"It would be crazy to deprive ourselves of religion; [it would be] a
failing against culture and against thought." -- French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy
Pope Benedict XVI leaves a legacy in the wake of his four-day visit to France, which ended September 15, that includes re-thinking there of the relationship between church and state -- with the best interests for the future development of the country's (and, it seems, Europe's)economy and society in mind. (France currently holds the presidency of the European Union -- July through December 2008. The position is rotated every six months among member nations.)
In reports at Zenit.org, French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy calls his nation, and seemingly all of Europe, to embrace "positive secularity" -- which seems to be defined as conscienable development of a nation's wealth and culture that encourages input of religious thought and dialogue.
Sarkozy is quoted in his welcome to the pope on September 12: "It would be crazy to deprive ourselves of religion; [it would be] a failing against culture and against thought. For this reason, I am calling for a positive secularity," he says. "A positive secularity offers our consciences the possibility to interchange -- above and beyond our beliefs and rites -- the sense we want to give to our lives."
Sarkozy continues, "France has begun, together with Europe, a reflection on the morality of capitalism," noting further: "Economic growth doesn't make sense if it becomes it's own objective. Only the betterment of the situation of the greatest number of persons and their personal fulfillment constitute legitimate objectives. This teaching, that forms part of the heart of the social doctrine of the Church, is in perfect consonance with the challenges of the globalized contemporary economy. Our duty is to listen to it."
"Positive secularism," Sarkozy concludes, "is an encouragement to religion, as well as to all currents of thought."
Pope Benedict is quoted at Zenit.org in his address to Sarkozy, ""The roots of France -- like those of Europe -- are Christian. ... From its origins, your country received the Gospel message."
The Holy Father continues: "At this moment in history when cultures continue to cross paths more frequently, I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of secularity is now necessary. In fact, it is fundamental, on the one hand, to insist on the distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the state toward them; and, on the other hand, to become more aware of the irreplaceable role of religion for the formation of consciences and the contribution which it can bring to -- among other things -- the creation of a basic ethical consensus within society."
by Nancy E. Thoerig 09-17-08