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Rome Reports

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Pope to Diplomatic Corps: Sadly, the new year does not seem marked by encouraging signs

Pope Francis once more delivered his annual new year greeting to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See. The encounter is an opportunity for the pope to speak to global representatives about issues of international importance.

As Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, George Poulides, Ambassador of Cyprus, addressed the pope on behalf of the entire body.

Dean of the Diplomatic Corps
“Your Holiness, your actions light the way and indicate the path which our diplomacies can follow, by constructing bridges of dialogue, not walls.”

Afterward, the pope began his own address by saying the start of 2020 is not encouraging, but marked with heightened tensions and acts of violence. He said there is reason to hope nonetheless.

He called Iran and the United States to avoid conflict and instead turn to dialogue and self-restraint.

“[It risks] setting the groundwork for a vaster conflict that all of us would want to avert. I therefore renew my appeal that all the interested parties avoid an escalation of the conflict and 'keep alive the flame of dialogue and self-restraint,' in full respect of international law.”

He also denounced the general indifference of the world regarding wars in Yemen and Libya. He also warned against “the pall of silence that risks falling over the war” in Syria.

“It is imperative to devise suitable and far-sighted solutions capable of enabling the beloved Syrian people, exhausted by war, to regain peace and to begin the reconstruction of the country.”

The pope once more called attention to other African countries, including Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, South Sudan and Nigeria, which are suffering the consequences of on-going war and poverty. He again mentioned his intention to visit South Sudan this year.

Pope Francis then expressed his concern for the social and political conflicts plaguing the South American region.

“Another cause for concern is the proliferation of political crises in a growing number of countries of the American continent, accompanied by tensions and unaccustomed forms of violence that sharpen social conflicts and have grave socioeconomic and humanitarian consequences. Here, in this setting, I would like to mention Venezuela in particular, so that efforts to seek solutions will continue.”

Members of the Diplomatic Corps stood and applauded the pope after his important discourse. The pope then individually greeted those present.

Today, 183 countries, plus the European Union and the Order of Malta, hold diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Eighty-nine of these have offices in Rome.

Claudia Torres