Speeches 1997 - Saturday, 10 May 1997



TO LEBANON (MAY 10-11, 1997)



Sunday, 11 May

Many people have been mentioned. I would like to stress that this conclusion of the Synod Assembly for Lebanon will mark a further step in the synodal process, so to speak, of this Synod, which is not only a traditional, but also a regional Synod. The Synod for Lebanon is a regional Synod not only for the country but a little bit for Asia Minor. And here it is necessary to recall the personality of my compatriot, Cardinal Schotte’s predecessor, Cardinal Wladyslaw Rubin. I remember him well since I was very attached to him. He had studied here at St Joseph’s University and always remained very close, very attached to Lebanon. I hope he served the Synod of Bishops well in this decisive period, because it was the first and because the synodal idea will continue to acquire a fuller meaning and make great progress. This means that even though the Church of Rome is not a synodal Church, one nonetheless gives ever greater importance and value to the Synod of Bishops. So she is a synodal Church in a different sense, one in any case in which the Synod of Bishops plays an important role. This draws us closer to our Orthodox brothers and sisters. In this spirit I am expecting Their Beatitudes this afternoon. We will meet and speak to the Orthodox Patriarchs who wanted to take part in this solemnity and have also wished to take part in the Synod, at least through their representatives. I am particularly pleased with this meeting. Thank you for everything.



TO LEBANON (MAY 10-11, 1997)


Sunday, 11 May

Mr President of the Republic,

1. At the end of my Pastoral Visit to your country, you have wished to come and greet me with the delicate sense of hospitality which is part of Lebanese tradition. I would like to tell you again how grateful I am for your welcome and for the arrangements which were made and ensured the smooth running of the various meetings I attended.

I extend my thanks to the civil and military authorities, and to the leaders of the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities for their thoughtfulness during the two days I have spent in this beautiful country, so dear to my heart. I also express warm gratitude to the members of the security services and all the volunteers who, with generosity, efficiency and discretion, contributed to the success of my visit.

2. During the celebrations and the different interviews I was able to have, I noticed the deep love that Lebanese Catholics and all their compatriots have for their country, and their attachment to its culture and traditions. They have remained faithful to their land and their heritage through many travails, and they continue to show the same fidelity today. I urge them to continue in this direction by giving an example of harmony between the cultures and religions, in a society where all the people and different communities are considered equal.

3. Before leaving your land, I renew my appeal to the authorities and to the entire Lebanese people to develop a new social order based on essential moral values and with the concern to guarantee individuals and human groups their essential place in national life and community decisions: this attention to man, which belongs naturally to the Lebanese soul, will bring peace to the country and to the region. I urge national leaders to respect international law, especially in the Middle East, so that the sovereignty, legitimate autonomy and security of States will be guaranteed and the law and understandable aspirations of peoples respected. In acknowledging the efforts of the international community in the region, I hope that the process of seeking a just and lasting peace will continue to be upheld with determination, courage and consistency. I also hope that efforts will be pursued and intensified for supporting the country’s growth and the advance of the Lebanese towards an ever more democratic society, with the total independence of its institutions and recognition of its borders, indispensable conditions if its integrity is to be guaranteed. But it will be impossible to do anything unless all the citizens are involved, each one in his own sphere, on the path of justice, equity and peace, in political, economic and social life and by sharing responsibilities in the life of society.

4. I would like once again to express my warm gratitude to the Patriarchs, the Lebanese Bishops, the clergy, the religious and the Catholic laity who busily prepared for my coming. I entrust my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation to them all, that it may guide and support them on their spiritual journey and in their commitments as they accompany their brothers and sisters. Touched by my welcome from Lebanese Catholics, whose pastoral vitality I could appreciate, I would like to assure them of my affection and deep spiritual communion, as I invite them to be merciful witnesses of God’s love and messengers of peace and brotherhood.

My respectful greetings are also extended to the heads of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to all the Christians of other denominations, to the followers of Islam, in the hope that that all will pursue religious dialogue and co-operation to show that religious beliefs are a source of brotherhood and to testify that it is possible to live friendship, through love for God, for one’s brothers and sisters and for one’s homeland.

