(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis addressed the members of the Corps of Diplomats accredited to the Holy See on Monday morning on the occasion of his traditional exchange of New Year’s greetings with the ambassadors. The US Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett, visited the studios of Vatican Radio to share his impressions of and first reflections on the Holy Father’s remarks, which this year focused strongly on the issue of migration – a critical global issue that is the cause of and occasion for serious political and social tension in many countries around the world.
Ambassador Hackett said Pope Francis challenged the diplomats as a pastor, rather than as a political leader. “Everything is obviously grounded in the Gospel message – and it is that, which is the touchstone, or the jumping-off point for any kind of issue: be it care of the earth, be it migration, be it poverty, sustainable development – it’s all there, with the Gospel as a ‘platform’ from which to move.”
Asked what, if anything, he thinks people at home in the US might find particularly challenging in the address, Ambassador Hackett said, “Once again – as he has done [often in the past] – [Pope Francis] talked about exclusion – last year he went into great depth about the ‘throw-away’ society, and how we treat certain people – the aged, the sickly, the mentally ill, migrants, [as though they don’t ‘matter’] – this year he didn’t go into [the same] depth there, but he did talk about people being pushed aside, and [about] poverty and exclusion.”
Ambassador Hackett went on to say, “[H]e is preaching all the time: he is not giving a ‘State of the Union’ per se, he is preaching still, even though he covers conflicts in parts of Africa and Syria, and [all throughout] the Middle East and elsewhere, he is still preaching.”
Click below to hear Ambassador Kenneth Hackett’s extended conversation with Chris Altieri