Speeches 1971

August 1971


Sunday, 8 August 1971

Beloved sons and daughters,

It is a great joy for us to greet your group this morning. We know that many of you are Blood Indians and that all of you belong to the Blackfeet; you are also sons and daughters of Canada.

As We welcome you We wish to express Our affection for you and your people. We likewise wish to express Our esteem for your Indian culture and for the values which make it up.

We know that these values have been retained and that Christianity has drawn upon them. For this, We pay homage to the missionaries, who with selfless dedication have brought you the Word of God and who still minister among you with fraternal love.

It is Our prayer that your people and all the beloved Indians of Canada may attain the fulness of human progress, and fulfil in highest measure your Christian destiny. In this respect We hope that, as more abundant prosperity becomes yours, the Lord of life will remain your cherished lot. We pray, in a particular way, that among your young people there will be those who joyfully receive God’s call to the priesthood and to religious life, as well as those who dedicate themselves to Christian service in the laity.

Through you We would send Our greeting into your homes and churches, into your schools and places of work. It goes to all: to the old and to the young, and especially to the sick and to the children. Upon all of you We invoke grace and peace from Jesus Christ and in his name We give you Our special Apostolic Blessing.




Wednesday, 11 August 1971

Dears sons and daughters,

Here you are gathered together in Accra for the first Pan African and Malagasy Meeting of the Laity, a meeting organized on the initiative of Our Council for the Laity and presided over by two of its members, Mr. John Nimo and Mr. Joseph Amichia, the latter recently named Ambassador of the Ivory Coast to the Holy See.

We have pleasure in greeting among your number, together with Cardinals Paul Zoungrana and Maurice Roy, the high civil authorities of the country which is welcoming you, and various representatives of the Holy See, among whom We wish to make special mention of Our close collaborator, Archbishop Bernardin Gantin, Associate Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

Their presence speaks eloquently enough of the importance of your meeting. You have come from nearly thirty countries, and you are aware that you are representing in this place the immense multitude of those who have delegated you and with whom you have taken an active part in preparing the work of this Assembly. Through you We wish to tell all of them of Our great happiness at an event which demonstrates so strikingly the vitality of the Church in your continent. It is to them as well as to you that We address this message, which you will pass on to them as an appeal to go forward and to make of this meeting in Accra the point of departure for a fresh and vigorous missionary effort.

You all remember the conciliar text which is, so to speak, the charter of the lay apostolate in the “missionary activity of the Church”. It will suffice to remind you of the opening sentences:

“The Church has not been truly established, and is not yet fully alive, nor is it a perfect sign of Christ among men, unless there exists a laity worthy of the name working along with the hierarchy. For the Gospel cannot be deeply imprinted on the talents, life, and work of any people without the active presence of lay persons” (Ad gentes divinitus, 21).

This expresses the scope of the research which you are undertaking. Dear sons and daughters, may you be able to approach, in a spirit of founders and witnesses, and in the light of Christ’s Gospel, the theme proposed to you by your worthy Preparatory Committee: “The layman’s part in the growth of the Church and the full development of Africa”.

The choice of this theme is of itself highly significant. It invites you to make a joint study in depth of the vocation proper to the laity. It is a vocation to “seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Lumen gentium LG 31).

You are committed to the growth of the Church because you are members of the People of God; you are committed to the development of Africa because you are members of the earthly city. This double commitment must be one single thing for Christians, who reject any arbitrary dichotomy between their life and their faith and who strive to “collaborate in the temporal earthly progress of men as well as in their eternal destiny, in the harmony of a unified thought and life” (The Missionary Role of the Laity. Document of the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples).

As you can see, it is above all through the medium of your awareness as lay people that the false dilemma “Development or Evangelization” can be resolved, a dilemma that We rejected last year on the occasion of the World Mission Day.

