International Herald Tribune | Ian Fisher and Larry Rohter | May 14, 2007
APARECIDA, Brazil: Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to Latin America has added to a sense, expressed recently by supporters and critics alike, that his papacy seemed to be moving closer to the mold that he embodied as Joseph Ratzinger, a conservative and contentious cardinal.
In a major speech Sunday, the pope condemned capitalism and Marxism as “systems that marginalize God” and urged the Latin American clergy to feed people’s spiritual hunger as the way to ease poverty and halt the Roman Catholic Church’s steady decline in the region.
Speaking to Latin American bishops here for a conference on the church’s direction for the next decade, the pope also condemned abortion and contraception and laws that permit them. Such laws, he said, are “threatening the future of peoples.”
The speech was widely anticipated for how Benedict – on his first visit to the Western Hemisphere as pope – would tackle issues from poverty and social injustice to the evangelical groups eroding Roman Catholicism in some Latin American countries at the rate of 1 percent a year.
Just as he, as a cardinal in the 1980s, cracked down on liberation theology, which he viewed as incorrectly emphasizing Christ as social redeemer, Benedict stressed first proclaiming Christ as the son of God – even if many of the poor here might like to hear more about social justice.
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