About two-thirds of the way through my nearly 30 year hiatus from the Church Pope John Paul II made a apostolic journey to the United States. According to the USCCB His Holiness visited 9 cities over a 10 day span in the fall of 1987.
Being a life-long, avid news watcher I'm sure I was aware of his presence in the country at the time and, being uninterested in anything religious at that time, I'm just as sure I didn't pay any attention to what he was saying.
It's now almost 21 years later and I just came across part of JPII's message. The occasion was a meeting with the American bishops held in a Los Angeles seminary on Wednesday, September 16, 1987.
Several portions of His Holiness' address are remarkable for their candor. Excerpts follow ...
- It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church’s clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church’s moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere. I wish to encourage you in the love of Christ to address this situation courageously in your pastoral ministry, relying on the power of God’s truth to attract assent and on the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given both to those who proclaim the message and to those to whom it is addressed.
We must also constantly recall that the teaching of Christ’s Church - like Christ himself - is a "sign of contradiction". It has never been easy to accept the Gospel teaching in its entirety, and it never will be. The Church is committed, both in faith and morals, to make her teaching as clear and understandable as possible, presenting it in all the attractiveness of divine truth. And yet the challenge of the Gospel remains inherent in the Christian message transmitted to each generation. (No. 5)
- [T]he Church is a community of faith. To accept faith is to give assent to the word of God as transmitted by the Church’s authentic Magisterium. Such assent constitutes the basic attitude of the believer, and is an act of the will as well as of the mind. (No. 6)
- Speaking on your behalf, [San Francisco's] Archbishop Quinn has shown full awareness of the seriousness of the challenge facing your teaching ministry. He has spoken of the dual task of the conversion of the mind and the conversion of the heart. The way to the heart very often passes through the mind, and throughout the length and breadth of the Church there is need today for a new effort of evangelization and catechesis directed to the mind. Elsewhere I have mentioned the relationship between the Gospel and culture. Here I wish to underline the importance of the formation of the mind at every level of Catholic life. (No. 7)
- We serve our laity best when we make every effort to provide for them, and in collaboration with them, a comprehensive and solid programme of catechesis with the aim of “maturing the initial faith and of educating the true disciple of Christ by means of a deeper and more systematic knowledge of the person and the message of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ioannis Pauli PP. II Catechesi Tradendae, 19). Such a programme will also assist them in developing that habit of discernment which can distinguish the spirit of the world from the Spirit of God, and which can distinguish authentic culture from elements that degrade human dignity. It can provide them a solid basis for growing in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ through continual conversion and personal commitment to the demands of the Gospel. (No. 10)
If our local ordinary was in attendance the last two decades show no evidence he was taking notes.