Speeches 1995 - Hall of Popes

Friday, 12 May 1995

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. As always, it is a great pleasure to meet the distinguished participants in the study sessions organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and I thank Bishop James McHugh for his kind words of introduction. Today I am especially happy to extend my appreciation to The Royal Society, which has cosponsored this significant meeting.

True to its purpose and statutes, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences addresses itself to a wide range of scientific, social and ethical issues which have a bearing on the Church’s service to the human family, a service which springs from the fundamental Gospel commandment of love. The Academy plays a resourceful role in helping the Church, in particular the Holy See, to fulfill this task of service with the benefit of the most expert scientific knowledge and insights. Your studies and enquiries contribute to the Church’s supreme effort to journey hand in hand with humanity on its path through temporal realities towards man’s great and inexorable transcendent destiny.

2. On this occasion you have been invited to share your expertise on the specific subject of: "Breast–feeding: science and society", as a part of the overall study which the Academy is pursuing since 1990 on Population and Resources. As scientists you direct your enquiry towards a better understanding of the advantages of breast–feeding for the infant and for the mother. As your Working Group can confirm, in normal circumstances these include two major benefits to the child: protection against disease and proper nourishment. Moreover, in addition to these immunological and nutritional effects, this natural way of feeding can create a bond of love and security between mother and child, and enable the child to assert its presence as a person through interaction with the mother.

All of this is obviously a matter of immediate concern to countless women and children, and something which clearly has general importance for every society, rich or poor. One hopes that your studies will serve to heighten public awareness of how much this natural activity benefits the child and helps to create the closeness and maternal bonding so necessary for healthy child development. So human and natural is this bond that the Psalms use the image of the infant at its mother’s breast as a picture of God’s care for man (cf. Ps. Ps 22 [21]:9). So vital is this interaction between mother and child that my predecessor Pope Pius XII urged Catholic mothers, if at all possible, to nourish their children themselves (cf. Pius XII, Address to Mothers, 26 Oct. 1941). From various perspectives therefore the theme is of interest to the Church, called as she is to concern herself with the sanctity of life and of the family.

3. Worldwide surveys indicate that two thirds of mothers still breast–feed, at least to some extent. But statistics also show that there has been a fall in the number of women who nourish their infants in this way, not only in developed countries where the practice almost has to be reinstituted, but also increasingly in developing countries. This decline is traced to a combination of social factors such as urbanization and the increasing demands placed on women, to healthcare policies and practices, and to marketing strategies for alternate forms of nourishment.

Yet the overwhelming body of research is in favour of natural feeding rather than its substitutes. Responsible international agencies are calling on governments to ensure that women are enabled to breast–feed their children for four to six months from birth and to continue this practice, supplemented by other appropriate foods, up to the second year of life or beyond (cf. UNICEF, Children and Development in the 1990s, on the occasion of the World Summit for Children, New York, 29-30 Sept. 1990). Your meeting therefore intends to illustrate the scientific bases for encouraging social policies and employment conditions which allow mothers to do this.

In practical terms, what we are saying is that mothers need time, information and support.So much is expected of women in many societies that time to devote to breast–feeding and early care is not always available. Unlike other modes of feeding, no one can substitute for the mother in this natural activity. Likewise, women have a right to be informed truthfully about the advantages of this practice, as also about the difficulties involved in some cases. Healthcare professionals too should be encouraged and properly trained to help women in these matters.

4. In the recent Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" I wrote that: "A family policy must be the basis and driving force of all social policies... It is also necessary to rethink labour, urban, residential and social service policies so as to harmonize working schedules with time available for the family, so that it becomes effectively possible to take care of children and the elderly" (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 90).

Is this a vague utopia, or is it the obligatory path to the genuine well–being of society? Even this brief reflection on the very individual and private act of a mother feeding her infant can lead us to a deep and farranging critical rethinking of certain social and economic presuppositions, the negative human and moral consequences of which are becoming more and more difficult to ignore. Certainly, a radical re-examination of many aspects of prevailing socio–economic patterns of work, economic competitiveness and lack of attention to the needs of the family is urgently necessary.

