Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Jamaica
9th - 11th August 1993
JPII's pilgrimage began with a Welcome ceremony at Norman Manley International Airport. On the Tuesday, the Holy Father celebrated Lauds in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity before meeting with lay people at St. George's College & an ecumenical group at Holy Cross Church in Kingston. The day ended with Papa John Paul II celebrating Mass at the National Stadium; he left Jamaica on Wednesday morning, after a farewell ceremony at the airport.
Blessed John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston - Monday, 9 August 1993 - in English & Italian
"Your Excellency, Mr Prime Minister, My Brother Bishops, Dear Jamaican Friends,
1. I offer a fervent prayer of thanks to God who gives me the joy of visiting your beautiful "Island in the Sun", after having had to postpone the visit planned for last year. To all of you who have come here to welcome me with the warm hospitality characteristic of the Caribbean, I am truly grateful. I thank Your Excellency Governor–General Sir Howard Cooke for your kind words; both you and Prime Minister Patterson have been most gracious in renewing your invitation for me to come to Jamaica. I ask God to reward all who have worked to prepare this meeting between the Successor of Peter and the beloved Jamaican people.
With fraternal affection I greet Archbishop Samuel Carter and the whole Archdiocese of Kingston, Bishop Clarke and the faithful of Montego Bay, as well as Bishop Boyle and the faithful of the Vicariate Apostolic of Mandeville. I look forward to meeting the members of the Catholic community and to celebrating the Eucharist with them. I extend the hand of friendship to the representatives of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Your presence here, and our meeting tomorrow at Holy Cross Church, are signs of the excellent ecumenical relations which have existed in Jamaica for many years.
2. As you know, my journey will take me to the World Youth Day which is being celebrated this year in Denver, in the United States. But my visits to Jamaica, and later to Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula, have a significance all their own. They fit into the broad perspective of the year which marks the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage to the New World. Last year I went to Santo Domingo to join the representatives of the Latin American Episcopate, as well as other Bishops of this Continent, in commemorating five centuries of evangelization. The Church could not miss this appointment. She is obliged to give unbounded praise to God, who watches over the course of history, for the marvellous enterprise of the first evangelization of the Americas.
That was the beginning of the Church’s presence in this part of the world, a presence made up of holiness of life and the witness of Christian charity on the part of many, but also of the faults and sins of others. In fact, last year Divine Providence also enabled me to visit Gorée in Senegal where there is a striking monument to the tragic enslavement of millions of African men, women and children, uprooted from their homes and separated from their loved ones to be sold as merchandise. The immensity of their suffering corresponds to the enormity of the crime committed against them: the denial of their human dignity. Gorée was the appropriate place to implore Heaven’s forgiveness in the name of humanity, and to pray that human beings will learn to look at one another and respect one another as God’s image, in order to love one another as sons and daughters of their common Father in Heaven.
Now, here in Jamaica, I wish to remember the original Arawak people and your ancestors who were brought here from Africa. Let us pray that the wounds of past experiences will at last be healed and that everyone will work, with full respect for each person’s dignity, for a future in which justice, peace and solidarity will leave no room for hatred or discrimination.
3. The immediate future of Jamaica is closely linked to the efforts being made throughout the Caribbean to increase regional unity. I pray that greater integration will help the peoples of these Island Nations to face the many challenges before them. The Church, for her part, looks favourably on everything that increases understanding and cooperation among countries. She is particularly close to the world’s developing peoples. In fulfilling her religious mission she inspires and educates citizens who have the good of the whole of society at heart. By means of her social doctrine she "seeks to lead people to respond... to their vocation as responsible builders of earthly society". Through her educational and health–care institutions and her social works, she contributes to the well–being of the whole national community. I am aware that here in Jamaica there is effective cooperation between the State and the Church in these matters. I thank the Government for this, and encourage the members of the Church in their service of the common good.
The beauty of these Islands, where the exuberant colours of nature speak so loudly of the glory of God, is matched by the kindness and goodness of their inhabitants. I would like to be able to meet every Jamaican, in a spirit of understanding and friendship. I assure you of my prayers and my esteem. May Almighty God abundantly bless the people of Jamaica, and all the peoples of the Caribbean. God’s peace be with you all!"
