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Godlessness poses new risks for society pope says on homeland visit

FREIBURG (CNS): On a four-day visit to Germany, Pope Benedict XVI warned that godlessness and religious indifference undermining the moral foundations of society and leaving its weakest members exposed to new risks.

Making his first official state visit to his homeland, he repeatedly mentioned the duty to protect the unborn and proposed this as an area where Catholics and non-Catholics can witness together and help resist ethical erosion.

After arriving on September 22, the pope said that he had come to meet people and to speak about God. He took that message to the country’s political leaders, to the Church’s ecumenical partners, to the Catholic faithful and, through the mass media, to the German people.

The 84-year-old pope at times looked tired during the heavy programme, but generally held up. 

When the stepped off his plane in Berlin, the German capital, he was greeted by the German president, Christian Wulff, and the chancellor, Angela Merkel. The pope smiled as a boy and a girl presented him with a bouquet of flowers and cannons boomed out a 21-gun salute.

At a welcoming ceremony at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin, the pope strongly defended the Church’s voice in public affairs, saying that to dismiss religious values as irrelevant would dismember our culture.

Wulff agreed that the Church’s message is needed in modern society. But the president, a 52-year-old Catholic who is divorced and civilly remarried, added that the Church too is challenged by important questions today.

“How compassionately will it treat points of rupture in the lives of individuals? How will it approach points of rupture in its own history or the wrongdoing of members of its clergy?” he asked.

In his maiden address to a legislative body, Pope Benedict argued before the German parliament that belief in God has been the foundation of western progress in law, social justice and human rights through the centuries.

He pointed to Germany’s Nazi past, saying that it illustrates that without justice, the state becomes “a highly organised band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss.”

He said that today, with unprecedented opportunities to manipulate human beings, the threat is even more dramatic. He pointed to Germany’s ecology movement as a step in the right direction, but said that an ecology of the human person is needed to protect human dignity........

…without justice, the state becomes ‘a highly organised band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss’


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