Loading
Pope: Neglect of human dignity causes 'practical atheism'
Pope Francis meets with members of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute on Dec. 7, 2013. Credit: Elise Harris/CNA
Pope Francis meets with members of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute on Dec. 7, 2013. Credit: Elise Harris/CNA
By Kerri Lenartowick
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- On Saturday afternoon Pope Francis met with members of an international organization that promotes human dignity, warning them against a “false model” of humanity.

“Unfortunately, in our time, so full of so many hopes and achievements, there are powers and forces that end up producing a ‘throw-away culture’; and this tends to become a common mentality,”  said the pontiff on Dec. 7. “The victims of this culture are its most weak and fragile humans – the unborn, the poor, the elderly sick, severely disabled…those who risk being ‘thrown away,’ expelled by a mechanism that must be efficient at all costs.”

“This false model of man and of society effects a practical atheism (by) denying, de facto, the Word of God that says, ‘let us make man in our image, according to our likeness,’” Pope Francis explained to the members of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute.

Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, the insitute’s honorary president, said the group was founded in 2008 in the European Parliament “with the goal to protect and promote human dignity based on the anthropological truth that man is born in the image and likeness of God.”

The cardinal spoke briefly at today’s meeting with the Pope, saying, “to evangelize the very culture itself is the activity and ambition of this institute.”

“We work with all people of goodwill. We are firmly ecumenical in our approach, respectful and tolerant of those with another (or) different faith; but we celebrate with joy our uncompromising inspiration by the holy Word of God, and Catholic social teaching.”

Pope Francis’ remarks focused on similar themes. He reflected on the need “to let ourselves be questioned by this Word” of God.

“If we allow it to approach our personal and social awareness, if we let it be part of discussions and our ways of thinking and acting, criteria, priorities, and choices, then things can change,” the Pope encouraged.

“The power of this Word puts limits on anyone who wants to become dominant, abusing the rights and dignity of others,” he continued. “At the same time, it gives hope and comfort to those who are not able to defend themselves, (and) to those who do not have intellectual and practical means to affirm the value of their suffering, of their own rights, of their lives.”

The pontiff encouraged the group’s initiatives, emphasizing the importance of a Christian presence in the political sphere.

“It is necessary to raise awareness and training, so that the lay faithful, in all conditions, and especially those who engage in the political field, are able to think according to the gospel and the social doctrine of the Church and act consistently, dialoging and collaborating with those who, with sincerity and intellectual honesty, share, if not the faith, at least a similar vision of man and of society and its ethical consequences,” he said.

Ben Harnwell, the Dignitatis Humanae Institute’s founder, was part of today’s audience with Pope Francis.

Harnwell told CNA that he started the organization five years ago because he saw the need to “create a way, in the political sphere, of dialoguing with Christian politicians.” He hoped to “create an environment in which politicians could be Christian” without being dismissed simply because of their religious beliefs.

Not expecting to meet Pope Francis personally, Harnwell was both surprised and thrilled to find himself shaking the pontiff’s hand.

“It’s incredible to talk to someone who is known by everyone, the acknowledged successor of Peter, and yet find a man of such humility, and a visible embodiment of the gospel. It’s really a once in a life time experience,” he said.

What struck Harnwell most of all, however, was the “transmission of joy embodied in Pope Francis.”

The Pope took time to meet with many more people than originally planned at today’s event. “The generosity of time, the freshness that he brought to each introduction – he’s the Pope, but that generosity of spirit is the visible embodiment of what we’re trying to do,” reflected Harnwell.

“The work of the institute has been an uphill push, but today has been unbelievable.  Everyone has said, ‘this is far more than what we were expecting.’”

Harnwell also discussed institute members who fight to uphold human dignity in politics.

“We can hold the line,” he said, “but people come here and get filled up with the joy and hope of being Catholic.”

Harnwell said today’s meeting with the Pope has “reinvigorated” the institute’s members to continue their fight.

Tags: Pope Francis, Human dignity

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
Oct
21

Liturgical Calendar

October 21, 2014

Tuesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 12:35-38

Gospel
Date
10/21/14
10/20/14
10/19/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Eph 2: 12-22
Gospel:: Lk 12: 35-38

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
10/21/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 12:35-38

Homily
Date
10/21/14
10/20/14
10/19/14