Speeches 1993 - Friday, 7 May 1993






Consistory Hall

Saturday, 15 May 1993

Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends in Christ,

1. It is with great joy that I greet you, at the conclusion of the Meeting of representatives of the Ecumenical Commissions of the world’s Episcopal Conferences and of the Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches. I greet, in particular, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who has called you together, and I take this opportunity to express my appreciation of the work that is being done by the Pontifical Council under his leadership. I also wish to extend a special word of welcome to the members of other Churches and Christian Communions present here today. Your attendance at this meeting is most helpful for the fruitful outcome of the proceedings, and it testifies to an attitude of friendship and collaboration on your part which I acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude.

2. The revised Ecumenical Directory, which was recently approved for publication, deals extensively with the activity of the Ecumenical Commissions. It also speaks in detail about the ecumenical formation of Catholics at all levels, indicating that this must be a dimension of a complete and genuine theological and catechetical education in the Church. These are the principal themes which you have addressed in your Meeting, and they are central to the ecumenical endeavours of the Catholic Church and, indeed, to all efforts on behalf of Christian unity.

The healthy development of the ecumenical movement depends greatly on a serious commitment to ecumenical formation, which in turn can be greatly helped by the efficient work of the Ecumenical Commissions.

The Church’s commitment to ecumenism is written into the two codes of Canon Law, where we read: "It pertains to the entire College of Bishops and to the Apostolic See to foster and direct among Catholics the ecumenical movement, the purpose of which is the restoration of unity among Christians which, by the will of Christ, the Church is bound to promote" (Code of Canon Law CIC 775 Code of Canon Law, can. 775; cf. Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, can. 902). The Bishops, in responding to this great challenge, need to be able to count on the help of experienced Ecumenical Commissions. Both at the level of the Episcopal Conference and at diocesan level, Ecumenical Commissions have the task of seeing that Church activities are imbued with a true ecumenical spirit. Commissions need to work closely with Pastoral Councils so as to ensure that dioceses, parishes and other Catholic organizations and institutions understand and explore the ecumenical implications of their activities. They should especially act to foster cooperation between Catholic bodies and their counterparts in other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. There is already clear evidence of the way in which relations between Christians at the local level can be strengthened by the effective work of such Commissions.

3. Likewise, Ecumenical Commissions have much to contribute to the ecumenical formation of both clergy and laity. In this sense, the publication of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" is without doubt a precious gift to ecumenism. The Catechism presents the ecclesiological basis for Catholic ecumenism and recalls that the desire for rediscovering the unity of all Christians is a gift of Christ and a call of the Holy Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 820). It lists the ways in which the faithful must respond to that call, stressing especially the permanent renewal of the Church, conversion of heart on the part of all concerned, as well as prayer in common, dialogue and practical collaboration among all Christians. It is my earnest hope that the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" and the revised Ecumenical Directory will be complementary tools in the hands of those who in a particular way must carry forward the task of ecumenical formation.

4. Another important feature of your Meeting has been the opportunity it has offered for examining the ecumenical work done in the various countries of the world and that done at the level of the universal Church. In this respect I wish to underline the importance of making better known the fruits of the theological dialogues in which the Catholic Church is engaged. The reports of these dialogues, as well as being important in the process of ecumenical formation, can also be a stimulus to deepening ecumenical relations at every level.

And today a stimulus is needed. Some people have the impression that the ecumenical movement is not as vital as it was in past years. Certainly, difficulties of a practical nature on the local level are not lacking. But there may also be a certain sense of discouragement about progress in the doctrinal aspects of the dialogue. The temptation to respond to slow progress in this sphere by discounting the importance of doctrine must be altogether rejected. To lessen our passionate concern for the truth of Christ’s designs for his followers would be to block the moving force of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit’s task is to lead the disciples to the full truth which the Lord has taught: "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth" (Jn 16,13). May your Meeting inspire you with fresh enthusiasm in promoting the difficult but always necessary theological dialogue, which the Council described as a "kind of ‘fraternal rivalry’ to incite all to a deeper realization and a clearer expression of the unfathomable riches of Christ" (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 11).

