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Saint John Paul II's 2nd Apostolic Visit to Kenya

16th - 18th August 1985

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Kenya for the second time in 1985 during his 27th apostolic voyage, on which he also visited Togo, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire (now DR Congo) & Morocco.

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II was welcomed to Kenya at Nairobi Airport on Friday 16 August 1985. John Paul II began day 2 by celebrating Mass with young people, some of whom were getting married in the afternoon. JPII also sent a Message to the youth of Kenya and went on a little safari. The 'Statio Orbis' Mass for the conclusion of the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi was celebrated on Sunday, before the recitation of the Angelus. Pope Saint John Paul II then inaugurated the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa in Nairobi, met with members of the Agency of the United Nations, with representatives of other Christian Churches and with representatives of the Islamic and Hindu communities of Kenya.

Pope Saint John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, Friday, 16 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

"Mr President, Distinguished Members of the Government, Your Eminence Cardinal Otunga and my Brother Bishops, Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear People of Kenya,

1. I am happy to set foot again on your beloved land. The enthusiastic welcome which you gave me five years ago remains fresh in my mind and heart. And now I have the pleasure once more of experiencing your warm hospitality, of walking in your midst as a brother and friend, of looking with joy upon the smiling faces of your children, the strong and eager faces of the young people, the welcoming faces of the whole family of Kenya.

I thank His Excellency the President for his kind welcome. It is a confirmation of the mutual respect and esteem which have always characterized our relations, and for which I am deeply grateful. I offer cordial greetings to all the citizens of this country: to the elders and local leaders, to the young people, to the sick and suffering, and in a special way to the families, the backbone of your society. I want my words to convey the deep sentiments of love and brotherhood which fill my heart for each of you.

2. It is indeed a joy to be in Kenya again, this time with the main purpose of taking part in the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress. As you know, this is the first time that a Eucharistic Congress has ever been held in the heart of the African continent. It has been made possible by the openness and hospitality of all the Kenyan people and their leaders, as well as by the generous co-operation of the local Bishops and faithful. At the same time, it is a sign of a new stage of maturity and vigour in the life of the young and thriving Church in Africa. The prayers and sacrifices of the many missionaries who came here and the open hearts that received the Gospel message are now bringing forth a rich and plentiful harvest. The Church in Africa is entering a new era, an era in which she will be called increasingly to reach out generously beyond her national and continental frontiers and to place her resources and gifts at the service of the universal Church. What you have received as a gift you now wish to give as a gift. The Church in every land rejoices with you at this new stage of dynamic life and mission. A living confirmation of this new era can be seen in the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa which I shall formally inaugurate here in Nairobi during the course of these days.

3. The Eucharistic Congress, which has brought pilgrims to Nairobi from many parts of the world, focuses our attention on two of the central realities of the Christian community: the Eucharist and the Family.

In the Eucharist, we commemorate the most important events in the life of Jesus Christ: the Last Supper with the Apostles, his Passion and Death on the Cross, his Resurrection and Ascension into glory, his continuing presence in the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Eucharist, under the appearances of bread and wine, we Christians have communion with him whom we profess to be the Saviour and Redeemer of all humanity.

The Eucharistic Congress also invites us to reflect on that fundamental element of society and the Church which is the family, the life-long, loving communion of husband and wife and the children who are the fruit of this union. Without healthy family life there can be no stable life in any country, nor vigorous life in the Church.

The Christian family is like the Church-in-miniature. United in Christ through Baptism and the Eucharist, the family is the first school of prayer, faith and the most basic values of human life. And the Sacrament of Marriage is so closely related to the life of the Church that the love of husband and wife is a symbol of the very love of Christ for the Church. For me, as the Successor of Peter and Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, it is a great joy to come to Kenya for the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress. For months we have been praying for its success. I am now pleased to be here in Nairobi, to join in this great ecclesial event with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with the Church in Kenya and all Africa, with pilgrims from every continent.

4. I am pleased, too, that this visit will enable me to meet many fellow Christians and members of other religions, with whom we share a common dignity as children of the same God and Father in heaven. I look forward as well to visiting the Centre for the United Nations Environment Programme, and to meeting in the people associated with the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. In an age when advanced means of travel and communication are making our world ever smaller, we are witnessing a growing need for dialogue and cooperation between individuals and nations. The Church wishes always to offer support to initiatives which seek to meet this need. The Church encourages all efforts to promote unity, brotherhood and peace.

I again express my thanks to all who have come to welcome me today. It is very good to be with you. I pray that the Lord will bless each of you abundantly, and that the words of the prophet Isaiah will be a true description of your families: “My people will live in a peaceful home, in safe houses, in quiet dwellings” (Is 32, 18). Peace be to all Kenya!"

Papa John Paul II's Homily at Mass for Young People
Celebration of Marriage, Nairobi, Saturday 17 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

"“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. The mother of Jesus was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited” (Io. 2, 1-2).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. The principal theme of the Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi is the Eucharist and the Christian Family. And it is a great joy for me to proclaim this truth to the young couples who are being married and to the many other young people present here today. The reading from the Gospel of St John helps us to enter into this theme and to understand its full meaning.

Jesus was present at Cana in Galilee with the newly-married couple. He had accepted their wedding invitation. He was with them. He was for them.

The Eucharist is the Sacrament in which Jesus Christ is with us today in a very special way. He is in our midst, offering in an unbloody manner the same Sacrifice that he offered on the altar of the Cross, giving his life for the salvation of the world. In this most holy Sacrament Christ is with us to the end of time, and he is for us.

2. According to St John, the first miracle of the public messianic activity of Jesus took place at Cana in Galilee. And in his presence there we can see a distinctive Eucharistic aspect.

In a certain way Christ’s presence at the feast of Cana prefigures the Eucharistic Supper. At the same time it also directs our Christian consciousness to the Sacrament of Marriage. Jesus is present with every newly-wed couple; he is in their midst as they commit themselves to each other for life in marriage. Jesus reaffirms God’s plan for marriage as the most fundamental human institution, going back to the very beginning of human history.

In the book of Genesis we read: God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it’ (Gen. 1, 27-28). Right from the beginning, God created them “male and female” and destined them to form a communion of persons which would be fruitful. “He calls them to a special sharing in his love and in his power as Creator and Father, through their free and responsible co-operation in transmitting the gift of human life” (JPII Familiaris Consortio, 28). United in God’s sight and enjoying his special blessing, man and woman were to rule over the created universe. And thus we see that the institution of marriage coincides with the creation of man and woman in the beginning.

3. On one occasion, in a discussion with the Pharisees, the Lord Jesus not only repeated the teaching on marriage found in the Book of Genesis, but he reconfirmed it with particular emphasis. He said: “What God has united, man must not divide” (Mt 19, 6). Therefore the mystery of marriage instituted by the Creator “in the beginning” of the existence of the human race, as the foundation of the future, is reconfirmed by Christ. He places on it the seal of the Gospel, the seal of the New Covenant in his blood (cf Lk 22, 20).

