Pope: Church Works With All Seeking Life's Meaning

Says Portuguese Visit Begins With Hope

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LISBON, Portugal, MAY 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI opened his apostolic visit to Portugal by affirming the Church’s desire to cooperate with all people looking for the meaning of life.

The Pope stated this today upon his arrival to the Lisbon Portela Airport. He was received by Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Cardinal José Policarpo, patriarch of Lisbon, and other ecclesiastical and civil authorities.

After the president’s greetings, the Holy Father gave a brief address in Portuguese, in which he spoke about secularism and the importance of recognition of religious freedom in public life.

«Situated within history, the Church is open to cooperating with anyone who does not marginalize or reduce to the private sphere the essential consideration of the human meaning of life,» he said.

The relationship with God, Benedict XVI explained, «is constitutive of the human being, who was created and ordered towards God; he seeks truth by means of his cognitive processes, he tends towards the good in the sphere of volition, and he is attracted by beauty in the aesthetic dimension.»

«The point at issue is not an ethical confrontation between a secular and a religious system, so much as a question about the meaning that we give to our freedom,» he said.

In this regard, the Pope referred to the constitution of the Portuguese Republic, which is celebrating the centenary of its proclamation, when the separation of church and state in this country was formally established.

He noted, «By separating Church and State, the Republican revolution, which took place 100 years ago in Portugal, opened up a new area of freedom for the Church, to which the two concordats of 1940 and 2004 would give shape, in cultural settings and ecclesial perspectives profoundly marked by rapid change.»

«For the most part, the sufferings caused by these transformations have been faced with courage,» the Pontiff added.

He affirmed that «living amid a plurality of value systems and ethical outlooks requires a journey to the core of one’s being and to the nucleus of Christianity so as to reinforce the quality of one’s witness to the point of sanctity, and to find mission paths that lead even to the radical choice of martyrdom.»


The Holy Father stated that his visit is beginning «under the sign of hope» and «is intended as a proposal of wisdom and mission.»

«I come as a pilgrim to Our Lady of Fatima, having received from on high the mission to strengthen my brothers as they advance along their pilgrim journey to heaven,» he said.

Benedict XVI affirmed that the appearance of the Virgin in the small town of Fatima was «a loving design from God» that «does not depend on the Pope, nor on any other ecclesial authority.»

He continued: «It was not the Church that imposed Fatima, as Cardinal Manuel Cerejeira of blessed memory used to say, but it was Fatima that imposed itself on the Church.»

The Pope said that in that event Heaven opened «over Portugal — like a window of hope that God opens when man closes the door to him — in order to refashion, within the human family, the bonds of fraternal solidarity based on the mutual recognition of the one Father.»

The Pontiff affirmed: «The Virgin Mary came from heaven to remind us of Gospel truths that constitute for humanity — so lacking in love and without hope for salvation — the source of hope.

«To be sure, this hope has as its primary and radical dimension not the horizontal relation, but the vertical and transcendental one.»

The Holy Father concluded his speech, «May God bless those who are here and all the inhabitants of this noble and beloved nation, which I entrust to Our Lady of Fatima, the sublime image of God’s love embracing all as children.»

Benedict XVI’s 4-day visit to Portugal marks the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were two of the witnesses of Our Lady of Fatima’s apparitions in 1917.

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Full text: http://zenit.org/article-29207?l=english

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