ROME, NOV. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address Francis Rooney, the new U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, gave Saturday when he presented his credentials to Benedict XVI. The U.S. Embassy released this text.
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I have the distinct honor to present to you my credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See. I wish to extend warm greetings from President George W. Bush and the American people. I am grateful to President Bush for the opportunity to represent him and my country to the Holy See. It is a particular privilege to be the first American ambassador of your pontificate.
Your Holiness, I would like to recall the excellent relations my country had with your predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II. The people of the United States recall fondly the seven pastoral visits that the late pontiff made to our country. During his pontificate, the United States of America and the Holy See established full diplomatic relations after many years of less formal ties. The past twenty-one years have seen the flourishing of a productive and effective partnership between the United States of America and the Holy See on initiatives to make the world a better place and to bring greater peace, security and freedom to its people.
The United States looks to the Holy See as a partner in efforts to spread peace, encourage democracy, and to defeat terrorism. This task will require long-term efforts among like-minded partners to overcome the intolerance and hatred that lie at the heart of those determined to spread terror. From the moment of the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Holy See has been a consistent voice in condemning religiously-inspired terrorism.
At the same time it has called for tolerance and outreach to all. I recall that 2005 marks the fortieth anniversary of two key documents of the Second Vatican Council — “Nostra Aetate” on the Church’s relations with non-Christian religions, and “Dignitatis Humanae” on religious freedom. The United States sees in these documents the spirit of outreach, tolerance, respect and dialogue among diverse peoples that we wish to promote in our own society — and around the world. These are the principles that we can use to work for the spread of true peace and democracy.
The United States and the Holy See have collaborated in recent years on many related efforts to further the cause of human dignity. We have joined to address the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the world, rampant in so many areas. The U.S. government recognizes the impressive work carried out by Caritas agencies, religious congregations, lay associations, and volunteer organizations affiliated with the Church on this score. At the meeting of world leaders at the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization’s headquarters in Rome in October, Your Holiness’s message called for greater international solidarity in the arduous task to fight starvation and malnutrition.
We pledge to continue our efforts on this front, providing a substantial amount of the world’s food aid, and acting to improve the many circumstances in the developing world that contribute to hunger. Further, we believe that the advance of agricultural science and technology can help human beings even in the most difficult environments to produce crops to feed more of their own people. We look to the Holy See to help the world recognize the moral imperative of a true investigation of these technologies. Nothing on its own can solve the complex problem of world hunger. But we cannot let irrational fears stop us from investigating what could be one part of the answer.
Food security is intimately linked to another world crisis — the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Too many people in developing nations today are dying of AIDS. Whole generations are being wiped out by what has become the plague of our age. We applaud the efforts of the Catholic Church and affiliated agencies that we understand provide more than a quarter of the care and assistance for persons with HIV/AIDS worldwide. New initiatives such as the Holy See’s Good Samaritan Foundation are making further strides in this fight. In many cases the U.S. government is working hand in hand with these organizations, offering desperately-needed funds to give the sick the best care possible. Collaboration such as this between the United States government and faith-based organizations can be an important tool as we confront these challenges.
The United States has also joined with the Holy See in efforts to halt the trafficking of human beings across international borders. This modern-day affront to human dignity needs to be stopped. Men, women and children continue to be lured or coerced into domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, and forced labor. With the Holy See’s powerful moral voice and the human and material resources of the United States, I believe we will be successful in stopping this evil. I take pride in a program we sponsor to train women religious in anti-trafficking skills and strategies. This program is now active in five countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, and next year we hope to introduce it to women religious working in Brazil, Portugal and the Philippines.
Your Holiness, I believe the United States of America and the Holy See share a mutual respect and common goals. I am confident we will succeed in our determined efforts to bring our world the gifts of peace, justice, freedom, economic opportunity and democracy — for all. Thank you Your Holiness.