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John Paul II's Apostolic Pilgrimage to Denmark

6th - 7th June 1989

Pope Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Denmark during his 42nd apostolic journey, on which he also visited Norway, Iceland, Finland & Sweden.

Following the welcome ceremony on Tuesday 6th June, Papa San Giovanni Paolo II celebrated Mass in the park of the Cloistered Monastery of the Benedictine Sisters at Aasebakken. He then met with the Danish Bishops of the Lutheran Church (in Roskilde and with Polish immigrants (in the Apostolic Nunciature). In Copenhagen on his second day, St John Paul II met with the Catholic community, with representatives of the Danish Lutheran Church, other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, and then with the Diplomatic Corps, before travelling to Øm to celebrate Mass with young people.

Pope Saint John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Military Airport of Copenhagen-Vaerlose, Tuesday 6 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Mr Prime Minister, Distinguished Members of Government,
Dear People of Denmark,

1. It is with distinct pleasure that I greet you and all the people of Denmark. My visit to your country is an expression of the esteem which I have for the Kingdom of Denmark and all her people. Throughout her history, Denmark has commanded the respect of her neighbours, not only for the courage of her warriors, but also, and more importantly, for the high ideals which have guided her growth as a nation. Today, those ideals continue to find expression in a thriving cultural and intellectual life. They provide the support for a healthy civic and social life, and they find a deep source of inspiration and renewal in the religious faith of so many men and women among you. Within the international community, Denmark has long been esteemed for the expression which those ideals have found in the generosity and solidarity which mark your relations with the developing nations of the world.

Indeed, for all their ancient strength and unity as a people, Danes have never been isolated from the rest of the family of nations. For over a thousand years, Denmark has stood as a geographical link between the Nordic peoples and the rest of Europe. Her notable contributions to science, the arts and literature have been a source of enrichment for the entire world. This heritage is both a cause for pride and a stimulus to further action of this kind.

For these reasons, I am pleased to have this opportunity to set foot upon Danish soil today. I wish to express my gratitude to Queen Margrethe, to you, Mr Prime Minister, and to all those civil and ecclesiastical authorities who have helped to make this visit possible.

2. I have come to Denmark as the Bishop of Rome, as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as one who is committed, as you are committed, to the search for authentic peace in our world. My journey brings me to the Catholics of Denmark, my brothers and sisters in Christ. In accordance with the ministry I received, I have come to pray with them, to celebrate the sacraments with them and to strengthen them in the bonds of ecclesial communion which unite them with the Catholic Church throughout the world. It is my hope that this visit of the Successor of Peter will serve to confirm them in the faith they have received, so that they may come to know more deeply Christ Jesus and the power of his resurrection.

I have also come with the intention of meeting the bishops and people of the Danish Lutheran Church, as well as representatives of the various Christian Ecclesial Communities present in Denmark. This ecumenical aspect of my visit is one that is dear to me. In our days, Christians throughout the world are seeking to overcome the divisions and disagreements which have long separated us. In conformity with the will of Christ who prayed that his disciples might all be one (Cfr. Io. 17, 21), we seek the grace of reconciliation and a renewed commitment to bringing the Gospel’s message of hope to the world. I am grateful for this privileged moment, and I pray that my presence, and the Gospel I preach, may encourage all Christians to cherish more deeply the gift of faith which we have received.

3. The Christian faith remains, in our own day, as it has for a thousand years, an inspiration and a support for Denmark’s people. The very symbol of your existence as a people, the Dannebrog, is marked with the sign of the Cross. Under this banner, Denmark has grown strong in her identity as a nation and her people have prospered. In our times, cooperation and mutual support among all nations has become our only hope for the attainment of peace and a just distribution of the world’s goods. Here too, Denmark has demonstrated a generous solidarity in accord with the best of her traditions. In the international community, your country is known for her concern for the welfare of all and the advancement of human rights. Your hospitality towards refugees and foreigners at home is matched by your assistance to the developing nations of the Third World.

These generous contributions to the advancement of peoples and their social progress are an expression of values deeply implanted in the soul of the Danish people. May you always be faithful to those values, treasuring them as part of your country’s great riches and passing them on to your children. Our age needs to be challenged by this example. It longs for a witness to authentic generosity and self-sacrifice for the good of others. At a time when many are tempted to live for the day and selfishly to exploit the resources which nature has provided for all, Denmark can raise her voice in defence of all those who have no voice: the poor, the underprivileged, and those not yet born. In doing so, she will be faithful to the Dannebrog, faithful to her very self.

Dear friends: with every passing day, a new world is struggling to be born. Mankind lies poised between a future of hope and promise, and a future of violence and poverty. Each of us, in our families and communities, in our churches and governments, has a role to play in giving birth to this new world. I am grateful to you for all that you have done, and all that you are doing, to bring about the dawn of an age of understanding and cooperation among peoples, and a commitment to the good of all people, especially those who most need your help. Your pursuit of these noble goals will always have my support and gratitude. In this regard, I am pleased to recall the establishment of diplomatic relations between Denmark and the Holy See. It is my hope that these relations will serve the cause of increasing understanding among peoples, and contribute to the growth of that peace for which we all long. God bless each and every one of you! May God bless Denmark and all her people!

Gud velsigne Danmark. Gud velsigne jere alle."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's Homily at Mass in Aasebakken
in the Park of the Cloistered Monastery of the Benedictine Sisters, Cophenhagen, Tuesday 6 June 1989 - in English & Italian

“God loved the world” (Jn 3, 16).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. With these words of the Gospel fixed in our minds and hearts, we gather in this beautiful spot to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. I see represented among you the many different groups of people who make up the Catholic Church in Denmark. It is a joy for me to celebrate this Liturgy with Bishop Martensen, the clergy, the religious and all of you present.

We come together here at Aasebakken, a Catholic place of pilgrimage in honour of the Virgin Mary “full of grace” (Luc. 1, 28), who by believing and obeying gave birth to the Eternal Son of the Father “who loved the world”. I greet the Benedictine nuns who pray and work here, and I thank them for the hospitality shown to us and to all those who come here as pilgrims.

To the whole Catholic community in Denmark, consisting of so many different elements, I express my affection in the Lord and my pleasure at being able to make this pastoral visit. Those of you who are Danish by birth and ancestry can be proud of your beautiful country and her history, so deeply rooted in the Christian Gospel. I am also happy to see among you representatives of the Catholic communities of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, who have made the long journey in order to take part in this Mass.

Text in Danish
Selv om de Katolske menigheder i Danmark er sma, er de ikke mindre vigtige for det hierarkiske fællesskab med den universelle Kirke, med hvilken de er knyttet med enhedens, barmhjertighedens og fredens band. Hele Kirken henter styrke og inspiration for dens mission fra jeres bønner og gudsdyrkelse og fra jeres trofaste vidnesbyrd for Kristus.

For nylig i Rom, sammen med mange af jer, havde jeg den glæde at ære en af Danmarks største sønner, Niels Steensen.

Matte Kristi lvs altid brænde klart, gennem hans eksempel og hans bønner, blandt katolikkerne i hans fædreland.

I know that the Catholic Church in Denmark also includes a number of Poles, whose arrival in this country both at the beginning of this century and in more recent years has led to the establishment of many new Danish parishes.

Drodzy synowie i córki polskiego pochodzenia! Oby wiara Katolicka, którą wy i wasze rodziny przynieśliście z Polski, nie tylko została zachowana, ale również wzrastała w waszej nowej ojczyźnie. Zachowując wiarę i jej tradycje, pomagacie w budowaniu Kościoła w Danii. W ten sposób wraz ze wszystkimi waszymi braćmi katolikami w tym kraju dajecie swój wkład zarówno duchowy, jak i materialny w pomyślność społeczeństwa duńskiego. Niech dawne więzy przyjaźni, łączące Danię i Polskę, umacniają się w tym krytycznym, ale pełnym nadziei okresie dla kraju naszych przodków.

To all the other groups of Catholics I also extend a cordial greeting in the Lord: to the Croatians and Hungarians; to those from other countries in Europe; from North and South America and from Africa; from the Philippines and elsewhere in the Far East, who have left their mark on the Church especially in the Copenhagen area. I also greet those from Vietnam who have come here over the past twenty years in order to find refuge from the sufferings of their native land. From Vietnam you have brought a living faith. May it flourish and grow here, and enrich your new homeland.

I cannot fail to say a few words to the Catholic visitors from Germany.

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern aus Deutschland!

Seit vielen Jahren seid ihr mit der Kirche in Dänemark eng verbunden, Ihr habt ihr auf viele Weisen Hilfe und Unterstützung gegeben. Möge diese heutige Feier das geistliche Band des Glaubens stärken, das alle menschlichen Unterschiede zwischen Völkern und Nationen übersteigt. Mögen wir alle in gegenseitiger Anteilnahme und Liebe vereint sein!

