Freedom Needs Relationships, Pope Says to Germany

Benedict XVI Begins 4-Day Visit to Homeland

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BERLIN, SEPT. 22, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is beginning his four-day trip to Germany by explaining that freedom cannot survive without a link to something higher, to values that cannot be manipulated.

The Pope affirmed this during the official welcome ceremony in Berlin, in the first of 17 addresses he will give between today and Sunday in his native land.

The Holy Father was greeted by the traditional 21-gun salute used for official guests to Germany, and President Christian Wulff told him, «Welcome home.»

This is the 84-year-old Pontiff’s 21st apostolic journey outside Italy, his third to Germany, though the first state visit.

«Even though this journey is an official visit which will consolidate the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen do, but rather to meet people and to speak to them about God,» Benedict XVI noted. «I am pleased, therefore, to see such a large turnout of German citizens here.»

The Pontiff went on to respond to a «growing indifference to religion in society, which considers the issue of truth as something of an obstacle in its decision-making, and instead gives priority to utilitarian considerations.»

Coexistence cannot come about without some «binding basis,» the Pope said, lest «people live in a purely individualistic way.»

«Religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life,» he stated. Citing Bishop Wilhelm von Ketteler, he added: «Just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion.»

Better future

Yet, the Holy Father added, freedom needs a link to something higher: «The fact that there are values which are not absolutely open to manipulation is the true guarantee of our freedom.»

«Freedom develops only in responsibility to a greater good. Such a good exists only for all of us together; therefore I must always be concerned for my neighbors,» he said. «Freedom cannot be lived in the absence of relationships.»

There can be no freedom without solidarity, the Pope continued. «What I do at the expense of others is not freedom but a culpable way of acting which is harmful to others and hence ultimately also to myself. I can truly develop as a free person only by using my powers also for the welfare of others.»

The Pontiff stressed that this principle is true not only for individuals, but also for society, and he thus called for «sufficient space for smaller structures to develop.»

Recalling the mixed history of Germany, the Bishop of Rome said his country has «become what it is today thanks to the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another.»

«It needs this dynamism, which engages every human sector in order to continue developing now,» he concluded. «It needs this in a world which requires a profound cultural renewal and the rediscovery of fundamental values upon which to build a better future.»

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