This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received the Letters of Credence of Firmin Mboutsou, the new ambassador of Gabon to the Holy See. During his address, the Holy Father called on the government of Gabon to become more open to the Church’s efforts to provide education.
"The Church contributes," said the Holy Father, "and wishes to contribute ever more to educating men, women and children, without distinction, respecting people and their cultures, and transmitting to each the spiritual and moral values indispensable for human development.” Also of value, the Pope pointed out, is the Church’s work to teach healthcare workers. Hopefully, Benedict XVI said, Gabon and the Catholic Church can come to an agreement that fully recognizes and supports this charitable service.
The Holy Father then went on to refer to agreements concerning education signed in 2001, expressing his hope that they "become established at the diocesan level.”
“The Church,” he said, "wishes to maintain and develop quality teaching," and this "requires the support of the authorities and of the various services of the State," the Pope told Mr. Mboutsou.
Another area of need the Holy Father pointed to was the "organization of pastoral care in the armed forces" in Gabon. It is important, Pope Benedict said, for the military to be “able to form Christian communities under the guidance of a pastor capable of recognizing and respecting the special status of the military world."
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the issues involving the rest of Africa. He began by calling the "authorities and men and women of good will, especially on the beloved continent of Africa, to commit themselves ever more intensely to building a peaceful, fraternal and united world."
"Without justice", Benedict said, "without fighting all forms of corruption, without respecting the rules of law, true peace is impossible and citizens will clearly find it difficult to put faith in their leaders. Indeed, without respect for the freedom of each individual, it is not possible to speak of peace." In this context, the Pope indicated that the Church is ready to provide collaboration and support for "all those people whose primary concern is to build a society respectful of the most elemental rights of human beings."
Benedict XVI finished his speech by offering a way forward for Africa: "the future is often seen in relation to purely economic questions, which lie at the origin of numerous conflicts. The inhabitants of the country must be the primary beneficiaries of the nation's natural wealth, and do everything possible to protect the planet, leaving future generations a truly inhabitable world capable of feeding all its people."