.- Pope Benedict XVI told Germany’s new ambassador to the Holy See on Nov. 7 that the Catholic Church has the duty to defend “truths and values that are under threat,” especially those values basic to human dignity.
At the Monday audience, the new German ambassador Reinhard Scheppe presented his official letters of credence.
Pope Benedict told the ambassador that his September visit to Germany provided him the chance to reflect on how the Catholic Church and the Holy See can be of service in a pluralistic society.
“Many of our contemporaries see the influence of Christianity, and of other religions as a way of imposing a specific culture and lifestyle upon society,” the Pope said. “This view is not incorrect, but it is not a complete understanding of the Catholic Church.”
The Church has not only formed different kinds of community and cultures, she “has herself been molded by the traditions of individual nations.”
“The Church is aware, thanks to her faith, that she knows the truth about man, and thus that she is obliged to protect those values which are valid for mankind as such, over and above individual cultures,” Pope Benedict stated.
He also praised how fundamental shared human values became law in the German Constitution of 1949 and the Declaration of Human Rights.
“Today, however, certain basic values of human life are again being put into question, values which defend the dignity man possesses simply by virtue of being a man,” he said.
Discussing the issue of human life and the ethical issues surrounding its beginning and end, the Pope said that man is not qualified to judge whether an individual is “already a person” or “still a person.”
“(E)ven less so do we have the right to manipulate and, so to say, 'to create' man.”
“Only a society which unconditionally respects and defends the dignity of each human being, from conception to natural end, can call itself a human society,” he emphasized.
The Pope also defended the Church’s stance against abortion. “If the Holy See enters into the field of lawmaking on fundamental questions that involve man's dignity -- such as those that arise today concerning the prenatal existence of man -- she does so not as a way of indirectly imposing her faith upon others, but of defending values which are evident to everyone because they concern the truth about human beings.”
Pope Benedict then raised the issue of gender discrimination against women, describing it as “a critical problem” apparently on the increase in the West because of “materialistic and hedonistic tendencies.”
Relationships which don’t account for the equal dignity of men and women represent “a grave affront to humankind,” he said.
“The time has come to take an energetic stance against prostitution and the widespread availability of erotic and pornographic material, also on the Internet.
“The Holy See will ensure that the Catholic Church in Germany takes clear and decisive initiatives against this form of abuse,” said the Pope.
Prostitution is legal in Germany.
The Pope’s words against pornography also come soon after new reports that a major publishing house owned by the German Catholic bishops has been selling pornographic novels.