Speeches 2005-13 17091

TO BISHOPS OF THE EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE OF INDIA ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT Consistory Hall, Papal Residence of Castel Gandolfo Monday, 19 September 2011

Dear Brother Bishops,

I offer you a warm fraternal welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum, a joyful opportunity to strengthen the bonds of communion shared between the Church in India and the See of Peter. I wish to thank the Most Reverend Vincent Concessao for his kind words offered on your behalf and in the name of those entrusted to your pastoral care. My cordial greetings also go to the priests, the men and women religious, and laity of your various Dioceses. Please assure them of my prayers and spiritual solicitude.

The most significant concrete resources of the Churches that you lead are not to be found in their buildings, schools, orphanages, convents or rectories, but in the men, women and children of the Church in India who bring the faith to life, who bear witness to the loving presence of God through lives of holiness. As part of its ancient and rich heritage, India has a long and distinguished Christian presence which has contributed to Indian society and benefited your culture in innumerable ways, enriching the lives of countless fellow citizens, not just those who are Catholic. The enormous blessing of faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ, to which the members of the Church bear witness in your country, motivates them to acts of selflessness, kindness, love and charity (cf. 2Co 5,14). Most importantly, the Church in India proclaims its faith and love to society at large, and puts these into action through a concern for all people, in every aspect of their spiritual and material lives. Whether her members be rich or poor, old or young, male or female, of ancient Christian heritage or newly welcomed into the faith, the Church cannot but see in the faith of her members, individually and collectively, a great sign of hope for India and for its future.

In particular, the Catholic Church is the friend of the poor. Like Christ, she welcomes without exception all who approach her to hear the divine message of peace, hope and salvation. Moreover, in obedience to the Lord, she continues to do so without regard for “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (cf. Rev Ap 5,9), for in Christ, we “are one body” (cf. Rom Rm 12,5). It is thus imperative that the clergy, religious and catechists in your dioceses be attentive to the diverse linguistic, cultural and economic circumstances of those whom they serve.

Furthermore, if the local churches ensure that an appropriate formation is given to those who, genuinely motivated by a love of God and neighbour, wish to become Christians, they will remain faithful to Christ’s command to “make disciples of all nations” (cf. Mt 28,19). Even though you, dear brothers, must take into account the challenges that the missionary nature of the Church entails, you must always be prepared to spread the Kingdom of God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ, who was himself misunderstood, despised, falsely accused and who suffered for the sake of truth. Do not be deterred when such trials arise in your own ministry, and in that of your priests and religious. Our belief in the certainty of Christ’s Resurrection gives us confidence and courage to face all that may come and to press forward, building the Kingdom of God, aided as always by the grace of the sacraments and through prayerful meditation on the Scriptures. God welcomes everyone, without distinction, into union with him through the Church. So too, I pray that the Church in India will continue to welcome everyone, above all the poor, and to be an exemplary bridge between men and God.

Finally, my dear brother Bishops, I note with gratitude the various efforts the local churches in India have made in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the first Apostolic Visit of Pope John Paul II to your country. During those memorable days, he had several notable encounters with leaders of other religious traditions. Manifesting his personal respect for his interlocutors, this blessed Pope gave an authentic witness to the value of interreligious dialogue. I renew the sentiments he expressed so well, “To work for the attainment and preservation of all human rights, including the basic right to worship God according to the dictates of an upright conscience and to profess that faith externally, must become ever more a subject of interreligious collaboration at all levels” (John Paul II, Meeting with Representatives of the different religious and cultural traditions and with the youth at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, 2 February 1986). I encourage you, dear brothers, to carry forward the Church’s efforts to promote the well-being of Indian society through continued attention to the promotion of basic rights – rights shared by all humanity – and by inviting your fellow Christians and the followers of other religious traditions to take up the challenge of affirming the dignity of each and every human person. This dignity, expressed in respect for and promotion of the innate moral, spiritual and material rights of the person, is not merely a concession granted by any earthly authority. It is the gift of the Creator, and stems from the fact that we are created in his image and likeness. I pray that the followers of Christ in India will continue to be promoters of justice, bearers of peace, people of respectful dialogue, and lovers of the truth about God and about man.

