Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome the founder, trustees and board judges The Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, together with Her Excellency the British Ambassador who is accompanying you here today. Your visit to Rome for the presentation this year's Templeton Prize affords us the opportunity to meet and to reaffirm our shared conviction about the fundamental role which our understanding of God and a genuine spirituality play in human development.
Perhaps one of the principal aspects of your initiative is the attention which it directs to the life-enriching and transforming nature religious experience. In one of the major documents of the Second Vatican Council we read: "In our time, (man's) attempts to search out the secrets the material universe and to bring it under his control have been extremely successful. Yet he has always looked for, and found, truths of a higher order... realities known only to the mind... Man's intellectual nature finds at last its perfection, as it should, in wisdom, which gently draws the human mind to look for and to love what is true and good. Filled with wisdom, man is led through visible realities to those which cannot be seen" (Gaudium et Spes GS 15).
By giving credit for originality in the service of religion and awarding the Templeton Prize to men and women noteworthy in their approach to the great questions of life, you are affirming that what counts is what people are, rather than what they have.You are saying that technical progress alone cannot satisfy the human heart or lead to full human development. Of far greater importance is progress towards true justice, wider brotherhood, and a more humane social environment (Cfr. ibid. 35).
I wish to encourage you in your endeavours. May Almighty God strengthen your resolve to use your influence for the good of the human family. Upon you all, and upon the recipients of the Templeton Prize past and present, I invoke abundant blessings of joy and peace.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome the distinguished members of the American Philosophical Society and of the Accademia dei Lincei, on the occasion of your joint meeting here in Rome. As a former teacher of philosophy, I have a particular feeling of esteem and respect for your scholarly pursuits and endeavors.
Both of your societies have a long history of service to thought and culture. The Accademia dei Lincei in fact traces its origins back to the beginning of the 17th century, and since then it has been an outstanding focal point of commitment to artistic, scientific and cultural interests. The American Philosophical Society is the oldest honorary learned society in the United States, having been founded in 1743 and having had as its first president the renowned Benjamin Franklin. Among the many celebrated members of your society you count a number of the Founding Fathers of your nation and a host of Nobel Laureates.
The quest for knowledge, which includes philosophical reflection on the deeper meaning of all reality, is as important today as it ever was. Knowledge is the lamp which enlightens the path of our human journey. In fulfilling her mission on behalf of the human family, the Church is a willing partner in that dee? and respectful dialogue between science and faith which makes us all servants of the truth which sets us free (Cfr. Io Jn 8,32).
In an age marked by an unprecedented explosion of scientific and technological knowledge, the old ideal of striving for the unification of knowledge by reconciling all the elements of truth obtainable from the natural, human and sacred sciences no longer seems feasible. Nevertheless, if a simple synthesis of present-day knowledge is unthinkable, there remains the task of pursuing a necessary integration of knowledge, in order to avoid the pitfalls of a too pragmatic fragmentation and over-specialization and, most importantly, to offer the possibility of a truly human culture, a genuine "humanitas". By defending and up-holding the essential value of rational discourse on all aspects of reality, you effectively contribute to man's search for understanding, wisdom and ultimate meaning.
Ma? Almighty God bless you all and sustain you in your noble endeavors.
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters by which you are accredited as New Zealand Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. I appreciate your remarks regarding our warm and long-standing relations, and I would ask you kindly to convey to the Governor General and to the Government my greetings and cordial good wishes.
New Zealand is a country of magnificent natural beauty, distinguished likewise by a rich cultural and ethnic pluralism. During my Pastoral Visit there in 1986 I saw at first hand the remarkable diversity which characterizes your society. The resulting challenge is that of enabling people of different cultures to work together for the common good in a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation. New Zealand's historical experience in building a harmonious society continues in the search for ever more just and stable structures of dialogue among its own citizens, as well as in your country's participation in the international community's efforts to implement peace, to help avoid the repetition crimes against humanity, and to act responsibly to preserve the world's resources.
For its own part, the Holy See is convinced that the much-desired goals of justi??, peace and an integral development the world's peoples call for both maximum respect for the rights individuals and peoples, and for internationally agreed structures to guarantee and promote that respect everywhere. Pluralism, whether in individual societies or in the wider international community, has to be based on a shared vision our common humanity and an unswerving commitment to the defence of the inalienable dignity and transcendent nature every man, woman and child. Through its presence and activity in the international community, the Holy See seeks to draw attention to these fundamental prerequisites human coexistence and, in the context a sincere dialogue between people goodwill, it strives to promote them as the foundation a truly just international order.
