09/23/2011, 00.00
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Pope in Germany: With Christians, Jews and Muslims to bear witness to God in the world

Benedict XVI wants to strengthen cooperation between Christians and members of other religions to bring the religious dimension into the secularized society. Without God, man becomes manipulable. Nazism as a prophecy of the world where God is rejected. The common witness to inalienable human dignity, the value of family, respect for life from the beginning until its natural conclusion. The value of the Assisi meeting on 27 October.
Erfurt (AsiaNews) - Christians, Muslims and Jews have to tighten more and more their bonds of cooperation and brotherhood "to witness together the presence of the living God and thus give the world the answer its needs." On his trip to Germany, with scheduled packed with transfers from one city to another and massive gatherings, Benedict XVI also wanted to include meetings with the Orthodox and Evangelical communities and representatives of Muslims and Jews, almost anticipating the meaning of the meeting with representatives of world religions in Assisi planned for 27 October next.

The papal agenda is dense: today a meeting with representatives of the protestant evangelical churches in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt, where Martin Luther lived, this morning, while he was still in Berlin, with Muslims, yesterday with the representatives of the Jewish community; tomorrow with the Orthodox.

With each of these communities, the pope speaks of specific aspects, but in all his meetings, he emphasizes the urgency for a shared witness on the importance of the religious dimension in social life.

The message is addressed to Germany, a heavily secularized country, where hundreds of thousands Christians each year have their names removed from the lists of the baptized and where over that past two centuries, a strong philosophical atheism has been growing.

The urgency of the common witness Benedict XVI said it is not motivated by a simple "closing of ranks", but arises from a concern for the fate of the world itself: "The more the world withdraws from God - to the representatives said today evangelicals - the more the, the clearer it becomes that man, in his hubris of power, in his emptiness of heart and in his longing for satisfaction and happiness, increasingly loses his life. A thirst for the infinite is indelibly present in human beings. Man was created to have a relationship with God; we need him. Our primary ecumenical service at this hour must be to bear common witness to the presence of the living God and in this way to give the world the answer which it needs. "

And again: "We live in a time when the criteria of being human have become uncertain. Ethics is replaced with the calculation of consequences. In the face of what we as Christians must defend the inviolable dignity of man, from conception to death - in matters of pre-implantation diagnosis to euthanasia. 'Only those who know God know the man,' he once said Romano Guardini. Without the knowledge of God, man becomes manipulable. Faith in God is to materialize in our common commitment to the man. "

Even with the Muslims his words were similar. Benedict XVI began by noting that the mutual coexistence between Christians and Muslims is based on " due recognition [given] to the public dimension of religious adherence" and "of certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person. Such agreement does not limit the expression of individual religions; on the contrary, it allows each person to bear witness explicitly to what he believes, not avoiding comparison with others".

He recalled that the German constitution, although drawn up in a Christian environment, is valid "for a world marked by pluralism," because it is based on "the recognition of some inalienable rights that are proper to human nature and precede every positive formulation." On this basis, he launched "a fruitful collaboration between Christians and Muslims .... I am thinking, for example, of the protection of the family based on marriage, respect for life in every phase of its natural course or the promotion of greater social justice".

And it was in speaking to the Muslims that the Pope recalls the Assisi meeting, the 25th since that first one commissioned by Pope John Paul II. "Through this gathering, - he adds - we wish to express, with simplicity, that we believers have a special contribution to make towards building a better world, while acknowledging that if our actions are to be effective, we need to grow in dialogue and mutual esteem".

In his meeting with Jewish representatives yesterday he recalled the tragedy of the Holocaust, but also its origin, which is the rejection of God: "The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in Him".

The Pope sees in Nazism almost a prophecy of the secular world: " Refusal to heed this one God always makes people heedless of human dignity as well. What man is capable of when he rejects God, and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God, the terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war showed".

For this Benedict XVI expresses appreciation for the progress in dialogue between Christians and Jews. "In an increasingly secular society - he adds - this dialogue should strengthen the common hope in God. Without this hope, society loses its humanity."

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