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Benedict XVI's Address - 'The Fundamental Human Right ... Is the Right to Life'

9/9/2007 - 6:35 AM PST

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Benedict XVI's Address to Austrian Politicians

VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 9, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Friday to the members of government and diplomatic corps in Austria, during an address in the reception hall of Vienna's Hofburg Palace, the seat of the Austrian presidency.

* * *

Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Mr President of the National Council,
Mr Chancellor,

Members of the Federal Government,
Deputies to the National Council
and Members of the Federal Council,

Presidents of the Provinces,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

It is my great joy and honour to meet you today, Mr President, together with the members of the Federal Government and representatives of the political and civic life of the Republic of Austria. Our meeting here in the Hofburg reflects the good relations, marked by reciprocal trust, which exist between your country and the Holy See, as you have mentioned. For this I am most pleased.

Relations between Austria and the Holy See are part of that vast network of diplomatic relations in which Vienna serves as an important crossroads, inasmuch as a number of international Organizations have their headquarters in this city. I am pleased by the presence of many diplomatic representatives, whom I greet with respect. I thank you, distinguished Ambassadors, for your dedicated service, not only to the countries which you represent and to their interests, but also to the common cause of peace and understanding between peoples.

This is my first visit as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Pastor of the universal Catholic Church to this country, which I know well from many earlier visits. It is -- may I say -- a joy for me to be here. I have many friends here and, as a Bavarian neighbour, Austria's way of life and traditions are entirely familiar to me. My great predecessor of blessed memory, Pope John Paul II, visited Austria three times. Each time he was received most cordially by the people of this country, his words were listened to attentively, and his apostolic journeys left their mark.

Austria

In recent years and decades, Austria has registered advances which were inconceivable even two generations ago. Your country has not only experienced significant economic progress, but has also developed a model of social coexistence synonymous with the term "social solidarity". Austrians have every reason to be grateful for this, and they have demonstrated it not only by opening their hearts to the poor and the needy in their native land, but also by demonstrating generous solidarity in the event of catastrophes and disasters worldwide. The great initiatives of Licht ins Dunkel ("Light in the Darkness") at Christmastime, and Nachbar in Not ("Neighbour in Need") bear eloquent testimony to this attitude.

Austria and the expansion of the European Union

We are gathered in an historical setting, which for centuries was the seat of an Empire uniting vast areas of Central and Eastern Europe. This time and place offer us a good opportunity to take a far-ranging look at today's Europe. After the horrors of war and traumatic experiences of totalitarianism and dictatorship, Europe is moving towards a unity capable of ensuring a lasting order of peace and just development. The painful division which split the continent for decades has come to an end politically, yet the goal of unity remains in great part still to be achieved in the minds and hearts of individuals. If, after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, certain excessive hopes were disappointed, and on some points justified criticisms can be raised about certain European institutions, the process of unification remains a most significant achievement which has brought a period of unwonted peace to this continent, formerly consumed by constant conflicts and fatal fratricidal wars. For the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in particular, participating in this process is a further incentive to the consolidation of freedom, the constitutional state and democracy within their borders. Here I should recall the contribution made by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to that historic process. Austria too, as a bridge-country situated at the crossroads of West and East, has contributed much to this unification and has also -- we must not forget -- greatly benefited from it.

Europe

The "European home", as we readily refer to the community of this continent, will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions. Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots. These represent a dynamic component of our civilization as we move forward into the third millennium. Christianity has profoundly shaped this ...

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