Friday, September 30, 2011
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Vatican encourages laicized priests' involvement in parish life
The Vatican has given diocesan bishops greater latitude for allowing former priests to become actively involved in parish life, the Catholic Herald reports.
Cardinal Ivan Dias, the prefect of the Congregation for Evangelization, has written that he hopes new rules will allow laicized priests to be come active in the life of local churches. The new rules would reportedly allow bishops to approve the pastoral activity of a laicized priest, whereas previously any the Vatican was required to give permission for any such activity.
The Catholic Herald story does not make it clear whether the policies cited by Cardinal Dias apply only to mission territories under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for Evangelization or to the entire Church.
Under current Church law, a priest who has been laicized cannot preach, administer the Eucharist, or teach in a seminary.
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28th September: The Dominican Martyrs of Nagasaki
my beloved Father, let us so act that we may see one another in heaven for all eternity, fearing no separation here. Let us have no concern for this world, for it is our exile and separates us from God who is our total good. I say to my dearest sister: do not forget to commend me to God. To all my relatives and friends I send greetings. May the Lord keep you until you reach our heavenly homeland.
POSTED BY ROBERT VERRILL OP AT 5:00 PM
Dozens of churches closed or demolished in Indonesia
Over 50 Christian churches have been shut down or demolished in Indonesia since January 2010, according to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum. In most cases, the closing of churches has followed protests by Islamic fundamentalists.
3% of the nation's 228.5 million people are Catholics, according to Vatican statistics. 6% are Protestant, and 86% are Muslim.
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'A new generation of theologians'
Ryan N.S. Topping, a theology professor at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, writes that the new generation of English-speaking theologians is largely orthodox.
"The majority of young Catholic philosophers and theologians that I have met through my teaching—in England, Canada, and America—are eager to serve the Church, to imbibe her customs, and to perpetuate her faith," he writes. "For the most part, where frustration is felt it is not at being restricted by authority; it is at not being confidently commissioned."
"Being a bishop is not for cowards," he adds. "Failure of episcopal leadership in the post-Vatican II era has typically not been in the clumsy exercise of power, but in their reluctance to support those who defend authentic Catholic teaching. This trend is passing."
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Thursday, September 29, 2011
At the general audience, Benedict XVI retraces the steps of his visit to Germany. God is not a danger to democracy and freedom. Just as religion requires freedom, so freedom needs religion. In the Bundestag I exposed the "foundation of law and free State of law, that is, the measure of all law, inscribed by the Creator in the very being of His creation."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Confirmation that "where there is God, there is a future", that God is not a danger to democracy and freedom, and that as religion needs freedom, so too freedom needs religion, sharing "the joy of being Catholic," seeing that "faith in my native Germany has a young face, it is alive, it has a future": this is Benedict XVI summary of his visit to Germany from 22 to 25 of this month, retraced by the same Pope in his address to over 20 thousand people in St. Peter's Square for the general audience.
"Intense and wonderful days", "a great celebration of faith", an opportunity to "meet and speak to the people of God", but also an opportunity, at the Bundestag, the German Parliament, to "expose the foundation of law and free State of law, that is, the measure of all law, inscribed by the Creator in the very being of His creation. Therefore we must broaden our concept of nature, understanding it not only as a set of functions but beyond this as the language of the Creator to help us discern right from wrong".
Again during the Berlin leg of the visit, Benedict XVI recalls the meeting with representatives of the Jewish community, with whom "highlighted the fruits achieved thus far in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism in Germany" and the meeting with members of the Muslim community, "agreeing with them about the importance of religious freedom for the peaceful development of humanity".
