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IRAN - جمهوری اسلامی ایران

Pope St Paul VI was a pilgrim to Iran in 1970, at the beginning of his last apostolic journey.

Here below are responses to Totus2us podcasts given by Iranians
- many thanks to you     ♥

Also included below are:
Pope Benedict XVI's letter of 3 November 2010 to the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his address to the New Ambassador of Iran on 29 October 2009 and to the Bishops of the Armenian, Chalean & Latin Rite Churches in Iran on their ad limina visit in 2009;
Pope St John Paul II's address to the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs on 12 February 2004 and his addresses to the Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See on 29 October 2004 (Mohammad Javad Faridzade), on 22 January 2001 (Mostafa Borujerdi), 5 May 1997 (Mohammad Hadi Abd Khoda'i), 20 June 1991 (Mohammad Masjed Jam'ei), 16 October 1986 (Salman Ghaffari) and 14 November 1981 (Seyed Hadi Khosrochaian);
Pope St Paul VI's speech to a delegation from Iran on 2 December 1977 and his addresses to the Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See on 4 April 1977, on 16 December 1971, on 7 January 1971 and 1 December 1966;
Pope St John XXIII's address to H.I.M. Mohamed Reza Palhavi, the Emperor of Iran, on 1 December 1958.

To download the free mp3 Totus2us audio recordings, right / double click on the blue play buttons - برای دانلود رایگان mp3 Totus2us ضبط صوتی، راست / دو بار بر روی دکمه های بازی آبی کلیک کنید.


"Mary is my dream. I wish I can be the same as her a little bit."

Included below is Sohrab Ahmari giving a beautiful testimony about his journey of faith & conversion to the Catholic Church (on EWTN's World Over programme).


If you'd like to give your something about Mary,
please do get in touch with the Totus2us team

- as well as hopefully bringing you joy,
you'd be really helping Totus2us   ♥

Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt.
Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria. - St Louis de Montfort

Pope St John Paul II took his motto Totus Tuus from this quote.

"I am entirely yours and all that I have is yours.
I accept you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.”

Pope Benedict XVI's Letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
- in English

Mr President,
I am writing to acknowledge the courteous words of greeting and the reflections that Your Excellency kindly sent me by the good offices of His Excellency Mr Hojjat ol Eslam Haj Sayyed Mohammad Reza Mir Tajjadini, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is my profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace. Indeed, one’s relationship with God is the ultimate foundation for the inalienable dignity and sacred character of every human life.

When the promotion of the dignity of the human person is the primary inspiration of political and social activity that is committed to search for the common good, solid and enduring foundations are created for building peace and harmony between peoples.

Peace is, above all, a gift from God, which is sought in prayer, but it is also the result of the efforts of people of good will. In this perspective, believers of every religion have a special responsibility and can play a decisive role, cooperating in common initiatives. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a fundamental path to peace.

Strongly convinced of this, the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October 2010, was a significant moment of reflection and sharing on the situation in the Middle East and on the great challenges placed before the Catholic communities present there. In some countries these communities face difficult circumstances, discrimination and even violence and they lack the freedom to live and publicly profess their faith. I am certain that the work of the Synod will bear good fruit for the Church and for the whole of society.

The Catholics present in Iran and those around the world make efforts to collaborate with their fellow citizens to contribute loyally and honestly to the common good of the respective societies in which they live, becoming builders of peace and reconciliation.

In this spirit, I express the hope that the cordial relations already happily existing between the Holy See and Iran will continue to progress, as well as those of the local Church with the civil authorities. I am also convinced that the launch of a bilateral Commission would be especially helpful in addressing questions of common concern, including that of the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the country.

With these sentiments, I avail myself of the occasion to renew to you, Mr President, the assurance of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2010


Pope Benedict XVI's address to Mr Ali Akbar Naseri
Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran
the Vatican, Thursday 29 October 2009 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr Ambassador,
I am pleased to welcome you on this day on which you are presenting the Letters of Credence as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. I express to you my gratitude for the courteous words which you have addressed to me, and likewise for the sentiments that you have expressed on behalf of H.E. Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Republic. I would be grateful if you were to thank him in return and assure him of my cordial wishes for the entire Nation.

Your presence here this morning manifests your country's interest in developing good relations with the Holy See. Mr Ambassador, as you know through its presence in international institutions and its bilateral relations with numerous Countries, the Holy See aims to defend and promote the dignity of the human person. Thus it seeks to be at the service of the good of the human family, demonstrating particular interest in ethical, moral and humanitarian aspects in relations among peoples. In this perspective, the Holy See aims to strengthen its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and promote reciprocal understanding and collaboration with a view to the common good.

Iran is a great Nation that possesses eminent spiritual traditions, and its people has a profound religious sensibility. This can be a reason for hope in an increasing openness and a trusting collaboration with the international community. For its part, the Holy See will always be ready to work in conjunction with those who serve the cause of peace and promote the dignity that the Creator bestowed upon every human being. Today everyone must hope for and support a new phase of international cooperation, one that is more solidly founded on humanitarian principles and on effective aid for those who suffer, and depends less on cold calculations of exchange and of technical and economic benefits.

Faith in the one God must bring all believers closer, impelling them to work together for the defense and promotion of fundamental human values. Among the universal rights, religious freedom and freedom of conscience play a fundamental role, because they constitute the basis of the other freedoms. Defense of other rights that stem from the dignity of the person and of peoples particularly the promotion of the safeguarding of life, of justice and of solidarity must be, in turn, the object of true collaboration. Moreover, as I have often had the opportunity to emphasize, it is an urgent necessity of our time to stabilize cordial relations among believers of different religions, in order to construct a world that is more human and in greater harmony with God's plan for Creation. I am therefore pleased with the existence of the regular meetings, on themes of common interest, organized regularly and jointly by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and The Organization of Culture and Islamic Relations. By contributing to the common search for what is just and true, meetings of this kind allow everyone to grow in reciprocal knowledge and to cooperate in reflecting on the important issues concerning human life.