Pope John Paul II's Homily at the Celebration of Lauds
Cathedral of Kingston - Tuesday, 10 August 1993 - in English & Italian
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. For a long time I have eagerly anticipated being here with all of you: the Bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians of Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville; the Religious men and women serving these local Churches; and lay leaders of the Catholic communities in this nation. I extend fraternal greetings as well to the other Bishops and faithful who have come to Jamaica to be a part of this gathering in the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. My happiness today is all the greater, since my visit comes after the delay which prevented my coming last year, as had been planned. In the meantime you have never been far from my thoughts, and – to borrow the words of Saint Paul – "whenever I think of you, I thank God; and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News" (cf Phil. 1, 3:4).
2. Bearing witness to the Gospel is that "work of service" which the Apostle says builds up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). To be a witness is to be an heir to the Church’s great missionary tradition, a tradition going back to the first Pentecost morning in Jerusalem and which, on this Island, is as old as the arrival of Columbus himself. In this regard I wish to pay heartfelt tribute to all who left their homelands in order to be heralds of the Good News here in Jamaica. Yes, this is the glory of missionaries: to be the instruments of Divine Providence in leading people to him who has "the words of eternal life" (Jn 6:68). For this the faithful of the local Churches are forever in their debt and should remember them with pride.
You are the crown of the labours of those men and women who planted and nourished the faith on this beautiful Island. From the arrival in 1512 of the original band of 10 Franciscan friars down to our own day, God’s Providence has been at work through the uncertainties and changes of Jamaica’s history in providing labourers for his harvest in this land: the abbots and clergy sent by the Spanish crown, the aged Father Thomas Churchill dispatched according to the orders of a Stuart king, priests fleeing persecution in the Old and the New Worlds, the British and American Jesuits, the Franciscan Sisters from Scotland and the Sisters of Mercy from England – to name just a few. For all of you who are today called to serve the new evangelization and to build a just, compassionate and harmonious society, the Church prays with unceasing fervour. She is confident that God will help you to persevere generously in these tasks, and that He will increase your numbers, lest any of those called to life in Christ be lost because they have not heard of Him, or any part of the common good be neglected.
3. In the work of making God’s word known, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council ascribe a special role to priests: "as co–workers with their Bishops, they have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all" (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4). To you, my Brother Priests, has been handed on this sacred duty, a share in the office given by our Saviour to the Twelve and their successors.
As I indicated in the Post–Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis", priests, in order to carry out their responsibilities, should have a heart formed and shaped after the pattern of the heart of the Good Shepherd. This is the word the Bishop of Rome has come to Jamaica to say to you: Open wide your hearts to Christ our Shepherd and High Priest! Remove every barrier! Let the fire of his love for the flock grow to a blaze within you. In imitation of him, hold back nothing for yourselves – neither possessions, nor privileges, nor comforts, not even your own will or life itself. Dedicate to your mission all that you have and all that you are.
An outstanding sign of this total consecration is your celibacy, which is "a precious gift given by God to his Church and... a sign of the Kingdom which is not of this world, a sign of God’s love for this world and of the undivided love of the priest for God and for God’s people". Joyful fidelity to this great gift of the Spirit requires ardent and unceasing prayer; it must be sustained by daily Mass, frequent Confession and a life of asceticism. For man it would be impossible, but relying on One infinitely greater than ourselves we confidently affirm, "Nothing is impossible to God" (Lk 1:37).
Spiritual growth in the celibate priestly life goes hand in hand with "a general and integral process of constant growth, deepening each of the aspects of formation – human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral". While the Bishop and the whole presbyterate have a fundamental responsibility for fostering such growth, "the individual priest... is the person primarily responsible". In the sacred intimacy of conscience God makes clear to the priest the failings for which he must do penance, the deficiencies which he needs to remedy, and the paths which he is invited to follow in order to be of even greater service to his people. Dear Fathers, for the love of the faithful entrusted to your ministry, never stifle the voice of the Spirit as he summons you "to rekindle the gift of God that is within you" (2Tm 1: 6).
4. Dear Seminarians, always respond cheerfully and unreservedly to the demands made of you for the sake of your progress in the moral and intellectual virtues. I wish particularly to emphasize two qualities for you to cultivate in your time of formation. First, become men of prayer. A deeper communion of mind and heart with Christ is essential if you are truly to be reflections of the Good Shepherd, and not merely hirelings (cf Jn 10: 12). Secondly, study diligently; know well the Church’s doctrine in all its richness; become thoroughly familiar with the Scriptures and all the other sources of Catholic teaching; by achieving a profound insight into the mystery of Christ and his Church, you will be able to bring its light to bear on the lives of God’s people.
