THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Newark, New Jersey) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release October 4, 1995
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II
Newark International Airport
Newark, New Jersey
3:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Archbishop McCarrick, Archbishop Cacciavillan, Cardinal Keeler, Father Therauv, the members of the Cabinet, the members of the Congress, Governor Whitman, Mayor James, honored guests: Your Holiness, it is a great pleasure and an honor to welcome you back to the United States. (Applause.)
You seemed to bring us the rain, but we need the rain and we thank you for that. Your return has been greatly anticipated by the American people, and as you have gathered from the welcome of the children and the not-so-young, all Americans are very, very happy to see you.
This is our third opportunity to visit. I look forward to our discussion, and I am grateful that your voice -- for peace and hope and for the values that support every family and the family of humanity.
On this, your fourth visit to our nation, you will see an America striving to build on our ideals of peace and charity, justice and tolerance. When you visit the United Nations and you speak to the General Assembly you will be retracing the steps of Pope Paul VI in his visit to the United States which began 30 years ago this day. He became the first Pontiff to visit our beloved country when he spoke to the United Nations in the name of peace.
The Catholic faithful here in America have always taken an active role in making our country better. The Catholic Church helps the poor, the children, the elderly, the afflicted, and our families. You will see their handiwork here in the city of Newark and throughout your visit. The Church has given life to the idea that in the human community we all have obligations to one another. This idea is rooted in Church institutions, including thousands of charitable activities -- the Catholic Charities, the Campaign for Human Development, the network of Catholic hospitals and other agencies that help all Americans, and of course, it is rooted in the 9,000 Catholic elementary and high schools, and more than 200 Catholic colleges here in the United States. And they, too, thankfully, serve all Americans.
As distinct as Catholicism is, it shares something with many other faiths in our nation -- the unshakable values that are at the core of our society that hold us together as a country. We Americans are a people of faith, expressed in many ways. With the most diverse population on Earth, our nation counts more religions than any other -- more than 1,500 -- and more places of worship than any other. Indeed, even as we gather here now, many of our fellow citizens are in their synagogues fasting and observing the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Our great American poet, Walt Whitman, who I know is a favorite of yours, once wrote about America: "The real and permanent grandeur of these states must be their religion. Otherwise, there is no real and permanent grandeur." That is the America that awaits you and your visit, Your Holiness. Our faith matters to us as individuals and as families. Our faith supports our families, strengthens them and keeps them together.
Your Holiness, you have written and spoken so eloquently of family rights, and women and men everywhere welcomed your recent open letter on the dignity and rights of women. The First Lady and I thank you, especially, for the words of support from the Holy See regarding her speech on the rights of families, women and their children, at the recent Conference on Women in Beijing, China. (Applause.) Your words supported the statement she made on behalf of all Americans, that if women are healthy and educated, free from violence, if they have a chance to work and earn as full and equal partners, their families will flourish. And when families flourish, communities and nations will flourish.
We know that if we value our families, as we must, public policy must also support them. It must see to it that children live free of poverty with the opportunity of a good and decent education. If we value our families, we must let them know the dignity of work with decent wages. If we value our families, we must care for them across the generations from the oldest to the youngest.
Your Holiness, it is most fitting that you have arrived to be with us today on the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the champion of the poor, the defender of the defenseless. His prayer, carried to this day in the pockets, the purses, the billfolds of many American Catholics, and revered by many who are not Catholics, is a simple clarion to unity.
It begins: "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me so love." Today, these words hold special meaning for us, for with God's help, we recently celebrated the advance of peace in the Middle East, and we are trying, earnestly, with your support, to knock on the door of peace in Bosnia.
We see peace advancing in Northern Ireland, in Haiti, in Southern Africa. All this has been an answer to many, many prayers around the world, but many of them were led by you, Holy Father, and for that, you have the gratitude of all the American people. (Applause.)
On the threshold of a new millennium, more than ever, we need your message of faith and family, community and peace. That is what we must work toward for millions of reasons, as many reasons as there are children on this Earth.
