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The Church: Mystery, Sacrament, Community

Here are the catecheses on the Church which Pope St John Paul II gave us at the Wednesday General Audiences between July 1991 & August 1995. They followed on from JPII's catechesis on the Father, Son & Holy Spirit and preceded those on Mary.

There were 137 catechesis in this cycle:
Links included for the texts in Italian & Spanish (& a few Portuguese & French) on the Vatican website. The English text is from the Vatican website easy-to-miss, special section ... which Totus2us came by via the website Catechesis of the Popes. The titles aren't from the original Italian, but were included in book form, published by Pauline Books & Media, now out of print.

The Mystery of the Church in the Plan of God

  1.    Christ founded the Catholic Church
  2.    Christ's call establishes the Church
  3.    Christ and the Church are inseparable
  4.    God's plan for the Church is eternal
  5.    The Church in the Old Testament
  6.    The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ
  7.    The Church is also a historical fact
  8.    The Church is revealed in parables
  9.    Parables reveal the Church's growth
 10    The birth of the Church at Pentecost
 11    The Church Lives in the Trinity's Love
 12    God made a covenant with Israel
 13    The Church is the new people of God
 14    The Church is universal by nature
 15    The Church is the body of Christ
 16    The Church has a sacramental nature
 17    Mary's "yes" is the start of the new covenant
 18    Jesus is the bridegroom of his people
 19    Christ loves his bride, the Church
 20    The Spirit and the bride say "Come"
 21    The Church is a communio of love
 22    The Church: a communio of prayer
 23    The Church lives in the mystery of communio
 24    The call to holiness is essential for the Church
 25    The Church is a priestly community
 26    Baptism: entry into the life of grace
 27    Confirmation perfects baptismal grace
 28    The Eucharist is the source of the Church's life
 29    Penance in the ecclesial community
 30    Anointing brings spiritual healing
 31    Christ made marriage a Sacrament
 32    The Church is a prophetic community
 33    The Church bears witness to Christ
 34    The Church witnesses to Gospel hope
 35    The Church witnesses to Jesus' love
 36    The role of charisms in the Church's life

The Ministry of Bishops

 37    The Church is a structured society
 38    Bishops are successors of the Apostles
 39    Bishops are consecrated by a Sacrament
 40    Bishops express the unity of the Church
 41    Bishops teach, sanctify and govern
 42    Bishops are heralds of the Gospel
 43    Bishops are stewards of God's grace
 44    Bishops govern their local churches
 45    Christ builds his Church on Peter
 46    Peter strengthens his brothers in faith
 47    Peter is charged with feeding the sheep
 48    Peter ranks first among the Apostles
 49    Peter allowed Gentiles to be baptized
 50    The Bishop of Rome is Peter's successor
 51    The Pope exercises supreme jurisdiction
 52    The Roman Pontiff is the supreme teacher
 53    The successor of Peter teaches infallibly
 54    The Holy Spirit assists the Roman Pontiff

The Ministry of Priests and Deacons

 55    Presbyters share in Christ's priesthood
 56    Priests exercise a ministry of preaching
 57    Priests sanctify through the Sacraments
 58    Priests are ordained to celebrate Mass
 59    The priest is a shepherd to the community
 60    The priesthood requires personal holiness
 61    Priests must be devoted to prayer
 62    The Eucharist is at the heart of the priest's spirituality
 63    Priests must foster devotion to Mary
 64    The priest is called to be a man of charity
 65    The Church is committed to priestly celibacy
 66    Christ is the model of priestly poverty
 67    Priests do not have a political mission
 68    Bishops and priests must be united
 69    Priestly obedience is an act of charity
 70    Priestly fraternity means cooperation
 71    The priest must serve Christ's flock
 72    The harvest is great, but the workers are few
 73    Deacons serve the Kingdom of God
 74    The deacon has many pastoral functions
 75    Deacons are called to a life of holiness

The Role of the Laity

 76    The laity have full membership in the Church
 77    The laity fulfill their calling in the world
 78    Jesus' earthly life is a model for the laity
 79    The laity answer God's call in a variety of ways
 80    Lay spirituality is rooted in Christ
 81    The laity share in the priesthood of Christ
 82    The laity witness to the power of the Gospel
 83    The laity work to spread the Kingdom
 84    The laity share in the Church's saving mission
 85    Lay charisms build up the Church
 86    The laity witness to Christ in the world
 87    Lay groups promote the Church's mission
 88    The laity are called to renew the temporal order
 89    Human work involves sharing in Christ's mission
 90    The Lord sanctifies those who suffer
 91    The Church sees Christ's face in the sick
 92    Woman's dignity must be respected
 93    Women bear an effective witness to faith
 94    Women are essential to the Church's mission
 95    Mothers share in God's creative work
 96    Women and the ministerial priesthood
 97    Married life is a true way of holiness
 98    Single people contribute to the Church's holiness
 99    Children are a special gift to the Church
100   Young peoples involvement in the lay apostolate
101   The elderly can devote themselves to the community or parish
102   The Spirit bestows abundant lay charisms

