Holy See: January 2010 Archives

What follows are excerpts of an address the Holy Father gave to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See today, January 11. I selected what I thought were some germane points for our consideration.


Pope with Diplomats.jpg

The Church is open to everyone because, in God, she lives for others! She thus shares deeply in the fortunes of humanity, which in this new year continues to be marked by the dramatic crisis of the global economy and consequently a serious and widespread social instability. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I invited everyone to look to the deeper causes of this situation: in the last analysis, they are to be found in a current self-centred and materialistic way of thinking which fails to acknowledge the limitations inherent in every creature. Today I would like to stress that the same way of thinking also endangers creation. Each of us could probably cite an example of the damage that this has caused to the environment the world over. I will offer an example, from any number of others, taken from the recent history of Europe. Twenty years ago, after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the materialistic and atheistic regimes which had for several decades dominated a part of this continent, was it not easy to assess the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water and air? The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God.

It is proper, however, that this concern and commitment for the environment should be situated within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing mankind. If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man's respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown. As Saint Thomas Aquinas has taught, man represents all that is most noble in the universe (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 29, a. 3). Furthermore, as I noted during the recent FAO World Summit on Food Security, "the world has enough food for all its inhabitants" (Address of 16 November 2009, No. 2) provided that selfishness does not lead some to hoard the goods which are intended for all.

I would like to stress again that the protection of creation calls for an appropriate management of the natural resources of different countries and, in the first place, of those which are economically disadvantaged. I think of the continent of Africa, which I had the joy of visiting last March during my journey to Cameroon and Angola, and which was the subject of the deliberations of the recent Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod Fathers pointed with concern to the erosion and desertification of large tracts of arable land as a result of overexploitation and environmental pollution (cf. Propositio 22). In Africa, as elsewhere, there is a need to make political and economic decisions which ensure "forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all" (Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, No. 10).

How can we forget, for that matter, that the struggle for access to natural resources is one of the causes of a number of conflicts, not least in Africa, as well as a continuing threat elsewhere? For this reason too, I forcefully repeat that to cultivate peace, one must protect creation! Furthermore, there are still large areas, for example in Afghanistan or in some countries of Latin America, where agriculture is unfortunately still linked to the production of narcotics, and is a not insignificant source of employment and income. If we want peace, we need to preserve creation by rechanneling these activities; I once more urge the international community not to become resigned to the drug trade and the grave moral and social problems which it creates.

To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism. Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America. Saint Columban stated that: "If you take away freedom, you take away dignity" (Ep. 4 ad Attela, in S. Columbani Opera, Dublin, 1957, p. 34). Yet freedom cannot be absolute, since man is not himself God, but the image of God, God's creation. For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator.


cross detail3.jpgLiving and dying in Christ in 2009 was way too common. Especially the dying part.  Pope Benedict's Christmas homily notes that "The Church everywhere proclaims the Gospel of Christ, despite persecutions, discriminations, attacks and at times hostile indifference. These, in fact, enable her to share the lot of her Master and Lord." Many of the 37 people killed this past year met hostility for their acceptance of Christ as Savior, others were easy targets because they were priests or nuns or in some way connected with the Church. Being killed for being Christian is not the same as saying the 37 were martyrs for the faith. Some may be legitimate martyrs, but not all.

Those who died:

Fr Joseph Bertaina, of the Consolata Missionaries, killed January 16, 2009, Langata, Kenya

Fr Eduardo de la Fuente Serrano, 61, killed February 14, 2009, Havana, Cuba

Fr Juan Gonzalo Aristizabal Isaza, 62, killed February 22, 2009, Medellin, Colombia

Fr Daniel Matsela Mahula, 34, killed February 27, 2009, Jouberton, South Africa

Fr Lionel Sham, 66, killed March 7, 2009, Mohlakeng, South Africa

Fr Révocat Gahimbare, killed March 8, 2009, Karuzi, Burundi

Fr Gabriel Fernando Montoya Tamayo, 40 & Fr Jesús Ariel Jiménez, 45, Redemptorists, killed March 16, 2009, La Primavera, Colombia