This being so, what are you, dear sons and daughters, to do for ensuring through your Christian activity the simultaneous realization of the progress of Africa and the progress of the Church? What are you to do to ensure that, while you cooperate in the development of your countries with your brothers and sisters of other beliefs and ideologies, with full respect for their consciences, the witness of the Gospel may be borne?

Have no doubt that this will be “by giving your apostolate an Africanized form”, to use the expression recently used in Rome by Archbishop Gantin, echoing our own conviction: “By now you Africans are missionaries to yourselves” (Talk at the Symposium of Bishops of Africa, at Kampala). You will keep this constantly in mind as you take up, in your work of group discussion, the various objects of your study: the economic, social and political evolution of your regions, the family, education and training, the laity in the life of the Church and, finally, the action to be undertaken.

But to give the lay apostolate its African character you will not for all that hesitate to draw from the Church’s experience what has universal value and what reflects the great missionary teachings of the Old and New Testaments. It is fitting to make special mention of the deeply evangelical insight of the late Cardinal Cardijn, which has made it possible for a genuine body of lay people to spring up and develop in very many countries, in the most widely differing social contexts. From that insight the Conucil’s reflections upon the vocation of the laity benefitted greatly.

Africa has not been the least in drawing inspiration from that discernment; and is it not also very noteworthy that it reflects in some way the traditional procedure still sometimes followed by the elders of your villages for seeking the paths to justice and peace? When something happens, a gathering is held beneath the “palaver tree”; everyone is allowed to speak, so that the full truth of the facts may be learned, that the facts may be judged as correctly as possible in accordance with the community’s conscience and finally that a course of action may be decided upon.

But if it is a question of the laity’s missionary activity in the Church, what dimensions this ancestral wisdom is called upon to assume, a wisdom which is animated, upheld, consecrated and made holy by the Spirit of God, among those who are enlightened by God’s Word and nourished by the Sacraments!

It is not just certain people, but all-children, youth and adults, men and women-who are called upon to consider their daily lives as consecrated lives, as the human history of a people from which God wishes to fashion the Sacred History of his People. All are called to reflect upon the events of which this history is made up, in order to discover therein the human values proper to each social group, to discern therein what is already the action and the presence of God, and to uncover also the temptations and the sin which are so many appeals to look towards the one Saviour. All, finally, are called upon to translate into actions the light thus received and so to enable the Church to attain her goal:

“Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also healed, ennobled, and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil, and the happiness of man” (Lumen gentium LG 17).

Dear sons and daughters, there is no need to remind you that such action of the laity in your Churches, such a full exercise of the priesthood of the laity in Africa, will not be possible without a close and permanent communion with the hierarchy, and in trusting and fraternal exchange with the priests whose mission is inseparable from yours. To those priests who are among you, and to all their brethren in the priesthood, We wish to say how much We count upon them and how much confidence We place in their role as educators in the faith, revealers of the Word of God and ministers of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The conciliar decree Presbyterorum Ordinis recalled this in forceful terms:

“Ceremonies however beautiful, or associations however flourishing, will be of little value if they are not directed towards educating men in the attainment of Christian maturity. To further this goal, priests should help men see what is required and what is God’s will in the great and small events of life”.

Dearly beloved sons, whether you be priests native to the place in which you work or from other lands, help one another to work in this direction, and do not fail to associate in this essential task of promoting the laity the Religious Brothers and Sisters whose irreplaceable action, which complements your own, you have experienced for so long.

The Church is a communion, an exchange and a harmonious growth, in the fidelity of each vocation to the gift received from Christ: “And to some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teachers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ” (Ep 4,11-12).

Dear sons and daughters of Africa and of the Islands of the Indian Ocean, be witnesses-each and every one of you-in your lands and, more than ever in our time of intense movements of population, “to the ends of the earth” (Act. 1, 8).

For this great mission We invoke upon you, your families, your apostolic groups and your different countries the grace of the Lord, and in his name We give you with deep affection Our Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, August 5, 1971.