Consecrated Life

103   Religious intensely live their baptismal vows
104   The Spirit continues giving new charisms
105   Jesus' will is the origin of consecrated life
106   Prayer is the answer to the vocation shortage
107   Consecrated life is rooted in Baptism
108   Gospel counsels are a way of perfection
109   Chastity for the sake of the kingdom
110   A witness to spousal love for the Church
111   How blest are the poor in spirit
112   Religious offer their own wills to God
113   Common life is modeled on the early Church
114   Prayer is the one thing necessary
115   Religious serve the growth of God's reign
116   A witness to the world's true destiny
117   Religious life can greatly assist priests
118   The role of lay religious in the Church
119   Women religious faithfully serve Christ
120   The Holy Spirit is the soul of community life
121   Mary shows the nobility of virginity

Missionary activity and unity among Christians

122   The Apostles were sent into the whole world
123   The Church is missionary by her nature
124   The Church preaches the Gospel to the end of time
125   The Church cannot abandon mission work
126   Missionary activity remains urgent
127   The Church perseveres in her mission
128   All salvation comes through Christ
129   Local Churches have a missionary task
130   The Church shares the hopes of the human family
131   Unity results from legitimate diversity
132   All must strive for the goal of full unity
133   Recognize the importance of prayer
134   Unity is furthered by continual renewal
135   Vatican II praised Eastern traditions
136   Dialogue with reform communities
137   Full Christian unity can be achieved

St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass with the New Cardinals
St Peter's Basilica, Sunday 1st July 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters!
1. Today I wish, together with you, to contemplate the Church fully "subject to Christ" (cf. Eph 5:24) as a faithful Bride. The last few days, which we have lived meditating together on the sacrifice of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, commit us to seek the manifestation of the mystery realized in their vocation, through the witness of faith and love, borne to the point of death. A manifestation, which we find throughout the history of the Church, throughout the centuries and the generations of her faithful sons and daughters, servants and pastors, going back in this way to that sublime love, with which Our Redeemer and Lord "loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water... that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5, 25-27).

To that sublime love, to that Heart pierced on the Cross and open to the Church, his Bride, I wish today, together with you, to go on a spiritual pilgrimage, from which we ourselves must return "purified, strengthened and sanctified" in accordance with these days.

Here is the Church! The fruit of the inscrutable love of God in the Heart of his Son!

Here is the Church! Bringing the fruits of the love of the holy Apostles, of the Martyrs, of the Confessors and Virgins! Of the love of whole generations!

Here is the Church: our Mother and Bride at the same time! The goal of our love, our testimony and our sacrifice. The goal of our service and indefatigable work. The Church, for which we live in order to unite ourselves with Christ in a unique love. The Church, for which you, Revered and Dear Brothers, created Cardinals in the Consistory yesterday, must now live even more intensely from now on uniting yourselves with Christ in a unique love for her.

2. The Church is in the world. You all constitute her living testimony in the world, arriving here from so many places distant in space, but, at the same time, close spiritually.

The Church is in the world as a sign of the salvific will of God himself. Is she not the Body of him whom the Father anointed and sent into the world? "He has sent me to bring good tidings to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound... to comfort all who mourn... to give them a garland instead of ashes... the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit" (Is 61, 1-3).

Should not the Church be all this? Should she not live by all this, if she is to respond to the salvific mission of him who is her Bridegroom and Head?

You know very well, Venerable and Dear Brothers — and all the Churches from which you come know it too — into what language of facts, experiences, aspirations, sadness, suffering, persecution and hopes it would be necessary to translate that ancient prophetic text of Isaiah, in order that it might express, in the language of our time, how the Church is rooted in the world; how much she desires to be, in the world, a living sign of the salvific will of the Eternal Father with regard to every man and all humanity! The Church of our difficult age — of the second millennium that is drawing to a close — a period of extreme tensions and threats or of great fears and great expectations!

3. At all times this Church is simple with the same simplicity that our Lord and Master inspired in her with the word of the Gospel. How little is necessary for the Church "to begin to exist" among Men! "Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt 18:20); and "If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven" (Mt 18, 19).

How little is necessary for this Church to exist, multiply and spread! That is decided by those two or three gathered in Christ's name and united through him, in prayer, with the Father. How little is necessary for this Church to exist everywhere, even in those places where, according to human "laws" she does not exist and cannot exist and where she is condemned to death! How little is necessary for her to exist, and realize her deepest substance!

For her to live her perennial youth! The same youth that the first Christians lived, who "devoted. themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers... Breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people". (Acts 2:42, 46-47), as we read today in the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles. On reading this there reawaken not only the memories, but also the desires of simplicity on the part of the Bride, who has just experienced the sacrifice of love of her Crucified Bridegroom and rejoices in her generating fertility in the Holy Spirit when — as we read — "the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved" (Acts 2, 48).

This Church is simple with the simplicity that is characteristic of her.

And she is strong with that unique strength which she received from the Lord: that unique strength! No other! "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Mt 18, 18).

