With an open heart

The message of Benedict XVI from Portugal to Europe

A strong message from Portugal to the Church in Europe: the affection of a population who spontaneously gathered around the Holy Father in Fatima to convey their warmth and unity. SIR Europe broached the subject with father Manuel Morujão, spokesperson and secretary of the Portuguese Bishops’ Conference (CEP), a week after the apostolic visit of Benedict XVI in Portugal, (May 11-14).The thousands of faithful in Fatima represent the love of a people for the Church at a moment when the Church in Europe is overwhelmed by the tragic cases of paedophilia. “It’s true, the response of the people was much stronger and effective than any other stance, speech or consideration by intellectuals or by ecclesial and civil authorities. It was a spontaneous and affectionate response. Powerful affectionate vibrations were conveyed to the Holy Father. With his presence, the people communicated to Europe that they believe in the Church. A Church consisting of men and women with their weaknesses, and who sin, but nonetheless it is the Church of Christ the Redeemer of the world and of humanity. The most convincing response to the negative image conveyed by the Church herself, or rather, by the responsibles of these terrible crimes, was given by the people, and for this it was a response loaded with great strength”.Of all the speeches delivered by the Pope what do you consider to be the message that will remain of this apostolic visit not only for Portugal? “It is a feature I have been deeply struck by. Universal speeches were addressed to all men and women of good will, regardless of whether they are members of the Church. It wasn’t necessary to be a believer to listen to the Pope’s words, rather, there was a need to have an open heart to receive the structural values of the human person. This was particularly evident in the speech delivered by Benedict XVI to the cultural world, speaking of beauty and of truth, which are values that everyone tends towards since they are crucial in life and co-essential in all human beings. It isn’t necessary to be Christian to pursue them and live them as an obligation. Rather, they must be chosen as paths leading to personal fulfilment”.But these words eventually clashed against the decision of the president of the Republic to ratify the law on gay marriages, a week after the visit of Benedict XVI. How do explain this decision? “It is a reality that is supported by European societies, which is the result of individual responsibilities leading to what can be defined to the light of what has previously been defined as contradictions. It means that the Church indicates the right path but another path is chosen because it is easier and more popular. This law will undoubtedly be adopted by the Parliament that can count on a majority that has already declared to be favourable. These contradictions show that it’s not easy to be faithful to the most inner truth of man. It is a truth that is demanding, radical, and not always are we brave enough to be coherent”.Does this imply that Europe demands a new maturity of faith to the Christians? “Yes, it shows that being Christian in an environment where all the values of Christianity are respected is easy. But often the truth clashes with mainstream thought since it isn’t based on likeness, popularity ratings, or public opinion polls. Rather, it is centered on the common good of society and on the deeper good of the human person. Indeed, we are not talking of questions of faiths or Christian morals, rather, these are anthropological questions that call reason into question”. Can we hope that Portugal will return to be a protagonist of the life of the Church in Europe? “The Papal visit was an occasion for Catholics to tell him: we love you. You are part of the solution; you’re not the problem. We believe in you as the prophet of Christ. And this gives us the courage to continue in a society that often contradicts the anthropological structure of human and Christian values; with new motivations to fight for the good of the true family, true marriage and for values that are not an illusion, they are what make man more of a man”.

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