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Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Pakistan

16 February 1981

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Pakistan at the start of his 9th apostolic journey, on which he also visited the Philippines, Guam, Japan and the USA.

Pope Saint John Paul II's Message to the President of Pakistan
16 February 16, 1981 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

1. On my arrival in Pakistan I would like to register my greeting in a spirit of friendship, and through you, extend to all the people of this country, to the members of the Catholic Church and of other Christian Churches, to the Muslim population for which as followers of Jesus Christ we have a great esteem, and to all men and to all women of good will and of any faith.

My visit to your country and the entire trip which begins today is first of all of a religious character. I have come as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church and I wish to strengthen in the faith all my brothers and sisters of the Catholic religion. It will be so for me a cause of special joy to join Cardinal Cordeiro and my brother bishops of Pakistan, the clergy, religious and laity in our most sacred act of worship, the celebration of Holy Eucharist.

2. The Church, without forgetting that its primary mission is spiritual, is always striving to collaborate with individual nations and individual peoples of good will to promote the dignity and progress of the human person. It carries on this commitment by various means, such as schools and education programs, and charitable and social institutions. In this regard, it is cause for deep satisfaction to see how the Catholic Church and the government of Pakistan have worked together here, in full harmony for the benefit of many. I pray that these efforts continue to be crowned with success.

One of the particular preoccupations of the Church at the present time is the condition of refugees, a problem that touches your nation no less than many others. Let me take this opportunity to express my admiration for the efforts that Pakistan has made and is still making for the benefit of these refugees. I wish to assure you that the Church, as she has already given her collaboration in these efforts, intends to continue as such in that line, compatible with the limited means at her disposal.

3. One of the most characteristic features of Abraham - with whose faith Christians, Muslims and Jews intimately connect - was his great spirit of hospitality, manifested in a special way when he welcomed the three guests to the oak of Mamre (Gen. 18.1). The warm welcome that you and the beloved people of Pakistan have given me on this happy occasion expresses very well this same spirit of hospitality. Of this I am deeply grateful and I would like to reciprocate your courtesy and kindness with the assurance of my prayers.

Papa St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass in the stadium of Karachi
- in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Eminence and fellow bishops, Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
Beloved people of Pakistan,

1. I am pleased to be with you today, happy to spend several hours here in Pakistan, this land of such ancient culture and such noble traditions. I am particularly grateful for the possibility I have to celebrate the Eucharist with the Catholic community gathered here, with the clergy, religious and laity. Through you I desire to extend my greeting and assure all Christians of your beloved country of 
my prayers. I come to you as servant of Jesus Christ, as a pilgrim of faith, as one called to proclaim the Gospel and to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith.

2. While I am here with you today, the words of Jesus narrated by the Evangelist St Matthew come to my mind: "Therefore every scribe who has been the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old" (Matthew 13:52). As the scribe of the Gospel, the Church in Pakistan is able to extract from the treasure of his legacy both new and the old. From the past you have the tradition that connects you to the Apostle Thomas and the Apostolic Church of the first century. From more recent times the vigour of a young missionary Church now has firm roots in the hearts of the people of this country. May you always appreciate and guard the treasures of your spiritual heritage, both the old and the new one as the scribe in the Gospel can extract them at the right moment for the coming of the Kingdom of God

3. The readings of today's Liturgy of the Word invites us to reflect on the profound mystery of the Eucharist. In the first reading, we are reminded "that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord" (Dt 18.3). It is our personal conviction of the truth of these words that urges us to reunite regularly for the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

As followers of Christ, do not despise the good things of the earth, because we know they were created by God who is the source of all good. Let us try not to ignore the necessity of bread, the great need of food of so many people in all the world, also in your lands. For indeed if we try to ignore these fundamental needs of our brothers and sisters who we see, how can we claim to love God who we do not see? (cf 1 Jn 4.20). And yet the word remains true that "man does not live by bread alone." The human person has a necessity that is even more profound, a hunger that is even greater than that which bread can satisfy; it is the hunger of the human heart for the immensity of God. It is a hunger that can only be satisfied by the One who said: "If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.

For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink "(Jn 6, 53-55).

4. Christ is the only one who can satisfy the most profound hunger of the human heart. Because He alone is the source of life. As St Paul wrote: "all things were created through Him and for Him. He is the first of all things and holds together the whole universe" (Col 1:16-17). In Christ, death has lost its power, death's sting has been removed, death has been defeated. This truth of our faith can appear paradoxical, because we see around us still so many people frightened by the certainty of death and disconcerted by the torment of pain. Indeed pain and death weigh on the human spirit and remain an enigma to those who do not believe in God. But in faith we know that they will be overcome, that they were conquered in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Redeemer. This is what we commemorate when we reunite in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, this is what we celebrate each time we reunite for the Eucharistic Sacrifice: we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes in glory (cf 1 Cor 11:26); we declare with one voice that Jesus Christ is Lord of the living and the dead, that He is the way and the truth and the life (cf Jn 14.6), that Jesus Christ is the living bread which was given for the life of world (cf Jn 6:51).

It is the Eucharist, which expresses the desire of our Saviour to be always present in the heart of every man, continually offering to each person a participation in his life.

What a most wonderful gift is given to us in the Eucharist! O ineffable Sacrament! Through our participation in this greatest act of life and worship of the Church we are united to Him who is the Redeemer of the world, "the image of the invisible God, begotten first of all creatures" (Col 1,15).

