Card. Canizares with blunt speech and warnings in Spain

When is the last time you heard this sort of language from a Cardinal?

From CNA:

Moral conscience needed to overcome economic crisis, states Spanish cardinal

Madrid, Spain
, Jun 6, 2011 / 02:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Antonio Canizares has called on business and political leaders in Spain to engage in a “joint effort” to overcome “the high unemployment and job insecurity in our country.”

“Just as during other times and in other situations, the Church now feels moved to encourage and stimulate formational initiatives inspired in the social teachings of the Church, so that those who feel called to politics or leadership do not fall prey to the temptation to enjoy their positions out of personal interest or thirst for power.”

During a conference at the 21st Century Club, Cardinal Canizares, the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called for “overcoming every spirit of stubbornness and individualism, indifference and distraction in addressing the problems that face us all.”

He encouraged all Spaniards to directly participate in public life. Spain needs to look ahead and build a new future with hope, the cardinal stressed.

Spain religiously weakened

Cardinal Canizares also said Spain has become “very religiously weakened” and is immersed “in a profound and extensive crisis that entails a grave moral and human breakdown that makes it even harder and more difficult to overcome this crisis in the short-term.”

“It is not possible to overcome the crisis … without a new and deeper moral conscience that is universal and valid for all, in which the truth about man, his dignity and the vocation he has because of the fact he is man, is put first,” the cardinal said.

Amid this situation, he underscored the importance of defending “the human person and his dignity” and of making “moral decisions” about essential matters.

The issue of man is inseparable from the family,” he continued. “The family is the great issue of our day and shows us where we may be heading both in the building of society as well as in the unity between faith and life, between society and religion,” Cardinal Canizares said.

The tip of the spear is our liturgical worship.

To have a true strengthening of our Catholic identity, and therefore have something sound, strong and appealing to offer to the world at large, we have to have a renewal of how we worship Almighty God.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. shane says:

    Indeed! and this could be applied to most European countries right now.

  2. mvhcpa says:

    Wrong button clicked in post above–but my point was that I agree with your line of thinking, but the shorthand is too easy to which to say “huh?” or “yeah right” (or for me to forget how the thought is developed which would let me argue successfully for legitimate liturgy).

  3. Strong words, but they fall short because they are still limited to the moral order, and do not cut to the root of the moral collapse in the Western world, which is a collapse of FAITH. As long as our prelates refuse to mention the holy name, Jesus Christ, they fail to provide the only solid foundation for the remedy of the moral crisis in our world. The notion of the “dignity of man” is a meaningless sentiment unless that dignity is found concretely in its epitome, the Man-God.

    My standard way of judging the words of our churchmen to the world around them is to do a search of the word “Jesus”. Too often that word is simply not to be found in the words of our churchmen to the world around them. But isn’t that what they should be offering without shame or hesitation? Isn’t that the only real message that matters? One wonders.

    Herein Catholics have the most effective message for an ailing world, real spiritual and sacramental contact with the Incarnate God, but over and over again our prelates refuse to proclaim this message with clarity and courage, perhaps out of fear of being seen by the secular world as fanatics or being out-of-touch with modernity. Maybe they will be. However, we are told by Our Blessed Lord, point blank, that not all will believe, that some of these will persecute and hate and malign us.

    However, despite this, some will still believe and be saved. That ought to be the focus of our churchmen, and only by that once again becoming their focus, instead of engaging in a fruitless “dialogue” with a “godless generation”, they will provide the only fruitful influence on the world they are competent to provide, the only influence they were commissioned by Christ to provide.

  4. kallman says:

    Unless cardinals and bishops of unreproacheable integrity speak out there can be no way into the future

  5. RobertK says:

    Quote from wiki about Religion in Spain:
    “But according to a December 2006 study, 48% of the population declared a belief in a supreme being, while 41% described themselves as atheist or agnostic.[138] Altogether, about 22% of the entire Spanish population attends religious services at least once per month.[139] Though Spanish society has become considerably more secular in recent decades, the influx of Latin American immigrants, who tend to be strong Catholic practitioners, has helped the Catholic Church to recover.”

    Now with these facts, do you really think the Spanish government or even the people care about the Cardinals warnings. 41% atheist or agnostic, and 48% as believing in a supreme being. Not God as we know him, but a supreme being!.
    This is disgraceful and shows the failure of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain, on combating secularism.
    Most of the countries that were once truly Roman Catholic are no longer.

  6. Ezra says:

    When cardinals say these things about society and “religion” or “faith”, I often find myself wondering why they seem to avoid saying “the Catholic religion” or “the Catholic faith” instead.

  7. Ezra says:

    From the writings of the great nineteenth century French prelate, Cardinal Pie:

    Everybody sees and acknowledges the abasement of all things since we have abandoned the heights on which Christianity had placed us —nobody can deny it, the abasement of the spirit, of the hearts, of the characters, the abasement of the family, of political power, of societies, briefly, the complete abasement of men and institutions.

    The ending of so many abasements cannot be in the abasement also of Truth, which is the only principle that can impress on men and institutions the impulse to re-ascend. We have to beg those who are oracles of doctrine never to have the weakness to consent to any complacency, to any compromise. We have to beg them to tell us in the future the whole Truth, the Truth that saves individuals and nations. Their weakness will be the consummation of our ruin. Then, let us not demand of the Church of Jesus Christ to descend with us “ad ima de summis,” but let us require her to remain there where she is and reach out to us her hand, so as that we can ascend with her “ad summa de imis,” from the low and agitated region into which we have fallen and where we risk descending even more, from here to the elevated and serene region where she inhabits with the souls and the nations that are faithful to her.

  8. RobertK says:

    Another good example, Penelope Cruz. The famous Spanish actress in the latest Pirates of the Carribean Movie. Born Roman Catholic, and her work on assisting in a leprosy clinic with Mother Teresa inspired her to help open a foundation for homeless girls in India But guess what, she is no longer Roman Catholic!. But finds more inspiration in Buddhism. Not Christianity.
    On Penolope Cruz, actress from Spain.

  9. RobertK says:

    Funny how Russia is building churches and Europe cane barely fill any. I think we need to pray to Mary for the Consecration of Western Europe, and not Russia. They are moving slowly back to the faith and Europe is moving away from the faith.

  10. Joe in Canada says:

    I agree that churchmen need to talk about Jesus, and our social teaching is ultimately futile without him as its core. It is legitimate, however, when talking to the world, to remember that the principles of Catholic social justice and ethics are also based on natural law and are accessible to human reason.

  11. irishgirl says:

    David Werling-you hit the nail right on the head! Nowhere in the words of the Cardinal do I see anything about the Catholic Faith. It’s just the usual ‘politco-speak’.
    Same thing with Portugal, and what that country is going through now.
    Both these countries have to return to their Catholic roots and their Catholic identity. Politics and economics won’t do it. The people [and their leaders] have to turn back to God and to the observance of His Laws.

  12. Joe Magarac says:

    Cardinal Antonio Canizares has called on business and political leaders in Spain to engage in a “joint effort” to overcome “the high unemployment and job insecurity in our country.”

    I don’t see what is so blunt or courageous about this. If Cardinal Wuerl called on the business and political leaders of the USA to engage in a “joint effort” to overcome “the high unemployment and job insecurity in our country,” few would notice and fewer would care. Tom Woods would argue that Card. Wuerl should not make suggestions about economic policy unless those suggestions involve following the Austrian School of monetary policy. Rick Santorum would probably complain that a “joint effort” would involve compromising with the Democratic Party (e.g., raising taxes as well as cutting spending), which he and all God-fearing Americans would refuse to do.

  13. Papabile says:

    Simply using the name of Christ and speaking about him as a person — to people who are essentially pagans — will achieve little. First you must think alike, or have a common frame of thought before introducing this to the faithless.

    ALL the great missionaries who were successful used this technique first. Yes, they were focused on converting souls to our Savior, but first they need a common frame of reference.

    Squawking the name of Christ to those who do not believe will not be a successful approach.

  14. Ezra says:

    Squawking the name of Christ to those who do not believe will not be a successful approach.

    Right, because that’s exactly what people were suggesting! If they’d only bothered to read up about the great missionaries, they’d surely know that St Francis Xavier and companions spent decades providing the peoples of the East with natural law seminars and human rights conferences before they got round to religious truths.

  15. Squawker and proud of it!

    Can it be demonstrated that not proclaiming the Gospel is proving successful in efforts to re-evangelize?

    St. Francis Xavier was dealing with a completely different set of circumstances than we face in the western world today. First, he wasn’t in the western world, was he? Secondly, he had to forge connections that transcended a radical language, cultural and philosphic gap. That radical gap does not exist, especially in modern Spain. Third, the modern western world isn’t being introduced to Our Blessed Lord for the first time. The essential element of the new evangelization revolves around the reality that Our Blessed Lord has been rejected. Once again, we are dealing primarily with a collapse of faith, not its introduction for the first time. Thus, I think the comparison isn’t valid.

    I think the argument has been over-simplified. It’s more complex than just “squawking” anything. First, any approach to the new evangelization that does not evaluate and address the reasons for this collapse simply will not work. Why has Jesus been rejected? You see? that’s not “squawking” the Holy Name. Second, the new evangelization must be articulate how the western world is worse off for having rejected Jesus. You see? that’s not “squawking” the Holy Name. Third, the new evangelization must convince the modern world why rediscovering Jesus is essential to overcoming the suffering of modern man. You see? that’s not squawking the Holy Name.

    It is a Christocentric approach, not squawking. I think if you put Inigo or his spiritual sons into today’s melee, they would see things in a similar light.

  16. Ezra says:

    Um, for the record, I was joking. The point is that St Francis Xavier did not spend decades trying to establish shared notions of human dignity before introducing his audiences to the Gospel.

