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John Paul II's Apostolic Pilgrimage to Norway

1st - 3rd June 1989
over the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Pope Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Norway at the start of his 42nd apostolic journey, on which he also visited Iceland, Finland, Denmark & Sweden.

After being welcomed to Norway on Thursday 1st June, Papa San Giovanni Paolo II celebrated Mass in Oslo, before meeting with an ecumenical group and the Bishops of Episcopal Conference of Scandinavia. On the Friday, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St John Paul II met with priests, religious & the laity in the Pro-Cathedral of St Olav, before leaving Oslo for Trondheim. There JPII met with another ecumenical group at the Lutheran Cathedral of Nidaros and celebrated Mass at the Technical University of Trondheim before going to Stortorget, where there was an evening Celebration of the Word. On his final morning in Norway, Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated Mass in Stortorget, before leaving for Iceland.

Pope Saint John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Fornebu International Airport, Oslo, Thursday, 1st June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Madam Prime Minister, Members of the Government,
My brother Bishops, Your Excellencies, Dear People of Norway,
1. Standing here on Norwegian soil, I am fully conscious of the special significance of this occasion. For the first time ever, a Bishop of Rome, a Successor of the Apostle Peter, has come to Norway and to the Nordic countries. I come, not as the representative of a political or national interest, but as a witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as a brother deeply concerned with the well-being of his brothers and sisters in every part of the world. I come to Norway as a friend, full of esteem and love for its noble people and its millenary Christian heritage.

2. My words of greeting are directed in the first place to His Majesty King Olav V and to the members of the Royal Family, whom I look forward to meeting shortly. To you, Madam Prime Minister and Members of the Government, I express my appreciation and gratitude for all you have done to make this visit possible, and for the warm welcome you have given me.

3. I assure the bishops and members of the Catholic community that it is with intense joy I am making this pastoral visit. I am immensely grateful to God whose loving Providence enables me to carry out the Petrine ministry also by way of personal contact with the particular Churches in many parts of the world. Through the Eucharist and through prayer our union in faith and love will grow; together we shall proclaim our allegiance to Christ and receive strenght from him for ever greater Christian service.

4. My pilgrimage to Norway is also in response to the gracious invitation of the Lutheran Church to participate in a service of prayer for Christian unity at Nidaros Cathedral, the hallowed national shrine where Saint Olav, King and Martyr, is buried. I thank you, dear Lutheran brothers and sisters, for that kindness and for the climate of friendship and ecumenical understanding it displays.

My visit to the Nordic countries is a confirmation of the Catholic Church’s commitment to the ecumenical task of fostering unity among all Christians. 25 years ago the Second Vatican Council clearly impressed the urgency of this challenge on the Church. My predecessors have pursued this goal with persevering attention to the grace of the Holy Spririt, who is the divine source and guarantor of the ecumenical movement. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have made ecumenism a priority of my pastoral concern and action. God grant that my visit will bring us ever closer to that full fellowship in faith and love which Christ himself wished for his followers (Cf Jn 17, 21).

5. I have come to the Nordic countries as a spiritual pilgrim to honour the memory of the Saints who called your ancestors to the faith, led them to Baptism and bore valiant witness to Christ, even at times to the shedding of their blood for his sake. The great Saints of the North were men and women rooted in their own historical context, individuals who knew how to apply the message of God’s eternal love – revealed in Jesus Christ – to the important questions affecting their peoples and the world around them. Their example still speaks to us today about the profound truths and values on which the whole of European civilization was built and in which your own Norwegian culture developed – truths and values which have lost nothing of their relevance for contemporary society, since they reveal “man’s deepest sphere” and give back “meaning to his life in the world” (Cf JPII, Redemptoris Hominis, 10). To remember the events and influences which have shaped a nation is to understand better the sources of its present historical direction.

6. Here in Oslo, I wish to pay tribute to the special attention which present-day Norway gives to fostering and defending freedom and human rights. In the international forum you have taken a keen interest in the welfare of other peoples and you strive to raise your voice whenever human dignity and fundamental rights are threatened or violated. Norway is generous in giving aid to developing countries. Your soldiers – at no little sacrifice – play an important part in the United Nations Peacekeeping Forces. All of these forms of solidarity manifest the maturity of your national life and your awareness of the interdependence of peoples in achieving higher standards of development and a greater sharing in social and political life. Peace is solidly served when the deeper aspirations of peoples to justice, freedom and dignity are upheld.

7. Norway, and indeed all of Scandinavia, has opened its doors to many refugees forced to flee their homelands in search of safety and freedom. They have lost so much that is dear to them, and you have given them new hope. From you they have received genuine compassion and humanitarian care. In coming here they have had to adapt to much that was strange to them, but, in turn, you have received from them the treasures of their cultural and spiritual background. You love and serve them best by enabling them to preserve and develop their own unique qualities. I am aware that many of your new immigrants are Catholics, and I look forward to meeting them during this visit.

8. Madam Prime Minister, dear Norwegian friends: again I express my gratitude for the welcome you have given me. My stay among you will be short but intense. May it serve to strengthen the friendship between us, a friendship confirmed by the establishment in 1982 of full diplomatic relations between Norway and the Holy See.

Ja, Vi Elsker Dette Landet.
Gud velsigne Norge!
Gud velsigne hele det norske folk!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's Homily at Mass in Oslo
in the Square adjacent to Akershus Castle, 1 June 1989 - in English & Italian

“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise always on my lips” (Ps. 34, 1)

"Dear Brothers an Sisters,
1. For the first time ever the Successor of Saint Peter celebrates the Eucharist in these northern countries. I am deeply moved. And I am not alone. I am sure that you too, my fellow members of the household of the faith (Cfr. Gal. 6, 10), are profoundly grateful to God for being able to offer this “thanksgiving” liturgy. Let us bless him who is our Creator and the Lord of history: God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who has gathered us together for the Eucharist, which is the prayer and sacrifice of Christ himself in union with his body, the Church.

It is for me an extraordinary grace and honour to praise God here, in Oslo, the capital of Norway, in Northern Europe, in Scandinavia,
– together with you, Bishop Schwenzer and Bishop Gran, and the other members of the Episcopal Conference of the Nordic Countries,
– with you, the priests, religious and laity of the Diocese of Oslo,
– with you, dear brothers and sisters of the Lutheran community!
The praise of the Lord is on our lips and in our hearts!

2. “You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Mat 5, 13-14. 16).

This is the message of the Gospel reading we have just heard. Jesus challenges his followers with the task of transforming the world, of bringing new light to bear on our human condition so that good may prevail and God may be honoured. It is more than a thousand years since this saving message was first proclaimed in this land. The life and martyrdom of the great Saint Olav marked the “Baptism” of the Norwegian peoples. Through Baptism your ancestors were buried in the redemptive death of Christ, and rose with him to a new life.

Christ became their light. Remember and cherish this heritage, which is also the heritage of your country, painted so vividly for the world by your great author, Sigrid Undset.

3. The theme of light and darkness which runs through the whole of Revelation must be particularly dear to the northern peoples, who experience each year more fully than people elsewhere the passage from winter gloom to summer brightness. You are all happy to see the days grow longer and warmer. Scripture uses this very symbolism to indicate the terms of the pilgrimage through history of each individual and of all humanity in the hope of salvation.

“God is light and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” (Jn 1, 5-7).

There is a darkness that is inevitable in life on this earth. There is pain and suffering and death; there are failed hopes and broken promises; there is cruelty and injustice. Modern philosophical thinking has given much attention to the existential and metaphysical aspects of the anxiety that accompanies human beings on their pilgrim way through life: the anxiety of a finite existence and of limited human possibilities.

And there is often another “fear” lurking in our conscience. It is related to our sense of responsibility for the good and evil that we experience in ourselves and in the world around us. One of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council describes the human condition in this way: “As a created being, man experiences his limitations in a multitude of ways... As a weak and sinful being, he often does what he would not, and fails to do what he would. And so he finds himself divided, and from this flows much discord in society” (Gaudium et Spes, 10). For many people, however, the “fear” that arises from weakness and sin is a positive step towards conversion and change.

4. It is the Church’s task to help men and women today to face the challenges inherent in their human condition. The first step is to over-come our reluctance to examine our-selves and the truths and values on which we build our lives. What is man? What is the meaning of suffering, of evil, of death, which have not been eliminated by progress? What is the purposes of progress itself, bought at so high a price? What can we contribute to society? What can we expect from it? What happens after this earthly life is ended?

In response to these questions, “the Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, through his Spirit provides man with the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme calling” (Gaudium et Spes). Today it is given to me – the Bishop of Rome and Successor of Saint Peter – to reaffirm this faith, here in Oslo: to encourage a serious reflection on the flight from God and from higher moral values which is typical of secularized society.

A thousand years of Christian life has profoundly marked Norwegian society. Your attention to those in need, your care for the handicapped, the weak and the aged, your protection of the rights of women and of minorities, your willingness to share your wealth with the poor of the world, the generosity with which you have opened your frontiers to refugees, and Norway’s contribution to peace in the world – these are all values which have grown out of your Christian heritage, out of Norway’s “baptismal grace”. The challenge facing all Christians in Norway is to bear authentic and convincing witness to the Gospel message which is the root and support of these values. “You are the salt... But if the salt loses its flavour, with what shall it be salted?” (Mat 5, 13). Do not be daunted by the enormity of the task. The Lord who has called you will be your strength.