5. I am therefore very grateful to all of you for offering your time and co–operation to this meeting co–sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. I look forward to the synthesis and report of your findings so that this information may be widely circulated to our Church agencies and interested institutions throughout the world. I pray for the success of your research and for your own personal well–being. May God’s blessings of strength, joy and peace be with each one of you and the members of your families.




Tuesday, 16 May 1995

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With intimate joy I greet each one of you, Pastors of the Church in India, from the regions of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, in the first of this series of ad Limina visits by the Bishops of your vast country. In the words of Saint Paul: "I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you... I mention you always in my prayers... that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith" (Rm 1,8 ff.). When I visited your country in 1986 I spoke to the Bishops saying that "our joint task is to enact the mystery of collegiality" (John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of India in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, (Delhi, India), 1, [1 Feb.1986]). It is this mystery of communion in the College of Bishops, which we are here together to profess, celebrate and strengthen. This communion implies that we be of one mind and one heart in loving and obeying our Lord Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd of the Church (cf. 1P 5,4), and that we carry out the ministry entrusted to us in strong and vibrant union of faith and ecclesial order.

2. The Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium”, reminds us that God’s plan is "to make men holy and save them not merely as individuals without any mutual bonds, but by making them into a single people" (Lumen Gentium LG 9). The Council text goes on to say that this messianic people "has for its head Christ... the heritage of this people are the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in his temple... Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us... Its goal is the kingdom of God which is to be extended until it is brought to perfection by him at the end of time" (Ibid.). Thus it can never be sufficiently emphasized that the Church’s mission is transcendent and consists first and foremost in giving men a share in the mystery of God’s communication of himself through grace.

Everything else in the Church’s life depends on this. No matter how pressing other concerns may be, including the concern for human development, for justice and the defence of human dignity, for the needs of the poor – and no one can deny that your commitment in these fields must be altogether vigorous and consistent – Pastors cannot ignore the invitation of Christ himself, to "seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well". It would be surprising if precisely in India, the land of Satyagraha (the spiritual "truth–force" [Mt. 6:33] which conquers without violence) and of the Rishis (holy men), Bishops, priests, Religious and committed lay men and women failed to develop all the spiritual potential of our Redeemer’s saving grace. Therefore, as Pastors, servants of the mysteries of God, in your own lives, in all your dealings with your priests, with the consecrated men and women who share the burden of the apostolate with you, in all your ministry to the lay faithful, and in your missionary efforts to extend the Gospel, one of the concerns which can never be absent from your heart and action is that of promoting genuine faith and holiness of life among the Church’s members.

3. To be the spiritual guides and teachers of your people is a serious and demanding task. On the personal level it involves on your part a radical response to Christ. Since, as Saint Paul wrote to Timothy, "the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith" (1Tm 1,5), it follows that "a Bishop must be above reproach" (Ibid., 3:2). Without a deep commitment of faith, constant prayer and self–giving "pastoral charity", it is not possible to represent the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep (cf. Jn. Jn 10,11).

At the level of your apostolate you face many challenges, not least that of a growing secularism, a widespread and powerful trend which is undermining even the deeply rooted spiritual traditions characteristic of India’s history and culture. The primal Vedic concept of rita, order – that which is right and proper in the universe and in human society – directed Indian culture towards the quest for harmony, towards a morality of responsibility for the divine order apparent in all that exists. The Upanishads later laid emphasis on the notion of dharma, thus placing at the centre of life’s endeavours the acquisition of "righteousness" through the observance of religion, law and duty. On the basis of these attitudes, which are fundamental to all religious experience, India became the cradle of a civilization rich in humanitarian and religious values. In this ground the seed of faith was planted from the beginning, giving rise to flourishing communities, sustained through all the vicissitudes of history by their faith in Jesus Christ, the God–Man, Crucified and Risen, the hope of humanity, who alone can fully reveal the ultimate grandeur and dignity of the human person and his destiny (cf. John Paul II, Address to the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences, 4, [15 Jan. 1995]).

Now, a certain disregard for religious truths and values, because they are seen as irrelevant to economic and technological progress, is penetrating many consciences, weakening the spiritual and moral basis of society. None of this leaves the Catholic community immune. The Church in India, as in all parts of the world, needs to meet this challenge with a great effort of conversion and spiritual renewal.

