.- TOLEDO – In an exclusive interview with the Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Antonio Cañizares of Toledo, who was recently named cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI, spoke at length about the challenges of secularism and the hopes of the Church.
The archbishop said his appointment to the College of Cardinals was a sign of “support for the Bishops’ Conference of Spain, that we continue ahead unfalteringly with the mission we have in this delicate phase our country is experiencing.”
“We live immersed in a profound cultural change characterized by a secular plan imposed on our society, a plan that seeks to eradicate the Christian roots that form our foundation and a cultural change characterized also by nihilism, the neo-Marxism, where God doesn’t count and is reduced to the private sphere. And this doesn’t happen without very serious consequences for man and for our society,” the cardinal-designate said.
Archbishop Cañizares denied the government’s claim that the Church is “inappropriately interfering” in public life. “Is it interference to defend fundamental human rights such as the right to life, to defend the human being from the first moment of conception, to protect him against manipulation and destruction?” he asked.
“Is it interference to defend the truth about marriage, which consists solely of the stable union between a man and a woman through love that is open to life? Is it interference to protect marriage and the family from ‘quick’ divorce? Is it interference to defend freedom of education and that parents see their right respected to have their children educated or to receive a moral and religious education that is in accord with their moral and religious convictions?”
“The Spanish bishops,” he continued, “have the duty to do what we are doing. If not, we would not be good bishops who defend the truth about the human being.”
“What I am demanding is that, for the good of Spain, of our society and of our people, those fundamental principles and rights be respected, that the ethical foundation of our society be sustained and respected, that we not fall into an ethical relativism which will bring down democracy. Because when we defend moral principles, the human person and his dignity, greatness and freedom, the right to a moral and religious formation, etc, we are defending democracy. If we don’t, then the future of democracy in Spain and in other countries is seriously at risk,” he said.
The cardinal-designate praised the laity for their peaceful protests demanding respect for marriage, the family and human dignity, saying such manifestations prove that “this is not about being against anybody, but rather that Christians want to be heard because we are convinced that faith in Jesus Christ is valid for all and is a richness that mankind needs today.”
“Therefore, despite everything, I believe this is a very hopeful moment, a sign of a new springtime in the Church,” he said in conclusion.