Benedict XVI's Address to UK Envoy
"Integral Human Development ... Truly Worthy of the World's Attention"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 9, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today when he received the letters of credence of the new U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker.
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I am pleased to welcome you and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Holy See. I am grateful for the warm greetings which you bring from Her Majesty The Queen and I ask you to convey my prayerful good wishes for Her health and prosperity. I am also pleased to send my cordial greetings to Her Majesty’s Government and to all the British people.
The Holy See and the United Kingdom have enjoyed excellent relations in the thirty years that have passed since full diplomatic relations were established. The close bond between us was further strengthened last year during my Visit to your country, a unique occasion in the course of the shared history of the Holy See and the countries which today compose the United Kingdom. I would therefore like to begin my remarks by reiterating my gratitude to the British people for the warm welcome which I received during my stay.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh received me most graciously and I was pleased to meet the leaders of the three main political parties and to discuss with them matters of common concern. As you know, a particular motive for my Visit was the Beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman, a great Englishman whom I have admired for many years and whose raising to the altars was a personal wish fulfilled. I remain convinced of the relevance of Newman’s insights regarding society, as the United Kingdom, Europe and the West in general today face challenges that he identified with remarkable prophetic clarity. It is my hope that a fresh awareness of his writings will bear new fruit among those searching for solutions to the political, economic and social questions of our age.
As you rightly remarked in your address, Mr Ambassador, the Holy See and the United Kingdom continue to share a common concern for peace among nations, the integral development of peoples throughout the world, especially the poorest and weakest, and the spread of authentic human rights, especially through the rule of law and fair participative government, with a special care for the needy and those whose natural rights are denied. On the subject of peace, I was very pleased to note the success of Her Majesty’s recent Visit to the Republic of Ireland, an important milestone in the process of reconciliation that is happily becoming ever more firmly established in Northern Ireland, despite the unrest that occurred there during this past summer. I take this opportunity once again to encourage all who would resort to violence to put aside their grievances, and to seek instead a dialogue with their neighbours for the peace and prosperity of the whole community.
As you pointed out in your speech, your Government wishes to employ policies that are based on enduring values that cannot be simply expressed in legal terms. This is especially important in the light of events in England this summer. When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others. Policy makers are therefore right to look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, to examine ways to favour long-term employment and to spread wealth much more fairly and broadly throughout society.
Moreover, the active fostering of the essential values of a healthy society, through the defence of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak, will surely help to rebuild a positive sense of one’s duty, in charity, towards friends and strangers alike in the local community. Be assured that the Catholic Church in your country is eager to continue offering her substantial contribution to the common good through her offices and agencies, in accordance with her own principles and in the light of the Christian vision of the rights and dignity of the human person.
Looking further afield, Your Excellency has mentioned several areas where the Holy See and the United Kingdom have already agreed and worked together, including initiatives for debt relief and financing for development. The sustainable development of the world’s poorer peoples through well-targeted assistance remains a worthy goal, since the peoples of developing countries are our brothers and sisters, of equal dignity and worth and deserving of our respect in every way, and such assistance should always aim to improve their lives and their economic prospects. As you know, development is also of benefit to donor countries, not only through the creation of economic markets, but also through the fostering of mutual respect, solidarity, and above all peace through prosperity for all the world’s peoples. Promoting models of development which employ modern knowledge to husband natural resources will also have the benefit of better protecting the environment for emerging and developed countries alike.
This is why I remarked in Westminster Hall last year that integral human development, and all that it entails, is an enterprise truly worthy of the world’s attention and one that is too big to be allowed to fail. The Holy See therefore welcomes Prime Minister Cameron’s recent announcement of his intention to ring-fence Great Britain’s aid budget. I would also invite you, during your mandate, to explore ways of furthering development cooperation between your Government and the Church’s charity and development agencies, especially those based here in Rome and in your country.
Finally, Mr Ambassador, in offering you my prayerful good wishes for the success of your mission, allow me to assure you that all the departments of the Roman Curia stand ready to support you in your duties. Upon you, your family and all the British people, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vatican
Benedict XVI's Address to Envoy From Syria
"An Example of Harmonious Relations Between Christians and Muslims"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI gave on Thursday to Hussan Edin Aala, the new ambassador of Syria to the Holy See, upon receiving his letters of credence.
The Pope received in audience at the same time Stefan Gorda of Moldava, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana. The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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I am pleased to receive you this morning at the moment of the presentation of your letters, which accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Syria to the Holy See. You have transmitted to me the greetings of His Excellency the president of the republic, and I would be grateful if you thanked him. Through you, I would also like to greet the whole Syrian nation, wishing it peace and fraternity.
As you have stressed, Mr. Ambassador, Syria has been a very significant place for Christians since the origins of the Church. Since his meeting with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul would become the Apostle to the Gentiles, becoming the first of numerous great saints who have marked the religious history of your country. Numerous are the archaeological testimonies of churches, of monasteries, and of mosaics of the first centuries of the Christian era, which refer us to the origins of the Church. Syria has traditionally been an example of tolerance, concord, and harmonious relations between Christians and Muslims and today the ecumenical and interreligious relations are good. I very much hope that this coexistence between all the cultural and religious components of the nation will continue and develop for the greater good of all, thus reinforcing a unity founded on justice and solidarity.
However, such unity can only be built in a lasting way through the recognition of the centrality and dignity of the human person. "As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving and entering into communion with others" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2007, No. 2). Hence, the path toward unity and stability in every nation passes through the recognition of the inalienable dignity of every human person. Therefore, the latter must be at the center of institutions, of laws, and of societies' action. Consequently, it is of essential importance to foster the common good, putting aside personal or party interests. Moreover, the path of listening, of dialogue and of collaboration must be recognized as a means by which the different components of society can compare their points of view and achieve a consensus on the truth relative to the particular values and ends. This will bring great benefits for individuals and communities (cf. Address to the United Nations, April 18, 2008).
In this perspective, the events of the past months in some nearby Mediterranean countries, Syria among them, demonstrate the desire for a better future in the areas of political, economic, and social life. Nevertheless, it is greatly desirable that this evolution not take place in a climate of intolerance, discrimination, or conflict and, sill less, of violence, but rather in a climate of absolute respect for the truth, for co-existence, for the legitimate rights of the person and the collective, and of reconciliation. These are the principles that should guide the authorities, keeping always in mind the aspiration of civil society and international directives.
Mr. Ambassador, I wish to stress here the positive role of Christians in your country, who as citizens are involved in the construction of a society where everyone finds his place. I cannot fail to mention the service carried out by the Catholic Church in the social and educational realm, which is appreciated by all. Allow me to greet very particularly the faithful of the Catholic communities, with their bishops, and to encourage them to develop bonds of fraternity with everyone. Daily contact with their Muslim countrymen highlights the importance of interreligious dialogue and the possibility of working together in many ways for the common good. May the impulse given by the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops bring abundant fruit to your country, for the benefit of the whole population and for authentic reconciliation among peoples!
To advance peace in the region, a comprehensive solution must be found. It must not damage the interests of the parties involved, and it must be the fruit of a compromise and not of a unilateral decision imposed by force. This [force] does not resolve anything, nor do partial or unilateral solutions, which are insufficient. Conscious of the population's suffering, one must proceed with a comprehensive approach that deliberately excludes no one from seeking a negotiated solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations and interests of the various peoples involved. Moreover, the situation that the Middle East has been facing for so many years has led you to receive a great number of refugees, primarily from Iraq, and among them many Christians. I heartily thank the Syrian people for their generosity.
At the moment that you begin your noble mission of representation to the Holy See, I address to you, Mr. Ambassador, my best wishes for the success of your mission. Be sure that you will always find among my collaborators the reception and understanding you might need. Upon Your Excellency, your family and your collaborators, as well as upon the inhabitants of Syria, I invoke from my heart an abundance of divine blessings.
Holy Father's Note to Envoy of Equatorial Guinea
"Participate Actively and Wisely in the Building of a Serene and Harmonious Coexistence"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI hand delivered on Thursday to Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana, the new ambassador of Equatorial Guinea to the Holy See, upon receiving his letters of credence.
The Pope received in audience at the same time Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Stefan Gorda of Molova, George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana. The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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1. I am happy to receive from Your Excellency's hands the letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary plenipotentiary of Equatorial Guinea to the Holy See, expressing at the same time my most cordial welcome to this solemn act.
I am grateful for the kind greeting you transmit to me on behalf of the president of the republic. While I correspond with pleasure to this deference, I pray to the Almighty that the diplomatic mission that Your Excellency begins today will strengthen further the trajectory of healthy independence and reciprocal respect between the Church and state in your dear nation, with which the Holy See maintains close relations and which it follows with solicitous attention, eloquent sign of which is the recent appointment of the new bishop of Ebebiyin.
2. Mr. Ambassador, as your courteous words manifested, which have made me feel closer to your homeland, your compatriots harbor profound sentiments toward the Successor of Peter, all of them filled with heartfelt and faithful devotion, fruit of the vigor and diligence with which the evangelical seed was sown in your noble lands, to be deeply rooted in them and to produce a splendid harvest both in the spiritual as well as the material order.
3. In perfecting a society and in implementing new structures capable of giving it a more flexible character, the encouraging presence of the Church is not absent to the sons and daughters of Equatorial Guinea, instilling the light of faith in Christ, who manifests to man his authentic vocation and helps him to work without faltering for all that which dignifies and exalts. This makes one harbor the firm hope that your compatriots, strengthened by this same faith, will not vacillate in their resolutions to participate actively and wisely in the building of a serene and harmonious coexistence. In that climate, the human person will be able to realize himself fully in keeping with his lofty dignity and fundamental rights and the essential values of protection of life, health care, the development of education and solidarity, as well as the safeguarding of the environment and the equitable distribution of wealth will germinate copiously. All this is the indispensable condition to intensify real social progress, which reaches all, but especially the poorest and neediest, and to which all can contribute with their appropriate, free and responsible, contribution.
4. In this connection, I do not doubt that the authorities of your beloved country, whom Your Excellency represents, will be able to channel and interpret the genuine aspirations of your fellow citizens, reflection of the historical, moral and cultural patrimony itself, and in whose development and subsequent consolidation in persons' conscience and in society itself the constant, selfless and intense task of the Church has also had a role of eminent significance.
In this respect, one cannot fail to note with heartfelt satisfaction the efforts carried out to recuperate and restructure many places of worship, as well as the business initiatives for improving living conditions of the citizens, especially those who experience great difficulty living in a dignified way. Hence I encourage all to continue following this path with enthusiasm, remedying the existing social, economic and cultural needs. For its part, in the realm of its own mission, the Christian community will continue with renewed and generous commitment to put at the disposal of the people of Equatorial Guinea its long and fruitful experience in the field of the promotion of marriage and the family, health care, the formation of new generations and the exercise of charity and beneficence. It could not be otherwise, as the Church does not ignore that all that fosters concord and fraternity, the eradication of poverty, the increase of justice and dialogue, as well as the fostering of mutual understanding, opens luminous horizons for the future and exalts the human being, whom it must never be forgotten is image of God.
5. Mr. Ambassador, on praying to the Almighty that the high responsibility that has been entrusted to you be surrounded by abundant success, I assure you that the Roman Curia and its different offices will always be willing to help you in carrying it out. Upon Your Excellency, your relatives and collaborators, as well as on all the peoples of Equatorial Guinea, I invoke fervently bountiful blessings from heaven.
Papal Letter to Molodovan Ambassador
"Your Nation Has Written Glorious Pages in the History of the European Continent"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI gave on Thursday to Stefan Gorda, the new ambassador of Moldova to the Holy See, upon receiving his letters of credence.
The Pope received in audience at the same time Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana. The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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I am happy to receive you this morning, on the occasion of your presentation of the letters that accredit you in the capacity of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to the Holy See. I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me. In turn, I will be grateful if you transmit to Mr. Marian Lupu, acting president of the Republic of Moldova, my cordial wishes for his person, as well as for all the Moldovan people.
The year 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of your country's independence. It is possible to see what has already been achieved and what still remains to be built. In your address, you frequently stressed the tests that your country has faced, as well as the intense hope that prevails among the population when it comes to resolving the economic problems and those of national unity. It is evident that unity in peace and in serenity is a factor that fosters economic and social development, and that this development also has a positive effect for the realization of unity. I pray that lasting solutions will be found for the good of all through a just political mediation and the safeguarding of the various identities. Your nation has written glorious pages in the history of the European Continent. May this past inspire your present!
Your country wishes to continue progressing. It has established very comprehensible and necessary economic priorities, but they must also respect the interests of national sovereignty, and contribute to the well being of all the components of your society, attempting to avoid derivations that favor some to the detriment of others. To contribute the achievement of this objective, your country wishes to establish close relations with the European Union. It is good that Moldova has the desire to return to the common European home, but this legitimate quest cannot be done if it does not respect the positive values of your country. It must not be determined solely by the economy and material well being. The ideologizing of these two elements in the past indicates the pitfalls to be avoided, given that they can lead to the unilateral abdication of the age-old values of your culture. This adherence, which is an important element, will only be authentic if the European Union recognizes the specific contribution that Moldova can make to be able advance united toward a rich future because of the identity of each nation. Because of its tradition and Christian faith, Moldova can courageously help the European Union rediscover what it no longer wants to see and even denies. Moreover, Moldova's peace, justice and prosperity, which will result certainly from the realization of its European aspirations, will only be effective if they are experienced by each one of your fellow citizens in the quest for the common good and a permanent ethical concern. Among the essential values are religious values.
Diplomatic relations between Moldova and the Holy See, established 18 years ago now, are harmonious, and I am delighted because of this. They are so because of the Christian faith that dwells in your nation and its inhabitants, and I pay homage to the whole of the Orthodox Church. It has always shared with the Catholic Church the need to defend religious and cultural values against the materialism and relativism that put into question the Christian contribution to life and society. I hope that fraternal relations between Orthodox and Catholic faithful will deepen. These relations of reciprocal respect and friendship are a testimony of love that indicates that beyond the divisions and their consequences, hearts can open to reconciliation, solidarity and fraternity.
The faithful of the Catholic Church in Moldova are not very numerous. Through you, I greet them and, very particularly, the bishop of Chisinau. I am grateful for the juridical recognition that the Catholic Church enjoys in Moldova, for her progressive organization and for the building of new churches such as the cathedral. These events demonstrate the excellence of the dialogue and the collaboration between civil institutions and the Catholic Church. We all know that certain inherited problems from the recent past must yet be resolved. To attempt to cure and close the wounds is another way of contributing positively to the unity of the country and to its development.
I hope that the civil Authorities will have the courage to find satisfactory, just and equitable solutions for the confiscated ecclesiastical patrimony, to allow the Catholic Church to have at her disposal the means to realize her mission, not only in the religious realm, but also in the educational, health care and charitable realms. The Church does not ask for the granting of particular privileges. She wishes to be faithful to her own end and to serve every person without distinction, in keeping with the mission entrusted by Christ. The happy integration of Catholics in your country and the excellent relations with the Orthodox Church demonstrate their good will.
Moreover, many Moldovans have established themselves in European countries of Catholic tradition. Of course they seek economic stability but they also establish bonds with Catholics, thus deepening even more the good relations between both Churches. These two factors are encouraging to find further solutions that will reinforce even more the harmony between the Moldovan State and the Catholic Church. However, I am thinking particularly of young Moldovans. I pray for them and wish to encourage them. I want to express my joy on learning that some one hundred of them will be able to take part for the first time in next August's World Youth Day in Madrid. And, next October, the Catholic Church will organize her first Social Week. The prospects of these two events have given me great satisfaction. It should inspire pride in your country.
At this time that Your Excellency begins officially your functions to the Holy See, I express my best wishes for your success in the realization of your mission. Be assured, Mr. Ambassador, that among my collaborators you will find the cordial attention and understanding that your high office deserves, as well as the affection of the Successor of Peter for your country.
Invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary, I pray to the Lord that he may shed abundant blessings upon you, your family and your collaborators, as well as upon the Moldovan people and their leaders.
Holy Father's Words to 6 New Ambassadors
"Technology Should Help Nature Develop Along the Lines Envisioned by the Creator"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI gave to six new ambassadors to the Holy See: George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand, Stefan Gorda of Moldava, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana.
The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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Lady and Gentlemen Ambassadors,
I receive you happily this morning in the Apostolic Palace for the presentation of the letters that accredit you as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of your respective countries to the Holy See: Moldavia, Equatorial Guinea, Belize, the Arab Republic of Syria, Ghana and New Zealand. I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me on behalf of your respective heads of state. Please be kind enough to transmit to them in return my deferent greetings and my respectful wishes for their persons and for the high mission they carry out at the service of their countries and their people. Through you, I also wish to greet all the civil and religious authorities of your nations, as well as the whole of your compatriots. Naturally, my prayers and thoughts go also to the Catholic communities present in your countries.
As I have had the opportunity to meet each one of you privately, I now wish to speak to you in a more general way. The first half of this year was marked by innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology and people. The magnitude of these catastrophes challenges us. It is good to remember that before all else, the person comes first. Humanity, to whom God has entrusted the stewardship of nature, cannot be dominated by technology and become its subject. This awareness should lead states to reflect together on the short-term future of the planet, given their responsibilities with regard to our lives and technology. Human ecology is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports the research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority.
In this sense, it is necessary to completely revise our approach to nature. Nature is not simply a space that is useful or recreational. It is, rather, the place where man was born; his "home," so to speak. It is essential for us. A change in mentality in this realm, even with the contradictions it entails, must make it possible to quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing. Hence, serious reflection must be engaged in and precise and viable solutions must be proposed. Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity. The United Nations seem to be the natural framework for this type of reflection, which should not be obscured by blindly partisan political or economic interests in order to give preference to solidarity over particular interests.
It is also helpful to ask ourselves about the appropriate role of technology. The wonders it is capable of go hand in hand with social and ecological disasters. By extending the relational aspect of work to the planet, technology imprints on globalization an especially accelerated rhythm. However, the basis of the dynamism of progress corresponds to man who works and not to technology, which is no more than a human creation. To bet on it unreservedly or to believe it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness, entails a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery when he himself attributes and delegates to it the powers it does not have. It is enough to see the "ravages" of progress and the dangers that an all-powerful and ultimately uncontrolled technology poses to humanity.
Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity. The pride it generates has created an impossible economism in our societies as well as a hedonism that subjectively and selfishly regulates behavior. The weakening of the primacy of the person leads to existential confusion and the loss of the meaning of life. The vision of man and material things that lacks a reference to transcendence uproots man from the earth and, more fundamentally, impoverishes his very identity. Hence, it is urgent that we match technology with a strong ethical dimension, given that the capacity man has to transform and, in a certain sense, to create the world through his work is always based on the first original gift of things made by God (John Paul II, "Centesimus annus," No. 37). Technology should help nature develop along the lines envisioned by the Creator. In working together, the researcher and the scientist adhere to God's plan that wished to place humanity as the apex and the administrator of creation. Solutions based on this principle will protect human life and its vulnerability, as well as the rights of the present and future generations. And humanity will be able to continue to benefit from the progress that man, by his intelligence, is able to realize.
Conscious of the risk that humanity runs when it considers technology to be a more efficient "answer" than political will or patient educational efforts to civilize customs, governments should promote a humanism that respects the spiritual and religious dimension of human persons. The dignity of the human person does not vary with changes in opinion. Respecting human aspirations to justice and peace allows the construction of a society that promotes itself when it sustains the family or when it refuses, for example, the exclusive primacy of finance. A country lives from the plenitude of the life of the citizens that make it up, each one being conscious of his own responsibilities and being able to give worth to his own convictions.
Moreover, the natural tendency to the true and the good is a source of a dynamism that engenders the will to collaborate in bringing about the common good. Thus social life can be enriched constantly by integrating the cultural and religious diversity through putting values in common, source of fraternity and communion. Social life should be considered, above all, as a reality of the spiritual order. Politicians in charge have the mission of guiding persons to human harmony and the wisdom they so desire, which should culminate in religious freedom, a true sign of peace.
On beginning your mission to the Holy See, I assure you, Excellencies, that you will always find in my collaborators attentive listening and the help you might need. Upon you yourselves, your families, the members of your diplomatic missions and upon all the nations you represent, I invoke the abundance of divine blessings.
Pontiff's Letter to New Zealand Representative
"Nurture the Greatest Respect for the Whole Human Person"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI gave to George Robert Furness Troup, the new ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See, upon receiving his letters of credence. The Pope received in audience at the same time Stefan Gorda of Moldavia, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana.
The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican today and to accept the letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of New Zealand to the Holy See. I thank you for the kind greeting which you conveyed from Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand, and I would ask you kindly to assure him of my good wishes and prayers for the well-being of the nation.
I take this opportunity to express once more my solidarity with all those still suffering from the devastating earthquake which struck Christchurch on 22 February last. Conscious of the considerable work of reconstruction on which you and your fellow citizens have embarked, I am confident that the impressive outpouring of generosity and the countless acts of charity and goodness which were seen in the wake of the disaster will contribute in no small part to meeting the material and moral challenges of the immense task now before you.
In your address you kindly made reference to the cordial relations existing between the Holy See and New Zealand. By its presence in the international community, the Holy See seeks to promote universal values which are rooted in the Gospel message of the God-given dignity of each man and woman, the unity of the human family and the need for justice and solidarity to govern relations between individuals, communities and nations. These values are deeply inscribed in the culture which gave birth to New Zealand’s political and legal institutions. A cornerstone of that heritage remains respect for the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of worship, to the benefit of all. These rights, enshrined in the legal traditions to which you are heirs, are proper to each person because they are inherent in the humanity which is common to us all. Through the promotion of these freedoms, society is better equipped to respond to profound political and social challenges in a way consonant with humanity’s deepest aspirations.
Due to its geographical position, your country is able to assist in the development of smaller, more distant countries with fewer resources. Some neighbouring countries, including the Small Island Developing States, look to New Zealand as an example of political stability, rule of law and high economic and social standards. They also look to you as a source of assistance, encouragement and support as they develop their own institutions. This gives your country a particular moral responsibility. Faithful to the best of its traditions, New Zealand is called to use its position of influence for the peace and stability of the region, the encouragement of mature and stable democratic institutions, and the fostering of authentic human rights and sustainable economic development. The desire for development poses a number of important challenges concerning the environment, some of them with serious consequences for people’s well-being and livelihoods, and especially for the poor. I would like to encourage the work being done to promote models of development at home and abroad that reflect a truly human ecology, are economically sustainable and fulfil our duty as stewards of creation (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 48; 51).
The Catholic Church in your country, drawn from the populations both ancient and new of your islands, strives to play her part in knitting together a truly multicultural society with a sense of mutual respect, shared purpose and solidarity, for the peace and prosperity of all. She wishes to serve the common good by bringing the spiritual and moral wisdom of the faith to bear upon the important ethical questions of the day. In a particular way, the Church wishes always to nurture the greatest respect for the whole human person, defending the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death, promoting a stable family environment and providing education.
Regarding this last point, the Church has always placed great emphasis on the education of young people, recognizing it as an essential component in the preparation and development of individuals for the good, so that they might take their proper place in society. In addition to the pursuit of excellence in academic studies, athletics and the arts, Catholic schools are concerned above all with the moral and spiritual formation of their pupils. The enduring attraction of educational institutions steeped in authentic Christian values demonstrates the perennial desire of parents to have their children prepared for life in the best possible way in a healthy environment that will bring out the best in young people as they prepare for life’s challenges. I am confident that your Government will continue to support parents in their role as the primary educators of their children, by ensuring that the faith-based education system remains accessible to those who wish to avail themselves of it for the good of their children and of society at large.
Finally, Mr Ambassador, let me take this opportunity to reiterate my good wishes as you begin your mission and to assure you that the Roman Curia stands ready to assist you. Upon you and your family and upon all the people of New Zealand, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Message to Ghanaian Envoy to Holy See
"May Your Country Give an Example in Establishing Effective Instruments of Solidarity"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI gave to Geneviève Delali Tsegah, the new ambassador of Ghana to the Holy See, upon receiving her letters of credence. The Pope received in audience at the same time Stefan Gorda of Moldavia, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand.
The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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In welcoming you to the Vatican and accepting the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Ghana to the Holy See, I wish first of all to express my gratitude to you for transmitting the courteous greeting of your President, His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills, and I would ask you kindly to reciprocate and to convey, in turn, my good wishes to him, as well as my appreciation of the cordial relations existing between the Holy See and your country.
It is widely acknowledged that Ghana has been able to overcome certain obstacles in order to make steady economic, social and political progress in recent times. Certainly, the conduct of regular and peaceful democratic elections does credit to both the people and the political leaders of your country. The establishment of ethnic harmony, too, not without the contribution of the local Christian communities including the Catholic Church, has been an important factor in creating conditions of peace, stability and greater social progress for all your citizens. I hope that this process will be crowned by the positive outcome of the ongoing constitutional consultation, in such a way that the nation’s legislative and administrative framework will consolidate a culture of responsible and active participation in the development of the country in freedom, justice and solidarity.
I have also noted the climate of religious freedom enjoyed in Ghana. A democratic society that fosters freedom of religion and freedom of worship, and that appreciates the presence of religious institutions that strive to rise above political interests and are instead motivated by faith and moral values, understands that there is much to gain through these freedoms for the positive growth of all the country’s institutions. Indeed, countries that do so may derive many benefits from those institutions, by drawing on the wisdom found in religious traditions, especially when citizens are confronted by questions for which science and technology provide little or no answer. Indeed, here secular and religious interests find common ground and are able to grow together by combining the demands of macroeconomic progress and scientific knowledge with religion’s perennial wisdom and understanding of man and society. All stand to benefit from such cooperation in a world that has grown uncertain about moral choices and is often drawn towards narrow interests and selfishness.
Your Excellency, your land has been blessed with natural resources which are now bringing prosperity to your people. It is much to be hoped that, through social solidarity, the proceeds from the correct exploitation of these resources will contribute to the sustainable economic development of your people. Let this be achieved, however, while giving due attention to those who are much poorer, or unable to provide for their families through no fault of their own. In this sense, may your country give an example in establishing effective instruments of solidarity (cf. Centesimus Annus, 16), to the true enrichment of all members of society.
