Pope Benedict XVI received eight ambassadors hailing from countries ranging from Mongolia to Norway on Friday. Assuring the diplomats that the Catholic Church will work with them, the Pope called for a renewed effort to establish true peace, especially since the world is undergoing an economic and social crisis.
The Holy Father first addressed the diplomats as a group, then gave each of them a speech in written form concerning issues specific to his or her own country.
After telling the ambassadors that the Church stands ready and willing to offer her Gospel-based contribution, Benedict XVI turned his attention to how he believes the diplomats can create peace in their countries and the world.
"Today, in the midst of a worldwide social and economic crisis, people must regain an awareness of the need to struggle ... in order to establish true peace, with the aim of constructing a more just and prosperous world."
"Injustices, often so manifest, among or within nations, like all processes that contribute to dividing or marginalizing peoples, represent attacks against peace and create a grave risk of conflict," the Pope warned.
Building true peace in today's world, the Holy Father said, can only be done "by intervening firmly to eliminate the inequality engendered by unjust systems, and so allowing everyone a standard of living that enables them to live a dignified and prosperous existence."
The inequalities in society have become "even more evident because of the current financial and economic crisis which has also had various repercussions on low-income countries," he pointed out.
Among these, the Pope mentioned "the tailing off of foreign investment, the fall in demand for raw materials and the tendency for international aid to diminish," as well as "the drop in remittances of emigrants, likewise victims of the recession which also affects their host countries."
"The crisis could become a catastrophe for the inhabitants of weaker countries," warned Benedict XVI, highlighting how economic woes also have another effect, because "the desperation they bring forces some people to anguished efforts to seek solutions that enable them to survive from day to day. Unfortunately, such efforts are often accompanied by individual or collective acts of violence that can further destabilize already-weakened societies," he said.
Faced with this situation, the Pope noted that some countries have suggested increasing their aid to the "most defenseless nations" and he encouraged other developed countries to follow their example. He also launched an appeal for "greater fraternity and solidarity, and real global generosity," and for "developed countries to rediscover a sense of proportion and sobriety in their economies and lifestyles."
"You must not ignore," the Pope told the ambassadors, "new forms of violence that have arisen over recent years and that, alas, seek support from the Name of God to justify dangerous acts. ... This had sometimes led to the view that religions are a threat to societies, and they have been attacked and discredited by claiming that they are not agents for peace. Religious leaders have the duty to accompany and enlighten believers so as to ensure they become increasingly saintly and interpret divine words in the light of truth."
"It is necessary favor the resurgence of a world in which religions and societies can open to one another, thanks to the openness that religions practice within and among themselves. This will be an authentic testimony to life. This will create a space for positive and necessary dialogue. By making her contribution to the world, the Catholic Church wishes to bear witness to her positive vision of man's future," the Holy Father concluded.
In his letter to the ambassador from India, the Holy Father spoke of his deep concern for Christians who have suffered from outbreaks of violence and appealed for all Indians to reject hatred and renounce violence in all its forms.
The letter written to the South African ambassador touched on the country's struggle against HIV/AIDS and assured that "the Church takes seriously her part in the campaign against the spread of [the disease] by emphasizing fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of it. At the same time she already offers much assistance on a practical level to people suffering from this affliction on your continent and throughout the world."
The eight new ambassadors to the Holy See who presented the Pope with their Letters of Credence are: Danzannorov Boldbaatar of Mongolia; Chitra Narayanan of India; Charles Borromee Todjinou of Benin, Robert Carey Moore-Jones of New Zealand; George Johannes of South Africa; Beyon Luc Adolphe Tiao of Burkina Faso; Neville Melvin Gertze of Namibia, and Rolf Trolle Andersen of Norway.