From the Vatican Information Service:
BENEDICT XVI PRAISES RECONCILIATION IN AUSTRALIA
VATICAN CITY, 12 FEB 2009 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Timothy Anthony Fischer, the new ambassador of Australia to the Holy See. The Pope began his remarks by expressing his sorrow for the recent bush fires in the Australian region of Victoria, asking the ambassador “to send my condolences to the grieving individuals and families”.
Continuing his English-language address, the Holy Father noted how the new ambassador is Australia’s first residential ambassador to the Holy See, thus marking a “new stage” in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. “The Church’s engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that human progress – whether as individuals or communities – is dependent upon the recognition of the supernatural vocation proper to every person”, he said. “It is from God that men and women receive their essential dignity and the capacity to seek truth and goodness. Within this broad perspective we can counter tendencies to pragmatism and consequentialism, so prevalent today, which engage only with the symptoms and effects of conflicts, social fragmentation, and moral ambiguity, rather than their roots”.
He then went on to recall last year’s World Youth Day celebrated in Sydney, commenting that every WYD “is a spiritual event: a time when young people, not all of whom have a close association with the Church, encounter God in an intense experience of prayer, learning, and listening. … I pray that this young generation of Christians in Australia and throughout the world will channel their enthusiasm for all that is true and good into forging friendships across divides and creating places of living faith in and for our world”.
“Cultural diversity brings much richness to the social fabric of Australia today. For decades that collage was tarnished by the injustices so painfully endured by the indigenous peoples. Through the apology offered last year by Prime Minister Rudd, a profound change of heart has been affirmed. Now, renewed in the spirit of reconciliation, both government agencies and aboriginal elders can address with resolution and compassion the plethora of challenges that lie ahead”.
The Holy Father had words of praise for Australia’s “active support of the Millennium Development Goals, numerous regional partnerships, and initiatives to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”. He also highlighted its readiness “to respond to a growing variety of exigencies in a principled, responsible and innovative manner. Not least of these are the menacing threats to God’s creation itself through climate change. Perhaps more than ever before in our human history the fundamental relationship between Creator, Creation and Creature needs to be pondered and respected”.
Referring then to his Message for this year’s World Day of Peace and its focus on “the need for an ethical approach to the creation of positive partnerships between markets, civil society and States”, the Holy Father commended “the Australian Government’s determination to establish relations of co-operation based on the values of fairness, good governance, and the sense of a regional neighbourhood. … It is ethics which render imperative a compassionate and generous response to poverty; they render urgent the sacrificing of protectionist interests for fair accessibility of poor countries to developed markets just as they render reasonable donor nations’ insistence upon accountability and transparency in the use of financial aid by receiver nations”.
Finally Pope Benedict spoke of the activity of the Church within the healthcare sector, highlighting one aspect of particular concern in “the provision of medical care for families, including high-quality obstetrical care for women. How ironic it is”, he concluded, “when some groups, through aid programmes, promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ healthcare: taking a life, purportedly to improve the quality of life”.