You also mention the work of the Catholic Church in Ghana in the fields of education, health care and other social services. Motivated by the love of Christ, and acting on the basis on the human dignity shared by all members of the human family, the Church wishes to contribute in many ways to the good of society, especially in the areas you have mentioned. She is a willing partner with civil authorities wherever she is able to fulfil her mission untrammelled, in the light of Gospel values.
Finally, Your Excellency, I wish you every success in your mission as Ambassador of the Republic of Ghana to the Holy See and I assure you of the willing cooperation of the departments of the Roman Curia. May Almighty God bestow upon the people of Ghana abundant and lasting blessings of harmony, prosperity and peace!
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Letter to New Belizean Ambassador
"Education Bears Fruit When Based on Virtue Already Grounded in the Family"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 - Here is the message Benedict XVI gave to Henry Llewellyn Lawrence, the new ambassador of Belize to the Holy See, upon receiving his letters of credence. The Pope received in audience at the same time Stefan Gorda of Moldavia, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Genevieve Delali Tsegah of Ghana, and George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand.
The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to receive the Letters of Credence by which you have been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belize to the Holy See. I am grateful to you for transmitting the courteous greetings from the Governor-General, Sir Colville Young, and in return I would ask you kindly to convey my own good wishes to him and to all the people of your nation.
The Holy See values its diplomatic relations with Belize as an important means for achieving mutual cooperation for the moral and material well-being of all its citizens. With the cooperation of men and women of good will throughout Central America, the Church works to promote peace and prosperity among all the peoples of the region, even amid challenging circumstances, based upon unchanging Gospel values which have always served the people of the region well. With a special care for the poor and the weak, the Church draws attention to the dignity of man and works to foster and promote that dignity through her many social, charitable and developmental initiatives. The commitment to this activity draws strength not only from a love for the human person, but first and foremost from a profound love for God, "in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the person are fully understood" (World Day of Peace Message 2011, 1).
Historically, the Catholic Church in Belize has enjoyed cordial relations with the civil authorities, in an atmosphere conducive to the fulfilment of the mission entrusted to her by the Lord. Such an atmosphere is due in large part to the foundations upon which Belize was established, a basis which supports traditional Christian values and acknowledges the perennial value of authentic human rights and fundamental civil and political freedoms that promote respect for the human person, social harmony and the progress of society as a whole.
Among the laws established in your country are the rights to religious freedom and freedom of worship. As I had occasion to note recently, "the right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person, whose transcendent nature must not be ignored or overlooked" (ibid., 2). Freedom of religion and freedom of worship allow believers to flourish as individuals and to contribute positively and fully to the life of the country in every sphere of human activity. May your country, Mr Ambassador, be an example in this regard to its neighbours and to those who would seek to diminish the consequences of such rights and their corresponding values.
The Catholic Church in Belize involves herself in society in a variety of ways, including the education of the young in cooperation with the state. In principle, education prepares individuals and draws the best from them so that they in turn may willingly contribute socially, culturally and economically to society as a whole. Religious education, and Catholic education in particular, makes its own contribution to your people's welfare, since it "leads new generations to see others as their brothers and sisters, with whom they are called to journey and work together so that all will feel that they are living members of the one human family" (ibid., 4). Education bears fruit when based on virtue already grounded in the family, "the first cell of human society," and "the primary training ground for harmonious relations at every level of coexistence, human, national and international" (ibid.). Possessing a solid grounding in faith and virtue, intelligence and good will, the young people of Belize will be better prepared to assume the mantle of civic and social leadership, and provide for a stable, just and peaceful future for the nation.
With these sentiments, Mr Ambassador, I offer you every good wish for your new mission and assure you of the readiness of the Roman Curia to assist you in your high office. Upon you and upon all the people of Belize, I invoke Almighty God's abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
To Macedonian Delegation on Sts. Cyril and Methodius
"There Can Be No Real Unity Without Respect for the Dignity of Every Person"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2011 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today to Gjorge Ivanov, president of Macedonia, whom he received in audience together with a Catholic-Orthodox delegation from the country.
The Pope received delegations from both Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to celebrate the feast day -- May 11 in the East and Feb. 14 in the West -- of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the co-patrons of Europe.
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Honorable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers Representatives of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church
I am particularly happy to receive you and to address my cordial greeting to each one of you, in particular to the president of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius is a motive of joy for us all. These holy brothers sent to the Slav peoples proclaimed the Gospel amid many difficulties, but always sustained by an indestructible trust in the Lord. They were animated by the passion to make the Gospel of Christ known and for that reason they spent themselves in teaching the Christian doctrine, reproducing it in books written in the Slavic language. Without a doubt this was a decisive event for the growth and development of the Slav civilization and culture in general. The testimony and teaching of Sts. Cyril and Methodius are still current both for those who are at the service of the Gospel as well as for those called to govern the destinies of nations.
The life of these men was totally dedicated to apostolic activity, and the divine intuition to make the message of Revelation comprehensible and accessible to the peoples was the reason for unity for different traditions and cultures. In acceptance of God's salvific plan, peoples can rediscover the foundations on which to build civilizations and societies imbued with the spirit of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence. There can be no real unity without respect for the dignity of every person and his inalienable rights. Sts. Cyril and Methodius understood well that the Gospel of Christ is able to illumine every ambit and dimension of the human experience, to make it fully human. The Word of God calls constantly to conversion of heart, so that every decision, every choice is purified of egotistical interests; and it is precisely from this permanent conversion to God that it is possible to have a new humanity born.
May your annual pilgrimage to Rome be the occasion to renew the bonds of friendship between your nation and the Catholic Church and, at the same time, to reinforce and promote the commitment for the good of your country. Let us invoke the intercession of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, so that the Lord may give you his peace and bless the peoples of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Papal Address to Spain's New Envoy to Holy See
"Life Is Sacred and No One Can Dispose of It Arbitrarily"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving the letters of credence from Spain's new ambassador to the Holy See, María Jesús Figa López-Palop.
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On receiving the letters of credence that accredit Your Excellency as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Spain to the Holy See, I thank you cordially for the words you addressed to me, as well as the deferent greeting that you transmit to me from Their Majesties the [monarchs of Spain], the government and the Spanish people. I correspond gladly expressing my best wishes for peace, prosperity and spiritual good for all of them, whom I have very present in my memory and prayer. Receive the most cordial welcome on beginning your important task in this diplomatic mission, which has centuries of brilliant history and very many illustrious predecessors of yours.
I recently visited Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, and I recall with gratitude so many attentions and manifestations of closeness and affection to the Successor of Peter on the part of the Spanish and their authorities. They are two emblematic places, in which is highlighted both the spiritual attraction of the Apostle James, as well as the presence of admirable signs which invite to look on high even in the midst of a plural and complex environment.
During my visit I perceived many expressions of the vivacity of the Catholic faith in those lands, which have seen the birth of so many saints, and which are dotted with cathedrals, centers of assistance and culture inspired by the fecund rootedness and fidelity of its inhabitants in their religious beliefs. This entails also the responsibility of diplomatic relations between Spain and the Holy See which will try to foment always -- with mutual respect and collaboration, within the legitimate autonomy in their respective fields -- all that leads to the good of persons and the genuine development of their rights and liberties, which includes the expression of their faith and conscience, both in the public as well as the private sphere.
Because of your significant trajectory in diplomatic activity, Your Excellency knows well that the Church, in the exercise of her own mission, seeks the integral good of every nation and its citizens, acting in the ambit of their competencies and respecting fully the autonomy of the civil authorities, whom it appreciates, and for whom it prays to God that they will exercise their service to society with generosity, honesty, success and justice. This framework in which the mission of the Church and the function of the state come together, moreover, has acquired a definite form in bilateral agreements between Spain and the Holy See on the main aspects of common interest, which furnish the juridical support and necessary stability so that their respective actions and initiatives benefit all.
The beginning of your lofty responsibility, Mrs. Ambassador, takes place in a situation of great economic difficulty of global reach that also grips Spain, with truly worrying results, above all in the field of unemployment, which causes discouragement and frustration especially in young people and less favored families. I keep all the citizens very present and ask the Almighty to illumine all those who have public responsibilities to seek boldly the path to a profitable recovery for the whole society. In this connection, I would like to point out the praiseworthy action that Catholic institutions are carrying out to give prompt aid to the needy, and at the same time I hope there will be a growing disposition to the cooperation of all in this solidaristic endeavor.
With this, the Church shows an essential characteristic of her being, perhaps the most visible and appreciated by many, whether or not they are believers. However, she intends to go beyond mere external and material aid, and to aim at the heart of Christian charity, for which the neighbor is first of all a person, a child of God, always in need of fraternity, respect and acceptance in any situation in which he finds himself.
In this connection, the Church offers something that is innate to her and that benefits persons and nations: She offers Christ -- the hope that encourages and strengthens -- as an antidote to the disappointment of other fleeting proposals and a heart lacking in values, which ends by being hardened to the point of no longer being able to perceive the genuine meaning of life and the reason for things.
This hope gives life to confidence and collaboration, thus changing a somber present into strength of spirit to address the future with hope, [the future] both of the person as well as of the family and of society.
However, as I reminded in the message for the celebration for the 2011 World Day of Peace, instead of living and organizing society in such a way that it fosters openness to transcendence (cf. No. 9), there is no lack of ways, often sophisticated, of hostility to the faith which "are expressed at times reneging history and religious symbols, in which the identity and culture of the majority of the citizens is reflected" (No. 13). The fact that in some realms there is a tendency to consider religion as a socially insignificant factor, even annoying, does not justify trying to marginalize it, at times through denigration, ridicule, discrimination and even indifference in face of incidents of clear profanation which violate the fundamental right of religious liberty inherent to the dignity of the human person, and which is "an authentic weapon of peace, because it can change and improve the world" (cf. No. 15).
In her concern for every human being in a concrete way and in all his dimensions, the Church watches over the person's fundamental rights, in frank dialogue with all those who contribute to their being effective and without reductions. She watches over the right to human life from its beginning to its natural end, because life is sacred and no one can dispose of it arbitrarily. She watches over protection and aid to the family, and advocates economic, social and juridical measures so that the man and woman who enter marriage and form a family will have the necessary support to fulfill their vocation to be sanctuaries of love and life. She also advocates an education that integrates the moral and religious values in keeping with the parents' convictions, as is their right, and as fits the integral development of young people, and that, for the same reason, includes also the teaching of the Catholic religion in all centers for those who choose it, as is established in the juridical legislation itself.
Before concluding, I wish to make a reference to my new visit to Spain to participate in Madrid, in the forthcoming month of August, in the celebration of the 26th World Youth Day. I join with joy the efforts and prayers of its organizers, who are preparing carefully such an important event, with the hope that it will give abundant spiritual fruits for young people and for Spain. I am conscious also of the willingness, cooperation and generous help that both of the government of the nation as well as the autonomous and local authorities are dispensing for the greater success of an initiative that will attract the attention of the world and show once again the greatness of heart and spirit of the Spanish.
Mrs. Ambassador, I wish you the very best in carrying out the lofty mission that has been entrusted to you, so that relations between Spain and the Holy See are consolidated and progress, while I assure you of the great appreciation the Pope has for the ever beloved peoples of Spain. I ask you also to be the interpreter of my sentiments to the monarchs of Spain and the other authorities of the nation, while I invoke abundant blessings from the most High on Your Excellency, your family accompanying you today, as well as on your collaborators and the noble Spanish people.
Pope's Letter on 150th Anniversary of Italian Unity
"Christianity Contributed in a Fundamental Way to the Construction of the Italian Identity"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2011 - Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Italy's political unity. The message was delivered by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state.
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The 150th anniversary of the political unification of Italy offers me the happy occasion to reflect on the history of this beloved country, whose capital is Rome, city in which Divine Providence placed the See of the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Hence, in formulating to you and to the entire nation my most fervid good wishes, I am happy to share with you, in sign of the profound ties of friendship and collaboration that link Italy and the Holy See, these considerations of mine.
The process of unification that took place in Italy in the course of the 19th century, which passed into history with the name Risorgimento, constituted the natural outlet of a national identity development that began a long time before. In fact, the Italian nation, as a community of persons united by language, culture, sentiments of the same membership, though in the plurality of political communities articulated on the Peninsula, began to be formed in the Middle Ages. Christianity contributed in a fundamental way to the construction of the Italian identity through the work of the Church, of her educational and charitable institutions, fixing models of behavior, institutional configurations, social relationships, but also through a very rich artistic activity in literature, painting, sculpture, architecture and music. Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, Michelangelo, Raphael, Pierluigi of Palestrina, Caravaggio, Scarlatti, Bernini and Borromini are only some of the names of a long line of great artists that, through the centuries, have made a fundamental contribution to the formation of the Italian identity.
Also the experiences of holiness, with which numerous individuals have studded the history of Italy, contributed strongly to construct such identity, not only under the specific profile of a peculiar realization of the evangelical message, which has marked in time the religious experience and spirituality of Italians (one thinks of the great and manifold expressions of popular piety), but also under the cultural and even political profile. St. Francis of Assisi, for example, is pointed out also for his contribution in forging the national language; St. Catherine of Siena, though a simple ordinary woman, offered a formidable stimulus to the elaboration of Italian political and juridical thought. The contribution of the Church and of believers to the process of formation and consolidation of the national identity continues in the modern and contemporary ages.
Also, when parts of the Peninsula were subjected to the sovereignty of foreign powers, it was precisely thanks to this identity, now clear and strong, that notwithstanding the persistence in time of the geo-political fragmentation, the Italian nation was able to continue to subsist and to be conscious of itself. Because of this, the unity of Italy, realized in the second half of the 1800s, was able to take place, not as an artificial political construction of different identities, but as a natural political outlet of a strong national identity, rooted and subsisting for some time. The nascent unitary political community at the conclusion of the Risorgimento movment had, in short, as cement the still subsistent local diversities, precisely the pre-existing national identity, to whose molding Christianity and the Church made a fundamental contribution.
For complex historical, cultural and political reasons, the Risorgimento passed as a revolt against the Church, against Catholicism, and at times against religion in general. Without denying the role of traditions of different thought, some marked by jurisdictional or secular veins, one cannot omit the contribution of thought -- and at times of action -- of Catholics to the formation of the unitary state. From the point of view of political thought, suffice it to recall the whole affair of neo-Guelphism which had in Vincenzo Gioberti an illustrious representative; or to think of the Catholic-Liberal orientations of Cesare Balbo, Massimo d'Azeglio, Raffaele Lambruschini. Outstanding for philosophic, political and also juridical thought is the great figure of Antonio Rosmini, whose influence was displayed in time, to the point of informing significant points of the present Italian Constitution. And in that literature which contributed so much to "make the Italians," namely to give them the sense of belonging to the new political community that the process of the Risorgimento was molding, how can one not recall Alessandro Manzoni, faithful interpreter of the Catholic faith and morality; or Silvio Pellico, who with his autobiographical work on the painful vicissitudes of a patriot was able to witness the compatibility of love of the homeland with an unbending faith. And again figures of saints, such as St. John Bosco, driven by his pedagogical concern to compose manuals of homeland history, which molded membership in the institute founded by him on a paradigm consistent with a healthy liberal conception: "A citizen before the state, and a religious before the Church."
The political-institutional construction of the unitary state involved several personalities of the political, diplomatic and military world, among whom were, also, exponents of the Catholic world. This process, in as much as it must be inevitably measured with the problem of the temporal sovereignty of the Popes (but also because it led to extend the territories it gradually acquired a legislation in ecclesiastical matters of a strongly secular orientation), it had lacerating effects on the individual and collective conscience of Italian Catholics, divided between the opposite sentiments of fidelity born from citizenship on one side and of ecclesial membership on the other. However, it must be recognized that, if it was the political-institutional process of unification that produced that conflict between state and Church, which passed into history with the name of the "Roman Question," arousing as a consequence the expectation of a formal "conciliation," no conflict was verified in the social body, marked by a profound friendship between the civil and ecclesial community.
The national identity of Italians, so strongly rooted in the Catholic traditions, constituted in truth the most solid foundation of the acquired political unity. In short, the conciliation should have happened between the institutions, not in the social body, where faith and citizenship were not in conflict. Even in the years of the conflict, Catholics worked for the unity of the country. The abstention from political life, following the "non expedit," turned the reality of the Catholic world toward a great assumption of responsibility in the social realm: education, instruction, charity, health, cooperation, social economy were realms of commitment which made a solidaristic and strongly cohesive society grow.
The controversy that began between the state and Church with the proclamation of Rome as capital of Italy and with the end of the Papal State was particularly complex. It was undoubtedly a wholly Italian case, to the degree in which Italy alone has the singularity of hosting the headquarters of the papacy. Moreover, the question also had an undoubted international relevance. It must be noted that, with its temporal power at an end, the Holy See, though claiming the fullest liberty and sovereignty that corresponds to it in its order, has always rejected the possibility of a solution of the "Roman Question" through impositions from outside, trusting in the sentiments of the Italian people and in the sense of responsibility and justice of the Italian State. The signing of the Lateran Pacts, on Feb. 11, 1929, marked the final solution of the problem. In connection with the end of the Papal States, in memory of Blessed Pope Pius IX and of his Successors, I take up again the words of cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, in his address held in Campidoglio on Oct. 10, 1962: "The papacy takes up with unheard of vigor its functions of teacher of life and witness of the Gospel, so as to rise to such heights in the spiritual governance of the Church and in her radiation on the world as never before."
The fundamental contribution of Italian Catholics to the elaboration of the Republican Constitution of 1947 is well known. If the Constitutional text was the positive fruit of a meeting and a collaboration between several traditions of thought, there is no doubt that only the Catholic constituents presented themselves to the historic appointment with a precise project on the fundamental law of the new Italian State; a project matured within Catholic Action, in particular by the FUCI and the Laureates' Movement, and of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, and object of reflection and of elaboration in the Camaldoli Code of 1945, and in the 19th Social Week of Italian Catholics of the same year, dedicated to the topic "Constitution and Constituent." From there began the very significant commitment of Italian Catholics in politics, in labor union activity, in public institutions, in the economic realities, in the expressions of civil society, thus offering a very important contribution to the growth of the country, with demonstrations of absolute fidelity to the state and of dedication to the common good, placing Italy in a European projection.
In the painful and dark years of terrorism, then, Catholics gave their witness of blood: How can one not remember, among the different figures, that of the Honorable Aldo Moro and of Professor Vittorio Bachelet? The Church, thanks also to the long liberty ensured by the Lateran Concordat of 1929, continued with her own institutions and activity, to furnish an energetic contribution to the common good, intervening in particular in the support of the most marginalized and suffering persons, and above all continuing to nourish the social body with those moral values that are essential for the life of a democratic, just and ordered society. The good of the country, understood integrally, was always pursued and particularly expressed in moments of high significance, such as in the "great prayer for Italy" proclaimed by the Venerable John Paul II on Jan. 10, 1994.
The conclusion of the Agreement of revision of the Lateran Concordat, signed on Feb. 18, 1984, marked the passage to a new phase of relations between Church and State in Italy. This passage was clearly perceived by my Predecessor who, in his address given on June 3, 1985, in the ceremony of exchange of instruments of ratification of the Agreement, noted that, as "instrument of concord and collaboration, the Concordat is now situated in a society characterized by the free competition of ideas and by the pluralistic articulation of the different social components: this can and must constitute a factor of promotion and growth, fostering the profound unity of ideals and sentiments, by which all Italians feel themselves brothers in one same homeland." And he added that in the exercise of her diakonia for man "the Church intends to operate in full respect of the autonomy of the political order and of the sovereignty of the State. Likewise, she is attentive to the safeguarding of the liberty of all, indispensable condition for the construction of a world worthy of man, who only in liberty can seek the truth fully and adhere to it sincerely, finding in it the motive and inspiration for solidaristic and unitary commitment to the common good."
The Agreement, which contributed largely to the delineation of that healthy laicism which denotes the Italian State and its juridical ordering, has evidenced the two supreme principles which are called to preside over the relations between Church and political community: that of the distinction of realms and of collaboration. A collaboration motivated by the fact that, as Vatican Council II taught, between both, namely the Church and the political community "even if with different title, are at the service of the personal and social vocation of the same human persons" (Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," No. 76).The experience matured in the years of enforcement of the new agreed dispositions has seen, yet again, the Church and Catholics committed in various ways in favor of that "promotion of man and of the good of the country" that, in respect of their reciprocal independence and sovereignty, constitutes the inspiring and guiding principle of the Concordat in force (Article 1). The Church is aware not only of the contribution she makes to the civil society for the common good, but also of what she receives from the civil society, as Vatican Council II affirmed: "whoever promotes the human community in the field of the family, of culture, of economic and social life, as well as of politics, whether national or international, offers not little help, according to the will of God, to the ecclesial community in the things on which she depends on external factors" (Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," No. 44).
In taking a long look at history, it is necessary to recognize that the Italian nation has always perceived the burden but at the same time the privilege given by the peculiar situation by which there is in Italy, in Rome, the See of the Successor of Peter and, hence, the center of Catholicism. And the national community has always responded to this awareness expressing affectionate closeness, solidarity, and help to the Apostolic See for its liberty and to support the realization of the conditions favorable to the exercise of the spiritual ministry in the world of the Successor of Peter, who is bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy. The turbulence having passed of the "Roman Question," having arrived at the hoped for Conciliation, the Italian State also offered and continues to offer a precious collaboration, which the Holy See enjoys and of which it is consciously grateful.
In presenting to you, Mr. President, these reflections, I invoke from my heart on the Italian people the abundance of heavenly gifts, so that they will always be guided by the light of faith, source of hope and persevering commitment to liberty, justice and peace.
From the Vatican, March 17, 2011
Papal Words to New Austrian Ambassador
"The Social Order Finds an Essential Support in the Spousal Union of Man and Woman"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience the new ambassador from Austria to the Holy See, Alfons M. Kloss.
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Very dear Ambassador,
With pleasure I accept the letters through which the president of the Austria accredits you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Holy See. At the same time I thank you for the cordial words with which you also expressed the closeness of the president and of the government to the Successor of Peter. I wish to send to the president, to the chancellor, and to the members of the government, as well as to all the citizens of Austria, my affectionate greetings and I wish to express the hope I have that relations between the Holy See and Austria will continue giving fruits in the future.
The culture, history and daily life of Austria -- "land of cathedrals" (National Hymn) -- are profoundly marked by the Catholic faith. I was able to verify this also during my pastoral visit to that country and during the pilgrimage to Mariazell four years ago. The faithful, whom I have been able to meet, represent the thousands of men and women of the whole country, who with their life of faith in their daily routine and their availability to others, show the most noble features of man and spread the love of Christ.
At the same time, Austria is a country in which the peaceful coexistence of several religions and cultures has a long tradition. "Strength resides in love," said the old popular hymn already in the time of the monarchy. This is also true for the religious dimension which has its roots in the depth of man's conscience and because of this belongs to the life of every individual and to the coexistence of the community. The spiritual homeland, as point of support, of which many persons are in need, who live a working situation of greater mobility and constant movement, should be able to exist publicly and in a climate of peaceful coexistence with the rest of the confessions of faith.
In many European countries, the relationship between the state and religion is facing a particular tension. On one hand, the political authorities take care not to grant public places to religions, understanding them as merely individual ideas of faith of the citizens. Sought, on the other hand, is the application of criteria of a secular public opinion to religious communities. It seems that they would like to adapt the Gospel to the culture and yet, they seek to impede, in an almost shameful way, that the culture be molded by the religious dimension.
Despite what has been said, account must be taken of the attitude of some states of Central and Eastern Europe that seek to make room for man's fundamental questions, faith in God, and faith in salvation through God. The Holy See has been able to observe with satisfaction some activities of the Austrian government in this connection. Examples are the important position assumed in relation to the so-called "decision of the crucifix" (Kreuzurteil) of the European Court of the Rights of Man, and the proposal of the minister of Foreign Affairs "that the new European service for external action, not only observe the situation of religious liberty in the world, but that it also write a report on it regularly and present it to the minister of Foreign Affairs of the European Union" (Austria Press Agentur, Dec. 10, 2010).
Recognition of religious liberty allows the ecclesial community to develop its manifold activities, which benefit the whole of society. Reference is made to the different institutes of formation and charitable services run by the Church which you, Mr. Ambassador, have mentioned.
The effort of the Church for the needy makes evident the way in which she is the spokesman of underprivileged persons. This ecclesial effort, which receives widespread recognition in the society, cannot be reduced to mere welfare. Its most profound roots are in God, in the God who is love. Hence it is necessary to respect fully the action proper to the Church, without converting it into one of the many services of social aid. It is necessary to consider it in the totality of its religious dimension. Therefore, it is always necessary to combat the egoistic isolation of man. All the social forces have the urgent and constant task of guaranteeing the moral dimension of culture, the dimension of a culture that is worthy of man and of his life in community. That is why the Catholic Church will work with all her strength for the good of society.
Another important intention of the Holy See is a balanced policy destined to the family. The latter occupies a place in society that implies the foundations of human life. The social order finds an essential support in the spousal union of man and woman, which is also directed to procreation. Because of this, marriage and the family call for special protection on the part of the state. It is for all its members a school of humanity with positive effects for the individuals in addition to being so for society. In fact, the family is called to live and protect mutual love and truth, respect and justice, fidelity and collaboration, service and availability to others, in particular towards the weakest.
However, the family with many children is often harmed. The problems in this type of families, as for example a high potential of tensions and disputes, low standard of life, difficult access to formation, indebtedness and increase in divorces, make one think that they should be eliminated from society. Moreover, it is necessary to lament that the life of newborns does not receive sufficient protection, and in addition, they are often given a secondary right of existence in relation to the liberty of their parents' decision.
