Posted on 02/16/2012 13:54 PM (CNA Daily News)
â€œYou know well how much the Church esteems and promotes every form of authentic culture that offers the richness of the Word of God and the grace that flows from the Paschal Mystery of Christ,â€ he told a group of European and African bishops at the Vatican on Feb. 16.
â€œSo the culture nurtured by faith leads to genuine humanity, while false cultures eventually lead to dehumanization: in Europe and in Africa we have had sad examples.â€
The Pope was addressing a delegation of bishops who have been taking part in the 2nd Symposium of African and European Bishops at Romeâ€™s Regina Apostolurum University Feb. 13-17.
He used his address to outline some of the key cultural challenges facing the Church in both continents.
â€œI think, in the first place, is religious indifference,â€ he said, â€œwhich leads many people to live as if God does not exist, or to be content with a vague religiosity, incapable of measuring up against the question of truth or the requirement of being coherent.â€
He observed that especially in Europe, â€œbut also in parts of Africa,â€ there exists a secularized environment that is often hostile to the Christian faith.
The Pope also identified hedonism as â€œanother challenge to the announcement of the Gospel.â€ He said it has created a â€œcrisis of values in daily life, in family structuresâ€ and even the way people â€œinterpret the meaning of existence.â€
In practical terms, he said, its symptoms can be witnessed in â€œserious social unrestâ€ and â€œthe spread of phenomena such as pornography and prostitution.â€
But he urged the bishops not be discouraged, as â€œthe risen Christ is always with us,â€ and because their dioceses contain many parishes and people â€œdistinguished by a commitment to personal holiness and apostolate.â€
The family as â€œthe domestic churchâ€ is key to promoting a revival of their local Churches, and is â€œthe most solid guarantee of for the renewal of society,â€ the Pope said.
â€œWithin the family that preserves habits, traditions, customs and rituals imbued with faith you will find the most suitable soil for the flowering of vocations.â€
Observing that â€œtodayâ€™s consumer mentalityâ€ can often have a â€œnegative impactâ€ on fostering vocations, he called for particular focus on raising up â€œgenerous young peopleâ€ in Africa and Europe, who â€œknow how to responsibly take charge of their future.â€
Pope Benedict underscored the fact that developing an atmosphere friendly to vocations care requires bishops to attend to the cultural formation of their young people.
The best way bishops can lead by their young people, the Pope said, is by giving them a personal example of sanctity.
â€œThe moral authority and credibility that support the exercise of your juridical power, can only come from the holiness of your life,â€ he said.
Posted on 02/16/2012 11:07 AM (CNA Daily News)
â€œHe's presuming that the HHS mandate is going to be imposed, and that Catholics have to figure out a way to live with it,â€ Father Thomas Petri said about David Gibson's defense of the mandate in USA Today.
â€œThat's precisely what the Church is fighting against â€“ saying 'No, it shouldn't be imposed!'â€
Fr. Petri, a Dominican priest who teaches moral theology at Providence College in Rhode Island, spoke with CNA about the errors of Gibson's Feb. 14 article entitled â€œContraception objections fail Catholic's (sic) moral reasoning.â€
The Dominican said that Gibson, a Catholic writer for Religion News Service, was performing a â€œsleight of handâ€ that confused different issues and left out important distinctions.
Fr. Petri was joined in his criticisms by fellow theologian Father Gregory Gresko, a Benedictine monk who earned his Sacred Theology Licentiate from the Pontifical Lateran University's John Paul II Institute.
In his comments to CNA, Fr. Gresko objected to Gibson's claim that President Obama had offered religious institutions a way out of subsidizing employees' contraception.
In reality, he said, the president was continuing to demand the same contraception subsidy from employers â€“ while playing the â€œshell gameâ€ of â€œappearing to be shifting responsibility from the Catholic institutions in question to insurance companies.â€
â€œThe argument that the Catholic Church would not be involved in paying for such coverage is illusory,â€ Fr. Gresko said. â€œEveryone doing business with insurance companies â€“ employers and employees alike â€“ would be paying for such coverage.â€
On Feb. 10, President Obama announced a change to Health and Human Services' controversial rule on â€œpreventive services.â€ Under the new rule, all insurance companies must offer without a co-pay contraception, sterilization and some abortion-causing drugs, even in plans purchased by religious employers that object to underwriting these services.
Under the new mandate, Gibson claimed, employers' support for contraception would be unintended and â€œremote,â€ rather than intentional and â€œdirectâ€ â€“ since â€œthe Catholic employer has no involvement or knowledge of the separate contract for contraceptive coverage between the employee and the insurer.â€
The resulting â€œremote material cooperation,â€ he said, is â€œa perfectly legitimate way for a Catholic individual or organization to function in a sinful world.â€
Gibson's argument drew from traditional categories of moral theology, which Catholics have often used to think through dilemmas or ambiguous situations.
Both Fr. Petri and Fr. Gresko, however, found Gibson's use of these categories to be flawed and inaccurate.
Fr. Petri acknowledged Gibson's argument that an employer, under the new mandate, â€œmight not have involvement or knowledge of a separate contract â€¦ between employee and insurerâ€ to receive contraception without a co-pay, since these agreements would be strictly between the insurer and employee.
But, as the Dominican pointed out, no Catholic employer is currently in that hypothetical future situation.
Rather, Fr. Petri noted, employers are now in the predicament of being forced to agree, knowingly, that such agreements will be made in the future as part of their contracts with insurers.
By confusing the two situations, Gibson drew attention away from the question actually facing the Church â€“ which is not about whether to make contracts under which contraception could be provided; but rather, about whether to accept being forced to make such contracts in the future.
This confusion, Fr. Petri explained, could cause readers to confuse two significantly different questions: on the one hand, whether the mandate could be followed if imposed; and on the other hand, whether its imposition should be accepted in the first place.
But even the question Gibson focuses on â€“ in his attempt to say Catholic organizations could follow the mandate in good conscience â€“ is murkier than he would have readers believe, according to Fr. Petri.
Under the new mandate, Gibson claims, a Catholic institution's involvement in providing contraception â€œis 'mediated' because contraceptive coverage is provided at several steps removed from the institution.â€ Most commercial transactions, Gibson notes, involve some degree of material support for immoral acts.
Fr. Petri responded that Gibson had applied this distinction wrongly, by defining it incorrectly in the first place.
â€œWhere he goes wrong,â€ the Dominican theologian replied, â€œis by identifying the so-called 'compromise' as requiring 'mediate' material cooperation, rather than 'immediate' material cooperation.â€
â€œIt seems to me that the HHS mandate involves immediate material cooperation â€“ which, according to traditional Catholic moral teaching, is never legitimate. You're not allowed to 'immediately' cooperate with evil.â€
In his article, Gibson defined â€œimmediate material cooperation with evilâ€ as meaning the â€œaction of both the wrongdoer and the person aiding the wrongdoer are the same.â€
Fr. Petri, however, took issue with this definition, saying that â€œimmediate material cooperationâ€ is normally defined as a situation in which â€œmy action is necessary for the commission of the evil, and without my action the evil would not be committed.â€
â€œIt seems to me that this is immediate material cooperation,â€ Fr. Petri said of the HHS mandate. â€œEmployers are, in fact, paying these premiums which are directly going to these 'preventive' services.â€
Fr. Gresko, in his response to Gibson, stressed the Church's duty to reject the revised contraception mandate just as it did the first version â€“ since both force believers to underwrite practices they oppose.
For the Church â€œnot to fight the current battle at hand,â€ the Benedictine theologian said, â€œwould be a deliberately active omission of carrying out its responsibility for the good of the Christian faithfulâ€ â€“ specifically, its duty to defend believers â€œfrom immoral assaults on their religious liberty and freedom of conscience.â€
â€œThe Churchâ€™s cooperation with the alleged Obama compromise would lead to grave scandal,â€ he pointed out. â€œIt would in fact be implying support for Obamaâ€™s positionâ€ â€“ that contraception is a necessary form of health care that employers should be forced to support.
Fr. Gresko stressed the Church's obligation to stand not only for its own freedom, but also for the truth about human sexuality.
â€œPregnancy is not a medical disease to be avoided, and consequently contraception, which has the formal intent to avoid a pregnancy at all costs, is not appropriate to be covered by insurance policies,â€ he stated.
