Freedom Doesn't Justify Everything, Says Pope

Suggests a Redefinition of Liberty Is Needed

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2008 ( Liberty cannot be invoked to justify excesses that lead to a regression in the understanding of the human being, Benedict XVI says.

The Pope affirmed this today in his French-language address to the new Canadian ambassador to the Holy See, Anne Leahy. He was speaking especially of excesses regarding life and family issues.

«A redefinition of the meaning of liberty» is needed, the Holy Father said, noting that it is more and more conceived as an «untouchable right of the individual» while the «importance of its divine origins and communitarian dimension» are ignored.

«According to this interpretation, an individual alone can decide and choose the physiognomy, characteristics and finality of life, death and marriage,» he added. But, «true liberty is founded and developed ultimately in God. It is a gift that is possible to welcome as a seed and to make it mature responsibly so as to truly enrich the person and society.»

Liberty has as a reference point «a universal natural moral law, which precedes and unites all rights and duties,» the Pontiff affirmed.

The Holy Father expressed his certainty that a culture of life «could again revitalize the whole of Canada’s personal and social existence.»

«I know this is possible and your country is capable of this,» he added.

Religious schools

Benedict XVI also spoke of religious education, affirming that «it is an inalienable right of parents to ensure a religious and moral education for their children.»

«Teaching religion, given the specific contribution that it can offer, represents a fundamental and indispensable recourse for an education that has among its primary objectives that of constructing the personality of the student and the development of his capacities, integrating his cognitive, affective and spiritual dimensions,» he said.

The Bishop of Rome also mentioned the «long history of dialogue» between Canada and the Holy See, recalling that Pope John Paul II made three apostolic trips to Canada, the last for the World Youth Day in Toronto, for which Leahy was a general coordinator.

The Pope cited his predecessor in affirming that Canadians have inherited an «extraordinarily rich humanism, thanks to the association of numerous diverse cultural elements,» including «the spiritual and transcendent concept of life, founded on Christian revelation, which gave a vital impulse to its development as a free, democratic and solidary society.»

«As you have indicated,» he continued, «Catholicism represents a cornerstone of the building of Canadian society, thanks to the institutions it has created and the culture it has promoted.»

The Pope affirmed that the «ancient roots of the tree of Catholicism are still alive in Canada and they can make it flourish again.» He encouraged Catholic Canadians to commit themselves in society as an «expression of love that seeks the integral good of man.»

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