Every year, a few days before Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI meets with members of the Curia today for his traditional Christmas greetings, which gives the opportunity to give his views on the state of the Church and society in the world today. Last year, in his speech given on December 20, the Holy Father used strong words to describe the seriousness of the situation, and compared today's current state of affairs to that of the collapse of the Roman Empire. Here are large excerpts from the Pope's address:
Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. (Arouse, Lord, Your Power and Come.) Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently, the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.
Excita – the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples'storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world. (...)
The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world's great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man's freedom and ultimately destroys it.
In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s… It was maintained... that there is no such thing as evil... Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.
The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated, with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethics, the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind. (...)
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked, because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.