Here is the specific quality of this strength of the Church. Neither man nor humanity knows such a strength, in any other dimension of this individual or social existence. She does not draw this strength from any field of her own temporariness or from any reserve of nature... This strength comes only from God. Directly from God. This strength is redeemed by the Blood of her Redeemer and Bridegroom. It is the strength of the Holy Spirit.

It forms an alliance with what is deepest in man: by means of faith, hope and charity it seeks — immutably seeks — the solutions in Heaven of what cannot be fully solved on earth.

4. Venerable and Dear Brothers! How much we rejoice at the fact that you, newly created Cardinals, wed this Church today following the example of Christ! The sign of this wedding is the ring, which I will shortly put on your finger.

How we rejoice at these nuptials of yours, which bring into the life of the People of God, all over the earth, a new inflow of love and a new certainty of love! A new — we hope — efficacy of love. Of that love with which we have been loved and with which we must love one another. Love which comes from the Bridegroom and is for the Bridegroom.

Love, by means of which the Church must be loved with renewed fervour by each of you.

Love, by means of which she must express herself again in all the simplicity and the strength that she .received from the Lord.

Love by means of which the Church must become again "sine ruga et macula" for the Bridegroom.

I wish you this love, together with the whole People of God in Rome and in the world. I lay my wish in the hands of the mother of the Church, the Bride of the Holy Spirit. Amen!"

Catechesis by St JPII on the Baptism of Blood of the Church of Rome
General Audience, Wednesday 4 July 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Last week, the Roman Church experienced holy and elevated moments, which deserve special mention before God and men.

Before God—to be able to express gratitude to him and to renew trust. Before men—to satisfy the need of hearts, which at such moments unite and open to one another.

For the first time it happened to me, who am not a native of this city or of this land, to venerate the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul in this very place, from which the Lord called them to himself, on the day dedicated to the annual memory of their glorious martyrdom. I had already done so for many years in my native land, thus manifesting unity with Peter who unites the People of God in the Catholic Church. But here, at the very centre of the Church, the mystery of that unusual vocation, which led Peter from the lake of Gennesaret to Rome, and then brought also Paul of Tarsus here in his footsteps, speaks to us, with all the force of historical reality. With what deep emotion in the late evening of 28 June we recited the first vespers of the feast of the two Patron Saints. And then after the blessing of the Pallia, which are a symbol of the unity of the universal Church with St Peter's See, we went down to the place where there are the sacred relics of the Apostle, once buried here, and in our times examined again by scientists... How great is the eloquence of the altar in the centre of the Basilica, on which the Successor of St Peter celebrates the Eucharist with the thought that, in a place close to this altar, he himself, the crucified Peter, made the sacrifice of his life in union with the sacrifice of Christ crucified on Calvary—and risen again... On the same day, according to a tradition, the Lord received also St Paul's sacrifice.

And not only those two. The liturgy of 30 June commemorates all the martyrs of the Church who then, in Nero's time, suffered bloody persecution here in Rome. This is testified to by ancient historians such as Tacitus (Annales XV, 45) and Apostolic Fathers such as Clement of Rome (Ad Cor. 5-6). This, however, far from being the last persecution, was rather the first one.

After it came others until the times of Diocletian, at the beginning of the fourth century, and then until the time of Julian the Apostate, after the middle of the same century. The Church of Rome was deeply implanted in this multiple testimony. This see of the ancient world was baptized not only with the baptism of water, but also with the baptism of the blood of the martyrs, "that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel" (Heb 12:24).

All of us, who live in the haste of modern civilization, in the restlessness of present-day life, must stop here and reflect how this Church was born, the Church to which it was granted by the will of the Lord to become the centre and the capital of such a great mission: the church to which there come on pilgrimage so many Churches, which find in it the foundation of their unity.

2. The memory of these events at the beginning of the Church of Rome, which God founded here on Peter (whose name means "Rock") was united with other important events in the experience of the other days of last week. These events reflect the further historical development of that Holy See, which must always serve the unity of Christians in a Church that is catholic and at the same time apostolic.

We have had the fortune to introduce solemnly into the College of Cardinals of the Roman Church fifteen men. Of these, one remains "in pectore", while waiting for the decisions of Divine Providence if one day it will allow us to reveal his name; the others are already commonly known to everyone.

In this sublime rite there was renewed the millenary tradition of the Roman Church, which has a great significance not only for the further stability of the Church, but also for adequate understanding of her character which is a double one: local and universal at the same time.

Our "local" Roman Church is linked with this City just as once, over nineteen centuries ago, the Apostle Peter linked it with this City. After Peter, this Roman Church elected its bishops successively, so that they might exercise pastoral service in it, and it did so in a way adapted to the possibilities and needs of the various eras.

The institution of the College of Cardinals in its origins goes back to this tradition, according to which the Bishop of Rome was elected by representatives of the Roman clergy. It was precisely these Roman electors, constituting already at that time of important College in the life of the Church, who began the institution which for nearly a thousand years has ensured succession to St Peter's See.

Succession to this episcopal see has a significance not only for the "local" Church, which is here in Rome. It has a significance for the universal Church, that is, for each of the local Churches, which in this way become part of a universal community. This is really a "key" significance, since Christ gave precisely to Peter "the power of the keys".

In recent times and especially during Paul VI's pontificate, the College of Cardinals has been increased and internationalized.

At present the Sacred College has 70 European Cardinals, 40 Cardinals from America (North, Centre and South), 12 Cardinals from Africa, 10 Cardinals from Asia and 3 Cardinals from Australia and Oceania. They fill particularly responsible offices such as Pastors of important local Churches (or dioceses) or as Superiors of the principal Departments of the Roman Curia, and they are at the same time the heirs of those ancient "electors" who came from the Roman clergy and chose the Bishop of Rome. Therefore together with the call to the College of Cardinals, they are given the title of one of the suburban dioceses or of one of the Roman churches. In this way the College of Cardinals unites in itself—and manifests in itself—both the constituent dimensions of the Church: the "local" dimension and the "universal" one. The Church built on Peter is "Roman" in these two dimensions.

3. In this way, therefore, the days of the past week enabled us to enter into a particularly deep familiarity with the reality of the Church, with her mystery and at the same time with her history, which, before our eyes, has been prolonged, in a certain sense, with a new stage.

If we return today to these important events, we do so to manifest how deeply we experienced these facts. Following the example of the Mother of Christ, it is necessary to "keep in our hearts" (cf. Lk 2:51) such eloquent events, and at the right moment "manifest them outside", so that their interior importance will be consolidated in these manifestations. My thought goes once more to the Members of the College of Cardinals, and their new reinforcements. I commend each of them to the prayers of all of you gathered here, to the prayers of the whole Church.

To Jesus Christ "the King of ages" (1 Tim 1:17), I commend the Church built "upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets" (Eph 2:20), the Roman Church founded on Peter and linked since the beginning with the memory of the Apostle of the Gentiles.


Ad un gruppo di giapponesi di religione Tenrikyo

"My special greeting goes to the distinguished visitors from Japan: a group composed of members of the Tenrikyo religion. With deep interest and respect the Catholic Church notes your belief in one God, Creator and Saviour; and extols the ideal of a life of joy and service. May your visit to Rome be profitable and bring you gladness and inner peace."

A religiosi e religiose

"All’udienza di oggi partecipano numerosi Sacerdoti, tra i quali si distinguono il gruppo dei Direttori degli Uffici Catechistici diocesani dell’Azione Cattolica Adulti. A tutti voi, carissimi Sacerdoti, che vi prodigate generosamente per favorire l’accoglimento della Parola che salva da parte dell’uomo moderno, l’espressione del mio grato apprezzamento, avvalorato da una speciale Benedizione.

Saluto anche le molte Religiose presenti e, tra queste, in particolare le partecipanti al IX Convegno Missionario nazionale, promosso dalla Pontificia Unione Missionaria. Che l’ansia per la propagazione del Regno, Sorelle carissime, vibri in voi con intensità crescente e conquisti, mediante la vostra testimonianza, tanti altri cuori. Vi conforti la mia affettuosa Benedizione.

Desidero ora salutare, tra i numerosi pellegrinaggi, quello che il Vescovo di Caltagirone ha organizzato nel settimo centenario della morte del beato Gerlando, cavaliere templare polacco, sepolto e venerato nella chiesa cattedrale. Nel ricordo di questo mio antico connazionale, esorto tutti ad essere fedeli alle profonde tradizioni di fede, di coraggio, di generosità che gli avi ci hanno lasciato e, con l’augurio di serena prosperità, tutti benedico di cuore."

Ai giovani

"Un affettuoso saluto rivolgo ai ragazzi della “Generazione Nuova” dei focolarini e ai giovani ospiti del “Centro Internazionale della Gioventù Lavoratrice”. Nei titoli dei vostri due Movimenti, mi è gradito vedere, carissimi figli, il vostro programma di rinnovamento spirituale per una sempre più generosa ed incisiva testimonianza cristiana nella vita privata e in quella sociale. Nell’incoraggiarvi a perseverare nei vostri nobili intenti, vi esorto a mettere sempre più in luce, sia nel campo intellettuale che in quello del lavoro, i valori evangelici della dignità umana, della libertà, della giustizia e della fratellanza universale. Avvaloro tale auspicio con la Benedizione Apostolica, che volentieri estendo alle vostre famiglie."

Agli ammalati

"Un saluto particolarmente affettuoso desidero rivolgere ai carissimi fratelli e sorelle, che portano nel loro corpo e nel loro spirito i segni della malattia e il carico del loro dolore. A voi, che rendete presente l’immagine del Cristo sofferente, vanno l’affetto, la comprensione, la solidarietà della Chiesa, del Papa, di tutti i presenti, nella certezza offertaci da Gesù, che “le sofferenze del tempo presente non sono paragonabili alla gloria futura, che dovrà essere rivelata in noi” (Rm 8,18). A voi tutti, ai vostri cari, la mia Benedizione Apostolica e la promessa del mio costante ricordo nella preghiera."

