Development Not Genuine If It Goes Against the Weak, Pope Says

Papal Address to New Irish Ambassador to Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2001 ( If the development of a country is to be genuine, it cannot go against the dignity, life or family of its citizens, John Paul II said today, when he received the new Irish ambassador to the Vatican.

«A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace but then, on the other, acts to the contrary by allowing or employing practices that devalue and violate human life, especially where it is most vulnerable,» the Pope said, in his address to Bernard Davenport, 62, a career diplomat who, until now, was ambassador in Switzerland.

Ireland is Europe´s economic miracle in recent years. According to Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union, unemployment in the country is 3.8% and, in the first three months of this year, Irish salaries increased by 7.3%, a figure almost twice as high as the European average. In 1999, Ireland surprised the world with a growth rate of 8.4%.

The Holy Father stressed: «There is need for considerable educational and cultural effort to ensure that people, apart from developing new and advanced technological skills and expertise, are also trained to make responsible use of their newfound power of choice, in order to distinguish between the valuable and the ephemeral.»

«For this reason, the primacy of being over having, which involves the quest for the true, the good and the beautiful, must always be considered central to a culture, if people are to live genuinely happy and fulfilled lives,» the Pope explained.

In this connection, the Pontiff highlighted the decisive role of the family in education. In Ireland, as in other countries of the European Union, «the family is increasingly under severe pressure from a complicated interplay of forces, which tend to subordinate the transcendent value of life to other immediate interests or even to personal convenience,» the Holy Father said.

«When the Church defends the right to life of every innocent person — from conception to natural death — as one of the pillars on which every civil society stands, she is simply promoting a human state, a community in fundamental agreement with human nature,» he said.

When presenting his credential letters, Ambassador Davenport expressed the Dublin government´s appreciation for the Vatican´s support in the Ulster peace process.

The diplomat also confirmed his country´s commitment to increase funds for the development of the world´s poorest peoples.

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