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Francis and Benedict on why there’s hope even though human person now seen as mere product

OSSERVATORE ROMANO / AFP

Le pape François et le pape émérite Benoît XVI, le 23 décembre 2013.

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 09/16/21

The pill separated sexuality and fertility, leaving the person to be thought of as a "product to plan."

Another installment in a collection of Benedict XVI’s works was released September 16 in Italian, this one on the theme of Europe, and marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the European Union.

Pope Francis wrote a preface to the book, and Benedict offered an introduction.

The Pope Emeritus considers the anthropological leap of recent decades, during which the contemporary world has ceased to subscribe to the link between sexuality and fertility or to believe in a sacred origin of man.

“With the legalization of ‘same-sex marriage’ in sixteen European states, the theme of marriage and the family has taken on a new dimension which certainly cannot be ignored.”

This is the first sentence from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI introducing the work La Vera Europa, identità e missione (The true Europe: Identity and Mission.)

The 264-page book is the third volume of an editorial project that brings together a selection of texts by Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI. The two previous works were also prefaced by Pope Francis.

In his text of a little more than two pages sent to the editor last April, Benedict XVI draws up an analysis in four stages. First, he explains that “‘homosexual marriage’ is in contradiction with all the cultures of humanity which have succeeded one another up to now.”

Never before was the fact questioned that “the existence of man – as male and female – [was] ordered to procreation,” he notes.

This “original certainty which has been evident to humanity” was, according to him, overturned with the introduction of the contraceptive pill, because it made possible the “separation between fertility and sexuality.”

From then on, all forms of sexuality have become “equivalent”; “There are no longer any substantive criteria,” notes the pontiff emeritus.

He deduces from this that, if sexuality is separated from fertility, “then, conversely, fertility can naturally be thought of without sexuality.”

The person is therefore no longer understood as “a gift received” but as a “planned product.” However, “what can be made can also be destroyed,” warns the 94-year-old theologian. And he notes concern about the “growing tendency” to resort to “suicide as the planned end of life.”

Finally, the Pope Emeritus ensures that behind the reflections on homosexual marriage, the pill, or assisted suicide hides a “fundamental question”: “Who is man?”

He then poses this alternative: “either man is a creature of God, the image of God, the gift of God, or man is a product that he himself knows how to create.”

An analysis hailed by Pope Francis

In his preface written July 28, Pope Francis’ support for the Pope Emeritus is evident. “I am happy to present this volume,” he begins by writing, before briefly resuming the existential alternative proposed by his predecessor and the issues it raises.

He too is saddened by the fact that in Europe, “the idea of ​​respect for all human life is disappearing more and more, from the loss of awareness of its sacred character.”

He continued: “Over the years, Benedict XVI has not been afraid to denounce with great courage and foresight the many manifestations of this dramatic renunciation of the idea of ​​creation, up to the most recent current consequences.”

Consequences which, according to the Argentine pontiff, are “described in an absolutely clear and convincing manner in the introductory text [of Benedict XVI].”

In conclusion of his preface, Pope Francis echoes the hope of his predecessor, convinced that “the desire for God” is “deeply inscribed in every human soul and cannot disappear.”

And to quote him: “We humans are restless until we have found God. This turmoil also exists today. It is the hope that humanity, again and again, sets out towards God.”

Tags:
Pope Benedict XVIPope Francis
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