VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- An aim of Christianity is to put the person at the center of the social order, Benedict XVI said when visiting the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences.
“According to God’s design, persons cannot be separated from the physical, psychological or spiritual dimensions of human nature,” the Pope said in his address today to the two institutions, which are housed in the Casina Pio IV, a building in the Vatican Gardens.
The Holy Father focused on a theme on which the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences is reflecting, “The Concept of the Person in the Social Sciences.”
“Even though cultures change over time, to suppress or ignore the nature that they claim to ‘cultivate’ can have serious consequences,” Benedict XVI said. “The concept of person continues to bring about a profound understanding of the unique character and social dimension of every human being.
“This is especially true in legal and social institutions, where the notion of ‘person’ is fundamental. Sometimes, however, even when this is recognized in international declarations and legal statutes, certain cultures, especially when not deeply touched by the Gospel, remain strongly influenced by group-centered ideologies or by an individualistic and secularist view of society.”
The Holy Father continued: “The social doctrine of the Catholic Church, which places the human person at the heart and source of social order, can offer much to the contemporary consideration of social themes.”
Recalling that Pope John Paul II founded the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in 1994, Benedict XVI paused to reflect on his predecessor’s “undisputed contribution to Christian thought,” which “can be understood as a profound meditation on the person.”
“He enriched and expanded the concept in his encyclicals and other writings. These texts represent a patrimony to be received, collected and assimilated with care,” Benedict XVI indicated.
During his visit, the Holy Father unveiled a sculpture of John Paul II.
“It is, therefore, with gratitude that I avail myself of this occasion to unveil this sculpture of Pope John Paul II, flanked by two memorial inscriptions,” he said. “They remind us of the Servant of God’s special interest in the work of your Academies, especially the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, founded by him in 1994.
“They also point to his enlightened readiness to reach out in a dialogue of salvation to the world of science and culture, a desire which is entrusted in a particular way to the Pontifical Academies.”
John Paul II established the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to promote the study and progress of social, economic, political and juridical sciences in the light of the social doctrine of the Church.
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences was founded in Rome in 1603 with the name Academy of the Lynxes and led by Galileo Galilei. It is made up of 80 pontifical academicians named for life by the Pope after having been proposed by the academicians themselves.