Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI on Secularism

In his speech Pope Benedict XVI argues that we as Christians need to help define what secularism is. That before having a social and political nature, secularism has a moral nature. Thusly we need to combat the post-Christian world in defining secularism as a complete break from God in all aspects of life. The following is a summary of a speech he gave to the Union of Italian Catholic Law Experts.
Catholics cannot accept a vision of secularism "as an exclusion of religion from various society environments and as its exile in the framework of the individual conscience." Benedetto XVI wanted to clarify this in a speech addressed today to the Union of Italian Catholic Law Experts. According to a certain vision, he explained, "secularism would be expressed in the total separation between the Church and State, and the Church would not any role of intervening on topics relating to the life and behaviour of citizens." Plus, he added, "secularism would even bring the exclusion of religious symbols from public places for the carrying out of the political community's functions: from offices, schools, courts, hospitals, prisons." The Pontiff stated, "Today there is talk of secular thought, secular morality, secular science, secular politics." A concept that must be rejected because it is based on "an unreligious vision of life, thought and morality: in other words a vision in which there is no room for God, for a Mystery that transcends pure reason, for a moral law of absolute value that is in effect all the time and in every situation." According to Benedetto XVI, "it is the task of all believers, in particular followers of Christ, to contribute to elaborating a concept of secularism that, on one side, acknowledges to God and its moral law, to Christ and to his Church their place in human life, individual and community, and on the other side, affirms and respects the autonomous legitimacy of worldly situations" that represent "a legitimate need, that not only is postulated by the men of our times, but is also conforming to the wishes of the Creator. In fact, from their condition as creatures, everything receives their consistency, truth, goodness, their own laws and their own order: and everything that men is obligated to respect, by acknowledging the needs of the methods of every single science or art." Ratzinger underlined, "Only if we realize this, we can measure the weight of the problems coming from a term like secularism, which seems to have become almost the qualifying emblem of post-modernity, in particular for modern democracy." To distinguish between secularism and laicism is for Benedetto XVI particularly necessary in "a historic time that is exciting because of the progress that humanity has carried out in many fields of law, culture, communication, sciences and technology. Some people attempt to exclude God from every part of life, presenting him as an antagonist of man." And it is up to Christians "to demonstrate that instead God is love and wants the goodness and happiness of all men," in other words, "to make people understand that the moral law given by God, and that comes to us with the voice of conscience, has the goal of liberating us from evil and making us happy, not to oppress us." The Pope concluded, "We must demonstrate that without God man is lost and that the exclusion of religion from social life, in particular the marginalization of Christianity, ruins the foundations of human coexistence," that "before having a social and political nature it has a moral nature." (AGI)
(Hat Tip: Mirror of Justice) For the original article by AGI online click here.


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