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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Pope Benedict's message for World Day of Peace

The Vatican website carries the English text of the Holy Father's message for the World Day of Peace on 1 January 2010.

In the message, the Holy Father points out that the various crises faced by the world are ultimately moral:
Humanity needs a profound cultural renewal; it needs to rediscover those values which can serve as the solid basis for building a brighter future for all. Our present crises – be they economic, food-related, environmental or social – are ultimately also moral crises, and all of them are interrelated. They require us to rethink the path which we are travelling together. (n.5)
He reiterates the teaching of the Church that we do not have an absolute ownership of creation but are stewards of it:
Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”. Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it. (n.6)
The Holy Father also defends the dignity of the human person in opposition to a false "equality" which abolishes the distinctive nature of humanity:
[...] a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things. In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. (n.13)
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