Through you, Mr President, I greet and thank all the Lebanese, offering them my fervent wishes for peace and prosperity. May your nation, whose mountains are like a beacon on the sea coast, offer the countries of the region a witness of social cohesion and good understanding between all its cultural and religious constituents.

As I renew my gratitude to you, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon all your compatriots.



To my Venerable Brother

Bishop Serafim de Sousa
Ferreira e Silva
of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal

“And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Ap 12,1).

These words of Revelation turn my thoughts to the 80th anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin Mary to the three young shepherds in Cova da Iria. The message which the Blessed Virgin addressed to humanity on that occasion still resounds with all its prophetic force, inviting everyone to pray insistently, and to commit himself generously to making reparation for his own sins and those of the whole world.

In thinking of all the pilgrims who will be gathering at the Shrine of Fatima on this occasion to express their devotion to Mary and their firm decision to respond to her motherly concern, I would like to join in everyone's prayer to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, who gave the world the Incarnate Word and thus was so closely involved in his redemptive work. May she who “advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the Cross ... enduring with her only-begotten Son the intensity of his suffering and associating herself with his sacrifice in her mother’s heart” (Lumen gentium LG 58), remain at her children's side at the end of this millennium, to sustain them on their journey to the historic goal of the Great Jubilee.

In the difficulties of the present moment we turn to her with trust, asking her to guard our way as we follow in Christ’s footsteps. May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, continue to show herself a Mother to all. “May the unassuming Young Woman of Nazareth, who 2,000 years ago offered to the world the Incarnate Word, lead the men and women of the new millennium towards the One who is ‘the true light that enlightens every man’ (Jn 1,19)” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 59).

With these wishes, I send my affectionate greeting to you, Venerable Brother, asking you to convey it to all who go on devout pilgrimage to the Shrine of Fatima, with a special thought for those who are suffering in body and spirit. As I entrust the Church’s needs in this blessed land and in every part of the world to the Blessed Virgin, I impart to all my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly gifts.

From the Vatican, 12 May 1997.





Thurday, 15 May 1997

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

Dear National Directors,
Dear Collaborators of the Pontifical Mission Societies,

1. I am pleased to address my cordial welcome to each one of you. I greet and thank in particular Archbishop Charles Schleck, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, for his cordial words expressing the sentiments of all. I likewise greet the general secretaries and national directors, who have gathered in Rome for the annual general assembly of these worthy institutions.

Your meeting this year coincides with two important anniversaries: the 175th of the foundation of the Pontifical Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the 75th of the Motu Proprio Romanorum Pontificum, with which my venerable Predecessor, Pope Pius XI, granted the title “Pontifical” to the Societies for the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood and St Peter the Apostle. And I am certain that the celebration of these two exceptional events will help increase the missionary zeal of the People of God.

2. It is now a well-established tradition that your general assembly should take place every year in May. This year, to recall the foundation of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, you have wished to hold a special pastoral session to reflect on the figure and work of two extraordinary women: Venerable Pauline Marie Jaricot and the patroness of the Missions, St Therese of the Child Jesus.

The former, a young lay woman born in Lyons in 1799, was particularly concerned about the problems of Catholic missions in her time. As the member of an association founded by the Fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris, she was a pioneer of organized missionary co-operation. In fact, with the women employees in the silk factory run by her sister and brother-in-law, she resolved to help the missions with prayers and a small weekly contribution.

Inspired by this initiative, which earned Venerable Pauline Marie the title of foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, on 3 May 1822 a group of lay people gave the association for the Propagation of the Faith a more universal character. Motivated by boundless charity, they stated: “We are Catholics; consequently we must not support this or that specific mission but all the missions in the world”. Precisely for this reason they chose as their motto Ubique per Orbem, adopted later by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the other Mission Societies.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, Pauline Marie, a young woman attentive to the voice of the Spirit, prophetically anticipated what the papal Magisterium and the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council were later to emphasize in highlighting the missionary nature of the whole People of God and the specific contribution to the Church’s evangelizing activity that the laity are asked to make.

