2011-04-16 12:34:00

Religion is never irrelevant

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 López-Palop.

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.

Pope 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 Spaniards". Listen: RealAudioMP3

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