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Monday, September 13, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 13 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received the Letters of Credence of Walter Jurgen Schmid, the new ambassador of Germany to the Holy See.

  The Pope began by mentioning Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, a martyr priest who died under the Nazi regime and who is due to be beatified in Munster on 19 September. He also referred to the beatifications of four other priests and the commemoration of an Evangelical pastor, scheduled for 2011.

  "Contemplating these martyrs", said Benedict XVI, "it emerges ever more clearly how certain men, on the basis of their Christian convictions, are ready to give their lives for the faith, for the right to exercise their beliefs freely and for freedom of speech, for peace and human dignity".

  However, he went on, "many men tend to show an overriding inclination towards more permissive religious convictions. The personal God of Christianity, Who reveals Himself in the Bible, is replaced by a supreme being, mysterious and undefined, who has only a vague relation with the personal life of human beings.

  "These ideas are increasingly animating discussion within society, especially as regards the areas of justice and lawmaking", the Pope added. "If, however, one abandons faith in a personal God, then an alternative 'god' arises, one who does not know, does not feel and does not speak". ... If God does not have His own will, then good and bad end up being indistinguishable. ... Man thus loses the moral and spiritual energy necessary for the overall development of the person. Social activity is increasingly dominated by private interest or by power calculations, to the detriment of society".

  "The Church", the Holy Father explained, "looks with concern at the growing attempts to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life". In this context he identified the need for a "culture of the person", using an expression of John Paul II. Moreover, he continued, "the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society".

  Going on then to address the question of "new possibilities" in biotechnology and medicine, the Pope laid emphasis on "our duty to study how these methods can help man, and where they involve manipulation of man, the violation of his integrity and dignity. We cannot reject these developments, but we must remain highly vigilant. Once we have begun to distinguish (and this often already happens in the mother's womb) between a life that is worthy to be lived and one which is unworthy, then no other phase of existence will be spared, particularly old age and infirmity".

  The Holy Father concluded by highlighting how "the construction of a human society requires faithfulness to truth". In this context he mentioned certain phenomena related to the communications media. "Being in ever-greater competition with one another", he said, they "feel impelled to attract as much attention as possible. Moreover, in general it is contrast that makes news, even if this goes against the truth of the story. The question becomes particularly problematic when authority figures take up public stances on the matter, without being able to verify all aspects adequately. The intention of the federal government to look into these cases is to be welcomed".
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