Alle coppie di sposi novelli

"Un pensiero cordiale desidero rivolgere adesso ai novelli sposi presenti a questa udienza, ai quali intendo fare un augurio e dare un impegno. Anzitutto, carissimi, l’augurio che siate sempre felici, di quella gioia che dona Gesù e che nessuno potrà mai togliervi (cf. Gv 16,22ss.), se sarete uniti a lui e fra di voi con quel vincolo misterioso, che è dato dalla fede, dalla speranza e dalla carità cristiane. E, inoltre, l’impegno che la vostra unione indissolubile, consacrata dal Sacramento, sia concreta testimonianza della realizzazione quotidiana del messaggio e delle esigenze del Vangelo. Sulle vostre nascenti famiglie cristiane invoco, per l’intercessione della Madonna, le grazie e i conforti divini, mentre vi imparto una speciale Benedizione Apostolica."

Catechesis by St JPII on the Successors of Peter & the Roman Curia
General Audience, Wednesday 11 July 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Today, too, I wish to refer to the great solemnity that the Roman Church celebrates on 29 June, recalling in this way every year the martyrdom of her Patron Saints, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. The commemoration of these Apostles sets before our soul's eyes not only the moment of their death for Christ, but also their whole apostolic life. Although so remote in time, their lives, rich in the labour of evangelical witness, spent entirely in laying the foundations of the Kingdom of God on earth, are always concrete and of topical interest for us. Both Apostles take shape before the eyes of our mind as real figures; they express themselves with the words of their Letters and with their works, recorded both in their writings and in the Acts of the Apostles. We can follow the events in which they took part and of which their lives were composed, in a certain sense, from outside and, at the same time, we can follow also their interior lives, always finding in them a living model of that "sequela Christi", to which we are all called.

I would like to draw your attention today to one particular: the Apostles had numerous helpers and collaborators, who made possible and facilitated for them the accomplishment of the tasks connected with the proclamation of the Gospel. Many names of these disciples and apostolic helpers are known to us, especially from the letters of St Paul. The commemoration of some of them is preserved in the martyrology or in the liturgical calendar of the saints of the Church.

2. This fact, which concerns the origins of the Church, enables us to cover nearly two thousand years of history, arriving at our own times. The fulfilment of the apostolic mission, and of Peter's ministry especially, has required numerous collaborators in every age. Our age, too, requires them, to an extent adequate to the needs of our times, in which it is incumbent on the Church to carry out the evangelical mission of salvation. I wish to speak today, on the occasion of the meeting with you participants in the Wednesday audience, precisely about all those who collaborate with Peter's Successor in Rome in the Roman and Universal Church. I do so for theological reasons: the recent solemnity of the Holy Apostles, in fact, prepares us for such reflection. I do so also for personal reasons: it is only right that I should express remembrance and gratitude to my collaborators, as we read in the letters of the Apostles and especially in St Paul's letters. "We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 1:2-3).

3. The circle of the closest collaborators of the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, is constituted by the Roman Curia. As is known, it is at present a large and differentiated organism, on the updating of which, according to the tasks of Peter's ministry and according to the needs of the modern Church, the Second Vatican Council reflected deeply. Among its main suggestions in this field we read: "It is the earnest desire of the Fathers of the sacred Council that these departments, which have indeed rendered excellent service to the Roman Pontiff and to the pastors of the Church, should be reorganized and modernized, should be more in keeping with different regions, and rites, especially in regard to their number, their names, their competence, their procedures and methods of coordination... Furthermore, as these departments have been instituted for the good of the universal Church it is hoped that their members, officials and consultors, as well as the legates of the Roman Pontiff, may be chosen, as far as it is possible, on a more representative basis, so that the offices or central agencies of the Church may have a truly universal spirit.

It is urged also that more bishops, especially diocesan bishops, be co-opted to membership of these departments, who will be better able to inform the Supreme Pontiff on the thinking, the hopes and the needs of all the churches. Finally, the Fathers of the Council judge that it would be most advantageous if these departments were to have more frequent recourse to the advice of lay people of virtue, knowledge and experience, so that they also may have an appropriate role in the affairs of the Church" (Christ Dominus, n. 9 and 10).

Following the thought of the Council and in obedience to its indications, Paul VI gave concrete form to the updating of the Roman Curia, by means of the Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae. This large and differentiated organism gathers within it offices and institutions with a long and sometimes centuries-old history, and alongside them, new organisms, which emerged directly from the ecclesiology of Vatican II, and which manifest that awareness of the Church's mission in the modern world that we owe precisely to the Council.

It would be impossible to make a detailed analysis of the whole complex of the Curia here. It would certainly be laborious to list in order the spheres of competence of the individual departments and the various offices, as well as their structure and internal organization; but this is perhaps not necessary. It is opportune rather to refer briefly to each of the departments in order to realize how each one corresponds to a definite field of the life and activity of the universal Church, and how it facilitates, in this sector, the carrying out of Peter's ministry before the Church, sharing in a deep and competent way the magisterial and pastoral concern of each Successor of St Peter, Bishop of Rome.

