JOHN PAUL II
TO HIS VENERABLE BROTHERS IN THE EPISCOPATE
THE RELIGIOUS FAMILIES
THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE CHURCH
AND TO ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF GOOD WILL
AT THE BEGINNING OF HIS PAPAL MINISTRY
Venerable Brothers, and dear Sons and Daughters greetings and the Apostolic Blessing
1. At the close of the second Millennium
THE REDEEMER OF MAN, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history. To him go my thoughts and my heart in this solemn moment of the world that the Church and the whole family of present-
We also are in a certain way in a season of a new Advent, a season of expectation: "In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son..."3, by the Son, his Word, who became man and was born of the Virgin Mary. This act of redemption marked the high point of the history of man within God's loving plan. God entered the history of humanity and, as a man, became an actor in that history, one of the thousands of millions of human beings but at the same time Unique! Through the Incarnation God gave human life the dimension that he intended man to have from his first beginning; he has granted that dimension definitively-
2. The first words of the new Pontificate
It was to Christ the Redeemer that my feelings and my thoughts were directed on 16 October of last year, when, after the canonical election, I was asked: "Do you accept?" I then replied: "With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, in spite of the great difficulties, I accept". Today I wish to make that reply known publicly to all without exception, thus showing that there is a link between the first fundamental truth of the Incarnation, already mentioned, and the ministry that, with my acceptance of my election as Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, has become my specific duty in his See.
I chose the same names that were chosen by my beloved Predecessor John Paul I. Indeed, as soon as he announced to the Sacred College on 26 August 1978 that he wished to be called John Paul-
Through these two names and two pontificates I am linked with the whole tradition of the Apostolic See and with all my Predecessors in the expanse of the twentieth century and of the preceding centuries. I am connected, through one after another of the various ages back to the most remote, with the line of the mission and ministry that confers on Peter's See an altogether special place in the Church. John XXIII and Paul VI are a stage to which I wish to refer directly as a threshold from which I intend to continue, in a certain sense together with John Paul I, into the future, letting myself be guided by unlimited trust in and obedience to the Spirit that Christ promised and sent to his Church. On the night before he suffered he said to his apostles: "It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you"5. "When the Counsellor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning"6. "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come"7.
3. Trust in the Spirit of Truth and of Love
Entrusting myself fully to the Spirit of truth, therefore, I am entering into the rich inheritance of the recent pontificates. This inheritance has struck deep roots in the awareness of the Church in an utterly new way, quite unknown previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council, which John XXIII convened and opened and which was later successfully concluded and perseveringly put into effect by Paul VI, whose activity I was myself able to watch from close at hand. I was constantly amazed at his profound wisdom and his courage and also by his constancy and patience in the difficult postconciliar period of his pontificate. As helmsman of the Church, the bark of Peter, he knew how to preserve a providential tranquillity and balance even in the most critical moments, when the Church seemed to be shaken from within, and he always maintained unhesitating hope in the Church's solidity. What the Spirit said to the Church through the Council of our time, what the Spirit says in this Church to all the Churches8 cannot lead to anything else-
Paul VI selected this present-
4. Reference to Paul VI's first Encyclical
Precisely for this reason, the Church's consciousness must go with universal openness, in order that all may be able to find in her "the unsearchable riches of Christ"10 spoken of by the Apostle of the Gentiles. Such openness, organically joined with the awareness of her own nature and certainty of her own truth, of which Christ said: "The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me"11, is what gives the Church her apostolic, or in other words her missionary, dynamism, professing and proclaiming in its integrity the whole of the truth transmitted by Christ. At the same time she must carry on the dialogue that Paul VI, in his Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam called "the dialogue of salvation", distinguishing with precision the various circles within which it was to be carried on12. In referring today to this document that gave the programme of Paul VI's pontificate, I keep thanking God that this great Predecessor of mine, who was also truly my father, knew how to display ad extra, externally, the true countenance of the Church, in spite of the various internal weaknesses that affected her in the postconciliar period. In this way much of the human family has become, it seems, more aware, in all humanity's various spheres of existence, of how really necessary the Church of Christ, her mission and her service are to humanity. At times this awareness has proved stronger than the various critical attitudes attacking ab intra, internally, the Church, her institutions and structures, and ecclesiastics and their activities. This growing criticism was certainly due to various causes and we are furthermore sure that it was not always without sincere love for the Church. Undoubtedly one of the tendencies it displayed was to overcome what has been called triumphalism, about which there was frequent discussion during the Council. While it is right that, in accordance with the example of her Master, who is "humble in heart"13, the Church also should have humility as her foundation, that she should have a critical sense with regard to all that goes to make up her human character and activity, and that she should always be very demanding on herself, nevertheless criticism too should have its just limits. Otherwise it ceases to be constructive and does not reveal truth, love and thankfulness for the grace in which we become sharers principally and fully in and through the Church. Furthermore such criticism does not express an attitude of service but rather a wish to direct the opinion of others in accordance with one's own, which is at times spread abroad in too thoughtless a manner.
Gratitude is due to Paul VI because, while respecting every particle of truth contained in the various human opinions, he preserved at the same time the providential balance of the bark's helmsman14. The Church that I-
5. Collegiality and apostolate
In spite of all appearances, the Church is now more united in the fellowship of service and in the awareness of apostolate. This unity springs from the principle of collegiality, mentioned by the Second Vatican Council. Christ himself made this principle a living part of the apostolic College of the Twelve with Peter at their head, and he is continuously renewing it in the College of the Bishops, which is growing more and more over all the earth, remaining united with and under the guidance of the Successor of Saint Peter. The Council did more than mention the principle of collegiality: it gave it immense new life, by-
The principle of collegiality showed itself particularly relevant in the difficult postconciliar period, when the shared unanimous position of the College of the Bishops-
As we are dealing with the evident development of the forms in which episcopal collegiality is expressed, mention must be made at least of the process of consolidation of National Episcopal Conferences throughout the Church and of other collegial structures of an international or continental character. Referring also to the centuries old tradition of the Church, attention should be directed to the activity of the various diocesan, provincial and national Synods. It was the Council's idea, an idea consistently put into practice by Paul VI, that structures of this kind, with their centuries of trial by the Church, and the other forms of collegial collaboration by Bishops, such as the metropolitan structure-
I must keep all this in mind at the beginning of my pontificate as a reason for giving thanks to God, for warmly encouraging all my brothers and sisters and for recalling with heartfelt gratitude the work of the Second Vatican Council and my great Predecessors, who set in motion this new surge of life for the Church, a movement that is much stronger than the symptoms of doubt, collapse and crisis.
6. The road to Christian unity
What shall I say of all the initiatives that have sprung from the new ecumenical orientation? The unforgettable Pope John XXIII set out the problem of Christian unity with evangelical clarity as a simple consequence of the will of Jesus Christ himself, our Master, the will that Jesus stated on several occasions but to which he gave expression in a special way in his prayer in the Upper Room the night before he died: "I pray... Father... that they may all be one"18. The Second Vatican Council responded concisely to this requirement with its Decree on ecumenism. Pope Paul VI, availing himself of the activities of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, began the first difficult steps on the road to the attainment of that unity. Have we gone far along that road? Without wishing to give a detailed reply, we can say that we have made real and important advances. And one thing is certain: we have worked with perseverance and consistency, and the representatives of other Christian Churches and Communities have also committed themselves together with us, for which we are heartily grateful to them. It is also certain that in the present historical situation of Christianity and the world the only possibility we see of fulfilling the Church's universal mission, with regard to ecumenical questions, is that of seeking sincerely, perseveringly, humbly and also courageously the ways of drawing closer and of union. Pope Paul VI gave us his personal example for this. We must therefore seek unity without being discouraged at the difficulties that can appear or accumulate along that road; otherwise we would be unfaithful to the word of Christ, we would fail to accomplish his testament. Have we the right to run this risk?