The building of the common European home can come to a good end only if this continent is conscious of its own Christian roots and of the values of the Gospel, in addition to the Christian image of man, which are -- also in the future -- the leaven of European civilization. Faith lived in Christ and active love for one's neighbor, reflecting the word and life of Christ, and the example of the saints, must weigh more in Western Christian culture. Your compatriots proclaimed saints recently, such as Franz Jagerstatter, Sister Restituta Kafka, Ladislaus Batthyany-Strattman and Karl of Austria, can offer us wider perspectives. These saints, through different paths of life, offered themselves with the same dedication to the service of God and of his message of love for one's neighbor. Thus they leave us an example of guidance in the faith and of their witness of understanding among peoples.
Finally, Mr. Ambassador, I wish to assure you that in the development of the important mission that has been entrusted to you, you can count on my support and on that of my collaborators. I entrust you, your family and all the members of the embassy of Austria in the Holy See to the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Magna Mater Austriae," and from my heart I give you and all the beloved Austrian people the apostolic lessing.
Benedict XVI's Address to Andorran Ambassador
"Harmony Is Possible Within Countries and Between Peoples"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday upon receiving in audience Miquel Àngel Canturri Montanya, the new ambassador from Andorra to the Holy See.
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I am delighted to receive Your Excellency and to accredit you in your capacity of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Principality of Andorra to the Holy See. I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me and in turn, I wish to transmit through you my cordial greetings to the two co-princes, the archbishop of Urgell and the president of the French Republic. Through you, I also greet the government, the authorities and the Andorran population.
The principality, going back to Charlemagne, is ruled by the pariage. The co-lordship approved by the Holy See at the time, converted into co-sovereignty, which you evoked in your address, is the legacy resulting from an historical evolution that has taken into account the legitimate interests of the Andorran people and has guaranteed its sovereignty. This original and unique system of its kind enables the population to live in peace, far from conflicts. It is true that the institutional solution that your country has found cannot be applied in other places, yet it is appropriate to draw a lesson from it. Harmony is possible within countries and between peoples. Juridical inventiveness and good will often enable numerous problems to be solved which, unfortunately, arise between peoples, and favor the much desired international concord.
In this context, I wish to point out the excellence of relations between the principality and the Holy See. These relations, which are situated in an historical continuity of entity and support -- you have pointed out moreover that the Holy See has always supported Andorra when its sovereignty was in danger -- have been consolidated in the first place by the establishment of diplomatic relations and later, two years ago, by the signing of a bilateral agreement. This agreement is the result and expression of a healthy and loyal collaboration between the Church and the state, which, with different titles, are at the service of the personal and social vocation of human persons. Yesterday as today, the cordial relations between the Church and Andorra serve these same persons more effectively for the benefit of all. This agreement is a supplementary stone contributed to the consolidation of relations between the principality and the Church.
In the words you addressed to me, you mentioned, Mr. Ambassador, the recent demographic evolution of your country. It shows the attraction it exercises over young generations. It is a question above all of young Andorrans who return to the country. Moreover, your nation also welcomes new populations. This openness entails a necessary awareness and responsibility on the part of institutions and of each one. In fact, social harmony, which could become unbalanced, is linked not only to a just and adapted legislative framework, but also to the moral quality of each citizen because "solidarity is seen ... under two complementary aspects: that of a social principle and that of a moral virtue" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 193).
Solidarity is raised to the rank of social virtue when it can lean at the same time on structures of solidarity, but also on the firm and persevering determination of each person to work for the common good, because we are all responsible for everyone. For its part, moral virtue is expressed through decisions and laws that are adjusted to ethical principles. These consolidate democracy and enable Andorrans to live according to age-old positive values, permeated by Christianity, and to cultivate and preserve its very marked identity.
To arouse the lasting sense of solidarity, which I have just mentioned, the education of young people is, undoubtedly, the best way. Whatever your level of responsibility, I encourage each one to show creativity in this realm, to invest the necessary means, and to sow generously for the future, being concerned to give them the necessary ethical bases. With education, it is also appropriate to give the family the support it deserves. Basic cell of society, the family fulfills its mission when it is fomented and promoted by the public powers as the first place of apprenticeship of life in society. Giving all the components of the family the necessary help, it will facilitate effectively social harmony and cohesion. The Church can make a positive contribution to the consolidation of the family, weakened by contemporary culture.
During my recent trip to Barcelona, I had the pleasure of seeing the presence of a beautiful delegation from your country. These faithful of all ages, but especially young people, went to express their adherence to the Successor of Peter. I would like to thank them for this warm presence and invite them, without wishing to abuse your intermediation, to the forthcoming World Youth Days.
I take advantage of the opportunity of this meeting, Mr. Ambassador, to greet warmly, through your mediation, your archbishop and his collaborators, as well as the whole of the Catholic faithful who live in your country. May they keep the desire to give witness of Christ and, in agreement of all Andorrans, to build a social life where each one can find the paths of personal and collective fulfillment! They will also give witness of the always timely fruitfulness of the Word of God.
At the moment you begin your noble mission of representation to the Holy See, I give you, Mr. Ambassador, my best wishes for the good fulfillmet of your mission. Be assured that you will always find in my collaborators the reception and understanding you might need. The people of Andorra have a particular veneration for the Virgin Mary, the Virgin of Meritxell, patroness of the co-principality whose national feast is celebrated on Sept. 8, Marian solemnity.
I entrust the authorities of your country and the whole of the population to her maternal protection. On Your Excellency, your family and your collaborators, as well as on the whole of the Andorran people and its leaders, I invoke from my heart the abundance of divine blessings.
Papal Address to Envoy From Seychelles
"Economic Development Must ... Respect the Integrity and Rhythms of Nature"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday upon receiving in audience Vivianne Fock Tave, the new ambassador from Seychelles to the Holy See.
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I receive you with pleasure this morning in which you present the letters that accredit you in the capacity of ambassader extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Seychelles to the Holy See. I thank you for transmitting to me the greetings of Mr. James Alix Michel, president of the Republic, whom I had the honor of receiving during his recent visit to the Holy See. I would be very grateful if you would express to him my gratitude for the cordiality expressed during our meeting. Through you, I also greet the authorities, the different political leaders and the whole of the people of Seychelles.
Your country continues to progress and to affirm itself on the path of peace, prosperity and stability. Without a doubt, this is the result of the persistent efforts and of the generous contribution of all political and social spheres, of the public and private sectors. I am happy to congratulate the government and the people of Seychelles for having surmounted the challenge of the world economic crisis, confirmed by a renewal of tourism and of direct foreign investments, by an impulse of the national economy, giving favorable fiscal space to the reduction of the debt and priority expenses. However, the liberation of the economy preserving the social gains is a mutation which does not require a change in mentalities: It is a question of supporting this evolution to anticipate the effects that cannot always be controlled in time giving a necessary ethical base and playing the card of responsibility. "Everyone has the right to participate in economic life and the duty to contribute, each according to his own capacity, to the progress of his own country and to that of the entire human family" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 333).
The planning of economic development must also consider carefully the need to respect the integrity and rhythms of nature because natural resources are limited and some are not renewable. The solution of the ecological problem calls for economic activity that respects the environment more, conciliating the needs with environmental protection and "strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment" ("Caritas in Veritate," No. 50).
In this realm, I appreciate in particular the government's initiatives to restore and preserve the coral reef. This is the front line of defense in the rising of the level of the ocean and also continues to be an important habitat for the raising of fish -- principal contributor of protein of the country. It also provides income and employment in the areas of fishing and tourism. Hence, it is necessary that consumers and agents of industrial activities develop greater responsibility in their behavior.
To increase everyone's responsibility also entails an active and effective cooperation in respecting and protecting human dignity in face of every attempt to propose reductionist and deformed images, or the instrumentalization of each person. International tourism, notable factor of economic development and cultural growth, can become an occasion for exploitation and moral degradation (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," N. 61). Only acknowledgment of human dignity makes possible the common and personal growth of all (James 2:1-9).
To foster this integral human development and also to reinforce solidarity between generations, it is necessary to protect the family. Promoted and supported by the state and society, the family has a totally original and irreplaceable function in the education of children. With the family, your nation will continue building its future, giving an appropriate formation to its young generations so that they will be able to transcend the limits in which at times there is a desire to enclose them and giving them the concrete means to struggle against social evils, especially unemployment and drugs. From this point of view, I highlight and encourage once again the efforts made for a long time to develop an educational system of quality. It is also appropriate to support the most underprivileged and to fight against corruption by guaranteeing an objective equality before the law among the different social classes.
For her part, the local Church wishes to continue making a specific contribution to your nation, both in supporting the family, education, and the formation of young people as well as the integral human development of each person. This development implies spiritual growth and not just material growth whose criterion of orientation is found in the active force of charity in truth (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 76-77). The spiritual search that dwells in the heart of the people of Seychelles finds in Christ its meaning and plenitude; it dynamizes the whole of the society, with the capacity to breathe into it the force of reconciliation to promote justice, fraternity and to build prosperity and peace. With this objective, I encourage the continuation of that collaboration and I wish to greet warmly, through you, the bishop of Puerto Victoria and his collaborators, as well as the whole of the Catholic faithful present in your country.
At the time you begin your noble mission of representation to the Holy See, I wish to renew the expression of my satisfaction for the excellent relations maintained by the Republic of the Seychelles and the Holy See, and I address to you, Mrs. Ambassador, my best wishes for the fulfillment of your mission. Be assured that you will always find in my collaborators the reception and understanding you might need. On Your Excellency, your family and your collaborators, as well as on the people of Seychelles, and on its leaders, I invoke from my heart abundant divine blessings.
Holy Father's Address to Envoy of Mali
"Education Constitutes a Vital and Existential Necessity"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2010 - Here is a
translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday upon receiving in
audience Boubacar Sidiki Toure, the new ambassador from Mali to the Holy
* * *
I am pleased to receive the letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Holy See. On this happy occasion, I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and thank you for the kind words, with which you expressed the respectful tribute of the President of the Republic and the Malian people. I would be grateful if in turn you would transmit to His Excellency Mr. Amadou Toumani Toure, Head of State, my sentiments of gratitude and respect and the guarantee of my prayers for his person and all Malians.
As a good number of African countries, Mali celebrated this year the 50th anniversary of its independence. The progress achieved is always accompanied by challenges to point out. I mention among others social peace, education and the right to nourishment. For the building of a peaceful and stable society, Mali can extract from its cultural patrimony which encloses human, intellectual and religious values. I want to encourage their preservation and transmission to the new generations, because a society served by persons gifted with a profound moral perspicacity, always promotes justice and peace. The leaders of such a society are able to transcend their own interests to be virtuous governors totally dedicated to the common good. They are also able to cultivate human relations animated by trust and solidarity, mutual respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I encourage the different Malian leaders to help their compatriots to be reconciled among themselves after the conflicts that have marked Mali's recent history. I also invite them to struggle against discrimination between ethnic groups and religions. In fact, it is legitimate that the identity of each ethnic or religious community be expressed visibly, in mutual respect, fostering peaceful coexistence at all levels of the national community (cf. Address to the Bishops of Mali, May 18, 2007).
Looking at the future, the Malian government has included among its priorities the formation of cadres capable of ensuring the development of your country. In a world characterized by the interdependence of peoples and the rapid spread of imitation of human behavior accompanied by growing individualism, education constitutes a vital and existential necessity. However, it could be reduced to an accumulation of intellectual knowledge or technical competence. Abilities should go hand in hand with knowing how to live and how to be so that, based on human wisdom and spiritual resources, they reflect better the essential truth of human existence. That is why, in the education of their children, Malian families are not content with the academic results achieved, to the neglect of human, cultural and religious virtues. They offer their children the reference values that will lead them to the truth about life, about the duty of solidarity and of dialogue, which are co-existential to human nature. It corresponds to the state to support families in their task of education, and to watch over the intellectual and human quality of the educational personnel. May Malian young people not let themselves be seduced by easy money that could incite them to pact with networks that lead to criminality or drug trafficking!
Your country is committed, Mr. Ambassador, on the path of harmonious development elaborating projects such as the new code of persons and the family. I harbor the great hope that it might help to reduce the inequalities between persons and social groups. This new code will contribute to social peace, if the leaders of your country also work to ensure the right to nourishment. Receiving with approval the efforts to increase the production of cotton and rice, I encourage your government to address the problem of food insecurity "eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development (...) by investing (...) in the development and dissemination of agricultural technology that can make the best use of the human, natural and socio-economic resources (...). All this needs to be accomplished with the involvement of local communities in choices and decisions that affect the use of agricultural land" ("Caritas in Veritate," No. 27).
As you can attest, Your Excellency, several executives of your country have been formed in Catholic schools. The Church's commitment in formation and education, as well as in the charitable, health and social realms, shows her willingness to collaborate with the state, preserving the particular nature of her structures. I take advantage of the occasion to acclaim the convention on health care, which was signed by the Episcopal Conference of Mali and the Ministry of Health of Mali, as well as this ministry's commitment to grant subsidies to ecclesial health structures.
To conclude, I greet warmly through you the Catholic community of Mali with its pastors, and I invite it to continue its courageous and joyful witness of the faith and of fraternal love taught by Christ. I also wish to encourage the efforts of the Episcopal Conference of Mali and of the government to consolidate the relations of mutual esteem between Mali and the Holy See. At the moment in which you begin your mission, I offer you, Mr. Ambassador, my best wishes, assuring you of the support of the different services of the Roman Curia for the fulfillment of your function. To this end, I am happy to invoke on you and your family, as well as on all your collaborators, abundant Divine Blessings.
Pope's Address to Envoys of Nepal,
Zambia, Andorra, Seychelles and Mali
"Fraternity Finds a Concrete Expression in Gratitude and Respect"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on Thursday to the new ambassadors of Nepal, Zambia, Andorra, the Seychelles and Mali to the Holy See, whom he received in the Vatican on the occasion of the presentation of their Letters of Credence.
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Lady and Gentlemen Ambassadors,
I am very happy to receive you this morning in the Apostolic Palace for the presentation of the Letters that accredit you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your respective countries to the Holy See: Nepal, Zambia, the Principality of Andorra, the Republic of the Seychelles and Mali. You have addressed courteous words to me, on behalf of your Heads of State, for which I thank you. I would like to transmit in turn my deferent greetings and my respectful wishes for your persons and for the high mission you fulfill in the service of your country and your people. Through you, I also wish to greet all the civil and religious authorities of your nations, as well as all your compatriots. My prayers and thoughts go, of course, also to the Catholic communities present in your countries. Living the Gospel, they are concerned to give witness of a spirit of fraternal collaboration.
Excellencies, I would like to speak of human fraternity. A heartfelt appeal has been made all this year to alleviate Haiti, first devastated by an earthquake and then by cholera. Other tragedies unfortunately have stricken other countries during this year. Your countries, the international community and the associative world have responded to the especially urgent appeals for help, aid which it would be appropriate to continue and to intensify. For her part, and through her different institutions, the Church makes a manifold contribution which she prolongs in the course of time.
The beautiful ideal of fraternity, which is found in the national emblem of many countries, has found in the development of philosophical and political thought less resonance compared with other ideals such as liberty, equality, progress and unity. It is a principle that to a large extent has remained a dead letter in modern and contemporary political societies, above all because of the influence exercised by individualist or collectivist ideologies (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 390). As you know, fraternity has a particular meaning for Christians due to God's design of fraternal love, of fraternity, hence, revealed by Christ. In my last encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate," I certainly addressed extensively this indispensable topic for harmonious human coexistence.
To live worthily, every human being needs respect: he also needs justice to be done, and his rights recognized in a concrete way. However, this is not enough to lead a fully human life: in fact, a person also has need of fraternity. This is true not only in close relations but also on a global scale. However, although the process of globalization under way brings human beings closer to one another, it does not, because of this, make them brothers. It is an important problem because, as my predecessor Pope Paul VI revealed, "underdevelopment has as its profound cause the lack of fraternity" (cf. "Populorum Progressio," No. 66).
Human reason is capable of recognizing the equality of all men and the need to limit the excessive disparities among them, but it is incapable of instituting fraternity. This is a supernatural gift. For her part, the Church sees the realization of human fraternity on earth as a vocation contained in God's creative plan, who wishes that she be ever more faithfully the maker of that fraternity, both in the universal ambit and well as the local ambits as it is in the countries that you represent to the Holy See.
If, supporting the specifically spiritual mission that Christ has entrusted to her, the Church arouses among her disciples a particular proximity, she does not lessen her desire to make a sincere and strong contribution to the formation of a more fraternal community among all human beings. Because of this, she prohibits herself from acting as a lobby, concerned only with her interests, and yet she works under the gaze of Him who is the Creator of all men, wishing to honor the dignity of each one. Thus, she makes an effort to put love and peace at the base of the many human bonds that relate persons among themselves, as God has willed in his creative wisdom.
In daily life, fraternity finds a concrete expression in gratitude and respect. These are called to be manifested in all areas of human activity, including economic activity. Man's profound identity, his being-in-relation, is also expressed in his economic activity, which is one of the areas of greatest cooperation between men. Through my last Encyclical, I wished to make evident the fact that the economy is a place where the gift is also possible and even necessary (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 34-39).
Every form of gift is, in a word, a sign of the presence of God, because it leads to the fundamental discovery that, at the origin, everything is given. Such an awareness does not make man's conquests less beautiful, but liberates him from the first of all slaveries, that of wishing to create himself. On the contrary, in acknowledging what he is given, man can open himself to the action of grace and understand that he is called to develop himself, not against others or at their expense, but with them and in communion with them.
However, if fraternity lived among men can find a positive echo in terms of "social effectiveness," it must not be forgotten that it does not constitute a means, but is an end in itself (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 20). The Church believes in Christ who reveals to us that God is love (cf. John 4:8). She is also convinced that to all those who believe in divine charity, God gives the certainty that "the way of love is open to all men and that the effort directed to establishing a universal fraternity is not in vain" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 38).
As diplomats, you are interested without a doubt in a particular way, in the different aspects of socio-political life that I have just developed. During your mission to the Apostolic See, you will have the possibility, Excellencies, to discover more directly the actions and concerns of the Church in all the continents. You will find in my collaborators kind attention. On you, your families, the members of your diplomatic Missions and all the nations you represent, I invoke abundant Divine Blessings.
Papal Address to Ambassador From Zambia
"Continue to Respect and Defend the Dignity of Every Human Life From Conception"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Thursday to the new ambassador from Zambia to the Holy See, Royson Mabuku Mukwena.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zambia to the Holy See. I thank you for the greetings which you have brought from President Rupiah Bwezani Banda, and I gladly reciprocate with my own good wishes and the assurance of my prayers for His Excellency and for all the beloved people of Zambia.
The Holy See values its diplomatic relations with your country as an important instrument for achieving mutual cooperation for the spiritual, moral and material good of all Zambians. Indeed, with the cooperation of men and women of good will throughout Africa, the Church works for the promotion of a moral, legal and social equilibrium among the members of the human family. Through her various social, developmental and charitable works, she fosters a balanced realization of the rights and duties of individuals and of society as a whole. She seeks to draw attention to the need for justice, solidarity and harmony, always with a special care for the poorer and weaker members of society. The Church is therefore proud of the example of Christian men and women who bring honour to their country and its institutions by selflessly pursuing the common good and teaching others to do the same, rising above local, regional or ethnic concerns.
It is a source of particular satisfaction that Zambia’s laws continue to respect and defend the dignity of every human life from conception. Powerful influences, many from beyond Africa, seek to place limitations on the right to life, seeing it as somehow restricting the freedom of others. Yet, for her part, the Church affirms that the right to life of the innocent is inviolable, and must take precedence over all other supposed rights. In doing so, she draws attention to an objective moral principle, rooted in the natural law, the content of which is accessible to right reason and is not dependent upon political choices or social consensus (cf. Address to Representatives of British Society, London, 17 September 2010). It is greatly to be hoped, Mr Ambassador, that Zambia will continue to foster due respect for the rights of every human being without exception, in harmony with the duty to protect life from conception to natural death in the manner of a truly Christian country.
Turning to the question of economic development, presently there appear to be encouraging signs of improvement in your country, particularly in the agricultural sector. With economic growth, funds have become available for important development projects, particularly in the extension of adequate sanitary conditions. The nation has been making significant progress in this area, as reflected in lower infant and maternal mortality rates and other areas related to health. Improvements too in infrastructure, the availability of suitable housing, the struggle against corruption and the extension of educational opportunities are indispensable for the economic, social and cultural progress of your country. Likewise, due attention must always be given to the needs of the less fortunate. It is to be hoped that a diversified economic structure will be encouraged, as well as an increase in the number of small enterprises since, "alongside macro-projects, there is a place for micro-projects and above all there is need for the active mobilization of all the subjects of civil society" (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 47).
I am pleased to note that the Church in your country has been contributing positively in the fields of education, development and health care, especially in the struggle against malaria and HIV/AIDS. Be assured that she will continue to be actively involved in promoting the health of the population with a strong emphasis on prevention through education. Long-lasting health improvements will be achieved through formation in moral responsibility and solidarity, and in particular through faithfulness in marriage. In this way, the Church works to encourage a greater sense of integrity on the part of individuals and the building of a society which truly cherishes life, the family and the wider community.
Allow me to conclude these welcoming remarks by reiterating my good wishes and prayers for Zambia and her people. As you begin your mission, Mr Ambassador, I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia will be happy to assist you. Upon you and your family and upon all Zambia’s citizens I cordially invoke Almighty God's abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to Nepal Ambassador
"Continue to Be Supportive of the Church’s Presence in Health and Education"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Thursday to the new ambassador from Nepal to the Holy See, Suresh Prasad Pradhan.
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In welcoming you to the Vatican and accepting your Letters of Credence as Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to the Holy See, I wish to express my satisfaction at the cordial relations which we continue to enjoy. I am grateful to you for transmitting the courteous greeting of your President, Mr Ram Baran Yadav, and in return I would ask you kindly to convey my own good wishes to him and to all the people of the Federal Democratic Republic.
Recent years have seen much change in your nation as Nepal’s leaders have sought to chart a new political course for the benefit of her people. In this regard, among the most important tasks is the drafting of a new Constitution. Ensuring the legal guarantees of civil and political rights, as well as guaranteeing those of an economic, social and cultural nature, is surely one of the most delicate and demanding undertakings in any nation’s political life. For this reason, the Holy See is hopeful that once present difficulties are overcome, the Constituent Assembly will be able to complete its work and contribute in this way to ensuring a stable, harmonious and prosperous future.
The Holy See is pleased to note the expressions of commitment to democratic ideals and norms found in the interim political arrangements currently in force in your country. These include the wish to promote competitive multi-party democracy, civil liberties and fundamental human rights, adult enfranchisement, periodic elections, press freedom, an independent judiciary and the rule of law. It is acknowledged that much still needs to be done to consolidate these good intentions, but the public expression of such a commitment by Nepal’s leaders already bodes well.
As Your Excellency is aware, of the over one million Christians in your country, the Catholic Church numbers very few souls and yet, through her institutions, she has sought to make a significant contribution to the well-being of all your citizens. The Church’s charitable agency Caritas runs a variety of projects in poorer areas and takes care of refugees. Spurred by the love of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-15), the Church is always ready and willing to do whatever she can to help those in distress, irrespective of their race, colour or creed.
While the Catholic Church can trace her first contacts with Nepal back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, over the past seventy years she has been particularly active in the service of the people through her hospitals, welfare organizations and schools. I am pleased to note the freedom in which these important institutions operate and the respect in which they are held. It is greatly to be hoped that your Government will continue to be supportive of the Church’s presence in health and education and ensure that human rights in general and religious freedom in particular are duly respected.
In contrast to the Nepalese people’s long tradition of tolerance, a few regrettable incidents of violence against the lives of Catholics have occurred in recent years, as well as damage to church property. Let me express the hope that a spirit of tolerance will prevail, and that cooperation for the general good and reconciliation through dialogue will be strengthened and will continue to mark the brotherly relations between Nepalese Catholics and their fellow citizens of other religions.
Finally, Mr Ambassador, I am confident that the cordial relations already existing between the Holy See and Nepal will do much to promote such fraternity, respect and dialogue. In offering my good wishes at the beginning of your mission as Ambassador to the Holy See, I assure you of the readiness of the Roman Curia to assist you in your high office. Upon you and upon all the people of Nepal I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE HOLY SEE PRESS
OFFICE: EIGHTH ASSEMBLY OF CHINESE CATHOLIC REPRESENTATIVES (BEIJING, 7-9
1. With profound sorrow, the Holy See laments the fact that from 7 to 9 December 2010 there was held in Beijing the Eighth Assembly of Chinese Catholic Representatives. This was imposed on numerous Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful. The manner in which it was convoked and its unfolding manifest a repressive attitude with regard to the exercise of religious liberty, which it was hoped had been consigned to the past in present-day China. The persistent desire to control the most intimate area of citizens’ lives, namely their conscience, and to interfere in the internal life of the Catholic Church does no credit to China. On the contrary, it seems to be a sign of fear and weakness rather than of strength; of intransigent intolerance rather than of openness to freedom and to effective respect both of human dignity and of a correct distinction between the civil and religious spheres.
2. On several occasions the Holy See had let it be known, first and foremost to the Bishops, but also to all the faithful, and publicly, that they should not take part in the event. Each one of those who were present knows to what extent he or she is responsible before God and the Church. The Bishops in particular and the priests will also have to face the expectations of their respective communities, who look to their own Pastor and have a right to receive from him sure guidance in the faith and in the moral life.
3. It is known, moreover, that many Bishops and priests were forced to take part in the Assembly. The Holy See condemns this grave violation of their human rights, particularly their freedom of religion and of conscience. Moreover, the Holy See expresses its deepest esteem for those who, in different ways, have borne witness to their faith with courage and it invites the others to pray, to do penance and, through their works, to reaffirm their own will to follow Christ with love, in full communion with the universal Church.
4. Addressing those whose hearts are full of dismay and profound suffering, those who are wondering how it is possible that their own Bishop or their own priests should have taken part in the Assembly, the Holy See asks them to remain steadfast and patient in the faith; it invites them to take account of the pressures experienced by many of their Pastors and to pray for them; it exhorts them to continue courageously supporting them in the face of the unjust impositions that they encounter in the exercise of their ministry.
5. During the Assembly, among other things, the leaders of the so-called Episcopal Conference and of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association were appointed. Concerning these two entities, and concerning the Assembly itself, the words written by Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 Letter to the Church in China continue to apply (cf. nos. 7 and 8). In particular, the present College of Catholic Bishops of China cannot be recognized as an Episcopal Conference by the Apostolic See: the "clandestine" Bishops, those not recognized by the Government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes Bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine. It is deeply deplorable that an illegitimate Bishop has been appointed as its President. Furthermore, regarding the declared purpose to implement the principles of independence and autonomy, self-management and democratic administration of the Church, it should be remembered that this is incompatible with Catholic doctrine, which from the time of the ancient Creeds professes the Church to be "one, holy, catholic and apostolic". It is therefore lamentable also that a legitimate Bishop has been appointed President of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.
6. This is not the path that the Church must follow in the context of a great and noble nation, which attracts the attention of world opinion for its significant achievements in so many spheres, but still finds it hard to implement the demands of genuine religious freedom, despite the fact that it professes in its Constitution to respect that freedom. What is more, the Assembly has rendered more difficult the path of reconciliation between Catholics of the "clandestine communities" and those of the "official communities", thereby inflicting a deep wound not only upon the Church in China but also upon the universal Church.
7. The Holy See profoundly regrets the fact that the celebration of the above-mentioned Assembly, as also the recent episcopal ordination without the indispensable Papal mandate, have unilaterally damaged the dialogue and the climate of trust that had been established in its relations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The Holy See, while reaffirming its own wish to dialogue honestly, feels bound to state that unacceptable and hostile acts such as those just mentioned provoke among the faithful, both in China and elsewhere, a grave loss of the trust that is necessary for overcoming the difficulties and building a correct relationship with the Church, for the sake of the common good.
8. In the light of what has happened, the Holy Father’s invitation – addressed on 1 December 2010 to all the Catholics of the world to pray for the Church in China which is going through a particularly difficult time – remains pressing.
Papal Address to New Hungarian Envoy
"Faith ... Is a Purifying Force for Reason"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address that Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience the new ambassador from Hungary to the Holy See, Gabor Gyorivanyi, who presented his letters of credence.
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I welcome you with joy on this solemn occasion of the presenting the letters of credence that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary to the Holy See, and I thank you for your kind words. I am grateful for the deferent greetings that you have given me on behalf of the president, Dr. Pal Schmitt, and of the government, which I am pleased to return. At the same time I would like to ask you to assure your fellow citzens of my sincere affection and benevolence.
After the renewal of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Hungary in 1990, it has been possible to develop new trust for an active and constructive dialogue with the Catholic Church. At the same time I cherish the hope that the profound wounds of that materialistic vision of man, which took hold of the hearts and of the community of citizens of your country for almost 45 years, can continue to be healed in a climate of peace, liberty and respect for the dignity of man.
Without a doubt the Catholic faith forms part of the fundamental pillars of the history of Hungary. When, in the distant year 1,000, the young Hungarian Prince Stephen received the royal crown that Pope Sylvester II sent him, joined to it was the mandate to give space and a homeland in that land to faith in Jesus Christ. The personal piety, sense of justice and human virtues of this great king are a lofty point of reference which serves as stimulus and imperative, today as then, to all those entrusted with a government post or other similar responsibility. Not expected, of course, is that the state impose a specific religion; rather, it should guarantee the liberty to profess and practice the faith. Still, politics and Christian faith touch one another. Of course, faith has its specific nature as encounter with the living God, which opens new horizons to us beyond the realm proper of reason. However, at the same time it is a purifying force for reason itself, enabling it to carry out its task better and to see better what is its own. It is not a question of imposing norms or ways of behavior on those who do not share the faith. It is simply about the purification of reason, which wishes to help to make what is good and just able, here and now, to be recognized, and then also realized (cf. encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," No. 28).
In the last years, little more than 20, since the fall of the Iron Curtain, an event in that Hungary had a prominent role, your country has had an important place in the community of nations. For six years now, Hungary has also been a member of the European Union. With this it makes an important contribution to the chorus of more voices of the States of Europe. At the beginning of next year, for the first time, it will be Hungary's turn to assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Hungary is called in a particular way to be mediator between East and West. Already the Sacred Crown, legacy of King Stephen, in the union of the Greek circular crown with the Latin crown placed as an arch over it -- both bear the face of Christ and are crowned by the cross -- shows how East and West must support and enrich one another from the spiritual and cultural patrimony and the intense profession of faith. We can also understand this as a leitmotiv for your country.
The Holy See notes with interest of the efforts of the political authorities to elaborate a change in the Constitution. Expressed has been the intention to make reference in the preamble to the legacy of Christianity. Also desirable is that the new Constitution be inspired by Christian values, particularly in what concerns the position of marriage and the family in society and the protection of life.
Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples. Marriage as a basic form of ordering the relationship between man and woman and, at the same time, as basic cell of the state community, has also been molded by biblical faith. Thus marriage has given Europe its particular aspect and its humanism, also and precisely because it has had to learn to acquire continually the characteristic of fidelity and of renunciation traced by it. Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed. We all know how much risk marriage and the family run today -- on one hand, because of the erosion of its most profound values of stability and indissolubility, because of a growing liberalization of the right of divorce, and of the custom, increasingly widespread, of man and woman living together without the juridical form and protection of marriage, on the other, because of the different types of union which have no foundation in the history of the culture and of the law in Europe. The Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a valuation of alternative models of the life of the couple and the family. These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the natural law and, hence, to the relativization of the whole of legislation, in addition to the awareness of values in society.
"As society becomes ever more globalized, it makes us neighbours but does not make us brothers" (encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," No. 19). Reason is capable of guaranteeing equality between people and of establishing a civic coexistence, but in the end it is unable to found fraternity. This has its origin in a supernatural vocation of God, who created men out of love and taught us through Jesus Christ what fraternal charity is. Fraternity is, in a certain sense, the other side of liberty and equality. It opens man to altruism, to the civic sense, to care of the other. The human person, in fact, finds himself only when he overcomes the mentality centered on his own pretensions, and projects himself with an attitude of gratuitous gift and authentic solidarity, which responds much better to his community vocation.
The Catholic Church, as the other religious communities, has a not insignificant role in Hungarian society. She is committed on a large scale with her institutions in the field of school education and culture, in addition to social welfare and in this way contributes to the moral construction, truly useful, to your country. The Church trusts in being able to continue, with the support of the State, to carry out and intensify this service for the good of men and the development of your country. May collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in this field grow also in the future and bring profit for all.
Illustrious Mr. Ambassador, at the beginning of your noble task I wish you a mission full of success and assure you at the same time the support of my collaborators. May Mary Most Holy, the Magna Domina Hungarorum, stretch her protecting hand over your country. From my heart I implore for you, Mr. Ambassador, for your family and for your men and women collaborators in the embassy, and for all the Hungarian people, the abundant divine blessing.
Letter to Iran's President
"Peace Is ... Also the Result of the Efforts of People of Good Will"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2010- Here is the letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the occasion of the visit to Tehran of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who met Tuesday with Ahmadinejad.
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To His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
I am writing to acknowledge the courteous words of greeting and the reflections that Your Excellency kindly sent me by the good offices of His Excellency Mr Hojjat ol Eslam Haj Sayyed Mohammad Reza Mir Tajjadini, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
It is my profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace. Indeed, one’s relationship with God is the ultimate foundation for the inalienable dignity and sacred character of every human life.
When the promotion of the dignity of the human person is the primary inspiration of political and social activity that is committed to search for the common good, solid and enduring foundations are created for building peace and harmony between peoples.
Peace is, above all, a gift from God, which is sought in prayer, but it is also the result of the efforts of people of good will. In this perspective, believers of every religion have a special responsibility and can play a decisive role, cooperating in common initiatives. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a fundamental path to peace.
Strongly convinced of this, the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October 2010, was a significant moment of reflection and sharing on the situation in the Middle East and on the great challenges placed before the Catholic communities present there. In some countries these communities face difficult circumstances, discrimination and even violence and they lack the freedom to live and publicly profess their faith. I am certain that the work of the Synod will bear good fruit for the Church and for the whole of society.
The Catholics present in Iran and those around the world make efforts to collaborate with their fellow citizens to contribute loyally and honestly to the common good of the respective societies in which they live, becoming builders of peace and reconciliation.
In this spirit, I express the hope that the cordial relations already happily existing between the Holy See and Iran will continue to progress, as well as those of the local Church with the civil authorities. I am also convinced that the launch of a bilateral Commission would be especially helpful in addressing questions of common concern, including that of the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the country.
With these sentiments, I avail myself of the occasion to renew to you, Mr President, the assurance of my highest consideration.
From the Vatican, 3 November 2010
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Pontiff's Address to Salvadorian Envoy
"Peace Is the Yearning of Every Person"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience El Salvador's new ambassador to the Holy See, Manuel Roberto López Barrera.
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1. With great pleasure I welcome you to this solemn ceremony of presentation of the letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of El Salvador to the Holy See, and I thank you for the cordial sentiments you expressed on the part of the government and of the beloved Salvadorian people. I am pleased to correspond to this delicate attention and I beg you to please convey my deferent greeting to the president of the Republic, Mauricio Funes Cartagena, assuring him that the Apostolic See will contribute to support the path of dialogue and peaceful coexistence undertaken by the authorities of your country, so that every Salvadorian may consider his homeland's soil a genuine home that welcomes him and offers him the possibility of living in it with serenity. In this way, the strengthening of internal agreement will enhance the good of the nation and contribute to its having an important place in the whole of Central America, where it is important that there are voices that invite to mutual understanding and generous cooperation, for the sake of just progress and the stability of the international community.
2. With the permanent dedication of Your Excellency to the mission you begin today, the authorities of your homeland have wished to exalt the diplomatic representation of El Salvador to the Holy See, in agreement with the majority feeling of your fellow citizens, who profess profound veneration and filial devotion to the Successor of St. Peter. The personal gifts that adorn Your Excellency, your faith, as well as your vast experience in several fields of teaching, public administration and social life, are the best guarantee in your endeavor to reinforce the fruitful and fluid relations that your country has had with the Holy See for a long time.
3. These close ties that unite the faithful Salvadorian people to the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles manifest a most noble tradition and it is impossible to separate them from the history and customs of that blessed land, since the days in which the sons of St. Dominic and St. Francis arrived there. The Catholic faith fell into a fertile furrow and inspired, from the name itself of that Central American nation to a never ending number of famous artistic monuments, shaping also the fecund health, educational and charity initiatives, as well as the innumerable personal, family and social virtues that the Christian condition bears with it. That patrimony of values fermented with the evangelical leaven is a heritage that Salvadorians have received as a mark of honor, a flow of wisdom that they must nourish to consolidate the present correctly and in order, and from which sufficient moral energies can be extracted in view of projecting a luminous future.
4. The Church in El Salvador, from her specific competence, with independence and liberty, tries to serve the protection of the common good in all its dimensions and to foment those conditions that will enable men and women to develop their persons integrally, permeating, to do so, the social context with the light that issues from her renewing vocation in the midst of the world. Evangelizing and giving witness of the love of God and of all men without any exceptions, she becomes an effective element for the eradication of poverty and a vigorous incentive in the struggle against violence, impunity and drug trafficking, which is causing so much ruin, especially among young people. On contributing in the measure of her possibilities to the care of the sick and the elderly, or to the reconstruction of areas devastated by natural disasters, she wishes to follow the example of her Divine Founder, who does not allow her to remain aloof from the aspirations and dynamisms of the human being, or to look on with indifference when such primordial exigencies as the equitable distribution of wealth, honesty in carrying out public functions or the independence of the courts of justice are weakened. Nor does the ecclesial community fail to looks for answers when many are lacking suitable housing or do not have a job that enables them to fulfill themselves and maintain their families, being obliged to emigrate from the homeland.
In the same way, it would be strange if Christ's disciples were neutral in the presence of aggressive sects, which appear as an easy and comfortable religious answer, but which, in reality, undermine the culture and habits that, for centuries, have conformed Salvadorian identity, clouding also the beauty of the evangelical message and splitting the unity of the faithful around their pastors. Instead, the maternal work of the Church in her constant determination to defend the inviolable dignity of human life from its conception until its natural end -- as proclaimed also by the country's Constitution -- the value of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, creates a climate where the true religious spirit is fused with the boldness to reach ever higher targets of well-being and progress, opening the nation to an expanded horizon of hopes.
5. It is consoling to see the effort of your country in the construction of an ever more harmonious and solidaristic society, advancing on the clear path of those Agreements that were signed in 1992, and which put an end to the long internal struggle that El Salvador went through, land of abundant natural riches that speak eloquently of God and that must be conserved and protected earnestly to bequeath them in all their luxuriance to the new generations.
The Salvadorian people, of sacrificial and industrious spirit, will find great joy if the peace process is seen confirmed daily and decisions tending to favor the citizenry's security are implemented. In this respect, I pray to the Almighty with fervent confidence that your fellow countrymen will be given the help that is necessary to give up definitively everything that provokes confrontations, replacing enmities with mutual understanding and the safeguarding of their persons and possessions. To achieve these goods, it is necessary that they be convinced that violence achieves nothing and everything worsens, as it is a dead end, a detestable and inadmissible evil, a fascination that fools the person and fills him with indignity. Peace, on the contrary, is the yearning of every person. As gift of the Divine Savior, it is also a task to which all must cooperate without hesitation, finding in the state a firm protector through pertinent juridical, economic and social dispositions, as well as adequate police and security forces and corps, which protect in the framework of legality the well-being of the population. In this path of overcoming obstacles they will always find the outstretched hand of the children of the Church, whom I earnestly exhort, so that, with their witness of disciples and missionaries of Christ, they identify with him more every day and they pray that he make of every Salvadorian an architect of reconciliation.
6. To Our Lady of Peace, heavenly Patroness of El Salvador, I entrust the concerns and challenges of a personal, family and public order of your compatriots. May she also assist and protect you, Mr. Ambassador, in the significant responsibility that you now begin and in which you will always have the diligent solicitude of my collaborators. While invoking her maternal protection on Your Excellency, your egregious family and the staff of the diplomatic mission, I implore copious blessings from the Almighty for the Republic of El Salvador.
Pope's Address to Ambassador From Colombia
"Look With Serenity and Hope to the Approaching Future"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Colombia's new ambassador to the Holy See, César Mauricio Velásquez Ossa.
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1. On presenting the letters of credence which accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Colombia to the Holy See, it gives me profound pleasure to give you my cordial welcome and, reiterating the heartfelt affection I profess for the beloved children of your homeland, to wish you a fruitful service in carrying out the mission your government has entrusted to you. I am also grateful for the words you addressed to me, as well as the sentiments you expressed on behalf of the president of the republic, Doctor Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, who recently assumed the high responsibility of leading that beloved nation on the paths of progress in justice, sheltered by absolute respect for the basic rights of the person and in constant progress toward ever more noble and lofty aims, both human as well as spiritual. I beg you to give him my best wishes for peace and well being, as well as the assurance of my prayer for the fruitful exercise of such important work.
2. Your Excellency's presence and kind words bring me again the affection and devotion of a people known for its unblemished human and Christian virtues, its deep Catholic roots that, even in the mist of arduous situations of different sorts, has been able to maintain its faith in God and its firm will to cultivate and practice the values of the Gospel, inexhaustible source of energy and inspiration to be committed to the noblest causes.
3. Mr. Ambassador, you begin your delicate assignment to the Holy See at a moment of particular importance for Colombia. In fact, taking place this year is the commemoration of the bicentenary of the start of the process that led to the independence and the Constitution of the republic. I am certain that this significant anniversary will be a singular occasion to accept the lessons that history furnishes, to intensify initiatives and measures that consolidate security, peace, harmony and the integral development of all its citizens and to look with serenity and hope to the approaching future. Of fundamental importance on this path is the agreement of all, so that the most profound yearnings and projects of the Colombian people will increasingly build a happy and promising reality.
4. Not only during these two centuries, but also since the dawn of the arrival of the Spanish in America, the Catholic Church has been present in each of the stages of the historical evolution of your country, always carrying out a primordial and decisive role. In fact, the abnegated work of so many bishops, presbyters, religious and laity has left indelible imprints in the most varied ambits in the molding of your homeland, such as culture, art, health, social coexistence and the building of peace. It is a spiritual patrimony that has germinated in the course of the years and in all corners of Colombia in innumerable and fruitful human, spiritual and material realizations. These efforts, not exempt from sacrifices and adversities cannot be ignored. It is worthwhile to safeguard them as valuable heritage and to develop them as a beneficial proposal for the whole nation. To this effect, and faithful to the task received from the Lord, the Church will continue, in the context of the bicentenary, to give the best of herself to the Colombian people, being solidaristic in her aspiration to improve and help all from the mission proper to her. In this connection, in the message I addressed on June 30, 2008, to the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation, I had the opportunity to urge the bishops so that, with farsightedness and paying heed to the eloquent testimony of apostolic zeal of the pastors who preceded them, they continue "responding with solicitous dedication, firm faith and renewed ardor to the challenges that are presented to the Church in your homeland," serving "all with enthusiasm, especially the least favored, taking to them a message of peace, justice and reconciliation."
In this exciting task, the Church in Colombia does not ask for any privilege. She only wishes to be able to serve the faithful and all those who open to her the door of their heart, with an outstretched hand, always willing to strengthen everything that promotes the education of the new generations, care of the sick and the elderly, respect for the indigenous populations and their legitimate traditions, the eradication of poverty, drug-trafficking and corruption, care of prisoners, the displaced, emigrants and laborers, as well as care of needy families. In short, it is about continuing to offer loyal collaboration for the integral growth of the communities in which pastors, religious and faithful carry our their service, moved only by the needs that spring from their priestly ordination, their religious congregation or their Christian vocation.
5. In this framework of mutual cooperation and cordial relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, which this year celebrates its 165th anniversary, I wish to manifest again the concern the Church has in protecting and fomenting the inviolable dignity of the human person, for whom it is essential that the juridical ordering respect the natural law in essential areas such as the safeguarding of human life, from conception until its natural end; the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman and the right of parents to have their children receive an education in keeping with their own moral criteria or beliefs. All of them are irreplaceable pillars in the construction of a society truly worthy of man and of the values that are inseparable to him.
6. In this solemn meeting with Your Excellency, I also wish to manifest my spiritual closeness and assure my prayer for those in Colombia who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived on their liberty. I also pray for their families and, in general, for the victims of violence in all its forms, begging God to put an end to so much suffering, and that all Colombians may be able to live reconciled and in peace in that blessed land, so filled with natural resources, beautiful valleys and soaring mountains, with large rivers and picturesque landscapes, which it is necessary to preserve as a magnificent gift of God.
7. Mr. Ambassador, on concluding my words, I reiterate my best wishes for the mission you undertake today, in which you will find continually the hospitality and support of my collaborators. While invoking the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Chiquinquira on Your Excellency and the members of that Diplomatic Mission, on the government and the beloved Colombian people, I pray to the Almighty that your homeland will be at the forefront in service of the common good and fraternity between all men, and that it will encourage Colombians to walk without hesitation on the paths of mutual understanding and solidarity.
Pope's Address to Council of Europe Delegation
"Defend the Inviolable Dignity of the Human Person"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here the address
Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience in a side chamber of Paul VI
Hall members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
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Dear members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,
I am very grateful to the Honourable Mr Çavus,og(lu for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of the Bureau and I extend to all of you a cordial welcome. I am happy to receive you on the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights which, as is well known, commits Member States of the Council of Europe to promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person.
I know that the Parliamentary Assembly has on its agenda important topics that deal above all with persons who live in particularly difficult situations or are subjected to grave violations of their dignity. I have in mind people afflicted with handicaps, children who suffer violence, immigrants, refugees, those who pay the most for the present economic and financial crisis, those who are victims of extremism or of new forms of slavery such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and prostitution. Your work also is concerned with victims of warfare and with people who live in fragile democracies. I have also been informed of your efforts to defend religious freedom and to oppose violence and intolerance against believers in Europe and worldwide.
Keeping in mind the context of today’s society in which different peoples and cultures come together, it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility.
On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties. If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgments, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe, and for your own task within that prestigious institution? How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all Members States of the Council of Europe? These values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favors this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity.
I am convinced that these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage -- rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman -- and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents to each one of you.
Dear friends, I know that you also wish to reach out to those who suffer. This gives me joy and I encourage you to fulfill your sensitive and important mission with moderation, wisdom and courage at the service of the common good of Europe. I thank you for coming and I assure you of my prayers. May God bless you!
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Holy Father's Address to Iraqi
"The Fundamental Rights of All Should Be Recognized, Protected and Promoted"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the Letters of Credence from the new ambassador from Iraq, Habbeb Mohammed Hadi Ali Al-Sadr.
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I am pleased to welcome you at the start of your mission and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words, and I ask you to convey to President Jalal Talabani my respectful greetings and the assurance of my prayers for the peace and well-being of all the citizens of your country.
On 7 March 2010, the people of Iraq gave a clear sign to the world that they wish to see an end to violence and that they have chosen the path of democracy, through which they aspire to live in harmony with one another within a just, pluralist and inclusive society. Despite attempts at intimidation on the part of those who do not share this vision, the people showed great courage and determination by presenting themselves at the polling stations in large numbers. It is to be hoped that the formation of a new Government will now proceed swiftly so that the will of the people for a more stable and unified Iraq may be accomplished. Those who have been elected to political office will need to show great courage and determination themselves, in order to fulfil the high expectations that have been placed in them. You may be assured that the Holy See, which has always valued its excellent diplomatic relations with your country, will continue to provide whatever assistance it can, so that Iraq may assume its rightful place as a leading nation in the region with much to contribute to the international community.
The new Government will need to give priority to measures designed to improve security for all sectors of the population, particularly the various minorities. You have spoken of the difficulties faced by Christians and I note your comments about the steps taken by the Government to afford them greater protection. The Holy See naturally shares the concern you have expressed that Iraqi Christians should remain in their ancestral homeland, and that those who have felt constrained to emigrate will soon consider it safe to return. Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have been present in the land of Abraham, a land which is part of the common patrimony of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is greatly to be hoped that Iraqi society in the future will be marked by peaceful coexistence, as is in keeping with the aspirations of those who are rooted in the faith of Abraham. Although Christians form a small minority of Iraq’s population, they have a valuable contribution to make to its reconstruction and economic recovery through their educational and healthcare apostolates, while their engagement in humanitarian projects provides much-needed assistance in building up society. If they are to play their full part, however, Iraqi Christians need to know that it is safe for them to remain in or return to their homes, and they need assurances that their properties will be restored to them and their rights upheld.
Recent years have seen many tragic acts of violence committed against innocent members of the population, both Muslim and Christian, acts which as you have pointed out are contrary to the teachings of Islam as well as those of Christianity. This shared suffering can provide a deep bond, strengthening the determination of Muslims and Christians alike to work for peace and reconciliation. History has shown that some of the most powerful incentives to overcome division come from the example of those men and women who, having chosen the courageous path of non-violent witness to higher values, have lost their lives through cowardly acts of violence. Long after the present troubles have receded into the past, the names of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, Father Ragheed Ganni and many more will live on as shining examples of the love that led them to lay down their lives for others. May their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many others like them, strengthen within the Iraqi people the moral determination that is necessary if political structures for greater justice and stability are to achieve their intended effect.
You have spoken of your Government’s commitment to respect human rights. Indeed, it is of the utmost importance for any healthy society that the human dignity of each of its citizens be respected both in law and in practice, in other words that the fundamental rights of all should be recognized, protected and promoted. Only thus can the common good be truly served, that is to say those social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to flourish, to attain their full stature, and to contribute to the good of others (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 164-170). Among the rights that must be fully respected if the common good is to be effectively promoted, the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of worship are paramount, since it is they that enable citizens to live in conformity with their transcendent dignity as persons made in the image of their divine Creator. I therefore hope and pray that these rights will not only be enshrined in legislation, but will come to permeate the very fabric of society – all Iraqis have a part to play in building a just, moral and peaceable environment.
You begin your term of office, Mr Ambassador, in the months leading up to a particular initiative of the Holy See for the support of the local Churches throughout the region, namely the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. This will provide a welcome opportunity to explore the role and the witness of Christians in the lands of the Bible, and will also give an impetus to the important task of inter-religious dialogue, which has so much to contribute to the goal of peaceful coexistence in mutual respect and esteem among the followers of different religions. It is my earnest hope that Iraq will emerge from the difficult experiences of the past decade as a model of tolerance and cooperation among Muslims, Christians and others in the service of those most in need.
Your Excellency, I pray that the diplomatic mission that you begin today will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between the Holy See and your country. I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are always ready to offer help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. With my sincere good wishes, I invoke upon you, your family, and all the people of the Republic of Iraq, abundant divine blessings.
Statement at Conclusion of
"The Two Sides Noted Encouraging Developments"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is the statement released Saturday by the Vatican press office at the conclusion of the two-day meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Join Working Group, held last Wednesday and Thursday at the Vatican.
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As agreed upon at the First of Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group in Hanoi in February 2009, the Second meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group took place in the Vatican from 23-24 June 2010 co-chaired by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, Head of the Holy See Delegation and Mr. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of the Vietnamese Delegation.
After reviewing the progress made since the first Joint Working Group meeting, the two sides discussed international issues and those related to bilateral relations and to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam. The Vietnamese side recalled its consistent policy of respect for freedoms of religion and belief as well as the legal provisions to guarantee its implementation. The Delegation of the Holy See took note of this explanation and asked that further conditions be established so that the Church may participate effectively in the development of the country, especially in the spiritual, educational, healthcare, social and charitable fields. The Delegation of the Holy See also mentioned that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens and therefore to work for the common good of the population.
