Address of the Holy Father Pope John Paul II
to Members of the Vatican Foundation “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice”


Saturday, June 5, 1993

I thank Cardinal Castillo Lara for the kind words with which the members of the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation presented me. I extend my cordial greetings to all, expressing deep satisfaction for the high ideals, which the new Body intends to inspire.

1. The Foundation desired by you, which will be supported by a Committee of adherents, is a significant expression of your commitment as lay faithful. The Second Vatican Council, in that main document which is the Constitution Lumen Gentium, teaches that “it is proper to lay people to seek the Kingdom of God by treating temporal things and ordering them according to God … It is therefore for them particularly to illuminate and order all temporal things, to which they are closely linked, so that they are always made according to Christ, and grow and be of praise to the Creator and Redeemer” (n. 31). The Constitution adds, “Not only on priests and religious, but also on all lay people,” the glorious burden of working is weighed down so that the divine plan of salvation may reach every day more and more all men of all times and of all the earth”. And he exhorts: “Therefore let them be open to any way that, according to their forms and needs of the times, they too actively participate in the salvific work of the Church” (Lumen Gentium, 33).

The “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation is an expression of this lay vocation, and is a new way that you open yourself to provide, together with your Pastors, moral support and material forces for the Church’s interventions in the most urgent needs.

2. Your Foundation is characterized at the same time by its particular closeness to the Successor of Peter and to the Apostolic See , in an attitude of intelligent listening and active collaboration. In fact, as people of faith, you want to know and make the teachings and directives of the Church your own, “so that men may be able to build the whole temporal order well and to order it to God through Christ” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 7); as highly qualified operators in the business and financial world, you wish to make available your wealth of social experience and professional competence, your knowledge about the complex contemporary society with its moral and material needs, and about the specific aids it has need, and at the same time you want to offer, according to the different possibilities, your financial contribution. In this way, you intend to encourage that multifaceted action that the Holy See carries out throughout the world for the spreading of the Gospel of Christ, the living and effective word of justice, peace and charity.

3. The spirit that animates your Foundation receives more specific connotations in its denomination: “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice”, and in the particular purposes set for it.

The values ​​inculcated by the Encyclical Centesimus Annus are summarized, as is well known, in placing at the center of the whole social order, in all its expressions, the person “of the real, concrete and historical man”, whose true meaning is not it can be known that in the light of God (nn. 54-55). Numerous other questions are intimately connected with this simple and great truth: even some which, at a superficial glance, could appear to be secular or even technical, but whose right solution cannot, at any time in human history, prescind from those necessary preconditions. The whole social doctrine of the Church, from Rerum Novarum to Centesimus Annus, is a precise exposition and demonstration.

Through appropriate initiatives, therefore, you intend to deepen the real scope of the Pontifical teachings in social matters, to know all their relevance and beneficial efficacy. To this end, you also propose to carefully follow the activity of the Holy See and its central bodies, so as to better understand how it, while announcing Christian social doctrine and continuously developing it according to the needs of the times, also works actively to translate it into practice through its Departments and Representations and through works and initiatives all over the world.

It is not to be doubted that, if the awareness of the values ​​contained in the social doctrine of the Church and the knowledge of the multifaceted work of the Holy See to transfuse them into today’s world will grow in you, the radiation of your Foundation will not remain limited to the people who support it. materially, but will be able to reach other people qualified for social and entrepreneurial commitment and will make them participants in the same enriching experience.

4. In this context, in particular, the purpose of your Foundation should be framed to raise funds for the support of the activities of the Apostolic See.

In this regard, I am pleased to express my deep appreciation for the generosity that each of you has already shown in order to ensure a good initial endowment for the Foundation.

Also for the future I have confidence that the Spirit of Christ will find suitable ways to respond sufficiently to all needs. Charity is a truly divine virtue. It has this characteristic: by distributing it does not end, and by giving it grows; it is like light, which the reverberation multiplies. Not only from faith, but also from experience are the famous words of the Pope St. Leo the Great: “There is no fear that in these donations the means will be lacking, because the same benevolence is a great patrimony, and there can be no lack of generosity where Christ feeds and is nourished. In all this work, that hand intervenes that breaks the bread and multiplies it by distributing it” (Disc. 10 on Lent).

Therefore, I can only hope that your commitment will bring the “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” Foundation to goals worthy of the tradition of generosity of Italian Catholics, who in close union with their Bishops and the Roman Pontiff have been able to arouse, at all times, the most appropriate good initiatives.

With these wishes, I cordially impart to you the apostolic blessing, which I gladly extend to your family members and collaborators.

© Copyright 1993 – Vatican Publishing House