The New Pagans and the Church, a lecture delivered in 1958 by then-Father Joseph (more…)
Read about three recently declassified projects by clicking on the respective hyperlink. (more…)
A(nother) running correspondence with then-Cardinal Ratzinger (and his secretary) – this one sparked by an interview on EWTN, over Ecclesial reform
The following correspondences were written on behalf of His Holiness, John Paul II, proposing means to then-Cardinal Ratzinger to allow unimpeded public practice of the legitimate (liturgical & other) aspirations of Catholics commonly-called traditional in the Western Church.
1. The first letter — this one dated 6 December 2003, signed by Count Neri Capponi of Florence & counter-signed by scores (or hundreds) more to then-Cardinal Ratzinger — offers a suggestion in response to the open-ended query in his interview of September 2003 with Raymond Arroyo of EWTN. That is, in re peacefully reconciling (broader) use of the traditional Roman missal (1962) without overshadowing the normative status of the Novus Ordo missae (1969).
Again, the letter appeals to His Holiness to remove once for all the conditions, all of them manufactured, which impede a normalized relationship with him of those Catholics commonly called ‘traditional’.
2. Page two of the same (afore-listed) letter of December 6, 2003.
3. The second letter, this one dated 8 January 2004, suggesting another way to ‘normatize’ a wider celebration of the Roman rite (according to the ancient liturgical usage) with the New rite.
4. Dated January 27, 2004 — the Cardinal’s reply to the first letter, given by Msgr. Georg Gänswein, then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s personal secretary.
5. Msgr. Gänswein’s second reply, dated 28 January 2004, to our second letter.
Nota bene the blessing and concluding words of encouragement to persevere to elaborate a concrete solution to the subject problems.
Front of envelope in which two letters, dated January 27 & 28 were delivered together on February 4, 2004.
Reverse of same envelope, showing stamped emblem of Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, and indicating delivery date of two letters, dated January 27 & 28, in same envelope.
6. Dated 16 February 2004, this is our third letter and final letter in this series to His then-Eminence, Joseph Ratzinger.
7. Final letter, dated February 25, 2004, to Msgr. Georg Gänswein.
The book referred to in the letter is the one presented with the letter to the Monsignor: The Roman Option by Anglo-Catholic convert William Oddie, PhD.
The correspondences were ‘declassified’ on 20 January 2014.
In the September 5 interview with Cardinal Ratzinger, EWTN host Raymond Arroyo asks about a so-called “New Springtime” in the Church anticipated by so many, and how he sees it emerging.
The entire interview appears below.
Here follow main points of the Cardinal’s answer, abstracted, in re Ecclesial reform — the reform not of holy Church, Who is never in need of reform but reforms Her members; rather, reform of church life among Her members, who are always in need of reform.
1. He does not exclude an harmonious, near-universal acceptance or welcoming of the anticipated springtime, but supposes that to be seriously unlikely.
2. He does not reasonably foresee “buses of conversions” anytime soon, or “that all peoples of the world will be converted to Catholicism”, since “this is not the way of God.”
3. “The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities. So, the Church begins with the 12 Apostles. And even the Church of St. Paul diffused in the Mediterranean are little communities, but this community in itself is the future of the world, because we have the truth and the force of conviction. So, I think also today it should be an error to think now or in 10 years with the new springtime, all people will be Catholic. This is not our future, nor our expectation. But we will have really convinced communities with élan of the faith, no? This is springtime, a new life in very convinced persons with joy of the faith.”
4. Smaller numbers? “Smaller numbers, I think. But from these small numbers we will have a radiation of joy in the world. And so, it’s an attraction, as it was in the old Church. Even when Constantine made Christianity the public religion, there were a small number of percentage at this time; but it was clear, this is the future. So we can live in the future, just give us a way in a different future. And so, I would say, if we have young people really with the joy of the faith and this radiation of this joy of the faith, this will show to the world, ‘Even if I cannot share it, even if I cannot convert it at this moment, here is the way to live for tomorrow.'”
5. And the various movements in the Church — will they be a part of that ongoing conversion? Is there a danger of ‘competitive factionalism’: that we all have to be a part of it if we are going to be a serious Catholic?
On the one hand the Cardinal is “really a friend of movements”, e.g., Communione e Liberazione, Focolare, and the Charismatic Renewal. He sees in them a “sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit”. There will be “new charisms and so on”. It is “a great hope that not with organization from authorities, but […] the force of the Holy Spirit present in the people. We have movements and new beginnings of the faith, new forms of the faith. On the other hand, I think it is important that these movements are not closed in themselves and absolutized; but have to understand that even if I’m convinced this is the way, I have to accept we are one way and not the way, and we have to be open for the others, in communion with the others. And essentially we have to be really present and even obedient to the common Church in presence with the bishops and the Pope. Only with this openness to not be absolutized with its ideas and to be in service of the common Church, of the Universal Church, can be really a way for tomorrow.”
THE WORLD OVER: CARDINAL RATZINGER INTERVIEW
Raymond Arroyo with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The following is a transcript of the interview by EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, which first aired on EWTN on 5 September 2003. Cardinal Ratzinger is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office to which he was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Raymond: I’m Raymond Arroyo. He may have the toughest job in the Church. He is the Vatican’s chief protector and promoter of Catholic doctrine, second in power only to the Pope, and certainly one of the most important men in the Roman Catholic Church today. Yet, after 22 years, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has assiduously avoided interviews. But tonight, for the first time in an exclusive interview, he sits down with me to discuss the future of the Church, the clerical sexual abuse scandal, and the papacy of John Paul II. He also talks for the first time about the persistent rumors that he may retire. We talked with the Cardinal several weeks ago in Rome.
Raymond: First of all, Your Eminence, thank you for having us here. It’s a great honor to be with you. In your book, God And The World, you talk about a crisis of faith. And you, more than anyone, should know the state of this Church. You get reports every day. Where does this crisis of faith stand now? Are things improving?
Cardinal: Yes, it’s improving in a certain sense. Also, our situation generally, I think the situation of the Western World, is an increasing of relativism, the idea all is equal and we do not know anything clear about God; and so, all faiths are equal and so on. This is a general impression in the world of today and this also is temptation for us as Christians. But, I think on the other hand, in many people there is a real desire to have concrete contact with Christ, with the presence of Our Lord. So, I would say the youth of the Church is improving the situation because they will not simply do what all people are doing; so really be in contact with the Lord and sharing the faith of the Church. So, I would say, generally the situation of the Western World is not improving about the faith, but in the Church, the youth of the Church, we can see that there is a new beginning.
Raymond: Signs of hope there that are being planted.
Raymond: Let’s talk for moment about the Second Vatican Council, and particularly the implementation of the Council. You have written so much about this, and talked so much about this. For people of my generation, I suppose the thing that most stands out from the faith too of our fathers and grandfathers is the liturgy, the Mass. You’ve spoken about the reform of the reform, reforming the reform. How do you see that actuating? How do you see it concretely taking shape as we move forward?
Cardinal: Generally, I would say it was not well implemented; the liturgical reform, because it was a general idea. Now, liturgy is a thing of the community. The community is representing itself and so with the creativity of the priest or of the other groups they will create their own liturgies. It is, more the presence of their own experiences and ideas than meeting with the Presence of the Lord in the church. And with this creativity and self-presentation of the community is disappearing the essence of liturgy. Because in essence we can go over our own experiences and to receive what is not from our experience, but is a gift of God. And so, I think we have to restore not so much certain ceremonies, but the essential idea of liturgy to understand in liturgy, we are not representing ourselves, but we receive the grace of the presence of the Lord with the Church of the heaven and of the earth. And the universality of the liturgy, it seems to me, is essential. Definition of liturgy and restoring this idea would also help to be more obedient to the norms, not as a juridical positivism, but really as sharing, participating what is given to us from the Lord in the Church.
Raymond: And that sense of sacrifice and worship that you’ve talked about so eloquently, how do you see that being restored concretely? Will we see a return to the ad orientem posture, facing the East, the priest facing away from the people during the Canon, a return to the Latin, more Latin in the Mass?
Cardinal: Versus orientem, I would say could be a help because it is really a tradition from the Apostolic time, and it’s not only a norm, but it’s an expression also of the cosmical dimension and of the historical dimension of the liturgy. We are celebrating with the cosmos, with the world. It’s the direction of the future of the world, of our history represented in the sun and in the cosmical realities. I think today this new discovering of our relation with the created world can be understood also from the people, better than perhaps 20 years ago. And also, it’s a common direction priest and people are in common oriented to the Lord. So, I think it could be a help. Always external gestures are not simply a remedy in itself, but could be a help because it’s a very classical interpretation of what is the direction of the liturgy. Generally, I think it was good to translate the liturgy in the spoken languages because we will understand it; we will participate also with our thinking. But a stronger presence of some elements of Latin would be helpful to give the universal dimension, to give the possibilities that in all the parts of the world we can see “I am in the same Church.” So generally, popular language is …
Raymond: A good thing.