Dear Deacons, you have been "consecrated by the laying on of hands that comes to us from the apostles" – "unto a ministry of service" (Lumen Gentium, 29). To you we can apply in a special way the words which Jesus used of himself, that he had come "not to be served but to serve" (Mt 20: 28). In you the faithful of Jamaica should be able to see ever more clearly a witness to Christ’s own servanthood. For those of you who are married, I pray that your ministry will always be a source of blessing for your families, and that the members of your household, especially your wives, will help to sustain you in your service to the local Churches for which you were ordained.
5. In addressing my greetings of particular affection to you, the Religious of Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville, I wish to begin by recalling the remarkable role which men and women consecrated to God through the evangelical counsels have played throughout the history of the Church on this Island. To speak of Friar Juan Jacinto Rodriguez de Araujo and Father James Dupeyron or Sister Paula Charlet, Mother Winifred Aloysius Furlong and Sister Mary Humiliana is not to limit the scope of our tribute, but moves us to remember all those – many of whose names are known to the Lord alone – who by their witness of the evangelical counsels have enriched the life of God’s people here. It is my hope that the mention of their achievements will give you renewed confidence in the value of your religious consecration, for it is your total commitment to our Saviour through your vows which guarantees the efficacy of your service to your neighbour. Your fundamental apostolic work in the Church is always to be who you are. For the very reason that "your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3: 3), you are a light set up in order to show others the way to the Kingdom. I urge you to work in close cooperation with the Bishops of your particular Churches, so that the gifts and charisms bestowed upon you will all the more effectively enrich the members of the wider ecclesial communities to which you belong.
6. To you, Lay Leaders of the Jamaican Catholic community, I express a special word of appreciation for the many ways you contribute to the growth of the Church. Your prayers for her welfare and your good deeds done for her members are the flowering of the graces poured forth into your hearts at Baptism. In my remarks to the group now awaiting me at Saint George’s School, I will have the opportunity to speak about the specific vocation of the lay faithful. At this moment I wish to encourage you in your Christian lives and in all the works you do to strengthen the ecclesial community in the face of the urgent needs of Christ’s flock.
In particular I would point out how important it is for the laity to be ever more involved in catechesis and religious education. As in many parts of the world, the Church in Jamaica encounters forms of superstition and sectarian fundamentalism, forces which are antagonistic to the faith and devotion of Catholics. In the face of such a challenge your witness of patient endurance and unwavering charity will win many to true faith in the Lord. Christ’s faithful need solid instruction in Christian doctrine so that they will not easily fall prey to confusion and false teaching, or be lured away from the Church. I urge you to give particular attention to this area of Catholic life.
7. In just a few days the Church will celebrate the feast of Jamaica’s heavenly patron, Our Lady of the Assumption. I am one with you and all Jamaican Catholics in asking her to obtain for you the gift of renewed strength for the work of bearing witness to her Divine Son and shaping the life of your society in accordance with his saving message.
May Mary, full of grace, guide and protect the Catholic Church in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean."
John Paul II's words to lay representatives of Jamaica
Auditorium of Saint George’s College, Kingston - Tuesday, 10 August 1993 - in English & Italian
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. It gives me great joy to be among you at last, on this beautiful Island so rightly described by Columbus as "Santa Gloria". With heartfelt affection I greet you, catechists, teachers, members of parish organizations and other lay representatives, as well as the young people present – all faithful sons and daughters of the Church in the Archdiocese of Kingston, the Diocese of Montego Bay and the Apostolic Vicariate of Mandeville. "My love is with you in Christ Jesus" (1Cor 16, 24).
It is precisely to speak about Christ and his love that the Bishop of Rome has come to Jamaica, to the auditorium of St George’s College. Indeed, this is an appropriate place in which to consider the nature of Christian love and the deeds in which it necessarily finds expression. Just a few weeks after that September day in 1850 when this College first opened its doors, members of its Jesuit community, with that bravery which is born of true charity, set about caring for the victims of a terrible cholera epidemic. Yes, this is the love I mean, the unsparing gift of self, which makes us ready even to lay down our lives for others.
