Addresses, Speeches, Homilies 1984

Visit to the Cathedral

SEPTEMBER 20,  1984

Praised be Jesus Christ!

In this final stage of my long pastoral visit to Canada, I give thanks to God for all that he has permitted me to see and hear, from east to west, in very diverse assemblies.

Here we are in this magnificent city of Ottawa, the capital of Canada, where this afternoon we will be celebrating the mass for peace. Yesterday evening, I met officials from the government, the Parliament and the diplomatic corps. Their role is an important one for the Canadian people and for the world community. I also greeted the local civic authorities.

In a little while I will be meeting with my brother bishops, who are entrusted with the care of the Catholic Church in Canada. I wish to thank Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde for welcoming me so warmly to the cathedral of his archdiocese.

This is an opportunity for me to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who, for months now, have been involved in the preparation and then, in the carrying out of this visit. In Rome I received many reports of this intense work of preparation. In the past twelve days I have seen for myself the fruits of this work.

Dear friends, with your bishops and the General Secretariat of the Conference, you have carried out a large number of initiatives. You have chosen the places and occasions that seemed to you the most fitting. You have prepared the people by informing them about the Church in Canada, about Rome and the Pope, and about the meaning of my pastoral visit. Thanks to you, many of your compatriots have prepared themselves spiritually for this visit; in my view, this was the most important thing.

I wish to thank the various groups represented here, who have made all the technical arrangements in such diverse areas as transportation, communications, the printing and transmittal of documents, and the co-ordination of policing, protocol and security services.

I wish to mention by name:

  • the staff of the Secretariat of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops;
  • the staff of the Papal Visit Secretariat;
  • the representatives of the dioceses of Ottawa and Gatineau-Hull, who were responsible for the part of the visit that concerned them;
  • the Canadian Government Task Force;
  • the guests of Archbishop Plourde, who have made their own contribution, especially through their meaningful commemoration of this visit.

I am particularly appreciative of the collaboration which was established for this undertaking between the Provincial and Federal Authorities and the various ecclesiastical groups. And through you I thank the thousands of people who have had a hand in all the services, at the various stops throughout the country, in a selfless and discreet manner, without always being able themselves to assist at the ceremonies, while they contributed to their success.

In addressing myself more especially to the faithful who have had responsible roles, I dare add that this fine work is not yet finished. It will be necessary to draw the maximum profit from this experience, to point out its value for the Canadian people, and permit them to meditate on it. I am sure that many of you are already part of those dedicated groups who have the habit of supporting similar services in your ecclesial communities. I congratulate you and I encourage you. The Church needs structures for the fulfilment of her mission in so many spheres. She needs competent and generous people. Indeed, she needs an impetus, a spiritual inspiration which she finds in prayer, in her liturgical life, in her commitment to charity, and I do not doubt that you have met these spiritual requirements in your work of organization.

We are here in the Cathedral, and I cannot visit such churches without reflecting on the sense of the sacred which they help to develop in order to facilitate an encounter with the living God, and without evoking the image of the Christian assemblies for which they exist. It is of capital importance that these signs of God arise in the hearts of our cities, and above all that our faithful diligently strive to visit these spiritual places for personal prayer or for the celebration of the Sacraments. In this way they can set out again on the roads of this world with the light and the strength of the Lord! This morning, our prayer consists above all in rendering thanks to God and recommending to him your intentions, in union with the Virgin Mary.

To all of you, ladies and gentlemen, dear brothers and sisters, I repeat my deepest thanks. I offer my fervent prayers for all the responsibilities which you exercise in society and in the Church. I pray that God will bless you and your families.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada