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THE PAPAL VISIT : Excerpts From Pontiff's Addresses in the Detroit Area

September 20, 1987|Associated Press

DETROIT Here are excerpts from Pope John Paul II's addresses on Saturday:

Social Justice Address at Hart Plaza:

In any modern society, no matter how advanced, there will always be situations, some old and some new, that summon your Christian sense of justice to action. Our Lord has said: "The poor you will always have with you" (Matthew 26:11). You must therefore discover the poor in your midst.

There is poverty among you when the old and the weak are neglected and their standard of living constantly declines. There is poverty when illness takes away the wage earner from a family. There is material need and suffering in those areas or groups where unemployment risks becoming endemic. There is poverty in the future of those that cannot enjoy the benefits of basic education.

Some modern technological developments contain the potential for new hardships and injustice and must therefore be part of our concern. The introduction of robotics, the rapid development of communications, the necessary adaptation of industrial plants, the need to introduce new skills in management--these are but some of the factors that, if not analyzed carefully or tested as to their social cost, may produce undue hardship for many, either temporarily or more permanently.

. . . But the very attempt to look at some of the challenges in the domestic scene brings us to another important consideration regarding progress and human development. I am referring to the international dimension. . . .

Not only do decisions taken by one nation affect other regions of the world, but the solution to many domestic problems can no longer be found except on an international, and even a worldwide, level. All major problems that concern the life of the human person in society have become world problems.

. . . Nobody can say anymore: "Let others be concerned with the rest of the world!" The world is each one of us.

. . . America is a very powerful country. The amount and quality of your achievements are staggering. By virtue of your unique position, as citizens of this nation, you are placed before a choice and you must choose. You may choose to close in on yourselves, to enjoy the fruits of your own form of progress and to try to forget about the rest of the world. Or, as you become more and more aware of your gifts and your capacity to serve, you may choose to live up to the responsibilities that your own history and accomplishments place on your shoulders.

By choosing this latter course, you acknowledge interdependence, and opt for solidarity. This, dear friends, is truly a human vocation, a Christian vocation, and for you as Americans it is a worthy national vocation.

Departing Message:

As I go, I take with me vivid memories of a dynamic nation, a warm and welcoming people, a church abundantly blessed with a rich blend of cultural traditions. I depart with admiration for the ecumenical spirit that breathes strongly throughout this land, for the genuine enthusiasm of your young people, and for the hopeful aspirations of your most recent immigrants.

. . . America, your deepest identity and truest character as a nation is revealed in the position you take toward the human person. The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones.

The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. If you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life!

All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person.

Feeding the poor and welcoming refugees; reinforcing the social fabric of this nation; promoting the true advancement of women; securing the rights of minorities; pursuing disarmament, while guaranteeing legitimate defense: all this will succeed only if respect for life and its protection by the law is granted to every human being from conception until natural death.

Every human person--no matter how vulnerable or helpless, no matter how young or how old, no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society--is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God. This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival--yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.

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