While we’re at it (as they say over at First Things), Sandro Magister also has snippets from Pope Benedict’s address to the Swiss Bishops. Here he has something really interesting to say about what has come to be called the “seamless robe” of Catholic social doctrine:
I often hear it said that people today have a nostalgia for God, for spirituality, for religion, and that the Church, too, is again beginning to be seen as […] a great repository of spiritual experience: it is like a tree in which birds can build their nests, even if they want to fly away again later […].
But what turns out to be very difficult for people is the morality that the Church proclaims. I have reflected upon this – I had already been reflecting upon it for some time – and I see with increasing clarity that, in our time, it is as if morality has been divided into two parts.
Modern society is not simply without morality, but it has, so to speak, “discovered” and professes a part of morality that, in the Church’s proclamation over the past few decades and even farther back than that, perhaps hasn’t been presented sufficiently. These are the great themes of peace, non-violence, justice for all, concern for the poor, and respect for creation.
…This morality exists, and also fascinates young people, who engage themselves on behalf of peace, non-violence, justice, the poor, creation. And these are truly great moral themes, which moreover belong to the tradition of the Church as well. Now, the methods that are advanced to solve these are often very one-sided and are not always credible, but we shouldn’t dwell upon this for now. […]
The other part of morality, which is not rarely viewed in a fairly controversial light by politics, concerns life. Part of this is the commitment on behalf of life, from conception to death; that is, its defense against abortion, against euthanasia, against manipulation, and against man’s self-conferred authorization to dispose of life…. The morality of marriage and the family is also situated in this context.
…I think that we should exert ourselves in reconnecting these two parts of morality and making it clear that these must be inseparably united. It is only if human life is respected from conception to death that the ethics of peace is also possible and credible; it is only then that non-violence can express itself in every direction; only then that we truly welcome creation, and only then that we can arrive at true justice.
I think that we are facing a great task here: on the one hand, we must not make Christianity appear as mere moralism, but as a gift in which is given to us the love that sustains us and provides us with the strength necessary to be able to “lose one’s life”; on the other hand, in this context of the gift of love, we must also progress toward concretization, the foundations of which are still provided for us by the Decalogue, which, with Christ and with the Church, we should interpret in a new and progressive way at this time.
Perhaps this gives us another way of viewing the “People/Christ or Gaia” dilema? Concern for life issues are in fact a kind of “environmentalism” or “ecology” of the human being, where the human being is allowed a true place in God’s creation. By raising its voice in support of the dignity of all human beings at every stage of life and in defense of marriage and family, the Church is seeking to ward off a disaster every bit as cataclysmic as that which we may face from the threat of climate change.