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Wednesday, December 16, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - Benedict XVI focused his catechesis during this morning's general audience on the figure of John of Salisbury, a philosopher and theologian born in England towards the beginning of the twelfth century.

  Educated in Paris and Chartres, John of Salisbury acted as counsellor to various archbishops of Canterbury at whose service he placed his vast knowledge and diplomatic skills. One of these was Thomas Becket whom John followed into exile in France when that archbishop fell into dispute with King Henry II who wished to affirmed his authority over the Church and thus limit her freedom. As an elderly man, John was appointed bishop of Chartres, where he remained until his death in 1180.

  The Pope mentioned John of Salisbury's two principal works: the "Metaloghicon" (In defence of logic) and the "Policraticus" (The man of government). In the first of these John expresses the view that "believers and theologians who study the treasure of the faith deeply also open themselves to the practical knowledge which guides everyday actions; in other words, to moral laws and the exercise of virtue".

  The central thesis of the "Policraticus" is that there exists "an objective and immutable truth, the origin of which is in God, a truth accessible to human reason and which concerns practical and social activities. This is a natural law from which human legislation, and political and religious authorities, must draw inspiration in order to promote the common good". This natural law is characterised by a property "which John calls 'equity', by which he means giving each person his rights. From here arise precepts which are legitimate to all peoples and which cannot under any circumstances be abrogated".

  "The question of the relationship between natural law and positive law, as mediated by equity, is still of great importance", said Benedict XVI. "Indeed, in our own time, and especially in certain countries, we are witnessing a disquieting fracture between reason, which has the task of discovering the ethical values associated with human dignity, and freedom, which has the responsibility of accepting and promoting those values.

  "Perhaps", he added, "John of Salisbury would remind us today that the only 'equitable' laws are those that defend the sacredness of human life and reject the legitimacy of abortion, euthanasia and unrestrained genetic experimentation; the laws that respect the dignity of marriage between a man and a woman, that are inspired by a correct understanding of the secularism of the State - a secularism that must always include the safeguarding of religious freedom - and that seek subsidiarity and solidarity at the national and international level.

  "Otherwise", the Holy Father concluded: "we would end up with what John of Salisbury defined as the 'tyranny of the prince' or, as we would say, 'the dictatorship of relativism', a relativism which, as I said some years ago, 'recognises nothing as definite and has as its ultimate measure only the self and its own desires'".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, celebrated in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, Benedict XVI received the honorary citizenship of Introd, the village in the Italian region of Valle d'Aosta where he often spends a period of summer vacation.

  The Pope expressed his thanks to Augusto Rollandin, president of the Autonomous Region of Valle d'Aosta, and to Osvaldo Naudin, mayor of Introd, for having granted him this honour, and recalled how he had spent "unforgettable periods of rest" in the village, "surrounded by the splendour of the alpine panorama which favours the encounter with the Creator and restores the spirit".

  "I am happy to learn from the mayor's address", the Holy Father went on, "that my presence in Valle d'Aosta, and earlier that of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, has favoured a growth in the faith among the people there, who are dear to me and so rich in Christian tradition and in many signs of religious vitality".

  Benedict XVI also praised the pastoral labours of Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi of Aosta during a time in which "society nourishes illusions and false hopes, especially in the young generations, but which the Lord even today calls to become a 'family' of children of God who live with 'one heart and one soul'".
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VATICAN CITY, 16 DEC 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jose Luiz Majella Delgado C.Ss.R., adjunct under secretary general of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, as bishop of Jatai (area 62,978, population 557,000, Catholics 454,000, priests 47, permanent deacons 17, religious 59), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Juiz de For a, Brazil in 1953 and ordained a priest in 1981. He succeeds Bishop Aloisio Hilario de Pinho F.D.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
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