4. From a renewed commitment to Christ, the one Mediator between God and man (cf. 1Tm 2,5), and from a revitalized spiritual life will come a greater sense of unity and communion among all the Church’s members. In the subcontinent of India the Catholic community constitutes a tiny minority, though its presence and role go beyond mere statistics thanks to the vitality of its witness and the dimensions of its service. And this religious minority itself is marked by a great variety: a diversity of rites, a different history of evangelization in each region and, on the negative side, the constant threat of fragmentation under the continuing strong influence of ethnic, social and cultural differences. In this respect your mission as Bishops involves a definite and incisive effort to build and strengthen the bonds of fellowship between the Church’s members.

We are speaking of the unity which has its source in the Triune God and its dynamism in divine grace. The koinonia which you are called to foster is nothing less than a sharing in the very communion which exists between the Father and the Son in the Spirit of Love (cf. 1Jn 1,3). It is a unity which transcends all human variety and persists in the face of every difference of outlook or behaviour, for "there is one body and one Spirit... one Lord, one faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all" (Ep 4,4-6). In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the members of the earliest Christian community "devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Ac 2,42). The term "devoted themselves" (proskarterein)denotes constant, assiduous fidelity. It evokes the idea of a lively faith, of enthusiasm in living one’s life totally in relation to the Risen Lord, and of zeal for spreading the Good News. It is this interior attitude, wholeheartedly assimilated, which enables us to live the koinonia, to experience the vital sense of belonging to and being responsible for the community of Christ’s followers.

5. Love is the building–force of communion. Saint Paul puts the whole "newness" of the Christian approach in this short phrase: "the love of Christ impels us" (2Co 5,14). Everything in the life of a Bishop must be guided and inspired by love. To allow your words and actions to be moulded by the all–embracing commandment of evangelical love, by the spirit of the Beatitudes, is the guarantee that your ministry will bear real fruits of evangelization and ecclesial growth.

I encourage you to express that evangelical love first of all among yourselves, in the esteem and respect which you have for each other, in the fraternal co–operation essential to the Church’s well–being, in the context of your Conference. Only in this way will you be able to evangelize, but above all only in this way will you be able to meet the grave difficulties coming from within the Catholic community when unsound teachings are allowed to spread regarding even the fundamental doctrines of the faith and the moral demands of the Christian life. You must face these difficulties with intelligence and courage, and united among yourselves. May you never let criteria in contrast with the Gospel, such as considerations of caste, ethnic origin or traditional cultures, determine your relations with one another. "Put on love" (Col 3,14) and let your united testimony shine before the whole community as an incentive to priests, Religious and laity.

Be builders of harmony and peace among your priests: give them the attention which they have a right to expect from you. Listen carefully to their needs and aspirations, be just in dealing with them. If any of them suffer discouragement, be prompt to help them. If ever you have to remind them of their priestly duties, may this be seen as an act of loving fatherly concern. With regard to the men and women Religious whose apostolate is often of decisive relevance in your Dioceses, be guided in all things by profound respect for their consecration and charism, acting towards them in justice and truth, in careful observance of the spirit and letter of the Document “Mutuae Relationes”. Finally, may the lay faithful find in their Bishop a man of God, a spiritual guide, a true father and brother who has their good at heart and is ready to pay the price of being the Good Shepherd of his flock.

6. Dear Brother Bishops, your ad Limina visit is taking place when the whole Church is beginning to make special preparations for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Precisely in this historic "Advent", as we look forward to commemorating this bi–millenary anniversary of the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, he – the Lord – is calling us – in the words of the Council – to "follow in his footsteps and mould ourselves in his image, seeking the will of the Father in all things, devoting ourselves with all our being to the glory of God and the service of our neighbour" (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 40). This synthesis of the Christian vocation is the grace I invoke upon you and your Brother Bishops of India.

In addressing you, I cannot but feel close to you and encourage you in all that you do to build and strengthen the Church in India in the unity of faith and harmony of love which flow from the fullness of the Christian life lived according to the standards of the Gospel. As Bishops, we must always remember that the Lord taught us to see the essence of true discipleship in effective and humble service to the brethren (cf. Jn. Jn 13,15). I commend you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. May she accompany each one of you on the pilgrimage of life, in the faithful service of her Divine Son. With my Apostolic Blessing.




