John Paul II's Apostolic Pilgrimage to Ghana
8th - 10th May 1980
Pope John Paul II was a pilgrim to Ghana during his 5th apostolic journey. It was his first trip to Africa, on which he also visited Zaire (now DR Congo), Congo, Kenya, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) & the Ivory Coast.
During his pilgrimage, John Paul II spoke at the Welcome ceremony, addressed the Church in Ghana, met with the President of Ghana, with representatives of other Christian Confessions, and then with Muslim Leaders of Ghana. He ended his first day in Accra by celebrating Mass, and consecrating Ghana & all Africa to our Blessed Mother Mary. On day 2, JPII travelled to Kumasi, celebrating Mass with catechists before speaking at the awards of the John XXIII International Peace Prize, and then meeting with the Bishops of Ghana & other African countries. Before the day was out, JPII also spoke to seminarians and to the Diplomatic Corps. The farewell ceremony was on 10 May in Accra.
Blessed Pope John Paul II's Address on Arrival in Ghana
8 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
1. Your kind welcome on my arrival in Ghana gives me much pleasure, and I am grateful for the expression of esteem which you have directed to my person in your own name and on behalf of all the people of this country. On my part I assure you and all your fellow-citizens of my respect and friendship.
It is indeed a great joy to be in Ghana. Yours is a country blessed in so many ways. The rich variety of nature - low coastlands and high plains, forests and savannahs - marks the home of a people rich in linguistic and cultural expressions. At the same time they are united in a common resolve to be a nation where every man, woman and child, where every family and group feel respected in their dignity and in their desire to develop their potential to the full. My affectionate greeting goes to all the people of Ghana, wherever they may be. I greet them in the cities and the villages. I greet the authorities and the elders, the fathers and the mothers, and in a special way the young people and the children. To all I say, I have come as your friend. I have come to be with the poor, to comfort the sick, to speak a word of encouragement and hope to those who are lonely, abandoned or in pain.
2. At the moment of my arrival, I wish also to express my special joy at the opportunity to meet the beloved sons and daughters of the Catholic church in Ghana. My warm greeting and blessing goes in the first place to my Brothers in the Episcopate, the zealous and faithful Pastors of the People of God. To all the clergy, Ghanaian and from abroad, to the men and women religious, and to all the laity, I say: may the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you on this day and always. I have come to you as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, as a father and brother to rejoice with you in our common faith, hope and charity, and to celebrate with you the communion that unites us.
3. I gladly avail myself of this opportunity to express to you, Mr President, and to all the civil authorities, my deep appreciation for the esteem and understanding which you manifest towards the Catholic Church, and which you translate into an effective collaboration in the field of education, health care and the many sectors of human advancement. The Church will always be grateful for the freedom to carry out her mission, which is religious in nature. And because she is the servant of mankind, the Church will always be ready to cooperate in promoting justice, peace and human dignity through the active participation of her members in common efforts, and through her continuous proclamation that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and therefore endowed with equal dignity and rights.
At the beginning of my visit of friendships and of peace in Ghana, I invoke upon this land and its people abundant blessings from Almighty God."
Blessed John Paul II's Address to the Church of Ghana
in the Cathedral of Accra, Thursday 8 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Venerable and dear Brothers in the Episcopate, Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. After his Ascension into heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Spirit upon his Apostles and into his Church. The Holy Spirit was Jesus’ first gift to those who believe. Jesus himself had foretold the coming of the Spirit of Truth when he said: "... he will bear witness to me and you also are witnesses" (Jn 15, 26-27).
And today in Accra, in this Cathedral dedicated to the Holy Spirit, we have assembled to celebrate this mystery, this great reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church - the presence of the Holy Spirit who continues to bear witness to Jesus and who stirs up new witnesses among the faithful in every generation. We rejoice to know that the Holy Spirit is with us still, that he unites the Church in her communion and in her ministry (cf Lumen Gentium, 4). We rejoice that through the power of the Holy Spirit the great life-giving message of the death and Resurrection of Jesus has been passed on down the centuries, and that it has been brought to Ghana.
2. After the efforts at evangelization that had been made in previous centuries, two generous priests, Father Moreau and Father Murat, succeeded 100 years ago in establishing the Catholic Church in this land. We praise the grace of God that brought them to the people of Ghana on that Pentecost Tuesday in 1880. And we bless the memory of all the missionaries who came subsequently, in order to bear witness to Christ through the power of his Holy Spirit. The seed of God’s word planted on Ghanaian soil has taken root; it has grown into a large tree and has brought forth fruits of holiness for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
In spite of difficulties and the vicissitudes of history, the Gospel has been freely offered and freely accepted. The Kingdom of God has been preached, and over and over again evangelization has reached its dynamic summit in the "clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy" (Paul VI Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27).
The genuine charity of Christ was the motivation for one missionary congregation after another in sending its members to serve Ghana and her people, and the same genuine charity of Christ was the authentic means that bore such effective witness to the Gospel. Priests, Sisters and Brothers came on a mission of salvation and service. Each fulfilled his or her role. All of them together, through the power of the Holy Spirit, built up the Church by word and deed, by prayer and sacrifice. At a later date lay mission helpers came too, bearing witness to the universal missionary nature of the Church.
And all of these labourers for the Gospel have served valiantly - and with God’s help they will continue to work generously, side-by-side with their Ghanaian brothers and sisters, in the harvest of the Church.
3. But the same Holy Spirit who sustained dedicated missionaries also raised up new followers for Christ, vivifying the local Church and calling its members in turn to share the great task of evangelization. In the strength of the Paschal Mystery, people accepted the word of God; they believed and were baptized; they were nurtured on the Eucharist and came to maturity in Christian living. Entire Christian communities accepted the challenge to "walk in newness of life" (Rom 6, 4) and to embrace the challenge of the Beatitudes in their fullness. The missionary contact that had begun with human affability and kindness led finally to the full flowering of parishes, which became "the prime mover and pre-eminent place for catechesis" and "a major point of reference for the Christian people" (JPII, Catechesi Tradendae, 67).
From the midst of these parishes and other Christian communities there came forth those generous young people who would heed God’s call to the priesthood and religious life and thus, together with the laity, fulfil their distinctive role in the one Church of God, as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people" (1 Pet 1, 9).
In due time, Ghanaian Bishops were appointed to the pastoral leadership of the People of God.
With gratitude for what had already been achieved in the work of evangelization, they entered into the continuity of apostolic succession. The fact that all the Bishops of this country are now native Ghanaians is an eloquent testimony to the success of the work of the missionaries and to the solid implantation of the Church in this land. For this we give special thanks to God on the occasion of the celebration of this centenary.
4. The one Body of Christ was likewise to perceive its common task, its essential mission, its deepest identity, which was later so accurately expressed by Paul VI in this way: "Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). Above all, the spread of the Gospel was to be linked with the witness of love, in accordance with Christ’s words: "This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15, 12). In the observance of this commandment all Christian societies find their secure basis. And the love to which all Christians are called is itself the ladder by which every generation ascends to God and to eternal life.
5. You, my brother priests, at the service of your brothers and sisters of the laity - all of whom are called to holiness of life, all of whom are witnesses for the Kingdom of God - you have the particular mission of proclaiming the Gospel in its fullest enactment, which is the celebration of the Eucharist, wherein the work of redemption is renewed. In a special way you participate in the mission of Jesus for the benefit of the whole Body of Christ; you share deeply in the burning desire of his soul: "I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom... for I was sent for this purpose" (Lk 4, 43). It is because of this that you have offered your lives in celibacy and pastoral charity, to stay close to your people, to lead them in the path of salvation, building up the Church in faith and love, and in the unity and peace of Christ.
And you, men and women Religious of Ghana, you are called to the service of your brothers and sisters through a multiplicity of activities motivated by love. But your greatest contribution is not what you do, but what you are. By your consecration to the Lord Jesus himself you show that the Gospel is the full expression of all human values and that the love of Jesus Christ has first place in the pilgrim Church. Yes, your consecration is a normal expression of the full and healthy life of the Church. The maturity of ecclesial life in Ghana requires the oblation of your lives - made with generosity and lived out in persevering charity and joy. In your self-sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom of God you become ever more intirnately united with all your people, sharing the hopes of their everyday lives and helping them to fulfil their deepest aspirations for eternal life.
