11/19/2010, 00.00
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Pope: Religious freedom focus of meeting with cardinals from around the world

On the eve of the consistory, Benedict XVI gathers the cardinals to examine issues of greatest urgency for the Catholic Church today. In addition to freedom of religion, liturgy, sexual abuse and approach to Anglicans.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The lack of religious freedom is not only due to violence and discrimination, found in many parts of the world, from the Middle East to China, but also to what Benedict XVI today called "the great challenge of relativism , which seems to complete the concept of freedom but in reality is likely to destroy it like a true 'dictatorship”.

Freedom of religion, liturgy, openness to Anglicans, and sexual abuse are the most pressing issues that the Catholic Church is facing today and of which Benedict XVI wants the cardinals from around the world to be informed, in their role as the closest papal advisers.

For this reason, on the eve of the consistory in which he will create 24 new cardinals, the Pope met today in the Vatican Synod Hall about 150 cardinals. meeting, which is an expression of that collegiality that is “particularly important to the Pope” said Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office.

A press office statement informs that this morning, speaking at the beginning of the meeting, Benedict XVI recalled that in the Lord's command to proclaim the Gospel implies the need for the freedom to do so and yet, in the course of history, it has meet several obstacles. The relationship between truth and freedom is essential, but now faces the challenge of relativism, which at first glance, seems to complete the concept of freedom but in reality threatens to destroy it like a veritable "dictatorship." We find ourselves in a time where we must work hard to assert the freedom to proclaim the truth of the Gospel and the great achievements of Christian culture. As to the second theme, the Pope recalled the crucial importance of the liturgy in the Church, because it is the place of God's presence with us. Thus, the place where truth lives with us”.

In the next intervention card. Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presented a panoramic overview of current attempts to restrict the freedom of Christians in various parts of the world, inviting people to reflect on the situation of religious freedom in Western States. We are witnessing, he said, a process of secularisation accompanied by attempts to remove spiritual values from social life”.

The Cardinal Secretary went on to address the situation of religious freedom in Muslim countries, recalling the conclusions reached during the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. Finally, he explained the activities the Holy See and local episcopates make to defend Catholics, in both East and West. On this subject he also recalled the great efforts made by the Holy See at a state level and also at United Nations organisations to promote respect for the religious freedom of believers.

In the course of extensive discussions have taken 18 cardinals studied the issue of religious freedom and the difficulties encountered by the Church in different parts of the world: specific situations in Europe, the Americas, Africa, in Asia, the Middle East and in Muslim majority countries were discussed. The serious difficulties currently encountered by the Church in defending the basic values of natural law, such as respect for life and family, were also mentioned.

For his part Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, addressed the question of the liturgy in the Church today. In the afternoon reports will be presented by Mgr. Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, on "Dominus Iesus," the instruction on the Catholic doctrine of salvation; by card. William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the "Church's response to cases of sexual abuse" and the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum coetibus" for the welcoming of groups from the Anglican Communion into the Catholic Church.

Returning, finally, to tomorrow's consistory, Father Lombardi explained that Benedict XVI, in selecting the new cardinals " the Pope takes many different criteria into account, first among which are certainly duties in the service of Church and the universality of representation" "In this way – he explains in his editorial for Octava Dies, the weekly information of the Vatican Television Center - the Pope forms a group of prominent personalities, who are entrusted with the crucial task of the election of the Successor of Peter, but who must also cooperate and support the Pope in his ministry with full spiritual solidarity".

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See also
Pope talks about the Middle East, the Holy Land and the food crisis with Bush
Commission sees signs of unity in Chinese Church
Cardinal Zen: there is no religious freedom in China
Pope: Consistory is near to Christians persecuted and killed for their faith
Pope’s letter to the Chinese Church ready “around Easter”, says Cardinal Zen


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