The Pope explained to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See — one of the most representative Diplomatic Corps in the world — the role of the Catholic Church in the international context. An active presence respectful of the competence of the civil authorities, motivated by a conviction: that God alone responds to the human heart and that the religious dimension is therefore “undeniable and irrepressible”.
This is the deep root of what, expressing it concisely, is called “Vatican policy”, which does not seek nonexistent privileges but only freedom for the mission, the original and constitutive aspect of the Christian community.
Hence the concern for religious freedom which, for Benedict XVI, is an indispensable element for building peace: a fundamental right, therefore, that is often violated and even denied. Today the awareness of the gravity of these phenomena that offend both God and man, making coexistence impossible, is growing. These are very positive signs, as are the anxious voices raised in various Muslim countries, and in Europe, in the face of the growth of Christianophobia and the bloody attacks that did not even respect places of worship.
The Pope’s analysis went to the root of the pretexts that instigate hate campaigns, especially in the vast region of the Middle East. Christians here — he repeated, borrowing the words of the Synod celebrated in October — are “original and authentic” citizens, as they are in Iraq and Egypt where the Christian tradition is both ancient and thriving.
So they are not foreign but keen to contribute to building the common good, faithful to God and loyal to their homeland: in the Middle East, in Africa, in China, everywhere.
For this reason Benedict XVI asked the civil authorities of the different countries to take concrete steps on behalf of authentic religious freedom, such as abrogating the Pakistani law against blasphemy.
Positive signs are also coming from countries with an ancient Christianity. If, in fact, tenacious attempts to marginalize religion are increasing — by denying the right to objection of conscience in the health-care and legal sectors, suppressing symbols, imposing new school subjects and inventing presumed rights to mask “selfish desires” — the Council of Europe has adopted a resolution that protects the conscientious objection of doctors, while many, such as the Italian Government — followed by the Governments of other countries — and the Patriarchate of Moscow, have expressed their opinion in favour of displaying the Crucifix.
It is consequently a picture in with light and shade, in which Benedict XVI’s gaze perceives tragedies and difficulties but also positive signs — as happened for the tributes in the centenary of the birth of Mother Teresa, an emblem of the policy of the Church which does not seek privileges but rather asks for the freedom to bear witness to and proclaim God’s love for every human being.
St. Peter’s Square
Nov. 21, 2019
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