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St John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Botswana

13th - 14th September, Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, 1988

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Botswana on the second leg of his 38th apostolic journey, on which he also visited Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland (now Eswatini) & Mozambique.

13th September - after the Welcome ceremony, Pope Saint John Paul II met with the priests, religious and laity in the Cathedral of Gaborone before celebrating Holy Mass in the National Stadium of Gaborone, at the end of which he consecrated Botswana to Mary, Mother of the Church & of all humanity.
14th September - JPII bid farewell at Gaborone Airport.

Pope St John Paul II's address at the Welcome Ceremony
International Airport of Gaborone, Tuesday 13th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Your Excellency President Masire, My dear brother Bishop Setlalekgosi,
Noble People of Botswana, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

1. It is a great joy for me to begin this visit to your country. I wish to greet you in a true spirit of friendship and respect, and to assure you of my fervent prayers for the well-being and prosperity of the people of Botswana. I am grateful to President Masire and the Government for their kind invitation. I also wish to thank Bishop SetlaleKgosi and all the Catholic faithful who have made this visit possible.

2. Botswana is a country at peace with itself and with its neighbours. In fact, it can rightly be called an island of peace in a troubled sea. This is due in great measure to the nature of the Botswana people: you are a peace loving and friendly people, a people who believe in the basic equality and human dignity of every man and woman. Here in your land freedom of speech and freedom of religion are part of your national life. May you always enjoy the internal harmony that is so essential if true progress is to be made for the benefit of each and every citizen. With God’s help, may your country also continue to be an agent of peace for your neighbours.

I understand that Botswana’s independence is founded on four basic principles: unity, democracy, self-reliance and development. By building on these four pillars, you have achieved, in recent years, a remarkable degree of economic and social progress. These achievements are a ray of hope for people throughout Africa who long for authentic human development for themselves and for their children.

The pursuit of these four national ideals has enabled Botswana to make great strides in improving the quality of life of its people. Since independence in 1966, there has been significant and steady progress in the areas of education, health care and public works. This is a great credit to all of you: to the efforts of your government and to the commitment and collaboration of the people of Botswana in promoting the common good of the nation.

3. While the primary mission of the Catholic Church is religious and spiritual, nonetheless her members share this concern for economic and social development. The Church believes that the proper goal of authentic development is not only the material and economic transformation of the world for the better, but also the creation of ever greater possibilities for men and women to fulfil themselves in accordance with their dignity as children of God. Since society exists for people, it has the duty to respect, protect and promote the human person in all aspects. Among these aspects we must include the religious dimension, which expresses our transcendent vocation as human beings, and embraces our whole earthly existence. As I said in my Message for this Year’s World Day of Peace, religion helps us to appreciate better our human dignity and so it contributes to human freedom; it strengthens moral integrity and helps us to act with greater responsibility; it prepares us for true fellowship with other human beings by teaching us to live in solidarity with everyone as brothers and sisters (cf Message for World Day of Peace 1988, 3).

May the people of Botswana always preserve their traditional respect for the religious dimension of human life. May they continue to build a just and peaceful society on the solid foundation of respect for the human person, created by God in his own image and likeness.

4. I offer a special greeting to all my Catholic brothers and sisters, whom I have so looked forward to meeting in the course of this pastoral visit to Botswana. I come to you as a pastor in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as a brother who wishes to share your joy at all that God has accomplished among you through the power of the Holy Spirit. I join you in thanking God for the gift of faith and baptism by which you share in the new life of the Risen Saviour. I wish to confirm you in your Catholic faith, and to the earthly well-being of your future of the Church in this beautiful country. As members of the Body of Christ, you are called to be heralds of the Good News of salvation. By living lives modelled on the Gospel, you not only contribute to the earthly well-being of your fellow citizens but also bring them an abundance of spiritual blessings: you lead them to Christ. With St Paul I pray that “the Lord may be generous in increasing your love, and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in God’s sight” (cf 1 Thes 3, 12-13).

5. I also extend my hand in friendship and peace to other Christians and to the members of other religions. Through a common respect for conscience, we can do much to safeguard the dignity of the human person in today’s world. Through active cooperation, we can promote the spiritual and material good of the human family. Through mutual love and greater understanding, we can help bring about the world peace so earnestly desired by all people of good will.

