.- Yesterday at the Vatican, Benedict XVI addressed the 176 States of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. The Pope spent most of his talk giving a rundown of the state of the world, focusing on several regions that have seen unrest.
In his address, Pope Benedict mentioned his journeys abroad, pointing specifically to his visit to Brazil. He expressed hope for “increasing co-operation among the peoples of Latin America, and, within each of the countries that make up that continent, the resolution of internal conflicts.”
He continued, “I wish to mention Cuba, which is preparing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the visit of my venerable predecessor. Pope John Paul II was received with affection by the authorities and by the people, and he encouraged all Cubans to work together for a better future. I should like to reiterate this message of hope, which has lost none of its relevance.”
The Pontiff also pinpointed destruction due to natural disasters that have recently occurred in different parts of the world. “My thoughts and prayers are directed especially towards the peoples affected by appalling natural disasters. I am thinking of the hurricanes and floods which have devastated certain regions of Mexico and Central America, as well as countries in Africa and Asia, especially Bangladesh, and parts of Oceania.”
Reflecting on the concern for the Middle East, he said: "I am glad that the Annapolis Conference pointed towards the abandonment of partisan or unilateral solutions, in favor of a global approach respectful of the rights and legitimate interests of all the peoples of the region. I appeal once more to the Israelis and the Palestinians to concentrate their energies on the implementation of commitments made on that occasion, and to expedite the process that has happily been restarted. Moreover, I invite the international community to give strong support to these two peoples and to understand their respective sufferings and fears.”
“Who can remain unmoved by the plight of Lebanon, amid its trials and all the violence that continues to shake that beloved country? It is my earnest wish that the Lebanese people will be able to decide freely on their future and I ask the Lord to enlighten them, beginning with the leaders of public life, so that, putting aside particular interests, they will be ready to pledge themselves to the path of dialogue and reconciliation. Only in this way will the country be able to progress in stability and to become once more an example of the peaceful coexistence of different communities.
“In Iraq too, reconciliation is urgently needed! At present, terrorist attacks, threats and violence continue, especially against the Christian community, and the news which arrived yesterday confirms our concern; it is clear that certain difficult political issues remain unresolved. In this context, an appropriate constitutional reform will need to safeguard the rights of minorities. Important humanitarian aid is necessary for the peoples affected by the war; I am thinking especially of displaced persons within the country and refugees who have fled abroad, among whom there are many Christians.”
“I should also like to express my support for continued and uninterrupted pursuit of the path of diplomacy in order to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear program, by negotiating in good faith, adopting measures designed to increase transparency and mutual trust, and always taking account of the authentic needs of peoples and the common good of the human family.”
“Turning our gaze now towards the whole of Asia, I should like to draw your attention to some other crisis situations, first of all to Pakistan, which has suffered from serious violence in recent months. I hope that all political and social forces will commit themselves to building a peaceful society, respectful of the rights of all. In Afghanistan, in addition to violence, there are other serious social problems, such as the production of drugs.”
Reflecting on Africa, the Holy Father said: "I should like first of all to reiterate my deep anguish, on observing that hope seems almost vanquished by the menacing sequence of hunger and death that is unfolding in Darfur. With all my heart I pray that the joint operation of the United Nations and the African Union, whose mission has just begun, will bring aid and comfort to the suffering populations.”
“Somalia, particularly Mogadishu, continues to be afflicted by violence and poverty. I appeal to the parties in conflict to cease their military operations, to facilitate the movement of humanitarian aid and to respect civilians.”
“In recent days Kenya has experienced an abrupt outbreak of violence. I join the bishops in their appeal made on 2 January, inviting all the inhabitants, especially political leaders, to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue, based on justice and fraternity.”
Pope Benedict concluded by turning his attention to Europe: “I rejoice at the progress that has been made in various countries of the Balkan region, and I express once again the hope that the definitive status of Kosovo will take account of the legitimate claims of the parties involved and will guarantee security and respect for the rights of all the inhabitants of this land, so that the specter of violence will be definitively removed and European stability strengthened.”
Continuing his discussion on Europe, the Pope gave assurances that he is "following attentively the new phase which began with the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon. This step gives a boost to the process of building the 'European home', which 'will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions' and if it does not deny its Christian roots.”
“From this rapid overview it appears clear that the security and stability of the world are still fragile. The factors of concern are varied and law can be an effective force for peace only if its foundations remain solidly anchored in natural law, given by the Creator. This is another reason why God can never be excluded from the horizon of man or of history. God's name is a name of justice, it represents an urgent appeal for peace.”