Monday, September 13, 2010

Human Society and Truth

Remarks of Pope Benedict XVI
in receiving the new German ambassador Walter J├╝rgen Schmid

September 13, 2010

. . . Contemplating the figures of [several martyr priests of the time of the Nazi regime], it seems ever clearer and exemplary how certain men are willing, given their Christian conviction, to give their own life for the faith, for the right to exercise freely their own creed and liberty of speech, for peace and human dignity.

Today, fortunately, we live in a free and democratic society. At the same time, however, we observe how among our contemporaries, there is no strong attachment to religion, as in the case of these witnesses of the faith.

One might ask if there are today Christians who, without compromises, make themselves guarantors of their own faith. On the contrary, many show a general inclination toward permissive religious conceptions also for themselves. Instead of the Christian's personal God, who reveals Himself in the Bible, they posit a supreme, mysterious and indeterminate being, who has only a vague relationship with the human being's personal life. Such conceptions increasingly animate discussion within the society, especially in regard to the realm of justice and legislation.

However, if one abandons faith in a personal God, there arises the alternative of a "god" who does not know, does not listen and does not speak. And, more than ever before, does not have a will. If God does not have His own will, in the end good and evil are not distinguished, good and evil are no longer in contradiction to one another, but are in an opposition, in which one is complementary of the other. Thus, man loses the moral and spiritual strength necessary for the complete development of the person. Social action is dominated increasingly by private interest or by the calculation of power, at the expense of society.

Instead, if God is a Person -- and the order of creation, as well as the presence of Christians of conviction in society, is a sign of this -- it follows that an order of values is legitimized. There are signs, which can also be found in recent times, that give proof of the development of new relations between the state and religion, also beyond the great Christian Churches which up to now were determinant. Hence, in this situation, Christians have the task of following this development positively and critically, in addition to refining the senses for the fundamental and permanent importance of Christianity, in laying the bases and forming the structures of our culture.

However, the Church sees with concern the growing attempt to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is manifested as a lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is also directed to the transmission of human life. One of its conditions is the willingness of the spouses to relate one to the other forever. Because of this, a certain maturity of the person and a fundamental existential and social attitude is necessary: a "culture of the person" as my predecessor John Paul II once said. The existence of this culture of the person depends also on social developments.

It can be seen that in a society the culture of the person is lowered; often it is derived, paradoxically, from the growth of the standard of life. In the preparation and support of the spouses, it is necessary to create the basic conditions to build-up and develop this culture. At the same time, we must be aware that the success of marriages depends on all of us, on the personal culture of each citizen. In this connection, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a reappraisal of alternative models of the life of a couple and of the family. These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the Natural Law and thus to relativizing the whole of legislation and also to confusion on the values in society.

It is a principle of the Christian faith, anchored in Natural Law, that the human person be protected precisely in a situation of weakness. The human being always has priority in regard to other objectives.

The new possibilities of biotechnology and medicine often put us in difficult situations that seem to walk on the razor's edge. We have the duty to study diligently to what point these methods can be of help to man and where it is, instead, a question of the manipulation of man, of violation of his integrity and dignity.

We cannot reject this progress, but we must be very diligent. Once one begins to distinguish -- and this now happens often in the maternal womb -- between a worthy life and a life unworthy of living, no other phase of life will be safe, and even less so old age and infirmity.

The construction of a human society requires fidelity to truth. In this context, lately, certain phenomena that are operating in the realm of the public media make one reflect: being in an ever greater competition, the media feel driven to arouse the greatest possible attention. In addition, there is the contrast made by the news in general, even if it goes against the veracity of the report. The subject becomes particularly problematic when authoritative persons take a public position in this respect, without being able to confirm the aspects adequately.

The intention of the federal government to be involved in these cases, in so far as possible, in a pondered and pacifying way, is welcomed . . . .


Anonymous said...

Please forgive a brief comment that has nothing to do with this post.

My sister suggested I check out Fr. Longnecker's blog. I have mixed reviews, but I must say your recent response to a Ryan regarding perceived liturgical abuses is one of the best I've read in some time.

Good sense of perspective. Keep up the good work.

Bender said...

Well, I think so too. But in all charity, now that I've simmered down a bit, I've deleted it. Perhaps the point has been made, perhaps not.

In any event, no doubt someone else will set me off. As I said, I've lost all patience with such stuff. That is something I need to work on, both as a work of mercy and a virtue, bearing wrongs patiently.