I'm not entirely sure what to make of the address. Reading it you get the sense that the Pope wants the Church to speak in the same terms as that of the secular world and to contribute to a common mission together.
And yet that secular world is allowing less and less room for the Church in the public sphere.
So in the address the Pope does pause to argue that the terms used in the secular world should be understood in a way that isn't hostile to the Church.
For instance, human rights legislation is being used in some European countries to restrict public expression of Christian faith. So the Pope said of human rights:
Sadly, especially in the West, one frequently encounters ambiguities about the meaning of human rights and their corresponding duties. Rights are often confused with exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual, who becomes self-referential, no longer open to encounter with God and with others, and absorbed only in seeking to satisfy his or her own needs. To be authentic, the defence of rights must instead consider human beings integrally, in their personal and communitarian dimensions.I find that interesting as I too see "exaggerated manifestations of the autonomy of the individual" as being a key problem in the modern West.
Also, the alternative put forward by the Pope is a promising one. He wants rights to be considered not just in terms of a self-referential individual (what I have previously called an abstracted, atomised individual) but more "integrally" including a person's life within a community (what liberals call the "encumbered" self).
It's a pity the Pope didn't draw this out more. What, for instance, would be some examples of rights that a person considered integrally would have? Wouldn't a person, considered in their communitarian dimension, have a right to preserve the communal identity from which he derives a significant aspect of his identity and his commitment to a larger society?
The American Catholic Church doesn't think so, holding instead that there is a right to immigrate:
Persons have the right to immigrate and thus government must accommodate this right to the greatest extent possible, especially financially blessed nations.To sum up:
a) It's a positive that the Pope is willing to make criticisms of the exaggerated emphasis on autonomy in the secular world.
b) It's a positive too that the Pope wants the individual to be considered integrally, in his personal and communitarian dimensions.
c) The Church, however, is inconsistent in defending such a concept of the human person.
d) I doubt if it's a good strategy for the Church to practise outreach to the secular world by adopting the terminology of that world, and then trying to draw a line when the terminology becomes overtly hostile to the Church. From what I've observed of suburban Catholicism, one negative effect of this strategy is that priests start to see themselves as representatives of a liberal social order (i.e. as lending their authority to that order). In other words, instead of the liberal concepts being Christianised, the Christian institution at the ground level gets colonised by the dominant priorities and understandings of liberalism.