Pope Urges Fearless Discovery of Truth in Rights Violations

Côte d'Ivoire Ambassador Reports to Vatican

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- No matter how poor or small a person is, the loss of his life at the hands of another is a tragedy, Benedict XVI said, as he urged Côte d'Ivoire to be courageous in seeking the truth behind crimes and rights violations.

The Pope said this today as he received the letters of credence from Côte d'Ivoire's new ambassador, Joseph Tebah-Klah.

Their meeting coincided with the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the African nation, and it also gave the Holy Father a chance to address the violence that ensued after elections held a year ago brought the defeat of Laurent Gbagbo, who then refused to cede power.

"The serious crisis affecting Côte d'Ivoire," said the Pope in his French-language address, "has given rise to equally serious violations of human rights, and much loss of life. For this reason, I encourage your country to promote any initiatives that may lead to peace and justice. You must not be afraid to discover the truth behind all the crimes and violations committed against the rights of the people. It will only be possible to live together harmoniously by striving after truth and justice, ... and by recognizing and respecting the sacred nature of all human life. 

"Each life comes from God and is sacred by virtue of its divine origin. Thus the loss of a human life -- whether great or small, rich or poor -- is always a tragedy, and especially when man is responsible."

At the same time, the Pontiff praised the "great treasure" of diverse religions and ethnicities coexisting in the west African nation.

"Coexistence must always be ardently supported and encouraged," he said, going on to encourage political leaders to work to ensure that the country's resources benefit all citizens equally.

The Holy Father also recalled that the Church makes her own contribution to reconstruction.

"She has no desire to replace the state but she can, through her many institutions in the fields of education and health, bring comfort and care to the soul," he said. "Indeed, such aid is often more necessary than material support, especially when both wounds of the body and wounds of the soul are in need of attention."