6. Every nation, no matter how young or old, has its own unique contribution to make to the rich tapestry of human life and culture. So too, every local Church builds up the one Body of Christ. I am confident that when I have completed my brief visit to Botswana I shall have gained a still deeper appreciation of the unity and variety of the human family, and also of the ways in which by his providence God leads and guides his sons and daughters. May He bless the people of Botswana! May He bless you now and always with an abundance of joy and peace!


Pope St John Paul II's address to Priests, Religious and Laity
Cathedral of Gaborone, Tuesday 13th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Dear Bishop Setlalekgosi, Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese of Gaborone,
1. It is a great joy, for me to make this pastoral visit to your country and to meet all of you. I wish to express cordial greetings also to those who have come from other African nations, particularly from the Republic of South Africa. It is fitting that the Church in Botswana should be represented here by members of the clergy, religious and laity. In communion with your bishop and with the Successor of Peter, you constitute a young and dynamic local Church. There is within your ranks a diversity of graces, ministries and works, but all these are brought into the unity of one body – the Body of Christ – by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the Second Vatican Council teaches us, “In the Church there is diversity of ministry but unity of mission” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2). All have a part to play in bringing Christ to the world.

In the reading we heard a few moments ago, St Paul speaks of his special calling as an Apostle and his ministry as a preacher of the Gospel. He refers to his work as a “duty” and a “responsibility”, for the sake of which he makes himself “all things to all men in order to save some at any cost” (cf 1 Cor 9, 16-23). And earlier in the same chapter he tells the Corinthians: “You are all my work in the Lord... you are the seal of my apostolate” (1 Cor 9, 1-2).

2. It is within the context of the diversity of ministries in the Church, and of the special calling given to St Paul, that I wish to address my brothers and sisters who are priests or religious.

Dears friends: You are the spiritual heirs of St Paul and of all those missionaries who have given themselves without reserve in order to make Christ and his Church known and loved among the peoples of Africa. For the past 60 years, the Church in Botswana has been built up by the apostolic love and fervour of missionaries who have earned a warm and lasting remembrance in the hearts of the people of this country. These servants of the Gospel were men and women of faith whose lives confirm the tribute paid to religious in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: “By virtue of their religious consecration they are particularly free and willing to leave all things and go to the ends of the earth to preach the Gospel. They are always full of courage in their work, and their apostolate is often outstanding in its admirable resourcefulness and initiative. They are generous and are often to be found in the most remote mission stations where they may have to endure great dangers to health and even to life. Without doubt, the Church is greatly indebted to them” (Paul VI EN, 69).

The reality described by Pope Paul VI serves as a constant challenge to new generations of priests and religious who also wish to leave all things and follow in the footsteps of Christ. Inspired by the example of those who have gone before you, you too wish to bear abundant fruit in the Church of today and the future.

3. At this time, I would like to address a special word to my brothers in the priesthood. Like St Paul, you are servants of Christ and ministers of the Gospel. Through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, you have been set apart to act in his very person and to serve the priestly People of God. In fulfilling this task, strive in a special way to help the laity of Botswana come to appreciate more deeply the importance of the contribution they make to the Church’s mission. By living an active Christian life in the world, they bear witness to God’s Kingdom and build up the Body of Christ. Particularly through the vitality of family life they make an invaluable contribution to the Church’s mission.

The ordained priesthood and the priesthood of all the baptized converge in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which the Council describes as “the source and summit of all Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). As I once wrote: “The priest fulfils his principal mission and is manifested in all his fullness when he celebrates the Eucharist, and this manifestation is more complete when he himself allows the depth of that mystery to become visible, so that it alone shines forth in people’s hearts and minds, through his ministry” (Dominicae Cenae, 2). Dear brothers, may we always centre our lives on this great mystery of faith which reveals to us the true meaning of our priestly vocation and is at the very heart of all our service to Christ and his Church.

I know that it is not always possible for you to celebrate the Eucharist with the faithful every Sunday. For that reason dedicated Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist are available for communion services, and I wish to commend them for their generosity and faith. At the same time, it is important that sound catechesis be given concerning the extraordinary nature of these services in relation to the Mass in order to ensure that the supreme value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice be not diminished.

Your task as brothers and collaborators with the bishop in shepherding the People of God also requires that you be “instructors in the faith” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6). In fulfilling this important responsibility, you necessarily rely on the generous collaboration of the many lay catechists in Botswana and you give them needed guidance and support. This is not meant to limit your own ministry of the word but to make it more effective and fruitful. Together with the lay catechists, may you always experience the joy of bringing your people to know and embrace the fullness of truth in Christ.

