Vatican Aide Sees Promise in Arab Countries Unrest

Urges Dialogue With All Seeking Greater Liberty

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2011 ( Despite the grief and concern caused by violence in the movement for greater democracy in various Arab countries, the changes taking place are “promising,” says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said on Octava Dies that the West “should not interfere” in these political changes, but should “offer its help.”

He urged his listeners “not to be afraid” given the changes that are taking place, but to “engage in positive dialogue” with the people of these countries.

“The violence that accompanies the resistance to the spread of the movement of transformation of the political situation in Arab countries — particularly in Libya — is, of course, a source of very great grief for the suffering of the victims and populations, in addition to concern for the result of the process underway,” the priest acknowledged.

He added, “The violence runs the risk of making pacification very difficult.”

However, Father Lombardi noted, this “great revolution” is seen “with eyes of hope by expert observers as a possible springtime in the Arab world.”

Given recent events, he said, “Western peoples admit having been taken largely by surprise.”

Growth from within

“Many understand that any real growth of the Arab peoples in liberty and democracy must come first of all from within them, without outside counterproductive interference,” the priest noted.

Others, however “are afraid” and tend to be “defensive,” he added.

From the point of view of the Holy See, the spokesman said, “willingness and initiative in addition to due respect are necessary in order to help in a concrete way in the difficult situations that every profound transformation brings with it, and also friendship and dialogue between peoples and cultures, today more than in the past.”

Observing that it is primarily a youth movement, Father Lombardi pointed out “two important components to keep present.”

The first, he said, is that “thanks to the links with emigration, many have a positive idea of the European world, of human rights, of democracy and of liberty.”

The second, he continued, is that thanks to the new possibilities of communication, “many are open to dialogue and desirous of being inserted in the world community.”

“As ever, the new possibilities are connected also with new risks,” the priest warned. “But if they are not used for their positive aspects, the negative ones will certainly prevail.”

Finally, Father Lombardi appealed for dialogue and closeness: “If close to us, on the southern shore of the now very narrow sea that is the Mediterranean, there are innumerable young people desirous of a human growth in greater liberty, we cannot fail to do everything that is within our means to engage without fear in positive dialogue with them, learning mutually our respective languages.”

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