MADRID — Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urged Catholics in Spain to embrace Church teaching as the foundation for a better society.

“We cannot lose the courage to proclaim the Gospel today,” said Archbishop Müller in an interview with COPE Radio on Jan. 28.

He explained that the Catholic Church has a “much better” understanding of human needs than the secular ideologies that are embraced by many politicians.

The archbishop underscored that the “secularist” mentality cannot provide an adequate response to man’s sufferings, to his existential problems or to what lies beyond death.

Nor can such a mentality sufficiently explain how to build a society based on the values of “social justice and human dignity,” he said.

Rather than focusing on “useless” controversies about the Church and other “superficial” complaints, attention should be placed “on the great existential questions of the men and women living in the world today,” Archbishop Müller explained.

The world needs “a message of hope,” and the Church gives hope to all mankind, he continued, adding that the Catholic faith is not irrational, because “a connection exists between reason and faith.”

“In order to present the Gospel as a force that gives life, we need to emphasize the intellectual and rational nature of the faith,” he stressed.

However, he said, we must also direct man’s reason towards faith, towards “the encounter with God.”

Universities are critical in this intellectual framework and have been the “foundations of the Church” in European history, the prefect said, emphasizing that this same “essence” applies to universities run by both the state and the Church.

Archbishop Müller called Pope Benedict XVI a “high intellectual” who is at the same time “a very humble, very simple, very educated person.” The Holy Father is also “in great health,” he said.

“The Pope is capable of leading the Church down the right path towards a new culture of humanity,” he explained, “because humanization and evangelization are like two hands of the same body.”