Speeches 1993 - II
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
Your Excellency President Museveni,
My Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. The hour has come for me to bid farewell to your country. During the last few days, Uganda has let her light shine before the Pope, before Africa and before the world! I shall never forget the joyful faces of children, the hopeful faces of young people and the proud faces of all those dedicated to Uganda’s future. I carry away with me a treasury of memories, "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1,3).
I am deeply grateful for the courtesy and hospitality with which you have received me during this Pastoral Visit to Uganda. On so many occasions, you have welcomed me with enthusiasm and affection. You have spoken from your hearts to the heart of the Pope! The esteem I already had for the people of this country has grown and deepened, and I believe I understand much more fully the hopes and aspirations you hold for the future, as well as the goals you are setting for yourselves as a Nation.
With profound appreciation, I thank you, Mister President, the civil authorities of Uganda, my Brother Bishops and other religious leaders, those responsible for security during my stay, and those who have spread the hope and joy of these days through the press, radio and television. May God richly reward all who so carefully planned and fervently took part in the memorable events of these days!
I would also like to greet those who did not have an opportunity to join in the celebrations personally. I am thinking especially of the handicapped, the sick and the elderly. Their sufferings, united with those of Christ, are an inexhaustible fountain of grace for the Church (Cf. Col. Col 1,24). On each of them I invoke the comfort and strength of God’s blessing.
2. With her abundant human and natural resources, Uganda is called to be the primary artisan of her own future! Above all, you are in the process of determining the fundamental framework of Uganda’s development as a nation. This is a decisive moment of your history. Present and future generations will live in harmony and thrive as a people insofar as all basic human rights and freedoms are enshrined in your country’s laws and defended in the exercise of justice. In a just and well-ordered society the common good will be best served by the responsible participation of all citizens in public life (Cf. John Paul II, Christifideles Laici CL 42). And solidarity between all sectors of the population, which is a vital requirement, will become a reality insofar as your social institutions guarantee to all people their right to take part actively in Uganda’s economic, political and cultural life!
Although the Church’s primary mission, her supreme duty, is to proclaim to all peoples the saving Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ (Cf. John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio RMi 3), at the same time she is deeply concerned for the social dimension of human life. This concern belongs to her evangelizing mission as "an essential part of the Christian message" (Cf. John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 5). For this reason Uganda can count on the Catholic Church to foster the advancement of society through the many educational and social services which she provides. Claiming no special rights or privileges, the Church asks only for the freedom necessary to carry out her mission of preaching the Gospel in its fullness and of serving the human family according to her principles (Cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 76).
3. I came to Uganda to pay homage to your Martyrs, the citizens of heaven who guide our path on earth, to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ and to encourage your admirable efforts to achieve national reconciliation and reconstruction.
How encouraging it is to see the Catholic Church in Uganda prayerfully scrutinizing the "signs of the times" (Cf. ibid., 4). You have committed yourselves to being a light to the world (Cf. ibid. 5:16) – a world that so desperately needs the Christian message of hope: the Good News that human life is always precious, that justice and peace can prevail over exploitation and violence, and that social solidarity can replace selfish individualism. May God sustain you in your resolve! Once you have put your hand to the plough, says the Lord to his followers, you must not turn back (Cf. Lk. Lc 9,62).
Dear Friends: I leave you so that I may continue my pilgrimage to the Sudan. The noble people of Uganda will remain for ever in my heart and in my prayers. Having derived much joy and comfort from your love (Cf. Philem. Phm 1,7), I entrust you and your families to the goodness and loving kindness of God (Cf. Tt. Tt 3,4).
Ayi Katonda Kitaffe, kuuma Uganda. Mweraba. Omukama abakuume.
(May God the Father uphold Uganda. Thank you. May God bless you.)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
Dear Mister President of the Revolutionary Command Council,
Dear Members of the Government,
Dear Brother Bishops and faithful of the Church in the Sudan,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
As–salamu ‘aleykom! (Peace be upon you.)