The two sides noted encouraging developments in various areas of Catholic life in Vietnam, especially in relation to the Jubilee Year. Furthermore they recalled the address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during the last Ad Limina visit of the Vietnamese Bishops and the Holy Father’s Message to the Catholic Church in Vietnam on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, and agreed that these teachings of the Holy Father would serve as an orientation for the Catholic Church in Vietnam in the years ahead.
On bilateral relations the two sides appreciated the positive developments since the first meeting of the Joint Working Group, especially the meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet in December 2009. The two sides also had in-depth and comprehensive discussions on bilateral diplomatic relations. In order to deepen the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as the bonds between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, it was agreed that, as a first step, a non-resident Representative of the Holy See for Vietnam will be appointed by the Pope.
The two sides decided to hold the third meeting of the Joint Working Group in Vietnam; the time of the meeting will be settled through diplomatic channels.
On the occasion of the meeting, the Vietnamese Delegation paid a courtesy call to H.E. Archbishop Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and to the Vicariate of the Diocese of Rome. The Delegation also visited the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù of the Holy See in Rome.
Papal Addresses on Feast of Sts.
Cyril and Methodius
"Celestial Patrons of ... the Whole of Europe"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here are the addresses Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in separate audiences delegations from Bulgaria and Macedonia, present in Rome for the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius.
The Bulgarian delegation was led by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, and the Macedonian delegation by the president of the Parliament, Trjako Veljanoski.
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[To the delegation from Bulgaria]
Mr. Prime Minister,
Honorable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerated Brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church,
I am happy to be able to give each one of you a cordial welcome, honorable members of the official delegation, who have come to Rome in happy celebration of the liturgical memorial of Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Your presence, which attests to the Christian roots of the Bulgarian people, offers the propitious occasion to confirm my esteem for this dear nation and enables us to reinforce our friendship, enhanced by the devotion to the two brother saints of Thessalonica.
Through an untiring endeavor of evangelization, carried out with true apostolic ardor, Sts. Cyril and Methodius providentially rooted Christianity in the spirit of the Bulgarian people, so that it is anchored in those evangelical values that always reinforce the identity and enrich the culture of a nation. The Gospel, in fact, does not weaken what is authentic in the various cultural traditions; on the contrary, precisely because faith in Jesus shows us the splendor of truth, the latter gives man the ability to recognize the true good and helps him to realize it in his own life and in the social context. Because of this, with reason one can hold that Sts. Cyril and Methodius contributed significantly in molding the humanity and spiritual physiognomy of the Bulgarian people, inserting it in the common Christian cultural tradition.
In the path of full integration with the other European nations, Bulgaria is called, therefore, to promote and give witness to these Christian roots that derive from the teachings of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, today more timely and necessary than ever; she is called, therefore, to remain faithful and to protect the precious patrimony that unites between them, both Orthodox as well as Catholics, all those who profess the same faith of the Apostles and are united by the common baptism. As Christians, we have the duty to preserve and reinforce the intrinsic bond that exists between the Gospel and our respective cultural identities; as disciples of the Lord, in mutual respect of the different ecclesial traditions, we are called to give common testimony of our faith in Jesus, in whose name we obtain salvation.
It is my heartfelt hope that this meeting might be for all of you here present and for the ecclesial and civil realities that you represent, motive of ever more intense fraternal and solidaristic relations. With these sentiments, I encourage the Bulgarian people to persevere in the objective to build a society founded on justice and peace; to this end I assure you of my prayer and spiritual closeness. I renew to you, Mr. Prime Minister, and to each one of you, my blessed greeting, with which I wish to reach all the citizens of your beloved country.
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[To the delegation from Macedonia]
Mr. President of the Parliament,
Honorable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerated Brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church,
I am happy to welcome you and to express to the Lord, giver of all graces, the joy and gratitude for this moment that sees you united on invoking him through the intercession of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, celestial patrons of your people and of the whole of Europe, in the annual pilgrimage you make to Rome to venerate the relics of Saint Cyril.
My beloved predecessor, the Venerable John Paul II, in the encyclical "Slavorum Apostoli," wished to remind everyone that, thanks to the teaching and the fruits of Vatican Council II, we can look today in a new way at the work of the two holy Brothers of Thessalonica, "now separated from us by eleven centuries. And we can read in their lives and apostolic activity the elements that the wisdom of divine Providence placed in them, so that they might be revealed with fresh fullness in our own age and might bear new fruits" (No. 3).
Truly abundant were, in their time, the fruits of the evangelization of Cyril and Methodius. They knew sufferings, privations and hostilities, but endured everything with unbreakable faith and invincible hope in God. With this strength they consumed themselves for the peoples entrusted to them, protecting the texts of Scripture, indispensable in the celebration of the sacred liturgy, translated by them into the paleo-Slavic language, written in a new alphabet and successively approved by the authority of the Church. In trials and in joys, they always felt accompanied by God and daily experienced his love and that of the brothers. We also understand increasingly that when we feel loved by the Lord and are able to correspond to this love, we are enveloped and guided by his grace in every activity and action of ours. According to the effusion of the many gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more we are able to love and give ourselves to others, the more the Spirit can come to the aid of our weakness, pointing out to us new ways for our action.
According to tradition, Methodius remained faithful to the end to the words that his brother Cyril said to him before dying: "Behold, my brother, we have shared the same destiny, ploughing the same furrow; I now fall in the field at the end of my day. [...] Do not [...] give up your work of teaching" (Iibid., No. 6). Dear brothers and sisters, let us put our hand to the plough and continue to work on the same furrow that God in his providence indicated to Sts. Cyril and Methodius. May the Lord bless your work at the service of the common good and of your whole nation, and infuse abundantly in her the gifts of the Spirit of unity and peace.
Pope's Words to Mongolia's Envoy
"Religion and Culture ... Naturally Serve as Incentives for Dialogue and Cooperation"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Mongolia's new ambassador to the Holy See, Luvsantseren Orgil.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Holy See. I am most grateful for the greetings which you have brought from President Tsakhia Elbegdorj, and I ask you to convey to him my own prayerful good wishes for him and for all your fellow-citizens. As your nation celebrates the twentieth anniversary of its passage to democracy, I express my confidence that the great progress made in these years will continue to bear fruit in the consolidation of a social order which promotes the common good of your citizens, while furthering their legitimate aspirations for the future.
I also take this occasion, Mr Ambassador, to express my solidarity and concern for the many individuals and families who suffered as a result of the harsh winter and the effects of last year’s torrential rains and flooding. As you have rightly observed, environmental issues, particularly those related to climate change, are global issues and need to be addressed on a global level.
As Your Excellency has noted, the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mongolia and the Holy See, which took place after the great social and political changes of two decades ago, are a sign of your nation’s commitment to an enriching interchange within the wider international community. Religion and culture, as interrelated expressions of the deepest spiritual aspirations of our common humanity, naturally serve as incentives for dialogue and cooperation between peoples in the service of peace and genuine development. Authentic human development, in effect, needs to take into consideration every dimension of the person, and thus aspire to those higher goods which respect man’s spiritual nature and ultimate destiny (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 11). For this reason, I wish to express my appreciation for the constant support of the Government in ensuring religious liberty. The establishment of a commission, charged with the fair application of law and with protecting the rights of conscience and free exercise of religion, stands as a recognition of the importance of religious groups within the social fabric and their potential for promoting a future of harmony and prosperity.
Mr Ambassador, I take this occasion to assure you of the desire of Mongolia’s Catholic citizens to contribute to the common good by sharing fully in the life of the nation. The Church’s primary mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fidelity to the liberating message of the Gospel, she seeks also to contribute to the advancement of the entire community. It is this that inspires the efforts of the Catholic community to cooperate with the Government and with people of good will by working to overcome all kinds of social problems. The Church is also concerned to play her proper part in the work of intellectual and human formation, above all by educating the young in the values of respect, solidarity and concern for the less fortunate. In this way, she strives to serve her Lord by showing charitable concern for the needy and for the good of the whole human family.
Mr Ambassador, I offer you my prayerful good wishes for your mission, and I assure you of the readiness of the offices of the Holy See to assist you in the fulfillment of your high responsibilities. I am confident that your representation will help to strengthen the good relations existing between the Holy See and Mongolia. Upon you and your family, and upon all the people of your nation, I cordially invoke abundant divine blessings.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to UAE Ambassador
"Faith in the Almighty Cannot But Lead to Love for One’s Neighbor"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Hissa Abdulla Ahmed Al-Otaiba, the first ambassador from the United Arab Emirates to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United Arab Emirates. On this notable occasion, I would ask you to convey my greetings to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahayan. Kindly assure him of my gratitude for the good wishes which you have just expressed on his behalf, and of my prayers for his well-being and that of all the people of the Emirates.
As diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the United Arab Emirates have only recently been established, your presence here today as your country’s first Ambassador to the Holy See is a particularly auspicious event. During a joint ceremony with other Ambassadors on 15 April 2008, the President of the United Arab Emirates noted that the Papal Representative "exercises a particular mission, which is above all for the preservation of faith in God and the promotion of intercultural and interreligious dialogue." Faith in the Almighty cannot but lead to love for one’s neighbor for, as I wrote recently, "love – caritas – is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace" (Caritas in Veritate, 1).
Love of God and respect for the dignity of one’s neighbour motivates the Holy See’s diplomacy and shapes the Catholic Church’s mission of service to the international community. The Church’s action in the field of diplomatic relations promotes peace, human rights and integral development, and thus strives for the authentic progress of all, without regard for race, colour or creed. Indeed, it is towards men and women, understood as unique in their God-given nature, that all politics, culture, technology and development are directed. To reduce the aims of these human endeavours merely to profit or expediency would be to risk missing the centrality of the human person in his or her integrity as the primary good to be safeguarded and valued, for man is the source, the focus and the aim of all economic and social life (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 25). Thus, the Holy See and the Catholic Church take care to highlight the dignity of man in order to maintain a clear and authentic vision of humanity on the international stage and in order to muster new energy in the service of what is best for the development of peoples and nations.
Your Excellency, the United Arab Emirates, notwithstanding difficulties, have experienced notable economic growth in recent years. In this context, your country has welcomed many hundreds of thousands of foreigners coming to seek work and a more secure financial future for themselves and for their families. They enrich the State not only by their labour but by their very presence, which is an opportunity for a fruitful and positive encounter between the world’s great religions, cultures and peoples. The openness of the United Arab Emirates towards those foreign workers requires constant efforts to strengthen the conditions necessary for peaceful coexistence and social progress, and is to be commended. I would like to note here with satisfaction that there are several Catholic churches built on lands donated by the public authorities. It is the Holy See’s earnest wish that this cooperation may continue and indeed flourish, according to the growing pastoral necessities of the Catholic population living there. Freedom of worship contributes significantly to the common good and brings social harmony to all those societies where it is practised. I assure you of the desire of the Catholic Christians present in your country to contribute to the well-being of your society, to live God-fearing lives and to respect the dignity of all peoples and religions.
Madam Ambassador, in offering you my best wishes for the success of your mission, I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are ready to provide help and support to you in the fulfilment of your duties. It is the sincere desire of the Holy See to strengthen the relations now happily established between it and the United Arab Emirates. Upon Your Excellency, your family and all the people of the Emirates, I cordially invoke abundant divine blessings.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to Belgian
"The Gospel Is a Force That There Is No Reason to Fear"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address given Saturday in an audience with the new Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, Charles Ghislain.
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I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of the letters that accredit you as extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See. I thank you for the words that you have addressed to me. For my part I ask you to kindly express to His Majesty Albert II, King of Belgium, whom I recently was able to greet in person, my cordial vows to his person, and also for the happiness and success of the Belgian people. Through you I also greet the government and all the officials of the kingdom.
Your country experienced at the beginning of this year the two sad tragedies of Liege and Buizingen. I would like to renew the assurances of my spiritual nearness to the families that were affected and to the victims. These catastrophes bring us to measure the fragility of human existence and grasp the necessity, in order to protect it, of authentic social cohesion that does not weaken the legitimate diversity of opinions. This is based on the conviction that human life and dignity constitute a precious good that must be defended and promoted with decision, founding itself upon natural law. For quite some time the Church has inscribed itself fully in the history and the social fabric of your nation. It desires to continue to be a factor in the harmonious coexistence among all. It contributes to this in a very active way, especially through its numerous educational institutions, its work of a social character and the voluntary efforts of so many faithful. The Church is happy therefore to place itself at the service of all the components of Belgian society.
Nevertheless, it does not find it unnecessary to stress that it has, as an institution, the right to express itself publicly. It shares this right with all individuals and institutions, with the scope of speaking its mind on questions of common interest. The Church respects the right of everyone to think differently from it; it would like that its right to expression also be respected. The Church is a depository of a teaching, of a religious message that it received from Jesus Christ. It can be summarized with the following words from Sacred Scripture: "God is love" (1 John 4:16) and throws its light upon the meaning of the personal, familial and social life of man. The Church, having the common good as its objective, asks nothing other than the freedom to be able to propose this message, without imposing it on anyone, in respect for freedom of conscience.
It was in nourishing himself with this ecclesial teaching in a radical way that Joseph de Veuster became he who is now called "St. Damien." The exceptional destiny of this man shows to what point the Gospel awakens an ethics that is a friend to the person, above all if he is in need or marginalized. The canonization of this priest and the universal fame that he enjoys is a legitimate reason for pride among the Belgian people. This attractive personage is not the fruit of a solitary journey. It is well to recall the religious roots that nourished his education and formation as well as the teachers who awakened that admirable generosity in him. It led him to share the marginalized life of the lepers, to the point of exposing himself to the illness from which they suffer. In the light of similar witnesses everyone can understand that the Gospel is a force that there is no reason to fear. I am convinced that despite the sociological developments, the Christian "humus" is still rich in your land. It can generously nourish the commitment of a growing number of volunteers who, inspired by evangelical principles of fraternity and solidarity, accompany persons who experience difficulties and who, for this reason, need to be helped.
Your country, which already hosts the headquarters of international community institutions, has seen its European vocation once again reaffirmed by the choice of one of your countrymen as president of the European Council. Certainly these successive choices are not only linked to the geographical position of your country and its multilingual capacities. A member of the original nucleus of founding countries, your nation committed itself and distinguished itself in seeking a consensus in very complex situations. This quality must be encouraged at the moment to face, for the good of all, the challenges internal to your country.
Today I would like to underscore that the art of consensus, if it is to bear lasting fruit, must not be reduced to a purely dialectical ability but must seek the true and the good. Because "[w]ithout truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present" ("Caritas in Veritate," no. 5).
Profiting from our meeting, I would like to warmly greet the bishops of Belgium, whom I will have the pleasure of receiving very soon on the occasion of their ad limina Apostolorum visit. My thoughts turn especially to His Excellency Archbishop Léonard, who, with enthusiasm and generosity, has just begun his new mission as archbishop of Malines-Brussels. I would also like to greet the priests of your country as well as the deacons and all the faithful who make up the Catholic community of Belgium. I invite them to bear witness to their faith with audacity. In their roles in society may they assert fully their right to propose values that respect human nature and correspond to the deepest and most authentic spiritual aspirations of the person!
In the moment in which you officially assume your functions at the Holy See, I offer my best wishes for a happy carrying out of your mission. You can be certain, Mr. Ambassador, that you will always find a cordial attention and understanding among my coworkers. Invoking the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St. Damien, I pray to the Lord to pour out his generous blessings upon you, upon your family and your coworkers, and also upon the Belgian people and their leaders.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to Macedonian Envoy
"Your Country Is Proud of a Long and Luminous Christian Tradition"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today as he greeted Macedonia's new ambassador to the Holy See, Gioko Gjorgjevski.
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I am happy to receive Your Excellency for the presentation of your Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Holy See. I am grateful for the cordial expressions you addressed to me, also on behalf of the authorities and of the noble Nation that you represent. I ask you to convey to them the expression of my esteem and benevolence, united to the certainty of my prayer for concord and the harmonious development of the whole country.
On receiving you, my thought goes to the annual meeting between the Successor of Peter and an authoritative official delegation from your country, which is held on the occasion of the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, venerated spiritual guides of the Slav peoples and co-patrons of Europe. This meeting, which has become a pleasant custom, attests to the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They are bilateral relations, which have developed, especially in the last year, in a positive way, and which are characterized by cordial cooperation. In regard to this, I wish to manifest my pleasure over the mutual commitment manifested in the recent construction of new buildings of Catholic worship in several places of the country.
As you have underlined, visible in the Macedonian people are the signs of human and Christian values, embodied in the life of the people, which constitute the cherished spiritual and cultural patrimony of the nation, of which are also eloquent the wonderful religious monuments, which arose in different periods and localities, notably in the city of Ohrid. To this precious heritage, the Holy See looks with great esteem and consideration, favoring, in what is of her competence, its historical-documentary deepening, for a greater knowledge of its religious and cultural past. Beginning from this patrimony, the citizens of your country will continue building also in the future their own history and, strong in their spiritual identity, will be able to contribute their experience to the concert of European nations. Because of this, I very much hope that the aspirations and growing efforts of this country to form part of a united Europe will come to a good end, in a condition of acceptance of the relative rights and duties and in the mutual respect of collective agencies and of the traditional values of each nation.
Mr. Ambassador, in the words you pronounced on the commitment of the Macedonian people to increasingly favor dialogue and coexistence between the different ethnic and religious realities that constitute the country, I have perceived that universal aspiration to justice and internal cohesion which has always animated it, and which can become an example for other regions of the Balkans. In fact, the bridges of exchange of more ample agreements and close religious relations between the different components of Macedonian society have favored the creation of a climate in which persons recognize themselves brothers, children of the same God and citizens of one country. It is certainly the task, in the first place of those in charge of institutions, to find ways of translating into political initiatives the aspirations of men and women to dialogue and peace. Believers, nevertheless, know that peace is not only the fruit of planning and human activities, but that first of all it is a gift of God to men of good will. Of this peace, moreover, justice and forgiveness are the basic pillars. Justice ensures full respect of the rights and duties and forgiveness heals and rebuilds from the foundations relations between persons, who still resent the consequences of the confrontation between ideologies of the recent past.
Having surmounted the stage of the last World War, after the sad experience of a totalitarianism that denied the fundamental rights of the human person, the Macedonian people have pointed themselves to a harmonious economic progress, giving proof of patience, willingness to sacrifice and persevering optimism, tenaciously directed to the creation of a better future for all its inhabitants. A stable social and economic development cannot but keep in mind the cultural, social and spiritual needs of the people, as it must also appreciate the most noble traditions and popular resources. All this in the awareness of the growing phenomenon of globalization, which entails, on one hand, a certain leveling of social and economic differences, could, on the other, aggravate the balance between those who take advantage of ever greater possibilities of wealth and those, instead, who are left on the margins of progress.
Mr. Ambassador, your country is proud of a long and luminous Christian tradition, which dates back to Apostolic times. I hope that in a global context of moral relativism and of little interest in the religious experience, in which a part of European society often moves, the citizens of the noble nation that you represent will be able to make a wise discernment by opening themselves to the new horizons of authentic civilization and true humanism. To do this, it is necessary to keep alive and firm, at the personal and community level, those principles that are also at the base of this nation's civilization: attachment to the family, the defense of human life, the promotion of religious needs, especially of the young. Although the Catholic Church in your nation constitutes a minority, it wishes to make a sincere contribution in the building of a more just and solidaristic society, based on the Christian values that have fertilized the consciences of its inhabitants. I am certain that the Catholic community, in the awareness that charity in truth "is the principal driving force for the true development of every person and of the whole of humanity" (Caritas in Veritate, n. 1) will continue its charitable mission, especially in favor of the poor and the suffering, so appreciated in your country.
Excellency, I am sure that you also, in the fulfillment of the lofty task entrusted to you, will contribute to intensify the already good existing relations between the Holy See and the Macedonian nation, and I assure you that you can count, to this end, on the full availability of all my collaborators of the Roman Curia. With these fervent desires, I invoke upon you, Mr. Ambassador, upon your family, upon those governing and upon all the inhabitants of the nation that you represent, an abundant divine Blessing.
Pope's Address to World Food
"Win the Battle Against Hunger and Malnutrition"
ROME, NOV. 16, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon visiting the Rome headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on the occasion of the World Summit on Food Security, being held there through Wednesday.
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Ladies and Gentlemen!
1. I was very pleased to receive an invitation from Mr Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO, to speak at the opening session of this World Summit on Food Security. I greet him warmly and I thank him for his kind words of welcome. I greet the distinguished authorities present and all the participants. Echoing the sentiments of my venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, I should like once more to express my esteem for the work of FAO, which the Catholic Church and the Holy See follow attentively, taking a keen interest in the day-to-day work that is carried out there. Thanks to your generous engagement, aptly expressed in your motto Fiat Panis, the development of agriculture and food security remain among the key priorities of international political action. I am confident that this same spirit will inform the decisions taken at the present Summit, and those that will follow later, in the common desire to win the battle against hunger and malnutrition in the world as quickly as possible.
2. The international community is currently facing a grave economic and financial crisis. Statistics bear witness to the dramatic growth in the number of people suffering from hunger, made worse by the rise in price of foodstuffs, the reduction in economic resources available to the poorest peoples, and their limited access to markets and to food – notwithstanding the known fact that the world has enough food for all its inhabitants. Indeed, while low levels of agricultural production persist in some regions, partly owing to climate change, sufficient food is produced on a global scale to satisfy both current demands and those in the foreseeable future. From these data we may deduce that there is no cause-and-effect relationship between population growth and hunger, and this is further demonstrated by the lamentable destruction of foodstuffs for economic gain. In the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate I pointed out that, "Hunger is not so much dependent on lack of material things as on shortage of social resources, the most important of which are institutional. What is missing, in other words, is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water … and also capable of addressing the primary needs and necessities ensuing from genuine food crises …" I added, "The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed within a long-term perspective, eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries. This can be done by investing in rural infrastructures, irrigation systems, transport, organization of markets, and in the development and dissemination of agricultural technology that can make the best use of the human, natural and socio-economic resources that are more readily available at the local level, while guaranteeing their sustainability over the long term as well" (no. 27). Hence the need to oppose those forms of aid that do grave damage to the agricultural sector, those approaches to food production that are geared solely towards consumption and lack a wider perspective, and especially greed, which causes speculation to rear its head even in the marketing of cereals, as if food were to be treated just like any other commodity.
3. The weakness of current mechanisms for food security and the need to re-examine them are confirmed, one might say, by the mere fact that this Summit has been convoked. Even though the poorest countries are more fully integrated into the world economy than in the past, movements in international markets make them more vulnerable and force them to seek the aid of intergovernmental institutions, which no doubt do valuable and indispensable work. The concept of cooperation, though, must be consistent with the principle of subsidiarity: it is necessary to involve "local communities in choices and decisions that affect the use of agricultural land" (ibid.). This is because integral human development requires responsible choices on the part of everyone and it demands an attitude of solidarity – meaning that aid or disaster relief should not be seen as opportunities to promote the interests of those who make resources available or of elite groups among the beneficiaries. With regard to countries that are in need of external support, the international community has the duty to assist with the instruments of cooperation, assuming collective responsibility for their development, "through the solidarity of … presence, supervision, training and respect" (ibid., 47). Within this overall context of responsibility, every country has the right to define its own economic model, taking steps to secure its freedom to choose its own objectives. In this way, cooperation must become an effective instrument, unbeholden to interests that can absorb a not insignificant part of the resources destined for development. Moreover, it is important to emphasize that an attitude of solidarity regarding the development of poor countries also has the potential to contribute to a solution of the current global crisis. Support given to these nations through financial plans inspired by solidarity, enabling them to provide for their own requirements of consumption and development, not only favours their internal economic growth, but can have a positive impact on integral human development in other countries (cf. ibid., 27).
4. In the current situation there is a continuing disparity in the level of development within and among nations that leads to instability in many parts of the world, accentuating the contrast between poverty and wealth. This no longer applies only to models of development, but also to an increasingly widespread perception concerning food insecurity, namely the tendency to view hunger as structural, an integral part of the socio-political situation of the weakest countries, a matter of resigned regret, if not downright indifference. It is not so, and it must never be so! To fight and conquer hunger it is essential to start redefining the concepts and principles that have hitherto governed international relations, in such a way as to answer the question: what can direct the attention and the consequent conduct of States towards the needs of the poorest? The response must be sought not in the technical aspects of cooperation, but in the principles that lie behind it: only in the name of common membership of the worldwide human family can every people and therefore every country be asked to practise solidarity, that is, to shoulder the burden of concrete responsibilities in meeting the needs of others, so as to favour the genuine sharing of goods, founded on love.
5. Nevertheless, while it is true that human solidarity inspired by love goes beyond justice – because to love is to give, to offer what is "mine" to the other – it is never without justice, which leads us to give the other what is "his", what belongs to him by virtue of his being and acting. Indeed, I cannot "give" the other what is "mine", without first giving him what belongs to him in justice (cf. ibid., 6). If the aim is to eliminate hunger, international action is needed not only to promote balanced and sustainable economic growth and political stability, but also to seek out new parameters – primarily ethical but also juridical and economic ones – capable of inspiring the degree of cooperation required to build a relationship of parity between countries at different stages of development. This, as well as closing the existing gap, could favour the capacity of each people to consider itself an active player, thereby confirming that the fundamental equality of all peoples is rooted in the common origin of the human family, the source of those principles of "natural law" that should inspire political, juridical and economic choices and approaches in international life (cf. ibid., 59). Saint Paul speaks eloquently on this subject: "I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, ‘He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack’" (2 Cor 8:13-15).
6. Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to combat hunger and promote integral human development, it is necessary to understand the needs of the rural world, and likewise to ensure that any decline in donor support does not create uncertainties in the financing of activities of cooperation: any tendency towards a short-sighted view of the rural world as a thing of secondary importance must be avoided. At the same time, access to international markets must be favoured for those products coming from the poorest areas, which today are often relegated to the margins. In order to achieve these objectives, it is necessary to separate the rules of international trade from the logic of profit viewed as an end in itself, directing them towards the support of economic initiative in countries with greater need of development; once they have greater income at their disposal, these countries will be able to advance towards the self-sufficiency that leads to food security.
