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Peace won’t come without openness to God pope tells diplomats


VATICAN CITY (CNS): Peace-building requires charity, religious liberty, a proper understanding of human rights and an openness to divine love,  Pope Benedict XVI told diplomats accredited to the Vatican in his annual address to the diplomatic corps on January 7. 

Deploring war, civil conflict and poverty around the world, he spoke to the gathered diplomats of global troubles, including endless slaughter in civil war-torn Syria, terrorist attacks on Christians in Nigeria and the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the east coast of the United States of America.

He also warned about the international spread of legalised abortion and growing inequality between rich and poor. 

“Peace is not simply the fruit of human effort, but a participation in the very love of God,” Pope Benedict said. “Without openness to the transcendent, human beings easily become prey to relativism and find it difficult to act justly and to work for peace.” 

He pointedly made a distinction between true religion, which he described as aiming at “reconciling men and women with God” and hence with each other, and “baneful religious fanaticism, which, again in 2012, reaped victims in some countries represented here.” 

He particularly condemned recent attacks on Christian churches in Nigeria, including the killings of a dozen people by gunmen during services at Christmas.

His remarks on sub-Saharan Africa also included a call for international intervention in Mali, where a military regime is fighting to reclaim the country’s north from Islamist rebel forces. 

The pope’s speech gave special attention to what he called the privileged region in God’s plan, or the Middle East, reiterating earlier calls for a cease-fire and peace talks in Syria, where he said the almost two-year civil war “will know no victors, but only the vanquished if it continues, leaving behind it nothing but a field of ruins.” He urged foreign governments to provide essential aid in response to the “grave humanitarian situation there.

Pope Benedict also reiterated Vatican support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, alluding to Egypt’s new Islamist constitution, which has drawn opposition from liberals and religious minorities, the pope assured “all Egyptians of my closeness and my prayers at this time when new institutions are being set in place.” 

Speaking more generally, the pope stressed that peace-making requires the protection of fundamental human rights and dignity, especially through respect for human life at every stage.

He expressed dismay over recent moves to decriminalise abortion in various countries, which he said would upset the “balance between the right to life of the mother and that of the unborn child, a right belonging equally to both.” ......


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