01/09/2020, 14.43
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US-Iran conflict casts shadow over Francis' gaze on 2020

More shadows than lights in Pope’s New Year’s speech to the diplomatic corps. The situations in Libya, Yemen and Syria of concern, but also terrorism in Africa. The "great cemetery" of the Mediterranean and human trafficking. The "serious injuries" of sexual abuse. Young people’s sensitivity towards the ecology. The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – There are more shadows than lights in Pope Francis' gaze on the world at the dawn of 2020, starting with the tensions between Iran and the United States that could "create the basis for a larger-scale conflict".

The meeting with diplomats accredited to the Holy See (183 states currently have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, to which the European Union and the Order of Malta must be added) for the presentation of new year greetings is traditionally when the Pope gives an overview of the global situation as seen by the Holy See. This year’s view is marked by "hope" and "realism".

Francis, expressed his concern for the Middle East, "the pall of silence that risks falling over the war that has devastated Syria over the course of the last decade", Yemen, "which is experiencing one of the most serious humanitarian crises of recent history amid general indifference on the part of the international community, and to Libya, which for many years has experienced a situation of conflict aggravated by incursions of extremist groups and by a further intensification of violence in recent days ". Realities that “provides fertile terrain for the scourge of exploitation and human trafficking, carried out by unscrupulous persons who exploit the poverty and suffering of those fleeing situations of conflict or of extreme poverty. Among the latter, many fall prey to genuinely criminal organizations that imprison them in inhumane and degrading conditions and subject them to torture, sexual violence and forms of extortion ". People who beg our welcome, while "it remains painful to acknowledge that the Mediterranean Sea continues to be a vast cemetery".

But in addition to the situations of violence, in the Pope's thought there is of course the Holy Land and “the urgent need for the whole international community to reconfirm, with courage and sincerity, and in respect for international law, its commitment to support the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. ".

From the Middle East, however, comes the absolutely positive fact of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together  signed during the trip to the United Arab Emirates with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib.  This is an important text, aimed at fostering mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims, and peaceful coexistence in increasingly multiethnic and multicultural societies. In forcefully condemning the use of “the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression”,the Document recalls the importance of the concept of citizenship, “based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice”. This requires respect for religious freedom and the resolve to reject the discriminatory use of the term “minorities”, which engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority, and paves the way for hostility and discord, discriminating between citizens on the basis of their religious affiliation. To this end, it is particularly important to train future generations in interreligious dialogue, the main road to greater knowledge, understanding and reciprocal support between the members of different religions. ".


"Peace and hope were also at the heart of my visit to Morocco where, with His Majesty King Muhammed VI, I signed a joint appeal on Jerusalem, in recognition of “the unique and sacred character of Jerusalem/Al-Quds Acharif".

Francis asked the international community to "support the efforts" that Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria in the struggle to defeat the scourge of terrorism. And they are also concerned about "the ever stronger polarizations" that injure the populations of Latin America, with a special mention for Venezuela.

On the other hand, issues related to ecology and nuclear weapons are global.

The climate emergency, notes the Pope, is felt above all by young people. "They remind us of the urgency of an ecological conversion", which " hich “must be understood in an integral way, as a transformation of how we relate to our sisters and brothers, to other living beings, to creation in all its rich variety and to the Creator who is the origin and source of all life”.Sadly, the urgency of this ecological conversion seems not to have been grasped by international politics, where the response to the problems raised by global issues such as climate change remains very weak and a source of grave concern. The XXV Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP25), held in Madrid last December, raises serious concern about the will of the international community to confront with wisdom and effectiveness the phenomenon of global warming, which demands a collective response capable of placing the common good over particular interests".

In addition to environmental sensitivity, Francis also underlines that, on the occasion of the 34th World Youth Day, in Panama there were " young people from five continents, brimming with dreams and hopes, who came together to pray and nurture their desire to be involved in building a more humane world.[3] It is always a joy and a great opportunity to meet young people. They are the future and the hope of our societies, but also their present. Tragically however, as we know, not a few adults, including different members of the clergy, have been responsible for grave crimes against the dignity of young people, children and teenagers, violating their innocence and privacy. These are crimes that offend God, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to their victims, and damage the life of whole communities. ". “Given the gravity of the harm involved, it becomes all the more urgent for adults not to abdicate their proper educational responsibilities, but to carry out those responsibilities with greater zeal, in order to guide young people to spiritual, human and social maturity. For this reason, I have planned a worldwide event to take place on 14 May next with the theme: Reinventing the Global Compact on Education. This gathering is meant to “rekindle our commitment to and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding.". With which it contrasts "the language of hatred widely used on the Internet and in the media of social communication".

As for nuclear weapons, the trip to Japan was an opportunity for Francis to listen to some survivors of the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, " In hearing the testimonies of some Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it became clear to me that true peace cannot be built on the threat of a possible total annihilation of humanity by nuclear weapons. The Hibakusha “keep alive the flame of collective conscience, bearing witness to succeeding generations to the horror of what happened in August 1945 and the unspeakable sufferings that have continued to the present time. Their testimony awakens and preserves the memory of the victims, so that the conscience of humanity may rise up in the face of every desire for dominance and destruction”,[22] especially that fostered by the possession of such potentially destructive devices as nuclear weapons. These weapons do not only foster a climate of fear, suspicion and hostility; they also destroy hope. Their use is immoral, “a crime not only against the dignity of human beings but against any possible future for our common home". A world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary ".

Finally, Europe starting from the community project. "The Holy See has sought to emphasize the ideal of an inclusive process of growth inspired by a spirit of participation and solidarity, capable of making Europe a model of welcome and social equality guided by shared underlying values. The European project continues to be a fundamental guarantee of development for those who have long shared in it, and an opportunity for peace in the aftermath of turbulent conflicts and injuries for those countries that aspire to take part in it. Consequently, Europe ought not to lose that sense of solidarity that has for centuries set it apart, even at the most difficult moments of its history. May it not lose that spirit, which finds its roots, among other things, in the Roman pietas and the Christian caritas that have shaped the spirit of the European peoples".

Finally, the reference to the seventieth anniversary of the proclamation of the Assumption of Mary, which occurs this year, gives the starting point to “address a special thought to all women, twenty-five years after the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995. It is my hope that the invaluable role of women in society may be increasingly acknowledged worldwide and that all forms of injustice, discrimination and violence against women come to an end. “Every form of violence inflicted upon a woman is a blasphemy against God”. Acts of violence and exploitation directed at women are not merely wrong; they are crimes that destroy the harmony, the poetry and beauty that God wished to bestow on the world". (FP)

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