In making his appeal at the end of today’s Angelus in Castel Gandolfo the Pope highlighted the “risk of seeing the atmosphere of trust and collaboration that should exist between nations progressively deteriorate.”
The Pontiff mentioned “the nationalist contrapositions that have had so many tragic consequences at other moments in history,” referring to “controversies [. . .] connected to the relationship between territorial integrity and the [principle of] self-determination of peoples.” He did not however cite any one case in particular.
It is likely that when he referred to the latest “rising tensions”, he had in mind the war between Russia and Georgia, and the tensions caused by Poland, the United States, Russia, Syria and Israel, nations that are apparently bent on going back to the Cold War.
“Recent events have undermined in many people the expectation that such experiences would a thing of the past,” he said. But the reference to the principle of self-determination of peoples goes beyond the problems faced by Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Similar problems obtain between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, where violence has flared up again; in China over the relationship between Tibet, Xingjian and the central government; as well as Africa and the Middle East where war is still at home.
“We must not give in to pessimism,” said the Pontiff. Instead we must “tenaciously and creatively build fruitful and sincere relations to offer today’s and future generations harmony and decent moral progress.”
Faced with “nationalist contrapositions” we must reaffirm a “shared awareness that we are a ‘family of nations,’ a notion that Pope John Paul II held up as an ideal at the General Assembly of the United Nations. [. . .]. We must further understand that we share the same destiny, which is ultimately transcendental (cf Message for World Peace Day, 1 January 2006).
Before the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI spoke about the Sunday Gospel (XXI during the year, A) which presents Peter’s profession of faith—“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”.
“Even today we want to proclaim this with innermost conviction,” said the Pontiff. “Yes, Jesus, you are Christ, the Son of the Living God! We are aware that Christ is the true ‘treasure’ for whom it is worth sacrificing all. He is the friend who never abandons us for he knows the innermost expectations of our heart. Jesus is the ‘Son of the Living God’, the promised Messiah, who came on earth to offer humanity salvation and satisfy the thirst for life and love that dwells in every human being. What advantages would humanity get if it welcomed the announcement that brings with it joy and peace!”
Following the Apostle’s confession of faith Jesus conferred upon Peter his mandate (And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.).
“It is the first time that Jesus spoke about the Church whose mission is to implement God’s grandiose plan to unite in Christ the whole of humanity as a single family. Peter’s mission, and that of his successors, is to serve the one and only Church of God, which includes Jews and pagans. Its indispensable ministry is to ensure that it does not identify with any one nation or culture, but that it is a Church for all peoples, so as to make present among people, who suffer from countless divisions and contrasts, God’s peace and the renewing strength of his love. It must therefore serve the inner unity that comes from God’s peace, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. This is the unique mission that falls upon the Pope, Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter.
Lastly “before the huge responsibility of this task I feel ever more the importance and the duty of serving the Church and the world that God placed in me. For this reason I call upon you, dear brothers and sisters, to help me with your prayers so that, faithful to Christ, we can together announce and bear witness to his presence in our times. May Mary enable us to obtain this grace! We call upon her, full of trust, as the Mother of the Church and the Star of Evangelisation.”