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Then-Father Ratzinger’s words on genuine reform

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In case you hadn’t yet read the excerpts from a book by then-Father Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI — the excerpts were, after all, rather ‘buried’ in the post (of June 1, below), we re-post some of the more salient passages here, to entice you to read more in the post of June 1.

We emphasize these excerpts in the context of the Holy Father’s perseverance to reconcile the Holy See with the Society of St. Pius X, urging those Catholics who aspire to serve him loyally with the spirit of humble sons seeking wisdom to edify the members of the Church at large, to learn from what the Pope has been thinking for a long time, in order to be ready, should the opportunity arise, to communicate better to him how to draw on or from the (re)sources of tradition and put them to work for the salvation of souls today.

The Church now finds itself in a situation of Babylonian captivity, in which the ‘for’ and ‘against’ attitudes are not only tangled up in the oddest ways, but seem to allow scarcely any reconciliation.


The perspective of the present day has distorted our view of the Church, so that in practice we see the Church only under the aspect of adaptability, in terms of what can be made of it. Intensive efforts to reform the Church have caused everything else to be forgotten.

For us today the Church is only a structure that can be changed, and which constantly causes us to ask what can be altered, in order to make the Church more efficient for the functions that someone or other thinks appropriate. In all this questioning the concept of reform as it occurs in the popular mind has largely degenerated and lost its essence.

Reform originally meant a spiritual process, very much akin to repentance. A man becomes a Christian only by repenting; and that applies throughout his life; it applies to the Church throughout its history. The Church, too, keeps alive as the Church by turning again and again to its Lord, by fighting ossification and comfortable habits which so easily fall into antagonism to the truth.

When reform is dissociated from the hard work of repentance, and seeks salvation merely by changing others, by creating ever fresh forms, and by accommodation to the times, then despite many useful innovations it will be a caricature of itself. Such reform can touch only things of secondary importance in the Church.


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