During a ceremony in which he received the letters of credence of Nicaragua's new ambassador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI praised that country for its policies respecting human life despite international pressure to legalize abortion.
During his remarks the Pope praised Nicaragua for "the position it takes on social questions in the international arena, especially as regards the theme of life, and in the face of no small amount of domestic and international pressure."
The Holy Father said it was very “positive that last year the national assembly approved the revocation of therapeutic abortion," and he affirmed the "need to increase the aid that state and society provide to women who have serious problems during pregnancy."
He went on to say that in order to resolve Nicaragua's various "economic, social and political problems," it is important for the country "to be able to rely, not only on the willingness and participation of citizens, but above all on that of the heads of various political and business groups."
The Pope also called for "transparency and honesty in public affairs," saying virtues are needed in order to achieve the goals the Nicaraguan government has set, such as the Zero Hunger campaign, combating the drug problem, increasing literacy, eliminating poverty, and "thus reducing the inequality between people who have a superabundance of wealth and those who lack the basic necessities."
The Church and Reconciliation
Later during his remarks, the Holy Father referred to the transcendental role the Church plays in the country in order to achieve reconciliation, peace and social justice.
In order to achieve these goals, the Pope noted, civil entities “will find in the Church of Nicaragua -- notwithstanding its lack of resources and with a firmness in principles inspired by the Gospel -- a sincere collaborator in seeking just solutions." "They should also recognize the Church's efforts to increase the awareness and responsibility of citizens, encouraging their participation and commitment in serving the needs of people who are often immersed in poverty,” he added.
"The bishops of your country,” he continued, “faithful to their strictly pastoral mission, are ready to maintain a dialogue -- a constant and sincere communication -- with the government, contributing to the creation of the essential conditions that favor true reconciliation, establishing a climate of peace and authentic social justice.”
Benedict XVI also spoke of "the urgent necessity to retrieve and promote human and moral values in the face of so many forms of violence, even in the home and often as a result of the disintegration of families."
"The Church in Nicaragua is well aware of this sad state of affairs and seeks to face it with its teaching and pastoral programs," he said. "However the intervention of public institutions is also necessary, with appropriate educational programs on matters concerning the organization of social life."
At the outset of his remarks, the Holy Father assured Nicaraguans of his prayers for all those affected by the Category 5 storm, Felix, that hit Nicaragua on Sept. 4, voicing the hope that, "apart from domestic aid, they also receive generous contributions from the international community."