.- The Holy Father accepted the credentials of the new ambassador to the Holy See from Guatemala, Mr. Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, on Saturday morning. In his message to the diplomat, the Pope addressed the importance of protecting the vulnerable in the country and reinforcing their strong values.
Pope Benedict referred to the centuries-long history of the Gospel in the country of Guatemala, throughout which the people have demonstrated a "very rooted faith in God," devotion for the Virgin and a "faithful love" for the Church and the Successor of Peter.
As he addressed the current environment of faith and life in the country, the Pope expressed his "affection and spiritual closeness" for those in Guatemala who suffer from malnutrition and poverty due to "climactic phenomena" that make drought more intense and destroy crops.
He recognized those institutions and individuals who dedicate themselves to alleviating the difficulties of those in need and expressed his gratitude to those who "are doing everything possible to mitigate the scarcity in broad sectors of the population," especially the "beloved children of the Church of Guatemala," including priests, religious and lay faithful.
Pope Benedict stressed the "basic right" of every person to adequate nutrition and vocalized the importance of providing more than material and administrative assistance. Working towards this goal requires "men and women with feelings of compassion and solidarity," which should be combined with charity.
"Working in this direction is promoting and dignifying the life of all, especially that of the most vulnerable and unprotected," Benedict XVI added, citing the effects of malnutrition on the mental and physical states of children.
The Holy Father encouraged Guatemelans to fight those things that "deteriorate the Guatemalan social fabric" including drug trafficking, violence, illiteracy and loss of moral references for new generations, by looking to the "numerous human and evangelical values" that bless the people of Guatemela such as love of the family, respect for elders, a sense of responsibility and trust in God.
Initiatives that are meant to "protect and increase this inestimable wealth," he said, must be creative to reverse the effects of poverty and "cooperate in the ‘dignification’ of all human beings."
The Holy Father also recognized the need to constantly work for "democratic strengthening and political stability” in the nation, which will in turn advance a "true, integral development of the person." He also praised Guatemela for its Constitution that protects life "from conception to natural death."
The Pope concluded by offering the "complete availability" of his collaborators to the ambassador's mission and prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Ambassador Matta Fahsen has been Guatemala's lead diplomat to Colombia, Russia, the Netherlands and Great Britain in the last 20 years and has seven children.