.- Pope Benedict XVI warned against separating moral values from public policy in his first meeting with the United Kingdom's new ambassador to the Holy See.
“When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others,” Pope Benedict told Ambassador Nigel Baker, who presented his credentials to the Pope on Sept. 9.
In his own remarks to the Pope, Baker noted that the principles underlying British society were not “purely legal” in nature, but also included the “qualities of tolerance, compassion, generosity, (and) respect for others.” The new ambassador spoke of Britain's commitment to these principles in both domestic and foreign affairs.
Pope Benedict, in an apparent reference to the riots that terrorized London for several days in early August, said Britain's stated commitment to “enduring values” was “especially important in the light of events in England this summer.”
Policy makers, the Pope said, should “look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, to examine ways to favor long-term employment and to spread wealth much more fairly and broadly throughout society.”
“Moreover,” he continued, “the active fostering of the essential values of a healthy society, through the defense of life and of the family, the sound moral education of the young, and a fraternal regard for the poor and the weak, will surely help to rebuild a positive sense of one’s duty, in charity, towards friends and strangers alike in the local community.”
Pope Benedict recalled his visit to the U.K. last September, during which he beatified the English convert, and later cardinal, Blessed John Henry Newman. He pointed out that Newman – a critic of rationalism and religious liberalism during the Victorian era – had developed insights that remained relevant in the present day.
“The United Kingdom, Europe and the West in general today face challenges that he identified with remarkable prophetic clarity,” said the Pope. “It is my hope that a fresh awareness of his writings will bear new fruit among those searching for solutions to the political, economic and social questions of our age.”
Meanwhile, he assured the ambassador that the Catholic Church in Britain is “eager to continue offering her substantial contribution to the common good through her offices and agencies.”
But he stressed that its agencies must work “in accordance with her own principles and in the light of the Christian vision of the rights and dignity of the human person.” Catholic adoption agencies throughout Britain have been forced to shut their doors rather than place children with same-sex couples, a practice that was required under the 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations.
Both the Pope and the ambassador singled out international development as a priority item, with the Pope reiterating the point he made one year ago at Westminster Hall about economic and social development as “an enterprise truly worthy of the world’s attention and one that is too big to be allowed to fail.”
To that end, Pope Benedict said he appreciated British Prime Minister David Cameron's intention to preserve foreign aid funding amid austerity measures. The Pope also invited Ambassador Baker “to explore ways of furthering development cooperation between your Government and the Church’s charity and development agencies, especially those based here in Rome and in your country.”
The Pope concluded by invoking God's blessing upon the ambassador, his family, and “all the British people.”