The priest, my brothers, always has an essential and personal role in the ministry of “Word and Sacrament”. Many other demands are made on your time and energy, but it is especially in doing what is most essential to the priesthood that you find the encouragement, strength and satisfaction needed to persevere. May your daily prayer, too, bring joy to your ministry, so that the “peace of God which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4, 7).

4. I also wish to share some reflections with my brothers and sisters in religious life. Dear friends, while all the baptized share in the Church’s mission, the Lord Jesus has called you to bear public witness to the Gospel in a way that sets you apart. Your religious consecration is a special source of spiritual vitality for the Church. It gives rise to a way of life that serves the People of God precisely by its fidelity to a particular charism and spiritual heritage. However, as I have said on other occasions, “even though the many different apostolic works that you perform are extremely important, nevertheless the truly fundamental work of the apostolate remains always what (and at the same time who) you are in the Church” (Redemptionis Donum, 15).

The Church depends on you to bear public witness to the radical demands of the Gospel, demands which are in danger of being obscured or ignored in today’s world. That is why the religious habit is not without value in your apostolic service. Above all, the Church needs the joyful witness of your consecrated chastity, poverty and obedience. Your call entails a share in the “folly of the Cross”, which will always remain a stumbling block to unbelievers, but in your own heart you know that the Cross is truly the power and wisdom of God at work in those who believe (cf 1 Cor 1, 18). Thus, your love for the Crucified Lord is the basis of your vocation; your lives must be centred in him.

At the foot of the Cross, beside the Mother of our Redeemer, you will also see the cost of our reconciliation with God and with one another. For, as St Paul says, those “that used to be so far apart from us have been brought very close, by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2, 13). Meditating on this great mystery, you will come to know more certainly that each of you and your whole communities must be servants of this reconciliation in the world, servants who can bring healing and peace to others because they have first of all experienced it themselves, especially through prayer and the Sacrament of Penance.

By the vow of chastity you have become special heralds of the Resurrection of Christ and of the promise of eternal life. You lift people’s eyes beyond the demands of worldly affairs and the press of daily tasks, reminding them of the things that truly last. And yet, for the vow of chastity to be a compelling sign of the Kingdom to come, it must be inspired by a concrete love for every one of God’s children. You are to “follow Christ by loving as he loved you, giving himself up in our place as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God” (Eph 5, 2). By doing so you proclaim to the world that “God is love” (1 Jn 4,16), for his glory and for the salvation of all.

Your vow of poverty also proceeds from the love of God. With St Paul you can say: “For him I have accepted the loss of everything, ...if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him” (Phil 3, 8-9). Detachment from material things enables you to be more receptive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and more ready to receive his gifts. Through the practice of poverty, your lives stand as an appeal for greater sharing of the earth’s resources, in a world in which relatively few people live in prosperity while many more struggle for the basic necessities of life.

The Second Vatican Council exhorts all religious to support the poor and to love them with the deep yearning of Christ. This theme was developed further by my predecessor Paul VI. For example, he said that the “cry of the poor” bars religious from whatever would be a compromise with any form of social injustice (cf Evangelica Testificatio, 18). I know that this teaching strikes a responsive chord in your hearts, because you have witnessed the plight of those who are subjected by law to discrimination. And I gladly support you in your desire to be close to those who are unjustly deprived of their legitimate rights and lack decent living conditions. It is only fitting that, as followers of our Crucified Saviour, you would make great efforts to be in solidarity with the poor and oppressed.

And, then, there is your vow of obedience, by which you have entrusted yourselves completely to God’s designs in intimation of the Son of God who “humbled himself, even to accepting death, death on a cross” (Phil 2, 8). You promised obedience to the Lord out of a firm conviction that God’s plan for you is a plan of love. You were convinced that the best possible thing for you and for others is the faithful fulfilment of his will. In its concrete implementation this means the discernment of God’s will within your religious community and total openness and availability to the Holy Spirit in the service of God’s people. Through obedience you seek to lose your life in union with Christ and for the sake of the Gospel, precisely so that you may find your life through him (cf Mt 16, 25). A mature understanding of religious obedience prompts you to heed Christ’s voice, even when it may seem that the path indicated is not the best for your own self-fulfilment or the use of your talents. But to those who love God, all things work together unto good (cf Rom 8, 28). Faith teaches us that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1, 25).

