Respect for religious freedom in general and for the Catholic Church in particular.
Defence of the family and formation for young people so as not to marginalize the
values of faith. These are the main contents of an address given this morning by Pope
Benedict XVI to the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See, Mrs. María Jesús Figa
The newly appointed ambassador, a native of Barcelona, greeted
the Holy Father, reaffirming the ancient ties between Spain and the Vatican, recognizing
the Christian roots that form the nation’s "identity", as well as the value of a "positive
secularism" that respect all religious beliefs.
Pope Benedict replied by immediately
pointing out how the Church always strives to serve the common good and how the Holy
See intends relations with the institutional authorities, in particular "on the major
issues of common interest". The purpose of diplomatic relations, said the Pope is
to always move forward “in mutual respect and cooperation”, within the legitimate
autonomy of respective fields, in everything related to the “development and the authentic
good of peoples”, of their rights and freedoms, including the expression of their
faith and their conscience, “whether in public or in private”.
However – and
here the Pope cited his Message for World Day of Peace - there are now " more sophisticated
forms of hostility to religion which, in Western countries, occasionally find expression
in a denial of history and the rejection of religious symbols which reflect the identity
and the culture of the majority of citizens ":
The Pope spoke of certain circles
which tend to treat religion as socially irrelevant, and even annoying factor, and
do not excuse the fact that they want to sideline faith, sometimes through denigration,
ridicule, discrimination, including a clear indifference to incidents of desecration,
which they violate the fundamental right to religious freedom inherent in the dignity
of the human person, which instead “is a real weapon of peace, because it can change
and improve the world'. "
Spain, like the rest of the world, - said Pope Benedict
- is involved in a "very worrying" economic crisis. Unemployment in particular, is
causing "frustration and disappointment, especially in young people and disadvantaged
families." The Pope said he had the well being of all Spanish people at heart and
called on local public officials to practice justice and solidarity, and he ensured
the support of the Church, which sees in every person the presence of God.
Benedict XVI concluded by looking forward to his return to Spain in August for the
next WYD in Madrid, thanking the national and regional government for its cooperation
and generous assistance for the success of an initiative that will attract attention
from around the world and show once again the “greatness of heart and spirit of the