'An Economisim at All Costs Is Ready to Devour Man'

Vatican Official and Spain's Former President Debate

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AVILA, Spain, JULY 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Last Thursday, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, and former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero met in a debate in a packed Auditorium of the Palace of Congresses in Avila, Spain.

“We have come to talk about 21st century humanism, about a new and renewed humanity,” said Cardinal Cañizares. “How many divisions does he have?: “ said the cardinal, referring to what Stalin said about the lack of military power of the Vatican. “Cañizares, like Saint Peter, has no gold, or silver, or strength, or power. He offers the testimony of truth that he has received.”

“The word is the principal source of humanism, the highest ideal and it is present in all cultures and religions,” said Zapatero.

Zapatero is well known for his position of “anthropological optimism” according to which no matter how grave the economic crisis is, no matter how grave the crisis in the moral order, no matter how abandoned people are in the financial jungle, we live in the best possible world, if we compare it with other historical periods. But Cardinal Cañizares interjected saying: “An economism at all costs is prepared to devour man.” He asked: “Where is Europe going?” “There can be no advance in progress when there is no advance on truth, when such a tremendous relativism is established as the one that grips us and rules the economy,” he added.

The Auditorium of the Palace of Congresses of Avila was filled to capacity, with more than 2,000 individuals in attendance. It was the first public appearance of the former president whose government approved laws that caused great controversy.

Cardinal Cañizares spoke of Christian values, of solidarity, community spirit, help to one’s neighbor, respect of life, the safeguarding of men’s dignity; Zapatero spoke of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, of democratic states, of the Spanish Constitution whose article 16 safeguards religious beliefs, humanitarian aid. Both agreed that there is no democracy without the values of humanism.

Zapatero recalled the debate that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had in 2004 with German philosopher Junger Habermas. That meeting, he said, “established a model of respect, neutrality of the state and mutual apprenticeship through dialogue.”

Cardinal Cañizares mentioned the meeting that Benedict XVI held in Assisi with representatives of other religions. For his part, Zapatero shared this opinion and described the Assisi meeting of October 2011 as “Benedict XVI’s most daring doctrine.” He could not avoid making reference to one of his most emblematic proposals during his time in government, mentioning “interreligious dialogue and the dialogue of civilizations.”

“There is no democracy without a conscience rooted in the principles that distinguish good and evil,” said Cardinal Cañizares.