Following the example of this courageous woman, you are called today to promote ever more fraternal co-operation between the Churches, inspiring and forming many co-workers for the missionary cause. Seek to instil in them zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel and willingness to support the effort of the younger Churches. This co-operation will be effective if it is continually supported by prayer, sacrifice and the constant desire for holiness. Only this atmosphere of spiritual and apostolic endeavour will be able to establish the conditions for the development of numerous missionary vocations and the generous support of missionary activities.

4. The other figure you have chosen to consider at your assembly is St Therese of the Child Jesus, proclaimed “patroness of the missions” by my venerable Predecessor Pope Pius XI on 14 December 1927. This year we are celebrating the centenary of her death. Although she was called to contemplative life, Therese of the Child Jesus lived in full harmony with the missionary reality of the universal Church. Her supreme desire was to love the Lord and make him loved, working for the glorification of the Church and the salvation of souls, as she stresses in the prayer in which she offers herself as a holocaust to merciful love.

Little Therese’s experience represents an exceptional form of dedication to the cause of evangelization, which is rooted in the path of holiness, an indispensable presupposition of any missionary vocation. As I recalled in the Encyclical Redemptoris missio, “the universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission. This was the earnest desire of the Council, which hoped to be able ‘to enlighten all people with the brightness of Christ, which gleams over the face of the Church, by preaching the Gospel to every creature’. The Church's missionary spirituality is a journey towards holiness” (n. 90).

5. Dear national directors, this is your task: seek by every possible means to foster a renewed missionary zeal in all Christian communities. Based on this apostolic impetus, each of the Societies — the Propagation of the Faith, the Holy Childhood, St Peter the Apostle and the Missionary Union — is called to carry out its specific and irreplaceable task, “since they are the means by which Catholics from their very infancy are imbued with a genuinely universal and missionary spirit; they are also the means which ensure an effective collection of resources for the good of all the missions ... the fostering of lifelong vocations ad gentes, in both the older and younger Churches” (Redemptoris missio RMi 84).

Dear brothers and sisters, as I hope that the preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 will be a further occasion of renewed commitment to the service of the Gospel cause for you all, I entrust you and your co-workers to the motherly protection of Mary, Star of Evangelization, and I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.




Thursday, 15 May 1997

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to welcome you to the Vatican. You have wished to greet the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter in the ministry of faith and service which the Lord entrusted to the Apostles. I thank you for all that you do to assist the work of the Church in your respective countries.

As leaders involved in the food processing industry at the international level, you will be aware that in November of last year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization held a World Summit here in Rome on the nutritional needs of the world, with special attention to the situation of the poor. Unhappily, hunger and malnutrition still affect millions of human beings. While some have plenty, others go hungry. I invite you to do all you can to promote the search for ways to correct this imbalance. The enormity of the task is evident, but each of us in our own way is called to give concrete expression to the concern for the poor which Jesus made the heart of the social message of the Gospel. The words of Christ must continually re-echo in our hearts: "I was hungry and you gave me food" (Mt 25,35).

Upon you and your families I invoke a fresh outpouring of divine gifts, that you may continue to show a deep personal commitment to the common good. God bless you all.




To the Very Reverend Father Pietro Cifuni

Superior General of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus

1. The festive occasion of the first centenary of the foundation of the Congregation of Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus (16 May 1897) offers me the welcome opportunity to address to you and to all the sons of Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia, the Daughters of Divine Zeal and all who share the same ideal, a word of congratulation and good wishes and especially of thanks to God for the gift he has wished to give his Church, enriching her with the "Rogationist" religious charism. The prospect of the approaching third Christian millennium is an additional reason for a celebration that will inspire a renewed commitment to the generous and distinguished service of proclaiming and witnessing to Christ’s Gospel in the various countries where they have spread.

2. "Novum fecit Dominus" (Scritti, vol.?I, p. 96; cf. Is Is 43,19 Ap 21,5). These words of Sacred Scripture, which the father founder was fond of repeating, filled with grateful wonder at the work achieved by the Lord through his humble ministry, re-echo today in the souls of his sons and daughters, leading them to relive that sudden luminous insight that enflamed his heart, making him certain that he had "discovered the secret of all good works and of the salvation of all souls" (Antologia Rogazionista, p. 382).

