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Religious freedom tops agenda as cardinals meet with Pontiff

Catholic World News - November 19, 2010

Religious freedom and the Eucharistic liturgy were the top items for discussion as the College of Cardinals met with Pope Benedict XVI on November 19.

Virtually every report about the meeting that ran in the secular media said that the sex-abuse scandal was the main topic for the day. The cardinals did discuss the scandal in the afternoon, and Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that Vatican would make new recommendations to the world’s bishops on the handling of sexual abuse.

However, when the Pope convened the meeting on Friday morning, he devoted his own attention primarily to religious freedom, saying that the opposition to any public expression of religious belief has created a special challenge for the Church.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, then presented a rundown of threats to religious freedom throughout the world. His appraisal began with the heavy-handed secularism in the Western world. (Pope Benedict, in his opening remarks, had also concentrated on the threat from relativism.) Next the cardinal spoke of the restrictions on religious freedom in Islamic countries.

In the second major discussion of the day, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, spoke about the renewal of the liturgy.

Along with the discussion of sex-abuse problems, in their shorter afternoon sessions the cardinals also spoke about the new ordinariates being established for the pastoral care of Anglicans entering the Catholic Church.

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