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Thursday, October 21, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Han Hong-soon, the new ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See.

  Addressing the diplomat in English, the Pope noted "the remarkable economic growth that your country has experienced in recent years, which has transformed Korea from a net recipient of aid into a donor country".

  He also recalled words used by the Korean president on his visit to the Vatican last year, to the effect that "there are dangers involved in rapid economic growth which can all too easily bypass ethical considerations, with the result that the poorer elements in society tend to be excluded from their rightful share of the nation's prosperity. The financial crisis of recent years has exacerbated the problem, but it has also focused attention on the need to renew the ethical foundations of all economic and political activity.

  "I wish to encourage your government", the Holy Father added, "in its commitment to ensure that social justice and care for the common good grow side by side with material prosperity, and I assure you that the Catholic Church in Korea is ready and willing to work with the government as it seeks to promote these worthy goals".

  Referring then to the Catholic Church's commitment in Korean society, the Pope highlighted how, "by means of her network of schools and her educational programmes she contributes greatly to the moral and spiritual formation of the young. Through her work for inter-religious dialogue she seeks to break down barriers between peoples and to foster social cohesion based on mutual respect and growth in understanding. In her charitable outreach she seeks to assist the poor and the needy, particularly refugees and migrant workers who so often find themselves on the margins of society".

  The Church's role, he went on, "involves proclaiming the truths of the Gospel, which continually challenge us to look beyond the narrow pragmatism and partisan interests that can so often condition political choices, and to recognise the obligations incumbent upon us in view of the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. This requires of us an unambiguous commitment to defend human life at every stage from conception to natural death, to promote stable family life in accordance with the norms of the natural law and to build peace and justice wherever there is conflict".

  Having then expressed the Holy See's appreciation "for the active role played by the Republic of Korea within the international community", Benedict XVI noted that, "by promoting the peace and stability of the peninsula, as well as the security and economic integration of nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, through its extensive diplomatic links with African countries, and especially by hosting next month's G20 Summit in Seoul, your government has given ample proof of its role as an important player on the world stage, and has helped to guarantee that the process of globalisation will be directed by considerations of solidarity and fraternity".

  The Holy Father concluded his remarks to the ambassador by referring to the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity, held recently in the Korean capital Seoul. "I see in this important event a clear sign of the fruitful co-operation that already exists between your country and the Holy See and that bodes well for the future of our relations", he said. "It was only right that the congress's focus was on the lay faithful, who ... not only sowed the first seeds of the Gospel on Korean soil but bore witness in great numbers to their firm faith in Christ through the shedding of their blood. I am confident that, inspired and strengthened by the witness of the Korean martyrs, lay men and women will continue to build up the life and wellbeing of the nation".
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