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St John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Zimbabwe

10th - 13th September 1988

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Zimbabwe at the beginning of his 38th apostolic journey, on which he also visited Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland (now Eswatini) & Mozambique. The theme of JPII's pilgrimage was 'Coming together in Christ'.

10th September - after being welcomed at Harare Airport, Pope St John Paul spoke at the closing session of the Second Plenary Assembly of the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA).
11th September - JPII met with the Bishops of Zimbabwe before celebrating Holy Mass in Harare and making an Act of Entrustment of Zimbabwe to Mary at the Angelus. This was followed by meetings with some of the laity of Zimbabwe, with young people and with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Government of Zimbabwe.
12th September - JPII celebrated Holy Mass in Bulawayo before meeting with priests, religious & seminarians and attending an ecumenical meeting in the Anglican Cathedral of Bulawayo.
13th September - Farewell ceremony at Harare International Airport.

Pope St John Paul II's address at the Welcome Ceremony
International Airport of Harare, Saturday 10th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Mr President, My brother Bishops, Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Dear Friends,
1. In kissing Zimbabwe's soil, I have wished to honour the entire nation and show my gratitude to Almighty God who enables me to visit your beloved country. I give thanks to him from the depths of my heart for bringing me once more to Africa: continent of hope and promise for the future of mankind.

It is fitting that my pastoral visit to five countries of Southern Africa should begin here, in Zimbabwe, a nation making a new beginning, where a new era of peace and reconciliation is taking shape – in the midst of not a few difficulties – a nation to which the whole of Africa, and indeed the world, looks for a sign that a better future can be built on the basis of justice and brotherhood under God, without discrimination.

2. Mr President, I wish to express to you my deep gratitude for the welcome to Zimbabwe which you have extended to me. When you visited the Vatican in May 1982 you asked me to come to your country, and recently you renewed that cordial invitation. I express my heartfelt appreciation to you, to the members of the Government and to the entire population who have so warmly welcomed me as a friend.

Within Africa Zimbabwe is the country which has most recently come to independence. Your people vividly recall the midnight between 17 and 18 April 1980 when the national flag was raised and the new Republic was proclaimed, inaugurating what you yourself called a “time for reconciliation, reconstruction and nation-building”. These noble words still constitute the goal which inspires your efforts and those of your fellow-citizens. Such a programme offers an appropriate framework for the effective and practical collaboration of all sectors of society on the path of progress and peace. I assure you of my prayerful support and encouragement.

I also wish to greet you, Mr President, in your capacity as current Chairman of the International Movement of Non-Aligned Nations. Zimbabwe and the other members of this group affirm what I spoke of in my recent encyclical, namely: “the right of every people to its own identity, independence and security, as well as the right to share, on a basis of equality and solidarity, in the goods intended for all” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 21).  In this regard I would repeat something I said on a previous visit to this continent: “It is my conviction that all Africa, when allowed to take charge of its own affairs, without being subjected to interference and pressure from any outside powers or groups, will not only astound the rest of the world by its achievements, but will be able to share its wisdom, its sense of life, its reverence for God with other continents and nations, thus establishing that exchange and that partnership in the mutual respect that is needed for the true progress of all humanity” (12 Feb 1982).

3. Unfortunately, in the Southern African region these rights are far from being fully respected, these aspirations far from being fulfilled. Powerful political, economic and ideological forces endanger the still fragile stability of countries which are only beginning to consolidate their recently acquired independence. Those forces impede the self-determination of peoples; they foment ideological, ethnic and tribal conflicts; they delay the process of development.

Where instances of serious injustice have caused and continue to cause immense suffering, hope for a peaceful outcome and just solution must include genuine and sincere dialogue between opposing viewpoints. This is true for the grave issue of apartheid and for all violations of human rights. I appeal to all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of the peoples of this region, of whatever racial extraction or ideological inspiration, to renounce the use of violence as a method for achieving their ends. They have a duty before history to resolve their differences by peaceful means, in the only way consonant with man’s transcendent calling. The time for such steps is now!

4. The main purpose of my present pilgrimage is to visit my brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith. I am overjoyed to be among you and to rejoice with you in the faith and sacramental life that unites us in the Body of Christ. I look forward to celebrating this unity with you in the Eucharist. I come to encourage you all, especially you, my brother bishops and priests, in the great task of evangelization and in your many services to the national community.

I also greet my brothers and sisters, representatives and leaders of the other Ecclesial Communities in Zimbabwe. I express to you my sincere affection in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

As a pilgrim of peace, seeking to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, I salute all the citizens of Zimbabwe: the men and women of every walk of life, the children, the young, the old; in a special way, the sick and the poor, and all who are burdened in body or in spirit. May God’s love embrace every one of you.

God bless Zimbabwe! God bless Africa!"

St John Paul II's address at the Closing Session of 2nd Plenary Assembly
of the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA)
Convent of the Dominican Sisters, Harare, Saturday 10th September 1988 - also in Italian

"“I shall be with you all days,
even to the end of the world” (Mt 28, 20).

Dear Cardinals and brother Bishops,
Members of the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa,
1. With confidence in Jesus’ promise to be forever with his Church, we are gathered here in Harare – in his name – at the closing session of the Second Plenary Assembly of IMBISA. We recognize that the collegial bond which unites us exists “for the nurturing and constant growth of the People of God” (Lumen Gentium, 18). Christ willed that the successors of the Apostles should be shepherds in his Church until the end of time.

It is a source of great joy for me to meet once more the bishops of the Church in Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, São Tomé e Príncipe, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. It was not possible to include all your countries in this visit. Therefore, I ask you, the bishops from Angola and São Tomé e Príncipe, from South Africa and Namibia, to convey my greetings and blessing to your priests, religious and laity, and to assure them that I look forward to being able to visit each of your countries on some future occasion. I ask you all to pray that the Lord will give me this consolation without too much delay.

Many of you have been to Rome in recent months on your ad limina visit. There, you bore witness to the joys and sorrows of your particular Churches. There, you renewed your faith and the faith of your people at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and deepened the ecclesial communion which unites you with the Successor of Peter and with the whole Catholic and apostolic Church. My visit today is meant to be a further affirmation of the bonds of unity, charity and peace (LG, 22) which unite us. In tomorrow’s solemn Concelebration we shall proclaim that unity in the deepest way possible, by together offering and partaking of the very Body of Christ, which is the highest expression of our unity and its source (cf LG, 11).

2. The kingdom which the Son of God established by coming into the world has been entrusted to our Episcopal ministry. This is the measure of our responsibility. This kingdom is the realization in time of God’s eternal plan: it reveals the “wisdom” which was hidden and has now been made known through the Spirit who searches everything, even the depths of God (cf 1 Cor 2, 7-10). “The mysterious design which for ages was hidden in God” is made manifest in Christ and in his Church (cf Eph 3, 9-10; Col 1, 26-27).

Our Episcopal ministry is inseparable from the mystery of Christ and of the Church. The Second Vatican Council reminds bishops that they have been “appointed by the Holy Spirit... sent to continue throughout the ages the work of Christ, the eternal pastor... made true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs, shepherds” (Christus Dominus, 2). In this time and place you have been called to be the “servants of Christ and administrators of the mysteries of God”(1 Cor 4, 1) in Southern Africa, in each of the countries represented in IMBISA.

3. Na vossa primeira Assembleia Plenária propusestes-vos como objectivo discernir a missão profética da Igreja, na complexa e variada realidade social, cultural e política da região. Propusestes-vos tornar mais conhecido o ensino social da Igreja, de maneira que esta região possa tomar uma nova orientação, inspirada no Evangelho. Nessa ocasião escrevi-vos, para reafirmar a doutrina da exortação apostólica “Evangelii Nuntiandi” do Papa Paulo VI, sobre a validade perene da mensagem do Evangelho, pelo que diz respeito ao homem, na complexidade de sua existência. Quis desse modo ajudar-vos e encorajar-vos, na vossa solicitude pastoral por todo o povo da África Austral, e recordar que toda a forma de ministério e de serviço na Igreja deve ser uma expressão do amor que está no Coração de Jesus, um amor que abraça todos os homens e mulheres na sua única realidade humana.

Na Segunda Assembleia Plenária quisestes reflectir ulteriormente sobre o vosso ministério, à luz do tema que vos tínheis proposto: a dignidade da pessoa humana. E se bem que a vossa reflexão parta de uma penosa visão e experiência das muitas formas com que a dignidade humana é negada e violada entre os vossos povos, ela verifica também com agrado muitas formas de fraternidade, de solidariedade e de sede genuína de justiça, que mesmo no meio de dificuldades, preocupam os corações e as vidas de muitos.

4. Numerosos povos olham hoje para a Igreja na esperança de que ela lhes mostre como é que se poderá viver a vida com maior dignidade e liberdade, como se poderá construir una sociedade mais justa e humana e como se poderá alcançar e defender a paz com maior eficiência. Numa palavra, o mundo olha para a Igreja à procura de um testemunho convincente da salvação total oferecida por Cristo. O caminho do testemunho da Igreja está exposto nos Documentos do Concilio Vaticano II. Os seus frutos constituem a grande graça e o dom que o Espírito Santo oferece ao Povo de Deus peregrino nas presentes circunstãncias da sua caminhada terrena.

O Sínodo Extraordinário dos Bispos de 1985 focou algumas das dificuldades deste período pós-conciliar. Mas deu também indicações válidas para promover o implemento do Concílio “em continuidade com a longa tradição da Igreja” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, 1, 5). O Sínodo apela para uma maior difusão e compreensão, nas Igrejas particulares, dos ensinamentos do Concílio e para um discernimento mais correcto entre a legítima abertura ao mundo e a aceitação da mentalidade secularizada do mesmo mundo e a hierarquia dos valores (cf ibid 1, 4).

5. Passo a referir brevemente alguns pontos salientes do ministério da Igreja:

É fundamental para a autoconsciência da Igreja, conforme foi expresso pelo Concílio, que ela se capacite de sua chamada à santidade.

A Igreja é santa porque Cristo se entregou a si mesmo por ela, para a santificar (cf Eph 5, 25-26). Mas os seus membros, se bem que pela fé e pelo Baptismo comecem a participar dessa santidade, devem todavia ratificar ainda mais amplamente a sua condição de filhos adoptivos de Deus e de discípulos do Senhor, até “alcançarem a medida da plena estatura de Cristo” (cf ibid 4, 13). Devem esforçar-se por possuir os frutos do Espírito na santidade (cf Gal 5, 22; Rom 6, 12). O testemunho da Igreja diante do mundo só será verdadeiramente convincente quando a santidade de vida – que é “a perfeição da caridade”(LG, 40) – se manifestar claramente concretizada em homens e mulheres santos.

Daqui a alguns dies, no Lesotho, participaremos na beatificação do Padre José Gerard. Este acto, que será um reconhecimento público da santidade deste filho de Deus, não é simplesmente mais um acontecimento no decorrer da minha visita. Na realidade, ele será o fulcro do significado espiritual da mesma visita. A fidelidade a Cristo, claramente exemplificada no longo serviço missionário do Padre José Gerard na África do Sul e no Lesotho, é a essência da vida eclesial e do nosso próprio ministério. A linha que vai da santidade à evangelização é directa, como testemunha a história da mesma evangelização em todos os tempos. E se bem que seja Deus quem faz crescer (cf 1 Cor 3, 6), ao apóstolo compete plantar e regar como “fiel colaborador de Deus” (Jn 17, 21) até que a messe esteja madura. A fidelidade do apóstolo a Deus, com a graça de Cristo, é uma condição para que a Igreja produza frutos abundantes.

6. The Church’s pastoral endeavours, even those which clearly manifest her preferential option for the poor and most neglected, will be ineffective unless they are grounded in the evangelizer’s own untiring search to progress in Christian holiness. According to Jesus, the disciple’s union with the Father and the Son is essential “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17, 21). That is what the bishops of the Council and the Fathers of the Extraordinary Synod proposed for the present circumstances of the Church and of the world. This is what you must proclaim to the priests, religious and laity of your particular Churches. This is what we must proclaim together in the College of Bishops. Certain statements of the Extraordinary Synod which perhaps did not receive sufficient publicity merit repetition. The Final Report says: “Today we have tremendous need of saints, for whom we must assiduously implore God... In our day above all, when so many people feel an interior void and spiritual crisis, the Church must preserve and energetically promote the sense of penance, prayer, adoration, sacrifice, self-giving, charity and justice” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, A, 4).