7. Nor must the fundamental rights of the individual be forgotten, which include, of course, the right to sufficient, healthy and nutritious food, and likewise water; these rights take on an important role in the realization of others, beginning with the primary one, the right to life. It is necessary, then, to cultivate "a public conscience that considers food and access to water as universal rights of all human beings, without distinction or discrimination" (Caritas in Veritate, 27). Much has been patiently accomplished in recent years by FAO in this regard: on the one hand it has favoured an enlargement of the objectives of this right over and above the mere guarantee of satisfying primary needs, and on the other it has emphasized the need for its adequate regulation.
8. Methods of food production likewise demand attentive analysis of the relationship between development and protection of the environment. The desire to possess and to exploit the resources of the planet in an excessive and disordered manner is the primary cause of all environmental degradation. Protection of the environment challenges the modern world to guarantee a harmonious form of development, respectful of the design of God the Creator and therefore capable of safeguarding the planet (cf. ibid., 48-51). While the entire human race is called to acknowledge its obligations to future generations, it is also true that States and international organizations have a duty to protect the environment as a shared good. In this context, the links between environmental security and the disturbing phenomenon of climate change need to be explored further, focusing on the central importance of the human person, and especially of the populations most at risk from both phenomena. Norms, legislation, development plans and investments are not enough, however: what is needed is a change in the lifestyles of individuals and communities, in habits of consumption and in perceptions of what is genuinely needed. Most of all, there is a moral duty to distinguish between good and evil in human action, so as to rediscover the bond of communion that unites the human person and creation.
9. As I pointed out in the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, it is important to remember that "the deterioration of nature is … closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits." Indeed, "the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature." And "the decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society." Therefore, "our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment and damages society" (ibid., 51).
10. Hunger is the most cruel and concrete sign of poverty. Opulence and waste are no longer acceptable when the tragedy of hunger is assuming ever greater proportions. Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Catholic Church will always be concerned for efforts to defeat hunger; the Church is committed to support, by word and deed, the action taken in solidarity – planned, responsible and regulated – to which all members of the international community are called to contribute. The Church does not wish to interfere in political decisions: she respects the knowledge gained through scientific study, and decisions arrived at through reason responsibly enlightened by authentically human values, and she supports the effort to eliminate hunger. This is the most immediate and concrete sign of solidarity inspired by charity, and it brooks neither delay nor compromise. Such solidarity relies on technology, laws and institutions to meet the aspirations of individuals, communities and entire peoples, yet it must not exclude the religious dimension, with all the spiritual energy that it brings, and its promotion of the human person. Acknowledgment of the transcendental worth of every man and every woman is still the first step towards the conversion of heart that underpins the commitment to eradicate deprivation, hunger and poverty in all their forms.
I thank you for your gracious attention and, as I conclude, I offer greetings and good wishes in the official languages of FAO, to all the Member States of the Organization:
God bless your efforts to ensure that everyone is given their daily bread.
Benedict XVI's Address to Iranian Envoy
"Faith in the One God Must Bring All Believers Closer"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2009 - Here is a
translation of Benedict XVI's address upon recieving in audience today Ali
Akbar Naseri, the new ambassador from Iran to the Holy See.
* * *
I am pleased to receive you on this day in which you present the Letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. I express my gratitude for the affable words you addressed to me, as well as for the good wishes you have transmitted on behalf of His Excellency Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of the republic. In response, I would be grateful if you would thank him and assure him of my cordial wishes for the whole nation.
Your presence here, this morning, manifests your country's interest in the development of good relations with the Holy See. As you know, Mr. Ambassador, by your presence in international entities and bilateral relations with numerous countries, the Holy See wishes to defend and promote human dignity. It also wishes to be at the service of the good of the human family, paying particular attention to the technical, moral and humanitarian aspects of relations between peoples. From this point of view, the Holy See wishes to consolidate relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to foster mutual understanding and collaboration for the common good.
Iran is a great nation that has eminent spiritual traditions and its people have a profound religious sensibility. This can be a reason for hope for a growing openness and confident collaboration with the international community. For its part, the Holy See will always be willing to work in harmony with those who serve the cause of peace and promote the dignity with which the Creator has endowed all human beings. Today we must all expect and support a new phase of international cooperation, more solidly based on humanitarian principles and on effective aid to those who suffer, than on cold calculations of exchanges and technical and economic benefits.
Faith in the one God must bring all believers closer and encourage them to work together for the defense and promotion of fundamental human values. Among the universal rights, religious liberty and freedom of conscience occupy an essential place, because they are the source of the other liberties. The defense of other rights that stem from the dignity of persons and populations, in particular the promotion of the protection of life, justice and solidarity, must also be the object of a true collaboration. Moreover, as I have often had the opportunity to underline, the establishment of cordial relations between believers of the different religions is an urgent need of our time, to build a more human world, more conformed to the plan of God on creation. Hence I celebrate the existence, for several years, of meetings organized regularly, jointly by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Organization for Islamic Culture and Relations, on topics of common interest. Contributing to seeking together what is just and correct, those meetings allow all to progress in reciprocal knowledge and to cooperate in the reflection of great questions that affect the life of humanity.
On the other hand, Catholics have been present in Iran since the first centuries of Christianity and have always been an integral part of the life and culture of the nation. This community is truly Iranian and its age-old experience of coexistence with Muslim believers is of great usefulness to promote greater understanding and cooperation. The Holy See trusts that the Iranian authorities will be able to reinforce and guarantee to Christians the liberty to profess their faith and to ensure for the Catholic community the essential conditions for its existence, especially the possibility of having sufficient religious personnel and the facilities of movement in the country to ensure the religious service of the faithful. From this perspective, I hope that a confident and sincere dialogue will develop with the country's institutions to improve the situation of the Christian communities and their activities in the context of the civil society, so that its sense of belonging to the national life will increase. For its part, the Holy See, whose nature and mission is to be interested directly in the life of the local Churches, wishes to make the necessary efforts to help the Catholic community in Iran to maintain alive the signs of the Christian presence, in a spirit of understanding and of good will with all.
Mr. Ambassador, finally I would like to take advantage of this pleasant occasion to greet affectionately the Catholic communities living in Iran, as well as their pastors. The Pope is close to all the faithful and prays for them so that maintaining with perseverance their own identity and remaining linked to their land, they may collaborate generously with all their compatriots in the development of the nation.
Excellency, at the beginning of your mission to the Holy See, I wish you every success. I can assure you that you will always find understanding and support in my collaborators for its happy fulfillment.
I invoke from my heart on your person, your family, your collaborators and on all Iranians abundant blessings of the Most High.
Papal Address to European Community Envoy
"That Europe Not Allow its Model of Civilization to Be Eroded"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2009 Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Yves Gazzo, new head of the delegation of the Commission of European Communities to the Holy See.
* * *
I am happy to receive you, Excellency, and to accredit you as Representative of the Commission of the European Communities to the Holy See. I would be grateful if you would express to Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso, who has just been re-elected as head of the commission, my cordial wishes for his person and for the mandate entrusted to him, and also for all his collaborators.
This year Europe commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I wished to honor this event in a particular way, traveling to the Czech Republic. In that land, tested by the yoke of a painful ideology, I was able to give thanks for the gift of recovered liberty, which has allowed the European Continent to find its integrity and unity again.
You, Mr. Ambassador, have described the European Union as "an area of peace and stability that brings together 27 States with the same fundamental values." It is a happy description. And yet, it is right to observe that the European Union has not gifted itself with these values, but rather it has been these shared values that made it come to birth and be the force of gravity that has attracted to the nucleus of the founding countries the different nations that subsequently have adhered to it, in the course of time.
These values are the fruit of a long and torturous history in which, no one can deny, Christianity has played a major role. The same equality of all human beings, the liberty of the act of faith as root of the other civil liberties, peace as the decisive element of the common good, of human development -- intellectual, social and economic -- in so far as divine vocation (cfr. "Caritas in Veritate," Nos. 16-19), and the meaning of history derived from it, are a few of many other central elements of Christian Revelation that continue to mold European civilization.
When the Church recalls the Christian roots of Europe, she is not seeking a privileged status for herself. She wishes to make a historical memorial reminding in the first place of a truth -- increasingly relegated to silence -- namely, to the decidedly Christian inspiration of the Founding Fathers of the European Union. At a more profound level, she also wishes to show that the basis of the values comes above all from the Christian heritage that continues to nourish it even today.
These common values are not an anarchic or accidental aggregate, but form a coherent whole that is ordered and articulated, historically, from a precise anthropological vision. Can Europe omit the original organic principle of these values that, at the same time, have revealed to man his eminent dignity and the fact that his personal vocation opens him to all other men, with whom he is called to build only one family?
Does allowing oneself to be led by this forgetfulness not mean to expose oneself to the risk of seeing these great and beautiful values enter into competition or conflict with one another? More than that, do these values not run the risk of being instrumentalized by individuals and pressure groups desirous of furthering particular interests in detriment of an ambitious collective project -- which Europeans expect -- which is concerned with the common good of the inhabitants of the Continent and of the whole world? This risk was perceived and criticized by numerous observers that belong to very different horizons. It is important that Europe not allow its model of civilization to be eroded, bit-by-bit. Its original impulse must not be suffocated by individualism and utilitarianism.
The immense intellectual, cultural and economic resources of the Continent will continue to bear fruit if they continue to be fertilized by the transcendent vision of the human person, which is the most precious treasure of European heritage. This humanist tradition, in which so many families of different thoughts recognize themselves, makes Europe capable of addressing the challenges of tomorrow and of responding to the population's expectations.
It is primarily the search for a just and delicate balance between economic efficiency and social exigencies, the safeguarding of the environment and, above all, the indispensable and necessary support to human life from conception to natural death, and to the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman. Europe will be really itself only if it is able to preserve the originality that has constituted its greatness, and this is capable of making of it, in the future, one of the principal actors in the promotion of the integral development of persons, which the Catholic Church regards as the genuine way able to remedy the present imbalances of our world.
For all these reasons, Mr. Ambassador, the Holy See follows with respect and great attention the activity of European institutions, hoping that the latter, with their work and creativity, will honor Europe that, more than a continent, is a "spiritual home" (cfr. Address to the Civil Authorities and to the Diplomatic Corps, Prague, Sept. 26, 2009). The Church wishes to "accompany" the construction of the European Union. For this reason, she allows herself to remind you of the fundamental and constitutive values of European society, so that they can be promoted for the good of all.
As you begin your mission to the Holy See, I wish to reaffirm my satisfaction for the excellent relations maintained by the European Community and the Holy See and I express to you, Mr. Ambassador, my best wishes for the good development of your noble task. Be assured of finding in my collaborators the reception and understanding of which you might be in need.
On you, Excellency, on your family and on your collaborators, I invoke from my heart the abundance of divine blessings.
Papal Address to Netherlands Envoy
"Globalization Needs to Be Steered Towards the Goal of Integral Human Development"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to Baroness Henriette Johanna Cornelia Maria van Lynden-Leijten, the new ambassador from the Netherlands to the Holy See.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Holy See. I would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes that you bring from Queen Beatrix. For my part, please convey to Her Majesty my cordial greetings and assure her of my continuing prayers for all the people of your nation.
In a world that is ever more closely interconnected, the Holy See's diplomatic relations with individual states afford many opportunities for cooperation on important global issues. In this light, the Holy See values its links with the Netherlands and looks forward to strengthening them further in years to come. Your country, as a founder member of the European Economic Community and home to several international juridical institutions, has long been at the forefront of moves to strengthen international cooperation for the greater good of the human family. Hence the mission on which you are about to embark is rich in opportunities for joint action to promote peace and prosperity in the light of the desire that both the Holy See and the Netherlands have, to help the human person.
The defence and promotion of freedom is a key element in humanitarian engagement of this kind, and it is one to which both the Holy See and the Kingdom of the Netherlands frequently draw attention. It must be understood, though, that freedom needs to be anchored in truth -- the truth of the nature of the human person -- and it needs to be directed towards the good of individuals and of society. In the financial crisis of the past twelve months, the whole world has been able to observe the consequences of exaggerated individualism that tends to favour single-minded pursuit of perceived personal advantage to the exclusion of other goods. There has been much reflection on the need for a sound ethical approach to the processes of economic and political integration, and more people are coming to recognize that globalization needs to be steered towards the goal of integral human development of individuals, communities and peoples -- shaped not by mechanical or deterministic forces but by humanitarian values that are open to transcendence (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 42). Our world needs to "reappropriate the true meaning of freedom, which is not an intoxication with total autonomy, but a response to the call of being" (ibid., 70). Hence the Holy See's conviction regarding the irreplaceable role of faith communities in public life and in public debate.
While some of the Dutch population would declare itself agnostic or even atheist, more than half of it professes Christianity, and the growing numbers of immigrants who follow other religious traditions make it more necessary than ever for civil authorities to acknowledge the place of religion in Dutch society. An indication that your Government does so is the fact that faith schools receive state support in your country, and rightly so, since such institutions are called to make a significant contribution to mutual understanding and social cohesion by transmitting the values that are rooted in a transcendent vision of human dignity.
Even more basic than schools in this regard are families built on the foundation of a stable and fruitful marriage between a man and a woman. Nothing can equal or replace the formative value of growing up in a secure family environment, learning to respect and foster the personal dignity of others, acquiring the capacity for "acceptance, encounter and dialogue, disinterested availability, generous service and deep solidarity" (Familiaris Consortio, 43; cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 221) -- in short, learning to love. A society, on the other hand, which encourages alternative models of domestic life for the sake of a supposed diversity, is likely to store up social consequences that are not conducive to integral human development (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 44, 51). The Catholic Church in your country is eager to play its part in supporting and promoting stable family life, as the Dutch Bishops' Conference stated in its recent document on the pastoral care of young people and the family. It is my earnest hope that the Catholic contribution to ethical debate will be heard and heeded by all sectors of Dutch society, so that the noble culture that has distinguished your country for centuries may continue to be known for its solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable, its promotion of authentic freedom and its respect for the dignity and inestimable value of every human life.
Your Excellency, in offering my best wishes for the success of your mission, I would like to assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are ready to provide help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon Your Excellency, your family and all the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I cordially invoke God's abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to US Ambassador
"What Is Needed Is a Model of Globalization Inspired by an Authentic Humanism"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to Miguel Humberto Díaz, the new ambassador from the United States to the Holy See.
* * *
I am pleased to accept the Letters by which you are accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America. I recall with pleasure my meeting with President Barack Obama and his family last July, and willingly reciprocate the kind greetings which you bring from him. I also take this occasion to express my confidence that diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See, formally initiated twenty-five years ago, will continue to be marked by fruitful dialogue and cooperation in the promotion of human dignity, respect for fundamental human rights, and the service of justice, solidarity and peace within the whole human family.
In the course of my Pastoral Visit to your country last year I was pleased to encounter a vibrant democracy, committed to the service of the common good and shaped by a vision of equality and equal opportunity based on the God-given dignity and freedom of each human being. That vision, enshrined in the nation's founding documents, continues to inspire the growth of the United States as a cohesive yet pluralistic society constantly enriched by the gifts brought by new generations, including the many immigrants who continue to enhance and rejuvenate American society. In recent months, the reaffirmation of this dialectic of tradition and originality, unity and diversity has recaptured the imagination of the world, many of whose peoples look to the American experience and its founding vision in their own search for viable models of accountable democracy and sound development in an increasingly interdependent and global society.
For this reason, I appreciate your acknowledgement of the need for a greater spirit of solidarity and multilateral engagement in approaching the urgent problems facing our planet. The cultivation of the values of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" can no longer be seen in predominantly individualistic or even national terms, but must rather be viewed from the higher perspective of the common good of the whole human family. The continuing international economic crisis clearly calls for a revision of present political, economic and financial structures in the light of the ethical imperative of ensuring the integral development of all people. What is needed, in effect, is a model of globalization inspired by an authentic humanism, in which the world's peoples are seen not merely as neighbors but as brothers and sisters.
Multilateralism, for its part, should not be restricted to purely economic and political questions; rather, it should find expression in a resolve to address the whole spectrum of issues linked to the future of humanity and the promotion of human dignity, including secure access to food and water, basic health care, just policies governing commerce and immigration, particularly where families are concerned, climate control and care for the environment, and the elimination of the scourge of nuclear weapons. With regard to the latter issue, I wish to express my satisfaction for the recent Meeting of the United Nations Security Council chaired by President Obama, which unanimously approved the resolution on atomic disarmament and set before the international community the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. This is a promising sign on the eve of the Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Genuine progress, as the Church's social teaching insists, must be integral and humane; it cannot prescind from the truth about human beings and must always be directed to their authentic good. In a word, fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and real development. For her part the Church in the United States wishes to contribute to the discussion of the weighty ethical and social questions shaping America's future by proposing respectful and reasonable arguments grounded in the natural law and confirmed by the perspective of faith. Religious vision and religious imagination do not straiten but enrich political and ethical discourse, and the religions, precisely because they deal with the ultimate destiny of every man and woman, are called to be a prophetic force for human liberation and development throughout the world, particularly in areas torn by hostility and conflict. In my recent visit to the Holy Land I stressed the value of understanding and cooperation among the followers of the various religions in the service of peace, and so I note with appreciation your government's desire to promote such cooperation as part of a broader dialogue between cultures and peoples.
Allow me, Mr. Ambassador, to reaffirm a conviction which I expressed at the outset of my Apostolic Journey to the United States. Freedom - the freedom which Americans rightly hold dear - "is not only a gift but also a summons to personal responsibility;" it is "a challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won over to the cause of good" (Address at the White House, 16 April 2008). The preservation of freedom is inseparably linked to respect for truth and the pursuit of authentic human flourishing. The crisis of our modern democracies calls for a renewed commitment to reasoned dialogue in the discernment of wise and just policies respectful of human nature and human dignity. The Church in the United States contributes to this discernment particularly through the formation of consciences and her educational apostolate, by which she makes a significant and positive contribution to American civic life and public discourse. Here I think particularly of the need for a clear discernment with regard to issues touching the protection of human dignity and respect for the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death, as well as the protection of the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care workers, and indeed all citizens. The Church insists on the unbreakable link between an ethics of life and every other aspect of social ethics, for she is convinced that, in the prophetic words of the late Pope John Paul II, "a society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized" (Evangelium Vitae, 93; cf. Caritas in Veritate, 15).
Mr. Ambassador, as you undertake your new mission in the service of your country I offer you my good wishes and the promise of my prayers. Be assured that you may always count on the offices of the Holy See to assist and support you in the fulfillment of your duties. Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved American people, I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Message to Filipino Ambassador
"The Work of Charity Is Particularly Urgent"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason, the new ambassador from the Philippines to the Holy See.
* * *
Grateful for the kind words which you have addressed to me, I gladly accept the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Holy See. I would like to reciprocate the warm greetings which you have extended to me on behalf of Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and I would ask you to convey to her and to all the beloved Filipino people the assurance of my spiritual closeness and prayers, especially for the victims of Typhoon Ketsana.
For over half a century, the Holy See and the Philippines have maintained excellent diplomatic relations, strengthening their long-standing cooperation for the promotion of peace, human dignity and freedom. The spirit of good will which has brought us to this day will surely enkindle a fresh desire to work together so that justice and freedom go hand-in-hand, and that democratic principles be grounded in truth. For her part, in the midst of the many changing social, economic and political conditions around the globe, the Church continues to hold out the Gospel as the path to authentic human progress (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). I am confident that the faith of the Filipino people - a faith, as Your Excellency has indicated, which gives them the "resilience" to face any hardship or difficulty - will arouse in them a desire to participate ever more fervently in the worldwide task of building up a civilization of love, the seed of which God has implanted in every people and every culture.
Your Excellency, I am pleased to note the various development initiatives under way in your country, including the modernization of irrigation systems, the improvement of public transportation and the reform of social assistance programs. As the Philippines continues to implement these and other plans for a just and sustainable development, I am confident that she will draw upon all her resources - spiritual as well as material - so that her citizens may flourish in body and soul, knowing the goodness of God and living in solidarity with their neighbors. Such programs, of course, are primarily aimed at improving the actual living conditions of the poorest, thus enabling them to fulfill their responsibilities towards their families and to carry out the duties which fall to them as members of the wider community. Above all, the struggle against poverty calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those directly entrusted with the offices of governance and public administration.
In an age when the name of God is abused by certain groups, the "work of charity" (Caritas in Veritate, 57) is particularly urgent. This is especially true in regions that have been sadly scarred by conflicts. I encourage all to persevere so that peace may prevail. As you have mentioned, Madam Ambassador, initiatives that aim at facilitating dialogue and cultural exchange are particularly effective, for peace can never come about merely as the product of a technical process engineered through legislative, judicial or economic means. In the conviction that evil is only conquered with good (cf. Rom 12:21), many in your country are taking courageous steps to bring people together in order to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding. I am thinking in particular of the commendable work of the Bishops Ulama Conference (BUC), the Mindanao People's Conference, as well as that of many grassroots organizations. The Special Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Interfaith Dialogue and Cooperation for Peace and Development, which your country will host in December, also holds out the promise of advancing peace in Mindanao and throughout the world.
In closing, Madam Ambassador, I would like to take this opportunity to reassure the Filipino people of my affection and continued prayers for them. I encourage them to allow their deep faith, their cultural heritage and the democratic values that have been a part of their patrimony from the time of their independence to shine as an example to all.
Extending a cordial welcome to you and to your distinguished family, I offer you my best wishes that your stay in Rome may be pleasant, and that the important mission entrusted to you may consolidate relations between the Holy See and the Republic of the Philippines, to the benefit of all. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Truth, Justice and Holiness, may God bless the efforts of the authorities and citizens, so that your nation may walk the way of authentic human progress in an atmosphere of harmony and peace.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Letter to Italian Leader
Ahead of G-8
"Maintain and Reinforce Aid for Development"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 9, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent July 1 to Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ahead of the Group of Eight summit L'Aquila, which is under way through Friday.
* * *
Hon. Mr Prime Minister,
With a view to the upcoming G8, the Group of the Heads of State and Government of the most industrialized countries, that will be taking place in L'Aquila from 8 to 10 July under the Italian Presidency, I am pleased to send a cordial greeting to you and to all the participants. I therefore willingly take the opportunity to make a contribution to the reflection on the meeting's themes, as I have done in the past.
I was informe d by my collaborators of the commitment with which the Government, over which you have the honour to preside, is preparing for this important meeting. I am also aware of the attention you have given to the reflections which, based on the themes of the upcoming Summit, have been formulated by the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Italy and the Catholic world in general, as well as the Representatives of other religions. The participation of Heads of State or Government not only of the G8 but also of many other nations will ensure that in order to find ways to a shared solution to the principal problems that are affecting the economy, peace and international security, the decisions to be adopted can more faithfully mirror the viewpoints and expectations of the peoples of all the continents.
Broadened to encompass the discussions of the forthcoming Summit, this participation therefore seems particularly timely, given the many problems in the world today that are highly interco nnected and interdependent. I refer in particular to the challenges of the current economic and financial crisis, as well as to the disturbing data of the phenomenon of climate change. These cannot but impel us to wise discernment and new projects to ""convert' the model of global development" (Benedict XVI, Angelus Reflection, 12 November 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 15 November 2006, p. 1), rendering it capable of effectively promoting integral human development, inspired by the values of human solidarity and of charity in truth. Several of these themes are also treated in my third Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, which in the next few days will be released to the press.
In preparation for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, on the initiative of John Paul II, the Holy See paid great attention to the work of the G8. My venerable Predecessor was in fact convinced that the liberation of the poorest countries from the burden of debt and, more generally, the uprooting of the causes of extreme poverty in the world depended on the full assumption of shared responsibility towards all humanity, which is incumbent on the most financially developed Governments and States.
These responsibilities have not diminished; on the contrary, they are even more urgent today. In the recent past, partly thanks to the impetus that the Great Jubilee of 2000 gave to the search for adequate solutions to problems related to the debt and to the economic vulnerability of Africa and other poor countries, and partly thanks to the notable economic and political changes in the global scene the majority of less developed countries has been able to enjoy a period of extraordinary growth. This has permitted many of them to hope in the achievement of the goal fixed by the international community on the threshold of the third millennium: to defeat extreme poverty by 2015.
Unfortunately, the financial and economic crisis that ha s been besieging the entire planet since the beginning of 2008 has transformed the circumstances. Now, there is a real risk not only that hopes of emerging from extreme poverty will be extinguished but on the contrary that even populations which have until now benefited from a minimum of material well-being will sink into poverty.
Furthermore, the current global economic crisis carries the threat of the cancellation or drastic reduction of programmes for international aid, especially for Africa and for the other economically less developed countries. Therefore with the same force as that with which John Paul II asked for the cancellation of the foreign debt I too would like to appeal to the member countries of the G8, to the other States represented and to the Governments of the whole world to maintain and reinforce aid for development, especially aid destined to "make the most" of "human resources", not only in spite of the crisis, but precisely becau se it is one of the principal paths to its solution.
Is it not in fact through investment in the human being in all the men and women of the earth that it will be possible to succeed in effectively dispelling the disturbing prospectives of global recession? Is not this truly the way to obtain, to the extent possible, a trend in the world economy that benefits the inhabitants of every country, rich and poor, large and small?
The issue of access to education is intimately connected to the efficacy of international cooperation. Thus if it is true that "investing" in men and women is necessary, then the goal of basic education for all, without exception, by 2015 must not only be met but must also be generously reinforced. Education is an indispensable condition for democracy to function, for fighting corruption, for exercising political, economic and social rights and for the effective recovery of all States, poor and rich alike. And, by correctly applyi ng the principle of subsidiarity, the support of development cannot but take into account the far-reaching educational action that the Catholic Church and other religious Denominations carry out in the world's poorest and most neglected regions.
I am therefore keen to remind the distinguished participants of the G8 that the measure of technical efficacy of the provisions to adopt in order to emerge from the crisis coincides with the measure of its ethical value. In other words, it is necessary to bear in mind practical human and family needs. I refer, for example, to the effective creation of positions for all, that enable workers to provide fittingly for their family's needs and to fulfil their primary responsibility as educators of their children and protagonists in the community to which they belong.