Hall of Popes

Friday, 26 May 1995

Your Eminence,

Your Excellencies,

1. I am pleased to welcome the Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions on the Family from various countries of Asia, meeting in Rome at the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Family. You have come together in order to reflect on the situation of the family and to respond with renewed vigour to the many challenges facing family life within the context of the Church and society.

In a meeting like the present one, I told the Bishop Presidents of the Episcopal Commissions for the Family in Africa that "the family is the heart of the new evangelization" (John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Africa Engaged in the Pastoral Care of Families, 2, [2 Oct. 1992]). As I look to your continent, with its rich cultural heritage, its great size and population, where the Church represents a "little flock", it seems to me that this statement is especially true. The Gospel of Christ must be proclaimed, with renewed enthusiasm and strength, in and from the family.

2. Families which, in Christ, form a true community based on marriage, a communion of life and of love – stable, responsible and open to life – constitute a witness which is a living and powerful proclamation of the Good News, and specifically of "the Gospel of the Family".

The witness of families depends in the first place on the fidelity of the spouses in their mutual self–giving, which fills life with joy and meaning. The Church proclaims that in the Christian family – through the Sacrament of Matrimony – there is present and at work the Lord, the Bridegroom, the one mediator between God and mankind, our Saviour Jesus Christ (cf. John Paul II, Letter to Families LF 18). He, the Lord of Life, makes the family the sanctuary of life.

3. During these days you have examined the special difficulties facing families in Asia: poverty, migration, population control policies and so many others. And you have been led to conclude once more that the well–being of individuals, the well–being of peoples and nations depends directly on the well–being of families.

In fact, as I noted in the Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae", there is the closest of relationships between the family and the culture of life (cf. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 92). Whenever the family, the basic cell of society, is threatened, life itself is greatly imperiled. Families must be enabled, above all, to resist and overcome the culture of death, that pervasive array of values and attitudes which, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite blatantly, disregards human rights and denies the sanctity of life.

Moreover, especially in the Asian context, efforts to build a culture of life upon the family provide a fertile field for ecumenical and interreligious co–operation. "On the eve of the Third Millennium... only the concerted efforts of all those who believe in the value of life can prevent a setback of unforeseeable consequences for civilization" (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae EV 91).

4. I know well that everything that affects the pastoral care of the family and the defence of life has a privileged place, as it should, in the pastoral programmes of your Conferences and Dioceses, and that these days in Rome will greatly help your work.

I cordially invoke Almighty God’s love and protection on the families of Asia, and I ask the Lord that Catholic families in particular may grow in love and in faith, after the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. With these sentiments, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

                                                         June 1995




7 June 1995

Faith of Gypsy People must be strengthened

1. Welcome, representatives of the Gypsy people and pastoral workers who generously devote yourselves to serving them! The Pope is pleased to greet you on the occasion of your Fourth International Meeting, appropriately organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People on the theme: "Gypsies Today: From Their History to New Pastoral Demands".

You have come from Eastern and Western Europe and from other parts of the world to reinvigorate your Christian commitment through prayer, reflection on the challenges to the faith today, the exchange of experiences and the search for increased solidarity and openness to your brothers and sisters. At this historical moment you are seeking new forms of participation in social life for the Gypsy people and new expressions of their religious sense.

You have not come empty-handed! On behalf of the Gypsy people you renew your readiness to make a specific contribution to coexistence and the building of a more just and harmonious society, stressing those values which distinguish this people's culture, such as respect for the elderly and for the family, love of freedom, a just pride in their own traditions and generous support of peace.

Likewise, you are giving a new expression to the Gypsy people's willingness to co-operate actively in the solution of the complex problems that still affect their life in various parts of the world: discrimination and racism, the lack of housing and properly equipped caravan sites, non-acceptance, inadequate education and marginalization. At the same time, you recognize that Gypsies, whether they lead a settled or a nomadic life, cannot but feel committed to co­operation with the peoples among whom they find themselves, appreciating their qualities, accepting their laws and making their own contribution to the necessary mutual awareness and the common quest for fruitful co-existence.

