Pope Francis has reminded diplomats that every authentic practice of religion cannot fail to promote peace.
The pontiff stressed this when addressing diplomatic corps of all ambassadors accredited to the Holy See this morning in the Apostolic Palace, during the annual tradition of exchanging greetings and addressing them.
Our recent celebration of Christmas, he noted, reminds us of this responsibility, as we contemplated the birth of a vulnerable child who is “named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Is 9:5).
“The mystery of the Incarnation shows us the real face of God, for whom power does not mean force or destruction but love, and for whom justice is not vengeance but mercy,” he said.
During his discourse, three primary themes focused on were the migration phenomenon, his apostolic visits this year, and the responsibility to help the poor and afflicted.
Reflecting on ther migrant crisis, he reflected on the passage of Jeremiah, in which Rachel weeps for her children who are no more, and said we hear her cries today.
“Hers,” he said, “is the plea of thousands of people who weep as they flee horrific wars, persecutions and human rights violations, or political or social instability, which often make it impossible for them to live in their native lands. It is the outcry of those forced to flee in order to escape unspeakable acts of cruelty towards vulnerable persons, such as children and the disabled, or martyrdom solely on account of their religion.”
The Pontiff also discussed each of his Aposotlic visits over this past year, including those to North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa, and their many fruits.
At the heart of each and all his visits, he underscored, was mercy.
Set Out Anew
The Pontiff also reflected on the significance during his Nov. 25-30 Apostolic Visit to Africa, of his having opened the Holy Door at the Cathedral of war-torn Central African Republic’s capital of Bangu, as a sign of encouragement to look ahead, to set out anew and resume dialogue.
“There, where God’s name has been misused to perpetrate injustice,” he stressed, “I wanted to reaffirm, together with the Muslim community of the Central African Republic, that “those who claim to believe in God must also be men and women of peace” and consequently of mercy, for one may never kill in the name of God.
“Only a distorted ideological form of religion,” he continued, “can think that justice is done in the name of the Almighty by deliberately slaughtering defenceless persons, as in the brutal terrorist attacks which occurred in recent months in Africa, Europe and the Middle East.”
The Pope also reflected on his visit to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families and the synod on the family, recognizing the numerous challenges presently facing families.
“Today,” he lamented, “there is a widespread fear of the definitive commitment demanded by the family; those who pay the price are the young, who are often vulnerable and uncertain, and the elderly, who end up being neglected and abandoned. On the contrary, ‘out of the family’s experience of fraternity is born solidarity in society,’ which instills in us a sense of responsibility for others.”
In our homes and our societies, the Pope urged, we must “refuse to allow weariness and resentment to take root, but instead make way for dialogue, which is the best antidote to the widespread individualism of today’s culture.” (D.C.L.)
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