VERONA, Italy, OCT. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI reminded politicians, particularly Catholics, that their choices and programs cannot go against human life or the family.
The Pope’s appeal resonated today in Verona, where the Church in Italy is holding its national ecclesial congress on the theme “Witnesses of the Risen Jesus, Hope of the World.”
Addressing more than 2,700 people, including bishops and delegates from all the Italian dioceses, the Holy Father dedicated an important part of his address to Christian commitment in politics.
According to Benedict XVI, it is necessary to address with “determination and clarity the risk of political and legislative options that go against fundamental values and anthropological and ethical principles rooted in the human being’s nature.”
The Pope pointedly referred “to the defense of human life in all its phases, from its conception to natural death, and the promotion of the family founded on marriage.”
This implies avoiding the introduction “in public ordering of other forms of union that will contribute to destabilize [the family], obscuring its peculiar character and irreplaceable social role,” he said.
The Holy Father also clarified how the relationship must be between the Church and politics.
Christ “came to save the real and concrete man, who lives in history and the community; therefore, from the beginning, Christianity and the Church have also had a public dimension and worth,” the Pope recalled.
Jesus Christ “brought a novelty to relations between religion and politics, which has opened the way to a more human and free world, through mutual distinction and autonomy between the state and the Church, between what is Caesar’s and what is God’s,” Benedict XVI noted.
Religious freedom itself, “which we experience as a universal value, particularly necessary in today’s world, has its historical root here,” he added. “Hence, the Church is not and does not seek to be a political agent. At the same time, she is profoundly concerned for the good of the political community, whose soul is justice.”
In this connection, the Pontiff explained, the Church offers a decisive contribution.
“Christian faith purifies reason and helps it to be itself,” he said. “With its social doctrine, argued from what is in conformity with the human being’s nature, the Church contributes to make that which is just to be effectively recognized and then also realized.
“Indispensable for this objective are the spiritual and moral energies that allow the demands of justice to be placed above personal interests, or a social category, or even a state.”
The Holy Father added: “The immediate task of action in the political field, to build a just order in society, does not correspond to the Church as such, but to the lay faithful, who act as citizens on their own responsibility.”