Financial policies must draw on ethical values, pope tells diplomats

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — World leaders must base development and financial policies on firm ethical footing, Pope Benedict XVI told 11 new ambassadors to the Vatican.

The pope also appealed to lawmakers in Luxembourg not to legalize euthanasia, saying depriving innocent people of their right to life “is always morally evil.”

The pope spoke separately Dec. 18 to ambassadors from Luxembourg, Sweden, Iceland, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Bahrain, Tunisia, Kazakhstan, Fiji and Belize as he accepted their credentials.

In a group talk the same day, the pope urged each country to promote the establishment of ethical guidelines “that should underpin the relationship between finance and development.”

He also appealed to governments and economists “to look for solutions that are long-lasting and in solidarity with the best interests of all people,” especially those who run the risk of suffering the most from the present financial crisis.

The pope made a similar point speaking to Elin Flygenring, the ambassador of Iceland.

He said the Vatican is concerned about the negative effects that worldwide economic instability is having on countries and individuals. He said the church is paying close attention to some leaders’ “proposals to consolidate national and international financial institutions on more prudent and morally responsible foundations.”

“I pray that political and economic leaders will be guided in their decisions by wisdom, foresight and appreciation of the common good,” he added.

In a speech to Paul Duhr, Luxembourg’s new ambassador to the Vatican, Pope Benedict expressed his deep concern over new measures being drawn up by that country’s parliament seeking to legalize euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide.

Politicians, doctors and families must remember that “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil,” he said, quoting the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life.”)

He said when people are terminally ill, suffering and afraid, their desire to end their life is actually a call for help and “an appeal for solidarity and greater support during a time of trial.”

Paradoxically, the pope said, Luxembourg’s proposed euthanasia bill also includes measures that would encourage more palliative care to help ease the suffering of the terminally ill and guarantee dying patients have adequate assistance.

In his address to Bahrain’s first ambassador to the Vatican, Naser Youssef al-Belooshi, the pope praised the country for its long tradition of tolerance and dialogue.

He thanked Bahrain’s authorities for allowing the small Catholic community, made up mostly of foreign workers, the freedom to worship. But he asked that Bahrain allow more churches and places of worship to be built in order to accommodate the growing number of Catholics in the country.

The pope also underlined the importance of religious freedom especially concerning freedom of conscience and the right to convert from one religion to another.

The pope thanked Perols Birgitta Gudmundson, Sweden’s new ambassador, for her country’s generosity in welcoming large numbers of refugees. He said he especially appreciated efforts to allow thousands of Iraqi Christians to enter the country.

“As you know, the plight of Christians in the Middle East is of great concern for me, and while I pray daily for an improvement in conditions in their homelands that would allow them to remain, at the same time I acknowledge with gratitude the welcome given to those who have been forced to flee,” he said.

Speaking to Kazakhstan’s new ambassador, Amanzhol Zhankuliyev, the pope reminded this oil-rich nation to work toward a just distribution of its resources. This would support political stability and respect God’s desire that all people love one another as brothers and sisters, the pope said.

In his address to Rajaonarivony Narisoa, Madagascar’s new ambassador, Pope Benedict expressed his closeness in prayer to all the people who have been affected by deadly cyclones in 2008.

He said he hoped the current economic crisis would not serve as a pretext for richer nations to cut or reduce the aid and assistance they have been offering the poor island nation.

The pope told Rafiaa Limam Baouendi, Tunisia’s new ambassador, that economic progress must go hand in hand with fostering people’s human and spiritual growth. He said young people must be given marketable skills and the chance to witness cultural and religious diversity which will help them better integrate in an increasingly globalized world and contribute to building peace.