2. We heard in the reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Colossians that we must "put on" this love (Col 3, 14) – we must be clothed in it, covered completely. We first put it on when we "put on Christ" in Baptism (Rom 13, 14). Christ’s love was poured into our hearts, so that now we can love God above all things and our neighbour as our self for love of Him. By the power of this love, Christians are enabled to offer all that they have and are to the Father, to proclaim the Good News by their words and deeds, and to spread everywhere God’s Kingdom of justice, peace and charity (cf JPII, Christifideles Laici, 14).
The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council affirm that the laity are specifically called to fulfil this lofty vocation in the secular sphere, through their involvement in temporal affairs (cf Lumen Gentium, 31). The Gospel images of salt and light and leaven (cf Mt 5, 13-16; Mt 13, 33) help us to understand that by means of their full participation in the affairs of this age the lay faithful are meant to be instruments enabling divine grace to accomplish God’s eternal purpose in creation.
3. It is essential that the laity should be well prepared to undertake this task. In the work of lay formation the parish plays a central role. An active parish is a most effective means for teaching God’s Word, for fostering liturgical and personal dialogue with God and for sustaining the life of fraternal charity. By participating in the life of the parish, the faithful experience the reality of ecclesial communion and come to appreciate more fully their own responsibility as sharers in the Church’s saving mission (Christifideles Laici, 61).
In the parish communities of Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville, programmes of sacramental preparation, other forms of catechesis and the pastoral care of youth are indispensable activities. Each of you here today has a vital part to play in this apostolate. I wish to encourage you to be close to your priests, to cooperate with them in building up the Church on this Island. By being good Catholics yourselves, you will help your priests to be ever better servants of Jesus Christ, the Supreme High Priest.
I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the catechists for the important work you do in handing on the Catholic faith. Your task is to pass on to your students the Church’s teaching in all its richness and integrity. Teach them especially about the Sacraments and how the saving mystery of Christ is made present in these visible signs of the invisible grace of God. Through the prayerful celebration of these sacred rites the whole community will find the strength it needs for the sanctification of life in the world and for the task of overcoming all the forms of poverty – material and spiritual – which affect our brothers and sisters.
Those of you who are teachers have a special responsibility for instructing others in the virtues which are at the heart of Christian formation. Among the most important dispositions to be cultivated in both the young and in adults are solidarity and a sense of responsibility for the common good. In the last century such a commitment to the good of the human person brought about the emancipation of those enslaved in the homes, in the workshops and on the plantations of this land. Not all Jamaicans have yet attained a level of participation in society worthy of free men and women, and so there is no less a need for solidarity and commitment today. For your generous dedication to the task of educating the young, not only the Catholic community in Jamaica but civil society as well is indebted to you.
I invite Jamaican Catholics to make this an occasion for renewing your commitment to the Church’s mission. Pledge once more that the poor and forgotten will be the particular object of your love. Resolve to make your groups and organizations effective means of helping your brothers and sisters in their need. In this way you will be the worthy heirs to a spirit and tradition exemplified by Jessie Ripoll, Josephine Ximines, Louise Dugiol, and all those who have worked for the full development of their fellow Jamaicans.
4. Now a word to the many young people here today. Young Jamaicans, will you be strong and generous for Christ? Reject the easy road: the road of self–indulgence, crime, cynicism and escape from responsibility. The abuse of alcohol and drugs and sexual misbehaviour must have no place in your lives. "Enter by the narrow gate" (Mt 7, 13). Choose the road that leads to eternal life and happiness with God. If God’s road for you seems to lead towards the priesthood or the life of a Religious Sister or Brother, be generous. The Church needs you. Follow where Christ directs you. If He calls you to marriage, let Mary and Joseph be your models. In all things let the words of Jesus live in you, and you will know the joy that comes from belonging to him.
5. This year we are commemorating the fifth centenary of the beginning of evangelization in the Caribbean and in all the Americas. This celebration is an ideal occasion for the Catholics of Jamaica to hear as if with fresh hearts and minds Christ’s summons: "The time has come and the Kingdom of God is close at hand! Repent, and believe the Good News!" (Mk 1, 15). Yes, dear brothers and sisters, answer that call. Offer yourselves anew to the Redeemer as his helpers in freeing creation from the effects of sin, in order to restore all things according to the Father’s original design for the world (cf Christifideles Laici, 15). Give your hands to Christ, so that by his grace you can fashion a society that is just, and in which all its members live in peace. Give your hearts to Christ, so that through them his love may shine forth as a beacon of light and hope for all Jamaicans.
