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Pope Evaluates Objectives of 2006

Peace, Family and Dialogue Were Priorities

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2006 ( Benedict XVI says that peace, the family and interreligious dialogue were the major themes of his pontificate in 2006.

The Pope said this today when he met with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and members of the Roman Curia, for the exchange of Christmas greetings in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

The Holy Father said that the year that is ending “remains in our memory with the profound imprint of the horrors of the war that took place in the surroundings of the Holy Land, as well as, in general, of the danger of a clash between cultures and religions, a danger that still threatens this historic moment.”

“The problem of paths for peace has become a challenge of the first importance for all those concerned about the human being,” the Pontiff added.

Recalling the angel’s greeting to the shepherds on Christmas night, the Bishop of Rome noted “the inseparable bond between man’s relationship with God and their mutual relationship.”

“Peace on earth cannot be found without reconciliation with God,” Benedict XVI said in his lengthy address delivered in Italian.

The Pontiff reviewed the four international apostolic journeys he made in 2006: Poland (May 25-28); Valencia, Spain (July 8-9); the Bavaria region in Germany (Sept. 9-14); Turkey (Nov. 28-to Dec. 1).

The Holy Father said his trip to Poland was a “duty of gratitude” toward Pope John Paul II.

Defending marriage

When recalling his trip to Valencia, and his presence at the World Meeting of Families, Benedict XVI expressed concern over civil unions: “When new juridical forms are created that relativize marriage, the giving up of the definitive bond also obtains, so to speak, a juridical seal.”

Regarding his trip to the German cities of Munich, Altoetting, Regensburg and Freising, the Pope explained that one of its central themes was dialogue.

The Holy Father mentioned the meeting he had years ago with German philosopher Jürgen Habermas, who expressed to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the need for “thinkers able to translate the coded convictions of the Christian faith into the language of the secularized world to make them more effective in a new way.”

“Ever more evident is the urgency the world has for a dialogue between faith and reason,” the Pontiff said, especially when “the cognitive capacity of the human being, his dominion over the material thanks to the force of thought, has obtained unimaginable progress,” which could become “a danger that threatens the person and the world.”

Benedict XVI continued: “Science must receive, in a new way, as a challenge and an opportunity, faith in God, who is a person of reason, creator of the universe.

“Reciprocally, this faith must again recognize its intrinsic vastness and its rational character.”

Praising Islam

The Pope then reflected on the dialogue between religions, a decisive topic of his apostolic visit to Turkey, which “gave me the occasion to manifest also publicly my respect for the Islamic religion.”

“The Muslim world is faced today with a task similar to that imposed on Christians beginning with the Enlightenment and that of the Second Vatican Council, as the result of an exhausting search, translated into concrete solutions for the Catholic Church,” said the Holy Father.

“On one hand, there is an attempt to oppose the dictatorship of positivist reason which excludes God from the life of the community and public life,” said the Pontiff.

Benedict XVI continued: “On the other hand, it is necessary to accept the true victories of the Enlightenment, the rights of the human being and especially the freedom of faith and its exercise.”

The Holy Father highlighted the importance of his meeting in Turkey with the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I, and then again returned to the topic of peace.

“We must learn that peace cannot be attained only from the exterior,” as “the attempt to establish it with violence, only triggers new violence,” added the Pontiff.

The Pope said: “We must learn that peace can only exist if hatred and egoism are overcome from within.”

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