05/29/2008, 00.00
VATICAN-BANGLADESH-SRI LANKA
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Pope: justice, solidarity, peace should guide countries

Benedict XVI has received a group of ambassadors, including representatives from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. To the former, he spoke of the need for shared values in order to construct a solid democracy, and of the concern for the common good that should guide political leaders. To the ambassador from Colombo, he recommended the path of negotiations, and emphasised that human rights must be respected in the fight against terrorism.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "It is a duty of justice" that the international community "should be vigilant" over the distribution of the riches of the planet, so that the countries where these resources are located should be the first beneficiaries, and rich countries should not appropriate them for themselves alone.  Justice and solidarity, the rejection of violence, and fraternity should, in fact, guide international relations.  This is the central theme that Benedict XVI developed, receiving today at the Vatican a group of ambassadors who came to present their letters of accreditation, including diplomatic representatives from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The pope's reflection began with the affirmation that "the fundamental standard for the political sphere is the search for justice, so that respect may always be given to the dignity and rights of every human being, and so that all the inhabitants of a country may share in the wealth of the nation".  But the human community must not stop at justice alone, but should instead "show solidarity for the poorest peoples".  And fraternity must also be developed, in order to permit "the building of harmonious societies in which concord and peace may reign", and in order to address the eventual problems that may arise "through dialogue and negotiation, and not through violence under all its aspects".

Shortly before this, Benedict XVI addressed Debapriya Bhattacharya, the new representative of Bangladesh to the Holy See.  In these remarks, the pope focused on the necessity that, in order to construct a solid democracy, the citizens of the country must share the values that inspire democratic institutions and procedures, and also respect personal dignity and human rights.

Referring after this to the preparations for the upcoming general elections in the country, Benedict XVI maintained that "in particular, those running for public office must be willing to set aside personal interests to safeguard the common good of the people whom they represent and serve".  To the ambassador, who had spoken to him of the "challenge" of rebuilding representative institutions, Benedict XVI replied that the crucial task of rebuilding trust "will call for strong leadership on the part of men and women who are trustworthy, fair and competent".

The desire for peace was, instead, the central theme of the speech that Benedict XVI addressed to the ambassador of one country, Sri Lanka, devastated by a longstanding civil war.  In the words of the pope, this is an aspiration that unites the Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims of the country.  In the face of the violence that, unfortunately, continues, "frank and sincere negotiations, regardless of the investment of time and resources they require, are the only sure means to achieving reconciliation and addressing problems that have long hindered peaceful coexistence".

To the ambassador Tikiri Bandara Maduwegedera, Benedict XVI then said that terrorist attacks are "are never justifiable and always constitute an affront to humanity".  But "arbitrary attacks" as well do not only fail to serve the interests of the various groups, but also provoke "indiscriminate reactions" and continue the "cycles of violence [that] obfuscate the truth, perpetuate a volley of accusations and counter-accusations, and leave people disillusioned and despondent. For this reason", he concluded, "the struggle against terrorism must always be carried out with respect for human rights and the rule of law".

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