Indeed, Catholics have been present in Iran since the first centuries of Christianity, and they have always been an integral part of the life and the culture of the Nation. This community is truly Iranian and its centuries-old experience of healthy coexistence with Muslim believers is very helpful in the promotion of greater understanding and cooperation. The Holy See feels sure that the Iranian Authorities will be ready to strengthen and guarantee Christians the freedom to profess their faith, and that they will assure the Catholic community the essential conditions for its existence. In particular, these include the possibility to have an adequate number of Religious and to enjoy freedom of movement in the country in order to guarantee their religious service to the faithful. In view of this, I hope that a trusting and sincere dialogue may develop with the Country's institutions, so as to improve the situation of the Christian community and of their activity in the context of civil society, and also to increase their sense of belonging in national life. For its part, the Holy See whose nature and whose mission is precisely to be directly involved in the life of local Churches wishes to make the necessary efforts to assist the Catholic community in Iran to keep alive the signs of the Christian presence, in a spirit of goodwill and understanding with everyone.

Mr Ambassador, I would like to conclude by taking the opportunity of this happy occasion to warmly greet the Catholic community living in Iran, and also their Pastors. The Pope is near to all of the faithful and prays for them so that while perseveringly preserving their own identity and remaining loyal to their land they may collaborate generously with all of their fellow countrymen towards the development of the Nation.

Your Excellency, as you begin your mission to the Holy See, I offer you my best wishes for its success. I assure you that you will always find in my collaborators understanding support in accomplishing its fulfilment.

I wholeheartedly invoke upon you, upon your family, upon your collaborators, and likewise upon all Iranians, an abundance of Blessings of the Almighty."

Pope Benedict XVI's address to the Bishops of the Armenian, Chaldean
& Latin Rite Churches in Iran on their 'Ad Limina' Visit
Small Throne Room, the Vatican, Friday 16 January 2009 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
I receive you this morning with joy and affection. I greet in particular Archbishop Ramzi Garmou of Tehran for Chaldeans and President of the Iranian Bishops' Conference, who has just delivered a beautiful address to me on your behalf. You are the Ordinaries of the Armenian, Chaldean and Latin Rite Churches. You thus represent, dear Brothers, the riches of unity in diversity that exists in the heart of the Catholic Church and to which you bear a daily witness in the Islamic Republic of Iran. I take this opportunity to express my cordial greetings to the whole Iranian people, which you will convey to your communities on my behalf. Today, as in the past, the Catholic Church does not cease to encourage all who have at heart the common good and peace among nations. Nor will Iran, the bridge between the Middle East and sub-continental Asia, for its part, fail to fulfil this vocation.

Above all I am very glad to be able to express to you personally my warm appreciation of the service you carry out in a land where the Christian presence is ancient and where it developed and was maintained during the various vicissitudes of Iranian history. I also extend my gratitude to the priests and the men and women religious who work in this vast and beautiful country. I know how necessary their presence is and how precious is the spiritual and human assistance that they guarantee to the faithful through direct daily contact, and how they offer a beautiful witness to all.

I am thinking in particular of their care for the elderly and the assistance they give to specific social categories that are particularly in need. I also greet through you all those who are involved in Church institutions. I would like further to recall the fine contribution made by the Catholic Church, particularly through Caritas, to the task of reconstruction after the terrible earthquake that hit the Bam region. I wish to remember all the Catholic faithful whose presence in the land of their ancestors evokes the biblical image of the leaven in the dough (cf Mt 13, 33) which causes bread to rise, giving it taste and consistency. Through you, dear Brothers, I would like to thank them all for their constancy and perseverance and also to encourage them to remain faithful to the faith of their fathers and to stay connected to their land in order to collaborate in the nation's development.

Although your various communities live in different contexts, they have certain problems in common. They must develop harmonious relations with the public institutions that with God's grace will gradually deepen their knowledge and permit the Catholic communities to carry out their mission as Church in mutual respect and for the good of all. I encourage you to promote all initiatives that foster better reciprocal knowledge. Two paths may be explored: that of cultural dialogue, a treasure of Iran that has existed for several thousand years, and that of charity.

The latter will illuminate the former and be its driving force. "Love is patient and kind... love bears all things... love never ends..."(1 Cor 13, 4 & 8). To achieve this goal and especially for the spiritual progress of your respective faithful you need labourers to sow and to gather in the harvest: priests and men and women religious. Your communities, reduced in number, do not permit the development of numerous local vocations which, nevertheless, must be encouraged. Moreover, the difficult mission of priests and religious obliges them to travel to reach the different Christian communities scattered throughout the country. To overcome this practical difficulty and others, the constitution of a bilateral commission with your authorities is being studied to permit the development of relations and mutual knowledge between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Catholic Church.

I would like to mention another aspect of your daily life. Christians in your communities sometimes seek more favourable opportunities elsewhere for their professional life and the education of their children. This legitimate desire is found among the inhabitants of numerous countries and is anchored in the human condition which always seeks a better future. The situation spurs you, as Pastors of your flock, to offer special help to those members of the faithful who remain in Iran and to encourage them to keep in touch with their family members who have chosen a different destiny.

The latter will also be able to preserve their identity and the faith of their ancestors. You have a long way to go. The journey demands great perseverance and patience. The example of God who is merciful and patient with his people will be your model and will help you to cover the necessary ground for dialogue.

Your Churches are heirs to a noble tradition and a long Christian presence in Iran. They have contributed, each in her own way, to the life and edification of the country. They wish to continue their work of service in Iran, keeping their own identity and living their faith freely. I do not forget your country and the Catholic communities present on the territory in my prayers, and I ask God to bless and to help them.

Dear Brothers in the episcopate, I would like to assure you of my affection and my support. I would be grateful if, on your return to Iran, you would tell your priests, your men and women religious, as well as your faithful that the Pope is close to them and is praying for them. May the Virgin Mary's motherly tenderness accompany you in your apostolic mission and may the Mother of God present to her divine Son all the intentions, all the anxieties and all the joys of the faithful of your different communities! I invoke a special Blessing upon you in this Year dedicated to St Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mohammad Javad Faridzade
Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Friday, 29 October 2004 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr Ambassador,
1. I am pleased to welcome you, your Excellency, on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See.

Thank you for your kind words. Please be kind enough to express my gratitude to HE Mr Seyed Mohammad Khatami, President of the Republic, for the good wishes he has conveyed to me through you.

The diplomatic relations that have existed between your Country and the Holy See for 50 years, as the Colloquium held at the Gregorian University at the beginning of the year stressed, testify to the desire for reciprocal knowledge and the common willingness to foster a culture of peace through our exchanges.