2. In the Church, the People of God on their way to the Father, as the Second Vatican Council recalls (cf. Lumen gentium LG 9), no ethnic or linguistic group must feel a stranger: all must be accepted and fully appreciated by her. When my venerable predecessor, Paul VI, met the first Gypsy pilgrimage 30 years ago, he had this to say: "You are in the heart of the Church" (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, III, [1965], p. 492).

Today I would like to make those words my own, hoping that the Church, whose activity is also being re-organized in Eastern Europe, may continue to be actively involved with the Gypsies through generous pastoral workers and projects that witness in daily life to the love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, for the lowly and the weak.

3. The evangelization of the Gypsy people must not overlook their history, often marked by tragic suffering and serious hostility. In my recent Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe I asked that the memory of what happened during those terrible years be kept alive: "The memories of the War must not grow dim; rather, they ought to become a stern lesson for our generation and for generations yet to come" (John Paul II, Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the End of the Second World War in Europe, 2 [8 May 1995]). In the Nazi extermination camps as I recalled, "millions of Jews and hundreds of thousands of Gypsies and other human beings met their death in atrocious conditions; their only fault was that they belonged to another people" (ibid.). To forget what happened in the past can open the way to new forms of rejection and aggression.

Indifference could lead to killing today too. In this context, then, how can we fail to condemn the recent acts of violence of which Gypsies and especially the defenceless, such as children, were the object? Episodes of the kind cannot pass unnoticed.

Public administrators, ecclesial communities, volunteer workers, those who work in the media, must unanimously commit themselves to preventing these shameful episodes and to strengthening a social climate of tolerance and true solidarity .

4. Sensitive and attentive to the Gypsy world, the Church recalls that the vocation to holiness is universal. The witness of Ceferino Jimenez Malla, a Gypsy and a Christian, who was heroic to the point of giving his life, is a shining example. In our time, the Gypsy people are going through a period of radical readaptation of their traditions and thus find themselves face to face with the danger of the disintegration of their community's very life. It is important that the Christian faith be firmly and vigorously represented. A new evangelization is necessary, addressed to each member as well as to a beloved portion of the pilgrim People of God, to help them overcome the double temptation of withdrawing into themselves, seeking a way out with the sects, or losing their own religious heritage in a materialism that stifles every appeal to the divine.

The many forms of pastoral activity carried out by groups of Gypsies who have an apostolic commitment by the Schools of Faith and the Schools of the Word, by the national and diocesan .services, by the chaplaincies for Gypsies and finally, by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, shows how deeply the Church loves the Gypsy people. I would like to express to them all my sincere gratitude for this indispensable mission, encouraging each one to continue on this path with ever greater enthusiasm.

Dear Gypsies and pastoral workers, always keep your gaze fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, and Mary, his and our Mother! Even the Lord in his earthly life was obliged to move from one place to another. May he, who said of himself that he had nowhere to lay his head (cf. Lk Lc 9,58), guide you and bring to fulfillment every apostolic task.

May Mary, invoked by you as «AMARI DEVELESKERIDAJ» - «Our Mother of God» - always be the Star on your way. May my Blessing, which I affectionately impart to all of you present here, to your nomadic communities and to all the members of your peoples, go with you.





Clementine Hall

Monday, 12 June 1995

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet the participants in the Chairman’s Council Conference of Paine Webber, being held this year in Rome. I am confident that your meeting will permit you to reflect on the significant responsibilities which you share within the financial community in an increasingly interdependent world. The dramatic political and economic changes of recent years have created remarkable opportunities for investment and for the development of new markets, but they have also drawn attention to the many situations of poverty and injustice in which so many members of the human family continue to live.

The urgent need for integral human development on the global scale is one of the great moral challenges of our time: it requires of everyone new ways of thinking and the proposal of models of economic growth which defend and promote the dignity and freedom of each individual and of every community. As I wrote in the Encyclical Letter "Centesimus Annus", in the end "development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human" (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus CA 29). I pray that your own contribution to the growth of a sound world economy will always be inspired by a spirit of solidarity with the men and women of developing countries, and by a commitment to ensure that economic growth truly serves the authentic well–being of mankind, which cannot but take into account our spiritual and transcendent nature and destiny.