    The bigger question that must be asked when we consider the situation in Europe, and look at Church diplomacy in recent decades, is this: do we want Catholic societies? Or are we just trying to carve out a niche in a secular society, hoping that – for reasons uncertain – the Catholic voice will continue to influence political discourse where it touches on moral truths? I’m reminded of C.S. Lewis’ line: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

  17. Papabile says:


    I completely agree with a Christocentric approach.

    However, I would argue a radical gap does exist in western Europe between Christianity and modern day secular culture.

    One can easily discount the approach that I am suggesting. However, if one were to actually read St. Francis Xavier’s account, particularly of his instructions to the Jesuits in the Comorin Coast, he insisted on a few things.

    1. Baptism. Make sure all the children are baptized. This gives them the possibility of sanctifying grace and eternal life.

    2. Teach them their prayers.

    3. Teach them to read — for it is through reading that one could begin to convince them.

    Essentially St. Francis knew perfectly well that Faith is in accord with reason and that one can develop it through reason — not by just saying the name of Christ. Perhaps I read your initial post too quickly.

    I fully understand he was just addressing the moral order. But, in this case, I think one will only begin to be able to convince them to even look to faith by first convincing them that we have an ability to “reason”. (Note: I am not claiming that this does not exist while invoking Christ — for he IS the way the truth and the life — I would never deny this).

    You are right, we are dealing with a collapse in Faith. Perhaps that is one of the reasons Benedict calls to mind that this is PRECISELY what is asked for in Baptism (though the new rite does not reflect this).

    Ezra (above) suggests St. Francis didn’t spend decades with this approach. Ezra is right. However, St. Francis was dealing with pagans who had never been introduced to the faith at all. I don’t want catholic debating societies, and I do want to preach the name of Christ. However, the rejection in Europe is intentional.

    (e.g. I recently was dealing with some staff from a European parliament. When they discovered I had five children and was Catholic, they discounted almost all that I had to say until I debated them on their terms in their postmodern dialectic. Then, and only then, was I able to explain my faith in Christ and His Church. It didn’t take forever, but it did take some time.)

    I believe Canizares approach is precisely the type of approach that works. It is also the approach that I believe is being taken by the current Pontiff and one which will be ultimately much more effective than the approach taken by the last Pontiff. (Are they mutually exclusive — NO. They are not. — However, John Paul II was ahead of his time in dealing with secular west. One just needs to come before the other.)

    I should not have used the word squwak, and for that I offer my apologies.

  18. ChronicSinner says:

    With all due respect, Mr. Magarac, your predictions of the responses to Cardinal Canizares that one might here from Thomas Woods or Rick Santorum are grossly uncharitable caricatures of two fellow Catholics.

    For starters, Thomas Woods would never require any cleric to subscribe to the Austrian School in pontificating on economic matters. Although he is certainly a proponent of the AS (as am I), he would merely assert that the charism of infalliability DOES NOT extend to any clerical pronouncement concerning what type of economic strategy should be employed to acheive a certain desired economic goal, since the Holy Spirit protects the Magisterium from error only when it teaches concerning faith and morals. Mr. Woods would agree that a cleric can propose any economic remedy he wants to, but once he does, then his statements become nothing but opinions that must be measured against history, prevailing facts, and current conditions and are subject to reason as to whether they have a real chance at success in acheiving the desired economic goal. Hence, a cleric’s views advocating a specific economic system have no moral binding upon Catholics because they are not protected by the Holy Spirit from error, but, instead must be measured upon their past merit and chance of future success.

    Concerning Mr. Santorum, while I am sure he would call for both budget cuts and lower taxes, and hence reject a Democratic compromise that taxes should be raised in conjuction with budget cuts (assuming of course you can find a Democratic proposal that actually advocates true budget cuts) I am not sure he would “complain” as much as he would remind all “God fearing Americans” of two facts. One, raising taxes in the midst of a recession is no way to foster economic growth and increased government revenues, and two, the Democrats for the past 2 years have failed to introduce a budget at all, and therefore, can’t be negotiated with.

  19. Cosmos says:

    This is honestly confusing, Father. If the world were full of diplomats and vatican watchers, the Cardinal would surely have proven him self a bold prophet.

    As far as normal people go, he sounds like the teacher from the Peanuts. Neither Jesus, nor the apostles and Church fathers sounded anything like this at all.

    Could it even be that, rather than wisely embracing a subtle straetegy to reevangelize Europe in 150 years, we actually avoid preaching the Gospel, using the name of Jesus, and calling the world to account because… it’s embarrassing. We are all too sublte and intelligent for our own good.

  20. Joe Magarac says:


    I apologize if my caricatures were uncharitable. For the record, I like Tom Woods and, to the extent that I understand them, I subscribe to the tenets of the Austrian School of econ0mics. The point that I was attempting to make was simply that many American Catholics are as partisan as American non-Catholics, and that an American Cardinal’s call for a “joint effort” by members of both parties would be unlikely to be heeded.

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