"Rogate ergo Dominum messis, ut mittat operarios in messem suam" (Mt 9,38): here is the joyful discovery of Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia. As he meditated on these words of Jesus, he understood the apostolic anxiety of his divine Heart at the sight of the crowds "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9,36), and he made it his own, basing his whole life and apostolate on it. Your founder was already dedicating himself with all his strength, as he himself says, to the spiritual and temporal relief of the most neglected, but he wondered to himself: "Who are these few orphans who are saved, these few poor who are evangelized, in comparison with the millions who are lost and who lie abandoned without a shepherd?" (Antologia Rogazionista, p. 382). This is the "vast and immense way forward", as he describes it, which was pointed out to him through those words of the Lord.

In making them his own, he made his own the Heart of Christ: his compassion for the scattered children of God who must be led back to the unity of a single family (cf. Jn Jn 11,52). With Christ he entrusted himself to the Father, transforming into a prayer inspired by the Spirit the invocation of salvation for the countless ranks of men and women who had still not received the glad tidings of the coming of God’s kingdom.

3. Thus the tiny shoot of an institution started to sprout, as from a small seed; today it is flourishing and bears abundant fruit. It is both a school of holiness, in the demanding following of Christ the Lord by way of the evangelical counsels, and a precious and providential instrument of charity and evangelization.

In the footsteps of Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia, the Rogationists have inherited the vocation of imitating Christ, the heart of the world: a heart filled with understanding and brimming with love for the brothers and sisters waiting for the Word of salvation and the Bread of Life; a heart that, with trusting perseverance, never tires of praying the Father to "send labourers into his harvest".

In fidelity to the specific charism of their foundation, they are called to respond, first of all, to the call to holiness on the path of the evangelical counsels.

As I recalled in the Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata, in the midst of our contemporaries it is an eloquent "confession and a sign of the Trinity", because it is nourished with an increasingly sincere and forceful love "for Christ, which leads to closeness with him; love for the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts to his inspiration; love for the Father, the first origin and supreme goal of the consecrated life" (n. 21).

The very prayer of the "Rogate", source of an original form of apostolic life, is not merely a prayer addressed to God, but a prayer lived in God: for it is conceived in union with the merciful heart of Christ, motivated by the "sighs" of the Spirit (cf. Rom Rm 8,26) and addressed to the Father, the source of all good.

4. Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia, docile to the divine Master’s teachings and inwardly guided by the impulse of the Spirit, highlighted the conditions and characteristics of that prayer which make it an ecclesial work "par excellence", yielding abundant fruit for the Church and for the world.

The first condition is to put the Blessed Eucharist at the centre of personal and community life, in order to learn from it how to pray and love according to the Heart of Christ, indeed, to unite the offering of his own life with the offering Christ makes of his, continuing to intercede with the Father on our behalf (cf. Heb He 7,25 He 9,24). After the founder’s example, may every member of the Rogationist family be a profoundly Eucharistic soul!

The second condition is the unanimity of hearts that makes prayer acceptable to God: "If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18,19-20). "I say", said the blessed founder, "that the commandment given by our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Love one another as I have loved you’, which is what distinguishes true Christians, is the principal commandment of this institute, as is that of loving God above all things with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s strength" (Antologia Rogazionista, p. 511).

The third condition on which the founder insisted is intimate association with the suffering of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the practice of meditation and the generous acceptance, day after day, of exterior and interior suffering, one’s own and that of others, especially that endured by Holy Church, the Bride of Christ.

Finally, Bl. Annibale Maria stressed the need to conform one’s life to that of Mary most holy, who in her Immaculate Heart bore "engraved in golden letters all the words spoken by Jesus Christ our Lord", and who therefore could not but bear within herself "those words that issued from the divine zeal of the Heart of Jesus: ‘Rogate ergo Dominum messis...’" (Scritti, vol. 54, p. 165).

