Canada must correct understanding of freedom, Pope says

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • November 4, 2008
{mosimage}VATICAN CITY - A correct understanding of freedom is needed to revive a true culture of life in Canada that respects human dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Catholicism represents an essential cornerstone in the framework of Canadian society," he said in an Oct. 30 audience with Canada's new ambassador to the Vatican, Anne Leahy, who presented her credentials.
However, there have been many deep and "alarming" changes in Canada; one now can wonder whether a "regression in the concept of what it is to be human" is under way, he said.

A false interpretation of freedom, for example, that it is "an intangible right of the individual," had led to individuals deciding for themselves what constitutes life, death and marriage, he said.

{mosimage}In Canada, abortion at any stage of pregnancy and same-sex marriages are legal, and common-law relationships are on the same legal footing as marriage. Legislative measures that would legalize euthanasia also have been proposed.

Pope Benedict said it is possible to revive a true culture of life in Canada but it would require a "redefinition of the meaning of exercising freedom" because recently the concept of freedom often has "been invoked to justify certain excesses."

True freedom is a gift from God that also must take into consideration the needs and good of society, he said. The gift of real freedom should be welcomed as if it were a small seed that must be cared for responsibly in order for it to ripen, grow and "truly enrich the person and society," the Pope said.

He said he supported the Canadian bishops' efforts in promoting the traditional family and protecting human dignity. He also commended the human and spiritual education Catholic schools offer in Canada.

The Pope said he hoped Canada's new government would "contribute to the promotion of the common good" and create a more harmonious society.

The Pope thanked Canada for working with the Vatican and other countries to support the 1997 treaty to ban anti-personnel mines, known as the Ottawa Convention, saying it "represents an international instrument that has made a success rarely attained in recent times in the field of disarmament." The success of this convention is an example of nations coming together to oppose a culture of death in order to build a culture of life, he said.

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