Pope Benedict welcomed the new ambassador of Costa Rica to the Holy See, praising the diplomat's country for its pro-life policies. The Pontiff also stressed the importance of Costa Rica working to “safeguard” the institution of marriage as defined between “one man and one woman.”
The Pope received the Letters of Credence of new ambassador Fernando F. Sanchez Campos on Dec. 3. He affirmed the diplomat's country as "a people who centuries ago welcomed the evangelical seed” which sprouted into “countless educational, healthcare and humanitarian initiatives.”
“Thus the children of your land well know that in Christ the Son of God man can always find the strength to combat poverty, domestic violence, unemployment and corruption, seeking social justice, the common good, and the integral progress of human beings,” he said. “No one must feel themselves to be detached from the attainment of these exalted goals.”
In this context, the Pope urged public authorities to work as “a moral force” that supports “each individual's freedom and sense of responsibility.”
“This must not undermine the fundamental values which support the inviolable dignity of the person, beginning with the unswerving protection of human life,” he said.
He then praised Costa Rica for its involvement in the American Convention of Human Rights – also known as the San Jose pact – a 1969 initiative by several Latin American countries that urges the protection of human life from conception to natural death.
“I am pleased to recall that it was in your country that the Pact of San Jose was signed,” the Pope said, expressing hope that Costa Rica will not change its position in the future and “violate the rights of the unborn with laws that legitimize in vitro fertilization or abortion.”
Pope Benedict also urged political leaders to work against juvenile delinquency, child labor and drug trafficking, citing the importance of “security in cities, adequate education of children and young people, due attention to those in prison and effective healthcare for everyone.”
He then lauded Costa Rica for distinguishing itself in the field of environmental protection and its “search for a balance between human development and the safeguarding of natural resources.”
“Protecting the natural environment will facilitate the defense of peace, because the two are intimately related,” he said.
“I encourage all Costa Ricans to continue to work toward what favors true human development, in harmony with the creation, while avoiding spurious and false interests, and lack of foresight in a field of such transcendent importance.”
The Pontiff also made reference to families as “pillars” of Costa Rican society and national stability.
“This institution is suffering, perhaps like no other, the effects of the broad and rapid transformations of society and culture,” he said, adding that “nonetheless, it must not lose its true identity.”
“Thus, no measure will be in vain if it favors, safeguards and supports marriage between a man and a woman.”
In his address to Ambassador Sanchez, the Pope also sent his greetings to Costa Rica as they celebrate the 375th anniversary of the country's patroness, the image of Our Lady of the Angels. The history of the image goes back to the 17th century, a time when the city of Cartago was racially segregated. A poor Mestizo woman named Juana Pereira discovered an image of the Blessed Mother carved in dark stone on the Aug. 2 Feast of the Holy Angels.
No matter where Juana placed the image, it kept disappearing and returning to the same place it was discovered. A shrine was then built in that location to house the three-inch statue, affectionately called “La Negrita" (the little black one). Pope Pius XI declared the shrine of the Queen of Angels a Basilica in 1935.