Pontiff Affirms Nepal's Democratic Ideals

Calls for Continued Respect for Catholic Institutions

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is affirming Nepal’s commitment to democratic ideals as it works at drafting a new constitution. 

The Pope made this acknowledgment in a Dec. 16 address when he received in audience the new ambassador from Nepal to the Holy See, Suresh Prasad Pradhan. 

“Recent years have seen much change in your nation as Nepal’s leaders have sought to chart a new political course for the benefit of her people,” the Pontiff observed. “In this regard, among the most important tasks is the drafting of a new constitution.” 

He affirmed, “The Holy See is pleased to note the expressions of commitment to democratic ideals and norms found in the interim political arrangements currently in force in your country.” 

“These include the wish to promote competitive multi-party democracy, civil liberties and fundamental human rights, adult enfranchisement, periodic elections, press freedom, an independent judiciary and the rule of law,” the Holy Father noted. 

He added, “It is acknowledged that much still needs to be done to consolidate these good intentions, but the public expression of such a commitment by Nepal’s leaders already bodes well.” 

Benedict XVI stated, “I am pleased to note the freedom” with which Catholic institutions, including hospitals, welfare organizations and schools, “operate and the respect in which they are held.” 

He continued, “It is greatly to be hoped that your government will continue to be supportive of the Church’s presence in health and education and ensure that human rights in general and religious freedom in particular are duly respected.” 

The Pope acknowledged that “a few regrettable incidents of violence against the lives of Catholics have occurred in recent years, as well as damage to church property.” 

He expressed the hope that “a spirit of tolerance will prevail, and that cooperation for the general good and reconciliation through dialogue will be strengthened and will continue to mark the brotherly relations between Nepalese Catholics and their fellow citizens of other religions.” 

The citizens of Nepal are primarily Hindu (81%), with only 0.5% professing the Christian faith, and a small percentage of those belonging to the Catholic Church. 

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-31278?l=english

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