Cardinal: … a solution. But some presence of Latin could be helpful to have more experience of universality.
Raymond: I know you are working on those new liturgical, this new liturgical piece of legislation that the Pope previewed in his encyclical On the Eucharist. We’ve been hearing a great deal from Cardinal Arinze and in some publications that this may be a precursor to a universal indult for the Tridentine Mass. Do you foresee that at all?
Cardinal: I would distinguish between the future document and the problem of indults. The future document is not a new legislation but interpretation of given norms. So, we have only to interpret or clarify what is abuse and what is really the application of the liturgy. In a sense, it is a very limited, the possibility of this document a clarification of abuses, and clarification of norms, at this moment. The other is a different problem. I think generally, the old liturgy was never prohibited. We need only norms how in peace, apply it so that the reformed liturgy is the normal liturgy of the community of the Church, but the other is always a valid use of the Church can be used but in obedience to the bishops and the Holy Father.
Raymond: Um hum. And that’s a great challenge, I know, in some parts of the Church. And other parts of the Church, they’ve embraced the Pope’s call for more frequent practice of the old Mass.
Cardinal: Yes. I think it’s important to be open to this possibility and to demonstrate also the continuity of the Church. We are today, not another Church as of 500 years ago. It’s always the same Church. It was at one time holy, for the Church is always holy, for the Church it is not in another time an impossible thing.
Raymond: Right. Some have suggested, Your Eminence, that there is a de facto schism in the Church today. Because many, who call themselves Catholic, many who were born and baptized Catholic, simply don’t believe nor live out the fullness of the faith. How do we bring them back? How do we reach them in this cultural reality?
Cardinal: I would say this is a permanent pastoral problem to help that all people can really share the faith of the Church authentically. And it was always a problem that the faith of many persons was deficient and insufficient. Today it is clear that with all the …
Cardinal: … relativism and so its problem is as strong as in past times. And so is the problem of catechization and evangelization is much more difficult as in different times. I think the first point is a good catechesis in the preparation to the faith, in education to the faith, that really the faith of the Church is authentically present. And I think the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a great help to see universally what is really the faith of the Church and what is not. And the new compendium we are preparing will be another help to make more accessible the great catechism in a practical work of catechization. This is the first point education in the faith and really have the common ground present. And the other point is also the prediction that in homilies we can really year-by-year learn what is the faith, not only some or always the same ideas. I think it is a real danger that in the homilies priests and also bishops could repeat essentially their preferred ideas and not present the completeness of the faith. So I think a renewal also of the predication is also very important. The liturgy is living catechesis. I think so much is dependent from authentic liturgies, not only as I said, appearing as the ideas and experience of this community, but is a representation of the faith of the Church. You can see the Sacrifice of Christ is here and the Triune God is in contact with us and we with Him, and so on. Liturgy is very important. And so, also is to deepen the prayer in the Church. I think the way to learn God, is prayer. And a school of prayers are very essential, I think. With a concrete relation of prayer, we learn about God and we learn the Church. And so, it’s important to have prayer books representing really the deepness of our faith. So, I think even the works of Christian charity are important to give concreteness to our faith, because faith is not only an idea, not only a theory, but it is also a living reality.
Raymond: Um hum. And that experience, you know having that experience I think, when you talked about the Mass…
Cardinal: Um hum.
Raymond: …that, that truly is the contact, if you will, between God and man …
Cardinal: Yes. Yes.
Raymond: … in such a powerful way, when they interact. Talk for a moment about the New Springtime. The Pope has talked a great deal about the New Springtime and you, yourself have laid out your own ideas. Your vision is a little different from some. Some see the numbers growing and everybody believing and dancing hand-in-hand (the Cardinal chuckles) into the millennium. You see a different picture. Tell us what that picture involves. How do you see this Springtime evolving?
