Vatican City, 13th January 2016
Hope and task: Benedict XVI’s speeches about politics. This is the topic some important scholars discussed on 25th-26th November 2015. They were invited by the Joseph Ratzinger – Benedikt XVI. Stiftung” to reflect on the theological, philosophical and anthropological aspects of the speeches Benedict XVI dedicated to politics and before to its ethical foundations. From this point of view, it was a good choice to hold the big Symposium on 25th afternoon at the “Bundestag”; moreover, four years after the historical visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the German Parliament, the main speech was given by Msgr. Georg Gänswein, the Pope’s private secretary and Professor of Canon Law in Rome. “Faith makes good politics possible, but the Church cannot and must not be interested in it.” That’s what the Prefect of the Pontifical Household said during in his speech, whose title was: “Hope and responsibility. Pope Benedict’s most important political and social remarks”. More than 500 people (among which there were more than 50 members of parliament from different groups) attended the conference, together with the apostolic nuncio in Berlin, Msgr. Nikola Eterovic. Before the conference, the Vice President of the High Chamber Johannes Singhammer and the President of the Democratic-Christian parliamentary group Volker Kauder greeted the audience. Following the speech Pope Benedict had given in Regensburg, Gänswein warned people against the risk involved in hierocracy and imposing the faith with physical power or ethics. Remembering what Pope Benedict had said in Westminster Hall, London, Gänswein affirmed that faith makes politics grow up, because if we consider man as created in the image of a good Creator spiritus, his life is sacred and protected by God; notwithstanding human laws, the man enjoys the inalienable right that God gives and no human law could abolish; it also means that man obedience to God is established as a limit to his obedience to the State.
From this perspective, the archbishop Gänswein wondered which was the role of Christian people who commit themselves in politics. They know the Church should not question the way politics deals with justice. Since the origins of politics coincide with justice, we can firmly say that these origins are of pre-political and ethical nature and even in the most democratic conditions, politics couldn’t have that nature.
If the Church questioned politics, the definition of what is right and what is wrong, what is moral and what is not, what is good and what is bad would constantly change; even man nature would be defined according to the current dominant ideology. Gänswein wondered if it had been the ambition of the 19th century totalitarian regimes, that had always ignored the fundamental distinction between spiritual and temporal power. A Christian in politics is somebody who acts as Solomon did – following the unforgettable image of the politician Pope Benedict outlined at the “Bundestag”-. He doesn’t ask God to have richness and power, but a heart that is open to the voice of God and is able to look at people with care, as God looks at his creatures: the creatures he loved so much that he became a man and died for their salvation. Due to this carefulness, that is opposite to pragmatism and cynicism, the politician will be able to act with justice and for the wealth of the whole people. Georg Gänswein was able to underline the different aspects of Joseph Ratzinger’s “Theology of politics” that other scholars would discuss the following day: Berthold Wald, full professor of Systematic Theology in Paderborn (Christianity, secular reason and interculturality. The things that connect the world) Rocio Daga-Portillo, expert of Islam and professor at the University of Munich (History and law in Islam: paths of thought in Classical Islam and the turning point of the modern age) reverend Martin Rohnheimer, full professor of ethics and philosophy of politics in Wien and at the University of the Holy Cross of Rome (Law and politics: Benedict’s considerations on democracy and legal positivism); Nadja El Beheiri, full professor of Roman Law at the Catholic University of Budapest (Legal traditions in Europe and Natural Right) Hanna Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, philosopher and professor at the Theology and Philosophy Institute of the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz (With nature and reason: fundamental topics of the gender theory); Harald Seubert, professor of Religious Sciences at the Theology Institute of Basilea (The concept of “ecology of the man” described by Benedict XVI). A brief account could not explain the great importance of the debate on 26th November. At the end of the Symposium father Stephan Horn, President of the “Ratzinger Stiftung” and of the “Ratzinger Schülerkreis said that the proceedings of the Symposium would be published as soon as possible, as the audience had asked. The constant attention of the audience was due to the high interest of the topics, that were harmoniously organized: from the disease of a faith that is not accompanied by reason and often turns into an abuse and the deification of hate, to a reason that is closed to faith, and a heart that is closed to the voice of God. It is a distorted conscience that produces a concept of human right that is far from the idea of God. And the same conscience leads to nihilistic human rights: assisted suicide, gender theory and the idea of a man who is created by the man himself, a man that can be bought (that is the right to have children using frozen embryos and surrogate mothers). The right to life that is not given and protected by God turns into the right to eliminate what we have produced or to recycle it as it happened with Planned Parenthood. It is the most important American institution for the defence of the right to abortion, that asked a lot of money to sell aborted babies. Other British institutions have admitted that in recent years more than 15,000 foetuses had been burnt together with waste in the heating system of the hospitals. How can we react to these terrible scenarios and to the fears they produce? “We mustn’t hide ourselves, as snails always do” said Msgr. Gänswein during the homily for the final Mass that was celebrated, among others, by the archbishop of Berlin Heiner Koch and by the emeritus bishop of Graz-Seckau, Egon Kapellari. “In the Gospel of today, the description of the last events show that God lives in the power and the glory”. We hope that all Christian laics will have the strength to undertake their responsibilities and realize the “ecology of the man”: because, as Benedict XVI said, man has a “given nature” and if we try to violate or deny it, we will destroy ourselves.