Pope Benedict delivered a speech earlier today in the central Tiergarten district of Berlin, at Schloss Bellevue -- Bellevue Palace -- the official residence of the President of Germany.
Here's the text of his speech, via the Vatican Information Service (Highlights are mine -- "The Assistant Headmaster"):
"Even though this journey is an official visit which will reinforce the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen rightly do, but rather to meet people and to speak about God", said the Pope in his address. "We are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society, which considers the issue of truth as something of an obstacle in its decision-making, and instead gives priority to utilitarian considerations.
"All the same", he added, "a binding basis for our coexistence is needed; otherwise people live in a purely individualistic way. Religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life." Just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion'. These words of the great bishop and social reformer Wilhelm von Ketteler, the second centenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year, remain timely.
"Freedom requires a primordial link to a higher instance. The fact that there are values which are not absolutely open to manipulation is the true guarantee of our freedom", which "develops only in responsibility to a greater good. Such a good exists only for all of us together. ... In human coexistence, freedom is impossible without solidarity. ... This holds true not only in private matters but also for society as a whole. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, society must give sufficient space for smaller structures to develop and, at the same time, must support them so that one day they will stand on their own".
The Holy Father went on: "Bellevue Castle, ... with its dramatic history (like many buildings of this city) is a testimony to the history of Germany. A clear look at the past, even at its dark pages, enables us to learn from it and to receive an impetus for the present. The Federal Republic of Germany has become what it is today thanks to the power of freedom shaped by responsibility before God and before one another. It needs this dynamism, which engages every human sector in order to continue developing now. It needs this in a world which requires a profound cultural renewal and the rediscovery of fundamental values upon which to build a better future".