Finally, I wish to assure the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, especially the Lutheran Church, that I am grateful for your presence here today. With God’s help may we walk together on the pilgrimage of faith that begins with Baptism, so that in a world that often lacks faith we may bear effective witness to the divine love proclaimed in today’s Gospel.

2. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son” (Io. 3, 16).

Dear brothers and sisters: these words were spoken by Christ to Nicodemus. They are recorded by the Evangelist John – the “beloved disciple” – who wrote his Gospel last, after those of Matthew, Mark and Luke. One can say that he views things from a “more distant” perspective. The words spoken to Nicodemus and etched in his memory are heard by John in the context of all that Christ revealed by word and deed, and especially by his Cross and Resurrection.

In today’s liturgy we read these words from yet another perspective. The Prophet Isaiah, writing centuries before Christ, “looks”, so to speak, at what lies ahead: at the future. What he describes, is destined to happen in the “fullness of time”. Nevertheless, we are struck by the keenness of his vision: Behold, “to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder” (Is. 9, 6). Perhaps he wrote this at the birth of an earthly ruler, but the words refer to a Sovereign whom the Prophet called “Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Ibid.). It is the text we read on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth, at Christmas.

The Evangelist John is traditionally symbolized by an eagle. One might say that the “eagle eye” of the Prophet and of the Evangelist converge on the same mystery, expressed by Saint John in the words: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son”. This “giving” goes beyond Christmas night at Bethlehem, beyond the Incarnation of God. It goes all the way to the Paschal Mystery: to the night that fell after Christ’s Death and to the dawn that marked the Resurrection. Through the events of the Paschal Mystery, which remained so vivid in the memory of the Evangelist and of the earliest Church community, the mission of Christ was fulfilled: his messianic mission.

“God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved” (Io. 3, 17). 
This reveals the full meaning of the words: “God loved the world”.

3. God already loved in this way at the creation. The Creator took delight in everything that came forth from the creative power of his Word. He rejoiced and continues to rejoice above all in man, created in his image and likeness. The joy which attended creation – as the Book of Genesis reminds us – is an expression of God’s creative love. He created because he loved.

It was by way of man’s heart that sin entered the world; that is, through man’s refusal to accept the Love that is God. It is a refusal that casts a shadow of evil and death over human history. In our day it takes the form of widespread indifference to the things of God, materialism that values “having” over “being”, and a readiness to disregard human life or manipulate it without reference to the inviolable dignity and rights possessed by every human person from conception until natural death.

God called man into existence through love; he called him at the same time for love. Sin, however, wounds even the most fundamental of loving relationships, that of marriage, by making us think that it is too difficult, if not impossible, to be bound to one person faithfully for life. In a world in which the bitter fruits of sin are despair and loneliness – an existence without meaning, without love, without God – the Church says “yes” to the mysteries of love and of life (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Familiaris Consortio, 11. 20. 30).

4. Can we not say that by man’s sinfulness creation “tests” the Creator’s love? From a human point of view we may be inclined to say so. But God is greater. Love is greater than sin. In the face of man’s refusal God does not respond by refusing man. God responds with more love. He responds with a Gift.

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son...
not to condemn the world,
but so that through him the world might be saved”.
Isaiah spoke of the “sovereignty” that the Messiah would possess.

Yes, upon his shoulders was placed the sovereignty of the love that saves – upon the very shoulders of the only-begotten Son who was destined to hang on the Cross at Golgotha. In that moment God loved the world in his crucified Son, and the Son – the Christ – “loved us even to the end” (Cfr. Io. 13, 1).

Love is a saving force. It alone can save. God saves because he is Love. Christ saves because “he loved to the end”: even to Death on a Cross. He had every reason and every right to “judge the world” – to condemn man because of sin. He chose the love which saves, which raises up again, which purifies, which sanctifies. Of this love Saint John says: “the light has come into the world” (Io. 3, 19). Love is the light of the world. Christ is that light.

5. Light is opposed to darkness. Of itself the “world” is not the light, even though to the discerning eye it can reveal God the Creator who is love. The light which is in creatures is clearly not sufficient. This is especially true if through sin man’s spiritual gaze turns away from God’s light. Then the world becomes darkness rather than light: it becomes a place of death for the immortal human being.

Hence another light was necessary: not the light that the world can give. It was necessary that God should give his Son who is the Word, of one being with the Father. It was necessary that the Son should give himself on the Cross, that he himself should accept the death that awaited him in the world. It was necessary that by this death he should conquer death, that in the Resurrection he should reveal the power of life.

“God loved the world so much”. Through Christ’s Death, through his Cross and Resurrection, the contrast between light and darkness, between good and evil, can be seen still more clearly. Saint John was aware of this when he wrote:

“...everybody who does wrong
hates the light and avoids it.
for fear his actions should be exposed;
but the man who lives by the truth
comes out into the light
so that it may be plainly seen that what he does
is done in God” (Ibid. 3, 20-21).

These words express the fundamental challenge of the Gospel: it is the unceasing challenge to come into the light. Is the “wrongdoer” really unable to come to the light? Surely he is able to overcome the fear that his deeds will meet with condemnation. For, as the light of the world, has not the Crucified and Risen Christ come to save rather than to judge? Herein lies the challenge of the Gospel for each of us. The challenge to acknowledge in faith that

– the “jealous” love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit revealed in Christ’s Paschal Mystery remains in the world,
– it remains in us. Amen."

Johannes Paul II an die Bischofe der Lutherischen Kirche Dänemarks
Roskilde, Dänemark - Dienstag 6. Juni 1989 - in German & Italian

"Verehrte Brüder in Christus!
1. Mit großem Dank habe ich die Einladung von Bischof Wiberg und den anderen dänischen evangelisch-lutherischen Bischöfen zu einer Abendandacht im Roskilder Dom und zu der Begegnung in diesem traditionsreichen Haus entgegengenommen.

Der Dom von Roskilde, der überreich ist an Andenken aus der Geschichte des dänischen Volkes, besonders der Kirche und des Königshauses, bringt uns ein Jahrtausend in Erinnerung, von dem mehr als 500 Jahre von einer ungebrochenen Einheit im westlichen Christentum geprägt waren und in dem auch die Kirche in Dänemark noch in voller Einheit mit dem Bischof von Rom lebte.

Dieses Gotteshaus erinnert uns aber auch an ein anderes halbes Jahrtausend, das von Konflikten zwischen den Christen der Reformation und der römisch-katholischen Kirche gekennzeichnet war.

Wenn heute der Bischof von Rom zum ersten Mal diesen Ort besucht, dann ist es meine innige Hoffnung, daß diese Begegnung dazu beitragen möge, einige der trennenden und zuweilen feindlichen Mauern abzubauen, die im Laufe eines halben Jahrtausends zwischen uns aufgerichtet worden sind.

Wenn ich Ihnen, sehr verehrte Bischöfe, hier begegne, erbitte ich Ihnen und Ihrem Dienst für die Christen, für die Sie Verantwortung tragen. Gottes Segen. Trotz der Verbitterungen, welche die Glaubensspaltung zwischen uns hervorgerufen hat, trotz aller Verurteilungen, die ausgesprochen worden sind, stelle ich mit Dankbarkeit und Freude fest, daß wir aufgrund des Gnadengeschenks der Taufe und der uns von Christus aufgetragenen Verkündigung des Evangeliums durch ein gemeinsames Erbe weiter miteinander verbunden geblieben sind. So kann ich mit Dank gegenüber dem Herrn die gleichen Worte an Sie richten, die das II. Vatikanische Konzil über viele Kirchen und kirchliche Gemeinschaften gesagt hat, die mit der Kirche von Rom nicht in voller Gemeinschaft stehen. Trotz der zwischen ihnen und der Katholischen Kirche in Lehre und Disziplin bestehenden Unterschiede, die wir als Hindernisse für eine volle Gemeinschaft ansehen, erklärt das Konzil ausdrücklich, daß diese Kirchen und kirchlichen Gemeinschaften ”nicht ohne Bedeutung und Gewicht im Geheimnis des Heiles sind. Denn der Geist Christi hat sich gewürdigt, sie als Mittel des Heiles zu gebrauchen, deren Wirksamkeit sich von der der katholischen Kirche anvertrauten Fülle der Gnade und Wahrheit herleitet“.

2. Nicht nur im Mittelalter, sondern auch nach der Reformation im 16. Jahrhundert hat das Christentum in der Geschichte und in der Kultur des dänischen Volkes tiefe Spuren hinterlassen. Es hat sich immer wieder gezeigt, daß der Geist Christi weiterhin neues Leben weckt und zur Nachfolge Christi ermuntert. Es ist bekannt, daß die dänische Literatur von zahlreichen christlichen Autoren und Dichtern geprägt ist und daß die katholische Tradition der Kirche – nicht zuletzt auch der alten Kirche im Westen wie im Osten – in den herrlichen Übersetzungen und Nachdichtungen Grundtvigs Ausdruck gefunden hat. Aber auch in anderen großen und bekannten christlichen Dichtern wie Kingo, Brorson und Ingemann erkennt sich die katholische Kirche in ihrer Tradition wieder – und das in einem solchen Maße, daß die dänischen Katholiken heute viele Lieder dieser Dichter in ihrem eigenen katholischen Gottesdienst singen.

