Excerpts from the texts of Pope John Paul II's speeches Tuesday in Los Angeles: At St. Vibiana's Cathedral:
The First Letter of Saint Peter tells us: "If anyone suffers for being a Christian . . . he ought not to be ashamed. He should rather glorify God in virtue of that name." (1 Peter 4:6). And Jesus himself says, "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world." (John 16:33).
Is not this message extremely important for young people who are trying to live a responsible moral life in the face of a tide of popular culture and peer pressure that is indifferent, if not hostile, to Christian morality?
Dear people of the great Archdiocese of Los Angeles, with its many problems, its enormous challenges and its immense possibilities for good: The name of Jesus is your life and your salvation.
At Universal Amphitheater youth rally:
As you probably know, I often say that you who are young bring hope to the world. The future of the world shines in your eyes. Even now, you are helping to shape the future of society. Since I have always placed high hopes in young people, I would like to speak to you today precisely about hope.
We cannot live without hope. We have to have some purpose in life, some meaning to our existence. We have to aspire to something. Without hope, we begin to die. . . .
Hope comes from God, from our belief in God.
I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply.
I must begin by saying that it is impossible to explain entirely. For it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that, at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: "Come, follow me!" There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest.
From address to communications executives:
My visit to Los Angeles, and indeed to the United States, would seem incomplete without this meeting, since you represent one of the most important American influences on the world today. You do this in every area of social communications and contribute thereby to the development of a mass popular culture. Humanity is profoundly influenced by what you do. . . . It is a fact that your smallest decisions can have global impact.
Your work can be a force for great good or great evil. You yourselves know the dangers, as well as the splendid opportunities open to you. Communication products can be works of great beauty, revealing what is noble and uplifting in humanity and promoting what is just and fair and true. On the other hand communications can appeal to and promote what is debased in people: dehumanized sex through pornography or through a casual attitude toward sex and human life; greed through materialism and consumerism or irresponsible individualism; anger and vengefulness through violence or self-righteousness.
. . . The church recognizes the need for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, just as does your Constitution. But she goes further. Rights imply corresponding duties. The proper exercise of the right to information demands that the content of what is communicated be true and--within the limits set by justice and charity--complete. . . . Your very profession invites you to reflect on this obligation to truth and its completeness. Included here is the obligation to avoid any manipulation of truth for any reason. This manipulation in fact takes place when certain issues are deliberately passed over in silence, in order that others may be unduly emphasized. It also occurs when information is altered or withheld so that society will be less able to resist the imposition of a given ideology.
. . . Your industry can help foster communication and unite people in fraternal love. It is within your power to use technology to promote what is deeply human and to direct it to the work of peace. You have marvelous tools which others lack. They must be employed in the service of people's right to communicate.
. . . Because your responsibility is so great and your accountability to the community is not easily rendered juridically, society relies so much on your good will. In a sense the world is at your mercy. Errors in judgment, mistakes in evaluating the propriety and justice of what is transmitted, and wrong criteria in art can offend and wound consciences and human dignity. They can encroach on sacred fundamental rights. The confidence that the community has in you honors you deeply and challenges you mightily.
. . . At the basis of all human rights is the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27). A recognition of this human dignity is also a part of your civil tradition in the United States and is expressed in the declaration of your nation's independence: All people are created equal in their human dignity and are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All other rights too are rooted in human dignity, including the right to maintain one's privacy and not to be exploited in the intimacy of one's family.
Ladies and gentlemen of the communications industry: I have set before you the broad outlines of a choice for good within the framework of your profession. I ask you to choose the common good. It means honoring the dignity of every human being.
I am convinced that to a great extent we can share a common hope, rooted in a vision of the human race harmoniously united through communication. I am sure too that all of you, whether Christian or not, will permit me to allude to the great fascination that surrounds the mystery of the communicating word. . . .
Ladies and gentlemen: As communicators of the human word, you are the stewards and administrators of an immense spiritual power that belongs to the patrimony of mankind and is meant to enrich the whole of the human community. The challenge that opens up before you truly requires generosity, service and love. I am sure that you will strive to meet it. And, as you do, I pray that you will experience in your own lives a deep satisfaction and joy. And may the peace of God dwell in your hearts.
At Coliseum Mass Homily:
Progress creates new possibilities for evil as well as for good. Technology, for example, increases what we can do, but it cannot teach us the right thing to do. It increases our choices, but it is we who must choose between evil and good.
. . . Whether it be the case of the person next to us or of distant peoples and nations, we must be Good Samaritans to all those who suffer. We must be the compassionate "neighbor" of those in need, not only when it is emotionally rewarding or convenient, but also when it is demanding and inconvenient. (cf. Salvifici Doloris, 28-30). Compassion is a virtue we cannot neglect in a world in which the human suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters is needlessly increased by oppression, deprivation and underdevelopment--by poverty, hunger and disease.