Monday, January 07, 2013

Pope to ambassadors: Promote education, defense of life and religious freedom

January 7, 2013. ( The Holy See may be the smallest state in the world, but its global reach is undeniable. In his annual address to the diplomatic corps,  the Pope met with roughly 180 ambassadors from every corner of the world. 

“In an ever more open world, building peace through dialogue is no longer a choice but a necessity!”

On a global scale, the Pope talked about  the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, the attacks against Christians in Nigeria, the turmoil in Syria and Egypt. On a social level,  he said he was dismayed by how traditionally Christian countries, mostly in the West, are easing their stance on abortion by blurring the difference between human rights and individualism.

“It is a question of being vigilant, lest the law unjustly alter the balance between the right to life of the mother and that of the unborn child, a right belonging equally to both.”
Among the ambassadors gathered at the Vatican's Regia Hall was British ambassador, Nigel Baker. He says, he was struck by the Pope's call for peace, justice and authentic leadership.

British Ambassador to the Holy See
“Leadership is crucial at this moment of crisis and it's important for leaders to set very clear directions for their countries, but also more widely.”
Philippine’s ambassador to the Holy See was also present at the meeting, where the Pope emphasized the need to invest in education.

Philippine’s Ambassador to the Holy See
“I think we need education. That is what is very important.”

The Pope stressed the importance of education in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. But in light of the global economic crisis, he added that true progress goes far beyond good economic models.

“Building peace means training individuals to fight corruption, criminal activity, the production and trade in narcotics, as well as abstaining from divisions and tensions which threaten to exhaust society.”

British Ambassador to the Holy See
“I was particularly struck when the Pope, when referring to the economic crisis said that we must not only be concerned about financial spreads, but also being concerned about social spreads, the gap between the rich and poor.”

When it comes to religious freedom, the Pope said the issue doesn't just involve extreme cases like violence and religious attacks. The issue, says the Pope, is also seen when people, often Christians, are marginalized in society.

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