As you have pointed out, New Zealand is actively involved in the efforts of the international community to maintain peace in areas the world still afflicted by war and its tragic consequences. You are also giving strong support to the international community's desire to hold individuals or groups accountable for violations the most elementary requirements justice and humaneness in situations of conflict. This development will bear fruit if it proves capable promoting a justice based not on force alone, but on a generalized moral commitment to human rights and human dignity. In the end, the most effective antidote to man's inhumanity to man can only be "a justice that incorporates the ideals social solidarity and that patterns itself on the righteousness God" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in civitate Christopolitana intra Sacrum, 6, die 24 nov. 1986: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, IX, 2 (1986) 1590).
Ironically, the growing demand for an objective criterion of moral accountability on the international level has in many places come to coexist with the spread of a relativistic approach to truth, an approach in which any objective criterion of good and evil is effectively denied.
The deepest root of this dilemma, which has grave consequences for the life of society, is the tendency to exalt individual autonomy at the expense of the bonds which unite us and make us responsible for one another. Society needs a coherent vision which embraces both the dignity and inalienable rights of each individual, especially the weakest and most vulnerable, and the hierarchy of values which ultimately constitute the common good (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Centesimus Annus CA 47). The symptoms of crisis being experienced by many democracies today point to the urgent need to ensure a sound education in fundamental civic and moral values, and a healthy and free public debate on the ethical dimensions of political and social life.
Inspired by their faith, the members the New Zealand Catholic community are committed to the building of a more just society, not only through their social and charitable activities, but also through their daily witness to the moral truths and values which stand as the foundation of all civic life. As the Second Vatican Council pointed out, it is precisely by this evangelical service that "the Church believes she can contribute greatly towards making the family of man and its history more human" (Gaudium et Spes GS 40).
Mr Ambassador, as you formally begin your mission as New Zealand Ambassador to the Holy See I assure you that the offices of the Roman Curia will always be willing to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you and upon all New Zealanders I cordially invoke the richest Blessings of Almighty God.
Thursday, 23 May 1996
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Kenya to the Holy See. I am grateful for the greetings which you bring from your President, His Excellency Daniel Toroitich arap Moi, and from the Government and people of Kenya, and I ask you kindly to convey my own good wishes, and the assurance of my prayers for the progress, peace and prosperity of your nation.
Your presence here today brings back vivid memories of my Pastoral Visit last year to Nairobi: as you have been so kind to note, it was the third time that Divine Providence had blessed me with the opportunity to visit Kenya. I recall the joy and enthusiasm which abounded, the kindness which was shown to me, and the spiritual vitality of the Catholic faithful. The purpose of that journey was to celebrate the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which reaffirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to her religious and humanitarian mission in your continent.
As you have pointed out, parts of Africa are, sadly, still involved in situations of conflict and violence which are bringing death and destruction to countless people, including women and children and the most vulnerable members of society. Your own country has been involved and continues to be involved in noteworthy peace-keeping efforts in neighbouring countries affected by conflicts and civil wars. Moreover, in the present world order African nations are struggling to organize themselves on more solid economic and social foundations. The international community has a duty to support these efforts, conscious of the fact that effective international solidarity is essential to ensuring lasting peace and harmony for the whole human family.
In the name of our common humanity, the international community cannot ignore the appeals of the developing nations as they face the grave challenges of malnutrition, a widespread fall in the standard of living, insufficient means for educating the young, a lack of basic health care and social services, the spread of AIDS, the often unbearable burden of international debt, the horror of fratricidal wars fomented by unscrupulous arms trafficking, the shameful spectacle of displaced persons and refugees. These are only some of the areas where intervention is urgently needed.
It is important that the hopes raised by last year's World Summit for Social Development should not be betrayed. The seventh of the ten commitments adopted by the participants in the Summit addressed the specific situation of Africa, with reference to the very problems just mentioned. The international community is therefore aware of its obligations and has drafted an agreement admitting its accountability. The Holy See will endeavour to keep before the eyes of the international community the pressing nature of the commitment it has undertaken. And it will not fail to offer the assistance and expertise which is proper to it.