â€œEncouraging the use of birth control has the real-life effect of encouraging sexual relations without regard for their inherent moral responsibility, such that when a pregnancy still does occur, abortion often becomes more a given next step.â€
â€œThe vast majority of abortions occur in the United States in this 'abortive-contraceptive' manner â€¦ What providing contraception indeed does is to encourage irresponsible sexual activity with the illusion of such actionâ€™s bearing no moral, personal, or social consequences down the road.â€
Gibson's USA Today article also attempts to argue that religious institutions will not be paying extra costs to cover employees' contraception, because â€œstudies show that providing coverage for birth control actually saves insurers money â€¦ and it is at least revenue neutral. So there are no costs to pass on.â€
Fr. Gresko sees this argument as â€œspecious at bestâ€ â€“ because of the frequency with which failed contraception results in both pregnancy and abortion, both of which Gibson admits â€œcost more than contraceptives.â€
But Father John D. Corbett, who teaches moral theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., offered CNA a different critique of these supposed cost-savings.
â€œIt seems to me that if this argument, and subsequent policy, were enacted then the Church would be placed in the position of hoping that contraception be actually practiced,â€ Fr. Corbett observed.
â€œFor if it were not practiced sufficiently, then there would be no savings,â€ he explained. â€œIf there were no savings then there would be higher premiums through which the Church would be more or less directly paying for contraception.â€
â€œThis would put the Church in the position of saying 'A sufficient number of you must practice contraception to ensure that we will not have to pay for your contraception.' This looks a lot like formal cooperation.â€
Posted on 02/16/2012 11:01 AM (CNA Daily News)
â€œI was born and raised as a Catholic and have experienced same-sex attraction for as long as I can remember being aware of attraction,â€ said Einheber, a 37-year-old software engineer from Denver, Colorado.
â€œIn college I abruptly and naively came to the conclusion that the Church was wrong about its views on same-sex relationships and marriage,â€ he told CNA. â€œI rebelled against the idea that Catholics need to understand and believe everything the Church teaches and so I stopped going to Mass.â€
But after college, â€œI experienced a profound emptiness that God eventually revealed as a longing for him,â€ he recalled. â€œWhen I again sought the face of God and tried to learn why the Church teaches what it teaches, I began to see its wisdom and beauty and have been drawn onward ever since.â€
Einheber's column â€œBefore I Formed Youâ€ begins on Feb. 16, with an essay on â€œSame-Sex Attraction and the Choice for the Greatest Good.â€
It marks the first part of a series looking at the topic from the perspective of both personal experience and authoritative Catholic teaching.
In his remarks to CNA, the new columnist criticized the media's presentation of a â€œfalse dichotomyâ€ between â€œauthentic, traditional Christiansâ€ on the one hand, and people who experience same-sex attraction on the other.
These categories are not mutually exclusive, Einheber noted.
â€œThe world needs to know that there are people who experience same-sex attraction and still want to follow Christ on the narrow road.â€
â€œI'm trying to really approach the situation with prayer, study and reflection so that I might truly understand the heart and will of Christ on this subject.â€
The column's title comes from the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah, about whom God declared: â€œBefore I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.â€
That verse has long been one of Einheber's favorites â€“ not only for its affirmation of human dignity at all stages of life, but also because of its â€œprofound implications about God's plan for each of us even before his creation of us as male or female.â€
In his column's first installment, the guest contributor discusses the desire for love and companionship, and how he â€œreached the conclusion that God and the Church actually do wish for my perfect happiness.â€
The series is not meant only for others in the same situation, but for anyone interested in a thoughtful Catholic take on a sometimes polarizing topic.
â€œEven people who don't experience same-sex attraction themselves know people who do, and it's important to really understand the subject.â€
Posted on 02/16/2012 09:16 AM (CNA Daily News)
In a Feb. 10 letter, the attorneys general voiced their â€œstrong oppositionâ€ to the mandate, which they called â€œan impermissible violation of the Constitution's First Amendment virtually unparalleled in American history.â€
They said that if the mandate is implemented, they are prepared to â€œvigorously oppose it in court.â€
The letter was sent to the Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebilius, Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner and Labor secretary Hilda Solis.
It was signed by Nebraska attorney general Jon Bruning, who was joined by the attorneys general of Texas, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Colorado.