And to you the seminarians I say this: Remember that you are called to be close to Christ. You are meant to be his friends, his companions, his collaborators in the mystery of salvation. To accomplish this you must pray, for only in prayer will you come to know Jesus, to love Jesus and to understand fully the needs of his people. There are many aspects to your seminary training.The good of God’s people requires that you should be intellectually prepared in ecclesiastical and secular sciences, that you should understand deeply your own culture, so that you will be able to bring the word of God to it effectively. But all your studies and activities must be preceded and followed by prayer. Only through prayer will you be sustained in the love of Christ, only through prayer will your lives be relevant. When the Pope goes back to Rome, remember that he told you this: "Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection" (Heb 12, 2).
Viewing the Church in Ghana, I cannot but say a special word about the family. Since it is the community in which every person is born, the family is therefore the foundation on which all wider communities are built. Let every family truly be a "domestic church", a community where the Lord Jesus has the central place, where children learn to know and love God, where prayer is the binding force. In this community of love and life, the future of society is decided, and the peace of the world is built.
6. And together with your Bishops and with the Church throughout the world, you the faithful of Ghana - all the clergy, religious, seminarians and laity - are called to holiness of life, to bear witness to Christ, and to spread the Good News of salvation. To all of you belongs a share in the evangelization of the world. It is the work of the Holy Spirit; it is he who gives witness to Jesus in this our age and confirms all his members as witnesses to the Lord Jesus and to his Gospel of love. All of you in this centenary year of grace are summoned to hear Christ’s words: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5, 16).
Beloved brothers and sisters: this is why I have come to Ghana: to bear witness to Christ, who was crucified and who rose from the dead, and to tell you all that we share a common mission in bringing Jesus to the world.
In our task of bearing witness to her Son, Mary the Mother of Jesus will assist us. She is the Mother of the entire Body just as she is the Mother of the Head. She is the Help of Christians; she is the cause of our joy.
And to her Son Jesus Christ and to his Eternal Father be all praise and glory in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.
Je n’oublie pas non plus les chrétiens du Togo et les chrétiens du Bénin qui ont tenu à venir jusqu’ici, avec leurs pasteurs, pour voir le Pape, écouter sa parole, prier avec lui et lui donner le témoignage de leur attachement. Je regrette de n’avoir pu visiter vos pays et vos Eglises cette fois-ci. Je demande à Dieu de vous bénir, de bénir vos familles, surtout ceux qui sont dans l’épreuve. Et dites-bien à vos compatriotes que le Pape pense aussi à vos Eglises, qu’il prie pour elles, en soutenant le ministère de vos évêques qui sont mes frères. A chacun de vous, mon affection et mes encouragements."
Pope John Paul II's Meeting with the President of Ghana
Accra, 8 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
1. I express my sincere thanks for the words which you have addressed to me on this occasion of our meeting here in the capital City of Accra. I feel deeply honoured by the sentiments of esteem which you have manifested towards my person. I accept them gratefully, for I know that they are meant to honour not my person but the Head of the Catholic Church coming to the beloved nation of Ghana as a pilgrim of peace. I wish to renew once more my appreciation for the invitation which you so kindly extended to me - as did also my brother Bishops - to visit your country and your people.
As I had the occasion to say when I officially announced my visit to Africa, the purpose of this journey is to perform my universal ministry and to honour personally the Church in Africa. With regard to Ghana I also noted that this is the year in which the Catholic Church celebrates the centenary of her implantation in this part of the great African continent. It was therefore important for me to express in a special way the joy of the whole Church on this happy occasion. I also hope that my visit will contribute to the promotion of authentic human progress in Ghana and in all Africa, at the service of universal brotherhood and peace. Since my arrival this morning, I have already received many kindnesses from the people of the capital city; I wish to take this opportunity to express, through your person, my joyful gratitude to everyone.
2. By my presence here today, Mr President, I desire to honour the whole Ghanaian Nation, with the wealth of its history, people, culture and achievements - in a word, with its own authentically African and Ghanaian heritage and genius, and in its own rightful place among the nations of this continent and of the world. The history of my own native country, a history made up of moments of great achievement and joy but also of periods of suffering and sadness, has made me acutely aware of how necessary it is to respect the specific values of each people and of each nation: its traditions, its aspirations and its rights among all the member nations of the world community. Africa - and each of the nations that form part of it - has so much to offer to the common endeavours of all peace-loving people.
Too often relations between States and Governments, especially when viewed in the context of political and economic development, are seen in terms of mere self-interest, of strengthening already dominant positions, and of pressure applied through aid, with the result that older and economically more advanced nations fail to see that the young countries have much more to offer than simply a share of their natural resources or being a market for the products of the industrialized nations.
3. So many of the values that are embodied in the culture of the African nations not only contribute to the building of each nation, but can add to the enrichment of other nations and peoples as well.
For Africa has something distinctive to offer to the world. One of the original aspects of this continent is its diversity, but a diversity that is bound together by the undeniable unity of its culture: a vision of the world where the sacred is central; a deep awareness of the link between Creator and nature; a great respect for all life; a sense of family and of community that blossoms into an open and joyful hospitality; reverence for dialogue as a means of settling differences and sharing insights; spontaneity and the joy of living expressed in poetic language, song and dance. All these aspects manifest a culture with an all encompassing spiritual dimension. This is what makes the African culture unique. This in what binds the many people of Africa together without hampering in the least that immense richness of local expressions or the heritage of single groups and regions.
By my own origin, education and history, I have learned to value highly the power that culture has for every people. During my visit to my native Poland, I stated this conviction as follows: "Culture is an expression of man, a confirmation of humanity. Man creates culture and through culture creates himself. He creates himself with the inward effort of the spirit, of thought, will and heart. At the same time he creates culture in communion with others. Culture is an expression of communication, of shared thought and collaboration by human beings. It is born of service of the common good and becomes as essential good of human communities.” I therefore say to Ghana and all Africa: Preserve your culture. Let it become enriched through exchange with other cultures, but do not let your own culture die. Keep it alive, and offer it as your contribution to the world community.
Each nation brings to the family of nations its own cultural contribution, and through the legitimate expression of values and traditions there is possible a harmony among peoples that transcends partisan differences, prejudices and rivalries. Such a harmony, built on respect for and openness towards the values of others, in particular their moral and spiritual values, facilitates the possibility of concerted action on problems that extend beyond the borders of individual nations. Africa is called to bring fresh ideals and insights to a world that shows signs of fatigue and selfishness. I am convinced that you Africans can do this.
4. In stressing respect for moral and spiritual values in the sphere of international collaboration, I have touched on what I consider to be basic in all relationships in society. All structures that are created as expressions of needs and aspirations relate to the human person, for they are meant to serve each human person and the whole human community. This holds true especially of political structures and activities.
In my address to the General Assembly of the United Nations last October, I said that all political activity "... comes from man, is exercised by man and is for man. And if political activity is cut off from this fundamental relationship and finality, if it becomes in a way its own end, it loses much of its reason to exist. Even more, it can also give rise to a specific alienation; it can become extraneous to man; it can come to contradict humanity itself. In reality, what justifies the existence of any political activity is service to man, concerned and responsible attention to the essential problems and duties of his earthly existence in its social dimension and significance, on which also the good of each person depends".
If I have stressed this point once more, Mr President, I have done so out of deep conviction, and because such is the teaching of the church which God has called me to lead, namely that no effort to achieve human advancement can succeed if the lofty dignity of every human being is not respected, defended and promoted in every situation. Such must be the motivation not only of the authorities but also of every single citizen, of all the men and women of this beautiful land who are called to work together so that every one may be given the possibility to live a life in keeping with human dignity.