The stage in Thuringia, the "land of the Protestant Reformation", was particularly dedicated to ecumenism. In Erfurt, the city where Martin Luther entered the Augustinian community and was ordained a priest, the Pope was "very pleased" with the meeting of the Council of Reformed Protestant Churches in Germany: "a cordial meeting that, in dialogue and in prayer, drew us more deeply towards Christ. We have again seen the importance of our common witness of faith in Jesus Christ in today's world which often ignores God or has no interest in Him. Our common efforts in the path towards full unity are necessary, but we are always well aware that neither the faith or unity so longed for are a product of our own. A faith created by ourselves is of no value, and true unity is rather a gift from God "," only Christ can give us this unity, and we will be ever more united in the extent to which we return to Him and allow ourselves to be transformed by Him ".
Benedict XVI described the celebration of vespers at the Marian shrine of Etzelsbach as "particularly moving", a region that "always remained Catholic throughout the various vicissitudes of history" whose inhabitants "have courageously opposed the dictatorships of Nazism and Communism."
In Erfurt, reminding [the nation of the patron] saints of Thuringia and "the shining example of the faithful who witnessed to the Gospel during the totalitarian regimes, I invited the faithful to be the saints of today, good witnesses of Christ, and to help build our society . In fact, they have always been saints and people imbued with the love of Christ to really transform the world". During the visit to Erfurt, Benedict XVI also had occasion to "meet some victims of sexual abuse by clergymen, whom I wanted to assure of my sorrow and my closeness to their suffering."
Of Freiburg, the Pope recalled the "very festive reception" and the prayer vigil with thousands of young people. "I was happy to see that faith in my native German has a young face, it is alive and has a future". "I transmitted flame of the Paschal candle, symbol of light that is Christ, to the young people exhorting them: You are the light of the world. I repeated to them that the Pope is confident in the active collaboration of the youth; with the grace of Christ, they are able to bring the fire of God's love to the world. "
Again in Freiburg, Benedict XVI met with the seminarians, "I wanted to show them the beauty and grandeur of their calling from the Lord" and representatives of the Orthodox Churches "to whom we Catholics feel very close. In fact, it is from this broad commonality that the common task to be leaven for the renewal of our society is derived. "
And finally in the great celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday at the Freiburg airport his thanks to volunteers from the charitable initiatives of the German Church. "I recalled that their valuable service will always be fruitful when it is born of an authentic faith and lives in union with the bishops and the Pope, in union with the Church. Finally, before my return, I talked to a thousand Catholics involved in the Church and in society, suggesting some reflections on the action of the Church in a secularized society, on the invitation to be free from material and political burdens to reflect God more transparently".
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Iran: faced with death sentence, Christian convert refuses to revert to Islam
An Iranian Protestant pastor, sentenced to death in 2010 for apostasy, has refused to convert back to Islam during two court hearings. The Supreme Court of Iran has ruled that if Yousef Nadarkhani renounces Christianity and returns to Islam, his death sentence will be declared null.
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Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Having greeted Metropolitan Augoustinos, president of the Orthodox Episcopal Conference in Germany, and thanked him for his words, "so full of confidence", the Pope reaffirmed that "among Christian Churches and communities, the Orthodox are theologically closest to us; Catholics and Orthodox both have the same basic structure inherited from the ancient Church. So we may hope that the day is not too far away when we may once again celebrate the Eucharist together.
"With interest and sympathy the Catholic Church follows the development of Orthodox communities in Western Europe, which in recent decades have grown remarkably", the Pope added. He then went on to express his satisfaction at "the increase of pan-Orthodox co-operation, which has made significant progress in recent years. ... May the work of these episcopal conferences strengthen the bond between the Orthodox Churches and hasten the progress of efforts to establish a pan-Orthodox council".
On the subject of dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of continuing efforts "to clarify theological differences. ... The resolution of these questions is indispensable for restoration of the full unity that we hope and pray for. Above all it is on the question of primacy that our continuing efforts towards a correct understanding must be focused. Here the ideas put forward by John Paul II in the Encyclical 'Ut Unum Sint' on the distinction between the nature and form of the exercise of primacy can yield further fruitful discussion points".
He also expressed his appreciation for "the work of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. ... The results so far obtained allow us to grow in mutual understanding and to draw closer to one another", he said.