7. Fidelity to Christ is also the motivating force of all evangelization. The Church exists to evangelize (cf Lumen Gentium, 17; Ad Gentes, 1). As the “universal sacrament of salvation”, she is impelled by her own catholic nature to preach the Gospel to all peoples. And the “plantatio Ecclesiae” (AG, 6) throughout this Southern African region is far from complete. The calls made on her to respond to so many immediate needs and emergencies of a humanitarian and social nature must not cause her to forget the Lord’s specific command: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19).

I encourage you to continue to face with courage and wisdom the challenge of the evangelization of Africa. Africa needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Southern Africa thirsts for his kingdom of “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (2 Tim 2, 22). If asked what is the Church’s overriding concern in Southern Africa, we should not hesitate to say: The Church is here to proclaim salvation in Jesus the Lord, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Act 4, 12). The primary task of each of the particular Churches over which you preside is to evangelize, so that “all things can be restored in Christ, and in him mankind can compose one family and one people” (AG, 1).

8. In every age and in every place the preaching of the Gospel is made more difficult by divisions among Christians. This is a painful fact, and it goes against the explicit will of Jesus who founded the Church as the sign and instrument of universal unity (cf LG, 1). To improve relations between the different Christian Churches and ecclesial communities is a pressing concern of our Episcopal ministry. It is a task that is not always easy, since there exist fundamental differences regarding the essential content of the faith. But the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the cause of a genuine ecumenism which acknowledges the action of the Spirit of Christ wherever it appears; she knows that it is the Spirit who urges all Christ’s disciples to embrace the fullness of the means of grace and truth (cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 3).

One of the important tasks is to educate the faithful in respectful ecumenical collaboration, without compromising the fullness of the Catholic faith, while avoiding any sense of rivalry in the apostolate. I know that IMBISA and the individual Conferences are already deeply engaged in this work.

9. A Constituição dogmática sobre a Igreja ensina expressamente que existe uma estreita ligação entre a santidade de vida e a promoção de uma sociedade mais humana (Cfr. Lumen Gentium, 28). Não existe oposição entre a chamada da Igreja à fé e o seu empenhamento no serviço do amor e da justiça. “O amor que impele a Igreja a comunicar a todos os povos a participação gratuita na vida divina impele-a também... a buscar o verdadeiro bem temporal dos homens... e a promover uma libertação integral de tudo aquilo que pode impedir o desenvolvimento das pessoas. A Igreja quer o bem do homem em todas as suas dimensões: em primeiro lugar, como membro da cidade de Deus; e depois, como membro da cidade da terra” (Congr. Pro Doctr. Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 63). Estes dois objectivos entram na sua missão, mas de maneira diferente (ibid 64). Completam-se mutuamente, mas um não pode ser reduzido ao outro. É preciso que haja sempre um anúncio explícito de que em Jesus Cristo a salvação é oferecida a todos os homens, como dom do amor de Deus misericordioso.

10. No vigésimo aniversário da encíclica de Paulo VI “Populorum Progressio”, achei por bem publicar a encíclica “Sollicitudo Rei Socialis”, sobre o desenvolvimento social no actual momento histórico, como um apelo às consciencias (cf SRS, 4). O Papa Paulo VI resumiu o anelo que o mundo tem pela justiça nesta frase: “o desenvolvimento é o novo nome da paz” (cf PP, 87; cf SRS, 10). Os esforços em prol do desenvolvimento devem inspirar-se em princípios éticos; e é por isso que a Igreja tem o dever de proclamar as exigências do Evangelho sob a forma da Doutrina Social Cristã, que compreende a promoção da justiça e da paz entre os povos, a defesa da dignidade do homem o os direitos sociais, culturais e morais da pessoa humana. Os membros da Igreja, têm o dever de fazer com que este ensinamento impregne as realidades da vida quotidiana.

Vós estais justamente preocupados com os sofrimentos causados pelos conflitos nesta região, com o entrincheiramento de posições ideológicas (cf SRS, 20), e com o deterioramento da situação sócio-económica nos vossos países. A discriminação racial, os conflitos que causam um número sempre crescente de refugiados, a morte de pessoas inocentes e outras formas de violência são evidentemente um mal moral. Tudo isso é fruto de pecados pessoais; a cumplicidade ou indiferença dos indivíduos conduziu a “estruturas de pecado” permanentes nas vossas sociedades.

Cada Igreja particular e a Igreja em cada país é encorajada a promover uma resposta cristã aos problemas da justiça e da paz, apresentando o ensinamento social da Igreja e fomentando o diálogo e o desenvolvimento. No mesmo ano em que escreveu a “Populorum Progressio”, o Papa Paulo VI instituiu a Pontifícia Commissão “Justitia et Pax”, para estudar estes problemas e para estimular o Povo de Deus a um maior empenhamento nestes campos. O Simpósio “Justiça e Paz” da IMBISA que realizastes em 1987, e o Seminário Pan-Africano sobre a Justiça e a Paz da SECAM, organizado pela IMBISA em Junho do corrente ano, representam um passo em frente importante, no serviço da Igreja em prol da paz e do desenvolvimento na África. De igual modo, o trabalho do Secretariado para as Comunicações Sociais da IMBISA, dando maior amplitude a cada Conferência no uso dos meios de comunicação na evangelização e desenvolvimento merece o vosso encorajamento e ajuda. Que Deus vos inspire, amados Irmãos Bispos, a permanecerdes pessoalmente vigilantes e responsáveis em relação a estes esforços; e que Ele mantenha os vossos colaboradores firmes na fidelidade aos ensinamentos da Igreja e à suprema lei do amor, pela qual é regido todo o serviço na Igreja.

Em particular quero fazer-vos aqui um apelo a continuardes a procurar as vias para ajudar os refugiados e os deslocados nos vossos países. Eles perderam tudo, inclusive muitas vezes as suas famílias e os seus entes queridos. Os seus direitos com frequência foram violados e a sua dignidade humana ofendida. São dignos de especial encómio aqueles Sacerdotes e Religiosas que compartilham a vida e as dificuldades dos refugiados, a fim de acudir às suas necessidades espirituais e materiais. A comunidade eclesial sozinha não pode resolver os problemas dos refugiados ou aliviar todos os sofrimentos que daí se seguem. Mas pode e deve procurar corresponder com amor a esta tragédia. Quem receber um destes irmãos e irmãs em nome de Cristo atrai as bênçãos de Deus sobre a terra (cf Mk 9, 37).

11. Cada um dos países aqui representados constitui uma grande esperança para a Igreja. Sinto-me animado a repetir as palavras de São Paulo: “Alegro-me, pois, de poder contar, em sudo, convosco” (2 Cor 7, 16). Uma vez que nos próximos dies terei outros encontros com os Irmãos Bispos do Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Suazilândia e Moçambique, seja-me permitido dirigir agora uma mensagem especial aos Irmãos Bispos de Angola, são Tomé e Príncipe, África do Sul e Namíbia.

12. Senhor Cardeal Nascimento e veneráveis Irmãos Bispos de Angola:
Começo por certificar-vos de que vós estais sempre presentes no meu pensamento e nas minhas orações ao Altíssimo, a implorar que Aquele que começou em vós a boa obra, tão excelente, a leve até ao fim (cf Phil 1, 6). Recordo-me bem da vossa visita ad Limina em Maio de 1986, quando compartilhastes comigo esperanças e aspiraçoes vossas e das gentes da vossa terra, bem como provaçoes e sofrimentos.

Reafirmo aqui tudo o que vos disse nessa ocasião, acerca da minha proximidade espiritual em relação a vós e aos vossos Sacerdotes, que, apesar dos muitos obstáculos, continuam a “prolongar” o Bom Pastor, alimentando as comunidades cristãs com o Pão da Vida e a Palavra da salvação. Exorto-vos a continuardes a assistir muito de perto os vossos Sacerdotes, que são “a porção escolhida” dos vossos rebanhos. Orientai-os na sua vida e ministério sacerdotal, como verdadeiros pais e mestres espirituais; e esforçai-vos por os ajudar nas suas dificuldades, tendo presente sobretudo o bem das almas.

Confio-vos que sejais portadores da expressão do meu apreço e da minha gratidão a todos os Religiosos e Religiosas, tanto os nativos de Angola como os de outras nações, que se dedicam sem reservas ao serviço da comunidade da fé e da sociedade. Estou muito desejoso de poder falar-lhes directamente, num próximo futuro, para lhes dizer quanto a Igreja e o Papa apreciam a sua coragem, perante tantas adversidades, e reconhecem o valor da sua fidelidade ao Senhor “no meio de muitas dificuldades, com a alegria infusa pelo Espírito Santo” (1Thess 1, 6).

Aos catequistas e aos leigos, homens e mulheres, que se mostram cada vez mais activos na comunidade eclesial, à juventude, que é particularmente atingida pelas presentes dificuldades, aos doentes, às vítimas da guerra e a todos os necessitados, peço-vos que leveis uma palavra de encorajamento da minha parte.

Constitui objecto da minha oração ardente que a Igreja em Angola, começando por vós, Bispos, se mantenha intimamente unida numa profunda comunhão de fé e de solidariedade; e que vós vos ampareis uns aos outros na mesma esperança a que fostes chamados (cf Eph 4, 4).

Alguns acontecimentos recentes dão-nos razões suficientes para esperar que a missão pastoral da Igreja, inclusive as actividades sociais e culturais a favor do povo, continuarão a processar-se num clima de maior compreensão e de subsidiariedade mais eficaz. Em Setembro do ano passado senti grande alegria ao receber no Vaticano a visita de Sua Excelência o Presidente da República, José Eduardo dos Santos, e de outros membros do Governo de Angola. Mais recentemente, o Senhor Cardeal Roger Etchegaray fez uma visita ao vosso País em meu nome, a qual incluiu encontros úteis com o mesmo Presidente e com outras Autoridades angolanas. É de esperar que se possam efectuar contractos mais regulares, entre os membros da Conferência Episcopal e as Autoridades políticas, em espírito de diálogo e de colaboração. Com tudo isso, a Igreja quer somente dispor de espaços de liberdade para continuar a sua missão de reconciliação entre os povos e de reconciliação do homem com Deus. É seu desejo servir a causa da dignidade humana na verdade e na liberdade.

Asseguro-vos, amados Irmãos no Episcopado, que rezo constantemente para que as causas que estão por detrás dos conflitos em curso no vosso País possam ser esclarecidas nos colóquios que estão a desenrolar-se e que se encontrem soluções para as remover e iniciar uma nova era de paz e de serenidade para o Povo angolano.

Convencido de que “Deus suprirá a todas as vossas necessidades, com magnificência proporcionada à sua riqueza, em Jesus Cristo” (Phil. 4, 19), rezo para que a fé, profunda e espontânea, do vosso povo seja ulteriormente consolidada através das provaçõe que ele foi chamado a enfrentar. Confio a Igreja em Angola à intercessão de Maria Santíssima, Rainha da Paz.

13. Queria também confiar ao Senhor Dom Abílio Ribas que transmita as minhas saudações aos fiéis da sua dilecta Diocese de São Tomé e Principe. Sua Excelência o Senhor Presidente da República, Dr. Manuel Pinto da Costa, convidou-me com amabilidade para visitar o seu País; e eu aguardo com interesse essa possibilidade.

Sei que o Senhor Bispo acalenta no coração a esperança de poder dotar com clero nativo a circunscrição eclesiástica e que para isso está empenhado na construção de um seminário local. Peço ao Senhor que o ampare em todos os seus esforços pastorais e que abençoe todos os Missionários, Sacerdotes, Religiosos e Religiosas, que compartilham o seu ministério de graça e de paz em Nosso Senhor Jesus Cristo.

14. Dear Cardinal McCann and brother Bishops of South Africa,

A great part of your pastoral ministry consists in promoting a Christian response to the divisions existing within your society. The question of apartheid, understood as a system of social, economic and political discrimination, engages your mission as teachers and spiritual guides of your flocks in a necessary and determined effort to counteract injustices and to advocate the replacement of that policy with one consistent with justice and love. I encourage you to continue to hold firmly and courageously to the principles which are at the basis of a peaceful and just response to the legitimate aspirations of all your fellow-citizens.

I am aware of the attitudes expressed over the years by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, from the first corporate statement of 1952. The Holy See and I myself have drawn attention to the injustices of apartheid on numerous occasions, and most recently before an ecumenical group of Christian leaders from South Africa on a visit to Rome. To them I recalled that “since reconciliation is at the heart of the Gospel, Christians cannot accept structures of racial discrimination which violate human rights. But they must also realize that a change of structures is linked to a change of hearts. The changes they seek are rooted in the power of love, the Divine Love from which every Christian action and transformation springs” (JPII Ad quosdam seiunctos fratres ex Africa, 3, die 27 maii 1988: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XI, 2 (1988) 1661).