2. Mr Ambassador, you referred to your Country's concern at the deterioration of the international situation and the threats that burden humanity at many levels. To achieve a balanced international order, especially in the face of terrorism that seeks to impose its own laws, the will to build a common future guaranteeing peace for all implies that States undertake to set up stable, effective and recognized means, such as the United Nations Organization and the other international organizations. This action to encourage peace also entails courageous action against terrorism and for peace, to build a world in which all may recognize that they are sons and daughters of the same Almighty and Merciful God. Of course, the building of peace presupposes mutual trust, in order to receive the other not as a threat but as a partner, and to accept in addition the constraints and measures for control implied by common commitments, such as treaties and multilateral agreements, in the different areas of international relations that affect the common good of humanity, including respect for the environment, the regulation of the arms trade and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the protection of children and the rights of minorities. For its part, the Holy See will spare no effort to convince the leaders of States to avoid using violence or force in all circumstances and always to make negotiation prevail as the means to overcome the disagreements and conflicts that can develop between nations, groups and individuals.

3. The commitment in favour of man rests for believers on faith in the one God who created man in his image and likeness and has revealed his will to humankind. As for Christians, if this necessary dialogue between persons is to succeed in establishing relations of brotherhood and mutual love between them, it is fundamentally a response to the dialogue that God himself already began with man when he revealed his Word and proposed his Covenant to him. As you emphasized, Mr Ambassador, it is our duty as believers to proclaim to our contemporaries the fundamental values expressed in religion which
guarantee, through natural law, the dignity of every human person, a sign of God's hallmark in man, and which regulate the relations of men and women with their peers. As I have so often recalled, the Catholic faithful, for their part, seek in all circumstances to witness in favour of a culture of life, that respects the human being from conception to natural death and that guarantees the defence of the person's essential rights and duties. One of the most important of these fundamental rights is the right to religious freedom, which is an essential aspect of freedom of conscience and is expressed precisely in the transcendent dimension of the person. The Holy See is counting on the support of the Iranian Authorities to allow the faithful of the Catholic Church in Iran, as well as other Christians, the freedom to profess their religion and to encourage the recognition of the juridical character of ecclesiastical institutions, thereby facilitating their work in Iranian society. Indeed, freedom of worship is only one aspect of freedom of religion, which must be the same for all a country's citizens.

4. As I have recalled countless times, "The various Christian confessions, as well as the world's great religions, need to work together to eliminate the social and cultural causes of terrorism. They can do this by teaching the greatness and dignity of the person, and by spreading a clearer sense of the oneness of the human race" (Message for World Day of Peace 2002, 12). They must also dialogue so as to get to know each other better, so as to appreciate their reciprocal riches and to collaborate in the common good of humanity.

I am especially delighted at the establishment in your Country of regular meetings for high-level dialogue between Christians and Muslims, under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Shi"ite Authorities of Iran. I am certain that this initiative will pave the way to a constant improvement in relations between believers, on the basis of mutual respect and reciprocal trust.

5. Through you, I am happy to be able to greet the Catholic communities of various rites that live in Iran who, together with their Orthodox brethren, have assured the continuity of the Christian presence down the centuries. I hope that the Christians, who have always desired to be on good terms with the Muslims, may further explore the need for dialogue in daily life through the different aspects of the social life they have in common. I would like to recall how important it is, as I see it, that each person have an effective possibility, with respect for the laws of the country, to express his religious beliefs freely, to gather with his brethren to worship God as due, as well as to assure through catechesis the transmission of religious teaching to children and a deeper knowledge of it to young people and adults. I know that the Catholic faithful are attached to their Country and are keen to participate actively in their development in every area of social life.

6. Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are officially beginning you mission to the Apostolic See, I offer you my very best wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Rest assured that you will find here with my collaborators the attentive welcome and cordial understanding that you may need.

I cordially invoke upon Your Excellency, your collaborators and your loved ones, as well as upon the entire Iranian People, an abundance of the Almighty's Blessings."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mr Kamal Kharrazi
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran
The Vatican, Thursday, 12 February 2004 - in English, French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Excellency,
I am pleased to welcome you today to the Vatican. Your presence here is a sign of the cooperation that, for more than fifty years now, has marked the official relations between the Holy See and your country. I am confident that this spirit of collaboration will continue to grow ever stronger as we address issues of mutual concern to us.

Not least in this regard is the ongoing commitment to safeguard the inalienable rights and dignity of the human person, especially in efforts aimed at promoting greater understanding among peoples of different religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Mr Minister, I assure you of my good wishes for your stay in Rome and I invoke upon you the blessings of Almighty God."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mr Mostafa Borujerdi
the New Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Monday 22 January 2001 - in English, French & Portuguese

"Your Excellency,
I am very pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. The kind greetings which you bring from His Excellency President Seyed Mohammad Khatami evoke the memory of our cordial meeting within these very walls just three years ago: in the spirit of the friendship and respect which marked the President’s visit to the Vatican I ask you to convey to him my own good wishes and assure him of my prayers both for his person and for the nation.

Your Excellency has remarked upon the importance of a true dialogue between cultures if the efforts of men and women of good will throughout the world are to succeed in bringing about a lasting era of peace and fraternity for all peoples and nations. In fact, it was at the suggestion of President Khatami that the General Assembly of the United Nations declared this year of 2001 as the "International Year of Dialogue among Civilizations". Thus, this eminent international body representing the family of nations has called attention to the urgent need for people to acknowledge that dialogue is the necessary path to reconciliation, harmony and cooperation between different cultures and religious traditions. This is the approach that will ensure that all can look to the future with serenity and hope.

Our world is made up of an amazing complexity and diversity of human cultures. Each of these cultures is distinct by virtue of its particular historical development and the resulting characteristics which make it an original and organic whole. Culture, in fact, is a form of man’s self-expression as he travels through history; it is, in synthesis, "the cultivation of natural goods and values" (Gaudium et Spes, 53). It is largely through culture that people acquire a sense of national identity and develop a love of their country: these are values to be fostered, not with narrow-mindedness, but with respect and compassion for the whole human family. As I had occasion to remark in my Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, efforts must be made "to avoid those pathological manifestations which occur when the sense of belonging turns into self-exaltation, the rejection of diversity, and forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia" (n 6).

