Pontiff Cautions Against Traps of Public Debate

Says Truth Is What Makes Consensus Possible

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The way to keep interest groups from trapping public debate is to give room to truth in the social sphere, thereby making consensus possible, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this Friday in a written address he gave to New Zealand’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Robert Carey Moore-Jones. The Holy Father that day received in audience and addressed eight new ambassadors, giving each a written statement afterward. The envoys present represented Mongolia, India, Benin, New Zealand, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Namibia and Norway.

“The Church’s engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that authentic human progress — whether as individuals or communities — is dependent upon the recognition of the spiritual dimension proper to every person,” the Pontiff wrote.

He said that the God-given capacity to transcend particular interests and seek truth and goodness, “provides a framework within which it is possible to counter any tendency to adopt superficial approaches to social policy which address only the symptoms of negative trends in family life and communities, rather than their roots.”

Benedict XVI recalled World Youth Day of last July, celebrated for the first time in Oceania, which he said, “gave me an opportunity to experience something of the spirit of the thousands of young New Zealanders who took part.”

Religion’s spot

The Pope went on to note how New Zealand is seeing the fruits of interreligious dialogue because of a “growing presence within your shores of migrant communities from various religious traditions” and increased government participation in regional affairs.

“Yet some continue to question the place of religion in the public sphere and struggle to imagine how it might serve society, particularly in a highly secular culture,” he lamented. “This of course heightens the responsibility of believers to bear witness to the significance of the essential relationship of every man and woman to God, in whose image they are made.

“When God’s gift of human reason is exercised in reference to the truth he reveals to us, our powers of reflection are adorned with wisdom, and thus reach beyond the empirical and the piecemeal, and instead give expression to our deepest common human aspirations. In this way public debate, rather than being entrapped by the narrow horizon of particular interest groups, is broadened and held accountable to the true source of the common good and dignity of every member of society.

“Far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, truth makes consensus possible, ensures that political choices are determined by principles and values, and enriches culture with all that is good, uplifting and just.”

After praising New Zealand for its diplomatic activity “marked by a strong commitment to justice and peace, good governance, sustainable economic development and the promotion of human rights,” the Holy Father concluded assuring that the Church will “respond generously to new social challenges as they arise.”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-26052?l=english

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