Pontiff Affirms a Moral Responsibility for Strong Nations
Addresses New Ambassador From New Zealand
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today reflected on the "moral responsibility" that rich and stable nations have, suggesting these countries must work for peace, human rights, and sustainable economic development.
The Pope made this observation -- valid for various states -- in regard to New Zealand. His reflection came in a letter to the new New Zealand ambassador to the Holy See, George Robert Furness Troup, who presented his letters of credence to the Pontiff.
The Holy Father today addressed a group of new ambassadors, from Moldova, Equatorial Guinea, Syria, Ghana, and Belize, in addition to New Zealand. He met with them individually prior to the group address, giving each a letter regarding the particular situation of their nations.
In his statement, the Pontiff first reiterated his solidarity with Christchurch, after the earthquake of last Feb. 22.
He then went on to speak of the Holy See's efforts in the international community, saying the Church "seeks to promote universal values which are rooted in the Gospel message of the God-given dignity of each man and woman, the unity of the human family and the need for justice and solidarity to govern relations between individuals, communities and nations."
He said such values are inscribed in the culture that gave rise to New Zealand's politics and laws, and that a cornerstone of that heritage is respect for religious freedom.
New Zealand's main religious groups are Anglicans and Roman Catholics, with those communities claiming around 13% each of the population (slightly more Anglicans). The biggest percentage of New Zealanders (32%) claim no religion.
Benedict XVI presented New Zealand as a country with a unique position to assist in the development of small resource-poor countries.
For example, he said, some of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) -- a group recognized by the United Nations in 1992 as a distinct group of developing countries -- look to New Zealand "as an example of political stability, rule of law and high economic and social standards. They also look to you as a source of assistance, encouragement and support as they develop their own institutions."
The Pope said that such a position implies a "particular moral responsibility."
"Faithful to the best of its traditions," he said, "New Zealand is called to use its position of influence for the peace and stability of the region, the encouragement of mature and stable democratic institutions, and the fostering of authentic human rights and sustainable economic development."
Twenty of the 52 SIDS are Pacific islands.
The Pope went on to consider the Church's role in the country, assisting in "knitting together a truly multicultural society with a sense of mutual respect, shared purpose and solidarity, for the peace and prosperity of all."
He said the Church has a particular desire to "nurture the greatest respect for the whole human person, defending the inalienable right to life from conception until natural death, promoting a stable family environment and providing education."
Dwelling on that last topic, eduction, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of faith-based schools.
"In addition to the pursuit of excellence in academic studies, athletics and the arts, Catholic schools are concerned above all with the moral and spiritual formation of their pupils," he said. "The enduring attraction of educational institutions steeped in authentic Christian values demonstrates the perennial desire of parents to have their children prepared for life in the best possible way in a healthy environment that will bring out the best in young people as they prepare for life's challenges."
In this context, the Bishop of Rome voiced confidence "that your government will continue to support parents in their role as the primary educators of their children, by ensuring that the faith-based education system remains accessible to those who wish to avail themselves of it for the good of their children and of society at large."
New Zealand has 240 Catholic schools and according to a statement last year from the New Zealand Catholic Education Office, the country's bishops and others are "currently in discussions with government with a view to strengthening the level of government's capital support for our schools, in order to meet the changing curriculum requirements."
That same statement noted that Catholics schools were saved from "imminent collapse" by an act passed in 1975, which provided a "massive injection of operational funding." The schools were facing huge property development costs as they upgraded to state school standards.
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32802?l=english