Fidelity to Christ Can Lead to Martyrdom, Says Cardinal

Notes Faith and Love Are Needed to Protect Church

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MEXICO CITY, NOV. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Church needs people who are willing to be faithful, even if their fidelity requires martyrdom, the archbishop of Mexico City told a group of converts to the Church.



Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera said this upon opening the XII International Path to Rome Congress, celebrated in the sprawling capital city of Mexico last Friday through Sunday. The congress series seeks the unity of Christians. It is sponsored by the ecclesial movement Milles Jesu.

Cardinal Rivera said that the Church is living a moment of great strength, "even though in some parts of the world the Catholic Church is persecuted."

"It is a fact as well that the Church grows with persecutions," he affirmed.

He said that "the Path to Rome congress is an occasion to contemplate the Church's mission, especially touching on the fact of recognizing Christ as the center of the Church."

Our Lady's land

The 65-year-old cardinal affirmed that "Mexico is a place formed by Our Lady of Guadalupe, who looks for the unity of all those who inhabit these lands."

"At the same time," he continued, "the encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe is and will be an encounter with Christ, the living God."

The Path to Rome congress brought together converts to share their experiences and the importance of an encounter with the Church founded by Christ and led by the Successor of Peter.

Among the participants were Archduchess Alexandra of Austria; Miles Jesu priest Victor Claveau, who reconciled with the Church after being in an evangelical denomination; Kristine and Martin Franklin, former Protestant missionaries in Latin America, Hanzel Carlos Cardoso Luna, a convert from an evangelical denomination, and Miguel Rivera and Constantino Raúl Vargas Alvares, former Jehovah's Witnesses.

Cardinal Rivera recognized that the Church has characteristic teachings that can be difficult to live in today's world, such as the defense of marriage and life.

"That's why we need Catholics guided by the presence of the Risen Christ. We need Catholics who are ready to be faithful, with a fidelity that can even lead to martyrdom."

Finally, the cardinal said, "to construct a path to Rome, it is necessary to have faith and the strength of love; faith and love are the paths that protect the Church."

A Catholic queen

Archduchess Alexandra, descendant of Blessed Charles of Austria and the Servant of God Isabella the Catholic of Spain, spoke of the queen's reign and the black legends about the Church of her time.

She said Isabella "learned to pray to God with depth; she was surrounded by a group of religious and laypeople who forged her culture."

Once married to Fernando, her marriage was happy, despite taking on the rule of a country with problems and chaos like Spain of that time, the archduchess said.

"Isabella worked to establish hospitals for the underprivileged and those with mental illness, and above all, in founding educational institutions for women, who in that time, were not much taken into account. Her policies were direct and open," she continued. "Queen Isabella suffered for the problems of the Church, and that is why she began a reformation of the clergy."

Archduchess Alexandra spoke about the black legends that surround the Church of Isabella's time, adding that "even today, thanks to the press, they continue being spread, distorting the understanding of the way the Church acted in that epoch."