I am pleased to extend to you a warm welcome to the Vatican, and to accept the Credential Letters by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Mauritius to the Holy See. Grateful for the cordial greetings you bring from Their Excellencies the President and the Prime Minister, I ask you kindly to convey to them my own good wishes and to assure them of my sentiments of esteem and affection for the people of Mauritius, whose gracious hospitality I remember so fondly.
In my Pastoral Visit to Mauritius three years ago Providence gave me the opportunity to experience for myself how your fellow–citizens aspire to live according to the values which you identified as characteristic of your nation. In this regard I particularly recall the question posed to me by the young people I met at Rose Hill: "Tell us how to build true unity on our multiracial island of Mauritius" (John Paul II, Meeting with Young People at Rose Hill Stadium - Mauritius [October 15, 1989], 2). In claiming the ideal of racial harmony as their own, they have assimilated a profound wisdom and they echo a desire for unity which is found in the hearts of men and women of good will everywhere. As the peoples of the world grow ever more interdependent, the goal of building concord between peoples of differing backgrounds takes on an urgency not just within individual nations, but for the human race as a whole. This is especially true at the present time, when the removal of constraints imposed by ideological confrontation has seen the reappearance of old, unresolved antipathies and the birth of some which are new. The way to social harmony is for each individual to respect and to treasure the natural and legitimate diversity of others, recognizing that all share the same inalienable dignity. That harmony becomes effective solidarity when we acknowledge that no one is totally a stranger and beyond our concern. We are all brothers and sisters, related in virtue of our common humanity.
As my Predecessor Pope Paul VI once wrote: "Whoever works to educate the rising generations in the conviction that every man is our brother is building from the foundation the edifice of peace" (Paul VI, Message for the World Day for Peace 1971). In fact, the cause of peace is so important for the men and women of this age, and the obstacles to its triumph are so great, that the family of nations cannot afford to see any State or region fail to make its indispensable contribution to this crucial endeavour. It is my ardent hope that the Republic of Mauritius, as a meeting point for the cultural traditions flowing from both the East and the West, will offer a valuable lesson in how to bring together the rich diversity of peoples in the one great task of serving the common good.
In its relations with States, the Holy See – in accordance with its own specific character – is ready and eager to support any initiative which fosters works of justice and solidarity, and which thereby reinforces the climate necessary for peace. Within the international community, it seeks to be a faithful witness to the truth about man and about the social order which should sustain him in the achievement of his true end.
I am grateful for your kind remarks about the significant contributions made by the Catholics of Mauritius to their homeland, especially in the fields of social service and education. The State’s legal guarantee to protect the religious liberty of all citizens makes it all the easier for the members of the Catholic Church in your country to work for the common good, in cooperation with the followers of other religious traditions. In this regard, reaffirmation of respect for the integrity of the Church’s schools is especially welcome, since the safeguarding of their specifically Catholic character ensures that the students will be trained to play a part in the nation’s life, taking inspiration from their faith in order to fulfil their responsibilities as citizens.
Mr Ambassador, as you take up your post as your Republic’s Representative, I assure you of the full cooperation of the Roman Curia for the success of your mission. It is my hope that your service will strengthen the cordial relations between your Government and the Holy See, and I ask Almighty God to bless all the people of Mauritius with peace and prosperity.
Friday, 11 December 1992
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. I am happy to welcome you, experts from different parts of the world, gathered under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Family to study the latest developments in the question of the natural methods of regulating birth.Together, you represent a very substantial expertise in the fields of research, of teaching and promoting fertility based upon responsible procreation and periodic continence.
The theme of your meeting, "The Natural Regulation of Fertility: The Authentic Alternative", indicates not just that you propose an alternative to contraception, abortion and sterilization, but also that you promote a true "humanization" of God’s wonderful gift of procreation. Your proposal is anchored in an eminently holistic anthropology, the philosophical and theological foundations of which you are closely examining. Your discussions aim to harmonize the rigour of scientific discourse with the ethical demands of conjugal love. The authentic alternative of which your Conference speaks is profoundly rooted in the truth about the human person, and for this reason it is the object of the Church’s keen interest and attention.
2. In the exercise of their mission to transmit life, married couples are deeply affected by social and economic circumstances. Sometimes, even when they are clearly open to life, couples find themselves obliged to distance births, not for any selfish reason but out of an objective sense of responsibility. Conditions of poverty, or serious health problems, can cause a couple to be unprepared for the gift of new life. The fact that in certain cases women find it necessary to work outside the home brings a change in the perception of a woman’s role in society and in the time and attention dedicated to family–life. In particular, certain family policies on the part of legislators do not facilitate the procreative and educational duties of parents. The Church therefore recognizes that there can be objective reasons for limiting or spacing births, but she insists, in accordance with "Humanae Vitae", that couples must have "serious motives" in order for it to be licit to renounce the use of marriage during the fertile days while making use of it during the infertile periods to express their love and safeguard their mutual fidelity (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae HV 16).
