News & Media

May 24, 2013
Conference on “The political speech of Pope Benedict XVI”

On Friday May 24, 2013, the Pontifical Faculty of Theology at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK), in cooperation with the Maronite Research and Documentation Center, organized a conference entitled “The Political Speech of Pope Benedict XVI”. This event took place in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Mgr. Gabriel Caccia, Bishop Paul Rouhana, representing the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al Rai, Member of Parliament Farid El Khazen, Bishop Samir Mazloum, Bishop Michel El Abras, the Superior General of the Lebanese Maronite Order, Rev. Fr. Abbot Tannous Nehme, the General Director of the Maronite Research and Documentation Center, Mgr. Said Said, the University President, Rev. Fr. Hady Mahfouz, the Dean of the Faculty, Rev. Fr. Antoine  Ahmar, and numerous other students and professors.

Firstly, Rev. Fr. Ahmar welcomed the attendees and gave the floor to the Apostolic Nuncio in Lebanon, Mgr. Caccia, who indicated that “Successive Papal visits to Lebanon have confirmed this country’s role in the Middle East and within the Catholic Church.” He added that Pope Benedict XVI was the only cardinal who was not nominated cardinal by Pope John Paul II, but by Pope Paul VI. He declared that this gave us the opportunity to talk about the political speech of Pope Paul VI, who was the first Holy Father to visit the United Nations headquarters and to address the General Assembly. Mgr. Caccia quoted Paul VI: “This encounter, as you well understand, is of a twofold nature: it is marked both with simplicity and with greatness. Simplicity, because you have before you a man like you, your brother, and indeed one of the smallest among you who represent sovereign States; for he is vested, if you wish to think of him as thus, with only a minuscule and, as it were, symbolic temporal sovereignty, only as much as is necessary to be free to exercise his spiritual mission and to assure those who deal with him that he is independent of every other sovereignty of this world...”

Mgr. Caccia continued: “In order to examine this political speech, it is also necessary to mention that the Vatican has diplomatic relations with almost the whole world – with Christian and non-Christian countries. The citizens of the Vatican come from all over the world, and most of them are not Italian. They do not have any national interests because their nation is the entire world…”

Then, the General Director of the Maronite Research and Documentation Center, Mgr. Said Said, moderated the conference and stated that this particular event would examine the political speech of Pope Benedict XVI, through the texts that have been gathered in a book published by the center and which was presented to the Pope during his visit to Lebanon.”

After this, Dr. Mouchir Aoun, Professor of Philosophy at the Lebanese University, gave a lecture entitled “The Theological Background of the Political Act” explaining that Pope Benedict XVI adopted a holistic approach in the elucidation of the truths of human presence, especially in the political field. With regard to the main principles governing the perception of the human being, the universe and history, Dr. Aoun indicated that “Benedict XVI worked on extracting the main principles upon which our human presence should lie, in all experiences and actions.”

Fr. Bassem Rai gave his lecture entitled “The Values in a Changing World”. He stated that the title of his intervention raised a complicated problematic, which has no final answer and which links the historical path with certain values, adding that human history was the proof of this problematic. He concluded: “By getting away from understanding the human self and being bound to objective reality, which is reflected in nature and the natural law, humanity faces a crisis of values, because this way, it ignores the reasonableness of existence or, in other words, it ignores the brain in the advantage of coincidence and offer.”

Finally, MP Farid El Khazen took the floor and talked about “The Political Commitment in Light of the Christian Faith”. He indicated that “In his speeches and letters, Pope Benedict tackled almost all of the complicated issues that are worrying the world within the political field and on the levels of the State and Society. Human dignity is the main pillar of political action, and the respect of freedom is at the core of all religious and temporal maters. At a time when freedom and dignity go hand in hand, the right to religious freedom, according to the Pope, is the most important of all rights.”
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