The following is the full English text of the Pope's Christmas message
Brethren, our words today are the echo of a heavenly message, a message distant in time but ever close in reality. A message that, conquers the centuries and remains ever relevant. The message is this: "I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all the people, for today is horn for you a saviour. Christ the Lord".
It is the message of Christmas. It is the message that from a son of the human race salvation comes to mankind. The insistent question arises: Perhaps man is saved by man? We are celebrating, it is true, a feast of man. Perhaps this is the reason why Christmas exercises a spontaneous attraction even among the many that do not accept its religious significance.
Today. many people substitute anthropology for theology. They see in Christianity ;.t human value that is acceptable to all, they do not see the divine truth that gives this human value its reason for being zind its infinite worth.
Today, the strategic point of ideological discussion is humanism. Not the humanism that we remember from history, nor that of our classical culture, hut rather the humanism of modern culture and sociology, a humanism that has become in some of its typical expressions a cosmic utopia that sets up man as man's God.
It is a humanism that, with a persistent and falsely logical precipitation of thought. will dare to affirm that man is his own absolute cause, the spontaneous expression of a liberating and an innately legitimate and honest vitality, one that takes the place of any other eternal obligation. Man, and nothing else. And then this humanistic infatuation, being aware of' the limits of our life, will increase beyond measure the dimensions of human stature, and will deafen us with the triumphant cry of the super-man, secretly fretting at not knowing how otherwise to satisfy man's innate vocation to rise above himself.
It will delude the world that it can renew it, by authorising it to undertake the conquest and use of unlimited material power. But at the same time this humanism, becoming disillusioned with itself, will seize on scientific analysis and will remind us of the actual consistency of our animal nature, not hesitating to identify the complex creature of election that we are with our lower forebears in the biological kingdom. These are also marvellous phenomena of nature but lacking spiritual consciousness and destined soon to undergo the inexorable dissolution of death.
Another sort of humanism, brethren, we celebrate at the birth of Christ, it is a different concept of man, and this is of capital importance today. The feast of' the true Christmas places us at the summit of the science of man: the ancient wisdom of "know thyself", remaining at the level of a question. has today its own superabundant, even though ever mysterious response.
Our concept of man recognises and affirms man's pre-eminent origin. Man is a creature so fine. so noble, so worthy of all our enthusiasm and admiration as to show forth in himself. in his own essential being, "The image of likeness" of God (Gen 1:25). He is destined to rule over all other creatures. He knows. through a faith confirmed by experience (Cf. Pascal, 434), the sad drama of the original and inherited fall of original sin, a sin which has brought division into every element of human life, leaving therein boundless nostalgia and unsatisfied aspirations together with disorder and imbalance in the psychological and moral mechanism of man's activity. This drama has left the sad and humiliating experiences of a great inherited malfunctioning, and the greatness and misery which makes man in himself an exalting and tormented need, in which has become a hope through the promise of divine mercy. This is man.
Woe to the person who interferes with him: for man is born sacred in his life, from his mother's womb. He is born ever endowed with the perilous but divine prerogative of freedom. This freedom can be trained hut it is inviolable. Man is born as a person sufficient in himself, yet needing social companionship, he is horn a thinking being, a willing being) a being destined For good but capable of error and sin. He is born for truth and he is born for love.
If we wanted to give a complete description of man as Christian humanism describes him, we would never finish. For the moment we would point out just one aspect, an aspect which underlines all the others that make up the essential picture of man: the need for salvation.
As he exists. man is not perfect. He is a being essentially in need of restoration, of rehabilitation, of fullness, of perfection and of happiness. His IS a life which does not suffice to itself, he needs a complement of life. an infinite complement. Exalt man: you will make more evident his deficiency, his incompleteness, his inner need to he saved. We say it at once and we say it in a word: his need for a Saviour.
Yes, the need for a Saviour: a man to be one with men, hut at the same time God in order to lead man to the heights to which his original and .present nature destines him to the level of the divine.
To you our brethren we speak today of these fundamental things. so that you may understand them, believe them and live them. To you our brethren, if you are in sorrow. misery. suffering or sin, to you, peoples of the entire world. we repeat with the joy of certainty: brethren, there is born for us a Saviour the Saviour. tie is the son of Mary. He is the son of God, He is called our Lord Jesus Christ.