The Pope’s remarks at the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with the officials of the Roman Curia are always among the most personal and carefully crafted by the Holy Father throughout the year: a reflection on the year that is drawing to a close, they are also a close study of issues that the Pope considers most urgent and of greatest moment.
They are matters on which he feels the duty to show his mind, going to the heart of them with characteristic clarity and courage: to do so is for him a duty to the Church and humanity, come what may in the way of resistance or reaction. There are two issues chosen this year: the family and the complementarity of man and woman; dialogue and proclamation of the faith. With regard to the family, the Holy Father returns to the idea that the basic issue is anthropological: it involves the question, “What is a man?”
There is an essential duality in human nature, for which each person is either male or female. From this duality arise the fundamental relations between father, mother and children. So much is in the plan of God the creator. To deny it is contrary to the truth. To affirm that it is the human person who determines his identity – even so far as regards the structure of his or her sexuality – is a destructive step. It opens up the way to arbitrary manipulation of nature, with very serious consequences for human dignity, starting with the dignity of children, who are no longer considered as subjects with rights, but as objects to which others have a right. In short: in the “struggle for the family” there is at stake the human person himself. The ample and appropriate reference to the thought of the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, which the Holy Father makes throughout his argument, goes to show the position he defends and advances is not dependent on the peculiar teachings of the Church, but is rooted in reason and available to the great tradition that is common to Jews and Christians alike.
The second theme analysed by the Pope will also cause discussion. It is very topical and not detached from the first: a Christian enters the relationship of dialogue as bearer of the great experience of humanity interpreted in the light of the faith, and as one who is sensible of a responsibility for protecting, defending and sharing the most precious, true and lasting goods of that experience thus interpreted. The Christian enters dialogue with the confidence that the search for the truth will never bring into question his Christian identity. Because the truth is not something that we proudly possess, but something that calls us and guides us, like Christ accompanying us by the hand. This too is a Christmas wish: deep, demanding, present.