5. The Lord has called you together.

My dear Catholic brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of Norway, and all of you who have come from other countries and have made your home here: the words of the Prophet Ezekiel can be applied to you:

“I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries,
and bring you into your own land...
and you shall be my people, and I will be your God” (Ez. 36, 24. 28).
Gud har samlet dere fra mange lande.
Dios os ha llamada a uniros desde España e America Latina.
Gott hat Euch aus Deutschland hierher gerufen.
Bóg zebrał was z Polski.
Dieu vous a appelés tous ensemble de la France.
Thiên Chúa dã tu hop anh chi em tù Viet Nam.
Bog vas je pozvao iz Hravatske.
Dio vi ha chiamati insieme dall’Italia.
Isten ide vezetett titeket Magyarországról.
God heeft U allen byeengeroepen uit Nederland.

6. “I shall bring you into your own land...”.

These are the words which the Prophet said to the sons and daughters of Israel taken from their homeland into exile. This is the historical sense of the Prophet’s words. But there is another sense to his statement, a sense which refers to the more basic “exile” which all the sons and daughters of Adam share on this earth. As Protestants and Catholics journey to their eternal home, is not their true “homeland”, the kingdom of God, already present in the one Church of Christ on earth?

Two serious and solemn facts face all those who love the Church as the Body of Christ. The first is that the Good News of redemption has not yet been preached to all. The second is the burden of divisions among Christians bequeathed by history. All of us are challenged by the Lord’s command: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16, 15). The missionary vocation is rooted in the very fact of being Christians. And so too is the call to Church unity. In Norway, ecumenical relations have reached a high degree of mutual understanding and collaboration. There remain many difficult questions at the level of faith and doctrine, but your certain trust is that the Spirit “ will guide you into all the truth” (Jn 16, 13).

As the one who has inherited from Christ the “Petrine ministry”, I above all must repeat, with humility and fervour, the prayer of Christ at the Last Supper: “Father,... that all may be one... so that the world may believe” (Ibid. 17, 21). Father, Lord of our hearts and of our consciences, make this come about! You who through the lips of Ezekiel promised your people, “I will give you a new heart and a new spirit”, touch our hearts! Awaken our spirit! Enliven us with the power of a new Pentecost!

7. The Prophet speaks in God’s’ name:

“A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you...
I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ez. 36, 26-27).
In this way the Lord God himself becomes our strength.

The Spirit of God – the Spirit of Truth, the Paraclete, the Consoler – becomes a pilgrim to our hearts, to what is most intimate in our human condition. Because of this, the “hearts of stone” – insensitive, indifferent, immersed in the here and now, closed to God – become “hearts of flesh”, sensitive human hearts which feel the presence and the needs of every brother and sister, hearts open to God: hearts open to the Word of God – and to the divine ethos.

For this marvellous transformation.
“Glorify the Lord with me,
Together let us praise his name” (Ps. 34, 3).

Is this not God’s will? Was this not his providential design when he called us together in this special Eucharistic community?

La meg till slutt pröve ā hilse dere pā deres eget sprog. Jeg vet at den katoliske kirke i Norge favner mer enn nitti forskjellige nasjonaliter. Dette er en stor rikedom og samtidig en utfordring: Ā vise verden at Kristi kjärlighet forener oss i ett legeme. Jeg hilser ogsā alle ikkekatolikker som er tilstede her i dag. Be sammen med oss om enhetens gave, slik at vi en dag kan samles rundt et felles nattverdbord.

Gid velsigne dere alle!"

St John Paul II's Address at an Ecumenical Meeting at Akershus Castle
Christian IV’s Hall, Oslo, 1st June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Dear Bishop Aarflot, Dear Friends,
1. On this joyful occasion my heart is filled with thanks and praise to Almighty God, who has brought us together in the name of his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

I have come to Norway first of all to visit my Catholic brothers and sisters, so that I might support and strengthen them in their faith, as Jesus prayed that Peter would do for his brethren (cf Lk 22, 32). But I have also come in a fraternal spirit of respect and love to greet all Christians, who by faith and Baptism have been reborn to new life. I come here as a brother in Christ, in Norway, for your presence here, concrete sign to all people of God’s boundless love.

I therefore wish to thank all of you, the representatives of the Lutheran Church and of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Norway, for your presence here. I am especially grateful to you, Bishop Aarflot, for your gracious words of welcome this evening, and in a particular way for your kind letter of last year, in which you told me that the Pope’s visit to Norway was awaited with joy and expectation. As one of the ecumenical observers at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops held in Rome in 1985 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, you helped to prepare the report which the observers submitted to the Synod. It reads in part: “We want to thank you for the confidence you place in our churches. You have not seen us as outsiders or rivals, and we have not felt ourselves to be so. You have received us as brothers in Christ through faith and baptism, though not yet in perfect communion” ("Information Service", SPCU, 60, p. 20). Today, in Norway, I too can say that I have been received no longer as an outsider or a rival, but as a brother in Christ, and for this I rejoice greatly.

2. Our desire to draw closer to one another is strengthened by the fact that Protestants and Catholics in Norway share a common heritage. The Gospel was brought here centuries ago, long before the events of the sixteenth century. The one Church flourished in this land, nourished by the witness of committed Christians like the great martyr Saint Olav, to whom both Catholics and Protestants now look as a source of inspiration. This early history is in striking contrast with the period following the Reformation, when for more than four hundred years, in the midst of bitterness and suspicion, divided Christians closed their doors to one another. For all these centuries we co-existed in separation. Even so, a certain communion, however imperfect, remained (cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 3).

The common heritage of Protestants and Catholics in Norway – their common roots – is all the more important today, when the ecumenical movement creates new possibilities and a new hope that unity can one day be restored to the followers of Christ. As the Second Vatican Council stated: “The Lord of the Ages... has begun to bestow more abundantly upon divided Christians remorse over their divisions and a desire for unity” (Unitatis Redintegratio, 1). Today with God’s grace we seek no less than that fullness of unity among Christians which Christ willed for his one and only Church.

3. The restoration of communion in this full unity which we seek calls for a common commitment to the ecumenical task. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply this commitment has become an irrevocable part of the Catholic Church’s life. The Second Vatican Council set the direction in its historic decree on ecumenism in 1964. Our revised Code of Canon Law has sought to implement the conciliar teaching, affirming once again that “by the will of Christ” the Church is bound to promote the restoration of unity between all Christians (cf Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 755. § 1). It also makes clear the bishop’s duty to promote ecumenism and to treat with kindness and charity those who are not in full communion with us (cf Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 383. § 3). The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985 observed that “ ecumenism has inscribed itself deeply and indelibly in the consciousness of the Church” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985, Relatio Finalis, II, C, 7).

I am aware that among Christians there are various interpretations of the meaning and scope of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, even when that ministry is a service to unity. Personally I would fail gravely in my duty as Successor of the Apostle Peter if I did not seek constantly and energetically to promote Christian unity. I do so in obedience to the will of Christ for unity among his disciples and in response to the grace of the Holy Spirit which is at work in fostering that unity in our day (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio, 1).

For her part, the Lutheran Church of Norway has likewise made significant contributions to the ecumenical movement. Special honour must be paid to the memory of Bishop Berggrav and Professor Einer Moland, two great champions of ecumenism. More recently – at Stavanger in 1985 – the Lutheran Church of Norway hosted the Plenary Meeting of the Commission on Faith and Order. This was not only an expression of generous hospitality, but also evidence of a growing awareness that, although the Christian faith takes root in individual cultures, it also transcends every distinction of race and nation.

4. The commitment to ecumenism is also a commitment to prayer and dialogue. In charity, trust and fraternal frankness, without glossing over our important differences, we seek through prayerful dialogue to attain fullness of communion. In doing so we learn to appreciate each other’s diversity and unique experiences of Christian life. We seek to arrive at a fullness of love and truth: in the words of Saint Paul, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4, 15). Only in this way can theological dialogue bear lasting fruit.

At the end of the Second Vatican Council, in his farewell discourse to the delegated observers, Pope Paul VI said that as a result of the Council we began once again to love each other in accordance with Christ’s words: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13, 35; cf. Pauli VI Allocutio in Basilica S. Pauli extra Moenia, die 4 dec. 1965). But the fullness of love that we seek in dialogue also implies fullness of truth: “For their sake I consecrate myself, Jesus says”, “that they also may be consecrated in truth” (Jn 17, 19). Unity in love should lead us to unity in faith, unity in the truth of Christ.

Dialogue about the full truth of faith is fundamental to the question of our sharing together in the Eucharist. Catholics firmly believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is the supreme expression of the Church’s faith. But when at the Liturgy the celebrant addresses the community, saying: “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith”, Catholics and Protestants must acknowledge that we cannot yet proclaim a common faith in the mystery of the Eucharist and of the Church. The Catholic position on Eucharistic sharing is not meant to offend our partners in dialogue. Rather, it is an expression of our deep conviction, rooted in our doctrine and in accordance with ancient practice, that the Eucharist is only to be shared by those in full communion with one another.

The problem of Eucharistic sharing cannot be solved in isolation from our understanding of the mystery of the Church and of the ministry which serves unity. These issues are all interrelated. We look forward to the day, and we must pray and work hard to bring it about, when, confessing together the one faith in Christ handed down from the Apostles, we can share his Body and Blood as members once again of the same household of faith. This was meant to be from the beginning. It must be the common goal of dialogue and the object of our persevering prayer.

Dialogue also helps us to find the foundation for common Christian witness in the world and for common action in order to relieve the sufferings of humanity and to promote justice and peace. It is my prayer that the Christian people of Norway, despite their divisions, will continue to be united in alleviating suffering and in promoting the authentic development of humanity as part of their common witness to the Gospel.

