Vatican City

Pope Francis urges ambassadors to protect poor

Evokes St Francis of Assisi at ambassadors' audience

Pope Francis urges ambassadors to protect poor

(By Denis Greenan). Vatican City, March 22 - Pope Francis on Friday put the world's many poor at centre stage during his first audience with ambassadors accredited to the Holy See. The recently elected pope called on the diplomatic corps to "protect those who suffer as a result of poverty", recalling his namesake St Francis of Assisi's fight against material poverty and his predecessor Benedict XVI's fight against the spiritual poverty allegedly inherent in the "dictatorship of relativism". Francis also asked the ambassadors to "work to build peace" according to the instructions of his namesake. "However, there can be no peace without truth," he said. The Argentine pope who was elected to replace Benedict at a conclave of cardinals last week also told the diplomats from 180 countries that it was not possible "to claim one's own rights without also working for the good of others". The pope also noted that one of his titles as Bishop of Rome was "pontiff, builder of bridges, with God and among men". The former archbishop of Buenos Aires added that all countries had responsibility to build bridges in pursuit of "ever greater love for our world". "As you know my family has Italian origins and so I have always been engaged in dialogue between remote places and cultures, between one end of the earth and the other," Francis told the diplomats. "Today (these places and cultures) are increasingly close and interdependent and in need of meeting each other and creating real space for genuine brotherhood," he added. 'Pontifex', Latin for bridge-maker, was a title used by ancient Roman high priests and later taken over by emperors. Religion plays an "essential" role in building bridges for peace, Francis stressed. "It is not possible to build bridges without encountering God" but "nor is it possible to have true ties with God while ignoring other people", he said. The pope, who was elected at a conclave of cardinals on March 13, again recalled St Francis in underscoring the importance of upholding the Franciscan founder's teaching of respect for all creation and care for the environment, "which all too often we do not use for good, but eagerly exploit inflicting reciprocal damage". Continuing the humble approach that has marked his 10-day-old papacy, Francis did not sit on the traditional papal throne but on a plain white chair set on a small dais. In yet another break with tradition, Francis addressed the ambassadors in Italian rather than in the traditional diplomatic language of French. Francis, the first South American pope, was elected after Benedict stunned the world by becoming the first pope in 600 years to abdicate.

Lascia il tuo commento

Condividi le tue opinioni su Gazzetta del Sud online

Caratteri rimanenti: 400

Le altre notizie

i più letti di oggi