That is why in every age the Church continues to teach the unchanging truth, that marriage is indissoluble. When couples freely receive this Sacrament, as they are doing this afternoon, they establish an unbreakable oneness. Having become a new creation in the waters of Baptism, they are able in marriage to be a living sign of the ever-faithful love of Christ for the Church. Their love for one another, their conjugal love, can last until death, not because of their own strength or merits but because of Christ’s grace at work within them.

4. The fact that we find Jesus of Nazareth with the newly-wed couple at Cana in Galilee right at the beginning of his messianic activity speaks most eloquently. It is like a prophetic declaration that henceforth he wishes to be with all couples who through their married vows become ministers of the Sacrament of their life together. He is present with them through his grace. This grace is the saving power of God, his gift, which makes human life - and in this case married life - worthy of man, worthy of the children of God.

5. Very significant also is the actual miracle performed at Cana, the first sign of the messianic Kingdom. Jesus changes water into wine. In so doing he transforms and ennobles the drink which will be offered to the wedding guests. What is even more eloquent is this: the truth of the Gospel and the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage transform and ennoble all married life if the couple follow this truth faithfully, if they collaborate with this grace!

6. Above all, what is ennobled is conjugal love, that thoroughly human love which is united to the divine, and which is for the good of both husband and wife. It “leads the spouses to a free and mutual gift of themselves, a gift proving itself by gentle affection and by deed. Such love pervades the whole of their lives” (Gaudium et Spes, 49). It is a love such as St Paul describes in the First Letter to the Corinthians, which we have listened to in today’s liturgy: “Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes” (1 Cor 13, 4-7).

7. The fruit of faithful love is a communion of minds and hearts. The love of Christ on the Cross has overcome the divisions caused by sin, and married love which has been ennobled in Christian marriage shares in the power of Christ’s unifying love. Every married couple therefore, and all Christian families, are given the grace and responsibility of becoming a community of persons. That is why I said in my Apostolic Exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world: “Its first task is to live with fidelity the reality of communion in a constant effort to develop an authentic community of persons” (FC, 18).

Just as the Christian life requires continual conversion, so married life requires the couple to make constant and generous efforts to deepen their conjugal communion. By God’s design there exists a natural complementarity and attraction between man and woman. But these still have to be developed and fostered by loving attention to each other’s needs, and above all by recourse to the graces received in the Sacrament. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth and Love, is poured out upon the married couple in a special way in the Sacrament, and he will help them in their desire to overcome personal shortcomings and selfishness and to achieve ever greater communion in Christ.

It is also important to recall here that “such a communion is radically contradicted by polygamy: this, in fact, directly negates the plan of God which was revealed from the beginning, because it is contrary to the equal personal dignity of men and women who in matrimony give themselves with a love that is total and therefore unique and exclusive” (FC, 19). In the Old Testament, polygamy was sometimes tolerated. But in the New Covenant Our Saviour restored marriage to its original state as a communion of one man and one woman.

8. Together with this task of fostering a communion of persons, husbands and wives also fulfil a vital role in the service of human life, in particular through that special honour and duty which is theirs of bringing children into the world and educating them.

The vocation of marriage requires great sacrifice and generosity on the part of both husband and wife. And the fullest sign of this mutual self-giving is expressed when the couple willingly accept children and bring them up in the knowledge and love of God. As the Second Vatican Council teaches: “While not making the other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love, and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim: that the couple be ready with stout hearts to co-operate with the love of the Creator and the Saviour, who through them will enlarge and enrich his own family day by day” (GS, 50). That is why anti-life actions such as contraception and abortion are wrong and are unworthy of good husbands and wives.

9. Because families play such a crucial part in society and in the Church, and because of the many threats and obstacles to stable family life today, the preparation of young people for marriage is more necessary than ever before. It is important to stress the interpersonal nature of marriage, built on a solid appreciation of the dignity of both man and woman and their natural complementarity. Young people planning for their future need to be made aware of the continual effort required to foster this unique interpersonal relationship, which rests on mutual respect and truth, open communication and a willingness to listen to the mind and the heart.

Perhaps there was a time when the family and local community prepared young people for marriage quite well, but in many places today little preparation is provided. Thus, it should not be too quickly assumed that young men and women are already aware of the basic requirements for a well-ordered family life. They may in fact have great fears and doubts about whether they can live up to the Christian ideals of marriage. They should therefore be carefully instructed concerning the grace of marriage, the role of the Sacrament in the mission of the Church, and its relationship with the other Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance. Important too is a proper understanding of the nature of sexuality and responsible parenthood, including the methods of natural family planning and the reasons for its use.

In this context, I would like to repeat what I said to the Bishops of Kenya at the time of my previous Pastoral Visit to your country: “Be assured of my solidarity with you in this great task involving the diligent preparation of the young for marriage, the repeated proclamation of the unity and indissolubility of marriage, and the renewed invitation to the faithful to accept and foster with faith and love the Catholic celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage. Success in a pastoral programme of this nature requires patience and perseverance and a strong conviction that Christ has come to «make all things new»” (Apoc. 21, 5).

10. The Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi - the second International Eucharistic Congress on the African continent, the first in the heart of Africa - is a great invitation to the Banquet of the Lord. In this Banquet is renewed the mystery of our Redemption through the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, and all of us are united in Christ and through Christ with one another as brothers and sisters: children of the same Father.

At the same time, this Eucharistic invitation to the Paschal banquet of our salvation should recall in a particular way the Sacrament of Marriage, which is ordered towards the Eucharist.

In the Eucharist is found the source of life and holiness for everyone, in particular for husbands and wives and their families, for the young couples who are being married today and for all the young people of Kenya.

11. Today then all those taking part in the Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi have been invited to Cana in Galilee. Reflecting on the marriage feast at Cana in Galilee, all husbands and wives and every family can fully realise that Jesus Christ, Jesus in the Eucharist, is with them, among them and for them. Jesus is present through his apostolic Church just as at Cana he was present with the Apostles. He is present in a special way through the mediation of Mary, Mother of Christ.

It was Mary who asked her Son to perform the miracle of changing water into wine. It is she who now asks her Son to sanctify human love; she asks him to grant married couples the grace of true conjugal love, - love which is faithful until death and which becomes for both parents and children the great gift of human life.

It is also she, Mary, who says to all husbands and wives and to all families: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2, 5). Dear brothers and sisters, dear spouses and parents, dear young people of Kenya: receive Jesus into your communities! Receive the Redeemer of the world! Listen to Mary, for Mary will lead you to Christ!

And it is Christ who offers to you, the youth of this land, the wonderful gift of the Eucharist. It is he, Jesus Christ, who proclaims to you the truth of marriage and human love. It is he, Jesus Christ, who offers you, young people of Kenya, the fullness of life, eternal life, in union with the Most Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen."

Papa Saint John Paul II's Message to the Young People of Kenya
Nairobi, Saturday 17 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

Dear young people of Kenya,
I am grateful to you for the sentiments that you have expressed to me through your representatives. You are right when you speak about the Pope’s love and concern for the youth in the world.

