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Monday, October 18, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 18 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Cesar Mauricio Velasquez Ossa, the new ambassador of Colombia to the Holy See.
  The Pope recalled that the new ambassador is beginning his mission to the Holy See "at a time of particular significance for Colombia: the commemoration of the bicentennial of the beginning of the process that led to independence and the constitution of the republic". He stated that, "not only during these last two centuries but from the dawn of the arrival of Spanish in America, the Catholic Church has been present in each of the stages of the historical destiny of your country, always playing a major and decisive role". This "selfless work ... has left indelible traces in various areas of your country, such as culture, art, healthcare, social cohesion, and peace-building".

  "The Church in Colombia does not demand any special privileges in this rewarding task," the Holy Father stressed. "She yearns only to serve the faithful and all those who open their hearts to her, ... ever ready to support anything that promotes education of new generations, care of the sick and elderly, respect for indigenous peoples and their legitimate traditions, eradication of poverty, drug trafficking, and corruption, care of prisoners, displaced persons, and migrant workers, as well as assistance to needy families. In effect, this means continuing to co-operate faithfully for the integral growth of the communities in which pastors, religious, and faithful carry out their service, motivated only by the demands that stem from their priestly ordination, their religious consecration, or their Christian vocation".

  "In this context of mutual co-operation and friendly relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, ... once again I wish to express the Church's interest in protecting and fostering the inviolable dignity of human beings, to which end it is essential that the legal system should respect natural law in such essential areas as safeguarding human life from conception to natural end, the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, or the right of parents to give their children an education consistent with their own moral criteria and beliefs. All of these are irreplaceable pillars in building a society that is truly worthy of humanity and our fundamental values".

  "In this solemn meeting", the Pope concluded, "I would also like to express my spiritual closeness and the assurance of my prayers for those in Colombia who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived of their freedom. I also pray for their families and, in general, for the victims of violence in all its forms, asking God that so much suffering be ended and that all Colombians may live in reconciliation and peace in that blessed land, so filled with natural resources, ... which must be preserved as a magnificent gift from the Creator".
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