Prelates Talk Papal Trips, Spain's Culture of Death

Cardinal Opens Plenary Assembly

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MADRID, Spain, APRIL 22, 2010 ( The situation of family values is not improving in Spain, and instead, there is a «serious retreat toward the abyss of the culture of death,» cautioned the president of the Spanish episcopal conference.

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, said this when he opened the plenary assembly of the conference.

His address included a look at Benedict XVI’s upcoming trips to Spain and an affirmation of the prelates’ union with the Pope.

The Holy Father will travel to Spain in August for World Youth Day and again in November, to Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela.

«Benedict XVI has said that he is traveling to Santiago as one more pilgrim,» the cardinal said. «But it is the first time that the Pope comes to Santiago on the occasion of the Holy Year, which will contribute, undoubtedly, to revive the awareness of the Jacobeo meaning of our ecclesial and even general history. Spain, in fact, cannot be understood without Santiago and without the Jacobeo tradition.»

The Jacobeo jubilee year is celebrated every time the Apostle James’ feast day, July 25, falls on a Sunday, as is the case this year.

In Barcelona, the Pope will consecrate the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) church.
The cardinal said this act will give the opportunity to «reflect on aspects of great relevance for our Church today.»

«From the point of view of the social doctrine of the Church,» he explained, «it evokes the need to continue proposing the natural and Christian conception of marriage and the family as the basis of just social coexistence, given that it is the ambit in which the person should be called to life and which permits him to configure his personal identity in a way that conforms to his dignity and to the corresponding psychological and educational needs.»
Thank God for the Pope

Cardinal Rouco Varela noted that Monday was the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s election to the See of Peter.

«We thank God, who willed to call to the Chair of Peter a man dedicated to the service of the Church in such a far-sighted and generous way,» he said. At the same time, «we Spanish bishops are with Benedict XVI. Also with him is the immense majority of the faithful.»

Referring to the attempt to «stain [the Pope’s] figure to make people believe that [sexual] abuses were frequent among priests and religious, and without the bishops and Pope acting appropriately,» the cardinal said that precisely Benedict XVI is responsible for the «dispositions directed to preventing and correcting abuses in the mentioned area and in other realms of the life of the Church.»
Reflecting on the topic of the family, the cardinal lamented that «it does not seem that the situation has improved among us.»

«On the contrary,» he observed, «soon it will be five years since the new regulation of marriage in the Civil Code, which has ceased to recognize and protect marriage in its own specificity inasmuch as an alliance of life between a man and a woman. And a recently approved new ‘law of abortion’ has not yet entered into force but in practice it leaves without legal protection the life of those who are to be born and, therefore, implies a very serious retreat toward the abyss of the culture of death.»

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