I am pleased to learn of the various bilateral and multilateral dialogues taking place in Norway today. I wish to mention in particular the dialogue between the Lutheran Church of Norway and the Catholic Church which came about through the personal initiative of Bishop Aarflot. This discussion forum is devoted to the study of documents emanating from the International Lutheran/Catholic Dialogue Commission, which for many years has been studying themes of great ecumenical significance for both Lutherans and Catholics. Now in its third phase, the dialogue is presently concerned with the important issues of justification, ecclesiology and sacramentality. The results of this dialogue must eventually be evaluated officially by the authorities which commissioned it. This is a vitally important step which the participants in the international dialogue have requested more than once.

5. Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends in Christ: in his Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul urged them to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (for) there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all” (Eph. 4, 3-6).

This passage is now proclaimed to us: in our churches, in our teaching, in the personal prayer and reflection of Christ’s followers everywhere. We must accept it as an ecumenical challenge as well as an affirmation of our Christian calling. May the profound truth of Saint Paul’s words lead us to an ever greater communion of faith, to an ever deeper fullness of love and truth, so that overcoming every division we may be fully one in Christ.

I thank you again for your kind welcome and I pray that the good efforts you are making to serve the Lord by promoting the unity of Christians will bear abundant fruit, for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be with all of you. Amen."

Johannes Paul II an die Skandinavische Bischofskonferenz
Oslo, Norwegen - Donnerstag, 1. Juni 1989 - in German & Italian

Verehrte, liebe Mitbrüder!
1. ”Der Friede sei mit euch!“ Mit diesem Segensgruß unseres auferstandenen Herrn an die Apostel grüße ich heute Euch und die Eurer Hirtensorge in diesen nordischen Ländern anvertrauten Ortskirchen. Herzlich danke ich Euch für die freundliche Einladung zu diesem Pastoralbesuch, die Ihr mir während Eures Ad-limina-Besuches in Rom im Februar 1987 ausgesprochen habt. Mit Euch zusammen freue ich mich darüber, daß diese Begegnung nun schon zweieinhalb Jahre danach im freundlichen Einvernehmen mit den anderen christlichen Kirchen und kirchlichen Gemeinschaften sowie mit den zuständigen staatlichen Stellen der jeweiligen Länder stattfinden kann.

Mein Dank gilt sodann dem Vorsitzenden Eurer Bischofskonferenz, Bischof Verschuren, für seinen brüderlichen Willkommensgruß, den er soeben in Eurem Namen an mich gerichtet hat. Ich möchte diesen meinerseits erwidern, besonders gegenüber dem neuen Oberhirten von Reykjavik, Bischof Jolson, den wir heute zum ersten Mal in unserer Mitte begrüßen dürfen.

2. Zu Recht können wir unsere heutige Begegnung, wie schon Euer Vorsitzender betont hat, als Fortsetzung unseres brüderlichen Gedankenaustausches bei Eurem letzten Ad-limina-Besuch in Rom verstehen. Im Rückblick darauf dürfen wir der göttlichen Vorsehung von Herzen danken, daß einige pastorale Anliegen, die damals noch als Wunsch oder Plan vorgetragen wurden, inzwischen mit Gottes Hilfe Wirklichkeit geworden sind. Ich denke vor allem an die am 23. Oktober 1988 im Vatikan erfolgte Seligsprechung Eures großen nordischen Glaubenszeugen Niels Stensen. Möge dieser neue selige Fürsprecher im Himmel nun, wie ich schon damals gewünscht habe, ”den weiteren Weg der Kirche in Euren Gemeinden mit seinem besonderen Schutz und Beistand begleiten“. Ferner konntet Ihr in der Zwischenzeit das geplante Seminar für Priesteramtskandidaten in Stockholm eröffnen, das auch anderen Diözesen offenstehen und die katechetische sowie pastorale Arbeit in Euren Ortskirchen fördern und vertiefen soll. Ich begrüße die Gründung dieser wertvollen Einrichtung und erbitte ihr Gottes Segen für eine fruchtbare Erfüllung der ihr gestellten Aufgaben.

Sodann erblicke ich im Zustandekommen dieser meiner Pastoralreise selbst eine handgreifliche Bestätigung für das weitere Voranschreiten der ökumenischen Beziehungen zwischen den christlichen Kirchen und kirchlichen Gemeinschaften in Euren nordischen Ländern, das ganz den Hoffnungen des II. Vatikanischen Konzils entspricht und in dem auch Ihr – wie im Grußwort gerade erneut betont – ein Hauptanliegen Eurer pastoralen Arbeit seht. Auch die ökumenische Entwicklung in Euren Ländern gibt uns Grund, Gott dafür zu danken, daß wir in den letzten Jahrzehnten viele Vorurteile und Mißverständnisse miteinander überwinden und viel Gemeinsames entdecken konnten. Wenn auch bis zur vollen Glaubens und Kirchengemeinschaft noch ein weiter Weg zurückzulegen ist, so ist es um so wichtiger, daß die Christen angesichts der zunehmenden Entchristlichung in der heutigen Welt schon jetzt alles miteinander tun, was nur irgendwie möglich und wünschenswert ist. Pflegt darum weiter den ökumenischen Dialog und die vertrauensvolle Zusammenarbeit mit den nicht-katholischen christlichen Gemeinschaften. Gebe Gott, daß auch dieser mein Pastoralbesuch zu einem tieferen gegenseitigen Verständnis und zu einem noch entschlosseneren gemeinsamen Bemühen um die volle Einheit in der Liebe und Wahrheit Jesu Christi beitragen möge.

3. Wie ich in meiner Ansprache anläßlich Eures Ad-limina-Besuches unterstrichen habe, sehen sich alle christlichen Kirchen durch die zunehmende Säkularisierung in der heutigen Gesellschaft einer gemeinsamen Herausforderung gegenüber. Der Sinn für die transzendente Wirklichkeit und für den lebendigen Gott ist bei vielen Menschen verkümmert oder fast erstorben. In einer nur sich selbst genügenden und nur mit sich selbst beschäftigten säkularisierten Welt scheint man Religion und Kirche nicht mehr zu brauchen. Auch unter Christen hat der Glaube im konkreten Alltag an Kraft verloren. Das schlägt sich nicht zuletzt im Rückgang des Kirchenbesuches und des Gebetes im Leben des einzelnen und der Familien nieder. Die Distanzierung vieler Getaufter vom gemeinschaftlichen Leben der Kirche nimmt weiter zu. Ein allgemeiner Relativismus breitet sich aus, der den Absolutheitsanspruch des Christentums leugnet und in Gefahr steht, die verschiedenen Weltanschauungen unterschiedslos auf eine gemeinsame Ebene zu stellen.

Diese bedrängenden Tatsachen können und dürfen aber für die Kirche, für uns Bischöfe, für unsere Priester und Gläubige niemals zum Anlaß für Kleinmut und Resignation werden. Darum möchte ich Euch bei unserer heutigen Begegnung neu dazu ermutigen und aufrufen, Euch mit dem Prozeß der Säkularisierung und der Aushöhlung das Glaubenslebens nicht abzufinden. Es gilt die weithin verlorengegangenen Grundlagen des Glaubens durch neue und verstärkte gemeinsame Anstrengungen zurückzugewinnen. Dies ist eine immer dringlicher werdende umfassende Aufgabe. Ich habe sie schon viele Male und bei verschiedenen Anlässen mit dem Wort ”Neu-Evangelisierung“ bezeichnet, deren die heutige Gesellschaft und auch weite Bereiche der Kirche wieder notwendig bedürfen. Deshalb stellt sich als primäre und wichtigste Aufgabe für die Bischöfe und Priester, die vielfältigen Aktivitäten und Dienste der Kirche wieder grundsätzlich auf das eine wesentliche Ziel hin auszurichten: auf die unverkürzte Weitergabe des Glaubens und auf seine stete Vertiefung. Diesem vordringlichen Anliegen entspricht auf glückliche Weise das biblische Motto, unter das Ihr meinen jetzigen Pastoralbesuch gestellt habt: ”Geht hinaus in alle Welt und verkündet die Frohe Botschaft allen Geschöpfen!“. Es ist der Auftrag Christi selbst, der uns darauf verpflichtet, daß unsere Pastoral in der modernen Industriegesellschaft wieder von Grund auf missionarisch wird.

4. Worin wir uns als Christen wieder neu einüben müssen, ist: als Jünger und Kirche Jesu Christi in lebendigen Zellen das Evangelium wirklich zu leben und so das verborgene Antlitz Gottes in unserer Welt erneut zum Strahlen zu bringen. Nur aus einer Besinnung auf den Grund und die Wurzeln unseres Glaubens kann neues Leben erwachsen. Voraussetzung dafür ist ein neues Ernstnehmen des Wortes Gottes in der heiligen Schrift. Denn, so sagt der hl. Hieronymus, ”wer die Schrift nicht kennt, kennt Christus nicht“.

