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Cardinal's Message
Mare Nostrum

1. The Road of Hope, a message for personal, family an social Christian life.

According to Vietnamese custom, an invited visitor always brings a gift to show his esteem, admiration and friendship. I am very poor and have only a small present for you all but I prepared it myself, with my heart. I will be leaving you soon, but I want to give the Road of Hope. Especially to you Americans, you will find a special message for yourselves in the introduction.

2. The Pacific Ocean, the Mare Nostrum of the Third Millennium.

I want to tell you about a thought which I often had in prison. I kept thinking about the Pacific Ocean and how it was certainly not created to separate us, but rather to unite us.

In ancient times, the Mediterranean Sea was called "Mare Nostrum". That means "Our Sea". As you know, Greek and Roman Civilization grew up all round that sea.

In the third millennium, the Pacific Ocean will surely be called "Our Sea" because of all the countries and peoples that live around it: Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Latin America. It is the most inhabited area in all the world. It is important to note that: technology is advancing rapidly in the Pacific Rim; atom bombs fell in the Pacific; all the great traditional religions are present there.

The problems of evangelization are tremendous.

Let us look toward the Pacific. All the forthcoming challenges are present there as well. However, the meaning of the word Pacific must be made clear and become widespread. Pacific - peace - Love - Solidarity!

And what about the New Evangelization in the Pacific Area? There are billions of people there who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ. I pray that before the year 2000, Our Holy Father will make a prophetic voyage around the Pacific.

3. Working for Justice and Peace

His Eminence Cardinal Roger Mahony and I are members of the Pontifical Counsel for Justice and Peace. We wish to ask you, the men and women in charge of religious education, to solemnly commit yourselves to serve the cause of Justice and Peace.

Peace in the world is a very fragile thing, as you well know. Since the end of the Second World War, there have been only 60 days of real peace in the world. On the other hand, there have been 250 armed conflicts!

Let us mediate on the theme of World Peace Day. Let us also take a look at the path taken by recent Popes.

The promotion of Human Rights, the Road of Hope.

1971. Every man is my brother.
1973. Peace is possible.
1985. Peace and youth go forward together
The family creates the peace if the human family
Woman, teachers of peace
1996. Let us give children a future of peace.

4. Discovering the signs of the times

Marvelous changes have occurred in our times. But the signs of the times are all very different.

To carry out our work as religious educators, we must learn to read the signs of the times. Allow me to cite the great challenges that are facing us.

The first: Family. The true image of the family has been led down a slippery slope lately. The real meaning of marriage has been blurred and other vaguely analogous forms of cohabitation try to take its place.

The second: Youth. The problems they face are enormous: the lack of ideals, the lack of employment, the lack of strong points of reference.

The third challenge is the presence of widespread violence and war.

Other challenges can be cited of course: the new economic order, fundamentalism and the withdrawal of things religious in both public and private institutions, the rupture between culture and the Church, the use of mass-media and the advance of secularization.

Dear friends,

Now, may I invite you all to praise God for his liberating power, and to place ourselves in the hands of Mary, Our Blessed Lady. I have shared with you my joy and trust in accomplishing the will of God. I made no plan; it was God who led me. I tried to live the testament of Jesus Christ. "Love one another as I have loved you."

Los Angeles, California

March 24,1996

Archbishop Francis Xavier Thuan

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