Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI: articles about and interviews with

The man who should be Pope

Piers Paul Read

The Spectator 5 March 2005

Pope John Paul II’s recovery from his tracheotomy in the Gemelli Hospital in Rome will have delighted his well-wishers, but it may have come as a disappointment to the Pope himself. He would like to die in harness and, realising that he can no longer pull the barque of the Church with the same vigour as before, hopes that God will call him sooner rather than later to enjoy an eternal repose. Journalists, too, are impatient to start the circus that they have prepared for so long, and some Curial cardinals seem to think that it is time for a change: no Cardinal Secretary of State since the 13th century has suggested the possibility of a Papal resignation as did Cardinal Solano.
That precedent is not a happy one. Pietro di Murrone, a devout hermit, elected Pope Celestine V in July 1294 at the age of 79, could not cope and five months later he was encouraged to resign by Cardinal Benedetto Gaetani. Once Celestine V had taken his advice, Gaetani was himself elected Pope as Boniface VIII and immediately imprisoned his predecessor in Castel Fumone. As was to be made painfully clear a century later with the Great Schism — with one pope in Avignon and another in Rome — it is disastrous to have two popes each claiming to be infallible. Do the powers belong to the office or the person? What if, for example, the new pope decided to permit artificial methods of birth control or ordain women priests? One cannot imagine Pope John Paul II, with or without Parkinson’s disease, letting that pass without comment.
Of course that is precisely what the liberal constituency within the Catholic Church hopes that a new pope would do. He would allow women to be made priests, let priests marry, go easy on gays, let Catholics in second marriage take the Eucharist, and Anglicans too. He would temper the Church’s objection to stem-cell research, take a less absolute line on abortion, permit birth control and allow Catholic agencies to distribute condoms to prevent the spread of Aids.
It is difficult to come up with the name of a cardinal who would meet the liberals’ aspirations were he to be made pope; their best hope would be the Archbishop of Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Danneels. However, 93 per cent of the 135 cardinals entitled to vote in the consistory were appointed by Pope John Paul II and, though there may be nuances in their commitment to the line he has followed on these controversial issues, none is known to have opposed it.
It is possible, of course, that some cardinal may have dissenting ideas that he has thought best to keep to himself, but it seems unlikely that any would or could radically alter Church teaching on matters of faith and morals. Pope John Paul II has not just appointed orthodox bishops and cardinals, he has also drawn a line in the sand which his successors cannot cross without destroying the authority and credibility of the papacy itself.
Thus the teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests has been pronounced infallible and, despite much rhetoric in favour of Christian unity, the Church of England remains, in the words of a recent Vatican document endorsed by the Pope, not a Church ‘in the proper sense’. It is difficult to see how a new pope could alter such a ruling or, for that matter, why he should want to do so. The preoccupations of liberal Catholics in Britain are essentially provincial; they may be vocal among Catholic activists and have the sympathy of some bishops but, since there are only about a million church-going Catholics in Britain out of a worldwide Catholic community of around a billion, they are unlikely to carry much weight in Rome.
Any new pope will have to deal with far more important questions than relations with the Church of England. There is the challenge of Islam. The secular press tends to limit this to the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’eda or the problematic integration of Muslim communities in Britain. From the perspective of the Vatican, however, it is in Africa and Asia that the gargantuan struggle between the two monotheistic religions is taking place. Christians are persecuted in almost every country with a Muslim majority, whether it be Pakistan or Sudan. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to say Mass. In Nigeria there is incipient civil war between the Muslim and Catholic communities. It is possible that for this reason the cardinals might elect as pope Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian Prefect for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Roman Curia.
An African pope, however, would be even less likely than Pope John Paul II to compromise with the liberals; at Georgetown University, Cardinal Arinze said that the institution of marriage ‘is mocked by homosexuality’. The same is true of Catholics in Asia. They are harassed and persecuted not just by Muslims but also by the communist regimes in China and Vietnam. The choice of a Polish pope boosted the morale of Polish Catholics under communism, and was instrumental in its downfall.
And then there are the South and Central Americans, whose cardinals make up the biggest block in the College of Cardinals. Here the fashion for liberation theology which caused such havoc in the last decades of the 20th century has run its course. Orthodox bishops are now in place, some of whom are papabile — for example, the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, or Cardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras.
Are no Europeans in the running? After the South Americans, the European cardinals comprise the largest block. First there are the Italians who, despite an affected cynicism about their Catholicism, are proud of the Church and have in the past regarded the papacy as theirs by right. Was the Polish Pope the exception that proves the rule? There are strong candidates, such as the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, or Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, or even Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Secretary of State.
Outside Italy, there are a number of notable cardinals such as the Archbishop of Paris, Jean-Marie Lustiger, though, like Sodano, he may be considered too old. A younger cardinal, placed on the fast track by Pope John Paul II, is Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. It was he who was largely responsible in 1994 for the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, which emphatically restated orthodox Catholic teaching. Alas, the Church in Austria — like the Church in the United States — has been beset by paedophile scandals and, while Cardinal Schönborn was not directly involved, they have mired him in its consequences. The bad taste left by paedophile scandals has spoiled the chances of American cardinals, and the highly intelligent and orthodox Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell.
An Anglo-Saxon pope would in any event be highly unlikely, if only because of the Iraq war; and there is a further black mark against most European cardinals — they have failed to arrest the dramatic decline of religious practice among their flocks. In France, the past four decades has seen a 30 per cent decline in the number of children baptised into the Church and only 10 per cent of the remnant go regularly to Mass. In Britain, the number of church-going Catholics halved between 1958 and 2005. There was an 83 per cent decline in Catholic marriages and a 61 per cent decline in infant baptisms. Despite the widespread esteem felt for the late Cardinal Hume, parishes in his archdiocese of Westminster are sustained not by British converts but by immigrants from Catholic countries.
It has been said that many in the Vatican regard the Church in Western Europe and North America as a lost cause. To choose a new pope from among the European cardinals would be like promoting the regional manager of an unsuccessful branch of a global conglomerate to be its CEO. However, there is one European cardinal who has been forthright and fearless in confronting secularism and defending the orthodox teaching of the Catholic Church — Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Cardinal Ratzinger is the liberals’ bête noire — the bad cop to Pope John Paul II’s good cop. The son of a Bavarian police chief, a liberal theologian during Vatican II and later Archbishop of Munich, he is a poacher turned gamekeeper. It was he who ruled that the impossibility of ordaining women was an infallible teaching, and that the Church of England was not a Church ‘in the proper sense’. He also roundly condemned the rejection of Rocco Buttiglioni as a commissioner by the European Parliament as the persecution of a Catholic for his beliefs. Contrast this with the expressed view of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s adviser on foreign affairs, Sir Stephen Wall, that Buttiglioni’s rejection was merely ‘a political attack’ on the Italian President Berlusconi.
On the face of it, all this would make Cardinal Ratzinger a contentious figure and therefore ineligible; but there can be little doubt that his courageous promotion of orthodox Catholic teaching has earned him the respect of his fellow cardinals throughout the world. He is patently holy, highly intelligent and sees clearly what is at stake. Indeed, for those who blame the decline of Catholic practice in the developed world precisely on the propensity of many European bishops to hide their heads in the sand, a pope who confronts it may be just what is required. Ratzinger is no longer young — he is 77 years old: but Angelo Roncalli was the same age when he became Pope as John XXIII. He turned the Church upside-down by calling the Second Vatican Council and was perhaps the best-loved pontiff of modern times. As Jeff Israely, the correspondent of Time, was told by a Vatican insider last month, ‘The Ratzinger solution is definitely on.’

Life of Pope Benedict XVI and some quotations: http://www.ewtn.com/pope/life/index.asp

Back to the future with Joseph Ratzinger

The new Pope Benedict XVI's defence of conservative orthodoxy has not made him popular with more progressive Catholics, writes Stephen Bates

The Guardian 19 April 2005

To many onlookers, the sermon preached by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in St Peter's Basilica yesterday looked almost like a campaign speech for the papacy in which he emerged at the 11th hour as a surprising frontrunner.
Cardinal Ratzinger, the dean of the college of cardinals which today elected him as the new pope, has been the Vatican's defender of doctrinal orthodoxy for many years. It was no surprise that he should lay into modern relativism ahead of the conclave that after only a day resulted in his becoming Pope Benedict XVI. It was the way that he did it that startled.
The softly-spoken, courteous Bavarian cardinal, who turned 78 last Saturday, called on his colleagues, listening in their mitres and scarlet robes, to stand up for an "adult faith", withstanding ideologies and anything-goes philosophies. "We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires ... from Marxism to free-market liberalism to even libertarianism, from collectivism to radical individualism, from atheism to a vague religion, from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth."
It is what the cardinal has spent much of the last quarter-century fighting against as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the institution that was once known as the Inquisition, standing firm for Catholic orthodoxy.
He was one of the late pope's closest and staunchest advisers and, in the conclave that elected him, one of only two cardinals who was not appointed by Pope John Paul II - his red hat having been awarded by Pope Paul VI in the last year of his reign.
Ratzinger's defence of conservative orthodoxy may have been part of his job, but it hasn't made him popular, especially in more progressive corners of the faith. In western Europe and North America, in particular, there is an acute perception that the church is losing ground and needs to reinvigorate the flock with a less uncompromising hostility to the outside world.
His hand has been seen behind most of the Vatican's more hardline messages in recent years, during the waning health of Pope John Paul II, that took away the breath of more progressive elements in the church: from denouncing homosexuality as evil, to insisting that other faiths were defective, and even to suggesting that parishes should not use female altar servers and choristers. Whether or not all of these can be laid at his door, the cardinal has certainly exhibited the stern, unbending face of Catholicism. It has earned him the derogatory titles of "God's rottweiler" and the panzer cardinal.
The latter is particularly unfortunate since it has been revealed that as a very young man, Ratzinger did indeed serve briefly and unenthusiastically with the Hitler Youth and later a German army anti-aircraft unit, though he has claimed never to have fired a shot in anger.
Ratzinger, the son of a Bavarian police officer who opposed the Nazification process (his older brother also became a priest), has defended himself by claiming, not strictly truthfully, that he could not have avoided military service in the circumstances. Others did and maybe he could have used his training in a seminary to have evaded service. But there is no doubt that his heart was not in his military service and he deserted in April 1944.
His theological career has been distinguished - he was formerly and relatively briefly the archbishop of Munich - but he has spent a very long time in the Vatican since his appointment by Pope John Paul II to defend the faith in 1981.
Critics, including those from his native Germany, detect a lack of sympathy and understanding for the outside world, or much pastoral experience. An opinion poll in the German newspaper Der Spiegel found opponents of his election as pope outnumbering supporters by 36% to 29%.
So why did he suddenly emerge as a credible candidate? His name was certainly run hard by more conservative (a relative term of course) elements in recent days, largely since his well-received homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral. He is seen by them as the continuity candidate: the man to uphold and safeguard the legacy of the old pope and to cement doctrinal orthodoxy ever more firmly in place.
This is a message that is attractive to the cardinals from the Curia in the Vatican - its senior civil servants, who see him as one of themselves - and probably to elements from the developing world, especially Africa where any deviation is regarded as a lapse in faith.
But some will be surprised that he has so quickly won the support of the cardinals of Europe and America, essential for the two-thirds' backing necessary for election as pope. The strategy of Ratzinger's supporters was two-pronged: either to stampede the elderly, orthodox, conservatively-inclined cardinals into a quick decision, endorsing an apparently irresistible tide of support, or, failing that, to lay down a marker and build a power bloc and then consensus for a compromise conservative candidate to emerge during the voting.
The more liberal cardinals were caught flat-footed by this manoeuvring, failing to find a stop-Ratzinger candidate.
Cardinal Ratzinger set down some clear markers yesterday: "Every day new sects are created. Having a clear faith based on the creed of the Church is often labelled today as fundamentalism. Relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and swept along by every wind of teaching, looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards," he said.
It appears the cardinals, liberal and conservative, have heeded his plea to shun the "dictatorship of relativism".

