After having received the Bishops of Quebec on May 11 (see our April-May, 2006 issue), and the Bishops of Atlantic Canada on May 22 (see our June-July-August, 2006 issue), Pope Benedict XVI received, on September 8, 2006, the Bishops of Ontario, Canada, who had just completed their "ad limina" visit. In his address, the Holy Father spoke about the "folly of the redefinition of spouse" and "the daily destruction of unborn children", lamenting that Catholic politicians in Canada have yielded to "ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls." Here are some excerpts from Pope Benedict's speech:
In increasingly secularized societies such as yours, the Lord's outpouring of love to humanity can remain unnoticed or rejected. By imagining that withdrawing from this relationship is somehow a key to his own liberation, man in fact becomes a stranger to himself, since "in reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear" (Gaudium et spes, n. 22). Dismissive of the love which discloses the fullness of man's truth, many men and women continue to walk away from the Lord's abode into a wilderness of individual isolation, social fragmentation and loss of cultural identity.
Within this perspective, one sees that the fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible in the human face of Jesus. In helping individuals to recognize and experience the love of Christ, you will awaken in them the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, embracing the life of the Church. This is our mission...
Today, the impediments to the spreading of Christ's Kingdom are experienced most dramatically in the split between the Gospel and culture, with the exclusion of God from the public sphere. Canada has a well-earned reputation for a generous and practical commitment to justice and peace, and there is an enticing sense of vibrancy and opportunity in your multicultural cities.
At the same time, however, certain values detached from their moral roots and full significance found in Christ have evolved in the most disturbing of ways. In the name of'tolerance'your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of'freedom of choice'it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children. When the Creator's divine plan is ignored, the truth of human nature is lost.
False dichotomies are not unknown within the Christian community itself. They are particularly damaging when Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls. Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person.
Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendour of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed (cf. Doctrinal Note The Participation of Catholics in Political Life, 2-3; 6). In your discussions with politicians and civic leaders, I encourage you to demonstrate that our Christian faith, far from being an impediment to dialogue, is a bridge, precisely because it brings together reason and culture.
Within the context of the evangelization of culture, I wish to mention the fine network of Catholic schools at the heart of ecclesial life in your Province. Catechesis and religious education is a taxing apostolate. I thank and encourage those many lay men and women, together with religious, who strive to ensure that your young people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received.