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Monday, November 7, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 7 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Reinhard Schweppe, the new German ambassador to the Holy See. In his remarks to the diplomat he recalled his own recent visit to the country of his birth which, he said, provided an opportunity "to reflect upon the service the Catholic Church and the Holy See can make in a pluralistic society".

"Many of our contemporaries see the influence of Christianity, and of other religions as a way of imposing a specific culture and lifestyle upon society", the Pope observed. "This view is not incorrect, but it is not a complete understanding of the Catholic Church, ... which has not only formed different kinds of cultural community in different countries, but has herself been moulded by the traditions of individual nations".

"The Church is aware - thanks to her faith - that she knows the truth about man, and thus that she is obliged to protect those values which are valid for mankind as such, over and above individual cultures", the Holy Father went on. "Fortunately, a fundamental part of shared human values became law in the German Constitution of 1949 and in the Declaration of Human Rights after World War II. ... Today, however, certain basic values of human life are again been put into question, values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man. It is here that the Church sees she has a duty, over and above her faith, to defend truths and values that are under threat".

Pope Benedict went on: "We are not qualified to judge - to speak of one particularly important topic - whether an individual is 'already a person' or 'still a person'; even less so do we have the right to manipulate and, so to say, 'to create' man. Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society. ... If the Holy See enters into the field of lawmaking on fundamental questions that involve man's dignity - such as those that arise today concerning the prenatal existence of man - she does so not as a way of indirectly imposing her faith upon others, but of defending values which are evident to everyone because they concern the truth about human beings".

Benedict XVI then went on refer to gender discrimination against women, describing it as "a critical problem which, due to materialistic and hedonistic tendencies, seems to be on the increase, above all in the Western world". The Pope highlighted how "a relationship which fails to take account of the fact that man and woman have equal dignity represents a grave affront to humankind. The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet. The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse".

In conclusion, the Pope thanked the German federal government and the governments of the Lander for supporting the Catholic Church "which enjoys excellent openings in Germany", both to announce the Gospel and to help people in need through her social and charitable institutions "the work of which, in the final analysis, is of benefit to all citizens".
CD/ VIS 20111107 (580)

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