And today I have come here in order to communicate this love and concern especially to you, the young people of Kenya. The particular message that I have wished to offer to you during the Eucharistic celebration is the Word of Jesus, as it relates to the great mystery of human love and human life in the sacrament of marriage. You have understood perfectly the secret of successful Christian living when you proclaim, as you do, that Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is our strength, courage, source of inspiration and enthusiasm.

Yes, dear young people, Jesus is your life and it is on the basis of his Word, on the foundation of his Gospel, that you must build the future of your lives, the future of Africa, the future of the world.

The Church does not proclaim simplistic solutions to those problems of the world which you know so well and of which you speak. She does not offer you some magic formula. You, yourselves, must work hard and perseveringly. But, with all the power of her being, the Church proclaims the supreme relevance of the Word of Christ, as it applies to all the concrete situations of your personal lives, your nation and whole world.

To reinforce your own conviction, Christ himself repeats to you today: “I am the Way, and the Truth and the life”. And this same Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the Word incarnate, the Son of Mary, will be with you always, as you work and struggle and pray to build the Kingdom of God on Earth. The Eucharist in the pledge of this, and the end of the Eucharistic Congress is only the beginning: the beginning of a new challenge to live fully with Christ and to build a world community of justice and truth, of freedom, love and peace.

Young people of Kenya, lift up your eyes in hope and keep them fixed on Jesus in the mystery of his Eucharistic love.

I wish at this time also to mention that the young people of Verona in Italy, have entrusted to me a gift for the needs of the young people of Kenya. This gift is given as a sign of their love and fraternal solidarity.

Saint John Paul II's Homily at the Statio Orbis Mass
at the Conclusion of the 43rd International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi
Uhuru Park, Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

“Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest” (Jn 12, 24).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ; beloved Pilgrims from all the continents of the world,
1. These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus as he thought of his own death. He himself first of all is that “grain of wheat” which “falls on the ground and dies”. The Son of God, of the same substance as the Father, God from God and Light from Light, was made man. He entered into the life of ordinary men and women as the son of the Virgin Mary of Nazareth. And finally he accepted death on the Cross as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Precisely in this way the grain of wheat dies and yields a rich harvest. It is the harvest of the Redemption of the world, the harvest of the salvation of souls, the power of truth and love as the beginning of eternal life in God.

In this way the parable of the grain of wheat helps us to understand the very mystery of Christ.

2. At the same time, the grain of wheat that “falls on the ground and dies” becomes the pledge of bread. A man harvests from his fields the heads of grain which have grown from the single grain and, transforming the collected grains into flour, he makes bread from it as food for his own body. In this way Christ’s parable about the grain of wheat helps us to understand the mystery of the Eucharist.

In fact, at the Last Supper, Christ took bread in his own hands, blessed it and said these words over it: “Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you”. And the broken Bread which had become in a sacramental way his own Body he distributed to the Apostles.

In a similar way he brought about the transubstantiation of the wine into his own Blood, and distributing it to the Apostles, said: “Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all men so that sins may be forgiven”. And then he added: “Do this in memory of me”.

3. This is how the mystery of Christ remains among us through the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The mystery of the Redeemer of the world who gave himself up for us all, offering his Body and Blood in the Sacrifice of the Cross. Thanks to the Eucharist the words of our Redeemer are fulfilled: “I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you” (Jn 14, 18).

In this Sacrament he is always coming to us. We are not orphans. He is with us!

In the Eucharist he also brings us his peace, and he helps us to overcome our weaknesses and fears. It is just as he had foretold: “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (Jn 14, 27).

And hence, from the beginning, the disciples and witnesses of our Crucified and Risen Lord “remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2, 42).

They remained faithful “to the breaking of bread”. In other words, the Eucharist constituted the very centre of their life, the centre of the life of the Christian community, the centre of the life of the Church.

Thus it was at the beginning in Jerusalem. Thus it has been everywhere, wherever faith in the Gospel together with the teaching of the Apostles has been introduced. From generation to generation it has been so among different peoples and nations. Thus it has also been on the African continent since the Gospel first reached these lands through the missionaries, and since it produced its first fruits in a community assembled to celebrate the Eucharist.

4. Today this community united in Christ extends over almost the entire continent. This community of seventy million people is a great sign of fruitfulness of the Eucharist; the power of Christ’s Gospel has been revealed in Africa. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is praised on African soil. Sons and daughters of Africa faithfully transmit the teachings of the Apostles, and the Eucharist is continuously offered for the glory of God and the well-being of every human being on this continent. The authentic living of Religious Life and the existence of millions of Christian families are proof that the grain of wheat has yielded a rich harvest to the glory of the Blood of Jesus and to the honour of all Africa.

5. Another expression of the maturity of the Christian community and of the growth of the Church is the fact that for the first time an International Eucharistic Congress is taking place in the heart of the African continent: the whole world praises God for the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi.

Today this Congress reaches its climax. By this “Statio Orbis”, Africa, united through its Bishops, gathered about the Successor of Peter, proclaims before the whole world the saving truth of the Eucharist.

This Congress is like a great reflection of that first Christian community in Jerusalem which was “faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2, 42).

The mystery of the Eucharist is joyfully proclaimed by the Eucharistic Congress before the whole Church and the whole world.

In the message which this Congress announces to the world there is a strong and clear echo of the words of Christ: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever” (Jn 6, 51).

6. The message of the Eucharistic Congress contains within itself - just like the very mystery of the Eucharist - an invitation to love. At the first Eucharist, on the evening before he gave his life for us on the Cross, our Saviour said to his disciples: “I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples (Jn 13, 34-35).

The love of Christ that is received as a gift must in turn be given as a gift. Christ’s love poured out upon us abundantly in the one bread and the one cup must be shared with our neighbour: with the neighbour who is poor or homeless, with the neighbour who is sick or in prison, with the neighbour who belongs to a different tribe or race or who does not believe in Christ.

7. Christ’s invitation to love, addressed to us once more in this Eucharistic Congress, is meant above all for the Christian family.

It is as if the Lord were speaking to each member of the family. Wives, love your husbands just as Christ has loved you. Husbands, love your wives “just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her to make her holy” (Eph. 5, 25). “Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord - that is your duty . . . And parents, never drive your children to resentment but in bringing them up correct them and guide them as the Lord does” (Ibid. 6, 1. 4). Take as your model the Holy Family at Nazareth: the purity and loving tenderness of Mary, the fidelity and honesty of Joseph and his generosity in daily work, the humility and obedience of Jesus.

And Christ’s invitation to love is especially relevant in the practice of conjugal love. The exclusive and unbreakable union of husband and wife expresses itself best in mutual self-giving. Couples who continually seek to love and support one another share in a special way in the life of the Most Holy Trinity. They reflect like a mirror the ever faithful love of God for his people. Married love is fruitful, with a fruitfulness that is shown especially in children. And every child brings a renewed invitation to love with still greater generosity.

8. To feed and clothe and care for each child requires much sacrifice and hard work. In addition, parents have the duty of educating their children. As the Second Vatican Council says: “Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs” (Gravissimum Educationis, 3).

While married love is exclusive in its most intimate expression of self-giving, it is also marked by the power of generously welcoming children and of reaching out in care and service to members of the extended family, to the local community and to society as a whole. The Christian family fulfils a key role in small Christian communities and in the life and mission of the Church. While no family is without sin and selfishness and the tensions which these provoke, yet by the power of the Holy Spirit these can all be forgiven and overcome, and the family can contribute to the Church’s task of reconciliation, unity and peace.

9. Christ’s invitation to love, addressed to the Christian family, is seen in a new perspective when considered in the light of the first reading of today’s liturgy. The Lord says to his people through the Prophet Hosea: “I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love; I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness” (Os. 2, 19-21).

The Christian family is called to be a sign in the world of God’s faithful love for his people. But in order to be so, the Christian family is first of all invited to receive and be filled with God’s love. For the family is designed by providence to be a community in dialogue with God. That is why prayer and the sacraments should enjoy a place of prominence in family life.

Most important of all is the Eucharist, in which Christ’s covenant of love with the Church is commemorated and renewed, and in which a husband and wife find strength and nourishment for their own marriage covenant.

The Sacrament of Penance offers members of the family the grace needed for conversion and for overcoming whatever divisions sin has brought about in the home. “While they discover in faith that sin contradicts not only the covenant with God, but also the covenant between husband and wife and the communion of the family, the married couple and the other members of the family are led to an encounter with God, who is ‘rich in mercy’, who bestows on them his love which is more powerful than sin, and who reconstructs and brings to perfection the marriage covenant and the family communion” (Familiaris Consortio, 58).

Prayer is essential to the life of every Christian, but family prayer has its own special character. Since it is a form of shared prayer, it has to be shaped and adapted according to the size and make-up of each family. Few activities influence a family more deeply than their prayer together. Prayer fosters reverence for God and respect for one another. It places joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments, every event and circumstance, within the perspective of God’s mercy and providence. Family prayer opens the heart of each member to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and helps the family to be more united in itself, yet more ready to serve the Church and society.

10. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Life. It fills the human soul with divine life, and it is the pledge of eternal life. Through the Eucharist Christ always speaks to us those words which he said on the eve of his Passion and Death: “There are many rooms in my Father’s house; . . . I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too” (Jn 14, 2-3).

The Eucharistic celebration lifts us out of the routine of daily life. It directs our spiritual gaze forwards and upwards. The Eucharist helps us here and now “not to lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection” (Hebr. 12, 2). It also helps us to keep in mind the finishing line of the race which we began in Baptism, the real purpose of our life, our ultimate destiny. Christ wants us to be with him for ever in eternity; he wants us to enter once and for all into his Father’s house where he has prepared a place for us. The Eucharist increases our desire for this fullness of life and unity in Christ which we shall find in heaven alone. And the Eucharist is a sure promise of our achieving it.

11. Dear Brothers and Sisters, dear Cardinal Otunga and all my brother Bishops and priests, beloved men and women religious, dear parents of families, children and young people, single people and the elderly, all of you who are taking part in this Eucharistic Congress by your presence here physically or spiritually: the Church of Jesus Christ which has taken root throughout the earth offers to the world with joy and gratitude, through my ministry as Bishop of Rome and Successor of Peter, the Eucharistic message of this Congress.

The Church sees in this Congress a particular result of all her missionary and pastoral labours since the beginning of evangelisation on the African continent, and for this result she gives thanks and praise to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

At the same time, drawing from the young and lively faith of Africa, the whole Church desires to renew her missionary zeal just as the Second Vatican Council manifested it twenty years ago; for the Church is by her very nature missionary!

May Christ in the Eucharist, as “the grain of wheat” fallen on the soil of Africa, bring forth in his body the Church a rich harvest for eternal life! Amen."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Angelus
Uhuru Park, Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English, Italian & Spanish    

“At the end of this Mass, I invite you to recite with me the familiar prayer to Mary which we call the Angelus. Our communion in prayer with the Mother of God not only embraces those who are gathered here in Nairobi but reaches out to the whole world. Together with the Mother of our Saviour we lift our minds and hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving, and in loving contemplation of the mystery of divine providence.

When Mary first agreed to be the Mother of God, when she said «Let it be done to me according to your word» (Luc. 1, 38), the Word was made flesh, the divine and eternal word of God became man in her womb. And the history of humanity was absolutely changed. The world could never be the same again. God was now living in human flesh. Jesus had become our brother, a man like us in every way except sin.

The mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of God becoming man, helps us to understand the mystery of the Eucharist. For what began in the town of Nazareth through the Blessed Virgin’s generosity did not come to an end with the Death and Resurrection of Christ. No, Christ continues to be in the world through the Church, and especially through the Sacred Liturgy. When God’s word is read at Mass, it is Christ himself who speaks to his people. And Saint Paul tells us: «The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ» (1 Cor. 10, 16).

So if we wish to be close to Jesus, we must draw near to the altar of Sacrifice; we must love Christ in the Eucharist fervently and reverently. The Eucharist is the fountain of all virtues. It is spiritual food for daily living. It is the main source of life and love for the Christian family. It gives us a foretaste of the eternal happiness we shall share one day when we finally enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

How wonderful is this mystery of God dwelling in our midst! The mystery of the Incarnation, the mystery of the Eucharist! The mystery of Christ among us makes us want to glorify God’s name. We gladly join the Virgin Mary in her hymn of praise: «My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour» (Luc. 1, 46-47). Together with Mary and all the angels and saints, we thank God for the Holy Eucharist.

And now let us pray together with the words of the Angelus."  ......

"At the end of this great Eucharistic assembly I wish to thank Cardinal Cordeiro, the Papal Legate, and all the Cardinals and Bishops who have come to this International Eucharistic Congress from different countries of the world, in order to express on African soil the unity of the Church of Christ.

My sincere gratitude goes to the delegations from Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Djibuti, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guinea, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Lithuania, Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain, Sri-Lanka, the Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tanzania, Uganda, United States of America, Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe. I pray that our Eucharistic Lord will pour out his blessings upon all those whom you have represented at this ecclesial event.

I am deeply grateful to all our brethren of other Christian churches and ecclesial communities, who are with us today and whom we embraced with esteem, gratitude and love; with this same sentiment I also greet and embrace all our non-Christian brethren.

At the same time we all note with deep regret the absence of those who wanted to be with us but who could not come. I send my greetings particularly to the Bishops of Burundi whose pastoral activities I entrust to the maternal protection of Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word.

And finally, I wish to express to the Most Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, praise and thanksgiving for these holy days of grace given to the Church of God. Amen."

JPII's Address at opening of Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa
Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

“Dear Brother Bishops, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” (Eph. 1, 17) in his loving Providence enables us, through this meeting, to give visible expression to the profound ecclesial communion in which the faithful are united with the successors of the Apostles, appointed by the Holy Spirit as pastors of souls and sent to continue the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor (Christus Dominus, 1).

