Addresses, Speeches, Homilies 1984

Speech from John Paul II During the Welcoming Ceremony


Your Excellency the Governor General of Canada,

Your Eminences,

Your Grace the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops,

Your Grace the Archbishop of Quebec,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

Your Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec,

Mr. Prime Minister,

Mr. Premier of Quebec,

Mr. President of the Quebec Urban Community,

Your Honour the Mayor of Quebec,

Your Honour the Mayor of the City of Sainte-Foy,

All you dignitaries and civil and religious authorities of this country,

“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send you grace and peace”

(1 Cor  1,3).

Before speaking to those whom you represent I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to her Excellency the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé. Madame, I cannot take up here the various points of your speech. We will have another meeting in Ottawa. But I would like to say even now how deeply I have been touched by your words. Their sensitivity and dignity, the precise perception that you have of the meaning of my apostolic mission in the world, your profound insight into my pastoral intent in Canada, your touching evocation of the Canadian people, your exacting and warm words concerning the destiny of this dear country. The personal witness that you give within the framework of your high office, all this constitutes for me the best possible message of welcome and at the same time a powerful encouragement to begin with confidence the various stages of my pilgrimage in your native land. Please accept my most sincere thanks.

Greetings to you, people of Canada, in the diversity of your history, of your cultures, of your provinces, of your regions.

In this vast country that is Canada, it is at Quebec that I begin my pilgrimage, and I am very happy to do so. I greet you, Quebec, first church in North America, first witness to the faith, you who have raised the cross along your roads and who have spread the Gospel throughout this blessed land.

Greetings to you, people of Quebec, whose traditions, language and culture give your society such distinctive features in North America.

Greetings to you people of this country, Amerindians, people of French and English origin, immigrants from throughout the world who live here alongside one another, making your way together and sharing the difficult but exciting path of history.

Greetings to you, believers in Jesus Christ and members of the Catholic Church. Let us seek together the firmness of the faith, which expresses itself in the perfection of love.

Greetings to you, believers in Jesus Christ and members of other Christian confessions. Let us seek together the same Christ and Lord.

Greetings to you, believers in God and heirs of the people of Israel. Let us seek together the Word of Life.

Greetings to you, believers andd [sp] members of other spiritual families. Let us seek together the face of God.

Greetings to you, men and women who seek a meaning for your life but who find no satisfactory answer to your deepest aspirations. You try to live your life with dignity and responsibility. Let us seek together the best way of 1ife.

To all of you, I bring the greetings of the Church of Rome and of the whole Church of God living in communion with her throughout the universe. I bring with me the love, the joy, the pain and the hope of your brothers and sisters all over the world. In return, I hope to be able to share with the world something of you, an echo of your human dynamism and your religious vitality.

For a long time you have waited for me. And I, for my part, have greatly longed to be with you.

It is not as a Head of State that I come to visit you. The Vatican is indeed recognized as a “State” on the international plane in order better to ensure the freedom of the Holy See, in the service of the spiritual mission of the Successor of Peter. The Holy See is entitled to have its diplomatic Representatives, and I am pleased that Canada has appointed to it an Ambassador. In this way the Holy See is able to give its witness on the international scene and to take part in important discussions which affect the destiny of the world community.

But it is, above all, as pastor and brother that I come to you. I am the pastor who succeeds the first pastor, the apostle, Peter. I am the father: that is what the word Pope means. But I am also your brother,
your brother in humanity and your brother in obedience to the great pastor of the Church, the good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

I am among you to share the bread and the word, to share hope, to bring you the word of God and the bread of the Eucharist.

In the next eleven days I shall cross your country from one ocean to the other, “a mari usque ad mare”. I have some questions to ask you, and I would like also to hear yours. I would like to speak to you about the issues of our times, concerning culture, the community, technology, the family, sharing and justice. This is because nothing is irrelevant to the charity of the believer, to his or her love for humanity. I wish, above all, to speak to you about the fundamental problems: about the faith, about the experience of God, about hope. My word does not claim to furnish an answer to all your questions, or to replace your searching. But it will offer you the light and the strength of faith in Jesus Christ as proclaimed by Peter himself in Galilee:  “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!”

I would like my words to be an act of sharing. The sharing of a brother in faith. The sharing of a pilgrim, a witness to the lives of the men and women of today. The sharing of a man aware of the spiritual crisis of the times, concerned with justice; of a man confident too in the possibilities of the human heart once it has been transformed by the love of God. “Be brave”, said Jesus, “I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16,33)

As your Bishops have said so well: Let us celebrate our faith in Jesus Christ. My visit is intended to be essentially pastoral. I would like to recount to all believers the joy of believing in Jesus Christ. For, of all the blessings in life, faith is the most precious, the most beautiful. May my pilgimage [sp] here be the symbol of your journey in the faith. For this very reason, I would like to come among you as a witness of hope. I would like to assure the Bishops of my fraternal interest. I would like to offer a special word of support to the priests, to the men and women religious, and to the laity in charge of many sectors of the apostolate.

Brothers and Sisters, friends already, let us travel together, let us look to the One who unites us. 0 Lord, Our God, “how great is your name throughout the earth!” (Ps 8)

May the name of God echo in your hearts and may this visit bring to us, both to you and to me, comfort and fresh joy.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada