Holy Father: African leaders and the people should work for peace

Nairobi, June 27, 2008 - African leaders and the people should work for peace founded on accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law, Pope Benedict XVI has urged.

"Without justice, without fighting all forms of corruption, without respecting the rule of law, true peace is impossible and citizens will clearly find it difficult to put faith in their leaders. Indeed, without respect for the freedom of each individual, it is not possible to speak of peace".

The pope said this on Thursday while addressing the new ambassador of Gabon to the Holy See, Firmin Mboutsou, who presented his Letters of Credence. The Holy See and the West African state have enjoyed diplomatic relations for 40 years.

The Holy Father invited the "authorities and men and women of good will, especially on the beloved continent of Africa, to commit themselves ever more intensely to building a peaceful, fraternal and united world".

The Church, he said, is ready to provide collaboration and support for "all those people whose primary concern is to build a society respectful of the most elemental rights of human beings".

Regarding Gabon, the Holy Father said "the Church contributes and wishes to contribute ever more to educating men, women and children, without distinction, respecting people and their cultures, and transmitting to each the spiritual and moral values indispensable for human development. In the same way, over her long history, she participates in healthcare education".

The pope expressed the hope that, through agreement, Gabon "may fully recognise and support this charitable service" which "will have beneficial effects on religious presence and on the dynamism of structures in the fields of social work and healthcare".

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