The following is a shortened translated version of Pope John Paul II'S address to delegates to the Organization of American States here yesterday. Portions were delivered variously in Spanish, French and Portuguese:
The Holy See sees in regional organizations such as yours intermediary structures that promote a greater internal diversity and vitality in a given area within the global community of nations.The fact that the American continent is provided with an organization concerned with ensuring more continuity for the dialogue between governments, with promoting peace, with advancing full development in solidarity, and with protecting man, his dignity, and his rights is a factor contributing to the health of the whole human family. The Gospel and Christianity have entered deeply into your history and your cultures. . .
Peace is a most precious blessing that you seek to preserve for your peoples. You are in agreement with me that it is not by accumulating arms that this peace can be ensured in a stable way.
I solemnly call on you to do everything in your power to restrain the arms race on this continent. There are no differences between your countries that cannot be peacefully overcome. . .
Your organization is an organization of states, founded on respect for the full national sovereignty of each, on equal participation in common tasks, and on solidarity between your peoples. The legitimate demand by the states to participate on a basis of equality in the organization's common decisions must be matched by the will to promote within each country an ever more effective participation by the citizens in the responsibility and decisions of the nation through ways that take into account particular traditions, difficulties and historical experiences.
However, while such difficulties and experiences can at times call for exceptional measures and a certain period of maturation in preparation for new advances in shared responsibility, they never, never justify any attack on the inviolable dignity of the human person and on the authentic rights that protect this dignity.
If certain ideologies and certain ways of interpreting legitimate concern for national security were to result in subjugating to the state man and his rights and dignity, they would to that extent cease to be human and would be unable to claim without gross deception any Christian reference. . .
Man! Man is the decisive criterion that dictates and directs all your undertakings, the living value for whose service new initiatives are unceasingly demanded. The words that are most filled with meaning for man -- words such as justice, peace, development, solidarity, human rights -- are sometimes belittled as a result of systematic suspicion or party and sectarian ideological censure. They then lose their power to mobilize and attact. They will recover it only if respect for the human person and commitment to the human person are explicitly brought back to the center of all considerations.
When we speak of the right to life, to physical and moral integrity, to nourishment, to housing, to education, to health care, to employment, to shared responsibility in the life of the nation, we speak of the human person. It is this human person whom faith makes us recognize as created in the image of God and destined for an eternal goal. It is this human person that is often threatened and hungry, without decent housing and employment, without access to the cultural heritage of his or her people or of humanity, and without a voice to make his or her distress heard.
The great cause of full development in solidarity must be given new life by those who in one degree or another enjoy these blessings, for the service of all those -- and there are many of them still on your continent -- who are deprived of them to a sometimes dramatic extent.
The challenge of development deserves your full attention. In this field too what you achieve can be an example for humanity. The problems of rural and urban areas, of industry and agriculture, and of the environment are to a large extent a common task. The energetic pursuit of these will help to spread throughout the continent a sentiment of universal fraternity that extends beyond borders and regimes. . .
The Holy See will always be happy to make its own disinterested contribution to this work. The local churches in the Americas uill do the same within the framework of their various responsibilities. By advancing the human person and his or her dignity and rights, they serve the earthly city, its cohesion and its lawful authorities. The full religious freedom that they ask for is in order to serve, not in order to oppose the legitimate autonomy of civil society and of its own means of action. The more all citizens are able to exercise habitually their freedoms in the life of the nation, the more readily will the Christian communities be able to dedicate themselves to the central task of evangelization, namely the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the source of life, strength, justice and peace.
Translated from Spanish
My visit here, in the Hall of the Americas, before this noble assembly dedicated to inter-American collaboration, expresses at the same time a wish and a prayer. My wish is that, in all the nations of this continent, no man, woman or child may ever feel abandoned by the constituted authorities, to whom they are ready to accord their full confidence to the extent that those authorities seek the good of all. My prayer is that Almighty God may grant his light to the peoples and the governments, that they may always discover new means of collaboration for building up a fraternal and just society.
translated from French
One last word before I leave you -- with great regret -- after this first brief visit to your esteemed organization. When I visited Mexico, at the beginning of the year, I was amazed at the enthusiasm, spontaneity and joy of living of its people. I am convinced that you will succeed in preserving the rich human and cultural heritage of all your peoples, and thus maintain the indispensable basis for true progress, which is constituted, always and everywhere, by respect for the supreme dignity of man.
translated from Portuguese