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Friday, October 21, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 21 OCT 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Joseph Weterings, the new ambassador of the Netherlands to the Holy See. In his address to the diplomat the Pope recalled how the Holy See's contribution to international diplomacy "consists largely in articulating the ethical principles that ought to underpin the social and political order, and in drawing attention to the need for action to remedy violations of such principles.

"It does so, evidently, from the standpoint of the Christian faith", he added. "Christianity has always pointed to reason and nature as the sources of the norms on which a state of law should be built. Hence the diplomatic dialogue in which the Holy See engages is conducted neither on confessional nor on pragmatic grounds but on the basis of universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment".

Benedict XVI continued his English-language remarks: "In acting as a voice for the voiceless and defending the rights of the defenceless, including the poor, the sick, the unborn, the elderly, and the members of minority groups who suffer unjust discrimination, the Church seeks always to promote natural justice as it is her right and duty to do. While recognising with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes, the Church cannot do other than continue to urge all people, her own members included, to seek to do whatever is in accordance with justice and right reason and to oppose whatever is contrary".

He then went on to enumerate a number of areas of shared concern for the Holy See and the Netherlands, including the need to promote global peace through just resolution of conflicts, opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, promoting self-reliance in emerging countries, and defending human dignity. He also recognised the "generous humanitarian response of the Dutch people when emergency aid is needed around the world".

The Holy Father spoke of his pleasure at "the steps that the Dutch government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution", and concluded by expressing his appreciation at the promotion of freedom of religion in the Netherlands which, he said, "is a matter of particular concern to the Holy See at the present time".

Religious freedom, the Pope explained, "is threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies, even those where freedom of religion enjoys the protection of law. It is therefore greatly to be hoped that your government will be vigilant, so that the freedom of religion and freedom of worship will continue to be protected and promoted, both at home and abroad".
CD/ VIS 20111021 (470)

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