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Modern western culture against religion, pope says

dpa German Press Agency
Published: Thursday October 19, 2006

Verona, Italy- Modern Western culture is unable to dialogue with religion and cannot answer fundamental questions about the meaning of life, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday. Speaking in the northern Italian city of Verona, where he attended a convention of the Italian Catholic Church, Benedict said the West must return to its Christian root, warning against its secular drift.

He identified "utilitarianism" - the philosophy that prescribes the maximization of personal happiness and pleasure - and "relativism" - a doctrine whereby all criteria of judgment are relative to the individuals and situations involved - among the ills of modern culture.

Benedict said the West was witnessing "a new wave of Enlightenment and secularism, in which only that which can be tested and calculated is considered rationally valid, and in which individual freedom is erected as a fundamental value to which everything else is subordinated.

"In this way, God is excluded from culture and public life", he said.

"It is not difficult to see how this type of culture represents a radical and profound separation not only from Christianity but more generally from the religious and moral traditions of humanity," he said.

This mean Western culture "is unable to undertake a real dialogue with other cultures in which the religious dimension is strongly present. Nor is it able to respond to the fundamental questions about the meaning and direction of life," he said.

Reaffirming long-held views, the pope also defended the importance of the role of the traditional family and called for the protection of life in all its phases.

Benedict arrived at the Verona meeting aboard a glass-roofed "popemobile" and later celebrated mass in the city's main stadium.

© 2006 dpa German Press Agency