In his inaugural address for the 95th plenary assembly of the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, reiterated the Spanish bishops’ support for Pope Benedict XVI as the media continues their campaign against him.
During his remarks on the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father’s pontificate, Cardinal Rouco Varela said, “We give thanks to God who has called to the Chair of Peter a man committed to serving the Church in such a clairvoyant and generous way.”
He went on to express the sorrow of the Spanish bishops for “the grave sins and crimes committed by some brothers in the priesthood and by some religious who have abused minors, betraying the trust given to them by the Church and society.” He added that some of the laity have also committed these crimes and they, like the priests and religious will “certainly give an account for their acts before God and before human justice.”
The bishops of Spain, he continued, “will carefully employ more appropriate means for preventing and correcting cases of this kind, such that nobody may ever think that priestly service or consecrated life is compatible with the commission of such crimes.”
“At the same time,” Cardinal Rouco continued, “the Spanish bishops are with Benedict XVI. The vast majority of the faithful are also with him. There has been an attempt to smear him in order to make people believe that abuse is frequent among priests and religious, and that the bishops or the Pope have not acted properly. One child who has been abused is already one too many. It must not happen. The failure to take proper disciplinary measures or to give the deserved attention to those who have suffered such outrages must not occur.”
Cardinal Rouco also mentioned Pope Benedict XVI’s planned visit to Spain in November, when he will visit Santiago de Compostela for the Jubilee Year and will dedicate the Church of the Holy Family.
This consecration, the cardinal said, “evokes in us the need to continue preaching the natural and Christian understanding of marriage and the family as the foundation for a just society.” He noted that it is “the place from which life must come forth and which allows a person to forge his personal identity in conformity with his dignity and the corresponding psychological and educational requirements.
“The State and the Church should recognize the priority of the family and place themselves at its service, without eliminating or supplanting it.”
Cardinal Rouco also announced that a special Mass will be celebrated on April 21 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate. “We invite all of the faithful to join in this thanksgiving for Pope Benedict XVI and to pray for his intentions,” he concluded.