VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI warned against the grave dangers that "radical secularism" posed to the Catholic Church and society in general during a meeting Thursday with US bishops.
The United States was founded "on certain ethical principles" that have "eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents...," he said.
These trends, the pontiff continued, "are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such."
While acknowledging the legitimacy of the separation of church and state, that did not mean the Roman Catholic Church should remain silent on certain questions, he added.
"The Church has a critical role to play in countering cultural currents which, on the basis of an extreme individualism, seek to promote notions of freedom detached from moral truth," the pope said.
He noted US bishops' efforts "to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life and to help them understand their personal responsibility to offer public witness to their faith...".
That was especially important with regard to "the great moral issues of our time: respect for God?s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and the promotion of authentic human rights," he said.
The bishops had to ensure that American Catholics had the courage "to counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church's participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."
The pope's comments were posted in English on the Vatican website.