Fr Ramiro Luden, 64, killed March 20, 2009, Recife, Brazil

Fr Lorenzo Rosebaugh, 74, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, killed May 18, 2009, lta Verapaz, Guatemala

Fr Ernst Plöchl, 78, Congregation of the Missionaries of Mariannhill, killed May 31, 2009 Cape Province, South Africa

Mr Jorge Humberto Echeverri Garro, 40, killed June 11, 2009, Colonos, Panama Arauca, Colombia

Fr Habacuc Benítez Hernández, 39, and Seminarians Oregon Eduardo Benitez, 19, and Silvestre Gonzalez Cambron, 21, killed June 13, 2009, Tierra Caliente, Guerrero, Mexico

Fr Gisley Azevedo Gomes, 31, Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata of Our Lord Jesus Christ, killed June 15, 2009, Brazlandia, Brasilia

Fr Mariano Arroyo Merino, 74, killed July 13, 2009, Shrine of Our Lady of the Rule, Cuba

Mr Ricky Sukaka Agus, 27, Caritas worker, killed July 15, 2009, Musezero, North Kivu, DR of Congo

Fr Mukalel James, 39, killed July 30, 2009, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Fr Leopoldo Cruz, Redemptorist, killed August 24, 2009, El Salvador

Fr Cecilio Lucero, Filipino, 48, killed September 6, 2009, Northern Samar province, Philippines

Fr Roger Ruvoletto, 52, Fidei Donum missionary, killed September 19, 2009, Manaus, Brazil

Fr Evaldo Martiol, 33, killed September 26, 2009, Santa Caterina, Brazil

Fr Danilo Oscar Cardozo 57, killed September 27, 2009, Villavicencio, Colombia

Mr William Quijano, 21, Community of St. Egidio in El Salvador, September 28, 2009, Apopa, San Salvador

Fr Edward Hinds, 61, killed October 24, 2009, Chatham, New Jersey

Fr Louis Jousseaume, 70, killed October 26, 2009, Tulle, France

Sr Marguerite Bartz, 64, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, killed October 31/November 1, 2009, Navajo, New Mexico

Fr Hidalberto Henrique Guimaraes, 48, killed November 7, 2009, Maceió, Brazil

Fr Miguel Angel Hernandez, 45, Capuchin Franciscan, killed November 8, 2009, Ocotepeque Honduras, and found dead in a province of eastern Guatemala

Fr Jean Gaston Buli, killed on November9/10 2009, Bunia, DR of Congo

Fr Daniel Cizimya Nakamaga, 51, killed December 6, 2009, Kabare, DR of Congo

Fr Louis Blondel, 70, Missionaries of Africa, killed December 6 /7, 2009, Pretoria, South Africa

Sr Denise Kahambu Muhayirwa, 44, Trappistine, killed December 7, 2009, Murhesa, DR of Congo

Fr Jeremiah Roche, Society of St. Patrick for Foreign Missions, killed December 10/11, 2009, Kericho, Kenya

Fr Alvino Broering, 46, killed December 14, 2009, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Fr Emiro Jaramillo Cardenas, 73, killed on December 20, 2009, Santa Rosa de Osos, Columbia

We are never very far from offering our lives for Christ. The day after Christmas we observe the feast of the first martyr, Saint Stephen, a deacon and one of the seven chosen to serve the Church. In his Angelus address Pope Benedict recalled for us that

Stephen's witness, like that of the Christian martyrs, shows our fellow men and women, so often distracted and disoriented, in whom they must place their trust in order to give meaning to life. The martyr is, in fact, the person who dies in the certainty of being loved by God and, placing nothing before love for Christ, knows he has chosen the better part. Fully identifying himself with the death of Christ, he realizes that he is a life-giving seed that opens the way for peace and hope in the world. Today, presenting us St. Stephen the Deacon as a model, the Church is also showing us that acceptance and love for the poor is one of the privileged ways to live the Gospel and to bear credible witness before the world of the Kingdom of God that is to come. (Angelus, December 26, 2009)

Rome Reports filed this story.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Holy See category from January 2010.

Holy See: December 2009 is the previous archive.

Holy See: February 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.