The Bahamas non-resident Ambassador to the Holy See, His Excellency, Sean McWeeney QC, attended the annual gathering of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See in the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican this past week. The high point was the annual “state-of-the world” address delivered on Monday, January 9, 2017 to the ambassadors by His Holiness, Pope Francis, followed by the traditional exchange of greetings between each of the Ambassadors and the Pope. It was Mr. McWeeney’s third time meeting Pope Francis.
In his address, Pope Francis delivered a sobering and wide-ranging survey of the major issues facing the world today. He expressed particular sorrow over the “homicidal madness” of recent “fundamentalist inspired terrorism” and urged leaders of all religious faiths to re-affirm without equivocation that “one can never kill in God’s name.”
The Pope, as supreme leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, also called on governments everywhere to combat poverty. “Fundamentalist terrorism,” he said, “is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty, and often is linked to significant social poverty.” This requires, he said, “suitable social policies aimed at combating poverty.”
The Pope also renewed his earlier calls for greater compassion and empathy for the plight of migrants, displaced persons and refugees seeking better lives in wealthier countries. At the same time, however, he acknowledged that the integration of such persons had to be achieved in a way that would not cause host societies to lose their sense of security, identity and sociopolitical stability. Moreover, he cautioned migrants to remember their “duty to respect the laws, culture and traditions” of their new homes.
There are now approximately 200 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, making it the largest diplomatic corps accredited to any independent sovereign jurisdiction in the world with the exception of the diplomatic corps accredited to the United States.