Cardinal: As I do not exclude even this dancing hand-in-hand, but this is only one moment. And my idea is that really the springtime of the Church will not say that we will have in a near time buses of conversions, that all peoples of the world will be converted to Catholicism. This is not the way of God. The essential things in history begin always with the small, more convinced communities. So, the Church begins with the 12 Apostles. And even the Church of St. Paul diffused in the Mediterranean are little communities, but this community in itself is the future of the world, because we have the truth and the force of conviction. So, I think also today it should be an error to think now or in 10 years with the new springtime, all people will be Catholic. This is not our future, nor our expectation. But we will have really convinced communities with élan of the faith, no? This is springtime ‹ a new life in very convinced persons with joy of the faith.
Raymond: But, smaller numbers? In the macro?
Cardinal: Smaller numbers, I think. But from these small numbers we will have a radiation of joy in the world. And so, it’s an attraction, as it was in the old Church. Even when Constantine made Christianity the public religion, there were a small number of percentage at this time; but it was clear, this is the future. So we can live in the future, just give us a way in a different future. And so, I would say, if we have young people really with the joy of the faith and this radiation of this joy of the faith, this will show to the world, “Even if I cannot share it, even if I cannot convert it at this moment, here is the way to live for tomorrow.”
Raymond: Um hum. Do you see the various movements in the Church as part of that ongoing conversion? And is there a danger there, that we get into this competitive Factionalism, if you will, in the Church that we all have to be a part of it if we are going to be a serious Catholic?
Cardinal: Yes, on the on hand, I am really a friend of movements Communione e Liberazione, Focolare, and the Charismatic Renewal. I think this is a sign of the Springtime and of the presence of the Holy Spirit, today will give new charisms and so on. This is for me really a great hope that not with organization from authorities, but really it is the force of the Holy Spirit present in the people. We have movements and new beginnings of the faith, new forms of the faith. On the other hand, I think it is important that these movements are not closed in themselves and absolutized; but have to understand that even if I’m convinced this is the way, I have to accept we are one way and not the way, and we have to be open for the others, in communion with the others. And essentially we have to be really present and even obedient to the common Church in presence with the bishops and the Pope. Only with this openness to not be absolutized with its ideas and to be in service of the common Church, of the Universal Church, can be really a way for tomorrow.
Raymond: Your Eminence, I want to ask a few personal questions, if you’ll permit me? You’ve written most recently in the book, God And The World, you’ve said, and called this post as Prefect at the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, you’ve said, “This is my most uncomfortable post.” (Cardinal chuckles) What do you mean by that?
Cardinal: Yes, it’s in many senses it’s uncomfortable. We have essentially and often to do with all the problems of the Church problems of relativism, of heresies, of unacceptable theologies, difficult theologians and so on. Also with the disciplinary cases, also problem of pedophiles is our problem. We are really in this Congregation confronted with the most difficult aspects of the life of the Church today. And so, also, clearly attacked as inquisition on what you better know than I …
Raymond: Sure. Sure.
Cardinal: …from the one hand. But from the other hand, I have to answer to what I say in this book. Also everyday I experience that people are thankful saying, “Yes, the Church has an identity, has a continuity, the faith is real and present also today and is also today possible.” And when I go in St. Peter’s Square and so on, I can see everyday people from different parts of the world knowing me and saying, “Thank you, Father. We are thankful that you are doing this difficult job, because this is helping us.” Even many Protestant friends say to me, “What you are doing is helpful also for us, because it is defending also our faith and the presence of the faith in Christ. We need an instance as yours, even if we are not sharing all what you are saying. But it’s also for us helpful to see we have this continuing defense of the faith and this is in encouraging to continue in the faith, and to live it.” And in this days an Orthodox delegation said to me, “What you are doing is good is also for our faith good,” So, we have an Ecumenical dimension not so often…
Raymond: Your Eminence, the other thing I and this is a total personal appraisal because of my post, and I cover the Church. I travel about the World, and talk to so many people, I’m sure nothing approaching the groups of people you talk to, and the things you encounter. And I have to tell you honestly, the recent days have been something of a trial of faith for me, and I know for some of my colleagues. How do you weather what I’m sure is a temptation to despair at times, considering the cases you examine and the personalities you encounter at times?
