Ecuador: new constitution and religious freedom

.- Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Fausto Cordovez Chiriboga, the new ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the Holy See.

After remarking how "new scenarios of freedom and hope," are "often overturned by unstable political situations and as a consequence of weak social structures," the Holy Father affirmed "the urgent necessity to work towards building an internal and international order that promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and respect for human rights, and the recognition, above all, of the central position of the individual and his inviolable dignity."

Faced with the fact that "many Ecuadorians emigrate to other countries in difficult circumstances, seeking a better future for themselves and their families," it must not be forgotten, said the Pope, "that love - caritas - will always be necessary even in the fairest of societies. No State order, however just it may be, can render superfluous the service of love. ... Indeed it is charity, the generous giving of self to others, that has generated and continues to generate those activities of education, assistance, promotion and development which so honor the Church and Ecuadorian society."

"Through her pastoral ministry the Catholic Church ... makes an important contribution to the overall good of the country," said the Holy Father. "Hence the need to promote and strengthen the margin of freedom which she is recognized as having in the law and constitution of Ecuador. Hence also, it is to be hoped that the new constitution will provide ample guarantees for the religious freedom of the Ecuadorian people, so that the nation may have a legal framework which ... conforms to its context and to international agreements."

The Pope emphasized that "the Church's freedom of action, apart from being an alienable right, is a primordial condition for her to carry out her mission among people, sometimes in difficult circumstances. For this reason," he went on quoting his own Encyclical "Deus caritas est," "we do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need.

"There can, indeed, be no other aspiration for a democratic government committed to fomenting a culture of respect and equality before the law, and to the exemplary exercise of an authority which aims to serve all its people. Hence, the government of Ecuador has expressed its firm will to make a priority of tending to the most needy, drawing inspiration from the Church's social doctrine."

The Holy Father concluded by expressing the hope that Ecuador's "citizens may enjoy all their rights, together with their corresponding obligations, achieving better living conditions and easier access to a proper home and to a job, to education and healthcare, in full respect for life from conception to natural end."

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