Benedict floats idea of "healthy secularity"

While paying an official visit on Italy's President Carlo Ciampi on Friday, Pope Benedict XVI said that a healthy secularity in government would not bar the introduction of moral arguments drawn from religious principles.

Catholic World News reports that the Holy Father observed that relations between the Holy See and the Italian state are founded upon a vision explained in Vatican II, "according to which 'the Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and independent from each other.

When Church and state occupy their own proper spheres, the Pope continued, political leaders will not shy away from "those ethical references whose ultimate foundations are to be found in religion." It is not a threat to secularism in politics, he stressed, when public discussions take into account "an integral vision of man and of his eternal destiny."

Today, the Pope said, the Italian people should "not deny the Christian heritage that makes up part of their history, but guard it jealously and bring it once again to produce fruits worthy of the past."

He voiced his hope that Italy will lead Europe as a whole to "rediscover those Christian roots that enabled it to be great in the past, and that still today can favour the profound unity of the continent."

The Pope was making his first formal visit to the Quirinal Palace, the official residence of the Italian presidency. He was returning the official visit that President Ciampi made to the Vatican on 3 May.

Pope visits Italian president, speaks on healthy secularity (Catholic News Agency 24/6/05)

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27 Jun 2005