Religion and the State

Benedict receives ambassadors, explains proper role of religion in society

Church and State must support one another, says Benedict
Church and State must support one another, says Benedict

.- Five more ambassadors were received by the Holy See today. In receiving the new representatives, Benedict XVI took the opportunity to address the obligation of richer nations to not exploit poorer nations and the role of religion in its interaction with society.

The Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of the new ambassadors: Ayesha Riyaz of Pakistan, Larus Stefansson of Iceland, Juri Seilenthal of Estonia, Domitille Barancira of Burundi and Ahmed Hamid Elfaki Hamid of Sudan.

Speaking about how to promote unity in society today, Benedict said, "in the modern world it is more than ever important to affirm the bonds that unite countries, with special attention towards the poorest nations.

"It is not possible," he added, "to continue using the wealth of the poorest countries with impunity, without them also being able to participate in world growth…” The Holy Father asserted that by paying attention to this situation, the world will help promote “solidarity, peace and fraternity, within countries and between countries."

The pontiff also spoke about how religion should be treated by states, saying, “no one should be subject to discrimination or be relegated to the margins of society for their religious beliefs and practices, which are such fundamental elements of people's freedom."

"Authentic religion," he concluded, "cannot be a source of division or of violence between people or between human communities. On the contrary religion lies at the basis of the awareness that all people are brothers, who must be protected and helped to develop."

Benedict also gave texts to the individual ambassadors that were particular to their
country’s situation.

In the talk given to the ambassador from Burundi, the Holy Father called upon God to support all that country's citizens "in their valiant and generous commitment ... to build together an ever more fraternal and united society, may this also be a concrete sign and a clarion call for consolidating peace and stability in the region of the Great Lakes."

Recalling Archbishop Michael J, Courtney, the apostolic nuncio to Burundi who was murdered in 2003, the Pope calls on the State authorities "not to cease their efforts to clarify the causes of the crime and to ensure those responsible are brought to justice."

To the ambassador from Sudan, Benedict XVI mentioned the conflict in the Darfur region, which has been going on since 2003, calling for a political solution "that respects cultural, ethnic and religious minorities." The Pope emphasized how peace cannot be achieved "by force of arms, but rather by a culture of dialogue and negotiation."

The Holy Father also highlighted the fact that, "in order for all human beings to be able to establish fraternal and sincere relations, and to build a more just society, the contribution of the different religious traditions present in the country, with their rich heritage of human, moral and spiritual values, is of fundamental importance."


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