Gottes Wort aufmerksam zu hören und mit Mut und Zuversicht zu verkünden, ist vor allem uns Bischöfen und unseren Priestern aufgetragen. Die Vermittlung des Glaubens durch Wort, Sakrament und Dienst der Liebe verlangt zuallererst von uns, daß wir als seine Zeugen selbst von Jesus Christus ergriffen sind. Zeuge sein heißt: sich selbst mit seiner ganzen Existenz in die Weitergabe des Glaubens einzubringen. Nur wer das Wort Gottes zuerst selbst tief in sich aufgenommen hat, kann es auch glaubwürdig an andere weitervemitteln. Daraus ergibt sich die große Notwendigkeit, daß die Priester und ihre pastoralen Mitarbeiter, denen die Weitergabe des Glaubens von Berufs wegen obliegt, eine entsprechend gründliche Vorbereitung und stete Weiterbildung erhalten, damit sie die Frohe Botschaft Jesu Christi den Menschen auch heute überzeugend zu verkündigen vermögen.

Die Kirche lebt und verwirklicht ihren Glauben auf vielfältige Weise: in den Gemeinden und Gemeinschaften, in Vereinen und Gruppen – den jeweiligen konkreten Gegebenheiten entsprechend. Die wichtigste Zelle bleibt aber – gerade auch bei den beschränkten Möglichkeiten Eurer Diasporasituation – die christlich gelebte und gestaltete Familie, die das II. Vatikanische Konzil bekanntlich ”eine Art Hauskirche“ nennt, in der die Eltern ”durch Wort und Beispiel für ihre Kinder die ersten Glaubensboten“ sein sollen. Die Weitergabe des Glaubens verlangt besonders das vertrauensvolle Gespräch zwischen den Generationen, in dem diese ihre religiösen Erfahrungen austauschen und voneinander lernen können. Der naturgegebene Raum für die Einübung in dieses Glaubensgespräch ist wiederum die Familie. Darum möchte ich die Familien- und Jugendpastoral erneut Eurer besonderen Sorge und Aufmerksamkeit empfehlen.

Mit dem Verlust an sittlichen Grundwerten geht vor allem die Entwurzelung der Ehe- und Familienmoral einher. Gegen die wachsende Scheidungspraxis und den damit verbundenen allgemeinen Sittenverfall stellt sich uns als dringliche Aufgabe, den Menschen die authentische Lehre der Kirche über Ehe und Familie in einer vertieften Glaubenskatechese zu vermitteln, wie sie im Apostolischen Schreiben ”Familiaris Consortio“ ausführlich dargelegt ist.

5. Wie der Apostel sagt, kommt der Glaube vom Hören. Deshalb müssen wir in unserem pastoralen Planen und Wirken der lebendigen Verkündigung und Bezeugung des Wortes Gottes in Predigt und Katechese, in der Familie, in Religionsunterricht und Jugendarbeit den Vorrang einräumen. Dem Dienst des Wortes gebührt der Vorzug vor jeder anderen noch so wichtigen und notwendigen Tätigkeit. Was die Menschen brauchen und worauf sie – vielleicht auch unbewußt – warten, ist die befreiende Botschaft vom Reich Gottes, das bereits im Kommen ist und die Welt heilt und verwandelt. Daraus erwächst sodann die richtige geistige uns sittliche Orientierung für das Leben.

Bei dieser geforderten Neu-Evangelisierung geht es gewiß darum, den unverkürzten katholischen Glauben und die verpflichtende Sittenlehre der Kirche weiterzugeben. Darüber hinaus kommt es aber vor allem darauf an, die christliche Grundhaltung des Glaubens als solche zu vermitteln, zu pflegen und zu entfalten; jene gläubige Sicht und Wertung der Gesamtheit des Lebens und der Welt, die allein von Christus he ihr wahres Maß und ihren wirklichen Sinn erhalten. Ich meine damit jenen lebendigen Glaubensgeist, durch den die Familien und Gemeinden, unsere Länder und Europa allein ihr wahrhaft christliches Gepräge zurückerhalten können.

6. Geht darum, liebe Mitbrüder, von dieser unserer Begegnung im Auftrage und Geiste Jesu Christi mit neuem Mut und mit neuer Zuversicht wieder hinaus zu Euren Diözesen und verkündet die Frohe Botschaft allen Menschen. Wir wissen um die Größe unseres Auftrages und auch um die Schwierigkeiten, denen er in der Welt von heute und besonders auch in der Diasporasituation Eurer Ortskirchen begegnet. Sucht zusammen mit Euren Priestern und pastoralen Mitarbeitern nach den bestmöglichsten Mitteln und Wegen, um dem Verkündigungsauftrag Christi in unserer Zeit immer vollkommener und wirksamer zu entsprechen.

Ich möchte Euch, Euren Priestern und allen Laienhelfern an dieser Stelle zugleich von Herzen dafür danken, daß Ihr Euch schon bisher mit besten Kräften für ein reges und fruchtbares christliches Leben in Euren Diözesen und Gemeinden eingesetzt habt. Seid Euch stets dessen bewußt, daß Ihr auch in der Diasporasituation Eurer Ortskirchen nicht auf vergessenem oder verlorenem Posten steht. Auch in der ”Zerstreuung“ seid Ihr auf vielfältige Weise mit den Christen in anderen Ländern und mit der Weltkirche verbunden, die Euch ja durch zahlreiche lobenswerte Initiativen in Eurer pastoralen Arbeit brüderlichen Halt und Beistand gewähren. Auch diesen gilt hier unser gemeinsamer aufrichtiger Dank.

Seid Euch vor allem aber in lebendigen Glauben dessen froh bewußt, daß der Herr selber an Eurer Seite steht und Eurem Säen und Pflanzen in seinem Weinberg durch seine Gnade Wachsen und Gedeihen schenkt. Darum geschieht auch unser Glaubenszeugnis und die Glaubensweitergabe in ihrer höchsten Form in der gottesdienstlichen Feier, im gemeinsamen Hören des Wortes Gottes, in Lobpreis und Gebet, in Spenden und Empfangen der Sakramente; in der Liturgie der Kirche also, in der nicht mehr wir, sondern Christus selber der Haupthandelnde ist – vor allem in der Feier der Eucharistie, die die Quelle und Mitte des ganzen christlichen und kirchlichen Lebens ist. Schon wo zwei oder drei im Namen Christi versammelt sind, da ist er (Christus), wie er uns selber versichert hat, mitten unter ihnen. Und wo Christus zugegen ist, da ist Kirche, da ist anbrechendes Reich Gottes in dieser Welt.

Der allmächtige und gütige Gott, der in Christus unser Immanuel: ”Gott-mit-uns“ geworden ist, stärke und führe Euch weiterhin in Eurem bischöflichen Wirken. Er segne Euch und Eure Ortskirchen und lasse sein Reich der Wahrheit und der Liebe unter Euch wachsen. – Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!

Papa John Paul II's Address in the Pro-Cathedral of Saint Olav in Oslo
at a Meeting with Priests, Religious Sisters & the Laity, Friday 2 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. It is a great joy for me to see assembled here in the Pro-Cathedral of Saint Olav the priests of the diocese, the religious sisters and representatives of the laity. In you I embrace the whole Diocese of Oslo, gathered around your Pastor, Bishop Gerhard Schwenzer, and I greet you all with the words of Saint Paul: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1, 2).

The cathedral is always the heart of the diocese. It is the centre from which radiates the glow of Christian life, manifested in faith - filled worship of the Lord and in lives of holiness and service. So it is fitting that it is precisely here that the Successor of Peter should be called upon to strengthen his brothers and sisters (Cfr. Luc. 22, 32) and encourage them to persevere in the sacramental life, in evangelization and catechesis, and in all forms of Christian service. Peter’s profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi stands at the heart of the ministerium petrinum. Today and for ever the Bishop of Rome is bound by those simple and clear words spoken by Peter who answered Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am?” with the words “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matth. 16, 16). This is the faith which I share with you and which I reaffirm here today before the priests, religious and lay people of Oslo.

2. In the first place I greet the priests who labour in the Lord’s vineyard in this diocese. My wish is to encourage you in your ministry. You have been “set apart for the Gospel of God” (Rom. 1, 1). Nothing m your lives can take the place of your special relationship with Christ, your sacramental configuration to him and your sharing in his Paschal Mystery. For you are really witnesses to and ministers of a life other than this earthly one. You are the spokesmen, the special builders of the Kingdom won by Christ through his victory over sin and death. As “heralds of the Gospel and shepherds of the Church”, you have the special task of caring for the spiritual growth of the Body of Christ (cf Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6).

My prayer for you is that you will be ever more authentic witnesses to Christ, with a deep life of prayer, faithful in the celebration of the sacraments by which the Church is built up, tireless in teaching. You have to work in the difficult conditions of the diaspora where distance and climate often make it difficult for the parishioners to come together, and difficult for you to reach them. Never be disheartened or dismayed by the small numbers of your flocks. Remember that you are always linked by unbreakable bonds with the whole Church both on earth and in heaven. Jesus Christ has chosen you and he loves you. He will keep you faithful to the end! His grace will uphold you in your generous service of his Church!

3. Dear Sisters, In you I pay tribute to a long history of devoted consecration and witness to Christ in the diocese. The Church’s presence in Norway, both in the last century and in our own, would not have been possible without you. Many Norwegians have had their first contact with the Catholic Church through your hospitals, schools and kindergartens. They have seen in your generous service Christ the servant, healer and teacher.

The evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience for the sake of the Kingdom are the expression of the supreme love of God: God’s love for you, which is at the origin of your vocation, and your love for him, which is a clear sign to the rest of the community of “a new and eternal life acquired by the redemption of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 44). This means that your place as consecrated women is at the very heart of the Church. In you, your fellow Catholics and all others should see the essence of what baptismal life means. What you do as consecrated persons has great importance, but what you are through your religious consecration is even more central to the mystery of God’s saving presence in human affairs. Thus, whatever the form your individual religious families take – contemplative or apostolic – your consecrated life is an immensely powerful witness to Christ’s love.