1. I have kissed the soil of the Sudan with profound sentiments of peace and goodwill. I give thanks to Almighty God who has led my pilgrim steps to this land, and gives me the opportunity to speak on behalf of understanding, harmony and peace among believers who, though they follow different traditions, nevertheless honour God in their hearts and seek to do his will in all things. In greeting all of you who have come here to welcome me, I make this ardent appeal to you: let us listen to the voices of our brothers and sisters, especially those oppressed by poverty, hunger and violence, as they cry out for justice and peace, and for a new era of dialogue and agreement.
I have had an intense desire to come to the Sudan, and I am therefore grateful to the civil authorities for making this visit possible. I am also grateful to the Catholic Bishops for their invitation to share, if only for a brief while, the life of the Catholic community here. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, whom Jesus Christ placed over his Church, I have a binding duty to encourage and strengthen the faith of my brothers and sisters wherever they are, and especially when that faith demands great courage and fidelity. When people are weak and poor and defenceless, I must raise my voice on their behalf. When they are homeless and suffering the consequences of drought, famine, disease and the devastations of war, I must be close to them and appeal on their behalf to those who can offer help, and above all to those who can advance the cause of justice and peace. Justice and peace: these are the conditions of life for which all mankind yearns. They are the necessary premise of development and progress. I pray and hope for justice and peace for all the citizens of this land, without reserve, regardless of their religion, social standing, ethnic background or colour.
2. To the attentive observer, the whole of Africa is undergoing striking transformations. Everywhere there are immense problems still to be faced. A stormy history has left a legacy of underdevelopment, ethnic rivalries and conflict. Endemic poverty has produced innumerable material and cultural deficiencies. Efforts to bring progress and development have not always coincided with the people’s best interests, and in many cases past policies have left a burden of enormous international debt. But new winds are also blowing. Many people on this continent now realize that African solutions must be found to African problems, that individuals, families and groups must be enabled to contribute to their own advancement, and that therefore society must become more democratic, more respectful of legitimate differences, more stable through the rule of law, reflecting universally recognized human rights. The winds of change are demanding renewed structures of economic and political organization, structures which will genuinely respect human dignity and human rights.
In my Pastoral Visits I have been to a great many African countries. Over the years I have met most of Africa’s leaders. Notwithstanding the challenges facing this Continent, I am convinced that there is a solid basis for great hope in Africa’s future. Here in Khartoum, I wish to express that same hope with regard to the Sudan. This is a country of many different peoples, languages and customs. Apart from African traditional religion, two major religious traditions, Islam and Christianity, have coexisted in this territory for centuries. Today it is essential to recover the sense of mutual respect and cooperation, in the service of the common good, and in the frank and honest search for a just solution to the conflict which continues to reap such a terrible harvest of suffering. With this great hope in mind, I renew my appeal to the international community and the international organizations, not to fail the people of the Sudan, but to make further efforts to relieve immediate needs and to help lay the foundations of future development.
3. We Christians call Jesus Christ "the Prince of Peace": he is "our peace" (Ep 2,14). For the followers of Islam the term salam is so important that it constitutes one of the glorious divine names. For the 1992 World Day of Peace I wrote a Message which states that religion, "if it is lived authentically, cannot fail to bring forth fruits of peace and brotherhood, for it is in the nature of religion to foster an ever closer bond with the Godhead and to promote an increasingly fraternal relationship among people" (John Paul II, Message for World Day of Peace 1992, 2, 8 December 1991). The only struggle which religious motives can justify, the only struggle worthy of man, is the moral struggle against man’s own disordered passions, against every kind of selfishness, against attempts to oppress others, against every type of hatred and violence: in short, against everything that is the exact opposite of peace and reconciliation (Cf. ibid. 7). In this great human endeavour, as so many Muslims and Christians all around the world have shown, there is ample basis for cooperation and mutual accord.
