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"Naia" Airport  of Manila
Monday, 16 January 1995


Dear Filipino Friends,

1. My Pastoral Visit to the beautiful Philippines is now at an end. I wish to thank everyone for the warmth and graciousness of the hospitality I have received from the first moment of my arrival. In a special way I am grateful to His Excellency President Ramos and the members of the Government for their close participation in each stage of the visit. I cordially thank Cardinal Sin and Cardinal Vidal and all my Brother Bishops and their collaborators for making my pilgrimage to the Church in these Islands such a fruitful and joyful celebration of our faith in Jesus Christ.

I thank everyone who took part in the Masses and other events, those who organized them, those who maintained order and security, those who have worked to broadcast and televise the events, those who in any way served the needs of so many pilgrims. May God reward each and every one, each one of you!

2. With particular affection I say thank you to the young people who have been the main actors in the Tenth World Youth Day. How can we explain or measure the mysterious working of divine grace in so many generous young hearts? The Lord described the Kingdom as a seed which a man sowed, and which then produced a rich harvest. Here, the seed had already fallen on rich soil. Many people – parents, teachers, catechists, Religious, priests – have kept watch over the seed of faith and helped it grow. And God gives the increase (cf. 1 Cor. 3:6). How far will it grow? How wide will it spread from here through the immense human geography of Asia? This is the challenge and the task which the young people of the Tenth World Youth Day and the whole Church in the Philippines have taken up and will carry into the next century and next millennium.

All of this fills my heart with gratitude and joy. I will continue to have boundless hope in the youth of the Philippines and of the world: Christ is working through them for the new springtime of Christianity on this continent. We see the early stages of the planting; others will rejoice in the rich harvest.

3. I take with me a thousand images of the Filipino people. I know your desire for greater justice and a better life for yourselves and your children. No one can underestimate the difficulties you face and the hard work that lies ahead. Above all, no one should pull back from the great demand of real and effective solidarity, a new solidarity between individuals, in families and throughout society. There has to be progress in sharing. There has to be a renewed sense of responsibility of everyone for everyone else; we are, each of us, our brother’s keeper. May God help you to follow the path you have already begun: towards a continuing development that preserves and promotes the true values of your Filipino culture!

4. My parting wish can be none other than the one I expressed for you when I came here almost fourteen years ago: may you always enjoy peace in your hearts and in your homes; may justice and freedom reign throughout your land; and may your families be faithful forever, united in joy and love!

May God bless you all!

God bless the Philippines! Mabuhay!


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