The second reading of today's liturgy speaks of this great mystery as follows: "The chalice of blessing which we bless, is it not communion with the blood of Christ? And the bread which we break is it not communion with the body of Christ? "(1 Cor 10.16).

This great Sacrament that allows us to participate in the life of Christ unites us each of us to one another, unites us to all the other members of the Church, to all the baptized of every age and every country. Even if we who belong to the Church are scattered all over the world, even if we speak different languages, even if we have a diverse cultural heritage and we are citizens of different nations "because there is only one bread we, who are many, are one body: we all participate in one bread") (1 Cor 10:17).

6. Because the mystery of the Eucharist is so closely bound to the mystery of the Church, we can only feel sad before the divisions that still wound the one Body of Christ, the divisions among Christian brothers. We are saddened because we still cannot participate together in the one bread and one chalice. May this sadness encourage us to act. May there exist among us, who as Catholics participate in this Sacrament of unity, a profound desire for reunion of all the Churches, that we may feel the urgency of the prayer of Jesus "Ut unum sint: they may all be one" (Jn 17.21), and that we may be more deeply convinced of the necessity to pray and work for the unity of all who were baptized in Christ.

7. Our participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice must also deepen our desire for the whole human family to enter into the light of faith. It must inspire us to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all those who do not yet know him. The Eucharist is the "bread for the life of the world", bread for every man and every woman on earth. In this respect, it is a source of great satisfaction to see how the missionary spirit is a vibrant aspect of the Church in Pakistan, and I commend you for your efforts in bringing the message of salvation, in a spirit of dialogue and respect for your fellow countrymen who do not know christ. There is no better way to show your love for the Lord of the Eucharist than through this work of evangelization, particularly among those who are poor and most in need.

8. "This is the day made by the Lord: let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Ps 118, 24). My brothers and sisters in Christ: every time we reunite for Eucharist, we are strengthened in holiness and renewed joy. Joy and holiness are indeed the inevitable consequence of coming close to God. When we are fed with the bread of life come down from heaven, we grow in likeness of our risen Saviour, who is the source of our joy, "a joy that must be shared with everyone "(Luke 2, 10). May joy and holiness abound always in your life and thrive in your homes. And may the Eucharist be for you and for the whole Church of Pakistan the center of your life, the source of your joy and holiness, and the way to eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. May it be so."

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's words at the Farewell Ceremony
16 February 16, 1981 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Signor Presidente,
Cari amici,
1. Oggi, mentre inizio un nuovo itinerario pastorale, sono lieto che la mia prima sosta lungo il cammino sia stata in Pakistan. È bello essere qui con voi, ed è stata una gioia poter adorare il Dio Vivente insieme ai miei fratelli e alle mie sorelle appartenenti alla Chiesa cattolica, che vivono in questo paese.

Questo viaggio pastorale come i precedenti che ho fatto, ha un carattere essenzialmente religioso. Come supremo Pastore della Chiesa cattolica, desidero incontrarmi con i membri delle comunità cristiane locali di tutto il mondo, per comprendere meglio loro e le loro necessità, per meglio apprezzare i loro doni specifici, le loro energie, e soprattutto per incoraggiarli nella pratica della fede cristiana.

2. Sono lieto che questi viaggi mi consentano anche di incontrarmi con membri di fedi diverse, e di arrivare ad apprezzare la ricca eredità culturale di altri popoli e nazioni. È una soddisfazione scoprire quali sono le preoccupazioni comuni condivise da tutti gli uomini e le donne di buona volontà: preoccupazioni, per esempio, per la dimensione spirituale della persona umana, per la libertà e la dignità di ogni uomo, donna e bambino, per la vera giustizia ed una pace duratura.

3. È assai gratificante testimoniare quanto si siano rafforzati negli ultimi anni i legami che uniscono tutti coloro che credono in Dio. Mi riferisco in particolar modo ai legami di dialogo e di fiducia che sono stati stabiliti fra la Chiesa cattolica e l’Islam. Grazie al dialogo abbiamo avuto modo di vedere più chiaramente la molteplicità dei valori, delle pratiche e degli insegnamenti, che riguardano entrambe le nostre tradizioni religiose: per esempio la nostra comune fede nell’unico onnipotente e misericordioso Dio e Creatore del cielo e della terra, e l’importanza che noi diamo alla preghiera, all’elemosina e al digiuno.Prego affinché questa mutua comprensione e rispetto fra Cristiani e Musulmani, e anche fra tutte le altre religioni, possano continuare ed accrescersi, e affinché noi possiamo trovare possibilità di cooperazione e di collaborazione sempre migliori per il bene di tutti.

Ed ora, prima della partenza, permettetemi di esprimere la mia gratitudine a tutti voi, che mi avete riservato un così gentile benvenuto. A Vostra Eccellenza, Signor Presidente, al Governo ed ai funzionari civili che hanno garantito l’ordine nel corso della mia visita, va il mio grande apprezzamento. Desidero inoltre ringraziare tutti coloro che hanno lavorato con tanta diligenza nell’organizzazione e preparazione necessaria per questo giorno. Possa Dio ricompensarvi per la vostra generosità. Benedica voi e le vostre famiglie con la gioia e con la pace.

Caro popolo del Pakistan, rivolgiamo il nostro pensiero alla bontà e alla misericordia di Dio, con le parole del salmista: “Acclamate al Signore, voi tutti della terra, servite il Signore nella gioia, presentatevi a lui con esultanza” (Sal 101,1-2)."