3. The Church, which has a duty to teach God’s plan for the transmission of life, does not fail to stand by couples at a time when they must decide about what means are to be used to fulfil their obligations and responsibilities. The Church’s pastoral care seeks to support couples and to help them by offering correct solutions, so that they can act in ways that conform to the dignity of matrimony and married love.
It is important to publicize the fact that the methods which the Church finds moral and acceptable are today receiving the support of ever new scientific confirmations.Recent years have been rich in scientific research, with significant results for a more precise knowledge of the rhythms of female fertility. Your Conference proposes to show in a concrete and factual way that, as the Church teaches, "a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to the fostering of authentic conjugal love" (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae HV 24). I am pleased to know that as a result of these days of study you intend to make updated information available to Episcopal Conferences, universities and other interested institutions.
In this regard I wish to encourage the Church’s pastors and other Catholics – doctors, marriage counsellors, teachers and married couples themselves – to promote "a broader, more decisive and more systematic effort to make the natural methods of regulating fertility known, respected and applied" (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio FC 35). This is an area in which it is also possible to develop widespread interconfessional collaboration with all those who have at heart respect for life and human nature. Such collaboration can extend also to those who, although they do not share the faith and moral vision of Christians, nevertheless support the human values involved in the Church’s proposal.
4. As indicated, your Conference’s interest goes beyond the scientific aspects of the natural methods of regulating fertility, to the way of living which is their necessary complement. Experience shows that there is a close connection between the practice of the natural regulation of fertility and a lifestyle based on spouses’ respect for each other and for the ethical demands of human sexuality. As I wrote in "Familiaris Consortio": "Theological reflection is able to perceive and is called to study further the difference, both anthropological and moral, between contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle: it is a difference which is much wider and deeper than is usually thought, one which involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality" (Ibid., 12). Artificial contraception often expresses a utilitarian approach to human sexuality which easily leads to dissociating its physical aspects from the full context of married love as commitment, mutual fidelity, responsibility and openness to the mystery of life. On the other hand the way of living which follows from the exercise of periodic continence leads the couple to deepen their knowledge of each other and achieve a harmony of body, mind and spirit which strengthens and encourages them on their journey together through life. It is marked by a constant dialogue and enriched by the tenderness and affection which constitute the heart of human sexuality. "In this way", as "Familiaris Consortio" points out, "sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never ‘used’ as an ‘object’ that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God’s creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person" (Ibid., 12).
Because of the generous contribution of scientists, educators and married couples, one can speak of a turning–point in the defence and promotion of the dignity of conjugal life. There is a growing awareness of the true nature of married love, which is capable of bringing about an authentic liberation from so many abuses of power against women and the family both in industrialized countries and, to an even greater degree, in the developing ones. The results of scientific studies, the experience gained in teaching programmes in dioceses in different parts of the world, in associations and movements, and especially the testimony of couples themselves, show the validity, the advantages and the ethical value of methods based upon periodic continence. These methods, with their corresponding way of living, free couples from the cultural, economic and political conditioning imposed by programmes of family planning. They liberate the person, above all women, from recourse to pharmaceutical or other forms of interference in the natural processes connected with the transmission of life. They have proved to be practicable not only for elite groups but for couples everywhere, including the poorest and least economically developed peoples.
5. I wish to assure you of the importance of your specific contribution to the welfare of marriage and the family, and to encourage you in your work. Your Conference offers a concrete response to a call I made in the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio": "With regard to the question of lawful birth regulation, the ecclesial community at the present time must take on the task of instilling conviction and offering practical help to those who wish to live out their parenthood in a truly responsible way" (Ibid., 15). I thank you for having accepted the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Family to take part in this meeting. Upon your scientific and educational work, intensified by your commitment, I invoke the Lord’s blessings. May he always be close to you and your families.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am very pleased to welcome you, the Pastors of the Church in the Principality of Wales, on the occasion of your ad Limina visit. Through you I am able to reach the beloved priests, religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Cardiff and the Dioceses of Menevia and Wrexham in order to assure them of my spiritual closeness and affection: "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rm 15,5-6). I am greatly comforted to know that although your Catholic communities in many cases are small and widely scattered you have a keen sense of unity and of communion with the universal Church and the See of Peter.
