NEW ORLEANS — The following are excerpts from Pope John Paul II's address to black Roman Catholics on Saturday:
I urge you to keep alive and active your rich cultural gifts. Always profess proudly before the whole church and the whole world your love for God's word; it is a special blessing which you must forever treasure as a part of your heritage.
Help us all to remember that authentic freedom comes from accepting the truth and from living one's life in accordance with it and the full truth is found only in Christ Jesus. Continue to inspire us by your desire to forgive as Jesus forgave and by your desire to be reconciled with all the people of this nation, even those who would unjustly deny you the full exercise of your human rights. . . .
In the most difficult hours of your struggle for civil rights amidst discrimination and oppression, God himself guided your steps along the way of peace. Before the witness of history the response of nonviolence stands, in the memory of this nation, as a monument of honor to the black community of the United States.
Today as we recall those who, with Christian vision, opted for nonviolence as the only truly effective approach for ensuring and safeguarding human dignity, we cannot but think of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and of the providential role he played in contributing to the rightful human betterment of black Americans and therefore to the improvement of American society itself. . . .
With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we try in every age to bring the Gospel convincingly and understandably to people of all races, languages and cultures. It is important to realize that there is no black Church, no white Church, no American Church; but there is and must be in the one church of Jesus Christ a home for blacks, whites, Americans, every culture and race. . . .
Excerpts from John Paul's address at the youth rally:
The world will try to deceive you about many things that matter: about your faith, about pleasure and material things, about the dangers of drugs. And at one stage or another the false voices of the world will try to exploit your human weakness by telling you that life has no meaning at all for you.
The supreme theft in your lives would be if they succeeded in robbing you of hope. They will try but not succeed if you hold fast to Jesus and his truth. The truth of Jesus is capable of reinforcing all your energies. . . .
Excerpts from John Paul's homily at the University of New Orleans Mass:
No doubt some people will object that Christ's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage, as it is upheld by the church, is lacking in compassion. But what must be seen is the ineffectiveness of divorce, and its ready availability in modern society, to bring mercy and forgiveness and healing to so many couples and their children, in whose troubled lives there remain a brokenness and a suffering that will not go away. . . .
Excerpts from John Paul's address to Catholic educators:
Amidst changing circumstances, Catholic universities and colleges are challenged to retain a lively sense of their Catholic identity and to fulfill their specific responsibilities to the church and to society. It is precisely in doing so that they make their distinctive contribution to the wider field of higher education.
The Catholic identity of your institutions is a complex and vitally important matter. This identity depends upon the explicit profession of Catholicity on the part of the university as an institution and also upon the personal conviction and sense of mission on the part of its professors and administrators. . . .
Religious faith itself calls for intellectual inquiry, and the confidence that there can be no contradiction between faith and reason is a distinctive feature of the Catholic humanistic tradition, as it existed in the past and as it exists in our own day. . . .
Modern culture reflects many tensions and contradictions. We live in an age of great technological triumphs but also of great human anxieties. Too often today, the individual's vision of reality is fragmented. At times experience is mediated by forces over which people have no control; sometimes there is not even an awareness of these forces.
The temptation grows to relativize moral principles and to privilege process over truth. This has grave consequences for the moral life as well as for the intellectual life of individuals and of society. The Catholic university must address all these issues from the perspective of faith and out of its rich heritage. . . .