Cardinal Rouco says secularism is becoming common throughout Europe

The president of the Bishops Conference of Spain and Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco, said last week the secularism referred to by Pope John Paul II in his message to the Spanish bishops is a common problem throughout Europe.

“We can see that the situation in Europe is more or less the same in all of the countries,” the cardinal said, adding that this is not “a problem of a juridical nature” because agreements between each country exist, but rather it must be seen “from a cultural, spiritual and doctrinal point of view.”

Cardinal Rouco’s comments, which were made during a radio program, were picked up by the Italian daily “Avvenire.”

According to the cardinal, it cannot be said the Church in Spain is “under siege” but there do “exist some problems with the public administration.” He also argued the Pope’s message criticizing Spanish secularism was not “severe” but was rather a “forcefully expressed” call.

Cardinal Rouco maintained the current problem is due to a return to “positivism and relativism and the total separation between morality and law.”  In this context, he said, it is necessary that “Christians assume the social responsibility of what it means to be Christians, and avoid living as such solely at home, without having any affect on their surroundings.”

The cardinal’s statements came during a tense week.  The Pope’s message to the bishops of Spain was not well-received by the Socialist government, and officials convened a meeting with Spain’s Nuncio, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, to express their “surprise” at the Pope’s words.  The Holy See’s spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, responded by reminding the government it should attentively read the Pope’s entire message.

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