Ecology of Man: Pope Gives German Parliament Lesson in Natural Law
Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself
There is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he listens to his nature, respects it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.
BERLIN, Germany (Catholic Online) - On Thursday, September 22, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI, one of Germany's native sons, gave an extraordinary address to the "Bundestag", the Lower House of the Nation's Parliament. Pope Benedict XVI is not only a brilliant theologian; he is a man of courage. Some of the lawmakers left the hall before the Successor of Peter spoke. Some were simply being rude, others were afraid of the truth. The pope is a man of honor in an age of dishonor.
He knows that the collapse of an authentic foundation for human freedom and flourishing has been unleashed in the West through what he labeled in his first message a "dictatorship of relativism". It must be addressed with a clear proclamation of the truth. So, he goes right into the arena and speaks the truth like a modern day St. Paul on Mars Hill. (Acts 17:16 - 34) Here are excerpts from this magnificent address. The full transcript can be found on here
Pope Benedict XVI Addresses the German Parliament
"It is an honor and a joy for me to speak before this distinguished house, before the Parliament of my native Germany. But the invitation to give this address was extended to me as Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, who bears the highest responsibility for Catholic Christianity. In issuing this invitation you are acknowledging the role that the Holy See plays as a partner within the community of peoples and states. Setting out from this international responsibility that I hold, I should like to propose to you some thoughts on the foundations of a free state of law.
Allow me to begin my reflections on the foundations of law [Recht] with a brief story from sacred Scripture. In the First Book of the Kings, it is recounted that God invited the young King Solomon, on his accession to the throne, to make a request. What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success - wealth - long life - destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God's people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kg 3:9). Through this story, the Bible wants to tell us what should ultimately matter for a politician. His fundamental criterion and the motivation for his work as a politician must not be success, and certainly not material gain.
Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will seek success, as this is what opens up for him the possibility of effective political action. Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right. Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice. "Without justice - what else is the State but a great band of robbers?" as Saint Augustine once said . We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre.
We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right - a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss. To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right?
How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right? Even now, Solomon's request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today. For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws.
In the third century, the great theologian Origen provided the following explanation for the resistance of Christians to certain legal systems: "Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians, whose laws are contrary to the divine law, and was compelled to live among them ... such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations with like-minded people contrary to the laws of the Scythians."
This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and ...
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