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Pope: Catholics should be ready for martyrdom in a secular society
BY ANNA ARCO IN LONDON AND JOHN THAVIS IN LISBON
CHRISTIANS in pluralist societies should strive to be so faithful that they are even prepared to face martyrdom, Pope Benedict XVI has said.
The 83-year-old Pontiff made his striking remarks on arriving in Portugal at the start of his four-day visit to the country this week.
During his welcome speech at Lisbon airport, the Pope said that, faced with a plural, secular society, the faithful should journey to “the core of one’s being” and “the nucleus of Christianity” in an attempt to achieve sanctity.
He said: “Situated within history, the Church is open to co-operating with anyone who does not marginalise or reduce to the private sphere the essential consideration of the human meaning of life.
“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. What matters is the value attributed to the problem of meaning and its implication in public life.”
He said that “cultural settings and ecclesial perspectives” had been profoundly marked by rapid changes in recent years.
The Pope said: “For the most part, the sufferings caused by these transformations have been faced with courage. 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.”
Earlier, in response to a question about the global abuse crisis, he had told reporters on board the flight to Lisbon that the Church’s worst sufferings were caused by sins within the Church.
He said: “Today we can discover in this message that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from the outside, but the suffering of the Church comes from inside the Church, from sins that exist inside the Church. This we have always known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way. The biggest weight on the Church doesn’t come from the enemies
Benedict XVI arrives for Mass in Palace Square in Lisbon. The Pope urged the more than 100,000 people present to re-evangelise society CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini outside but is born from sin inside the Church.
“And so the Church has a profound need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn, on the one hand, forgiveness, but also the necessity of justice. And forgiveness does not substitute justice. We have to relearn these essentials: conversion, prayer, penance.”
The Pope was able to fly to Portugal despite the volcanic ash cloud which closed much of Europe’s airspace for the second time.
During the flight, the Pope alluded to Portugal’s dire economic situation. He said it illustrated a need for a greater infusion of ethics and morality in the markets.
He said: “I would say this economic crisis has a moral dimension that no one can fail to see. The events of the last two or three years have demonstrated that the ethical dimension must enter into the world of economic activity.”
Pure economic pragmatism will always lead to problems, he said. The Church’s social teaching has a big role to play, seeking to create a serious dialogue with the financial world and highlighting the moral responsibilities of economic systems.
He said: “So here we need to enter into a concrete dialogue. I tried to do this in my encyclical Caritas in Veritate.”
The Pope was due to visit the shrine of Fatima as a pilgrim on Wednesday afternoon, to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, the young shepherds who saw the apparition. When the third secret of Fatima was published in 2000 Pope Benedict – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – helped to explain its meaning. Instead of making the terrifying revelation expected by journalists, as the text had been considered too disturbing to show the public for years, Cardinal Ratzinger announced that it contained nothing apocalyptic. Speaking to the press at the time he said: “No great mystery is revealed; nor is the future unveiled.” He went on to give a theological framework to the apparitions and messages of Fatima, insisting that in the Church’s tradition “prophecy” is not like a “film preview” but more like offering signs that can be useful for Christians.
Cardinal Ratzinger said that was how to understand the third secret’s vision of a “bishop in white” who struggles up a hill amid corpses of slain martyrs, and then falls dead after being shot by soldiers. Whether this bishop symbolised Pope John Paul II, who was shot and wounded on May 13 1981, or a “convergence” of several 20th-century pontiffs who helped the Church ward off the dangers, it doesn’t mean someone must be killed, the cardinal said.
The Pope echoed the words of the late Portuguese Cardinal Manuel Cerejeira when he compared the apparitions at Fatima to “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, this was a loving design from God”.
Pope Benedict XVI said: “‘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.”
Cheering crowds greeted the
Pope upon his arrival in Lisbon, bearing banners which read “Viva o Papa” and “We are with you”. People lined the five-mile Popemobile journey from the airport, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pontiff. When he arrived at Lisbon’s 16th century Jeronimos monastery, where Vasco de Gama, Portugal’s great explorer, is buried, a warship in the mouth of the Tagus river gave the Pope a 21-gun salute. Presidential guards in ceremonial uniforms gave the Holy Father an escort. Then he toured the monastery and knelt in silent prayer in the Chapel of Santa Maria de Belem. At the chapel he also met his first members of the public of the visit – teenagers, with whom he chatted before blessing them and a baby that was put forward by its mother.