Thursday, 12 August 1971

Mr Ambassador,

We are pleased this morning to receive the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See. In you We welcome the official envoy of your government and the representative of your people.

The Iraqi people are dear to Us in many ways and the role that your homeland has played in the history of the world is considerable. Among the many facts of your history We note with admiration the origin of him who was to become the honoured and revered patriarch of three great religions.

We are grateful for the greetings of your President and for the good wishes that he sends Us not only for Our person but for the well-being of the Catholic Church. In Iraq the Catholic Church is not a stranger, and We like to think that she will always be able to enjoy that freedom necessary to fulfil her religious mission and to render her services in the fields of assistance and education. The Church seeks to be of aid also in those sectors mentioned by Your Excellency: to contribute, namely, to the liberty, prosperity and dignified life of the Iraqi people. It has been the constant aim of Our pontificate to promote the development of peoples and thus to foster true and lasting peace among the families of the earth.

We are thankful for the kind words of appreciation of Our work on behalf of all men. This aspect of universalism has indeed merited Our special attention; recently We spoke out in favour of the victims of situations of injustice “who are discriminated against, in law or in fact, on account of their race, origin, colour, culture, sex or religion” (Octogesima adveniens, 16). You can be assured of Our desire to work for justice, freedom and peace throughout the world, and of Our predilection for those in want, for those who suffer and for those oppressed.

It is Our hope that your mission will be a happy and successful one and bring honour to your country; in this respect We assure you willingly of Our cooperation.

We would ask you to convey Our respectful greetings to the President of Iraq and to assure your people of the friendship and esteem of the Holy See. Upon Your Excellency and the mission you now begin We invoke the blessings of the Almighty.

*AAS 63 (1971), p.692-693.

Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. IX, p.690-691.

L’Attività della Santa Sede 1971, p.317-318.

L'Osservatore Romano 13.8.1971 p.1.

ORa n.34 p.2


Monday, 30 August 1971

Dear friends from Keio University.

It is always a real pleasure for Us to greet university students; it is a special pleasure for Us when they come from Japan. We know the dynamism that is yours as students and We know the richness that is yours as sons and daughters of Japan and inheritors of the great Asian culture of your forefathers.

Realizing full well that “the youth . . . of all Asia is on the march” (Address t o the University Students of Santa Tomas, 28 November 1970), there is special significance for Us in repeating other words that We spoke last year during Our visit to your continent: “Dear students, We greet you with the deepest loving interest and with all Our paternal affection. Today is your hour. You are the advancing vanguard of your country. Your responsibility is supreme for the future of your nation” (Ibid.).

Our desire this morning is to tell you of this affection and to assure you of respect and esteem for the rich patrimony of Japan and of all Asia. We wish, moreover, to do this in the name of Christ and in the name of the Christianity he founded. The witness that the Church strives to give with ever increasing sincerity and efficacy is that of unity in diversity, and universality in brotherhood.

To you as students We would express once more Our wish for the success of your mission to a world in need. We know “what values you possess: your enthusiasm for the future, your thirst for what is just and true and your aversion for hatred and its worst expression which is war, even your rejection of the out-of-date elements in present-day civilization” (Address to Youth, in Sydney, 2 December 1970). Because of all of this, We pray that your contribution and that of your university colleagues may be great on behalf of promoting peace in justice and brotherhood.

May the Most High enlighten your minds and inflame your hearts for the practice of love.

September 1971



Wednesday, 29 September 1971

We are grateful toYou for interrupting your Celebration Day discussions to come and visit us, for it gives us the opportunity to express our warm appreciation of the highly useful work done by the two Catholic organizations whose jubilee it is, and to encourage them to continue with no less zeal in the future.

The International Catholic Migration Commission and the now century-old St. Raphaels-Verein have a proud record of achievement. Each on its own level has been of immense assistance to those who have left their homelands to seek refuge or employment elsewhere. They have always been zealous to show these migrants and refugees the active love which the Christian vocation calls for.

