Thursday September 16, 2010

The Church Does Not Need to “Be Attractive” but to Proclaim the Truth: Pope to Journalists

By Hilary White

ROME, September 16, 2010 ( – Pope Benedict XVI has made it clear that he is not going to mince words or waste time on his visit to a Britain beleaguered with social unrest, chronic welfare dependency, pornography, family breakdown, plummeting rates of marriage, record levels of abortion and increasingly aggressive – and politically successful – secularism.

In his customary press conference aboard his Alitalia flight to Edinburgh this morning, Benedict was asked whether he hopes “to make the Church as an institution, more credible and attractive” in a country where secularism is becoming the standard. Benedict replied, “A Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path.”

The Church, he said, “does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power.”

The Church “serves, not for herself, not to be a strong body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths and great forces of love, reconciling love that appeared in this figure and that always comes from the presence of Jesus Christ.”

Benedict brushed aside concerns about his reception, saying, “I must say that I’m not worried.”

Western countries, he said, have both strong “anticlerical or anti-Catholic currents,” but also “a strong presence of faith.” Britain may have a strong history of anti-Catholicism, but it “is also a country with a great history of tolerance.”

“When I went to France I was told: ‘This will be a most anticlerical country with strong anticlerical currents and with a minimum of faithful.’ When I went to the Czech Republic it was said, ‘This is the most non-religious country in Europe and even the most anti-clerical’.”

Asked about the revelations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, Benedict expressed his sadness. “It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible.

“The priest at the time of ordination, after having prepared for this moment for years, says yes to Christ, to be his voice, his mouth, his hands and serve Him with his whole life, so that the Good Shepherd who loves and helps and guides to the truth is present in the world. How a man who has done this and said this may also fall into this perversion is difficult to understand.”

After visiting Scotland today, and saying an open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park, the pope is now headed to London. On Friday he will visit St. Mary’s University College where he will meet with representatives of various religious congregations and approximately 3,000 youth. He will also meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, will deliver an address at Westminster Hall, and will finish the day with evening prayer at Westminster Abbey.

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