Papal Address to Secretariat of State, Representatives

“Speaking Up in Defense of Man”

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2006 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the superiors of the Secretariat of State, lead by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, together with the Holy See’s representatives to various international organizations.

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Dear Cardinal
and dear representatives of the Holy See to the international organizations,

I affectionately welcome you in this encounter, in which I have the joy of meeting you for the first time, as you unite here in Rome to reflect upon the important questions of this present moment. I cordially greet all of you and convey my heartfelt gratitude to the Cardinal Secretary of State for the words spoken on behalf of all of you.

The greater participation of the Holy See in the international activities constitutes a precious stimulus so that it can continue giving a voice to the conscience all who make up the international community. It is a fragile and strenuous service which, sustained by the apparently feeble yet ultimately prevailing strength of the truth, strives to cooperate in the construction of an international society, which is more attentive to the dignity, and true demands of the human person.

From this perspective, the presence of the Holy See to the international intergovernmental organizations represents a fundamental contribution to the respect for human rights and the common good, and therefore, to authentic freedom and justice. We find ourselves before a specific and unique commitment that can be more effective if it unites its efforts with those who cooperate with sincere self-giving in the mission of the Church in the world.

The relations between states and within the states are just in the degree in which they respect truth. Nonetheless, when truth is disregarded, peace is threatened, law is endangered and then, as a logical consequence, injustices are unleashed. These are the boundaries that divide countries in a much more profound way than the limits drawn up on the geographical maps and frequently are not only external boundaries but also internal to the states.

These injustices also take on new faces. For example, the face of disinterest and confusion that comes to damage the structure of the family, the fundamental cell of society. Or the face of authoritarianism or arrogance which can even become authorized, silencing those who have no voice or strength to be heard, as happens in the case of the injustice which, perhaps today the gravest is that which does away with incipient human life.

“God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). May this criterion of divine action, still in vigor today, encourage you not to be surprised, and less still to become discouraged, in the face of difficulties and misunderstandings. In fact, you know that through them you authoritatively participate in the prophetic responsibility of the Church, which strives to continue speaking up in defense of man, even when state politics or the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. The strength of truth, in fact, is found in truth itself, not in the number of approvals it receives.

You can be sure that I accompany you in your arduous and important mission with cordial attention and sincere gratitude, assuring you also of a remembrance in my prayer as I willingly impart to all of you my apostolic blessing.

© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana, translation by ZENIT

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