Holy Father's Address to Envoy of Mali

«Education Constitutes a Vital and Existential Necessity»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday upon receiving in audience Boubacar Sidiki Toure, the new ambassador from Mali to the Holy See.

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Mr. Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive the letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Holy See. On this happy occasion, I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and thank you for the kind words, with which you expressed the respectful tribute of the President of the Republic and the Malian people. I would be grateful if in turn you would transmit to His Excellency Mr. Amadou Toumani Toure, Head of State, my sentiments of gratitude and respect and the guarantee of my prayers for his person and all Malians.

As a good number of African countries, Mali celebrated this year the 50th anniversary of its independence. The progress achieved is always accompanied by challenges to point out. I mention among others social peace, education and the right to nourishment. For the building of a peaceful and stable society, Mali can extract from its cultural patrimony which encloses human, intellectual and religious values. I want to encourage their preservation and transmission to the new generations, because a society served by persons gifted with a profound moral perspicacity, always promotes justice and peace. The leaders of such a society are able to transcend their own interests to be virtuous governors totally dedicated to the common good. They are also able to cultivate human relations animated by trust and solidarity, mutual respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I encourage the different Malian leaders to help their compatriots to be reconciled among themselves after the conflicts that have marked Mali’s recent history. I also invite them to struggle against discrimination between ethnic groups and religions. In fact, it is legitimate that the identity of each ethnic or religious community be expressed visibly, in mutual respect, fostering peaceful coexistence at all levels of the national community (cf. Address to the Bishops of Mali, May 18, 2007).

Looking at the future, the Malian government has included among its priorities the formation of cadres capable of ensuring the development of your country. In a world characterized by the interdependence of peoples and the rapid spread of imitation of human behavior accompanied by growing individualism, education constitutes a vital and existential necessity. However, it could be reduced to an accumulation of intellectual knowledge or technical competence. Abilities should go hand in hand with knowing how to live and how to be so that, based on human wisdom and spiritual resources, they reflect better the essential truth of human existence. That is why, in the education of their children, Malian families are not content with the academic results achieved, to the neglect of human, cultural and religious virtues. They offer their children the reference values that will lead them to the truth about life, about the duty of solidarity and of dialogue, which are co-existential to human nature. It corresponds to the state to support families in their task of education, and to watch over the intellectual and human quality of the educational personnel. May Malian young people not let themselves be seduced by easy money that could incite them to pact with networks that lead to criminality or drug trafficking!

Your country is committed, Mr. Ambassador, on the path of harmonious development elaborating projects such as the new code of persons and the family. I harbor the great hope that it might help to reduce the inequalities between persons and social groups. This new code will contribute to social peace, if the leaders of your country also work to ensure the right to nourishment. Receiving with approval the efforts to increase the production of cotton and rice, I encourage your government to address the problem of food insecurity «eliminating the structural causes that give rise to it and promoting the agricultural development (…) by investing (…) in the development and dissemination of agricultural technology that can make the best use of the human, natural and socio-economic resources (…). All this needs to be accomplished with the involvement of local communities in choices and decisions that affect the use of agricultural land» («Caritas in Veritate,» No. 27).

As you can attest, Your Excellency, several executives of your country have been formed in Catholic schools. The Church’s commitment in formation and education, as well as in the charitable, health and social realms, shows her willingness to collaborate with the state, preserving the particular nature of her structures. I take advantage of the occasion to acclaim the convention on health care, which was signed by the Episcopal Conference of Mali and the Ministry of Health of Mali, as well as this ministry’s commitment to grant subsidies to ecclesial health structures.

To conclude, I greet warmly through you the Catholic community of Mali with its pastors, and I invite it to continue its courageous and joyful witness of the faith and of fraternal love taught by Christ. I also wish to encourage the efforts of the Episcopal Conference of Mali and of the government to consolidate the relations of mutual esteem between Mali and the Holy See. At the moment in which you begin your mission, I offer you, Mr. Ambassador, my best wishes, assuring you of the support of the different services of the Roman Curia for the fulfillment of your function. To this end, I am happy to invoke on you and your family, as well as on all your collaborators, abundant Divine Blessings.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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