Upon receiving Letters of Credence from the new ambassador of San Marino, Pope Benedict stressed that if the country’s rich Christian heritage is separated from the its public life, citizens will be led “down a blind alley.”
The Pope addressed the new ambassador, Sante Caducci, this morning at the Vatican. The small country, which the diplomat represents is completely surrounded by Italy, and was founded in the fourth century by Christians fleeing the persecution of Diocletian.
In his words to him, he recalled that Christianity has always been a building block of the country’s history and people. Pope Benedict also expressed his hope that the community of San Marino will continue to “write a chapter of progress and civilization, recognizing the indispensable role each family (as a place of education in peace) is called to play in forming the new generations."
Though our world and environment continue to change, Pope Benedict continued, “the final aim of all our daily efforts, both as individuals and as a community, remains unaltered: the search for the true wellbeing of the person and the creation of an open and welcoming society attentive to the real needs of everyone.”
"The values and laws, the shared spiritual 'alphabet,' that has made it possible for our peoples to write noble chapters of civil and religious history over the centuries, is a precious heritage that must not be squandered," the Pope added, but rather “augmented with the contribution of modern discoveries in the fields of science technology and communication, which must be placed at the service of the real good of mankind."
The Pontiff continued by emphasizing that if this rich heritage is separated from the public life, it would “mean starting down a blind alley.” He also stressed that “this is why it is necessary to redefine the meaning of secularism, a secularism that highlights the real difference and autonomy between the various elements of society but that also protects their specific competencies, in a context of shared responsibility.”
During his visit to France in September, Pope Benedict explained the concept of a “healthy secularism” by saying that it must maintain the separation of the Church and State to “preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the State towards them” and at the same time it must become “more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to—among other things—the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society.”
The Holy Father concluded his address by asserting that "when the Church, through her legitimate pastors, appeals to the value that certain ethical principles rooted in the Christian heritage of Europe, have for private life, and even more so for public life, she is moved exclusively by the desire to guarantee and promote the inviolable dignity of the person and the authentic good of society."