These were the words of Pope Francis to the diplomatic staff of the Italian Republic and the Italian Embassy to the Holy See in an audience today at the Vatican.
The Holy Father began by thanking the diplomats for their work, particularly the diplomatic activity they carried out to facilitate the participation of world leaders at the Solemn Mass to mark the beginning of his Petrine ministry.
“You are diplomatic functionaries and all of your work is orientated towards ensuring that the representatives of countries, international organisations and institutions may encounter one another fruitfully,” the Pope said.
“How important this service is! The most specifically ceremonial, most visible element is aimed towards that which is not immediately apparent: to the growth of positive relationships, based on mutual knowledge, respect, and the common search for pathways to development and peace”.
The Holy Father also highlighted the crucial role they play in promoting Italian cultural heritage; a heritage that is synonymous with culture, art and civilization.
“You contribute to ensuring that its value is recognized for the culture of encounter, that this heritage is put to the service of the common good, for that which Paul VI called the civilization of love,”
Concluding his address, the Holy Father reminded them that “the encounter between God and man” is reflected in the Christmas celebration. This encounter, he noted, calls out even to non-Christians.
“I hope that each one of you may live intensely this mystery of love, and that it profoundly inspires your service,” he said.