4. The Catholic Church rejoices when people acquire a greater awareness of their dignity, for then they become more capable of discovering in themselves and in each other the image and likeness of the Creator, the work of whose hands they are (Cf. Ps Ps 8,5). Throughout this Continent the Church, in fulfilling her religious mission, also carries on a patient and persevering work of human promotion through education, health–care and assistance. She does this in obedience to the words of Jesus Christ, who taught us that true worship of God involves the service of our neighbour (Cf. Lk. Lc 10,27). All the Church asks for is the freedom to pursue her religious and humanitarian mission. This freedom is her right, for it is everyone’s duty, the duty of individuals and of the State, to respect the conscience of every human being. Rigorous respect for the right to religious freedom is a major source and foundation of peaceful coexistence.
In the few hours of my visit, I will pray and celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic community. I also look forward to meeting many followers of Islam. May Almighty God help us to grow in mutual understanding and in awareness of our grave responsibilities with regard to the true good of people.
Baraka Allah as–Sudan
(God bless the Sudan.)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. My first impulse is to reach out to you, in order to assure each one of you–priest, Religious, seminarian, catechist, whether Sudanese or missionary–that you have a very special place in the mind and heart of the Vicar of Christ. Your life and activity goes on in the midst of grave difficulties, and you may sometimes think that you are forgotten by the rest of the world. But never are you far from the mind and heart of God. Your every prayer and effort is known to him. You are not forgotten by the Church, by the Successor of Peter, by Christians everywhere who pray constantly for you.
I greet you in the love of the Most Blessed Trinity: "Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour" (1Tt. 1: 4). And I send a special greeting to the other priests, Religious and lay men and women who bear daily witness to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in this land, but who cannot be here today. I hope that somehow they will hear my voice and know that the whole Church loves them and prays for them.
2. I am well aware of the sad circumstances of your country, tormented by a civil war that has brought untold misery, suffering and death to the Sudanese people, especially in the South. The life of your communities is deeply affected also by a breakdown in the good relations that should exist between Christians and Muslims. Moreover, you and your fellow–Christians are poor in the goods of this world, even to the point of extreme hardship.
With admiration and with intense gratitude to our heavenly Father for your fidelity, I encourage you to "stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel" (Ph 1,27). In my own country I have known something of the horrors of war and of the ways in which the history of the catacombs has been repeated in this century. As the Successor of Peter, in my solicitude for all the Churches, I share the trials and sufferings of our brothers and sisters all over the world. Still, in this part of Africa, I see clearly a particular reproduction of the mystery of Calvary in the lives of the majority of the Christian people. And what answer can I give you? What consolation can I offer you?
In a short while we shall celebrate the Eucharist, "the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world" ("Prex Eucharistia IV"). With unshakable trust we shall proclaim our faith:
"Lord by your Cross and Resurrection
you have set us free.
You are the Saviour of the world".
Brothers and sisters, if there is one message that the Pope wants to leave with you it is this: Make the Paschal Mystery the centre of your lives! Gather the People of God to celebrate the mystery of faith. Nourish yourselves and your communities with the word of life and the sacraments of our salvation.
3. Dear Brother Priests: on the day of your Ordination you were configured to Jesus the High Priest for the service of the Gospel. May you never lose sight of that outpouring of grace which invested you with great responsibilities, but also strengthened and confirmed you for the labours ahead. Never lose sight of "Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross" (Hebr. 12: 2).
The faithful look to you for support and encouragement, both in the pursuit of Christian holiness and in their demands for respect for their human and civil rights. You know that your role is not one of merely social or political action. Rather, you are "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1Co 4,1). The true "insignia" of your charge are your zeal for the Father’s will, your constant prayer, the witness of celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, the acts of humble service which reflect the compassion of the Good Samaritan.