"In the present climate, in which many would like, as it were, to 'liberate' public life from God, the Christian Churches in Germany - including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians - are walking side by side along the path of peaceful witness for understanding and solidarity among peoples, on the basis of their faith in the one God and Father of all. At the same time they continue to place the miracle of God's incarnation at the centre of their proclamation. Realising that on this mystery all human dignity depends, they speak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death".
In closing, Pope Benedict reiterated how "faith in God, the Creator of life, and unconditional adherence to the dignity of every human being strengthen faithful Christians vigorously to oppose every manipulative and selective intervention in the area of human life. Knowing too the value of marriage and the family, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation. Here the common engagement of Christians, including many Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future, in which the human person is given the respect which is his due".
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110925 (580)
Reject 'worldly' vision of Church, Pope urges German faithful
Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly called for reform within the Catholic Church—as well as efforts to counteract a secularizing trend in society—during the final hours of his visit to Germany on September 24 and 25.
"We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit," the Pontiff told the Central Committee for German Catholics. "I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith."
Celebrating Mass at the airport in Freiburg on Sunday morning, September 25, the Pope remarked that "renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith." Alluding to the day's Gospel story, of the two sons—one of whom tells the father that he will obey, but does not, and the other who resists the father's order but then follows it—the Pope warned complacent Catholics that "agnostics who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is 'routine' and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith."
Later on Sunday, in a meeting with representatives of Catholic associations, Pope Benedict expanded on that theme. "The Church," he said, "must constantly rededicate herself to her mission." And to understand that mission, he said, we must recognize that the Church "has nothing of her own to offer to Him Who founded her." He went on:
In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organization and institutionalisation than to her vocation to openness.
The rise of secularism, the Pope continued, could actually produce benefits for the Church, because "expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like, have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty."
The goal, the Pope said, is not "finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency." He concluded with the exhortation: "It is time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness."
The Pope made these remarks at he closed a busy 4-day visit to his native land. At the conclusion of a Friday schedule highlighted by ecumenical meetings in Erfurt, he traveled to Etzelsbach, to preside at Vespers in the Wallfahrtskapelle. He remarked during his homily that the inhabitants of this region, in what was once East Germany, had always found refuge at the Marian shrine: "During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and a place of inner peace was to be found."
On Saturday morning, as he presided at an outdoor Mass at the cathedral plaza in Erfurt, he made a similar point: "Here in Thuringia and in the former German Democratic Republic, you have had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain." However, he challenged the faithful to examine whether the freedoms that had come with the fall of Communism had come at a cost. He urged the people to recapture the spirit of spiritual longing that had prevailed in the first days of freedom, saying that "the political changes that swept through your country in 1989 were motivated not just by the demand for prosperity and freedom of movement, but also decisively by the longing for truthfulness."
From Erfurt the Pope traveled to Freiburg im Breisgau, where he met with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, then with leaders of Germany's Orthodox churches, next with seminarians, then with the Central Committee for German Catholics, before finally ending the day at a prayer rally for young Catholics.
Speaking to the young crowd, the Pope returned to the theme of reform within the Church. He acknowledged the damage that the Church has suffered in recent years, and said that it is not unique. "Again and again in history, keen observers have pointed out that damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians." The reality of scandal points to the reality of sin, the Pope said, and the antidote is sanctity.
Pope Benedict cautioned the young people not to be misled by popular misconceptions of holiness, which suggest that saints are figures of unattainable virtue. The reality is quite different, he told them:
There is no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen. Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you. He does not call you because you are good and perfect, but because He is good and He wants to make you His friends. Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light.
