Pontiff Urges Respect for Spiritual Needs

Focuses on Education as Key to Development

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging the new ambassador from Kazakhstan to support human rights, especially freedom of religion, thereby respecting spiritual needs and not just material ones.

The Pope stated this in a Dec. 17 statement for Mukhtar Tileuberdi, in which he affirmed, “The Holy See encourages nations to respect the human person in his or her totality, acknowledging the spiritual as well as the material needs of all.”

“Although the Christians of Kazakhstan are a small percentage of the total population,” he acknowledged, “they can trace their roots there back through the centuries.”

“They therefore represent an important part of the rich diversity of religions and traditions of which your nation is comprised,” the Holy Father added.

He noted that the country has “various groups living side by side,” and is located geographically “between countries with large Christian and Muslim populations respectively.”

This, Benedict XVI said, “provides a precious opportunity to promote exchange and fraternity.”

“Cooperation for development also offers a wonderful opportunity for a meeting between cultures and peoples,” he affirmed.

The Pope continued: “For this encounter genuinely to occur, there needs to be a continuing commitment on the part of states to respect basic human rights, not the least of which is freedom of religion. 

“Religions have much to offer to development, especially when God’s place is recognized in the public realm, specifically with regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions.”

The Pontiff acknowledged Kazakhstan’s forthcoming chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which will begin Jan. 1, 2010.

He affirmed that the Holy See “is committed to consolidating the political freedoms won 20 years ago in Europe, whose external expression can only flourish when the divine gift of inner freedom is respected and fostered.”


That same day, the Holy Father met with representatives from seven other nations, and addressed each in a separate written statement.

In his message to the new ambassador from Bangladesh to the Holy See, Abdul Hannan, he acknowledged the country’s efforts to reduce poverty.

“One cannot but note the successes of your country’s initiatives in micro-credit and micro-finance which are gradually bringing a new level of prosperity to your people,” Benedict XVI.

He added that “improving standards of living also depends heavily on the commitment to the education of the young, both boys and girls.”

“In the era of globalization,” the Pope affirmed, “it is increasingly clear that greater access to education is essential for development at every level.”

“Above all,” he said, “it is essential for teachers to understand the nature of the human person and to cherish each and every student as a unique and precious individual, providing nourishment for the soul as well as the mind.”

The Pontiff stated that “showing a preferential love for the poor and the ailing, embracing the weak as precious in the sight of God: these are the ways by which society is infused with the breath of divine goodness that sustains the life of every creature.”


In the statement for Einars Semanis, the new ambassador from Latvia to the Holy See, the Holy Father expressed a prayer that the country will “remain faithful to the principles and values that the first Christian witnesses brought.”

Latvia, he said, can “surely become a model of development that protects the dignity of the human person while being sensitive to the requirements of a sustainable economy.”

This can be done through “extolling human dignity and respecting human life, and by promoting man’s vocation to build up a humanism open to spiritual and transcendent values,” Benedict XVI said.

These times of economic recession “demand courage and resolve,” he affirmed.

The Pope added that “some radical measures may be necessary to uphold the common good even at the cost of restrictions, renunciation and sacrifice.”

This can only succeed, he added, “when it is completed in a spirit of genuine justice and equity and with special attention to those who are most vulnerable.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Papal address to Kazakh ambassador: http://www.zenit.org/article-27927?l=english

Papal address to Bangladeshi ambassador: http://www.zenit.org/article-27928?l=english

Papal address to Latvian ambassador: http://www.zenit.org/article-27929?l=english

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