Pope calls on Spanish believers to stand firm

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 May 2005, MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI called on Spanish worshippers to strengthen the Christian message and resist lay trends as relations between his Church and the political establishment continued to be rocky.

23 May 2005

MADRID — Pope Benedict XVI called on Spanish worshippers to strengthen the Christian message and resist lay trends as relations between his Church and the political establishment continued to be rocky.

Spain's Socialist government has embarked on a radical liberal agenda, including the impending legalisation of gay marriages, upsetting the conservative wing of the influential Roman Catholic Church in Spain and prompting its leader to urge believers to stand firm.

The Church must be "disposed to take firm steps regarding its projects of evangelisation" and "seek to promote the common good for all, that is for people as well as for society," while remaining true to its "real nature and mission," Benedict XVI said in a letter to pilgrims.

The pope, who succeeded John Paul II last month, sent the letter to greet thousands of pilgrims gathered in the northern city of Zaragoza to mark 150 years since the laying down of Church dogma on the Immaculate Conception.

The greeting also coincided with the centenary of the canonical coronation of the image of the Virgin of Pilar in the city, where a commemorative mass drew thousands.

"The transmission of faith and the religious practice of believers cannot be confined to the purely private sphere," added the pope in an apparent riposte to recent comments from the government that as its policies generally enjoy broad public support the Church should not seek to gainsay its agenda.

Issues such as gay marriage are hugely controversial in Spain, where more than 80 percent of the population profess to be Catholics.

Earlier this month an opinion poll showed that most Spaniards believe the Church will only get further out of touch on social issues under the new pope as the government pursues other radical issues such as the adoption of children by gay couples and a law facilitating divorce.

Benedict XVI, in his letter read by Apostolic Nuncio Manuel Monteiro de  Castro, said the Virgin "invites us to draw closer to Christ" and "appreciate that which is good, beautiful and true."

The pope's first visit outside Italy since taking office is expected to be in August when he will travel to his home country of Germany to attend World Youth Day celebrations in Cologne.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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