VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2005 ( Benedict XVI confirmed his commitment to peace and the defense of fundamental human rights, in an address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See.

Speaking today to ambassadors from the 174 countries that have full diplomatic relations with the Holy See, the new Pope confirmed the commitments he made in his first message to the world, read in the Sistine Chapel on April 20, the day after his election.

The Holy Father said he regards the issues of peace and human rights as particularly important because of his experience as a youth in Germany, where he was a victim of Nazi oppression, and witness of the division caused by communism.

"For my part, I come from a country in which peace and fraternity have a great place in the hearts of its inhabitants, in particular, of those who, like me, knew war and the separation of brothers belonging to the same nation," said the Pope.

At the origin of those dramas were "devastating and inhuman ideologies that, cloaked in dreams and illusion, imposed on human beings the yoke of oppression," he said.

"You will understand, therefore, that I am particularly sensitive to dialogue among all men, to overcome all forms of conflict and tension, and to make our world a world of peace and fraternity," he stated, speaking in French.

Benedict XVI proposed that "Christian communities, leaders of nations, diplomats, and all men of good will" unite their efforts "to realize a peaceful society" and "to overcome the temptation of the clash between cultures, ethnic groups and different worlds."

To achieve this objective, the Successor of Peter said that "every nation must draw from its spiritual and cultural heritage the best values of which it is bearer to go out, without fear, to meet the other, ready to share its spiritual and material riches for the good of all."

The Holy Father assured his listeners that the Church will "not cease to proclaim and defend fundamental human rights, unfortunately still violated in different parts of the world."

Likewise, Benedict XVI emphasized that the Church would work "so that the rights of every human person will be recognized to life, food, work, health care, protection of the family, the promotion of social development, and respect of the dignity of man and woman, created in the image of God."

"You may be sure that the Church will continue to offer her collaboration to safeguard the dignity of every man and to serve the common good, in the framework and with the means proper to her," he stated.

The Pope said that to fulfill her mission, the Church does not ask for "privileges for herself, but only the legitimate conditions of freedom and action to fulfill her mission."