With these thoughts, dear brother Bishops, I renew to you my sentiments of affection and esteem. I commend all of you to the intercession of Blessed Pope John Paul, who surely brings his affection for India before the throne of our heavenly Father. Assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.




On Thursday morning, 22 September, the Holy Father flew from Ciampino to Berlin on his third Apostolic Visit to his homeland. Soon after take-off he granted an interview to the journalists on board the Papal flight — now a firmly-established tradition — whose pre-selected questions were put to the Pope by Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, Director of the Holy See Press Office and of the Vatican Television Centre. The following is a translation of the questions and answers in both Italian and German.

Q. (Father Lombardi): Your Holiness, we welcome you. We are the usual group of journalists accompanying you; we are preparing to give your Visit resonance in the world press and we are very grateful that at the very beginning of it you have made time for us, to help us understand better the significance of this Journey. It is a special journey because you are going to your own country and you will be speaking your own language. In Germany there are about 4,000 accredited journalists at the various stages of the Journey. On this plane there are 68 of us, of whom just over 20 are German. I shall therefore ask you several questions and I am asking you the first one in German, so that you can speak to our German colleagues in their and your language. I explain to the Italians that it is a question on how German the Pope still feels.

Your Holiness, may we be permitted — at the start — to ask you a very personal question? How German does Pope Benedict XVI still feel? And what causes you to notice how much — or how much less — your German origins still play a part?

Holy Father: Hölderlin said: “birth counts for more than anything else”, and of course I too feel this. I was born in Germany and roots cannot, indeed must not be severed. I received my cultural formation in Germany, my language is German and language is the manner by which the spirit lives and works. The whole of my cultural formation took place there. When I do theology, I do so from within the perspective that I learned at German universities. I'm afraid I have to admit that I still read more works in German than in other languages, so that being German is a very strong element in my cultural identity. Belonging to German history, with its strengths and its weaknesses, is something that cannot and must not be erased.

For a Christian, however, there is something more. In Baptism one is born anew, into a new people made up of all peoples, a people that embraces all peoples and all cultures and in which one feels truly at home, without losing one’s natural roots. When great responsibility is assumed within this new people — as in my own case, the supreme responsibility — then it is clear that one identifies with this new people ever more deeply.

The roots produce a tree that spreads in various ways and the fact that one feels at home in this large community of a people made up of all peoples, namely the Catholic Church, becomes ever more alive and profound, permeating the whole of one’s life without erasing what went before. I would therefore say that origins endure, cultural outlooks endure as well as, of course, a special love and a special responsibility, but all this is integrated and expanded within the great sense of belonging to the “civitas Dei”, as Augustine would say, to the people made up of all peoples, in which we are all brothers and sisters.

Father Lombardi: Thank you Holy Father. And now let us continue in Italian. Holy Father, in recent years there has been an increasing number of people leaving the Church in Germany, partly because of the abuse of minors committed by members of the clergy. What do you feel about this phenomenon? And what would you say to those who want to leave the Church?

Holy Father: Let us perhaps begin by identifying what it is that specifically motivates those who feel scandalized by these crimes that have come to light in recent times. In the light of this information, I can well understand, especially if it involves people who are close, that someone might say: “This is no longer my Church. For me the Church was a humanizing and moralizing force. If representatives of the Church do the opposite, I can no longer live with this Church.”

This is a specific situation. There is generally a variety of motives in the context of the secularization of our society. And such departures are usually the final step in a long process of moving away from the Church. In this context, I think it important to ask oneself; “Why am I in the Church? Do I belong to the Church as I would to a sports club, a cultural association, etc., where I have my interests, such that I can leave if those interests are no longer satisfied? Or is being in the Church something deeper?”