5. It is not surprising that an intense and generous apostolic activity should have sprung from the profound doctrine and experience of the "Rogate" prayer, both in the dissemination of this spirit of prayer, in the promotion of vocations and in the formation of children and young people, especially the poor and abandoned, and finally, in evangelization and in the human advancement of the neediest social classes.

In fact, service to the young and the poor, in the spirit of your father founder, is not only the necessary test of the sincerity of your prayer, but stems from deep penetration into the sentiments of the Heart of Christ who blessed the Father because he hid the secrets of the kingdom from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes (cf. Mt Mt 11,25).

On the other hand, the invitation of Jesus, "Come and see" (Jn 1,39), is "the golden rule of pastoral work" even today, because it "aims at presenting the attraction of the person of the Lord Jesus and the beauty of the total gift of self for the sake of the Gospel" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 64). Furthermore, this is why Bl. Annibale Maria insisted tirelessly on persevering union with God and on union among his brothers: unity, in fact, "is a symbol of the coming of Christ (cf. Jn Jn 13,35 Jn 17,21) and is a source of great apostolic power" (Decree Perfectae caritatis PC 15).

6. Very Reverend Father and dear spiritual sons of Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia, your vocation is in the "Rogate" spirit; your mission consists in spreading it! May the richness and timeliness of the charism of which you are the heirs and trustees spur you more each day to make its gifts of grace bear fruit for your religious family, for your path of evangelical perfection, for your distinguished and generous service to the whole Church.

The modern means that human sciences and contemporary technology make available and that you rightly try to use in your apostolic work will only be effective if they are sustained and guided by the original charismatic inspiration of the blessed founder, who saw in the "Rogate" the means God himself had provided to bring about that "new and divine" holiness with which the Holy Spirit wishes to enrich Christians at the dawn of the third millennium, in order to "make Christ the heart of the world".

It is not without providential coincidence that 16 May 1897, the date on which 100 years ago the first three young men formed by Bl. Annibale entered the novitiate, was precisely the Fourth Sunday of Easter, "Good Shepherd Sunday". On that same Sunday the Servant of God Paul VI, my venerable Predecessor, established the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. On the occasion of your founder’s beatification (7 October 1990), I also wanted to hold up Annibale Maria Di Francia to the Church as the "authentic precursor and zealous teacher of the modern pastoral ministry of vocations" (Insegnamenti, XIII, 2 [1990], 830).

Today and increasingly, "the problem of vocations is a real challenge which directly concerns the various institutes but also involves the whole Church", so that "we must also pray unceasingly to the Lord of the harvest, that he will send workers to his Church in order to meet the needs of the new evangelization" (Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 64). It must never be forgotten that "a Church which evangelizes is a Church that prays to have evangelizers" (Address to the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, 11 October 1985, n. 15; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 October 1985, p. 3).

This institute, in a spirit of full communion with the whole Church and of fidelity to the charism of its blessed founder, has the urgent task of praying for and of encouraging prayer for vocations. May every spiritual child of Bl. Annibale Maria Di Francia deepen his knowledge of the gift he has received and enliven it, becoming an increasingly worthy labourer of the Gospel and a shepherd after the Heart of Christ.

I commend to Mary the ministry this congregation is called to carry out in the Church and, as I implore an abundance of divine grace on you, Very Reverend Father, on your brothers and sisters and on all your co-workers, I sincerely impart the favour of my Apostolic Blessing, as a pledge of special affection.

From the Vatican, 16 May 1997.






Monday, 19 May 1997

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With heartfelt affection in the Lord I greet you — the members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, representing the Church in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland — and I thank God for “the joy and comfort of your love” (cf. Philm v. 7). Your ad limina visit is a further occasion for us to affirm our collegial communion and strengthen the bonds of love and peace which give us support and encouragement in the service of the one Church of Christ. My prayer is that in this time of preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 the whole Catholic community of Southern Africa will be profoundly inspired by “a true longing for holiness, a deep desire for conversion and personal renewal” (Tertio millennio adveniente TMA 42). As Successors of the Apostles you have a particular role to play in this preparation. You have to be “examples to the flock” (1P 5,3) and masters of “life according to the Spirit” (Rm 8,5). St Augustine reminds us of the seriousness of our responsibilities when he writes: “Besides being a Christian ... I am a leader also, and for this shall render to God an account of my ministry” (Sermon 46: On the Shepherds, 2). Let us pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will not find us wanting in our mission as Teachers, Priests and Shepherds of his flock!