Hence, appreciation for the values present in one’s own culture must properly be accompanied by the recognition that every culture, as a typically human and historically conditioned reality, necessarily has limitations. Such an understanding helps to prevent pride in one’s own culture from becoming isolation or from turning into prejudice and persecution against other cultures. The attentive study of other cultures will reveal that beneath seemingly divergent traits there are significant internal elements held in common. Cultural diversity can then be understood within the broader context of the unity of the entire human race. Thus, it becomes less likely for cultural differences to be a source of misunderstanding between peoples and the cause of conflicts and wars; it becomes easier to attenuate the sometimes exaggerated claims of one culture against another. In the dialogue of cultures, people of good will come to see that there are values which are common to all cultures because they are rooted in the very nature of the human person. These are values which express humanity’s most authentic and distinctive features: the value of solidarity and peace; the value of education; the value of forgiveness and reconciliation; the value of life itself.

I am pleased to note that the Holy See and Iranian authorities have worked together to provide opportunities for such dialogue, not only as promoters of various meetings but also as active participants in them. I am thinking in particular of the Colloquium sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Secretariat for Interreligious Dialogue of the Organization for Islamic Culture and Communication, which took place in Rome last year on the theme of religious pluralism in Christianity and Islam. A further Colloquium, once again jointly sponsored by the Organization of Islamic Culture and Communication and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, is scheduled to take place in Tehran later this year on the theme of the religious identity and education of young people.

Moreover, I wish to express appreciation for the regular bilateral Conferences which the Iranian authorities sponsor with other Christian Churches and Communities, the most recent one being held last year in Tehran on the theme "Islam and Orthodox Christianity". Such dialogue will surely help Governments and legislators in safeguarding the civil and social rights of individuals and peoples, especially the fundamental right to religious freedom. It is this right which is a point of reference of all other rights and in some way becomes a measure of them, because it involves the most intimate realm of our personal identity and dignity as human beings. Accordingly, even in cases where the State grants a special juridical position to a particular religion, there is a duty to ensure that the right to freedom of conscience is legally recognized and effectively respected for all citizens and for foreigners residing in the country (cf Message for the 1998 World Day of Peace, 1). Should problems arise, the effective way of preserving harmony is through dialogue. The leaders of nations have a special duty to be clear-sighted, honest and courageous in recognizing that all people have the same God-given rights and inalienable dignity, and in working with dedication for the common good of all.

In this regard, the Holy See counts on the support of the Iranian authorities in ensuring that the Catholic faithful of Iran — present in that region of the world since the first centuries of Christianity — will enjoy the freedom to profess their faith and to continue to be a part of the rich cultural life of the nation. Although the Christian community is but a tiny minority in the overall population, it sees itself as truly Iranian; and after centuries of living alongside its Muslim brothers and sisters it is in a unique position to contribute to ever greater mutual understanding and respect between Christian believers and the followers of Islam everywhere.

Mr Ambassador, I have touched here upon some of the common ideals and aspirations which are the basis of the growing relationship of respect and cooperation between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am confident that your tenure as your Government’s representative will serve to strengthen the bonds which already unite us. Assuring you of every help and assistance as you seek to fulfill your lofty responsibilities, I pray that Your Excellency, and the Iranian Government and People whom you represent, will enjoy the abundant blessings of Almighty God."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mr Mohammad Hadi Abd Khoda'i
the New Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, 5 May 1997 - in English, French & Portuguese

"Your Excellency,
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. With gratitude for your President's greetings, I warmly reciprocate with the assurance of my prayers to Almighty God for the Iranian people and for their peace and well-being.

Your presence here today testifies to the formal ties which exist between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holy See and to our willingness to cooperate in matters of bilateral and multilateral interest. Diplomatic relations between the various States and the Holy See are clearly unique insofar as the Holy See, while enjoying age-old recognition in the community of nations and engaging in diplomacy in accordance with international law, has characteristics all its own. Its diplomatic activity reflects this difference, which determines the way in which it approaches questions of both national and international concern. The Pope, as Successor of the Apostle Peter and head of the universal Church, is called to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith, and to strengthen the religious life of Catholics in every part of the world. It is not surprising therefore that the Holy See, relying on the friendship and cooperation of the countries in which the members of the Church live, follows with close interest their conditions of life and the role they play in society at large.

The Catholics of the Islamic Republic of Iran are a small minority, but they have been present in your country from the earliest centuries of the Christian era and have always been a part of the rich cultural life of the nation. The Holy See counts on the help of the Iranian Authorities to ensure that they will continue to enjoy the freedom to profess their faith, as also to benefit from a sufficient number of bishops, priests and other religious personnel. The Church in Iran, precisely because of its small numbers, needs the solidarity of other Churches which out of their generosity are willing to contribute the personnel required for adequate pastoral care.

The Holy See makes every effort to help the Catholic community of Iran to keep alive the many signs of the Christian presence, so that the churches and holy places in Iran will not become mere archaeological monuments or even be forgotten altogether. At the same time, that small community sees itself as truly Iranian, and the experience of centuries of living side by side with their Islamic neighbours can be extremely useful in fostering ever greater mutual understanding and cooperation between the followers of the Christian faith and Islamic believers everywhere.

This important question leads us to consider once more the commitment, of which I have often spoken and to which the Holy See firmly adheres, of promoting interreligious dialogue, and in particular of developing a permanent dialogue between the religions which have a common point of reference in the faith of Abraham. In 1985, at Casablanca in Morocco, I explained the Church's thought on this matter to thousands of young Muslims who came to hear me: "For us - Christians and Muslims - Abraham is a very model of faith in God, of submission to his will and of confidence in his goodness. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection" (Speech, 19 August 1985, 1). Consequently, the Holy See confidently looks to religious Authorities and leaders of Government to support in a respectful and correct way the growth of mutual knowledge and the progress of dialogue between believers and between religions.

This reference to our belief in the one God reminds us also of the duty to work together for the defence of fundamental human values. Your Excellency has mentioned areas in which such collaboration is possible, and I gladly concur with your expressed desire to see an extension of this cooperation in the future. Outstanding among the values to be defended are freedom of religion and of conscience, and with them the other rights which flow from the dignity of the person and of peoples. Of particular concern to believers must be the advancement of justice and solidarity, so essential to the welfare of the vulnerable and needy members of the human family.

