In a discourse addressed to Mrs. Mary Ann Glendon, the new US ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Americans to defend the right to life from conception to its natural end, traditional marriage and the family.
The Pontiff first expressed his appreciation for Doctor Glendon (69), a Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School who in 2004 became the first female President of the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
After revealing that he is looking “forward to my Pastoral Visit to the United States in April," the Pope noted that "from the dawn of the Republic, America has been a nation which values the role of religious belief in ensuring a vibrant and ethically sound democratic order."
“Your nation's example of uniting people of good will, regardless of race, nationality or creed, in a shared vision and a disciplined pursuit of the common good has encouraged many younger nations in their efforts to create a harmonious, free and just social order", he added.
"I am confident that your country,” Pope Benedict explained, “established on the self-evident truth that the Creator has endowed each human being with certain inalienable rights, will continue to find in the principles of the common moral law, enshrined in its founding documents, a sure guide for exercising its leadership within the international community."
He also encouraged the US to work worldwide "for the integral development of peoples, especially through the provision of adequate health care, the elimination of pandemics like AIDS, broader educational opportunities to young people, the promotion of women and the curbing of the corruption and militarization which divert precious resources from many of our brothers and sisters in the poorer countries."
After expressing appreciation for the US effort to solve tensions in the Middle East by means of the recent Annapolis summit, the Holy Father said that "the resolution of these and similar problems calls for trust in, and commitment to, the work of international bodies such as the United Nations organization".
"I cannot fail to note with gratitude the importance which the United States has attributed to interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a positive force for peacemaking," he added.
In the most important part of his address to Professor Glendon, the Pope said that "the American people's historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse and in shedding light on the inherent moral dimension of social issues - a role at times contested in the name of a limited understanding of political life and public discourse - is reflected in the efforts of so many of your fellow citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman, and that of the family".
"Upon you and your family, and upon all the beloved American people, I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, strength and peace," the Pope concluded.
Read the full discourse of Pope Benedict XVI: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=170