Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pope Benedict's Interesting Address To Roman Police

I saw the text of this last night. See Benedict XVI's Address to Rome's Police. In parts of the speech he took it as an opportunity to go into a theme he seems have been on lately.

Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is suffused at the same time by the impression that moral consent is failing and that, as a consequence, the structures at the base of coexistence no longer succeed in functioning fully. Hence, in many the temptation appears of thinking that the forces mobilized for the defense of civil society are in the end destined to failure. In face of this temptation, we, who are Christians, have a particular responsibility to reawaken a new resoluteness in professing the faith and in doing good, to continue with courage to be close to men in their joys and sufferings, in happy hours as in those of darkness of earthly existence.

In our days, great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence. On one hand, it is a good, because it makes possible to put man and his dignity at the center of consideration whether in thought or in historic action. One must never forget, however, that man finds his most profound dignity in the loving look of God, in reference to him. Attention to the subjective dimension is also a good when the value of the human conscience is put in evidence. However, here we find a grave risk, because developed in modern thought is a reductive vision of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what is worthwhile and what is true, but it is the single individual, with his intuitions and experiences, who is the meter of measure; each one, hence, has his own truth, his own morality. The most evident consequence is that religion and morality tend to be confined in the ambit of the individual, of the private: that is, faith with its values and conduct is no longer to have a right and a place in public and civil life. Therefore, if on one hand great importance is given in society to pluralism and tolerance, on the other, religion tends to be progressively marginalized and considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the civil world, almost as if it should limit its influence on man's life.

On the contrary, for us Christians, the true meaning of "conscience" is man's capacity to recognize the truth and, the possibility prevails again of hearing its claim, of seeking it and finding it. It so happens that man is able to open himself to the truth and to the good, to be able to receive them freely and consciously. Moreover, the human person is an expression of a plan of love and truth: God has "projected" the person, so to speak, with his interiority, with his conscience, so that it can draw the guidelines to protect and cultivate himself and human society.

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