It is important for you, both personally and in order to place your ministry in its proper context, to maintain a lively sense of communion and practical cooperation with your Bishops, and through them to be in union of mind and heart with the one, universal Body of Christ. May you be true instruments of reconciliation and peace, particularly in administering the Sacrament of the forgiveness of sins.
I entrust you and your ministry to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin. May her intercession give you all the encouragement you need.
Dear Seminarians: you are discovering what it means to follow Jesus more closely and prepare yourselves for the ministry. Use every opportunity to acquire a deep and solid formation! Above all, day by day allow the Good Shepherd to shape your hearts after his own (Cf. Jer. Jr 3,15) so that when hardships come you will be able, like him, to bear all for the love of the flock.
4. Dear Religious: you too have a special place in the Pope’s heart and prayers. Your role in the Christian community is fundamental and of extraordinary importance, not only because of what you do in all the many different forms of apostolate in which you are engaged, but especially because your faithful observance of the evangelical counsels effectively speaks to others, whether Christian or not, of the truth and significance of the Beatitudes, the core of the Christian life.
Take courage from those words which the Second Vatican Council addressed to Religious: "The more ardently that they unite themselves to Christ through a self–surrender involving their entire lives, the more vigorous will become the life of the Church and the more abundantly will her apostolate bear fruit" (Perfectae Caritatis PC 1). In the economy of salvation you are the living seeds of a marvellous spiritual fruitfulness. In particular I wish to assure the Sisters of the unique part you have in the Church’s life and mission. Your consecration, your example of genuine holiness and the ardour of your service make a decisive statement, in the actual circumstances of your apostolates, concerning the dignity of women. In the Church’s name I say: Thank you!
I wish to encourage you all to go on promoting vocations to the Religious Life, giving a solid formation to those who are called, and ensuring care and spiritual support for any Brother or Sister in need. May Mary, who hastened to assist her cousin Elizabeth, be a model of Christian charity for you all.
5. Dear Catechists: allow me to address you in the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort" (2Co 7,4). You are at the centre of the local Christian community, often organized in Small Christian Communities. It is your task to speak the word of God in a language that is as close as possible to the needs and experience of your brothers and sisters. Through your words and actions Christ comes closer to the daily struggles of your people. Indeed, through you, to the extent that you assimilate the Gospel message, Christ becomes truly Sudanese. May the example of Blessed Bakhita, who never lost confidence and hope no matter how hard the conditions of her life, inspire you with love and mercy towards all.
6. Finally I wish to say a specific word of gratitude to the men and women Missionaries present in the Sudan. The Church in this land continues its mission with courage and determination, despite difficulties and restrictions, thanks also to your selfless service. You are a sign of the Church’s universality, of her unity of faith and openness to the communion of all the particular Churches in the same saving mission. May the Lord abundantly reward your unselfish commitment.
7. Brothers and Sisters: the Paschal Mystery of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is all the Church’s wealth and confidence. It is the source of our strength and hope. When man’s justice fails, it alone heals our wounds and gives meaning to our efforts. In the Eucharist which we shall celebrate this afternoon I will hold you close, "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope" (1Th 1,3). The whole Church entrusts you to God’s loving providence, knowing that, in the words of the Letter to the Romans: "the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rm 8,27). The Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
1. My visit to the Sudan is a source of great satisfaction to me in the fulfilment of my religious and pastoral ministry as the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic Church. I am happy to have been able to come to Khartoum, even if it was not possible to consider a more extended visit to other parts of the country, in order to offer the message of reconciliation and hope which is at the heart of Catholicism and which I bring to all the Sudanese people, irrespective of differences of religion or ethnic origin. I have looked forward especially to the opportunity to give encouragement to the citizens of this country who are sons and daughters of the Church, and whose deeply–felt aspiration is to cooperate harmoniously and effectively with their fellow–citizens in building a better society for all Sudanese.
