.- Saturday Pope Benedict XVI received participants in the 56th national study congress, promoted by the Union of Italian Catholic Jurists, which is being held in Rome on the theme: "Secularity and secularities." The Holy Father told the lawyers how the idea of secularity has been corrupted and challenged them to create a society in which the Church and the moral law are returned to their rightful place.
In accordance with this definition, the Pope continued, "today we hear talk of secular thought, secular morals, secular science, secular politics. In fact, at the root of such a concept, is an a-religious view of life, thought and morals; that is, a view in which there is no place for God, for a Mystery that transcends pure reason, for a moral law of absolute value that is valid in all times and situations."
However, he said, "'healthy secularity' means that the State does not consider religion merely as an individual sentiment that can be confined to the private sphere." Rather, it must be "recognized as a ... public presence. This means that all religious confessions (so long as they do not contrast the moral order and are not dangerous to public order) are guaranteed free exercise of their acts of worship."
Hostility against "any form of political or cultural relevance of religion," and in particular against "any kind of religious symbol in public institutions" is a degenerated form of secularity, said the Holy Father, as is "refusing the Christian community, and those who legitimately represent it, the right to pronounce on the moral problems that today appeal to the conscience of all human beings, particularly of legislators.
"This," he added, "does not constitute undue interference of the Church in legislative activity, which is the exclusive competence of the State, but the affirmation and the defense of those great values that give meaning to people's lives and safeguard their dignity. These values, even before being Christian, are human, and therefore cannot leave the Church silent and indifferent, when she has the duty firmly to proclaim the truth about man and his destiny."
The Pope concluded by highlighting the need "to bring people to understand that the moral law God gave us - and that expresses itself in us through the voice of conscience - has the aim not of oppressing us but of freeing us from evil and of making us happy. We must show that without God man is lost, and that the exclusion of religion from social life, and in particular the marginalization of Christianity, undermines the very foundations of human coexistence. Such foundations, indeed, before being of the social and political order, belong to the moral order."