Bruning and his fellow attorneys general said that they are â€œdeeply troubledâ€ by the mandateâ€™s â€œunprecedented coercion of organizations and individuals to act contrary to their religious beliefs.â€
They decried the mandate for forcing religious employers to choose between effectively promoting â€œa message in contravention with their religious principlesâ€ and ceasing â€œactivities of incalculable valueâ€ to society.Â
The Obama administration has come under fire for the recently-announced mandate, which will require virtually all employers to purchase health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and drugs that induce abortions at no cost to employees.
Faced with a storm of protest, the administration announced an â€œaccommodationâ€ for religious freedom on Feb. 10. Rather than directly purchasing the coverage they object to, religious employers under the new policy would be forced to buy health care plans from insurance companies that would be required to offer these products free of charge.
Many critics have been quick to suggest that insurance companies will factor the â€œfreeâ€ contraceptives into the pricing of health care plans, and so employers will ultimately be billed for the coverage, thus forcing them to violate their consciences.
Bruning has said that he is not satisfied with the â€œaccommodation,â€ which he described as a false compromise that â€œstill tramples on religious freedom.â€
He and the other attorneys general urged the Obama administration to reconsider its decision, which they said is not only a â€œbad policyâ€ but also â€œunconstitutional.â€
Posted on 02/16/2012 07:22 AM (CNA Daily News)
â€œSince 1919, the United States Catholic bishops have supported decent health care for all and government and private action to advance this essential goal,â€ said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif.
Bishop Blaire, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishopsâ€™ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, responded to a recent statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney.
At a Feb. 13 press briefing, Carney was asked about the bishopsâ€™ dissatisfaction with the Obama administrationâ€™s contraception mandate. He replied, â€œI would simply note with regard to the bishops that they never supported health care reform to begin with, of which this is an important element.â€
â€œThis is not the case,â€ countered Bishop Blaire on Feb. 14. â€œLong before the current battles, the Catholic Church was persistently and consistently advocating for this overdue national priority.â€
During the recent debates over health care, the U.S. bishops said that universal, affordable health care was â€œan urgent national priority and moral imperative.â€
The bishopsâ€™ conference called for health care reform that is universal, protects human life, does not discriminate against immigrants and respects conscience rights.
Bishop Blaire explained that the bishops â€œopposed the final legislationâ€ because it failed to meet these standards.
He added that their judgment has been â€œsadly but clearly borne out by the failure of the law and the recent regulation to protect conscience and religious liberty.â€
The bishops had initially raised strong objections to a federal mandate announced Jan. 20 that required nearly all employers to purchase health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs at no cost to employees.
They argued that the mandate did not include a sufficient religious exemption for those employers who held moral objections to such products and procedures.
President Barack Obama announced an â€œaccommodationâ€ on Feb. 10 that instead requires religious employers to purchase the same coverage from health insurance companies that will be required to provide the coverage in all plans they offer.
However, the bishops have argued that the new policy still fails to offer adequate protections for religious liberty.
Bishop Blaire called on those who have spoken falsely to correct their error and acknowledge the bishopsâ€™ â€œlong and consistent record of support for health care which protects the life, dignity and consciences of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.â€
Posted on 02/15/2012 23:06 PM (CNA Daily News)
â€œThe Church is aware that she must be in permanent process of renewal that includes purification and analysis what is going wrong in order to rectify it,â€ Archbishop Ruben Salazar, head of the Colombian bishops' conference, told newspaper El Tiempo on Feb. 11.
He said the victims of abuse should not only notify Church officials but also civil authorities, since civil and ecclesial trials are separate from each other.
â€œOur duty is to raise awareness about denouncing these abuses,â€ he said.
At the same time, Archbishop Salazar continued, â€œPriests must not be denied the right to rehabilitation, to undergo a process of psychological healing. Every person has this right, including the harshest of criminals.â€
However, he clarified, the psychological healing of a priest guilty of abuse does not mean he can return to ministry.
The archbishop said that in Colombia, only â€œFour or five cases have been reported to the Vatican regarding persons who are already in jail.â€
â€œWe need to remember that in Colombia and in the rest of the world, the percentage of cases involving clergy is minute compared with the number of cases in general and the number of priests. Itâ€™s not even one percent,â€ he noted, observing a trend within the media to misrepresent the Church in this area.
