Benedict XVI Warns Against "Liquid" Society

Proposes Culture of Life and Beauty

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VENICE, Italy, MAY 9, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is warning against the danger of the present “liquid” society, which embraces relativism and rejects stability in human relations.

This was one of the points stressed by the Pope on Sunday afternoon in a meeting with the world of culture and the economy at the end of his visit to Venice.

Over the weekend, he also visited the city of Aquilea, the see of the old patriarchate that constituted the largest ecclesiastical and metropolitan diocese of the whole of Medieval Europe, which included present-day Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Germany

In this address, the Pontiff spoke about the “liquid” culture, a concept coined by Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, who between 1971 and 1990 was a professor of sociology at the University of Leeds, England.

European society, said the Holy Father, is submerged in a liquid culture; in this regard, he pointed out “its ‘fluidity,’ its low level of stability or perhaps absence of stability, its mutability, the inconsistency that at times seems to characterize it.”

He noted that Bauman attributes the birth of the “liquid” society to the consumerist model. The philosopher stated that its most profound impact has been felt in social relations, and, more in particular, in relations between man and woman, which have become increasingly flexible and impalpable, as manifested by the present concept of love reduced to a mere passing sentiment.

Speaking to an audience in the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, Benedict XVI opposed this model of a liquid society with a model of the society “of life and of beauty.”

“It is certainly an option, but in history it’s necessary to choose: man is free to interpret, to give meaning to reality, and it is precisely in this liberty that his great dignity lies,” said the Pope.

He continued, “In the ambit of a city, regardless of which one it is, also choices of an administrative, cultural and economic character depend, at the basis, on this fundamental orientation, which we can call ‘politics,’ in the most noble and lofty sense of the term.”

The Pontiff explained, “It is about choosing between a ‘liquid’ city, homeland of a culture that seems to be increasingly the culture of the relative and the ephemeral, and a city that constantly renews its beauty, taking recourse to the beneficent resources of art, learning, of relations between men and nations.”

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