2. Since your last ad limina visit, your ministry has had to adapt to radically new social and political conditions. During my brief visit to South Africa in September 1995 I had a firsthand experience of the new spirit animating the country’s people and their leaders. While enormous problems still remain to be solved, there is renewed enthusiasm for building a nation of freedom and justice for all. Certainly, the wounds of the past will take a long time to heal and much effort will be needed to bring about a real and transforming reconciliation. An important start has been made, and in this process the Church has a vital contribution to offer, especially through the formation of consciences in the moral and religious truths and values constituting the necessary foundation of a society which seeks to be worthy of man and of his transcendent destiny. During the apartheid era you and your collaborators were often called upon to show that “the word of God is not fettered” (2Tm 2,9). Now you must continue, boldly proclaiming the “truth of the Gospel” (Ga 2,5) to the faithful and to all men and women of goodwill. Just as in the past you taught that every form of racism is an intolerable affront to the inalienable dignity of human beings, so now you proclaim that peace and justice can be truly established only when the deadly cycle of violence and vindictiveness is replaced by the grace of forgiveness (cf. Message for the 1997 World Day of Peace, n. 3).

The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa calls on the Bishops of the continent to ask themselves two fundamental questions (cf. n. 46): How must the Church carry out her evangelizing mission as the Year 2000 approaches? How can African Christians become ever more faithful witnesses to the Lord Jesus? Returning again and again to these same questions, individually in your own prayer and collectively through the reflection and study of your Conference, you will surely conclude with the Synod that the challenge lies essentially in the appropriate formation of the agents of evangelization. “The whole People of God in the theological understanding of Lumen gentium —this People, which comprises the members of the Body of Christ in its entirety — has received the mandate ... to proclaim the Gospel.... The whole community needs to be trained, motivated and empowered for evangelization, each according to his or her specific role within the Church” (Ecclesia in Africa ). Nothing is more important for the future of the Church and for the service of society than the sound training of priests, religious and lay faithful.

3. The laity are playing a more and more active, responsible and irreplaceable role in your particular Churches. As a priestly people, they carry on Christ’s redemptive work by offering their lives in worship and self-giving love of God and neighbour (cf. Rom Rm 12,1-2); as a prophetic people, they accept the Gospel in faith and proclaim it in word and action in the varied circumstances of daily life; and as a kingly people, they serve their brothers and sisters in justice and charity. The better they understand the implications of their Baptism, the more they will see their family and professional duties, their civic responsibilities and sociopolitical activities, as a call to exert an influence aimed at changing ways of thinking and the very structures of society, so that they will better reflect God’s plan for the human family (cf. ibid., n. 54). Continue to inspire the laity to build a society marked by truth, honesty, solidarity and reconciliation. Continue to encourage young people to believe in their future and to build that future in committed service of the common good and involvement in the public sphere, rejecting all selfishness, corruption, and power-seeking.

4. In an increasingly urbanized and secularized society, the lay faithful need special pastoral help in safeguarding the many positive elements of African family traditions. Where it has remained intact, the African family is that “community of generations” in which essential human and spiritual values are handed on, making it the basic cell and building-block of society and the first school of Christian life. Every Diocese and every parish needs a programme of family apostolate and marriage preparation in which the full truth of God’s plan regarding love and life is presented unambiguously. As Shepherds you must be watchful that the Church’s teaching on conjugal love is faithfully taught by priests, theologians and pastoral workers. I strongly recommend to your attention the recent documents of the Holy See regarding those vital questions in which State legislation and public campaigns increasingly clash with Christian moral principles, even subjecting individuals and couples to economic or social pressures, and thereby undermining their dignity and freedom.

Speeches 1997 - Saturday, 10 May 1997