Only in a world of justice and peace can people grow in obedience to God and in generous service to their fellow human beings. The responsibility of States to work for such an international situation is no mere pragmatic demand of their potential interests; it springs from the very nature of the responsibility which the leaders of nations assume in the service of their people. Respect for international law and commitment to negotiation as the means of resolving tensions - also with assistance from the international community itself when necessary - are imperatives of the task of building a better world in which goodness and religion can flourish. Today we must all hope for and support a new phase of international cooperation, more solidly based on humanitarian concern and effective help for the suffering, and less dependent on the cold calculation of technical and economic exchanges and benefits.

Iran's profound Islamic traditions and the religious sensitivity of its people and leaders are motives for a well-founded hope of ever increasing openness and cooperation with the international community. The Holy See for its part will always be ready to work in harmony with those who serve the cause of peace and uphold the human dignity with which the Creator has endowed every human being.

Your Excellency, I wish you well as you begin your lofty mission as your country's diplomatic representative to the Holy See, and I assure you of the ready cooperation of the various offices of the Roman Curia. My prayers are filled with confidence that the Most High will multiply his blessings to you and to the beloved Iranian people."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mr Mohammad Masjed Jam'ei
New Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Thursday, 20 June 1991 - in English, French & Spanish

"Your Excellency,
I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you have been appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. You represent a nation with rich historical, cultural and religious traditions, which give moral strength to your people in the task of reconstruction and development. I assure you that I offer prayers for the peace and well-being of your fellow-citizens.

Peace is the summing-up of the aspirations of all men and women of good will. When it is lacking, not only are people subjected to death and destruction, as has recently occurred in the Persian Gulf area; they are also deeply wounded in their unique dignity as human beings. They are hindered in pursuing their development as rational and spiritual beings. Moreover, for believers, peace is a gift of God. It is as it were God’s special endowment, since it makes possible the realization of all his other gifts to individuals and to society.

On many occasions I have expressed the Church’s commitment to seek a profound and respectful dialogue with the followers of the Muslim faith, in order to increase mutual knowledge and understanding, and thus better serve the cause of harmony and peace. Indeed, as I wrote in the encyclical Centesimus Annus: "I am convinced that the various religions, now and in the future, will have a predominant role in preserving peace and in building a society worthy of man" (CA, 60). The true foundation for reestablishing justice, for achieving and strengthening peace, and for promoting all aspects of human welfare must be a sincere and wide-ranging exchange between Christian and Muslim believers, based on respect for the specific character of each other’s faith. The world needs the unanimous witness of our common convictions regarding the dignity of man, created by God. We must feel the weight of our responsibility, since it is above all to believers that the Creator has entrusted "the work of his hands", including in a special way his creature par excellence: man, invested with an inalienable dignity.

It is the defence and promotion of human dignity which the Holy See pursues through its presence in the international community and its bilateral diplomatic relations with many countries. This activity, which has no other aim but to be at the service of the good of the human family, is characterized by a predominant interest in the ethical, moral and humanitarian aspects of relations between the world’s peoples. In this perspective I fully share the desire which Your Excellency has expressed for a further strengthening of relations between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Iran, in order to ensure increased mutual understanding and co-operation in these areas of fundamental importance.

The grave problems which affect humanity, including poverty and hunger, especially among millions of refugees, the destruction of the earth’s material resources, the exploitation of people and groups of people for economic and political purposes, and the suffering inflicted by armed conflict, are signs of a deep imbalance in the human heart. In effect, the world’s inability to meet these situations with wise and generous endeavours to resolve them denotes a widespread spiritual crisis. In many ways, the problems themselves, when they are not due to natural calamities, and the lack of an effective response to them are the expression of a spiritual blindness in man’s heart. He fails to take account of the Creator’s will manifested in the very nature of created reality. He fails to see the image of God in himself and in others, and thus he lacks the motivation and strength to foster the inviolable dignity of every individual and the solidarity needed to care for the vulnerable and weak. A true renewal of spiritual values is required if a more just and peaceful world is to be achieved.

Economic and political factors alone cannot fully explain the radical changes which are now taking place in the structures of many nations, with important consequences for international relations. These changes cannot be adequately understood without taking into account the underlying demand for greater personal responsibility in the pursuit of our human destiny. They speak to us of man’s thirst for authentic spiritual freedom. As I wrote in this year’s World Day of Peace Message: "The rapid changes which have taken place show very clearly that a person may not be treated as a kind of object governed solely by forces outside of his or her control. Rather, the individual person, despite human frailty, has the ability to seek and freely know the good, to recognize and reject evil, to choose truth and to oppose error" (I). This freedom of thought, of conscience and consequently of religion is an essential foundation of peace, and I renew the hope that the great religions will continue to foster mutual understanding and dialogue on the basis of the many values shared by them, so as to ensure that obstacles to the implementation of that freedom are avoided (cf ibid VII). In this way following the law of conscience and the precepts of one’s own religion believers, although they may hold different views on many subjects, will be able to work together to meet the urgent problems facing the human family.

It is in this spirit too that I recall the beloved Christian communities living in your country. While they remain steadfast in their religious convictions, and thus need the means and opportunities to fulfil their religious duties and deepen and strengthen their Christian faith, they are proud citizens of their homeland and wish to do their part in meeting the challenges facing the nation at this time.

As Your Excellency begins your diplomatic mission, I wish you well and assure you of the co-operation of the various departments of the Holy See. I would ask you to convey my greetings to the President, the Government and the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran, upon whom I prayerfully invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Salman Ghaffari
New Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Thursday 16 October 1986 - in English, French & Spanish

"Your Excellency,
I welcome you today to the Vatican for the presentation of the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See. I thank you for the greetings you have expressed from your President, His Excellency the Hojjat ol eslam Sayyed ‘Alì Khamene’i, and I would ask you to convey to him the assurance of my prayers to the Most High God for all the people of your country.

You have rightly pointed out that in various areas of the world armed conflicts are causing untold misery, suffering and loss of human life. Some of these conflicts are of recent origin, while others are the outcome of long-standing and even traditional divisions between peoples. I wish to assure you that I am deeply afflicted by the sufferings of the people of Iran in the present state of war in your region.

In the increasingly interdependent world in which we live, no armed conflict is a purely local matter. It inevitably has repercussions internationally and increases the tensions and divergencies between groups of nations and between blocs. For this very reason the eyes of the world are directed with profound concern to the sad conflict which has been going on in your region for almost a decade.