As you call for progress towards the recognition of the rights of all South Africans and their full participation in the life of their country, you find yourselves caught up in the current dramatic confrontation between opposing positions. It is important that you should keep your determination to find a solution through a dialogue sustained by prayer. You must be fully convinced that only a negotiated settlement of differences can bring true peace and justice. A loss of confidence in the possibility of a peaceful solution could easily lead to further frustration and violence, increasing the threat to peace, not limited to this region.

The programme of pastoral planning which you have initiated seeks to involve the faithful of each local community in a process of building their unity in Christ and applying the teachings of the Gospel to their own situation. In this regard I would make reference again to the great need of the present hour of which I spoke to you during your ad limina visit last November: “The mobilization of the whole ecclesial community in the spirit of the Gospel – which is the spirit of conversion of individual hearts – with the weapons of the Gospel, to bring about in the power of the Gospel the Christian transformation of society” (JPII Allocutio ad episcopos regionis Africae Meridionalis occasione oblata visitationis 'ad limina' coram admissos, 4, die 27 nov. 1987: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, X, 3 (1987) 1220).

As bishops, you must take steps to ensure that the one Catholic Church, in the unity of her faith, sacraments and hierarchical order, will always be present in these communities. You must also ensure that – as the 1985 Synod pointed out – a clear distinction is made between legitimate pluriformity and divisive pluralism: “When pluriformity is true richness... this is true catholicity. The pluralism of fundamentally opposed positions instead leads to dissolution destruction and the loss of identity” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, C, 2).

Dear brothers, as you strive to promote authentic reconciliation among the peoples of South Africa, as the only path to a just and peaceful society, it is extremely important to emphasize the need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Without a renewed emphasis on this sacrament, without vigorously promoting it in your local Churches, your efforts in reconciling human hearts would be incomplete. But through the sacramental ministry of individual Confession, a whole new power of reconciliation in the Blood of Christ is unleashed throughout your land.

As servants of the Gospel, you scrutinize the “signs of the times” in the light of your prophetic and priestly office. Today those “signs” are accompanied by much pain and anguish. The bishops gathered from around the world at the Extraordinary Synod saw this as a universal phenomenon: “Today, in fact – they wrote – everywhere in the world we witness an increase in hunger, oppression, injustice and war, sufferings, terrorism and other forms of violence of every sort. This requires a new and more profound theological reflection”. Far from merely offering a condemnation of this negative picture, the bishops of that Synod expressed the belief that “in the present difficulties God wishes to teach us more deeply the value, the importance and the centrality of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Therefore – they conclude – the relationship between human history and salvation history is to be explained in the light of the Paschal Mystery” (Synodi Extr. Episc. 1985 Relatio Finalis, II, D, 2). Truly, the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ are the sure basis of our hope (cf 1 Pt 1, 3) and “the foundation and the measure of all liberating action” (Congr. Pro Doctr. Fidei Libertatis Conscientia, 3).

15. Dear Bishops Hauxiku and Schlotterback,
I assure you and the Catholic faithful of Namibia that your sufferings and hopes for a better future are the object of my deep concern and constant prayer. The theme of this visit, “Human rights: the dignity of the human person”, is immediately relevant to the painful situation being experienced by the people of Namibia. The international community has expressed itself clearly and forcefully in favour of their right to self-determination. The Holy See has fully supported this legitimate aspiration and encourages the parties involved in the negotiations currently taking place not only to arrive at a swift and positive recognition of Namibia’s right to sovereignty and independence, but also to take the steps necessary to make this at long last a reality.

We hope that the authorities concerned will be moved by the longstanding sufferings of the peoples of the area to do everything possible to remove the remaining obstacles to a final settlement of this question with justice for all. We must always remember that there can be no true solution without fraternal love. Hatred is the first enemy of justice and peace.

The Church is already active through her educational and charitable works, and she embraces the challenge of helping to build up the national community in true harmony. The important ecumenical collaboration already taking place between the Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican communities in Namibia constitutes a solid hope of even greater cooperation in the future.

16. Dear members of IMBISA: in conclusion I would underline the concern that is at the heart of my conversation with you. The task of evangelization and service calls for spiritual renewal at every level of the Church. The Council’s Decree on Missionary Activity reminds us that fervour in the service of God and charity towards others are needed to “cause new spiritual inspiration to sweep over the whole Church: Then she will appear as a sign lifted up among the nations, (cf Is 11, 12) ‘the light of the world’ (Mt 5, 14), and ‘the salt of the earth' (Mt 5, 13)" (AG, 36). As we approach the third millennium this is the true measure of the challenge facing the Church in each of your countries.

It is my constant prayer that Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, will support you with her loving care. We, the pastors, will fulfil our essential role – on condition that, like Mary, we show ourselves to be the humble servants of the Lord (cf Lk 1, 38).

May God bless you and the Churches over which you preside in love. The peace of Christ be with you all!

A paz de Cristo esteja com todos vós!"

Pope St John Paul II's address to the Bishops of Zimbabwe
of the Interregional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA)
Apostolic Nunciature, Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Dear brother Bishops,
1. It is my joy to address you, the pastors of the Church in Zimbabwe, at the beginning of my visit to your country and after our meeting last night with all the bishops of Southern Africa, gathered for the Second Plenary Assembly of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa.

This encounter constitutes as it were a continuation of the conversations we had several weeks ago on the occasion of your “ad limina” visit. Now I am enabled to experience firsthand the vitality and aspirations of your particular Churches. May this visit help to confirm and strengthen the communion of faith and love which unites us in the Body of Christ (cf Lumen Gentium, 7).

You tend the flock of God that is in your charge in the knowledge that Jesus Christ the Chief Shepherd is your strength (cf 1 Pt 5, 2-4).

You “govern the house of the living God” (LG, 18) after the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life for his sheep (cf Mt 20, 28; Jn 10, 11). In the footsteps of the intrepid heralds of the Gospel who established the Church in this land over a hundred years ago, you are the ones now sent to proclaim the Good News in obedience to Christ’s explicit command (cf Mt 28, 19).

2. Your pastoral zeal was particularly evident when your people were caught up in the struggle for independence and suffered the terrible effects of armed conflict. Now, eight years after the end of hostilities and the subsequent proclamation of the Republic of Zimbabwe, we cannot but give thanks to God for what the Church, under your guidance, did to accompany and assist the population in those circumstances. Catholic missions and institutions became places of refuge for the persecuted, centres of care for the wounded, hungry and homeless. All of this was done with evangelical courage and love, without discrimination due to race, creed or political allegiance. On resuming your normal pastoral activities at the dawn of the new Republic, you immediately offered your support in the task of reconstruction and the building up of a new society. In this you were partners with a people proud of their new-found dignity and conscious of having acquired a national identity among the other nations of Africa and of the world.

In all such historical processes there are varying degrees of light and darkness. Undoubtedly, you have made and are continuing to make an indispensable contribution to the process of national reconciliation between the various parties to the conflict and among the racial and tribal groups making up the new nation.

3. As pastors of the Church you have taught that reconciliation, if it is to be true and lasting, must come through forgiveness and repentance, that is, from a conversion of the heart. The Church, which is “the sacrament... the sign and the means of reconciliation” (Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 11), is bound not only to be reconciled within, namely in her members who belong to different ethnic and social groups, but also to be at the service of reconciliation in society. The return to God is the path of man’s return to man, since it restores brotherhood, solidarity and peace among individuals and groups.

4. In the years since independence you have made many efforts to improve and update the instruments and methods of evangelization. New structures have been created. But it is always important to ensure that the weight of such organizational structures does not diminish the evangelizing zeal and dynamism of former times.

Through your collaboration in the Zimbabwe Bishops’ Conference, you have experienced how important it is to have a concerted national programme of evangelization and ecclesial growth. The example of united action by the bishops is very important for the way the priests and religious work together in harmony and share the burdens of the various forms of apostolate in each diocese.

Your partnership with the other Bishops’ Conferences of Southern Africa through IMBISA leads you to overcome the tendency to limit yourselves to the concerns of the Church in your own country. It is a very real expression of what the Council requires of the members of the Episcopal College, that they be “solicitous for the whole Church” (LG, 23).

5. And yet, a bishop’s most pressing task is the pastoral care and leadership of his own diocese. His first occupation is his ministry to his own priests and religious, to his own faithful. Your priests should feel themselves fully understood and supported by you in their life and apostolate. Men and women religious should find in you intelligent and spiritually sensitive guides who know how to encourage the charism of each Congregation while coordinating a united programme of diocesan pastoral activities.

As I already mentioned during your ad limina visit, it is truly heartening that the number of vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life is increasing. This very fact makes even greater the responsibility of all concerned to give these candidates the best and most complete formation possible. I likewise encourage and exhort you to continue your efforts to implement the guidelines which the recent Synod of Bishops offered in relation to the role and mission of the laity in the Church and in society.

More and more the Church in Zimbabwe will come to depend on her own resources. In a sense the ecclesial community is being challenged to reach its full maturity in a brief period of time. Furthermore, the Church here, as everywhere, is a missionary Church and should do whatever it can to offer trained personnel to meet the needs of other places, especially in Africa.

6. Education forms a pastoral priority in all of your dioceses. You are rightly convinced that the Church should continue her activities in this field as an important contribution to building up the national community, accompanying the Government’s efforts to provide quality education for all Zimbabwe’s youth.

If you have expressed some concern regarding aspects of recent legislation, you have done so in a spirit of dialogue and collaboration, desiring to guarantee the Catholic identity of your schools. Affirming that parents are the first and foremost educators of their children who should therefore enjoy true freedom in their choice of schools, the Second Vatican Council calls on public authorities to create conditions in which parents can provide for the education of their children according to their moral and religious principles (cf Gravissimum Educationis, 3 & 6). The Council reaffirms the Church’s right freely to establish and to run schools so that Catholic parents can fulfil their obligations regarding their children’s education (cf GE, 8). This implies that civil law should respect the right of the responsible Catholic authorities to select the heads and the teachers of these institutions, so that their Catholic character can be maintained. I encourage you to continue in your contacts with the public authorities concerning this matter which is of such importance in the life of the country.

7. Dear brother bishops, your work on behalf of greater justice and correctness in human affairs is well known. To this must be added your concern for the poor and most vulnerable members of society. In recent times you have been especially concerned with the question of the great numbers of refugees located near the border with Mozambique. The plight of millions of refugees in different continents is a festering wound which typifies and reveals the imbalances and conflicts of the modern world (cf Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 24). I shall continue to appeal to the international community to come to the aid of these groups and to seek solutions to the underlying causes of so much suffering. In the meantime you are called to emulate the actions of the Good Samaritan, with evangelical compassion and love.

8. Brother bishops, to conclude these brief remarks, I turn to Mary Most Holy, Mother of God and our Mother. The whole Church has honoured her and earnestly prayed to her during the Marian Year which we recently brought to a close. May her maternal love accompany my pastoral visit in this land. And may she protect you and your priests, religious and laity as you respond to your ecclesial vocation in the new Zimbabwe as we approach the third millennium. May she, who is all powerful in her intercession, call down God’s abundant blessings on your country and on the other nations of Southern Africa.

God’s peace be upon the Church in Zimbabwe!
May his love shine on all the inhabitants of this promising land!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily at Holy Mass
at Borrowdale Park Race Course
Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in Italian

"“The Lord is my shepherd” (Ps 22 (23), 1).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Today I stand in your midst as the Bishop of Rome and I make this joyful proclamation: “The Lord is my shepherd”. I make it together with you, with the whole Church and with all the People of God who dwell in your country, Zimbabwe.

I come to you as a pastor. I come in the name of the Lord who is our Shepherd. I come in the name of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, the Eternal Pastor of our souls. And in his name I extend most cordial greetings to all those who constitute the Church in Zimbabwe: the bishops from your six dioceses, and in particular Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa of Harare. Together with them, I greet the priests, the men and women religious, and the seminarians of your Regional Seminary.

Christ is present in the daily life of this country through the dedicated members of your laity. I therefore wish to embrace you who bear witness to our Redeemer in the ordinary events of life: the families of Zimbabwe, fathers and mothers, small children and young people, the elders and the leaders of your local communities.

I greet those who build up the social and cultural life of Zimbabwe: all those who work on the land, in offices and in schools, in business and industry, in government and in social services. In a special way I embrace in the love of Jesus the lonely and the sick, as well as those who care for them.