May God be your support in this wonderful work. May He bless "this land that we love". And may Mary, the Queen of the Universe, protect her beloved Jamaica. God be with you all!"
JPII's words at an Ecumenical Meeting with representatives
of Christian Churches & Ecclesial Communities of Jamaica & the Caribbean
Holy Cross Church, Kingston - Tuesday, 10 August 1993 - in English & Italian
“Be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy” (Phil 2: 2).
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Friends,
1. These words of St Paul, expressing his profound longing for unity among the Lord’s disciples, were a cry coming from the depth of his heart. He had become so identified with our Saviour that no longer did he live, but Christ lived in him (cf Gal 2: 20), and so his desire was the same as Christ’s: "May they all be one" (Jn 17: 21). This appeal from the Apostle, first addressed to the Philippians, has lost none of its urgency, and it finds today an echo in the heart of each of us here. This is the reason why we are gathered to pray for the reconciliation of all Christians.
With the confidence of sons and daughters, we turn to the Father in order to ask him to heal our divisions. At the same time we thank him for the already existing – although imperfect – communion which binds us together (cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 3), and for the climate of openness and mutual respect which are its logical consequences (cf Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 36). This is indeed a moment of grace, a gift of our Redeemer’s boundless love. In the peace and love of Christ Jesus I greet you all, the representatives of the Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities of Jamaica and the Caribbean. I rejoice in being with you to hear Christ’s saving word, and to lift up my voice with yours in heartfelt praise and earnest supplication.
2. Christians in Jamaica may fittingly thank God for all that has been achieved in the pursuit of the aims of the ecumenical movement. In particular I wish to single out the results of more than two decades of common witness and common action for justice and peace through the Jamaican Council of Churches. The Catholic Bishops of this nation, along with the clergy, Religious and lay faithful, have been active in these initiatives. They look forward to working in the years ahead with all their Christian brothers and sisters in a spirit of solidarity, so that the transforming light of the Good News will shine ever more brightly upon this Island. Your ecumenical initiatives take place in the wider context of the Caribbean Conference of Churches. Through this Conference, you strive to defend and to promote the dignity of the human person and to speak out against those things which undermine it: poverty, the breakdown of family life, the abuse of drugs and alcohol, and everything which would obstruct the full development of individuals and of society itself. It is my prayer that your cooperation in the face of such challenges will be ever more effective in setting forth "in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant" and in bearing "witness to our common hope" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 12).
3. Important as it is for Christians to join forces in building up the common good of human society, we should recognize the need to resist any temptation towards a one–sided "activism". Otherwise, ecumenical efforts could soon be guided only by political motives and become barriers, not helps, to unity (cf Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 211-212). We are called not only to common action but, as St Paul says, to a "common mind" (Phil 2: 2); to be one not only in service, but in "conviction" and "love" – and, we must pray, to be finally united in the one Eucharist where Christ gives himself in love to his Church. No, we can never be content with imperfect forms of communion in belief and sacramental life, for this is not the will of our Lord. His prayer was that his disciples should share in the very unity by which He is one with the Father: "Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you" (Jn 17: 21).
As I pointed out in a message to the participants in the 5th World Conference on Faith and Order now meeting in Santiago de Compostela, reflection on the nature of koinonia, communion – the theme of that gathering – is an especially apt means towards achieving the goal of Christian unity. A deeper appreciation of the mystery of ecclesial communion as a participation in the very life of the Triune God provides the proper basis for fruitful dialogue on such topics as the relationship between the Universal Church in her visibility and the particular Churches, the richness of diversity within communion, the Eucharistic nature of the Church, and office – especially the ministry of the Bishop of Rome – in the service of communion. As for those Christians who might not share the Catholic Church’s own understanding of the Eucharist as a visible expression of unity in belief and ecclesial life, open and sincere dialogue will help them to appreciate and respect her firm convictions and strict discipline in regard to intercommunion.
In these matters, as in all that concerns our fraternal dialogue, we should not overlook the admonition of the Second Vatican Council, that "nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false conciliatory approach" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 11). In a spirit of mutual respect we must always say what we know to be true about ourselves and our beliefs. This is the way for brothers and sisters to deal with one another, and such forthrightness about oneself, coupled with trust about what others say of themselves, will bear the desired fruit in due season (cf Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, 172).
