Pope: Church Works for Common Good, Respects Freedom of Conscience


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(24 Apr 10 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI today received the new ambassador from Belgium to the Holy See, Charles Ghislain. In his address to the European nation, Pope Benedict underlined that "The Church works for the common good and wants to have the opportunity to bring its message to humanity, in respect for freedom of conscience".

There are over seven million Catholics in Belgium, about three quarters of the total population, spread across eight diocese. However, recent pew figures show an annual decline in Church attendance and vocations to religious life. This despite it being home to one of the worlds most famous and ancient Catholic universities, Leuven.

On Saturday the Pope spoke of his conviction that despite these social changes which have taken place in Belgium, Christianity is still an important foundation for the nation, and the Gospel principles of brotherhood and solidarity have much to offer the country's growth.

Pope Benedict described life and human dignity as precious assets and spoke of their fragility, referring two recent disasters in Belgium: the collapse of a building in Liège, in late January, and an rail accident in Buizingen in March.

These catastrophes - said the pope - "measure the fragility 'of human existence and the need to
protect it", for an ''authentic social cohesion" and "respect in diversity".

Finally, Benedict XVI took the opportunity to greet the new archbishop of Brussels, Mons. Leonard, and expressed his appreciation for the whole work of the Church in Belgium.