At the same time, it is a joy to greet the bishops who are members of IMBISA, the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa. I am very grateful to the Lord for the grace of meeting with you last evening, and for the opportunity to concelebrate this Mass which brings your meeting to a close. I assure you of my fraternal concern for each of you as you seek to give a shepherd’s care to the flock entrusted to you. Through you, dear brothers, I greet your local Churches. In particular, I am thinking of the Church in the countries which I have not been able to include in this pastoral journey: my brothers and sisters in Christ in Angola, Namibia, São Tomé e Príncipe and South Africa. Upon returning to your homes, please assure your people of my closeness to them in prayer and of my love for them in Christ Jesus.

Aos amados fiéis da Igreja em Angola, Moçambique e São Tomé e Príncipe, através dos seus Bispos, que participaram na Assembleia da IMBISA, envio as minhas cordiais saudações. Sinto-me muito unido convosco, irmãos e irmãs, na caridade divina, e desejo-vos felicidades, graça e paz, em Jesus Cristo, nosso Senhor e Salvador

2. At your invitation I have willingly come to Zimbabwe. I have come as the Successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome, who has inherited a particular mission and responsibility, linked with the witness of the Apostles Peter and Paul. For Peter and Paul strengthened the very foundation of the Church by their apostolic service, and above all by their death as martyrs, giving their lives for Christ, for the truth which is Christ himself. This truth they have faithfully handed on to all generations of the Church. This same truth I come to proclaim to you, as the Successor of Peter in the last part of the twentieth century.

Ever since the time of the Apostles, the Church has built on this truth, not only in Rome but throughout the entire world. In your country too the Church of Christ builds on this truth, in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome.

She builds on the strength of the bond of truth and love, a bond which the Holy Spirit has sustained in every age since the day of Pentecost and continues to do so today among the different peoples and nations that make up the one great People of God.

It was God’s truth and love which inspired Father Gonçalvo da Silveira to come to the Zambezi Valley in 1560, and in the following year to lay down his life in order to plant in this land the first seeds of the Christian faith. Other missionaries followed in his footsteps, beginning with the Jesuit and Dominican religious families.

The most intense efforts at evangelization and the most widespread fruits of those efforts have been seen in the past hundred years. The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth and Love – has been at work in your midst in a remarkable way, moving hearts to accept the saving message of the Gospel, planting many native vocations to the priesthood and religious life, building up the family of believers into a holy dwelling place for God. You have thus become a new people, reborn in the Sacrament of Baptism, nourished by the Holy Eucharist, living in loving communion with God and with one another, with the Successor of Peter and the Catholic Church throughout the world.

Undoubtedly the most eloquent expression of God’s grace and of the power of truth and love has been the heroic witness of those who have given their lives in service of the Gospel. I am thinking in particular of those who have been killed in the past fifteen years, including Bishop Adolph Schmitt, a number of your priests and religious, and many of your laity. To all of them I wish to pay tribute today. Their courageous testimony will never be forgotten. They have shown to all of us the power of truth and love. In them we see incarnate the victory of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ.

3. The Gospel of today’s Liturgy directs our thoughts towards the Apostle Peter who, later in his life, in Rome, was to become the foundation of the faith of the whole Church.

See how Jesus – in the region of Caesarea Philippi – puts a question to his disciples: “Who do people say I am?” (Mk 8, 27). And then he puts a second: “But you, who do you say I am?” (Mk 8, 29). And at that moment Peter answers, speaking in the name of all the Apostles: “You are the Christ” (ibid). Or as St Matthew records it, the answer was: “You are the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16).

“Messiah” means the one whom God had anointed with the Holy Spirit and sent to accomplish the work of salvation.

Thus Peter professes his faith. And Christ accepts his profession but then goes on to foretell his own Passion and Resurrection. He declares: “The Son of Man was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected... and to be put to death, and after three days to rise again” (Mk 8, 31).

Peter, who has professed that Jesus in the Messiah, is astonished by these words. He takes his Master aside and rebukes him. What does this “rebuke” mean? It means that he tries to convince Jesus that what he has said cannot happen, that such a mission and death cannot happen to him, precisely because he is the Messiah, because he has been sent by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit.

And how does Christ react? He in turn rebukes Peter, in words that are very severe. He says “Get behind me, Satan! Because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s” (Mk 8, 33).

Yes, Peter already believed in Christ, but he was not yet ready to accept the whole truth about Christ. Like so many of his contemporaries, Peter was thinking of the Messiah in human terms: he saw Jesus as the one who could restore freedom to Israel.

4. But in fact the full truth about Christ, about the Messiah, did soon become known. It became known exactly as Jesus had foretold. And only then did Peter believe: he believed that the Messiah sent by God was the Crucified and Risen Christ.

Peter professed and proclaimed this truth about Christ, beginning on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem right up to the day when for the sake of this truth he gave his life on the Vatican Hill in Rome. And by believing and teaching this, Peter thought and spoke in God’s way and not in man’s.

5. In the light of Peter’s profession of faith, what does it mean that Christ is the Good Shepherd? It means that he “offers his life for the sheep” (cf Jn 10, 11). When the Psalmist of the Old Testament boldly proclaimed: “The Lord is my shepherd”, his inspired words foretold a Shepherd who would offer his life for the flock, for all people; a Shepherd who would redeem them all with the Sacrifice of his own death on the Cross.

Today, we have gathered here in Harare to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the “memorial” of that redemptive Sacrifice of Christ. It is its unbloody renewal under the forms of bread and wine.

When he instituted the Eucharist on the day before his Passion, Jesus gave the disciples the Passover bread and said: “This is my body which will be given up for you”. Then he gave them the Passover wine in a cup, saying: “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven”.

6. In the Eucharist, then, we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Covenant, the new and everlasting Covenant. This is God’s Covenant with his people which had been foretold by the Prophet Ezekiel: “I will make a covenant of peace with them: it shall be an everlasting covenant with them... I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Ez 37, 26-27).

God made this Covenant with all humanity in the blood of his Son on Calvary. He made it with all people, with every person on earth. He made it also with you: with the people of Africa who live in the nation of Zimbabwe. And so we can sing with the Psalmist:

“The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want...
Near restful wafers he leads me...
He guides me along the right path” (Ps 23 (22), 1-3).

7. What, then, must we do, dear brothers and sisters, to keep this Covenant with our God?

The response is given to us by the Apostle James in his Letter, which we heard in today’s Second Reading: “If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well: keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?” (James 2, 15-16).

We must believe in the word of God. And we must also confirm our faith with works which are born of faith: “Faith is like that: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead” (James 2, 17).

And one of the first good works which flow from faith, one that is so desperately needed in this place and everywhere, is the work of reconciliation: reconciliation with God, reconciliation with one another.

Your own country has known only too well the pain and suffering caused by sins such as racial discrimination and segregation, which deny the human dignity and full equality of other people simply because of the colour of their skin or because of the tribe to which they belong. The sins of greed and lust for power, as well as the sins of dishonesty and selfishness, likewise destroy bonds of trust and weaken the very fabric of society. These are sins which work against the harmonious and full development of your nation.

Yet all these sins can be overcome with the help of the God of the Covenant and through your faith in him. In the Sacrament of Baptism God reconciled you with himself and entrusted to you the work of reconciliation. In the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Penance, you are strengthened in faith and in the love of God: you experience the joy of coming together in Christ, and you are sent forth to overcome disunity wherever it exists – within your families and villages or in any sector of the country of Zimbabwe.

8. If we want to keep the Covenant with God which Christ accomplished through his blood, in his Cross and Resurrection, we must follow Christ himself. He has called us to be his disciples, and he continues to say to us:

“If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his Cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it: but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it” (Mk 8, 34-35). Think carefully about these words of Christ! Go back to them often in your mind, in your heart, in your prayer. The Good Shepherd offers his life for the sheep. He has given his life in sacrifice to the Father.

“If I should walk in the valley of darkness no evil would I fear. You are there” (Ps 22 (23), 4). You, Jesus Christ! You are with me! You, Jesus Christ, the Eternal Shepherd of every individual and of all peoples! You are with me!

“Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever” (Ps 22, 6). Amen."

Father Peter on Pope St John Paul II      

Father Peter Nkomazana CMM, a Marianhill Missionary priest, was an altar boy at Mass with Pope John Paul II, at the race course of Borowdale Park in Harare. Father Peter speaks here of JPII's leadership: as a spiritual father, as a man of prayer who was deep in contemplation.

Pope St John Paul II's Act of Entrustment of Zimbabwe to Mary
at the Angelus
Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in Italian & Spanish

"At the conclusion of this Sacred Liturgy, let us turn with filial love to Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of the Eucharistic Christ.

In the Liturgy of the Word in today’s Mass, we recalled Peter’s response to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Peter was the first to make such a public profession of faith. But, long before Peter’s profession, Mary already believed.

You, Blessed Virgin of Nazareth, You, O woman of faith,
You listened to the message of the Angel Gabriel.
You put your trust in God’s word.
You accepted in faith that the Son whom you would conceive and bear would be called “Son of the Most High” (Lk 1, 32).

On this day, Mary, Help of Christians, I entrust to you in love all the people of Zimbabwe. See the faith of those gathered here in prayer. We too have received the wonderful grace of knowing and believing in Jesus, your only Son, and the Son of God.

But Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, see how our faith is tested and how at times we waver. Plead with the Father on our behalf. Ask him to overshadow us with his Holy Spirit. Let the Spirit strengthen our fearful hearts and enlighten our doubting minds so that we may firmly believe, as you did, that “nothing is impossible to God” (Lk 1, 37).

O Mary, the Immaculate Conception,
You yourself never sinned, and from the beginning you were preserved from sin’s harmful effects on your soul. Yet you knew the depths of human suffering and the terrible extent of evil in the world, for you stood at the foot of the Cross and shared with a Mother’s pierced heart in the Passion and Death of your Son.

You know, most gentle Mother, how this nation has suffered, suffered during the War for Independence and from acts of violence in various places in the years that have followed. You are Our Lady of Peace, and this day we gladly turn to you under this title.

Look upon these sons and daughters of yours, whom I confidently entrust to you today. They have known the horrors of hatred and violence. They hunger for justice and peace. They desire reconciliation and harmony among the tribes and races of Zimbabwe, among all the peoples of the earth.

Your beloved Son died on the Cross “to gather together in unity the scattered children of God” (Jn 11, 52). We are a people who believe that Jesus died for us all. We believe that Jesus lives for us all. We believe that he is the Prince of Peace. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. Obtain for us the favour of believing ever more firmly in the Victory of the Cross, and of living in loving communion with Jesus and with all our brothers and sisters.

And now, in the words of the Angelus, let us join our hearts and voices in prayer."

St John Paul II's address to the Representatives of the Laity of Zimbabwe
Cathedral of Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in Italian 

"“You are the salt of the earth... the light of the world” (Mt 5, 13-14).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am very happy to greet all of you present here, the representatives of the laity of Zimbabwe. “My love is with you all in Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 16, 24).

Through you I greet your families, your parishes, your organizations and movements, and all in Zimbabwe who seek salvation in the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We are gathered in this Cathedral of the Sacred Heart entrusted to the Jesuit Fathers, whom I greet and congratulate for the notable contribution which the Society of Jesus has made to the life of the Church in Zimbabwe over the past century. This cathedral stands as a material sign of the collaboration between the early Jesuit missionaries and local craftsmen and labourers. To the eyes of faith, it is a reminder that in Christ Jesus, the eternal Word made flesh, the saving love of God has appeared in the world: “God in Christ was reconciling the world to himself” (2 Cor 5, 19).

To be a Christian is to have been touched and transformed, in baptism, by that love; it is to have been spiritually reborn as God’s adopted children and to be thus incorporated into the community of faith, the Mystical Body of Christ, “of which we are its living parts” and “all parts of one another” (Eph 5, 30; 4, 25).

We are gathered then by reason of our baptismal consecration and our membership of the Church. Our assembly is a living expression of the theme of my visit to Zimbabwe: “Coming together in Christ”.

What greater joy for me than to share this moment of communion with you, in the awareness of our sublime calling! Together we rejoice in the dignity that is ours as sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters in Christ, a people sealed with the Holy Spirit.

2. Our reflection today concerns your role – as lay men and women – in the Church and in society. What does it mean to be a lay Christian in contemporary society? Here, in Zimbabwe?

At a time of profound and worldwide changes the Second Vatican Council helped the whole ecclesial body to become more aware that the laity have a specific vocation and responsibility that is essential to the Church’s life and mission. As the Council teaches, that vocation is fulfilled through “living in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life”, and “by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to God’s plan”. In a word, by “working for the sanctification of the world from within” (Lumen Gentium, 31).

