VATICAN CITY, OCT 31, 2002 (VIS) - Pope John Paul this morning this morning welcomed Benoit Cardon de Lichtbuer, the new ambassador from the Kingdom of Belgium to the Holy See, who gave the Pope his Letters of Credence.
"As you have noted," said the Pope in reply to the diplomat's speech, "Belgium has always had a role in the European project from its very origins and has always actively supported it in the successive stages of its development. ...The European Union today represents on the international scene an instance of dialogue and cooperation which constitutes an evident appeal for many people in the world who aspire to development and peace. I am happy to know that your country encourages and supports the process of expansion that is underway."
The Pope remarked that building Europe requires leaders with "will and determination, with the desire to build the Union on the common values aware of the Christian roots of different peoples which are an inescapable reality of European history and culture" and "a common treasure."
He pointed to the "serious tensions" that afflict the world today, saying there must be "great determination to efficaciously fight terrorism, to reduce oppositions among peoples through dialogue ... and to fight the many injustices that provoke resentment, hatred or violence." He thanked the ambassador for his country's "renewed attention" to many African nations "with whom you have strong economic and cultural ties. It is good that a country such as yours helps these young nations to overcome their internal crises and the conflicts which put them at odds."
John Paul II turned to the Church's great attention to and care for children, adolescents and young people, stating that "current realities show in an often dramatic fashion the need" to protect and educate them. "It is important to condemn with the greatest vigor sexual abuses with regard to young people. Audacious policies to support families must be pursued in order to help them in their educational task, especially in support of the institution of marriage. As a fundamental tie between a man and a woman, marriage allows the family to be a stable and well-balanced place for children to grow."
"Man, created by God and called to share in His divine life, has always been at the center of the Christian vision of the world and that is why the Church respects and defends life," affirmed the Holy Father. "How can she silence her great anxiety and reprobation in the face of laws recently voted on in different countries which legalize active euthanasia? He said that the "only true rampart" against the constant violations of man's dignity and his rights is "recognizing the sacred and inviolable nature of every human person."
Human dignity and human rights are God-given, said the pontiff, they do not come from a consensus by men. Society exposes itself to grave dangers, he added, if it does not recognize God as the author of life, human dignity and human rights.