ROME - Pope Francis addressed many serious global concerns in his address to diplomats at the Vatican Monday, singling out growing nationalism, immigration, the vulnerable in society, the arms trade and sexual abuse.
In his annual State of the World address to diplomats from 183 countries accredited to the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke of his concern about the resurgence of nationalist and populist movements and warned against adopting unilateral solutions to resolve the migration issue.
Francis said he realized “the waves of migration in recent years have caused diffidence and concern among people in many countries, particularly in Europe and North America, and this has led various governments to severely restrict the number of new entries, even of those in transit.” He added he did not believe “partial solutions can exist for so universal an issue.”
“Among the vulnerable of our time that the international community is called to defend,” the pope continued, are not only refugees but also migrants.
The pope renewed his appeal to governments to provide assistance to all those forced to emigrate and to facilitate measures aimed at permitting their social integration in the receiving countries.
The pope said, “Efforts also need to be made to prevent individuals from being constrained to abandon their families and countries, and to allow them to return safely and with full respect for their dignity and human rights.”
Syria with its high death toll was among the countries of concern mentioned by the pope. He urged the international community to promote a political solution to the war there.
“It is vital," the pope told the diplomats, "to put an end to violations of humanitarian law, which cause untold suffering to the civil population, especially women and children and strike at essential structures such as hospital, schools and refugee camps, as well as religious edifices.”
The pope also condemned the arms trade and possession of nuclear weapons. He said it is painful to note that the arms trade appears unstoppable.
The pontiff also spoke of the sexual abuse of children, calling it “one of the plagues of our time.”
Pope Francis said a February meeting at the Vatican, during which discussions will be held by Church leaders on how to move forward, would “shed full light on the facts and alleviate the wounds caused by such crimes.”
The pope did acknowledge that mistakes have been made in the past, but he promised to turn those into opportunities to eliminate the problem from the Church and society.