Precisely as a consequence of "the saving mission which is proper to her" (Gaudium et Spes GS 40), the Church continually speaks out and offers the witness of her actions in favour of international solidarity. In your own country, as in other parts Africa and elsewhere, the Church's activity includes involvement in education, health care and social programmes which benefit individuals and the whole society. It is a service which the Church cannot fail to render to the human family, for her Divine Founder himself exhorts her to look after the needs of others: "I have given you an example, that what I have done you also should do (Cfr. Io Jn 13,15).
Although her mission in the world is eminently spiritual and therefore distinct from the political order, the Church nonetheless offers civil society the contribution her teaching and experience. This she does because she knows that society will flourish only to the extent that it reflects the moral order. established by the Creator. The Church seeks to make known the truth which she has received from her Lord, the truth about the transcendent destiny all men and women, created in the image and likeness God. It is for this reason that the Holy See speaks so insistently about respect for. human dignity and human rights, especially the right to life and to religious freedom. This is also the reason why the Catholic Bishops Kenya continually appeal to their fellow citizens to work together ever more generously for integral human development, authentic democracy and social harmony. They constantly invite everyone to overcome the tensions and hostilities which sometimes result from belonging to different ethnic groups, with different traditions, languages and even religions, all which can endanger peace and the pursuit the common good (Cfr. I?annis Pauli PP. II Ecclesia in Africa ).
Mr Ambassador, I am confident that your mission will further strengthen the ties friendship already existing between Kenya and the Holy See. I assure you that the various offices the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you in your task. Upon ??u, your family and all the beloved people Kenya I invoke the abundant Blessings of Almighty God.
I extend a warm welcome to you as you present the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Malawi to the Holy See. I take this opportunity to reaffirm my sentiments of esteem and friendship for the people of your country, and I am grateful for the cordial good wishes sent by your President, His Excellency Dr. Bakili Muluzi. I ask you to assure him of my continued prayers for the peace and well-being of your nation.
The challenge of building an ever more united, just and peaceful world demands that all sectors of society, at the national and international levels, should work together for the good of humanity. The vision which shapes and guides this work cannot be focused on economic interests alone, but must look ultimately to authentic human development, that is, development which responds to the cultural, ethical and spiritual needs of all men and women. Economic and political resources are important in this task, but of even greater importance is the human dimension of development, the human resources which must be tapped and directed to the cause of progress. These, to name but a few, include creative initiative, self-sacrifice, commitment to education and research, and an unshakable resolve to achieve the goals of social justice and the rule of law.
True development demands that every nation should grow in self-affirmation. This involves international co-operation which allows developing nations themselves to decide on the appropriate means of pursuing their own advancement. But it also demands that within each nation individual citizens should be enabled to grow in the responsible exercise of their personal freedoms. Thus the establishment of more participatory political structures, based on a civil constitution which defends and honours human dignity, "is the necessary condition and sure guarantee of the development of the whole individual and of all people" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 44).
In the light of this truth about the individual and society, I am pleased to note that the efforts of the people of Malawi to achieve a more representative and democratic form of government are bearing fruit. You have shown that through dialogue, goodwill and sincere co-operation, needed political and social changes can be brought about, within the framework of a peaceful and non-violent confrontation of ideas. Furthermore, while dealing with your own difficulties and problems you have given a helping hand to your neighbours in need: this was the case, for exam?le, when your country opened its borders to the more than one million refugees who sought a safe haven from the violence and turmoil then ravaging Mozambique; this is also the case in Malawi's present involvement in various peace initiatives sponsored by the international community.
I note Your Excellency's reference to the significant contribution that the Catholic Church has made and continues to make to the life of your country. In fact, the Church's commitment to the promotion of the dignity of the human person and the good of society manifests itself in her actions in the fields of education, health care and social services. This commitment testifies to the co-operative spirit of the Catholic faithful in working for a better future for themselves and their fellow citizens. By reason of their profound conviction regarding the universal brotherhood of all men and women as God's beloved children, the Catholic citizens of Malawi are dedicated to fostering the common good in the context of a healthy and legitimate pride in their own country and heritage.
Mr Ambassador, as you begin your mission, I assure you of the readiness of the various offices and agencies of the Roman Curia to help you in the fulfilment of your duties. I am confident that your work will serve to strengthen in every way the good relations which already exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Malawi. Upon Your Excellency, and upon the President, Government and ?eo?le of your country I invoke God's blessings of peace and well-being.
