Benedict XVI's Address to Rome's Police

"The Time in Which We Live Is Suffused With Profound Changes"

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the directors and officers of the Police Headquarters in Rome.

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Illustrious Mr. Quaestor,
Illustrious Directors and Officials,
Dear Agents and Civil Personnel of the State Police!

I am truly happy about this meeting with you and I welcome you in the House of Peter, this time not for service, but to see, speak and greet one another in a more familiar way! I greet in particular Mr. Quaestor, thanking him for his courteous words, as well as the other directors and the chaplain. A cordial greeting to your families, especially the children!

I would like to thank you, first of all, for all the work you do in favor of the city of Rome, of which I am bishop, so that its life unfolds in order and security. I express my gratitude also for that extra commitment that often my activity requires of you! The time in which we live is suffused with profound changes. Even Rome, which is rightly called the "Eternal City," is very changed and evolves; we experience this every day and you are its privileged witnesses. These changes at times generate a sense of insecurity, due in the first place to the social and economic precariousness, made acute also by a certain weakening of the perception of ethical principles on which the law and personal moral attitudes are founded, which always give strength to those regulations.

Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is suffused at the same time by the impression that moral consent is failing and that, as a consequence, the structures at the base of coexistence no longer succeed in functioning fully. Hence, in many the temptation appears of thinking that the forces mobilized for the defense of civil society are in the end destined to failure. In face of this temptation, we, who are Christians, have a particular responsibility to reawaken a new resoluteness in professing the faith and in doing good, to continue with courage to be close to men in their joys and sufferings, in happy hours as in those of darkness of earthly existence.

In our days, great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence. On one hand, it is a good, because it makes possible to put man and his dignity at the center of consideration whether in thought or in historic action. One must never forget, however, that man finds his most profound dignity in the loving look of God, in reference to him. Attention to the subjective dimension is also a good when the value of the human conscience is put in evidence. However, here we find a grave risk, because developed in modern thought is a reductive vision of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what is worthwhile and what is true, but it is the single individual, with his intuitions and experiences, who is the meter of measure; each one, hence, has his own truth, his own morality. The most evident consequence is that religion and morality tend to be confined in the ambit of the individual, of the private: that is, faith with its values and conduct is no longer to have a right and a place in public and civil life. Therefore, if on one hand great importance is given in society to pluralism and tolerance, on the other, religion tends to be progressively marginalized and considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the civil world, almost as if it should limit its influence on man's life.

On the contrary, for us Christians, the true meaning of "conscience" is man's capacity to recognize the truth and, the possibility prevails again of hearing its claim, of seeking it and finding it. It so happens that man is able to open himself to the truth and to the good, to be able to receive them freely and consciously. Moreover, the human person is an expression of a plan of love and truth: God has "projected" the person, so to speak, with his interiority, with his conscience, so that it can draw the guidelines to protect and cultivate himself and human society.

The new challenges which appear on the horizon exact that God and man again encounter one another, that society and public institutions find their "soul" again, their spiritual and moral roots, to give a new consistency to ethical and juridical values of reference and, hence, to practical action. The Christian faith and the Church do not cease to offer their own contribution to the promotion of the common good and of a genuinely human progress. The religious service itself and of spiritual assistance that -- in the strength of the normative dispositions in force -- state and Church are committed to furnish also to the personnel of the state police, witnesses the perennial fruitfulness of this meeting.

The singular vocation of the city of Rome requires from you today who are public officials, to give a good example of positive and profitable interaction between healthy laicism and Christian faith. The effectiveness of your service, in fact, is the fruit of the combination between professionalism and human quality, between the updating of means and systems of security and human gifts such as patience, perseverance in goodness, sacrifice and the willingness to listen. All this, well harmonized, goes in favor of the citizens, especially of persons in difficulty. Always be able to consider man as the end, so that all can live in a genuinely human way. As bishop of this city, I would like to invite you to read and meditate the Word of God, to find in it the source and the criterion of inspiration for your action.

Dear friends! When you are in service on the streets of Rome, and in your offices, think that your bishop, the Pope, prays for you, who loves you! I thank you for your visit, and entrust all to the protection of Mary Most Holy and of the Archangel St. Michael, your heavenly protector, while I impart from my heart to you and on your commitment a special Apostolic Blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]