Cardinal: Yes. I think we have to remember that Our Lord said to us that in, I know this in Italiano,… (The answer is completely in Italian. Translation follows) Our Lord told us: ¨Within the fields of the Church, there will be not only wheat but chaff from the seas of the world you will take not only fish but also unacceptable things’. Therefore, He announces to us a community, a Church in which scandals and sinners will be present. We must remember that St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, was a great sinner, and yet the Lord wanted precisely the sinner Peter as the rock of the Church. Thus He has already indicated to us not to expect great saints of all the Popes we must also expect there to be sinners among them. He announces to us that in the fields of the Church there will be much chaff. This sense should not surprise us if we consider all of Church history. There have been other times at least as difficult as ours with scandals, etc. All we have to do is think of the ninth century, the tenth century, the Renaissance. Therefore, looking at the words of the Lord, at the history of the Church, we can relativize today’s scandals. We suffer. We must suffer because they that is the scandals made so many people suffer, and here we are thinking of the victims. Certainly we must do all we can to avoid that these things happen in the future. But on the other hand, we know that the Lord and this is the essence of the Church the Lord sat at the table with sinners. This is the definition of the Church: The Lord sits at the table with sinners.. Therefore, we cannot be amazed if it is like this. We cannot despair. On the contrary, the Lord said: “I AM not here only for the just, but for sinners.” We must feel certain that the Lord truly – even today seeks sinners in order to save us.
Raymond: ….Over the past couple of years, many have diagnosed the crisis of sexual abuse plaguing the Church in the U.S. Now the Vatican’s chief theologian identifies what he considers the root causes of the sexual abuse scandals more of our exclusive interview with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger..
Raymond: You, I know, have been closely involved with the continuing crisis in the United States, trying to bring closure a healing in the wake of terrible sexual abuse in the United States. My question is, “What do you identify as the root causes of this crisis that we continue to live through in the United States?”
Cardinal: I will distinguish perhaps between 2 different elements a general element and a specific element of this time and of this scandal of today. The general element is, as I said, is a weakness of human beings, even of priests. Never will we have all this end, but always the temptations of human beings are present also for the priests. So always we have to accept that. Even in the communion of priests and bishops, we have to know that these things can happen. The second point is more specific, why at this time it was so often and it was more than in past times. And I think the essential point is the weakness of faith, because only if I am really in confidence personally with the Lord; if the Lord is for me, not an idea, but the Person of my deepest friendship; if I know personally the Lord and be in contact of love everyday in the Lord, if for me faith is the reality. It is the ground of my life; it is a most sure of reality, and not some possibility in this case, if I am really convinced and really in contact of love with the Lord, the Lord will help me in these temptations and I can even win what seems impossible. If the faith is not everyday realized, if the faith is weakened and begins only to be an hypothesis, so it’s not a fundamental of your life and so begins all these problems. So, I would say the essential point is for me, weakness of the faith and not a sufficient presence of the faith in the Church. I think it was the problem of the last 40, 50 years. That the idea was we have common ideas with all the world and that faith is very personal and a universal gift of the Lord was not so present. So, I think the first point is re-learn, re-convert to a deepened faith and education in the faith. I think also that in the last perhaps 40, 50 years, it was not so clear the validity of the moral teaching of the Church. We had so many masters in the Church that teach in other ways, and said, “No, this is not a sin. This is not a sin. This is common and what is average of doing is also permitted.” And with this idea, we do not have a clear moral teaching. We have to learn from the normal actions of human beings. So, we also will be in the normal actions and even …
Raymond: Fall prey unto the things of the world.
Cardinal: Yes. Yes. Yes. So, I think that 2 things are essential conversion to a profound and deep faith with the life of prayer and the sacraments, and clear moral teaching and conviction of these teachings that the Church, has the Holy Spirit and can give this way.
Raymond: What would you say to the faithful, who in the United States are so despondent at this hour, and not sure who to look to? What would you say to them?
Cardinal: Yes. On the one hand, look to the Lord is the first point.. He is always present and He’s always near to us. Look also to the saints of all the times, and so find in our times the saints. The humble, faithful persons are present, perhaps not so visible because they are not appearing on the television. But the humble, praying people are present today and this is a confidence of the Church and of all our people find these people, finds that with all the problems of today, the Church has not disappeared; but is continuing, especially in not so visible personalities. So, I think this is essential find the Lord, find the saints of the times, but also find the not canonized, simple persons who are really in the heart of the Church.
