VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2005 ( Benedict XVI gave an audience to a group of Bavarian parliamentarians and reminded them of their duty to defend human life in the face of threats from science and technology.

Among the visiting politicians was Edmund Stoiber, head of that regional German state's government.

Stoiber arrived accompanied by members of the Bavarian Social Christian Union, the parliamentary group he heads. A total of some 150 people, including spouses, had a cordial meeting with the Pope in the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

"Undoubtedly the difficult social and economic challenges of our time occupy your attention in a particular way," said the Holy Father, a former archbishop of Munich, as he addressed his guests in German.

"To these are added those increasingly complicated questions of the new scientific and technological developments, in the face of which those who must make decisions at the political level feel themselves questioned," he continued.

"The progress of science can be both a blessing as well as a ruin," warned the Pope.

Benedict XVI explained that this would depend on those who must make decisions and their capacity to make them "following simply the laws of usefulness or rather the laws of God."

"Men and women, who are conscious of their responsibility before God, Giver of life, will do everything possible so that the inviolable dignity of man, whose life is sacred in each of its phases, determines the application of new scientific knowledge," the Pope said.

The Holy Father insisted on the importance that politicians must give to education, and he encouraged the work carried out by the theological schools in Germany.


For his part, Stoiber invited the Pope to visit his native Bavaria, recalling Pope John Paul II's visit to Munich in 1980. Stoiber recalled that a statue of the Blessed Virgin was built in one of the city's squares, in honor of John Paul II's visit. A plaque also commemorated the occasion, the Bavarian leader said.

"We hope that to that inscription the name Benedict XVI and the year 2006 may be added," said Stoiber.

The Holy Father was unable to respond immediately to the invitation, reported sources of the Holy See.

Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope with the name Benedict XVI last April, was born on April 16, 1927, in Marktl-am-Inn, in the Diocese of Passau, Bavaria. He was named archbishop of Munich in March 1977 by Pope Paul VI, and elevated to cardinal the following June.

Before today's audience, Benedict XVI met privately with Stoiber for about 10 minutes.

Stoiber's visit highlighted the Holy Father's love for his homeland. In fact, the Pope ended his address quoting a passage from a Bavarian hymn: "God be with you, O Land of Bavarians. Above your wide areas his blessed hand shall rule!"