Ebenso hat das Christentum durch die Verkündigung des Evangeliums im dänischen Volk, besonders in den letzten Jahrhunderten, zu einer Vertiefung des Bewußtseins von der Würde und der Unverletzbarkeit des Menschen und seiner Grundrechte, von der Gewissensfreiheit, der gemeinsamen Verantwortung für das Gemeinwohl, besonders für die Armen und Benachteiligten, beigetragen. So können wir auf diesen und vielen anderen Gebieten mit dem Konzil die ”wahrhaft christlichen Güter aus dem gemeinsamen Erbe mit Freude anerkennen und hochschätzen, die sich bei den von uns getrennten Brüdern finden“.

3. Seit dem II. Vatikanischen Konzil haben wichtige ökumenische Dialoge stattgefunden. Das erste der internationalen bilateralen Gespräche nahm seinen Anfang zwischen der katholischen Kirche und dem Lutherischen Weltbund. Der dänische Professor Kristen Skydsgaard, Beobachter beim II. Vatikanischen Konzil, war einer der Hauptinitiatoren dieses Dialogs.

Diese Gespräche haben die Zusammenarbeit zwischen unseren Kirchen in mannigfaltiger Weise gefördert. Dennoch dauern auch in der Zeit des ökumenischen Dialogs erhebliche Hindernisse fort. Viele sehen ein solches in der Person Martin Luthers und in der Verurteilung mancher seiner Lehren, die die katholische Kirche seinerzeit ausgesprochen hat. Die Ereignisse um seinen Bann haben Wunden geschlagen, die nach mehr als 450 Jahren noch nicht geheilt sind und die sich auch heute nicht durch einen juristischen Akt heilen lassen. Nach dem Verständnis der römisch-katholischen Kirche hört jede Exkommunikation mit dem Tode eines Menschen auf, da diese als eine Maßnahme gegenüber einer Person zu ihren Lebzeiten anzusehen ist. Was wir heute vor allem brauchen, ist eine gemeinsame neue Bewertung der vielen Fragen, die durch Luther und seine Verkündigung aufgeworfen worden sind. Eine solche Neubesinnung hat von katholischer Seite schon begonnen. So habe ich anläßlich der 500-Jahrfeier der Geburt Martin Luthers feststellen können: ”In der Tat haben die wissenschaftlichen Bemühungen evangelischer wie katholischer Forscher, die sich in ihren Ergebnissen inzwischen weitgehend begegnen, zu einem vollständigeren und differenzierteren Bild von der Persönlichkeit Luthers wie auch von dem komplizierten Geflecht der historischen Gegebenheiten in Gesellschaft. Politik und Kirche der ersten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts geführt. Überzeugend sichtbar geworden ist dabei die tiefe Religiosität Luthers, der von der brennenden Leidenschaft für die Frage nach dem ewigen Heil getrieben war“.

4. Gewisse Anliegen Luthers bezüglich der Reform und der Erneuerung haben bei den Katholiken in verschiedener Hinsicht Widerhall gefunden; so, wenn das II. Vatikanische Konzil von der Notwendigkeit dauernder Erneuerung und Reform spricht: ”Die Kirche wird auf dem Weg ihrer Pilgerschaft von Christus zu dieser dauernden Reform gerufen, deren sie allzeit bedarf, soweit sie menschliche und irdische Einrichtung ist; was also etwa je nach Umständen und Zeitverhältnissen im sittlichen Leben, in der Kirchenzucht oder auch in der Art der Lehrverkündigung – die von dem Glaubensschatz selbst genau unterschieden werden muß – nicht genau genug bewahrt worden ist, muß deshalb zu gegebener Zeit sachgerecht und pflichtgemäß erneuert werden“.  Der Wunsch, das Evangelium neu zu hören und es glaubwürdig zu bezeugen, der auch in Luther lebte, muß uns dazu führen, das Gute im anderen zu suchen, Versöhnung zu schenken und überkommene Feindbilder aufzugeben.

Angesichts der Geschichte unserer Trennung möchte ich die Worte wiederholen, die ich 1980 bei meinem Pastoralbesuch in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland gesagt habe: ”Wir wollen uns nicht mehr gegenseitig richtig“.  Wir wollen vielmehr einander unsere Schuld eingestehen. Auch hinsichtlich der Gnade der Einheit gilt: ”Alle haben gesündigt“.  Das müssen wir in allem Ernst sehen und sagen und unsere Konsequenzen daraus ziehen“. ”Weichen wir den Fakten nicht aus, dann wird uns bewußt, daß menschliches Verschulden zu der unheilvollen Trennung der Christen geführt hat und daß unser Versagen immer wieder Schritte zur Einheit behindert, die möglich und nötig sind“. Wie ich es schon bei früheren Gelegenheiten gesagt habe, mache ich mir die Worte zu eigen, die Papst Hadrian VI. 1523 auf dem Reichstag zu Nürnberg gesprochen hat: ”Deshalb müssen wir alle Gott die Ehre geben und uns vor ihm demütigen. Ein jeder von uns soll betrachten, weshalb er gefallen ist, und sich lieber selbst richten, als daß er von Gott am Tag des Zorns gerichtet werde“.

Das Petrusamt ist nach katholischem Verständnis von Christus gestiftet worden, um der Einheit der Christen zu dienen. Wenn der Papst sich mit einer alten Bezeichnung ”Diener der Diener Gottes“ nennt, so kommt damit zum Ausdruck, daß dieses Amt in der Nachfolge Jesu Christi steht, ”der nicht gekommen ist, sich bedienen zu lassen. Sondern zu dienen und sein Leben als Lösegeld für viele zu geben“.  Mögen alle Schwierigkeiten bezüglich dieses Amtes überwunden werden, indem es immer deutlicher wird, daß es sein einziges Ziel ist, auf das Evangelium Jesu Christi und auf die Fülle der Wahrheit hinzuweisen und der Einheit zu dienen, die er, der Herr der Kirche, begründet hat, als er jede trennende Scheidewand beseitigte und jede Feindschaft überwand, um alle in einem Leib zu vereinen und Versöhnung mit Gott durch sein Kreuz zu bewirken.

Lutheraner und Katholiken schmerzt es, daß es unter uns keine gemeinsame Eucharistie und keine gegenseitige Zulassung zum Tisch des Herrn gibt. Diesbezüglich hat das Dekret über den Ökumenismus folgendes ausgeführt: ”Man darf jedoch die Gemeinschaft beim Gottesdienst (communicatio in sacris) nicht als ein allgemein und ohne Unterscheidung gültiges Mittel zur Wiederherstellung der Einheit der Christen ansehen. Hier sind hauptsächlich zwei Prinzipien maßgebend: Die Bezeugung der Einheit der Kirche und die Teilnahme an den Mitteln der Gnade. Die Bezeugung der Einheit verbietet in den meisten Fällen die Gottesdienstgemeinschaft, die Sorge um die Gnade empfiehlt sie indessen in manchen Fällen“.

Der Weg zum ersehnten Ziel der gemeinsamen Eucharistie in der vollen Einheit übersteigt die menschlichen Kräfte und Fähigkeiten. Darum setzt die Kirche mit dem Konzil ihre ”Hoffnung gänzlich auf das Gebet Christi für die Kirche, auf die Liebe des Vaters zu uns und auf die Kraft des Heiligen Geistes. ”Die Hoffnung aber wird nicht zuschanden: Denn die Liebe Gottes ist ausgegossen in unsere Herzen durch den Heiligen Geist, der uns geschenkt ist““ 

Der Geist Gottes geleite und führe uns weiter mit seinem Licht auf unserem gemeinsamen Weg zur vollen Einheit aller Christen in der Liebe und Wahrheit Jesu Christi."

Papa Woytyla's words to Polish immigrants at Apostolic Nunciature
Copenhagen, Danimarca - Martedì 6 giugno 1989 - in Italian & Polish

"BARDZO WAM dziękuję za odwiedziny. Spotkałem już wielu przedstawicieli duńskiej Polonii w czasie Mszy św. W Aasebakken i dość tam - trzeba powiedzieć - głośno się odzywali, żebym przypadkiem ich nie pominął, żebym ich rozpoznał. Nie tak trudno was rozpoznać. Bardzo dziękuję za te odwiedziny, pozdrawiam wszystkich, którzy tutaj przybyli ale także i wszystkich, którzy żyją w Danii.