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- God Never Desires Anything Other Than Our True Happiness (VIS)
- Broader Horizons for the Catholic Church in Germany (VIS)
- Papal Greetings to Citizens of Freiburg im Breisgau (VIS)
- Catholics and Orthodox: Dialogue on Question of Primacy (VIS)
- Holy Father Meets with Seminarians in Freiburg (VIS)
- Seek New Paths of Evangelisation for Church and Society (VIS)
- Pope to Young People: Have the Courage to Be Saints (VIS)
- Christian Life Is Humble Service of Neighbour (VIS)
- It's Time for the Church to Set Aside Her Worldliness (VIS)
- Hope for the Future of Christianity in Germany (VIS)
by Jibran Khan
A 32 year old woman and mother of five children was abducted and raped in turn by three men. Threats to the husband to force him to withdraw his complaint. Police officers covering the crime, drawing up a report full of holes. Priest in Lahore: Christian violence against women is widespread and scandalous.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – The rape of Christian women in Punjab has become a "common practice" an "outrageous" phenomenon compounded by the fact that "the police protect the guilty" and not the victims. This is the bitter synopsis of Fr Jill John, of the Diocese of Lahore on the last recorded case of sexual violence against a Christian mother. The family calls for justice, but is struggling against a society in which the defenders of the law support the rapists. Even human rights groups like Masihi Life for All Foundation have intervened on the matter, asking government authorities to target the perpetrators of crimes and punish the corrupt and conniving police officers.
The incident dates back to Sept. 15, but the news filtered through only in recent days. Arifa Mushtaq (name changed for security reasons - ed) 32, mother of five was abducted and raped by three Muslims . Her husband Muashtaq Masih a worker at the Kasur sanitation department, in a devastated condition said, "Arifa used to work in a garment factory, on the evening of 15 September she was coming home from work, she got off the bus, two local Muslims grabbed her from the back. Another armed accomplice came and put a gun on her head".
The woman began to scream, then asked the trio to leave her free to care for her children who were waiting at home. Instead, the men took Arifa by force to a house and, one by one, they raped her. The family is in shock and even their attempt to report the rape has added insult to injury: the Muslims have threatened her husband, warning him to withdraw the lawsuit. Otherwise, his children will have to go through what his wife has gone through. The police have also protected the perpetrators, putting pressure on Muashtaq Masih.
Fr. Jill John confirms that "the police help the guilty, with omissions and gaps in the compilation of complaints to favor their freedom." The family of the raped woman, added the priest, is now living in fear while criminals are free to roam the streets of the town. "How much longer - he asks – will we see the children of God suffer? And when will Mushtaq Masih's family get justice? ". He appealed to the police chief of Punjab and the Minister of Justice to target the corrupt police officers and protect the family.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
The listening heart
Positivist reason has excluded faith from politics to the detriment of justice and peace, the Pope told the German Parliament this week.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMA803Ij9xI&feature=player_embedded
Pope Benedict XVI addressed the German Bundestag on Thursday. He delivered not a sermon but a carefully crafted lecture on intellectual history. It was a stunning analysis of the relationship between faith and politics, religion and ethics. He described it as an "urgent invitation" to open a debate about the foundations of law in Western society.
It is an honour and a joy for me to speak before this distinguished house, before the Parliament of my native Germany, that meets here as a democratically elected representation of the people, in order to work for the good of the Federal Republic of Germany. I should like to thank the President of the Bundestag both for his invitation to deliver this address and for the kind words of greeting and appreciation with which he has welcomed me. At this moment I turn to you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, not least as your fellow-countryman who for all his life has been conscious of close links to his origins, and has followed the affairs of his native Germany with keen interest.
But the invitation to give this address was extended to me as Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, who bears the highest responsibility for Catholic Christianity. In issuing this invitation you are acknowledging the role that the Holy See plays as a partner within the community of peoples and states. Setting out from this international responsibility that I hold, I should like to propose to you some thoughts on the foundations of a free state of law.
Allow me to begin my reflections on the foundations of law [Recht] with a brief story from sacred Scripture. In the First Book of the Kings, it is recounted that God invited the young King Solomon, on his accession to the throne, to make a request. What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment? Success – wealth – long life – destruction of his enemies? He chooses none of these things. Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God's people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kg 3:9).
