VATICAN CITY, 4 FEB 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, the presentation took place of the 2010 Lenten Message of the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The theme of this year's Message is: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ".
Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"; Hans-Gert Poettering, former president of the European Parliament and current president of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and Msgr. Giovanni Pietro Dal Toso, under secretary of the pontifical council.
Speaking English, Hans-Gert Poettering noted how "the Holy Father has indicated that a secularly radicalised form of the idea of distributive justice that is decoupled from faith in God becomes ideological. As a politician, I would like to add: We have experienced in collapsed socialism where this thinking can lead to".
"Solidarity or charity implies the responsibility to defend and protect the universal dignity of any human being anywhere in the world under any circumstances", he said. "If we want to preserve freedom and if we want to increase justice, then we have to place the value of fraternity or solidarity at the centre of our political thinking".
After then quoting Paul VI's remark that "development is the new name for peace", he expressed the view that "we have to go a step further and say 'solidarity is the new name for peace'. In formulating this we bring freedom and equality again into a proper balance with solidarity", he said.
"The Holy Father has pointed us towards two essential conclusions of the Christian understanding of justice: To give up self-sufficiency and to accept our mission with humbleness. This is the compass for any policy that is committed to Christian responsibility - not only in Lent 2010 but far beyond in this twenty-first century with the huge tasks of shaping globalisation which lie ahead".
"Not without cause does the cry for justice ring out all over the world", said Cardinal Cordes in his remarks. "The world of politics and the coexistence of peoples everywhere needs the various forces of social life to relate to one another. This is the field of justice", which "is downtrodden by violence, by oppression of freedom and lack of respect for human dignity, by bad legislation and the violation of rights, by exploitation and breadline wages".
"There are, therefore, various social factors which have to be amended; and it must not be forgotten that in this struggle the Church also has her merits", said the cardinal. In this context he recalled how, "following Jesus' example, the first Christians sought to meet the needs of their fellow man", and "later in the Middle Ages ... with the 'Tregua Dei', the men of the Church defended the goods of the common people against the nobility and convened mass gatherings which - to the cry of 'pax, pax, pax' - promoted the enthusiastic desire for peaceful coexistence".
"In the modern age too, when the European States made colonies of other countries and continents, non infrequently subjecting them to brutal exploitation, Christian missionaries and religious not only brought the inhabitants of those lands to the faith, but often taught them a way and a quality of life".
"However, whoever dedicates deeper study to the Church's contribution in favour of peaceful understanding among human beings will soon discover that the problem of just coexistence cannot be resolved only though worldly interventions. ... Like the Pope, we too must go beyond the common conception of anthropology and achieve a complete vision of man: thus does the message of justice become clear in its entirety".
"Evil comes from within, from the human heart, as the Lord says in the Gospel. William Shakespeare and Georges Bernanos revealed this in their works. ... And Stalin - in Ukraine - and Hitler - at Auschwitz - showed no scruples in giving free reign to their own malignity. ... The experience of evil teaches us that it would be ingenuous to entrust ourselves merely to human justice, which only intervenes on structures and behaviour from the outside. It is the heart of man that needs to be healed".
The president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" went on to recall how "this Lenten Message, as it does every year, encourages the men and women of our time to do good. ... But the Pope's words are above all a challenge to our will, to entrust ourselves to God and believe in Him. ... Modern everyday life does not lead us to God. His absence is what distinguishes our daily experience. Once again we discover that the Gospel is not in harmony with bourgeois consensus and, for this reason, must be proclaimed ever and anew".
"In the last part of his Message, the Pope identifies salvation in Christ as the foundation of human justice", the cardinal concluded. "Faced with the justice of the Cross man may rebel, because it highlights that he is not autonomous but needs Another in order fully to be himself. This, in the end, is what converting to Christ, believing in the Gospel, means".
OP/LENTEN MESSAGE/POETTERING:CORDES VIS 20100204 (870)