I am filled with a sense of gratitude to God for this gathering to which I have looked forward with great anticipation, and I ask you to join me in praising God who is rich in mercy (Eph. 2, 4) for the mutual comfort and confirmation which it brings us. I greet all of you who are members of the Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa and those of you from other African countries, and from other continents. I thank you for your presence and for your warm welcome.

My appreciation goes also to the civil authorities and dignitaries who have wished to share this happy moment in the life of the Church in Eastern Africa. I express my cordial esteem and respect for the members of the various Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other religious bodies. May we be united in our sincere desire to serve the cause of peace and progress among all people without exception or distinction, a cause which we hold dear precisely because of our common faith in God, the common Father of the human family.

To all of you present here - to the priests, to the men and women Religious, to the members of missionary Congregations and Societies, to the seminarians, to all I say: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil., 1, 2).

1. The particular purpose of this meeting is the formal opening of the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa.

This magnificent campus represents a project which has as its objective goal “the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4, 12), as it exists in Eastern Africa. This Institute is a project for which the Bishops of this region have laboured with dedication and love.

Through the Chairman of AMECEA, Bishop Mazombwe, the Hierarchy has expressed its commitment to the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa as a symbol of the ever more mature presence of the Church in this region, and as a practical response to the pressing need for qualified collaborators in the task of evangelization and catechesis.

You therefore have great hopes for this Theological Faculty. You expect that it will effectively strengthen the spiritual and ecclesial life of your local Churches. I fully share these hopes with you, and I encourage you to pursue the goals of the Institute with wholehearted enthusiasm.

2. The Institute is being inaugurated in the context of the Forty-third Eucharistic Congress. This circumstance immediately raises our thoughts to the sublime reality which constitutes the object of all genuine theological reflection in the Church: the mystery of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh for the Redemption of the human family. In words of the Second Vatican Council, the intention of the sacred sciences is “to unfold ever increasingly . . . the mystery of Christ, that mystery which affects the whole history of the human race, influences the Church continuously, and is mainly exercised by the priestly ministry” (Optatam Totius, 14).

The task of proclaiming the Gospel message of the saving mystery of Christ, in its objective conceptual content as well as in the existential dimension in which it unfolds in history, belongs to the whole community of believers.

Yet, in a special way, “the word of life” (1 Io. 1, 1) is entrusted to the teaching authority of the Church uniquely invested in the College of Bishops. As successors of the Apostles, Bishops are servants of the “word” and their first duty to that “word” is to assume with responsibility the ministry of preachers and teachers of the Gospel message. The Bishops of the Church are, in fact, as the Council reminds us, “teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach to the people committed to them the faith they must believe and put into practice” (Lumen Gentium, 25).

This Catholic Higher Institute is, in a real sense, an instrument of the particular teaching office (munus docendi) entrusted to the Bishops of this region. It expresses their collegial desire and decision to exercise that teaching office in enlightened dialogue with the theological culture of the universal Church as it has developed through the centuries and as it is developing in the present circumstances of the history of God’s people.

3. The proclamation of the Gospel is destined for all individuals, and for all peoples. The faith which the Church professes in response to that proclamation belongs to all her members, and all are called to understand and live that faith in as full a way as possible.

While it is true that the teaching office of the Church, through various forms of evangelization and catechesis, reaches vast sectors of God’s people, a strictly theological culture, especially at a higher academic level, is available only to a limited number of the faithful. Yet, the deeper understanding of the mystery of Christ which theological reflection provides is a gift of the Holy Spirit given for the common good of the entire ecclesial community.

Theologians and those who pursue theological studies in the name of the Church must therefore realize that their activity is not an end in itself, but a service rendered to the Bride of Christ. They are called to act, not as a privileged elite, but all the more consciously as the humble administrators of a “talent” entrusted to them (Cfr. Matth. 25, 14-30).

The words of Saint Paul to the Ephesians regarding the various charisms are applicable here, and they formulate a programme for those engaged in the field of theological studies: “Some should be . . . teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4, 11-13). By preserving a clear vision of its specific “vocation” within the ecclesial body, and by maintaining an acute sense of service to God’s people and of communion with the Bishops, this Faculty can become a source of great creative vitality in your local Churches.

4. In this respect I am pleased to note that, in determining the aims of the Institute, the Bishops have given priority to two aspects of their pastoral responsibility for which they seek the able assistance of those who will teach and study here. The first is the strengthening and development of the spiritual life of your communities. The second is the consolidation of the family, “the domestic church”, and those other small Christian communities which as natural groups “spring from the need to live the Church’s life more intensely, or from a desire and quest for a more human dimension such as larger ecclesial communities can only offer with difficulty” (PAULI VI Evangelii Nuntiandi, 58).

The task of the Institute will be to form the spiritual and intellectual life of the pastoral collaborators - priests, religious and lay men and women - who will serve and animate these communities “which come together within the Church in order to unite themselves to the Church and to cause the Church to grow” (Ibid.).

5. Alongside these pastoral concerns, and as a guarantee of effectiveness in responding to them, the specifically theological function of the Institute has special significance for your Churches.

In the concrete circumstances of the unfolding of the mystery of salvation in your dioceses and in your countries, it is important for your local Churches to be actively present in the cultural life of society by offering a properly developed theological presentation of the Gospel message and of the human problems for which people are seeking an explanation.

The presence of the Church as a community of believers within the social, economic and political realities of life is, to some extent, mediated by theological reflection. In order to be truly Christian, this theological reflection must be guided by the revealed word of God and by the teaching of the Church as it has developed from the beginning through the exercise of the prophetic office of Christ, which has been transmitted in a particular way to the Roman Pontiff and to the Bishops in communion with him.

The application of a “scientific” method to this reflection is the specific task of the theologian. Theological reflection clarifies the structure of intelligibility of the Christian message, discovers its intrinsic coherence, and illustrates the relationship of the unchanging content of the tenets of faith to the varied and changeable cultural contexts in which the message is proclaimed and preached.

Against the background of the momentous social and cultural transformations taking place throughout the world, including those in your own countries here in Africa, the challenge facing theologians is not without great difficulties and risks.

The dangers of a theological study which is divorced from life in the Spirit, and the harm caused by a pseudo-theological culture devoid of a genuine spirit of service to the mystery of the Redemption, are, in a sense, evoked by the solemn words of Saint John: “Every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit of antichrist . . .” (1 Io. 4, 3).

The “spirit of truth” and the “spirit of error” (Cfr. ibid. 4, 6) struggle for the minds of those who would seek the Truth.

While a rightful and necessary freedom of research is essential to the progress of theological science, those engaged in theological investigations should not understand this freedom as a transposition in to the field of theology of the methodological criteria of other sciences. Christian theology has its specific point of departure in the word of God transmitted in Tradition and in the Scriptures, and it possesses a constant point of reference in the Church’s Magisterium, the authentic guardian and interpreter of the full doctrine of Christ.

The well-being of the Church in Eastern Africa requires that the Catholic Higher Institute should become not only a centre of study but also a focal point of prayer and liturgical life, in which staff and students will grow to full maturity as men and women of faith and evangelical witness.