Prawdopodobnie jutro znowu w innym miejscu tego kraju będzie okazja, by się spotkać, a prócz tego wiadomo, że tutaj już parę pokoleń Polaków przybywało jako emigranci, przede wszystkim za pracą - w dawniejszych czasach, a potem, aż do ostatnich czasów - także z innych motywów. Takie już są specjalne dzieje naszego narodu, że wszyscy uczestniczymy w wielkim pielgrzymowaniu, wedle tego, co napisał Mickiewicz w “Księgach Narodu i Pielgrzymstwa”. I na końcu macie też takiego Papieża, który wciaż pielgrzymuje.

Życzę wszvstkim, ażeby tutaj, w Danii cali dolbe świadectwo naszemu narodowi i naszemu Kościołowi. Jesteście cząstką Kościoła powszechnego, katolickiego, cząstką, która ma swoje korzenie w naszym polskim Milenium, w naszym polskim chrześcijaństwie, w naszych tradycjach, w naszej kulturze, i ta cząstka została niejako przeszczepiona na inny grunt, w tym innym gruncie zapuszcza na nowo korzenie, na nowo kształtuje swoje życie, które jest już nie tylko polskie, ale i duńskie; trzeba ażebyście kształtowali to życie polskie po duńsku, a w pewnym sensie duńskie po polsku.

W szczególności odnosi się to do Kościoła, który tutaj, w Danii - Kościół katolicki oczywiście - jest Kościołem mniejszościowym, złożonym, jak widzimy i słyszymy, z wielu różnych grup narodowościowych. Było to dzisiaj widać i słychać, jutro także będziemy mogli się o tym przekonać. Jednak rośnie on tutaj, na tym gruncie, w tym społeczeństwie, rośnie wspólnie z tymi, którzy wśród narodu duńskiego także poczuli się katolikami i szukają w naszej wspólnocie swojego miejsca. Więc trzeba, żeby ten Kościół, który jest powszechny, rósł tutaj przez wszystkich - i przez Duńczyków, i przez wszystkich przybyszów, przez wszystkich pielgrzymów, a także i przez nasze polskie “księgi pielgrzymstwa XX wieku”, i żeby rósł także przez Papieża-pielgrzyma.

Pragnę zwrócić się myślą do przeszłości i oddać hołd pamięci tych Polaków emigrantów, którzy tutaj pierwsi najdawniej przybyli i pierwsi zakładali podwaliny tej wspólnoty, zarówno polonijnej, polskiej, jak i katolickiej. Jeszcze są może najstarsi ich reprezentanci, także i w zgromadzeniach zakonnych żeńskich, niech Bóg im wynagrodzi ich trudy, ich wierność, ich miłość dla Chrystusa i dla Ojczyzny, starej i nowej, a wam, którzy tu jesteście, pragnę przekazać błogosławieństwo z myślą o wszystkich waszych bliskich, o waszych rodzinach, o waszych wspólnotach, o waszym duszpasterstwie, o waszych duszpasterzach - duszpasterz tam stoi pod kasztanem, te kasztany są bardzo podobne do tych, które mamy w Polsce i pora roku też ta sama.

Więc dla wszystkich błogosławieństwo, które zabierzcie i zanieście, i niech ono idzie z wami dalej przez życie na duńskiej ziemi. Zawsze pamiętajcie, że to, kim jesteście w Danii, jest także ważne dla tego, kim są Polacv w Polsce i czym jest Polska na polskiej ziemi, a tam wciąż naród trwa i zmaga się o właściwy kształt swego życia; i mamy ufność w Matce Najświętszej, Pani Jasnogórskiej, a także w tych energiach, które są w naszym narodzie, że to zmaganie o właściwy, autentyczny kształt polskiego życia będzie coraz pełniej owocować.

I tego życzymy naszym rodakom w Polsce, to jest naszą wspólną troską i także naszą wspólną nadzieją.

Zaśpiewajmy na zakończenie “Maryjo, Królowo Polski”, bo to nas bardzo łączy.

Proszę teraz Księdza Biskupa, waszego Biskupa z Kopenhagi, żeby wspólnie ze mną pobłogosławił wszystkich tutaj zgromadzonych."

Papa Saint John Paul II's Address to the Danish Catholic Community
Cathedral of Saint Ansgar, Copenhagen, Wednesday 7 June 1989 - in German/English & Italian

"Liebe Brüder und Schwestern!
Diese Begegnung am Beginn des zweiten Tages meines Pastoralbesuches in Eurem Land bereitet mir eine besondere Freude. In Euch Priestern, Ordensleuten verschiedener Kongregationen und Vertretern der Laien grüße ich das ganze Volk Gottes in Eurer Diözese Kopenhagen, in dessen Mitte und mit dem zusammen Ihr mit Glaubenskraft und Opferbereitschaft fortfahrt, lebendige Zeugen für Jesus Christus und das anbrechende Gottesreich in der Welt zu sein.

1. Liebe Mitbrüder im Priesteramt!
Mit besonderer Zuneigung und Liebe wende ich mich zuerst an Euch, die Ihr die engsten Mitarbeiter Eures Bischofs in seinem Hirtendienst seid. Einige von Euch entstammen diesem Land, die meisten aber sind von anderen Ortskirchen hierher gekommen, um der katholischen Kirche in Dänemark als Priester zu dienen. Unter Euch sind Weltpriester und mehr noch Angehörige verschiedener Ordensgemeinschaften, von denen einige schon ein Jahrhundert, andere erst seit neuerer Zeit in Dänemark anwesend und tätig sind. Es freut mich zu hören, daß die priesterliche Gemeinschaft unter Euch trotz der angedeuteten Vielfalt und Unterschiede eng und herzlich ist. Euer brüderlicher Zusammenhalt, der sowohl in Eurem Priesterrat als auch in Euren gelegentlichen Priestertreffen zum Ausdruck kommt, ist von großem Wert für Eure oft isolierte pastorale Arbeit in der Diasporasituation, in der Ihr mit Euren Gemeinden weithin lebt. Darum ermutige ich Euch von Herzen, diese brüderliche und solidarische Gemeinschaft unter Euch auch in Zukunft sorgfältig zu pflegen.

Die verschiedene Herkunft, die Zugehörigkeit zu unterschiedlichen Ordensgemeinschaften wie auch das Studium in verschiedenen Ländern sind für Euer Presbyterium eine große Bereicherung. Darum kann ein reger Gedankenaustausch, das gemeinsame Besprechen der vielfältigen pastoralen Erfahrungen und Aufgaben in einer schnell sich verändernden Gesellschaft Eure brüderliche Zusammenarbeit und Euer persönliches priesterliches Wirken in Gemeinden sehr befruchten und vertiefen. Besonders empfehlenswert sind dafür auch gemeinsame Studien- und Fortbildungskurse sowie gemeinschaftliche geistliche Exerzitien und Einkehrtage, in denen Ihr Euch vor Gott Eurer priesterlichen Berufung und Sendung in der Kirche und der Welt von heute neu bewußt werdet und daraus neue Kraft und Zuversicht für Eure täglichen Mühen im Weinberg des Herrn schöpft.

”Nicht ihr habt mich erwählt, sondern ich habe euch erwählt“, so sagt uns der Herr (Io. 15, 16). Er hat Euch dafür ausersehen, seine Heilssendung inmitten des Volkes Gottes fortzusetzen. Er hat Euch bestellt zu Boten seiner Frohen Botschaft und zu Ausspendern seiner göttlichen Geheimnisse. Darum müßt Ihr zuallererst seine Freunde und Vertrauten sein. Nicht Ihr, nicht Eure Gemeinden, sondern Christus selbst soll Inhalt und letztes Ziel Eures priesterlichen Wirkens sein. Der Priester darf niemals vergessen, daß er”im Namen und in der Person Jesu Christi handelt“, wie eine lange Tradition lehrt. Er muß ganz zurücktreten hinter dem Herrn, den er verkündet und der durch ihn wirkt.

Wie sich das Handeln des Priesters letztlich aus seiner Sendung durch Christus herleitet, so muß dieses auch immer auf Christus hingeordnet bleiben. Darum wird die Liturgie, vor allem die Eucharistie, die das II. Vatikanische Konzil als Höhepunkt und Quelle des Lebens der Kirche bezeichnet (Cfr. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10), auch der vitale Mittelpunkt seiner ganzen pastoralen Tätigkeit sein. Widmet deshalb der würdigen Gestaltung der Gottesdienste und der Sakramente Eure besondere Sorge und Aufmerksamkeit. Jeder, der an liturgischen Handlungen der Kirche teilnimmt, soll sich dessen bewußt sein, daß er einen heiligen Dienst verrichtet, der wesentlich auf die Anbetung und den Lobpreis Gottes ausgerichtet ist.