4. I wish at this time to greet the representatives of other religious traditions present here today. We who confess the name of Jesus are honoured by your presence. Assuring you of my cordial esteem and affection, I offer you my prayerful good wishes. The members of the Catholic community in Jamaica, as well as the members of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, are eager to work with you in serving the cause of humanity.
To the spiritual leaders and members of the Jewish delegation, I extend a special word of welcome. I have been told of the close relationship between yourselves and Jamaican Catholics. Such respect and friendship, rooted in our common patrimony (cf Nostra Aetate, 4), are sources of great joy and satisfaction.
I pray that in Jamaica all believers will be strengthened by Almighty God to join with each other and with all men and women of good will in building a society free from discrimination and prejudice, a nation committed to protecting the rights of every person, including the right to religious liberty.
5. Ladies and Gentlemen: St Paul pointed out to the Christians at Philippi the way for them to be of one mind and one purpose, and in doing so he identified the path which leads to the ultimate goal of the ecumenical movement. He says: "In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus" (Phil 2: 5). When all Christians are completely conformed to Christ, then they will be fully one. This is the task of the Paraclete, the Spirit poured out at Pentecost and given at Baptism. Unity is the work of the Spirit. With confidence we ask the Holy Spirit to work with great power in our midst, so that the prayer of Christ may be fulfilled in us: "May they all be one... so that the love with which you – the Father – loved me may be in them, and so that I may be in them" (Jn 17: 21-26).
I offer to all of you, distinguished Friends, my warm support, and I thank you once more for your lives, your work and your prayers here in Jamaica and throughout the Antilles. May the Lord God always bless and sustain you."
Pope John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass
National Stadium of Kingston - Tuesday, 10 August 1993 - in English & Italian
"Jesus is Lord"! .. He is "rich in mercy toward all who call upon him" (Rom 10: 9, 12).
"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. The Liturgy today repeats these words of St Paul, the Apostle of the Nations. Jesus is the Lord! He is our Redeemer, the Saviour of all peoples. "There is no other name in the whole world by which we are to be saved" (cf Acts 4: 12).
This Good News of salvation comes to us from God Himself. "He has made his salvation known; in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice... All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God" (Ps 98 (97), 2:3).
The message of salvation is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son who is one with the Father. After the Resurrection, Christ sent forth his Apostles to proclaim this Gospel to all creation. Through the preaching of the Church, all peoples are called to accept the message of salvation, to become Christ’s disciples and to be baptized in his name (cf Mk 16, 15: 16).
2. In the fullness of time, the Gospel of Jesus Christ also came to Jamaica! The seed of God’s word was planted on this Island through the preaching of the missionaries who 500 years ago first taught the name of the Saviour to the Arawak inhabitants. Although the progress of God’s word has at times been held back by sin and human failures, it has been an unfailing source of light and hope to generations of Jamaicans. Today the truth of the Gospel continues to provide a sure foundation for the growth and renewal of Jamaican society.
As Jamaica prepares to celebrate the Quincentenary of the arrival of Columbus and the first evangelization, the Successor of Peter has been given the grace of coming to confirm you in your faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God (cf Lk 22: 32; Mt 16:16). Together let us give thanks to God for the many blessings he has bestowed upon Jamaica and its people.
I greet all of you with affection in the Lord. My fraternal greetings go first to Archbishop Carter, to Bishop Clarke and to Bishop Boyle, together with the clergy, Religious and laity of the Archdiocese of Kingston, the Diocese of Montego Bay and the Vicariate Apostolic of Mandeville. My respectful greetings also go to the Governor-General, to the Minister for External Affairs representing the government and civil authorities who are present. I also welcome the Right Honourable Edward Seaga, Leader of the Opposition, and the representatives of the various Churches and Christian communities of the Island.
3. In the Old Testament, Israel’s hope for salvation was symbolized by the mountain of the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. In the First Reading, the Prophet Isaiah invites Israel to draw near to God’s Temple and to live in holiness: "Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths" (Is 2: 3).
Today the way to salvation leads no longer to the mountain of the Temple but to Jesus Christ himself, to the Son of God, the Word made flesh who dwells among us (cf Jn 1: 14). Jesus said: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up" (Jn 2: 19). St John tells us that he was speaking of himself: "he was talking about the temple of his body" (Jn 2: 21). Jesus’ own Body, risen from the dead and filled with the Spirit of Life, has become a Living Temple.
