In his "state of the world address" to the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See on Monday, Pope Benedict surveyed the issues affecting the world today, emphasizing the importance of not allowing relativism to deny the "social importance of religion," especially in Europe.
Speaking about anti-Christian sentiments, the Pontiff expressed his sadness that "in certain countries, mainly in the West, one encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular."
This is a threat to the Church, he added, because "if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks understanding secularity solely in terms of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion."
The Holy Father warned of the confrontation and division brought about by such an approach, saying that it "disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle attitudes other than its own, finishes in a dead end."
"There is thus an urgent need to delineate positive and open secularity” that consists of a healthy cooperation between civil and religious authorities, the Pope said.
"I express my hope that in building its future, Europe will always draw upon the wellsprings of its Christian identity," he continued.
Pope Benedict concluded his thought by highlighting the "irreplaceable role" of Europe in forming "the conscience of each generation and the promotion of a basic ethical consensus that serves every person who calls this continent 'home.'"