POPE ADDRESSES DIPLOMATS ON SECURITY, PEACE AND “RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED VIOLENCE”
Pope Francis today addressed members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in what is an annual address usually held the second Monday of January. He highlighted the lights and shadows of the world but principally focussed this year’s message on two topics – the theme of security and peace and “religiously motivated violence,” particularly “on the fundamentalist-inspired terrorism that in the past year has also reaped numerous victims throughout the world: in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the United States of America, Tunisia and Turkey.”
The diplomats represent 182 nations and include 88 ambassadors who are full time residents in Rome. The newest member accredited to the Holy See, as Pope Francis specifically mentioned in his opening remarks, was the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. He spoke of various bilateral agreements and concordats and pointed out that, “in the context of the Holy See’s commitment to the obligations assumed by the aforementioned Agreements, the Comprehensive Agreement with the State of Palestine, which took effect a year ago, was fully implemented.”
The Holy See also has relations with numerous international institutions and agencies such as the United Nations.
Pope Francis began his remarks by noting that, “A century ago, we were in the midst of the First World War. A ‘useless slaughter’ in which new methods of warfare sowed death and caused immense suffering to the defenceless civil population. In 1917, the conflict changed profoundly, taking on increasingly global proportions, while those totalitarian regimes, which were long to be a cause of bitter divisions, began to appear on the horizon. A hundred years later, it can be said that many parts of the world have benefited from lengthy periods of peace, which have favoured opportunities for economic development and unprecedented prosperity. For many people today, peace appears as a blessing to be taken for granted, for all intents an acquired right to which not much thought is given. Yet, for all too many others, peace remains merely a distant dream. Millions of people still live in the midst of senseless conflicts. Even in places once considered secure, a general sense of fear is felt. We are frequently overwhelmed by images of death, by the pain of innocent men, women and children who plead for help and consolation, by the grief of those mourning the loss of a dear one due to hatred and violence, and by the drama of refugees fleeing war and migrants meeting tragic deaths.” (photo news.va)
This, he said, is why he was devoting his address to the theme of security and peace.”
Francis explained that “Peace is a positive good, ‘the fruit of the right ordering of things’ with which God has invested human society; it is ‘more than the absence of war’. Nor can it be ‘reduced to the maintenance of a balance of power between opposing forces’. Rather, it demands the commitment of those persons of good will who “thirst for an ever more perfect reign of justice.”
“In this regard,” he said, “I voice my firm conviction that every expression of religion is called to promote peace. …. We know that there has been no shortage of acts of religiously motivated violence, beginning with Europe itself, where the historical divisions between Christians have endured all too long. …..”
“Sadly, we are conscious that even today, religious experience, rather than fostering openness to others, can be used at times as a pretext for rejection, marginalization and violence.” Naming the places that had experienced terrorism in the past year, the Pope said, “These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travelers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin, or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul.
“We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power. Hence I appeal to all religious authorities to join in reaffirming unequivocally that one can never kill in God’s name.”
For the entire papal address, click here: http://www.news.va/en/news/peace-security-focal-points-of-popes-speech-to-dip