At the beginning of the year 1993, it is a particular pleasure for me to receive the good wishes which in your name His Excellency Ambassador Joseph Amichia has so courteously expressed. I thank you warmly for your presence here today, as also for the interest and benevolent understanding with which you follow day by day the activity of the Holy See.
Please accept, in your turn, the earnest good wishes which I entrust to God in my prayers for you personally and for your families, for your noble mission as diplomats, and for the peoples to which you belong.
One hundred and forty-five countries at present maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See. In the year 1992 alone, sixteen nations expressed the desire to establish this type of cooperation, and I am happy to see among you this morning, for the first time, the Ambassadors of Bulgaria, Croatia, Mexico, and Slovenia. In this manner, the expectations and hopes of the greater part of the peoples of the earth make themselves felt in the very heart of Catholicism. And I hope that circumstances will make it possible for other countries to join those represented here: I am thinking of, among others, China and Viet Nam, and of Israel and Jordan, to mention a few.
Listening to the wise reflections of your Dean and seeing your faces, I recalled many of the countries I have visited on my apostolic journeys. It give me pleasure to call to mind that marvelous world, its nature and cultural heritage; it gives me pleasure to call to mind those hard-working peoples, often lacking material goods but able to resist the temptation to despair; and it certainly gives me pleasure to call to mind the sons and daughters of the Church: with their inexhaustible spiritual resources and daily Christian commitment—sometimes in an environment of religious indifference and even hostility—they bear witness to the fact that God “so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). What human and spiritual riches in the various different nations!
The light of Christmas has illuminated this world with an incomparable brightness, and it continues to show human achievements in their true nature, revealing the good that has been done and the efforts made to improve certain situations. But this light also shows up the mediocrities and the setbacks affecting the life of individuals and societies. This year, as we consider the human family which God loves and which he does not cease to sustain in its existence and growth (cf. Acts 17:28), we must once more, alas, note that two sorts of evil still hold it in their grip: war and poverty.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.