Pope: Future More at Stake Now Than in Past

But No Need for Discouragement, He Says

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the future is more at stake now than it has been in the past, but that we should not grow discouraged and rather, should redouble our commitment to peace.

The Pope affirmed this today in a traditional annual address to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 177 nations. In his French-language address, the Pontiff took up the theme of his message for the Jan. 1 World Peace Day, considering the need to fight poverty to build peace.

In a discourse that touched on some of the most problematic areas of the planet, the Holy Father first expressed his affection for many of those who suffered in a particular way in 2008 “whether as a result of grave natural catastrophes, particularly in Vietnam, Myanmar, China and the Philippines, in Central America and the Caribbean, and in Columbia and Brazil; or as a result of violent national or regional conflicts; or again as a result of terrorist attacks which have sown death and destruction in countries like Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Algeria.”

“Despite so many efforts, the peace we so desire still remains distant,” he lamented. “Faced with this reality, we must not grow discouraged or lessen our commitment to a culture of authentic peace, but rather redouble our efforts on behalf of security and development.”

In this regard, Benedict XVI assured that the arms race is not the path to peace.

He said that “the Holy See has continued to reaffirm that peace cannot be built when military expenses divert enormous human and material resources from projects for development, especially the development of the poorest peoples.”

New hope

The Pope contended that to build peace, “we need to give new hope to the poor.”

Noting the individuals and families hard pressed by the current economic crisis, and also mentioning the food crisis and global warming, he said there is “an urgent need to adopt an effective strategy to fight hunger and to promote local agricultural development, all the more so since the number of the poor is increasing even within the rich countries.”

In this regard, the Bishop of Rome praised the identification of “helpful criteria for directing the governance of the economic system and helping those who are most in need,” defined at the Doha Conference.

But, he said, what the economy really needs is a renewal of confidence.

“On a deeper level, bolstering the economy demands rebuilding confidence. This goal will only be reached by implementing an ethics based on the innate dignity of the human person,” he affirmed. “I know how demanding this will be, yet it is not a utopia! Today more than in the past, our future is at stake, as well as the fate of our planet and its inhabitants, especially the younger generation which is inheriting a severely compromised economic system and social fabric.”

Poorest poor

In concluding his address, the Holy Father recalled that “the poorest human beings are unborn children.”

And he went on to mention “others who are poor, like the infirm, the elderly left to themselves, broken families and those lacking points of reference.”

“Poverty,” the Pope affirmed, “is fought if humanity becomes more fraternal as a result of shared values and ideals, founded on the dignity of the person, on freedom joined to responsibility, on the effective recognition of the place of God in the life of man.”

He said that the Christ Child in Bethlehem teaches that “fraternal solidarity between all men and women is the royal road to fighting poverty and to building peace.” And he asked that the light of Christ’s love “guide us throughout this year which has now begun.”

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