July/August 2012

The Pope Launched a Renewed Attack on the “Moral Relativism” that he has blamed for Britain’s Riots

Written by Simon Caldwell

In a message for the 2012 World Peace Day of January 1, Pope Benedict said that neither peace nor justice was obtainable if the objective norms of morality expressed in the Ten Commandments continue to be rejected.

His words represent another severe criticism of moral relativism, the humanistic creed that holds there can be no objective standard on which to base morality.

They come just months after the Pope told Nigel Baker, Britain's Ambassador to the Holy See, that the spread of the ideology was to blame for the riots that convulsed British cities over four days in August, saying it produced "frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others".

In his New Year's Day message, the Pontiff warned all societies that justice and peace will remain "words without content" unless they are informed instead by the natural moral law, the key precepts of which are expressed in the Ten Commandments.

He said that every person 'must move beyond the relativistic horizon and come to know the truth about himself and the truth about good and evil'.

"Deep within his conscience, man discovers a law that he did not lay upon himself, but which he must obey," he said in his message, Educating Young People in Justice and Peace. "Its voice calls him to love and to do what is good, to avoid evil and to take responsibility for the good he does and the evil he commits," he said.

"Thus, the exercise of freedom is intimately linked to the natural moral law, which is universal in character, expresses the dignity of every person and forms the basis of fundamental human rights and duties - consequently, in the final analysis, it forms the basis for just and peaceful coexistence."

T he Pope said: 'The right use of freedom, then, is central to the promotion of justice and peace, which require respect for oneself and others, including those whose way of being and living differs greatly from one's own.

"This attitude engenders the elements without which peace and justice remain merely words without content: mutual trust, the capacity to hold constructive dialogue, the possibility of forgiveness, which one constantly wishes to receive but finds hard to bestow, mutual charity, compassion towards the weakest, as well as readiness to make sacrifices."

The Pope said that it was the task of education to form people in authentic freedom because when absolute individualism was promoted in its place a person 'ends up contradicting the truth of his own being and forfeiting his freedom'. "On the contrary, man is a relational being, who lives in relationship with others and especially with God," he said. "Authentic freedom can never be attained independently of God."

Pope Benedict has taught the significance of the natural moral law throughout his seven-year pontificate.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this law is considered natural because it is part of the nature of a person, inscribed on every human heart enabling people to discern by reason good and evil, and truth from falsehood.

Pope Benedict ended his message by addressing young people directly. 'You are a precious gift for society,' he said.

"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems.

"Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and c o n s t a n c y , humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love."

Pope Benedict XVI is theologically conservative and his teaching and prol i f i c wri t ings defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. During his papacy, Benedict XVI has advocated a return to fundamental Christian values to counter the increased secularisation of many developed countries. He views relativism's denial of objective truth, and the denial of moral truths in particular, as the central problem of the 21st century.