The laity are sometimes referred to as “ordinary Christians” or as the faithful who “live in the world”. There is nothing demeaning in these terms. It is true that there are other members of the Church who are marked by a special sacramental character in Holy Orders, or who live a special consecration by giving public witness to the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience. Priests and religious occupy a very special and important place in the Church’s life. They are committed to building up the community of faith by a service that is above all, though not exclusively, spiritual and sacramental. They deserve and need your respect, support and friendship.

But the laity should not consider themselves less a part of the Church. In the one community of faith all have an equal Christian “dignity”. All the People of God are called to holiness in faith, hope and charity. All have a share in building up the kingdom of Christ in the world. See how St Paul compares the Church to the human body: “together you are Christ’s body: but each of you is a different part of it” (1 Cor 12, 27). There are many different ministries and services in the Church, and a multitude of special gifts for building up and enriching the entire community. Whatever your state in life, whatever your occupation or profession, you, the members of the laity in Zimbabwe, have your own real and vital Christian task to perform.

3. “You are the light of the world... the salt of the earth”.

Your families and your economic, social and cultural life are the natural horizon of your Christian endeavours. Family life and the world of work are the special areas of the laity’s commitment to Christian living and witness!

The Scriptures have many beautiful and profound things to say about family life, about the love of husband and wife, about harmony between parents and children, about the support that all members of the family owe to one another, about prayerful trust in God in the great and small affairs of family life. The Book of Genesis describes the effect of man’s first encounter with woman: “This at last is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” (Gen 2, 23). Adam’s exclamation discloses the underlying motive of the permanent and faithful marriage covenant between husband and wife: “they become one body” (Gen 2, 24). Children are the fruit of their love. “Truly”, says the Psalm, “children are a gift from the Lord, a blessing, the fruit of the womb” (Ps 127, 3). And children and grandchildren in their turn – according to St Paul’s teaching – “are to learn first of all to do their duty to their own families and repay their debt to their parents because that is what pleases God” (1 Tim 5, 4).

4. Today, the moral bases of marriage and family life must be defended against the stress and confusion resulting from changing social circumstances and the spreading of ideologies that undermine Christian ethical values.

One of the Church’s main tasks is to speak the “truths” that inspire and foster the values on which a just and peaceful society can be built. It is important for the Church to teach – especially through her bishops, priests, religious and catechists – that the human person, in the full truth of his or her personal and social being – and not any institution, neither the State nor a party nor a business enterprise – is the measure of true progress. For this reason the Church insists on the inviolability and dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death.

African traditional culture is centred on the family. Africa cannot flourish unless its families survive present social upheavals. The African family must find new strength, reaffirm the positive values contained in tradition and assimilate a more personal dimension of understanding, commitment and love.

5. The respect for life of which we are speaking includes offering refuge to people who are fleeing famine or civil war, oppression or terror. Those of you who remember the difficult years leading up to independence understand well the biblical command from the Book of Leviticus: “If a stranger lives with you in your land, do not molest him. You must count him as one of your own countrymen and love him as yourself – for you were once strangers yourselves” (Lev 19, 34).

Unfortunately, in much of this Southern African region violence is an all too frequent occurrence. It is my ardent prayer for Zimbabwe that, through a successful process of national reconciliation, through her humanitarian approach to the problems of refugees in her territory, and through the legal and practical affirmation of human rights, she will be an example and a positive influence on others in the urgent task of establishing a civilization of peace and justice, a civilization of love.

6. You have been blessed with this beautiful country, fertile and full of resources which, in the mind of the Creator, are meant to be used for the common good. As Christians, you know that to work for your country’s development is to share in God’s creative work. Your Christian calling is to weave the truth revealed by God and inscribed in human nature – regarding life and love and human solidarity – into the very fabric of Zimbabwean society. I invite you to accept that calling and accept it generously.

Development is more than a technical, economic or financial problem. It is above all a human effort requiring enormous resources of intelligence, compassion, a sense of fairness and justice, selflessness and love. It “is not a straightforward process, as it were automatic and in itself limitless” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 27). Even when material resources and technical expertise are available, work for genuine progress demands the wisdom and the moral energy to mould God’s creation with respect for its internal laws, so that it provides abundantly for the common good, as God intended from the beginning (cf Gen 1, 28). Development is only possible as a great moral effort of intelligent collaboration and solidarity on the part of all sectors of the community.

The integral development of a people must be inspired by a spirit similar to what the Gospel calls “conversion – metànoia”, that is, “the urgent need to change the spiritual attitudes which define each individual’s relationship with self, with neighbour... and with nature itself” (SRS, 38). What Africa needs is to be true to its own traditions of shared responsibility for common tasks in the community. Zimbabwe needs that social and moral attitude called solidarity, which must motivate your commitment as laity “to the good of one’s neighbour with the readiness, in the Gospel sense, to ‘lose oneself’ for the sake of the other instead of exploiting him, and to ‘serve him’ instead of oppressing him” (ibid). Solidarity is the “firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all” (ibid).

7. This is where Christian lay men and women come into their own. This is where you prove yourselves “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”. If you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and compassion and justice, which enables you to act in solidarity with all – especially the poorest and most neglected – you can renew the face of the earth, you can work effectively for the new Zimbabwe that you hope for.

The Church in Zimbabwe is deeply involved in developing your newly independent country. Catholic educational institutions, hospitals and health-care centres, and programmes of social assistance – in which many of you are generously engaged – make a notable contribution to the well-being of the country. In rural areas the Catholic Development Commission in particular is hard at work to bring about change for the better.

Likewise, you Catholic lay men and women are called to work for development not only in institutions and organizations currently run by the Church but in every walk of life, wherever in your professional and social life you bear witness to Gospel values and apply the Church’s social teachings. As farmers, factory workers and miners, teachers, health-care workers, housewives and mothers as well as working women, social workers, trade unionists, business men, politicians and professionals of all kinds you must be fully convinced that your efforts and toil, your skill and concrete achievements, exercised with respect for the moral order and in a spirit of service, are the building-blocks of a better nation, a better homeland for yourselves, your families and your fellow citizens.

In a word, you seek to order all things according to God’s will: all things are yours, but you belong to Christ (cf 1 Cor 3, 23). This is the transformation of the world from within, of which the Council speaks. Certainly, a fitting result of our meeting would be a resolve on your part to study carefully the social and moral doctrine of the Church and to promote its implementation. At every level in your schools and religious education programmes, the Church’s teaching on social and moral questions should have a prominent place.

8. Brothers and sisters, members of the laity of the Church in Zimbabwe: great tasks await you. An immense weight of moral responsibility rests on your shoulders. But the source of your strength is Christ himself, in whom is realized the description of the suffering servant of Isaiah: “he took our sicknesses away and carried our diseases for us” (Is 53, 4). By overcoming sin and death, he opened to us the way of definitive freedom. In him our human activities and our efforts to solve society’s problems become the path of our personal and collective redemption (cf Lk 21, 19).

Christ is reached through his Church, built on the foundations of the Apostles. Many of you experience the Church in small Christian communities, where you listen to the Gospel and learn to apply the Gospel message to the concrete circumstances of your lives. These communities, as living cells of the Church, in union and harmony with your priests and bishops, your parishes and dioceses should help you to serve the entire community through dedicated collaboration in building up your families, your institutions, your country, and the whole Church.

You are the “light of the world”, especially the light of Zimbabwe and of Southern Africa. Always have the courage to accept the demands of this vocation! “Your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works, they may give the praise to your Father in heaven” (Mt 5, 16). May God strengthen you in this task!"

Papa Saint John Paul II's words to the Zimbabwean Young People
at Glamis Stadium, Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Dear Young Friends,
1. Thank you for the warm welcome you have given me! I hold each one of you and all Zimbabwean young people in my heart. Bishop Reckter’s presentation and the sincere and thoughtful words of your representative show that you are conscious of the grace that is ours – here, today, in the Harare Showground: we are together in Christ!

Are the young people of Zimbabwe as happy to meet the Pope as the Pope is to meet you?

Yes, I am sure that you are happy, because Christ has brought us together in his name. We share the same Baptism into the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We are God’s adopted children, brothers and sisters in the one family, members of the Church, the body of Christ.

In the Church you are never alone. You have been present in the prayers of so many brothers and sisters all over the world – and you have been in my prayers – both during the difficult years before independence and now that you face the challenges of the future.

The symbolism of your traditional dance has vividly expressed the sentiments that fill our hearts at this moment. Thank you for the beautiful way in which you have expressed our friendship.

2. There are many things the Pope would like to say to you, the young people of Zimbabwe. First of all, I want to remind you that you are Christ’s friends. You are his brothers and sisters. St John tells us that our love for Christ originates in his love for us. He writes: “We are to love... because he loved us first” (1 Jn 4, 19).

Christ loved us first. He loves us as a brother and as a friend. The Gospels describe Jesus as a friend of many people whose lives he touched. To the Apostles he said: “You are my friends... I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father” (Jn 15, 14-15). At the tomb of his friend Lazarus “Jesus wept; and the Jews said, ‘See how much he loved him!‘”. The Gospels tell how the children flocked to him and even sinners and outcasts were considered his friends. St Mark says about a young man who asked about the way to eternal life, that is, to salvation, that “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him” (Mk 10, 21). Unfortunately, the young man did not accept Jesus’ invitation to follow him. He could not bring himself to accept the conditions of Jesus’ friendship.

For to be Jesus’ friend and brother is above all to know him and to do what he has commanded.

3. Some of you may say that it would have been easy to know Jesus when he travelled around the towns and villages of Galilee and Judea, preaching and doing good. You may say that it is hard to think of yourself as a brother of someone who lived so long ago.

But no, Jesus Christ is alive today and always! This is our faith. This is the source of everything it means to be a Christian.

Jesus not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he pleads for us. Ever since the day of Pentecost the Risen Jesus has been present in his Church, above all in the sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. He has become one with every human being, so that when we serve our brothers and sisters for love of him, we truly love and serve Jesus himself. That is what he means when he tells us that whatever we do for the least of our brothers and sisters, we do to him.

This is how you young people of Zimbabwe can prove your love for Christ. You must help other people. You must serve them. And you can help and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ by building up a world in which the dignity of everybody will be acknowledged, defended and respected, where there will be no discrimination based on race or colour or national origin!

Remember, when God looks at you, he does not see a black face, or a white face, or a brown face; he sees the face of his Son, Christ. And when Christ looks at you, he looks “at your heart”. And he teaches each one of you – and all of us – to do the same!

When the Lord asks you, in the depths of your consciences, “Where is your brother?” you cannot, you must not answer like Cain who murdered his brother Abel. Cain asked the Lord in reply, “Am I my brother’s guardian?” (Gen 4, 9). The answer is "yes". Yes, you are always the guardians and defenders of your brothers and sisters! You are their servants and their friends.

4. But it is not enough to act individually and alone. Many of you already belong to Catholic Youth Associations, Catholic Guilds and other groups where you pray together and do charitable and social work. Through these shared activities you can experience the meaning of those words of Jesus: “where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them” (Mt 18, 20). You can discover the joy of being partners with each other and partners with Christ in the cause of his kingdom.

Are you, the young people of Zimbabwe, ready to build up a strong and lasting brotherhood with Jesus?
Are you ready to be his partners and disciples?
Are you ready to give up passing interests and attractions in order to join him in the cause of his kingdom – that kingdom of justice and mercy, of reconciliation and peace?
Are you ready to work with your bishops and priests and with the religious sisters and brothers to build up the Church in your parishes and in your country, for the sake of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ?

Your willingness to do this is what gives the Church and the Pope confidence in the future. You are the future of Zimbabwe! You are the future of the Church! You are the future that the Pope prays for every day!

5. Some of you will hear Jesus calling you, softly but insistently, to follow him in the priesthood or in the religious life. Listen to his voice deep in your hearts! Look around you! See his need of you in the faces of the children, the elderly, the sick and suffering people of your land! “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few”. When you feel the call to “something more”, and when the Sermon on the Mount – the Beatitudes – fills your heart with a new sense of purpose, do not silence that call! Let it develop into the maturity of a vocation! Respond to it in prayer and greater fidelity to Christ’s commandments! (cf Dilecti Amici, 8)

6. The second subject of my conversation with you and with the young people of Africa concerns your family life. Families are the basic units of society. If there is peace within families, there will be peace in society. Africa’s traditional cultural values are closely connected with a tightly knit family life, with special love for children and respect for the aged. You, as young Africans, must not let this human treasure disappear. Do not become enticed by a new way of life that does not bring with it genuine human progress, but only an appearance of progress, made up of a material development that benefits some but leaves many others abandoned along the way. Only through the values of love and life can families become strong and stable and so care for their members effectively. When a society does not protect these values, only unfavourable results can follow, not the true prosperity and peace that people long for.

