Pope Benedict XVI received Italy’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Antonio Zanardi Landi, today on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. The pontiff spoke with the new diplomat about the "mutual collaboration" between Church and State "for the promotion of mankind and the good of the entire national community."
Recently, the Church in Italy has come under attack for its tax-exempt status from certain radical and Masonic groups within the European Union. The Pope seemed to be referring to this when he added, "the Church does not aim to acquire power nor does she seek privileges or positions of economic and social advantage. "Her only aim, is to serve mankind, drawing inspiration, as the supreme norm of behavior, from the words and example of Jesus Christ Who 'went about doing good and healing everyone.'”
Reiterating earlier responses to allegations that the Church was taking advantage of her outreach, Benedict told Landri, “the Catholic Church asks to be considered for her specific nature, and to have the opportunity freely to carry out her special mission for the good, not only of her own faithful, but of all Italians."
The Pope also addressed Italy’s Christian heritage and challenged Italians to use the riches of their Christian culture as, "a stimulus to seek new ways to face the great challenges that characterize the post-modern age." In this context the Pope mentioned "the defense of life, ... the protection of the rights of the individual and the family, the building of a united world, respect for creation and inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue."
After recalling that the year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope pointed out that this date "could constitute a useful occasion for Italy to offer its own contribution to the creation of a just order in the international arena, at the center of which is ... respect for mankind, for his dignity and for his inalienable rights."
Quoting from his own Message for World Peace Day 2007, the Holy Father then went on to say that the Declaration of Human Rights "is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God."
"Italy," Pope Benedict , "by virtue of its recent election as a member of the Council for Human Rights, and even more so for its own particular tradition of humanity and generosity, cannot but feel committed to the tireless construction of peace and the defense of the dignity of human beings and all their inalienable rights, including the right to religious freedom."