I am truly grateful for the opportunity to visit with you
in this place of peace. Your Holiness, you have always said that the power
of love for our fellowman is stronger than the evils that befall
humankind, One feels the power of that strong moral force here, in this
holy city of St. Peter, just as we see it in your courageous and
Your Holiness, on my last visit here, I urged you to
return, to carry your ministry to the Southern and Western sections of our
country; you have graciously agreed, and I know that all America looks
forward to your arrival in September. You will find in our country a
deeply religious people, a people devoted to the same ideals and values
you so eloquently champion—a
striving for peace and justice, human rights, and above all, our duty as
fellow creatures of God to love one another.
Your Holiness, not long ago you visited Canada where you
spoke passionately of the moral obligation of the wealthier. nations to
share with those less fortunate. Recently, I also travelled to Canada and
said it is time that we take up that challenge, to share our prosperity
with the undeveloped nations, with generous aid, yes, but also in the most
effective way we know: by sharing the conditions that promote prosperity.
Your Holiness, you have spoken eloquently of "the moral
causes of prosperity", among them hard work, honesty, initiative, thrift,
spirit of service and daring. In many countries today we see economic
revolutions founded on this basic tenet, that the sources of prosperity
are moral ones, that the spirit and imagination of man, freed of statist
shackles, is a revolutionary force for growth and human betterment.
In your travels you have inspired millions—people
of all races and all faiths—who
have felt the intensity of your desire for peace and brotherhood among
men. As you embark on a pastoral visit to the land of your birth, Poland,
be assured that the hearts of the American people are with you. Our
prayers will go with you in profound hope that soon the hand of God will
lighten the terrible burden of brave people everywhere who yearn for
freedom, even as all men and women yearn for the freedom that God gave us
all when he gave us a free will.
We see the power of the spiritual force in that troubled
land, uniting a people in hope, just as we see the powerful stirrings to
the East of a belief that will not die, despite generations of oppression.
Perhaps it is not too much to hope that true change will come to all
countries which now deny or hinder the freedom to worship God. And perhaps
we will see that change comes through the re-emergence of faith,
through the irresistible power of a religious revival. For despite all the
attempts to extinguish it, the people's faith burns with a passionate
heat; once allowed to breathe free, that faith will burn so brightly it
will light the world.
Your Holiness, when I last visited you, our representative
in Vatican City was a personal envoy. Now, I am happy to say, America is
represented here by a full-fledged diplomatic mission at the ambassadorial
level. The congruence of our efforts deserves nothing less, for we join
with the Holy See in our concern for a world of peace, where armaments are
reduced and human rights respected; a world of justice and hope, where
each of God's creatures has the means and opportunity to develop to his or
her fall potential.
Your Holiness, I am reminded of the passage from Scripture
of St. Peter walking out on the water after Christ. We know that as
long as he kept his eyes on our Saviour, as long as his faith was strong,
he was held up, but as soon as his faith faltered, he began to sink. Your
Holiness, with gentle chidings and powerful exhortations you have
continually directed our thoughts to the spiritual source of all true
goodness and happiness.
At the opening of the Second Vatican Council—in
which you played such on important role—Pope
John XXIII spoke of the duty of every Christian to "tend always towards
heaven". In your great courage and passion, in your piety and the
boundless energy with which you carry out your ministry, you have set an
example for the world. It is an example that challenges us all to live a
life of charity, to live a life of prayer, to work for peace, and in that
beautiful phrase of John XXIII, to "tend always towards heaven".
I know that today marks the beginning of a very important
time for you personally, and for the people of your faith, for it is this
day that you begin the observance of a year of prayer and devotion to the
Virgin Mary with a worldwide prayer for peace. I wish you great joy,
happiness and fulfilment in the coming months. I thank you, Your Holiness,
and may God bless you.