The Vatican

Pope to diplomats: "Education is the antidote to individualistic culture".

The Holy Father Francis received in audience the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the presentation and greetings on the occasion of the New Year.

David Fernández Alonso-February 8, 2021-Reading time: 5 minutes
papal audience diplomats

The hearing began with the introductory remarks of the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the H.E. Mr. Georgios F. PoulidesAmbassador of Cyprus to the Holy See, who highlighted the Pope's presence during this difficult time marked by the health emergency. "Despite the difficulties, your action, Holiness, has continued unceasingly, bringing to those in need and distress, the comfort and encouragement of your word also through the intelligent use of the media. Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, through the media and others, his spiritual guidance has never failed. We have felt his presence close at hand and his prayer for suffering humanity.".

Following the words of the H.E. Mr. Georgios F. PoulidesIn his address, the Holy Father thanked the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps for his kind greetings.

A sign of closeness

Francis has referred to the situation demanded by the emergency, which has forced to maintain a physical, but not spiritual, distance between the members of the Diplomatic Corps with the Holy Father. "We met this morning in the more spacious setting of the Hall of Blessings, in order to respect the need for greater personal distancing, which the pandemic forces us to do. However, distance is only physical. Rather, our meeting symbolizes the opposite. It is a sign of closeness, of that proximity and mutual support to which the family of nations must aspire.. In this time of pandemic, this duty is even more pressing because it is clear to all that the virus knows no barriers and cannot be easily isolated. Defeating it is, therefore, a responsibility that involves each of us personally, as well as our countries.".

Interreligious dialogue

The Pope thanked them for their commitment to maintain and strengthen relations between their countries and the Holy See. He expressed his desire to resume face-to-face meetings and apostolic journeys, which are "a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the Holy See and your fact, an important aspect of the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for the People of God spread throughout the world, as well as of the dialogue of the Holy See with the States. Moreover, they are often a favorable opportunity to deepen, in a spirit of exchange and dialogue, the relationship between different religions. In our time, interreligious dialogue is an important component in the encounter of peoples and cultures. When understood not as a renunciation of one's own identity, but as an opportunity for greater knowledge and mutual enrichment, it constitutes a good occasion for religious leaders and for the faithful of the various denominations, and can support the efforts of political leaders in their responsibility to build the common good.".

The introduction of his speech concluded with a call to strengthen international agreements, "which deepen the bonds of mutual trust and enable the Church to cooperate more effectively in the spiritual and social welfare of its countries.".

The right to care

After this introduction, the Pope wanted to address some issues of particular relevance to diplomatic relations. First of all, he again underlined the characteristics that this global pandemic has generated in society. "The pandemic also reminds us of the right to care, which is the prerogative of every human being.".

Equitable access to vaccines

"From this perspective, I renew my call for every human person to be offered the care and assistance he or she needs. To this end, it is essential that all those with political and governmental responsibilities strive to promote, first and foremost, universal access to basic health care, also encouraging the creation of local health centers and health care facilities that meet the real needs of the population, as well as the availability of treatment and medicines. Indeed, it cannot be the logic of profit that guides a sector as sensitive as health care.".

And as he has done on other occasions, he has called for equitable access to vaccines, stating that "the most important thing is to ensure that vaccines are accessible to all.It is also essential that the significant medical and scientific progress made over the years, which has made it possible to synthesize vaccines that are expected to be effective against the coronavirus in a very short space of time, should benefit all mankind. Consequently, call upon all States to contribute actively to international efforts to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines, not according to purely economic criteria, but taking into account the needs of all, in particular those of the most disadvantaged populations".

The economy at the service of man

The Holy Father also referred throughout his speech to the environmental, economic, social and political crisis that some countries are suffering. "The current crisis is therefore an opportunity to rethink the relationship between the individual and the economy. What is needed is a kind of "new Copernican revolution". that puts the economy at the service of man and not the other way aroundThe "beginning to study and practice a different economy, one that makes people live and does not kill, that includes and does not exclude, that humanizes and does not dehumanize, that takes care of creation and does not depredate it".".

Countries in difficulty

Of course, he also remembered to mention the situations in countries such as Lebanon, the Holy Land, Syria and Libya. "How I wish that 2021 would be the year when the word "end" would finally be written to the Syrian conflict, which has been going on for ten years now! For that to happen, a renewed interest is needed also on the part of the international community to sincerely and courageously address the causes of the conflict and seek solutions whereby everyone, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation, can contribute as citizens to the future of the country.".

Crisis of human relations

Finally, the Pope has spoken of a "crisis of human relations, expression of a general anthropological crisis"In this regard, he referred to the importance of education, since "we are witnessing a sort of "educational catastrophe".We cannot remain inert, for the sake of future generations and of society as a whole. "Today a new period of educational commitment is needed, involving all components of society",[13] because education is "the natural antidote to individualist culturewhich sometimes degenerates into a true cult of the self and the primacy of indifference. Our future cannot be one of division, of impoverishment of the faculties of thought and imagination, of listening, of dialogue and mutual understanding."".

The religious dimension

In addition, he also emphasized that "demands to contain the spread of the virus also ramified into various fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion, limiting worship and the educational and charitable activities of faith communities. However, we should not overlook the fact that the religious dimension constitutes a fundamental aspect of the human personality and societyThe spiritual and moral dimension of the person cannot be considered secondary to physical health, even though the aim is to protect human lives from the spread of the virus.

On the other hand, Freedom of worship is not a corollary of freedom of assembly, but derives essentially from the right to religious freedom, which is the first and fundamental human right.. That is why it must be respected, protected and defended by the civil authorities, just like health and physical integrity. Moreover, a good care of the body can never do without the care of the soul.".

Fraternity, antidote

Finally, the Holy Father said goodbye, stressing fraternity as a medicine for this situation, "2021 is a time that we must take advantage of. And it will not be wasted to the extent that we know how to collaborate with generosity and effort. In this sense, I believe that fraternity is the true remedy to the pandemic and to many evils that have struck us. Fraternity and hope are like medicines that the world needs today, together with vaccines.".

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