Your Excellencies, I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your respective countries: Kenya, Malawi, New Zealand and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. I renew the expression of my esteem and friendship for your peoples, for their historical, cultural and religious values and achievements, for their hopes and efforts in the pressing task of building a world of peace, justice and social well-being. I thank you for the greetings which you have conveyed from your respective Heads of State, and I cordially reciprocate with good wishes for them and for the nations which you represent.
At the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen under the auspices of the United Nations in March of last year, at which the leaders of your own countries were also present, the international community committed itself to a new and determined effort to promote the development of peoples. The Summit set itself the commendable goal of seriously tackling the problem of poverty in the world. The severity and scale of the problem is there for all to see. The sad fact is that a considerable part of the human family lives in absolute poverty, without access to even elementary standards of nutrition, health care or education. And as a further injustice, by far the greater number of the disinherited of the earth are women and young girls. If even a part of what the Summit proposed could become a reality, the human family would take a substantial step towards achieving that economic and social advancement to which all peoples aspire.
To the Holy See such a commitment seems a genuine sign of hope and a solid basis upon which to organize a just and effective fight against the many obstacles, old and new, which lie in the path of the struggle for a more secure and dignified life. In meeting you, the representatives of countries of three continents, differing in your political and social organization as well as in the deeper cultural and religious traditions of your peoples, my thoughts turn to that fundamental truth of all development, namely, the centrality of the human person.All economic and social policy should serve the genuine good of people, and not the other way round. This is true in every part of the world, in every system and community.
True progress, even on the material level, demands an overriding respect for the spiritual dimension of man. It precludes a vision of life that is merely or even principally material and economic. It is precisely the spiritual nature of man which leads him to conceive, demand and strive for advancement in every other sphere. In my speech to the United Nations General Assembly in October 1995, I sought to underline the essential need, in every aspect of public and international life, for respect for the inalienable spiritual nature of human beings: "The politics of nations ... can never ignore the transcendent, spiritual dimension of the human experience, and could never ignore it without harming the cause of man and the cause of human freedom. Whatever diminishes man whatever shortens the horizon of man's aspiration to goodness harms the cause of freedom. In order to recover our hope and our trust at the end of this century of sorrows, we must regain sight of that transcendent horizon of possibility to which the soul of man aspires" (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Oratio ad Generalem Nationum Unitarum Coetum Neo-Eboraci habita, 16, die 5 oct. 1995: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVIII, 2 (1995) 743).
As diplomats, you readily understand the import of this truth. Relations between individuals, communities and nations cannot be judged merely in terms of power or economic interests. Hope and trust are personal and social virtues essential to making co-operation and solidarity, at every level, possible and fruitful. I am confident that your mission as the diplomatic representatives of your countries to the Holy See will offer you many opportunities to reflect on these higher spiritual values. I hope that you will be ever more committed to their affirmation in international as well as in interpersonal relations.
As you fulfil your responsibilities, I invoke upon you and your families, and upon the peoples which you represent, the abundant Blessings of Almighty God.
Dear Cardinal Maida,
It is with joy that I welcome you here to the Vatican for the blessing the cornerstone of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, to be built in Washington, your nation's capital. am deeply grateful to you, friends and supporters this project, and I am grateful as well to the members of the Cardinal Club of Detroit, whose work on behalf vocations and in support of the Archbishop of Detroit makes an important contribution to the Church's evangelizing mission in your part of the United States. To all of you I offer warm greetings.
The Pope John "Paul II Cultural Center" is an initiative which has been inspired from the beginning by the desire to create a Center in which the teachings of the Bishops of Rome, the Successors the Apostle Peter, will be studied, discussed and disseminated. It is not to be a monument to any one person, even if it bears his name, but to the centrality and continuity of the petrine ministry in the Church. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, Christ instituted in Peter "a permanent and visible source and foundation unity faith and fellowship" (Lumen Gentium LG 18 Lumen Gentium LG 2). The papal magisterium is a privileged channel of the dialogue between faith and culture. In defending the deposit faith and applying the teachings Christ to the questions and concerns raised by successive generations, that magisterium as it were "incarnates" the Gospel message in the circumstances every time and place. The teachings the Roman Pontiffs are an integral part of the development the Church's understanding her own nature and mission in the world, and whatever is done to deepen knowledge of that patrimony, and to communicate it, constitutes a very valuable service to God's People.
