John Paul II Urges Brazil to Defend the Family

And Encourages Its Struggle Against Poverty

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2004 ( John Paul II urged the government of Brazil to defend life and the family, while at the same time encouraging its efforts in the struggle against poverty.

The Pope addressed the challenges facing the country when receiving the letters of credence of Vera Barrouin Machado, Brasilia’s new ambassador to the Holy See, who until now was ambassador in India.

Referring to the «convergence of principles» of the Holy See and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government on «world peace,» the Pope today said that peace is threatened «by the absence of a Christian view of respect for one’s neighbor in his human dignity.»

John Paul II asked Brazilians to «continue fomenting and proclaiming the values of the faith, especially when it is a question of recognizing explicitly the holiness of family life and the safeguarding of the unborn, from the moment of conception.»

Last week, the Brazilian bishops’ conference spoke out to criticize the Senate’s approval of the Law on Bio-security, which allows research on frozen embryonic stem cells. The bishops noted that such research is an attack on incipient lives.

Moreover, given Brazil’s current situation, the Holy Father stressed the importance of attending to «the needs of the least privileged, considering it a fundamental priority.»

The Pope expressed great satisfaction that the government has this priority as an objective, and hoped that the «best efforts and resources» will be dedicated to it.

John Paul II expressed the Holy See’s support for the meeting called by President Lula on Sept. 20 at the United Nations, to study policies for the struggle against poverty and hunger.

In particular, the Holy Father applauded Brazil’s initiative to cancel the external debt of some countries, as «one can perceive a concrete demonstration of solidarity and stimulus for the peoples who live apart from world development.»

«Such an initiative demonstrates that all the nations involved in this enterprise must be aware that only courageous action ready to sacrifice for the common good of all will be able to contribute to the redemption of those poorer countries,» he said.

The Pope guaranteed to the Brazilian government «the determined will of the Church to collaborate, within its own mission, with all the initiatives in the service of the whole man and of all men.»

«Thus, it will continue in its endeavor to promote the awareness that the values of peace, freedom, solidarity and defense of the neediest must inspire private and public life,» John Paul II said.

He added: «Faith and adherence to Jesus Christ imposes on Catholic faithful, also in Brazil, the need to be instruments of reconciliation and fraternity, in truth, justice and love.»

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