Respect for human dignity is obligatory, pope says at general audience
Published: June 16, 2010
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Respect for human dignity and for human rights is an obligatory result of a natural moral law that everyone is capable of knowing and following, Pope Benedict XVI said. "When natural law and the responsibility it implies are denied, the path toward ethical relativism opens dramatically, both on an individual level as well as on a political level," leading to the threat of totalitarianism, the pope said June 16 at his weekly general audience. The key to natural law, he said, is recognizing the dignity of each person and every human life. Continuing a series of audience talks about important church figures from the Middle Ages, Pope Benedict spoke about St. Thomas Aquinas and his teaching on the relationship between faith and reason and on the relationship between grace and natural law. In his theology, St. Thomas Aquinas taught that "faith consolidates, integrates and enlightens the patrimony of truth acquired by human reason," and reason helps theology explain faith, he said. St. Thomas wrote that despite sin, human nature is not "completely corrupt," and the gift of God's grace, communicated through Christ, "heals, strengthens and helps nature pursue the desire innate in the heart of every man and every woman for happiness," he said.
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