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Pope urges Government leaders to adopt 'new vision of humanity'

The Globe and Mail, Sept. 20, 1984

Ottawa — The Pope challenged the new Progressive Conservative Government and all other Canadian leaders last night to adopt a new vision of humanity.

Those charged with public responsibility must find the political will to promote this new view of life and society, he said.

Specifically, the Pope urged Canada "to resist any temptation to grow tired" in accepting refugees.

The Pope said the new vision ''does not see society's problems in terms of economic, technical or political equations alone, but in terms of living people, of human beings created in the image and likeness of God and called to an eternal destiny." It was "a vision that is built upon, and therefore promotes, true human values; a vision that inspires action and overcomes complacency, insensitivity and selfishness," he said in a Rideau Hall ballroom.

He also said Canadians' perception of the world situation should not be obscured by pessimism or defeatism.

The Pope's remarks on the eve of his departure for Rome were made to church dignitaries, justices, MPs, Senators, and members of the diplomatic corps at a reception given by Governor-General Jeanne Sauve at Government House.

The Pope praised Canadians for their commitment to world peace and ''selfless contribution" to Third World development.

But conflict and injustice, he said, remain a dark mark on the international scene and an unavoidable global challenge. He added that society today does not lack information and statistics about the ills of the world. ''It is, however, lacking in sensitivity when it does not allow certain facts to influence its action.

He listed such "facts" as: . ''The absence of agreements to reduce and eventually halt the arms race; . "The investment of scientific talent and funds in weapons of mass destruction; . "Limited wars that continue to kill people in countries not one's own; . "Disregard for the value and dignity of unborn life; . "Experimentation on human embryos; . "The starving or undernourished children in countries affected by chronic drought or underdevelopment; . "The lack of basic health care; . "The massive flight to urban concentrations that cannot offer employment, education, or food; . "The loss of liberty, including the freedom to practice one's religion." ''In all of this there is the absence of sufficient concern for the ethical dimensions that underlie and are connected with the problems of society." Through its executive, legislative, judiciary and diplomatic corps, Canada is in a unique position to promote the new vision of humanity, the pontiff said. ''Be assured of my own support and encouragement." The Pope's address on the last leg of his cross-country tour was a broad philosophical, religious and political discourse in which he touched on disarmament negotiations, abortion, the right to religious liberty, culture, the Third World, the ills of western industrial nations, and refugees.

Perhaps in view of the presence of representatives of several diplomatic missions, the Pope made a strong defence of religious freedom, saying it is particularly reprehensible that discrimination against believers exists in some countries despite constitutional guarantees against it.

Through it all he weaved a thread that has been a part of nearly all the dozens of speeches he has made during 11 days in Canada - the dignity and sacredness of every human being.

He said that legitimate national interests cannot be achieved through ''sterile confrontation," but only through dialogue and co-operation. ''One person alone cannot change the world," he said, "but all of us together, strong in the conviction and determination that peace begins in our own hearts, will be able to create a peaceful and peace-loving society." In thanking the Pope, Mrs. Sauve told the gathering that he has "reminded us of the basic principles that must inspire the temporal and spiritual leaders of every country." After circulating through the ballroom, the Pope was presented to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's new Cabinet.

The Pope's address at Government House followed arrival ceremonies at Canadian Forces Base Uplands, where he met ecclesiatical and civil dignitaries as well as Mr. Mulroney and his wife, Mila. The pontiff had a brief but animated chat with Mr. and Mrs. Mulroney.

After watching a choreographed program performed by 12-year-olds and meeting lay and ecclesiastical well-wishers, the Pope, clutching his white skullcap in his hand, left the sun-drenched airport by limousine for Dow's Lake Pavilion.

There, he boarded what looks like a glass-enclosed houseboat decked with garlands for the 7-knot cruise along the Rideau Canal to the Government Conference Centre, across the road from the Chateau Laurier hotel. The canal was lined with tens of thousands of onlookers who waved papal flags and cheered as the Pope passed by. The papal boat was escorted by a flotilla of security craft.

The outdoor balconies and balustrades at the National Arts Centre were packed with people, who gave the Pope a thunderous reception as he came up to the Conference Centre.

There, the Pope was welcomed by Archbishop Adolphe Plourde, of Ottawa. It was a splendid and stirring welcome on a beautifully warm day that provided a counterpoint to damp, cool weather the Pope encountered earlier in his Canadian visit.

The Pope then boarded his popemobile for the motorcade procession to the Mother House of the Congregation des Servantes de Jesus-Marie in Hull, Que., where he celebrated mass for about 230 nuns from various cloistered and contemplative orders.

The Pope was to spend the night at the Rockliffe residence of his papal envoy in Canada, Most Rev. Angelo Palmas.

Today, on his last day in Canada, the Pope will have a private meeting with Canada's bishops and later celebrate mass at Lebreton Flats.

The Pope is to leave from Uplands at 7 p.m. for Rome.

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