7. At times young people do not appreciate the importance of family life. In fact you may take your family for granted. You do this if you refuse to help support your family, if you adopt attitudes and behaviour contrary to family life, or if you become involved in drugs, or follow the paths of violence or sexual irresponsibility.

As Christians, you are called to be builders of a healthy and moral family life. You must help to make your families truly “domestic churches”, where God is present in all the daily joys and concerns of the family members, where prayer and worship, mutual understanding and forgiveness, encouragement and love are the atmosphere you breathe. If you are builders of peace within your families now, your own future families will be communities of faith and holiness, of self-sacrifice and responsibility. The truth of Jesus Christ should be the standard of your lives, in theory and in practice. When other models and values are presented as “progress” or “liberation”, measure them against the “truth” of Christ, and his promise will become a reality in your lives. Jesus promises us: “If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8, 31-32).

8. Dear young friends, my third word of encouragement concerns your contribution as Catholics to the development of your country. I am speaking here about your responsibility to grow up into loyal and dedicated citizens of Zimbabwe. I am talking about your duty to make the best use of your education and training, so that you may lead useful and productive lives for the common good.

I should like you young people of Zimbabwe to be convinced followers of the “gospel of work”. The “gospel of work” means that our daily “toil”, whatever it may be, is good for us. It is also necessary for the society in which we live. It implies that our work is an important part of our lives, provided that it always expresses and increases our human dignity.

Work does this because it serves the community, permits a fuller sharing in the social and cultural life of one’s country and, above all, constitutes a magnificent way of collaborating with the Creator in “harvesting” the resources and values contained in creation itself.

And yet, I know that many young Africans are unemployed, and will find it very hard to obtain work in the future. This is the sad situation of so many young people all over the world! Without any fault of your own, many of you are deprived of the means to further your personal development and to fulfil your hopes, namely, a job, a profession. What is needed is the support of other people. I know that your bishops are setting up programmes to provide training and other assistance, especially in rural areas. And I will continue to appeal for a new international economic order that will enable developing countries to expand their economic bases without accepting undue burdens or dependence on the more developed nations. But solutions to unemployment are best found in initiatives and collaboration at a local level. I encourage you to have confidence in yourselves. And know that the Pope is at your side with his support and his prayers as you look for concrete and imaginative ways of dealing with the problem.

Remember, my friends, that work has everything to do with union with God. Prayer and religious duties do not begin only when work and other commitments end. Remember the example of Jesus of Nazareth, “the carpenter’s son” (Mt 13, 55) and a “carpenter” himself. His work was also his way of doing the will of his heavenly Father. On this subject I am sure that your bishops and priests and teachers will have more to say to you in the light of the social doctrine of the Church.

9. Young people of Zimbabwe: the reading from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans which you have heard today is my parting word to you: “Bless your persecutors... Never repay injury with injury... See that your conduct is honourable in the eyes of all... Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good” (Rom 12, 14-21).

Our meeting is coming to an end. But be sure that I will carry you always in my heart. We are united in brotherhood with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We will be united in prayer: Prayer that is open to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and love; prayer that knows how to approach Mary, our Mother in the Church, asking her to intercede with God for the needs of your country and of the world.

God bless you! God bless all the young people of Zimbabwe!"

Pope St John Paul II's address to the Diplomatic Corps
accredited to the Government of Zimbabwe
Harare, Sunday 11th September 1988 - also in French, Italian & Spanish

"Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
1. It gives me great pleasure to meet you, distinguished Heads of Mission and Diplomatic Personnel accredited to the Government of Zimbabwe. I thank you for the courtesy of your presence and I greet each one of the nations and peoples whom you represent.

As you know, my visits to the various countries are above all visits of the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Catholic Church, to the Catholic communities spread throughout the world. The Pope’s task is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to confirm the faith of the members of the Church and to serve the cause of Catholic unity.

But there is also another aspect of the mission which divine providence has entrusted to the Bishop of Rome.

2. The Holy See, whose territory is the small independent enclave in the heart of Rome called the Vatican City, is a recognized and active participant in the international community. The Holy See deals with the international community and with each single member in a spirit of respect and sincere concern for the well-being of peoples, with understanding for the complexity and seriousness of the problems faced by those responsible for public life. The special nature of the Holy See’s service to the human family, corresponding to the Church’s religious and moral mission, requires that its role within the family of nations should not be of a technical or purely political kind. Rather it is a concrete and sensitive sharing in the legitimate aspirations of peoples, in their hopes and anxieties, in their practical efforts to promote peace and justice to defend human dignity and fundamental human rights.

In effect, the Holy See seeks to be a fellow traveller with the human family on its way to a more humane and truth-filled existence. It makes this journey without facile optimism, yet confident that the human family is capable of responding to the truth of things before that truth is transformed and subjected to the play of power or ideology. People are capable of perceiving the innate “truth of things” which the Creator has inscribed in the depths of their being, and they are capable of responding to that truth in a rational and moral way. Herein lies the basis of hope for a better future for the world.

3. In the service of the human family, the Holy See looks to the diplomatic community as a specially qualified partner. Each one of you is at the service of your own country’s interests. But the very nature of your profession and your personal experience of other countries and cultures makes you aware of the wider picture, the solidarity of the whole human race, which expresses an irreversible process of interdependence making the well-being of each part depend on the well-being of the whole. In this we share a common challenge: we must be builders of international peace, servants of the common good, promoters of understanding and dialogue everywhere.

Today such a task is not easy. There are many points of tension. Vast sectors of humanity are oppressed by unbearable conditions of life. And while there is much collaboration and fraternal aid from one country to another and through international organizations, there is certainly room for a more general, concerted and determined effort to alleviate the tragic situations of hunger, abject poverty, disease and illiteracy in which hundreds of millions of persons are imprisoned. The consciences of many are rightly perturbed and there exists a growing public opinion that more must be done to resolve these problems.

4. Before you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, who represent various countries of the North, South, East and West, and international organizations at the service of the world community, allow me to refer to the dramatic situation of those regions of Africa affected by drought and famine. In these areas hunger, chronic malnutrition and death dominate inexorably.

On my first pastoral visit to Africa in May 1980, I made a solemn appeal at Ouagadougou for emergency aid to the suffering people of the Sahel region. That appeal was directed to international organizations to continue and increase the remarkable work they do to bring assistance to those in need and to remedy the causes of famine; to the Heads of States to contribute generous aid; to non-governmental organizations to inspire individuals and groups to further generosity and service; to men and women of science and research to direct their work towards combating desertification and famine (cf JPII 10 May 1980).

Thanks must be given to all who concerned themselves with that great human tragedy. But the problem has not gone away and still today countless African lives are threatened by famine. New natural calamities have since then struck Africa, the most recent one bringing immense disaster to the Sudan. Once again world solidarity is called for. The very survival of millions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world depends on our concern for them!

5. I also feel obliged to call attention to another major cause of suffering for vast numbers of people in different parts of the world, and especially here in Africa: that is, the problem of refugees and displaced persons. For various reasons, some of them linked to injustices or natural disasters, these brothers and sisters of ours are forced to flee their homelands, to abandon all that has been familiar and dear to them, all that offered them physical and social security. And, becoming refugees, they face, often with only the help of their faith in God, an uncertain and fearful future.

As I said several years ago, after visiting the Refugee Camp at Phanat Nikhom in Thailand: “The sad lot of these courageous and unfortunate people cannot be ignored by the international community. Indeed the conscience of humanity must be made ever more aware of the evils of the situation, so that prompt and decisive action may be taken towards and adequate solution” (cf JPII, speech 11 May 1984).

6. The theme of my visit is “Human rights: the dignity of the human person”. The problem of hunger and the plight of refugees are directly related to the essential question of human rights. All human beings have a fundamental right to what is necessary to sustain life. To ignore this right in practice is to permit a radical discrimination. It is to condemn our brothers and sisters to extinction or to a subhuman existence.

That is why the continuing state of famine in some regions, and the growing numbers of refugees in Africa and throughout the world, must weigh on the consciences of all who can and should work to remedy these situations. Hunger in the world and the multifaceted problem of refugees are but two aspects – both very basic and important aspects – of the whole series of questions that must be faced in order that the world find its proper balance in a new international order based on justice, solidarity and peace.

7. In these matters, the diplomatic community has a vital role to play. You and your colleagues can draw the attention of governments and public opinion to the needs of suffering populations and to the gravity of the underlying economic, social and political conditions which need to be addressed. Through your firsthand experience of Africa, with sympathy and understanding, you can seek to persuade aid-providing agencies to design their programmes to fit the real conditions of African societies.

Likewise you can substantiate the conviction that the countries of Africa themselves must be in charge of their own development and historic destiny. Outside aid is urgently needed, but it will be helpful in the long term only if the essential force of growth and development is truly African.

In this sense it is only right for me to underline the special significance of the international recognition being given to Zimbabwe’s achievements in the field of food production. At the same time, one can perceive a growing worldwide concern for refugees and their precarious conditions, as well as for the social and political factors which cause people to leave their homelands. These examples are sources of inspiration and hope.

8. I pray to Almighty God that conditions of peace will prevail in this Southern African region and throughout the continent so that the peoples of Africa can effectively meet the great challenge of Africa’s development. I am sure that as committed diplomats you will do everything possible to promote the true well-being of the human family and that you will serve the cause of peace and human dignity with all the force of your intelligence and good will.

May God bless you and your families. May he protect the countries and peoples you represent."

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass at Ascot Racecourse
Bulawayo, Monday 12th September 1988 - also in Italian

""Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the Temple of the God of Jacob
that he may teach us his ways
so that we may walk in his paths" (Is 2, 3)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. This invitation of the Prophet Isaiah, an invitation of the Old Covenant, finds its fulfilment with the coming of the New Covenant, the new and eternal Covenant in the Blood of Christ: in his Cross and Resurrection.

Behold, the Apostles “set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them” (Mt 28, 16).

Christ will soon go to the Father. Before departing, however, he will say to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28, 18-20).

2. “Make disciples of all the nations; baptize them.”

This command of Christ has already been carried out, in fact it is constantly being carried out, in the midst of all the nations of the earth. It has happened and is constantly happening in your midst, on the African continent, in this nation which is called “Zimbawe”. In fact, the first efforts of evangelization began here more than 400 years ago, efforts which were inspired by a great love for the Risen Lord and which yet failed to establish among you a lasting Christian community. It was not until 1879 that a sustained missionary effort by the Catholic Church could be achieved. But from that time forward, your country has witnessed and been blessed by the constant fulfilment of Christ’s command.

Over the past century, the missionary enterprise has experienced numerous changes, changes in the choices of priorities and changes in the methods employed. But at every stage teaching has played a central role. Jesus said: “Make disciples... baptize them... teach them”. And that is what you have done.

The prodigious result of evangelization is clearly evident in the Church in modern Zimbabwe, and in this Eucharistic celebration today. I assure you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that it is a great joy for me to be here among you to witness at first hand the marvellous works that Divine Providence is accomplishing in this land, and to celebrate together with you these Sacred Mysteries.

In the Holy Name of Jesus I greet you all: in the first place the Bishop of Bulawayo, Bishop Karlen, and with him all my brother bishops who share with me, the Bishop of Rome, the responsibility of shepherding the flock of Christ and proclaiming the Good News of salvation. In a special way, I greet Bishop Ignatius Prieto on the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination, and also on the 25th anniversary of the Diocese of Hwange. To Bishop Prieto and to all his people I extend my congratulations and prayerful good wishes.

I also offer fraternal greetings to the priests, religious and laity who represent all the parish communities of this vast region of Zimbabwe known as Matabeleland. It is in the local Christian communities that the message of Christ is first received and fostered, and it is there that it must daily be put into practice. In the parish communities, faith and hope and love are the guiding principles of your lives.

I know that there are many who have not been able to come here today, even though they very much wanted to do so. I therefore ask you, my friends in Christ, to take back to your local parishes the warm greetings of the Pope. Assure them of my pastoral love in the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.

3. At this celebration of the Eucharist, I ask you to join me in giving thanks to God for the achievements of evangelization in Zimbabwe and to pray for the continuing success of evangelizing efforts.

What is evangelization?

We could answer with the words of the Apostle Paul in his Letter to the Romans: “If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved” (Rom 10, 9). Evangelization means accepting God’s revelation of himself in Jesus Christ. It involves accepting in faith what God has revealed to humanity, accepting the truth about the Crucified and Risen Christ (as we say in the Creed, “He was crucified, suffered death and was buried; on the third day, he rose again”).

