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As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God. Hence these relations take on fundamental importance.
The same holds true for peoples as well. A metaphysical understanding of the relations between persons is therefore of great benefit for their development. In this regard, reason finds inspiration and direction in Christian revelation, according to which the human community does not absorb the individual, annihilating his autonomy, as happens in the various forms of totalitarianism, but rather values him all the more because the relation between individual and community is a relation between one totality and another.
Just as a family does not submerge the identities of its individual members, just as the Church rejoices in each “new creation” (Gal 6:15; 2 Cor 5:17) incorporated by Baptism into her living Body, so too the unity of the human family does not submerge the identities of individuals, peoples and cultures, but makes them more transparent to each other and links them more closely in their legitimate diversity.
Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Caritas in veritatae, excerpt from §53, 29 June 2009
“They live in the world but they are not of the world. They live on earth but they are citizens of heaven. They obey to the laws in place and often they go beyond the requirements of the law. Although they are not understood they are condemned. Although they are put to death they carry on living. They are poor but they make many people rich. Although they lack everything they possess everything in abundance. Dishonoured, they find honour. Although people lie against them they use their name as a witness to their righteousness. They are looked upon with derision and they respond with blessings. As they suffer they glorify God. When they are honest they get punished as if they were criminals. While they get punished they remain joyful as if they are being rewarded!…
In a few words: whatever is the soul for the body, this is the Christians to the world!
(Letter to Diognetus, teacher of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, circa 170 AD)
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