Pope Francis' Address to Seven New Ambassadors to the Holy See

«The phenomenon of forced migrations is closely linked to the conflicts and wars and, therefore, to the problem of the proliferation of arms»

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The following is Pope Francis’ address May 15 in the Clementine Hall on the occasion of the presentation of Letters of credentials of new ambassadors to the Holy See from Switzerland, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Jamaica, South Africa, and India. 


Your Excellencies,

I am happy to welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters that accredit you as Ambassadors Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of your respective countries to the Holy See: Switzerland, Liberia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Jamaica, South Africa and India. I am grateful for the willingness with which you undertake this mission and I pray that you will convey my expression of gratitude and respect to the Heads of State of your countries. I assure them and each one of you of my remembrance in prayer and I invoke from Almighty God, for the Nations to which you belong, an abundance of prosperity and peace.

Peace. This word summarizes all the goods to which every person and all human societies aspire.  In the last analysis, in fact, the commitment with which we seek to promote diplomatic relations has no other purpose than this: to make peace grow in the human family in development and justice. It is an aim that is never fully reached, which calls for being pursued again by every generation, addressing the challenges that every age poses.

Looking at the challenges in this our time, which it is urgent to address to build a more peaceful world, I would like to underscore two: the arms trade and forced migrations.

Everyone speaks of peace, everyone says he wants it, but unfortunately the proliferation of arms of all sorts leads in the opposite direction. The arms trade has the effect of complicating and moving away from the solution of conflicts, much more so as it is carried out and effected in large part outside legality.

Therefore, I believe that, while we are gathered in this Apostolic See, which by its nature is invested with a special service to the cause of peace, we can unite our voices in the hope that the international community will give place to a new season of concerted and courageous commitment against the growth of armaments and for their reduction.

Another challenge to peace which is under our eyes, and which, unfortunately, in certain regions and at certain times assumes the character of a true and proper human tragedy, is that of forced migrations. It is a very complex phenomenon, and we must recognize that notable forces are acting on the part of international organizations, of States, of social forces, as well as of religious communities and volunteers, to try to respond in a civil and organized way to the most critical aspects, to the emergencies, to situations of greatest need. However, here also we realize that we cannot be limited to running after the emergencies. Now the phenomenon has manifested itself in all its breadth and, so to speak, epochal character. The time has arrived to address it with a serious political and responsible look, which involves all levels: global, continental, of macro-regions, of relations between Nations, down to the national and local level.

In this field, we can observe opposite experiences among them. On one hand, wonderful stories of humanity, of encounter, of hospitality; persons and families that have succeeded in coming out of inhuman realities and have rediscovered dignity, freedom and security. On the other hand, unfortunately, there are stories that make us weep and be ashamed: human beings, our brothers and sisters, children of God that, driven by the desire to live and work in peace, face murderous journeys and endure blackmail, torture, abuses of all sorts, to end up sometimes dying in the desert or at the bottom of the sea.

The phenomenon of forced migrations is closely linked to the conflicts and wars and, therefore, to the problem of the proliferation of arms, of which I spoke earlier. They are the wounds of a world that is our world, in which God has put us to live today, and which calls us to be responsible for our brothers and sisters, so that no human being is wounded in his dignity. It would be an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace and, at the same time, to promote or permit the arms trade. We can also think that it would be a cynical attitude in a certain sense, to proclaim human rights and, contemporaneously, ignore or not take charge of men and women that, constrained to leave their land, die in the attempt or are not received by international solidarity.

Your Excellencies, the Holy See declares today to you and to the Governments of your respective countries its firm determination to continue to collaborate so that steps will be taken in advance on these fronts and in all the paths that lead to justice and peace, on the basis of the recognized universal human rights.

At the moment in which you begin your mission, I give you my heartfelt best wishes, assuring the collaboration of the Roman Curia for the fulfilment of your function. And, while expressing my gratitude to you again, I gladly invoke upon you, upon collaborators and upon your families the abundance of divine Blessings. Thank you.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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