Dear Sisters: you know how much the Catholic community in Norway needs you. The Pope encourages you and the ecclesial community is grateful to you. May God’s grace uphold you and fill you with joy!

4. I greet the representatives of the laity who are here and also the many lay people whom they represent. Dear friends: in the midst of society it is your special task to be witnesses to Christ and to bring your Christian faith to bear on the realities of family, social and working life, so that all things may be made new in Christ (Cfr. 2Cor. 5, 17). To be a Christian is to bring a “newness” to life and to the world around us. This responsibility is rooted in our baptism, in which each one of us has shared in the death of Christ. The words of Saint Paul describe what has happened to each one of us: “We were buried with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6, 4).

Today, the pressure brought to bear on people, young and old alike, to conform to the values of the secular society in which they live is great. But Saint Paul tells Christians: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Ibid. 12, 2). This “renewal” has taken place once and for all in the waters of baptism, but it must become a reality that takes an ever deeper hold of our lives, “transforming” us so that our thoughts and values are the thoughts and values of Jesus Christ himself.

How is this to happen? The sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, conform our lives more and more closely to Christ’s, so that we do indeed live in a way “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1, 27). By coming together with others to pray and to serve the Church and the civil community – working among refugees and immigrants, in your parish councils, caring for the needy, belonging to the Fellowship of Young Catholics, the Association of Catholic Women and the other councils and organizations that render such valuable service in this diocese – in all these ways you experience the Church as a community, indeed a communion, like a great symphony of worship, prayer and service.

5. Dear brothers and sisters: in this great symphony each person has a specific place and role. Each one of us – priest, religious and lay person – is called to play a particular “instrument”, and all together we are called to active and harmonious participation. Thus for example parish worship on Sundays, wherever your diaspora conditions make it possible, should be a joyous gathering of the whole community. Prayer in families and in small groups – especially when the distance to the Mass centre is very great – can also help to safeguard the community dimension of faith, for faith cannot and must not be confined to the personal and individual domain.

In worship and service everybody is called to work together: “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1Petr. 4, 10). Pastoral ministry and service in the Church must bear the marks of unity and harmony. In the well-known words of the Council, the Church is the “sacrament or sign of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1). Living this unity and harmony can sometimes be hard; sometimes we have to give up our own ideas for the sake of broader and higher perspectives, and this can cause suffering. But this too is a form of conformity to Christ, who came not to do his own will but the will of the Father who sent him (cf Jn 6:38).

6. Our calling is not to bear witness to any merely human doctrine (1Cor. 2, 1), but to bear witness to Jesus Christ and the power of his Resurrection (cf Phil. 3, 10). This has been the constant task of the Church in Norway, from the earliest days of her presence here. Sometimes it has been the witness of blood, as with Saint Olav and with Saint Hallvard, the Patron Saint of Oslo, who gave his life in defence of the weak. For all of us here in this cathedral today, the task is the same: to point beyond ourselves, to point to Jesus Christ, who is our hope and our life, who alone can answer the questions and satisfy the longings of human hearts, Jesus Christ who alone is “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14, 6).

Dear brother priests, religious sisters and lay men and women: “I thank God... when I remember you constantly in my prayers” (2Tim. 1, 3). I thank you, and those whom you represent, for the witness of your Catholic faith. I encourage you to go on, with joy and confidence, in the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Norway needs a new confidence in its Christian calling. It needs to look to Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, for light and strength to meet the needs of a society which has made great material progress but which is sometimes unsure of how to answer the demands of the spirit. Such a renewal of faith depends greatly on each one of you.

May Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of his Church, support you with her prayers, and may all the Saints of Norway strengthen you."

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at the Farewell Ceremony from Oslo
Fornebu International Airport, Friday 2 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Madam Prime Minister, Dear Friends,
1. My visit to Norway has begun in Oslo and now takes me to Trondheim, where I will participate in an ecumenical prayer service at the tomb of Saint Olav. At Trondheim and Tromsø, I will also meet the pastors and people of the Catholic communities there.

In leaving Oslo, I express my gratitude to both the civil and ecclesiastical authorities for their kind help in making this visit possible. In a particular way, I thank His Majesty King Olav and you, Madam Prime Minister. It is my earnest hope that the good relations which exist between Norway and the Holy See will continue and grow stronger in the service of world peace achieved through greater understanding between all peoples. Peace and understanding are causes close to the hearts of all Norwegians, and have their source in the highest aspirations of the human spirit. By your nation’s generosity and commitment to help those in need, and through your membership of the appropriate international organizations, you have displayed a striking determination to work for a better world. May God bless you in your efforts to share the many blessings you have received.

2. The warmth and kindness of the Norwegian people were nowhere more evident than in yesterday’s Mass and subsequent ecumenical meeting. This response was particularly gratifying to me, because my ministry as Pope commits me to strengthening the bonds which unite all who believe in Christ. It is my hope that all Christians here in Norway, by deepening their faith and cooperating with one another, will foster the virtues and values that have stood as the basis of your country’s character and way of life for a thousand years. I am deeply grateful for the freedom with which the Catholic Church can proclaim her teachings, and for the generous support which Catholics receive from Norway’s educational system, which encourages them in their efforts to educate their children in the knowledge of their faith and the service of all that is good.

3. Norway’s Catholics, despite their small numbers, are an important part of the universal Catholic Church and are very close to my heart. Their faith, rooted in the truths of the Gospel message, has much to offer Norway as it faces the future. A significant role in the Catholic Church in Norway is played by people from elsewhere who have made this country their new home. These Catholics bring many gifts to both their Church and their adopted land. I thank all of you for the concern and help that you have given to these immigrants, especially to those who have come here in the hope of beginning a new life in freedom and peace.

4. Dear friends: in today’s world, there is a great thirst for true peace and harmony based upon justice for all people and on respect for the world we live in. Today more than ever we sense the interdependence of all individuals and nations. In my Encyclical “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, I used the term “solidarity” to describe the moral response which is now being demanded of us. Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit ourselves to the common good, the good of all and of each individual, based upon our responsibility to and for each other (cf Ioannis Pauli PP. II Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38). I expressed the conviction that this solidarity is the path to peace and genuine development. Among the nations, Norway has played an important diplomatic and humanitarian role in strengthening the bonds of international cooperation. The Catholic Church, which seeks the authentic development of man and of society, a development which respects and promotes all the dimensions of the human person, is grateful for your efforts. As I leave your capital city, I pray that Norwegian society will continue to grow in the ways of peace and in accordance with the best of your traditions.

“May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in all ways”. God bless Norway! God bless you all!
Gud velsigne Norge! Gud velsigne hele det norske folk!"

JPII's Address at Ecumenical Meeting at Lutheran Cathedral of Nidaros
Trondheim, Norway, Friday 2 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Dear Friends,
1. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1, 2). These words of Saint Paul aptly describe my own prayerful good wishes for each of you and for all the people of Norway. I thank God for this opportunity to listen to God’s word together with you and to reflect with you on its meaning for the life of the Church and the world.

My special greeting goes to the bishops of the Lutheran Church of Norway, the representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the State and Municipal officials, my fellow Catholics and to all who are present here today. I am especially grateful to Bishop Bremer for inviting me in the name of the Lutheran Church of Norway to this venerable place of worship.

2. This cathedral at Nidaros was built by your ancestors over the grave of the great Saint Olav, who played such a crucial role in the spread of Christianity in this land. In this and in many other ways, the cathedral bears witness to the spiritual, political and cultural history of your nation. It also speaks to us of an age when Christians had not yet suffered the sadness of divisions. Both Protestants and Catholics in Norway look to Saint Olav for their roots in the past and for the inspiration they need to live in the present a truly Christian life.

To be sure, this cathedral is more than a building of stone. It is a place where, for centuries, people have been reborn as children of God in Baptism, where they have heard the word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures as we have today, and have offered him the Church’s worship; a place where in personal prayer they have made known to God their needs and have thanked him for his blessings. For medieval pilgrims who came to Nidaros after a long and arduous journey, the cathedral was also a reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem towards which we move on our earthly pilgrimage. Truly a cathedral such as this is more than a building of stone. It turns our spiritual gaze heavenward. It lifts our minds and hearts to God.

3. Dear brothers and sisters: we must surely recognize that the mind and heart of modern man need to be lifted up to God. We must acknowledge that for all the advances of modern science and technology which are transforming the way we live, humanity, in the words of Saint Paul, still “groans inwardly” (cf Rom. 8, 23) in expectation of something further. Indeed, the whole of creation “groans in travail” for something beyond our human power to give.

Science and technology, by which the material cares and burdens of life are increasingly lightened are true achievements of man’s creative energy and intelligence. But knowledge of this kind creates problems as well as solving them. We have only to think of the environmental and social impact of our modern way of life, or of the dangers created by our use of the atom or of biomedical techniques. Science and technology, like the economic life that they generate, cannot of themselves articulate the meaning of existence or of human striving. They cannot of themselves explain, much less eliminate, evil, suffering and death.

Nor may we forget that the “modern man” of whom we speak is not an abstraction, but rather the concrete person that each of us is, a human being with a heart as well as a mind. Here, too, many dilemmas beset us. We strive for love, without which we cannot live, yet today the most basic relationships of love in marriage and the family are threatened by divorce, broken homes and a radical questioning of the very meaning of manhood and woman-hood. We strive for security, wellbeing and a sense of self-worth, yet the traditions of community, family, home and work are being undermined by transformations which do not always acknowledge the ethical dimension inherent in all human activity and endeavour. We wish to be free, but unless there is a common understanding of what we ought to do and not simply what we can do, freedom ends in the tyranny of selfishness and superior force.

