What a week this has been – Pope Benedict’s death December 31st, his January 5 funeral, the Epiphany on January 6, the Baptism of Our Lord yesterday, January 8, with Pope Francis baptizing 13 infants in the Sistine Chapel, and today the annual papal speech to the Diplomatic Corps.
At the bottom of this report of today’s meeting with the diplomatic corps is a video of the full encounter. There is a link in the following summary to the full speech in English.
POPE: IN FACE OF NUCLEAR THREAT AND RISKS TO FREEDOM, LET US BUILD PEACE TOGETHER
In his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis calls for an “immediate end to this senseless conflict” in Ukraine and the abolition of the death penalty. The Pope reiterates the two-state solution in the Holy Land and urges “integral disarmament.” He underscores the nuclear threat. He makes an appeal for women and against abortion. And he expresses concern over the situation in Brazil and other places due to tensions caused by polarization.
By Salvatore Cernuzio
Pope Francis addressed a host of international themes in his annual new year’s meeting with the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. He highlighted key challenges facing our world and affecting everyone, such as the war in Ukraine and the “wake of death and destruction” it leaves behind, with people dying not only from bombs but also from hunger and cold. He mentioned the political and social tensions in Brazil, but also in Peru and Haiti, the violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the death penalty in Iran, and the exclusion of women from education in Afghanistan. He devoted attention to crises around the world: war-torn Syria and Yemen with populations dealing with deadly landmines; terrorism in Africa; the conflicts in the South Caucasus; the social, economic and political crisis in Lebanon; and the tragedy of migration that has turned the Mediterranean into a graveyard.
World War III
In his extensive address to the diplomats held traditionally at the beginning of the New Year, the Pope gave an overview of the global situation, mentioning the troubled areas where conflicts and tensions are taking place today on the five continents. The reality that emerges is one of a “third world war”, truly global in nature, “where conflicts involve only certain areas of the planet directly, but in fact involve them all.”
Faced with this world scene, the Pope called on everyone to build peace together and reinvigorate democracy which, due to “heightened political and social polarization,” is weakening in various countries, along with “the breadth of freedom that it enables, albeit with all the limitations of any human system.” Peru, Haiti and in recent hours Brazil, as seen with yesterday’s assault on institutional buildings, are examples of situations “laden with tensions and forms of violence” that such polarization brings.
“There is a constant need to overcome partisan ways of thinking and to work for the promotion of the common good.”
Pope Francis’ reflections, a call for “peace in a world that is witnessing heightened divisions and wars,” as he described it, begins with gratitude to the ambassadors for their messages of condolence on the death of Benedict XVI. He also mentions the extension of the Provisional Agreement regarding the appointments of Bishops between China and the Holy See, “in the context of a respectful and constructive dialogue.”
“It is my hope that this collaborative relationship can increase, for the benefit of the life of the Catholic Church and that of the Chinese people.
The Pope’s thoughts then turned to the Encyclical Pacem in Terris, now marking its 60th anniversary, written by John XXIII while the threat of a nuclear war over the Cuban missile crisis was still alive. The Pope underscored that, “humanity would have been only a step away from its own annihilation, had it not proved possible to make dialogue prevail…Sadly, today too, the nuclear threat is raised, and the world once more feels fear and anguish.”
He then reaffirmed that “the possession of atomic weapons is immoral” because, as Pope John XXIII observed, “there is no denying that the conflagration could be started by some chance and unforeseen circumstance.” He underscored the risks nuclear weapons pose and “the appalling slaughter and destruction that war would bring in its wake.”
In this area, Pope Francis expressed particular concern about the stalemate in negotiations over the Iran nuclear agreement and hopes for an immediate solution for “the sake of ensuring a more secure future.”
Ending war in Ukraine
The Pope then focused his thoughts on Ukraine and condemned attacks on civilian infrastructure that “that cause lives to be lost not only from gunfire and acts of violence, but also from hunger and freezing cold.”
“Today, I feel bound to renew my appeal for an immediate end to this senseless conflict, whose effects are felt in entire regions, also outside of Europe, due to its repercussions in the areas of energy and food production, above all in Africa and in the Middle East.”
TO CONTINUE (this is an interesting video with the pope’s entire talk in English translation): (Pope: In face of nuclear threat and risks to freedom, let us build peace together – Vatican News