May this Institute become not only a part of the mind of the Church in Eastern Africa, but also, and principally, an important part of her heart: “He who loves is born of God and knows God” (Ibid. 4, 7).

6. The Apostolic Constitution “Sapientia Christiana” and the Code of Canon Law explicitly refer to the obligation of Bishops and of Bishops’ Conferences to promote the fidelity of ecclesiastical Faculties to the Church’s doctrine (Cfr. Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sapientia Christiana, praef., IV, et Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 810 § 2). The reason behind this vigilance on the part of the Bishops is nothing other than the inexorable duty incumbent on the entire ecclesial community to persevere in the mission entrusted to the Church by the Lord himself: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” .

This supervisory role of the Bishops is especially applicable in the important and delicate area of what has come to be known as “inculturation”.

7. Throughout the course of the Church’s history, teachers and missionaries have engaged in an apostolic dialogue between the Christian message of salvation and the cultures in which the various peoples express their characteristic spiritual and human experience. In my recent Encyclical Epistle in commemoration of the Eleventh Centenary of the evangelizing work of Saints Cyril and Methodius among the Slav Peoples, I thought it proper to draw attention to their magnificent example in this regard.

An active dialogue between faith and culture is necessary on all levels of the proclamation of the Christian message: in evangelization, in catechesis, and in theological reflection. As a requirement stemming from faith itself, the supreme criterion of this dialogue - also in the field of theological investigation - must be the power of the Gospel to transform, elevate and regenerate human life in every culture and in all circumstances.

The success of the local Churches in incarnating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the rich soil of your African cultures will depend on the extent to which your evangelizing and catechetical labours are solidly grounded in the theological patrimony of the universal Church. It will also depend on the extent to which your pastoral activities are accompanied by a serious reflection on the values which are present in each community and which can usefully be introduced into the life of the Church.

The Institute is called to assist the local Churches in the challenging dialogue between faith and culture, between the Church and human society, between the Kingdom of God and the temporal realities through which the human family moves towards its final destiny. The Institute has a role to play in implementing for Eastern Africa the dynamism of the Second Vatican Council. Let us never forget those words spoken by Pope John XXIII on the opening day of that collegial assembly: “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be more effectively guarded and taught” (Ioannis XXIII Allocutio in sollemni SS. Concilii Vaticani II inauguratione habita, session I, die 11 oct. 1962). May the Institute always be found worthy of the extremely important responsibility to which it has been called!

8. Brother Bishops, brothers and sisters in Christ: on the occasion of the inauguration of the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa I wish to express a warm word of gratitude to all those who have contributed inspiration, effort and resources to the realization of this important project. Too many to mention by name, I commend all the benefactors of this Centre to the loving care of Mary the Mother of God.

I invoke divine light and wisdom upon those who will teach and study here. In particular I propose to them the example of discipleship given to us by Mary. Humbly and assiduously following the unfolding of the history of salvation, “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luc. 2, 19). I pray that, like Mary, they too may respond joyfully to the challenges of their specific role in working for the coming of the Kingdom of Christ.

For the glory of the Most Holy Trinity and for the strengthening of the Church in faith and in the service of all the peoples of the nations which you represent - Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, the Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and the Seychelles - I am happy to declare formally open the Catholic Higher Institute of Eastern Africa."

John Paul II's Address to Members of the Agency of the United Nations
Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English, Italian & Spanish    

“Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is always an honour for me to visit one of the Agencies of the United Nations. The ever increasing importance of this prestigious Organisation becomes more evident every year. At no time in history has there been a greater need for dialogue and collaboration at the international level, and for joint efforts by nations to promote integral human development and to further justice and peace - precisely the goals to which the United Nations Organisation is dedicated.

I am very grateful then for the invitation to come to this Centre today, an invitation which was extended to me by Dr Mostafa K. Tolba, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. In greeting him, I also greet the staff and all associated in the Angecy’s work. At the same time, I offer a cordial greeting to the staff of Habitat: the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, also located here in Nairobi, and to its Executive Director, Dr Alcot Ramachandron.

2. For many years now, the Catholic Church has taken an active interest in questions concerning the environment. A Delegation of the Holy See participated in the Conference on the Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the meeting which prepared the way for the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. My predecessor, Pope Paul VI, sent a message to the Stockholm Conference, in which he said: “We would like to tell you and all the participants of the interest with which we follow this great enterprise. The care of preserving and improving the natural environment, like the noble ambition of stimulating a first gesture of world co-operation in favour of this good necessary for everyone, meets needs that are deeply felt among the people of our times” (Pauli VI Nuntius scripto datus ad Exc.mum Virum Mauricium Strong, secretarium generalem Conventus internationalis Consociatorum Natium de ambitu humano, Holmiae habiti, die 1 iun. 1972: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, X (1972) 606 ss.).

The Church’s commitment to the conservation and improvement of our environment is linked to a command of God. In the very first pages of the Bible, we read how God created all things and then entrusted them to the care of human beings who were themselves created in his image. God said to Adam and Eve: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Gen. 1, 28).

It is a requirement of our human dignity, and therefore a serious responsibility, to exercise dominion over creation in such a way that it truly serves the human family. Exploitation of the riches of nature must take place according to criteria that take into account not only the immediate needs of people but also the needs of future generations. In this way, the stewardship over nature, entrusted by God to man, will not be guided by short-sightedness or selfish pursuit; rather, it will take into account the fact that all created goods are directed to the good of all humanity. The use of natural resources must aim at serving the integral development of present and future generations. Progress in the field of ecology, and growing awareness of the need to protect and conserve certain non-renewable natural resources, are in keeping with the demands of true stewardship. God is glorified when creation serves the integral development of the whole human family.

3. With the rapid acceleration of science and technology in recent decades, the environment has been subjected to far greater changes than ever before. As a result, we are offered many new opportunities for development and human progress; we are now able to transform our surroundings greatly, even dramatically, for the enhancement of the quality of life. On the other hand, this new ability, unless it is used with wisdom and vision, can cause tremendous and even irreparable harm in the ecological and social spheres. The capacity for improving the environment and the capacity for destroying it increase enormously each year.

The ultimate determining factor is the human person. It is not science and technology, or the increasing means of economic and material development, but the human person, and especially groups of persons, communities and nations, freely choosing to face the problems together, who will, under God, determine the future. That is why whatever impedes human freedom or dishonours it, such as the evil of apartheid and all forms of prejudice and discrimination, is an affront to man’s vocation to shape his own destiny. Eventually it will have repercussions in all areas requiring human freedom and as such can become a major stumbling block to the improvement of the environment and all of society.

Threats to the environment today are numerous: deforestation, water and air pollution, soil erosion, desertification, acid rain and many more. Ecological problems are especially acute in the tropical regions of the world, and in particular here in Africa. Nearly all the nations affected by these problems are developing nations which are, with great difficulty, undergoing various stages of industrialisation. A severe shortage of energy and natural resources impedes progress and results in harsh living conditions. And the problems are often complicated by the tropical environment which makes people especially susceptible to serious endemic diseases.

