Relativism Threatening Democracy, Says John Paul II

Calls Truth the Antidote to Fanaticism

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2004 ( Ethical relativism, according to which there are no objective moral truths, poses a threat for present-day democracies, warns John Paul II.

In a message written for Italian Catholics’ Social Week, held in Bologna from Oct. 7-10, the Pope said that truth «is the best antidote» to «ideological fanaticism.»

The theme of this year’s edition of the Italian Social Week was «Democracy: New Settings, New Powers.» It brought together representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and of culture, politics, trade unionism and Catholic associations.

The Holy Father began his message confirming the Catholic Church’s appreciation of democracy «inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in political options and guarantees them the possibility both of electing and controlling their rulers, as well as of replacing them in a peaceful way.»

However, it is important to be aware of «the risks and threats for a genuine democracy that might derive from philosophic currents, anthropological views, or political conceptions with ideological prejudices,» he wrote.

«There is, for example, the tendency to consider that relativism is the attitude of thought that corresponds better to democratic political forms, as if knowledge of the truth and adherence to it were an impediment,» the papal message observed.

«In reality, truth is often feared because it is not known. Truth, exactly as Christ revealed it, is a guarantee of genuine and full freedom for the human person,» the Pope stated.

«If political action does not have as reference a higher ethical exigency, enlightened in turn by an integral view of man and society, it ends by serving inappropriate or even illicit ends,» he warned.

«Truth, on the contrary, is the best antidote to ideological fanaticism, in the scientific, political and also the religious realm,» the Holy Father said.

«The evangelical message presents the central character of the person as a supra-ideological anchor that all can have as reference,» he added. «Without being rooted in the truth, man and society are exposed to the violence of passions and to open or hidden conditioning.»

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