There are people who in the face of the difficulties or because they consider that the first ecumenical endeavours have brought negative results would have liked to turn back. Some even express the opinion that these efforts are harmful to the cause of the Gospel, are leading to a further rupture in the Church, are causing confusion of ideas in questions of faith and morals and are ending up with a specific indifferentism. It is perhaps a good thing that the spokesmen for these opinions should express their fears. However, in this respect also, correct limits must be maintained. It is obvious that this new stage in the Church's life demands of us a faith that is particularly aware, profound and responsible. True ecumenical activity means openness, drawing closer, availability for dialogue, and a shared investigation of the truth in the full evangelical and Christian sense; but in no way does it or can it mean giving up or in any way diminishing the treasures of divine truth that the Church has constantly confessed and taught. To all who, for whatever motive, would wish to dissuade the Church from seeking the universal unity of Christians the question must once again be put: Have we the right not to do it? Can we fail to have trust-
What we have just said must also be applied-
II. THE MYSTERY OF THE REDEMPTION
7. Within the Mystery of Christ
While the ways on which the Council of this century has set the Church going, ways indicated by the late Pope Paul VI in his first Encyclical, will continue to be for a long time the ways that all of us must follow, we can at the same time rightly ask at this new stage: How, in what manner should we continue? What should we do, in order that this new advent of the Church connected with the approaching end of the second millennium may bring us closer to him whom Sacred Scripture calls "Everlasting Father", Pater futuri saeculi21? This is the fundamental question that the new Pope must put to himself on accepting in a spirit of obedience in faith the call corresponding to the command that Christ gave Peter several times: "Feed my lambs"22, meaning: Be the shepherd of my sheepfold, and again: "And when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren"23.
To this question, dear Brothers, sons and daughters, a fundamental and essential response must be given. Our response must be: Our spirit is set in one direction, the only direction for our intellect, will and heart is-
Through the Church's consciousness, which the Council considerably developed, through all levels of this self-
The Church does not cease to listen to his words. She rereads them continually. With the greatest devotion she reconstructs every detail of his life. These words are listened to also by non-
8. Redemption as a new creation
The Redeemer of the world! In him has been revealed in a new and more wonderful way the fundamental truth concerning creation to which the Book of Genesis gives witness when it repeats several times: "God saw that it was good"38. The good has its source in Wisdom and Love. In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man39-
In its penetrating analysis of "the modern world", the Second Vatican Council reached that most important point of the visible world that is man, by penetrating like Christ the depth of human consciousness and by making contact with the inward mystery of man, which in Biblical and non-
9. The divine dimension of the mystery of the Redemption
As we reflect again on this stupendous text from the Council's teaching, we do not forget even for a moment that Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, become our reconciliation with the Father48. He it was, and he alone, who satisfied the Father's eternal love, that fatherhood that from the beginning found expression in creating the world, giving man all the riches of creation, and making him "little less than God"49, in that he was created "in the image and after the likeness of God".50. He and he alone also satisfied that fatherhood of God and that love which man in a way rejected by breaking the first Covenant51 and the later covenants that God "again and again offered to man"52. The redemption of the world-
This revelation of the Father and outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which stamp an indelible seal on the mystery of the Redemption, explain the meaning of the Cross and death of Christ. The God of creation is revealed as the God of redemption, as the God who is "faithful to himself"56, and faithful to his love for man and the world, which he revealed on the day of creation. His is a love that does not draw back before anything that justice requires in him. Therefore "for our sake (God) made him (the Son) to be sin who knew no sin"57. If he "made to be sin" him who was without any sin whatever, it was to reveal the love that is always greater than the whole of creation, the love that is he himself, since "God is love"58. Above all, love is greater than sin, than weakness, than the "futility of creation"59, it is stronger than death; it is a love always ready to raise up and forgive, always ready to go to meet the prodigal son60, always looking for "the revealing of the sons of God"61, who are called to the glory that is to be revealed"62. This revelation of love is also described as mercy63; and in man's history this revelation of love and mercy has taken a form and a name: that of Jesus Christ.
10 . The human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus"64. The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly-
In reality, the name for that deep amazement at man's worth and dignity is the Gospel, that is to say: the Good News. It is also called Christianity. This amazement determines the Church's mission in the world and, perhaps even more so, "in the modern world". This amazement, which is also a conviction and a certitude-
The Church's fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man's gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus. At the same time man's deepest sphere is involved-
11. The mystery of Christ as the basis of the Church's mission and of Christianity
The Second Vatican Council did immense work to form that full and universal awareness by the Church of which Pope Paul VI wrote in his first Encyclical. This awareness-
With regard to religion, what is dealt with is in the first place religion as a universal phenomenon linked with man's history from the beginning, then the various non-
The opening made by the Second Vatican Council has enabled the Church and all Christians to reach a more complete awareness of the mystery of Christ, "the mystery hidden for ages"69 in God, to be revealed in time in the Man Jesus Christ, and to be revealed continually in every time. In Christ and through Christ God has revealed himself fully to mankind and has definitively drawn close to it; at the same time, in Christ and through Christ man has acquired full awareness of his dignity, of the heights to which he is raised, of the surpassing worth of his own humanity, and of the meaning of his existence.
All of us who are Christ's followers must therefore meet and unite around him. This unity in the various fields of the life, tradition, structures and discipline of the individual Christian Churches and ecclesial Communities cannot be brought about without effective work aimed at getting to know each other and removing the obstacles blocking the way to perfect unity. However, we can and must immediately reach and display to the world our unity in proclaiming the mystery of Christ, in revealing the divine dimension and also the human dimension of the Redemption, and in struggling with unwearying perseverance for the dignity that each human being has reached and can continually reach in Christ, namely the dignity of both the grace of divine adoption and the inner truth of humanity, a truth which-
Jesus Christ is the stable principle and fixed centre of the mission that God himself has entrusted to man. We must all share in this mission and concentrate all our forces on it, since it is more necessary than ever for modern mankind. If this mission seems to encounter greater opposition nowadays than ever before, this shows that today it is more necessary than ever and, in spite of the opposition, more awaited than ever. Here we touch indirectly on the mystery of the divine "economy" which linked salvation and grace with the Cross. It was not without reason that Christ said that "the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force"70 and moreover that "the children of this world are more astute... than are the children of líght"71. We gladly accept this rebuke, that we may be like those "violent people of God "that we have so often seen in the history of the Church and still see today, and that we may consciously join in the great mission of revealing Christ to the world, helping each person to find himself in Christ, and helping the contemporary generations of our brothers and sisters, the peoples, nations, States, mankind, developing countries and countries of opulence-
12. The Church's mission and human freedom
In this unity in mission, which is decided principally by Christ himself, all Christians must find what already unites them, even before their full communion is achieved. This is apostolic and missionary unity, missionary and apostolic unity. Thanks to this unity we can together come close to the magnificent heritage of the human spirit that has been manifested in all religions, as the Second Vatican Council's Declaration Nostra Aetate says73. It also enables us to approach all cultures, all ideological concepts, all people of good will. We approach them with the esteem, respect and discernment that since the time of the Apostles has marked the missionary attitude, the attitude of the missionary. Suffice it to mention Saint Paul and, for instance, his address in the Areopagus at Athens74. The missionary attitude always begins with a feeling of deep esteem for "what is in man"75, for what man has himself. worked out in the depths of his spirit concerning the most profound and important problems. It is a question of respecting everything that has been brought about in him by the Spirit, which "blows where it wills"76. The mission is never destruction, but instead is a taking up and fresh building, even if in practice there has not always been full correspondence with this high ideal. And we know well that the conversion that is begun by the mission is a work of grace, in which man must fully find himself again.
For this reason the Church in our time attaches great importance to all that is stated by the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on Religious Freedom, both the first and the second part of the document77. We perceive intimately that the truth revealed to us by God imposes on us an obligation. We have, in particular, a great sense of responsibility for this truth. By Christ's institution the Church is its guardian and teacher, having been endowed with a unique assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to guard and teach it in its most exact integrity78. In fulfilling this mission, we look towards Christ himself, the first evangelizer79, and also towards his Apostles, martyrs and confessors. The Declaration on Religious Freedom shows us convincingly that, when Christ and, after him, his Apostles proclaimed the truth that comes not from men but from God ("My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me"80, that is the Father's), they preserved, while acting with their full force of spirit, a deep esteem for man, for his intellect, his will, his conscience and his freedom81. Thus the human person's dignity itself becomes part of the content of that proclamation, being included not necessarily in words but by an attitude towards it. This attitude seems to fit the special needs of our times. Since man's true freedom is not found in everything that the various systems and individuals see and propagate as freedom, the Church, because of her divine mission, becomes all the more the guardian of this freedom, which is the condition and basis for the human person's true dignity.