Since every country has its own particular set of problems and varying amounts of natural resources, it is easy to see the difference between the problems faced by developing nations and those of developed nations. While modern industry and technology offer great hope of advancement, steps must be taken to ensure that the economic, material and social development which are so important include proper consideration of the impact on the environment, both immediate and in the future.

4. The Catholic Church approaches the care and protection of the environment from the point of view of the human person. It is our conviction, therefore, that all ecological programmes must respect the full dignity and freedom of whoever might be affected by such programmes. Environment problems should be seen in relation to the needs of actual men and women, their families, their values, their unique social and cultural heritage. For the ultimate purpose of environment programmes is to enhance the quality of human life, to place creation in the fullest way possible at the service of the human family.

5. Perhaps nowhere do we see more clearly the interrelatedness of the world today than in questions concerning the environment. The growing interdependence between individuals and between nations is keenly felt when it is a question of facing natural disasters such as droughts, typhoons, floods and earthquakes. The consequences of these stretch far beyond the regions directly affected. And the vastness and complexity of many ecological problems demand not only a combined response at local and national levels but also substantial assistance and coordination from the international community. As Pope Paul VI wrote to the Stockholm Conference: “Interdependence must now be met by joint responsibility; common destiny by solidarity”. One could hardly overstate the international character of ecological problems or the international benefits of their solution.

These problems often require the expertise and assistance of scientists and technicians from industrialised countries. Yet the latter cannot solve them without the cooperation at every step of scientists and technicians from the countries being helped. The transfer of technological skills to developing countries cannot be expected to have lasting results if training is not provided for technicians and scientists from these countries themselves. The training of local personnel makes it possible to adapt technology in a way that fully respects the cultural and social fabric of the local communities. Local experts possess the necessary bonds with their own people to ensure a balanced sensitivity to local values and needs. They can evaluate the continuing validity of the newly transferred skills. Only when this trained personnel finally exists locally can one speak of full collaboration between countries.

6. I would now like to say a few words to those engaged in the work of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, and to all who are trying to improve the living conditions of the poor and provide shelter for the homeless. This work is of course closely related to the ecological problems of which I have been speaking. In fact it is at its very heart. As Pope Paul VI stated in his message to the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver in 1976: “The home, that is to say, the centre of warmth in which the family is united and the children grow in love, must remain the first concern of every programme relative to the human environment” (Pauli VI Epistula ad Exc.mum Virum Berney Danson Canadensem Administrum pro Urbanis Negotiis eundemque Praesidem Conferentiae Unitarum Nationum in urbe Vancuverio instructae ad dignas hominum fovendas habitaiones, die 24 maii 1976: Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XIV (1976) 401 ss.). For this reason, the Church’s primary concern for the human person in problems of the environment includes the problems of housing and shelter as well.

Those who believe in Jesus Christ cannot forget his words: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matth. 8, 20). Thus we see in the faces of the homeless the face of Christ the Lord. And we feel impelled, by love of him and by his example of generous self-giving, to seek to do everything we can to help those living in conditions unworthy of their human dignity. At the same time, we gladly join hands with all people of good will in the worthy efforts being made to provide adequate housing for the millions of people in today’s world living in absolute destitution. Nor can we remain passive or indifferent as the rapid increase of urbanisation and industrialisation creates complex problems of housing and the environment. I assure you then of the Church’s great interest in and support for your commendable endeavours to provide housing for the homeless and to safeguard the human dimension of all settlements of people.

7. Five years ago, on the occasion of my first Pastoral Visit to Africa, I went to Ouagadougou in the heart of the Sahel region and there launched a solemn appeal on behalf of all those suffering from the devastating drought. In the wake of that appeal there was a most generous response, so generous in fact that it became possible to set up a special programme to assist the suffering in a more formal way. Thus, the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel was officially begun in February 1984. This Foundation is a sign of the Church’s love for the men, women and children who have been stricken by this continuing tragedy. Even though the project seems small and inadequate in the face of such vast needs, nonetheless it is a concrete effort to help the people there and to contribute in some degree to the future of the African continent, a future which ultimately rests in the hands of the African peoples themselves.

I wish to take this opportunity to renew my solemn appeal on behalf of the people of the Sahel and of other critical regions where the drought is still continuing and there is a clear need for international assistance and solidarity in order to provide food, drink and shelter and to solve the conflicts which are hindering efforts to help. Thus I repeat what I said in Ouagadougou five years ago: “I cannot be silent when my brothers and sisters are threatened. I become here the voice of those who have no voice, the voice of the innocent, who died because they lacked water and bread; the voice of fathers and mothers who saw their children die without understanding, or who will always see in their children the after-effects of the hunger they have suffered; the voice of the generations to come, who must no longer live with this terrible threat weighing upon their lives. I launch an appeal to everyone! Let us not wait until the drought returns, terrible and devastating! Let us not wait for the sand to bring death again! Let us not allow the future of these peoples to remain jeopardized for ever”! (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Vehemens incitamentum ad homines aquarum penuria afflictos sublevandos, in urbe Uagaduguensi ante cathedrale templum elatum, 7, die 10 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1295) The solidarity shown in the past has proved, by its extent and effectiveness, that it is possible to make a difference. Let our response now be even more generous and effective.

Two kinds of assistance are needed: assistance which meets the immediate needs of food and shelter, and assistance which will make it possible for the people now suffering to resume responsibility for their own lives, to reclaim their land and to make it once more capable of providing a stable, healthy way of life. Such long-range programmes make it possible for people to regain hope for the future and a feeling of dignity and self-worth.

8. Ladies and Gentlemen, as I speak to you today, I am reminded of the words of Paul VI which have become so well known: “Development is the new name for peace” (Pauli VI Populorum Progressio, 87). Yes, indeed, integral development is a condition for peace, and environment programmes for food and housing are concrete ways of promoting peace. All who serve the basic needs of their neighbours contribute building blocks to the great edifice of peace.

Peace is built slowly through good will, trust and persevering effort. It is built by international agencies and by governmental and non-governmental organisations when they engage in common efforts to provide food and shelter for the needy, and when they work together to improve the environment.

Peace is built by Heads of States and politicians when they rise above divisive ideologies and co-operate in joint efforts free of prejudice, discrimination, hatred and revenge. Peace is the fruit of reconciliation, and the peace of Africa depends also on the reconciliation of people in each individual country. It requires the solidarity of all Africans as brothers and sisters at the service of the whole African family and at the service of the integral development of all mankind.

Peace is built up when national budgets are finally diverted from the creation of more powerful and deadlier weapons to provide food and raw materials to meet basic human needs. And peace is consolidated with each passing year as the use of nuclear weapons becomes a fading memory in the conscience of humanity. And today we thank God again that forty years have passed without the use of those weapons that devastated human life, together with its environment and shelter, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki - forty years of hope and determination, forty years in a new era for humanity.