It is precisely this Christ who “is the Lord of all”. As Lord, as the one to whom “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given”, Christ distributes to everyone the riches of salvation which he won for us by the sacrifice of his life on the Cross. The riches of salvation are the riches of the love and grace of God. We share in these riches through faith. St Paul says: “By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved” (Rom 10, 10).

It is a question then of a faith accepted with the heart (with the intellect and will), a faith rooted in our inmost depths. And then, it is professed with our lips and with our works. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10, 13).

4. Such faith helps us to look at the world in a new way, to look at all that surrounds us in a new light. It enables us to see the whole of creation as the handiwork of God, his gift. Then, through creation we can turn to the Creator and glorify him with our hearts and our lips; we glorify him after the manner of the splendid Psalm of today’s Liturgy: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you. The earth has yielded its fruit for God, our God, has blessed us. May God still give us his blessing till the ends of the earth revere him” (Ps 66 (67), 6-8).

Faith in the Crucified and Risen Christ also inspires us to transform the world in the Spirit of God. But first it means a transformation of the human heart, which has its consequences in society and in relationships between individuals and nations.

Let us return again to the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the Temple of the God of Jacob that he may teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths; since the Law will go out from Zion, and the oracle of Yahweh from Jerusalem. He will wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples; these will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war. O House of Jacob, come, Let us walk in the light of Yahweh” (Is 2, 3-5).

5. Evangelization begins in the human heart, in that intimate dialogue between each of us and God, where we recognize our sins and acknowledge our need for a Saviour, where we come to believe and profess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord.

But faith can never remain a purely private matter. For the Sacrament of Baptism makes us members of the Christian community, and we are expected to become active members of a local Church; we are expected to listen to God’s word, take part in the Sacred Liturgy, live in fraternal charity. And our faith in Christ opens our eyes to see beyond our own parish community, to the life of the universal Church and the needs of the world around us. The Church is present in the world for the sake of the world. And each member shares a responsibility in bringing God’s love to the world.

Here in Zimbabwe, this means that you are called by Christ to respond to the needs and difficulties of your fellow citizens. We think immediately of the great suffering caused by war. It is only eight years since your struggle for national independence was brought to an end. Even after that, many people in Matabeleland did not find true peace. How the civilian population continued to suffer from guerilla warfare and other forms of violence! As recently as April of this year Brother Killian Knoerl of this diocese was a victim of such violence.

I know that you yourselves have not only suffered but you have also tried to help the many victims of violence: the crippled, the maimed, the bereaved, those unjustly deprived of property and savings. At the same time, you have had to work patiently but continually for reconciliation and peace, a goal not easily achieved after years of conflict. You have been trying to bring about the fulfilment of the Prophecy of Isaiah, where he foretells that the people “will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war”.

Yes, “no more training for war”. But there will be training for peace and development and especially training in the truth. That is why education is so important in both development and evangelization. Training implies commitment to the apostolate of teaching and to schools, particularly for young people. The future of Zimbabwe depends on it. The future of the Church in Zimbabwe will be shaped by it. For education is essential for human development. As Pope Paul VI reminded us: “Between evangelization and human advancement – development and liberation – there are profound links” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 31). Since every person has social and economic needs as well as spiritual ones, the Church can never ignore any aspect of what it means to be fully human. Her educational programmes aim to develop the whole person – body and soul.

The Church has great concern for the family, the family as a whole and its individual members. In your country, as in most countries of the world, the stability of family life is being seriously threatened by problems such as sexual immorality and irregular unions as well as economic insecurity and inadequate housing. Efforts to strengthen family life and to teach the true nature of marriage need to begin in the local parish communities, where individuals and their concrete circumstances are best known. Accordingly, the work of evangelization, which is the very reason for the existence of the Church, must also engage the family, and through the family make active disciples of every member of the Church.

6. It was for the sake of evangelization that Christ sent his Apostles into the whole world, and he wanted every follower of his to take an active share in it. This mission must be carried out in such a way that the lives of all who believe in Christ will always abound in good works, so that they will bring to individuals and nations true development and progress.

But in order that this mission may be really effective, we must keep in mind the words of St Paul to the Romans: “They will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher, and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent” (Rom 10, 14-15).

But who is to be sent? Who are the evangelizers? Pope Paul VI answered these questions very clearly when he said: “It is the whole Church that receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole... The person who has been evangelized goes on to evangelize others. Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the word and give himself to the Kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn” (EN, 15.24). And so, in your Christian communities in Zimbabwe, those who have themselves suffered are best equipped to console and encourage others. As St Paul puts it, “(God) comforts us in all our sorrows, so that we can offer others, in their sorrows, the consolation that we have received from God ourselves” (2 Cor 1, 4).

The best apostles to youth will often be young people themselves, young men and women who rejoice in their faith in Christ and who know the importance of daily prayer. And married couples whose love for one another has been sealed in the Sacrament of Matrimony and built up in daily sacrifice are best able to help other husbands and wives to enter more fully into the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church. Family circles, retreats for married people and marriage enrichment programmes are also suitable means for this marriage and family apostolate.

But our families and small Christian communities, our parishes and dioceses, also need pastors and guardians, servants who devote themselves exclusively to the care of God’s flock. We need, in other words, good priests and men and women religious. Without their prayer and dedicated service, evangelization could lose its sense of direction and, above all, its awareness of the universal dimension of the Church.

7. Today the Bishop of Rome, mindful of his apostolic inheritance from Saints Peter and Paul, joins you in giving thanks for the fruit of evangelization which you have already received.

Truly, “the earth has yielded its fruit”. Indeed, “God, our God, has blessed us”. And yet we know that, “Not everyone... listens to the Good News” (Rom. 10, 16). So Christ said and continues to say: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations”.

As I stand here in this land, on this continent, I invite you: let us lift our hearts to him who is “the Lord of the harvest” and let us never cease to pray that he “send labourers to his harvest” (Mt 9, 38).

To his harvest!
For this harvest is indeed rich!"

St JPII's words to Priests, Men & Women Religious and Seminarians 
Cathedral of Bulawayo, Monday 12th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. I greet you with the words of St Paul: “I am so proud of you that... I am filled with consolation and my joy is overflowing” (2 Cor 7, 4).

This is indeed a moment of great joy for me, to meet you, the priests, the men and women religious, and the seminarians of Zimbabwe. In each one of you I see the great mystery of God’s love. To you the Lord has spoken as in the Book of Leviticus: “Be consecrated to me, because I, the Lord, am holy and I will set you apart from all these peoples so that you may be mine” (Lev 20, 26). Your lives are rooted in that divine call and your confidence is in the One who sustains your ministry and witness. “His faithful love endures for ever” (Ps 118, 1).

Here in St Mary’s Cathedral in Bulawayo, with the west window over the altar depicting the Immaculate Conception and scenes from the life of the Mother of God, I wish to share these moments with you in the spirit of Mary’s song of praise: “Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age” (Lk 1, 49-50).

2. Brother priests: the theme of my visit to Zimbabwe is also the challenge of your priestly ministry: ”coming together in Christ”, coming together in the Christian community, through reconciliation. It is your task to build up your parishes and each local Church in fidelity to the word of God, above all by breaking the Bread of life for your people and by involving them in works of faith and service (cf Acts 2, 42).

In order to do this you yourselves are first called to intimate union with the Lord. You must be men of God, accustomed to prayer and self-giving, humble of heart yet courageous in proclaiming the word “in season and out of season” (cf 2 Tim 4, 2). You must be true spiritual fathers and guides of your people. You must be brothers to each other in every difficulty.

One of the outstanding characteristics of African people is that they cherish family relationships. Accordingly, in this cultural context the Church must appear ever more clearly as the family of God’s beloved children. Exactly a year ago, during my visit to the United States, I spoke of the parish as the “family of families”, “our family in the Church... in which there are no strangers or aliens” (13 Sept 1987). It is your task, my brothers, to instil this family spirit into your parishes and small Christian communities, by being yourselves a reflection of God’s fatherly love for his people.

The presbyterium too should be a family of many brothers under the bishop, “co-workers in the same undertaking” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8). Occasions to pray together, study together and share the experiences of your priestly life and work are a necessary part of your lives. How beautiful when you welcome one another into your houses with the peace of Christ in your hearts! How important it is that you support each other through prayer, and with helpful advice and discernment!

3. The renewal in ecclesial life which the Second Vatican Council advocated has certainly, in spite of difficulties and some misunderstandings, produced abundant spiritual fruits in the life of the Church. This renewal has to be clearly evident in the ministry of priests who are called to guide and animate it. Among the more important gifts which the Holy Spirit has bestowed on the Church through the Council is the greater awareness of the universal call to holiness of life. Your ministry cannot be understood apart from your own sharing in the divine life, apart from prayer and penance, apart from self-giving, charity and justice. And the fruit of your ministry is to foster these things in the lives of your people. Indeed, you find nourishment for your own spiritual life in pastoral leadership and activity (cf PO, 14).

Under the guidance of the Council, the laity are acquiring a more precise understanding of their baptismal grace and their role in the priestly People of God. They show an ever greater thirst for God’s word and they look to the Church’s spiritual, theological and social doctrine to enlighten them in their everyday lives. Many of them yearn for a more responsible role in parish life, in liturgical activities, in catechesis and in service to those in need. In all of this your spiritual leadership is tested. Your proclamation of the word of God must provide them with ever more solid spiritual nourishment; it should be the result of your own study and prayerful meditation. Your teaching must clearly reflect the Church’s response to the increasingly complex questions raised by modern life. In St Matthew’s Gospel, Isaiah’s description of the suffering servant is applied to Jesus, and it can be applied to each one of you: “I will endow him with my spirit, and he will proclaim the true faith to the nations... He will not break the crushed reed, nor put out the smouldering wick till he has led the truth to victory” (Mt 12, 18-20).

4. As the people of Zimbabwe and of the whole of Southern Africa strive for reconciliation and brotherhood, I pray that you as priests will exercise the special charism of being able to reconcile your people and “bring them together in Christ”. You well know that before there can be genuine and lasting reconciliation there has to be a conversion, that change of heart which is brought about by willing acceptance of its real consequences in personal and social life.

The ministry of reconciliation is above all a struggle against sin and evil. In administering the Sacrament of Penance, you are entrusted with the spiritual power to loose and bind. If you yourselves appreciate the blessings of this sacrament you will be better able to convey this deep appreciation to the faithful, who nowadays often need more personal attention and more patient listening on the part of the confessor. In each country I visit I appeal to the priests to make themselves as available as possible to those who wish to be freed from sin and renewed in grace, to be reconciled with the Lord and with the Church. And I make this same appeal to you: love this sacrament and receive it often.

My brother priests, the presence of God’s kingdom in Zimbabwe makes itself felt especially through the power and truth of your ministry, centred on the Eucharist. Therefore I earnestly encourage you to be ever more conformed to Christ, and to draw the spiritual resources you need for “shouldering the sacred task of the Gospel” (PO, 2) from your daily sharing in Christ’s Paschal Mystery. May you always cherish Mary as the Mother of your vocation and the perfect example of discipleship and service.

5. Men and women religious of Zimbabwe! You too are bound to Christ by a unique relationship. You have received a special sharing in Christ’s consecration of himself to the Father for the sake of mankind (cf Jn 17, 19). It is a consecration which he fulfilled through his Death and Resurrection and which you realize in a specific way by fulfilling his words: “He who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10, 39).

In a letter to all consecrated persons which I wrote during the recently completed Marian Year, I sought to emphasize something which is at the heart of religious life, namely, the positive significance of dying with Christ in order to share in his Resurrection. I said that what is fundamental for a human being - man or woman - is precisely this: “finding oneself in Christ, since Christ is the ‘whole fullness (cf Col 2, 9)’" (Apostolic Letter, 22 May 1988). To the extent that you “find yourselves in Christ”, the maturity of your faith and charity will make you his prophetic witnesses in each local Church and before the world. In this way you will effectively proclaim the eternal value of Christ’s saving message.

6. It is your special calling to bear public witness, through your way of life, to the “newness of life” which the Incarnate Son of God introduced into human affairs (cf Rom 6, 4). You bear this witness in the concrete historical circumstances of present-day Zimbabwe and contemporary Africa, which have an urgent need for a renewed humanism, expressed in a culture which defends life and promotes human solidarity, to be built on the best traditions of this continent in dialogue with the perennial and universal truths revealed in Jesus Christ.