5. Finally, I wish to address all the lay men and women who are present. Through you I greet all the Catholic laity of Botswana, “who have been chosen, by the provident purpose of God the Father, to be made holy by the Spirit, obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood” (1 Pt 1, 2). Each of you is called to exercise an important role in the mission of the Church by participating in the Eucharist and receiving the sacraments, by praying and offering thanksgiving, and by living a holy life marked by self-denial and an active charity towards others (cf LG, 10). You share in a mission of “love and life” by being faithful to the duties of marriage and the family (cf Familiaris Consortio, 50). You transform the world and sanctify it from within by bringing the Gospel to public life and to the work place (cf LG, 31).

Many of you also collaborate directly in the Church’s ministry as catechists, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, and in other forms of service, especially to the sick and the needy. This too is a great blessing for the whole People of God. With St Paul I urge you: “Never grow tired of doing good because... in due time we shall reap our harvest. While we have the chance, we must do good to all, especially to our brothers in the faith” (cf Gal 6, 9-10).

6. Dear brothers and sisters, priests, religious and laity of Botswana and Southern Africa: the whole Church has great love and esteem for you. She rejoices at what God is accomplishing in and through you. In your moments of discouragement and trial, never doubt that the Lord is near you. For he has called you by name. You are his. Trust in God to give you the grace you need to build up the Body of Christ through love and sacrifice.

May the grace and peace of our Risen Saviour reign in your hearts. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily at Holy Mass in Gaborone
National Stadium, Tuesday 13th September 1988 - also in Italian

""Peace be with you... Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained" (Jn 20, 21-23).

Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Dear Friends in Christ,
1. In today's Gospel we read that following the crucifixion, on the first day of the week, Jesus’ disciples gathered behind closed doors because they were afraid. As yet they had little time to ponder the reports of Peter, John and Mary of Magdala that the Lord had risen from the dead. Suddenly, Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them “Peace be with you”, and immediately their fear was turned to joy.

Like those first disciples, we too can experience this transformation.

All our fears can be turned to joy by the presence of the Risen Lord who comes to us in a special way in this Sacred Liturgy. His words to the disciples, “Peace be with you”, are now addressed to us.

His visible presence among them is equally real to us in the celebration of the Eucharist.

2. What are the causes of humanity’s fears? The prayers and readings of today’s Mass express a yearning for justice and peace. It is precisely the absence of justice and peace, in our lives and in the world, that so often troubles us and arouses our fears. We know that the vision of the Prophet Micah remains unfulfilled: nation still lifts sword against nation. There is much training for war. So many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world long to sit untroubled in the shade of their vine and fig tree, as the Prophet says, but are prevented from doing so.

The Second Vatican Council tells us that the causes of discord in the world are many. These include excessive economic inequalities and a lack of resolve to apply the needed remedies. There is also the desire for power, a disregard for others, and at a deeper level, envy, mistrust, pride and selfish passions (cf Gaudium et Spes, 83). The Council also speaks of fears that arise from within ourselves, from our self-doubts and questioning, our failures and anxieties, our groping for authentic human development and freedom, and above all from the reality of sin (cf GS, 4.10.21).

3. The Church does not claim to have a ready answer or a simple solution for every problem or fear that besets the human family. But today, dear brothers and sisters, we gather together in the conviction that “fear is driven out by perfect love” (1 Jn 4.18). We proclaim and celebrate the fact that perfect love has been revealed in Jesus Christ. In him God has reconciled the world to himself and has given us the gift of peace through the power of the Holy Spirit. And what is more, God has entrusted the ministry of reconciliation to us, his Church: “The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, 'Peace be with you'. 'As the Father sent me, so I am sending you'... Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (Jn 20, 20-23). Forgiveness, then, is the key that unlocks the door to peace – the forgiveness that Christ won for us on the Cross. As St Paul tells us: “God wanted... all things to be reconciled through him and for him, everything in heaven and everything on earth, when he made peace by his Death on the Cross” (Col 1, 19-20).