2. Just recently, in my New Year Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, representing one hundred and forty–five countries, I voiced my concern over the many obstacles to peace and progress which still blight the international horizon. Regarding Africa, I made a point of reaffirming that "urgent aid is essential in several areas of conflict or of natural disasters" (John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 2, 16 January 1993). I also felt the need to make specific reference to the war which continues to set the peoples of the North and South of the Sudan against each other. I expressed the sincere hope "that the Sudanese, with the freedom to choose, will succeed in finding a constitutional formula which will make it possible to overcome contradictions and struggles, with proper respect paid to the specific characteristics of each community" (Ibid.).
Your Excellency, this is the hope which I renew here today. It is a hope born of confidence, for peace is always possible. Man is a rational being endowed with intelligence and will, and therefore he is capable of finding just solutions to situations of conflict, no matter how long they have been going on and no matter how intricate the motives which caused them. Efforts to restore harmony depend on the parties involved being willing and determined to implement the conditions required for peace. But where constructive action does not follow declarations of principle, violence can become uncontrollable. A noteworthy example in Europe is the conflict in the Balkans; in Asia, Cambodia and the Middle East; in Africa, the tragic situation of Liberia.
3. The building–blocks of peace were succinctly indicated by the Sudanese Bishops themselves when they said: "Peace without justice and respect for human rights cannot be achieved" (Sudanese Bishops, Communicatus, 6 October 1992). In a multiracial and multicultural country, a strategy of confrontation can never bring peace and progress. Only a legally guaranteed respect for human rights in a system of equal justice for all can create the right conditions for peaceful coexistence and cooperation in serving the common good. My hope for your country can therefore be expressed more concretely in a heartfelt desire to see all its citizens–without discrimination based upon ethnic origin, cultural background, social standing or religious conviction–take a responsible part in the life of the Nation, with their diversity contributing to the richness of the whole national community.
4. Ever since the establishment of Nation–States, the existence of minorities within the same territory has presented a positive challenge and an opportunity for a richer social development. At a time of growing awareness of the importance of respect for human rights as the basis of a just and peaceful world, the question of the respect due to minorities must be faced seriously, especially by political and religious leaders.
In the course of this century, extremely negative experiences in relation to the treatment of minorities, especially in Europe but also elsewhere, have led the international community to react strongly and to enshrine in international accords the rights of such groups. The translation of intent into law and behaviour in each nation is the measure of that country’s maturity, and the guarantee of its capacity to foster peaceful coexistence within its own borders and to contribute to peace in the world.
5. The Church approaches this question from an eminently moral and humanitarian point of view. Two fundamental principles underlie the universal obligation to understand and respect the variety and richness of other peoples, societies, cultures and religions.
First, the inalienable dignity of every human person, irrespective of racial, ethnic, cultural or national origin or religious belief, means that when people coalesce in groups they have a right to enjoy a collective identity. Thus, minorities within a country have the right to exist, with their own language, culture and traditions, and the State is morally obliged to leave room for their identity and self–expression. Secondly, the fundamental unity of the human race, which takes its origin from God the Creator of all, requires that no group should consider itself superior to another. It likewise requires that integration should be built on effective solidarity and freedom from discrimination.
Consequently, the State has a duty to respect and defend the differences existing among its citizens, and to permit their diversity to serve the common good. Experience shows that peace and internal security can only be guaranteed through respect for the rights of all those for whom the State has responsibility.
In such a perspective, the freedom of individuals and communities to profess and practise their religion is an essential element for peaceful human coexistence. Freedom of conscience and freedom to seek the truth and to act according to one’s personal religious beliefs are so fundamentally human that any effort to restrict them almost inevitably leads to bitter conflict.
Where relations between groups within a Nation have broken down, dialogue and negotiation are the obligatory paths to peace. Reconciliation in accordance with justice, and respect for the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of the national community must be the rule. To guarantee the participation of minorities in political life is a sign of a morally mature society, and brings honour upon those nations in which all citizens are free to share in national life in a climate of justice and peace.
