Pope to Diplomatic Corps: Culture of Rejection Spawns Violence and Death

Renews Call for Peace and Dialogue During Traditional Address

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In his traditional annual address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See today, Pope Francis renewed his call for peace in a world where a “mentality of rejection” continues the spread of conflicts.

Welcoming the ambassadors, the Holy Father noted the mutual cooperation between their States and the Holy See, particularly in the signing of new bilateral accords with Cameroon, Malta and Serbia.

Reflecting on the Christmas stories that show the “hardened heart” of humanity which finds it difficult to accept the birth of Christ, the Pope said that many more suffer that same rejection or worse.

“If this is how the Son of God was treated, how much more so is it the case with so many of our brothers and sisters!” he exclaimed. “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will.”

The Pope recalled the slaughter of the innocents by order of King Herod, comparing it to the more than one hundred children murdered in Pakistan. “To their families I wish to renew my personal condolences and the assurance of my continued prayers for the many innocents who lost their lives,” he said.

A Culture of Rejection

Pope Francis denounced a culture of rejection that exists today, stressing that such a culture leads to a “breakdown of society and spawning violence and death.” The Holy Father recalled the recent terrorist attack in Paris among other such attacks where people “are no longer regarded as beings of equal dignity.”

“It saddens us to see the tragic consequences of this mentality of rejection and this «culture of enslavement» in the never-ending spread of conflicts,” he said.

“It is my hope that through dialogue the efforts presently being made to end the hostilities will be consolidated, and that the parties involved will embark as quickly as possible, in a renewed spirit of respect for international law, upon the path of mutual trust and fraternal reconciliation, with the aim of bringing an end to the present crisis.”

Turning his thoughts towards the current conflicts around the world, the Pope said he was continuing to pray for peace in the Holy Land. The 78 year old Pontiff recalled his historic meeting with former Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, as well as expressing his hope that the “two state solution” would be implemented and end violence in the region.

The Holy Father also lamented the spread of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, which he said was a “consequence of the throwaway culture being applied to God.”

“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext,” he said.

“In the face of such unjust aggression, which also strikes Christians and other ethnic and religious groups in the region, the Yazidis for example, a unanimous response is needed, one which, within the framework of international law, can end the spread of acts of violence, restore harmony and heal the deep wounds which the ongoing conflicts have caused.”

The Pope appealed to the international community to take take steps towards peace and to protect those who are persecuted. “A Middle East without Christians,” he said, “would be a marred and mutilated Middle East!”

Protecting Dignity

The poor and the most vulnerable, Pope Francis stressed, are the ones who bear the brunt of the consequences of the current conflicts in the world. The Holy Father  turned his thoughts towards Africa, particularly Nigeria where he denounced the acts of violence that “continue to strike indiscriminately.”

Crimes such as the kidnapping and trafficking of young girls, he said, are an “abominable trade” and a “scourge which needs to be eradicated.”

Among the other conflicts the Holy Father prayed for in the African continent were Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa and the Congo.

“I voice my hope for a common commitment on the part of individual governments and the international community to end every form of fighting, hatred and violence, and to pursue reconciliation, peace and the defence of the transcendent dignity of the person,” he said.

Despite the hardships faced by the world, the Pope stressed the importance of not being dominated by pessimism but by hope of continuing dialogue and encounter. Recalling his visit to Albania, the Holy Father said that despite its painful history, the country is now an example of peaceful coexistence among different faiths.”

“This is an important sign that sincere faith in God makes one open to others, generates dialogue and works for the good, whereas violence is always the product of a falsification of religion, its use as a pretext for ideological schemes whose only goal is power over others,” he said.

The Holy Father also noted the recent agreement by the United States and Cuba to reestablish diplomatic relations as a sign of building bridges for the benefit of their citizens.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis expressed his hope for peace to thrive in the world, which, “even more than an end to all wars, is the fruit of heartfelt conversion.”

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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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