It gives me great joy to know that people from all parts of the United States have joined together to turn the idea the Cultural Center into a reality. The cornerstone, containing a part taken from the area of the tomb of St Peter in the Vatican Basilica, will serve to symbolize the ??nt?r's union of purpose with the evangelizing efforts of the Successors of Peter. Through its programs of research and study, as a public forum and as a resource for scholars, the Center will seek to make a specific contribution to Catholic intellectual life. It will examine the many links between the message salvation and human culture (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 58). It will promote a fruitful exchange between people of different backgrounds in their approach to fundamental moral and religious questions. As place which will welcome people who simply wish to learn more about their faith or to gain a deeper appreciation its implications, the Center will endeavor to make the Catholic community and society at large more clearly aware the treasures our Christian heritage.
I am particularly pleased that the Center will have a number of endowed Academic Chairs, representing various cultural traditions. In fact, human culture necessarily has a historical and social aspect, giving rise to a plurality of cultures (Cfr. Gaudium et Spes GS 53). Today the world's cultures interact in a way which challenges those who preach the Christian message to consider and understand more deeply the human, social context within which people strive for fulfillment.
In Baltimore last October 1 put before American Catholics the need to challenge certain aspects of their own culture. "Sometimes, witnessing to Christ will mean drawing out of a culture the full meaning of its noblest intentions, a fullness that is revealed in Christ. At other times, witnessing to Christ means challenging that culture, especially when the truth about the human person is under assault. America has always wanted to be a land of the free. Today, the challenge facing America is to find freedom's fulfillment in the truth: the truth that is intrinsic to human life created in God's image and likeness, the truth that is written on the human heart, the truth that can be known by reason and can therefore form the basis of a profound and universal dialogue between people about the direction they must give to their lives and their activities" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Homilia in « Camden Yards », 6, die 8 oct. 1995: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVIII, 2 (1995) 787). The new Cultural Center must take up this task with competence and enthusiasm, and its goal must be to exercise a leadership role in equipping American Catholicism to meet the cultural challenges of the new Millennium.
I cordially endorse and bless your efforts. I commend you to the loving care of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, and I invoke the grace and peace of Almighty God upon you and your families.
Friday, 31 May 1996
Dear Friends in Christ,
It is with great joy that I welcome the group of Volunteers of Suffering from Hong Kong, and the Silent workers of the Cross who are assisting you during your visit to Rome. Your faith and courage in the face of suffering make this meeting a special and significant moment for the Successor of Peter. I encourage you in your self-offering and in your apostolate.
You already know that your sufferings can lead you into the very heart of the Christian mystery. In his Letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul writes: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church" (Col 1,24). What saint Paul is saying is that the crucified and risen Christ is united in a special way with those who suffer, for through the Cross life triumphs over death and grace over sin. He is our Saviour and no one can add to his work of Redemption. But through the mystery of the Church, his body, he draws us into his own sacrifice, so that we discover - in the daily struggle with our limitations - the saving meaning of suffering. At that point, interior peace and indeed spiritual joy are possible (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Salvifici Doloris, 26).
For the Christian, infirmity, disease and other afflictions are not something to which we passively resign ourselves. Suffering belongs to human transcendence: it is one of those areas in which men and women, even children, are enabled as it were to go beyond themselves. Accepted and borne in faith, suffering becomes the instrument of our sanctification and the sanctification of others. It becomes a source of redemption for the whole of humanity.
I am certain that the Hong Kong Centre of Volunteers of Suffering has a significant role to ?lay in the spiritual life of the Church there, by communicating that mysterious vitality which comes from prayerful union with the crucified Lord and by bearing witness to the power of the Gospel to transform even very difficult situations. I encourage the Silent Workers of the Cross, including the group of novices here today, to persevere in living and sharing with others the charism which your founder, Monsignor Novarese, left to you.
May Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted, be close to you all.
And as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Monday, 3 June 1996
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. With fraternal love I welcome you - the Bishops from Indonesia on your ad limina visit - making my own this prayer of the Apostle Paul: "May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a spirit of wisdom, that you may know what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe!" (Cfr. Eph Ep 1,17-19). May the Triune God ever more strengthen in us the "spirit of power" (2Tm 1,7) which we have received through our Episcopal consecration! Your pilgrimage to the tombs of the holy Apostles who offered in Rome the supreme witness of shedding their blood for Christ links your particular Churches to the See of Peter with ties of affection and loyalty. Through you I greet the whole Church in your vast Archipelago, of which I have such treasured memories from my Pastoral Visit in 1989. I give thanks to almighty God for your faithfulness to the Gospel, your longing for holiness, and your vigour in evangelizing.
