VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is expressing closeness to the Filipino people who lost family members and homes in a tropical storm that caused extensive flooding in Manila.
The Pope stated this today in an audience with Mercedes Arrastia-Tuason, the new ambassador from the Philippines to the Holy See.
He assured the “beloved Filipino people” of his closeness and prayers, especially the victims of the Typhoon Ketsana, which struck Sept. 26, flooding the nation’s capital and claiming some 250 lives.
In his address to the envoy, the Pontiff acknowledged several development initiatives under way in the Philippines, including “the modernization of irrigation systems, the improvement of public transportation and the reform of social assistance programs.”
He expressed his confidence that the country will draw on all its resources, spiritual and material, so that its citizens “may flourish in body and soul, knowing the goodness of God and living in solidarity with their neighbors.”
The struggle against poverty, the Holy Father affirmed, “calls for honesty, integrity and an unwavering fidelity to the principles of justice, especially on the part of those directly entrusted with the offices of governance and public administration.”
He encouraged the “work of charity” and perseverance in peace-building, especially in those regions “scarred by conflicts.”
Benedict XVI encouraged the Filipino people to “allow their deep faith, their cultural heritage and the democratic values that have been a part of their patrimony from the time of their independence to shine as an example to all.”
The Pope also received the new ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See, Baroness Henriette Johanna Cornelia Maria van Lynden-Leijten, in an audience today.
He affirmed this country’s role in strengthening international cooperation “for the greater good of the human family.”
Thus, the Pontiff said, there are many opportunities for “joint action to promote peace and prosperity in the light of the desire that both the Holy See and the Netherlands have, to help the human person.”
In this regard, he underlined the “defense and promotion of freedom” as a “key element in humanitarian engagement.”
This freedom, the Holy Father affirmed, must be “anchored in truth — the truth of the nature of the human person — and it needs to be directed towards the good of individuals and of society.”
He underlined the need to build the family “on the foundation of a stable and fruitful marriage between a man and a woman.”
Benedict XVI continued: “Nothing can equal or replace the formative value of growing up in a secure family environment, learning to respect and foster the personal dignity of others.”
“A society, on the other hand, which encourages alternative models of domestic life for the sake of a supposed diversity, is likely to store up social consequences that are not conducive to integral human development,” he warned.
The Pope affirmed the Church’s desire to aid in building the Dutch society, to help the country “continue to be known for its solidarity with the poor and the vulnerable, its promotion of authentic freedom and its respect for the dignity and inestimable value of every human life.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of address to Filipino ambassador: http://www.zenit.org/article-27024?l=english
Full text of address to Dutch ambassador: http://zenit.org/article-27026?l=english