The names themselves of the single departments express their spheres of competence. The task of the Bishop of Rome is, in the first place, concern for the integrity of the doctrine of the faith: and here we have the Congregation bearing precisely this name, which helps him in all that. Questions regarding the apostolic succession of the Bishops in the dimension of the whole College are incumbent on the Bishop of Rome: hence the Congregation for Bishops. Then there follow all the other departments, which deal with the single tasks of Peter's ministry in the Church: the Congregation for the Eastern Churches which, though with different Rites, are in communion with Peter's See; the Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, in charge of the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church; the Congregation for the Clergy, responsible for things regarding the ministry and life of Priests; the Congregation for Religious and for Secular Institutes, which have such an important part in the living tissue of the Christian community; the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, in charge of everything concerning missionary action; the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; and finally the Congregation for Catholic education, the activity of which regards Catholic schools, seminaries and universities scattered all over the world.

Then there are the Organisms for the administration of justice, that is, the Sacred Roman Rota and the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura—as well as, for internal questions of conscience, the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary—which endeavour to find a just solution to questions that may arise in the life of the Church and that concern the rights of the faithful or of communities.

There is, furthermore, as you well. know, the Secretariat of State which assists the Pope from close at hand both in matters that regard the universal Church and for the coordination of the activity of Curial Organisms. There is, moreover, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, which deals above all with questions concerning relations with States and with Governments.

The Church is like that man "who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old" (Mt 13. 52). Those Organisms that arose as a result of the Council tell us a great deal about the Church of today and tomorrow: the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Commission "Iustitia et Pax", the three Secretariats, for the Union of Christians, for Non-Christian Religions, for Non-Believers; various Pontifical Commissions and the Prefecture for Economic Affairs. Without mentioning, furthermore, the Synod of Bishops, which also came into being as a result of the Council, and which has its General Secretariat at this Apostolic See.

4. The Apostolic See can, and should, be regarded as a complex of specialized offices, which by means of their tireless work facilitate knowledge of the essential affairs of the Church and the opportune decisions. It can and must be said that all these offices support the "ministry" of Peter's Successor and facilitate its accomplishment.

However, speaking of "ministry", it is always necessary to perceive that undercurrent which gives each of them a rightful meaning and causes the life of the whole Church to throb in each one, by means of all the impulses which arrive from all sides and then branch out in all directions. Perhaps, precisely for this purpose, the best thing is to go back to the times of the first Apostles, to their Letters. With the same words that they wrote about their closest collaborators, allow me to express my gratitude to my present collaborators, uniting with them in solicitude for the Church which has her source in the heart of Christ the Good Shepherd."


To some groups of religious

"I wish to greet with particular goodwill the large numbers of men and women religious of the Order of St Augustine, coming from various parts of the world, who are taking part in Rome these days in a course of Augustinian spirituality, on the subject: "The Augustinian experience in search of God". I wish from the bottom of my heart that study of the rich, fruitful and ever relevant teaching of your great Father and Founder will yield the desired interior fruits of joyful communion with God, continual prayer, and multiform charity, which are at the basis of your lives as consecrated souls and of your apostolate in the Church. May St Augustine assist you from heaven, and may my blessing accompany you."

Ai pellegrini provenienti dalla Sicilia

"Un saluto cordiale ed un sincero augurio desidero anche rivolgere ai numerosi pellegrini delle diocesi della Sicilia, che si stanno recando a Lourdes. Conosco, carissimi fratelli e sorelle, la vostra ardente venerazione alla Madonna Santissima. Che l’Immacolata dalla sacra grotta vi sorrida, vi protegga e vi ottenga la forza di vivere con autentico e generoso impegno il Vangelo di Gesù, suo figlio."

Al Consiglio Generale delle Suore Francescane di Cristo Re

"Con lo stesso affetto porgo il mio saluto al Consiglio Generale e alle Superiore locali delle Suore Francescane di Cristo Re, le quali, con grande e legittima letizia, celebrano il primo centenario del loro ripristino dalla soppressione, subita nell’anno 1867.

Carissime Sorelle, auspico di cuore alla vostra Congregazione una crescente fecondità, perché dia alla Chiesa una luminosa testimonianza di vita evangelica. La Vergine del “fiat” sia il vostro costante modello e la vostra materna protettrice.

A tutti i Religiosi ed a tutte le Religiose, che in questi giorni stanno svolgendo i loro Capitoli Generali, desidero esprimere l’assicurazione del mio ricordo nella preghiera ed imparto una speciale Benedizione Apostolica."

To the young people

"Beloved young people! As always, I wish to reserve a special greeting for you. In particular I bid a hearty welcome to the young people belonging to the European Movement "GEN" of the Focolarini, present here in large numbers. You, beloved in Christ, need truth, love, and examples to imitate. Well, look upwards, as St Benedict did, whose liturgical feast falls today; look up to Jesus and to those who really know him, love him and follow him! Look to Jesus who is Truth, Love, the Example that illuminates, attracts and convinces! Every aspiration of yours is satisfied in him! May my blessing help you."

