|Pope Welcomes New U.S. Ambassador, Offers Prayers for America
VATICAN CITY, SEP 13, 2001 (VIS) - Today at Castelgandolfo, Pope John Paul received the Letters of Credence of the new United States ambassador to the Holy See, James Nicholson. The Pope, referring to the September 11 terrorist attack on the U.S., assured the ambassador of his "profound participation in the grief of the American people and my heartfelt prayers for the president and the civil authorities and for all involved in the rescue operations and in helping the survivors, and in a special way for the victims and their families."
"You are beginning your mission at a moment of immense tragedy for your country," he said. "I pray that this inhuman act will awaken in the hearts of all the world's peoples a firm resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat everything that sows hatred and division within the human family."
The Holy Father then recalled that, "in my recent meeting with President Bush, I emphasized my deep esteem for the rich patrimony of human, religious and moral values which have historically shaped the American character. ... Underlying your nation's commitment to freedom, self-determination and equal opportunity are universal truths inherited from its religious roots" from which spring values including "respect for the sanctity of life and the dignity of each person."
He went on to say that "in the century now opening before us, ... the possibilities before the human family are immense, although they are not always apparent in a world in which too many of our brothers and sisters are suffering from hunger, malnutrition, the lack of access to medical care and to education, or are burdened by an unjust government, armed conflict, forced displacement and new forms of human bondage. In seizing the available opportunities, vision and generosity are necessary, especially on the part of those who have been blessed with freedom, wealth and an abundance of resources."
John Paul II, turning to the "many disturbing situations throughout the world, the tragic violence which continues to affect the Middle East," told the ambassador: "I am certain that your country will not hesitate to promote a realistic dialogue which will enable the parties to achieve security, justice and peace, in full respect for human rights and international law."
The Pope then highlighted the "spiritual roots of the crisis which the Western democracies are experiencing, a crisis characterized by the advance of a materialistic, utilitarian and ultimately dehumanized world view which is tragically detached from the moral foundations of Western civilizations." He stated that "economic and political structures must be guided by a vision whose core is the God-given dignity and inalienable rights of every human being, from the moment of conception until natural death. When some lives, including those of the unborn, are subjected to the personal choices of others, no other value or right will long be guaranteed. ... Never has it been more urgent to re-invigorate the moral vision and resolve essential to maintaining a just a free society."
The Holy Father's closing remarks were dedicated to America's young people, "surely your nation's greatest treasure. That is why they urgently need an all-around education which will enable them to reject cynicism and selfishness and to grow into their full stature as informed, wise and morally responsible members of the community."
From Vatican Information Service, September 13, 2001