On January 21, Pope Benedict XVI received directors and officers of the Police Headquarters in Rome.
The Pope began his address by referring to the current age, marked, he said, "by profound changes" which "sometimes generate feelings of insecurity, primarily due to the precarious social and economic situation, but sharpened also by a certain diminution in the perception of ethical principles, principles which are the foundation of law and of the individual moral behaviour which gives strength to that law".
He went on: "Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is at the same time affected by the impression that moral consensus is breaking down and that, as a consequence, the basic structures of coexistence are no longer able to function fully. Thus, many people are tempted to think that the forces mobilised to defend civil society are, in the end, destined to fail. Faced with this temptation we - Christians in particular - have the responsibility to rediscover a new resolve in professing our faith and doing good".
The Pope highlighted how "in our day great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence", noting that this involves "a serious risk because modern thought has developed a reductive view of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what has value and what is true; rather, each individual provides his own measure through his own intuitions and experiences, each possesses his own truth and his own morals. The most evident consequence is that religion and morals tend to be confined to the subjective and private sphere; and faith with its values and its modes of behaviour no longer merits a place in public and civil life. Thus, if on the one hand society gives great importance to pluralism and tolerance, on the other religion tends to become progressively marginalised, considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the public sphere, almost as if it had to limit its influence on the life of man.
"Yet on the contrary", he added, "for us as Christians the true meaning of 'conscience' is man's capacity to recognise truth and, even more so, the possibility he has to hear its call, to seek it and to find it".
"The new challenges emerging on our horizon impose the need for a renewed encounter between God and man. May society and public institutions rediscover their 'soul', their spiritual and moral roots, so as to give a new consistency to their ethical and juridical reference values, and hence to their practical actions. ... The provision of religious and spiritual services which, in accordance with current norms, State and Church ensure is offered to the Police, bears witness to the perennial fruitfulness of this encounter".
The Holy Father concluded his remarks: "The unique vocation of the city of Rome requires that today you, as public officials, should show a good example of positive and profitable interaction between a healthy secularism and the Christian faith. ... Always consider man as an end in himslef, so that everyone may live in an authentically human way. As the bishop of this city of ours, I would like to invite you to read and mediate upon the Word of God, in order to find therein the source and criterion of inspiration for all your actions".
AC/ VIS 20110121 (570)
Published by VIS - Holy See Press Office - Friday, January 21, 2011