Benedict XVI Favors a "Positive Secularity"

One That Excludes Hostility Against Religion, He Says in Letter

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2005 ( In a letter to the president of the Italian Senate, Benedict XVI called for a «positive secularity» that omits any kind of hostility between religion and the state.

The «positive secularity» of which the Pope speaks guarantees «to each citizen the right to live his own religious faith with genuine freedom, including in the public realm.»

The Holy Father expressed his proposal in a message sent to Marcello Pera, who is also honorary president of the Magna Carta Foundation, on the occasion of the Freedom and Secularity meeting organized by this institution in Nursia, Italy, last Saturday and Sunday.

Benedict XVI cemented a friendship with the president of the Italian Senate during meetings when the former was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

They both took part in a May 2004 symposium with a report on the roots of Europe. This led to a book entitled «Senza Radici» (Without Roots), published by Mondadori, which they co-authored.

In his message the Pope proposed: «It will be necessary to work for a cultural and spiritual renewal of Italy and the European continent so that secularity is not interpreted as hostility against religion.»

Guarantee to all

The Holy Father clarified that secularity must become «a commitment to guarantee to all, individuals and groups, respect for the exigencies of the common good, [and] the possibility to live and to express one own religious convictions.»

According to the Bishop of Rome, the fundamental rights of the human being «are not created by the lawmakers, but are inscribed in the very nature of the human person, and refer back, in the last analysis to the Creator.»

«Therefore,» he added, «a healthy secularity of the state seems legitimate and advantageous, in virtue of which the temporal realities are governed according to norms that are proper to them, to which those ethical instances also belong that have their foundation in the very existence of man.»

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