Peace is built by the men and women of the mass media when they bring to the attention of the public the facts about those who suffer, about refugees and the dispossessed, when they stir up in others a determination and generosity to respond to all those in need. Yes, “development” and “a new heart” are new names for peace. And those who make peace and promote conditions for peace shall for ever be called children of God!"

John Paul II's Address to Representatives of other Christian Churches
Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

"1. Five years ago I had the pleasure of meeting many of you on a similar occasion during my first Pastoral Visit to your country. I spoke then of our one Baptism and of the common witness which is possible because of our profession of baptismal faith, despite the causes of division between us.

Today I come to you again, and I thank you for your willingness to take part in this meeting. You know that the occasion of my present visit in the Catholic Church’s celebration of the Forty-third International Eucharistic Congress, an event which has brought together many Catholics not only from this country but from other lands near and far. In planning this Congress, as with other recent Congresses, care has been taken to make possible the participation of Christians of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. How could this not be so today? The Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the ecumenical task. It follows that, to reflect the Catholic Church as it should, a celebration such as the present Congress must give due expression to the ecumenical dimension. So I thank you, and through you the Communities you lead and represent, not only for meeting me today but also for your response to the invitation to play some part in the Congress.

2. “The Eucharist and the Christian Family”, as you know, is the theme of the Congress; and it suggests what should today be one of the main themes of the witness we seek to bear together. For, as I said to Christian leaders in the Netherlands three months ago: “We have a common concern for the ideal of Christian marriage and the Christian family, for the transmission of the faith to the next generation, and for the growth in holiness of all Christian couples. We all long for one Eucharist, and we all seek to obey Christ’s command, ‘Do this in memory of me’, since we regard this Sacrament of Christ himself as his greatest gift to his Church” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad Repraesentantes Confessionum Christianarum in urbe “Utrecht” habita, die 13 maii 1985: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, VIII, 1 (1985) 1322 ss.). True, our divisions pose problems to us here, but problems must never blind us to those underlying points of unity that already enable us to speak and to act together. In this great continent, well known throughout the world for the special value its peoples set on family life and family ties, and for their reverence for the wider family as well as for the immediate circle, there are surely great possibilities for Christians to collaborate in promoting the true values of family life. And there is surely also great need for this in an age in which, almost everywhere, these values come under increasing pressure.

3. It was at a meal with what may call the “family” of his Apostles that Jesus gave the Eucharist to his Church. The Church has been called “the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2, 19-20). Over the centuries this family of the Church has grown, yet that sacramental meal remains at the very heart of its life. Sadly, over the centuries the family of Christians has known division and separation. The ties of Baptism and fellowship remain, but we are no longer united in one faith at one altar, one Eucharistic table. In any family it is a cause of deep sadness if there are members who cannot, for whatever reason, come to the family table; indeed we may sometimes be more aware of the empty places than we are of the full ones! So too in our celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, we never forget our brethren who cannot be with us. Thus every Eucharist becomes a great prayer for the unity of all Christians, for whom Christ, our Lord and Brother, gave himself up to death on the Cross.

4. But we all belong to a yet wider family. We must look beyond the ranks of our Christian family, great as it is, to the immense family of all humanity. Millions are in need of even a minimum of daily bread; and all are in need of the Bread of Life. Christ calls us, through our unity in him, to provide for the material and spiritual needs of others. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ibid. 3, 14-17). May Christ bring us all to that full unity in faith and love that he wills; and may our meeting and our prayer today lead us nearer to that day when we are indeed one family in him, one in that “bread of God . . . which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Io. 6, 33). Amen."

JPII's Address to Representatives of the Islamic & Hindu Communities
Nairobi, Sunday 18 August 1985 - in English & Italian    

"Dear Friends,
1. It is a great joy for me to return to Nairobi. And I am grateful for this opportunity to meet leaders and representatives of the Islamic and Hindu communities in Kenya. You may recall that I had the pleasure of meeting some of you before, on the occasion of my visit in May 1980. Once again, we come together in friendship and peace. The warm hospitality you showed me on my previous visit and are shoving me again today is a sign of your openness and your commitment to human fraternity. These are sentiments which I eagerly desire to reciprocate.

2. On my first visit to Kenya, I stated in my message to the Hindu community: “The purpose of life, the nature of good, the path to happiness, the meaning of death and the end of our human journey - all these truths form the object of our common service of man in his many needs . . .” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sodales communitatis hinduisticae in aede Nuntiaturae Apostolicae in urbe “Nairobi” habita, die 7 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1212). I would like to reaffirm these words today; they hold true also for the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Muslim people.

Humanity’s needs are of many kinds. Foremost are the spiritual needs, such as our constant search for meaning in life and our desire to live in a way that is worthy of our human dignity as children of God. At the same time, we cannot discount man’s material needs, which in many African countries today, marked by drought and famine, mean the fundamental struggle to survive. I am thinking particularly of the plight of refugees, whether they be people who have fled across international borders from repressive situations or zones of war, or those who are forced to migrate from their native districts due to crop failures and natural disasters. The refugee situation in the world today must become the concern of all religious believers who value the dignity of man. It is an urgent need which requires fraternal solidarity and collaboration in favour of those who suffer.

In addition to these spiritual and material needs, there are the social needs: the need for just, honest and efficient government; the need to respect and defend human rights without any discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic group, religion, age, social class or sex; the right to live and raise one’s family in peace, without fear that their physical and moral well-being will be menaced. In the face of all these human needs - spiritual, material and social - the religions of the world cannot remain passive. The great needs of our brothers and sisters are an urgent plea for a generous response in love, calling for mutual and effective collaboration.

3. The close bonds linking our respective religions - our worship of God and the spiritual values we hold in esteem - motivate us to become fraternal allies in service to the human family. As I said to the Islamic community of Kenya five years ago: “Our relationship of reciprocal esteem and mutual desire for authentic service to humanity urge us on to joint commitments in promoting peace, social justice, moral values and all the true freedoms of man” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Allocutio ad sodales communitatis musulmanae in aede Nuntiaturae Apostolicae in urbe “Nairobi” habita, die 7 maii 1980: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 1 (1980) 1210).

The evils of suspicion, competition and misunderstanding spring up too easily in our modern world; in far too many places we witness violence, conflict and war. But it is never God’s will that there should exist hatred within the human family, that we should live in distrust and at enmity with one another. We are all children of the same God, members of the great family of man. And our religions have a special role to fulfil in curbing these evils and in forging bonds of trust and fellowship. God’s will is that those who worship him, even if not united in the same worship, would nevertheless be united in brotherhood and in common service for the good of all.

4. Our presence together today - Hindus, Muslims and Christian gathered in friendship - is a hopeful sign in a pluralistic world filled with tensions. No religious group can afford to live and act in isolation. While respecting one another’s convictions, we need each other’s help. In the Holy Bible, Saint Paul encourages us to seek the ways of brotherhood and unity: “Agree with one another”, he says, "live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13, 11. The challenge that is ours today is to help the world to live in peace and harmony, with respect for the human dignity of all. In this effort the God of love and peace will be with us.

May God’s blessings be upon all of you!"