5. Yes, Mr President, Ghana is a beautiful country, rich in cultural traditions and in the potential of its people, endowed also with natural resources, especially in the agricultural domain. It is my hope that, under the guidance of the authorities, all the citizens will loyally work together, without having to give up any of their own cultural values, but also without letting barriers arise between individuals and groups; that they will wholeheartedly and industriously work together to make the earth yield bountiful fruit. You have your cities, with ever larger concentrations of people, where problems of housing, education and employment may arise and demand bold action to ensure that nobody is excluded from the benefits of progress.
But there are also the rural areas, where most of the people still live, and where there exists a real potential for contributing to the national effort for development. Since justice demands that nobody should go hungry or lack the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential, both spiritually and materially, then society should also regard agricultural labour as ennobling, and the status and dignity of the rural population should be constantly improved.
6. I can assure you, Mr President, that the Catholic Church stands always ready to offer her specific contribution, through the collaboration of her leaders and all her members. The Church has no political or economic designs or projects. The most efficient longterm contribution that she can make to the development of a nation is in raising the moral and ethical awareness of people with regard to the demands of justice, social love and fraternal collaboration; and in stressing the development of the whole person, to ensure that this development is not understood in the materialistic sense; in making each person aware of his or her dignity as given by God.
It is also well known that, right from the beginning, the Church in Africa has encouraged and participated in concrete efforts in education, health care, literacy and many other fields. She is prepared to continue this collaboration and this commitment in accordance with her own mission and nature, while fully respecting the lawful role and authority of the State.
Mr President, the dynamism and the virtues of its people can ensure a great future for Africa. That Ghana may fulfil her role of destiny in this continent is my fervent wish and prayer today."
John Paul II's Address to Representatives of other Christian Churches
Accra, 8 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear friends in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. I am deeply honoured by your presence here today. It is a pleasure for me to meet distinguished representatives of my Christian brethren of Ghana. I wish to greet you all in the charity of Jesus Christ. It means so much to me to have this opportunity to tell you of my intention, and the intention of the whole Catholic Church, to pray and to work sincerely and perseveringly for the restoration of unity in faith and love among all Christians.
The commitment of the Second Vatican Council, of my predecessors and of my own pontificate is based on the desire which Christ expressed at the Last Supper in his prayer to his Father for his disciples: "... that they may all be one".
2. All of us realize the great value that prayer has in accomplishing what is humanly difficult or even impossible. Jesus himself has told us: "What is impossible with men is possible with God". We know how important it is to turn humbly to God, day after day, asking him for the gift of constant conversion of life, which is so closely linked to the question of Christian unity. An occasion such as this inspires in our hearts an ever greater desire for this unity and for the means that dispose us to receive it as God’s free gift. Hence this meeting inspires us to pray together) to lift up our hearts in unison to "the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" .
3. At the same time as we pursue our efforts towards the goal of perfect unity, we give thanks for the great bonds that already unite us in faith in the divinity of Christ. We praise God for our common faith in Baptism as an incorporation into the death and Resurrection of the Lord. We praise him for the common love and esteem that we have for the Holy Scriptures, which speak to us of Christ and his Church. And by the grace of God we are already in a position to confess together that "Jesus Christ is the Son of God"and that "there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".
4. Because we believe in Christ and in "the unsearchable riches of Christ", we feel led by the Spirit to do everything possible to remove the divisions in faith that impair our perfect common witness to the Lord and his Kingdom, so that we may better serve our neighbour and more effectively bring the Good News of salvation to the world that continues to see in us a divided Christ. And yet we know that Christ has prayed for unity, and that the Father listens to his prayer. Christ’s prayer is the reason for our hope and we know that "hope does not disappoint us". It gives me great pleasure to be informed of the worthy ecumenical activities taking place in Africa. I pray that the relationship between individual Christians and the relationship between Churches and ecclesial communities will make ever greater progress in truth and love for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity."
Pope John Paul II's Address to Muslim Leaders
Accra, 8 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
At this time I wish to express my respect for the Muslim representatives present here. Through you I send my cordial greetings to the entire Muslim community throughout Ghana.
During my recent visit to Turkey I had the occasion to speak special words of friendship for my Islamic brothers and sisters. My words were the expression of a contact that was fostered by the Second Vatican Council, and that found an important reference in the memorable Message to Africa of Paul VI in 1967. On that occasion he stated: "We also wish to express our esteem for all the followers of Islam living in Africa, who have principles in common with Christianity, which give us glad hope of an effective dialogue. Meanwhile, we express our wish that Muslims and Christians live as neighbours, mutual respect will be constantly present in social life also, and common action to promote the acceptance and the defence of man’s fundamental rights."
Yes, mutual respect based on mutual understanding and directed to the joint service of humanity is a great contribution to the world.
Hence today I renew my own sentiments of esteem and those of the whole Catholic Church for the Muslims of Ghana and of all Africa, praying that the Almighty and Merciful God will grant peace and brotherhood to all the members of the human family. And may the harmony of creation and the great cause of human dignity be advanced through our fraternal solidarity and friendship."
Blessed Pope John Paul II's Homily at Mass in Accra
8 May 1980 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. A little less than 10 years ago, the first Pan African and Malagasy Meeting of the Laity was held here in Accra. As Archbishop of Krakow and also consultor to the Council for the Laity I had the opportunity at that time, although I was not present, to follow with particular attention, interest and admiration the highlights of that historic event. The lay men and women who had come from 36 African countries were, in effect, saying in unison: "Present!". They were telling the world: "We are present in the communion of the faithful; we are present in the mission of the Church of Christ in Africa!"
2. 10 years later, God has granted me the opportunity to come to Accra, to be with you today, to celebrate the Eucharist together with you, to speak to you, and through you to address a message to all the Catholic laity of Africa. Today it is the Successor of Peter, it is Pope John Paul II who says: "Present!". Yes, I am present with the laity of Africa; I come as your father and as Pastor of the universal Church. I am present as your brother in the faith! As a brother in Christ I wish to tell you how close I am to you in the infinite charity of the Crucified and Risen Lord, how much I love you, how much I love the laity of Africa!
As your Pastor, I wish to confirm you in your efforts to remain faithful to the Gospel, and in your mission to carry to others the Good News of our salvation. I wish to exhort you, the laity, to renew through the Eucharist the strength of your Christian commitment, to revive the joy of being members of the Body of Christ, to dedicate yourselves once again as Christians in Africa to promote the true and integral development of this great continent. Together with you I wish to give thanks to the heavenly Father, remembering "how you have shown your faith in action, worked for love and persevered through hope, in your Lord Jesus Christ.”
3. Brothers and sisters in Christ, I desire to direct my words, my greeting and my blessing to the Catholic laity in every country of Africa. I went to reach beyond the boundaries of language, geography and ethnic origin, and, without distinction, to entrust each one to Christ the Lord. Thus I ask everyone of you who hears my message of fraternal solidarity and pastoral instruction to pass it on. I ask you to make my message travel from village to village, from home to home. Tell your brothers and sisters in the faith that the Pope loves you all and embraces you in the peace of Christ.
4. This vast continent of Africa has been endowed by the Creator with many natural resources. In our own day we have witnessed how the development and use of these numerous resources have greatly served to advance the material and social progress of your individual countries. As we thank God for the benefits of this progress, we must not forget, we dare not forget, that the greatest resource and the greatest treasure entrusted to you or to anyone is the gift of faith, the tremendous privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord.
You who are laypersons in the Church, and who possess faith, the greatest of all resources - you have a unique opportunity and crucial responsibility. Through your lives in the midst of your daily activities in the world, you show the power that faith has to transform the world and to renew the family of man. Even though it is hidden and unnoticed like the leaven or the salt of the earth spoken of in the Gospel, your role as laity is indispensable for the Church in the fulfilment of her mission from Christ. This was clearly taught by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council when they stated: "The Church is not truly established and does not fully live, nor is she a perfect sign of Christ among people, unless there exists a laity worthy of the name, working alongside the hierarchy. For the Gospel cannot be deeply imprinted on the mentality, life and work of any people without the active presence of lay people."