What is needed in the midst of these personal and social ills is a higher wisdom which transforms the mind and heart and will: a wisdom which perfects the human intellect by gently drawing it to look for and to love what is true and good, thus leading man through visible realities to those which cannot be seen. The Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council warned that: “Our era needs such wisdom more than bygone ages if the discoveries made by man are to be further humanized. For the future of the world stands in peril unless wiser people are forthcoming” (Gaudium et Spes, 15).

4. Dear friends: today in this Cathedral of Nidaros, built to the glory of God as a beacon pointing heavenward in the midst of the modern world, we stand together in order to proclaim the Good News of redemption in Jesus Christ. Through him we come to know the meaning of creation and of human activity within the plan of God. Jesus Christ is our wisdom. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Cfr. Io. 14, 6). If creation is still “subject to futility”, it is so in the hope of being transformed in Christ. If humanity “groans in travail”, it does so to the extent that people’s minds and hearts are not lifted up with Christ to God, that consciences are not conformed through Christ to the wisdom that comes from God.

As Christians we proclaim a wisdom that recognizes and upholds the priority of ethics over technology, the primacy of the person over things, the superiority of spirit over matter (cf JPIIII Redemptor Hominis, 16). We are able to make these assertions because Christ has shown us that our human destiny is a personal moral and spiritual one; it lies in a filial relationship to God.

Through faith and baptism we have come to know that wisdom is offered as a divine gift but it also confounds the human intellect if it remains closed to the transcendent. It is a revealed wisdom which teaches us that the God of the universe is not an impersonal or unknowable force but a Father. In moments of interior enlightenment, Jesus’ words re-echo in our hearts: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes” (Mat 11, 25).

5. Our task is to open the mind of modern man to divine wisdom, to open the heart of modern man to God. We do so in the manner of Christ, who is “gentle and lowly in heart”, whose “yoke is easy and burden light” (cf ibid 11, 29-30). By proclaiming the Gospel in word and deed, we bear witness before all to the path that leads to life. And we do this not as isolated individuals, but as persons united in Christ through our baptism.

Clearly such witness constitutes an ecumenical challenge for all those who, as Saint Paul says, “have heard the word of truth “and have been” sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (Eph. 1, 13). Today on the eve of the third Christian millennium, the world needs to hear the Good News of salvation no less than it did in the first and second millennia. It is all the more urgent that Christians work for the gradual elimination of their differences and bear common witness to the Gospel.

Today in this cathedral, I give thanks to God for the grace of the ecumenical movement which we have experienced in our time. Through the working of the Holy Spirit new relationships have begun to develop between Christians who have been divided from one another for centuries. I also wish to express gratitude to all those in Norway who have responded to this grace and have worked with dedication to promote the unity of Christians in accordance with Christ’s will. May you persevere along this path with patience and love, so that the dialogue between us will continue with mutual respect and trust as we seek unity in the full truth of Christ.

Preparations for the millennium celebration in 1997 of the foundation of Trondheim will be an opportunity for Lutherans, Catholics and all Christians in Norway to reflect further on the common roots of your faith and on the gospel values which have shaped your common history. It will also be an opportunity for prayer – fervent unceasing prayer for the unity of all Christ’s followers, since in the end we know that unity will come only as a gift from God.

6. Dear brothers and sisters: before us lies the duty of opening a new Christian chapter in history in response to the many challenges of a changing world. In centuries past the Church led the peoples of Europe to the baptismal font and the cultural identity of Europe grew out of the Christian faith. The centrality of the person, the role of the family in society, the rights of the individual and of groups the moral and ethical values which gave direction and inspiration to human behaviour, all developed in contact with the Gospel and the teaching of the Church. In today’s Europe, however, there is taking place a cultural clash of enormous consequences: it is a clash between two visions of life, the one revealed in Christ wherein God is accepted as the ultimate and recognized source of truth, goodness and freedom and the other of the world, closed to transcendence, wherein all is to be built on humanity’s efforts to give meaning and direction to itself through social consensus. Christians understand what is at stake. The history of our own century clearly shows that where no transcendent norm is acknowledged, people are in danger of surrendering themselves to forces which take command of society without concern for individuals and their freedoms.

The Catholic Church seeks no privilege but expects only that civil and religious freedom should be effectively guaranteed so that she can proclaim her message and address the basic questions posed by human existence in the contemporary world. Speaking to the European Parliament in October of last year I stressed that “if the underlying religious and Christian fabric of this continent were to be denied as an inspiration to morality or as a positive factor in society, not only would the entire heritage of our European past be negated, but the future dignity of the people of Europe... would be gravely endangered” (JPII Allocutio ad "Parlamento Europeo", 11, die 11 oct. 1988).

The time for wisdom on the part of everyone is now! The time for a renewed witness of faith on the part of Christians is now! We are being challenged to bring to humanity the Gospel of Christ, the Good News of redemption and of adoption as God’s children. We are being challenged to bear witness to the wisdom of the Incarnate Word, Christ the “Light of the Nations” (Cfr. Luc. 2, 32), a light that leads to fullness of life for those who accept it. In the face of such great challenges, the Spirit of truth is urging us to persevere in the ecumenical task.

With confidence in God “who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask” (Eph 3, 20) let us take up the challenge of a new evangelization. Let us proclaim once more the wisdom of the Beatitudes to a world in need of peace, of love and of brotherhood. Let us proclaim once more the truth of Christ, our Crucified and Risen Saviour. He is the “goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the centre of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings” (Gaudium et Spes, 14). May God be with you all. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Amen."

St John Paul II's Homily at Mass on Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Idrettsbygget Sporting Centre, Technical University of Trondheim, Friday 2 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Kjäre bröde og söstre i Midt-Norge!

Jeg er glad for a kunne feire festen till äre for Jesu helligste hjerte sammen med dere her i Trondheim. Dere kommer fra menighetene i Alesund, Molde, Kristiansund, Levanger og Trondheim. Mange av dere har gjort en stor innsats for a forberede denna dagen. Dét gleder jeg meg over och takker dere alle!

You have come, like the pilgrims of old, to this revered city of Nidaros (now Trondheim) and shrine of Saint Olav, who heralded a new era of Christianity and unification in this land even though he did not live to see the fruits of his labour. His son, Magnus the Good, built the first wooden church on this site and it quickly became a place of pilgrimage. Already by the year 1060 a liturgy dedicated to Saint Olav was in use as far away as Northumberland in Britain. In the Orthodox Church too, the memory of Saint Olav is greatly venerated: to his intercession was attributed the survival of the Imperial Guard of Constantinople in an hour of danger when it went into battle with Emperor Alexos against the Bulgars.

The Eucharist has been the focus of countless numbers of people who have come here down the centuries. In the Eucharist we receive Christ, who instituted this Sacrament so that he might remain with us and live in us. Could there possibly be any greater gift? Christ redeemed the world with the Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. In doing so, he provides us with food and drink for eternal life. This sacramental food, under the signs of bread and wine, truly “refreshes our souls”. Indeed it leads us along the paths of faith, hope and charity all the days of our life so that we can “live in the house of the Lord”.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23 (22), 1).

Today’s liturgy places these words of the Psalmist on the lips of the children who are going to receive their First Holy Communion at this Mass. It is only right that they should pray these beautiful words today when Our Lord and Saviour prepares a Eucharistic table for them for the first time. The words “The Lord is my shepherd” express an unlimited hope which they can repeat whenever they receive Jesus, the Bread of life.

2. The Scripture readings for this Mass set before us the figure of the Good Shepherd. The Prophets of the Old Testament use this image to speak about the God who had freed his Chosen People, Israel, from slavery in Egypt and had shown them special love. God is the Shepherd who cares for the sheep, watching them lest they scatter. He feeds his flock, looking for “green pastures” so that they may graze well. He even finds quiet places where they can rest undisturbed. With loving care he looks after the whole flock – not only all the sheep but also each one individually. He is concerned with, the welfare of every lamb and every sheep in his care. This is the image of the Good Shepherd which the Prophet Ezekiel portrays in our first reading.

In the fullness of time Jesus confirmed and perfected the prophetic vision of the Good Shepherd by laying down his life for the sheep (cf Jn 10, 11). This refers to his Sacrifice on the Cross, by which he gave himself for the life of the world (cf ibid 6, 51) – for all and for each one individually. Of this Saint Paul writes: “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5, 8). By dying Christ offered himself in sacrifice to the Father and through this redeeming sacrifice he revealed the Father’s love for us. Saint Paul teaches that we were reconciled to God by the death of Jesus and justified by his blood. Now that we are reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (cf ibid 5, 9-10). This is the mystery of God’s love for his sheep – his infinite, unchanging love – which prompts him to go in search of the one that is lost (cf Lk 15, 4).

This mystery was further revealed to us the night before Christ’s death on the Cross when he instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. The Eucharist is the Sacrifice of Calvary sacramentally realized on our altars, whereby the Crucified and Risen Son of God is still alive among us. It is precisely his risen life which he wishes to communicate to us. As true God and true man, he shares this new life with us in the Eucharist, when we receive him under the appearances of bread and wine.