It is undoubtedly true that the disturbances which so frequently occur in the social order and between nations result in part from the tensions of economic, political and social forms. But – as is clear within the religious viewpoint which characterises our outlook – at a deeper level they flow from man’s pride and selfishness, which contaminate even the social and political spheres. This is a cause of great sorrow to those who understand that God’s will for man is that he should live in peace and brotherhood with everyone, building a world in which justice and mercy may flourish and in which the priceless treasure of human life will be everywhere respected and defended.

Indeed true religious conviction leads to a great reverence for man, for every human being. It teaches that the common good of men is in its basic sense determined by God’s eternal law. In this sense, religious faith shows forth the evils that accompany the outbreak and the continuation of armed conflicts between peoples. At the same time, faith in Almighty God’s universal providence opens our hearts to the well-founded hope that peace will at last take root in all the peoples of the world. It is my ardent prayer that in your region true peace with justice will soon be restored.

With regard to some of the matters which Your Excellency raised, I would recall the position of the Catholic Church as it was authoritatively formulated by the Second Vatican Council in relation to the conduct of war. "Quite a large number of nations have subscribed to various international agreements aimed at making military acuity and its consequences less inhuman. Such are conventions concerning the handling of wounded or captured soldiers, and various similar agreements. Agreements of this sort must be honoured. Indeed they should be improved upon so that they can better and more workabley lead to restraining the frightfulness of war". As Your Excellency is aware, on many occasions I have not failed to draw attention to and to stress these principles, and I have expressed a severe judgement when it has appeared that they had not been respected.

The Holy See hopes that the conscience of the entire human family will more willingly uphold the instruments for responding to the causes of conflict through peaceful means. Dialogue and negotiation remain the best channels for solving contentions between nations and peoples. Where injustices exist or have occurred, they can only be truly overcome where sentiments of peace are wholeheartedly accepted.

Your Excellency, I express the hope that your mission as the worthy diplomatic representative of your country to the Holy See will give you much personal satisfaction and will contribute to making relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holy See fruitful and productive in the cause of peace.

I am also confident of the understanding and collaboration of Your Excellency and of the Authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran in regard to the situation of the Christian communities in your country.

You readily understand that the religious life of those communities requires the presence and work of a sufficient number of priests and consecrated persons, many of them generously sent by the Churches in other countries.

I am certain that the happy solution of certain disturbing episodes of recent date will not only contribute to the good progress of relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Holy See, but will also lead to a growth of neighbourliness and co-operation between Muslims and Catholics throughout the world.

I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings upon you and upon your fellow-citizens."

Pope St John Paul II's address to Mr Seyed Hadi Khosrochaian
Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Saturday 14 November 1981 - in English, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr Ambassador,
Although you have already duly inaugurated your diplomatic mission at the Holy See, I am pleased today to be able to accept personally the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The significance of this ceremony is linked with the Iranian people as a whole. It is oriented to their well-being; is embraces their history, their culture and their destiny. Your presence here is meant to be a sign of hope for all your fellow-citizens; it is they who will be the first beneficiaries of efforts made to promote true peace and human dignity. Among your countrymen there are the members of the Catholic community, who belong by full right to the nation; they desire to work for its true good and its advancement, and they seek solely to enjoy, together with all their Iranian brothers and sisters, full freedom of religion and action. I express my deep fraternal interest in their welfare, as in the well-being of all the people of your country.

You have evoked the sufferings of war and the violence of terrorism. War and terrorism are evils that my predecessors and I have constantly denounced. But no less intensely have we sought to proclaim and inculcate that essential justice and that fraternal love which foster upright conduct between members of the same human family. The longing of the Holy See is for mutual understanding and reconciliation; it works for the destruction of war in itself and its causes, and for the abolition of hatred.

As you are in a position to know so well, the Holy See upholds national sovereignty and integrity, just as it firmly believes in international justice and universal non-violent freedom. It adamantly espouses the unity of the human family, the importance of friendly cooperation between nations and a deep and abiding respect for human life – the life of every man, woman and child on this earth.

Through its own diplomatic activity – which is inspired by those religious principles which in turn furnish a secure basis for other sacred values, including justice and peace – the Holy See is determined to pursue these aims and to support all worthy initiatives that strengthen, foster and honour human life.

It is in this spirit that I welcome Your Excellency and receive the message of His Eminence Imam Khomeini, of which you are the authoritative bearer. I reciprocate this message with a prayerful greeting of peace to him and to the President of Iran. Upon the whole country I invoke the blessings of the Almighty and Merciful God.

And to you, Mr Ambassador, I offer the assurance of assistance in your mission, praying that it will be an effective contribution to furthering the cause of human dignity and world peace."

Discours du Pape St Paul VI aux Membres de la Délégation d'Iran
The Vatican, vendredi 2 decémbre 1977 - in French

"Excellence, Messieurs,
Nous vous remercions de votre visite qui Nous donne l’occasion d’exprimer notre reconnaissance à Sa Majesté Impériale le Shahinsha Aryamer, et de former des vœux ardents pour sa personne, pour vous-mêmes et pour tout le peuple iranien.

Votre patrie représente un lieu important de l’histoire spirituelle de l’humanité puisqu’elle constitue depuis l’Antiquité un point de rencontre pour les fidèles des grandes religions monothéistes. Certes, à notre époque, les Iraniens sont en majorité musulmans, mais les chrétiens sont présents et actifs dans votre pays depuis leur origine, et Nous nous réjouissons de savoir que tous ces adorateurs de Dieu vivent en paix selon leurs traditions, et collaborent sous la haute direction de sa Majesté Impériale pour la promotion humaine et spirituelle du peuple iranien. Vous connaissez les principes qui inspirent l’Eglise catholique en ce domaine: respect de la conscience personnelle, et refus de toute coercition ou discrimination en ce qui concerne le choix de sa propre foi, sa pratique ou le témoignage qu’on lui rend; considération et estime pour les traditions religieuses authentiques, car nous voyons en elles «des rayons de cette lumière qui éclaire tout homme» (cf Jn 1, 9; Nostra Aetate, 2). En particulier "les musulmans qui professent avoir la foi d’Abraham adorent avec nous le Dieu unique, miséricordieux, futur juge des hommes au dernier jour", comme l’a déclaré solennellement le Concile Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 16; cf Nostra Aetate, 3). Nous voulons dire aussi notre admiration pour la floraison mystique qui est apparue sur votre terre.

