Yesterday Pope Benedict XVI delivered his annual state of the world address to the Vatican diplomatic corps.
When I think of “state of anything” addresses, I think of political speeches, which certainly are not in short supply this primary season. And of course the presidential “state of the union” address has become a major prime time event.
The Pope’s address was not like those speeches. He was not trying to pander to one side of the aisle or placate the other side or sound good to both sides without offending anybody. Rather, his message–both uplifting and challenging–reflected a godly concern for each and every man, woman, and child created in the image and likeness of God.
What makes the Pope’s diplomacy different? It’s the theological virtue of hope, the subject of his recent encyclical. He says as much at the end of his address:
“Diplomacy is, in a certain sense, the art of hope. It lives from hope and seeks to discern even its most tenuous signs. Diplomacy must give hope. The celebration of Christmas reminds us each year that, when God became a little child, Hope came to live in our world, in the heart of the human family. Today this certainty becomes a prayer: May God open the hearts of those who govern the family of peoples to the Hope that never disappoints!”