The Vatican Information Service reports on an address given today by Benedict XVI to participants “in a meeting being promoted by the Christian Democrat International”. The Pope’s remarks address many of the same problems and challenges facing Catholics in the United States, especially the role of Christians in the public square, the need to pursue the common good (“correctly understood”, Benedict emphasizes), upholding the dignity and value of every human life, the defense of the family as the “the basic cell of society” and the responsibility of the State and civic leaders to uphold marriage and life:
“The involvement of Christians in society”, the Holy Father said, “must not lessen or decrease; rather, it must be proffered with renewed vitality, in view of the persistence and, in some cases, the worsening of the problems we are facing”.
Among these problems the Pope mentioned the economic crisis, the “complexity and gravity” of which “rightly arouse concern. Yet, in the face of this situation, Christians are called to act and express themselves with a prophetic spirit – that is, a spirit capable of seeing in these transformations the incessant and mysterious presence of God in history – and thus to shoulder their newly emerging responsibilities with realism, faith and hope”.
“Your political and institutional commitment must not”, he told his listeners, “be limited to responding to the requirements of market logic. Rather, its central and indispensable goal must remain the search for the common good, correctly understood, and the promotion and protection of the inalienable dignity of the human person. The teaching of Vatican Council II that ‘the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around’ is today more valid than ever. This order of persons ‘is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love’, and it cannot be discerned without constant attention to the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church”.
“The areas in which this decisive discernment is to be exercised are those touching the most vital and delicate interests of the person, the place where the fundamental choices regarding the meaning of life and the search for happiness are made. These areas are not separate from one another but profoundly interconnected; they possess a manifest continuum which is constituted by respect for the transcendent dignity of human beings, rooted in the fact that they were made in the image of the Creator and are the ultimate goal of any authentically human social justice.
“The commitment to respecting life in all its phases from conception to natural end – and the consequent rejection of abortion, euthanasia and any form of eugenics – is, in fact, interwoven with respecting marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman and, in its turn, as the foundation for the community of family life. … Thus the family, the basic cell of society, is the root which nourishes not only the individual human being, but the very foundations of social coexistence”.
The Holy Father went on: “The authentic progress of human society cannot forgo policies aimed at protecting and promoting marriage, and the community that derives therefrom. Adopting such policies is the duty not only of States but of the International Community as a whole, in order to invert the tendency towards the growing isolation of the person, which is a source of suffering and corrosion for both individuals and for society.
“If it is true that the defence and promotion of human dignity ‘have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt’, it is equally true that this responsibility particularly concerns people called to positions of responsibility. They, especially if animated by Christian faith, must be ‘strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping'”.