Saturday, businessman, Francis Rooney presented his official Letters of Credence to Pope Benedict as the U.S.‘s new ambassador to the Holy See. The Pope met the presentation with strong words on the role which politics and international laws should play in the world--particularly toward the poor and disenfranchised.
During a meeting between the two, the Holy Father asked Mr. Rooney to assure President George Bush "in a particular way of my prayerful solidarity with all those affected by the recent storms in the southern part of your country, as well as the support of my prayers for those engaged in the massive work of relief and rebuilding."
The Pope began his speech by mentioning the message of his predecessor John Paul II for the 2005 World Day of Peace, in which he "called attention to the intrinsic ethical dimension of every political decision…”
John Paul, he said, likewise “observed that the disturbing spread of social disorder, war, injustice and violence in our world can ultimately be countered only by renewed appreciation and respect for the universal moral law whose principles derive from the Creator Himself.”
Pope Benedict stressed that "a recognition of the rich patrimony of values and principles embodied in that law is essential to the building of a world which acknowledges and promotes the dignity, life and freedom of each human person, while creating the conditions of justice and peace in which individuals and communities can truly flourish.”
“It is precisely the promotion and defense of these values,” he said, “which must govern relations between nations and peoples, ... that inspires the presence and activity of the Holy See within the international community."
The Pope went on to quote the second Vatican Council, which stated that "the Church's universal religious mission does not allow her to be identified with any particular political, economic or social system, yet at the same time, this mission serves as a source of commitment, direction and strength which can contribute to establishing and consolidating the human community in accordance with God's law."
The Pope particularly expressed his appreciation for the ambassador's reference, during his speech, to "the Holy See's efforts to contribute to finding effective solutions to some of the more significant problems facing the international community in recent years, such as the scandal of continued widespread hunger, grave illness and poverty in large areas of our world.”
“An adequate approach to these issues”, he said, “cannot be limited to purely economic or technical considerations, but demands broad vision, practical solidarity and courageous long-term decisions with regard to complex ethical questions.”
“Among the latter”, the Pope said, “I think especially of the effects of the crushing debt that feeds the spiral of poverty in many less-developed nations."
"The American people," the Pope concluded, "have long been distinguished for their generous charitable outreach to the disadvantaged and the needy on every continent. ... I am confident that your nation will continue to demonstrate a leadership based on unwavering commitment to the values of freedom, integrity and self-determination."