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Cardinal Cańizares on What the Family Faces

Interview With Primate of Spain

TOLEDO, Spain, JULY 26, 2006 (Zenit) - The family is the area that suffers the most from secularism, says the primate of Spain.

In this interview, with the backdrop of the 5th World Meeting of Families held recently in Valencia, Cardinal Antonio Cańizares of Toledo, who is also the vice president of the bishops' conference, analyzes the impact of that event.

Q: In a culture such as that prevailing in Spain, Europe and the whole of the West, of a strong secularist ideological hue, can it be said that it is in the realm of the family where this secularism is manifested in the most obvious and aggressive way?

Cardinal Cańizares: I think the family is not the realm where that secularism is generated, but it is the realm that is suffering it the most.

The family in Spain is concretely a Christian family, even when it is not practicing, when it is shaken by the winds of secularization, by the whole media power that spreads a relativist ideology. There are still some very valuable resources in the Spanish family and we are still in time for it to recover its truth.

But it is also true that the Spanish family, because of the pressures of this media power, of the very aggressive legislation against it, is suffering from a strong relativism based on living outside of the truth that constitutes it, so that people often fall into regrettable situations.

Q: At one point you said that the teaching of certain currents of moral theology have led to the secularization of the family. How is this possible?

Cardinal Cańizares: That happened because it was not precisely the anthropology that Revelation shows in Jesus Christ that has been at the base of that moral theology.

And of course, all that spread later to premarital courses; it was spread by family movements which have extended, for example, to a false reading of Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," even being contrary to it. Here one finds many of the keys of that moral theology.

What was simply advocated, consequently, was that love is what is important, not openness to life. It has been taught that marriage -- being in fact indissoluble -- that indissolubility is founded only on a decision of the spouses.

As can be seen, it is a morality that is based solely on a personal decision and not on what are objective realities, which are given to us in Revelation and in our created nature itself.

In sum, this moral theology has not spread the supreme reality of God the Creator who made man in his image, man and woman.

All this has had a very negative influence on the secularization of the family. And if the family is secularized, the whole of society is secularized.

Q: Now we come to the "new rights," as, for example, that of "homosexual marriage," which has been approved in your country by the Socialist government.

Cardinal Cańizares: Human rights, in that new conception, are no longer those inscribed in human nature.

Human rights are no longer something that precedes man, the decision of the majority, the decision of power, but something that is indicated by power, whether this is the totalitarian power of one man, of the majority, or that generated through the manipulation of public opinion: in a word -- power.

In this way, it is the human being who decides and who gives the absolute explanation of himself, so that there are no human rights.

At present we are witnessing -- and Spain is one of the clearest exponents -- a very profound crisis of human rights, but with that very profound crisis there cannot be democracy.

Q: You speak of totalitarianism.

Cardinal Cańizares: It is a totalitarian attitude. It matters not whether it is a parliamentary totalitarianism or the totalitarianism of a man; it is totalitarianism.

What matters is what the majority or the supreme power defines, and if it defines something that is foreign to the natural created order, why not? ... And this is taken as the criterion.

It is what we saw in the prime minister's investiture address, where he said he would promote the possibility that every one decide on his sex. But if each one can pronounce himself on all this and everything is a question of decisions, then why should violence and robbery not be legitimate also, if it is oneself that decides?

In this conception, there is nothing that is objectively good or evil.

Q: The natural law has been replaced by some "transit laws" ...

Cardinal Cańizares: Yes, but these "transit rules" are established by power and no one else -- so that we move to a totalitarian regime and a false democracy, and also to an apparently absolute freedom. But it is the freedom of the fish in the fishbowl. The fish is always moving, it seems to have much freedom, but it has none.

Q: Who are the neediest today?

Cardinal Cańizares: Pope Benedict XVI has very great sensitivity for the poor, but he does not turn it into demagogy.

He is concerned about the person and also knows that the most radical poverty that the man of today suffers is the want of God. He has repeated it constantly, in one way or another, and that is why he also says, referring to Europe, that an atheist state is not possible, that an atheist state turns against man.

And where the reality of God is wanting, as the reality that gives intangibility to the law, to fundamental principles, to rights, etc., there cannot be a free society.

Q: The issue of the want of God is in close relationship with the problem that the family is going through, you were saying.

Cardinal Cańizares: When there is want of God in the family, there is want of love, and the family then enters in crisis, because the family is either love or it is nothing. A reflection that the Pope has used on occasions is that a world without God is an infernal world, it is a hell. And that at times, under the appearance of good, man is being led to hell, referring in such a case to questions on life that also have to do with faith.

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