Pope Francis backs Benedict’s stand against relativism
CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS - March 22, 2013
In his first major statement on the world’s political affairs, Pope Francis strongly backed a fundamental theme of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, warning against a “tyranny of relativism, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples.”
Speaking on March 22 to the ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, the new Pope stressed his commitment to dialogue, particularly with Islam, and to the fight against poverty. Yet his most significant statement may have been clear backing of his predecessor’s message: an indication that no major change is likely in the Vatican’s approach to world affairs.
The Pope received the ambassadors in the Sala Regia of the apostolic palace. Greeted by Jean-Claude Michel of Monaco, the dean of the diplomatic corps at the Vatican, he began his remarks by saying that the diplomatic work of the Holy See is guided by the desire to serve all people.
The Pope went on to say that in choosing the name Francis, after St. Francis of Assisi, he was evoking “a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith.” He said that St. Francis is an outstanding model for two reasons.
First the Pope mentioned the love that St. Francis showed for the poor. “How many poor people there still are in the world!” the Pontiff interjected. He observed that the Church all around the world works to ease the suffering of the poor, and added that “I think in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.”
“But there is another form of poverty,” Pope Francis continued. “It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously.” In that context he mentioned the “tyranny of relativism.” While the quest for peace is a top priority, the Pontiff cautioned:
But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.
The Pope reminded the diplomats that his title, “Pontiff,” refers to a bridge-builder. He said that he hopes to “help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.”
Once again, however, Pope Francis underlined the spiritual nature of his mission. “It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God,” he said. “But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people.”
The Pope promised to promote dialogue across religious boundaries, and said “I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam.”