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The bearing walls of a free society

· At the audience to the diplomatic corps Benedict XVI denounces the threats to social peace of marginalization, intolerance, violence towards people, symbols and religious institutions ·

The Pope wishes for a spirit of perseverance and mutual commitment in this particular moment in Italian history

A strong call to the “grave responsibility to work for peace” which is especially incumbent upon civil and political authorities. This was the core of the Benedict XVI's address on Monday, 7 January, to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in the traditional meeting at the beginning of the year in the Regia Hall of the Apostolic Palace. The crisis that disrupts mankind mainly depends on the lack of social peace which, from the Christian point of view, is the close link between “the glorification of God and human peace on earth”. So much so that it is precisely forgetfulness of God which leads to violence. “Without openness to the transcendent”, the Pope stated, “human beings easily become prey to relativism and find it difficult to act justly and to work for peace”.

The Pope did not hesitate to identify the threats to 'social peace' as attacks on religious freedom which are expressed in many different forms: from the marginalization of religion in social life to intolerance and violence  “towards individuals, symbols of religious identity and religious institutions”.  Benedict XVI added to this list the denial of the right to conscientious objection. The Pope then warned that the “'bearing walls' of any society that wishes to be truly free and democratic” are in danger.

Concerning the Pope is also the perpetuation of the effects of that “baneful religious fanaticism which, again in 2012, reaped victims in some countries represented here”. Acting as if God does not exist or ignoring his true face means falsifying religion itself which “aims at reconciling men and women with God”.

The Holy Father then listed many of the most painful issues which upset today's world: from the situation in Syria, to those in the Holy Land, Africa and Europe. He concluded his address by underlining the necessity for laws to safeguard life in all of its forms, as well as all the most basic human rights; for rediscovering the meaning of work and putting a stop to making profit an absolute and to selfishness.

The Pope also dedicated his recent tweets – launched this morning - to three of the main themes of his address: violence in Syria, suffering in Nigeria and the safeguard of the conscientious objection.

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