The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine November – December 2010

Papal-inspired dialogue in search of a new apologetic

Words from the Papal Visit to Britain and Related Occasions

The Pope's key point to our cultural leaders: British culture has many virtues. They are fruits of our deeply ingrained Christian tradition. So don't drop these Christian foundations from public life - 20th century has shown that to be dangerous, e.g. Communism.

19 Sept Prime Minister to Pope Benedict: You have offered a message not just to the Catholic Church but to each and every one of us of every faith and none ..., the searching questions that you, your Holiness, have posed to us about our society ... have really challenged the whole country to sit up and think.

16 Sept Pope to the Queen: Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike. ... Britain intervened directly to stop the international slave trade ... set new standards in healthcare ... stood against a Nazi tyranny ... forg[ed] the post-war international consensus which ... ushered in a hitherto unknown period of peace and prosperity in Europe ... [and] helped give birth to a peaceful resolution of the conflict [in Northern Ireland]... Your Government and people are the shapers of ideas that still have an impact far beyond the British Isles ...

May all Britons continue to live by the values of honesty, respect and fair-mindedness that have won them the esteem and admiration of many [...and ] always maintain ... respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let not [the UK] obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms ...

17 Sept To Representatives of British Society in Westminster Hall: Allow me also to express my esteem for [your] Parliament... your common law tradition [etc., etc.]... Yet... if the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident... [e.g. the credit crunch lacked] solid ethical foundations ... [whereas the British-inspired] abolition of the slave trade [did not].

... the role of religion [... is] to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. ... misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. ...

I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalisation of religion, particularly of Christianity ... relegating it] to the purely private sphere ... [such] that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience ... and the official teaching of the Church.

8 Sept To Members of The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: A more explicit, not to say blunt, version of his above Westminster Hall speech nine days earlier.

If [values, rights and duties] were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgments, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe ...? How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values ... rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favours this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity.

I am convinced that these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage - rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman -and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents to each one of you,"

19 Sept To the Bishops at Oscott Seminary: As you proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, with its promise of hope for the poor and the needy, the sick and the elderly, the unborn and the neglected, be sure to present in its fullness the life-giving message of the Gospel, including those elements which call into question the widespread assumptions of today's culture. As you know, a Pontifical Council has recently been established for the New Evangelisation of countries of long-standing Christian tradition, and I would encourage you to avail yourselves of its services in addressing the task before you. Moreover, many of the new ecclesial movements have a particular charism for evangelisation, and I know that you will continue to explore appropriate and effective ways ofinvolving them in the mission of the Church.

21 Sept From The Motu Proprio establishing the new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation: The Second Vatican Council already included among its central topics the question of the relationship between the Church and the modern world.... Paul VI noted that the task of evangelisation, "as a result of the frequent situations of dechristianisation in our day, ... John Paul II made this urgent task a central point of his far-reaching Magisterial teaching, referring to it as the "new evangelisation," ... This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived 'as if God did not exist'...."Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations ..."

... Among the specific tasks of the Council are particularly the following: [study and promotion of relevant:] 1. ... theological and pastoral [dimensions]; 2. ... Papal Magisterium; 3. ... initiatives ... that are already being put into practice ... in Institutes of Consecrated Life and in Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as in groups of the faithful and in new communities; 4. ... modern forms of communication; 5. ... the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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