Nous souhaitons donc que le dialogue des chrétiens avec l’Islam soit mené à bien, que la connaissance réciproque s’intensifie, car elle est le présupposé indispensable pour collaborer efficacement au service de l’homme et de la Vérité.

Nous espérons que votre travail et les rencontres que vous avez ces jours-ci avec les experts du Secrétariat pour les non chrétiens seront fructueux, et Nous invoquons sur vous tous le Nom de Dieu Tout-Puissant et Miséricordieux."

Discours du Pape St Paul VI à l'Ambassadeur d'Iran près le Saint-Siège
The Vatican, lundi 4 avril 1977 - in English, French & Spanish

"Monsieur l’Ambassadeur,
Vous êtes accueilli avec des souhaits de cordiale bienvenue et Nous vous remercions particulièrement de ces aimables paroles qui font honneur à Votre Excellence comme au noble pays que vous représentez désormais auprès du Saint-Siège.

Depuis longtemps en effet, l’Iran suscite l’estime et la sympathie du Saint-Siège, et les relations diplomatiques n’ont fait qu’illustrer et renforcer les rapports de cordialité et de collaboration que Nous souhaitons approfondir. L’histoire de votre pays n’évoque pas seulement un passé prestigieux et une culture féconde. Les responsables d’aujourd’hui, et en particulier Sa Majesté Impériale le Shahinshah Aryamehr, manifestent un vif souci de développer tout ce qui, notamment dans les domaines de l’instruction et du progrès technique, peut contribuer à assurer à leurs concitoyens la juste promotion à laquelle ils aspirent dans le monde moderne. Nous savons aussi le sentiment religieux intense qui anime l’ensemble du peuple iranien dans sa foi monothéiste. Et cela aussi constitue un heureux présage: ces forces spirituelles favorisent et garantissent un développement digne de l’homme, car, en définitive, une civilisation n’est grande que par son âme.

Dans ce contexte, vous avez évoqué, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, le respect et l’accueil dont jouissent les minorités religieuses et en particulier les communautés chrétiennes, dans la riche diversité de leurs rites. "Membres à part entière de la grande famille iranienne", comme Votre Excellence s’est plu à le souligner, elles témoignent en effet de leur enracinement, de leur vitalité religieuse, d’un dévouement loyal et généreux au service de leurs compatriotes. Nous nous réjouissons de l’esprit de fraternité et de la coopération harmonieuse qui marquent ces rapports, selon la haute tradition pacifique de l’Iran.

Mais c’est également au niveau des grands problèmes internationaux que votre pays assume une participation très active. L’humanité a besoin du concours de tous les hommes de bonne volonté, fermement décidés à consolider la véritable paix, qui va de pair avec la promotion des droits de la personne humaine, la mise en œuvre d’une plus grande justice pour tous, l’aide aux milieux et aux peuples défavorisés. Il faut établir partout un climat de vérité et de fraternité qui correspondent à la volonté du Créateur et au respect des hommes. C’est là le leit-motiv de nos efforts dans les relations internationales - vous en serez témoin - et Nous ne doutons pas qu’ils ne rencontrent ceux du peuple iranien.

Nous sommes sensible aux sentiments déférents que votre Auguste Souverain vous a chargé de Nous exprimer: Nous vous prions de lui renouveler l’assurance de notre fidèle souvenir et de nos vœux les meilleurs. Nous implorons sur Lui et sur tous vos compatriotes les Bénédictions du Tout-Puissant, et Nous ajoutons à votre adresse des vœux chaleureux pour l’accomplissement de votre mission d’Ambassadeur auprès du Saint-Siège."

St Paul VI's address to the New Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Thursday 16 December 1971 - in English, French & Spanish

"Mr. Ambassador,
We greatly appreciate the noble words you have just uttered and are happy to welcome here today in your person a highly qualified representative of a people that can rightly be considered one of the most ancient in the universe. Has not Iran just celebrated the 2500th anniversary of Cyrus the Great?

We were fortunate enough to have a contact with the Iranian land on the occasion of our journey to the Far East this time last year, and we had the privilege of meeting your Sovereign, His Imperial Majesty the Shahinshah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who accredits you to us today. We will be grateful to you if you will be our interpreter to him, telling him once more of our excellent memory of his welcome at Teheran. The few minutes’ conversation we had with him then enabled us, in fact, to appreciate not only the elevation of his sentiments, but also his concern to be present at the problems that the rapid evolution of society raises for all rulers today.

These concerns are partly ours. It is true that the mission of the Church is above all a religious mission. But God, who Created man for an eternal destiny, makes it incumbent on all of us not to disregard his temporal destiny and to struggle in order that he may be assured conditions of life corresponding to his dignity, at all times and places. It is natural, therefore, that the great questions, that torment humanity today – development and peace, to quote only these two – should have a considerable place in the concerns of the Catholic Church, as is attested by the documents she dedicates to them and the initiatives she takes in this field.

This tells you, Mr Ambassador, that collaboration between the Holy See and your noble country on the plane of these great human problems is established quite naturally and that in the exercise of your duties you will find allies and friends here. We know furthermore that you bring to this function a competence and talent that have rightly won you high esteem in the missions you have carried out for many years at the highest international levels. And you have even had, in this capacity, relations with the Holy See that were deeply appreciated.

Personally, we are ready to facilitate your task in everything that depends on us. We warmly invoke the favour and the protection of Almighty God on Iran and on the person of its Sovereign, as well as on Your Excellency and on the mission that you are inaugurating today."

St Paul VI's address to the New Ambassador of Iran to the Holy See
The Vatican, Thursday, 7 January 1971 - in English, French & Spanish

"Mr. Ambassador,
The kind words you have just addressed to us are all the more appreciated as We recall the cordial and hearty welcome and the gracious hospitality extended to Us a few weeks ago when We landed in Teheran as the humble successor of the Apostle Peter and as a pilgrim of peace. We have already had the occasion to express Our deep gratitude to His Imperial Majesty Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shahinshah Ariamehr, who accredits you today as Ambassador to the Holy See. We welcome you to the Apostolic See, you and all the noble people whom you represent.