Aus der inneren Lebensgemeinschaft mit Christus erwächst dann für den Priester und für jeden Christen der Auftrag zum Zeugnis vor der Welt, zur christlichen Gestaltung des eigenen Lebens, der Familie und der Gesellschaft. Dabei werdet Ihr gewiß auch auf viele Schwierigkeiten stoßen, wenn Ihr glaubwürdige Zeugen des Reiches Gottes sein wollt, da dieses nicht von dieser Welt ist. Laßt Euch dadurch aber nicht entmutigen! Ihr teilt darin das Geschick Jesu Christi selbst, wir Ihr es auch schon durch Eure äußere Lebensform unübersehbar zum Ausdruck bringt. Widersteht mit aller Kräften der Versuchung, Euch und die Botschaft Christi der Welt anzugleichen. Wir sind vielmehr dazu gesandt, uns und die Menschen im Geist des Evangeliums zu verändern und zu erneuern. Darum muß der Aufruf zu Umkehr und Buße die wesentliche Aufforderung Eurer Verkündigung bleiben.

Wenn die Probleme und Schwierigkeiten, denen Ihr in Eurer Seelsorgsarbeit begegnet, unüberwindlich erscheinen, so seid Euch stets der beglückenden Tatsache bewußt, daß Ihr eine kostbare Gabe in Euren Händen tragt und den Menschen zu geben habt, nach der sich die Menschen – ohne es vielleicht zu wissen – sogar in tiefsten sehnen; die Frohe Botschaft vom Heil und die Hoffnung auf ein erfülltes ewiges Leben in Gott.

So wie Christus seine ersten Apostel als eine kleine Schar von Getreuen ausgeschickt hat, so werdet auch Ihr vom Herrn der Kirche ausgesandt. Fürchtet Euch nicht, denn in ihm habt Ihr Eure Stärke und Euren Reichtum. Er, der sein gutes Werk in Euch begonnen hat, wird es auch zur Vollendung bringen. Er, der Euch berufen hat, wird Euch auch die Kraft geben, seinen Auftrag auszuführen und Eurer Berufung bis zum Ende treu zu bleiben. Mit der gleichen Zuversicht sorgt Euch zugleich darum, daß der Herr der Ernte aus Euren Gemeinden immer wieder neue Arbeiter in seine Ernte sende, auf daß Gottes Lobpreis und Anbetung in Eurer Mitte niemals verstumme.

2. Liebe Ordensschwestern!
Mit der gleichen Zuneigung und Wertschätzung richte ich nun mein Wort an Euch, die Ihr viele Aufgaben und Mühen zur Auferbauung des Reiches Gottes mit euren Priestern teilt und den Menschen in diesem Land in der Liebe Jesu Christi auf vielfältige Weise dient.

Seit der Einführung der Religions-freiheit in Dänemark im Jahre 1849 haben katholische Ordensschwesterns, die aus verschiedenen Ländern und Ordensgemeinschaften hierher gekommen sind, beim neuen Aufbau der katholischen Kirche in diesem Land auf vielfältige Weise mitgewirkt. Die Schwestern waren für das Wirken der Priester und die Gemeinschaften oft eine große Hilfe. Nicht selten wurden mit ihrer Unterstützung neue Häuser und Kirchen gebaut. In Zeiten, in denen die Menschen hier vielerorts, besonders in den großen Städten, noch unter erheblichem Mangel litten, haben die Schwestern durch ihre Arbeit in den Krankenhäusern und Kindergärten einen unschätzbaren Dienst geleistet. Durch Ihren Einsatz wurden auch viele katholischen Schulen gegründet, entstanden kontemplative Klöster, die ein Zeichen dafür sind, daß die wichtigste Dimension der Kirche das Gebet und die hochste Berufung des Menschen der Lobpreis Gottes ist.

Ich grüße Euch sehr herzlich, liebe Schwestern, und danke Euch für den Dienst, den Ihr und Eure Ordensgemeinschaften in der Vergangenheit für die Kirche und die Menschen in diesem Land geleistet habt und noch heute leistet. Obwohl Eure Zahl zurückgegangen ist, bleibt Ihr weiterhin ein wichtiger und unentbehrlicher Bestandteil dieser Ortskirche. Wie früher gebt Ihr auch jetzt durch Euer Dasein und Wirken ein unübersehbares Zeugnis für ein Leben, das durch Verzicht auf Eigentum, auf Ehe und Familie und durch selbstlose Hingabe im Gehorsam dem Herrn besonders eng nachzufolgen und in seiner Liebe den Menschen zu dienen wünscht. Euer konsequentes christliches Lebenszeugnis ist um so notwendiger, je mehr eine materialistisch ausgerichtete Gesellschaft die höchsten Werte in Besitz und Reichtum, in sinnlichem Genuß und Ausleben, in Selbstbehauptung und Machtausübung über andere sieht.

Mit Euch zusammen danke ich Gott für die Gnade Eurer Berufung und für Eure hochherzige Bereitschaft, mit der Ihr wie Maria Euer”Fiat“, Euer Ja zum Ruf in die besondere Nachfolge Christi gesprochen habt. Aus der unwiderruflichen Bindung an ihn erwartet Ihr fortan den Sinn und die Fruchtbarkeit Eures Lebens. In unserer Zeit der Bindungsangst seid Ihr aufgerufen, Zeugnis dafür zu geben, daß eine endgültige Bindung, eine das ganze Leben tragende Entscheidung auf Gott hin möglich ist; mehr noch, daß es sich sogar lohnt, sie zu wagen, da sie Euch frei und froh macht, wenn Ihr sie Tag für Tag aufrichtigen Herzens erneuert. Euer Ja, das Ihr von Jahren oder Jahrzehnten gesprochen habt, muß vor dem Herrn immer neu bekräftigt werden. Dazu bedarf es der täglichen Offenheit für den je neuen Anruf Gottes und das tägliche sich Einlassen auf seine gekreuzigte Liebe. Nur er kann das Geschenk der Berufung in Euch lebendig erhalten. Nur er kann durch seinen Geist die immer wieder erfahrene Schwäche überwinden und Euch Beharrlichkeit bis zur endgültigen Erfüllung in Gott schenken (Cfr. Ioannes Pauli PP. II Homilia, Ottingae, in urbis platea, ad Religiosos utriusque sexus habita, die 18 nov. 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 2 [1980] 1323 ss.).

Liebe Ordensschwestern! Die Umstände haben Euch genötigt, viele Eurer großen und traditionsreichen Institutionen: Krankenhäuser, Kliniken und Bildungseinrichtungen aufzugeben. Ihr selbst sucht nach neuen Wegen des christlichen Zeugnisses und des Dienstes am Nächsten innerhalb kleinerer Kommunitäten. Mögen diese Leben sgemeinschaften dem Geist Eurer Ordensgründer und Ordensgründerinnen treu bleiben und Euch dazu befähigen, das Licht des Evangeliums und die Liebe Jesu Christi an Eure Mitmenschen in Eurer Umgebung weiterzugeben. Möge Euer einladendes Beispiel sowie Euer Gebet und Opfer auch in Zukunft junge Frauen dazu bewegen, den Ruf Gottes zum Ordensleben hochherzig und freudig anzunehmen. Gott ruft ja nicht nur zu einem Leben in Entsagung und Opfer, sondern auch zu einem Leben innerer Freude und Erfüllung. Frohe Ausstrahlung ist immer das Kennzeichen der Ordensschwestern gewesen. Dadurch ist Euer Leben ein überzeugendes Zeichen dafür, daß ”das Joch Christi nicht drückt und seine Last leicht ist“ (Matth. 11, 30).

Schließlich möchte ich noch besonders jene Ordensschwestern hier in Dänemark grüßen, die nach einem langen Leben treuen und selbstlosen Dienstes nun ein hohes Altar erreicht haben und sich in gläubiger Hoffnung und froher Zuversicht auf die endgültige Begegnung mit dem Herrn vorbereiten. Wenn Ihr die Schwachheit des Alters spürt, wenn Euch Krankheit und Leiden bedrücken und schließlich die Stunde Eures Heimgangs näher rückt, dann laßt auch noch Euer Leiden und Sterben zu einem Zeugnis für Christus werden, der Euch gerade in dieser Zeit der Prüfung besonders nahe ist. Seid davon überzeugt, daß Ihr durch Eure Geduld und Euren Glauben, durch Euer Gebet und die Aufopferung Eures Leidens im Verborgenen der Kirche, die der mystische Leib Jesu Christi ist, die gößten Dienste erweisen könnt.

Euch und Eure Mitschwestern sowie auch alle Priester, durch die Euch die Gemeinschaft und die Liebe Jesu Christi selber nahe ist und Euch Trost und Kraft schenkt, begleite ich weiterhin mit meinem besonderen Gebet und Segen.

3. Dear Members of the Pastoral Council,
I wish to thank your Chairman, Mr Jan Lange, for his kind words on your behalf. I also wish to express my appreciation for the vital way in which you, the Catholic laity of Denmark, continue to build up the one Body of Christ, together with your Bishop, the clergy and the religious. Amid the diversity of vocations in which the new life of grace expresses itself, lay people like yourselves are at the forefront of the Church’s mission. As a priestly people formed and governed by the Church’s pastors, you sanctify the world and transform it after the pattern of Christ within the ordinary circumstances of daily life (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 10. 31). In the years since the Second Vatican Council lay participation in Denmark has grown in extent and dynamism, as is reflected in the activities of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the local Parish Councils since their establishment in 1970.