3. I am told that sheep can be seen grazing nearly everywhere in Norway from early spring to late autumn. Undoubtedly, they will often stray in dangerous places, and if they wander too far they risk being lost or falling prey to other dangers. In our journey through life, we too risk getting lost. We hear so many conflicting voices calling us one way or another. So today it is appropriate for each one of us to ask ourselves: Where do I really stand? Am I one of the lost sheep that needs to be carried home on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd? He is always searching for us, calling us to turn away from the false and misleading roads along which we may wander. He is always calling us to repentance: to a restoration of communion with God and with one another when we have sinned, and to ever greater holiness as members of his Church.

Through conversion we must also grow in love and respect for the whole of Christ’s flock. Compared to many other places, Norway is a rich country. The very name Trondheim reminds us of this – it means “riches of the earth”. Many people look with admiration at your democratic society. Social trends in your country attract worldwide attention. In this context, however, you are called not to forget the children, the sick, the handicapped and the elderly. All people deserve and need to be cared for as God’s loved ones; they constitute a treasure from which we all benefit. The best gift you can give your children is a heart that is fully human, a heart that is sensitive to good and evil. The best gift you can give the sick, the handicapped and the elderly is the respect due to them as sons and daughters of the same heavenly Father. They deserve your time, your individual attention and your love. Their example and their patience will enrich your own lives and the lives of all who approach them with compassionate concern.

4. My brothers and sisters: I know that most of you who have come here today to celebrate your unity in faith with the Successor of Saint Peter belong to small congregations. Many of you probably live far from a church. You have experienced what it means to belong to a religious minority, especially since many of the Catholics in Central Norway come from abroad. Those of you from other countries may miss the language, culture and way of life of your homeland, and also the familiar Catholic Church with her prayers, hymns and ceremonies. But I want to tell each of you that the Pope, the Church’s Universal Pastor, loves you. He comes in the name of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and you have a special place in his heart.

He admires your fidelity and perseverance. And today he is here to encourage you to put all your trust in God’s love!

Sett all deres tillit til Guds kjärlighet.
Hāy dăt tronniem tin vào tinh yêu cua Chúa.
Poned toda vuestra confianza en el amor de Dios.
Złóżcie całą waszą, nadziję w Miłości Boga!

Those of you who are Norwegian by birth and ancestry realize that immigrants too add to the riches of the nation. In the best traditions of this country, you have given your new citizens a chance to begin again in freedom, with all the opportunities that society offers. In this way, you set a noble example for others to follow. Human diversity enriches every level of society, and so I encourage the whole community to continue to grant those who have settled in your midst a real place in society by according them the respect and the rights which you yourselves enjoy.

5. The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which we celebrate today invites us to see and love Christ in all people, and to reflect his love for them in our own lives. For generations the Church has prayed: “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto thine”. Today I wish to recall this familiar prayer and to recite it on your behalf: Jesus, make our hearts like unto thine. And in doing so, I give special thanks to God for the example of the Picpus Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts, who for more than fifty years have supplied this region with priests and have done so often under very difficult conditions. Dear Brothers: Today, on your great feast, I encourage you in your priestly ministry and I offer you the gratitude of the whole Church for your generosity and zeal.

I also wish to thank the Sisters of the religious congregations who have shown the love of Christ in a remarkable way to everyone but especially to the children, the sick and the elderly. The service you have given is a living sermon which can be understood by all. May the Good Shepherd continue to watch over you and bless you in your commitment.

6. My final words today are addressed to the children: Kjaere dere barn som gar til kommunion for første gang idag.

Denne dagen er en viktig begivenhet for dere. For første gang far dere invitasjon til a ga til kommunion. Jeg er litt overrasket over a se hvor mange land dere kommer fra. Mange av dere snakker ikk ebare norsk, men ogsa vietnamesisk, polsk, spansk, engelsk eller andre sprak. De foreldre og prester som har gitt dere undervisning, har fortalt meg at dere har hatt det veldig fint sammen. Dette er et forbilde for den voksne i hele verden. Dere viser at alle mennesker hører til kirkens fellesskap.

Vi er samlet her fordi Jesus kaller pa oss - slik han kalte pa tolleren Sakkeus. Jesus vil feire en fest sammen med oss. Og han gir oss i gave det beste han har i sitt hellige legeme og sitt hellige blod.

Forberedelsene til denne dagen har gitt dere mye glede. Ta vare pa den. Deres prester, foreldre og ungdommene vil sikkert hjelpe dere med det.

Helt till slutt vil jeg rette noen ord til dere foreldre. Mange av dere har hjulpet til med a forberede denne dagen, og jeg takker dere av hele mitt hjerte. Samtidig vil jeg be dere om a gjøre alt dere kan for at barna deres kan finne et hjem i kirkens fellesskap."

Papa St John Paul II's Homily at the Celebration of the Word in Tromsø
Stortorget, Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 2 June 1989 - in English & Italian

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Kjäre Vänner!
Det er en glede for meg a kunne besöke dere her i Tromsø. Det er förste gang jeg besöker et land nord for polarcirkelen. Jeg vet at dere har mörketid i tva maneder av aret. Men nu er det de lyse netters tid. Solen gar ikke ned!

Jeg forstar hvor meget dere ma elske lyset!

Jesus Kristus har sagt: "Jeg er verdens lys". Han er lyset som alltid skinner, Han er lyser som alltid varmer! Han er selve lyset som bringer oss Kjärlighet, Glede, Hap och Fred.

Jeg hilser dere alle og ber om velsignelse over dere og landet her i nord.

2. As we come together this evening in prayer, we must ask ourselves what it means to pray. The beautiful Psalms that we have just sung teach us the basis of all prayer; they remind us that we are creatures who have a relationship with the God who made us:

“In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his. To him belongs the sea, for he made it. and the dry land shaped by his hands... let us kneel before the God who made us” (Ps. 95 (94), 4-6).

The Psalms also speak of our need for deliverance, or, to be more exact, they celebrate with thanks giving the mighty deeds of deliverance that God has accomplished for his people:

“He remembered us in our distress, for his love endures for ever. And he snatched us away from our foes... He gives food to all living things, for his love endures for ever” (Ps. 136 (135), 23-25).

Dear brothers and sisters: in the Psalms we see how God’s chosen people were filled with praise and thanks for the gift of creation and for their deliverance from earthly enemies. How much greater then is our need to pray to Almighty God, who frees us from sin and death through his Son’s Cross and Resurrection, and who makes us into a new creation through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thus we are led to the Gospel. Like the very first disciples, we come to Christ eager to learn how to pray (Cfr. Luc. 11, 1). By teaching us the “Our Father” Christ establishes the pattern for all prayer. He explains our relationship with God and with one another: God is our Creator. He is our Redeemer. With him as our common Father we are brothers and sisters to one another.

3. And so we say: “Our Father who art in heaven” (Mt 6, 9).

When Jesus prays he uses the Aramaic word “Abba” (cf Mk 14, 36), which is what small children would have called their fathers. Only Christ, the Eternal Son who is one in being with the Father, has the right to address with such familiarity, with such intimacy, the one whose throne is in the heavens. But we too have been given this privilege by our adoption as children of God in Baptism (cf Rom. 8, 15; Gal. 4, 6). We have become sons and daughters “in the Son” Jesus Christ.

This unimagined and undeserved gift of communion with God transforms every human relationship. We pray not to “my” father or to “your” father, bur to “our Father”. Even when we “shut the door and pray... in secret” (Mt 6, 6), we are spiritually united with all our brothers and sisters in Christ and with every human person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Prayer delivers us from selfishness, from isolation and loneliness. It opens us up to the mystery of communion with God and with others.

4. “Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt 6, 9-10).

In the modern world, scientific and technological developments have dispelled many of our fears, relieved so many of the burdens of our existence, and opened up new possibilities for human self-realization. But these developments can also lead to a great temptation like the one “in the beginning” in the Book of Genesis: the temptation to decide for ourselves what is good and evil without reference to the God who made us, the vain attempt to place ourselves and our wills, rather than God and his law, at the centre of the universe. But if we reject or ignore God “who is love”, we reject love itself.

The first concern of the “Lord’s Prayer” is that God’s name should be glorified, that his Kingdom should come, that his will should be done. If that is our priority, then all else will be given us besides. Progress in science, economics, social organization and culture will not rob us of our humanity, but will reflect the love that alone gives life, meaning and joy to our human efforts. It is God who “gives us our daily bread” (Mt 6, 11), even as we remember that it is not by bread alone that we live, “but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4, 4).

5. "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt 6, 12)

Christ’s teaching is simple but sobering. He says, “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Mt 6, 14-15).

Dear brothers and sisters: is this not perhaps the most difficult petition of the “Lord’s Prayer”, precisely because what is asked of us is so clear and uncompromising? In praying these words we profess our trust in God’s mercy, but we also commit ourselves to a life of forgiveness. So often we impose conditions on our forgiveness, or refuse to seek reconciliation if we have been wronged. Yet if God were to treat us like this, who could be saved? With good reason we deplore the hatred, revenge and hardness of heart that afflict society in so many parts of the world, but the “Lord’s Prayer” challenges us to change the world by first being converted in our own hearts. Christ’s way of forgiveness demands that we should love even our enemies and pray for our persecutors (cf Mt 5, 44). Only then can we truly pray as Jesus taught us.

6. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Mt 6, 13).

This final petition in the “Our Father” helps us to understand divine Providence in the light of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. It warns us of the existence of evil and calls to mind Christ’s words: “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10, 28).