We were pleased to hear you recall the personality and work of Cyrus the Great, whose 2500th anniversary you are preparing to celebrate. The Bible bears witness to the deeds of this illustrious Emperor who remains for us the symbol of a man who carries out a plan dear to God: respect for minority groups, their freedom from slavery and exile – in short hope.

Throughout all the vicissitudes of its history, your country has remained a home of civilization and has kept its original character in the heart of Asia. We appreciate the efforts made today by His Imperial Majesty, not only in technical progress, but also in the basic elements of education – is it not significant that the UNESCO Congress of 1965 was held in your capital? – efforts made to improve land reforms, to provide better living conditions for everyone, to protect them against whatever dehumanizes and degrades man, and finally to promote justice and peace. Our own spiritual mission prompts Us to encourage and foster, as far as We can, this study of the full-rounded development, of man always open to the Absolute. We consider this as the will of God and a response to His love. Do not your people still honour the cult of mystical authors?

We give credit to your leaders and to the people of Iran for giving evidence today of a fraternal dialogue with people of all origins and all religions. The Catholics in your country, and especially the religious congregations, ask only for the possibility to live and bear witness to their faith, to be free to serve their fellow-countrymen in all those educational, cultural and medical works which their means will allow, in that spirit of universal charity which is joined to an old tradition of your country.

With, these sentiments, We express Our best wishes for the mission which Your Excellency begins today at the Holy See, in this city of Rome where so many Embassies are located and which is a sort of meeting-place in which We like to see an augury of the peace we all desire. We renew Our respectful greetings to His Imperial Majesty, and with all our heart We invoke upon the people of Iran and upon you the assurance and blessing of the Almighty."

Discours de Paul VI au Nouvel Ambassadeur de l'Iran près le Saint-Siège
The Vatican, jeudi 1 decémbre 1966 - in French & Spanish

"Les aimables paroles que vient de prononcer Votre Excellence Nous touchent vivement. Pour Notre part, c’est avec le plus grand plaisir que Nous accueillons aujourd’hui le nouveau Représentant de la grande et noble nation iranienne, avec laquelle le Saint-Siège entretient, depuis le longues années, les plus cordiales relations.

Nous savons toute l’estime que le Shahinshah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi professait pour Nos illustres prédécesseurs, les Papes Pie XII et Jean XXIII: et Nous n’oublions pas que Sa Majesté voulut s’associer au grand événement du Concile œcuménique par l’envoi de Missions Extraordinaires tant à la cérémonie d’ouverture qu’à celle de clôture.

Votre Excellence a mentionné le "respect de toutes les croyances" dont s’inspirèrent les fondateurs de sa glorieuse Patrie. Nous voudrions relever, à Notre tour, la largeur d’esprit qui anime ses dirigeants d’aujourd’hui, et dont bénéficient largement les institutions catholiques d’éducation et d’assistance qui se trouvent sur le territoire de l’Empire iranien. Nous tenons à assurer Votre Excellence que Nous apprécions hautement l’attitude ouverte et compréhensive des Autorités Iraniennes.

Il Nous est agréable aussi de saisir cette occasion pour réaffirmer que l’Eglise Catholique ne désire rien tant que de former, par ces Institutions, de bons et loyaux citoyens, et de contribuer, autant qu’elle le peut, à leur bien-être et à leur élévation spirituelle et culturelle.

Cet effort rejoint, Nous le savons, une des préoccupations constantes de Sa Majesté Impériale, dont le monde entier connaît aujourd’hui les pacifiques initiatives et admire l’attitude courageuse et exemplaire dans la campagne mondiale pour l’alphabétisation.

C’est vous dire, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, que Nous accueillons avec une particulière satisfaction les vœux que vous Nous exprimez de la part de votre Souverain, auquel Nous vous saurons gré de transmettre Notre plus cordial hommage.

En assurant Votre Excellence de l’appui qu’elle trouvera toujours auprès de Nous dans l’exercice de la mission qu’elle inaugure aujourd’hui, Nous invoquons de tout cœur sur elle, sur sa famille et sur sa Patrie, l’assistance et les bénédictions du Dieu Tout-Puissant. "

Pope St John XXIII's address to H.I.M Mohamed Reza Palhavi
The Emperor of Iran
the Vatican, Monday 1st December 1958 - in English, French & Spanish

"The visit of your Imperial Majesty to Us – which is so great a mark of courtesy – inspires in Us feelings of gratitude which We feel compelled to express to you. We are also aware that the respect for the Holy See to which your presence attests is heightened today by the delicacy with which your Majesty postponed for several weeks the trip you proposed to make to the Eternal City. This decision was especially affected by the great loss which disturbed Christianity and echoed sadly throughout the world. We are indeed aware of this attention of your Majesty, of this tribute which you rendered under these circumstances to the memory of the illustrious late Pontiff.

It was Our venerated predecessor who received you on your previous visit ten years ago, and We know the faithful memory that your Majesty preserves of that audience. It was he also who more recently agreed to the establishment of official relations between Iran and the Holy See, which We on Our part are happy to support with all Our power.

We should like to salute in the person of your Majesty the entire nation of Iran over which you preside with such distinction. Although We have not personally had the privilege of getting to know your country and its capital, dominated by the imposing heights of the Elburz mountains, We once did approach its frontiers. Contained between two seas, guarded by high mountain ranges, this land was in the course of centuries the crossroads of numerous peoples and the crucible of the oldest civilizations. In our day she remains rich in resources, those of the soil and subsoil and those still more precious riches of the mind.

To these last the Church, present in these lands from her beginnings, is happy to contribute her spiritual life, her cultural heritage, and the human ideals which she has always served. With generous and loyal devotion, of which We most willingly reassure your Majesty, Our Catholic sons of Iran have placed themselves wholeheartedly in the service of the noblest causes, most notably the instruction and education of youth, the care of the sick, and various charitable ventures.

We are pleased to learn that your Majesty, who has always been benevolent toward Christian institutions, has recently taken an interest in the foundation of new hospitals and scientific institutions which, We are sure, will be developed for the greater good of all. It is God's wish that such a spirit of peaceful cooperation, so much in conformity with the traditions of the Church and with the native qualities of your people, should continue to bear the best fruits on the earth of Iran. In this confidence We invoke upon your Majesty, on the distinguished persons who accompany you and upon your empire, the most abundant favors of Almighty God."