In the usual meeting of the Diplomatic Corps with the Pontiff at the beginning of the new year, the ambassador recalls the death of Benedict XVI. It then goes over Francis’ commitments in the past year, emphasizing his most significant words on the contemporary world and the conflicts that are tearing it apart, and also recalls his apostolic journeys and his forthcoming pilgrimage to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan
Tiziana Campisi – Vatican City
In the audience for greetings at the beginning of the year, the dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Georges Poulides, ambassador of Cyprus to the Holy See, addresses the Pope first of all the condolences of the representatives of the States which maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See for the disappearance of the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, remembered “with esteem and affection, not only for his dedication to the Church and his profound culture, but for his kindness and availability” also towards diplomats, and for his “impressive pastoral and teaching work ”.
The role of ambassadors to the Holy See
With a look at contemporary reality, Poulides observes that after the Covid-19 pandemic “another terrible virus, that of war” seems to want to spread, threatening to “involve the whole world”. It recalls what Francis said at the Colosseum last October, during the interreligious meeting promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, regarding peace, today “seriously violated, wounded, trampled on”, and the prayer to Our Lady on 8 December, in occasion of the act of veneration, in the confidence of being able to “continue to believe and hope that love wins over hatred, truth wins over lies, forgiveness wins over offense, peace wins over war”. Words through which, says the dean of the Diplomatic Corps, “the suffering of humanity affected by the drama of conflicts with their aftermath of violence, pain and destruction has emerged. Fathers and mothers who mourn the death of their children, young people who have become orphans prematurely, houses destroyed, lands devastated, exiles and refugees”. But who encourage the actions of the ambassadors to the Holy See “who aim to defuse the causes of conflicts and prevent them from erupting, taking away the good that dwells in every society”. “The victory of peace can only be achieved through everyone’s ability to feel part of the human family – argues Poulides -. Only through listening, dialogue, acceptance and acceptance of the other, the weak, the marginalized is it possible to build that culture of peace, of which the world today seems to have a great need”..
The ambassador of Cyprus highlights “the effort, even physical”, of Francis, in the past year, “to deprive the flame of evil and indifference of oxygen”, thanking him for the example offered and assures that the challenges “illustrated also in the recent Message for the Day of Peace, they are gathered by diplomacy with the conviction that peace is vital for countries in crisis, but also for nations that directly or indirectly suffer its unfortunate consequences”. Poulides mentions, in particular, “poverty, inequalities, access to food, public health and decent work for all, and again “the acceptance and integration of those who live as outcasts in our societies ”.CopyAMP code
The teachings of the Pope in the apostolic journeys
Retracing the Pope’s apostolic trips in 2022, the diplomat highlights the themes of welcome, fraternity and the need for a common approach to immigration addressed in Malta, reiterating everyone’s great responsibility “in building a more supportive and peaceful society” . Because, as Francis said in Valletta, “the other is not a virus to be defended against but a person to welcome”. Of the “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, which “continued the journey of ‘healing and reconciliation’ with the indigenous populations”, Poulides underlines the solidarity shown “to the peoples of the peripheries” and the assurance of the “commitment of the Holy See to the care of creation”. And again in Kazakhstan, on the occasion of the seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, the suggestion to base ecumenism and dialogue between religions on listening and understanding and then the invitation to consider, “among the fundamental rights of a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society, religious freedom as “the best channel for civil coexistence”. The dean also recalls the Pope’s visit to Bahrain. “He invited us once again to recognize the value of what intrinsically unites us while maintaining our peculiarities and differences”, remarks Poulides, mentioning when Francis said about unity that “it is not ‘all the same’, no, it is in the difference”.
The reform of the Roman Curia
In his speech Poulides then speaks of the importance “of the fulfillment of the ecclesial and synodal process of the Apostolic Constitution Pray Evangelium on the Roman Curia and its service to the Church in the world”. A profound reform which, as Francis himself writes, “serves to foster a more effective evangelism; to promote a more fruitful ecumenical spirit; to encourage a more constructive dialogue with everyone’”.
Francis’ next pilgrimage abroad
Finally, the ambassador citing the words of the Pope in the Urbi te Orbi message on Christmas morning who defined what the world is experiencing as “a serious famine of Peace”, recognizes that “peace is a tortuous path that cannot be done alone” and look “to the many places where the ‘piecemeal third world war’ is underway and where peace struggles to make its voice heard”. Places for which Francis “asked for silence on Christmas morning! But we know well that peace requires courage and truth”. In conclusion, the thoughts of the dean of the Diplomatic Corps turn to the next apostolic journey that the Pope will have to face, “the pilgrimage of peace and conciliation that he will soon undertake in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Sudan”. And at the end of his speech, thanks to Francis “for his tireless work, hope for so many peoples, so many men and women of all latitudes”.