â€œWhat has occurred is that the cases of pedophilia in the Church have been exaggerated in order to portray the Church as a corrupt institution in which all priests are sexually depraved and in which no child can feel safe,â€ he added. â€œThis has been a demeaning campaign that has no basis in reality.â€
Archbishop Salazar recognized, though, that while every human being is weak, people donâ€™t expect priests to commit these crimes and rightly so. Priests â€œshould be perfect models from the moral point of view. They must live their lives with absolute uprightness,â€ he said.
He noted that seminaries around the world today are striving to provide future priests with an understanding of authentic chastity and a greater ability to resist the temptations of a sex-saturated culture.
Archbishop Salazar also underscored in his comments that the victims of abuse suffer â€œpsychological and moral repercussions that need to be healed. And the Church should contribute to this recuperation through spiritual guidance.â€
Posted on 02/15/2012 20:06 PM (CNA Daily News)
â€œPope Benedict XVI refers to the Catholic Church in Africa as â€˜the spiritual lungs of humanityâ€™,â€ said Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, at the opening session.
â€œThis is an enormous challenge to us, for which we shall do all that it takes to share what we have with the entire Church.â€
The 2nd Symposium of African and European Bishops is meeting Feb. 13-17 at Romeâ€™s Regina Apostolorum University. The gathering is entitled â€œEvangelization Today: Communion and Pastoral Collaboration between Africa and Europe.â€
It comes only months after Pope Benedictâ€™s November 2011 trip to the West African country of Benin, where he signed his Apostolic Exhortation â€œAfricae Munusâ€ (Pledge for Africa). In it the Pope outlined â€œa program for pastoral activity for the coming decades of evangelization in Africa, stressing the need for reconciliation, justice and peace.
Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, South Africa explained to CNA on Feb. 13 that the conference â€œhas already helped because it is starting to clarify why Africae Munus was issued, what is important about that document, and why Africa should treat it very, very seriously.â€
He said one of the key challenges laid down by the Pope is that â€œtheology shouldnâ€™t just be some speculative science,â€ but that bishops should â€œtry and translate some of our theology into some pastoral teaching, some pastoral care, etc.â€
Over the week the participants are using much of the Popeâ€™s document on Africa as a template for their seminars and debates. They are also gathering every day to celebrate Mass together.
On Feb. 16, they will meet with Pope Benedict at the Vatican to discuss their work.
â€œIt is up to us while we are here to become more deeply aware of what the Holy Father has said and how, in practical terms, we might be able to develop his ideas for the benefit of the people in Africa, and also for those in Europe,â€ Bishop Tom Burns of Menevia in Wales told CNA.
â€œWe can do this by understanding what Africa has to offer -- and we welcome that -- but also by Africa understanding what we may have to offer. And Iâ€™m sure they can benefit from that as well,â€ Bishop Burns said.
Posted on 02/15/2012 18:38 PM (CNA Daily News)
â€œJesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive,â€ the Pope told over 6,000 pilgrims attending todayâ€™s general audience in Paul VI Hall.
The Pope urged people to pray that â€œthe light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us.â€
This attitude, he explained, is summed up in one line from the Our Father â€“ â€œforgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.â€
Over the past several months, the Pope has used his weekly general audiences to explore the issue of prayer. This week he focused on the three last prayers of Jesus from the cross.
The first prayer was pronounced by Jesus immediately after he was nailed to the cross, â€œwhile the soldiers are dividing his garments as sad reward of their service.â€ The prayer Christ uttered was: â€œFather, forgive them, they know not what they do.â€
In his prayer of intercession, Jesus â€œasks forgiveness for his executioners,â€ and in doing so, â€œcarries out what he had taught in the Sermon on the Mountâ€ when he urged his followers to â€œlove your enemy,â€ â€œdo good to those who hate you,â€ and promised to reward those who forgive.