I would say it is important to know that being in the Church is not like being in some association, but it is being in the net of the Lord, with which he draws good fish and bad fish from the waters of death to the land of life. It is possible that I might be alongside bad fish in this net and I sense this, but it remains true that I am in it neither for the former nor for the latter but because it is the Lord's net; it is something different from all human associations, a reality that touches the very heart of my being. In speaking to these people I think we must go to the heart of the question: what is the Church? In what does her diversity consist? Why am I in the Church even though there are terrible scandals and terrible forms of human poverty? Therefore, we should renew our awareness of the special nature of “being Church”, of being the people made up of all peoples, which is the People of God, and thereby learn to tolerate even scandals and work against these scandals from within, precisely by being present within the Lord's great net.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. This is not the first time that certain groups have demonstrated their opposition to your coming to a country. Germany's relationship with Rome was traditionally critical, to some degree even within Catholic circles. The controversial topics are familiar by now: condoms, the Eucharist, celibacy. Before your Journey, some members of Parliament also adopted critical stances. Yet even before your Journey to Great Britain the atmosphere did not seem friendly and then things went well and it was all a success. What are the sentiments with which you are now returning to your former homeland and with which you will speak to the Germans?

Holy Father: I would say first of all that it is normal that in a free society and in a secularized age there should be opposition to a Visit from the Pope. It is also right that it be expressed — with respect for all — it is right that they express their antagonism. It is part of our freedom and we must note that secularization and opposition to Catholicism itself is strong in our societies. And when such opposition is expressed politely, one cannot object.

Moreover, it is also true that many are looking forward to the Visit and there is great love for the Pope. Yet perhaps I should say further that in Germany this opposition has various dimensions: the old opposition between the cultures of Germany and Rome, the conflicts of history, and then ours is the country of the Reformation, which even further accentuated these conflicts. However, there is also a great consensus towards the Catholic faith, a growing conviction that we need conviction, that we need a moral force in our time, we need a presence of God in this time of ours.

Therefore I know that besides the opposition — which I find natural and to be expected — a great many people are waiting for me joyfully, waiting for a celebration of faith, a being together, and they look forward to the joy of encountering God and of living together in the future, for God to take us by the hand and show us the way. For this reason I am going to my native Germany joyfully and I am glad to be taking Christ's message to my country.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, and now one final question. Holy Father you will visit the former convent of the reformer Martin Luther at Erfurt. The Evangelical Christians and the Catholics in dialogue with them are preparing to commemorate the fifth centenary of the Reformation. With what message, with what thoughts are you preparing for this meeting? Should your Journey also be seen as a fraternal gesture to our brothers and sisters separated from Rome?

Holy Father: When I accepted the invitation to make this journey, it was clear to me that ecumenism with our Evangelical friends must be a strong point, a central point of this journey. We are living in a time of secularism, as has already been said, in which it is the mission of Christians, together, to make the message of God, the message of Christ present, to make it possible to believe, to go forward with these great ideas, these great truths.

Consequently, for Catholics and Evangelicals to come together is a fundamental element for our time, even though, institutionally, we are not perfectly united; even though there are still problems, even serious problems, nevertheless we are united in the foundation of our faith in Christ, our faith in the triune God and in man as the image of God. And showing this to the world and deepening this unity is essential at this moment in history. I am therefore grateful to our friends, our Protestant brothers and sisters, who have made a very meaningful sign possible: our meeting at the monastery from which Luther started out on his theological journey, our prayer in the Church where he was ordained a priest and our conversation together about our responsibility as Christians in this time. Thus I am very happy to be able to demonstrate this fundamental unity, the fact that we are brothers and sisters working together for humanity's good, proclaiming the joyful message of Christ, of the God who has a human face and speaks with us.

WELCOME CEREMONY Bellevue Castle, Berlin Thursday, 22 September 2011

Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I am honoured by the kind welcome which you have given to me here in Bellevue Castle. I am particularly grateful to you, President Wulff, for inviting me to make this official visit, which marks the third time I have come as Pope to the Federal Republic of Germany. I thank you most heartily for your cordial and profound words of welcome. I am likewise grateful to the representatives of the Federal Government, the Bundestag, the Bundesrat, and the City of Berlin for their presence, which signifies their respect for the Pope as the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Last but not not least, I thank the three Bishops who are my hosts, Archbishop Woelki of Berlin, Bishop Wanke of Erfurt and Archbishop Zollitsch of Freiburg, and all those at the various ecclesial and civil levels who helped in preparing this visit to my native land and contributed to its happy outcome.