In today’s Gospel the Risen Lord appears to his disciples as the Crucified one: “He said to them, 'Peace be with you', and showed them his hands and his side” (Jn 20, 19-20). He showed them the marks of his suffering, the marks of his perfect love. It was very fitting then that we began this liturgy with the presentation of the Cross by the youth of Botswana. They have carried it throughout the land as a sign of their willingness to imitate their Lord and to obey him. For those who have faith, the Cross is no longer an instrument of fear and death, but a trophy of life and peace. We are called to take up the Cross every day “so that (God) may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths” in accordance with the vision of the Prophet Micah (Mic 4, 2). At the same time we recognize that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are not our ways (cf Is 55,8). The Cross reminds us of our need for conversion, our need to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel. True justice and peace depend on conversion, which requires a daily effort on the part of every person to live the Gospel faithfully in the face of temptations and of obstacles.

4. The reconciliation of all human beings with God and with each other which Christ accomplished on the Cross is at the heart of every celebration of the sacraments. As we read in one of our liturgical texts, “From (Christ’s) wounded side flowed blood and water, the fountain of sacramental life in the Church” (Praef. “Sacri Cordis”). Dear brothers and sisters: we cannot emphasize enough the importance of this sacramental life. Sacraments make us sharers in the reconciliation and communion that are essential for our own peace and for the peace of the world. They strengthen us for the daily struggle to turn away from sin and to believe in the Gospel. They nourish us with the very life of God. For the Christian community the forgiveness of Christ comes to us in a special way through Baptism and the Sacrament of Penance.

5. Sacramental life, in its deepest sense, is the very heart of the Church in Botswana, as it is for every local Church. The first missionaries had a burning desire to bring to this land a new life in Christ both by word and sacrament. Their witness to the Gospel was inseparable from their commitment to justice and peace and from their vision of a world reconciled and redeemed. The sacraments not only sustained them, but also made their labours fruitful in the lives of your forebears and in the lives of each of you today, for we know that as actions of Christ, sacraments bring about what they signify; they are alive with the power of God.

Each of you has responded to God’s offer of reconciliation and peace by your faith and baptism and by your commitment to participate in the Church’s sacramental life.

The desire to bring others to full participation in Christ’s saving mysteries has not been limited to the clergy and religious of Botswana. Mention must be made of the first catechists who travelled tirelessly from village to village in order to teach and instruct those preparing to receive the Eucharist, so that they might be fully initiated into the Church. Today many people continue to give of their time to help instruct both children and adults for baptism. Efforts are likewise made to deepen the faith of those who hold responsible positions in the Church and in society. There are also those lay people who, from the very beginning until now, have opened their homes to the community for the celebration of the sacraments so that their brothers and sisters could be nourished by Christ’s Body and Blood. In all of these ways, both in the past and in the present, the life of the Church in Botswana has centred on sacramental participation in Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

The Mass which we celebrate today is indeed a very special and historic occasion. It is a great joy for me, the shepherd whom Christ has appointed for the whole Church, to offer his Eucharistic Sacrifice with all of you – the clergy, religious and laity of Botswana. Through communion with your bishop and with the Successor of St Peter, you are united with every other local Church in bonds of unity, charity and peace, as this liturgy so beautifully expresses. At the same time, I know that the deep faith and Christian commitment that fill this stadium today are much more than passing sentiments. They arise from living the Gospel every day, humbly and without fanfare, and are nourished by faithful participation in the Church’s sacramental life.

Dear brothers and sisters: never lose your love for these divine gifts which confer new life in Christ. When you fall into sin, do not fail to seek pardon and peace in the Sacrament of Penance, remembering that “God the Father of Mercies, through the Death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins” (Ritus Poenitentiae). You must frequently nourish your heart and soul on Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist, for he tells us. “If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you will not have life in you. Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6, 53-54).

6. The world in which we live presents many challenges to those who seek to be ministers of reconciliation, promoters of justice, and builders of peace. The lack of justice and peace is an obstacle to authentic human development; an obstacle that can be overcome only by a firm commitment on the part of Christians and all people of good will to work for a more just and peaceful world, both nationally and internationally. But we must also remember that reconciliation begins with our own conversion, and grows within the intimate circle of those with whom we live and work every day. This applies in a special way to marriage and family life. As I stated in my apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio: “The family is the first and fundamental school of social living: as a community of love, it finds in selfgiving the law that guides it and makes it grow”... (FC, 37). “The spiritual communion between Christian families... constitutes an inner energy that generates, spreads and develops justice, reconciliation, fraternity and peace among human beings” (FC, 48).

