Mississippi lawmakers recently voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem from their state flag. The state’s Republican governor signed the decision into law, solidifying another response to ongoing racial reckoning and calls for change. Now the debate continues as some question what the emblem will be replaced with. A commission called to redesign the flag […]
By Francis X. Rocca
c. 2010 Religion News Service
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI denounced abortion, same-sex marriage and the absence of religion in public life during a weekend (Nov. 6-7) visit to Spain, a country he called the “focal point” of tensions between faith and secularism in Europe.
“The generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end,” Benedict said on Sunday (Nov. 7), in a sermon at the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) Basilica in Barcelona.
Church leaders have clashed with the Socialist government of Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero over its legalization of same-sex marriage and support for liberal laws on abortion and divorce.
Later on Sunday, Benedict visited a home for disabled children and youth in Barcelona run by Franciscan nuns.
“It is indispensable that new technological developments in the field of medicine never be to the detriment of respect for human life and dignity,” the pope said, in an apparent reference to abortions chosen on pre-natal diagnostic data.
On Saturday (Nov. 6), Benedict celebrated Mass outside the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Spain’s national shrine, in the northwestern region of Galicia. The historic shrine draws millions of pilgrims every year, a tradition that Benedict said had helped to foster Europe’s “spiritual unity.”
Reviving Christianity in increasingly secular Europe has been a major theme of Benedict’s papacy, and is a priority for the Vatican’s newly established Council for New Evangelization.
In his sermon at Santiago, Benedict deplored the absence of God in Europe’s public discourse.
“How can it be that there is public silence with regard to the first and essential reality of human life?” the pope asked. “How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows?”
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