VATICAN CITY -- After the Nazi atrocities of the World War II, Germany's new constitution recognized the dignity of each human being, a value that is starting to be questioned in the country, Pope Benedict XVI said.
"Only a society that respects and unconditionally defends the dignity of every person from conception to natural death can call itself a humane society," the pope said Nov. 7 as he welcomed Reinhard Schweppe as Germany's new ambassador to the Holy See.
Human dignity was recognized "in our constitution of 1949 and in the human rights declaration after the Second World War because, after the horrors of the dictatorship, people recognized the general validity of these values" common to all men and women of good will, no matter their culture or religion, he said.
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"However, some of these fundamental values of human existence are being put into question again," the pope said.
"To talk about a particularly important issue, it's not up to us to judge whether an individual is 'a person yet' or 'still a person,'" the pope said.
Pope Benedict said he recognizes Germany is a secular country, even if Christianity has helped form its culture. But when the church speaks out on behalf of human dignity and even when it joins the debate about proposed legislation, it's not trying to impose the Catholic beliefs on society, but to promote "those values that are valid for human beings as such."