VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Christians can and want to help in the complex issues related to environmental protection, but in order to contribute, their role in the public square must be recognized and respected, Benedict XVI says.
The Pope took up this theme today when he delivered his traditional New Year address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
The Holy Father’s address for 2010 centered on the issue of respect for creation and the environment, the same theme he highlighted in his Jan. 1 message for the World Day of Peace.
He recognized that he was only able to touch on a few aspects of the problem of the environment.
“Yet,” he affirmed, “the causes of the situation which is now evident to everyone are of the moral order, and the question must be faced within the framework of a great program of education aimed at promoting an effective change of thinking and at creating new lifestyles.”<br>
In this endeavor, the Pontiff said, the faithful can and want to participate. But, he affirmed, for the community of believers “to do so, its public role must be recognized.”
The Holy Father lamented that “in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed toward religion and toward Christianity in particular. It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion.”
Benedict XVI contended that such an approach creates “confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end.”
“There is thus an urgent need to delineate a positive and open secularity which, grounded in the just autonomy of the temporal order and the spiritual order, can foster healthy cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility,” he affirmed.
Benedict XVI went on to note how environmental issues are complex.
“One might compare it to a multifaceted prism,” he proposed. “Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience.”
He said one attack “comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes.”
Citing St. Columban, the Pope cautioned that “if you take away freedom, you take away dignity.”
He affirmed that “freedom cannot be absolute, since man is not himself God, but the image of God, God’s creation. For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator.”
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