Pope to world: I miss the dark ages.
Pope: Religion has a place in politics
PARIS, France (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to make their voices heard in France and other countries that have strong traditions of secularism, saying Friday that politics and religion must be open to each other.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Pope Benedict XVI
The pope embarked Friday on a four-day trip -- his first to France as pontiff -- that will take him from the presidential Elysee Palace to the Roman Catholic shrine in Lourdes.
Benedict was greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, at a Paris airport, where a military band in plumed hats played a fanfare. Later in Paris, the pope was to address a gathering including Muslim leaders on the second anniversary of a speech that heightened tensions with much of the Islamic world.
Traditionally Roman Catholic France is wrestling with its changing religious landscape, and how to reconcile it with the secularism that underpins the modern French Republic. The country has a growing number of Muslims whose visible customs, such as wearing headscarves in public schools, have raised the hackles of officials determined to preserve the boundaries between church and state.
On the plane, Benedict expressed understanding for secular traditions, but added that, nonetheless, "Religion and politics must be open to each other."
"The presence of Christian values is fundamental for the survival of our nations and our societies," he said.
Politics should be open to religion in this one way: We protect religion by not getting involved.
That it also protects secularists and non-belivers is icing on a tasty cake.
"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray