Pontiff Reflects on August Riots in London

Says Moral Relativism Leads to Frustration, Disregard for Life

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says policies must be based on enduring values since acting to the contrary — and the resulting moral relativism — only leads to frustration and despair, and a lack of regard for others’ lives and liberty.

The Pope said this today when he received the letters of credence of the new U.K. ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker. Baker is a career member of the U.K. diplomatic service, having worked principally in Central Europe and Latin America, most recently as British ambassador to Bolivia.

The Holy Father referenced Baker’s address in which he said that his government «wishes to employ policies that are based on enduring values that cannot be simply expressed in legal terms.»

The Pontiff said this is «especially important in the light of events in England this summer.»

In early August, there were four days of rioting, looting and arson in several areas of London and in other places in England. Five people were killed in the violence, and more than 3,000 people were later arrested.

Benedict XVI observed: «When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others. Policy makers are therefore right to look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, to examine ways to favor long-term employment and to spread wealth much more fairly and broadly throughout society.»

The Pope added that the «essential values» of society should be fostered through «the defense of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak,» saying this would «surely help to rebuild a positive sense of one’s duty, in charity, towards friends and strangers alike in the local community.»

Sustaining development

Benedict XVI also voiced support for Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent announcement of his intention to ring-fence Great Britain’s aid budget.

He said that sustaining the world’s poor is a «worthy goal» since they are «our brothers and sisters, of equal dignity and worth and deserving of our respect in every way.»

The Pope also said that such aid benefits rich countries, in that it creates economic markets and also fosters «mutual respect, solidarity, and above all peace through prosperity for all the world’s peoples.»


Also in regard to peace, the Bishop of Rome noted Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Ireland in May, saying it was «an important milestone in the process of reconciliation that is happily becoming ever more firmly established in Northern Ireland.»

The Pope also proposed Blessed John Henry Newman as a resource for those «searching for solutions to the political, economic and social questions of our age.»

The Holy Father recalled that the beatification of Cardinal Newman was one of the motives for his state visit to the United Kingdom a year ago, a beatification that was «a personal wish fulfilled,» he said.

«I remain convinced,» the Pontiff stated, «of the relevance of Newman’s insights regarding society, as the United Kingdom, Europe and the West in general today face challenges that he identified with remarkable prophetic clarity.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33391?l=english

On the Net:

Baker’s address to the Pope: http://ukinholysee.fco.gov.uk/resources/en/pdf/pdf1/speech

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