5. The role of lay people in the mission of the Church extends in two directions: in union with your pastors and assisted by their guidance you build up the communion of the faithful; secondly, as responsible citizens you permeate with the leaven of the Gospel the society in which you live, in its economic, social, political, cultural and intellectual dimensions. When you faithfully carry out these two roles as citizens of both the earthly city and the heavenly Kingdom, then are the words of Christ fulfilled: "You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world."
6. Today our brothers and sisters receive new life through water and the Holy Spirit . By Baptism they are incorporated into the Church and reborn as children of God. They receive the greatest dignity possible for any person. As Saint Peter said, they become "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God" . In the sacrament of Confirmation they are more intimately joined to the Church and endowed by the Holy Spirit with special strength . By means of these two great sacraments Christ summons his people, Christ summons each one of the laity to assume a share in the responsibility for building up the communion of the faithful.
As members of the laity, you are called to take an active part in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church, especially in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At the same time you are called to spread the Gospel actively through the practice of charity and through involvement in catechetical and missionary efforts, according to the gifts which each one of you has received . In every Christian community, whether it be the "domestic Church" constituted by ‘the family, or the parish collaborating with the priest, or the diocese united around the Bishop, the laity strive, like the followers of Christ in the first century, to remain faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, faithful to fraternal service, faithful to prayer and to the celebration of the Eucharist.
7. Your Christian vocation does not take you away from any of your other brothers and sisters. It does not inhibit your involvement in civic affairs nor exempt you from your responsibilities as a citizen. It does not divide you from society nor relieve you of the daily trials of life. Rather your continued engagement in secular activities and professions is truly a part of your vocation. For you are called to make the Church present and fruitful in the ordinary circumstances of life - in married and family life, in the daily conditions of earning a living, in political and civic responsibilities and in cultural, scientific and educational pursuits. No human activity is foreign to the Gospel. God wishes all of creation to be ordered to his Kingdom, and it is especially to the laity that the Lord has entrusted this task.
8. The laity of the Church in Africa have a crucial role to play in meeting the urgent problems and challenges which face this vast continent. As Christian laity, the Church expects you to help shape the future of your individual countries, to contribute to their development in some particular sphere. The Church asks you to bring the influence of the Gospel and the presence of Christ into every human activity, and to seek to build a society where the dignity of each person is respected and where equality, justice and freedom are protected and promoted.
9. Today, I also wish to emphasize the need for the continuing instruction and catechesis of the laity. For only a serious spiritual and doctrinal formation in your Christian identity, together with an adequate civic and human preparation in secular activities, can make possible that contribution of the laity to the future of Africa which is so greatly desired. In this regard we are reminded of the exhortation of Saint Paul: "... we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life you are meant to live: the life that God wants..." . In order to accomplish this goal, greater knowledge is needed of the mystery of Christ. It is necessary for the laity to enter into this mystery of Christ and to be trained especially in the word of God, which leads to salvation. The Holy Spirit is calling upon the Church to pursue this path withf loving tenacity and perseverance. Hence I wish to encourage the worthy initiatives on all levels which have already been undertaken in this field. May these efforts continue and increasingly equip the laity for their mission, so that with holiness of life they may meet the many needs that lie ahead, so that the whole Church in Africa will ever more effectively communicate Christ.
10. My brothers and sisters, we were reminded today by the second reading that Jesus Christ "is the living stone..." . Jesus Christ is the one on whom the future of the world is built, on whom the future of every man and woman depends. At all times we must look to him. At all times we must build on him. Thus I repeat to you what I said to the world on Easter Sunday of this year: "Do not reject him, you who, in whatever way and in whatever sphere, are building the world of today and of tomorrow: the world of culture and civilization, the world of economics and of politics, the world of science and information. You who are building the world of peace... Do not refuse Christ: he is the cornerstone!"
11. With the words of the Apostle Peter, I invite you to "set yourselves close to him so that you too... may be living stones making a spiritual house” , building up the Church in Africa, advancing the Kingdom of God on earth.
It is in this spirit that we pray to our heavenly Father: "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". Amen.
Chers frères et Sœurs du Togo et du Bénin,
Merci d’être venus si nombreux, d’avoir marché longuement pour rencontrer le Vicaire du Christ. Je vous invite vous aussi à demeurer fermes dans la foi, et très unis entre vous. Le Seigneur est fìdèle; il ne vous abandonnera pas si vous lui donnez votre confiance. Et il vous rendra forts pour que vous témoigniez de votre foi, non seulement à l’église, mais dans les actes de votre vie quotidienne, où il faut sans cesse choisir de vivre selon la vérité, selon la pureté, selon la charité de l’Evangile. Continuez à vous instruire des vérités de la foi. Et approchez-vous avec joie des sacrements de pénitence et de l’Eucharistie, en pensant que c’est le Seigneur qui vous pardonne, qui vous nourrit, qui vous donne sa grâce. C’est le signe visible de sa présence invisible. Comme disait Jésus ressuscité: “Paix à vous”. “Ne craignez pas”. Que le Seigneur vous bénisse."
Blessed John Paul II's Act of Entrustment of Ghana & all Africa to Mary
8 May 1980, Independence Square, Accra - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"On this day of joy as we gather in your presence, O Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of his Church, we are mindful of the role you played in the evangelisation of this land. We are mindful of how - in the beginning - the missionaries came with the power of Christ’s Gospel and committed the success of their work to you.
As Mother of Divine Grace you were with the missionaries in all their efforts, and you were with Mother Church of whom you are the type, the model and the supreme expression - in bringing Christ into Africa.
And as the Mother of the Church you presided over all the activities of evangelisation and over the implantation of the Gospel in the hearts of the faithful. You sustained the missionaries in hope and you gave joy to every new community that was born of the Church’s evangelising activity. You were there, with your intercession and your prayers, as the first grace of Baptism developed, and as those who had new life in Christ your Son came to a full appreciation of their sacramental life and Christian calling.
And you are here today as the Christian family gathers to celebrate the Gospel, to recall the mighty works of God, and to commit itself to the continued evangelisation of this land and continent "so that the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph.”
We ask you, Mary, to help us to fulfil this mission which your Son has given to his Church and which, in this generation, falls to us. Mindful of your role as Help of Christians, we entrust ourselves to you in the work of carrying the Gospel ever deeper into the hearts and lives of all the people. We entrust to you our missionary mandate and commit our cause totally to your prayers.
As Pastor of the universal Church, Vicar of your Son, I, John Paul II, through you, O Mary, entrust the whole Church in Ghana and in all Africa to Christ our Lord. Through you I present to Christ the Saviour the destiny of Africa, praying that his love and justice will touch the hearts of every man, woman and child of this continent.
O Mary, I entrust all this to Christ through you, and I entrust all this to you for Christ your Son. I do it at a moment when I am closely united with my brother Bishops in celebrating the Gospel as "the power of salvation to all who believe." I do it now, at this special moment when my brothers are so close to me in the exercise of our common responsibility for the Church in Africa. Accept, O Mary, this offering from all of us, and from all God’s people, and present it to your Son. Present him a Church "holy and without blemish."
Be mindful, O Mother, of all who make up the Church in Africa. Assist the Bishops and their priests to be ever faithful to the word of God. Help sanctify the religious and the seminarians. Intercede so that the love of your Son will penetrate into all families, so that it will console all those in pain and suffering, all those in need and want. Look kindly upon the catechists and all who fulfil a special role of evangelisation and Catholic education for the glory of your Son. Accept this our loving consecration and confirm us in the Gospel of your Son.
As we express our deepest gratitude to you for a century of your maternal care, we are strong in the conviction that the Holy Spirit is still overshadowing you, so that in Africa you may bring forth Christ in every generation.
To Jesus Christ your Son, with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit be praise and thanksgiving for ever and ever. Amen."
