VATICAN CITY, 6 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Alfonso Roberto Matta Fahsen, the new ambassador of Guatemala to the Holy See. In his remarks to the diplomat the Pope praised the Guatemalan people who, "with their variety of ethnicities and cultures, have a deep-rooted faith in God, an intense devotion for Most Holy Mary, and a faithful love for the Pope and the Church".
He also mentioned Guatemala's "close and serene relations" with the Holy See, referring to next year's commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the creation of an apostolic nunciature in Guatemala, and expressing the hope that this celebration "may give fresh energy to the co-operation that exists between State and Church in your country, a co-operation founded on respect and on the autonomy of the separate spheres pertaining to each". And he added: "may honest and sincere dialogue continue, fomenting the common good of all Guatemalan society, which must pay special attention to its most disadvantaged members".
The Pope went on: "I cannot forget those who are suffering the consequences of climatic phenomena which, in your country too, lead to increasing drought and the loss of harvests, producing malnutrition and poverty. This extreme situation has recently led the national government to declare a 'state of public calamity' and to ask for aid from the international community. I wish to express my affection and spiritual closeness to those suffering this harsh predicament, my recognition to the institutions in your country which struggle to find solutions to such serious problems, and my gratitude to the various organisations and agencies of international co-operation which are doing everything possible to mitigate famine among large sectors of the population".
"The many human and evangelical values that enrich the hearts of your country's citizens, such as love for the family, respect for elders, sense of responsibility and, above all, trust in the God Who revealed His face in Jesus Christ, ... are important reasons for hope", he said. "From this abundant spiritual heritage you can draw the strength necessary to counteract other factors which cause the social fabric of Guatemala to decay, such as drug trafficking, violence, emigration, insecurity, illiteracy, sects and the loss of moral reference among the young generations".
"In this decisive undertaking, the authorities of your country will always be able to rely upon the ready collaboration of the Church, in her constant efforts to open 'new and creative ways' to respond to the desolating effects of poverty, and to co-operate in ensuring the dignity all human beings", said the Holy Father. He then went on to express his recognition "for the actions being undertaken in Guatemala to consolidate guarantees for an authentic Rule of Law".
"This process", he explained, "has to be accompanied by a solid determination, which arises from individual conversion of heart, to eliminate all forms of corruption in public institutions and administration, to reform justice so as to ensure that laws are justly applied, and to eradicate the sensation of impunity surrounding those who exercise any form of violence or disdain the most basic human rights".
Benedict XVI also referred to certain factors that "determine the specific identity" of the Guatemalan people, factors "which can have beneficial repercussions on the political and social stability of Central America". Among these he mentioned the Constitution of Guatemala, which "guarantees the defence and legal protection of human life from conception until natural death".
"I encourage all social players in the country, and especially those who represent the people in legislative institutions", he concluded, "to maintain and strengthen this basic element of 'the culture of life', something which will undoubtedly contribute to enriching the moral heritage of Guatemalans".
CD/LETTERS CREDENCE/MATTA:GUATEMALA VIS 20100208 (630)