U.S. President's Address to the Pope, 1987
President Ronald Reagan

Pope's address

On Saturday, 6 June [1987], the Holy Father received in audience Mr. Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America....

President Reagan addressed the Holy Father in the following words.

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 compassionate leadership.

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 championa 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 millionspeople of all races and all faithswho 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 Councilin which you played such on important rolePope 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.


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
15 June 1987, page 9

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