Like many other people in the world today, you are experiencing a weakening in your country of many traditional customs and safeguards surrounding marriage and the extended family. Sometimes there is a clash of ideas between spouses as to their proper relation to each other. Young people do not always accept the values of their parents. Economic factors, especially the need to find work, also take their toll on family life. Among Catholics there is an increased acceptance of divorce. Those in mixed marriages are sometimes tempted to abandon their faith.

In the face of these difficulties we must not be timid or afraid, like the disciples in the Gospel who at first remained locked behind closed doors. Remember how their fear was turned to joy by the presence of the Risen Lord. “Peace be with you” he told them. “As the Father sent me, so I am sending you” (Jn 20, 21). If the Risen Lord is with you, you need not be afraid. Do not be afraid, then, of the demands of love, especially the demands of married love. For the love which makes demands is the same love which leads to life and to the fullness of joy in the Lord. Confident of God’s help, we must seek to preserve the dignity of marriage by upholding its sacredness and indissolubility in accordance with the Church’s teaching, which is the teaching of Christ.

There are many dimensions to our Christian witness concerning marriage. The whole Church in Botswana must work to prepare couples before marriage, and to encourage and help them afterwards through prayer, retreats and other efforts which deepen their appreciation of this sacrament. A special effort must be made to help those couples and families who are experiencing difficulties. Young people, in particular, need encouragement to act responsibly and to show true Christian love for one another based on self-control and mutual respect.

7. I appeal to all the young men and women of Botswana: Do not allow yourselves to be misled by a false permissiveness that appears to be freedom, but is really slavery. Always remember that true freedom means being able to choose what is right and good, and not what is one’s pleasure. It is freedom from selfishness and sin. Do not allow materialism and consumerism to impoverish your souls to the detriment of married love and family life. Remember, too, that you are not just individuals, in competition for selfish aims. As part of the human family and as members of God’s holy people, you are called to work with others for the good of all. Only in this way can you fulfil your mission as followers of Christ, “who did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 10, 45).

This call to service also includes the priesthood and religious life, vocations of vital importance to the life and mission of the Church. As you think of your future, do not exclude the possibility that God may be calling you to serve his people as a priest, or as a Brother or Sister. I ask all the Catholic people, and parents in particular, to pray for an increase in these vocations among your sons and daughters, your neighbours and friends. Be generous in encouraging them to follow the Lord along these paths in accordance with his will.

8. In today’s liturgy we have heard the Psalmist proclaim: “I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to him in their hearts... Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps” (Ps 84 [85], 13).

My brothers and sisters of Botswana: through Baptism you became members of God’s holy people. By turning your hearts to him in Christian living and the sacraments, you grow in his grace, his friendship.

In your search for justice and peace, listen to “what the Lord God has to say”. Follow in Christ’s footsteps without fear: Christ who is our reconciliation; Christ who is God the Father’s word of peace to us: Christ Crucified and Risen from the dead.

“Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps” (Ps 84 [85], 18). Amen. "

Saint John Paul II's Act of Entrustment of
Botswana to Mary, Mother of all humanity
at the Conclusion of Mass

"Holy Mother, Mother of the Church, Mother of all humanity: I, John Paul II, entrust the land and people of Botswana to your loving care.

Through your maternal intercession, may this local Church grow in holiness and grace, and may its benefactors be blessed for their kindness and generosity.

I entrust to you Bishop Setlalekgosi and all the clergy and religious of the Diocese of Gaborone. May they be filled with apostolic zeal and compassion, and may they grow in their love of what is unseen, so that their witness to God’s kingdom will be strong and fruitful. Intercede for this Church, Blessed Lady, that it may be enriched by an increase of vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. Help all those who aspire to these special vocations to persevere if God has truly called them.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, I entrust to you all the laity of Botswana. You know how they desire to be faithful to their baptismal promises to turn away from sin and to believe in the Gospel. Lead them to an ever greater love for your Son, Jesus Christ. Sustain them in their daily efforts to be the “salt of the earth and the light of the world” (cf Mt 5, 13-14) so that they may lead others to salvation.

Be present to the catechists of Botswana. May they learn knowledge and understanding from you as they seek to deepen the faith of others. Turn your loving glance to all who teach in the Catholic schools, to all who minister to the sick in Catholic health care facilities, to all the laity in every walk of life who seek to build up God’s kingdom in this country and throughout the world.