The Christian Church has always been mindful of its Founder’s warning that Judgement will turn also on whether we welcome him in the strangers we encounter (Cfr. Matth Mt 25, 35, 43). It has made much of the natural virtue of hospitality, setting up Abraham as an example of one who, in welcoming strangers, entertained angels without knowing it (Cfr. Hebr.13, 2). The pilgrim people of God are also reminded by Scripture that they are all no more than strangers and nomads on earth, on their way to a heavenly homeland (Cfr. Hebr. 11. 13-16).

All who are in need have a claim on the aid of Christians. The need of many refugees for both bodily and spiritual assistance is very grave. The problem is made truly dramatic by the numbers involved. A broad movement of solidarity is called for. Your agencies must encourage and channel such a movement, in collaboration with other organizations devoted to this worthy end.

Your jubilee congress happens to coincide with one of the greatest and most dramatic movements of population known to human history. You can understand that, in recalling your work for refugees and migrants, Our thoughts cannot but go to the millions of human beings who are at present seeking refuge in India.

There has been a great outburst of solidarity. An impulse was given by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who is coordinating official action in favour of the Pakistani refugees. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration has placed at his disposal its vast experience in problems of displaced persons. The international community has already responded with generosity. But it must intesify its efforts yet further and prolong them over a considerable period.

For Our part, We have not ceased to urge the Catholic relief and welfare agencies to take their full part in bearing this common burden. For this purpose We have called on Our Council “Cor Unum” to undertake, together with the Catholic welfare organizations and qualified representatives of the Christian communities in the countries directly concerned, a study of how the Church can increase its endeavours towards finding a solution for the serious situation. We take this occasion to express our satisfaction with what has already been done, and also to insist on the need to do still more, The problem, unfortunately, is still far from being solved.

We count on you and on all men of good will to redouble your efforts in this cause. May the Lord strengthen you and guide you. Invoking his aid, We give you and your fellow workers in the International Catholic Migration Commission and the St. Raphaels- Verein Our wholehearted Apostolic Blessing.

October 1971



Monday, 25 October 1971

Your Holiness,

With joy we extend our fraternal greeting as We welcome you to Our home. In your person We salute a Church which sees in the faith and devotion of the apostolic community of Antioch the roots and foundation of its own Christian witness. We are particularly happy to welcome an exalted visitor from Damascus, where, in receiving the holy waters of baptism, the Apostle of the Nations, whose name We bear, began that life of total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ which was to lead him to this city of Rome and the supreme sacrifice of his life out of love for that Lord.

Nine years ago, Your Holiness accepted the invitation of Our predecessor of venerated memory, John XXIII, to be represented at the Second Vatican Council by a delegated observer. Since that time the exchange of letters between us and the visit of qualified members of Our Church to Your Holiness have helped strengthen the relations between our Churches. Now we have the joy of meeting in person so that we may share the thoughts and desires which animate us as we strive to fulfil God’s wish for His Church and for the world redeemed by the precious Blood of His Son.

The history of the relations between our Churches shows many lights and shadows. We recognize that difficulties which have been created over centuries are not always easily overcome. Each of us is motivated by a sincere desire to be faithful to our Fathers in the faith and to the tradition they have handed down to us. Yet this very desire to be faithful to them impels us to search with ever greater zeal for the realization of full communion with each other.

We share a common sacramental life and a common Apostolic tradition, particularly as affirmed in what is popularly called the Nicene Creed. The dogmatic definitions of the first three Ecumenical Councils form part of our common heritage. Thus we confess together the mystery of the Word of God, become one of us to save us and to permit us to become in Him sons of God and brothers of each other.