6. Your Excellency, these are some of the thoughts which my visit leads me to express. I would draw your attention and the attention of the members of the Government to the sentiments which inspire the Catholic Church’s activity in every part of the world, sentiments which I stated recently to the representatives of all the countries having diplomatic relations with the Holy See: "The Catholic Church, present in every nation of the earth, and the Holy See, a member of the international community, in no way wish to impose judgments or precepts, but merely to give the witness of their concept of man and history, which they know comes from a divine Revelation.... Despite difficulties, the Catholic Church for her part will continue to offer her disinterested cooperation so that at the end of this century man will be better enlightened and able to free himself from the idols of this age. Christians’ only ambition is to show that they understand personal and collective history as a meeting between God and mankind" (John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 7, 16 January 1993).
At this point my good wishes for the Sudan become an earnest prayer that God’s gift of peace will become a reality in your midst, that harmony and cooperation between North and South, between Christians and Muslims, will take the place of conflict, that obstacles to religious freedom will soon be a thing of the past. May the Most High God lead all the Sudanese along the paths of truth, justice and peace.
Baraka Allah as-Sudan
(God bless the Sudan.)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
I have looked forward to this meeting with you, the leaders of the various religions professed by the people of the Sudan. My Pastoral Visit to the Catholic Church in this Nation gives me the opportunity to extend the hand of friendship to you, and to express the hope that all the citizens of the Sudan, irrespective of differences between them, will live in harmony and in mutual cooperation for the common good.
Religion permeates all aspects of life in society, and citizens need to accept one another, with all their differences of language, customs, culture and belief, if civic harmony is to be maintained. Religious leaders play an important role in fostering that harmony.
Here in the Sudan I cannot fail to emphasize once more the Catholic Church’s high regard for the followers of Islam. Sudanese Catholics recognize that their Muslim neighbours prize the moral life, and worship the One God, Almighty and Merciful–especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. They appreciate the fact that you revere Jesus and his Mother Mary (Cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 3). They acknowledge that there are very solid reasons for greater mutual understanding, and they are eager to work with you in order to restore peace and prosperity to the Nation. I hope that this meeting will contribute to a new era of constructive dialogue and goodwill.
I would also like to offer a special greeting to my Christian brothers from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Ph 4,23). As you are well aware, the Catholic Church is deeply committed to the search for ecumenical understanding, in the perspective of fulfilling the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that they may be one" (Jn 17,21). I am happy to know that here in the Sudan good ecumenical relations exist and that there are many instances of cooperation. I am confident that the Lord will bless your efforts to proceed further along that path.
To all of you, respected religious leaders of the Sudan, I express once more my esteem, and I repeat that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. May God inspire thoughts of peace in the hearts of all believers.
Baraka Allah as–Sudan!
(God bless the Sudan!)
Wednesday, 10 February 1993
Members of the Government,
My Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
1. The moment has come for me to say good–bye to the Sudan at the end of what has been, for me, a most notable visit to Africa.
I wish to thank Your Excellency and all those who have made it possible for me to come among the Catholic community of Khartoum and to celebrate on Sudanese soil the Eucharist, the most solemn rite of our faith. I am grateful to Archbishop Gabriel Zubeir and all the Bishops and faithful of the Church who have shared this moving experience with me. The memory of this day will stay with me forever, and in my heart I share even more deeply the joys and sufferings, the hopes and anxieties of all who are working for true peace and harmony in this vast land.
2. As I leave Africa, I feel the pressing need to turn to God, the Father of all the living, and to implore his protection on the peoples of this continent at this time of change. Yes! Africa is changing. Not at the same pace everywhere, and not always in the same direction. But it is clear that the peoples of Africa are expressing a new sense of responsibility for their own destiny, and a desire to find and follow their own model of growth and development. May God assist the leaders of this Continent to discern the most adequate responses to the problems affecting their peoples. May he help them to rise to the challenge of making it possible for their citizens to take a greater part in forging their own brighter future.
Speeches 1993 - II