Remembering the historical cooperation of the Catholic Church with the Chilean government on Thursday, the Holy Father hoped for collaboration to confront current threats to the cultural identity of the nation. Affirming that this is important, especially to young people today, he said that the Church always works for the good of all people and not just believers.
Pope Benedict XVI met with the new Chilean ambassador to the Holy See, Fernando Zegers, on Thursday morning. Offering his credentials, Mr. Zegers recalled the long history of the cooperation between Church and State in the country and most recently the "irreplaceable" role of the Church in rebuilding efforts after the devastating earthquake near the city of Concepcion last February.
Accepting the new diplomat's credentials, the Pope said that he holds Chile "very close to his heart ... especially after the terrible earthquake." He assured the ambassador that he has also not forgotten the trapped miners and their families for whom he continues to "fervently" pray.
He recognized the unity of the Chilean people in the face of such difficulties and praised the Church for its efforts to help those who most need it. Noting the role of the Church in important events throughout the country's recently celebrated 200-year history and in forming the country's national identity, Benedict XVI observed that "the fruits that the Gospel has produced in this blessed land are numerous."
Citing the example of the successful peace accord between Argentina and Chile mediated by Pope John Paul II in the 1980s, he said it cannot be explained without "taking accounting of how deep the seed of the Gospel is rooted in the heart of Chileans."
"Likewise," he added, “it is important” now when the cultural identity is threatened "to promote especially among the youngest people healthy pride, a renewed appreciation and re-evaluation of their faith, their history, their culture, their traditions and their artistic wealth, and of that which constitutes the best and richest spiritual and human patrimony of Chile."
Although they are independent and autonomous, said the Pope, the Church and State "are called to develop a loyal and respectful collaboration to serve the personal and social vocations of people."
The Church, he explained, is ever searching to answer the questions of man. And, "when the Church raises her voice to the great challenges and current problems ... she does not act for a particular interest or because of principles that only can be perceived by those who profess a determined religious faith.
"Respecting the rules of democratic co-existence," he affirmed, "she does so for the good of all society and in the name of values that all people can share with their upright reason."