9.24.2005

B16: Push Christianity on Secularist Society for Its Own Good

Freedom Needed To Give Religious Sense to State, Says Pope

from Zenit.org

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - In a secular state it is the citizens who, in the exercise of their freedom, give a specific religious sense to social life, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made that comment this morning when receiving the new Mexican ambassador to the Holy See at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

In his address to the diplomat, Benedict XVI reminded his audience that "a secular democratic state...protects the religious practice of its citizens, without preferences or rejections," and he underlined the Church's position, which emphasizes that "in modern and democratic societies there can be and must be full religious freedom."

The Holy Father stressed the duty of a modern state "to serve and protect the freedom of citizens and also the religious practice they choose."

Benedict XVI lamented the "growing secularism, which pretends to relegate the religious life of the citizens to the private sphere, without any social or public manifestation," a phenomenon before which "the Church knows very well that the Christian message reinforces and illuminates the basic principles of all coexistence."

Among these, the Pope mentioned "the sacred gift of life, the dignity of the person together with equality and the inviolability of his rights, the value of marriage and the family which cannot be given up or equated or confused with other forms of human unions."

The Bishop of Rome stressed that the family institution needs special support, because in Mexico, as in other countries, its vitality and fundamental role is being progressively undermined.

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