Common Grounds

The Evangelical Pope | Freedom!

October 23, 2023

Living Words from John Paul II

Edited by Abraham A. van Kempen


Published Sunday, May 30, 2021

The Evangelical Pope | Freedom!

Each week we let Saint Pope John Paul II share meaningful signposts to spark socio-economic resolves through justice and righteousness combined with mercy and compassion; in short, love



“This [Memorial] day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep” (Nehemiah 8:9).



Prague 1990: From my heart, I proclaim the great word of ‘freedom’ with love and zeal.


               I pronounce the word ‘freedom’ as a confession of my faith.


               I express ‘freedom’ in sincere solidarity with all those for whom freedom has long been prohibited.


               I declare ‘freedom’ as evangelist and pastor of the Church, of which human dignity is an integral part of my ministry.1


Read more: ‘An Open Letter to U.S. Christians from A Palestinian [Christian] Pastor,’ by Munther Isaac



Havana 1998: Cuba has a Christian soul, and this has brought her a universal vocation. Called to overcome isolation, she needs to open herself to the world, and the world needs to draw close to Cuba, her people, her sons, and daughters, who are indeed her most significant wealth. This is the time to start on the new paths called for by the times of renewal we are experiencing at the third millennium of the Christian era!


I respectfully greet President Fidel Castro Ruz, who has wished to take part in this Mass. 


The Word of God calls us together to grow in faith and to celebrate the presence of the risen Lord. “By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body“ (1 Corinthians 12: 12-13 Message Translation ). All are “the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians12:27). The Church in Cuba is not alone or isolated. Cuba is an integral part of the Body of Christ Church which extends throughout the whole world. 


               “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach good news …” (Luke 4:18).


I wish to bring you the Good News of hope in God, the message of love and solidarity, a path of authentic peace, justice, and freedom, not an ideology or a new economic or political system.


The ideological and economic systems succeeding one another in the last two centuries have often encouraged conflict as a method since their programs contained the seeds of opposition and disunity. This fact profoundly affected their understanding of humankind and humanity’s relations with others. Some of these systems also presumed to relegate religion to the merely private sphere, stripping it of any social influence or importance.


               A modern State cannot make atheism or religion one of its political ordinances.


The State, while distancing itself from all extremes of fanaticism or secularism, should encourage a harmonious social climate and appropriate legislation which enables every person and every religious confession to live their faith freely, to express that faith in the context of public life, and to count on adequate resources and opportunities to bring its spiritual, moral and civic benefits to bear on the life of the nation.


               The Church is a teacher in humanity. Faced with these systems, she presents a culture of love and life, restoring hope to society, hope in the transforming power of love lived in the unity willed by Christ. For this to happen, it is necessary to follow a path of reconciliation, dialogue, and fraternal acceptance of one’s neighbor, of every human person. This can be called the social Gospel of the Church.


               At stake here is humanity, the concrete human person.


               While times and situations may change, there are always people who need the Church’s voice to acknowledge and resolve their difficulties, their suffering, and their distress. The Church may not betray these victims. The Church is with them and embraces all who suffer injustice.




Read more: ‘EQUALITY, EQUALITY, EQUALITY – Feared in the Land of ‘Zionism,’ by Abraham A. van Kempen


When the Palestinians are Freed, SO ARE WE.


In my letter to President Barack Obama, dated 29 January 2015, I asked: “Instead of heading toward a Native American model with Palestinians confined on reservations amid a sea of Israeli settlements and security zones, why not [authenticate Israel’s democracy with] open borders, freedom of movement? Mr. President, many people around the world, would like to hear you say: ‘Mr. Netanyahu, tear down those walls.'”


Walls Lock-In… Read more!




After a long burst of applause, the Holy Father jokingly joshed:


I am not against applause because when you applaud, the Pope can take a little rest!


               “The Spirit of the Lord has sent me to proclaim release to the captives … to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4: 18).


               The pursuit of liberty is an inevitable human task that no one can evade. For Christians, the freedom of God’s children is not only a gift and duty, but its realization involves an invaluable testimony and a genuine contribution toward the journey to liberate the entire human race. 


               This liberation is not limited to social and political aspects. Instead, it reaches its fullness in the exercise of freedom of conscience, the basis and foundation of all other human rights.




Read more: ‘The New Israeli Is Frankenstein’s Monster,’ by Yossi Klein


The Holocaust is not responsible for our disengagement from Western liberalism. The wars against the Arabs are not responsible for our disengagement from Mizrahi tolerance. What is responsible for this disengagement is the transition from the ruled to the rulers. Power went to our heads. Sovereignty and independence saved the body and destroyed the spirit. Brawn replaced brain. We are the new Jew. After 70 years of planning and building, we can say we succeeded. We have created a new creature. We are the creature that pushed aside Frankenstein, smashed the gate, and left the laboratory to wreak havoc in the neighborhood. 


When you destroy, you forget. We’ve forgotten what it is to be Jewish, but we made sure we had God no matter what. Our God is a hostage. Our God sits before the camera and reads what the kidnappers dictate. In his name, we expropriate land and deport refugees. In his name, the land is ours, forever.


What kind of Jews are we? Have we not eyes, hands, senses, affections, passions? Do we not cry at movies? Does the immigration police officer not have a heart? Does the pilot who bombs Gaza not have children? Does the cry of a small child not pierce their hearts? Of course, it does, and still, we deport, bomb, and imprison. How do we do this with such a big heart?


Judaism would not do this, but Israeli Judaism does … Read more!




To the crowds who were shouting: “The Pope is free and wants us all to be free,” the Holy Father replied:


               For many of the political and economic systems operative today, the greatest challenge is still combining freedom and social justice, freedom, and solidarity so that no one is relegated to a position of inferiority. 


               The Church’s social doctrine is meant to be a reflection and a contribution that can shed light on and reconcile the relationship between the inalienable rights of each individual and the community’s needs. People can attain their profound aspirations and integral fulfillment as sons and daughters of God and citizens in society.


               The Gospel [about the Kingdom of God] proclaims that justice ultimately links to the truth. 2



Read more: ‘U.S. Christians Can’t Ignore Israel’s Ongoing Occupation Of Palestine,’ By Mae Elise Cannon and Joyce Ajlouny.


Excerpted From:


1. Viaggio Pastorale Nella Repubblica Federativa Ceca E Slovacca, Incontro Di Giovanni Paolo Ii 
Con Il Mondo Della Cultura «Galleria Rodolfo» Del Castello Di Praga (Repubblica Federativa Ceca E Slovacca), Sabato, 21 Aprile 1990.


2. Apostolic Journey of His Holiness John Paul II to Cuba (January 21-26, 1998), Homily Of John Paul II, José Martí Plaza (Havana), Sunday, 25 January 1998


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