St Paul reminds us that our bodies too, as well as our souls, are meant to give glory to God; that we are called to walk according to the Spirit, and not to yield to the cravings of the flesh (cf Gal 5: 16). "You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within... You are not your own... So you must glorify God in your body" (1Cor 6, 19). When we were baptized into Christ, we were given a share in his divine life; our bodies became temples of God’s presence, dwelling–places of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who fulfils in our hearts the prophecy of Isaiah: he instructs us in God’s ways, that we may walk in his paths (cf Is 2: 3).
4. We have heard St Paul assure us: "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom 10: 9). But the faith which brings salvation must be seen in every aspect of our lives, in the way we think, in the way we act, in the way we treat others.
Jesus puts this question to each of his followers: "Do you believe...?" (Jn 9: 35). Echoing the Lord’s words here tonight in Kingston, I appeal to you, Christians of Jamaica: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ"! Be confident that your faith in the Good News has the power to transform your lives and to purify and ennoble the life of your society.
Jamaica needs to hear the truth of the Gospel! Since the Gospel reveals the full truth about man and his noble calling, it gives the vision and strength needed to meet the many challenges which your society is facing. The Gospel has the power to inspire in every heart an unselfish commitment to the common good and the rejection of everything that stands in the way of building a renewed society, a society of justice, peace and solidarity.
Now is the time for the Island’s Christians to strive to ensure that the principles which guide political, social and economic life are in conformity with God’s law and with the Gospel. Now is the time to work together to overcome the effects of injustice and exploitation, to counteract the lack of concern for the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged, the lack of respect for the dignity and value of each person, especially women and children. Now is the time for Christians to reject the temptation to lethargy and hopelessness, to reliance on the excuses of the past, and easy recourse to useless quarrels. Now is the time for everyone to build together, inspired by the Gospel, one people, a united society, a better future.
5. Jesus Christ says to all men and women: "Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:28). But Christ does not invite us to come to him for some empty consolation. He renews us and strengthens us to go forth to share with others the salvation he has brought. He tells his Apostles: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mk 16: 15). Christ – the one sent by the Father – now sends others forth: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20: 21).
These words remind us that the work of evangelization is at the heart of the Church’s mission in the world. The Church began through evangelization – and she is ceaselessly renewed through evangelization. In every time and place the preaching of the Gospel must be the Church’s first duty, her central priority. It must be the duty of every Bishop and priest, of every Religious, of every lay man and woman. Today, in Jamaica as elsewhere, there is urgent need for a "new evangelization", a new proclamation of Jesus Christ amid the challenges of our times. And every believer, every member of the Church, is called to share in this great task.
In a particular way, the new evangelization is entrusted to the laity, for it is especially through them that the Church of Christ becomes present in the various sectors of society as a sign and source of hope and of love (cf Christifideles Laici, 7). I encourage you all to share the light and joy of your faith with others. Your witness to the Good News will be a leaven of renewal in the life of the Church on this Island. For "faith is strengthened when it is given to others" (Redemptoris Missio, 2).
6. In this regard I wish to say a special word to Christian married couples. In God’s plan for the human race, "a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body" (Gen 2: 24; cf Mt 19: 5). The family, born of the faithful love of man and woman, is the basic unit of society, a cradle of life and love where God’s gift of new life is welcomed, nurtured and allowed to develop. The future of society is essentially linked to the strength of its families (cf Familiaris Consortio, 86).
Christian married couples! The witness of your lives must be ever more clear! Your faithful love must shine forth and stand in contrast to ways of living that are not in accord with the Gospel. Your families must be sanctuaries of love in the midst of the many difficult situations caused by the misuse of God’s gift of sexuality.
As a people, Jamaicans have known the evils of slavery, a system which stripped human beings of their dignity as images of God, denied people’s spiritual worth and reduced them to mere objects to be used and exploited. But apart from its exploitation of individuals, one of the greatest evils of slavery was its destruction of family bonds. Slavery stole men away from their wives; wives were left alone with the burden of raising children; and children were deprived of the presence of their fathers. The tragic fruits of this evil system are still present in attitudes of sexual irresponsibility. They are painfully obvious in the lives of too many children who miss the love and support of their parents and a healthy home life, and in too many women who struggle, often singlehandedly, to provide for their children.
