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Monday, April 19, 2004


VATICAN CITY, APR 19, 2004 (VIS) - "The Philippines is truly a 'light' for the evangelization of the Asian continent," said John Paul II this morning during a meeting with the new ambassador of the Philippines, Leonida L. Vera, who presented her Letters of Credence to him.

  The Pope recalled that the Philippines "has kept the Christian faith strong" despite obstacles, and that the experience of World Youth Day, celebrated in Manila in 1995, "was an example of your Nation's desire to exercise this responsibility"of preserving the values of its heritage and extending the ideals of Christian culture in the world.

  Referring to the serious problem of poverty in the Philippines, and in Asia in general, the Pope said that in order "to deal with poverty effectively every sector of society must work together in search of solutions."

  The Holy Father went on to speak about capital punishment since it is currently a topic of national debate in the country. "I would reiterate that the ends of justice in today's world seem better served by not resorting to the death penalty. ... While civil societies have a duty to be just, they also have an obligation to be merciful."

  In light of the spread of violence in the Philippines, the Pope made an appeal to all parties "to end the terrorism which continues to cause so much suffering to the civilian population, and to embrace the path of dialogue which alone will enable the people of the region to create a society that guarantees justice, peace and harmony for all."

  "Building a society based on human dignity can only be achieved when those in authority espouse the principles of right governance and honesty in their personal and public lives and offer unconditional service to their fellow citizens for the common good.  Public servants, therefore, have an especially grave obligation to ensure that they are role models of moral behavior and do their best to help others form a correct conscience which at all times shuns any type of graft or corruption. These qualities of genuine leadership are of special concern as your country prepares for the coming elections. ... I am confident that the good will of those involved in the elections will lead to a stronger nation, truly based on equity and justice for all."

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