Pope Benedict Encourages Japan’s Peace Efforts

UCAN, Nov. 15 — Welcoming Japan’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI praised the country’s peace efforts, “particularly in the Far East,” and urged it to continue providing humanitarian aid for North Korea’s civilian population, according to the Asian news agency.

The Holy Father received Ambassador Kagefumi Ueno at the Apostolic Palace on Nov. 13, when Ueno visited to present his credentials. In the Pope’s message to the Japanese government, he expressed great concern for peace in the Far East and in the world. “The crises that the world knows cannot find definitive solutions through violence,” he said. “On the contrary these can only be resolved by peaceful means through respect.”
Benedict also praised Japan, a leading donor of development aid, for its “generous contribution” to the poorest countries in the world. “Bonds of interdependence between peoples” need to be strengthened, he said, accompanied by an “intense commitment” to foster development that reduces the great disparity between rich and poor countries and its “terrible consequences.”

He called for the transformation of that commitment into “an authentic solidarity that stimulates the growth of the poorest countries.”
Pope Benedict noted with joy the respect the Catholic Church enjoys in Japan. He extended “warm greetings” to the bishops and all Catholics there, and encouraged them to live “ever more firmly in the communion of the faith.”

Italian President to Pope: I Count on You

AGI, Nov. 20 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano told Pope Benedict “our main worry is how to unify the nation and find cohesion in Italian society,” reported the Italian news agency.

During his meeting with the Holy Father, the ex-communist stated, “Dear Holy Father, we know we can count on your special sensitivity and alertness.”

According to AsiaNews, Benedict told the president that religious freedom is not only the individual right of each person to profess and display one’s faith, but it is also the collective right of families, groups and the Church itself, and engages civil power to “create conditions favorable to the fostering of religious life, so that citizens are truly able to exercise their religious rights and fulfill their respective duties.”

In his remarks, Pope Benedict also affirmed that the Church “is not and does not intend to be a political agent,” but “has a profound interest in the good of the political community” and that it is up to Catholic laypeople to affirm in society the principles that inspire them.

Holy Father Urges Prudence on the Highways

INDIA CATHOLIC, Nov. 20 — Pope Benedict XVI appealed for respect of the rules of the road on the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, the news service reported.

After praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 20, the Pope recited in French a prayer to the Lord to receive “in his peace all the persons who died in traffic accidents.” Remembering that the injured often suffer long-lasting problems, the Holy Father appealed “emphatically to automobile drivers to respect traffic rules vigilantly and to pay ever more attention to others.”
Traffic accidents are one of the main causes of deaths in the world. In a 2005 report, the World Health Organization revealed that these accidents, especially frequent in urban areas of developing countries, cause 1.2 million deaths a year, or 3,000 a day. Tens of millions of people are injured.