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Rediscover moral roots of society, Pope urges

January 21, 2011

In a January 21 meeting with police official of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI said that it is crucial to uphold clear moral principles at a time when the public fears “that moral consensus is breaking down.”

The Pope’s comments, calling for a revival of public morality, were interpreted by many reporters as a subtle reference to the personal scandals plaguing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. But in fact the Pontiff’s remarks were addressed to a broader sense of turmoil in society—a sense that all ethical standards have been called into question. The Pope spoke of “a sense of insecurity, primarily due to social and economic instability, but also exacerbated by a weakening of the perception of ethical principles that underpin the law and personal moral attitudes, which always give strength to the rules that govern society.”

In such a climate the public witness of the Church is especially important, the Pope argued. He observed that many people today think that all morality is subjective, “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 result of this subjective approach, the Pope continued, is that “religion and morals tend to be confined to the subjective and private sphere; and faith with its values and its modes of behavior no longer merits a place in public and civil life.” The importance of faith is “progressively marginalized,” he said, at precisely the time when the witness of faith is most important.


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  • Posted by: - Jan. 23, 2011 9:08 AM ET USA

    Your readers may be interested in this: It speaks to something similar, especially with regard to the way you chose to entitle this article. Thank you. Father Ketcham.