The Holy Father addressed the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday morning for what some call “the state of the world address.” Gathered in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the diplomats to the Vatican heard a message that reiterated the Pontiff’s hope for a new consciousness that pursues peace in the world through the protection of creation.
Pope Benedict made it a point to repeat once again the sentiment proposed in his encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate” that the causes of the global economic crisis and consequent social instability can be found in “a current self-centered and materialistic way of thinking which fails to acknowledge the limitations inherent in every creature.”
The Pope cited the example of the communist regime in Berlin as an illustration of the way the “denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet also devastates creation.”
He added that “the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need...”
The threats to man and creation, including nature, said the Pontiff, must be addressed “within the framework of a great educational program aimed at promoting an effective change of thinking and creating new lifestyles.” To achieve this, he said, freedom for cooperation and shared responsibility must be provided for between secular and religious communities.
Among global threats to which the Pope alluded were conflict-causing issues, including access to natural resources, misuse of arable land and the presence of widespread arms production and distribution. He also decried the existence of terrorism, which "endangers countless innocent lives and the generates anxiety worldwide,” and called for armed groups to “abandon the path of violence and to open their hearts to the joy of peace.”
In addition, the Holy Father spoke of another attack on creation in Europe and the Americas that “comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes,” stating that the path of man must “correspond to the structure willed by the Creator.”
This statement likely makes reference to the legislation passed in Portugal and Argentina legalizing gay “marriage” in the countries.
The Pontiff also referred to a number of successes in reaching peaceful agreements in 2009 in various nations of the world, notably a rapprochement between Columbia and Ecuador and re-established diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey. He then renewed his call for peace and full religious freedom in Iraq, Pakistan and Egypt and encouraged efforts towards peaceful solutions to political uncertainties in Iran, Lebanon, Honduras, Guinea and Madagascar.
Summing up his thoughts, Pope Benedict XVI said, “there is so much suffering in our world, and human selfishness continues in many ways to harm creation. For this reason, the yearning for salvation which affects all creation is all the more intense and present in the hearts of all men and women, believers and non-believers alike.”
Looking to Christ, the Holy Father exhorted “every person of good will to work confidently and generously for the sake of human dignity and freedom.”
He concluded by imploring that “the light and strength of Jesus help us to respect human ecology, in the knowledge that natural ecology will likewise benefit, since the book of nature is one and indivisible.”