It is in total submission to this Lord and Saviour, God the Son Incarnate, that we will be able to find the way towards that reconciliation which will bring us to perfect communion. The Syrian Orthodox Church in union with her sister Oriental Orthodox Churches, meeting in Addis Ababa in 1965, has already determined to press forward for a dialogue which will help overcome the misunderstandings of the past. Already theologians are working with renewed effort to throw new light on the mystery of the one Lord Jesus Christ. If they recognize that there are still differences in the theological interpretation of this mystery of Christ because of different ecclesiastical and theological traditions, they are convinced, however, that these various formulations can be understood along the lines of the faith of the early councils, which is the faith we also profess (Cfr. POPE PIUS XII, Encyclical Sempiternus Rex, AAS 1951, PP 636-637).

We, as pastors, can encourage the common efforts being made for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of this mystery which, far from raising doubts about our two different ecclesiastical traditions, can reinforce them and show the basic harmony which exists between them.

The task is the more urgent because of the demands which are being made upon the Churches today. In a world which is struggling to give birth to new ideas, to new developments which can enable all men to share in the gifts of God’s creation, to new relationships between men and nations which will ensure peace with justice, we are called to proclaim the «one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God who is Father of all, over all, through all and within all» (Ep 4,5-6).

If we can carry on this task in fraternal communion we will contribute in an even more perfect way to &at service of the world which is an essential part of the mission of the Church. We will be fulfilling our vocation to see the mystery of the compassion of God translated into Christian compassion between men and for men.

In the visit of Your Holiness We see a new testimony to our common desire to carry out this mission and fulfil this vocation, As We welcome you, We pray that God may guide our steps for the glory of His name and the peace and reconciliation of all those who are called to be His sons.




Wednesday, 27 October 1971

Your Holiness:

Before this assembly of chosen representatives of the Roman Catholic Church, We would like to express once more Our joy and Our gratitude to God that We have had the opportunity to meet with the spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church in an atmosphere of prayer, openness of spirit and fraternal respect and comprehension.

Throughout the centuries, in times of glory and in times of great suffering, your Church has given witness to Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God made man for our salvation. Preachers, scholars and pastors have all contributed to deepening the understanding of the Incarnation of the Son of God and to making the significance of God’s condescension towards man a living reality for your people. Many of them bore witness to their faith by the supreme sacrifice of their lives.

We are happy that Your Holiness has personally been able to visit the Church of Rome which, under God’s grace, has also struggled to fulfil its mission through the devoted actions of its own teachers, pastors and witnesses to her faith.

These Fathers in the faith and these saints and martyrs call out to us to apply ourselves with renewed dedication to that mission, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is ever ready to offer us new light and strength. We Ourself and Our brothers in the episcopate, with humility but also with great confidence, are determined to listen to these promptings of the Spirit and to strive to carry them out to the best of our ability. That is the underlying principle of the work of this Synod of Bishops which is gathered here and which extends today its heartfelt greeting to Your Holiness.

All of us are encouraged by the fact that your own Church, in union with your sister Oriental Orthodox Churches, is also actively engaged in searching for new ways to carry on her mission in a spirit of unity and docility to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches. Your visit to us makes us even more confident that our Churches will find means for greater cooperation in our common task and, at the same time, will open up the road to that full communion so ardently desired by all of us.

As We pray that the Lord of the Church may lead us to full reconciliation, We are mindful also of the particular needs of the Middle East where so many of your faithful are to be found. May this meeting with Your Holiness be a new stimulus to all Christians, especially to those of that area, to work for reconciliation in Christ among themselves and to search out, with imagination and tenacity, a durable peace with justice for all who dwell in those lands so dear to Us.

Your Holiness, again We express Our heartfelt thanks for your visit. As We take leave of you now, We do so with gratitude to God for what he has permitted us to accomplish up to now, with renewed confidence that the Holy Spirit will continue to show us the ways to accomplish the divine will, and with Our prayers that almighty God will abundantly bless Your Holiness and all the clergy and faithful of your Church.




