine of the Catholic priesthood. Action follows thought, and it is therefore essential to avoid building training programs on inaccurate or partial views of the Sacrament of Orders and the ministry of priests. Secondly, I wish to encourage you to continue the intelligent and generous policy followed by many Filipino Bishops, namely, identifying and training priests who can willingly and effectively serve in seminaries, sharing resources of personnel and economic means with dioceses or regions unable by themselves to provide quality formation.

The spiritual and pastoral care of your priests and seminarians lies at the very heart of your episcopal ministry. As Pastors, you know that no effort of prayer, study and work can be spared in this part of the Lordís vineyard. In particular, newly ordained priests in the first years of their ministry need special attention and guidance. Sometimes they find themselves alone and without sufficient spiritual strength and experience to face inevitable difficulties. You well know that your discreet and fatherly presence at such times can be very valuable. Moreover, priests who have left their Dioceses for reasons that are not altogether sufficient should be invited to solve their difficulties and return to their duties. God is blessing your particular Churches with an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I encourage you not to let other apparently more urgent needs distract you from directing the best of your resources to the spiritual and academic formation of these young men.

6. The already heavy burden of your ministry is further increased by the effects of proselytizing efforts by numerous sects and fundamentalist religious groups. When these groups confuse the faithful regarding fundamental truths of the faith and present a false interpretation of Scripture, or undermine popular elements of Catholic culture, the whole Catholic community should respond with renewed evangelizing efforts. The members of the Church should be made more aware of their Catholic identity and become more personally involved in their local communities. This in no way detracts from the genuine ecumenism and cooperation which should characterize your relations with other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities taking part in the modern ecumenical movement which the Council saw as inspired by the Holy Spirit (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 1).

7. Dear Brothers, I have mentioned only some of the many challenges which you face day by day in your episcopal ministry. In the Lordís name I thank you for the generous way in which you strive to fulfil your responsibilities. You are privileged to serve the Church in the major Catholic country in Asia. The path of the Church in your vast continent must be the path taken by Christ himself, who "though he was by nature God... emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Ph 2,6). Therefore, you do not work for earthly glory, but in order to proclaim humility and self-sacrifice, even by your own example (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 8).

In all of this, you and your faithful people have a powerful incentive and model in the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom you are so deeply devoted. May she intercede for you and for the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses, so that the word of God may take root ever more deeply in the minds and hearts of all, and so that effective love and solidarity may be shown to those in need, especially the children, the aged and the sick. I bless you from my heart.




Thursday, 26 April 1990

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. I extend a warm welcome to the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. This year you are holding your deliberations at a particularly significant moment in the history of this Council. You are celebrating a double anniversary: the Twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Second Vatican Councilís Declaration "Nostra Aetate", and also of the creation of what was then known as the Secretariat for Non-Christians. I rejoice with you and praise the Holy Spirit who has guided the Church in an ever deeper commitment to dialogue and cooperation with all those who worship God. At the same time, this is not only an occasion to remember your own history and to reflect on all that has taken place in the world in the past quarter-century, but even more importantly, to look afresh to the future. For this is your first Plenary Assembly since the publication of "Pastor Bonus", through which your Council not only received its new name, but also a renewed mandate.

Allow me to call to your attention the relevant passage in that document: "The Councilís concern is to see that dialogue with the followers of other religions is conducted in a suitable way and to foster various forms of contact with them. It encourages appropriate studies and meetings with the purpose of building mutual knowledge and esteem and, by working together with others, of promoting human dignity and spiritual and moral values. It is concerned with the formation of those who are engaged in this type of dialogue" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Pastor Bonus ).

