This morning, Pope Francis has met the Diplomatic Corps accredited by the Holy See in the Sala Regia of the Vatican for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings. On the occasion of the meeting, a note reminds that 180 State currently maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See. To them must be summed up the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as well as the Permanent Mission of the State of Palestine. As to the international organizations, on 4 June 2015 the Holy See has become an observer of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
There are 86 Chanceries located in Rome, including those of the European Union and of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, after the Embassies of Belize, Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea have been added during this year. Also the mission of the State of Palestine, the offices of the League of Arab States, the International Organization for Migration, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have seats in Rome.
After the greetings, Francis has addressed his speech on the hot topics of religious freedom and of peaceful coexistence between different religions to the 180 diplomats who have partaken: “Peaceful coexistence between people of different religions is possible where religious freedom is recognized and the actual possibility of cooperation in building up common good, in mutual respect for everyone’s cultural identity, is guaranteed”. “On the other hand – he continues – every religious experience lived authentically cannot but promote peace. Christmas reminds us about it. We have celebrated it not so long ago and we have contemplated in it the birth of a helpless baby “called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father for ever, Prince of Peace”.
Francis, after recalling the apostolic journeys he made last year (to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina disfigured by religious hatred; to Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Cuba, to Philadelphia (USA) for the Meeting of Families; as well as to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, and the most recent one made to convene the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, inaugurated exceptionally in Bangui during his apostolic journey to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic) the Pope reflected on the migratory emergency. “Indeed – he explains – the whole Bible tells us the story of a humanity in progress, because movement is connatural to man. Its history is made of many migrations, sometimes gained as awareness of the right to free choice, often dictated by external circumstances”.
Today as back then, we hear Rachel’s cry. She is weeping for her children because they are no longer with her: “It is the voice of thousands of people who mourn, fleeing from terrible wars – the Pope says – from persecution and human rights violations, or from political or social instability, which often make life impossible in one’s homeland. It is the cry of those who are forced to flee to avoid the unspeakable barbarism practiced toward defenseless people, such as children and people with disabilities, or martyrdom because of one’s religious affiliation”.
According to Peter’s Successor, we need general commitment ”to overcome the culture of waste and of offense towards human life once and for all, so that no one can feel neglected or forgotten nor other lives can be sacrificed due to lack of resources and especially due to lack of political will.” For its part, the year that has just begun promises many challenges and tension is already facing on the horizon: “Here I am thinking first and foremost about the serious conflicts which have emerged in the Persian Gulf, as well as the troubling military experiment conducted in the Korean Peninsula”. “I hope – he points out – that these contrasts will leave space to the voice of peace and the good will needed to look for agreements”.
For its part, the Pontiff concludes, addressing the Diplomatic Corps, “the Holy See will never stop working so that the voice of peace can be heard in every corner of the earth. I renew, therefore, the complete readiness of the Secretariat of State to collaborate with you in encouraging a constant dialog between the Apostolic See and the countries you represent for the benefit of the entire international community. I am deeply convinced that this jubilee year will be an opportune occasion for the callous indifference of many hearts to be conquered by the heat of Mercy, a precious gift from God, which turns fear into love and transforms us into peacemakers”.