Pope praises Aussie contribution to peacemaking

In a speech to the Australian ambassador, Anne Maree Plunkett, Pope Benedict praised the country's contributions to peacemaking and to development and disaster relief around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.

Catholic News Service reports that the Holy Father yesterday welcomed the ambassadors from Chad, India, Moldova, Cape Verde and Australia.

"The laudable resolves to work for peace on an international scale must be matched with an equal determination to attain justice at the local level," particularly when receiving refugees and in relations with Australia's Aborigines, he said.

The social situation of the Aborigines, he said, "is cause for much pain" and needs ongoing attention.

The Pope also told the ambassador he was looking forward, "God willing," to visiting Australia in 2008 to preside over World Youth Day festivities.

"In countries such as yours, where the disquieting process of secularisation is much advanced," the Pope said, "many young people are themselves coming to realise that it is the transcendent order that steers all life along the path of authentic freedom and happiness.

"Against the tide of moral relativism which, by recognising nothing as definitive, traps people within a futile and insatiable bid for novelty, the young generation is rediscovering the satisfying quest for goodness and truth," the Pope said.

Plunkett told the Pope the Australian government will do its best to make the World Youth Day celebration a success, and "we look forward to the opportunity of welcoming you to Australia for that event."

She also told the Pope, "The Australian government encourages the Holy See's efforts to expand dialogue with China and Vietnam, and thereby contribute to the growth and development of civil society in both those countries."

Peace entails religious freedom, pope tells diplomats to the Vatican (Catholic News Service 18/5/06)

Australian Embassy to the Holy See | Ms Anne Plunkett

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19 May 2006