Even though this journey is an official visit which will consolidate the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen do, but rather to meet people and to speak to them about God. I am pleased, therefore, to see such a large turnout of German citizens here. Many thanks!

As you mentioned, Mr President, we are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society, which considers the issue of truth as something of an obstacle in its decision-making, and instead gives priority to utilitarian considerations.

All the same, a binding basis for our coexistence is needed; otherwise people live in a purely individualistic way. Religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life. “Just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion.” These words of the great bishop and social reformer Wilhelm von Ketteler, the second centenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year, remain timely.[1]

Freedom requires a primordial link to a higher instance. The fact that there are values which are not absolutely open to manipulation is the true guarantee of our freedom. The man who feels a duty to truth and goodness will immediately agree with this: freedom develops only in responsibility to a greater good. Such a good exists only for all of us together; therefore I must always be concerned for my neighbours. Freedom cannot be lived in the absence of relationships

In human coexistence, freedom is impossible without solidarity. What I do at the expense of others is not freedom but a culpable way of acting which is harmful to others and hence ultimately also to myself. I can truly develop as a free person only by using my powers also for the welfare of others. And this holds true not only in private matters but also for society as a whole. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, society must give sufficient space for smaller structures to develop and, at the same time, must support them so that one day they will stand on their own.

Here in Bellevue Castle, named for its splendid view of the banks of the Spree and situated close to the Victory Column, the Bundestag and the Brandenburg Gate, we are in the very heart of Berlin, the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. This castle, with its dramatic history – like many buildings of this city – is a testimony to the history of Germany. We are familiar with its great and noble pages, and we are grateful for them. But a clear look at its dark pages is also possible, and this is what enables us to learn from the past and to receive an impetus for the present. The Federal Republic of Germany has become what it is today thanks to the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another. It needs this dynamism, which engages every human sector in order to continue developing now. It needs this in a world which requires a profound cultural renewal and the rediscovery of fundamental values upon which to build a better future (Caritas in Veritate ).

I trust that my meetings throughout this visit – here in Berlin, in Erfurt, in Eichsfeld and in Freiburg – can make a small contribution in this regard. In these days may God grant all of us his blessing. Thank you.

[1] Rede vor der ersten Versammlung der Katholiken Deutschlands, 1848. In: Erwin Iserloh (ed.): Wilhelm Emmanuel von Ketteler: Sämtliche Werke und Briefe (Mainz, 1977), I, 1, p. 18.

VISIT TO THE BUNDESTAG Reichstag Building, Berlin Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Listening Heart
Reflections on the Foundations of Law

Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Mr President of the Bundestag,
Madam Chancellor,
Madam President of the Bundesrat,
Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the House,

It is an honour and a joy for me to speak before this distinguished house, before the Parliament of my native Germany, that meets here as a democratically elected representation of the people, in order to work for the good of the Federal Republic of Germany. I should like to thank the President of the Bundestag both for his invitation to deliver this address and for the kind words of greeting and appreciation with which he has welcomed me. At this moment I turn to you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, not least as your fellow-countryman who for all his life has been conscious of close links to his origins, and has followed the affairs of his native Germany with keen interest. 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.
1R 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, without which he would have no opportunity for effective political action at all. 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.”[1]

This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful. Yet when it comes to the decisions of a democratic politician, the question of what now corresponds to the law of truth, what is actually right and may be enacted as law, is less obvious. In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply self-evident today. The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder.

