.- Presiding at the closing of the Congress of Lay Apostolates, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varlea, Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Bishops Conference of Spain, issued an energietic call to the country’s Catholics to be witnesses without fear of being misunderstood and persecuted. “No, we should not fear to be witnesses, despite all of the misunderstandings and persecutions which might befall us!” “The future belongs to us! The future belongs to the Gospel! The Church flourishes and will flourish in Spain with fruits of justice, love and peace,” the Cardinal said during the homily of the closing Mass attended by the more than two thousand participants of the congress.
Cardinal Rouco underscored the “urgencies” which the laity must take on “in the Spain of today,” including that of “recognizing and living the call to be Christians in the world with all of the historical consequences, determined by the present-day situation in the Church and in Spanish society,” and “fulfilling this call in its fullness, with taking any shortcuts.”
The Cardinal also called attention to “the temptation of man to define himself as the first and last author of his own happiness, apart from God.” He recalled some of the fruits of “modernity” such as world wars, “the most terrible totalitarianisms in history,” and he warned of the growth in Europe and in Spain of a tendency “to explicitly deny God or to live as if God did not exist.”
Regarding this historical challenge which the Church and Christians must face, Cardinal Rouco encouraged those present “to be witnesses here and now in Spain,” through “your specific responsibility to be irreplaceable instruments of sanctification in all areas of temporal life: from marriage and family to school, culture, public opinion, the economy, the workplace and political life.”
In the final statement of the congress, which brought together the principal ecclesial movements, associations, and organizations, participants said they were “conscious that despite the social and cultural marginalization which the faith suffers in our society, our contemporaries still await the announcing of the Christian message.”