Jesus Christ meets the man of every age, including our own, with the same words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free"82. These words contain both a fundamental requirement and a warning: the requirement of an honest relationship with regard to truth as a condition for authentic freedom, and the warning to avoid every kind of illusory freedom, every superficial unilateral freedom, every freedom that fails to enter into the whole truth about man and the world. Today also, even after two thousand years, we see Christ as the one who brings man freedom based on truth, frees man from what curtails, diminishes and as it were breaks off this freedom at its root, in man's soul, his heart and his conscience. What a stupendous confirmation of this has been given and is still being given by those who, thanks to Christ and in Christ, have reached true freedom and have manifested it even in situations of external constraint!
When Jesus Christ himself appeared as a prisoner before Pilate's tribunal and was interrogated by him about the accusation made against him by the representatives of the Sanhedrin, did he not answer: "For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth"83? It was as if with these words spoken before the judge at the decisive moment he was once more confirming what he had said earlier: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free". In the course of so many centuries, of so many generations, from the time of the Apostles on, is it not often Jesus Christ himself that has made an appearance at the side of people judged for the sake of the truth? And has he not gone to death with people condemned for the sake of the truth? Does he ever cease to be the continuous spokesman and advocate for the person who lives "in spirit and truth"84? Just as he does not cease to be it before the Father, he is it also with regard to the history of man. And in her turn the Church, in spite of all the weaknesses that are part of her human history, does not cease to follow him who said: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth"85.
III. REDEEMED MAN AND HIS SITUATION IN THE MODERN WORLD
13. Christ united himself with each man
When we penetrate by means of the continually and rapidly increasing experience of the human family into the mystery of Jesus Christ, we understand with greater clarity that there is at the basis of all these ways that the Church of our time must follow, in accordance with the wisdom of Pope Paul VI86, one single way: it is the way that has stood the test of centuries and it is also the way of the future. Christ the Lord indicated this way especially, when, as the Council teaches, "by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man"87. The Church therefore sees its fundamental task in enabling that union to be brought about and renewed continually. The Church wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life, with the power of the truth about man and the world that is contained in the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption and with the power of the love that is radiated by that truth. Against a background of the ever increasing historical processes, which seem at the present time to have results especially within the spheres of various systems, ideological concepts of the world and regimes, Jesus Christ becomes, in a way, newly present, in spite of all his apparent absences, in spite of all the limitations of the presence and of the institutional activity of the Church. Jesus Christ becomes present with the power of the truth and the love that are expressed in him with unique unrepeatable fullness in spite of the shortness of his life on earth and the even greater shortness of his public activity.
Jesus Christ is the chief way for the Church. He himself is our way "to the Father's house"88 and is the way to each man. On this way leading from Christ to man, on this way on which Christ unites himself with each man, nobody can halt the Church. This is an exigency of man's temporal welfare and of his eternal welfare. Out of regard for Christ and in view of the mystery that constitutes the Church's own life, the Church cannot remain insensible to whatever serves man's true welfare, any more than she can remain indifferent to what threatens it. In various passages in its documents the Second Vatican Council has expressed the Church's fundamental solicitude that life in "the world should conform more to man's surpassing dignity"89 in all its aspects, so as to make that life "ever more human"90. This is the solicitude of Christ himself, the good Shepherd of all men. In the name of this solicitude, as we read in the Council's Pastoral Constitution, "the Church must in no way be confused with the political community, nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendence of the human person"91.
Accordingly, what is in question here is man in all his truth, in his full magnitude. We are not dealing with the "abstract" man, but the real, "concrete", "historical" man. We are dealing with "each" man, for each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united himself for ever through this mystery. Every man comes into the world through being conceived in his mother's womb and being born of his mother, and precisely on account of the mystery of the Redemption is entrusted to the solicitude of the Church. Her solicitude is about the whole man and is focussed on him in an altogether special manner. The object of her care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality, which keeps intact the image and likeness of God himself92. The Council points out this very fact when, speaking of that likeness, it recalls that "man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself"93. Man as "willed" by God, as "chosen" by him from eternity and called, destined for grace and glory-
14. For the Church all ways lead to man
The Church cannot abandon man, for his "destiny", that is to say his election, calling, birth and death, salvation or perdition, is so closely and unbreakably linked with Christ. We are speaking precisely of each man on this planet, this earth that the Creator gave to the first man, saying to the man and the women: "subdue it and have dominion"94. Each man in all the unrepeatable reality of what he is and what he does, of his intellect and will, of his conscience and heart. Man who in his reality has, because he is a "person", a history of his life that is his own and, most important, a history of his soul that is his own. Man who, in keeping with the openness of his spirit within and also with the many diverse needs of his body and his existence in time, writes this personal history of his through numerous bonds, contacts, situations, and social structures linking him with other men, beginning to do so from the first moment of his existence on earth, from the moment of his conception and birth. Man in the full truth of his existence, of his personal being and also of his community and social being-
It was precisely this man in all the truth of his life, in his conscience, in his continual inclination to sin and at the same time in his continual aspiration to truth, the good, the beautiful, justice and love that the Second Vatican Council had before its eyes when, in outlining his situation in the modern world, it always passed from the external elements of this situation to the truth within humanity: "In man himself many elements wrestle with one another. Thus, on the one hand, as a creature he experiences his limitations in a multitude of ways. On the other, he feels himself to be boundless in his desires and summoned to a higher life. Pulled by manifold attractions, he is constantly forced to choose among them and to renounce some. Indeed, as a weak and sinful being, he often does what he would not, and fails to do what he would. Hence he suffers from internal divisions, and from these flow so many and such great discords in society"95.
This man is the way for the Church-
Since this man is the way for the Church, the way for her daily life and experience, for her mission and toil, the Church of today must be aware in an always new manner of man's "situation". That means that she must be aware of his possibilities, which keep returning to their proper bearings and thus revealing themselves. She must likewise be aware of the threats to man and of all that seems to oppose the endeavour "to make human life ever more human"97 and make every element of this life correspond to man's true dignity-
15. What modern man is afraid of
Accordingly, while keeping alive in our memory the picture that was so perspicaciously and authoritatively traced by the Second Vatican Council, we shall try once more to adapt it to the "signs of the times" and to the demands of the situation, which is continually changing and evolving in certain directions.
The man of today seems ever to be under threat from what he produces, that is to say from the result of the work of hís hands and, even more so, of the work of his intellect and the tendencies of his will. All too soon, and often in an unforeseeable way, what this manifold activity of man yields is not only subjected to "alienation", in the sense that it is simply taken away from the person who produces it, but rather it turns against man himself, at least in part, through the indirect consequences of its effects returning on himself. It is or can be directed against him. This seems to make up the main chapter of the drama of present-
This state of menace for man from what he produces shows itself in various directions and various degrees of intensity. We seem to be increasingly aware of the fact that the exploitation of the earth, the planet on which we are living, demands rational and honest planning. At the same time, exploitation of the earth not only for industrial but also for military purposes and the uncontrolled development of technology outside the framework of a long-
The development of technology and the development of contemporary civilization, which is marked by the ascendancy of technology, demand a proportional development of morals and ethics. For the present, this last development seems unfortunately to be always left behind. Accordingly, in spite of the marvel of this progress, in which it is difficult not to see also authentic signs of man's greatness, signs that in their creative seeds were revealed to us in the pages of the Book of Genesis, as early as where it describes man's creation99, this progress cannot fail to give rise to disquiet on many counts. The first reason for disquiet concerns the essential and fundamental question: Does this progress, which has man for its author and promoter, make human life on earth "more human" in every aspect of that life? Does it make it more "worthy of man"? There can be no doubt that in various aspects it does. But the question keeps coming back with regard to what is most essential -
This question must be put by Christians, precisely because Jesus Christ has made them so universally sensitive about the problem of man. The same question must be asked by all men, especially those belonging to the social groups that are dedicating themselves actively to development and progress today. As we observe and take part in these processes we cannot let ourselves be taken over merely by euphoria or be carried away by one-
These are the essential questions that the Church is bound to ask herself, since they are being asked with greater or less explicitness by the thousands of millions of people now living in the world. The subject of development and progress is on everybody's lips and appears in the columns of all the newspapers and other publications in all the languages of the modern world. Let us not forget however that this subject contains not only affirmations and certainties but also questions and points of anguished disquiet. The latter are no less important than the former. They fit in with the dialectical nature of human knowledge and even more with the fundamental need for solicitude by man for man, for his humanity, and for the future of people on earth. Inspired by eschatological faith, the Church considers an essential, unbreakably united element of her mission this solicitude for man, for his humanity, for the future of men on earth and therefore also for the course set for the whole of development and progress. She finds the principle of this solicitude in Jesus Christ himself, as the Gospels witness. This is why she wishes to make it grow continually through her relationship with Christ, reading man's situation in the modern world in accordance with the most important signs of our time.
