On Monday morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of Catholic-inspired Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), who are gathered to reflect on what they can offer, as a solution to the “many problems and challenges associated with the various activities of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations." In response to this quagmire, the Pope pinpointed the problem of their debates being governed by a relativistic logic.
The Holy Father began by noting that, despite their different backgrounds, the delegates share "a passion for promoting human dignity. This same passion has constantly inspired the activity of the Holy See in the international community," he said.
In this context, the Pope examined the question of international cooperation between governments, noting "with satisfaction ... achievements such as the universal recognition of the juridical and political primacy of human rights, ... the efforts being made to develop a just global economy and, more recently, the protection of the environment and the promotion of inter- cultural dialogue."
However, the Pope lamented that “international discussions often seem marked by a relativistic logic which would consider as the sole guarantee of peaceful coexistence between peoples a refusal to admit the truth about man and his dignity, to say nothing of the possibility of ethics based on recognition of the natural moral law.”
The effect of this logic is that “a notion of law and politics which ultimately makes consensus between states, ... the only real basis of international norms," becomes the modus operandi of these organizations.
Among "the bitter fruits of this relativistic logic," the Pope mentioned "the attempt to consider as human rights the consequences of certain self-centered lifestyles; a lack of concern for the economic and social needs of the poorer nations; contempt for humanitarian law, and a selective defense of human rights."
The Holy Father expressed the hope that the Church's social doctrine may become "better known and accepted on the international level" and encouraged his listeners "to counter relativism creatively by presenting the great truths about man's innate dignity and the rights which are derived from that dignity." This, he said, "will help to advance specific initiatives marked by a spirit of solidarity and freedom.
"What is needed," Pope Benedict added, "is a spirit of solidarity conducive for promoting as a body those ethical principles which, by their very nature and their role as the basis of social life, remain non-negotiable. A spirit of solidarity imbued with a strong sense of fraternal love leads to a better appreciation of the initiatives of others and a deeper desire to cooperate with them."
"An authentic spirit of freedom, lived in solidarity, will help the initiative of the members of non-governmental organization to create a broad gamut of new approaches and solutions with regard to those temporal affairs which God has left to the free and responsible judgment of every individual. When experienced in solidarity, legitimate pluralism and diversity will lead not to division and competition, but to ever greater effectiveness."