(Vatican News) In his annual address to members of the diplomatic corps at the beginning of the new year, Pope Francis says the heightening of tensions between Iran and the United States “risks… compromising the gradual process of rebuilding in Iraq, as well as setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict”.
Pope Francis focused on the virtue of ‘hope’ in his annual greetings to members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. Hope, he said, “is an essential virtue for Christians, to inspire our way of approaching the times that lie ahead”.
Noting that “peace and integral human development are… the principal aim of the Holy See in its involvement in the field of diplomacy”, the Pope’s speech focused heavily on calls for dialogue and for concerted international action on various issues facing the world today.
Combating climate change
In the context of being open to dialogue with young people, and listening to their concerns, the Pope raised the issue of climate change, with calls for ecological conversion on the part of all. He lamented the lack of commitment of the international community in addressing the challenges facing our common home. Ecology was an important theme of the Synod on the Amazon, the Pope said, which was primarily an ecclesial event.
Mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence
On his second journey in 2019, Pope Francis travelled to the United Arab Emirates, where he signed the Document on Human Fraternity with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, focused on fostering mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence. He emphasized the need to train future generations in interreligious dialogue.
International commitment to peace
The Pope called on the international community to be engaged in the peace process, not only in the Holy Land, but throughout the Mediterranean region and the Middle East. He pointed in particular to the war in Syria, and ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Libya. And in view of the heightened tensions between Iran and the United States, he renewed his appeal “that all the interested parties avoid an escalation of the conflict and ‘keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint’, in full respect of international law.”
No to nuclear weapons
In Japan, the Holy Father “experienced the pain and horror that we human beings are capable of inflicting on one another” especially in hearing the voices of survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “True peace”, Pope Francis said, “cannot be built on the threat of a possible total annihilation of humanity by nuclear weapons”. He repeated “a world without nuclear weapons is possible and necessary”, and encouraged the work of the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, taking place later this year.
Founding principles of UN remain valid
Finally, Pope Francis noted that 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. The Pope insisted that the foundational principles of the organization – the desire for peace, the pursuit of justice, respect for the dignity of the human person, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance – remain valid today, and should form the basis for international relations.
Concluding his remarks, the Pope recalled that this year is the 500th anniversary of the death of the great artist Raphael. Greeting the “people of Italy”, he expressed his “prayerful hope” that they might “recover the spirit of openness that exemplified the Renaissance.”