“A State based on values is a value”—this was emphasized by the participants at a Conference on the concept of the State in the perspective of teaching J. Ratzinger / Benedict XVI. The event was organized by the Vatican’s Joseph Ratzinger Foundation, the Polish Bishops’ Conference, and the Sejm of the Republic of Poland. The meeting was held on April 19, 2017.
The conference in Warsaw dedicated to Benedict XVI was opened by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference. In his speech, he emphasized that, according to the teaching of Cardinal Ratzinger, the State’s action should be subordinate to the law. He added that the main task of politicians is to serve the law and to fight against injustice.
“Man does not exist by the will of the state, but the State exists because man wills it,” stressed Card. Gerhard Müller, who was one of the special guests of the conference. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, speaking about the relationship between the Church and the State, pointed out that the dignity of man is always the limit of public authority. He said that a State’s true sovereignty is in its willingness to serve the common good of all its citizens, and that Christianity’s cultural heritage is the best protection against totalitarian ideologies.
The message that Benedict XVI addressed throughout his entire pontificate to the community of the Catholic faithful “concerned the good of every human being, created in the image of God,” noted Father Federico Lombardi, SJ. The former spokesman of the Apostolic See underlined, furthermore, that the marginalization of religion in public life and the loss of the transcendent perspective threaten social life and the dignity of the human person.
The Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Kuchciński, also stressed that human dignity should be the foundation of the State’s legislation. He noted how important it is not to neglect ethics and morals in politics.
One of the meeting’s special guests—the President of the Hungarian National Assembly, László Kövér—emphasized that “fighting for the presence of Christianity in our lives is a fight for basic values, necessary for society and for the State itself.”
The Speaker of the Senate, Stanisław Karczewski, said, on the other hand, that brave politicians are needed today, men and women who are not afraid to go back to the sources.
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the participants of the conference, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote a letter to them in the name of Pope Francis. Both were delivered by the Apostolic Nuncio of Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio.
Thanking for the meeting, the Pope emeritus pointed out that the problem being discussed is a key issue for Europe’s future. On behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Parolin expressed the hope that the meeting “would arouse renewed enthusiasm for a fruitful and respectful dialogue between the State and the Church, in the perspective of building a civilization of love.”
President Andrzej Duda, in his address to the participants of the conference, recalled that Pope Benedict XVI continued the two lines of John Paul II’s pontificate: the affirmation of Christian identity, and the dialogue of the Church with the world.
The encounter in Warsaw on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of the Pope emeritus was organized under the honorary patronage of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, at the Secretariat of the Polish Bishops’ Conference in Warsaw. It was attended by Polish bishops and politicians as well as by representatives of parliaments and governments of European countries.