Through this story, the Bible wants to tell us what should ultimately matter for a politician. His fundamental criterion and the motivation for his work as a politician must not be success, and certainly not material gain. Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace. Naturally a politician will seek success, without which he would have no opportunity for effective political action at all.
Distinguishing right from wrong
Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right. Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice. "Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?", as Saint Augustine once said.
We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre. We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right – a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss. To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician.
At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself. He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity. How do we recognize what is right? How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right? Even now, Solomon's request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today.
For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws.
In the third century, the great theologian Origen provided the following explanation for the resistance of Christians to certain legal systems: "Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians, whose laws are contrary to the divine law, and was compelled to live among them ... such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations with like-minded people contrary to the laws of the Scythians."
This conviction was what motivated resistance movements to act against the Nazi regime and other totalitarian regimes, thereby doing a great service to justice and to humanity as a whole. For these people, it was indisputably evident that the law in force was actually unlawful. Yet when it comes to the decisions of a democratic politician, the question of what now corresponds to the law of truth, what is actually right and may be enacted as law, is less obvious. In terms of the underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is in no way simply self-evident today.
The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder.
The Christian answer
How do we recognize what is right? In history, systems of law have almost always been based on religion: decisions regarding what was to be lawful among men were taken with reference to the divinity. Unlike other great religions, Christianity has never proposed a revealed law to the State and to society, that is to say a juridical order derived from revelation. Instead, it has pointed to nature and reason as the true sources of law – and to the harmony of objective and subjective reason, which naturally presupposes that both spheres are rooted in the creative reason of God.
Christian theologians thereby aligned themselves with a philosophical and juridical movement that began to take shape in the second century B.C. In the first half of that century, the social natural law developed by the Stoic philosophers came into contact with leading teachers of Roman Law.Through this encounter, the juridical culture of the West was born, which was and is of key significance for the juridical culture of mankind.
This pre-Christian marriage between law and philosophy opened up the path that led via the Christian Middle Ages and the juridical developments of the Age of Enlightenment all the way to the Declaration of Human Rights and to our German Basic Law of 1949, with which our nation committed itself to "inviolable and inalienable human rights as the foundation of every human community, and of peace and justice in the world".
The decline of natural law
For the development of law and for the development of humanity, it was highly significant that Christian theologians aligned themselves against the religious law associated with polytheism and on the side of philosophy, and that they acknowledged reason and nature in their interrelation as the universally valid source of law. This step had already been taken by Saint Paul in the Letter to the Romans, when he said: "When Gentiles who have not the Law [the Torah of Israel] do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves ... they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness ..." (Rom 2:14f.).
Here we see the two fundamental concepts of nature and conscience, where conscience is nothing other than Solomon's listening heart, reason that is open to the language of being. If this seemed to offer a clear explanation of the foundations of legislation up to the time of the Enlightenment, up to the time of the Declaration on Human Rights after the Second World War and the framing of our Basic Law, there has been a dramatic shift in the situation in the last half-century.
The idea of natural law is today viewed as a specifically Catholic doctrine, not worth bringing into the discussion in a non-Catholic environment, so that one feels almost ashamed even to mention the term. Let me outline briefly how this situation arose.
Fundamentally it is because of the idea that an unbridgeable gulf exists between "is" and "ought". An "ought" can never follow from an "is", because the two are situated on completely different planes. The reason for this is that in the meantime, the positivist understanding of nature has come to be almost universally accepted. If nature – in the words of Hans Kelsen – is viewed as "an aggregate of objective data linked together in terms of cause and effect", then indeed no ethical indication of any kind can be derived from it. A positivist conception of nature as purely functional, as the natural sciences consider it to be, is incapable of producing any bridge to ethics and law, but once again yields only functional answers.
The domination of positivism
The same also applies to reason, according to the positivist understanding that is widely held to be the only genuinely scientific one. Anything that is not verifiable or falsifiable, according to this understanding, does not belong to the realm of reason strictly understood. Hence ethics and religion must be assigned to the subjective field, and they remain extraneous to the realm of reason in the strict sense of the word. Where positivist reason dominates the field to the exclusion of all else – and that is broadly the case in our public mindset – then the classical sources of knowledge for ethics and law are excluded.
