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Friday, October 22, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 22 OCT 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Manuel Tomas Fernandes Pereira, the new ambassador of Portugal to the Holy See.

  Beginning his address, the Pope recalled his own visit to Portugal last May. "I will never forget", he said, "the warm welcome I was given, and the friendly and respectful way in which my words were received. I believe that this also has social importance, for when society grows and people are strengthened thanks to the message of faith, then social coexistence also benefits, and citizens are more disposed to serve the common good".

  "Through her presence in the international arena", he went on, "the Holy See makes every effort to serve the cause of the integral promotion of individuals and peoples. It should be made clear that the obstacles to such promotion are not only economic; rather, they depend on the most deep-seated attitudes and values, the moral and spiritual values that determine the behaviour of each human being towards himself, towards others and towards all creation".

  When the Church in Portugal "promotes the awareness that these same values must inspire public and private life, she does not do so for political ambition, but in order to remain faithful to the mission entrusted to her by her Divine Founder", said the Pope.

  "The Church", he continued, "does not represent partial or transitory models of society; rather, she seeks to transform hearts and minds so that human beings can discover and recognise themselves in the complete truth of their humanity. Bearing in mind that her mission is moral and religious in nature, the Church respects the area that is the specific responsibility of the State".

  Moreover, the Holy Father went on, the Church "encourages Christians fully to shoulder their responsibilities as citizens so that, together with others, they may effectively contribute to the common good and the great causes of humanity".

  "Respectful collaboration and faithful understanding between the Church and the civil authorities brings benefits to Portuguese society. Animated by this hope, six years ago a new Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal came into being. ... In that juridical instrument Pope John Paul II saw confirmation of 'the feelings of esteem that animate our mutual relations', and expressed the hope that 'the new Concordat may favour ever greater understanding between the State authorities and the pastors of the Church, for the common good of the nation'. I am pleased", the Pope told the ambassador, "that you mentioned the desire to encourage the efforts being made for a complete and faithful application of the Concordat in the various ambits of the Catholic Church and of Portuguese society".
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