Recalling experience of war, Pope stresses peace between divided nations

This morning Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the Vatican diplomatic corps, whom he thanked for their nation's participation in the funeral of John Paul II and his own papal election, which followed shortly after.

The Pope also expressed his particular gratitude to those nations with which the Vatican does not have diplomatic ties, for their own participation in the aforementioned events.

This morning's meeting was the first with the diplomats since Benedict's becoming Pope on April 19th.

The Holy Father directed his thoughts "to the nations with whom the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations," who attended the various funeral and election ceremonies, saying that he was "appreciative of such gestures."

He said that, "I wish today to express my gratitude and to send greetings to the civil authorities of these countries, hoping to see them represented very soon to the Holy See."

"Messages that I especially appreciated arrived from these countries, notably from those whose Catholic communities are numerous. I would like to say how dear these communities and their people are to me, and I assure them they are present in my prayers," he said.

Pope Benedict went on to highlight "the long and fruitful ministry of the beloved John Paul II," as a "tireless missionary of the Gospel to the many countries he visited, rendering a unique service to the cause of unity of the human family." John Paul, he said, "invited all people of good will ... to build a society of justice, peace, and solidarity in charity and mutual pardon."

"For my part," the Holy Father said, "I come from a country where peace and fraternity are dear to the hearts of the people, notably those who, like me, have known war and the separation among brothers belonging to the same nation because of devastating and inhuman ideologies which, masked by dreams and illusions, brought down the yoke of oppression upon men and women."

"You will therefore understand", he continued, "that I am especially sensitive to dialogue between people in order to overcome all forms of conflicts and tensions and to make our earth a land of peace and fraternity."

The Pope stressed that: "everyone is called to realize a peaceful society in order to vanquish the temptation of clashes between cultures, ethnic groups and different worlds. Thus, each people must draw from its spiritual and cultural patrimony the best values of which it is a bearer."

But, the Holy Father noted, "To pursue in this direction the Church never ceases to proclaim and to defend basic human rights, unfortunately still violated in different parts of the earth, and she works towards assuring respect for every person's right to life, food, a home, work, health care, protection of the family and the promotion of social development, in respect for the dignity of men and women, created in the image of God."

He told the group that he hoped the Catholic Church would continue to help safeguard "the dignity of every human person and service to the common good ... without seeking any privilege for herself, but only the legitimate conditions of freedom and action for her mission."

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