Raymond: Your Eminence, in the United States, the Bishops’ Conference has largely taken the lead, the National Conference in trying to heal and put an end to this crisis. Because there is such a lack of confidence, if you will, among the faithful in their episcopacy, do you believe the Bishops’ Conference to be the best instrument of that healing at this point?
Cardinal: This is a difficult question, as you know.
Raymond: That’s why I ask it. (Both laugh)
Cardinal: On the one hand, I would say a coordination between the bishops is certainly necessary because United States are one great continent and it’s impossible that one bishop has the same discipline as another. So, a coordination is absolutely necessary. In this sense, a coordination between the bishops and common norm is important to guarantee also equality in the different dioceses. I think it is clear the personal responsibility of the bishop is fundamental for the Church. And perhaps anonymity of the Bishops’ Conference can be a danger for the Church. Nobody is personally immediately responsible. It was always the conference and you do not know where or who is the conference. In the sense, I think, a good relation between the two realities is necessary. On the one hand, the cooperation, and the collegiality and so is the equality of the right and norms. From the other, it is a personal responsibility of the bishops that I can know, “This is my part, now, and I am responsible.” And he takes in hand the responsibility in wonderful, but also in difficult things.
Raymond: Right. Right. Because it is difficult for the children of the Church to embrace a father if you don’t know who he is. (chuckle)
Cardinal: That’s clear. It’s a figure of a bishop who is courageously present.
Raymond: Very important. In God And The World, you reflect a little on Dominus Jesus, a document released in 2000. It was greeted with some controversy, because in it you said, “God did not revoke His covenant to the Israeli people, or the people of Israel, rather; but that Jesus is the Messiah for everyone and therefore, conversion was still necessary, or should be a possibility.” How do you reconcile those two ideas?
Cardinal: Perhaps, it’s not our possibility to reconcile it, to leave it to God. Because two things are very clear in the Holy Scripture. In the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans, he clearly says, “The fidelity of God is absolutely clear. He is faithful to His promises.” And so, the people of Abraham are always God’s people, on the one hand. And he says also clearly, “All Israel will be saved.” But, it’s also clear that Jesus is the Savior, not only of the other peoples, He is a Jew and He is the Savior, especially of His Own people.” St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “God saved, reserved for Himself, the salvation of Israel. He will do it in His Own Person.” And so, we have to leave it to God’s Self, see, convinced and knowing that Christ is Savior of all of His Own people, and of all people. But how He will do it is in God’s Hand.
Raymond: But it is the Church’s responsibility to make the Gospel available, and the message available to the Jewish people.
Cardinal: Yes. It is absolutely important to make accessible the Gospel for all people and also understandable for Jewish people. I do not know if you perhaps have seen the new book of Cardinal Lustiger where he relates a promise and in a very touching way describes his own experience, and shows how we can understand the Old Testament is speaking of Christ and to also possibly to make accessible and available that in their own holy books of Israel, Christ is speaking at present. So, this is really a duty of the Church to make this available and to make understandable that He is the Savior, even of His Own people.
Raymond: And I will remind our audience Cardinal Lustiger, of course, the Cardinal of Paris. and a Jewish convert, a convert from Judaism. Let’s talk for a moment, you’ve discussed often the nature of sexuality and that it finds it’s home in the context of marriage. This today is a very contested notion and a very contested teaching. How does the Church bring that message into a culture that we now have homosexual marriages being legalized, invitro fertilization and technologies of reproduction outside of the marital act how do you bring this teaching to this culture?
Cardinal: You cannot think that I now in on minute could clarify (Raymond laughs) what so many people in great books could not clarify? But, I think it is always essential that the nature of human being is given and we understand that men and women are created one to the other. This is a creational relation and reflecting also, all what nature has given that is for the continuation of the human generation. It is essential that God created men and women to be one, as it is said in the first chapters of the Bible. So, I think even if our culture is against marriage as essential form of relations between human beings, between women and men. I think our nature is always present and we can understand it, if we will understand it. I think these other things are a counter-culture and we can understand this is not in conformity with what is internal indication of our beings. I hope it is possible, in a sincere and open dialog with the people, to understand even today that our nature is this: man and woman are created one for the other.
Raymond: Um hum. One of your jobs here at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is investigating the Marian apparitions that occur in history and in our present age. You, in 2000, released the so-called, “Third Secret of Fatima.” And part of that revelation was that there would be a hail of bullets, the Pope would fall and appear to be dead. The Congregation interpreted that as the assassination attempt on his Holiness, John Paul II. Is it possible and I’ve gotten many letters asking me to ask this question is it possible that this could point to a future Pope?