"A society in which this right is systematically denied", John Paul ii wrote, "in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfact ory levels of employment, cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace" (Centesimus Annus, n. 43; cf., Laborem Excercens, n. 18).
And for this very purpose the urgent need for a fair system of international trade is essential, putting into practice and if necessary even going beyond the decisions made in Doha in 2001 to promote development.
I hope that all creative energy will be devoted to achieving the UN Millennium Goals concerning the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015. It is only right to reform the international financial structure to ensure effective coordination of national policies, to prevent credit speculation and to guarantee a broad international availability of public and private credit at the service of production and work, especially in the neediest countries and regions.
The ethical legitimization of the political commitments of the G8 will naturally demand that they be confr onted with the thought and needs of the entire International Community. To this end, it seems important to reinforce multi-lateralism, not only for economic matters but also for the entire spectrum of the issues concerning peace, global security, disarmament, health and protection of the environment and of natural resources for the present and future generations. The extension of the G8 to other regions certainly constitutes important and significant progress; yet at the time of the negotiations and concrete and operational decisions, it is necessary to take into careful consideration all needs, not only those of the countries that are most important or that have a more marked financial success. In fact, only this can make these decisions actually applicable and sustainable over time.
Let the voices of Africa and of the less economically developed countries be heard! Let effective models be sought in order to link the decisions of the various groups of countries, includi ng the G8, with the Assembly of the United Nations. In this way each nation, whatever its political and financial importance, may legitimately express itself in a position of equality with the others.
Lastly, I would like to add that the decision of the Italian Government to host the G8 in the city of L'Aquila a decision approved and shared by the other member States and guests is particularly significant. We have all witnessed the generous solidarity of the Italian people and of other nations, of national and international organizations towards the populations of the Abruzzo region hit by the earthquake.
This mobilization of solidarity could constitute an invitation to the members of the G8 and to the Governments and Peoples of the world to face united the current challenges that place humanity with no possibility of postponement before crucial decisions for the destiny of mankind itself, which is closely connected with the destiny of creation.
Hon. Mr Prime Minister, as I implore God's assistance for all those present at the upcoming G8 in L'Aquila and for the multilateral initiatives intended to resolve the economic and financial crisis and to guarantee a future of peace and prosperity to all men and women without exception, I gladly take this opportunity to express, once again, my esteem for you and, as I assure you of my prayers, I extend to you a respectful and cordial greeting.
From the Vatican, 1 July 2009
Papal Message to Envoy From Norway
"A Generous and Welcoming Nation"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 3, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing Friday to Rolf Trolle Andersen, the new ambassador from Norway to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Norway to the Holy See. I would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes that you bring from King Harald V. Please convey to His Majesty my cordial greetings and assure him of my continued prayers for all the people of your nation. It seems particularly fitting that today’s ceremony, an important landmark in our diplomatic relations, should occur at a time when the twentieth anniversary of the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to the Scandinavian countries is almost upon us.
Not only is your country blessed with a notable degree of prosperity, but it has a most distinguished record in coming to the aid of others less fortunate than itself. In the wake of the financial turmoil of recent months, Norway was swift in offering expert assistance to other countries to help them weather the storm, despite suffering its own share of economic difficulties in consequence of the crisis. In opening its doors to significant numbers of refugees and immigrants, Norway has for many years shown itself to be a generous and welcoming nation. As Your Excellency has observed, the effect of this influx on Norwegian society, and especially on the small Catholic community, has been to introduce far greater cultural and ethnic variety. This in turn has stimulated deeper reflection on the presuppositions and values that govern life in Norway today and its place in the modern world.
"Blessed are the peacemakers." These words of Jesus (Mt 5:9) have been taken very much to heart by Norwegians, whose culture has been strongly shaped by its thousand-year Christian history. Norway’s commitment to peace-keeping is clearly illustrated by its high-level involvement in the United Nations Organization, whose first Secretary-General, Trygve Lie, came from Norway, as do a number of current senior office-holders. The Holy See very much appreciates your country’s contribution to conflict resolution in some of the world’s most troubled areas. From Sri Lanka to Afghanistan, from Sudan to Somalia, from Chad to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Norway has played its part, whether it be in peace negotiations, in calling upon the parties to observe international law, in humanitarian assistance, in helping with reconstruction and peace-keeping, or in promoting democracy and providing expert advice on building up the social infrastructure. Having just returned from my Apostolic Visit to the Holy Land, I am particularly conscious of the crucial work that your country has done in brokering peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I hope and pray that the spirit of reconciliation and the search for justice which gave rise to the Oslo Accords will eventually prevail and bring lasting peace to the peoples of that tormented region.
In addition to such humanitarian concerns, Norwegians have taken very much to heart the needs of the natural environment, placing particular emphasis on developing renewable sources of energy and attending to the causes and the consequences of climate change. Characteristic of your country’s long-term vision for the good of the planet and the welfare of its inhabitants is the initiative of the Global Seed Vault, designed to guarantee the survival of countless varieties of plant life, so that vital food sources in particular can be insured against the possibility of extinction.
In all these activities, your country is motivated by the fundamental ethical values of which Your Excellency has spoken, values that are rooted in Norway’s Christian culture, and which, therefore, are central to the perspectives and the goals which it shares with the Holy See. In less than thirty years of diplomatic relations between us, much has been achieved. The close cooperation between the Holy See and the Kingdom of Norway -- alongside other nations -- in drawing up and ratifying the recent convention banning cluster munitions is a good example. I too look forward to further developing and strengthening our excellent relations in many different fields, with a view to promoting the ethical vision that we share for the sake of building a more humane and just world.
On a domestic level, the Catholic community in Norway, small though it is, is eager to play its part in national life and to make its voice heard in public debate. I mentioned earlier the deeper reflection that is currently taking place on the presuppositions and values governing Norwegian society, and here the Catholic community, with its substantial patrimony of social teaching, has a valuable contribution to offer. Like many European countries today, Norway is increasingly called upon to examine the implications of the right to religious freedom in the context of a liberal and pluralist society. I am confident that the high ethical principles and the generosity so characteristic of Norway’s activity on the international scene will also prevail at home, so that all the citizens of your country will be free to practise their religion, and all the different religious communities will be free to order their affairs in accordance with their beliefs and juridical systems, in this way making their particular contribution to the common good
Your Excellency, in offering my best wishes for the success of your mission, I would like to assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are ready to provide help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon Your Excellency, your family and all the people of the Kingdom of Norway, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Message to Envoy From
"Continue Along the Path of Strengthening the Common Good"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing Friday to Neville Melvin Gertze, the new ambassador from Namibia to the Holy See.
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It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican and to receive the Letters of Credence by which you are accredited as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Namibia to the Holy See. I thank you for the courteous greetings which you have expressed on behalf of the President of the Republic, Mr Hifikepunye Pohamba. Please convey to him my gratitude and my good wishes. I would also ask you kindly to transmit my greetings to the members of the Government, to the civil authorities and to all your fellow citizens.
Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and individual countries serve to create a framework in which mutual interests are provided for and safeguarded, while at the same time giving opportunities to both parties to promote common values at the national and international levels. I am satisfied with the cooperation that in such a short time has produced many positive results for the Holy See and Namibia.
Mr Ambassador, as you are well aware, Africa presents a varied panorama of political, social and economic realities. Some of these are success stories, other have not met the expectations of the peoples that such initiatives were meant to serve. Namibia has a relatively short history as a member of the family of independent nations. Your citizens and their elected officials have benefited from observing examples of other countries. This in time has led to recognize the need to protect the nation’s resources, mineral and agricultural, and to oversee their rational exploitation and use for the common good. Efforts to bring the uranium extraction and diamond industry processes under responsible vigilance are positive initiatives. Indeed transparency, honest business practices and good governance are essential to sustainable economic development. I am pleased to see that the Constitution of your country incorporates a clear awareness of the State’s ecological responsibilities. As you continue to strive towards a balanced distribution of wealth that will offer greater possibilities of improvement for those who are less fortunate, I encourage the nation to continue along the path of strengthening the common good by consolidating democratic institutions and practices and seeking justice for all.
The Holy See is confident, Mr Ambassador, that your country can contribute to positive developments in Africa and in the international community. Because of its history of peaceful independence and integration, its unity in diversity, and its responsible management of natural resources, Namibia can offer an example for the development of other countries. It is important furthermore that the voice of Namibia be expressed in international meetings since the present needs and aspirations of the people of your continent must be presented objectively and from an African perspective, and not solely in accordance with the interests of others.
The Catholic Church is pleased to exercise her mission in a climate of religious freedom. The Church’s contribution to civic life can be seen not only in the achievements of individual Christians or institutions but also in the impact of its message. By preaching the Gospel and encouraging attitudes of faith, hope and love, the Church invites people to a life of virtue supported by that spiritual and moral strength which comes with faith and is expressed in integrity and the responsible use of freedom, respect and tolerance of others. People, especially political, economic and cultural leaders, who are inspired in one way or another by these or similar moral and spiritual perspectives, contribute positively to the good of society in its social, economic and political dimensions.
The Church’s mission of evangelization includes a strong witness to generous initiatives in favour of those in need. As you mentioned in your address Mr Ambassador, the Church in your homeland has developed over the years an extensive presence of communities and institutions of good will, dedicated to pastoral attention, education, professional instruction and concern for those in difficult situations. Through schools and centres of specialized formation, through hospitals and charitable institutions, the Church exercises that love of neighbour expressed clearly in the supreme commandment. I pray that the Catholic institutions of the country will continue to offer their expertise for the promotion and development of the people of Namibia in accordance with present and future needs.
I am aware that one of the priorities on the Government’s agenda is to provide for greater attention to the health of the population and especially the need to care for the number of people afflicted with HIV/Aids. In this area the Church will continue to offer its assistance willingly. She is convinced that only a strategy based on education to individual responsibility in the framework of a moral view of human sexuality, especially through conjugal fidelity, can have a real impact on the prevention of this disease. The Church is pleased to cooperate in this task especially in the field of education where new generations of young people are formed as active and responsible members of society.
Mr Ambassador, I have expressed freely some thoughts inspired by the present situation of your nation, seen with love of your people and confidence in the future of Namibia. I wish you every success in your mission and I invite you to avail yourself of the willing cooperation of the Departments of the Roman Curia. May Almighty God bestow upon Your Excellency, your family and the nation you represent, abundant and lasting blessings of well-being and peace!
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Message to South African
"One of the Most Influential Nations on the Continent"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing Friday to George Johannes, the new ambassador from South Africa to the Holy See.
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It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Vatican and to receive the Letters of Credence that accredit you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to the Holy See. I thank you for the courteous greetings and sentiments of good will which you have expressed on behalf of President Jacob Zuma. I gladly reciprocate, and I ask you kindly to convey my congratulations and good wishes to His Excellency, as he assumes the office of President, and to the civil authorities and people of your country.
South Africa’s rapid and peaceful transition to democratic rule has been widely acclaimed and the Holy See has followed with interest and encouragement this historic period of change. None can doubt that much credit for the progress achieved is due to the outstanding political maturity and human qualities of former President Nelson Mandela. He has been a promoter of forgiveness and reconciliation, and enjoys great respect in your country and in the international community. I would ask you kindly to convey to him my personal good wishes for his health and well-being. I also wish to recognize the contribution of all those many ordinary men and women whose integrity, reflected in their honest approach to work, has also helped to lay the foundations for a future of peace and prosperity for all.
The size of your country, its population and economic resources and the generosity of your people make South Africa one of the most influential nations on the continent. This gives her a unique opportunity to support other African countries in their efforts to achieve stability and economic progress. Having overcome the isolation associated with the Apartheid era, yet drawing on its own painful experience, your country has made commendable efforts to bring about reconciliation in other lands through its peacekeeping forces and diplomatic initiatives. Countries such as Ruanda, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe have benefited from this assistance. I encourage South Africa to strengthen her commitment to the noble task of assisting other nations along the road of peace and reconciliation and, especially in these difficult economic times, to continue to use her considerable human and material resources in ways conducive to the good governance and prosperity of neighbouring countries. Undoubtedly there are many challenges encountered along this path, not least of which is the large number of refugees in the region. I am confident, however, that these difficulties can continue to be addressed in the same spirit of solidarity and generosity already demonstrated by South Africans.
Mr Ambassador, you have spoken of some of the social challenges facing your country and of the development plans drawn up to meet them. Continuing poverty, and lack of basic services and employment opportunities, are present in some areas and have given rise to many other problems including violence and insecurity, substance abuse, ethnic tensions, and corruption. The distress and aggressiveness caused by poverty, unemployment and family breakdown make the efforts of the Government to address these difficulties all the more urgent. In this regard, I am encouraged to note the efforts being made to ensure the conditions necessary to attract international investment and to create greater opportunities for education and employment especially of your young people.
Your Excellency, in your address you speak of the great achievement of universal democratic rule as the basis for a better life for all. The people of South Africa have shown great moral courage and wisdom in facing past injustices. I am confident that in the current struggle against poverty and corruption, such courage and wisdom will again prevail. Your Government is rightly promoting the development of health and education services together with sustainable economic development, seeking to eradicate poverty and consolidate a climate of security. Families should be assisted in their needs and recognized as the indispensable agents in the building of a healthy society, while children and young people have the right to be granted their desire for quality schooling, extracurricular activities, and the chance to take their place in the workforce. Corruption has the effect of discouraging business initiative and investment, as well as leaving individuals disillusioned. The dynamism South Africa has introduced into the struggle against it, is therefore extremely important and must be recognized and embraced by every citizen. It falls to civic leaders in particular to ensure that the fight to eradicate corruption is sustained with impartiality, and accompanied by the respect for an independent judiciary and the ongoing development of a highly professional police force. I offer my encouragement for these challenging tasks, and trust that obstacles will continue to be overcome.
The Catholic Church is confident that the services she provides in the sectors of education, social programmes and health care have a positive impact on the life of the country. She contributes to the moral fibre of society by advocating integrity, justice and peace, and by teaching respect for life from conception until natural death. In particular, the Church takes seriously her part in the campaign against the spread of HIV/Aids by emphasizing fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it. At the same time she already offers much assistance on a practical level to people suffering from this affliction on your continent and throughout the world. I encourage individuals and institutions of your country to continue to give support both at home and in the region to all who seek to alleviate human suffering through research, practical assistance and spiritual support.
Mr Ambassador, I wish you every success in your mission and assure you of the willing cooperation of the Departments of the Roman Curia. May Almighty God bestow upon Your Excellency, your family and the nation you represent, abundant blessings of well-being and peace!
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to Envoy From New Zealand
"It Is From God That Men and Women Receive Their Essential Dignity"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing Friday to Robert Carey Moore-Jones, the new ambassador from New Zealand to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of New Zealand to the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to the Governor General, and to Prime Minister John Key and his Government, together with all the people of New Zealand, my sincere best wishes and the assurance of my prayers for the well-being of the country.
The Church’s engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that authentic human progress -- whether as individuals or communities -- is dependent upon the recognition of the spiritual dimension proper to every person. It is from God that men and women receive their essential dignity (cf. Gen 1:27) and the capacity to transcend particular interests in order to seek truth and goodness and so find purpose and meaning in their lives. This broad perspective provides a framework within which it is possible to counter any tendency to adopt superficial approaches to social policy which address only the symptoms of negative trends in family life and communities, rather than their roots. Indeed, when humanity’s spiritual heart is brought to light, individuals are drawn beyond themselves to ponder God and the marvels of human life: being, truth, beauty, moral values, and relationships that respect the dignity of others. In this way a sure foundation to unite society and sustain a common vision of hope can be found.
The young people of Aotearoa rightly enjoy a reputation for generosity and a keen sense of what is fair. Appreciating the many privileges they are offered, they readily engage in voluntary work and service to others while assuming the ample opportunities they are afforded for personal achievement, and cultural and academic development. World Youth Day, held for the first time in Oceania last year, gave me an opportunity to experience something of the spirit of the thousands of young New Zealanders who took part. I pray that this new generation of Christians in New Zealand will channel their enthusiasm into forging friendships across divides and creating places of living faith in and for our world, settings of hope and practical charity. In this way they can assist other young people who might be misled by the lure of false promises of happiness and fulfilment, or find themselves struggling on the margins of society.
Your Excellency, cultural diversity brings much richness to the social fabric of New Zealand today. The growing presence within your shores of migrant communities from various religious traditions together with the Government’s increasing participation in Pacific and Asian affairs has raised the awareness of the fruits that can be obtained through inter-religious dialogue. Indeed, not so long ago, your nation hosted the Third Asian-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue in the historic setting of Waitangi. Yet some continue to question the place of religion in the public sphere and struggle to imagine how it might serve society, particularly in a highly secular culture. This of course heightens the responsibility of believers to bear witness to the significance of the essential relationship of every man and woman to God, in whose image they are made. When God’s gift of human reason is exercised in reference to the truth he reveals to us, our powers of reflection are adorned with wisdom, and thus reach beyond the empirical and the piecemeal, and instead give expression to our deepest common human aspirations. In this way public debate, rather than being entrapped by the narrow horizon of particular interest groups, is broadened and held accountable to the true source of the common good and dignity of every member of society. Far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, truth makes consensus possible, ensures that political choices are determined by principles and values, and enriches culture with all that is good, uplifting and just.
New Zealand’s diplomatic activity predominant in the Pacific and considerable in Asia and beyond is marked by a strong commitment to justice and peace, good governance, sustainable economic development and the promotion of human rights. Your generous commitment of personnel to peace-keeping initiatives can be found from Solomon Islands to Sudan, and New Zealand’s innovative approaches to foreign aid include an outstanding recent example of the development of eco-tourism in Afghanistan. As Your Excellency has indicated, the Holy See has worked closely with New Zealand in developing the Convention on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions; an achievement which illustrates well the need for ethics, which stem from the truth of the human person, to stand at the heart of all international relationships including those of defence.
Mr Ambassador, the Catholic Church in New Zealand continues to do all she can to uphold the Christian foundations of civic life. She is much involved in the spiritual and intellectual formation of the young, especially through her schools. Additionally her charitable work extends to those living on the margins of society and I am confident that, through her mission of service, she will respond generously to new social challenges as they arise. In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to express my spiritual closeness to those families in New Zealand who, like many across the globe, are suffering from the effects of the current economic uncertainty. I think especially of those who have lost their jobs and those young people finding it difficult to obtain employment.
Your Excellency, I trust that your appointment will serve to strengthen further the bonds of friendship which already exist between New Zealand and the Holy See. As you take up your new responsibilities you will find that the broad range of offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfillment of your duties. Upon you and your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Papal Address to Envoy From India
"Subsidiarity Both Presupposes and Fosters Individual Responsibility"
ROME, MAY 29, 2009 .- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing today to Chitra Narayanan, the new ambassador from India to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you today and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of India to the Holy See. Thanking you for the kind words which you have addressed to me in your own name and on behalf of the Government, I would ask to reciprocate my own respectful greetings to Her Excellency, Mrs Pratibha Patil, President of the Republic, and to the re-elected Prime Minister, His Excellency Mr Manmohan Singh, assuring them of my prayers for their well-being and for that of all the people of India.
India is a land fertile with ancient wisdom. Her people, representing many different religions and cultures, are sensitive to the need for self-awareness, integrity and harmonious coexistence with one's neighbor for overall personal and social well-being. The immense variety within your borders opens a range of possibilities for dialogue between philosophies and religious traditions intent upon probing life's deepest questions. Cultivating this dialogue not only enriches your own Nation but serves as an example to others throughout Asia and indeed throughout the world.
Notwithstanding the financial hardships currently facing the entire global community, India has made remarkable economic strides in recent years. Other nations have drawn inspiration from the diligence, human ingenuity and foresight which have contributed to your country's growth. Increased prosperity calls for heightened vigilance to ensure that the poor are protected from being exploited by the unbridled mechanisms of the economy which often tend to profit only an elite few. Hence the motive for your Country's ambitious rural jobs program which was designed to help the disadvantaged -- especially the rural poor -- to earn a subsistent wage by participating in building projects and other cooperative initiatives. Programs such as this show that labor is never a mere commodity but a specifically human activity. They must therefore be implemented in a way that upholds human dignity and repudiates any temptation to favoritism, corruption or fraud.
The principle of subsidiarity is of particular value in this regard. A society that allows subordinate organizations to perform their proper activities encourages citizens to take an active part in building up the common good, placing themselves at the service of others and committing themselves to resolving differences justly and peacefully. Subsidiarity both presupposes and fosters individual responsibility, enjoining all members of society to seek the good of others as their own. While bureaucratic structures are necessary, it must always be kept in mind that the various levels of governance -- national, regional, and local -- are oriented towards the service of citizens, as they themselves are administered by citizens.
Democratic systems of governance must be kept in check by broad social participation. Having recently completed an important round of national elections, India has shown the world that this key democratic process is not only possible, but can be conducted in an atmosphere of civility and peace. As the newly elected face the challenges ahead of them, I am confident that the same spirit of patient cooperation will prevail, sustaining them in their weighty responsibility of drafting laws and deliberating social policy. May they be ready to subordinate special interests, placing them within the wider context of the common good which is an essential and indispensable goal of political authority (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 409).
Madam Ambassador, as Chief Shepherd of the Catholic Church, I join religious and governmental leaders throughout the world who share a common desire that all members of the human family enjoy the freedom to practice religion and engage in civil life without fear of adverse repercussions on account of their beliefs. I therefore cannot help but express my deep concern for Christians who have suffered from outbreaks of violence in some areas within your borders. Today I have the opportunity to express my appreciation for your Country's efforts to provide the afflicted with shelter and assistance, relief and rehabilitation, as well as for the measures taken to implement criminal investigations and fair judicial processes to resolve these issues. I appeal to all to show respect for human dignity by rejecting hatred and renouncing violence in all its forms.
For her part, the Catholic Church in your Country will continue to play a role promoting peace, harmony and reconciliation between followers of all religions, especially through education and formation in the virtues of justice, forbearance and charity. Indeed, this is the inherent goal of all genuine forms of education since -- in conformity with the dignity of the human person and the call of all men and women to live in community -- they aim at cultivating moral virtues and preparing young people to embrace their social responsibilities with a refined sensibility for what is good, just and noble.
Madam Ambassador, as you assume your responsibilities within the diplomatic community accredited to the Holy See, I offer you my good wishes for the successful fulfillment of your high mission. I assure you that the various offices and departments of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you. Upon yourself and upon the beloved people of India I invoke abundant divine blessings.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to Mongolian Envoy
"Human Well-being Cannot Be Measured Solely in Terms of Wealth"
ROME, MAY 29, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave in writing today to Danzannorov Boldbaatar, the new ambassador of Mongolia to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to extend a cordial welcome to you as you present the Credential Letters appointing you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Mongolia to the Holy See. Grateful for the warm greeting which you have conveyed to me on behalf of your President, Mr. Nambaryn Enkhbayar, I reciprocate with my own best wishes for his health and well-being. I assure him and all the citizens of Mongolia of my prayers as they continue to promote peace and social harmony at home and abroad.
I am grateful, Mr. Ambassador, that the cooperative spirit which has marked the diplomatic ties between Mongolia and the Holy See has yielded much fruit. An explicit and mutual recognition of the benefits to be gained through diplomatic relations paved the way for the establishment of the Apostolic Prefecture of Ulaanbaatar, thus making it possible to coordinate more effectively the pastoral care of Catholics in Mongolia and to give a new impetus to their charitable activities for the good of all your fellow citizens. A particular sign of this fruitful collaboration was the dedication of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in July of 2002, which took place on the auspicious occasion of the 10th Anniversary of diplomatic ties between Mongolia and the Holy See. I wish to voice personally my deep gratitude for all that your Government and the local civil authorities did to make this historic event possible. Not only did it help to build a sense of unity between the Catholic faithful in your land and their fellow believers throughout the world, it also bore clear witness to Mongolia's long-standing respect for religious freedom. This fundamental human right, enshrined in Mongolia's Constitution and upheld by its citizens as conducive to the full development of the human person, allows them to search for the truth, engage in dialogue and fulfill their duty to worship God immune from any undue coercion.
The opportunity for adherents of different religions to speak and listen to one another has a vital role in strengthening the human family. You have referred to the bold initiative of Chinggis Khan in the 13th century to invite Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Daoists to live together on the steppes of Mongolia: a gesture that continues to find expression in the openness of the Mongolian people, who treasure the religious customs passed down from generation to generation, and who show a profound respect for traditions other than their own. This religious earnestness was especially evident as Mongolia emerged from years of oppression under a totalitarian regime. In this time of greater peace and stability, I heartily encourage forums that facilitate the amicable exchange of ideas about religion and how it contributes to the good of civil society. Peoples who practice religious tolerance have an obligation to share the wisdom of this tenet with the entire human family, so that all men and women might perceive the beauty of tranquil co-existence and have the courage to build a society that respects human dignity and acts upon the divine injunction to love one's neighbor (cf. Mk 12:32).
Your Excellency, this spirit of fraternal cooperation will serve Mongolia well as she strives to achieve goals for development in the years ahead. As you have noted, foremost among these is the reduction of poverty and unemployment. These objectives are placed within the framework of the overall economic growth and equitable distribution of goods your country wishes to sustain in the long-term future. The values of fairness and trust in the marketplace upheld by the Mongolian people provide a sure foundation to meet these goals. Criteria for designing programmes to this end must reflect social as well as commutative justice (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 303); they must take into account the objective value of work rendered, the dignity of the subjects who perform it, the varying needs of citizens, and the merit that justly corresponds to the quality of work done (cf. Centesimus Annus, 35).
