Facing the “plurality of value systems and ethical outlooks” associated with secularism, Pope Benedict XVI today urged Portuguese Christians to embrace the “nucleus” of their faith. The pontiff also hinted they should expect blowback, calling Christians to be ready for “the radical choice of martyrdom.”
Benedict hailed the secular separation of church and state for “opening up a new area of freedom for the church,” but also warned that the ethical pluralism can sow confusion about “the human meaning of life” and also “marginalize” the public role of religious faith.
During comments aboard the papal plane, Benedict nonetheless stressed the importance of dialogue with secular culture.
“The presence of secularism is something normal, but a separation of cult from life, a separation of secularism from cult and faith, is anomalous and must be overcome,” Benedict said. “The great challenge is for the two to meet and to discover their true identity ”¦ this, as I said, is a mission for Europe and a human necessity in our time.”
All in all, Benedict’s pitch vis-Ã -vis secularism on the opening day of his four-day swing in Portugal seemed a version of the ancient Roman dictum, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Benedict’s advice to believers making their way in a secular world was, “Seek dialogue, but be ready for martyrdom.”