Natural Law Is Common Ground for Believers and Nonbelievers, Pope Says

Address to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2002 ( John Paul II sees natural law as an area of dialogue between believers and nonbelievers who are concerned with the common good.

Addressing the participants of the Plenary Assembly of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father today said that natural law, the «participation of the rational creature in the eternal law of God,» offers decisive elements for the work of Christian lawmakers at the service of human rights.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the congregation, described how natural law is being blurred in the modern conscience. He warned that this confusion entails obvious «dangers,» because when common ethical principles of meeting are lost, the dialogue between peoples of different cultures and beliefs becomes very difficult.

The Pope explained that natural law, on the contrary, offers «a broad base for dialogue with individuals of another orientation or formation, intent on the common good.»

«At a time weighed down by concern for the destiny of so many nations, communities and individuals, especially the weakest throughout the world,» the Holy Father encouraged Catholic intellectuals, and in particular the members of the congregation, to «rediscover the value of this doctrine, also keeping in mind the challenges that await Christian lawmakers in their duty to defend the dignity and rights of man.»

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