The Holy Father spoke extensively about the role of fraternity in society on Friday while meeting with the new ambassador to the Holy See from the African country of Benin. Looking to the country's motto, he highlighted the relationship of fraternity, justice and the need for political leaders who work for the good of the people.
Benedict XVI addressed the words to Comlanvi Theodore Loko on Friday as he received him in audience for the delivery of his diplomatic credentials.
Noting the country of Benin's motto of "Fraternity, Justice, Work," Pope Benedict called the on the Beninese to promote true fraternity as "an essential precondition for social peace and a factor of integral human promotion."
It is the "concrete expression of the equal dignity of all citizens," he said, "a fundamental principle and base virtue for building a genuinely illuminated society ..."
Fraternity, he said, "must also lead to the search for justice, the absence of which is always a cause of social tension and leads to dire consequences."
Alluding to the corruption that has led to instability in the country, the Holy Father went on to speak of the "evil" manifested by those who seek personal gain over the search for the common good. This, he explained, "little by little undermines public institutions and prevents the full development of human beings.
"A country's political, economic and social leaders are its 'social conscience,'guaranteeing the transparency of its structures and the ethics that animate the life of society,” he underscored.
"They must be just. Justice always accompanies fraternity."
Lastly, Pope Benedict touched on the importance of people engaging in work, which “can satisfy their basic needs and contribute to building a prosperous, just and fraternal society.”
Praising Benin's motto as the demonstration of a nation aspiring to noble human ideals, the Holy Father said that its application “contributes to solidarity with other nations," a fact that he noted was displayed by the people of Benin when they sent aid to Haiti after its devastating earthquake.