Pope tells new ambassador the US must build consensus

In a meeting with the new US Ambassador to the Holy See, in which neither party mentioned the Iraq war, Pope Benedict XVI nevertheless said US attempts to promote democratic freedoms should be matched by consensus-building with other countries.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service said that the Holy Father told told Ambassador Francis Rooney that in confronting issues critical to humanity's future, the United States should work with international institutions to develop a "unified course of action".

The pope said the disturbing spread of violence, war and disorder in today's world can be countered only through "respect for universal moral law."

The pope accepted the ambassador's credentials at a 25-minute ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday. Rooney, a Florida businessman, was serving in his first diplomatic assignment.

In his own talk, Rooney told the pope that the United States "looks to the Holy See as a partner in efforts to spread peace, encourage democracy and to defeat terrorism." The United States and the Vatican share "common goals" on a number of fronts, including terrorism, world hunger, the AIDS pandemic and human trafficking, he said.

On economic issues, the pope praised the American people for their "generous charitable outreach to the disadvantaged and needy on every continent."

But he said the international community must work harder to find effective solutions to "the scandal of continued widespread hunger, grave illness and poverty in large areas of our world."

An adequate response requires "courageous long-term decisions" on complex ethical questions, the pope said. He said he was thinking in particular of "the crushing debt that feeds the spiral of poverty in many less-developed nations."

Rooney pointed out that the United States provides a substantial amount of the world's food aid and acts in other ways to remove the underlying causes of global poverty.

The ambassador also spoke about advances in agricultural science as part of the solution to hunger. In recent years, US government officials have pushed for Vatican support of genetically modified foods, a controversial topic in many countries. Critics have criticised the US for mixing business interests with moral imperatives.

"We look to the Holy See to help the world recognise the moral imperative of a true investigation of these technologies," Rooney told the pope. "Nothing on its own can solve the complex problem of world hunger, but we cannot let irrational fears stop us from investigating what could be one part of the answer," he said.

The pope warmly welcomed Rooney, his wife and their three children to the papal library for the presentation ceremony. Accompanying them were several diplomats from the US Embassy to the Holy See.

Rooney, a Catholic who graduated from Jesuit-run Georgetown University, is the seventh US ambassador to the Vatican since diplomatic relations were established in 1984. As chief executive officer of Rooney Holdings Inc., an investment company based in Florida, he was a key contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaign in 2004.

In his speech, Rooney described the Vatican as a moral ally in the fight against terrorism.

"From the moment of the 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States, the Holy See has been a consistent voice in condemning religiously inspired terrorism. At the same time it has called for tolerance and outreach to all," he said.

Pope says US should lead world by building consensus (Catholic News Service 14/11/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
US Embassy to the Holy See

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15 Nov 2005