Portuguese Bishops Stress Role of Laity in Public

Prelate Says Church’s Appeal Makes «Perfect Sense»

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FATIMA, Portugal, NOV. 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference is underlining the role of the laity in shaping and humanizing public life.

Archbishop Jorge Ortiga of Braga made these reflections Monday in the opening address of the conference’s plenary assembly, which concluded Thursday in Fatima.

«The state and the political power are not the only ones responsible for the government of the nation,» the prelate said. «The spirit of mission and of humanity imposes that all forces and all sectors collaborate in view of the common good.»
 
He defended the presence of the Christian laity «in political, cultural, economic and financial life and in social communication,» asserting that «it will certainly represent a contribution to the humanization of public life.»
 
The archbishop added, «A laity attuned to the Gospel and to the social doctrine of the Church will certainly exert a positive force in the resolution of problems of our country.»
 
He expressed «perplexity» over «the lack of truth in decision-making centers of public administration, the absence of will in resolving the present challenges and the excessive anxiety for profit that leads to the dehumanization of life.»
 
«The human community cannot stoop to pacts with the theory of minimal political consensus,» Archbishop Ortiga stated, «which in general does not lead to effective solutions.»

In this case, «the appeal to justice and to equality is emptied of content because it is without practical results,» he affirmed.

New generations
 
The prelate pointed out that the new generations «do not have expectations in regard to the future, either because of the lack of work or the lack of horizons for life.» He added that the social welfare centers are increasingly filled by persons who no longer have a place in their own family.
 
The archbishop cautioned, «New forms of liberalization and of forced imposition of a culture of death as well as minimalist arise without precedents, in which the proposals lead tendentiously to the dehumanization of human relations.»
 
According to the conference president, in this context of uncertainty, «the appeal of the Church to charity in truth makes perfect sense.»

«The truth is an imperative posed to all,» he said. «It is an act of honesty, above all at the level of decision-making centers of various political, economic, social and cultural tasks.»
 
The prelate pointed out the society’s lacking of «an objective truth, which is relativized in favor of prestige and personal action.»
 
He continued: «Without the testimony and the examples of leadership, how can sacrifices be exacted of persons? Won’t efforts be necessary to agree and mobilize in the search for a social model that lasts and gives hope to the present and future generation?»
 
The archbishop noted that the Church «will continue to proclaim the Lord’s Easter, in the expectation of respecting the commandment of love of Christ and of realizing the beatitudes in the daily living of persons, in places where the structures of the state fail to reach.»
 
He added, «Notwithstanding all the difficulties that can arise in our parishes and dioceses, we will seek to put the Bible into practice and to be present where human life is not respected or is weakened by the lack of goods and the absence of the meaning of life.»
 
Archbishop Ortiga affirmed, «We have the apostolic responsibility to propose the beauty of the Gospel of Christ to believers and to humanity, and of spreading the possibility of a happy life for all.»

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