This is a dramatic situation which affects everyone, and on which a public debate is necessary. Indeed, an essential goal of this address is to issue an urgent invitation to launch one.
The positivist approach to nature and reason, the positivist world view in general, is a most important dimension of human knowledge and capacity that we may in no way dispense with. But in and of itself it is not a sufficient culture corresponding to the full breadth of the human condition. Where positivist reason considers itself the only sufficient culture and banishes all other cultural realities to the status of subcultures, it diminishes man, indeed it threatens his humanity.
I say this with Europe specifically in mind, where there are concerted efforts to recognize only positivism as a common culture and a common basis for law-making, reducing all the other insights and values of our culture to the level of subculture, with the result that Europe vis-à-vis other world cultures is left in a state of culturelessness and at the same time extremist and radical movements emerge to fill the vacuum.
In the bunker of positivist reason
In its self-proclaimed exclusivity, the positivist reason which recognizes nothing beyond mere functionality resembles a concrete bunker with no windows, in which we ourselves provide lighting and atmospheric conditions, being no longer willing to obtain either from God's wide world. And yet we cannot hide from ourselves the fact that even in this artificial world, we are still covertly drawing upon God's raw materials, which we refashion into our own products. The windows must be flung open again, we must see the wide world, the sky and the earth once more and learn to make proper use of all this.
But how are we to do this? How do we find our way out into the wide world, into the big picture? How can reason rediscover its true greatness, without being sidetracked into irrationality? How can nature reassert itself in its true depth, with all its demands, with all its directives?
The significance of Green politics
I would like to recall one of the developments in recent political history, hoping that I will neither be misunderstood, nor provoke too many one-sided polemics. I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives.
In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party – nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture.
Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. Yet I would like to underline a point that seems to me to be neglected, today as in the past: there is also an ecology of man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.
Let us come back to the fundamental concepts of nature and reason, from which we set out. The great proponent of legal positivism, Kelsen, at the age of 84 – in 1965 – abandoned the dualism of "is" and "ought". (I find it comforting that rational thought is evidently still possible at the age of 84!) Previously he had said that norms can only come from the will. Nature therefore could only contain norms, he adds, if a will had put them there. But this, he says, would presuppose a Creator God, whose will had entered into nature. "Any attempt to discuss the truth of this belief is utterly futile", he observed. Is it really? – I find myself asking. Is it really pointless to wonder whether the objective reason that manifests itself in nature does not presuppose a creative reason, a Creator Spiritus?
God and human rights
At this point Europe's cultural heritage ought to come to our assistance. The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people's responsibility for their actions.
Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights. To ignore it or dismiss it as a thing of the past would be to dismember our culture totally and to rob it of its completeness. The culture of Europe arose from the encounter between Jerusalem, Athens and Rome – from the encounter between Israel's monotheism, the philosophical reason of the Greeks and Roman law. This three-way encounter has shaped the inner identity of Europe. In the awareness of man's responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.
As he assumed the mantle of office, the young King Solomon was invited to make a request. How would it be if we, the law-makers of today, were invited to make a request? What would we ask for? I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart – the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace. I thank you for your attention!
 Contra Celsum, Book 1, Chapter 1. Cf. A. Fürst, "Monotheismus und Monarchie. Zum Zusammenhang von Heil und Herrschaft in der Antike", Theol.Phil. 81 (2006), pp. 321-338, quoted on p. 336; cf. also J. Ratzinger, Die Einheit der Nationen. Eine Vision der Kirchenväter(Salzburg and Munich, 1971), p. 60.
 Cf. W. Waldstein, Ins Herz geschrieben. Das Naturrecht als Fundament einer menschlichen Gesellschaft (Augsburg, 2010), pp. 11ff., 31-61.
 Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., pp. 15-21.
 Cf. Waldstein, op. cit., p. 19.