16. Progress or threat
If therefore our time, the time of our generation, the time that is approaching the end of the second millennium of the Christian era, shows itself a time of great progress, it is also seen as a time of threat in many forms for man. The Church must speak of this threat to all people of good will and must always carry on a dialogue with them about it. Man's situation in the modern world seems indeed to be far removed from the objective demands of the moral order, from the requirements of justice, and even more of social love. We are dealing here only with that which found expression in the Creator's first message to man at the moment in which he was giving him the earth, to "subdue" it100. This first message was confirmed by Christ the Lord in the mystery of the Redemption. This is expressed by the Second Vatican Council in these beautiful chapters of its teaching that concern man's "kingship"; that is to say his call to share in the kingly function-
This is why all phases of present-
If we make bold to describe man's situation in the modern world as far removed from the objective demands of the moral order, from the exigencies of justice, and still more from social love, we do so because this is confirmed by the well-
This pattern, which is familiar to all, and the contrast referred to, in the documents giving their teaching, by the Popes of this century, most recently by John XXIII and by Paul VI,104 represent, as it were, the gigantic development of the parable in the Bible of the rich banqueter and the poor man Lazarus105. So widespread is the phenomenon that it brings into question the fìnancial, monetary, production and commercial mechanisms that, resting on various political pressures, support the world economy. These are proving incapable either of remedying the unjust social situations inherited from the past or of dealing with the urgent challenges and ethical demands of the present. By submitting man to tensions created by himself, dilapidating at an accelerated pace material and energy resources, and compromising the geophysical environment, these structures unceasingly make the areas of misery spread, accompanied by anguish, frustration and bitterness.06.
We have before us here a great drama that can leave nobody indifferent. The person who, on the one hand, is trying to draw the maximum profit and, on the other hand, is paying the price in damage and injury is always man. The drama is made still worse by the presence close at hand of the privileged social classes and of the rich countries, which accumulate goods to an excessive degree and the misuse of whose riches very often becomes the cause of various ills. Add to this the fever of inflation and the plague of unemployment -
Such a task is not an impossible one. The principle of solidarity, in a wide sense, must inspire the effective search for appropriate institutions and mechanisms, whether in the sector of trade, where the laws of healthy competition must be allowed to lead the way, or on the level of a wider and more immediate redistribution of riches and of control over them, in order that the economically developing peoples may be able not only to satisfy their essential needs but also to advance gradually and effectively.
This difficult road of the indispensable transformation of the structures of economic life is one on which it will not be easy to go forward without the intervention of a true conversion of mind, will and heart. The task requires resolute commitment by individuals and peoples that are free and linked in solidarity. All too often freedom is confused with the instinct for individual or collective interest or with the instinct for combat and domination, whatever be the ideological colours with which they are covered. Obviously these instincts exist and are operative, but no truly human economy will be possible unless they are taken up, directed and dominated by the deepest powers in man, which decide the true culture of peoples. These are the very sources for the effort which will express man's true freedom and which will be capable of ensuring it in the economic field also. Economic development, with every factor in its adequate functioning, must be constantly programmed and realized within a perspective of universal joint development of each individual and people, as was convincingly recalled by my Predecessor Paul VI in Populorum Progressio. Otherwise, the category of "economic progress" becomes in isolation a superior category subordinating the whole of human existence to its partial demands, suffocating man, breaking up society, and ending by entangling itself in its own tensions and excesses.
It is possible to undertake this duty. This is testified by the certain facts and the results, which it would be difficult to mention more analytically here. However, one thing is certain: at the basis of this gigantic sector it is necessary to establish, accept and deepen the sense of moral responsibility, which man must undertake. Again and always man.
This responsibility becomes especially evident for us Christians when we recall-
This eschatological scene must always be "applied" to man's history; it must always be made the "measure" for human acts as an essential outline for an examination of conscience by each and every one: "I was hungry and you gave me no food ... naked and you did not clothe me... in prison and you did not visit me"109. These words become charged with even stronger warning, when we think that, instead of bread and cultural aid, the new States and nations awakening to independent life are being offered, sometimes in abundance, modern weapons and means of destruction placed at the service of armed conflicts and wars that are not so much a requirement for defending their just rights and their sovereignty but rather a form of chauvinism, imperialism, and neocolonialism of one kind or another. We all know well that the areas of misery and hunger on our globe could have been made fertile in a short time, if the gigantic investments for armaments at the service of war and destruction had been changed into investments for food at the service of life.
This consideration will perhaps remain in part an "abstract" one. It will perhaps offer both "sides" an occasion for mutual accusation, each forgetting its own faults. It will perhaps provoke new accusations against the Church. The Church, however, which has no weapons at her disposal apart from those of the spirit, of the word and of love, cannot renounce her proclamation of "the word ... in season and out of season"110. For this reason she does not cease to implore each side of the two and to beg everybody in the name of God and in the name of man: Do not kill! Do not prepare destruction and extermination for men! Think of your brothers and sisters who are suffering hunger and misery! Respect each one's dignity and freedom!
17. Human rights: "letter" or "spirit"
This century has so far been a century of great calamities for man, of great devastations, not only material ones but also moral ones, indeed perhaps above all moral ones. Admittedly it is not easy to compare one age or one century with another under this aspect, since that depends also on changing historical standards. Nevertheless, without applying these comparisons, one still cannot fail to see that this century has so far been one in which people have provided many injustices and sufferings for themselves. Has this process been decisively curbed? In any case, we cannot fail to recall at this point, with esteem and profound hope for the future, the magnificent effort made to give life to the United Nations Organization, an effort conducive to the definition and establishment of man's objective and inviolable rights, with the member States obliging each other to observe them rigorously. This commitment has been accepted and ratified by almost all present-
There is no need for the Church to confirm how closely this problem is linked with her mission in the modern world. Indeed it is at the very basis of social and international peace, as has been declared by John XXIII, the Second Vatican Council, and later Paul VI, in detailed documents. After all, peace comes down to respect for man's inviolable rights-
If, in spite of these premises, human rights are being violated in various ways, if in practice we see before us concentration camps, violence, torture, terrorism, and discrimination in many forms, this must then be the consequence of the other premises, undermining and often almost annihilating the effectiveness of the humanistic premises of these modern programmes and systems. This necessarily imposes the duty to submit these programmes to continual revision from the point of view of the objective and inviolable rights of man.
The Declaration of Human Rights linked with the setting up of the United Nations Organization certainly had as its aim not only to depart from the horrible experiences of the last world war but also to create the basis for continual revision of programmes, systems and regimes precisely from this single fundamental point of view, namely the welfare of man-
Already in the first half of this century, when various State totalitarianisms were developing, which, as is well known, led to the horrible catastrophe of war, the Church clearly outlined her position with regard to these regimes that to all appearances were acting for a higher good, namely the good of the State, while history was to show instead that the good in question was only that of a certain party, which had been identified with the State111. In reality, those regimes had restricted the rights of the citizens, denying them recognition precisely of those inviolable human rights that have reached formulation on the international level in the middle of our century. While sharing the joy of all people of good will, of all people who truly love justice and peace, at this conquest, the Church, aware that the "letter" on its own can kill, while only "the spirit gives life"112, must continually ask, together with these people of good will, whether the Declaration of Human Rights and the acceptance of their "letter" mean everywhere also the actualization of their "spirit". Indeed, well founded fears arise that very often we are still far from this actualization and that at times the spirit of social and public life is painfully opposed to the declared "letter" of human rights. This state of things, which is burdensome for the societies concerned, would place special responsibility towards these societies and the history of man on those contributing to its establishment.