Cardinals choose conservative Ratzinger as the next Pope

Chris Johnston

The Times 19 April 2005

The conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany has been elected the 265th Pope and will be known as Benedict XVI.
The new pontiff appeared on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Vatican City at 1748 BST to rapturous applause and cheers from the tens of thousands who had gathered in St Peter's Square below.
"After the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me as a simple, humble worker of the Lord. I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to act even with insufficient instruments and above all I trust in your prayers," he told the crowd.
The 78-year-old Vatican doctrinal "enforcer" was regarded a favourite, but his election has still come as a surprise to many observers who predicted either a return to an Italian pontiff or one from Latin America, where the majority of the world's Catholics live.
Although he chaired the conclave in his previous capacity as Dean of the College of Cardinals, his appointment was initially opposed by liberal cardinals who felt that he would be a divisive force in the Roman Catholic Church.
But the 115 cardinals of the conclave elected him to succeed John Paul II after five rounds of voting, a decision that was heralded by white smoke from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel shortly after 1700 BST.
Richard Owen, Rome Correspondent of The Times, said that there was confusion initially because it was not clear whether the smoke was black or white, then one news agency put out a flash saying that it was white, but that was not accompanied by bells.
"When the bells finally did sound, St Peter's Basilica was filled with a human tide of people. Thousands and thousands of people flocked to be here for this surprisingly early announcement," he said.
The election was a swift one in historic terms. The 115 cardinals entered the conclave on Monday and spent just one night in the Vatican hotel that John Paul II had specially constructed for the vote that would come after his death.
Cardinal Ratzinger's reputation was one of an inflexible Grand Inquisitor and he was controversial also for his Second World War record as a member — though mandatory — of the Hitler Youth. His supporters said that he was 18 at the time and came from an anti-Nazi family.
The cardinal is the oldest to be named pope since Clement XII, who was also 78 when he was chosen in 1730, and he is the first German pope since Victor II (1055-1057).
Roger Boyes, Berlin Correspondent for The Times, said: "Germans were surprised at his election, and now they’re quite proud. Germans really never thought that there would never be another pope from the land of Martin Luther, who was so defiant to the papacy.
"Ratzinger himself is known as an arch conservative, whereas most German Catholics are quite liberal. Only 15 per cent of Germans go to mass, it’s a very sceptical country in religious terms, apart from in small pockets, like Bavaria, where he comes from."
Cardinal Ratzinger was ordained a priest, along with his brother, in 1951 and then spent several years teaching theology. In 1977 he was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.
Pope John Paul II named Cardinal Ratzinger the Leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, and he was then responsible for enforcing Catholic orthodoxy and was one of the key men in the drive to shore up the faith of the world’s Roman Catholics. He speaks several languages, among them Italian and English, as well as his native German.