5. The Second Vatican Council’s concentration upon the theme of the Church made possible an extraordinary development of Catholic ecclesiology. This renewal in the field of ecclesiology included a new awareness of the real though imperfect communion between the Catholic Church and other Churches and Communities, and the implications of this communion for relations between us (Cf. ibid. 3). Ecumenical dialogue since that time has continued to identify areas of agreement regarding the nature of the Church, the doctrine and practice of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and ministry and authority within the Church. Many serious obstacles remain, but there can be no doubt that further attention to the essential elements of ecclesial communion which Christians from the different Churches and communities already share will give a new impulse to the search for unity.

We must not cease, through prayer and action, to seek that full communion of faith and sacramental life, when there will be a free and universal exchange of gifts between all those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ. The road ahead is difficult, but we must press on towards that goal, in obedience to the will of Christ. It is therefore to him, the Risen Lord, that I prayerfully commend your work and endeavours. The level of commitment must be maintained, and in this the Ecumenical Commissions of the Episcopal Conferences and Synods of the Eastern Catholic Churches have a significant part to play. Today I wish to confirm you in your ecumenical vocation and assure you of my warm support and gratitude. In the many tasks before you I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you" (1Co 16,23).




Saturday, 22 May 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With fraternal affection I welcome you, the first of the two groups of Australian Bishops to come to Rome this year for your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. In greeting you I embrace in spirit all the beloved clergy, religious and laity of the particular Churches under your pastoral care: "To the saints who are also faithful in Christ Jesus: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ep 1,1-2). Your coming from so far away bears eloquent witness to the universal character of the Church, which the Spirit has caused to spread from Jerusalem to the farthest corners of the earth (Cf. Acts. Ac 1,8). Your presence is an affirmation of the bonds of ecclesial communion which unite the faithful of your Dioceses with the Bishop of Rome. Although nearly seven years have passed since I visited Australia, I still recall with great fondness the warmth and love with which I was welcomed there.

Today I would like to consider some aspects of the Episcopal Office and some of the consequences which more immediately follow from it. Then, with the next group of Bishops, there will be the opportunity to give further thought to some of the particular challenges facing the Church in Australia.

2. When in the First Letter to the Corinthians Saint Paul asserts that he has "handed on" to the Christians at Corinth what he himself had received (1Co 11,23 1Co 15,3), he speaks out of a profound awareness of the role which God gave him in the work of salvation. His words bear witness to the fact that he considers himself a link in passing on to those he served the gift given by God the Father in his Only–Begotten Son (Cf. Dei Verbum DV 7). In order that the salvation offered by the Father once for all in Christ would be available in every age, the Apostles in turn passed on to some of their co–workers their own mission and responsibility. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council put it: "In order to keep the Gospel forever whole and alive within the Church, the apostles left Bishops as their successors, ‘handing over their own teaching role’ to them" (Ibid.).

Thus the members of the College of Bishops in every age are called to do what the Apostles did: to keep the deposit (Cf. 1Tm. 1Tm 6,20) and to hand on what they themselves have received (Cf. 1Cor. 1Co 15,3).

Understanding this sacred office more deeply is an indispensable part of discharging it more faithfully. To understand what it means to be a Bishop we should consider carefully the nature of the deposit entrusted by the Apostles to their successors. As the Council points out, "what was handed on by the apostles includes everything which contributes to the holiness of life and the increase in faith of the people of God: and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is and all that she believes" (Dei Verbum DV 8). The Good News of life in Christ, and that very life itself, have been transmitted to us so that "entire and incorrupt" (De Ordinatione Episcopi) they will be available for all mankind. This then is your high calling: to be stewards of that Trinitarian communion which the Father offers to the human race through his Son in the Holy Spirit.

3. This leads us to consider first the Bishops’ role in the sanctification of the faithful, especially through the liturgy. The Council describes Bishops as "the principal dispensers of the mysteries of God... the governors, the promoters and the guardians of the entire liturgical life in the Church committed to them" (Christus Dominus CD 15). The Fathers of the Council indicated that one of the most significant duties of the Bishop’s priestly office is "to ensure that the faithful take part in the liturgy knowingly, actively and fruitfully" (Ibid. 11). What you and your predecessors have done in this regard over the last three decades cannot be passed over without a word of commendation. However, your reports do not hide the anxiety which you are experiencing in relation to the liturgical life of the faithful in your nation: the continuing decline in Sunday Mass attendance in Australia is justifiably a cause of concern.