Crucially, said the Pope, Jesus gives â€œignorance, â€˜not knowing,â€™ as the reason for the request for forgiveness from the Father.â€ This should give â€œconsolation for all times and for all menâ€ because Jesus sees ignorance â€œas a door that can open us up to repentance.â€
The second prayer of Christ is directed towards the good thief who repents after sensing he is â€œbefore the Son of God, who reveals the face of God.â€ Once he recognized this, the thief prayed, â€œJesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.â€
Jesus answered him: â€œAmen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.â€ In doing so, Christ is â€œaware of entering directly into communion with the Fatherâ€ and of â€œreopening the path for the man to Godâ€™s paradise.â€
This should give all people hope, said Pope Benedict,since it shows that â€œthe goodness of God can touch us even at the last moment of life.â€ And that â€œsincere prayer, even after a life of wrong, meets the open arms of the good Father who awaits the return of his son.â€
The Pope then turned to Christâ€™s final prayer on the cross â€“ â€œFather, into your hands I commend my spirit.â€ He noted how each of the Gospel writers describes different aspects of this moment in history, including the veil of the temple being torn down the middle, three hours of darkness over the land and earthquakes.
â€œThe death of Jesus is explicitly characterized as a cosmic and liturgical event,â€ said the Pope, â€œit marks the beginning of a new worship in a temple not built by men.â€
The prayer is also a â€œloud cry of extreme and total trust in God,â€ fully aware of â€œnot being abandoned.â€ This is signified by the use of the word â€œFather,â€ which recalls Christâ€™s first declaration that he is the son of God when he was a 12-year-old boy and was found in the temple by his parents.
â€œThen he remained for three days in the temple of Jerusalem, the veil of which is now torn,â€ and so we see that â€œfrom beginning to end, what completely determines the feelings of Jesus, his words, his actions is his unique relationship with the Father.â€
All in all, concluded the Pope, the three final prayers of Jesus are â€œtragicâ€ for every man but are also â€œpervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to him.â€ They are a â€œsupreme act of loveâ€ which went â€œto the limit and beyond the limit.â€
As well as prompting us to pray for our enemies, the final prayers of Jesus should also teach Christians that â€œno matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God,â€ Pope Benedict said.
Posted on 02/15/2012 18:11 PM (CNA Daily News)
Oriol, the assistant for consecrated life to the Legionâ€™s general director Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, submitted her resignation to Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, the papal delegate overseeing the reform of the religious congregation.
She did not state whether she intends to join the departing women, Regnum Christi said on its website Feb. 14.
Oriol also revealed that some consecrated women within the congregation have asked the Vatican to let them live out their vows under a bishop, not as part of the Legion.
Regnum Christi addressed the departing sisters in its statement:
â€œWe donâ€™t yet have details of this initiative, but we wish them all the best in their new endeavor and pray that they will be blessed with great success in their spiritual growth and service to the Church,â€ it said.
â€œWe are deeply grateful for all the years that they have lived as consecrated members of Regnum Christi; let us pray for them and keep the gift of the consecrated life in Regnum Christi in our prayers so that God grant each one of us the grace to move forward in this path of renewal that the Holy Father has invited us to undertake.â€
The Legionâ€™s branch of consecrated women has about 600 members who work in Legion schools and in recruitment and fundraising activities.
Oriol comes from one of the wealthiest Catalonian families in Spain. Four of her brothers entered the Legion and became priests, but over the last three years, all four have left the Legion while still remainingÂ priests.
Posted on 02/15/2012 15:03 PM (CNA Daily News)
â€œOnce more we call on these people to realize that their behavior is destructive to peaceful coexistence and prevents any possible development and progress,â€ the archbishop said.
Archbishop Rabago, who will host the Pope during his upcoming visit to Leon on March 23, underscored that he was not asking for a temporary truce, â€œwhich would be like telling those who do evil to stop doing so for three days and then continue on. Obviously this is not what we mean.â€
According to estimates by local media, from 2006 â€“ when violence sharply increased in the country â€“ to December of 2011, more than 70,000 people have been killed in Mexicoâ€™s drug war.
Over 10,000 people are missing and more than 1.5 million have been displaced from their homes in regions where the drug violence is most severe.
Archbishops Rabago emphasized that the Church seeks to â€œdisarmâ€ hearts in order to foster peace in anticipation of the arrival of Benedict XVI.
â€œGod is always willing to forgive us. I only ask you to acknowledge your mistakes, repent of them and stop offending and harming others,â€ he said, urging organized crime members to â€œrepair the harm done and abandon their activities of death.â€