To mark today’s feast of St. John Paul II, here is a small excerpt from his first speech to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, given Oct. 20, 1978.
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On the other hand, the Church and the Holy See in particular ask your nations, your Governments, to take increasingly into consideration a certain number of needs. The Holy See does not seek this for itself. It does so, in union with the local episcopate, for the Christians or believers who inhabit your countries, in order that, without any special privilege but in all justice, they may nourish their faith, ensure religious worship, and be admitted, as loyal citizens, to full participation in social life. The Holy See does so also in the interest of men whoever they may be, knowing that freedom, respect for the life and dignity of persons—who are never instruments— fairness in treatment, professional conscientiousness in work, and a united pursuit of the common good, the spirit of reconciliation, opening to spiritual values, are fundamental requirements of harmonious life in society, and of the progress of citizens and their civilization. Certainly, the last-mentioned goals generally figure on the programme of those responsible. But the result, for all that, cannot be taken for granted, and all means are not equally valid. There are still too many physical and moral miseries which depend on negligence, selfishness, and the blindness or hardness of men. The Church wishes to contribute to diminish these miseries with her peaceful means, by education to the moral sense, by the loyal action of Christians and men of goodwill. Doing so, the Church may sometimes not be understood; but she is convinced that she is rendering a service which mankind cannot do without. She is faithful to her Teacher and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
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