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Pope says democracy requires moral absolutes

Pope John Paul II has hit out at the relativism of "ideological fanatics", telling Italian Catholics that upholding objective moral truths is the only way to give everyone the fair go that is the hallmark of democracy.

His message for Italian Catholics' Social Week affirmed the value of democracy, "inasmuch as it ensures the participation of citizens in political options and guarantees them the possibility both of electing and controlling their rulers, as well as of replacing them in a peaceful way".

However he said that democracy is vulnerable to threats from "philosophic currents, anthropological views, or political conceptions with ideological prejudices".

"There is, for example, the tendency to consider that relativism is the attitude of thought that corresponds better to democratic political forms, as if knowledge of the truth and adherence to it were an impediment," he observed. "In reality, truth is often feared because it is not known. Truth, exactly as Christ revealed it, is a guarantee of genuine and full freedom for the human person."

"If political action does not have as reference a higher ethical exigency, enlightened in turn by an integral view of man and society, it ends by serving inappropriate or even illicit ends," he warned.

"Truth, on the contrary, is the best antidote to ideological fanaticism, in the scientific, political and also the religious realm," the Holy Father said. "The evangelical message presents the central character of the person as a supra-ideological anchor that all can have as reference," he added. "Without being rooted in the truth, man and society are exposed to the violence of passions and to open or hidden conditioning."

Relativism Threatening Democracy, Says John Paul II (Zenit 19/10/04)

What Catholics should do about democracy: A week of brainstorming on the role of faith in the modern world (Zenit/ 16/10/04)
Catholic Week: Opens in Bologna in afternoon (AGI 7/10/04)

Great riches not advantage, better to be poor and live as one with God, says Pope (Catholic News Agency 20/10/04)
Pope speaks on vanity of riches (Catholic World News 20/10/04)
True riches are obtained being united to God (Vatican Information Service 20/10/04)

21 Oct 2004