Pontiff to Guatemala: Say No to Corruption

Receives New Ambassador in Audience

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Upon receiving in audience the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See, Benedict XVI urged the nation to fight against corruption, poverty and hunger.

The Pope mat Saturday with Alfonso Alberto Matta Fahsen, who presented the Holy Father with his credentials.

The Pontiff expressed his appreciation for the actions that Guatemala has undertaken to reinforce democracy, but noted the necessity of «applying the laws in a just way» and of «not letting those who commit any form of violence or scorn fundamental human rights act with impunity.»

In his address of greeting to the Holy Father, Matta Fahsen recounted how his country, in the course of history, has been marked by various cultural, political, social and economic changes, that brought with them progress in many sectors, reported L’Osservatore Romano.

«They have, however, brought an increase in social inequalities and in the poverty in Guatemala,» the ambassador added,

Among the difficulties that these changes have brought about, the ambassador mentioned climate change, which has caused an intensification of certain problems and emergency situations in that region already suffering from drought.

The ambassador further noted the armed conflict that has bloodied Guatemala for almost 30 years has provoked the exodus of entire families to nearby countries.

Stable democracy

For his part, Benedict XVI underlined that democratic development and political stability are essential to «an authentic integral development of the person, which is reflected in a positive manner in every sphere of society.»

The Pope noted the basic right of every person to have access to food necessary for survival, and he invited efforts to ensure the adequate nourishment of the most vulnerable.

«Working in this direction,» the Holy Father affirmed, «means promoting the lives of everyone and making them dignified, especially those persons who are the most vulnerable and defenseless, such as children, who, without proper nourishment, see their physical and psychological growth compromised.»

Among the various initiatives that are being undertaken in Guatemala, the ambassador mentioned that «in April 2008, the government of President [Álvaro] Colom had launched a program that has such specific objectives as education, health and nutrition, aimed above all at assisting the poorest families.»

«In 2009,» he continued, «about 480,000 families benefited and medical aid was offered to about 500,000 children from 0 to 5 years. Around 1 million school age children were able to receive instruction.»

In his address, Benedict XVI praised the Guatemalan Constitution that protects human life from conception to natural death, and he exhorted the representatives of the people the legislative institutions «to maintain and reinforce this basic element of the culture of life.»

Such human and evangelical values as love for the family and faith in God, the Pope stated, represent the true reasons of hope for the future of Guatemala.

From this spiritual patrimony, he concluded, Guatemalans can find the necessary strength «to struggle against those factors that tear at the country’s social fabric, such as drug trafficking, violence,» and «lack of security, illiteracy, sects and the loss of moral reference points in the new generations.»

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