With these sentiments, dear friends, I cordially invoke upon you and your families God’s blessings of joy and peace.





Friday, 16 June 1995

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican at the beginning of your mission as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to the Holy See. I very much appreciate the greetings and good wishes which you bring from President Soeharto and from the Government and people of Indonesia. I gladly reciprocate, and would ask you to convey to the President the assurance of my prayers for the peace and well–being of the nation, especially in this year of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Independence. I am confident that with Almighty God’s help and the commitment of all its citizens Indonesia will avail of this happy commemoration to strengthen further its ethical, moral and spiritual foundations.

As you have been kind enough to recall, it was six years ago that I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Indonesia and of experiencing at first hand not only the majesty and splendour of the Archipelago, but especially the hospitality and beauty of the people. The memories remain vividly etched in my mind: the variety of cultures and languages spread far and wide over thousands of islands. I came as a friend to all Indonesians, with great respect for the people of your nation (John Paul II, Address to the President of the Republic of Indonesia at the Istana Negara Presidential Palace in Jakarta, 1 [9 Oct. 1989]). And just last year the naming of Archbishop Darmaatmadja of Semarang to the College of Cardinals was meant to be a further expression of the esteem in which I hold the Church in your country and of the closeness which I feel to all Indonesians. I am happy that this nomination has been so well received by all.

In recent decades we have witnessed a remarkable acceleration of social change and material development which, while producing many benefits, has also brought new concerns and problems. In this context, societies are realizing more and more that the political community, both national and international, exists to guarantee and serve the dignity and rights of the individuals, families and groups which form it. This is the goal which all public authority must foster; this is the moral principle which underlies and guides the active participation of citizens, individually and collectively, in the life, government and advancement of their country. Indeed, the well–being of a society greatly depends upon making people’s interests, their culture and religious traditions, their freedoms, including religious freedom, the overall objective of social and political activity.

Concern for the well–being of the human family inspires the Holy See in its work within the international community and in its relations with States. And here, the Holy See recognizes that there is extensive ground for mutual understanding and cooperation with Indonesia in a common desire to serve the cause of human development and to encourage efforts to end the conflicts which are causing such suffering and bloodshed in some parts of the world. Indonesia has shown a special concern for the fostering of cooperation and peace, especially among its neighbours in Southeast Asia. This is particularly evident in your country’s involvement in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its efforts to promote social and economic development in that region of the world. It is just such forms of international solidarity which will help dispel vestiges of mistrust and antagonism, and will serve to correct present imbalances.

An eloquent expression of the principles upon which justice and harmony are to be built is to be found in the Indonesian "Pancasila", the national philosophy which calls for belief in God, national unity, social justice, profound respect for human life, dignity and rights, and which insists on that freedom by which citizens determine their destiny as a people. Essential among these principles are religious freedom and interreligious tolerance, which are so important for a nation such as yours, with its variety of religious beliefs and traditions. Thanks to this policy, Indonesia’s Catholic citizens, although a small minority in the overall population, have made significant contributions to the cultural, political and economic life of their country, especially in the fields of education, health care and social development. In this regard, I appreciate the words you have spoken in recognition of the dedicated efforts of the Catholic Church in Indonesia to strengthen and enrich the lives of individuals and of society itself.

In the light of the Church’s universal mission to all peoples and nations, I cannot but turn my attention once more to the difficult situation in East Timor. The Holy See continues to follow the development of events there with keen interest and concern. Allow me to express the fervent hope that ever more appropriate measures will be adopted to ensure that human rights are respected, and that the cultural and religious values of the people are protected and promoted. In this way, a climate of trust will be established, which in turn will foster integral development. Furthermore, I wish to add a word of sincere encouragement that the dialogue which has already begun at various levels may continue, in order to advance a form of social and political life which, in justice and peace, will respond to the aspirations of the inhabitants of East Timor.

Mr Ambassador, I am confident that your service as Indonesia’s Representative will continue to favour the good relations between your Nation and the Holy See in working for a civilization truly worthy of the human person. I assure you that all the departments of the Roman Curia will be ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. I pray that in his loving kindness and infinite mercy Almighty God will be your strength, and I invoke his abundant blessings upon you, your family, your country and all its citizens.

Speeches 1995 - Hall of Popes