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Pope: Foster dialogue and defend victims of war

Pope Francis meets with thirty-five students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the institution that has been training the Holy See’s diplomats for over three centuries.

By L’Osservatore Romano

Introducing the Community, the President, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, singled out the fourteen students who, having completed their academic courses, are preparing to leave in the coming months for their Missionary Year.

After listening to their destinations, the Pope recalled the meaning of this mission, expressed four years ago to the then-President of the Academy, Msgr. Joseph Marino: to train the future diplomats of the Holy See to be close to the People of God, especially in the most distant mission lands.

This, in addition to rekindling their pastoral hearts, will be a powerful antidote to spiritual worldliness, a risk to which diplomatic service can expose them.

Pope Francis then advised all the students, but especially the departing missionaries, to take with them for reading and meditation the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi of his predecessor Saint Paul VI, which remains relevant.

Characteristics of a diplomat

During the conversation, stimulated by some questions from the students, Francis shared the characteristics of a diplomat called to represent him to local Churches and the Family of Nations: alongside the closeness described at the beginning of the meeting, there is a need for cunning, required by a job as necessary as it is difficult, always accompanied by piety, that is, an intense relationship with the Lord.

World War fought piecemeal

Among the topics discussed, there was also a reference to the context of the “world war fought piecemeal” we are experiencing, even in Europe.

The Pope recalled the work of many Apostolic Nuncios in conflict zones to promote dialogue between the parties and defend the victims of war, according to the principles of humanitarian law.

Subsequent questions allowed the Holy Father to return to the skills that future pontifical diplomats should cultivate during their years of training in Rome.

Finally, drawing inspiration from today’s Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Francis invited the students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to be priests who forgive everything to the faithful who turn to them in the sacrament of reconciliation, to become, one day, as Apostolic Nuncios, merciful pastors.

After asking to be remembered in prayer, the Pope concluded the meeting by blessing and greeting each of those present individually.

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