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Monday, May 22, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of Francisco Vazquez Vazquez, the new Spanish ambassador to the Holy See.

  The Pope began his address to the diplomat by referring to his "fond memories" of Spain, "both for the friendliness of the people I met, and for the abundance and great importance of the many works of art and expressions of culture throughout her territory.

  "This is an enviable heritage," he added, "denoting a brilliant history profoundly imbued with Christian values." That heritage "includes works in which the artists have given concrete form to their ideals and their faith. If this were to be ignored or passed over in silence, it would lose a large part of its attraction and meaning, though it would continue, so to say, to be made up of 'stones that speak'."

  Benedict XVI then went on to recall how the "centuries-old diplomatic relations between Spain and the Holy See ... reflect the Spanish people's constant attachment to the Catholic faith. The great vitality that the Church has had, and continues to have, in your country represents a special invitation to strengthen those relations and to encourage close collaboration between the Church and public institutions - respectfully and faithfully, each with their respective competencies and autonomy - with the aim of achieving the integral good of people who, as citizens of their country, are also ... the much beloved children of the Church."

  "Indeed," he added, "the Church encourages believers to love justice and to participate honestly in public and professional life with a sense of respect and solidarity, in order 'to promote organically and institutionally the common good.' [The Church] is also involved in the promotion and defense of human rights, because of her great consideration for the dignity of human beings in their entirety, whatever their place or situation."

  "For this reason the Church unreservedly proclaims the primordial right to life, from conception to natural end, the right to be born, and to form and live in a family without this being supplanted or obscured by ... different institutions. On this subject, the World Meeting of Families, shortly to be held in ... Valencia, Spain ... will give me the opportunity to celebrate the beauty and fecundity of the family founded on marriage, its exalted vocation and its irreplaceable social value.

  "The Church also insists on people's inalienable right to profess their religious faith without hindrance, both publicly and privately; and on the right of parents to ensure their children receive an education in keeping with their own values and beliefs, without discrimination or exclusion, be it hidden or explicit. On this matter, I find cause for satisfaction in the great demand for the teaching of Catholic religion in Spanish State schools, This means that people recognize the importance of that subject for the growth and the personal and cultural formation of the young."

  Finally, the Pope referred to the "evangelizing mission" of the Church, part of which is "charitable activity." He recalled how "in Spain today, and in her long history, this aspect has shown itself to be particularly fruitful in the Church's many support activities, undertaken in all fields and with great breadth of vision. And because this activity is not inspired by political or ideological strategies," but "in a 'duty to humanity,' collaboration in the field of humanitarian aid and support has achieved many goals, and it is to be hoped that it continues to increase."
CD/LETTERS OF CREDENCE/VAZQUEZ                    VIS 20060522 (600)

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