VATICAN CITY, 10 JUL 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Hector Federico Ling Altamirano, the new ambassador to the Holy See of Mexico, a nation, said the Pope in his remarks, "whose identity has been forged over the centuries in a fruitful relationship with the message of salvation proclaimed by the Catholic Church".
"Faith in Jesus Christ", he went on, "has engendered a culture in Mexico that provides a specific and complete meaning for life, and a hopeful vision of existence, at the same time setting out a series of fundamental principles for the harmonious development of all society".
The Holy Father made reference to the Fourth World Meeting of Families, held some months ago in Mexico City, indicating how it highlighted "the importance of this institution, which is held in such high esteem by the Mexican people. ... Hence it is of vital consequence that families be given adequate assistance, that homes continue to be schools of mutual respect and understanding, seedbeds of human virtues and a reason for hope in the rest of society".
Benedict XVI also noted "the important progress made over recent years in the good relations between the Holy See and Mexico, in a climate of reciprocal autonomy and healthy collaboration". In this context he mentioned the events organised to commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of the re-establishing of diplomatic relations between the two States, which focused, among other things, on "the correct understanding a true democratic State and its duty to protect and support religious freedom in all aspects of its public and social life".
"The truth is that religious freedom is not just one more right among many others, nor a privilege claimed by the Catholic Church. ... It belongs to the essence of each individual, of each people and each nation". It cannot "be restricted to the mere coexistence of citizens who practice their religion privately, or limited to the free exercise of worship, rather it must ensure that believers have full guarantees of being able to express their religious beliefs, at the same time making their contribution to forging the common good and a just social order in all aspects of life, with no restriction or coercion. In this context the Catholic Church, while she supports and encourages this positive vision of the role of religion in society, does not wish to interfere in the due autonomy of civil institutions".
The Pope praised steps being made in Mexico "to foment a more just and united ordering of society and to overcome the contrasts that continue to afflict the country", among them "such serious questions as violence, drug trafficking, and inequality and poverty which are fertile ground for delinquency".
"It cannot be overemphasised that the right to life must be recognised in all its fullness", Pope Benedict concluded. "In this context I joyfully greet the initiative by which Mexico abolished the death penalty in 2005, and the recent measures adopted by some Mexican states to protect human life from its beginnings. These resolute moves in such a fundamental question should be an emblem of your homeland, one of which it can be justly proud".
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/MEXICO:LING VIS 20090710 (550)