Eighty-eight per cent of Portugal’s population but recent polls have shown that the country has a weekly Mass attendance of about 19 per cent.
The socialist government in Portugal approved the legalisation of same-sex marriages in January. Conservative opponents called for a referendum, handing in a petition of 90,000 signatures, but their requests were denied.
Abortion on request up to 10 weeks was legalised after a referendum in 2007 where a narrow majority supported it. Although the referendum was not legally binding because less than half the electorate showed up the Portuguese prime minister José Socrates still went ahead with the move. Abortion is allowed up to 12 weeks if a mother’s life is in danger or physical health is at risk, 16 weeks in cases of rape and up to 24 weeks if the child has a severe deformity or incurable disease.
On Tuesday the Pope celebrated Mass in Lisbon’s Terreiro do Paco for approximately 100,000 people in a huge square in the capital and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Shrine of Christ the King in Almada. On Wednesday he was due to celebrate vespers at Fatima and on Thursday to celebrate Mass on the Esplanade of the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. The Mass was to take place on May 13, the anniversary of the attack on Pope John Paul II by Mehmet Ali Agca and the day on which the children of Fatima saw the first apparitions.
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BY SIMON CALDWELL
POPE BENEDICT XVI has adopted Cardinal Newman’s motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, as the theme of his visit to Britain.
The motto, which means “heart speaks to heart”, was borrowed by Cardinal Newman from St Francis de Sales, the 17th-century French bishop and patron saint of journalists.
The Victorian convert and theologian chose it for his coat of arms when he was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879.
The theme suggests that Pope Benedict, 83, personally views the beatification of a churchman he has admired throughout his adult life as the key moment of his trip to England and Scotland. The Pope will preside over the ceremony at Coventry Airport on Sunday September 19, the final day of his four-day visit.
More details of the Pope’s state visit were disclosed last week by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.
The Archbishop said: “He’ll speak from Westminster Hall in possibly the most important address of the whole visit, in that historic setting which captures so much of the history of this country, which poignantly is the place where Thomas More was condemned to death.
“He will address civic society, and I’m quite sure will start at the point at which everybody can enter. And he will encourage, he’ll invite, he will, as it were, try to cast a bit of light – but it will not be a proselytising act at all.”
At Westminster Abbey the Pope will pray with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the tomb of St Edward the Confessor.
The Very Rev Dr John Hall, the dean of the Abbey, said it would be a “great ecumenical occasion”. The Pope will also pray for peace at the grave of the unknown warrior.
Election ushers in new Catholic MPs
Raquel Welch says Pill has hurt marriage
BY MARK GREAVES
THE NUMBER of Catholics elected to the House of Commons has risen from 64 to 68 despite prominent figures such as Ruth Kelly and Ann Widdecombe stepping down.
Forty of the MPs are Labour, and only 19 are Conservative. There are five Lib Dems, three from Northern Ireland’s SDLP,and one Scottish Nationalist.
The most senior Catholic in the Conservative Party is Patrick McLoughlin, MP for Derbyshire Dales, who has served as Opposition Chief Whip since 2005. Seventeen of the 68 are newly elected.
The three Catholic MPs who made their case in the Herald in April – Jon Cruddas for Labour, Julian Brazier for the Conservatives, and Sarah Teather for the Lib Dems – all won their seats.
Miss Teather fought a tight contest against incumbent Labour MP Dawn Butler to win Brent Central by 1,345 votes.
BY SIMON CALDWELL
ONE OF AMERICA’S greatest living sex symbols has blamed the Pill for the decline of the institution of marriage.
Hollywood superstar Raquel Welch, 69, said the widespread use of oral contraceptives had led to a breakdown in norms of sexual morality and fuelled the growth of promiscuity. While noting some benefits of the Pill, she said a “significant and enduring” effect on women was the idea that they could have sexual intercourse without any consequences – with fewer today seeing marriage as a “viable option”.
But marriage is the “cornerstone of civilisation, an essential institution that stabilises society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy”, she said.
DON’T MISS: WHAT THE ELECTION MEANS FOR THE CHURCH P12