Church Seeks To Aid Development, Affirms Pontiff

Lauds Malawi’s New Catholic University

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2008 ( A country’s authentic development must include the integral, moral, intellectual and cultural advancement of its members, which the Church wishes to aid, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today in his address to Isaac Chikwekwere Lamba, the new ambassador of Malawi to the Holy See.

The Holy Father thanked the ambassador for his recognition of the Church’s contribution to the spiritual and economic development of the Southern African nation, «especially through her apostolates in the areas of education, charitable assistance and health care.»

He continued, «This mission has its source and inspiration in the Church’s desire to bear witness to the love of God; as such, it knows no boundaries of race or creed, but seeks to enable each human person to develop fully as an individual and as a member of a society marked by solidarity and genuine concern for the needs of others.»

The Pontiff acknowledged the new Catholic university in Blantyre, Southern Malawi, recognizing the «commitment to the intellectual and human formation of those young people who will become the leaders of the next generation, with responsibility for shaping the future of your country and that of the greater continent of which it is a part.»

Africa, he said, needs unified work in order to face its challenges and aid development for its people. «This demands wise and far-sighted policies,» he affirmed, «the prudent stewardship of resources, and a resolve to curb corruption and injustice, as well as to promote civic responsibility and fraternal solidarity at every level of society.»

Benedict XVI expressed the hope that the cooperation of Malawi’s religious and social leaders will help resolve the critical issues currently facing the county.

He continued: «Indeed, the struggle against poverty, the need to ensure food security, and the continuing efforts to combat disease, especially the scourge of AIDS, represent development priorities which cannot be deferred.

«Authentic development, in addition to its necessary economic aspect, must contribute to the intellectual, cultural and moral advancement of individuals and peoples. The Church is convinced that the Gospel confirms and ennobles whatever is true and good in the traditional wisdom and values of the peoples whom she encounters.»

The Holy Father added that in the search for economic growth, the country must not lose sight of ensuring basic needs for all people, and respect for the natural environment.

He acknowledged the nation’s freedom of religion that «has enabled the Church to proclaim her message without coercion or interference, and to carry out her works of education and charity.»

«Since respect for conscience and religious freedom are the cornerstone of the whole structure of human rights,” the Pope affirmed, “the sure guarantee of those rights must be seen as an essential condition for the building of a truly just, free and fraternal society.»

Some 80% of Malawi’s near 14 million people are Christian.

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