Ratzinger in Charge of Doctrine Crackdowns


New York Times April 19, 2005

TRAUNSTEIN, Germany (AP) -- A man of deep personal faith who choked up as he delivered the homily at Pope John Paul II's funeral, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger also has alienated some Roman Catholics with his zeal in enforcing church orthodoxy.
And on those issues, the new Pope Benedict XVI is immovable.
Even as the cardinals who elected him prayed before the conclave, Ratzinger urged them to cling to church tradition and warned about the dangers of abandoning it.
''Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism,'' he said Monday. ''Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.''
''We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires,'' he warned.
They were words that would go over well in the conservative Alpine foothills of Bavaria where Ratzinger grew up and remains a favorite son. Now, at 78, he has become the 265th pope of the Catholic Church and the first Germanic pope since monarchs imposed four men from that region in a row in the 11th century.
''Only someone who knows tradition is able to shape the future,'' said the Rev. Thomas Frauenlob, who heads the seminary in Traunstein where Ratzinger studied and regularly returns to visit.
But opinion about him remains deeply divided in Germany, a sharp contrast to John Paul, who was revered in his native Poland. A recent poll for Der Spiegel news weekly said Germans opposed to Ratzinger becoming pope outnumbered supporters 36 percent to 29 percent, with 17 percent having no preference. The poll of 1,000 people, taken April 5-7, gave no margin of error.
Many blame Ratzinger for decrees from Rome barring Catholic priests from counseling pregnant teens on their options and blocking German Catholics from sharing communion with their Lutheran brethren at a joint gathering in 2003.
Ratzinger has clashed with prominent theologians at home, most notably the liberal Hans Kueng, who helped him get a teaching post at the University of Tuebingen in the 1960s. The cardinal later publicly criticized Kueng, whose license to teach theology was revoked by the Vatican in 1979.
He has also sparred openly in articles with fellow German Cardinal Walter Kasper, a moderate who has urged less centralized church governance and was considered a dark horse papal candidate.
''He has hurt many people and far overstepped his boundaries in Germany,'' said Christian Wiesner, spokesman for the pro-reform Wir Sind Kirche, or We Are Church movement.
Ratzinger may have softened his image -- at least among his colleagues -- with the delivery of the homily at John Paul II's funeral. Choking back tears, the cardinal said that ''we can be sure our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the father's house, that he sees us and blesses us.''
In his autobiography, Ratzinger said he sensed was out of step with his fellow Germans as early as the 1960s, when he was a young assistant at the Second Vatican Council in Rome.
Returning to Germany between sessions, ''I found the mood in the church and among theologians to be agitated,'' he wrote. ''More and more there was the impression that nothing stood fast in the church, that everything was up for revision.''
Ratzinger left Tuebingen during student protests in the late 1960s and moved to the more conservative University of Regensburg in his home state of Bavaria.
Catholics and Protestants each account for about 34 percent of the German population, but Bavaria is one of the more heavily Catholic areas.
''What Wadowice was for John Paul, Bavaria is for Ratzinger,'' said Frauenlob, referring to John Paul II's hometown in southern Poland. ''He has very deep roots here, it's his home.''
The cardinal was born in Marktl Am Inn, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.
He and his older brother, Georg -- former director of the renowned Regensburger Domspatzen boys choir -- return annually to the peaceful halls of St. Michael's Seminary to stay in the elegant, but sparsely furnished bishop's apartment next to the church.
An accomplished pianist who loves Mozart, Ratzinger enjoys playing the grand piano in the seminary's main hall, and walking through downtown Traunstein greeting people, Frauenlob said.
Traunstein was also where Ratzinger went through the harrowing years of Nazi rule and World War II.
In his memoirs, Ratzinger wrote that he was enrolled in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood.
Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper, a common taks for teenage boys too young to be soldiers. A year later he was released, only to be sent to the Austrian-Hungarian border to construct tank barriers.
He deserted the Germany army in April 1945, in the final weeks of the war in Europe, and returned to Traunstein -- a risky move, since deserters were shot on the spot if caught, or publicly hanged as examples to others.
When he arrived home, U.S. soldiers took him prisoner and held him in a POW camp for several weeks. Upon his release, he re-entered the seminary.
Ratzinger was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. He then spent several years teaching theology. In 1977, he was appointed bishop of Munich and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.
John Paul II named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981, where he was responsible for enforcing Catholic orthodoxy and was one of the key men in the drive to shore up the faith of the world's Roman Catholics.
Ratzinger speaks several languages, among them Italian and English, as well as his native language German.
Frauenlob calls him a subtle thinker with a deep understanding of Catholic tradition and a personal touch he's not often given credit for.
He cites the example of the seminary's 2003 confirmation service where no bishop was available. Ratzinger swiftly agreed to come, confirming the 14 boys, then taking time to speak personally to each one after the ceremony.
''I find it hurtful to see him described as a hard-liner,'' Frauenlob said. ''People are too quick to say that, it's not an accurate reflection of his personality.''

Surowy strażnik wiary

Kim jest człowiek, który już w pierwszych głosowaniach może zgromadzić prawie połowę głosów uczestników konklawe?

