Pope John Paul II
- Created: May 14, 1982
- Written by John Paul II
Gentlemen and my Brothers:
I am grateful for the respectful words and for the good wishes that have been addressed to me, and I wish to greet the representatives of the Christian, the Jewish, and the Islamic communities here present, expressing to all of them fraternal respect and esteem. To be able to affirm today, together, faith in one God, creator of all things, living, almighty, and merciful, would be enough in itself to make this meeting a pleasure for me; I am happy that this opportunity to bear witness, which is at the same time homage and an act of submission to our God, has been offered to us.
We are united in some way by faith and by a commitment, similar in many ways, to demonstrate by good works the consistency of our respective religious positions; and also the desire that, honoring as Lord the Creator of all things, our example may serve to help others in the search for God, in the opening toward transcendence, in recognition of the spiritual value of the human person, and, at times, in the identification of the foundation and permanent source of man's rights. This—we well know—is the condition in which criteria of esteem for the human being may exist, which are not limited to "practical usefulness," but which may safeguard his intangible dignity. In addition to this, as far as Christians are concerned, common faith in Christ the Savior is a special reason for unity and witness.
Contemporary society seems to us to be heedless of, or even inclined on a wide scale to "prescind" from, God and religion, and to be greatly absorbed in the earthly and material dimensions of man and life: Admirable progress in all fields secure great benefits, but they seem to encourage in some people a reversal and substitution of values. By recognizing and proclaiming spiritual and religious values, we can certainly bring about and guide a general vital insight and, among persons in normal situations, a certain conceptual glimmer of the reality of a subsisting Creator.
On the other hand, there is always room for human solidarity in the fidelity to the religion we embrace since, convinced as we are of the good which belief in God constitutes for us, the desire to share this good with others is spontaneous. In all respects, we can make ourselves a symbol of the Almighty: he who for many is the "unknown God"; for others, he is erroneously symbolized by temporal powers, inexorably marked by their transience and frailness.
Our contacts, dialogue, and appreciation for the undeniable treasures of every religion's spirituality, Christian community, and, when it is possible, common prayer, can lead to the convergence of efforts to avert the illusion of building a new world without God, and the vanity of a purely anthropocentric humanism. Without the religious dimension and, even worse, without religious freedom, man is impoverished or cheated of one of his basic rights. And we all wish to avoid this impoverishment of man.
So, when motivated also by human solidarity, we pass from prayer, from obedience to the commandments and from the observance of justice, to concretely living our religious adherence aiding the search for God, we are contributing to the good of our neighbor and to the common good of humanity. And this can be verified:
through personal honesty and discipline of habits in private and public life, halting the advance of the slackening of moral principles and those of justice, as well as ethical permissiveness;
in respect for life and for the family and its values, fostering the uplifting, in humanity and dignity, of our fellow men and the consolidation of the irreplaceable bases for harmonious living together in society;
by reverence for the authentic meaning and generous practice of human work, and with courageous and knowledgeable social and political participation, seeking the well-being of everyone and the building of societies and the world, always more in accord with the plans and decrees of God, throughout the world, since only in this way can there be a more just, peaceful world imbued with brotherly love.
As you know, I have come to Portugal in pilgrimage, primarily to celebrate God’s mercy. Within me is the deep conviction that the merciful God wishes to see this characteristic more clearly reflected in the entire human family: authentic mercy seems to me something which is indespensible to giving shape and solidity to relations among men, inspired by the deepest respect for all that is human and and for brotherhood.
In effect, Christians are exhorted to imitate the Lord Jesus, model of mercy. Judaism also considers mercy a fundamental commandment. And Islamism, in its profession of faith, attributes this trait to God. And Abraham, our common ancestor, teaches everyone—Christians, Jews, and Muslims—to follow this way of mercy and of love.
May I be allowed to conclude my remarks by lifting up my spirit in a prayer to the merciful God:
O Ineffable One, of whom all creation speaks,
O Almighty One, who never forces, but only invites and guides mankind toward good,
O Compassionate One, who desires mercy among all men: may he always guide us along his paths, fill our hearts with his love, with his peace and joy, and bless us!