Upholding the dignity of the human person, and the rule of law, are essential for good politics, Pope Francis said Monday to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
Such politics promote the common good and establish and maintain peace between nations, he said, by considering “the transcendent dimension of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.”
The pope made his annual address to the diplomatic corps Jan. 7 in the Vatican’s Sala Regia.
“Respect for the dignity of each human being is thus the indispensable premise for all truly peaceful coexistence,” he said, “and law becomes the essential instrument for achieving social justice and nurturing fraternal bonds between peoples.”
Human rights must be reaffirmed, he added, “lest there prevail partial and subjective visions of humanity that risk leading to new forms of inequality, injustice, discrimination and, in extreme cases, also new forms of violence and oppression.”
Francis emphasized that “politics must be farsighted and not limited to seeking short-term solutions,” noting that political leaders “should listen to the voices of their constituencies and seek concrete solutions to promote their greater good.”
“Yet this,” he said, “demands respect for law and justice both within their national communities and within the international community, since reactive, emotional and hasty solutions may well be able to garner short-term consensus, but they will certainly not help the solution of deeper problems; indeed, they will aggravate them.”
The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 183 states, as well as the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Of these, 89 states maintain embassies to the Holy See in Rome.
The pope told the diplomatic corps that “fidelity to the spiritual mission” of Christ’s command to the Apostle Peter to “feed my lambs,” impels him and thus the Holy See “to show concern for the whole human family and its needs, including those of the material and social order.”
The Holy See “has no intention of interfering in the life of States,” he stressed, but wants to be an attentive and sensitive listener to the issues involving humanity; “the same concern leads the Church everywhere to work for the growth of peaceful and reconciled societies.”
Structured on St. Paul VI’s 1965 speech of to the United Nations, the pope emphasized in his lengthy address the importance of increasing multilateral diplomacy, promoting justice, defending the vulnerable, and building peace.
Quoting St. Paul VI’s UN address, he said, “You sanction the great principle that relationships between nations must be regulated by reason, justice, law, by negotiation, not by force, nor by violence, force, war, nor indeed by fear and deceit.”
This still an important idea for today, especially as, according to Pope Francis, nationalistic tendencies have grown, many relationships within the international community, and the multilateral system, have entered a difficult period.
Reasons for this include, he said, an “inability of the multilateral system to offer effective solutions to a number of long unresolved situations, like certain protracted conflicts” and to confront present challenges in a satisfactory way.
National policies based on “quick partisan consensus” rather than pursuit of the common good and an increase in powerful and influential interest groups and “new forms of ideological colonization” have also contributed, he said.
“In part too, it is a consequence of the reaction in some parts of the world to a globalization that has in some respects developed in too rapid and disorderly a manner, resulting in a tension between globalization and local realities,” he added. “The global dimension has to be considered without ever losing sight of the local.”
The pope listed several grave issues facing humanity in the coming year, namely, ongoing international conflicts, especially in the Middle East; the refugee and migrant crisis; violence against women; the rights of workers; climate change; and the prevalence of nuclear arms.
He also highlighted the issue of abuse against minors, which he noted has “sadly” involved members of the Catholic clergy. “The abuse of minors is one of the vilest and most heinous crimes conceivable,” he said, according to a Catholic News Agency report.
“The Holy See and the Church as a whole are working to combat and prevent these crimes and their concealment,” he said, adding that a February meeting with bishops is intended as a “further step in the Church’s efforts to shed full light on the facts and to alleviate the wounds caused by such crimes.”