Here are excerpts from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the participants in the International Congress on natural law, delivered at Vatican on February 12, 2007:
It is precisely in the light of this contestation that all the urgency of the necessity to reflect upon the theme of natural law and to rediscover its truth common to all men appears. The said law, to which the Apostle Paul refers (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is written on the heart of man and is consequently, even today, accessible.
This law has as its first and general principle, "to do good and to avoid evil." This is a truth which by its very evidence immediately imposes itself on everyone. From it flows the other more particular principles that regulate ethical justice on the rights and duties of everyone.
So does the principle of respect for human life from its conception to its natural end, because this good of life is not man’s property but the free gift of God. Besides this is the duty to seek the truth as the necessary presupposition of every authentic personal maturation.
In these values are expressed unbreakable and contingent norms that do not depend on the will of the legislator and not even on the consensus that the State can and must give. They are, in fact, norms that precede any human law: as such, they are not subject to modification by anyone. The natural law, together with fundamental rights, is the source from which ethical imperatives also flow, which it is only right to honor.
Natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the arbitrary power or the deception of ideological manipulation. The knowledge of this law inscribed on the heart of man increases with the progress of the moral conscience.
The first duty for all, and particularly for those with public responsibility, must therefore be to promote the maturation of the moral conscience. This is the fundamental progress without which all other progress proves non-authentic.
The law inscribed in our nature is the true guarantee offered to everyone in order to be able to live in freedom and to be respected in their own dignity.
What has been said up to this point has very concrete applications if one refers to the family, that is, to "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state... established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48).
Concerning this, the Second Vatican Council has opportunely recalled that the institution of marriage has been "confirmed by the divine law", and therefore "this sacred bond... for the good of the partner, of the children and of society no longer depends on human decision alone" (ibid.).
Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children, and rendering the future of society precarious.
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2007 (zenit.org).- A Catholic cannot support a law that sanctions same-sex marriage, says the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Archbishop Angelo Amato clarified that this issue not only comes from biblical teaching but also from natural law. "A Catholic cannot support legislation that, for example, introduces marriage between two persons of the same sex; it goes against biblical revelation and against the natural law itself," he told the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
"In any case Catholic politicians should always remember that they should never give their consent to the introduction of laws that go against moral principles. In cases where such laws are already in force, then they can limit themselves to try to attenuate their reach."