Common Ethics Needs Acceptance of Natural Law, Says Pope

Key to «Constructive Dialogue» in Society

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2004 ( People lack a common ethical foundation because of the rejection of the idea of natural law, said John Paul II as he proposed a remedy.

The Pope called for the promotion of points of common agreement with representatives of other religions and various cultures so that ethics, especially in public life, won’t be at the mercy of the majority opinion.

The rediscovery of the natural law was one of the points the Holy Father mentioned today in his address to the participants of the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

«The natural law, accessible per se to every rational creature, indicates the first and essential norms that regulate moral life,» he said.

«Based on this law, a platform of shared values can be constructed, on which a constructive dialogue can be developed with all men and women of good will and, more in general, with secular society,» the Pope continued.

«Today, as a consequence of the crisis of metaphysics, many spheres do not recognize any longer that there is a truth inscribed in the heart of every human person,» he said.

The lack of recognition of the natural law leads to two serious problems, John Paul II said.

The first is «the spreading among believers of a morality of a fideistic character,» he said.

Second is the lack of «an objective reference point for acts of legislation which often are based solely on social consensus,» making it harder to arrive at a common ethical foundation for all humanity, the Pope said.

To help in the rediscovery of «the idea of the natural moral law,» the Pope has written the encyclicals «Veritatis Splendor» and «Fides et Ratio.»

«Unfortunately, it does not seem that these teachings have been received until now in the desired measure, and this complex problem must be further studied,» he said.

Thus, the Holy Father asked the doctrinal congregation to «promote opportune initiatives with the aim of contributing to a constructive renewal of the doctrine on the natural moral law.»

In this endeavor, he added, «convergences» must be sought «with representatives of various denominations, religions and cultures.»

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