Enlightening instructions

The bishops' plenary meeting: solidarity to Benedict XVI

On Monday April 19 the 95th Plenary Assembly of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference opened in Madrid. Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, President of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, and Apostolic nuncio in Spain Msgr. Renzo Fratini, delivered the opening speeches in which they read the message to participants by the Holy Father.Education and religious symbols. Msgr. Renzo Fratini conveyed his joy for the beatification of the young Jesuit priest from Spain father Bernando de Hoyos on Sunday April 18th, whom he described as a “devoted witness of the love of God, a role model of priestly life, and a zealous proclaimer of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus”. Referring to the fifth anniversary of the Papal election of Benedict XVI, Msgr. Fratini said: “In an ever-more secularized society, Christian formation and education is needed in the family and in the school environment. Parents’ role is irreplaceable. They hold the right to guide their offspring according to their own religious beliefs and moral code”. The nuncio commented on the “delicate issue of the presence of religious symbols, notably the crucifix, in the public environment” and recalled that it represents “protection, comfort, fortitude in pain”, and it is a sign “of the profound cultural roots in Spain”.Sins that hurt the soul. “We render grace to God, who called to Peter’s See a man with such visionary and generous devotion to serve the Church”, said Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela in his prolusion, recalling the fifth anniversary of the papal election of His Holiness Benedict XVI. On April 21 the Spanish bishops will officiate a Mass in the Santa María la Real de la Almudena cathedral in Madrid to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s pontificate. “The serious sins and crimes by brothers in the priesthood and by religious who abused of children, betraying the faith entrusted to them by the Church and by society as a whole, are wounds inflicted to our souls”, His Eminence said. “The same sins were committed by lay faithful with ecclesial responsibilities. Those committing such offences are responsible to God and to human justice. Like other bishops’ conferences, we have taken and will continue to take more care and adopt adequate means to prevent child abuse by priests, so that nobody will think that priestly service or consecrated life is compatible with these sins”.“We support Benedict XVI”. “Such a serious violation of chastity, justice and charity, abuses of a responsibility that should be placed to the service of these virtues and to the witness of the love of God”. At the same time the Spanish bishops’ pledge their “support to Benedict XVI”, just like “the great majority of the faithful. There have been attempts to tarnish his figure by making people believe that abuse has been common without the pope and the bishops taking determined action against it”. For His Eminence, “Even one single case of abusing a single child is too much”. “Nor can we admit that insidious allegations are spread in the form of slander against the priests and the religious in general, and by extension, against the Pope”. “We support Benedict XVI”, reiterated Cardinal Rouco Varela. “To him we owe the enlightening instructions for the renewal of Church life in fidelity to the Second Vatican Council, along with his three encyclicals, his devoted Magisterium with the highly-attended audiences, the calling of the Pauline Year and the Priestly Year”, as well as the dialogue with “culture, with the Jewish brothers, with Islam and the other Christian confessions” along with the measures taken to prevent and sanction abuses on minors and in other Church environments.The Pope’s forthcoming trip to Spain. The prelate’s speech also addressed other issues: the expectations for Benedict XVI’s forthcoming visit to Santiago di Compostela, for the Compostelan Holy Year, and in Barcelona for the consecration of the Sagrada Familia church, the masterpiece by architect Antonio Gaudì, due to take place November 6-7 2010; the special meaning of the last visits to Spain by John Paul II and Benedict XVI; the new Spanish saints and blessed proclaimed in recent years or due to be proclaimed soon. As relates to the theme of the family in Spain, in the framework of the upcoming consecration of the Sagrada Familia church during Benedict XVI’s visit to Barcelona, Cardinal Rouco Varela tackled the serious crisis affecting marriage and the family, partly caused by recent laws on social cohabitation. His Eminence defined the new bill on abortion “a serious step backwards that reaffirms the culture of death”.

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