Efforts to bring all Catholics back to the weekly celebration of the Eucharist and to frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance – which offers "the certainty of forgiveness through the power of the redeeming blood of Christ" (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 28) – are fundamental to all genuine liturgical renewal, because they are fundamental to ecclesial life itself. Without continuing catechesis in this regard there will be no realistic striving for that "full and active participation" in the Sacred Mysteries called for by the Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 14).

The Bishop’s place in the Church’s sanctifying mission leads him to have special concern for the observance of liturgical law in his diocese. The liturgy is, as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council remind us, "the outstanding means by which the faithful can express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 2). Clearly then the sacred rites should be celebrated in accord with the mind of the Church, for she is the one to whom Christ has revealed himself, and she has ordered her liturgy to express what he has taught her (Cf. John Paul II, Vicesimus Quintus Annus, 10; Code of Canon Law CIC 846). Unfortunately, excesses in one direction or another have led to a certain polarization within communities. Perhaps it is appropriate to repeat what I wrote in the Letter "Dominicae Cenae": "The problems of the liturgy, and in particular of the Eucharistic Liturgy, must not be an occasion for dividing Catholics and for threatening the unity of the Church. This is demanded by an elementary understanding of that sacrament which Christ has left us as the source of spiritual unity. And how could the Eucharist, which in the Church is the sacramentum pietatis, signum unitatis, vinculum caritatis, form between us at this time a point of division and a source of distortion of thought and behaviour, instead of being the focal point and constitutive centre, which it truly is in its essence, of the unity of the Church herself?" (John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, 13).

If in some instances liturgical renewal has been seen merely in terms of external change or adaptation, it is necessary now to place appropriate emphasis on the liturgy’s transcendent character: "every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his Body the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others" (Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 7). The spiritual vitality of your communities depends greatly on the dignified and worthy celebration of the liturgy. In all of this you need the support and help of your priests and all the faithful, but the greatest responsibility lies with you who have received the fullness of the sacrament of the priesthood.

4. A Bishop prays, exhorts and works to ensure that every aspect of the life of the Christian community favours the working of the Holy Spirit in the minds and hearts of the faithful. The promotion of the common discipline of the whole Church and the observance of ecclesiastical laws (Cf. Code of Canon Law, CIC 392 § 1) are not secondary elements in the fulfilment of this obligation. The canons and norms of the Church exist to preserve the structure in which is incarnated the life entrusted to the Church by Christ. They form the structure through which that life is mediated to the Church’s members.

Consequently, we must reject a false dichotomy between pastoral charity and vigorous pastoral government. Charity requires that one should act justly, and justice demands that a Bishop should teach and foster a form of ecclesial life which, because it conforms to the Church’s laws, builds up and sustains "the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible structure, through which (the Lord) communicates truth and grace to all" (Lumen Gentium LG 8). Nor can it be claimed that fidelity to the Second Vatican Council justifies laxity in ecclesiastical discipline. The Church’s canons have been thoroughly and authoritatively revised, in order to reflect the insight about the mystery of Christ and the Church given by the Holy Spirit at that same Council. To ignore these norms or to permit their violation would be to allow that insight to be obscured or forgotten.

5. In relation to the Bishop’s teaching role, I have high hopes that the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" will call forth from the Church in Australia ever more zealous efforts to uphold and teach Catholic doctrine. I am confident that this compendium of the faith will make it all the easier to ensure that the catechetical texts prepared for the Christian faithful of all ages and at every stage of their development will be accurate, systematic and complete expressions of the Church’s teachings. And since in the task of religious instruction no element has as great an impact as the teachers themselves, it is especially important that the Catechism should be warmly received and properly assimilated by those who aspire to serve as catechists. It is even more important for priests, especially parish priests, to give the example of their own tireless efforts to communicate to children, young people and adults the riches of the Church’s doctrinal heritage as expressed in the Catechism.