Mongolia is a country which acknowledges that human well-being cannot be measured solely in terms of wealth. Educational achievement -- of which literary and artistic accomplishments are reliable indicators -- is also an essential feature of a flourishing society. I am appreciative that your country has singled out the need to expand educational opportunities for the betterment of all its people. Systems of instruction must not, of course, neglect the technological formation that enables students to acquire and maintain gainful employment in this age of rapid globalization and technological progress. At the same time, an integral education attends to man as a whole rather than simply his ability to produce. In particular, the young deserve a comprehensive intellectual and spiritual formation that opens their eyes to the dignity of every human person and inspires them to hone the virtues necessary to place themselves at the service of all mankind. I therefore encourage the initiatives undertaken by your Government to increase access to education and to buttress it with a clear view of what is genuinely good for human beings.
For its part, the Catholic community, though still small in Mongolia, is eager to offer its assistance in fostering interreligious dialogue, promoting development, expanding educational opportunities, and furthering the noble goals that strengthen the solidarity of the human family and turn its gaze to the action of the divine in the world. While recognizing the due autonomy of the political community, the Catholic Church is compelled to cooperate with civil society in ways suitable to the circumstances of the time and place in which the two find themselves living together.
I therefore thank you, Mr. Ambassador, for the kind assurance of Mongolia's desire to build upon the accomplishments that have sprung from the diplomatic relations forged between your nation and the Holy See. As you begin your mission, I assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfillment of your duties, and I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God upon you, the members of your family and all the citizens of Mongolia.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Greeting to New Envoy From
"World Youth Day Was an Event of Singular Importance"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving the letters of credence of Timothy Andrew Fischer, the first residential ambassador from Australia to the Holy See.
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It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican and accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Australia to the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce, and the Government and people of your nation my gratitude for their greetings. With vivid memories of my recent visit to your beautiful country, I assure you of my prayers for the country’s well-being and in particular I wish to send my condolences to the grieving individuals and families in Victoria who have lost loved ones in the recent bush fires.
Your Excellency’s appointment as Australia’s first residential Ambassador to the Holy See marks a welcome new stage in our diplomatic relations and provides an opportunity to deepen mutual understanding and to extend our already significant collaboration. The Church’s engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that human progress -- whether as individuals or communities -- is dependent upon the recognition of the supernatural vocation proper to every person. It is from God that men and women receive their essential dignity (cf. Gen 1:27) and the capacity to seek truth and goodness. Within this broad perspective we can counter tendencies to pragmatism and consequentialism, so prevalent today, which engage only with the symptoms and effects of conflicts, social fragmentation, and moral ambiguity, rather than their roots. When humanity’s spiritual dimension is brought to light, individuals’ hearts and minds are drawn to God and to the marvels of human life: being itself, truth, beauty, moral values, and other persons. In this way a sure foundation to unite society and sustain a vision of hope can be found.
World Youth Day was an event of singular importance for the universal Church and for Australia. Echoes of appreciation continue to resound within your own nation and across the globe. Above all, every World Youth Day is a spiritual event: a time when young people, not all of whom have a close association with the Church, encounter God in an intense experience of prayer, learning, and listening, thus coming to experience faith in action. Sydney residents themselves, as Your Excellency observed, were inspired by the sheer joy of the pilgrims. I pray that this young generation of Christians in Australia and throughout the world will channel their enthusiasm for all that is true and good into forging friendships across divides and creating places of living faith in and for our world, settings of hope and practical charity.
Mr Ambassador, cultural diversity brings much richness to the social fabric of Australia today. For decades that collage was tarnished by the injustices so painfully endured by the Indigenous Peoples. Through the apology offered last year by Prime Minister Rudd, a profound change of heart has been affirmed. Now, renewed in the spirit of reconciliation, both government agencies and aboriginal elders can address with resolution and compassion the plethora of challenges that lie ahead. A further example of your Government’s desire to promote respect and understanding among cultures is its laudable effort to facilitate inter-religious dialogue and cooperation both at home and in the region. Such initiatives help to preserve cultural heritages, nourish the public dimension of religion, and kindle the very values without which civic society’s heart would soon wither.
Australia’s diplomatic activity in the Pacific, Asia and more recently in Africa is multifaceted and growing. The nation’s active support of the Millennium Development Goals, numerous regional partnerships, initiatives to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and keen concern for just economic development are well known and respected. And as the shadows and lights of globalization cast their reach over our world in increasingly complex ways, your nation is showing itself ready to respond to a growing variety of exigencies in a principled, responsible and innovative manner. Not least of these are the menacing threats to God’s creation itself through climate change. Perhaps more than ever before in our human history the fundamental relationship between Creator, Creation and Creature needs to be pondered and respected. From this recognition we can discover a common code of ethics, consisting of norms rooted in the natural law inscribed by the Creator on the heart of every human being.
In my message this year for the World Day of Peace, I drew particular attention to the need for an ethical approach to the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society and States (cf. no. 12). In this regard I note with interest the Australian Government’s determination to establish relations of cooperation based on the values of fairness, good governance, and the sense of a regional neighbourhood. A genuinely ethical stance is at the heart of every responsible, respectful and socially inclusive development policy. It is ethics which render imperative a compassionate and generous response to poverty; they render urgent the sacrificing of protectionist interests for fair accessibility of poor countries to developed markets just as they render reasonable donor nations’ insistence upon accountability and transparency in the use of financial aid by receiver nations.
For her part, the Church has a long tradition within the healthcare sector where she brings to the fore an ethical approach to every individual’s particular needs. Especially in poorer nations, Religious Orders and church organizations – including many Australian missionaries – fund and staff a vast network of hospitals and clinics, often in remote areas where States have been unable to serve their own people. Of particular concern is the provision of medical care for families, including high-quality obstetrical care for women. How ironic it is, however, when some groups, through aid programmes, promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ healthcare: taking a life, purportedly to improve the quality of life.
Your Excellency, I am sure that your appointment will further strengthen the bonds of friendship which already exist between Australia and the Holy See. As you exercise your new responsibilities you will find the broad range of offices of the Roman Curia ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you and your family together with your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Address to Envoy From
The Family: "Heart of Every Culture and Nation"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience Signor János Balassa, the new ambassador from Hungary to the Holy See.
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I am pleased to welcome you at the start of your mission and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Hungary to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words and for the greetings you bring from President László Sólyom. Please convey to him my respectful good wishes and the assurance of my prayers for all the people of your nation.
The Holy See’s reestablishment of full diplomatic relations with the countries of the former Eastern bloc, after the momentous events of 1989, opened up new horizons of hope for the future. In the twenty years that have passed since, Hungary has made great progress in establishing the structures of a free and democratic society, able and willing to play its part in an increasingly globalized world community. As you have observed, the forces that govern economic and political affairs in the modern world need to be properly directed – they need, in other words to be built upon an ethical foundation, giving priority always to the dignity and the rights of the human person and the common good of humanity. In view of its strong Christian heritage, stretching back over a thousand years, Hungary is well placed to assist in the promotion of these humane ideals within the European community and the wider world community, and it is my hope that our diplomatic relations will serve to support this vital dimension of your country’s contribution to international affairs.
The experience of newly gained freedom has, at times, brought with it the risk that those same Christian and human values, so deeply rooted in the history and culture of individual peoples, and indeed of the whole continent of Europe, can be supplanted by others, based on unsound visions of man and his dignity and harmful to the development of a truly flourishing society. In my 2008 World Day of Peace Message, I stressed the primordial importance of the family for building peaceful community relations at every level. In much of modern Europe the vital cohesive role that the family has to play in human affairs is being called into question and even endangered as a result of misguided ways of thinking that at times find expression in aggressive social and political policies. It is my earnest hope that ways will be found of safeguarding this essential element of our society, which is the heart of every culture and nation. One of the specific ways government can support the family is by assuring that parents are allowed to exercise their fundamental right as the primary educators of their children, which would include the option to send their children to religious schools when they so desire.
The Catholic Church in Hungary has lived with particular intensity the transition between the period of totalitarian government and the freedom that your country now enjoys. After decades of oppression, sustained by the heroic witness of so many Christians, she has emerged to take her place in a transformed society, able once more to proclaim the Gospel freely. She seeks no privileges for herself, but is eager to play her part in the life of the nation, true to her nature and mission. As the process continues of implementing the agreements between Hungary and the Holy See -- I think of the recently signed memorandum on religious assistance for the armed forces and border police -- I am confident that any outstanding questions affecting the life of the Church in your country will be resolved in the spirit of good will and fruitful dialogue which has characterized our diplomatic relations ever since they were so happily restored.
Your Excellency, I pray that the diplomatic mission which you begin today will further strengthen the bonds of friendship that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Hungary. I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are always ready to offer help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. With my sincere good wishes, I invoke upon you, your family, and all your fellow citizens abundant blessings of peace and prosperity. May God bless Hungary!
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Address to Taiwanese Envoy
Friday, June 24, 2005
I have the joy today of reciprocating the most cordial visit that you were pleased to pay me as Head of the Italian State last 3 May on the occasion of the new pastoral service to which the Lord has called me. First of all, therefore, I would like to thank you and through you, to thank the Italian People for the warm welcome they have accorded me from the very first day of my pastoral service as Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church.
For my part, I assure the citizens of Rome and then the whole Italian Nation of my commitment to do my utmost for the religious and civil good of those whom the Lord has entrusted to my pastoral care.
The proclamation of the Gospel which, in communion with the Italian Bishops, I am called to make to Rome and to Italy, is not only at the service of the Italian people's growth in faith and in the Christian life but also of its progress on the paths of concord and peace. Christ is the Savior of the whole person, spirit and body, his spiritual and eternal destiny and his temporal and earthly life. Thus, when his message is heard, the civil community also becomes more responsible and attentive to the needs of the common good and shows greater solidarity with the poor, the abandoned and the marginalized.
Reviewing Italian history, one is struck by the innumerable works of charity that the Church, with great sacrifices, set up for the relief of all kinds of suffering. Today the Church intends to journey on along this same path, without any ambition for power and without requesting social or financial privileges. The example of Jesus Christ, who "went about doing good works and healing all" (Acts 10:38), remains the Church's supreme norm of conduct among the peoples.
Relations between the Church and the Italian State are founded on the principle spelled out by the Second Vatican Council, which says: "The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both are devoted to the personal vocation of man, though under different titles" ("Gaudium et Spes," 76).
This principle was already present in the Lateran Pacts and was subsequently confirmed in the Agreements that modified the Concordat. Therefore, a healthy secularism of the State, by virtue of which temporal realities are governed according to their own norms but which does not exclude those ethical references that are ultimately founded in religion, is legitimate. The autonomy of the temporal sphere does not exclude close harmony with the superior and complex requirements that derive from an integral vision of man and his eternal destiny.
I am eager to assure you, Mr. President, and all the Italian People, that the Church desires to maintain and to foster a cordial spirit of collaboration and understanding at the service of the spiritual and moral growth of the Country; it would be seriously harmful, not only for her but also for Italy, to attempt to weaken or to break these very special ties that bind her to the Country. The Italian culture is deeply imbued with Christian values, as can be seen in the splendid masterpieces that the Nation has produced in all fields of thought and art.
My hope is that the Italian People will not only not deny the Christian heritage that is part of their history but will guard it jealously and make it produce new fruits worthy of the past. I am confident that Italy, under the wise and exemplary guidance of those who are called to govern it, will continue to carry out in the world its civilizing mission in which it has so distinguished itself down the centuries. By virtue of its history and its culture, Italy can make a very worthwhile contribution, particularly to Europe, helping it to rediscover the Christian roots that enabled it to achieve greatness in the past and can still serve to deepen the profound unity of the Continent.
Mr. President, as you can easily understand, I have many concerns at the beginning of my pastoral service on the Chair of Peter. I would like to point out some of them which, because of their universally human character, cannot but also concern those who are responsible for government. I am alluding to the problem of the protection of the family founded on marriage, as it is recognized also in the Italian Constitution (n. 29), the problem of the defense of human life from conception to its natural end and lastly, the problem of education and consequently of school, an indispensable training ground for the formation of the new generations.
The Church, accustomed as she is to scrutinizing God's will engraved in the very nature of the human creature, sees in the family a most important value that must be defended from any attack that aims to undermine its solidity and call its very existence into question.
The Church recognizes human life as a primary good, the premise for all other goods. She therefore asks that it be respected both at its initial and its final stages and stresses the duty to provide adequate palliative treatment that makes death more human.
As for schools, her role is connected with the family as a natural expansion of its task of formation. In this regard, save the competence of the State to dictate the general norms of instruction, I cannot but express the hope that the right of parents to choose education freely will be respected, and that in so doing they will not have to bear the additional burden of further expenses. I trust that Italian legislators, in their wisdom, will be able to find "human" solutions to the problems mentioned here, in other words, solutions that respect the inviolable values implicit in them.
Lastly, expressing my hope that the Nation will continue to advance on the path of spiritual and material well being, I join you, Mr. President, in urging all the citizens and all the members of society always to live and work in a spirit of genuine harmony, in a context of open dialogue and mutual trust, in the commitment to serve and promote the common good and the dignity of every person. I would like to conclude, Mr. President, by recalling the esteem and affection that the Italian People feel for you, as well as its full confidence in fulfilling the duties inherent in your exalted office.
I have the joy of joining in this affectionate esteem and trust, as I entrust you and your Consort, Mrs. Franca Ciampi, the leaders of the life of the Nation and the entire Italian People to the protection of the Virgin Mary, so intensely venerated in the countless shrines dedicated to her. With these sentiments, I invoke upon you all the Blessing of God, a pledge of every desired good.
Pope's Address to New Zealand's Ambassador
"Mutual Relationship Between Civil Law and Moral Law"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to Geoffrey Kenyon Ward, the new ambassador of New Zealand.
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I am pleased to welcome you today and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of New Zealand to the Holy See. I thank you for the gracious words of greeting and I would ask you to convey to the Government and people of New Zealand my sincere best wishes and the assurance of my prayers for the well-being of the nation.
The people of your country, I know, are very conscious of the duty to promote peace and solidarity in our world. Last year your Prime Minister, accompanied by a group of veterans, visited the historic site of Monte Cassino to honor the countless young men who courageously sacrificed their lives to defend fundamental universal values being threatened by false nationalist ideologies. Still today, this readiness to protect and promote the values of justice and peace, which transcend cultural or national boundaries, is a well-recognized and laudable trait of your people. Tangible expressions of this are found in your nation's participation in aid projects and peace-keeping operations extending from the Solomon Islands to Afghanistan and the Middle East, as well as the willingness to champion the causes of sustainable development and environmental protection. At its most significant level, this generosity elicits a recognition of the essential nature of human life as a gift and of our world as a family of persons.
The desire to uphold the common good is founded on the belief that man comes into the world as a gift of the Creator. It is from God that all men and women -- made in his image -- receive their common inviolable dignity and their summons to responsibility. Today, when individuals often forget their origin and thus lose sight of their goal, they easily fall prey to whimsical social trends, the distortion of reason by particular interest groups, and exaggerated individualism. Confronted with this "crisis of meaning" (cf. Encyclical Letter "Fides et Ratio," 81), civic and religious authorities are called to work together encouraging everyone, including the young, to "direct their steps towards a truth which transcends them" (ibid., 5). Sundered from that universal truth, which is the only guarantee of freedom and happiness, individuals are at the mercy of caprice and slowly lose the capacity to discover the profoundly satisfying meaning of human life.
New Zealanders traditionally have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage and stable domestic life at the heart of their society and indeed continue to expect social and political forces to support families and to protect the dignity of women, especially the most vulnerable. They appreciate that secular distortions of marriage can never overshadow the splendor of a life-long covenant based on generous self-giving and unconditional love. Correct reason tells them that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family" (Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio," 86) which offers society a secure foundation for its aspirations. I therefore encourage the people of Aotearoa, through you Mr. Ambassador, to continue to take up the challenge of forging a pattern of life, both individually and as a community, in relation to God's plan for all humanity.
The disquieting process of secularization is occurring in many parts of the world. Where the Christian foundations of society risk being forgotten, the task of preserving the transcendent dimension present in every culture and of strengthening the authentic exercise of individual freedom against relativism becomes increasingly difficult. Such a predicament calls for both Church and civil leaders to ensure that the question of morality is given ample discussion in the public forum. In this regard, there is a great need today to recover a vision of the mutual relationship between civil law and moral law which, as well as being proposed by the Christian tradition, is also part of the patrimony of the great juridical traditions of humanity (cf. Encyclical Letter "Evangelium Vitae," 71). Only in this way can the multiple claims to "rights" be linked to truth and the nature of authentic freedom be correctly understood in relation to that truth which sets its limits and reveals its goals.
For her part the Catholic Church in New Zealand continues to do all she can to uphold the Christian foundations of civic life. She is much involved in the spiritual and intellectual formation of the young, especially through her schools. Additionally her charitable apostolate extends to those living on the margins of society and I am confident that, through her mission of service, she will respond generously to new social challenges as they arise.
Your Excellency, I know that your appointment will serve to strengthen further the bonds of friendship which already exist between New Zealand and the Holy See. As you take up your new responsibilities I assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfillment of your duties. Upon you, your family and your fellow citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Benedict XVI's Address to Zimbabwe's Ambassador
"The Urgent Need for 'a Responsible and Accountable Leadership'"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to David Douglas Hamadziripi, the new ambassador of Zimbabwe to the Holy See.
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As I accept the Letters accrediting you as the Ambassador and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I offer you a warm welcome to the Vatican. I ask you kindly to convey to President Mugabe my greetings and prayerful good wishes for your nation and all its people.
With the elections of 31 March 2005, Zimbabwe made a new beginning in confronting the grave social problems which have affected the nation in recent years. It is my fervent hope that the elections will not only contribute to the immediate goals of pacification and economic recovery, but will also lead to the moral rebuilding of society and the consolidation of a democratic order committed to enacting policies dictated by genuine concern for the common good and the integral development of each individual and every social group. At this important hour in the history of your country, particular concern must be shown for the poor, the disenfranchised and the young, who have been most affected by the political and economic instability and who demand genuine reforms aimed at meeting their basic needs and opening before them a future of hope. The great challenge of national reconciliation also demands that while past injustices be recognized and addressed, every effort must be made in the future to act with justice and respect for the dignity and rights of others.
In this regard, I can only second the observations made by Zimbabwe's Bishops on the eve of the recent elections about the urgent need for "a responsible and accountable leadership" marked by truthfulness, a spirit of service to others, honest management of public goods, commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of the right and duty of all citizens to participate in the life of society. The noble goal of attaining the common good through an ordered social life can only be attained if political leaders are devoted to ensuring the welfare of individuals and groups in a spirit of integrity and fairness. Looking towards Africa's future role in the international community, my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, insisted that "a better world will come about only if it is built on the foundation of sound ethical and spiritual principles" ("Ecclesia in Africa," 114).
I appreciate Your Excellency's kind reference to the religious, educational and charitable apostolate of the Church in your country, and I assure you of the desire of the nation's Catholics to support the legitimate aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe. Through her network of educational institutions, hospitals, dispensaries and orphanages the Church stands at the service of people of all religions. She seeks to offer a specific contribution to the future of the nation by educating people in the practical skills and the spiritual values which will serve as the foundation for social renewal. For her part, the Church asks only for the freedom to carry out her proper mission, which serves the coming of God's Kingdom through her prophetic witness to the Gospel and her inculcation of its moral teaching. The Church thus works for the building of a harmonious and just society, while at the same time respecting and encouraging the freedom and responsibility of citizens to participate in the political process and in the pursuit of the common good.
Your Excellency, as you undertake your mission of representing the Republic of Zimbabwe to the Holy See, I offer my good wishes for the success of your work. Be assured that you may always count on the offices of the Roman Curia to assist and support you in the fulfillment of your high responsibilities. Upon you and your family, and upon all your fellow-citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Papal Address to Azerbaijan's Ambassador
"That Religious Freedom … Be Sanctioned as a Fundamental Civil Right"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to Elchin Oktyabr oglu Amirbayov, the new ambassador of Azerbaijan to the Holy See.
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It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican as the first Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Holy See. On this auspicious occasion I would ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings to His Excellency President Aliev, and to the Government and people of your noble land. Assure them of my gratitude for their good wishes and of my prayers for the nation's peace and well-being.
The Church's diplomatic relations form a part of her mission of service to the international community. Her engagement with civil society is anchored in the conviction that the task of building a more just world must acknowledge and consider man's supernatural vocation. The Holy See strives therefore to promote an understanding of the human person who "receives from God his essential dignity and with it the capacity to transcend every social order so as to move towards truth and goodness" (Encyclical Letter "Centesimus Annus," 38). From this foundation the Church applies the universal values which safeguard the dignity of every person and serve the common good to the vast array of cultures and nations that constitute our world.
The people of Azerbaijan know only too well that, if the spiritual dimension of persons is repressed or even denied, the soul of a nation is crushed. During the tragic epoch of intimidation in eastern European history, while the supremacy of force prevailed, the monotheistic faith communities present for centuries in your country preserved a hope for justice and freedom, a future in which the supremacy of truth would prevail. Today, they propose this anew. In fact, when my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II met last November with Religious Leaders of Azerbaijan representing the Muslim, Russian Orthodox and Jewish communities, he commented that the gathering was a symbol for the world of how tolerance between faith communities prepares the ground for a broader human, civil, and social development in greater solidarity.
As Azerbaijan continues to engage in the delicate task of forging its national character, it is to faith communities that political and civic authorities can turn for a determined commitment to shaping the social order in accordance with the common good. Such commitment demands that religious freedom, which preserves the singularity of each faith community, be sanctioned as a fundamental civil right and afforded protection by a robust framework of juridical norms which respect the laws and duties proper to religious communities (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Declaration on Religious Freedom "Dignitatis Humanae," 2). Such practical support of religious freedom by political leaders becomes a sure means for authentic social progress and peace. In this regard, I acknowledge with thanks the role of President Aliev and your Government in facilitating the reconstruction of the Catholic Church in Bakù together with the foundation of a home for the needy.
Mr. Ambassador, sound economic development has been a long-standing aspiration of all Azerbaijan's citizens. It is also a right which carries the corresponding duty to contribute, according to one's ability, to the genuine progress of the community. The priority of promoting social and commercial projects capable of creating a more equitable society represents a difficult though stimulating challenge for all who regulate and work in the business sector.
Your country has already taken some steps towards ensuring the fundamental rights of its citizens and promoting democratic practices. Much, however, remains to be achieved. Only in respecting the inviolable dignity of the human person and promoting the corresponding individual liberties can a civil society be constructed which contributes to the prosperity of all its citizens. Be assured that the Catholic Church community, though few in number in Azerbaijan, will, for its part, continue to contribute selflessly to the promotion of justice and the protection of the poor.
Your Excellency, I am confident that the diplomatic mission which you begin today will further strengthen the already fruitful relations existing between the Holy See and your country. Please know that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfillment of your duties. With my sincere good wishes, I invoke upon you, your family and all the people of Azerbaijan, abundant divine blessings.
Benedict XVI's Address to Diplomatic Corps
"Overcome Temptation of Clash of Civilizations"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today, when receiving in audience the ambassadors representing the 174 countries with which the Holy See enjoys full diplomatic relations.
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Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am happy to meet with you today, less than one month since the beginning of my pastoral service as Successor of Peter. I very much appreciate the words just addressed to me on your behalf by professor Giovanni Galassi, dean of the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See, appreciating the care of all the diplomats for the mission the Church realizes in the world. To each of you, as well as to your collaborators, I present my cordial greetings and best wishes, thanking you for the attentions you dispensed during the great events we lived through the past month of April, as well as the work you carry out daily.
In addressing you, my thoughts also go to the countries you represent and to their leaders. I also think of the nations with which the Holy See does not yet enjoy diplomatic relations. Some of them associated themselves to the ceremonies on the occasion of the death of my predecessor and my election to the See of Peter. Appreciating these gestures, I wish to express my gratitude to them today and address a deferential greeting to the civil authorities of those countries, formulating the desire to see them represented as soon as possible in the Apostolic See. From those countries, in particular those in which the Catholic communities are numerous, I have received messages that I have appreciated particularly. I would like to express the great appreciation I feel for these communities and for the ensemble of peoples to which they belong, assuring all that they are present in my prayer.
When meeting with you, how can we not evoke the long and fruitful ministry of dear Pope John Paul II! Tireless missionary of the Gospel in the numerous countries he visited, he also offered a unique service to the cause of the unity of the human family. He showed the way to God, inviting all men of good will to ceaselessly revive their conscience and build a society of justice, peace, solidarity, in mutual charity and forgiveness. Nor must we forget the innumerable meetings with heads of states, heads of government, and ambassadors, here, in the Vatican, in which he defended the cause of peace.
For my part, I come from a country in which peace and fraternity have a great place in the heart of its inhabitants, in particular, of those who, like me, knew war and the separation of brothers belonging to the same nation, because of devastating and inhuman ideologies that, cloaked in dreams and illusion, imposed on human beings the yoke of oppression. You will understand therefore that I am particularly sensitive to dialogue among all men, to overcome all forms of conflict and tension, and to make our world a world of peace and fraternity. Uniting efforts, all together, the Christian communities, leaders of nations, diplomats, and all men of good will, are called to realize a peaceful society to overcome the temptation of the clash between cultures, ethnic groups, and different worlds. To achieve this, every nation must draw from its spiritual and cultural heritage the best values of which it is bearer to go out, without fear, to meet the other, ready to share its spiritual and material riches for the good of all.
To continue in this direction, the Church does not cease to proclaim and defend fundamental human rights, unfortunately still violated in different parts of the world, and works so that the rights of every human person will be recognized to life, food, a roof, work, health care, protection of the family, the promotion of social development, and respect of the dignity of man and woman, created in the image of God. You may be sure that the Church will continue to offer her collaboration to safeguard the dignity of every man and to serve the common good, in the framework and with the means proper to her. She asks for no privileges for herself, but only the legitimate conditions of freedom and action to fulfill her mission. In the concert of nations, she always wishes to foster understanding and cooperation among peoples, based on an attitude of loyalty, discretion and cordiality.
Finally, I ask you to renew my gratitude to your governments for their participation in the ceremonies on the occasion of the death of Pope John Paul II and of my election, as well as my respectful and cordial greetings, which I accompany with a special prayer that God fill you and your families, as well as your countries and all those who reside in them, with the abundance of his blessings.