Benedict XVI Says Church Respects Civil Authority

Receives Bishops of Czech Republic

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2005 ( Benedict XVI explained to the bishops of the Czech Republic that in her work of evangelization, the Church doesn’t seek to meddle in the sphere of public authority.

When receiving the bishops in audience today, the Holy Father analyzed the «social» dimension of living the faith in the formerly Communist country, one of the most secularized in Europe, in which some prejudices about church-state relations still exist.

«The Christian community is a grouping of people with their own rules, a living body that, in Jesus, exists in the world to bear witness to the strength of the Gospel,» the Holy Father told the bishops in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

«It is, therefore, a group of brothers and sisters who have no goals of power or selfish interest, but who joyfully live the charity of God, which is Love,» he added.

«In such a context, the state should have no difficulty in recognizing in the Church a counterpart that in no way prejudices its own function at the service of citizens,» said the Pope.

For good of all

«Indeed,» continued Benedict XVI, «the Church undertakes her activities in the religious sphere, enabling believers to express their faith, yet without invading the area of competence of the civil authorities.»

The Bishop of Rome clarified that the Church, «with her apostolic commitment, and then with her charitable, health care and educational contribution, promotes the progress of society in a climate of great religious freedom.»

«As is known, the Church does not seek privileges, but only the opportunity to carry out her mission,» he said. «When this right is recognized, it is really the whole of society that benefits.»

Benedict XVI also articulated this view of secularity in the message he sent Monday to the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, on the third anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the country’s Parliament.

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