Blessed Pope John Paul II's Homily at Mass in Kumasi
9 May 1980 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear brothers and sisters,
1. Today is a day of great joy, and I have looked forward to this day for a long time. I have wanted to come and tell the catechists how much I love them, how much the Church needs them. Today is also a day of deep meaning because Jesus Christ - the Son of God, the Lord of history, the Saviour of the world - is present in our midst. Through his holy Gospel he speaks to us in the words that he once addressed to his disciples: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of ail nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and so, I am with you always..." .
2. This command and this promise of Jesus were the inspiration for the evangelization of Ghana and all Africa, and they have shaped the lives of all who have collaborated in the cause of the Gospel. In a special way these words have been taken to heart by numerous catechists over the past century. And today I wish to manifest the Church’s profound esteem for these devoted workers in the service of the Gospel. I express the gratitude of the whole Catholic Church to these catechists who are here today, to their predecessors in the faith and, to their fellow catechists throughout the continent of Africa - gratitude for helping to make disciples for Christ; for helping people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God; for helping to instruct their brothers and sisters in his life, and thus to build up his Body, the Church. This catechizing activity has been accomplished by word and example, and the dedication of countless catechists and their deep attachment to the person of Jesus Christ remain a chapter of glory in the history of this land and this continent.
3. The Church recognizes in these catechists people called to exercise a particular ecclesial role, a special sharing in the responsibility for the advancement of the Gospel. She sees them as witness of faith, servants of Jesus Christ and his Church, effective collaborators in the mission of establishing, developing and fostering the life of the Christian community. In the history of evangelization many of these catechists have in fact been teachers of religion, leaders in their communities, zealous lay missionaries, and examples of faith. They have stood faithfully by the missionaries and the local clergy, supporting their ministry while fulfilling their own distinctive task. The catechists have rendered many services connected with communicating Christ, implanting the Church and bringing the transforming and regenerative power of the Gospel ever more into the lives of their brothers and sisters. They have assisted people in many human needs and contributed to development and progress.
4. In all of this they have explicitly made known the name and person of Jesus Christ, his teaching, his life, his promises and his Kingdom. The communities that they have helped to build up were based on the same elements as were found in the early Church: on the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, on the Eucharist and prayers . Thus the Lordship of Christ was fostered in one community after another, from one generation to the next. Through their generous work, Christ’s command is continually fulfilled and his promise verified.
5. The Church is not only grateful for what has been accomplished by the catechists in the past, but she is confident for the future. Despite new conditions, new requirements and new obstacles, the relevance of this great apostolate will remain undiminished, because there will always be a need to develop an initial faith and to lead people to the fullness of Christian life. An increased realization of the dignity and importance of the role of the catechist is but one consequence of the Second Vatican Council’s insistence on the fact that the whole Church shares responsibility for the Gospel. Only with the collaboration of her catechists will the Church be able to fulfil adequately the challenge that I described in my Apostolic Exhortation on Catechesis in our time: "As the twentieth century draws to a close, the Church is bidden by God and by events - each of them a call from him - to renew her trust in catechetical activity as a prime aspect of her mission. She is bidden to offer catechesis her best resources in people and energy, without sparing effort, toil or material means, in order to organize it better and to train qualified personnel. This is no mere human calculation; it is an attitude of faith" .
6. The Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, numerous Bishops and Episcopal Conferences have placed strong emphasis on the formation’ of catechists, and in this they are worthy of the highest praise. The destiny of the Church in Africa is undoubtedly linked with the success of this initiative. I wish therefore to give full encouragement to this wonderful work. The future of catechetical activity will depend on sound programmes of preparation, where there is ever greater instruction for the catechists, where priority is given to the spiritual and; doctrinal formation of the catechists, and where catechists are able to experience in some measure the authentic sense of Christian community that they are called upon to build.
The instruments of catechesis must also be given due attention, including effective catechetical materials that take into account the need for the incarnation of the Gospel in determined local cultures. Moreover, the whole Church must feel committed to help face the difficulties and problems inherent in sustaining catechetical programmes. In a special way, the whole community of the Church must show its esteem for the important vocation of catechists, who must feel supported by their brothers and sisters.
7. Above all, to ensure the success of all catechetical activity, the aim of catechesis itself must remain crystal clear: catechesis is a work of faith that is far beyond any technique; it is a commitment of Christ’s Church. Its primary and essential object is the mystery of Christ; its definitive aim is to put people in communion with Jesus Christ . Through catechesis the activity of Jesus the Teacher goes on; he elicits from his brethren and adherence to his person, and through his word and sacraments he leads them to his Father and to the fullness of life in the Most Holy Trinity.
8. Gathered here today to celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we express our trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to continue to raise up and sustain, for the glory of God’s Kingdom, new generations of catechists, who will faithfully transmit the Good News of salvation and bear witness to Christ and him crucified.
9. Today the Church offers to the catechists the sign of Christ’s love, the great symbol of Redemption: the Cross of the Saviour. For catechists of every age the Cross is the credential of authenticity and the measure of success. The message of the Cross is truly "the power of God" .
Dear catechists, dear brothers and sisters: in fulfilling your role, in communicating Christ, remember the words of a pioneer catechist of the fourth century, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem: “The Catholic Church is proud of all Christ’s actions, but her greatest boast is the Cross” .
With this Cross, with the crucifix that you receive today as a sign of your mission in the Church, go forward confidently and joyfully. And remember too that Mary is always standing next to Jesus, close to you; she is always by the Cross. She will lead you safely to the victory of the Resurrection; and she will help you to communicate to others the Paschal Mystery of her Son.
Beloved catechists of Ghana and all Africa: Christ calls you to his service; the Church sends you forth. The Pope blesses you, and he commends you to the Queen of heaven. Amen."
JPII's speech at Awarding of the John XXIII International Peace Prize
Kumasi, 9 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Peace to all of you here present, Peace to Africa and the world!
Dear Friends, It is with great pleasure that I accept and approve the proposal of the John XXIII International Peace Prize Foundation to honour the six catechists here present, who have been chosen to receive the John XXIII International Peace Prize.
This award is linked to the figure of John XXIII. In his Encyclical "Pacem in Terris" he set forth in broad outline the principles on which a peaceful order of relations must be built: “founded on truth, built up on justice, nurtured and animated by charity, and brought into effect under the auspices of freedom” (V). In the example of his life he showed that peace must always be the first concern of all human beings, whatever their function or social condition may be. By establishing an award for peace he wished to encourage every initiative that has as its goal the fostering of fraternal relations between individuals and peoples.
The objective of the awarding of this prize, according to the intention of its founder, is to give solemn recognition to the merits of persons or institutions who have made an outstanding contribution to peace on earth. After Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Foundation now proposes as recipients of the Prize six individuals who represent a group of thousands upon thousands of faithful servants who effectively uphold the ideal of peace. These are the Catechists of Africa.
Chosen from among their people, the catechists of Africa have unceasingly worked for their people. Accepting hardship and personal sacrifice, they have given without reserve the best of themselves to their brothers and sisters. Faithful believers in the teachings of Christ, they have been instrumental in helping their fellow Africans to revere God, the Father of all; to respect the dignity of every person; to love their fellow human beings; and to foster reconciliation and pardon. Often untiring travellers, and always faithful servants of the local community, they have helped to break down divisive barriers, and to assist their brothers and sisters in need. Some of the catechists, in particularly trying circumstances, have endured physical or moral hardship and suffering in order to bear witness to religious freedom or to defend it. They have thus testified by their own lives that the relationship of man to God and the freedom to profess this relationship publicly are at the very foundation of peace. Yes, the catechists of Africa have truly been, and are, heralds of peace!
Trusting that this motivation will be admired by all men and women of good will, in Africa and in the whole world, on this the ninth day of May 1980, in the City of Kumasi, in the Nation of Ghana, I, John Paul II, bestow on the catechists here present the honour of the John XXIII International Peace Prize, for the glory of the Heavenly Father from whom all good things come , in memory of my Predecessor John XXIII, and as an encouragement to all especially the youth of Africa, that they may persevere in the ways of peace.
