Pope Praises Colombia's Catholic Roots

Says They Inspire Commitment to Noblest Causes

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is praising the «deep Catholic roots» of Colombia, which he says are an «inexhaustible source of energy» and an «inspiration to be committed to the noblest causes.»

The Pope said this today when he received in audience Colombia’s new ambassador to the Holy See, César Mauricio Velásquez Ossa.

The Holy Father proposed that Velásquez’s tenure as ambassador comes at a «moment of particular importance for Colombia.» He noted this year’s bicentennial celebrations, saying this «significant anniversary will be a singular occasion to accept the lessons that history furnishes, to intensify initiatives and measures that consolidate security, peace, harmony and the integral development of all its citizens and to look with serenity and hope to the approaching future.»

The Pontiff recalled how the Church has marked the development of Colombia, not only in the last 200 years, but ever since the arrival of Spaniards in America.

This influence, he said, «has left indelible imprints in the most varied ambits in the molding of your homeland, such as culture, art, health, social coexistence and the building of peace. It is a spiritual patrimony that has germinated in the course of the years and in all corners of Colombia in innumerable and fruitful human, spiritual and material realizations.»

Benedict XVI urged safeguarding these efforts as a «valuable heritage and to develop them as a beneficial proposal for the whole nation.»

He affirmed that the Church in Colombia does not seek any privilege, but only «wishes to be able to serve the faithful and all those who open to her the door of their heart, with an outstretched hand, always willing to strengthen everything that promotes the education of the new generations, care of the sick and the elderly, respect for the indigenous populations and their legitimate traditions, the eradication of poverty, drug-trafficking and corruption, care of prisoners, the displaced, emigrants and laborers, as well as care of needy families.»

Dignity

Benedict XVI reiterated the Church’s concern for human dignity, saying it is essential that the juridical order respects natural law, for example, in the «safeguarding of human life, from conception until its natural end; the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman; and the right of parents to have their children receive an education in keeping with their own moral criteria or beliefs.»

The Pope further assured his closeness to those who have been «unjustly and cruelly deprived of their liberty.»

He said he begs God to «put an end to so much suffering, and that all Colombians may be able to live reconciled and in peace in that blessed land, so filled with natural resources, beautiful valleys and soaring mountains, with large rivers and picturesque landscapes, which it is necessary to preserve as a magnificent gift of God.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-30693?l=english

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