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The Church lives for others

Benedict XVI's Discourse to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See looked to the future with a breadth of vision not usually found in international leaders and a realism that did not skirt the problems. Although traditional in its form, the Pope's review clearly shows the Roman See's attention and approach to the world which he described at the beginning of his speech: in God, the Church lives for others and is therefore open to everyone.

This openness has been demonstrated in the past few weeks by the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation – an event that is a cause for “deep satisfaction”, Benedict XVI chose to underline – and by the President of Vietnam's visit, as well as, in the course of the year that has just ended, by the Pontiff's Meetings with numerous political leaders in the Vatican and during his Visits and Travels.

The dramatic crisis of the world economy and the consequent social instability stand in the foreground of the international scene. The root of the crisis – as one may read in Caritas in Veritate – lies in the self-centred and materialistic mindset. It has effects that also threaten creation: one example is the environmental degradation that came to light in the atheistic regimes of Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

This is why today the Holy See shares the strong concern about the practical failure of the Copenhagen Convention and hopes that at the upcoming meetings in Bonn and in Mexico City the financial and political resistence to the fight against climate change may be overcome. Otherwise the very future of some countries will be jeopardized, the Pope said without mincing his words.

Attentive to environmental preservation, the Church insists with all the more reason on the respect – which cannot be renounced – that is due to the human person. This entails the protection of life from conception and a fair distribution of food resources, which are sufficient for the entire population of the world, – as the Holy See has been repeating for decades – in the face of interested catastrophism.

So it was that Benedict XVI reiterated his anxiety about the exploitation of vast tracts of land in Africa, about the production of narcotics in Afghanistan and in certain Latin American countries and, above all, about the constant increase in military spending and the cost of maintaining and developing nuclear arsenals. This will be the topic, he said, of the Review Conference to be held in New York this May.

Many unsustainable situations due to the increase in violence, poverty and hunger give rise to the world phenomenon of massive migration which prompted the Pope to urge civil authorities to carry out their work “with justice, solidarity and foresight”. He mentioned in particular the exodus of Christians from the Middle East. And precisely because of this disturbing phenomenon – that risks extinguishing the Christian presence in the regions where the Church was born – Benedict XVI has decided to convene an Assembly of the Synod of Bishops next autumn.

He then reaffirmed the request for recognition of the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as for the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem.

The world crisis and that of individual societies originate in the hearts of men and women, the Pope repeated, and can be surmounted by a change of mindset and lifestyle, only with a great educational effort. The Church wishes to take part in this and for this reason her public role needs to be recognized in Eur0pe, which must not abandon the fount of its own identity, and throughout the world in which the Church does not claim privileges but only to be able to live for others, faithful to the one Lord.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 20, 2019

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