Your religious consecration, manifested through the observance of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience and made fruitful in the many activities of your religious institutes, is inseparable from the Church’s evangelizing and sanctifying mission. Your consecration will have little sense without a profound love of the Church as God’s chosen instrument for the salvation of mankind. Jesus says: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10, 10). All of us, the Successor of Peter and each one of you, must consider ourselves in the first place as apostles sent to proclaim the “life” which God offers in Christ Jesus. To reduce the “Good News” to anything less would be to diminish the very potential for transformation which the Spirit generates in the Church and of which your consecrated life is a clear witness and powerful instrument.

7. Religious life is the countersign to those tendencies towards selfish and excessive individualism, towards greed and ruthless competition which are among the factors that hinder authentic human development here in Africa and elsewhere. Religious life educates you to be especially sensitive to the needs of the poor, the disadvantaged, the sick and the handicapped, and of those left behind by progress.

In your service to others in towns or rural areas, in hospitals and schools in social services and charitable activities, you are not just serving the material development of your people, you are also upholding their human dignity. You treat others as God’s sons and daughters, made in his likeness. You serve them as Christ’s beloved brothers and sisters.

Here, I would like you to reflect on the fact that certain well-tried forms of apostolate, such as education and health care, are a most effective way of defending and promoting human rights because they defend the human person from the basic indignity of ignorance and abandonment. I wish to encourage you, especially the religious Sisters to persevere in these endeavours in fidelity to the charisms which the Holy Spirit has bestowed on your institutes.

8. My dear Sisters: as consecrated women you have a most profound effect on the way the Gospel is incorporated into local culture. Very often you “vivify” a Christian community from its very roots, stimulating and accompanying its growth in a way that is not open to others. The work of the first courageous women religious in this region has left an indelible mark on the Church here.

Let us praise God together for the selfless service of the many expatriate Sisters who have brought untold blessings upon the Church in this land. Theirs is a significant testimony of the universality of Christian love. And the Zimbabwean-born Sisters are the blossoming forth of the divine gift which the Church in this land has received from her Lord: “like branches sprouting out wondrously and abundantly (they) form a tree growing in the field of the Lord from a seed divinely planted” (Lumen Gentium, 43). This particular seed was planted almost a hundred years ago, when after a long and hazardous journey the first Dominican Sisters entered this area, and it has not ceased to give the finest fruits ever since.

I wish to say a special word of encouragement to the Poor Clares who have established a community in Harare, the first of its kind in Zimbabwe. The contemplative life is an integral part of the life of every particular Church. The presence of these Sisters is a sign of a maturing community of faith, and they deserve the respect and love due to their special vocation. I pray that there may be many Zimbabwean vocations to the contemplative life, which the Council calls “the glory of the Church and an overflowing fountain of heavenly graces” (Perfectae Caritatis, 7).

9. Dear religious Brothers: your faithfulness and prayerfulness are of vital importance to the Church, and the service you render is indispensable. Your example as conscientious administrators, technical instructors and skilled artisans, demonstrating the dignity of work, is of immense value to a developing country which cannot progress unless it holds workers in high esteem. The example of your joyous following of Christ and your industrious pastoral service is a source of encouragement to many. I invite the Church in Zimbabwe to promote vocations to the brotherhood without any fear that this will divert vocations from the priesthood, for it is the Lord who calls where and when he wishes.

I also offer a special greeting to all the seminarians and candidates to religious life in Zimbabwe. Always give thanks to God who gives you this opportunity to discern in faith and trust the calling which is the reason for your special place in the Church. Remember it is a call to service and holiness of life. It means detachment from material things, and the practice of all the Christian virtues, especially chastity, love of neighbour and zeal for the salvation of souls. Place your trust in the Lord: he is your Shepherd, he guides you along the right path; he is true to his name (Ps 22 (23), 1. 3).

10. Dear priests and religious: the cost of discipleship is never small. Here in Bulawayo, I recall the memory of the first bishop of this diocese, Adolph Schmitt, and of the other priests, religious sisters and brothers, and lay people who lost their lives in the difficult years of the struggle for independence, or as the result of more recent acts of violent aggression. May their sacrifice inspire the entire Church in this land to “press forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God, announcing the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord until he comes” (LG, 8). I entrust you all to Our Lady, Queen of Peace, whose shrine nearby is a reminder that true peace comes as a gift from the heart of our loving God.

May the peace of Christ be with you all!"

Pope John Paul II's address at an Ecumenical Meeting 
Anglican Cathedral of Bulawayo, Monday 12th September 1988 - also in Italian

"1. “How good and how pleasant it is, brothers dwelling in unity... For there the Lord gives his blessing, life for ever” (Ps 132 (133), 1. 3).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
these words of the Psalmist express a basic longing of the human heart, the longing for harmony and friendship with others. At the same time, they express the longings of all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus. In fact, the desire for unity among Christians has been gaining momentum in a significant way in the course of this century, and especially since the calling of the Second Vatican Council by my predecessor Pope John XXIII.

With gratitude to God for this movement towards complete unity in faith and charity which the Holy Spirit is sustaining in our lifetime, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to meet you today, you who are the representatives of Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities in Zimbabwe. I thank you for the cordial welcome which you have extended to me, and I am grateful for the commitment each of you has made to the ecumenical movement.

2. In my first encyclical letter, at the very beginning of my pastoral service of the Church as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I expressed my own great desire to continue and intensify the Catholic Church’s many efforts at restoring the fullness of unity among Christ’s followers, a unity that will only be advanced by keeping a steady focus on the face of Christ. I wrote: “in Christ and through Christ man has acquired full awareness of his dignity, of the heights to which he is raised, of the surpassing worth of his own humanity, and of the meaning of his existence. All of us who are Christ’s followers must therefore meet and unite around him. This unity in the various fields of the life, tradition, structures and discipline of the individual Christian Churches and Ecclesial Communities cannot be brought about without effective work aimed at getting to know each other and removing the obstacles blocking the way to perfect unity” (Redemptor Hominis, 11).

This meeting today is certainly one more step in the necessary enterprise of “getting to know each other and removing the obstacles blocking the way”. But even more important than getting to know each other is that we get to know and accept more profoundly our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the fullness of his teaching. That is why daily prayer and meditation on the Gospels are essential for the beginning and continuity of any ecumenical initiative.

In prayer, the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and moves our hearts, thus deepening our communion with the Most Holy Trinity. And in our meditation on the Gospels we see ever more clearly the mercy of God who in Christ the Redeemer has reconciled the world to himself and handed on to us in the Church the work of reconciliation.

3. Christ’s own prayer to the Father reveals to us his great desire for the unity of all his followers: “May they all be one”, he prays, “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17, 21).

The unity for which our Saviour prays is really a communion in truth and love, a communion like that which exists between the Father and the Son. There is nothing superficial, then, about the unity for which Christ prayed, a unity for which he would lay down his life, the unity for which the Church continually strives. And this unity is closely linked to the new life of faith in Christ which each of us received in the Sacrament of Baptism.

From the moment we were freed from sin through this sacrament and filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, we began to experience, to some extent, the communion for which Christ prayed: “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn 17, 21). It is a communion with the Holy Trinity, and a communion with all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

4. But this wonderful gift of communion, rooted in “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4, 5) has been damaged by sins of division. Contrasting positions on doctrine and diverging paths, together with many failures in charity, have sown discord among those baptized “in water and the Holy Spirit” (Jn 3, 5). As a most regrettable consequence, non-believers are often scandalized at the absence of love which has grown up among the followers of Christ. And this, in turn, has greatly hindered the primary mission of the Church which is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom to the very ends of the earth.

But the power of sin and division has not had the final word. Instead it has been conquered by Christ through his own Sacrifice on the Cross. And the Spirit of Truth and Love has never stopped working in the Church to overcome the hatred and division, the centuries of misunderstanding and discord. In the past thirty years, in particular, the Holy Spirit has prompted within the hearts of believers remorse over mistakes of the past, a new desire to overcome divisions, a fresh enthusiasm for working together as brothers and sisters in the vineyard of the Lord.

5. I know that here in Zimbabwe numerous initiatives have been undertaken in this regard, initiatives which have been aided by the traditional African appreciation of the great value of community life and the family. You, like Christians throughout the world, are now walking together along the path that will lead to fullness of communion in Christ.

Your many joint activities in the field of human development, as well as the ecumenical dialogues, are commendable projects and serve as a good foundation for further ecumenical collaboration. I think, too, of your fraternal cooperation in meeting the needs of migrants, refugees and victims of natural disaster. There is also your mutual concern for the work of justice and peace and for a more equitable distribution of natural resources.

In all these joint efforts, what we strive to show to the world are both the human dimension and the divine dimension of the great mystery of the Redemption. As I wrote in my first encyclical, “we can and must immediately reach and display to the world our unity in proclaiming the mystery of Christ, in revealing the divine dimension and also the human dimension of the Redemption, and in struggling with unwearying perseverance for the dignity that each human being has reached and can continually reach in Christ, namely the dignity of both the grace of divine adoption and the inner truth of humanity” (RH).

6. The words of the Psalmist remind us of a primary element of the ecumenical movement: constant prayer for complete unity in Christ and praise of his Holy Name. As the Psalmist says: “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips... Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us praise his name” (Ps 33 (34), 2.3-4).

Although common worship may not be possible in many cases, nevertheless prayer services such as this one today play an important part in helping to restore unity among the followers of Jesus. The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is one initiative in this regard which deserves special commendation and support. And in our own Communions, we have an obligation to follow the example of Christ in praying: “May they all be one” (Jn 17, 21).

Above all, we must never lose confidence in what the Spirit of God can accomplish in our own day. For as the Angel Gabriel said to the Virgin Mary, “nothing is impossible to God” (Lk 1, 37). Let our hearts then be alive with faith and always steadfast in hope. And may the praise of God be always on our lips: “Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us praise his name” (Ps 33 (34), 4). Amen."

Pope Saint John Paul II's words at the Farewell Ceremony 
International Airport of Harare, Tuesday 13th September 1988 - also in Italian

"Your Excellency President Mugabe,
Brothers Bishops, Ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,
1. The hour has come for me to leave Zimbabwe, the first stage on my apostolic visit to Southern Africa.

With gratitude to God, I express to all of you present here and to all the wonderful people of Zimbabwe my joy at having been able to spend these days in your country. My stay was short, but it was intense, filled with prayer, celebration and friendship.

I thank you for the warm welcome and fine hospitality with which you received me from the first moment.

I carry you with me in my heart, especially the young, the sick, the needy and those who are alone. I remember you all in my prayers.

2. My meeting with my brothers of the Inter-Regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa, gathered for their Second Plenary Assembly, represented a very significant moment of this journey. I thank the Lord that our meeting was marked by a deep and intense communion between the Bishop of Rome and the pastors of the Church in this region. I implore God’s grace upon the outcome of their Assembly so that the decisions taken will bear abundant fruit for the good of the Church and of society.

3. Mr President, I thank you again for having personally met me on my arrival, for kindly inviting me to visit you at the State House and for all that you have done to make this visit possible.

I also wish to thank the Members of the Government who have been present at various venues, the national and local authorities, the staff of the various Ministries, the members of the police and security services and all those who have helped in the preparation and course of this visit.

4. To you, dear bishops of Zimbabwe, who with the priests, religious and laity have been the special object of my attention here, I offer my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation. My thanks goes to all those who have given of their time and energies in making this visit a success, providing transport and support so that people could come to pray with the Pope and to celebrate with him the mysteries of faith.

As the Successor of Peter I have come to confirm the faith of my brothers and sisters. I am truly happy to have met so many of you, to have listened to your concerns and aspirations and I encourage you all to persevere in the ecclesial and pastoral tasks you have undertaken.

I have experienced the vitality of your Catholic communities. I have seen how committed you are to education, especially through your schools, how dedicated to health care, how active in promoting justice and harmony, in serving the needs of the poor and of refugees.

I am fully aware of the fervour with which you encourage vocations and prepare the candidates to the priesthood and religious life, of the interest you take in the well-being of the family, in the training of youth and in the development of the world of culture.

For all this I give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. May he bless your apostolate.

5. To the brothers and sisters of the other Christian Ecclesial Communities who welcomed me so warmly in the Anglican Cathedral of Saint John at Bulawayo goes my sincere word of friendship and goodwill. We have prayed and reflected together. May the Lord Jesus Christ lead us further along the path of mutual esteem and love.

I thank the journalists and the communications personnel who helped to report my words and whose skills have served in these days to make Zimbabwe better known to the world.

Upon all the inhabitants of Zimbabwe I implore God’s love and peace!
God bless Zimbabwe!"