Cardinal: We cannot exclude that this is clear. Normally, the private visions are limited to the next generation, and even Lucia, and all those in Fatima were convinced that in the time of one generation this would be realized. So, the immediate content of the vision is this, I would say. And it is expressed in a vision in an apocalyptic language. It is clear in all the visions, we do not have an historical language, as a report on television, that we have a visionary, symbolic language. We can understand this is indeed an indication of the crisis of the Church in the second part of the last century and in our time. But, even if the immediate sense of this prophecy, this vision is always in the next generations; it has also sense for future times. We cannot exclude even I would say, we have to wait for, that even in other times we’ll have similar crises of the Church and perhaps also similar attacks to a Pope.
Raymond: Um hum. Um hum. Let’s hope for a moment about this Pope. You’ve worked so closely with him, for these 21 years I can’t believe it! Give me your appraisal of his contribution to the Church and how he has shaped this Papacy, and the Papacy going forward?
Cardinal: Yes, it has a political dimension, it has a more spiritual dimension, a real dimension of this Papacy. In the political dimension as we all know, he contributed essentially to the break down of the Communistic governments in Eastern Europe. And he created and here we are arriving at the spiritual dimension his relation with Israel, also, and a new engagement for the poor people of the world. This is one of the essential dimensions that he has revealed and re-enforced the engagement of the charity of the Church of the people for the suffering parts of the world. But, we have a more spiritual dimension is his deep faith with his love to the Lord and his love to the Mother Mary, the Mother of God and with his way of prayer, with his visible merging in the presence of the Lord. He gave a new beginning, a new zeal for the Church for young people, especially, to see, “Yes, we can pray today; Christ Who is present today.” So, I think that with all his trips in the world, with his preaching and with his writings, he deepens the faith and he renews the faith, and especially he was the initiator of the youth movement, I would say of the new “springtime of the Church” in the sense that young people can find, “Yes, we can live in this way. Christ is present. And this is more important than all the problems of the faith and of our moral life, to have the Lord and to have so in the Lord’s way.” And so, the a renewal of our faith and of the sacramental life, I think, is essential of what this Pope has done.
Raymond: What about his suffering, the suffering we’ve seen played out in this man’s body before the world? What is the contribution of that in your estimation?
Cardinal: I think this is very important in our time, where only active personalities and personalities of sport, and so on, of youth. The idea is to be young and beautiful; to show us that even a suffering old man can be an important contribution to the life of the people. His suffering is in communion with the suffering of Christ and perhaps with his suffering we can better understand that the suffering of Christ has redeemed the world in giving himself in suffering, giving up something, giving up some activities sometime but that really himself is the presence of the force of the deeper dimensions of human beings. We can learn from him that suffering and the gift of himself is an essential gift we need in our time.
Raymond: You’ve been here for 21 years in this post, and I’ve read in many reports you wanted to retire several times. Why are you still here? (Both chuckle)
Cardinal: Yes, I had desired to retire in 1991, 1996 and 2001 because I have studied the idea. I could write some books and return to my studies as Cardinal Martini did. So, it was my idea to do the same thing. But on the other hand, seeing the suffering Pope, I cannot say to the Pope, “I will retire. I will write my books.” (Both chuckle) Seeing him, how he is giving himself, I have to continue.
Raymond: My final question, what do you see, your Eminence, as the great danger and the great hope in the Church today?
Cardinal: I see the great danger is that we would be only a social association and not founded in the faith of the Lord. For the first moment, it seems important that only what we are doing and the faith appears not so important. But if the faith disappears, all the other things are discomposed, as we have seen. So, I think there is a danger at this time with all these activities and external visions is to underestimate the importance of faith and to lose the faith, even a Church where the faith would not be so essential.
Cardinal: So, the great hope is that the Lord, is we’ll see a new presence of the Lord. We can see that the sacramental presence of the Lord in the Eucharist is an essential gift for us and give us also the possibility to love the others and to work for the others. I think the new presence of the Eucharistic Christ and the new love for Christ and Christ present in the Eucharist is the most encouraging element of our time.
Raymond: We’d like to thank Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his staff for accommodating the interview.
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