Pope Benedict was formally receiving the letters of credence of Germany's new ambassador to the Holy See. According to the Vatican Information Service, His Holiness began by speaking about Fr. Gerhard Hirschfelder, "a martyr priest who died under the Nazi regime and who is due to be beatified in Munster on 19 September. He also referred to the beatifications of four other priests and the commemoration of an Evangelical pastor, scheduled for 2011."
Pope Benedict continued:
"Contemplating these martyrs, it emerges ever more clearly how certain men, on the basis of their Christian convictions, are ready to give their lives for the faith, for the right to exercise their beliefs freely and for freedom of speech, for peace and human dignity.I said on Saturday that "Archbishop Nichols's, my archbishop's, comments are dangerous to the souls of my children". I thank God that Pope Benedict has spoken out today re-iterating the Catholic Church's unchanging teaching on this matter. The ball is now in Archbishop Nichols's court to make it clear, unequivocally, that he withdraws his comments on gay unions and that he supports papal teaching on this matter.
"[However] many men tend to show an overriding inclination towards more permissive religious convictions. The personal God of Christianity, Who reveals Himself in the Bible, is replaced by a supreme being, mysterious and undefined, who has only a vague relation with the personal life of human beings.
"These ideas are increasingly animating discussion within society, especially as regards the areas of justice and lawmaking ...
"The Church looks with concern at the growing attempts to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is the lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is always open to the transmission of human life ... the success of marriages depends upon us all and on the personal culture of each individual citizen. In this sense, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that involve a re-evaluation of alternative models of marriage and family life. They contribute to a weakening of the principles of natural law, and thus to the relativisation of all legislation and confusion about values in society".
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