2. A glance at the world around us shows that your task has lost none of its importance with the passing years, but is even more important than before. Questions involving relations among believers of different religions arise everywhere in the world today. In our age people are far more mobile than ever before. They leave the villages and cities of their birth and travel to new places, for reasons of education and work or, in many cases, to seek freedom from fear, hunger or repression. Peoples who previously would never have met or known one another must now discover how to build a harmonious and peaceful life in societies that are racially, ethnically, linguistically and religiously pluralistic in their composition. The challenge that not only Christians but people of all religions face is how to learn to understand other religious beliefs and practices, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to build esteem and respect among those whose ways and values are different.

The pervasiveness of the communications media is another factor which calls for greater attention to dialogue. A conflict in one part of the world has immediate repercussions elsewhere. Christians and others are called upon to contribute towards just and peaceful solutions. Thus, the need for accurate information and deep studies about other religions form a part of the task of the Christian in todayís world.

Furthermore, when we reflect on the Churchís mission to make Godís name and his will known, loved and lived throughout the world, a world in which God is too often denied, ignored, or made to seem irrelevant, we Christians find that we are not alone in this task. There are other believers who, in their own ways and according to their own convictions, believe in God and pray to him, look to him for guidance and solace, and try to live according to his will and build society according to the values which he teaches. Thus, we find much which draws us to approach believers of other religions as partners in discussion and collaboration.

3. Reflecting on the mandate given your Council twenty-five years ago and renewed recently in "Pastor Bonus", we may mention the priority enunciated in that document, namely: "to promote studies and encounters". The central work of your current plenary session is the study of the relationship between dialogue with people of other religions and the commission given by Christ himself to proclaim the Good News of the Fatherís saving deeds. Through the publication of such studies, in collaboration with other departments of the Holy See and with Episcopal Conferences throughout the world, and also enriched by the contributions of many theologians and experts, you offer a valuable service to the whole Church.

Much careful theological investigation still has to be done regarding the relation between the Church and other religions. The question of how God accomplishes the salvation of all those who call upon him through the unique mediation of Christ is one which demands the continued attention of the Church: likewise the work of the Spirit of Christ in the members of other religions. There are also theological and pastoral questions regarding prayer and worship among the followers of various religions. I encourage you in your own reflection on these themes and in your efforts to foster further study on them in institutes of theological formation.

4. This Council however is not only concerned with theological research. It is to be the arm of the Church, and as such, of Christ, who reaches out personally and lovingly to all religious believers. Dialogue is not so much an idea to be studied as a way of living in positive relationship with others. Hence, it is important that you come to know and understand, through personal contact and experience, the religious convictions of others. Such mutual encounters can indeed enrich all those who participate. "The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions. She looks with sincere respect upon those ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what she holds and sets forth, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims and must ever proclaim Christ Ďthe way, the truth and the lifeí (Jn 14,6), in whom men find the fullness of religious life, and in whom God has reconciled all things to himself (Cfr. 2Co 5,18-19)" (Nostra Aetate NAE 2).

I encourage you to pursue those meetings with other believers in which you discuss and explore together the issues which demand the attention of all. The transmission of human and spiritual values to new generations; human rights and responsibilities; ways to support the struggle of the poor, the hungry, the sick and the homeless for a dignified life; preservation of Godís creation, his original gift to humanity; the search for peace; the call to justice: these are but some of the issues which must be solved through encounter and cooperation with others.

Finally, one cannot fail to mention the ecumenical dimension of your Councilís work. It is true that relations with people of other religions can help to bring Christians together. I am aware of your collaboration with the Sub-Unit for Dialogue of the World Council of Churches and am happy to salute its representative in your midst.

5. I ask God to grant you steadfast patience in your endeavours. In this Paschal season, we remember the lessons of Christís Resurrection from the dead: we work in faith, we live in hope, we remain in his love. Results may not be immediate. Do not be satisfied with easy solutions. Your patient but steady efforts must reflect the rhythm of the Divine Gardener, who makes his sun to shine, gives rain in season, and, at their own proper time, produces the fruits of his work.

May God bless you all!




Friday, 27 April 1990

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to greet the newly-ordained Deacons of the Pontifical North American College, together with the Rector and faculty of the College, and the many family members and friends who have come to Rome to celebrate the happy occasion of yesterdayís Ordination.