With so many Catholic children attending the well–established system of Catholic schools in your country, there is ample opportunity for thorough catechesis. In these schools pupils are taught that the realities of this world and life in Christ are inextricably linked: in Christ the whole cosmos receives its fullest meaning, for "in him all things were created" and "through him all things have been reconciled to the Father" (Cf. Col. Col 1,16 Col. Col 20). They learn that it is the vocation of Christians to be instruments of the restoration of all things in Christ. High praise is due to those who at no little personal cost have contributed to setting up and supporting these schools.

I likewise share your satisfaction at the recent foundation of two Catholic universities. This expansion of the scope of Catholic tertiary education holds great promise for the life and mission of the Church. It will help students to achieve that synthesis between faith and culture, faith and science, to which Catholic institutions of higher learning are dedicated by way of a corporate commitment (Cf. John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 1. 14). Your network of Catholic education is a precious heritage, and the most appropriate way to show gratitude is to hand it on to the next generation with an even stronger Catholic identity and institutional stability. I join you in urging the Catholic parents of Australia to make the greatest possible use of these schools and to support them as the appropriate way of fulfilling their responsibility to educate their children.

6. After speaking of preaching and catechesis, schools and other academic institutions, the Council’s Decree "Christus Dominus" mentions the communications media as a further important means of proclaiming the Gospel (Christus Dominus CD 13). You serve as Pastors in a country possessing a well–developed system of social communications, and therefore you have a wide choice of effective instruments for evangelization. This is an area in which the laity, especially professional people, are called to play an outstanding part in the Church’s mission. But there are aspects of the Church’s presence in the media which require the Bishop’s personal attention and careful vigilance. In particular he should make efforts to satisfy the faithful’s right to sound teaching, offsetting the harm which inevitably arises from the spreading of confused ideas about faith and morals. It should be made clear that not every Catholic who expresses an opinion in the media is speaking on behalf of the Church. A prompt refutation of error and an unambiguous reaffirmation of authentic teaching by the Bishop is often a needed manifestation of pastoral charity (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on some aspects of the use of the instruments of social communication in promoting the doctrine of the faith, 30 March 1992). It is important that media professionals should have the spiritual support and firm solidarity of the whole community in order to succeed in making the Gospel more present.

7. Dear Brother Bishops, I have spoken of some of the duties of your episcopal office. I have done so out of my closeness to your concern for the people of God entrusted to your care. The grace of Christ and the power of his Cross and Resurrection are the sources of your confidence, and so you must constantly take heart and lead the faithful in the new evangelization required to meet the challenges of the present time. I pray that God who has called you to be Pastors of his flock will sustain you in your labours on behalf of his people. I commend you and the whole Church in Australia to Our Lady Help of Christians, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.



Saint Peter’s Basilica

Saturday, 22 May 1993

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am happy to meet you, Filipino immigrants from all over Europe, and to greet you here in Saint Peter’s Basilica where all peoples have a spiritual home away from home, at the center of the Church which is truly a loving Mother, and close to the Successor of Peter to whom Christ entrusted the care of the whole People of God. Here in Rome, the Filipino community constitutes the largest community of immigrants. During my Sunday visits to the different parishes in the City I am always happy to meet groups of Filipinos, to see the fervor of your Catholic faith and the joy with which you uphold your traditions. It is a source of satisfaction to know that while many of you are active members of the parishes where you live, there is also a well–organized plan of pastoral care of the Filipino community which can count on the help of many of your own priests and religious, many of whom are present here today.

In your homeland it is a fact of life that great numbers of Filipinos continue to emigrate to the four corners of the world. While this points to the persistence of economic and social difficulties in your country, it also bears witness to the profound and tenacious spirit of sacrifice with which you seek solutions to your needs and the needs of your families. As immigrants, in lands not your own, you know how difficult it can be to live and work far from your home and your loved ones. Although you have adapted well to conditions in Europe, and even though your work is highly appreciated, many difficulties remain. I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome will give you a renewed sense of mutual solidarity and a determination to meet with unfailing trust in God the many challenges you face.