The peace of the Lord be with you always!"
Blessed John Paul II's words to the Bishops of Ghana
Kumasi, 9 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Venerable and dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. My coming among you today is intimately linked to Christ and his Gospel. I have come to share with you and the whole Catholic Church in Ghana the joy of your centenary celebrations. Together we praise the grace of God that initiated and sustained the full process of evangelisation in your midst: missionaries were sent to preach the word of God to your ancestors; these people heard the message of salvation; they believed and called upon him in whom they put their faith, confessing with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believing in their hearts that God raised him from the dead (cf Rom 10:9).
Through the sacraments your people came to share in the death and Resurrection of Christ and were grafted into the vital organic unity of the Church. Generous missionary Congregations realized the need for workers in the vineyard of the Lord, and conversions were made through divine grace.
In 1935 the first two Ghanaian priests were ordained, and in 1950 the Hierarchy was established.
And today there are two Metropolitan Sees and seven dioceses. The Church is thus fully implanted in Ghana, but her mission is not yet complete. By reason of their full membership in the Body of Christ, Ghanaian Catholics are called to be workers for evangelisation, in a Church that is, by her nature, missionary in her totality (cf Ad Gentes, 35). Only in accepting their own responsibility for the spread of the Gospel do the Catholic people fulfil the vocation to which they are called.
2. This great ecclesial reality of an evangelised and evangelising Church in Ghana, which explains the depth of our joy today, is celebrated in a spirit of Catholic unity. It is a unity that belongs to your individual local Churches: priests, religious and laity united with the Bishop, who presides in love and service, and who is called to be an example to everyone in humility and holiness of life.
This Catholic unity is further manifested in the solidarity of the sons and daughters of this country with the missionaries, who continue to give their fraternal service - deeply appreciated and very necessary - for the benefit of each local Church, under the direction of an autochthonous pastor.
The unity of this centenary celebration is likewise the unity of all the Bishops of this country with the entire College of Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, and intent on proclaiming the one Gospel of Christ and ensuring the enactment of Catholic unity in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is at one and the same time the expression of the worship of an individual community and of the universal Church. This is a special motive of joy for me as I celebrate with you your centenary celebrations. I wish to assure you of my gratitude for everything you have done, as pastors of local Churches, to preserve unity, you who likewise share responsibility for the Church throughout the world. Your fidelity and zeal are themselves an effective contribution to the spread of the Kingdom.
3. Be assured that all your efforts to proclaim the Gospel directly and indirectly are a great credit to the Church. On my part I am close to you in all the joys and disappointments, the challenges and hopes of your ministry of the word, and in your sacramental ministry. I am close to you in all your concrete pastoral initiatives, in everything that brings the message of salvation into the lives of the people.
A reflection on the essential and constitutional patrimony of the Catholic faith, which is identical for all people of all places and times, is a great help to the pastors of the Church as they ponder the requirements of the "inculturation" of the Gospel in the life of the people. You are familiar with what Paul VI called the "task of assimilating the essence of the Gospel message and of transposing it, without the slightest betrayal of its essential truth, into the language that these particular people understand" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 63).
He singled out as subject to certain adaptations the areas of liturgical expression, catechesis, theological formulation, secondary ecclesial structures, and ministries. As local pastors you are eminently fitted for this work, because you are sons of the people to whom you are sent with the message of faith; in addition, in your episcopal ordination you have received the same "governing Spirit" who was communicated to Jesus and by him to his Apostles for the building up of his Church. This work is of God; it is an activity of the living Body of Christ; it is a requirement of the Church as a truly universal means of salvation.
And so with serenity and confidence and with profound openness towards the universal Church, the Bishops must carry on the task of inculturation of the Gospel for the good of each people, precisely so that Christ may be communicated to every man, woman and child.
In this process, cultures themselves must be uplifted, transformed and permeated by Christ’s original message of divine truth, without harming what is noble in them. Hence worthy African traditions are to be preserved. Moreover, in accordance with the full truth of the Gospels and in harmony with the Magisterium of the Church, living and dynamic African Christian traditions are to be consolidated.
As you pursue this work in close union with the Apostolic See and the entire Church, you are strengthened in knowing that the responsibility for this activity is shared also by your brother Bishops throughout the world. This is an important consequence of the doctrine of collegiality, in which every Bishop shares responsibility for the rest of the Church; by the same token, his own Church in which by divine right he exercises ordinary jurisdiction is also the object of a common episcopal responsibility in the two dimensions of making the Gospel incarnate in the local Church: 1)preserving unaltered the content of the Catholic faith and maintaining ecclesial unity throughout the world; and 2) bringing forth from cultures original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought, whereby the Gospel is brought into the heart of peoples and their cultures.
Venerable Brothers, your people are called to the highest ideals and to the most lofty virtues. In this saving power Christ is present in the humanity of Africa, or as I have already said during my visit to this continent: "Christ, in the members of his Body, is himself African".
4. There are many individual aspects of your apostolate that are worthy of special mention and support. Of particular importance for the future of your local Churches is every effort that is made to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The faithful are called to share responsibility for this dimension of the Church; they exercise this responsibility by esteem and respect for these vocations and by helping to create the sound spiritual atmosphere of Christian families and other communities in which a vocation can develop and can persevere. Vigilance is needed on the part of priests to detect the signs of a vocation. Above all, the effectiveness of all these human efforts is linked to the prayer of the Church and to the witness of priests and religious.
When your people see priests and religious living a life of authentic celibacy in intimacy with Christ, when they perceive the human fulfilment that comes from the total giving of oneself in the service of the Gospel, when they observe the joy that comes from bearing witness to Christ - then the priesthood and the religious life are attractive vocations for youth, who will then more easily hear Christ’s personal invitation to them: Come, follow me!
Another dimension that I would like to stress in this regard is the missionary dimension of your Church with regard to the needs of sister Churches on the African continent and beyond. I understand your concern about the need of your own Christian communities to be guided by priests chosen by God from among their own people. But the Church is missionary by nature. And let us always remember that God will never fail to bless those who give with generosity. The promotion of missionary vocations - either in the framework of the Fidei Donum formula or through membership in international missionary societies - will in its turn incite the local community to greater confidence in God’s grace and to a deeper awareness of faith. It will open hearts to God’s love.
5. I know that you are committed to the advancement of the role of women in the Church and in society. It is an expression of this same concern to promote women’s vocations to the religious life.
African women have willingly been bearers of life and guardians of family values. Similarly, the consecration of women in radical self-giving to the Lord in chastity, obedience, and poverty constitutes an important way of bringing to your local Churches the life of Christ and an awareness of a larger human community and a divine communion. This requires of course that they be carefully formed, theologically and spiritually, so that they can assume their rightful place as workers for evangelisation, exemplifying the true meaning of religious life in an African context, and thus enriching the whole Church.
6. In the beautiful celebration in the stadium and by honouring the catechists, I have already expressed my esteem for them, as well as my thoughts on the; value of this institution for the Church - its value for the future as for the past. I shall not expand this point further except to repeat the words I addressed to the Bishops in my Apostolic Exhortation: “Dearly beloved Brothers, you have here a special mission within your Churches: you are beyond all others the ones primarily responsible, for catechises. ...You can be sure that if catechesis is done well in your local Churches, everything else will be easier to do” (Catechesi Tradeandae, 63).
7. In this context I would draw attention to a special aspect of the apostolate: the question of the media. All over the world the communications media offer special opportunities for the spread of the Gospel and for the useful presentation of information from the viewpoint of charity and truth.
Ghana and all Africa are no exception. Through your interest and collaboration may the mass media truly perform their providential role at the service of humanity. For the Church these are splendid instruments to preach the message of Christ, as from the housetops (cf Mt 10, 27). Be assured of my admiration for your efforts to utilize these means as often as possible. In this regard, you deserve great praise for setting up The Standard, which I pray will ever assist you in the task of evangelisation.
