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Mr. Head of the Ceremonial,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you cordially and thank you for this visit, that the Christmas atmosphere makes even more gratifying.
First of all I wish to express to you my gratitude for all the help that you give my ministry with your work, especially that which is hidden, which is not noticed, but which is so precious. Thank you, truly, from my heart!
Last March 19, for instance: it is difficult to be aware of all the diplomatic activity there was behind that great meeting. And now I have the propitious occasion to thank you. Not only that, but also to tell you that I am very happy about what I have just heard: of your collaboration with the Secretariat of State and with the Prefecture of the Papal Household; and of the ethical and spiritual dimension that you are able to reap in what you do.
In regard precisely of the value, the meaning of your work, allow me to underline a perspective that I hold as very important. By your service, you are in the condition of fostering the culture of encounter. You are diplomatic officials and all your work tends to make the representatives of countries, of international organizations, of institutions able to meet in the most profitable way. How important this service is! The properly ceremonial aspect, which is more visible, is geared to what does not appear, to the growth of positive relations, based on reciprocal knowledge, on respect, on the common search for ways of development and peace.
In particular, you have in all this, one more card to play: that of the Italian cultural patrimony. Italy has always been in the world synonym of culture, of art, of civilization. And you contribute to make this appreciated by the culture of encounter, so that this patrimony is to the advantage of the common good, of what Paul VI called the civilization of love.
Christmas, now close, is the celebration of the encounter between God and man. We are given a Child who in his person realizes fully this encounter. Even one who is not Christian feels interpellated by Jesus’ Christmas message. I hope that each one of you will be able to live intensely this mystery of love, and that it will also animate your service in profundity.
Above all I wish that the Lord Jesus will give you much peace and serenity to your families, to children, to the elderly, to sick persons. I thank you again and ask you, please, to pray for me. Happy Christmas![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]