Reappraising the Spiritual and Human Heritage of Chile

Vatican Information Service
October 7, 2010

Benedict XVI today received the Letters of Credence of Fernando Zegers Santa Cruz, the new ambassador of Chile to the Holy See. He began his address to the diplomat by expressing his closeness to the Chilean people following February's earthquake, and he recalled "the immense efforts being made by the Chilean Catholic Church, many of whose communities were also badly affected by the quake, to help people most in need. ... Nor can I forget", he continued, "the miners of the Atacama region and their loved ones, for whom I continue to pray fervently".

Going on then to observe that the new ambassador is beginning his mission in the year in which Chile celebrates the bicentenary of its independence, the Pope said: "Many are the fruits the Gospel has produced in that blessed land: abundant fruits of sanctity, charity, human promotion, and of constant striving for peace and coexistence". In this context he also recalled last year's celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Argentina which, "with pontifical mediation, put an end to that dispute in the southern hemisphere", he said.

"That historical agreement", the Holy Father proceeded, "will remain for future generations as a shining example of the immense benefits that peace brings, and of the importance of preserving and encouraging the moral and religious values that constitute the most intimate fabric of a people's soul. We cannot hope to explain the triumph of this longing for peace, harmony and understanding without bearing in mind how deep the seed of the Gospel has taken root in the hearts of Chileans".

"It is very important, and even more so in present circumstances in which so many challenges threaten cultural identity, to encourage, especially among the young, a healthy pride and a renewed appreciation and reappraisal for their faith, history, culture, traditions and artistic heritage, and for everything that constitutes the best and richest spiritual and human patrimony of Chile".

At this point Benedict XVI also noted how, "although Church and State are independent and autonomous, each in its own field, they are both called to loyal and respectful collaboration in order to serve the personal and social vocation of the same people. In carrying out her specific mission to announce the good news of Jesus Christ, the Church seeks to respond to man's expectations and doubts, while at the same time drawing on those ethical and anthropological values and principles which are inscribed in the nature of human beings".

"When the Church raises her voice on the great challenges and problems of the present time - such as wars, hunger, widespread extreme poverty, the defence of human life from conception until natural end, or the promotion of the family founded on marriage between a man and woman, primary educator of children - she is not acting out of special interest or of principles perceptible only to people who profess a particular religious faith. Respecting the rules of democratic coexistence, the Church does this for the good of all society, and in the name of values that everyone can share", the Holy Father concluded.


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