This does not mean that God is deaf to our prayers for deliverance from physical danger and evil, or that he is indifferent to the suffering and death caused by natural calamities, disease, famine and war. It is only natural that we should turn to our heavenly Father for protection from these evils which entered the world because of original sin. But at the same time we must have confidence in Christ’s victory over suffering and death. When, despite our prayers and human efforts, we still suffer evil in this passing world, we must have faith that it can be overcome through the redeeming power of love. The greatest evil that can ultimately befall us is to be separated from God because of sin. That, above all, is what we mean when we pray that we may not be led into temptation but delivered from evil.

7. Dear brothers and sisters: what does it mean to pray? It means to lift up our minds and hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving, and to live according to the truth about God, about ourselves and about the world. It means to worship God not just with words but also with deeds, as the “Lord’s Prayer” teaches us.

Gathered this evening in the long bright twilight of the North, in the light of the unsetting sun which so clearly symbolizes Christ, the Light of the world, who is the same yesterday, today and forever, let us take to heart the words with which he ended his sermon in the Gospel. What he said to the crowd that day is addressed to each one of us too: “Every one... who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Mt 7, 24-25).

May “our Father in heaven” grant us always this wisdom and this strength."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's Homily at Mass in Stortorget, Tromsø
Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Saturday 3 June 1989 - in English & Italian

“How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps. 8, 1).

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. These words of the Psalmist come to mind when we behold the beauty of God’s creation in this land of the Midnight Sun, which shines on the fjords and mountain ranges for all to admire. As we survey the magnificent landscape here in the far North of Norway within the Arctic Circle, our thoughts turn northwards towards that pole which has attracted so many adventurous travellers and explorers. We also turn to the South, East and West: to the other nations of Europe and to other vast continents, including those across the sea. And with the Psalmist we repeat: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” Creation bears witness. It speaks of the Creator.

2. It is a great joy for me to join you in giving thanks today for the gifts of Creation and Redemption we have received from God. As chief Pastor of the Catholic Church, I am especially eager to celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic people: with my brother, Bishop Goebel, with the priests and religious who give themselves so generously to the service of the Church in this northern part of Europe, and with all the lay faithful whom they serve.

The roots of Catholic faith in the city of Tromsø are ancient. Already in the early Middle Ages, long before the divisions of a later time, there was a church here dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Today there is Our Lady’s Church, which serves the Catholic population of Northern Norway. That population includes not only native Norwegians but Catholic immigrants as well, who have come here in recent years to establish a new home for themselves and their children. Upon all my Catholic brothers and sisters I invoke an abundance of strength and joy in the Lord.

At the same time I cordially greet those of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, especially the members of the Lutheran Church, and all people of good will who have come here to pray with the Pope. I hope that my presence will serve to deepen mutual respect and to promote the unity of all Christians, in keeping with Christ’s prayer “that they may all be one” (Io. 17, 21). I also hope that my visit will help to awaken in all hearts a renewed commitment to the person of Jesus Christ, the commitment which is the great goal of all the Churches in preaching the Gospel.

3. “When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
the moon and the stars which you arranged, what is man...?” (Ps. 8, 4-5).

The Psalmist asks God about man. And man, placed within the visible natural world of which he is a part, asks himself: “Who am I?”. It is necessary for him to ask this question. Of all the visible creatures in the universe, man alone is capable of asking questions about himself and about the world. The question “What is man?” evokes many different answers, each of which reflects human experience and human ways of thinking. They are the result of reflection, as well as scientific research. But the Psalmist answers this question in the light of God’s word. Here is what he has to say about man:

“You have made him little less than a god;
with glory and honour you crowned him,
gave him power over the works of your hand,
put all things under his feet” (Ps. 8, 6-7).

These words of the Psalm reflect the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. There we read: “God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth”. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1, 26-27). This is the answer of the Book of Genesis to the question: “What is man?”. And just as the Psalmist says, “You... gave him power over the works of your hand”, so too in Genesis we read that “God blessed them, and God said to them” – to both the man and woman – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion” (Gen 1, 28).

4. We see then that the root of man’s vocation in the created world is to the found in certain fundamental gifts: in the gift of the person and of the community through mutual love – in marriage, in the family – in the gift of life. Man, whether male or female, is the only creature that can be called a person. This is because he is the only creature made in the “image and likeness” of God. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a perfect communion of love, so too each of us is called to enter into loving communion with others through self-giving. Without this relationship we can neither live nor develop our gifts.

In the Book of Genesis we see how this self-giving is mainly realized in marriage: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1, 26-27). The love of a married couple unites them, but it also enables them to become cooperators with God in giving life to a new human person. Thus they establish the most basic of human communities, the family. At the same time, Genesis also speaks of another fundamental gift: the earth, which is given to man so that he may use its riches in a creative way.

We cannot continue our reflection on God’s word in today’s liturgy without first asking: “How well does man use these fundamental gifts?”. What is the mutual relationship of man and woman today? What of marriage and the family? Are they really a communion of life and love? Again, does man make good use of his dominion over the earth? Is he a conscientious protector of creatures or a brutal exploiter? By misusing the natural environment does he not threaten his own future on this planet?

5. “...what is man that you should keep him in mind, mortal man that you care for him?” (Ps. 8, 5).

What is he? The Psalmist’s question leads us further. It prepares us for the conversation which Christ had with Nicodemus by night: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Io. 3, 5-6). People are born from their parents – from men and women – according to the flesh. But they must also be born spiritually. The truth is that they are not only flesh but also spirit. Their destiny is not only the earth and the created world, but also the Kingdom of God. They must therefore be born of the Holy Spirit so as to become, by a supernatural gift, adopted children of God, children “in the Son”. This is the meaning of Baptism, the sacrament of “water and the Spirit”, of which Christ speaks in his conversation with Nicodemus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are freed from the inheritance of original sin and are given the pledge of eternal life in God.

Christ says to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3, 16-17). What does it mean to be “saved”? It means to be freed from evil. It means to be freed from the sin that leads away from God, and to be prepared in Christ for union with God. For eternal union with God: for eternal life! Christ also revealed to Nicodemus that night the meaning of the Cross on which he was to offer his life for man’s redemption. He says: “the Son of man must be lifted up” (Jn 3, 14). And elsewhere Saint John tells us; “By this we know love, that (Christ) laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1Jn 3, 16).

6. A few moments ago I spoke of love in marriage and family life. But what about people outside the family circle? The example of Christ and his self-sacrifice on the Cross leads us into the very depths of charity, to that love which embraces not only those who love us, but every human being, even our enemies. This kind of charity is a gift from God; it is a baptismal gift. Left to ourselves, we may achieve a certain altruism in the name of our common humanity. But as the Second Vatican Council pointed out so prophetically – and we see this verified every day – “once God is forgotten, the creature is lost sight of as well” (Gaudium et Spes, 36). If we do not love God, known or unknown, we will not love one another.

To you, dear brothers and sisters, has been entrusted a great gift. The light of Christ which never sets has shone upon this land for many generations. It is your privilege to know that his Birth, Death and Resurrection reveal that “God is love” (1 Io. 4, 16). For a Christian, love is not a philosophy or a set of principles, much less an ideology; it is not even a morality as such. For us love has a personal name, and this name is Jesus Christ! It is only by entering into a relationship of love with this living person that we can fulfil the purpose for which we were created. It is only by transcending ourselves through faith, by responding to the divine gift of Baptism into Christ, that we will find the joy and peace for which the human heart longs.

Dear people of Northern Norway, I beg you: open the door of your hearts to Christ. Enter into communion with God through Christ, so that you may be in communion with every human person. Turn to him whose name is love so that you may love others, not because of any mere passing qualities, but because they are created in the image and likeness of God, because they have been redeemed, with you, in the Blood of the Lamb.

7. “What is man that you should keep him in mind?” The Gospel answers that question for us. It is a response that surpasses anything that we could hope for or imagine. It encompasses much more than we could ever think about ourselves or could say as a result of all our searching, with all the language of science.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask a question here, on this spot, in this city of Tromsø, on the northern edge of Europe, and let it be directed to the whole continent and to all the continents and nations of this planet: “What is man?”. Down through the centuries the answer in the Gospel of Christ reaches every generation. It is the answer of the Paschal Mystery, of the Cross and Resurrection!

Truly, “the light has come into the world”, but have we not too often preferred the darkness? (cf Jn 3, 19) Why is this so? In Christ’s conversation with Nicodemus we find the following answer: “every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (Io. 3, 20-21). We who are baptized into Christ must take his invitation to heart every day of our lives: “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become children of light” (Ibid. 12, 36). This, dear brothers and sisters, is your vocation and dignity: to be children of light in this land of the Midnight Sun:

– the divine light that shines on creation,
– the light that leads to redemption,
– the everlasting light of Christ.

Kjäre kristne!
För jeg avslutter vil jeg gjerne takke dere for invitasjonen til Tromsö.
Min takk og min hilsen gjelder i särlig grad de troende i Tromsö katolske Stift. Men min takk og min hilsen gär videre til dere alle som har värt med i denne gudstjenesten for a prise var felles Far och hans Sönn Jesus Kristus i Den hellige And.

Jeg takker myndighetene i denne by som har lagt alt vel til rette (og har passet godt рa meg).

Jag har hört om gjestfriheten her i Nord-Norge og har fätt oppleve den.

Matte Var Herre Jesus Kristus, Kirkens Herre, före arbeidet for Kirkens enhet videre till malet. Matte Han velsigne denne by og denne landsdel og alle dem som er her. Dette er min bönn for dere."


© Copyright 1989 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana