(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on the international community to take concrete steps to bring about peace and to protect all those who are victims of war and persecution.
In a wide-ranging discourse to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, the Pope focused on a series of urgent issues which – he said - derive from a culture of rejection “which severs the deepest and most authentic human bonds, leading to a breakdown of society and spawning violence and death”.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Speaking in Italian to the representatives of the 180 States which have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the Pope said we see painful evidence of the consequences of this culture of rejection “in the events reported daily in the news, not least the tragic slayings which took place in Paris a few days ago”.
And moving across the globe, again and again the Pope mentioned the “tragic mentality of rejection” and “culture of enslavement” which are manifested in a “never ending spread of conflicts”. In this regard he spoke of Ukraine, of the Middle East - in particular of the Holy Land - and of the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq, where – he said – “this phenomenon is a consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God”.
In the annual speech that has come to be known as his "State of the World" address, Francis expressed his hope that religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion that attempt to justify such acts of violence.
Religious fundamentalism – the Pope explained – “even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext”.
And violence and fundamentalism in Nigeria were next on Pope Francis’ list with a focus on the tragic phenomenon of kidnappings and human trafficking.
He then expressed concern for Libya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo where “acts of brutality reap victims from among the poor and the most vulnerable”.
“Every conflict and war” – he said ““is emblematic of the throwaway culture since people’s lives are deliberately crushed by those in power”.
Pope Francis’ long discourse did not neglect to mention the effects of this culture of rejection on the victims of Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, or on the horrendous crime of rape “which offends the dignity of women” across the world, or on the lives of numerous refugees and displaced persons that risk being thrown away, including those of unaccompanied children.
And in a series of calls to legislators and rulers to take responsibility and to make every effort to resolve these grave humanitarian problems protecting the rights of citizens and promoting a change of attitude, the Pope did not neglect to mention the many other “hidden exiles” living – he said – in our homes and in our families: the elderly, the handicapped and young people who are “thrown away when they are denied concrete prospects of employment to build their future”.
Holding up the recent agreement by the United States and Cuba to re-establish ties after more than half a century, Pope Francis concluded his discourse recalling the words of Pope Paul VI during his visit to the United Nations fifty years ago in which he pointed out that from the ashes of the immense tragedy of the Second World War, “there arose a new will for dialogue and encounter which inspired the UN” and sanctioned an agreement and an "oath to change the future of the world: never again war, never again war!”
“This is likewise my own hope filled prayer for this new year” Pope Francis said – which will also see “the continuation of two significant processes: the drawing up of the Post-2015 Development Agenda” and “the drafting of a new Climate Change Agreement”.
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