Holy Father's Words to 6 New Ambassadors

«Technology Should Help Nature Develop Along the Lines Envisioned by the Creator»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI gave to six new ambassadors to the Holy See: George Robert Furness Troup of New Zealand, Stefan Gorda of Moldava, Narciso Ntugu Abeso Oyana of Equatorial Guinea, Hussan Edin Aala of Syria, Henry Llewellyn Lawrence of Belize, and Geneviève Delali Tsegah of Ghana.

The Holy Father gave one speech addressing all the new diplomats and then gave letters to each individually, which addressed the specific nations they represent.

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Lady and Gentlemen Ambassadors,

I receive you happily this morning in the Apostolic Palace for the presentation of the letters that accredit you as ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary of your respective countries to the Holy See: Moldavia, Equatorial Guinea, Belize, the Arab Republic of Syria, Ghana and New Zealand. I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me on behalf of your respective heads of state. Please be kind enough to transmit to them in return my deferent greetings and my respectful wishes for their persons and for the high mission they carry out at the service of their countries and their people. Through you, I also wish to greet all the civil and religious authorities of your nations, as well as the whole of your compatriots. Naturally, my prayers and thoughts go also to the Catholic communities present in your countries.

As I have had the opportunity to meet each one of you privately, I now wish to speak to you in a more general way. The first half of this year was marked by innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology and people. The magnitude of these catastrophes challenges us. It is good to remember that before all else, the person comes first. Humanity, to whom God has entrusted the stewardship of nature, cannot be dominated by technology and become its subject. This awareness should lead states to reflect together on the short-term future of the planet, given their responsibilities with regard to our lives and technology. Human ecology is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports the research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority.

In this sense, it is necessary to completely revise our approach to nature. Nature is not simply a space that is useful or recreational. It is, rather, the place where man was born; his «home,» so to speak. It is essential for us. A change in mentality in this realm, even with the contradictions it entails, must make it possible to quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing. Hence, serious reflection must be engaged in and precise and viable solutions must be proposed. Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity. The United Nations seem to be the natural framework for this type of reflection, which should not be obscured by blindly partisan political or economic interests in order to give preference to solidarity over particular interests.

It is also helpful to ask ourselves about the appropriate role of technology. The wonders it is capable of go hand in hand with social and ecological disasters. By extending the relational aspect of work to the planet, technology imprints on globalization an especially accelerated rhythm. However, the basis of the dynamism of progress corresponds to man who works and not to technology, which is no more than a human creation. To bet on it unreservedly or to believe it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness, entails a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery when he himself attributes and delegates to it the powers it does not have. It is enough to see the «ravages» of progress and the dangers that an all-powerful and ultimately uncontrolled technology poses to humanity.

Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity. The pride it generates has created an impossible economism in our societies as well as a hedonism that subjectively and selfishly regulates behavior. The weakening of the primacy of the person leads to existential confusion and the loss of the meaning of life. The vision of man and material things that lacks a reference to transcendence uproots man from the earth and, more fundamentally, impoverishes his very identity. Hence, it is urgent that we match technology with a strong ethical dimension, given that the capacity man has to transform and, in a certain sense, to create the world through his work is always based on the first original gift of things made by God (John Paul II, «Centesimus annus,» No. 37). Technology should help nature develop along the lines envisioned by the Creator. In working together, the researcher and the scientist adhere to God’s plan that wished to place humanity as the apex and the administrator of creation. Solutions based on this principle will protect human life and its vulnerability, as well as the rights of the present and future generations. And humanity will be able to continue to benefit from the progress that man, by his intelligence, is able to realize.

Conscious of the risk that humanity runs when it considers technology to be a more efficient «answer» than political will or patient educational efforts to civilize customs, governments should promote a humanism that respects the spiritual and religious dimension of human persons. The dignity of the human person does not vary with changes in opinion. Respecting human aspirations to justice and peace allows the construction of a society that promotes itself when it sustains the family or when it refuses, for example, the exclusive primacy of finance. A country lives from the plenitude of the life of the citizens that make it up, each one being conscious of his own responsibilities and being able to give worth to his own convictions.

Moreover, the natural tendency to the true and the good is a source of a dynamism that engenders the will to collaborate in bringing about the common good. Thus social life can be enriched constantly by integrating the cultural and religious diversity through putting values in common, source of fraternity and communion. Social life should be considered, above all, as a reality of the spiritual order. Politicians in charge have the mission of guiding persons to human harmony and the wisdom they so desire, which should culminate in religious freedom, a true sign of peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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