Just recently I have had the joy of promulgating the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a further important result of the Second Vatican Council and a gift of untold value from the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (Jam. 1:17). Together with the reformed liturgy and the revised Code of Canon Law, the new Catechism constitutes the firm foundation of the ecclesial renewal which the Council initiated. It is the Bishops’ special responsibility to ensure that the wealth of doctrine and discipline contained in these sources reaches the faithful in a full and effective way, so that God’s designs for the Church at the approach of the new Christian Millennium will be realized in greater fidelity to his revealed word and in more convincing works of faith and love.
The Catechism offers the whole Church a statement and explanation of the faith in accordance with biblical truth and with authentic Catholic Tradition, in a language which better responds to the demands of today’s world. As I stated when presenting the Catechism: “Conscious adherence to revealed doctrine, genuine and entire, which the Catechism presents in synthesis, will not fail to foster the progressive fulfilment of the plan of God who wants “everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1Tm 2,4)... Outlining Catholic doctrinal identity, the Catechism can be a loving appeal even to those who are not part of the Catholic community” (John Paul II, The Official and Solemn Presentation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 7 December 1992).
Herein lie the two directions of your pastoral ministry: teaching the faith and strengthening the Christian life of the members of the Church, and at the same time building ever deeper understanding and closer cooperation with other Christians. In these tasks I encourage you to continue to work in harmony with one another and in close contact with the wider Catholic community through the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
A specific aspect of the Church’s life in your Dioceses is the growing attention being given to the use of the Welsh language in the Liturgy. This is not just a matter of historical interest but an important element of the whole question of the inculturation of the faith in the life of your people. Provided that "all of you have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind" (1P 3,8), you should rejoice that God’s praise is proclaimed and sung in the native language of Wales. As Pastors, you will know how to balance this aspect of your communities’ experience with complete openness to more recently arrived members of the flock, many of whom are immigrants from different parts of Europe and the wider world. In all things may Christ be served, through evangelical love for every neighbour.
Another concern which I particularly entrust to your prayer and pastoral action is the vocation and ministry of your priests. They are your chief collaborators, your brothers and friends, for they share the same priesthood with you (Cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 7). In building up the Church, your best efforts will be to serve your priests and support them in their needs. I hope that you will always be frequent visitors in their homes and that they will find you ready to receive them when they knock on your own door. May the presbyterate in each of your Dioceses flourish in works of sanctification, evangelization and service.
Dear Brother Bishops, be assured of my constant prayers for yourselves and for the Churches committed to your care. I remember vividly my visit to Wales just over ten years ago, especially the inspiring meeting with young people at Ninian Park. I am pleased to know that on 28 June this year you commemorated that event with a well–attended Eucharistic Procession in Cardiff. I pray that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will continue to bless your efforts with a growth of Christian life and holiness. May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and Saint David, your Patron, intercede for the poor and the weak among you, especially the sick, the unemployed, the aged and all who may feel alone and neglected. To the beloved Catholics of Wales I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Friday, 18 December 1992
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am pleased to greet the students of the Pontifical North American College soon to be ordained deacons, together with the Rector of the College and the faculty members responsible for your formation, and accompanied by Cardinal Hickey, whom I thank for his untiring efforts on behalf of the College.
Extiendo también una cordial bienvenida a los familiares y amigos que han querido acompañarles en este momento de sus vidas con su oración y su presencia. Ellos son testigos de cómo Dios les ha guiado hacia la meta de su consagración como “siervos de los misterios de Cristo y de la Iglesia” (Lumen Gentium LG 41).
At your ordination to the Diaconate, you will in fact receive a sacramental character configuring you in a new and specific way to Jesus Christ, who became the servant of all (Mc 10,5). As sharers in Christ’s grace and mission, you will assist in the celebration of the Sacraments, proclaim the Gospel and manifest the Church’s concern for the poor and needy. The fruitfulness of your ministry will depend upon the extent to which you make manifest the mind and heart of Christ through your thoughts, words and actions.
As you strive to live up to your calling as deacons, and eventually as priests, I urge you to trust in the grace of the Lord, confident that he "has called you and he will not fail you" (1Th 5,2). Your union with Christ will grow and be strengthened through the generous exercise of your ministry, especially through preaching the Gospel message in all its integrity, and through your celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in union with the whole Church. Your life of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God will be a powerful sign of your commitment to "a greater and undivided love for Christ and his Church" (John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 50). It will proclaim your joyful readiness to serve your brothers and sisters.
As we approach the feast of Christmas and the celebration of the coming of our Savior, I invoke the joy and peace of God upon you and your families. With my Apostolic Blessing.