Catechesis by St JPII on the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana
General Audience, Wednesday 18 July 1979 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. An important Document of the Apostolic See: the Constitution Sapientia Christiana, has recently been published. It is dedicated to the problem of academic studies and to the institutions which the Church creates for the purpose of serving these studies. This is an area which has a long and glorious past behind it. The Church, sent by Christ to teach "all nations" (Mt 28:19), came into living touch with knowledge right from the beginning. This is confirmed by the tradition of the most ancient Christian schools, especially the most famous ones in antiquity, such as the school of Alexandria and that of Antioch. Subsequently, it is testified by the whole secular effort of the monastic Orders, which, thanks to their tireless work, contributed to preserving the texts of the classics, that is, of the ancient pagan authors. And, finally, it is confirmed by the close collaboration of the Church with schools of various grades which spread instruction, and above all with the Universities, the features of which took shape in the Middle Ages.

Many of the most ancient and famous Universities in the various countries of the European continent (and, later on, also in other continents) which still exist today go back to that time. For centuries they have been centres of knowledge and teaching, and the culture of the individual nations and of European countries (and also of other continents), owes a great deal to them.

With regard to this vast problem of historical significance, which is in itself the subject of many studies and monographs, I will confine myself merely to a brief mention. It cannot be ignored, in fact, being a question of such importance for the mission of the Church also in our times.

A brief mention should be made of the most ancient University and cultural centres, such as: Bologna, Rome, Padua, Pisa, Florence, in Italy; Paris, Toulouse, Grenoble, in France: Oxford, Cambridge, in Great Britain; Salamanca, Valladolid, in Spain; Cologne, Heidelberg, Leipzig, in Germany; Vienna, Graz, in Austria; Lisbon, Coimbra, in Portugal; Prague, in Czechoslovakia; Krakow, in Poland; Louvain, in Belgium; Mexico City, in Mexico; Cordoba, in Argentina; Lima, in Peru; Quito, in Ecuador; Manila, in the Philippines.

2. The above-mentioned Apostolic. Constitution Sapientia Christiana refers just to this. It is the fruit of the resolution of the Second Vatican Council, which declared that a new Document should be drawn up on the subject of the relations of the Church with academic studies. The preceding Document, the Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus, was promulgated by Pope Pius XI on 24 May 1931 (A.A.S. [19311 241-262). The rapid, I should say, overwhelming, development of knowledge in its various contemporary movements and, in relation to this phenomenon, the need of adapting academic institutions, set up by the Church to carry out their specific tasks, have made it necessary to revive also that outstanding document of 1931, which for decades had rendered great services to the Church and to society.

The new Constitution is the fruit of many years of work. The Congregation for Catholic Education, under the guidance of Cardinal Gabriel Marie Garrone, directed this work in agreement with the individual Episcopal Conferences and also with the environments of academic character most interested in it, as well as with the Catholic Academies themselves.

Today, in the whole world, there are 125 Academic Centres of Ecclesiastical Studies. Of these Academic Centres, 16 are in Rome and are called also "Pontifical Roman Academies". In the world there are also 47 Catholic Universities erected by the Holy See and 34 Theological Faculties in State Universities.

These Academies took part in the work of preparation for the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana.

3. The new Pontifical Document has defined clearly what is meant by "Ecclesiastical Faculty": that is, the one that deals particularly with Christian Revelation and the disciplines connected with it, which, therefore, are connected with its evangelizing mission.

It has defined the specific aims of Ecclesiastical Faculties: that is, to deepen knowledge of Christian Revelation; to form students in the various disciplines at a level of high qualification; actively to help both the universal Church and the particular Churches in the whole work of evangelization.

It has clearly delineated the criteria of government of the single centres, in such a way as to render them all responsible and to guarantee an effective, collegial operation of the single centres.

It has stated precisely the function of the ecclesiastical Magisterium with regard to "iusta libertas in docendo et in investigando".

It has outlined the gifts required in teachers, from the standpoint of scientific preparation and testimony of life.

It has introduced a new structure of Faculty curriculum.

It has called the theological Faculties to a particularly important research function, that is, to express the Gospel message in the legitimate cultural expressions of the various nations.

It has stressed the ecumenical, missionary and human advancement aspects that the studies of ecclesiastical Faculties should involve.

4. The Constitution on academic studies will serve the same purposes as those served up to now by the Document Deus Scientiarum Dominus (supplemented, shortly after the closing of the Council, with the regulations issued by the Sacred Congregation under the title "Normae quaedam" of 20 May 1968). It is necessary here to express our gratitude to all those who contributed to drawing up this important Document. Concluding my address, which is necessarily rather short and concise in comparison with its subject, we must realize once more the purposes that will be served by the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana, as they were served previously by the Constitution Deus Scientiarum Dominus.

To answer this question, we must have before our eyes the Church in her mission. A mission defined by Christ the Lord when he said to the Apostles: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19), "preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15).

To proclaim the Gospel, to teach, means encountering the living human being, man's thought, which continually seeks the truth, and always in a different way and in new fields. He questions and waits for the answer. To find the true answer, in conformity with reality and exact and persuasive, he undertakes researches that are sometimes difficult and tedious. The thirst for truth is one of the undeniable expressions of the human spirit.