8. Linked with evangelisation is the work of development, which must continue to go on in Africa.
In imitation of Christ, who was sensitive to the uplifting of humanity in all its aspects, the Church works for the total well-being of man. The laity have a distinctive part to play in the area of development; they have also been given a special charisma in order to bring the presence of the serving Christ into all areas of human affairs.
The human being asking to be uplifted from poverty and want is the same person in need of redemption and eternal life. Likewise the entire Church must serve development by offering to the world her total vision of man, and by proclaiming ceaselessly the preminence of spiritual values (Address to UN, 2 Oct 1979, 14).
Providence has endowed your people with an innate understanding of this fact.Only by being sensitive to every need can the Church continue to render her many services, but one of her most effective contributions to progress will be to point out that the goal of personal development is found only in a transcendent humanism, with is attained by union with Christ .
9. There are many other aspects to our pastoral ministry and we cannot now speak about all of them. But as Bishops let us call our people constantly to conversion of life, and by our example let us lead the way. The importance of the Sacrament of Penance or Reconciliation and of the Eucharist cannot be overemphasized. In both of these we are the ministers of God’s mercy and his love.
At the same time, as Bishops we are called to bear a consistent witness to Christ the High Priest and Pontiff of salvation by being signs of holiness in his Church. A difficult task? Yes, Brothers. But this is our vocation, and the Holy Spirit is upon us. Moreover, the effectiveness of our pastoral ministry depends on our holiness of life. Let us not be afraid, for the Mother of Jesus is with us. She is in our midst today and always. And we are strong through her prayers and safe in her care. Regina Caeli, laetare, alleluia!"
Blessed JPII's words to the Bishops visiting from other African countries
Kumasi, 9 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"My dear Brother Bishops,
1. It is a joy for me to be with you today. You have come from your respective Dioceses - and I from Rome - and all of us have assembled here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We truly feel his presence in our midst. Indeed, we have come to Ghana to celebrate his Gospel, to celebrate the centenary of the implantation of his Church in this region. Our thoughts are turned therefore to the great reality of evangelization. This is very natural for us, since we are the Successors of the Twelve and, like them, are called to be servants of the Gospel, proclaiming Jesus Christ and his message of Redemption.
Our ministry makes many demands on us. The effective preaching of the Gospel, which is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Rom 1,16), requires our constant efforts in going out to the People of God with a deep understanding of their culture, their pastoral needs and the pressures put upon them by the modern world.
Evangelization requires farsighted planning on our part, the utilization of the proper means and the full collaboration of the local Churches. But I wish to limit myself today to a brief consideration on the content of evangelization, on what Paul VI called its "foundation and centre" and what he described as being "a clear proclamation that in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men as a gift of God’s grace and mercy" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 38).
2. As Bishops we must reflect not only on our duty, but also on the immense privilege it is to bring this fundamental message of salvation to the people. This is the nature of our divine mission, this explains our human fulfilment: to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.
What a wonderful ministry it is to preach a Gospel of redemption int Jesus, to explain to our people how they have been chosen by God the Father to live in Christ Jesus, how the Father "rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of his beloved Son. Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins" (Col 1, 14).
3. Christ’s gift of salvation gives rise to our sacramental ministry and to all our efforts to build up the communion of the Church, a redeemed community living the new life of Christ. Because our message is the message of salvation, it is also a constant invitation to our people to respond to God’s gift, to live a life worthy of the calling that they have received (cf Eph 4, 1).
The message of salvation brings with it an invitation to our people to praise God for his goodness, to rejoice in his gift, to forgive others just as they themselves have been forgiven, and to love others just as they themselves have been loved. God gives this great gift of salvation through his Church, through our ministry.
In accordance with God’s will, let us go forward in our evangelizing activities, announcing with perseverance the Good News of salvation, and proclaiming explicitly: "It is in Christ and through his blood that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous in God’s favour to us" (EPH 1, 7-8). This proclamation is fundamental to all our moral doctrine, to our social teaching, to our pastoral concern for the poor. It is the basis of our pastoral ministry to the needy, the suffering and those in prison. It is fundamental to everything we do, to our whole episcopal ministry.
Dear brothers: Praised be Jesus Christ who has called us to proclaim his salvation and who sustains us by his love. May he keep us strong in joy, persevering in prayer together with his Mother Mary, and united to the end. Praised be Jesus Christ."
John Paul II's Address to Seminarians
Kumasi, 9 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
1. I am always happy to talk to young men who are preparing for the priesthood. Today I am particularly happy to meet you in your own country.
2. Even though you are young, you are able by your lives to teach the world a great lesson. What is this lesson? It is the lesson of faith. Your lives show that you believe in Jesus Christ and that you want to follow him. You accept him as God, as the Son of God who took on a human nature, who became man, and who became your brother and mine. You believe that he died on the Cross, and became your Saviour and mine. And you believe that he rose from the dead, and made it possible for you and me and everybody to live for ever. This is the Jesus whom you have come to know and love, the Jesus in whom you have put your faith.
3. Yes, you believe in the Person of Jesus, and you also believe that his grace is strong - that it can overcome sin. You believe that Jesus can give you the grace to follow him, to come after him, to be like him. And that is what you want to do: to be like Jesus the priest - to spread the Good News that Jesus brought, to tell the world about salvation, and to give people the bread of eternal life.
4. So faith in Jesus is important for you now and in the future. Your life as a seminarian depends on faith; faith is the foundation of the life of every priest. Faith means accepting Jesus into your lives, taking his message into your hearts, obeying his commandments. It also means being filled with the joy and love of Jesus. And the more this happens, the more you will be able to show Jesus to the world - the Jesus who lives in you and who wants to work through you.
When you live by faith and follow Christ’s commandments, you are able to give a dynamic example to other young people. You are able to show by your lives and by the example of your Christian joy that Jesus’ love is important - important for you in your vocation, and important for all your brothers and sisters who are trying to discover the fullness of their humanity. Living in this way, you can see that you have already begun the task of communicating Christ, of bringing him to your friends and to the other youth of Ghana.
5. At the same time your fidelity to Christ, your courage to say yes to your special vocation, your faith in the power of Jesus to sustain you in his love during your whole life is a strong support for other young people of your age who have heard the call of the Good Shepherd and want to follow it faithfully. You know how much your country and all Africa needs priests - workers in the Lord’s harvest. Remember the words of Jesus: "... lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are white for the harvest” (Jn 4, 35).
And pray for vocations, pray for perseverance in your own vocation, pray that the Church in Africa will have the strength and fervour to supply the priests that Christ needs to preach his Gospel and to carry his message of salvation throughout this continent.
6. Dear seminarians: stay close to Jesus through prayer and the Holy Eucharist. And so by the way you live, let everybody know that you really do have faith, that you really believe in our Lord Jesus Christ.
And stay close also to our Blessed Mother Mary and to her Immaculate Heart. When Mary said yes to the angel, the mystery of Redemption took shape beneath her Heart. This pure Heart of Mary was the inspiration for many of the missionaries who brought the word of God to the African people. And for the Church today this Heart of Mary continues to express the mystery of the Mother in Redemption .
In the name of Jesus, I bless you all. And I commend you and your families and friends to Mary, who is the Mother of us all."
Pope John Paul II's Address to the Diplomatic Corps
Accra, 9 May 1980 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Meeting the Heads of Mission and the Diplomatic Corps in this capital City of Accra gives me great pleasure. I feel honoured by the courtesy which you extend to me by your presence here, and I wish to thank His Excellency the Dean and the Diplomatic Corps for the kindness shown me.
After a week in Africa - such a short time yet one filled with indelible memories - I wish to share with you a few of the impressions and concerns which I have experienced in my first contact with the African continent.
When I came to Africa at the invitation of the civil authorities and of my brother Bishops, I did so as the Head of the Catholic Church. But I also came as a humble servant entrusted by God’s providence with a mission to all mankind: The mission of proclaiming the dignity and fundamental equality of all human beings and their right to live in a world of justice and peace, of brotherhood and solidarity.