The essential sense of the State, as a political community, consists in that the society and people composing it are master and sovereign of their own destiny. This sense remains unrealized if, instead of the exercise of power with the moral participation of the society or people, what we see is the imposition of power by a certain group upon all the other members of the society. This is essential in the present age, with its enormous increase in people's social awareness and the accompanying need for the citizens to have a right share in the political life of the community, while taking account of the real conditions of each people and the necessary vigour of public authority113. These therefore are questions of primary importance from the point of view of the progress of man himself and the overall development of his humanity.
The Church has always taught the duty to act for the common good and, in so doing, has likewise educated good citizens for each State. Furthermore, she has always taught that the fundamental duty of power is solicitude for the common good of society; this is what gives power its fundamental rights. Precisely in the name of these premises of the objective ethical order, the rights of power can only be understood on the basis of respect for the objective and inviolable rights of man. The common good that authority in the State serves is brought to full realization only when all the citizens are sure of their rights. The lack of this leads to the dissolution of society, opposition by citizens to authority, or a situation of oppression, intimidation, violence, and terrorism, of which many examples have been provided by the totalitarianisms of this century. Thus the principle of human rights is of profound concern to the area of social justice and is the measure by which it can be tested in the life of political bodies.
These rights are rightly reckoned to include the right to religious freedom together with the right to freedom of conscience. The Second Vatican Council considered especially necessary the preparation of a fairly long declaration on this subject. This is the document called Dignitatis Humanae,114 in which is expressed not only the theological concept of the question but also the concept reached from the point of view of natural law, that is to say from the "purely human" position, on the basis of the premises given by man's own experience, his reason and his sense of human dignity. Certainly the curtailment of the religious freedom of individuals and communities is not only a painful experience but it is above all an attack on man's very dignity, independently of the religion professed or of the concept of the world which these individuals and communities have. The curtailment and violation of religious freedom are in contrast with man's dignity and his objective rights. The Council document mentioned above states clearly enough what that curtailment or violation of religious freedom is. In this case we are undoubtedly confronted with a radical injustice with regard to what is particularly deep within man, what is authentically human. Indeed, even the phenomenon of unbelief, a-
Even if briefly, this subject must also be dealt with, because it too enters into the complex of man's situations in the present-
IV. THE CHURCH'S MISSION AND MAN'S DESTINY
18. The Church as concerned for man's vocation in Christ
This necessarily brief look at man's situation in the modern world makes us direct our thoughts and our hearts to Jesus Christ, and to the mystery of the Redemption, in which the question of man is inscribed with a special vigour of truth and love. If Christ "united himself with each man"115, the Church lives more profoundly her own nature and mission by penetrating into the depths of this mystery and into its rich universal language. It was not without reason that the Apostle speaks of Christ's Body, the Church116. If this Mystical Body of Christ is God's People-
This union of Christ with man is in itself a mystery. From the mystery is born "the new man", called to become a partaker of God's life117, and newly created in Christ for the fullness of grace and truth118. Christ's union with man is power and the source of power, as Saint John stated so incisively in the prologue of his Gospel: "(The Word) gave power to become children of God"119. Man is transformed inwardly by this power as the source of a new life that does not disappear and pass away but lasts to eternal life120. This life, which the Father has promised and offered to each man in Jesus Christ, his eternal and only Son, who, "when the time had fully come"121, became incarnate and was born of the Virgin Mary, is the final fulfilment of man's vocation. It is in a way the fulfilment of the "destiny" that God has prepared for him from eternity. This "divine destiny" is advancing, in spite of all the enigmas, the unsolved riddles, the twists and turns of "human destiny" in the world of time. Indeed, while all this, in spite of all the riches of life in time, necessarily and inevitably leads to the frontier of death and the goal of the destruction of the human body, beyond that goal we see Christ. "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me... shall never die"122. In Jesus Christ, who was crucified and laid in the tomb and then rose again, "our hope of resurrection dawned... the bright promise of immortality"123, on the way to which man, through the death of the body, shares with the whole of visible creation the necessity to which matter is subject. We intend and are trying to fathom ever more deeply the language of the truth that man's Redeemer enshrined in the phrase "It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail"124. In spite of appearances, these words express the highest affirmation of man-
The Church lives these realities, she lives by this truth about man, which enables him to go beyond the bounds of temporariness and at the same time to think with particular love and solicitude of everything within the dimensions of this temporariness that affect man's life and the life of the human spirit, in which is expressed that never-
This appeal to the Spirit, intended precisely to obtain the Spirit, is the answer to all the "materialisms" of our age. It is these materialisms that give birth to so many forms of insatiability in the human heart. This appeal is making itself heard on various sides and seems to be bearing fruit also in different ways. Can it be said that the Church is not alone in making this appeal? Yes it can, because the "need" for what is spiritual is expressed also by people who are outside the visible confines of the Church134. Is not this confirmed by the truth concerning the Church that the recent Council so acutely emphasized at the point in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium where it teaches that the Church is a "sacrament or sign and means of intimate union with God, and of the unity of all mankind?"135. This invocation addressed to the Spirit to obtain the Spirit is really a constant self-
19. The Church as responsible for truth
In the light of the sacred teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Church thus appears before us as the social subject of responsibility for divine truth. With deep emotion we hear Christ himself saying: "The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me"141. In this affirmation by our Master do we not notice responsibility for the revealed truth, which is the "property" of God himself, since even he, "the only Son", who lives "in the bosom of the Father"142, when transmitting that truth as a prophet and teacher, feels the need to stress that he is acting in full fidelity to its divine source? The same fidelity must be a constitutive quality of the Church's faith, both when she is teaching it and when she is professing it. Faith as a specific supernatural virtue infused into the human spirit makes us sharers in knowledge of God as a response to his revealed word. Therefore it is required, when the Church professes and teaches the faith, that she should adhere strictly to divine truth143, and should translate it into living attitudes of "obedience in harmony with reason"144. Christ himself, concerned for this fidelity to divine truth, promised the Church the special assistance of the Spirit of truth, gave the gift of infallibility145 to those whom he entrusted with the mandate of transmitting and teaching that truth146-
Consequently, we have become sharers in this mission of the prophet Christ, and in virtue of that mission we together with him are serving divine truth in the Church. Being responsible for that truth also means loving it and seeking the most exact understanding of it, in order to bring it closer to ourselves and others in all its saving power, its splendour and its profundity joined with simplicity. This love and this aspiration to understand the truth must go hand in hand, as is confirmed by the histories of the saints in the Church. These received most brightly the authentic light that illuminates divine truth and brings close God's very reality, because they approached this truth with veneration and love-
As in preceding ages, and perhaps more than in preceding ages, theologians and all men of learning in the Church are today called to unite faith with learning and wisdom, in order to help them to combine with each other, as we read in the prayer in the liturgy of the memorial of Saint Albert, Doctor of the Church. This task has grown enormously today because of the advance of human learning, its methodology, and the achievements in knowledge of the world and of man. This concerns both the exact sciences and the human sciences, as well as philosophy, which, as the Second Vatican Council recalled, is closely linked with theology151.
In this field of human knowledge, which is continually being broadened and yet differentiated, faith too must be investigated deeply, manifesting the magnitude of revealed mystery and tending towards an understanding of truth, which has in God its one supreme source. If it is permissible and even desirable that the enormous work to be done in this direction should take into consideration a certain pluralism of methodology, the work cannot however depart from the fundamental unity in the teaching of Faith and Morals which is that work's end. Accordingly, close collaboration by theology with the Magisterium is indispensable. Every theologian must be particularly aware of what Christ himself stated when he said: "The word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me"152. Nobody, therefore, can make of theology as it were a simple collection of his own personal ideas, but everybody must be aware of being in close union with the mission of teaching truth for which the Church is responsible.