Jacek Moskal

Rzeczpospolita 19 4 2005

Niemiecki teolog i arcybiskup Monachium został w 1981 roku powołany przez Jana Pawła II na kluczowe w Kościele stanowisko prefekta Kongregacji Nauki Wiary. Zyskał opinię niezmordowanego tropiciela odstępstw od doktryny katolickiej. Temu zawdzięcza "czarną legendę" w mediach.
Rzadko był wymieniany jako kandydat na papieża. Okazuje się jednak, że cieszy się sporą popularnością nie tylko wśród innych kardynałów, ale także w szerokich kręgach świeckich katolików oraz intelektualistów innych orientacji.
Bardzo charakterystyczne było zdarzenie, które o kilka tygodni poprzedziło śmierć Jana Pawła II. Pod koniec lutego umarł Don Luigi Giussani - ksiądz, który założył w latach sześćdziesiątych ruch katolicki Wspólnota i Wyzwolenie ("Communione e liberazione"). Kardynał Ratzinger przyjechał na jego pogrzeb jako specjalny legat papieski. Gospodarzem był tam inny "papabile", zaliczany do faworytów - arcybiskup Mediolanu kard. Dionigi Tettamanzi. Członkowie ruchu, wśród których było wielu studentów, a także przedstawicieli intelektualnej i gospodarczej elity lombardzkiej stolicy, przyjęli swojego metropolitę lodowatym chłodem. Cały aplauz zarezerwowali dla Ratzingera. Dla nich, podobnie jak dla członków wielu podobnych organizacji katolickiego laikatu, stał się symbolem obrony zagrożonych fundamentów wiary.
Przed konklawe na łamach prasy włoskiej pojawiły się określenia w rodzaju "panzerkardinal", stanowiące aluzje zarówno do pochodzenia, jak stanowczości niemieckiego purpurata. W jego sylwetce trudno jednak dostrzec coś pancernego. Szczupły i siwowłosy, przypomina raczej uniwersyteckiego profesora teologii. W jego twarzy o regularnych, łagodnych rysach jedni znajdują skromność, a nawet pokorę, inni zaś rezerwę i chłód. Znany jest z subtelnego poczucia humoru, zabarwionego autoironią. Często można go spotkać w okolicach Watykanu, gdy szybkim krokiem zmierza do pałacu Świętego Oficjum.
Jako prefekt kongregacji wymaga wiele od swoich podwładnych, ale otacza ich życzliwością, także wtedy, gdy opuszczą już Rzym. Przyjechał do Radomia na ingres biskupi ks. Zygmunta Zimowskiego, który pracował z nim wiele lat.
Przede wszystkim teolog
Ratzingerowie to chłopska rodzina z okolic Passawy (Passau) w Dolnej Bawarii, bardzo silnie związana - jak większość ludzi z tamtych stron - z Kościołem katolickim. Joseph urodził się 16 kwietnia 1927 roku w miasteczku Markt nad rzeką Inn. Jego ojciec był komisarzem żandarmerii, ale kariery w czasach hitlerowskich nie zrobił. Przeciwnie. Z powodów materialnych przez pewien czas nie mógł posyłać syna do szkoły - uczył go wtedy sam. Pod koniec wojny Joseph odbywał służbę jako obserwator obrony przeciwlotniczej. Po upadku III Rzeszy rozpoczął studia filozoficzne na uniwersytecie w Monachium, a w 1951 r. złożył śluby kapłańskie.
Kariera akademicka w dziedzinie teologii dogmatycznej przebiegała błyskotliwie: po uzyskaniu doktoratu Ratzinger uczył na uniwersytetach w Münster, Bonn i Tybindze. Na tym ostatnim poznał blisko innego teologa, Hansa Künga, który stał się w przyszłości jednym z jego najbardziej zaciętych przeciwników. Wśród studentów młodego profesora był też brazylijski franciszkanin Leonardo Boff - później jedna z czołowych postaci teologii wyzwolenia. Na razie jednak Ratzinger i Küng współpracują, a nawet przyjaźnią się. Obydwaj są wybitnymi przedstawicielami nowych prądów, które nurtują zachodnioeuropejską teologię. Z taką famą wyjeżdżają na Sobór Watykański II.
35-letni Ratzinger jest tam doradcą kardynała Fringsa. Wtedy też poznał nieco od niego starszego biskupa krakowskiego Karola Wojtyłę. W 1969 obejmuje Katedrę Dogmatyki w Ratyzbonie. W 1977 Paweł VI mianował go arcybiskupem Monachium i nadał mu kapelusz kardynalski.
Nieoficjalnie wiadomo, że w październiku 1978 roku Ratzinger głosował, podobnie jak inni niemieccy kardynałowie,na Karola Wojtyłę. Metropolita krakowski wywarł bardzo dobre wrażenie na episkopacie niemieckim podczas wizyty, którą złożył w tym kraju razem z prymasem Wyszyńskim.
Krytycznie o efektach soboru
W 1981 roku nowy papież wezwał Ratzingera do Watykanu. Dlaczego właśnie jego? Sam był przede wszystkim duszpasterzem. W czasie studiów i pracy naukowej uformował się jako filozof, specjalista w zakresie etyki. W dziedzinie teologii zajmował się mistyką, która z trudem mieści się w ramach dogmatów Kościoła. Na Stolicy Apostolskiej potrzebował kogoś, kto zapewni nauczanie od tej strony.
Ewolucja Josepha Ratzingera i Hansa Künga przebiegała w przeciwnych kierunkach. Küng skupił się na podważaniu uchwalonego na Soborze Watykańskim I dogmatu o nieomylności papieża w sprawach wiary i moralności. Kolejne publikacje na ten temat przyniosły mu zakaz nauczania w imieniu Kościoła.
Ratzinger bardziej krytycznie patrzył na efekty Soboru Watykańskiego II. Obok otwarcia na świat przyniósł on wiele zjawisk negatywnych, takich jak kryzys powołań kapłańskich. Niemiecki kardynał dostrzegał główną przyczynę w nadmiernej swobodzie poszukiwań teologicznych. W niektórych przypadkach prowadzą one do podważenia prawd stanowiących istotę chrześcijaństwa - jak wiara w bóstwo i zmartwychwstanie Chrystusa.
To nie inkwizycja
- Nie jestem wielkim inkwizytorem - powtarzał często w minionych latach kardynał Ratzinger. Kierowana przezeń kongregacja jest spadkobierczynią Świętego Oficjum - inkwizycji rzymskiej. Działa jednak znacznie łagodniejszymi metodami. Może najwyżej zadecydować - po długich dociekaniach i rozmowach - o tym, że dana publikacja lub całokształt poglądów jej autora nie mieści się już w granicach nauczania Kościoła. - Dobro polega także na umiejętności mówienia "nie", a nie na przyznawaniu wszystkim racji - to inne z ulubionych powiedzeń Ratzingera.
Swój sprzeciw kardynał i jego podwładni wyrażali często. W połowie lat osiemdziesiątych głośne było potępienie teologii wyzwolenia, która próbowała wprowadzić do chrześcijaństwa marksistowską ideologię walki klas i przemocy rewolucyjnej. W roku 2000 ochłodzenie stosunków z innymi Kościołami, a także innymi religiami spowodowała deklaracja "Dominus Jesus", która przypominała, że Chrystus jest jedynym zbawicielem ludzkości, a tylko Kościół katolicki w pełni wyraża jego naukę. Dokument powstał jednak z inspiracji Jana Pawła II.
Jak tonący okręt
Podczas długiego pontyfikatu polskiego papieża Kościół ukazywał dwa oblicza. Z jednej strony otwierał się na świat - na inne wyznania chrześcijańskie oraz na judaizm i islam. Z drugiej starał się umacniać zagrożone fundamenty własnej wiary i nauki moralnej.
Jan Paweł II wyrażał obydwie te tendencje. Kardynał Ratzinger raczej tylko tę drugą, dając wyraz pesymistycznemu spojrzeniu na cywilizację zachodnią i stan związanego z nią Kościoła.
Mówił o tym w książce-wywiadzie "Raport o stanie wiary". 1 kwietnia, w przeddzień śmierci Jana Pawła II, w klasztorze św. Benedykta w Subiaco polemizował z tymi, którzy chcieliby pozbawić religię jej metafizycznej treści, sprowadzając posłanie Jezusa o Królestwie Bożym do swoistej politycznej moralistyki.
Ratzinger napisał teksty rozważań i modlitw do tegorocznej drogi krzyżowej w rzymskim Koloseum. Przejmujący fragment modlitwy trafił następnego dnia na nagłówki wielu gazet: "Panie, tak często Twój Kościół wydaje się nam tonącym okrętem, łodzią, która ze wszystkich stron nabiera wody (...) Przeraża nas brud na szatach i obliczu Twojego Kościoła. (...) Ale to właśnie my zdradzamy Cię za każdym razem, po wszystkich wielkich słowach i szumnych gestach".
Być może powodem rosnącej popularności bawarskiego teologa w Kolegium Kardynalskim i poza nim jest fakt, że wielu podziela ten pogląd.

