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Interview With Cardinal-designate Antonio Cańizares

The "Little Ratzinger" on His Upcoming Duty

ROME, MARCH 2, 2006 (Zenit) - Archbishop Antonio Cańizares of Toledo, Spain, is one of the 15 Church figures scheduled to receive a cardinal's hat at the consistory on March 24.

In this interview with us, the 60-year-old archbishop of Toledo explains what is implied in being a cardinal and what it means for his ministry as primate of Spain.

Q: A cardinal is he who sheds his blood for the Pope. What does this mean in the present-day context?

Archbishop Cańizares: To be a cardinal is reflected in the [red] color that implies giving witness with the Pope of the faith unto death, if necessary. It is to give witness of the living God and, with Peter, to confess that Jesus Christ is the only Savior, the only hope for the whole of humanity.

It implies living with the Pope, servant of servants, in a life of service and full commitment without any reservations, to spend oneself and exhaust oneself for the hard works of the Gospel, to lose one's life so that the world will believe.

It is to serve in communion, in unbreakable unity with the Successor of Peter; it is to defend the dignity of the injured and poor man, to give him to Jesus Christ.

It is a very beautiful mission, a grace to be able to be associated with the Holy Father in his ministry of confirming the faith, in his ministry of concern for all the Church and of love for all, with that love of which Benedict XVI has spoken to us so beautifully in his encyclical.

Q: Benedict XVI knows that you are called the "little Ratzinger." Is it because of your total attunement with his faith and thought?

Archbishop Cańizares: The Holy Father is very amused by this expression.

I think it is because of the resemblance of the white hair and because of having been before bishop secretary of the doctrinal commission in Spain and to that attunement that God has granted me with the thought of the then-Cardinal Ratzinger, attunement and communion in the faith itself and in the great concerns for man, who if he lacks God lacks everything.

It is also attunement and communion in the great love and passion for the Church, in the search for truth that makes us free, a truth that comes to us by Tradition and for the same reason is attunement in faithfulness to Tradition, which is the only way to open oneself to the future and to make possible the emergence of a renewal of the Church and society.

I learned a lot in the years I worked by his side as member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It is a gift of God to have worked for him and a gift of God to feel so profoundly linked to Peter in the figure of Benedict XVI.

I know that only in this way will I walk in the Church and not take steps in vain.

Q: With you as cardinal the Spanish Church is closer to Rome. How will the Church benefit from this reinforcement with the See of Peter?

Archbishop Cańizares: It will benefit in the measure that I am entirely faithful to the mission, in the measure that I fulfill that service of communion with the Pope and of help so that his teachings for the Church and humanity will reach my homeland.

And this Pope, who knows the Councils of Toledo so well, knows well what it has meant and what it means that, from Toledo, the unity of the peoples of Spain around the Catholic faith should be revived, which is its most proper root and from where a new vitality will come for this noble country which has accomplished so many epic achievements: the evangelization of America, the cultural work, the great testimonies of the saints and, in our days, the resurgence of new charisms such as Opus Dei and the Neocatechumenal Way.

Q: What is the priority that the Church in Spain must set itself so that all Spaniards rediscover the beauty of the Gospel?

Archbishop Cańizares: There is no other answer than the proclamation of the Gospel, to undertake again with joy and determination a new evangelization, like that of the early times, with all courage, with the word and with silent testimony. The future of man is in Jesus Christ.

Q: The last legacy of John Paul II to Spain is the convocation of the World Meeting of Families in Valencia. As a native of Valencia and now cardinal, what do you hope for from this event?

Archbishop Cańizares: In his last visit to Spain, John Paul II left us a great message. Evangelized Spain, evangelizing Spain -- this is its path.

It is not possible to fulfill it without the evangelization of the family. The World Meeting of Families, next July, presided over by Benedict XVI, his successor, is united to this message of the Pope.

As a concretization of this instruction stands the determined impulse of an evangelization of young people so that they will not be afraid of Jesus Christ, so that they will open themselves to him.

Youth and family -- here is where the future lies, a future so long as, and to the degree that, they are rooted in Jesus Christ.

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Caizares, Cardinal, Ratzinger, Toledo, Spain

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