To proclaim the Gospel, to teach, means meeting this voice of the human spirit at various levels, but especially at the highest level where the search for truth is carried out methodically in specialist institutes which serve research and the transmission of the results of investigations, that is, teaching.

Catholic Academies must be places in which the evangelization of the Church meets the great universal "academic process" which bears fruit with all the breakthroughs of modern science. At the same time, in these Academies, the Church continually deepens, consolidates and renews her own knowledge: the knowledge she must transmit to the man of our time as a message of salvation. And she transmits this knowledge, first of all, to those who must in their turn transmit it to others in a faithful and true way which is, at the same time, adapted to the needs and questions of the generations of our time.

This is an immense work, an organic work, indispensable work. May the new Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana make all those who are preparing for this work aware of their own task, in the community of the People of God. May it take them aware of their responsibility for the Word of God and for the fruit of human truth. May it be a challenge to persevering service of this truth."


Alle Claustrali Cappuccine e ad alcuni altri gruppi

"Desidero esprimere un cordiale saluto alle Claustrali Cappuccine d’Italia appartenenti alla “Federazione Sacra Famiglia”, convenute in Roma per la loro Assemblea generale e per l’elezione della nuova Presidente e del suo Consiglio. Carissime sorelle, siete tra quelle schiere d’anime generose che nei silenzi dei vostri monasteri avete cercato e trovato “la parte migliore”, di cui parla il Vangelo (Lc 10,42), e cioè la contemplazione e l’adorazione assidua di Dio, congiunte ad un grande amore per la Chiesa e per il prossimo, per il cui bene è offerta la vostra esistenza di preghiera e d’immolazione. Mentre porgo il mio fervido augurio alle nuove elette per una sempre più fruttuosa attività organizzativa tra tutte le componenti la federazione, invoco su di voi e su tutte le Consorelle i particolari doni del Signore affinché vi conduca, con fortezza e soavità insieme, sulla via delle costanti ascensioni spirituali propiziando sulla terra la continua misericordia di Dio, mentre imparto la Benedizione Apostolica.

Rivolgo poi uno speciale saluto alle numerose Religiose di vari Paesi, aderenti al Movimento dei Focolari e convenute in questi giorni vicino a Roma per meditare sul tema “La presenza di Gesù nel fratello”. Il Signore sia sempre la vostra gioia ed il movente segreto della vostra totale ed evangelica dedizione al prossimo, così da essere pure la vostra suprema ricompensa.

So che è presente anche una delegazione proveniente dall’isola di Lampedusa, guidata dall’Arciprete e dal Sindaco, e composta soprattutto da pescatori, che sono qui venuti perché il Papa benedica la statua della “Madonna del mare”, offerta come ex voto. Mentre a tutti porgo il mio saluto, molto volentieri benedico l’immagine sacra, che sarà posta a protezione di tutti gli amanti del mare."

Ai giovani

"E ora una breve ma cordiale parola di saluto a voi ragazzi, ragazze e giovani che portate in questa piazza il fremito della vostra giovinezza e l’ardore della vostra fede. Vi ringrazio vivamente per la gioia che mi procurate con la vostra presenza festante. Mi auguro che questa vostra visita a Roma, centro del cristianesimo, e questo vostro incontro col Papa, Successore di San Pietro, valgano a rinnovare l’entusiasmo del vostro ideale cristiano e ad accrescere il vostro amore personale a Cristo, che voi vorrete cercare di conoscere meglio, con la meditazione e con la preghiera, approfittando anche di questi mesi estivi per rendergli testimonianza, nell’ambiente in cui vivete, attraverso un’esemplare bontà e una sempre crescente disponibilità verso gli altri. Vi sostenga la mia Benedizione Apostolica."

To the sick:

"To you sick people present here and to all those suffering in their homes or in hospitals, I address a particular greeting, with a special thought for children who are hospitalized. Be assured that the Pope is and will always be with you. He follows you with fatherly understanding and with tender affection and does not cease to raise prayers to obtain for you the grace of fortitude which will make you overcome the difficulties and ordeals to which illness subjects you. Always remember that your pain, if associated with that of suffering Christ, is not only not vain, but is a privileged source of salvation for all men. May the Lord shower on you the abundance of his heavenly favours to sustain and comfort your hearts."

Alle coppie di sposi novelli

"Un pensiero beneaugurante desidero esprimere anche oggi ai novelli sposi, che hanno iniziato la loro unione matrimoniale con la benedizione di Dio. Cari sposi, permettete che, agli auguri più sinceri per la letizia e la prosperità delle vostre nascenti famiglie, aggiunga il voto perché la grazia del Sacramento che avete testé ricevuto zampilli, come fontana inesausta, in ogni giorno della vostra vita, in modo che le vostre nuove famiglie siano sempre aperte ai valori autentici della fede cristiana e sappiano sempre trovare nelle purificate sorgenti dell’amore cristiano la forza e la felicità di servire le leggi della vita e di corrispondere così alla vostra vocazione. Vi accompagni sempre la mia Benedizione Apostolica."