Tuesday, January 11, 2011


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: Pope delivers ‘state of the world’ address

Pope Benedict XVI delivered his annual address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See Monday, telling representatives from the 178 states that now more than ever the right to religious freedom needs to be respected and implemented.

The January appointment with diplomats is traditionally when the Pope gives what has become known as his ‘state of the world’ address. Casting his gaze around the world – with one eye firmly on the future – Pope Benedictonce again singled out religious freedom as the most pressing issue on a global level.

Delivering his speech in French, Pope Benedict denounced the targeted killing of Christians in, even within their places of worship in Iraq, Egypt and Nigeria. He mourned the recent assassination of a Pakistani governor committed to repealing a blasphemy law which the Pope said is used as an “excuse to cause injustice and violence”. Pope Benedict also reiterated his concern for the moment of “difficulty and trial” that the faithful of China are currently experiencing.

But he noted all these situations, as diverse as they may be, have one common denominator, a lack of respect for the fundamental human right of freedom of religion and worship.

He said “The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting …Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal”.

Beginning in the East, Pope Benedict praised the European Union’s efforts for the defence of Christians in the Middle East, but also underlined that the right to religious freedom is not fully respected when only freedom of worship is guaranteed, and that with restrictions. He spoke specifically of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, expressing his hope that the Catholic Church will soon be able to establish suitable pastoral structures for them.

From East to West, the Pope then spoke of other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom; its marginalisation from public life, the tendency to tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, or worse attempts to override religious and moral convictions. Here Pope Benedict spoke specifically of situations when Christians are denied their right to conscientious objection, such as the case of healthcare or legal professionals and once again praised the Europan Council for its adoption of a resolution in October last that protects the right to conscientious objection to acts which “gravely violate the right to life, such as abortion”.

However the global panorama traced by Pope Benedict Monday was not completely without glimmers of hope. For example, the news that Vietnam has agreed to the appointment of a papal representative after more than 60 years and the support of some European countries in favour of the displaying of religious symbols in public places.

Concluding Pope Benedict once again repeated to the representatives of the 178 states, “religion, does not represent a problem for society,..it is not a source of discord or conflict” and “the Church seeks no privileges, nor does she seek to intervene in areas unrelated to her mission, but simply to exercise her mission with freedom”.


VATICAN CITY, 11 JAN 2011 (VIS) - A year after the earthquake which devastated Haiti on 12 January 2010 leaving 250,000 people dead and more than a million homeless, Benedict XVI has sent Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who will bring a Message from the Pope and economic aid to the people so gravely afflicted twelve months ago, according to a communique released by "Cor Unum".

The cardinal arrived in Haiti yesterday when he visited a number of religious communities in Leogane: the Sisters of Christ the King whose hospital was destroyed, the "Petites Soeurs de Sainte-Therese de l'Enfant Jesus" who run a clinic for people suffering from AIDS and tuberculosis, and the "Compagnes de Jesus" who had an old people's home and a school destroyed by the quake. During the course of the day Cardinal Sarah laid the cornerstone of the "Ecole Notre Dame des Anges". In the Holy Father's name, he also brought concrete support in the form of donations received following the earthquake: 800,000 U.S. dollars for the rebuilding of schools and 400,000 U.S. dollars for the reconstruction of churches.

Today, 11 January, the president of "Cor Unum", accompanied by Msgr. Segundo Tejado, under secretary of the dicastery, will meet Rene Preval, president of the Republic of Haiti. The cardinal will then visit the Parc Acra displaced persons camp where he will celebrate Mass.

On Wednesday 12 January, Cardinal Sarah will read out the Pope's Message during a Mass to commemorate the first anniversary of the earthquake. He will then meet with bishops and seminarians as well as with directors of Caritas and of international and volunteer organisations.

His final engagement in Haiti will take place on 13 January when he will celebrate Mass in the convent of the "Paridean" Daughters of Mary who lost fifteen religious in the disaster, while twelve other sisters were seriously injured.

The visit also has the aim of thanking everyone who collaborated in the huge efforts of the emergency period, and of renewing the Church's commitment in the reconstruction, encouraging a new phase of charitable commitment.

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