Dear young men: in your service of the Church, may you always find joy in following the example of the Master, who came "not to be served but to serve" (Mt 20,28), and who freely chose, in loving obedience to the will of the Father, to give his life for the salvation of the world. Assuring you of my heartfelt prayers for the fruitfulness of the ministry which has been entrusted to you. I commend you all, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Act. 20, 32).

In the years which you have devoted to discerning your vocation, each of you has come to know something of the immense power of Godís word to bring wisdom, strength and peace to human hearts. In your preaching and in your pastoral service of Godís people, I pray you will always be convincing witnesses of the power of his grace to bring healing and peace. What better return can you make to the Lord for all that he has given you than to share generously with others what you yourselves have received (Cfr. 1 Petr. 4, 10).

In a special way, too, I wish to express to the parents and family members of the new Deacons the Churchís gratitude for the witness of your own faith, which has contributed in no small way to the joy of these days. May God reward all of you for the sacrifices you have made on behalf of your sons and brothers, and for the encouragement and support which you will give them in their efforts to be faithful ministers of the Church and preachers of the word of life.

Entrusting each of you to the prayers and loving protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to all the members of your families at home.





Friday, 27 April 1990

Your Eminences,
my Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. I am very pleased that this meeting allows me to take part as it were in the Academic Symposium which the International Community "The Work" and the Centre of Newman Friends have organized to commemorate the centenary of the death of the renowned Cardinal John Henry Newman. I welcome all of you and thank you for drawing attention through your celebration to the great English Cardinalís special place in the history of the Church. The passage of a hundred years since his death has done nothing to diminish the importance of this extraordinary figure, many of whose ideas enjoy a particular relevance in our own day. The theme of your Symposium, "John Henry Newman - Lover of Truth", points to a major reason for the continuing attraction of Newmanís life and writings. His was a lifelong pursuit of the Truth which alone can make men free (Cfr. Io. Jn 8,32).

2. In this brief encounter I can mention only some of the many lessons which Newman holds out to the Church and to the world of culture. I would underline the inspiration that scholars and thoughtful readers of Newman continue to receive today from this pilgrim for truth. Your Symposium and other such celebrations during this centenary year offer the occasion for a deeper appreciation of Newmanís charism. Not least among his merits, he reminds us of the need for an interior disposition of loving obedience to God if contemporary society is to be successful in its quest for the full liberating truth which it urgently needs, and indeed knows itself to need.

Ever since his first "conversion grace" at the age of fifteen, Newman was never to lose his sense of Godís presence, his respect for revealed truth and his thirst for holiness of life. In his own lifetime, the example of his singular piety and integrity was widely esteemed throughout England by both Catholics and Anglicans alike. His reputation as a man of deep spirituality as well as of learning was one of the principal motives inspiring the English laity to petition Pope Leo XIII to raise the founder of the English Oratory to the College of Cardinals (Cfr. Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman, XXIX, Oxford 1961 ss., p. 85).

3. Newmanís intellectual and spiritual pilgrimage was made in earnest response to an inner light of which he seemed always aware, the light which conscience projects on all of lifeís movements and endeavours. For Newman, conscience was a "messenger from Him, who, both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil" (Difficulties of Anglicans, Westminster, Md., II, p.248). It inevitably led him to obedience to the authority of the Church, first in the Anglican Communion, and later as a Catholic. His preaching and writings reflected his own lived experience. So, he could instruct his listeners: "Do but examine your thoughts and doings; do but attempt what you know to be Godís will, and you will most assuredly be led on into all the truth: you will recognize the force, meaning and awful graciousness of the Gospel Creed... " (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VIII, p. 120).

Newman did not seek worldly success for his own sake, nor did he let the misunderstanding which often accompanied his efforts distract him from the search for true holiness, which was always his conscious aim. He enjoyed great influence and authority during his life, not for any office that he held but because of the human and spiritual personality which he portrayed.

