Peaceful coexistence among people, states needed for stability, development - Pope Francis

17:05 • 30.09.16



Meeting national authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in Tbilisi, Georgia Friday, Pope Francis described the Caucasus nation as a “blessed land, a place of encounter and vital exchange among cultures and civilizations” which, since the 4th century, “discovered in Christianity its deepest identity and the solid foundation of its values,” the Vatican Radio reports.


The Pope was speaking at the Presidential palace shortly after his arrival in the Georgian capital.  In his address, he recalled his meeting in the Vatican last year with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and thanked him for the invitation to visit his country whose values, expressed “in culture, language and traditions,” he said, place it fully “within the bedrock of European civilization.”


Georgia, a bridge between Europe and Asia


Describing Georgia as a “natural bridge between Europe and Asia,” that for centuries has facilitated “communication and relations” between peoples of diverse cultures, the Pope observed that 25 years have passed since Georgia’s independence was proclaimed.  During that time, and “at great sacrifice,” he noted, Georgia built and strengthened its democratic institutions seeking “to guarantee the most inclusive and authentic development possible.”


He expressed his hope that all sectors of society would work towards peace and development so as “to create conditions for stability, justice and respect for the rule of law” in order to promote “greater opportunities for all.”


Peaceful coexistence among people, states needed for stability, development


For such enduring progress, he said, “the peaceful coexistence among all people and states in the region” is indispensable.  “This requires increasing mutual esteem,” he stressed, “which can never lay aside respect for the sovereign rights of every country within the framework of international law.”


Pope Francis lamented what he called “a dominant way of thinking” in “far too many areas of the world” today which “hinders keeping legitimate differences and disagreements”  within a climate of “civilized,” responsible and reasoned dialogue.


This form of dialogue, he stressed, is all the more necessary in today’s context  “with no shortage of violent extremism that manipulates and distorts civic and religious principles, and subjugates them to… domination and death.”


Priority, the Pope said, should be given to human beings and “every attempt made to prevent differences from giving rise to violence.”  Distinctions along ethnic, linguistic, political or religious lines,” he stressed, must be a “source of mutual enrichment” for the common good. This requires that everyone, he said, “make full use of their particular identity” with the possibility “to coexist peacefully in their homeland, or freely to return to that land if for some reason they have been forced to leave it.”


He expressed his hope that civil authorities “will continue to show concern for the situation of these persons” and to find “tangible solutions” to their predicament.


In conclusion, Pope Francis spoke of the centuries-long presence of the Catholic Church in the country and its on-going commitment to contribute to the well-being and peace of the nation through its charitable and institutional works and “by actively cooperating” with the authorities and civil society.” Finally, he noted “the renewed and strengthened dialogue with the ancient Georgian Orthodox Church and the other religious communities” in Georgia and expressed hope that the Catholic Church may continue to contribute to Georgian society “in common witness to the Christian tradition which unites us.”

 

The full text of his speech is available here





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