The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, said this week the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to France to mark the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes will show that the Gospel is a transforming strength for the world.
In an article published by L’Osservatore Romano, the French cardinal said the Church in that country is confronting some challenges such as the growth of Buddhism and Islam, as well as the decrease in religious and priestly vocations.
Faced with this situation, he continued, “The Apostolic visit of Benedict XVI will be an important moment in the journey of our Church. It will operate in three directions, each inseparable from the other. First it will be a great testimony of Christian faith through the different celebrations led by the Pope. He is not coming to attend meetings. He is coming to celebrate faith in the Risen Christ.”
In addition, the Pope’s visit “will be a time of intense communion with the French bishops, not only at the celebrations in which they will participate in the one liturgy of the Church, but also in the encounter that will unite us all in dialogue,” the cardinal added.
Cardinal Vingt-Trois went on to say that in the midst of the prevailing secularism in France, the Gospel’s message of hope “goes against the temptation of fatalism: humanity is not destroyed despite the risks it faces.” The Gospel’s message of love “goes against the law of ‘to each his own’ and invites us to foster solidarity in our country, such as in relations with countries with heavy immigration.”
The cardinal also pointed out that the message of truth of the Gospel also goes against “the illusion that all opinions are equal” and its emphasis on the dignity of man goes “against using human beings as instruments and the attacks on his dignity from conception to natural death.”
“This word of truth, love and hope we have received from our Christian tradition. It is our task to put it into practice and pass it on to future generations,” the cardinal said.
The time has come ‘to respond to anyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in you’,” the cardinal said, quoting St. Peter’s first letter. “It’s time to respond to the aspirations of our contemporaries and proclaim the Good News in which we believe,” he said.