Pontiff: Diplomats Need Christ's Friendship

Addresses Future Holy See Representatives

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI told future Holy See diplomats that their main priority is forming an intimate relationship with Christ.



The Pope said this on Saturday when he received in audience students and educators from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

"In effect, dear alumni, the more you seek the face of Christ the better you will be able to serve the Church and people -- Christians and non-Christians -- whom you will meet along the way as pontifical representatives throughout the world," the Holy Father said.

The Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy was founded in 1701 and trains the priests who will serve as diplomats for the Holy See.

Benedict XVI told the students: "The witness to the Gospel is asked to be faithful in every circumstance to the mission with which he has been entrusted.

"For you this means, in the first place, a personal and profound experience of the incarnate God, an intimate friendship with Jesus, in whose name the Church sends you for a singular apostolic task."

Atypical

The Pope referred to the address delivered by the academy president, which mentioned the students' desire to be "shepherds alongside the other shepherds of the Church."

"Cultivate this, your ardent desire," the Holy Father said, "so that those who draw near to you will always be able to discover the priest that is in you."

"In this way," Benedict XVI added, "all will clearly see the atypical character of pontifical diplomacy, a diplomacy that, as the numerous accredited diplomatic missions to the Apostolic See can testify, far from defending material interests or partial visions of man, promotes the values that flow from the Gospel, as the expression of the high ideals proclaimed by Jesus, sole and universal savior."

The Holy Father reiterated the future diplomats' need to have a strong relationship with Christ.

He told them: "The more deeply you know him, the more strongly will you be united to him and the more faithful you will be to your priestly commitments, all the more and better will you be able to serve people, the more fruitful will be your dialogue with them, the more accessible will appear the peace that you will propose in situations of tension and conflict, the more consoling will be the comfort that, in the name of Christ and his Church, you offer to those persons who undergo trial and are without defense."