Pope calls for continued reform in Guatemala


On Saturday morning the new ambassador from the land of “eternal spring” or Guatemala was received by Pope Benedict at the Vatican. The topics raised by the Pope during the meeting included emigration, poverty, proper nutrition and violence.

After Acisclo Valladares Molina presented his letters of credence as the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See, the Holy Father addressed the diplomat on how to continue building a better Guatemalan society. 

This year, Pope Benedict remarked, marks the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's first pastoral visit to the land "of eternal spring" as he began his talk. Before giving his analysis of the problems facing the country, the Holy Father praised the fidelity that Guatemalans have always responded with to the Holy See's concern for their country.

Amongst the areas of concern that the Pope drew attention too were poverty and emigration, which he said are also concerns for the Church. “Her rich ecclesial experience, accumulated over the course of history, may be of help in finding the means to face these problems from a humanitarian perspective, and to strengthen solidarity which is indispensable in order to find effective and lasting solutions," he said.

The solution to these pressing needs, the Pope explained, lies in “crucial technical and economic programs” that are “supplemented by other factors that foment the dignity of the person, the stability of the family and an education that takes the most important human and Christian values into account."

Those who “have had to abandon their land, though not forgetting it in their hearts" must not be overlooked in assessing the needs of the country either, the Pontiff reminded. "This is a duty of gratitude and justice towards those who are, in effect, also an important source of income for the country in which they were born."

Another challenge facing Guatemala is that of "remedying the malnutrition of many children", said Benedict XVI, observing how "eradicating hunger and, at the same time, ensuring healthy and sufficient nourishment, requires specific methods and actions that enable resources to be exploited while respecting the heritage of creation."

This primary right to food, said the Pope, "is intrinsically linked to the protection and defense of human life, the firm and unbreakable rock upon which the entire edifice of human rights rests.” Being committed to the defense of human life means that, “We can never, then, show enough ... concern for mothers, especially those suffering serious difficulties, so that they can bring their children into the world with dignity and thus avoid the unjustifiable recourse to abortion. One way to help prevent the killing of any of the unborn is to ease the process of adoption, the Holy Father mentioned.

In closing his address, Pope Benedict touched on "the blight of social violence," which he said is often exacerbated by "a lack of dialogue and of cohesion in families, by profound economic inequalities, by grave negligence and shortcomings in the field of healthcare, by drug consumption and trafficking, and by the plague of corruption." In this context, he expressed his satisfaction at the progress Guatemala has made in combating these difficulties.

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