Wednesday, 27 October 1971

As they conclude their solemn meeting which marks a new step in the relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Pope Paul VI and His Holiness Mar Ignatius Jacoub III humbly render thanks to Almighty God, for having made possible this historic opportunity to pray together, to engage in a fraternal exchange of views concerning the needs of the Church of God and to witness to their common desire that all Christians may intensify their service to the world with humility and complete dedication.

The Pope and the Patriarch have recognized the deep spiritual communion which already exists between their Churches. The celebration of the sacraments of the Lord, the common profession of faith in the Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God made man for man’s salvation, the apostolic traditions which form part of the common heritage of both Churches, the great Fathers and Doctors, including Saint Cyril of Alexandria, who are their common masters in the faith-all these testify to the action of the Holy Spirit who has continued to work in their Churches even when there have been human weakness and failings. The period of mutual recrimination and condemnation has given place to a willingness to meet together in sincere efforts to lighten and eventually remove the burden of history which still weighs heavily upon Christians.

Progress has already been made and Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Mar Ignatius Jacoub III are in agreement that there is no difference in the faith they profess concerning the mystery of the Word of God made flesh and become really man, even if over the centuries difficulties have arisen out of the different theological expressions by which this faith was expressed. They therefore encourage the clergy and faithful of their Churches to even greater endeavours at removing the obstacles which still prevent complete communion among them. This should be done with love, with openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and with mutual respect for each other and each other’s Church. They particularly exhort the scholars of their Churches, and of all Christian communities, to penetrate more deeply into the mystery of Christ with humility and fidelity to the Apostolic traditions so that the fruits of their reflections may help the Church in her service to the world which the Incarnate Son of God has redeemed.

This world, which God so loved as to send His only begotten Son, is torn by strife, by injustice and by the inhumanity of man towards man. As Christian Pastors, the Pope and the Patriarch raise their common appeal to the leaders of the peoples to increase the efforts towards achieving lasting peace among nations and towards removing the obstacles which prevent so many men from enjoying the fruits of justice and religious freedom. Their appeal is directed to all areas of the world and in particular to that land hallowed by the preaching, the death and the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.




Wednesday, 27 October 1971

Dear friends,

We are very pleased today to greet all of you, who have come to Rome to participate in the Conference of the International Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled.

We have been informed of your interest in promoting legislation in favour of the handicapped and of your desire to work for the effective recognition of the rights of the disabled. We express Our profound admiration for the goals that you have set up for yourselves and praise your efforts in this direction.

You are trying to awaken men to the needs of those persons for whom society must make a special effort to insure the protection of their dignity and the attainment of their human fulfilment.

As We express Our esteem for the aim of your activities and Our respect for you, We wish to give you Our encouragement. In doing so, We are thinking of the many categories of persons who are in need of help and whose lives can be enriched by the selfless and responsible dedication of qualified persons such as yourselves and those whose professional help you elicit in different ways. We are thinking of the good that can be done through proper legislation. Above all, We are thinking of the persons themselves: the mentally retarded, the emotionally disturbed, the exceptional children with their multiple and varied needs-and so many others.

Apart from the evident and laudable humanitarian value of your goals, We see in the field of your endeavours a close relationship with the mission confided to Christianity by Christ. He himself is described in the Gospels as having compassion on the crowd (Cfr. Matth Mt 15,32) and giving himself totally to doing good (Cfr. Act. 10, 38).

Yes, dear friends, be assured of Our benevolence and support as you strive to instil1 consciousness in today’s society of the many needs of so many disabled persons. May this decade be truly one of rehabilitation.

We are pleased to hold up to a world that is in search of true and lasting values-especially to youth-the goals of fraternal concern, of justice and charity that are yours.

May the Lord himself sustain your efforts and make them truly productive. Upon all of you and those whom you seek to serve We invoke God’s choicest blessings.


Speeches 1971