Chief among these challenges are the grave difficulties which beset family life. The family is the vital cell of society, and the health of society depends on the strength and well–being of its families. Yet it is the family which bears the brunt of the harmful effects of immigration. Some of you have left behind your loved ones, and you yearn for them and are sometimes worried about them. Others have families here in Europe, and you wonder how you can pass on to your children in a different cultural environment the strong points of family life as you knew it in the Philippines. I wish to encourage you to take heart, and to commit yourselves to passing on the values of life and love, which are so deeply felt in your own traditions. With the faith which has always sustained the Filipino people in its trials, pray for the wisdom and courage to persevere in goodness and right living! Remain faithful to the Christian name which your people bears with such great pride!

Your families ought to be true examples of the "domestic Church", an expression first used to describe the Christian family living in the midst of pagans, and which the Second Vatican Council restored to use (Cf. Lumen Gentium LG 11). The concept of the "domestic Church" should apply in a special way to the immigrant family. For, in the situations of diversity, distrust and sometimes even hostility in which immigrants can find themselves, the family is the focal point of human solidarity, and of religious faith and practice. "It is in the bosom of the family", the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" recalls, quoting the Second Vatican Council, "that parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children" (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 2206).

For her part, the Church does not cease to remind the communities in which you find yourselves of their duty to create conditions enabling you and your families to live in dignity, peace and security. I have written about this in my Encyclical "Laborem Exercens" on the subject of human work: "Emigration in search of work must in no way become an opportunity for financial or social exploitation.... The value of work should be measured by the same standard and not according to the difference in nationality, religion or race... the situation of constraint in which the emigrant may find himself should not be exploited" (John Paul II, Laborem Exercens LE 23). The Church will continue to teach the demands of social justice and to appeal to the consciences of public authorities and employers to ensure that capital is at the service of labor, and therefore of the people involved, and not labor at the service of capital (Cf. ibid.).

You have desired to organize this pilgrimage of Filipinos from all over Europe in order to offer your Christian families to God through the intercession of Mary. This pilgrimage, this offering to God, is taking place in the month of May, the month dedicated to Mary under the motto Isang pananampalataya, isang bansa, isang pamliya... sa patnubay ni Maria ("one faith, one nation, one family... under the guidance of Mary"). Mary in turn leads us to Jesus, just as she did the servants at the wedding feast of Cana. She tells us to listen to her Son Jesus: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5). Trust in the maternal love of Mary even when it is difficult to see this love reflected in the hardships of your daily lives.

When you encounter prejudice and rejection, turn to Mary. When you are beset by problems of employment and housing, commend your needs to Mary. When you fear for the future of your children, entrust them to Mary, and to the prayers of your first Filipino saint, Lorenzo Ruiz. May the Virgin Mary watch over you and help you to face with courage and fidelity the road of Christian perfection begun at Baptism. With all my heart I bless you, in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May God bless you! May he bless the Philippines!
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! (Long live the Philippines!)




Thursday, 27 May 1993

Your Eminences,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am happy to welcome to the Vatican today the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America. By your firm commitment and your unwavering support of this Catholic institution of higher learning, you make a significant contribution to the future of the Church and of society. Therefore I greet you and thank you in the name of the Church.

You are aware of the great need in modern society for a new evangelization; you know of the profound benefits that the Gospel message can bring when it truly permeates and informs patterns of thought, standards of judgment and norms of behavior. Accordingly, as active proponents of Catholic education you understand the importance of the Church’s mission in this regard, and you see the unique possibilities afforded by the academic community for serving the Church in the fulfilment of this mission.

The Catholic University of America offers an authentic service in enriching American culture and society. Your efforts therefore as Trustees of the University truly serve the common good.

I likewise extend a special word of appreciation to the University Orchestra and to the Chorus of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. I thank you for your presence here today and for your praise of God through music and song. May the Lord fill you with joy as you help to raise the hearts of others through your art.

To all of you I impart my Apostolic Blessing, asking God to confirm and deepen your faith, hope and love.