How do we recognize what is right? In history, systems of law have almost always been based on religion: decisions regarding what was to be lawful among men were taken with reference to the divinity. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God. Christian theologians thereby aligned themselves with a philosophical and juridical movement that began to take shape in the second century B.C. In the first half of that century, the social natural law developed by the Stoic philosophers came into contact with leading teachers of Roman Law.[2] Through this encounter, the juridical culture of the West was born, which was and is of key significance for the juridical culture of mankind. This pre-Christian marriage between law and philosophy opened up the path that led via the Christian Middle Ages and the juridical developments of the Age of Enlightenment all the way to the Declaration of Human Rights and to our German Basic Law of 1949, with which our nation committed itself to “inviolable and inalienable human rights as the foundation of every human community, and of peace and justice in the world”.

For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law. This step had already been taken by Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans, when he said: “When Gentiles who have not the Law [the Torah of Israel] do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves ... they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness ...” (Rom 2:14f.). Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon’s listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being. If this seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after the Second World War and the framing of our Basic Law, there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century. The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term. Let me outline briefly how this situation arose. Fundamentally it is because of the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between “is” and “ought”. An “ought” can never follow from an “is”, because the two are situated on completely different planes. The reason for this is that in the meantime, the positivist understanding of nature has come to be almost universally accepted. If nature – in the words of Hans Kelsen – is viewed as “an aggregate of objective data linked together in terms of cause and effect”, then indeed no ethical indication of any kind can be derived from it.[3] A positivist conception of nature as purely functional, as the natural sciences consider it to be, is incapable of producing any bridge to ethics and law, but once again yields only functional answers. The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding that is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. Hence ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field, and they remain extraneous to the realm of reason in the strict sense of the word. Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else – and that is broadly the case in our public mindset – then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded. This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one.

The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity. I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognize only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for law-making, reducing all the other insights and values of our culture to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe vis-à-vis other world cultures is left in a state of culturelessness and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum. In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognizes nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God’s wide world. And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God’s raw materials, which we refashion into our own products. The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this.

But how are we to do this? How do we find our way out into the wide world, into the big picture? How can reason rediscover its true greatness, without being sidetracked into irrationality? How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives? I would like to recall one of the developments in recent political history, hoping that I will neither be misunderstood, nor provoke too many one-sided polemics. I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party – nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: 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 respects his nature, listens to 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.

Let us come back to the fundamental concepts of nature and reason, from which we set out. The great proponent of legal positivism, Kelsen, at the age of 84 – in 1965 – abandoned the dualism of “is” and “ought”. (I find it comforting that rational thought is evidently still possible at the age of 84!) Previously he had said that norms can only come from the will. Nature therefore could only contain norms, he adds, if a will had put them there. But this, he says, would presuppose a Creator God, whose will had entered into nature. “Any attempt to discuss the truth of this belief is utterly futile”, he observed.[4] Is it really? – I find myself asking. Is it really pointless to wonder whether the objective reason that manifests itself in nature does not presuppose a creative reason, a Creator Spiritus?

At this point Europe’s cultural heritage ought to come to our assistance. The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people’s responsibility for their actions. Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights. To ignore it or dismiss it as a thing of the past would be to dismember our culture totally and to rob it of its completeness. The culture of Europe arose from the encounter between Jerusalem, Athens and Rome – from the encounter between Israel’s monotheism, the philosophical reason of the Greeks and Roman law. This three-way encounter has shaped the inner identity of Europe. In the awareness of man’s responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.

As he assumed the mantle of office, the young King Solomon was invited to make a request. How would it be if we, the law-makers of today, were invited to make a request? What would we ask for? I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart – the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace. I thank you for your attention!

[1] Contra Celsum, Book 1, Chapter 1. Cf. A. Fürst, “Monotheismus und Monarchie. Zum Zusammenhang von Heil und Herrschaft in der Antike”, Theol.Phil. 81 (2006), pp. 321-338, quoted on p. 336; cf. also J. Ratzinger, Die Einheit der Nationen. Eine Vision der Kirchenväter (Salzburg and Munich, 1971), p. 60.
[2] Cf. W. Waldstein, Ins Herz geschrieben. Das Naturrecht als Fundament einer menschlichen Gesellschaft (Augsburg, 2010), pp. 11ff., 31-61.
[3] Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., pp. 15-21.
[4] Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., p. 19.

Speeches 2005-13 17091