Pope Francis: Global pandemic shows urgent need to build ‘culture of encounter’

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Pope Francis on Friday told academics and diplomats that the coronavirus crisis showed the "urgent need" to build a "culture of encounter." 

The pope made the comment in a prepared speech given out to members of the European Institute for International Studies (EIIS), led by Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, during a Feb. 12 meeting at the Vatican.

The EIIS, a center for research and education in international relations, is based in the Swedish capital and Salamanca, Spain, the birthplace of an intellectual movement in the 16th and 17th centuries known as the School of Salamanca.

Quoting from his latest encyclical, "Fratelli tutti," the pope said: "The continued global health crisis has painfully highlighted the urgent need to promote a culture of encounter for the whole human family, and for all men and women to be 'passionate about meeting others, seeking points of contact, building bridges, planning a project that includes everyone.'" 

He continued: "As academics and diplomats from different countries, you and your colleagues have an important role in promoting such a culture. By its very nature, your contribution must be grounded both in reasoned analysis and an orientation to practical and relational applications and outcomes, with particular concern for the rights of the poorest and most marginalized."

"In other words, minds and hearts need to be in harmony in pursuing the universal common good and – in the best tradition of the Salamanca School – in seeking the integral development of every man and woman, with no exception or unjust discrimination." 

Pope Francis said that both political and religious leaders should embrace an "integrated approach to defending and promoting the rights of all." By cultivating a "culture of encounter," they would help to heal the world's division and create a "sustainable justice and peace for all."

He concluded his prepared address by saying: "As mankind continues to face the uncertainties and challenges of the present, I encourage you to remain committed to the search for new and creative paths leading to the growth of this culture of encounter, for the sake also of the concord and wellbeing of future generations."

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