When the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles in the Upper Room, he gave them the power to carry out their mission of bringing the Good News "to the end of the earth" (Act. 1, 8). From the outset they accomplished this task in the "unity of the Spirit" (Ep 4,3), in a communion of grace more profound than the bonds of family, race or language. This same Spirit has been bestowed in a special way upon all those who have received the fullness of the Apostolic Ministry. The service of God's People is to be carried out in a spirit of collegiality - modelled on the "one heart" and "one mind" of the first community (Cfr. Act.4, 32). Your communion must be a sign to all of how to plan wisely and work together in mutual respect, for the building up of the Body of Christ.
Within the Episcopal College each of you bears personal responsibility for the particular Church over which you preside in love. At the same time fraternal bonds which unite you to one another expand your horizon to embrace the welfare of other particular Churches. In this koinonia no community can isolate itself. Your spirit of willing co-operation bears witness before your people to the marvellous unity in the richness of diversity created by the Spirit (Cfr. 1Cor 1Co 12,4-6).
2. The Church in Indonesia is still a "little flock" (Lc 12,32). For that very reason it is particularly precious in the Lord's sight. The demands of the episcopal ministry are weighty, but those who bear this burden are comforted by the Lord's words that he has chosen us as his "friends" (Cfr. Io Jn 15,15). Even more, he has promised to use our weakness, "lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1Co 1,17). In all our human designs and programmes we must not lose sight of the fact that Christ Jesus draws us to himself when he is lifted up from the earth (Cfr. Io Jn 12,32). It is the "folly" and "scandal" of the Cross which reveal the power and wisdom of God (Cfr. 1Cor 1Co 1,21-24).
The fears which people harbour and which im?ede their coming to full human and spiritual stature (Cfr. Eph Ep 4,13) have their antidote in the grace that flows from the pierced side of the Saviour (Cfr. Io Jn 19,34). No matter how heavy the burdens of our ministry, we must trust in God's providential care for his creation, "which will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rm 8,21). Let us not be afraid, for it is the Risen Lord himself who is with us! (Cfr. Matth Mt 28,20)
In this first meeting with the members of your Conference I wish to speak to you about your pastoral charge to be "stewards of the grace of the supreme priesthood" (Cfr. Lumen Gentium LG 26) and to ensure that the word of God is faithfully taught to God's people (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Veritatis Splendor VS 116).
3. Since you are above all the spiritual guides of your flocks I especially urge you to develop a truly "contemplative outlook" (Cfr. Eiusdem Evangelium Vitae EV 83). Such an outlook is nourished by prayer and the sacramental life and it strives to penetrate life's deepest meaning. This spirit is in harmony with the cultural and religious experience of the peoples of Asia. Your Continent's ancient spiritual traditions challenge the whole Church to focus on what is absolutely primary for the faith: to share in the very life of the Eternal One as his beloved children (Cfr. 1 Io. 3, 1). May the Church in Indonesia become ever more a communion of contemplation and prayer in which the Blessed Trinity dwells (Cfr. Io Jn 14,23).
The safeguarding and promotion of the integrity, beauty and ordered celebration of the Sacraments is the way to refresh the faithful with the "living water" flowing from the Heart of Christ (Cfr. Io Jn 7,38). It is for you to encourage active and devout participation in the Eucharist, frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation - especially by preaching its necessity and assuring its ready availability - a comprehensive catechesis for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation, and a thorough programme of marriage preparation, which must be especially intense for those planning an inter-faith wedding.
4. The inculturation of the Liturgy is a matter which also deserves close pastoral attention. Duly regulated liturgical adaptations - which respect the substantial unity of the Roman Rite - are a significant dimension of the full immersion of the Gospel in the life of each people and its culture. This process is the fruit of a progressive maturing in faith. Thus it is a complex undertaking, "a slow journey" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 52), one calling for careful discernment. I encourage your efforts to bring the liberating power of the Good News to the heart of the rich cultural mosaic of the Archipelago. Inculturation involves more than a simple adaptation of traditional customs or current trends. It is a process rooted in a genuine exchange between people of proven faith and their culture. Dear Brothers, it is for you to inspire, guide and judge the delicate process of inculturation which enhances the catholicity of Christ's Body.