It has been said that you can see the future by looking into the eyes of a child. Well, we are joined here today by 2,000 children, from the Archdiocese of Newark and surrounding parishes. (Applause.) Your Holiness, looking out at them now and into their eyes, we can see that the future is very bright indeed. For them and for all Americans, we thank you, Holy Father, for coming back to the United States, and we welcome you. (Applause.)
HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II: Mr. President, dear friends, dear people of America: It is a great joy for me to return to the United States, as I had hoped to do last year. Thank you all for receiving me so warmly.
This is a land of much generosity. And these people have always been quick to extend their hands in friendship and to offer hospitality. Thank you especially, President Clinton and the First Lady, for coming here today in that same spirit.
For my part, I greet you and all the representatives of the federal, state, and local governments. I greet the Bishops Conference of the United States, and the individual bishops who have invited me to their dioceses and who have worked so hard with countless coworkers to prepare for this visit. I look forward to meeting the Catholic communities of Newark, Brooklyn, New York, and Baltimore, as well as our brothers and sisters of other Christian churches and the Ecclesial communities. (Applause.)
To the members of the Jewish faith, I extend a very cordial greeting. My respectful best wishes on this day of special significance for them.
I greet all the people of this great nation, of every race, color, creed, social condition. I pray for you all and assure you of my profound esteem.
Exactly 30 years ago today, my predecessor, Pope Paul VI, spoke to the United Nations General Assembly and delivered a message that still resounds in many hearts: "No more war; war never again. He went on to appeal: "Peace, it is peace which must guide the destinies of people.
I, too, come as a pilgrim of peace and understanding among peoples. Tomorrow, in observance of the United Nations 50th anniversary, I shall return there to express my deep conviction that ideas and intentions which gave origin throughout the world-wide organization half a century ago are more indispensable than ever in a world searching for purpose.
The world, in fact, is undergoing a profound transformation. Opportunities for justice, reconciliation and development are visible in parts of the world where they were hardly discernable even a few years ago; almost within our reach, it seems, but still so difficult to grasp. Ancient rivalries and suspicions still compromise the cause of peace. We must find ways to set them aside. If we do not, history and the laws of history will judge us harshly.
Especially since the events of 1989, the role of the United States in the world has taken on a new prominence. Your widespread influence is at once political, economic, military and due to your communications, media and culture. It is vital for the human family that in continuing to seek advancement in many different fields -- science, business, education, art, and wherever else your creativity leads you -- America keeps compassion, generosity, and concern for others at the very heart of each effort.
In particular, for nations and peoples emerging from a long period of trial, your country stands upon the world scene as a model of a democratic society at the advanced stage of development. Your power of example carries with it heavy responsibilities. Use it well, America. Be an example of justice and civic virtues, freedom fulfilled in goodness at home and abroad.
From its beginning until now, the United States has been a haven for generation after generation of new arrivals. Men, women and children have streamed here from every corner of the globe, building new lives and forming a society of rich ethnic and racial diversity based on commitment to shared vision of your dignity and freedom. Of the United States, we can truly say, "E pluribus unum."
It is my prayerful hope that America will persevere in its own best traditions of openness and opportunity. It would indeed be sad if the United States were to turn away from that enterprising spirit which has always showed the most practical and responsible ways of continuing to share with others the blessings God has richly bestowed here.
The same spirit of creative generosity will help you to meet the needs of your own poor and disadvantaged. They, too, have a role to play in building a society truly worthy of the human person -- a society in which none are so poor that they have nothing to give, and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive. The poor have needs which are not only material and economic, but also involve liberating their potential to work out their own destiny and to provide for the well-being of their families and communities. America will continue to be a land of promise as long as it remains a land of freedom and justice for all.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, I come as one who has an abiding hope in America's noble destiny. I thank God for allowing me to return here again. Thank you and God bless you, bless you all. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
God is bringing you the rain. Very important event. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
END 3:58 P.M. EDT