Promoting moral values leads to social peace, pope tells ambassador

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — When public policies do not promote values such as justice, fairness and compassion, the resulting void has the potential of giving rise to frustration and despair that can explode, Pope Benedict XVI told Great Britain’s new ambassador to the Holy See.

The drive to develop public policies that promote objective values “is especially important in the light of events in England this summer,” the pope told Nigel Baker, the new ambassador, during a meeting Sept. 9 at the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

The Vatican released the texts of both the pope’s and the ambassador’s speeches.

In early August, young people in several English cities engaged in rioting, looting and arson. The rioting began after a peaceful demonstration in London calling for an investigation into the police shooting of a young man and grew into a widespread protest.

Pope Benedict said, “When policies do not presume or promote objective values, the resulting moral relativism, instead of leading to a society that is free, fair, just and compassionate, tends instead to produce frustration, despair, selfishness and a disregard for the life and liberty of others.

“Policy makers are therefore right to look urgently for ways to uphold excellence in education, to promote social opportunity and economic mobility, to examine ways to favor long-term employment and to spread wealth much more fairly and broadly throughout society,” he said.

Young people need a sense of duty, he said, and that comes through promoting the values of the dignity of life and of the family and insisting on a “sound moral education of the young,” including education about the obligation to care for others.

Pope Benedict also used his speech to renew his thanks to the British government and people for the success of his trip to Scotland and England last year and to renew the Vatican’s commitment to working with the government to promote development and environmental protection around the globe.

The new ambassador, who celebrated his 45th birthday Sept. 9, told the pope, “We need to work together to tackle the existential threats this world faces, of which the two most significant are climate change and arms proliferation.”

In addition, he said, “we need to come together to encourage dialogue between faiths and beliefs, promoting peace and understanding,” as well as religious freedom.