4. The inner drama which marked his long life hinged on the question of holiness and union with Christ. His overriding desire was to know and to do Godís will. Thus, at a time of intense spiritual questioning, before retiring to pray about his decision to enter the Catholic Church, he asked his parishioners at Littlemore to "remember such a one in time to come, though you hear him not, and pray for him, that in all things he may know Godís will, and at all times he may be ready to fulfil it" (Sermons bearing on Subjects of the Day, Westminster, MD 1968, p. 409).

This ideal sustained him in the difficult hour when he sacrificed so much in leaving his beloved and familiar Church of England in order to enter the Catholic Church. His reasoned fidelity to the way Godís Providence led him made this experience - what he called the "hidden years" of his life - a source of encouragement and inspiration for many who were looking for the "port after a rough sea" (Apologia pro Vita Sua, London 1888, p. 238). With letters of spiritual direction and counsel he helped countless others along the path of the truth he himself had found and which filled him with so much joy. Newmanís influence in this sense has increased over the past hundred years and is no longer limited to England. All over the world people claim that this master of the spirit, by his works, by his example, by his intercession, has been an instrument of divine Providence in their lives.

5. In the contemporary cultural climate, with particular reference to Europe, there is an area of Newmanís thought which deserves special attention. I refer to the unity which he advocated between theology and science, between the world of faith and the world of reason. He proposed that learning should not lack unity, but be rooted in a total view. Thus, he concluded his Discourses before the University of Dublin with these striking words: "I wish the intellect to range with the utmost freedom, and religion to enjoy an equal freedom but what I am stipulating for is, that they should be found in one and the same place, and exemplified in the same persons" (Sermons Preached on Various Occasions, London 1904, p. 13).

In the present changing circumstances of European culture, does Newman not indicate the essential Christian contribution to building a new era based on a deeper truth and higher values? He wrote: "I want to destroy that diversity of centres, which puts everything into confusion by creating a contrariety of influences. I wish the same spots and the same individuals to be at once oracles of philosophy and shrines of devotion..." (Ibid). In this endeavour the path the Church must follow in succinctly expressed by the English Cardinal in this way: "The Church fears no knowledge, but she purifies all; she represses no element of our nature, but cultivates the whole" (The Idea of a University, Westminster, Md., p. 234).

6. Still another area of Newmanís spiritual itinerary stands out as particularly relevant in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Because of it we feel Newman to be our true spiritual contemporary. The mystery of the Church always remained the great love of John Henry Newmanís life. And in this there is a further profound lesson for the present. Newmanís writings project an eminently clear picture of his unwavering love of the Church as the continuing outpouring of Godís love for man in every phase of history. His was a truly spiritual vision, capable of perceiving all the weaknesses present in the human fabric of the Church, but equally sure in its perception of the mystery hidden beyond our material gaze. May his memory inspire us to make our own the significant prayer that flowed so naturally from his heart: "Let me never forget that Thou hast established on earth a kingdom of Thy own, that the Church is Thy work, Thy establishment, Thy instrument; that we are under Thy rule, Thy laws and Thy eye - that when the Church speaks Thou dost speak. Let not familiarity with this wonderful truth lead me to be insensible to it - let not the weakness of Thy human representatives lead me to forget that it is Thou who dost speak and act through them" (Meditations and Devotions, Westminster, Md., pp. 378-379).

7. May these same sentiments fill all our hearts as we commemorate this eminent churchman. In Newmanís entire experience we hear the echo of the words of Jesus to Nicodemus: "He who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God" (Jn 3,21). I trust that your Symposium will inspire further studies to bring out more clearly the importance and relevance of this "Lover of Truth" for our times.

Upon you and Newman scholars and friends everywhere I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit so that through your efforts the teachings of this great English Cardinal may be better known and appreciated. I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.
May 1990

Speeches 1990 - Saturday, 7 April 1990