The sharing in the prophetic office of Christ himself shapes the life of the whole of the Church in her fundamental dimension. A particular share in this office belongs to the Pastors of the Church, who teach and continually and in various ways proclaim and transmit the doctrine concerning the Christian faith and morals. This teaching, both in its missionary and its ordinary aspect, helps to assemble the People of God around Christ, prepares for participation in the Eucharist and points out the ways for sacramental life. In 1977 the Synod of the Bishops dedicated special attention to catechesis in the modern world, and the mature results of its deliberations, experiences and suggestions will shortly find expression-
Furthermore, increasing care must be taken that the various forms of catechesis and its various fields-
20. Eucharist and Penance
In the mystery of the Redemption, that is to say in Jesus Christ's saving work, the Church not only shares in the Gospel of her Master through fidelity to the word and service of truth, but she also shares, through a submission filled with hope and love, in the power of his redeeming action expressed and enshrined by him in a sacramental form, especially in the Eucharist154. The Eucharist is the centre and summit of the whole of sacramental life, through which each Christian receives the saving power of the Redemption, beginning with the mystery of Baptism, in which we are buried into the death of Christ, in order to become sharers in his Resurrection155, as the Apostle teaches. In the light of this teaching, we see still more clearly the reason why the entire sacramental life of the Church and of each Christian reaches its summit and fullness in the Eucharist. For by Christ's will there is in this Sacrament a continual renewing of the mystery of the Sacrifice of himself that Christ offered to the Father on the altar of the Cross, a Sacrifice that the Father accepted, giving, in return for this total self-
The Eucharist is the most perfect Sacrament of this union. By celebrating and also partaking of the Eucharist we unite ourselves with Christ on earth and in heaven who intercedes for us with the Father158 but we always do so through the redeeming act of his Sacrifice, through which he has redeemed us, so that we have been "bought with a price"159. The "price" of our redemption is likewise a further proof of the value that God himself sets on man and of our dignity in Christ. For by becoming "children of God"160, adopted sons161, we also become in his likeness "a kingdom and priests" and obtain "a royal priesthood"162, that is to say we share in that unique and irreversible restoration of man and the world to the Father that was carried out once for all by him, who is both the eternal Son163 and also true Man. The Eucharist is the Sacrament in which our new being is most completely expressed and in which Christ himself unceasingly and in an ever new manner "bears witness" in the Holy Spirit to our spirit164 that each of us, as a sharer in the mystery of the Redemption, has access to the fruits of the filial reconciliation with God165 that he himself actuated and continually actuates among us by means of the Church's ministry.
It is an essential truth, not only of doctrine but also of life, that the Eucharist builds the Church166, building it as the authentic community of the People of God, as the assembly of the faithful, bearing the same mark of unity that was shared by the Apostles and the first disciples of the Lord. The Eucharist builds ever anew this community and unity, ever building and regenerating it on the basis of the Sacrifice of Christ, since it commemorates his death on the Cross167, the price by which he redeemed us. Accordingly, in the Eucharist we touch in a way the very mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord, as is attested by the very words used at its institution, the words that, because of that institution, have become the words with which those called to this ministry in the Church un ceasingly celebrate the Eucharist.
The Church lives by the Eucharist, by the fullness of this Sacrament, the stupendous content and meaning of which have often been expressed in the Church's Magisterium from the most distant times down to our own days168. However, we can say with certainty that, although this teaching is sustained by the acuteness of theologians, by men of deep faith and prayer, and by ascetics and mystics, in complete fidelity to the Eucharistic mystery, it still reaches no more than the threshold, since it is incapable of grasping and translating into words what the Eucharist is in all its fullness, what is expressed by it and what is actuated by it. Indeed, the Eucharist is the ineffable Sacrament! The essential commitment and, above all, the visible grace and source of supernatural strength for the Church as the People of God is to persevere and advance constantly in Eucharistic life and Eucharistic piety and to develop spiritually in the climate of the Eucharist. With all the greater reason, then, it is not permissible for us, in thought, life or action, to take away from this truly most holy Sacrament its full magnitude and its essential meaning. It is at one and the same time a Sacrifice-
This is the source of the duty to carry out rigorously the liturgical rules and everything that is a manifestation of community worship offered to God himself, all the more so because in this sacramental sign he entrusts himself to us with limitless trust, as if not taking into consideration our human weakness, our unworthiness, the force of habit, routine, or even the possibility of insult. Every member of the Church, especially Bishops and Priests, must be vigilant in seeing that this Sacrament of love shall be at the centre of the life of the People of God, so that through all the manifestations of worship due to it Christ shall be given back «love for love "and truly become "the life of our souls"170. Nor can we, on the other hand, ever forget the following words of Saint Paul: "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup"171.
This call by the Apostle indicates at least indirectly the close link between the Eucharist and Penance. Indeed, if the first word of Christ's teaching, the first phrase of the Gospel Good News, was "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (metanoeite),172 the Sacrament of the Passion, Cross and Resurrection seems to strengthen and consolidate in an altogether special way this call in our souls. The Eucharist and Penance thus become in a sense two closely connected dimensions of authentic life in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel, of truly Christian life. The Christ who calls to the Eucharistic banquet is always the same Christ who exhorts us to penance and repeats his "Repent"173. Without this constant ever renewed endeavour for conversion, partaking of the Eucharist would lack its full redeeming effectiveness and there would be a loss or at least a weakening of the special readiness to offer God the spiritual sacrifice174 in which our sharing in the priesthood of Christ is expressed in an essential and universal manner. In Christ, priesthood is linked with his Sacrifice, his self-
In the last years much has been done to highlight in the Church's practice-
In the Church, gathering particularly today in a special way around the Eucharist and desiring that the authentic Eucharistic community should become a sign of the gradually maturing unity of all Christians, there must a lively-
21. The Christian vocation to service and kingship
In building up from the very foundations the picture of the Church as the People of God-
In presenting the complete picture of the People of God and recalling the place among that people held not only by priests but also by the laity, not only by the representatives of the Hierarchy but also by those of the Institutes of Consecrated Life, the Second Vatican Council did not deduce this picture merely from a sociological premise. The Church as a human society can of course be examined and described according to the categories used by the sciences with regard to any human society. But these categories are not enough. For the whole of the community of the People of God and for each member of it what is in question is not just a specific "social membership"; rather, for each and every one what is essential is a particular "vocation". Indeed, the Church as the People of God is also-
The Second Vatican Council devoted very special attention to showing how this "ontological" community of disciples and confessors must increasingly become, even from the "human" point of view, a community aware of its own life and activity. The initiatives taken by the Council in this field have been followed up by the many further initiatives of a synodal, apostolic and organizational kind. We must however always keep in mind the truth that every initiative serves true renewal in the Church and helps to bring the authentic light that is Christ184 insofar as the initiative is based on adequate awareness of the individual Christian's vocation and of responsibility for this singular, unique and unrepeatable grace by which each Christian in the community of the People of God builds up the Body of Christ. This principle, the key rule for the whole of Christian practice-
Fidelity to one's vocation, that is to say persevering readiness for "kingly service", has particular significance for these many forms of building, especially with regard to the more exigent tasks, which have more influence on the life of our neighbour and of the whole of society. Married people must be distinguished for fidelity to their vocation, as is demanded by the indissoluble nature of the sacramental institution of marriage. Priests must be distinguished for a similar fidelity to their vocation, in view of the indelible character that the sacrament of Orders stamps on their souls. In receiving this sacrament, we in the Latin Church knowingly and freely commit ourselves to live in celibacy, and each one of us must therefore do all he can, with God's grace, to be thankful for this gift and faithful to the bond that he has accepted for ever. He must do so as married people must, for they must endeavour with all their strength to persevere in their matrimonial union, building up the family community through this witness of love and educating new generations of men and women, capable in their turn of dedicating the whole of their lives to their vocation, that is to say to the "kingly service "of which Jesus Christ has offered us the example and the most beautiful model. His Church, made up of all of us, is "for men" in the sense that, by basing ourselves on Christ's example186 and collaborating with the grace that he has gained for us, we are able to attain to "being kings", that is to say we are able to produce a mature humanity in each one of us. Mature humanity means full use of the gift of freedom received from the Creator when he called to existence the man made "in his image, after his likeness". This gift finds its full realization in the unreserved giving of the whole of one's human person, in a spirit of the love of a spouse, to Christ and, with Christ, to all those to whom he sends men and women totally consecrated to him in accordance with the evangelical counsels. This is the ideal of the religious life, which has been undertaken by the Orders and Congregations both ancient and recent, and by the Secular Institutes.