What are the challenges that face the Catholic laity in Denmark today? I know that marriage and the family are a great concern, and it is about these that I wish to reflect with you. Like Christians in many other parts of the world, you are faced with the sad reality of divorce, broken homes, confusion about the roles of women and men, and a certain antilife mentality which leads not only to artificial contraception and abortion but also to questioning the very desirability of living. The Church’s teaching, which upholds the morality of Judeo-Christian religious tradition, is considered by some to be out of touch with modern realities or overly intrusive in matters which they consider to be “private” and therefore free from “outside interference”.

Far from being an intrusion into the intimacy of conjugal relations and the home, the Gospel, which is the source of the Church’s teaching, brings a liberating message of truth and light. It provides an irreplaceable foundation for the self discovery of the human person and for the stable and loving elements which are essential for human relationships. Grace builds on nature: the Gospel does not make inhuman demands of us. It enlightens, elevates, and perfects what is human, through the power of God’s grace. Exclusive and lifelong fidelity in marriage, responsible parenthood that respects God’s gift of human life, reverence for every human person from the moment of conception until natural death, the equal and complementary dignity of women and men: these, dear brothers and sisters are part of the fabric of Christian truth woven from the Gospel.

Often we may wonder how best to answer the questions of the young in their search for God, or how to touch the hearts and minds of the indifferent, or how to bring Christ to unbelievers. It is my conviction that if we conform our lives to the Gospel in all its fullness, accepting its demands and trusting its wisdom, then despite the scepticism of some and the ridicule of others, we shall in fact be drawing many people and even whole societies to Christ. For no person can remain indifferent to holiness or be unmoved by a life that is fully human because it is lived in God.

I encourage each of you and all the laity of Denmark to give this kind of prophetic witness both in public and in private life. Do not be afraid to live the demands of the Gospel as proclaimed by your Catholic faith. Do not be discouraged in accepting the Gospel with all firmness and charity. As Christians with a mission that comes from Christ himself, seek your strength in him, for as he himself tells us: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (IJn 15, 5).

To all of you gathered here I wish to express my deep appreciation. May the Lord bless you and your loved ones, especially the children and those who are sick. As a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing."

John Paul II's Address at an ecumenical gathering at Moltkes Palace
Copenhagen, Wednsday 7 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"My dear Brothers and Sisters, dear Friends in Christ,
1. I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to meet today this representation from the Danish Lutheran Church, as well as the representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Denmark. I also greet Chief Rabbi Melchior Ben. In particular I wish to thank Bishop Christiansen and Reverend Werner Jenssen for their kind words and for the reflections which they have offered on the theme of the Scriptures and human fellowship.

As Christians who strive to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth (Cfr. Io. 16, 13), we are constantly reminded of the prayer which Jesus made on behalf of his disciples the night before he died: “I do not pray for these only, but for all who believe in me through their word, that they all may be one...” (Io. 17, 20-21). The unity of all who believe in Christ is clearly a matter of Christ’s will. It touches the very heart of the Church’s life and mission in the world. It compels us to acknowledge that, for lack of unity, our witness to the Gospel and our credibility as followers of Christ have been seriously hampered. It also commits us to serve the cause of reconciliation, since we ourselves have been reconciled to God in Christ (Cfr. 2Cor. 15, 18). It is Christ who, once for all, broke down the dividing wall of hostility between Israel and the nations, and now summons all his followers to perfect unity (Cfr. Io. 17, 22).

Some four hundred years ago, the ties of full ecclesial communion which had united the majority of Christians in Denmark with the Church of Rome were severed. This tragic separation, often marked by hostility and mutual distrust, has endured up to our own times. Today, in Moltke’s Palace, I come to you as a brother in Christ and as a disciple of the one Master, in order to stress my own commitment, and the commitment of the entire Catholic Church, to work for the restoration of unity among Christians, in accordance with the Lord’s will. Surely we are bound by the Gospel to work and pray together for a restoration of full unity “in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4, 3). Fidelity to the full truth of Christ compels us not only to acknowledge the differences which separate us, but also to seek their resolution, with confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit. This, in fact, is the aim of the important theological dialogue presently taking place between the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches and Ecclesial Communities whose representatives are here present, including the Lutheran World Federation. In this dialogue, we must first acknowledge those things which we already share, in the hope of overcoming distrust and of fostering growth in mutual understanding.

2. My brothers and sisters: The Second Vatican Council made important doctrinal statements about Holy Scripture, its place in the Church of Christ, and its role in the movement towards Christian unity. The Bible is a great gift from God which all Christians, whatever their differences, continue to hold in common. Inspired by our shared love for the written word of God, I wish to offer, in this ecumenical assembly, some personal thoughts on this great gift and its role in our work for greater mutual understanding.

The Council’s Decree on Ecumenism solemnly affirms: “in dialogue itself, the sacred utterances are precious instruments in the mighty hand of God for attaining that unity which the Saviour holds out to all men” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 21). “Precious instruments in the mighty hand of God”. Holy Scripture is in fact God’s own word. All Christians hold this as a basic tenet of faith. The Council Fathers, in the Decree which I have just quoted, acknowledge this quite explicitly: “Calling upon the Holy Spirit, in these sacred Scriptures (our Christian brethren) seek God as he speaks to them in Christ” (Ibid.). And almost in the same breath, they go on to say, “A love, veneration, and near cult of the sacred Scriptures lead our brethren to a constant and expert study of the sacred text” (Ibid.).

All Christians “seek God” in his own written word. We are convinced that our Lord Jesus Christ reveals himself to us, today and always, in the Scriptures. The Incarnate Word of God continues to speak to the Church through the sacred books. In reading and studying the Scriptures, then, Christians seek to know God and to understand his plan for the human family. Technical and scientific study is only and instrument of this larger aim. Primarily, the word of God is intended to build up and sustain the Church; to provide strength for her children, food for the soul, and to be a pure and lasting source of spiritual life (Cfr. Dei Verbum, 21). That is why Catholics and Lutherans as well as the members of other Ecclesial Communities make the word of God a fundamental component of the Liturgy, which, according to the Fathers of the Church, consists in the “table of the word” as well as the “table of the Eucharist”.

3. Is there not a “principle of unity” to be found here? Does the conviction of our dependence on God’s written word not provide a solid foundation for Christian unity?

The answer to these questions is surely in the affirmative, as the present status of our relations can demonstrate. This is true not only because of a kind of psychological convergence that has grown up between us, but much more because God, the One who speaks in Scripture and through Scripture, is at work in those who read it with pure and sincere hearts. It is precisely for this reason that the Council says that Scripture is a powerful instrument in the hand of God to reach the goal of that unity which the Saviour offers to all (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio, 21).

The extent of our growing convergence is attested by the fact that we use the same critical methods, and often arrive at the same exegetical conclusions, that more and more we listen to the voice of Tradition in the interpretation of the word of God, and that, on the practical level, collaboration has increased among us in the translation, publication and diffusion of the Sacred Texts.

4. However, my brothers and sisters, we are all well aware that much remains to be done to make of Scripture that instrument of unity which the Lord wills for it – and for us. And it is sad to acknowledge that the interpretation of Scripture sometimes remains a factor of division and therefore of disunity among Christians. This is not so much because we read in different, or even divergent, ways certain particular texts or passages. Rather, it is because we hold different views of the “relationship between the Scriptures and the Church” and the role of the Church’s authentic teaching office in their interpretation (Cfr. ibid).

These differing views are now an important subject on the agenda of our dialogue. I am convinced that it is by pursuing this dialogue with confidence and perseverance, and above all with prayer, that we shall be able to overcome our differences, without being unfaithful to what belongs to the integrity of the Christian faith. We shall be led to strengthen our faithfulness to the revealed word of God, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit who “guides us into all the truth” (Cfr. Io. 16, 13). It is precisely in this endeavour, difficult as it is, that the “powerful instrument” of God’s sacred word can serve to build that “peace” between us which “surpasses all understanding” (Cfr. Phil. 4, 7).

Thus, the road ahead of us is clearly indicated. We are called to continue and deepen our common study of Holy Scripture, our dialogue on its content and interpretation, and our collaboration in making it more accessible and understood.

Above all, as Christian individuals and in our Ecclesial Communities, we are called to practise in our lives the message of reconciliation, of victory over sin, of love and peace in Christ, which are revealed in the Scriptures. We must be renewed in Spirit so as to become more faithful to the revealed word of God and the teaching of Christ by becoming “holy, as he is holy” (Cfr. 1Petr. 1, 16). In this way, we shall be drawn together towards deeper unity, in true faith and in active love. This is what the Second Vatican Council implied when it stated: “Every renewal of the Church essentially consists in an increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this explains the dynamism of the movement towards unity” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 6).

5. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: in the Holy Scriptures, all Christians have been given a common treasure, a rule of faith, a source of spiritual growth and an encouragement to know and serve the one true God. In today’s world, so deeply affected by a loss of the sense of God, a world which has forgotten the meaning of life and the reality of sin and forgiveness, a world lacking transcendent hope, the Scriptures offer to all the message of salvation in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. For you, the Christians of Denmark, the Bible is a precious key which opens the door to understanding a culture which for a thousand years has drawn inspiration from its teaching. Through the power of God’s word, you come to an ever new awareness of the profound religious and moral principles which underlie the best traditions of your society. By teaching its message to the young, you will pass on the wisdom they need to distinguish between good and evil, between life and death in making important decisions for their future and the future of Denmark. By leading them in a prayerful reading of Holy Scripture, you will be challenged by a message that fully responds to the questions of life’s meaning, that question about which so many of our contemporaries are confused.

In concluding these reflections, I thank you all once again for your kind invitation, and I pray that each of you, in all that you do, will always serve the Lord in obedience to his holy word. May Christ bless the efforts of all who preach his name and strive to do his will. May his Holy Spirit ever guide us in our efforts to overcome the divisions which separate Christians from one another. To God “who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3, 20-21."

Papa Santo Juan Pablo II's Address to the Diplomatic Corps
Apostolic Nunciature, Copenhagen, Wednsday 7 June 1989 - in English, Italian & Spanish    

"Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Both at the Vatican and on my journeys to the Church in various parts of the world, I have frequent opportunities to meet members of the diplomatic community. Today, I have the great pleasure of meeting you, the distinguished Heads of Mission and diplomatic personnel accredited to Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark. I greet you all and thank you for your presence here. Through you I pay tribute to the nations and peoples you represent. In your service to your respective countries and to the world community I see a direct contribution to the realization of the ardent hope that burns in human hearts everywhere, the hope that an ever more peaceful and humane world will result from the transformations taking place in peoples and in the relations between the forces that shape our history.

I wish to speak to you this morning as a friend in our common humanity, as one concerned for the genuine well-being and advancement of the human family, and as a disciple of Jesus Christ whose Church I have been called to serve in a ministry of unity and faith.

In preparing for this visit to Denmark, I have been strongly reminded of two Danish thinkers. As a former professor of ethics in my own country, I have long been familiar with the writings of one of them: Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was deeply absorbed by a sense of the limited and finite nature of existence, and by a consequent sense of dread – a sense of foreboding which he understood as something not merely psychological but essentially metaphysical, and therefore inevitably present in all of human experience. For Kierkegaard, this anguish was the fundamental category defining the relationship of the individual to the world. For him, the whole of existence is permeated by the possibility of not being. Hence everything is somehow, at the same time, nothing. “What I am”, wrote Kierkegaard, “is nothing” (Søren Kierkegaard, Intimate Diary).

Kierkegaard’s escape from this negativity was through his Christian faith and his obedience to God. In a certain sense he went against the intellectual climate of his time by drawing attention back to the individual and the individual’s personal relationship to God. Some later philosophers were much affected by Kierkegaard’s concept of existential dread. Of these, some found no way out but to extol the orientation towards death and nothingness inherent in being “ situated ” in the world. In that school, the human spirit was prepared for radical despair and a denial of meaning and freedom in life.

The other Danish scholar who comes to mind was the seventeenth century scientist Niels Stensen, the famous anatomist and the founder of scientific paleontology, geology and crystallography. As I had occasion to point out at last year’s beatification ceremony for this outstanding son of Denmark, his life followed a double course: he was a keen observer of the human body and of inanimate nature, and at the same time he was a deeply believing Christian who placed himself at the service of God’s will in a humble yet forthright and fearless way. His pursuit of scientific knowledge led him to attend the Universities at Amsterdam, Leyden, Paris and Florence. His journey of faith led him to a profound experience of conversion, to ordination as a priest, to becoming a bishop and a missionary. His personal holiness was so notable that the Church holds him up as an example to the faithful and as an intercessor for them before God.

2. The memory of these two Danish intellectuals and believers provokes reflections which may be far removed from our daily and immediate concerns, but which nevertheless form the undercurrent of all thought and decision, and therefore determine as it were the very sense of our daily struggles, both personal and collective. These reflections are related to the meaning of life with its obvious limitations, its sufferings and its mysterious outcome which is death. They concern the place of religion in history, culture and society, and the perennial question about the relationship between faith and reason. On the practical plane, they concern the pressing need for collaboration between men and women of religion, science, culture, politics and economics in facing the great problems of the world: the preservation of the planet and its resources, peace between nations and groups, justice in society, and a prompt and effective response to the tragic situation of poverty, sickness and hunger affecting millions of human beings.

Our own century has experienced such terrible wars and political tensions, such offences against life and freedom, such seemingly intractable sources of suffering – including the present-day tragedies of the international drug trade and the increasing spread of AIDS – that some people may hesitate to express too much hope or to be over optimistic about the future. Yet many will agree that the world is living through a moment of extraordinary awakening. The old problems remain, and new ones arise; but there is also a growing awareness of an opportunity being offered to give birth to a new and better era: a time to involve one another in frank and truthful collaboration in order to meet the great challenges facing humanity at the end of the twentieth century. The opportunity I speak of is not something clearly definable. It is more like the confluence of many complex global developments in the fields of science and technology, in the economic world, in a growing political maturity of peoples and in the formation of public opinion. Perhaps it is right to say that what we are experiencing is a change, however slow and fragile, in the direction of the world’s concerns, and an increasing, if sometimes grudging, willingness to accept the implications of a planetary interdependence from which no one can truly escape.

I speak of these things to you, distinguished members of the Diplomatic Corps, because of your personal and professional capability of evoking an appropriate response to the challenges which have appeared on the horizon of humanity’s progress. Mine is an invitation to you and to all men and women with responsibility for the public life of nations, to do everything possible to encourage this moral awakening and to further the peaceful processes which seek to implement freedom, respect for human dignity and human rights throughout the world. In this you and your Governments and peoples will have the full encouragement of the Catholic Church.

The Church has little or no technical advice to give, nor an economic or political programme to promote. Her mission is eminently spiritual and humanitarian. She seeks to be faithful to Jesus Christ, her divine founder, who declared: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Io. 18, 36), but who, at the same time, was moved to compassion at the sight of the sufferings of the multitudes (Cfr. Matth. 9, 36). The Church exists to proclaim the dominion of God, the loving Father, over creation and over man, and seeks to educate people’s consciences to accept responsibility for themselves and for the world, for human relationships and for the common destiny of the human family. Specifically, the Church teaches a doctrine of creation and redemption which places the individual at the centre of her worldview and activity. Her temporal objective is the full development of individuals. She stimulates and appeals to personal responsibility. She encourages and calls upon society to defend and promote the inalienable worth and rights of the person, and to safeguard these values through legislation and social policies. She wishes to pursue these goals in cooperation with all who serve the common good.

From the beginning of my own pontificate I have endeavoured to give voice to a preoccupation which is already present in biblical accounts of man’s efforts to build a world without reference to God. Today this preoccupation assumes an immediacy all its own, by reason of the immensely magnified potential for good or evil which man has fashioned. The danger is that “while man’s dominion over the world of things is making enormous advances, he may lose the essential threads of his dominion and in various ways let his humanity be subjected to the world and become himself something subject to manipulation” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Redemptor Hominis, 16).

As man increasingly takes charge of his world, the fundamental question remains ever the same: “whether in the context of this progress man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible, more open to others, especially the most needy and the weakest” (Ibid. 15).

The basic questions therefore are those related to truth and meaning, to moral good and evil. These are perennial questions, since each generation, and indeed each individual, is called upon to respond to them in the ever changing circumstances of life. The unbalanced development taking place at present and posing the greatest threat to the stability of the world – where the rising material standards of some are in stark contrast with the deepening poverty and misery of others – is not the result of blind and uncontrollable forces, but of decisions made by individuals and groups. I am fully convinced, and have so written in my 1987 Encyclical on the Church’s Social Concern, that certain forms of modern “imperialism” which appear to be inspired by economics or politics, are in fact real forms of idolatry: the worship of money, ideology, class or technology. The true nature of the inequalities which plague our world is that of moral evil. To acknowledge this is important, for, “to diagnose the evil in this way is to identify precisely, on the level of human conduct, the path to be followed in order to overcome it” (Eiusdem Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 37).

Ladies and Gentlemen: these are the thoughts that I wish to leave with you, trusting that you share my concern for the direction in which humanity is going at the end of this Second Christian Millennium. The path forward is the path of a profound solidarity, which is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others, but a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good (Ibid.). Such a commitment to solidarity befits your status as diplomats at the service of peace and progress. My plea to you therefore is that we may work together to build an era of effective worldwide solidarity in openness to the moral dimensions implicit in every human endeavour.