Complete liberation from the past of slavery must also involve efforts to heal the deep scars left in the life of society. And in healing and rebuilding family life, Christian married couples have a fundamental witness to offer. As teachers of faith and virtue to their children, Christian parents point the way which the next generation will take. And by their lives of faith, fidelity, openness to life, and reconciling love, Christian families will be the primary evangelizers of other families.
7. St Paul writes: "Faith comes from hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ" (Rom 10: 17). Salvation comes from hearing God’s word and responding in faith: "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Rom 10: 13). But the Apostle goes on to ask: "How shall they call on him... unless they have heard of him? And how can they hear unless there is someone to preach? And how can men preach unless they are sent?" (Rom 10: 14-15).
The same questions which St Paul asked in the Letter to the Romans must be asked again today. Who will bring the Good News? How can there be evangelization without evangelizers?
Jamaica has received the Gospel. She has heard the preaching of those who first brought the Good News to this Island so long ago. They came in response to Christ’s call; they came in obedience to his command: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creation" (Mk 16: 15).
And in fact, those preachers were heard: "their voice has sounded over the whole earth, and their words to the limits of the world" (Rom 10: 18).
But it is also true that the Good News needs to be proclaimed over and over again: to every generation, to every people, to all the corners of the earth and to all the Islands!
On this beautiful Island of Jamaica, may God raise up worthy preachers of his word. May He raise up convincing witnesses to the power of his salvation!
May Mary, whom Jamaica honours under the title "Queen Assumed into Heaven", intercede for the peoples of the Caribbean, so that more and more they will be faithful listeners to the Word, and ardently proclaim their faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Lord! Amen."
Blessed John Paul II's Address at the farewell ceremony from Jamaica
Norman Manley International Airport, Kingston - Wednesday, 11 August 1993 - in English & Italian
"Your Excellency, Mr Prime Minister, My Brother Bishops, Dear Friends,
1. At the conclusion of my Pastoral Visit to Jamaica, I wish to thank everyone most heartily for the very warm welcome and many kindnesses shown me in these days. I express my particular gratitude to His Excellency the Governor–General for his kind words. Having come among you as a friend, I now take leave of the people of this beautiful Island with renewed sentiments of affection and esteem.
A special word of thanks goes to Archbishop Carter, Bishop Clarke and Bishop Boyle. It was my particular joy during these past days to visit Jamaica’s Catholics and to experience personally the life of the Church on this Island. The commitment of Jamaica’s Catholics to their country’s future, which finds concrete expression in numerous schools and other educational and social undertakings, reflects their respect for the centrality of the human person in all genuine development. Inspired by their faith in Christ, Jamaica’s Catholics will continue to work with other Christians and the followers of other religious traditions to build an ever more harmonious and peace–loving society.
2. The forthcoming celebrations marking the Quincentenary of Columbus’ arrival on these shores will be a time for remembering the past, for recalling the many threads which have come together to weave the pattern of Jamaica’s rich history. May those celebrations also be an occasion for all the people of this Island to rededicate themselves to the ideals which have guided Jamaica’s pursuit of liberty and progress. The Jamaican people’s love of freedom and their capacity to triumph over the legacy of past sufferings and oppression are a great resource in facing the various challenges of the present and the future.
It is my prayer that the hard–won freedom which you cherish so deeply will ever guide and inspire your development as a nation. I am speaking of authentic freedom: that freedom which liberates not merely bodies but hearts and souls; the freedom which enables all the members of a society to participate in building up the common good. By fostering this freedom Jamaicans will ensure a future in which each individual will be cherished and appreciated for his or her unique value as a human being, where every person will be given the opportunity to develop and prosper, and where the less fortunate and the disadvantaged will be helped to share fully in the life of society.
May God sustain your efforts to build a national life marked by justice and equality. The patient promotion of understanding and dialogue are the only truly effective means for ensuring progress. These are high and arduous goals, and I pray that Jamaica’s efforts to reach them will go hand in hand with a strengthening of cooperation among all the countries of the Caribbean.
3. As I continue my journey on my way to the World Youth Meeting in Denver I invoke God’s blessings in a special way on Jamaica’s children and young people. In looking at these new generations, Jamaica is looking at her own future. May they always find acceptance, love, and concern for their needs.
May all the inhabitants of this Island experience the abundant blessings of Almighty God, the giver of every good gift (cf Jn 1: 17). God bless Jamaica! God bless the Jamaican people!"
© Copyright 1993 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana