Meeting with diplomats from around the world today in the Vatican’s Regal Room, Pope Benedict XVI addressed several of the most significant problems facing the world today: hunger, the continued arms race, an influx of refugees, and various attacks on human life. The Holy Father traditionally meets with the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Vatican at the start of the new year.
“At the start of the year,” the Pope told the 175 diplomats, “we are invited to turn our attention to the international situation, so as to focus upon the challenges that we are called to address together.”
“The worsening scandal of hunger,” Benedict began, “is unacceptable in a world which has the resources, the knowledge, and the means available to bring it to an end.”
The continued problem of world hunger, he said, “impels us to change our way of life, it reminds us of the urgent need to eliminate the structural causes of global economic dysfunction and to correct models of growth that seem incapable of guaranteeing respect for the environment and for integral human development, both now and in the future.”
The Pontiff renewed his call to the leaders of wealthy nations to increase their efforts at helping poor countries to reap the benefits of their own natural resources. He also lamented the delay, on behalf of the international community, in implementing new plans for attacking the problem of hunger.
“It is to be hoped,” he said, “that the trade negotiations of the ‘Doha Development Round’ of the World Trade Organization will be resumed, and that the process of debt cancellation and reduction for the poorest countries will be continued and accelerated.”
“At the same time, these processes must not be made conditional upon structural adjustments that are detrimental to the most vulnerable populations,” the Pope added.
“Equally,” the Holy Father continued, “in the area of disarmament, symptoms of a developing crisis are multiplying, linked to difficulties in negotiations over conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction and also to the rise in global military expenditure.”
“Security issues – aggravated by terrorism, which is to be utterly condemned – must be approached from a global and far-sighted perspective,” Pope Benedict said.
The Holy Father also called for additional support for those organizations tasked with humanitarian assistance.
A tragedy, “which looms ever larger is that of the movement of persons,” the Pope said
“Millions of men and women are forced to leave their homes or their native lands because of violence or in order to seek more dignified living conditions.”
“It is an illusion to think that migration can be blocked or checked simply by force,” he added. “Migration and the problems to which it gives rise must be addressed humanely, with justice and compassion.”
Attacks on life
Finally, the Pope said, “how can we not be alarmed, moreover, by the continuous attacks on life, from conception to natural death?”
The Holy Father condemned continued international pressure to promote policies which increasingly attack human life - even in areas where the culture traditionally supports respect for life. Areas, he said “such as Africa, where there is an attempt to trivialize abortion surreptitiously, both through the Maputo Protocol and through the Plan of Action adopted by the Health Ministers of the African Union – shortly to be submitted to the Summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government.”
“Equally,” Pope Benedict said, “there are mounting threats to the natural composition of the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman, and attempts to relativize it by giving it the same status as other radically different forms of union.”
“All this offends and helps to destabilize the family by concealing its specific nature and its unique social role.”
“Other forms of attack on life are sometimes committed in the name of scientific research, “the Holy Father continued. “There is a growing conviction that research is subject only to the laws that it chooses for itself and that it is limited only by its own possibilities. This is the case, for example, in attempts to legitimize human cloning for supposedly therapeutic ends.”
The Holy Father then moved on to speak about a few positive developments over the past year.