09/29/2006, 00.00
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Cardinal Bertone meets diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See

The newly-appointed Secretary of State calls on diplomats to work together to defend human dignity, religious freedom and peace.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In a simple and direct speech, Card Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's new Secretary of State, addressed for the first time the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Speaking in the Sala Ducale in the Apostolic Palace, the new Secretary told all the ambassadors that they could "always count on the welcome and collaboration of the members of the Secretariat of State". In a reference to China, Vietnam and some Muslim countries, he said he hoped that "one day, very soon, all countries might be represented at the Holy See".

Cardinal Bertone said the role of the Secretariat of State is "assist the Pope in its mission", boosting the unity of the Church, the care of its communities, the proclamation of the Gospel, the mission of the Church in society, and the promotion of relations with states "for the good of the Church and society".

Frequently quoting from speeches by Pope John Paul II, the Secretary of State stressed that ambassadors to the Holy See are "privileged interlocutors of the Secretariat" as the Church is committed and makes a specific contribution to world and supports "man's dignity as well dialogue, solidarity, liberty, justice and brotherhood." More precisely, Cardinal Bertone called on everyone to go the extra mile in terms of solidarity. Among everyone's "primordial concerns", he cited the debt burden of the poorest countries, hunger, diseases, and the innocent victims of war.

He also underscored "liberty and the unconditional respect for every human being in his or her rights, in particular in terms of freedom of conscience and religion", the defence of life from conception to its natural end, and the family based on marriage.

Secretary Bertone also focused on the issue of peace which "tops" all others. Thanks to papal teachings, "new names have been given to peace" that suggest ways to solve issues and contribute to peace like development, liberation, human rights, international solidarity.

But the Church contributes to peace other ways as well, all complementary: political and diplomatic ways; legal and institutional ways; psychological and pedagogical ways; the ways of the great prophets of peace, conscientious objection and non violence.

Cardinal Bertone did not hide from the fact that in today's context of private and organised violence, there is an ongoing process of reflection in order to "integrate the prophetic aspect [of life] to its concrete necessities" on subjects such as social protection, war, security and disarmament.

The Secretary of State concluded his speech by urging the diplomats to "closely read and meditate" on the documents of the Holy See and the Pope "so that ideas may be translated into practical actions and that the world may recognise the strength and topicality of the Christian message in giving oneself and in the courage Christians display when they act on behalf of peace".

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