The Pope has called on world leaders to be courageous and ethical in their responsibilities to their people.
Speaking during his November 18-20 visit to the African nation of Benin, the Pontiff urged leaders: ‘Do not deprive your peoples of hope! Do not cut them off from their future by mutilating their present!
‘Adopt a courageous ethical approach to your responsibilities and, if you are believers, ask God to grant you wisdom!’
In a period of turmoil marked by conflict in Africa, revolutions in the Middle East and economic protests in the West, the Pontiff offered his message to leaders in all these spheres.
‘During recent months many peoples have manifested their desire for liberty, their need for material security, and their wish to live in harmony according to their different ethnic groups and religions,’ the Pope said.
‘Human beings aspire to liberty; then to live in dignity; they want good schools and food for their children, dignified hospitals to take care of the sick; they want to be respected; they demand transparent governance which does not confuse private and public interests; and above all they desire peace and justice.’
Pointing to recent ‘scandals and injustices’ and decrying ‘corruption and greed, errors and lies’, the Pontiff went on to say: ‘Every people wishes to understand the political and economic choices which are made in its name.
‘They perceive manipulation and their revenge is sometimes violent. They wish to participate in good governance. We know that no political regime is ideal and that no economic choice is neutral. But these must always serve the common good. Hence we are faced with legitimate demands, present in all countries, for greater dignity and above all for greater humanity. Man demands that his humanity be respected and promoted. Political and economic leaders of countries find themselves placed before important decisions and choices which they can no longer avoid.’
Calling on world leaders to recognise this reality, Pope Benedict exhorted them to ‘become true servants of hope. It is not easy to live the life of a servant, to remain consistent amid the currents of opinion and powerful interests. Power, such as it is, easily blinds, above all when private, family, ethnic or religious interests are at stake. God alone purifies hearts and intentions.’
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