Friday, 28 May 1993

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. This is a moment of profound joy for me, to be united with you – the Bishops from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska – in a spirit of prayer and fraternal communion. You have come to Rome for your ad Limina visit during the Novena of Pentecost, when we pray that the Spirit will renew the whole Church with the fire of his love. May you too "be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man... to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge" (Ep 3,16 Ep 19). Just as the Apostles were united in prayer with "Mary, the mother of Jesus" (Ac 1,14), so, at the beginning of our meeting, we implore her intercession that the clergy, religious and faithful of your Dioceses may be renewed in faith and love for the tasks which lie before them.

Today I express to you my prayerful hope for the spiritual renewal of the Church in America, insofar as holiness of life is of the essence of the Church’s mission and ministry. And first we must praise God for the marvellous witness of holiness which has always been in evidence among American Catholics. The names of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Saint John Neumann, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton stand out; but there have been so many others. In our own time, the Second Vatican Council’s call to holiness, addressed to the whole of God’s people, needs to be presented once more in all its evangelical urgency. This is what the Spirit is saying to the Churches (Cf. Rev. Ap 2,7): "but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’" (1P 1,15-16).

2. It is not an exaggeration to say that man’s relationship to God and the demand for a religious "experience" are the crux of a profound crisis affecting the human spirit. While the secularization of many aspects of life continues, there is a new quest for "spirituality" as evidenced in the appearance of many religious and healing movements which look to respond to the crisis of values in Western society. This stirring of the homo religiosus produces some positive and constructive results, such as the search for new meaning in life, a new ecological sensitivity, and the desire to go beyond a cold, rationalistic religiosity. On the other hand, this religious re–awakening includes some very ambiguous elements which are incompatible with the Christian faith.

Many of you have written Pastoral Letters on the problems presented by pseudo–religious movements and sects, including the so–called "New Age Movement". New Age ideas sometimes find their way into preaching, catechesis, workshops and retreats, and thus influence even practising Catholics, who perhaps are unaware of the incompatibility of those ideas with the Church’s faith. In their syncretistic and immanent outlook, these parareligious movements pay little heed to Revelation, and instead try to come to God through knowledge and experience based on elements borrowed from Eastern spirituality or from psychological techniques. They tend to relativize religious doctrine, in favor of a vague world–view expressed as a system of myths and symbols dressed in religious language. Moreover, they often propose a pantheistic concept of God which is incompatible with Sacred Scripture and Christian Tradition. They replace personal responsibility to God for our actions with a sense of duty to the cosmos, thus overturning the true concept of sin and the need for redemption through Christ.

3. Yet, in the midst of this spiritual confusion, the Church’s Pastors should be able to detect an authentic thirst for God and for an intimate, personal relationship with him. In essence, the search for meaning is the stupendous quest for the Truth and Goodness which have their foundation in God himself, the author of all that exists. Indeed, it is God himself who awakens this longing in people’s hearts. The often silent pilgrimage to the Living Truth, whose Spirit "directs the course of the ages and renews the face of the earth" (Gaudium et Spes GS 26), is a "sign of the times" which invites the Church’s members to examine the credibility of their Christian witness (Cf. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 6). Pastors must honestly ask whether they have paid sufficient attention to the thirst of the human heart for the true "living water" which only Christ our Redeemer can give (Cf. Jn. Jn 4,7-13). They should insist on the spiritual dimension of the faith, on the perennial freshness of the Gospel message and its capacity to transform and renew those who accept it.

Saint Paul tells us that we must "seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God" (Col 3,1). To neglect the supernatural dimension of the Christian life is to empty of meaning the mystery of Christ and of the Church: "If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1Co 15,19). Nevertheless, it is a sad fact that some Christians today are succumbing to the temptation "to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo–science of well–being" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 11). To preach a version of Christianity which benignly ignores, when it does not explicitly deny, that our ultimate hope is the "resurrection of the body and life everlasting" ("Symbolum Apostolorum") runs counter to Revelation and the whole of Catholic tradition. More vigorous preaching and catechesis on eschatological themes is needed in order to eliminate confusion regarding the true nature of Christian life and of the Church’s unfailing hope in her Lord who is "the resurrection and the life" (Jn 11,25).

Speeches 1993 - Friday, 7 May 1993