On the occasion of the arrival of the new German ambassador to the Vatican, Benedict XVI warns: “A society is humane only if it defends the dignity of each person”
In a pluralistic society, the Catholic Church is convinced that it is duty bound “to intervene in favor of the values that are valid for man as such, independently of the various cultures” - values the Church knows “through its faith” but which at which all men can arrive through reason alone, regardless of faith.
Pope Benedict XVI touched upon themes he had addressed in his discourse to the Bundestag in Berlin, on the occasion of the arrival in the Vatican of the new German ambassador, Reinhard Schweppe. The traditional audience to consign the Letter of Credentials became an occasion, for the German pontiff, to relaunch an appeal in defense of man, because – he said - “only a society that respects and defends unconditionally the dignity of every person, from conception until natural death, can call itself a humane society”.
But the Pope's strongest words were reserved for the “sexual discrimination against women”, pornography and prostitution, likened to “crimes against humanity”. They are the consequence, says the Pope, of the “materialistic and hedonistic tendencies” that are spreading above all in the “so-called Western world”, that is, the sexual discrimination against women.
“Every person”, admonished Benedict XVI, “whether man or woman, is destined to exist for the others. A relationship that does not respect men and women's equal dignity, constitutes a grave crime against humanity. It is time to make a vigorous effort to stem prostitution, as well as the widespread diffusion of material with erotic or pornographic content, also on the Internet”.
Regarding this point, he assured, “the Holy See will see to it that the commitment of the Catholic Church in Germany against these evils is brought forward in a clear and decisive manner”.
The Pope's reference to the issues are anything but coincidental: last week, the weekly “Die Welt” accused the German Church of making money through the sale of pornographic books, through the publishing house Welbild, one of the largest in Germany, and which belongs to several German dioceses. The publisher's catalogue includes some 2,500 erotic titles, with covers that are anything but modest. The scandal had already been pointed out in 2008 by a document prepared by numerous faithful, but without effect.
But in his speech, as he had done in his trip to his homeland last September, Pope Ratzinger also reasons about the contribution - which for him is fundamental – of faith to common life. And as he did before the German parliament, he recalled the dark period of Nazi dictatorship, to warn Germans of the risks of separating power from values.
And yet, he warned, “today, once more, there is discussion about the fundamental values of the human being, involving the dignity of man as such. Here the Church, beyond the realm of her faith, considers it her duty to defend, throughout all of our society, the truth and values, in which the dignity of man as such is at stake”.
The reference is to the bioethical questions at the center of a heated debate in Germany in the past few months. In particular, the German Catholic Church has committed herself fully – though unsuccessfully – against the legalization of a limited form of 'pre-implantation diagnosis' of the illnesses that an embryo might bear.
For the Pope, a society that “wishes to decide to select its members who are most in need of care, wanting to exclude persons from becoming a person, would be acting in a profoundly inhumane and non-credible manner before the equality of the dignity of all people at every stage of life, evident to any person of goodwill”.
If the Church intervenes in the legislative process on these themes, it is because “fundamental questions that regard the dignity of man” are at stake, and not to “indirectly impose its faith on others”.