Pope Benedict held an unusually large audience today as he received seven new ambassadors to the Holy See from various countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. He used the occasion to call upon all public officials to do everything in their power to restore hope to the people they rule. The pontiff said this must be done by overcoming violence with dialogue and educating people in human and moral values.
The Holy Father told the diplomats that their role is “particularly important in today's world, in order to show that in all situations of international life, dialogue must overcome violence, and the desire for peace and fraternity must prevail over contrasts and selfishness that lead[s] only to tensions”.
Benedict said that through these ambassadors he wished to “launch a fresh call to everyone who plays a role in public life and to those who participate in governing nations, to do everything in their power to restore hope to the peoples they rule.”
The Pope also provided them with a rough sketch of how to restore hope to their citizens. He explained that governments must bear in mind “their deepest aspirations so that everyone may benefit from the profits of the natural and economic resources of his or her country, in accordance with the principles of justice and equity."
Most importantly though, Pope Benedict emphasized that societies should invest in young people who "are a country's greatest wealth" and that their "integral education" is "a fundamental necessity."
While more secular societies tend to focus only on technical and academic training for their youth, Benedict XVI insisted that this is “not enough”, and that it is important "to promote education based on human and moral values." This will ensure that young people "may occupy their rightful place in the development of the nation," having been given an "awareness of the needs of others."
Education is indispensable for fighting “the desperation that can take root in the hearts of young people” and the lack of it “lies at the base of many individual or collective acts of violence,” the Pope said. Efforts must be made “with the help of international institutions involved in eradicating illiteracy," to increase young people’s hope, he insisted.
The Holy Father completed his address by pointing out that the Catholic Church, "through her various educational institutions, is in the frontline alongside men and women of good will, in the field of the integral formation of the young."
The diplomats received by Pope Benedict XVI are: Chaiyong Satjipanon of Thailand, Alain Butler-Payette of Seychelles, Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of Namibia, Elizabeth Ya Eli Harding of Gambia, Urmila Joella- Sewnundun of Suriname, Barry Desker of Singapore, and Suhail Khalil Shuhaiber of Kuwait.
The Pope addressed the diplomats as a group before greeting them individually and handing each a written copy of a speech concerning the specific situation in his or her own country.