5. Moreover, as Bishops, you are called to "bear witness to the truth" (Jn 18,37), ensuring that your people come to know the truth which sets them free (Cfr. 1Tm 2,4 Jn 8,32). The safeguarding of the doctrinal integrity of catechesis and the promotion of genuine Catholic education are responsibilities of those entrusted with the faithful preservation of the deposit of faith. The working out of the implications of the Gospel for Christian life in the world, as well as its applications to new situations, are also essential components of caring for the apostolic preaching. One effective way for Bishops to share with their flocks "the unsearchable riches of Christ" is through the individual and j?int publication of Pastoral Letters. Courageous, forthright and persuasive teaching fosters in the People God knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord (Cfr. Phil Ph 3,8).
From your pastoral experience ??u know that formation in the faith takes place in various ways: in parishes, associations and communities with specific needs. Above all I encourage your efforts to assist parents in handing on the faith to their children (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Familiaris Consortio FC 52). Do all you can to foster the theological and spiritual formation of the laity, directing the efforts of all involved to the true purpose of all catechesis: the "fullness life" in ?hrist (Cfr. Io Jn 10,10), an interiorization of the gifts of the Spirit.
6. The Church in Indonesia is rightly proud the ??ntributi?n made by Catholic schools to the spiritual and temporal well-being of individuals and society itself. It is my fervent hope that, in a society that is undergoing rapid transformation, ??u will continue to support this educational mission by ensuring that it is rooted in the values of the Gospel. Whenever education is restricted to learning scientific and technological skills it fails to meet the noble objective which the Church sets for it: the integral development of the human person and the creation of a just and peaceful social order (Cfr. Gravissimum Educationis GE 8). I urge you to continue along the path you have so wisely chosen: strengthen the Catholic identity of your schools, clarifying their specific mission and fostering the pastoral care of students and teachers in the educational institutions under your care. Also deserving of your encouragement are the programmes of solidarity which are becoming more common, whereby schools with more resources share them with those which have less.
7. Indonesia as a nation has been blessed by a history of tolerance and religious freedom, a situation dependent upon respect for Pancasila as the noble expression of its traditional wisdom. The deepest motivation for interreligious harmony comes from the interior message of religion: the search for God and respect for others. The Church teaches that any form of religious intolerance and proselytism compromises the fundamental right to freedom religion. In your Dioceses, therefore, interreligious dialogue should be "part of the Church's evangelizing mission" (I?annis Pauli PP. II R?d?m?t?ris ?issi?, 55). Int?rr?ligi?us co-operation begins with the dialogue of life, which fosters reciprocal knowledge and respect. This in turn leads to the dialogue of action, which promotes solidarity in the cultural, economic and social fields. Practical co-operation creates mutual esteem among all believers in God and stimulates the desire to learn from others and to work with them.
As "authentic teachers of the faith" (Christus Dominus CD 2), Bishops have a special role in overseeing the theological dimension of interreligious dialogue. In particular, they must not lose sight of the universality and uniqueness of Redemption in Christ: the only beloved Son of the Father is "the Saviour of all, the only one able to reveal God and lead to God" (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptoris Missio RMi 5). Fruitful interreligious dialogue depends on a spirit of fraternal charity, of respect for the demands of conscience on both sides, and a profound love for the truth. The situation of Indonesia calls you to special efforts to ensure that the dialogue between Christi?nit? and Islam will lead to closer ties among believers in the One and Merciful God.
8. Dear Brothers, you are now in the midst preparations for the Asian Synod, that great assembly which will guide the pilgrimage of your Churches into the Third Christian Millennium. The Synod promises to be a significant milestone for the whole Church in Asia. Your visit ad limina is likewise part of your preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000. May the Holy Spirit enable the People of God in your country to celebrate the Great Jubilee "by renewing their hope in the definitive coming of the Kingdom of God, preparing for it daily in their hearts, [and] in the Christian community to which they belong" (Eiusdem Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 46). I invite you to instil in those whom you serve an earnest desire for conversion and a longing for communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Cfr. 1 Io. 1, 3). Entrusting you and all the priests, religious and lay faithful of your particular Churches to the intercession of Mary, whose maternal mediation guides your path to the Heart of her Son, I cordially impart m? Apostolic Blessing.