May Almighty God be with you in your work. May his blessings be upon you and your families and upon the countries which you serve. Thank you."

Papa Saint John Paul II's Homily at Mass in the Catholic Youth Centre
Øm, Wednesday 7 June 1989 - in English & Italian

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28, 18).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Christ spoke these words at the end of his messianic mission. He was about to complete his earthly sojourn. He had to return to the Father. “All authority in heaven and on earth” is the result of his redeeming work. The Son of God, of one being with the Father, has authority because of his divinity; the Son of God, sent into the world as man, has obtained authority at the price of his blood.

By virtue of this authority, Christ, as he returns to the Father, sends the Apostles out into the whole world: “Go... make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19). These words receive their full meaning on Pentecost Day in Jerusalem. This marks the Church’s beginning in history: in that holy city, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles assembled in the Upper Room with Christ’s Mother is the beginning of the age of the Church.

Every nation is destined to hear Christ’s words. Therefore, today we must ask: how and when did the apostles of Christ arrive in your native land? Who were the first among your ancestors to be baptized? How long has it been since your nation entered that Kingdom, which Christ entrusted to his apostles and to all those who would build on the foundation which they had laid? These questions can be answered in different ways by the various groups of Catholics present here today.

[Text in Danish] Det er med stor glaede at jeg fejrer denne eukaresti sammen med alle jer i disse smukke omgivelser, hvor ruinerne of Cistercienser klosteret minder os om evengeliseringen af det vestlige Danmark for mange arhundreder siden. I som er Katolikker af dansk oprindelse kan se tilbage med taksomhed og stolthed til dem som har vaeret før jer i troen, til dem som i, hver generation har taget Herrens bud til hjertet at "gøre disciple af alle nationerne".

Matte I altid leve og vokse i denne tro.

I also wish to greet the Danish Catholics of Polish or Vietnamese descent, as well as the visitors from Germany:

[Text in Polish] Drodzy bracia i siostry polskiego pochodzenia! Niektóre z waszych rodzin przebywają tutaj od czasów pierwszej wojny światowej. Inni są emigrantami nowszej daty. Stanowicie pomost chrześcijańskiej wiary i kultury w Europie Północnej. Niech miłość do Matki Bożej, którą wy i wasze rodziny przynieśliście z Polski, nadal wzrasta w sanktuariach, takich jak tutejsze sanktuarium w Om. Oby ta miłość podtrzymywała was zawsze w praktykowaniu waszej wiary katolickiej.

[Text in Vietnamese] Trong Chúa, tôi thân ái chào mùng anh chi em den tù Viêt Nam. Nám ngoái, nhiêu nguòi trong anh chi em dã vê Roma, du lê Phong Thánh cho các Chân Phuóc Tu Dao Viêt Nam, và ít lâu sau môt Trung Tâm hành huong dâng kính các ngài dã duoc xây tai dây. Tôi cãu xin cho anh chi em luôn duoc guong anh dung làm chúng cho Tin Mùng cua các Ngài soi sáng, dê anh chi em cung kiên trung sông Dúc Tin Công giáo, và duy tri các truyén thông gia dinh manh me cua anh chi em.

[Text in German] Liebe Brüder und Schwestern aus Norddeutschland, eure Anwesenheit erinnert uns daran, daß unser Glaube alle Grenzen überschreitet und uns alle als eine einzige Familie Gottes vereint. Es ist eine große Freude für mich, daß mein Besuch in Dänemark es euch ermöglicht, diese Eucharistie mit dem Papst zu feiern. Ich hoffe, daß meine Anwesenheit euch in eurem katholischen Glauben sowie in eurer Liebe zu Christus und zu seiner Kirche stärkt.

2. I know that Catholics in this part of Denmark sometimes feel isolated because of the distance which separates them from one another. The fact that few Catholics are nearby to offer fellowship and support presents you with a special challenge as you seek to practise the faith and to bring up your children as Catholics. Always remember that even the most isolated Catholics are not alone. The smallest of your communities in the North is still part of the universal Church; each is united with the Church in Rome and with Catholics in every land and nation.

Another source of encouragement for you is the example given by many of your neighbours who, though not Catholic, try to live their lives in fidelity to their Christian Baptism. They desire with all their hearts to follow Jesus Christ and serve him. A true ecumenical spirit enables Christians to respect each other as fellow pilgrims and to help one another to proclaim the Gospel. Together we can bear witness to God’s love, by meeting the spiritual and material needs of others, and by bearing witness to Christ among those who have little faith or none at all. To all the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities here today I offer a special greeting of peace.

3. As we recall the Lord’s command to make disciples of all nations, we must keep in mind the invisible action of the Holy Spirit who is at work in the whole of creation. To use the words of the Creed, we profess the Holy Spirit to be truly the “giver of life”.

People today are aware of theories about how the universe came into existence. But St Paul sees something in creation that is not visible to scientists, something that escapes the largest of telescopes as well as the most refined of microscopes. In his Letter to the Romans he makes us aware of another kind of development which is also at work in the created world: the process of transformation in the Holy Spirit, by which humanity and all creation are prepared for the Kingdom of God.

Paul writes that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together... and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Rom 8, 22-23). The Holy Spirit is at work in the power of the Redemption; and his invisible action strengthens the apostolic mission of the Church among the nations. It is in this sense above all that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given” to Christ as Redeemer of the world.

4. The power of the Holy Spirit at work in creation makes us a people of hope. Amid all our experiences of the material world hope preserves within us the certainty of another world: the Kingdom in which God will be “all in all” (cf 1 Cor 15, 28). Hope is like a dynamo of energy for the divine realization of God’s plan for the future of the world, and especially for the future of the human family. The future of man in God – this is what St Paul is referring to when he says: “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”.

At times this hope is tested. We may be tempted to think that evil is stronger than good. Prejudice, conflict and hatred take a fearful toll on the human spirit and leave destruction, suffering and death in their wake. Slavery to self under the guise of freedom leads to the exploitation of others and the lessening of one’s own human dignity, even the loss of one’s soul. There are also the more subtle temptations that come from the indiscriminate pursuit of material things. These can blind us to the transcendent spiritual destiny of which St Paul speaks. And then there is the greatest temptation of all, fostered by the illusion of self-sufficiency in a technological world the temptation to forget the God who made us, the temptation to live and do as we please without obedience to his law. This is to forget the truth about all created beings expressed in the words of today’s Responsorial Psalm:

“If you, Lord, take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came,
you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth” (cf Ps 104, 29-30)

At this liturgy, dear brothers and sisters, we proclaim an end to all hopelessness, an end to all despair. We celebrate the future of man in God made possible by Christ’s victory over sin. We rejoice that “the Spirit helps us in our weakness” (Rom 8, 26). He is constantly coming to the Church in order to help her. He also comes to each one of us so that we may fulfil our earthly responsibilities towards the Kingdom of God and the gift of eternal life.

Christian faith radiates hope, even as it challenges us with the Cross, with personal conversion. Christ conquered sin by dying for sinners, and he now reigns in our world with the hidden power of love, the power of the Holy Spirit, even in the midst of sin. As Christians we are individually called to believe in this hidden power We are also called like the first apostles to proclaim God’s Kingdom by word and deed: “Go... make disciples of all the nations” (Matth. 28, 19).

5. Within this context of hope I wish to say a word to all the young people here today. I understand that for many years Øm has been a centre for youth activities, which have given young Catholics an experience of fellowship, a shared sense of belonging to the Church. I join the whole Church in Denmark in fervent prayer that the gift of eternal life which each of you received at your Baptism will never be lost because of indifference or forgetfulness of God. Like the first apostles, you too are called to be disciples and to make disciples of others among your families, friends and community.

You are a very vital part of the future of humanity in God. To keep alive this hope you can rely on prayer, both in private and at Church in public worship, to show you the path which God wishes you to follow in life.

To those engaged in youth work, especially the representatives from the Catholic schools, I offer every encouragement and support. Yours is the truly noble task of helping young Catholics to grow in their faith and of forming them, and others too, in Christian living and virtue.

6. On Pentecost Day, at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrimage towards the future of humanity in God, we know that Mary was in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. Though she did not receive the apostles’ apostolic mission, the example of her heroic faith and witness to the mystery of Christ precedes the witness of the Church in every land and nation.

Here, at Øm, where Mary is honoured by the Catholics of Jutland and Funen, let us look to her,

– who by faith brought forth Christ into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit;
– who “in hope believed against hope” (Rom. 4, 18) at the foot of the Cross;
– who in the centuries since Pentecost remains “devoted in prayer” with all her Son’s disciples;
– who is present in the Church’s work of introducing into the world the Kingdom of God.

Holy Mary, Mother of Divine Love, intercede for us with your Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen."