Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The family - "strong and vibrant" despite attacks posed by the rejection of "commitments" and the conception of sexuality as "social role of choice" - and dialogue, particularly among religions, "a necessary condition for peace in the world." These are the themes to which Benedict XVI dedicated most attention in a long speech given today to the Roman curia, received for Christmas greetings.
It is 'an event in which, traditionally, the Pope takes
stock of the most important issues for life of the Church in the year drawing
to a close, while in the meeting with the diplomatic corps at the beginning of
the new year, he
addresses the issues related to the life of the international community.
First, then, the family, which Benedict XVI spoke of in recalling the world meeting in June in Milan. It "has shown that, despite all impressions to the contrary, the family is still strong and vibrant today. But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations - especially in the western world".
"The challenges" it faces today, as also shown by the work of the October Synod on the new evangelization, are mainly two. The first concerns " capacity to make a commitment or to avoid commitment".
In the face of a spreading culture that rejects the lasting commitment, the Pope said that "man's refusal to make any commitment - which is becoming increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering - means that man remains closed in on himself and keeps his "I" ultimately for himself, without really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child - essential elements of the experience of being human are lost"
The second "attack" to "authentic form of the family, consisting of father, mother and child" brings into play "the vision of the human being, of what it really means to be human." Even in this case it is a question which has cultural roots. Citing the Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim, the Pope says that "these words lay the foundation for what is put forward today under the term "gender" as a new philosophy of sexuality. According to this philosophy, sex is no longer a given element of nature, that man has to accept and personally make sense of: it is a social role that we choose for ourselves, while in the past it was chosen for us by society. The profound falsehood of this theory and of the anthropological revolution contained within it is obvious. People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves. According to the biblical creation account, being created by God as male and female pertains to the essence of the human creature. This duality is an essential aspect of what being human is all about, as ordained by God. This very duality as something previously given is what is now disputed. The words of the creation account: "male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27) no longer apply. No, what applies now is this: it was not God who created them male and female - hitherto society did this, now we decide for ourselves. Man and woman as created realities, as the nature of the human being, no longer exist. Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will. The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man's fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and woman in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of rights, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man".
The second major issue addressed by the Pope is that of dialogue. " n her dialogue with the state and with society, the Church does not, of course, have ready answers for individual questions. Along with other forces in society, she will wrestle for the answers that best correspond to the truth of the human condition. The values that she recognizes as fundamental and non-negotiable for the human condition she must propose with all clarity. She must do all she can to convince, and this can then stimulate political action".
In the dialogue between religions, then, " is a necessary condition for peace in the world and it is therefore a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities". It " it is simply a dialogue of life, a dialogue of being together", which does not address the major issues of faith. " It is about the concrete problems of coexistence and shared responsibility for society, for the state, for humanity. In the process, it is necessary to learn to accept the other in his otherness and the otherness of his thinking. To this end, the shared responsibility for justice and peace must become the guiding principle of the conversation. A dialogue about peace and justice is bound to pass beyond the purely pragmatic to an ethical quest for the values that come before everything. In this way what began as a purely practical dialogue becomes a quest for the right way to live as a human being. Even if the fundamental choices themselves are not under discussion, the search for an answer to a specific question becomes a process in which, through listening to the other, both sides can obtain purification and enrichment. Thus this search can also mean taking common steps towards the one truth, even if the fundamental choices remain unaltered. If both sides set out from a hermeneutic of justice and peace, the fundamental difference will not disappear, but a deeper closeness will emerge nevertheless".
The Pope then compares dialogue, identity and
truth: "the Christian can afford to be supremely confident, yes,
fundamentally certain that he can venture freely into the open sea of the
truth, without having to fear for his Christian identity. To be sure, we do not
possess the truth, the truth possesses us: Christ, who is the truth, has taken
us by the hand, and we know that his hand is holding us securely on the path of
our quest for knowledge. Being inwardly held by the hand of Christ makes us
free and keeps us safe: free - because if we are held by him, we can enter
openly and fearlessly into any dialogue; safe - because he does not let go of
us, unless we cut ourselves off from him. At one with him, we stand in the
light of truth."
Finally, from the perspective of the Year of Faith and the Synod, a reflection on evangelization, "the first and fundamental element is the straightforward proclamation, the kerygma, which draws its strength from the inner conviction of the one proclaiming." " The word of proclamation is effective in situations where man is listening in readiness for God to draw near, where man is inwardly searching and thus on the way towards the Lord. His heart is touched when Jesus turns towards him, and then his encounter with the proclamation becomes a holy curiosity to come to know Jesus better. As he walks with Jesus, he is led to the place where Jesus lives, to the community of the Church, which is his body. That means entering into the journeying community of catechumens, a community of both learning and living, in which our eyes are opened as we wal