January 10, 2006


Finally, the Truth. What the Pope Said to the Diplomatic Corps: In his first address to the ambassadors to the Holy See, Benedict XVI recalled where true peace comes from: “To all those responsible of Nations I wish to state: if you do not fear truth, you need not fear freedom!” (Sandro Magister, January 10, 2006, Chiesa)

It is the search for truth – the pope said – that brings recognition to diversity and equality. And it therefore permits the realization of these according to justice.

Benedict XVI applied this criterion to the Holy Land:

“There, the State of Israel has to be able to exist peacefully in conformity with the norms of international law; there, equally, the Palestinian people has to be able to develop serenely its own democratic institutions for a free and prosperous future.”

The pope interpreted other phenomena in the light of the truth, including the “clash of civilizations” – which he recognizes as a real risk – and Islamist terrorism:

“In today’s global context, attention has rightly been drawn to the danger of a clash of civilizations. The danger is made more acute by organized terrorism, which has already spread over the whole planet. Its causes are many and complex, not least those to do with political ideology, combined with aberrant religious ideas. Terrorism does not hesitate to strike defenceless people, without discrimination, or to impose inhuman blackmail, causing panic among entire populations, in order to force political leaders to support the designs of the terrorists. No situation can justify such criminal activity, which covers the perpetrators with infamy, and it is all the more deplorable when it hides behind religion, thereby bringing the pure truth of God down to the level of the terrorists’ own blindness and moral perversion.”

But Benedict XVI did not take a pessimistic outlook on this. Instead, he recalled the fruitfulness of the mutual enrichment of civilizations, including Muslim civilization:

“In past centuries, cultural exchanges between Judaism and Hellenism, between the Roman world, the Germanic world and the Slav world, and also between the Arabic world and the European world, have enriched culture and have favoured sciences and civilizations. So it should be again today, and to an even greater extent.”

The pope directed his most detailed criticism against the absence of religious liberty in some states, “even among those who can boast centuries-old cultural traditions,” seemingly a reference to China, among others.

“Truth can only be attained in freedom. This is the case with all truth, as is clear from the history of science; but it is eminently the case with those truths in which man himself, man as such, is at stake, the truths of the spirit, the truths about good and evil, about the great goals and horizons of life, about our relationship with God. These truths cannot be attained without profound consequences for the way we live our lives. And once freely appropriated, they demand in turn an ample sphere of freedom if they are to be lived out in a way befitting every dimension of human life.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 10, 2006 1:58 PM

I'm overwhelmed and left speechless.

Posted by: Genecis at January 10, 2006 5:52 PM

Sounds like a great speech. It's heartening to learn that the Pope is having no truck with appeasement. In his remarks about freedom and truth, he sounds a lot like W. Will there be a collaboration between B XVI and W like there was between JP II and Reagan?

Posted by: L. Rogers at January 10, 2006 9:38 PM