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State of the World, According to John Paul II

Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address John Paul II delivered January 10th to the members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, on the occasion of the traditional audience at the start of the New Year.

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Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. The quiet joy which marks this season when the Church relives the mystery of the birth of Emmanuel and the mystery of his humble family in Nazareth, is very much a part of this, my yearly meeting with you, the distinguished Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. In gathering here today, you in a certain way make visible the great family of the Nations.

This joy-filled and long-awaited meeting has opened with the message of good wishes, respect and appreciation for my universal concern on the part of your Dean, Professor Giovanni Galassi, Ambassador of San Marino. I am grateful for his kind words and I reciprocate with good wishes of peace and joy for all of you and your beloved families, and of peace and prosperity for the countries you represent.

I offer a particularly cordial word of welcome and good wishes to the thirty-seven Ambassadors who began their mission at the See of Peter in the past year, and to the members of their families.

2. These sentiments of joy are overshadowed, unfortunately, by the enormous catastrophe which on 26 December struck different countries of Southeast Asia and as far as the coasts of East Africa. It made for a painful ending of the year just past: a year troubled also by other natural calamities, such as the devastating cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the Antilles, and the plague of locusts which desolated vast regions of Northwest Africa. Other tragedies also cast a shadow on 2004, like the acts of barbarous terrorism which caused bloodshed in Iraq and other countries of the world, the savage attack in Madrid, the terrorist massacre in Beslan, the inhuman acts of violence inflicted on the people of Darfur, the atrocities perpetrated in the Great Lakes region of Africa.

These events have caused great anguish and distress, and we would feel a tragic concern for the future of humanity, were it not for the fact that from the cradle of Bethlehem there comes to us a message, both divine and human, of life and more certain hope: in Jesus Christ, who comes into the world as the brother of every man and woman and takes his place at our side, it is God himself who asks us not to yield to discouragement, but to overcome every difficulty, however great it may be, by strengthening the common bonds of our humanity and by making them prevail over all other considerations.

3. Your presence here, as representatives of almost all the peoples of the earth, immediately sets before our eyes the great tableau of humanity with its grave and troubling problems and its great and undampened hopes. The Catholic Church, because of her universal nature, is always directly engaged in the great causes for which the men and women of our age struggle and hope. She considers herself a stranger to no people, since wherever there are Christians, the whole body of the Church is called into play; indeed, wherever there is any one individual, we sense a bond of brotherhood. In her presence and her concern for the future of men and women everywhere, the Holy See knows that it can count on Your Excellencies to offer an important service, since it is precisely the mission of diplomats to transcend borders and to bring peoples and governments together in the desire to cooperate harmoniously, in scrupulous respect for each other's competencies, but at the same time in the quest for a higher common good.

4. In my Message for this year's World Day of Peace, I called the attention of the Catholic faithful and of all men and women of good will to the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good": "vince in bono malum" (Romans 12:21). There is a profound truth underlying these words: In the moral and social sphere, evil takes on the countenance of selfishness and hatred, which is negativity; it can only be overcome by love, which has the positivity of generous and disinterested giving, even to the point of self-sacrifice. This is the heart of the mystery of Christ's birth: To save humanity from the selfishness of sin and its corollary of death, God himself lovingly enters, in Christ, into the fullness of life, into human history, thus raising humanity to the horizon of an even greater life.

This is the message -- "overcome evil with good" -- which I would like to address today to your Excellencies, and through you to the beloved peoples whom you represent and to your Governments. This message also has a specific application ...

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