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Monday, January 26, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 JAN 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Stanislas Lefebvre de Laboulaye, the new French ambassador to the Holy See.

  Opening his address, the Pope expressed his happiness and gratitude at having been able to make a pilgrimage to the French shrine of Lourdes in September 2008, for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous.

  Going on then to consider the debate currently taking place in France on the subject of bioethics, Benedict XVI spoke of his contentment "at the parliament having reached prudent conclusions, replete with humanity, on questions concerning the end of life. ... My hope is that this prudence, which recognises the intangible nature of all human life, is upheld when it comes to revising the laws on bioethics".

  In order to face the current economic crisis measures are needed that "favour social cohesion, protect those most exposed and, above all, restore to the majority of people the capacity and opportunity to become real players in an economy that creates true services and real wealth", he said.

  Turning his attention to a recent agreement between France and the Holy See concerning recognition of diplomas issued by pontifical universities and Catholic institutes, the Pope pointed out how this "will benefit many French and foreign students".

  Having then expressed his pleasure at the French government's desire to enter into dialogue with the Catholic Church, Benedict XVI also thanked French bishops for their concern "to lay the foundations for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, in which the various religious communities have an opportunity to demonstrate that they are agents for peace".

  In the face "of the many crises currently characterising the international scene ... the Holy See follows with concern situations of conflict and cases of violation of human rights; yet she does not doubt that the international community, in which France plays an important role, can make an ever more just and effective contribution in favour of peace and harmony among nations, and for the development of all countries".

  Finally the Holy Father considered Catholic communities in France "whose joy", he said, "will surely be great this year at the canonisation of Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor. ... This event will show once again how living faith is prodigious in good works, and how sanctity is a healing balm for the wounds of humankind".
CD/LETTERS OF CREDENCE/FRANCE:LEFEBVRE                VIS 20090126 (420)

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