Immaculate Virgin Mary, I entrust to you in a special way all husbands and wives. May their marriage and family life be for them a path to holiness and joy. May their sons and daughters, the young people, who are the future of the Church and of Botswana, be delivered from all temptation and harm, and always remain faithful to Christ.

Holy Mother of our Redeemer, inspire the hearts of all the faithful with an ever greater love for the sacramental life of the Church, especially the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Lead back those who have fallen away from the practice of the faith to full participation in your Son’s Paschal Mystery.

O Mary, Mother of Compassion, I entrust to you all those who have experienced trial and suffering in their lives, whether moral, spiritual or physical. May their patient endurance help to further the redemptive work of your Son. Give help and fresh courage to the homeless and unemployed, to those whose family life is troubled, and to the men, women and children who have known the sorrow of broken homes. I entrust to you all those whose lives demand special respect and care: the unborn, the handicapped, the sick, the elderly and the dying.

Look with kindness, Holy Mother, upon all the people of Botswana, whom I entrust to you today. Help them to work for that development which is truly human and at the service of the dignity and rights of every person. May they never lose their respect for religion and religious freedom.

Queen of Peace, preserve this land in domestic peace. Give wisdom to leaders in society and government, so that all the citizens of Botswana may live in freedom, justice, peace and true prosperity, now and in the days to come. Amen."

Pope St John Paul II's address at the Farewell Ceremony
International Airport of Gaborone, Wednesday 14th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Your Excellency President Masire, Bishop Setlalekgosi, Dear Friends,
1. The time has come for me to take leave of your country. As I do so, I can assure you that it has been a great joy for me to make this pastoral visit. Since my arrival yesterday morning, I have accumulated many memories of the land and people of Botswana that I will treasure. You will always have a special place in the Pope’s heart and in his prayers.

I am gratified by the kindness, courtesy and affection that have accompanied me everywhere over the past 24 hours. I have been cordially welcomed by all those whom I have met, whether Catholics, fellow Christians, or members of other religions. I am confident that this experience of mutual respect and esteem truly exemplifies the desire of all people of good will to live together in peace. May God bless all your efforts to create greater love and understanding in the world.

It has been my special joy to witness firsthand the vitality of the Catholic Church in Botswana. In accord with Christ’s will, I came to confirm my brothers and sisters in their faith. I have been edified by their efforts to live the Gospel and to share it with others. The enthusiasm and commitment of young people, in particular, is a source of encouragement for the future. Through mutual love and through service to others, may the clergy, religious and laity of Botswana always be a sign to their fellow citizens of God’s infinite love for mankind.

2. As I prepare to depart, I offer thanks to Almighty God, the Father of Mercies, for without his blessing all our labours are in vain. I thank the many people, especially the sick and the elderly, who by their prayers have contributed to the spiritual preparation for this visit.

Mr President: I am grateful to you and to all the members of Government for the many courtesies extended to me, and for your personal kindness in welcoming me upon my arrival and at the State House. I also wish to thank Bishop Setlalekgosi for receiving me as a brother in Christ and for offering me his gracious hospitality.

My gratitude also extends to all those in the Church and in Government who so diligently prepared this visit: those who helped in planning the events, especially the liturgy; those who made ready the various sites; those responsible for security, good order and transport; and the representatives of the media who have made it possible for others around the world to share the joy of this visit. Nor may I fail to mention all those who came out to greet the Pope and to hear his words. May God bless all of you.

3. Dear friends: the Liturgy I celebrated yesterday spoke of justice and peace. It re-echoed the timeless message that justice and peace are both a gift of God and a work of man. Without God we could never hope to understand, much less experience, the true nature of justice and peace. He offers them to us as gifts; we will find them only if we look to Him. At the same time it is our moral duty as creatures made in God’s image and likeness to conform our lives to these divine gifts. Our world must be governed by love rather than hate, forgiveness rather than enmity, self-giving rather than selfishness, respect for others rather than domination. Only in this way can we hope to enjoy the justice and peace for which humanity yearns.

As I leave your country, it is my hope and prayer that the people of Botswana will always choose wisely the paths that lie ahead. May the love of God and of neighbour be your guide. May love for justice be your constant aim, so that you and your children’s children may continue to enjoy in this oasis of peace God’s special gift of peace.

God bless all of you. God bless Botswana."