30-March-2006 -- Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, March 30, 2006 (CNA) - Speaking earlier today to a group of parliamentarians from Europe’s Popular Party, Pope Benedict affirmed the need for a Catholic voice in the public square that informs consciences and helps citizens act “freely and responsibly.”
The Church has come under heavy fire in recent years--particularly in the U.S.--for engaging in political debate where some say it has no place. Critics charge that many politicians worldwide seek to relegate faith life merely to the private sphere.
Benedict reminded the parliamentarians however, "that when Churches or ecclesial communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or interference.”
He said that the Church’s political interventions “are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest."
In this light, the Pope said that the main area of the Church's intervention in the public sphere "is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person.” “…She is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable."
Here, he listed a number of principles for which Catholics must continue to fight. Namely, these are: "Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family, as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage, and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role; and the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.”
While he admitted that "These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith,” he stressed that “they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity.”
The Pope explained that “The Church's action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, irrespective of any religious affiliation they may have."
He closed by calling on the politicians "to be credible and consistent witnesses of these basic truths through your political activity, and more fundamentally through your commitment to live authentic and consistent lives."