Pontiff Points to Christ as Model for New Humanism

In Message to Pontifical Academies’ Session

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Amid the prevailing individualism and relativism, Christians have the mission to present Christ as model for a new humanism, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope presented this proposal in a message sent to the annual public session of the Pontifical Academies, held Tuesday, in the Vatican’s new Synod Hall.

In this session, the 10th since Pope John Paul II established the Coordinating Council for the Pontifical Academies in 1995, the central theme — “Christ, Son of God, Perfect Man: ‘The Measure of True Humanism'” — was prepared by the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

It is a topic, as Benedict XVI said in his message, of particular interest to him, given its “central and essential importance both in theological reflections and in each Christian’s experience of faith.”

“Modern culture,” he said, “so deeply marked by a subjectivism which leads not infrequently to extreme individualism or to relativism, drives people to consider man as the only measure by which to judge themselves, losing sight of other objectives not centered on the self, which has become the only criterion for evaluating reality and their own choices.”

“In this way,” the Holy Father continued, “man tends to fall back ever more onto himself, to close himself in an airless existential microcosm, where there is no longer any space for great ideals open to transcendence, to God.

“On the other hand, man who overcomes himself and does not allow himself to be closed in the narrow confines of his own egoism is capable of an authentic contemplation of others and of creation.”

Imprint

In this way, man becomes conscious of “his essential characteristic of creature in continuous becoming, called to a harmonious growth in all his dimensions, beginning precisely by interiority, to reach the fulfilled realization of that plan that the Creator has imprinted in his deepest being,” Benedict XVI added.

“Certain cultural currents and tendencies seek to leave man in his minority, in prolonged infancy or adolescence,” the Pope said. “The Word of God, on the other hand, spurs us decisively to maturity and invites us to commit ourselves with all our strength to a high measure of humanity.”

“The true disciples of the Lord, far from remaining in the state of children tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine, make an effort to attain ‘to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,'” the Holy Father wrote, citing Ephesians 4:13.

“Therefore, Jesus Christ, Son of God, given by the Father to humanity to restore the image disfigured by sin, is the perfect man, with which authentic humanism is measured,” he stated. “Every human being must encounter him and go to him — with the help of grace — and must tend with all his heart, with all his mind, with all his strength, to realize his life fully and to respond with joy and enthusiasm to the very high vocation inscribed in his being.”

Benedict XVI urged academics to “promote with enthusiasm and passion, each in his own field of study and research, the building of this new humanism.”

“You have the task to propose again, with the competence that corresponds to you, the beauty, goodness, truth of the face of Christ, in which every man is called to recognize his most authentic and original features, the model he must imitate ever better,” he indicated.

“This is, therefore, your arduous task, your lofty mission,” the Pope added, “to present Christ to the man of today as the authentic measure of maturity and human fullness.”

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