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Pope speaks on Church influence, civil war, in meeting envoys from Colombia, El Salvador

Catholic World News - October 18, 2010

In separate meetings on October 18 with new ambassadors from Colombia and El Salvador to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the role of the Catholic Church in Latin America, saying that “not only during these last two centuries but from the dawn of the arrival of Spanish in America, the Catholic Church has been present in each of the stages of the historical destiny of your country, always playing a major and decisive role.”

The Church “does not demand any special privileges,” the Pope said to Cesar Mauricio Velasquez Ossa, the new Colombian envoy. Rather, the Church seeks to serve the people—especially those in need—and to promote the dignity of human life. He explained that the promotion of human dignity means “that the legal system should respect natural law in such essential areas as safeguarding human life from conception to natural end, the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, or the right of parents to give their children an education consistent with their own moral criteria and beliefs.”

In a reference to the long civil war in Colombia, the Holy Father offered his prayers for an end to the violence and, regarding the hostages seized by rebels, “my prayers for those in Colombia who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived of their freedom.”

In his meeting with Manuel Roberto Lopez Becerra, El Salvador's new ambassador, the Pope spoke said that the work of the Church is essential “in eradicating poverty and is a vigorous incentive to fight against violence, impunity, and drug trafficking, which are wreaking such havoc, especially among youth.” The Church also must respond to the “aggressive presence of sects,” he said.

Again addressing the nation’s long civil war, the Pope urged “that your compatriots be given whatever aid is necessary to renounce the causes of conflict definitively.”

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