Nowadays it is sometimes held, though wrongly, that freedom is an end in itself, that each human being is free when he makes use of freedom as he wishes, and that this must be our aim in the lives of individuals and societies. In reality, freedom is a great gift only when we know how to use it consciously for everything that is our true good. Christ teaches us that the best use of freedom is charity, which takes concrete form in self-
22. The Mother in whom we trust
When therefore at the beginning of the new pontificate I turn my thoughts and my heart to the Redeemer of man, I thereby wish to enter and penetrate into the deepest rhythm of the Church's life. Indeed, if the Church lives her life, she does so because she draws it from Christ, and he always wishes but one thing, namely that we should have life and have it abundantly188. This fullness of life in him is at the same time for man. Therefore the Church, uniting herself with all the riches of the mystery of the Redemption, becomes the Church of living people, living because given life from within by the working of "the Spirit of truth"189 and visited by the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our hearts190. The aim of any service in the Church, whether the service is apostolic, pastoral, priestly or episcopal, is to keep up this dynamic link between the mystery of the Redemption and every man.
If we are aware of this task, then we seem to understand better what it means to say that the Church is a mother191 and also what it means to say that the Church always, and particularly at our time, has need of a Mother. We owe a debt of special gratitude to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, who expressed this truth in the Constitution Lumen Gentium with the rich Mariological doctrine contained in it192. Since Paul VI, inspired by that teaching, proclaimed the Mother of Christ "Mother of the Church"193, and that title has become known far and wide, may it be permitted to his unworthy Successor to turn to Mary as Mother of the Church at the close of these reflections which it was opportune to make at the beginning of his papal service. Mary is Mother of the Church because, on account of the Eternal Father's ineffable choice194 and due to the Spirit of Love's special action195, she gave human life to the Son of God, "for whom and by whom all things exist"196 and from whom the whole of the People of God receives the grace and dignity of election. Her Son explicitly extended his Mother's maternity in a way that could easily be understood by every soul and every heart by designating, when he was raised on the Cross, his beloved disciple as her son197. The Holy Spirit inspired her to remain in the .Upper Room, after our Lord's Ascension, recollected in prayer and expectation, together with the Apostles, until the day of Pentecost, when the Church was to be born in visible form, coming forth from darkness198. Later, all the generations of disciples, of those who confess and love Christ, like the Apostle John, spiritually took this Mother to their own homes199, and she was thus included in the history of salvation and in the Church's mission from the very beginning, that is from the moment of the Annunciation. Accordingly, we who form today's generation of disciples of Christ all wish to unite ourselves with her in a special way. We do so with all our attachment to our ancient tradition and also with full respect and love for the members of all the Christian Communities.
We do so at the urging of the deep need of faith, hope and charity. For if we feel a special need, in this difficult and responsible phase of the history of the Church and of mankind, to turn to Christ, who is Lord of the Church and Lord of man's history on account of the mystery of the Redemption, we believe that nobody else can bring us as Mary can into the divine and human dimension of this mystery. Nobody has been brought into it by God himself as Mary has. It is in this that the exceptional character of the grace of the divine Motherhood consists. Not only is the dignity of this Motherhood unique and unrepeatable in the history of the human race, but Mary's participation, due to this Maternity, in God's plan for man's salvation through the mystery of the Redemption is also unique in profundity and range of action.
We can say that the mystery of the Redemption took shape beneath the heart of the Virgin of Nazareth when she pronounced her "fiat". From then on, under the special influence of the Holy Spirit, this heart, the heart of both a virgin and a mother, has always followed the work of her Son and has gone out to all those whom Christ has embraced and continues to embrace with inexhaustible love. For that reason her heart must also have the inexhaustibility of a mother. The special characteristic of the motherly love that the Mother of God inserts in the mystery of the Redemption and the life of the Church finds expression in its exceptional closeness to man and all that happens to him. It is in this that the mystery of the Mother consists. The Church, which looks to her with altogether special love and hope, wishes to make this mystery her own in an ever deeper manner. For in this the Church also recognizes the way for her daily life, which is each person.
The Father's eternal love, which has been manifested in the history of mankind through the Son whom the Father gave, "that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life"200, comes close to each of us through this Mother and thus takes on tokens that are of more easy understanding and access by each person. Consequently, Mary must be on all the ways for the Church's daily life. Through her maternal presence the Church acquires certainty that she is truly living the life of her Master and Lord and that she is living the mystery of the Redemption in all its life-
Faced with these tasks that appear along the ways for the Church, those ways that Pope Paul VI clearly indicated in the first Encyclical of his pontificate, and aware of the absolute necessity of all these ways and also of the difficulties thronging them, we feel all the more our need for a profound link with Christ. We hear within us, as a resounding echo, the words that he spoke: "Apart from me you can do nothing"201. We feel not only the need but even a categorical imperative for great, intense and growing prayer by all the Church. Only prayer can prevent all these great succeeding tasks and difficulties from becoming a source of crisis and make them instead the occasion and, as it were, the foundation for ever more mature achievements on the People of God's march towards the Promised Land in this stage of history approaching the end of the second millennium. Accordingly, as I end this meditation with a warm and humble call to prayer, I wish the Church to devote herself to this prayer, together with Mary the Mother of Jesus202, as the Apostles and disciples of the Lord did in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after his Ascension203. Above all, I implore Mary, the heavenly Mother of the Church, to be so good as to devote herself to this prayer of humanity's new Advent, together with us who make up the Church, that is to say the Mystical Body of her Only Son. I hope that through this prayer we shall be able to receive the Holy Spirit coming upon us204 and thus become Christ's witnesses "to the end of the earth"205, like those who went forth from the Upper Room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
With the Apostolic Blessing.
Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the fourth of March, the First Sunday of Lent, in the year 1979, the first year of my Pontificate.
JOHN PAUL II
1. Jn. 1:14.
2. Jn. 3:16.
3. Heb. 1:1-
4. Exsultet at the Easter Vigil.
5. Jn. 16:7.
6. Jn. 15:26-
7. Jn. 16:13.
8. Cf. Rev. 2:7.
9. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1: AAS 57 (1965) 5.
10. Eph. 3:8.
11. Jn. 14:24.
12. Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam: AAS 56 (1964) 650ff.
13. Mt. 11:29.
14. Mention must be made here of the salient documents of the pontificate of Paul VI, some of which were spoken of by himself in his address during Mass on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in 1978: Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam: AAS 56 (1964) 609-
15. Mt. 13:52.
16. 1 Tim. 2:4.
17. Pope Paul VI: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: AAS 68 (1976) 5-
18. Jn. 17:21; cf. 17:11, 22-
19. 1 Cor. 15:10.
20. Cf. Vatican Council I: Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, Cap. III De fide, can. 6: Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Ed. Istituto per le Scienze Religiose, Bologna 1973 3, p. 811.
21. Is. 9:6.
22. Jn. 21:15.
23. Lk. 22:32.
24. Jn. 6:68; cf. Acts 4:8-
25. Cf. Eph. 1:10, 22; 4:25; Col. 1:18.
26. 1 Cor 8:6; cf. Col. 1:17.
27. Jn. 14:6.
28. Jn. 11:25.
29. Cf. Jn. 14:9.
30. Cf. Jn. 16:7.
31. Cf. Jn. 16:7, 13.
32. Col. 2:3.
33. Cf. Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 6:15; 10:17; 12:12, 27; Eph. 1:23; 2:16; 4:4; Col. 1:24; 3:15.
34. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1: AAS 57 (1965) 5.
35. Mt. 16:16.
36. Cf. Litany of the Sacred Heart.
37. 1 Cor. 2:2.
38. Cf. Gen. 1 passim.
39. Cf. Gen. 1:26-
40. Rom . 8: 20; cf . 8:19-
41. Jn. 3:16.
42. Cf. Rom. 5:12-
43. Rom. 8:22.
44. Rom. 8:19.
45. Rom. 8:22.
46. Rom. 8:19.
47. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22: AAS 58 (1966) 1042-
48. Rom. 5:11; Col. 1:20.
49. Ps. 8:6.
50. Cf. Gn. 1:26.
51. Cf. Gn. 3:6-
52. Cf. Eucharistic Prayer IV.
53. Cf. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 37: AAS 58 (1966) 1054-
54. Cf. Rom. 8:29-
55. Cf. Jn. 16:13.
56. Cf. 1 Thes. 5:24.
57. 2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Gal. 3:13.
