Pope Benedict xvi's Discourse to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See was realistic and practical; he embraced the world in a panoramic perspective that would be difficult to match.
Thus, the Bishop of Rome's unity of perspective and authority are yet again confirmed, a Bishop who called to mind not of course with a cold and bureaucratic list of crises the human situations at the heart of the Church, true expert in humanity. The crises range from suffering caused by natural disasters to the distress that results from national or regional conflicts.
It would be easy for those directing the various organs of information across the world should they be on par with the task to rediscover in the Pope's words a very concrete attention to the individual situations that increasingly concern millions of men and women every day.
First and foremost is the plight of the Holy Land, for decades the scene of conflict, concerning which Benedict xvi has repeated for the umpteenth time that the military option is not a solution and that all violence must be firmly condemned. And that these are not merely nice words is apparent from his mention of the upcoming elections and his declaration that support must be given to the dialogue between Israel and Syria.
Likewise, the realism of the Holy See in regards to the situation in the Middle East is addressed to the rebuilding of an Iraq without discrimination and to a negotiated solution to Iran's nuclear programme. It is also addressed to the urgent need to insist on negotiation in Asia in the Philippines, between Beijing and Taipei, in Sri Lanka and in the central regions of the continent over the need for legislation to guarantee religious freedom.
Africa, forgotten in the international news, is also very present in the diplomacy of the Holy See, especially with regard to the tragedies of poverty and refugees (in Somalia, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo), as well as to the crisis in Zimbabwe and, contrarily, to the new hopes that are surfacing in Burundi.
The desire for peace and to overcome poverty is also common to Latin America, where the problems of emigrants are dramatic and the fight against the drug trade and corruption is urgently needed but where, nonetheless, recognition of the Catholic presence is widespread. This is further confirmed by the recently signed Agreement between the Holy See and Brazil.
In his Pauline Year Discourse Benedict xvi also recalled the Christian communities in Turkey and the negotiations underway in Cyprus. Lastly, he mentioned the tensions in the Caucasus and in the Balkans.
The realism of the Holy See testified to daily in the world by the presence and attention on the part of Catholics to every human being is geared to achieving peace. Peace, of course, still remains distant, but it has clearly defined features: security and development are the names of peace today. This is why the Holy See signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions; this is why the arms race is a scandal; this is why the Catholic Church is paying increasing and concrete attention to the financial and economic crisis.
Forty years have passed since Paul vi published his Encyclicals Populorum progressio and Humanae vitae , but their teaching on the defence of human life from poverty and from forms of manipulation aimed at injustice is unfortunately still timely.
For this reason, even if the voices of Christians are often so disturbing as to provoke persecution and intolerance, the Bishop of Rome speaks, and we await his words.
St. Peter’s Square
Dec. 14, 2019
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