12 February 2024 | Address of His Holiness

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE PRESENTATION OF CREDENCIAL LETTERS BY THE AMBASSADORS OF ICELAND, BANGLADESH, SYRIA, THE GAMBIA AND KAZAKHSTAN ACCREDITED TO THE HOLY SEE

Clementine Room

[…] If we take an honest look at the current situation of our world, even a
cursory glance could leave us shocked and discouraged. One thinks of the many
places in the world such as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
Myanmar, Lebanon and Jerusalem, which are facing conflict and unrest. Haiti
continues to experience a grave social, economic and humanitarian crisis. Then
there is, of course, the ongoing war in Ukraine which has led to untold suffering
and death. In addition, we see the increasing flow of forced migration, the
effects of climate change and a large number of our brothers and sisters around
the world who are still living in poverty due to the lack of access to drinking
water, food, basic healthcare, education and dignified work. There is, without a
doubt, a growing imbalance in the global economic system.
When will we learn from history that the ways of violence, oppression and
unbridled ambition to conquer land do not benefit the common good? When will
we learn that investing in the wellbeing of people is always better than spending
resources on the development of deadly weapons? When will we learn that
social, economic and security issues are all interrelated? When will we learn that
we are one human family which can only truly thrive when all of its members are
respected, cared for and able to make their own unique contributions? Until we
come to this realization, we will continue to experience what I have been calling
a third world war being fought piecemeal. Perhaps this description seems
troubling to our sensibilities, especially due to our contentment over the
extraordinary technological and scientific achievements made or our satisfaction
with the steps already taken to address social issues and further develop
international law. While they are all certainly laudable in their own right, we
must never become complacent or indifferent concerning the current situation of
the world nor fail to guarantee that all of our brothers and sisters benefit from
these achievements and developments.
At the same time, we must also remain optimistic and determined that the
human family is capable of successfully facing the challenges of our day. In this
regard, we look to the service that you, dear Ambassadors, are called to carry
out. As you well know, the Office of Ambassador is an ancient and noble one. It
was even incorporated into Christian Scripture by the Apostle Paul when he used
the term to describe the followers of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). Indeed, the
positive role of the Ambassador is attested to in every age and in varying types
of situations. If you allow me, I would like to share some brief thoughts on why I
think that is the case. As a man or woman of dialogue, a bridge builder, an
Ambassador can serve as a figure of hope. Hope in the ultimate goodness of
humanity. Hope that common ground is possible because we are all part of the
human family. Hope that the last word in avoiding conflict or resolving one
peacefully is never said. Hope that peace is not an unrealistic dream. While still
faithfully serving his or her country of origin, the Ambassador tries to put aside
unhelpful emotions and rise above entrenched positions in order to find
acceptable solutions. It is certainly not an easy task. The voice of reason and
calls for peace often fall on deaf ears. The current situation of the world,
however, only further highlights the need for Ambassadors and their colleagues
to be champions of dialogue, champions of hope. The Holy See values the
important role that you play, as evidenced by its own diplomatic involvement on
the bilateral and multilateral levels.
For its part, the Holy See, in conformity with its nature and particular mission,
strives to protect the inviolable dignity of each person, promote the common
good and foster human fraternity among all peoples. These efforts, which do not
include the pursuit of political, commercial or military aims, are carried out
through the exercise of a positive neutrality. Far from being an “ethical
neutrality”, especially in the face of human suffering, this affords the Holy See a
certain standing in the international community that allows it to better assist in
the resolution of conflicts and other matters.
In light of these observations, I am confident that there will be many
opportunities for you to collaborate with the Holy See on matters of common
concern. In this regard, I can assure you that the Secretariat of State, along
with the other Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See, are more than willing to
engage with you in open and honest dialogue as we work together for the
betterment of the human family. As you begin this new service, dear
Ambassadors, I willingly invoke upon you, your families, your diplomatic
collaborators and staff, abundant divine blessings. […]