Ecology of nature but above all of man, positive secularity, freedom of religion. The salient points of the pope's annual speech to representatives of states
by Sandro Magister
ROME, January 11, 2010 – As at the beginning of every year, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his state of the world address this morning to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.
The address has the style and prudence of Vatican diplomacy. For example, it does not mention India or China, the two emerging superpowers where the Catholic Church is for various reasons oppressed and attacked.
However, this does not change the fact that the address transmits messages that intentionally go against other tendencies. Three of them in particular.
1. ECOLOGY OF NATURE, BUT ABOVE ALL OF MAN
The first message coincides with the one previously issued by Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace, celebrated on New Year's Day: "If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation." With a decisive and unconventional emphasis: the primacy given to the comprehensive safeguarding of man.
Here are three passages from the address that develop this theme:
"Twenty years ago, after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the materialistic and atheistic regimes which had for several decades dominated a part of this continent, it was easy to assess the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water and air. The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God." [...]
"If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man’s respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown. [...]
"Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America. Saint Columban stated that: 'If you take away freedom, you take away dignity.' Yet freedom cannot be absolute, since man is not himself God, but the image of God, God’s creation. For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator."