FROM A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
SPAIN was suffering from "doctrinal, spiritual, and moral poverty," Archbishop Morcillo Gonzalez of Madrid told the Spanish Bishops' Conference. He added: "The decadence of Christian life . .. is very real. It is more visible in the cities, but it has also reached into the rural areas.
"People have been underestimating the importance of the sacraments — such as penance — which are necessary if they are to live in grace and perfect communion with God." The value of prayer had also been de-emphasised.
Archbishop MoroiIlo, president of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, which was meeting in Madrid, said that modern Spaniards, like Catholics in other parts of the world. were "living in a century dominated by a hedonistic view of life.
"We are talking about a moral poverty . . . which accepts pornography, permits black market distribution of drugs, and whose hunger for material riches has disregarded the needs of the poor."
He said the Church in Spain was not free of blame for the situation because "we have seen the waves approaching but we have done nothing to prevent the flood."
Traditional methods of teaching the Faith are inadequate in this era of rapid technological development and the consumer society. We have been disarmed by the rapid changes of mentality in the 20th century.
"Our deterioration begins right at the top — at the university, in our teachers, and in our priests." People in these key positions must have special training to meet the needs of contemporary Catholics.
The Church would rose a powerful ally if it alienated youths instead of responding to their needs. Sometimes youths "are comforting" the Archbishop said, "because they are full of eagerness to perfect institutions and structures, but sometimes they alarm us when they turn to sex and violence."
The Church must meet the challenge of young people because if they were guided by the Church ffhey had the hope and the energy "to transform life and change the direction of society."