58. 1 Jn. 4:8, 16.
59. Cf. Rom. 8:20.
60. Cf. Lk. 15:11-
61. Rom . 8:19.
62. Cf. Rom. 8:18.
63. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theol., III, q. 46, a. 1, ad 3.
64. Gal. 3:28.
65. Exsultet at the Easter Vigil.
66. Cf. Jn. 3:16.
67. Cf. St. Justin, I Apologia, 46, 1-
68. Cf. Vatican Council II: Declaration on the Church's Relations with Non-
69. Col. 1:26.
70. Mt. 11:12.
71. Lk. 16:8.
72. Eph. 3:8.
73. Cf. Vatican Council II: Declaration Nostra Aetate, 1-
74. Acts 17:22-
75. Jn. 2:26.
76. Jn. 3:8.
77. Cf. AAS 58 (1966) 929-
78. Cf. Jn. 14:26.
79. Pope Paul VI: Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 6: AAS 68 (1976) 9.
80. Jn. 7:16.
81. Cf. AAS 58 (1966) 936-
82. Jn. 8:32.
83. Jn. 18:37.
84. Cf. Jn. 4:23.
85. Jn. 4:23-
86. Cf. Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam: AAS 56 (1964) 609-
87. V atican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22: AAS 58 ( 1966) 1042.
88. Cf. Jn. l4:1ff.
89. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 91: AAS 58 (1966) 1113.
90. Ibid., 38: 1. c., p. 1056.
91. Ibid., 76: 1. c., p. 1099.
92. Cf. Gn. 1:26.
93. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 24: AAS 58 ( 1966) 1045.
94. Gn. 1:28.
95. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 10: AAS 58 ( 1966) 1032.
96. Ibid., 10: 1. c., p. 1033.
97. Ibid., 38: 1. c., p. 1056; Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Populorum Progressio, 21: AAS 59 (1967) 267-
98. Cf. Gn. 1:28.
99. Cf. Gn. 1-
100. Gn. 1:28; cf. Vatican Council II: Decree on the Social Communications Media Inter Mirifica, 6: AAS 56 (1964) 147; Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 74, 78: AAS 58 (1966) 1095-
101. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 10, 36: AAS 57 (1965) 14-
102. Cf. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 35: AAS 58 (1966) 1053; Pope Paul VI: Address to Diplomatic Corps, January 7, 1965: AAS 57 (1965) 232; Encyclical Populorum Progressio, 14: AAS 59 (1967) 264.
103. Cf. Pope Pius XII: Radio Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Leo XIII's Encyclical "Rerum Novarum," June 1, 1941: AAS 33 (1941) 195-
104. Cf. Pope John XXIII: Encyclical Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961) 418ff.; Encyclical Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963) 289ff.; Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum Progressio AAS 59 (1967) 257-
105. Cf. Lk. 16:19-
106. Cf. Pope John Paul II: Homily at Santo Domingo, January 25, 1979, 3: AAS 71 (1979) 157ff.; Address to Indians and Campesinos at Oaxaca, January 30, 1979, 2: 1. c., pp. 207ff.; Address to Monterrey Workers, January 31, 1979, 4: 1. c., p. 242.
107. Cf. Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, 42: AAS 63 (1971) 431.
108. Cf. Mt. 25:31-
109. Mt. 25:42, 43.
110. 2 Tm. 4:2.
111. Pope Pius XI: Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931) 213; Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno: AAS 23 (1931) 285-
112. Cf. 2 Cor. 3:6.
113. Cf. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 31: AAS 58 (1966) 1050.
114. Cf. AAS 58 (1966) 929-
115. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 22: AAS 58 (1966) 1042.
116. Cf. 1 Cor. 6:15; 11:3; 12:12-
117. 2 Pt. 1:4.
118. Cf. Eph. 2:10; Jn. 1:14, 16.
119. Jn. 1:12.
120. Cf. Jn. 4:14.
121. Gal. 4:4.
122. Jn. 11:25-
123. Preface of Christian Death, I.
124. jn. 6:63.
125. Confessio, I, 1: CSEL 33, p. 1.
126. Mt. 12:30.
127. Cf. Jn. 1:12.
128. Gal. 4:5.
129 . Gal. 4: 6; Rom. 8:15.
130. Cf. Rom. 15:13; 1 Cor. 1:24.
131. Cf. Ls. 11:2-
132. Cf. Gal. 5:22-
133. Sequence for Pentecost.
134. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 16: AAS 57 (1965) 20.
135. Ibid., 1: 1. c., p. 5.
136. Cf. Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.
137. Cf. Rom. 8:15.
138. Cf. Rom. 8:30.
139. Mt. 20:28.
140. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 31-
141. Jn. 14:24.
142. Jn. 1:18.
143. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, 5, 10, 21: AAS 58 ( 1966) 819, 822, 827-
144. Cf. Vatican Council I: Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, Chap. 3: Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Ed. Istituto per le Scienze Religiose, Bologna 1973 3, p. 807.
145. Cf. Vatican Council I: First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ Pastor Aeternus: 1. c., pp. 811-
146. Cf. Mt. 28:19.
147. Cf. Vatican Council I: First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ Pastor Aeternus: 1. c., pp. 811-
148. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 18-
149. Cf. Ibid., 12, 35: 1. c., pp. 16-
150. Cf. St. Augustine: Sermo 43, 79: PL 38, 257-
151. Cf. Vatican Council II: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 44, 57, 59, 62: AAS 58 (1966) 1064f., 1077ff., 1079f., 1082ff.; Decree on Priestly Training Optatam Totius, 15: AAS 58 (1966) 722.
152. Jn. 14:24.
153. Jn. 20:21-
154. Cf. Vatican Council II: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10: AAS 56 (1964) 102.
155. Cf. Rom. 6:3-
156. Phil. 2:8.
157. Cf. Jn. 5:26; 1 Jn. 5:11.
158. Heb. 9:24; 1 Jn. 2:1.
159. 1 Cor. 6:20.
160. Jn. 1:12.
161. Cf. Rom. 8:23.
162. Rv. 5:10; 1 Pt. 2:9.
163. Cf. Jn. 1:1-
164. Cf. 1 Jn. 5:5-
165. Cf. Rom. 5:10, 11; 2 Cor. 5:18-
166. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11: AAS 57 (1965) 15-
167. Cf. Vatican Council II: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47: AAS 56 (1964) 113.
168. Cf. Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Mysterium Fidei: AAS 57 (1965) 553-
169. Cf. Vatican Council II: Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47: AAS 56 (1964) 113.
170. Cf. Jn. 6:51, 57; 14:6; Gal. 2:20.
171. 1 Cor. 11:28.
172. Mk. 1:15.
174. Cf. 1 Pt. 2:5.
175. Ps. 50 (51):6.
176. Mk. 2:5.
177. Jn. 8:11.
178. Mt. 5:6.
179. Cf. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Normae Pastorales circa Absolutionem Sacramentalem Generali Modo Impertiendam: AAS 64 (1972) 510-
180. Cf. AAS 58 (1966) 177-
181. Mt. 20:28.
182. Pope Pius XII: Encyclical Mystici Corporis: AAS 35 (1943) 193-
183. Jn. 1:43.
184. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 1: AAS 57 (1965) 5.
185. 1 Cor. 7:7; cf. 12:7, 27; Rom. 12:6; Eph. 4:7.
186. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 36: AAS 57 (1965) 41-
187. Gal. 5:1; cf. 5:13.
188. Cf. Jn. 10:10.
189. Jn. 16:13.
190. Cf. Rom. 5:5.
191. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 63-
192. Cf. Chapter VIII, 52-
193. Pope Paul VI: Closing Address at the Third Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, November 21, 1964: AAS 56 (1964) 1015.
194. Cf. Vatican Council II: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 56: AAS 57 (1965) 60.
196. Heb. 2:10.
197. Cf. Jn. 19:26.
198. Cf. Acts 1:14; 2.
199. Cf. Jn. 19:27.
200. Jn. 3:16.
201. Jn. 15:5.
202. Cf. Acts 1:14.
203. Cf. Acts 1:13.
204. Cf. Acts 1:8.
© Copyright 1979 -