2. The purpose of my journey is, in the first place, religious and spiritual. I wish to confirm my brother Bishops, the clergy, religious and laity in their faith in God the Creator and Father, and in the one Lord Jesus Christ. I wish also to celebrate the common faith and charity that unites us, to rejoice with them in the communion that binds us all together in one family, in the Mystical Body of Christ. I bring to them the greeting of the Apostle Paul: "All the Churches of Christ greet you" (Rom 16, 16). My coming to the Church in Africa is meant to be a witnessing to the universality of the Church and a rejoicing in the richness of its various expressions. For "in the mind of the Lord the Church is universal by vocation and mission, but when she puts down her roots in a variety of cultural, social and human terrains, she takes on different external expressions and appearances in each part of the world" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 62).
By virtue of her mission and nature, the Church is not tied to any given form of culture, or to any political, economic, or social system. By her very universality, she can enter into communion with various cultures and realities, creating a mutual enrichment (cf Gaudium et Spes, 58). By virtue of that same universality she can also create a very close bond between diverse human communities and nations, provided that they acknowledge and respect her right to freedom in the carrying out of her specific mission.
3. Here I feel that we have a common mission. As individual diplomats you are mandated to represent and foster the interests of your respective States. As a group, you are also bearers of a mission that transcends regional and national boundaries, for it is also part of your mission to foster better understanding among people, closer collaboration on a worldwide scale - in a word, to be the promoters of the unity of the whole world. It is the greatness of your task to be the builders of international peace and justice in an age that is a witness at the same time to growing interdependence and to the stronger affirmation of each nation’s own identity and dignity.
Yours is a noble even if difficult task: while serving your own nation, you are also the artisans of the common good of the whole human family, working together to save the earth for humanity, to ensure that the world’s riches reach all human beings, including our brothers and sisters who are now excluded by social injustice. As diplomats, you are involved in the establishing of a new order of international relations based on the fundamental and inescapable demands of justice and peace. And those of you here present who represent international or regional organizations are also engaged - though by different methods and means - in the process of concentrating the efforts of all nations on building a just and fraternal world.
4. I am sure that your experience in different parts of the world as diplomats or international servants, together with the familiarity that you have acquired of the African scene, has created in you a keen awareness of the major problems that face humanity today - especially the global issues arising from the economic and social disparities that exist in the world community. When I spoke to the Thirty-fourth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, I was able to draw attention to this fundamental problem when I said: "It is no secret that the abyss separating the minority of the excessively rich from the multitude of the destitute is a very grave symptom in the life of any society. This must also be said with even greater insistence with regard to the abyss separating countries and regions of the earth" (JPII, Allocutio ad Nationem Unitarum Legatos, 18, die 2 oct. 1979: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II, 2 (1979) 535-536).
It is a great contradiction of our day and age that these glaring disparities can exist, and that the gap which separates rich and poor countries, or rich and poor continents, is still widening rather than decreasing, at a time when peoples have become more aware than ever before of their interdependence. Is it not a sad fact that the efforts - so worthwhile in themselves - of the international organizations and of the different nations in bilateral and multilateral initiatives have not been able to draw the poorer countries out of the vicious circle of poverty and underdevelopment?
Why is it then that these efforts have not produced better and more lasting results? Why have they not given hope to the developing countries - the hope that their own resources, fraternal aid, and especially the hard work of their people would enable them to chart their own development course and satisfy their essential needs?
5. I am convinced that we all agree that the only way to eliminate inequalities is through the coordinated cooperation of all the countries in a spirit of true partnership. In this context, much has been said and written about the importance of revitalizing what has been called the North-South dialogue. Without accepting an oversimplified view of a world divided into a rich North and a poor South, one must concede that this distinction has a certain foundation in fact, since Northern countries generally control the world’s industry and economy. The Holy See cannot but encourage every initiative that aims at looking honestly at this situation, and at achieving an agreement among all parties on the necessary action to be taken. But at the same time, I would ask the question: Why is it that such initiatives encounter such difficulty and fail to achieve tangible and lasting results? The answer is to be found primarily, not in the economic or monetary spheres, but in an area of much deeper dimensions - in the domain of moral and spiritual imperatives. New insights and a fundamental change in attitude are called for.
The difficult and controversial subjects which divide richer and poorer nations cannot be faced as long as an attitude of prejudice persists; these subjects must be approached in á spirit of trust and mutual openness, in a spirit of honest evaluation of reality and in a generous willingness to share.
Above all, the examination of the North-South problems must be made with a renewed convinction that no solution can be found unless it is rooted in the truth about man. The complete truth about man is the necessary condition for people to live together harmoniously and to come to an agreement on solutions that fully respect the dignity of all human beings.
6. Your presence here in an African capital, Ladies and Gentlemen, is of great significance for your countries and for the organizations that you represent. But it is also very meaningful for the country that offers you its hospitality, for all Africa, and for the whole world. This is a lofty vision but it is also the necessary condition for success in your endeavours to bring about better and more just relations between peoples and nations. Each diplomatic community is in a way a proving ground where you test your own attitudes and insights against a vision of the world where man is central to all history and to all progress. My message to you therefore - the message of one who is aware of his mission as a servant of God and a defender of man - is this: only a world that is truly human can be a world that is peaceful and strong. Thank you."
Pope John Paul II's Address on his departure from Ghana
Saturday 10 May 1980 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear Friends in Ghana,
1. The journeys of the Pope to the different continents and countries of the world all have one characteristic in common: the visits are always too short! Perhaps too short for you, but certainly too short for me! I would have loved to spend more time with you, to travel through your country from North to South, from East to West, to be with you in your homes, to visit your children in their schools, to accompany you to your fields or to the river, and to listen to your songs. But so many more of your African brothers and sisters are waiting for me.
The two days that I have spent with you have been days of great joy and spiritual consolation for me. I shall for ever cherish in my memory and in my heart the impressions of this happy occasion. I shall remember your friendly people and courteous authorities, the smiling faces of your children and the wisdom of your elders.
I shall above all carry with me the image of a people that wants to be faithful to its own cultural heritage, and at the same time move forward in peace, and in truth - which is the power of peace - towards a more just situation through constant material, social and moral progress.
2. My gratitude for the hospitality shown by this land and its people to the Head of the Catholic Church, who is the servant of humanity, will be expressed in fervent prayer for each one of you and for your entire nation. I shall ask God, who is all-powerful and good, who created all things and without whom no life can exist, to guide and strengthen this nation in the pursuit of true happiness for all its citizens. Because we are all children of one and the same heavenly Father, created to his image and likeness (cf Gen 1, 26), every human being, every Ghanaian has a fundamental right to the conditions that are in keeping with his or her dignity.
I shall raise my prayer to God that Ghana may achieve true progress through the development of all the natural and human resources with which it has been blessed, and that it will benefit from the will of the international community to create throughout the world and the African continent just and equitable relations in all fields of human endeavour. I shall pray especially that the continuing development of Ghana will be achieved while safeguarding the authentic human values which have been, up to the present, the glory of your people: hospitality, magnanimity, respect for the elders, a sense of community, and reference to God in all your relations.
3. My deep gratitude goes to His Excellency the President of Ghana for his courteous and warm welcome, which I would be most happy to reciprocate in the Vatican. I thank the authorities and all who have given so much of their time and effort to prepare this visit and to make it such a rewarding experience for me. I express my cordial appreciation also to the journalists and to all the people of the media, through whom I was able to reach out to a vast audience, telling all Ghanaians that the Pope holds them in his heart; at the same time the world was able to come into close contact with the warm and noble people of this land.
I cannot take leave of this hospitable country without addressing a special word of thanks to you the Bishops and the whole Catholic community for everything you have done to give me this unforgettable welcome, but also, and even more, for what you are: true Ghanaians and true Christians. Be "firm in your faith" (1 Pet 5, 9). Always remember that you have been baptized in Christ Jesus, and that therefore, beyond any differences of ethnic origin, education or position, "you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3, 28).
Goodbye now! Thank you, and may God bless this beloved land of Ghana!"
© Copyright 1980 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana