Pope hopes that Catholic Church will enjoy full freedom in Mexico

.- Pope John Paul II said this morning that “it is to be hoped that the Church in Mexico will be able to enjoy full freedom in all areas where she develops her pastoral and social mission.” In his message to Javier Moctezuma Barragan, the new ambassador from Mexico to the Holy See, the Holy Father underscored the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See in September 1992.

“Over the years, marked by rapid and deep changes in the political, social and economic spheres of the country, the Catholic Church, faithful to her own pastoral mission, has continued promoting the common good of the Mexican people, seeking dialogue and understanding with diverse public institutions and defending her right to participate in national life,” he said.

In this sense, the Pope stressed that “the Church does not seek privileges nor does she wish to be in spheres not proper to her, but rather desires to fulfill her mission in favor of the spiritual and human good of the Mexican people without barriers or impediments.”

“Thus, it is necessary that State institutions guarantee the right to religious freedom of persons and groups, avoiding all forms of intolerance or discrimination. In this sense, it is to be hoped that in a not too distant future, … steps will be taken to advance in areas such as religious education in diverse milieux, spiritual assistance in health care, social and welfare centers in the public sector, as well as a presence in the media,” he added.

The Pope also recalled that the first foreign apostolic trip of his pontificate was to Mexico 25 years ago. He noted that in October 2004 the 48th International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Guadalajara.

“One must never give in,” the Pope said, “to the pretences of those who, having an erroneous concept of the principle of Church-State-separation and of the lay character of the State, aim to reduce religion to a merely private sphere for the individual, not recognizing the Church’s right to teach her doctrine and to give moral judgments about matters that affect the social order.”

Turning to the question of “building a democratic culture and consolidating the state of law,” John Paul II noted that “recently the Mexican bishops…made a pressing appeal for national unity and dialogue among the leaders of social life.”

He highlighted “the sad and vast problem of poverty,” calling it “an urgent challenge for politicians and leaders in the public sector. Its eradication requires means of both a technical and political nature” but “one must never forget that these means will be insufficient if not animated by authentic ethical values. A model of development that does not decisively confront social imbalances cannot prosper in the future.”

The Holy Father dedicated closing remarks to the many indigenous peoples in Mexico, asking that special attention be devoted to them “for they are often relegated to the realm of the forgotten.”

He also expressed concern for the “growing phenomenon of migration of Mexicans to other countries, especially the United States,” noting how negatively this affects families. The causes of emigration “must be found and remedied,” he said, and “Mexicans residing abroad must never feel forgotten by the nation’s leaders.”

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