ROZMOWA Kardynał Joseph Ratzinger

Relatywizm zagrożeniem dla Kościoła

Najważniejszym problemem Kościoła katolickiego stał się relatywizm. Niebezpieczeństwo relatywizmu polega na tym, że wydaje się on tak jasny i tak bliski dzisiejszym ludziom. Jednak jego przyjęcie oznacza, że odpowiedzi na wszystkie wielkie pytania ludzkiego bytu - pytanie o sens życia, o śmierć, o Boga, a także kwestie etyczne - stają się czymś arbitralnym i dowolnym. A gdy odpowiedzi na wielkie pytania etyki są czymś dowolnym, gdy te pytania nie znajdują żadnej wspólnej odpowiedzi, człowiek znajduje się w niebezpieczeństwie. W tej mierze relatywizm zagraża nie tylko naszej wierze, która staje się jedynie jedną odmianą wśród wielu światopoglądów, ale także moralnej więzi łączącej ludzkość.
W żadnym razie nie można powiedzieć, że wszystkie religie są prawdziwe. Raczej: we wszystkich religiach, albo w większości religii, są - obok aspektów błędnych i wątpliwych - elementy prawdy. W tej mierze religie nie tylko w jakiś sposób zbiegają się ze sobą, ale też niosą w sobie wewnętrzną dynamikę ku wierze chrześcijańskiej.
Powtórzę: religie nie są ani zupełnie prawdziwe, ani zupełnie fałszywe; znajdują się w nich, w bardzo różnym stopniu, tak elementy prawdy, jak i fałszu. Bowiem religie pochodzą w części z naturalnego objawienia. Człowiek nie stał się przecież zupełnie ślepy na Boga; jako katolicy nie uważamy, że grzech pierworodny spowodował całkowitą ślepotę i absolutne zniszczenie. Wciąż jeszcze Bóg mówi w człowieku. Tak więc w religiach możemy odnaleźć to pierwotne odsłonięcie się Boga, chociaż jest ono w różny sposób zaciemnione. W tym sensie zatem, uważam, nie wolno traktować religii jako po prostu zamkniętych w sobie istot, ale trzeba na nie patrzeć jako na realności dynamiczne. To znaczy z jednej strony, że pochodzą one od Stwórcy, ale z drugiej strony - czekają na pełniejsze objawienie. Widzimy, że przez zniekształcenia, pochodzące z grzechu, odbija się w religiach w pewien sposób prawda Stwórcy. Ale też one same wskazują, że są czymś niewystarczającym i ukrywają w sobie oczekiwanie na Zbawiciela, które ostatecznie jest oczekiwaniem na Chrystusa.

Z wywiadu przeprowadzonego dla "Rzeczpospolitej" przez Grzegorza Górnego, Pawła Lisickiego i Rafała Smoczyńskiego w 1999 roku

Kardynał Joseph Ratzinger dla KAI w lipcu 2004 o Europie, rozumie i dialogu


Gazeta 19 4 2005

Katolik nie powinien zatem narzucać innym swoich religijnych przekonań, lecz winien wspomagać racjonalny dyskurs.Chrześcijaństwo od samego początku chciało przemawiać głosem rozumu i - by tak rzec - zmuszać rozum do pracy, przywrócić go jemu samemu, obdarzając słaby rozum wewnętrzną siłą.Gdyby przezwyciężenie subiektywizmu nie było możliwe, w jaki sposób mielibyśmy budować wspólne życie?Kościół katolicki jest bardzo odważny w wychodzeniu naprzeciw innym wyznaniom [...] Jest to problem stopniowego wewnętrznego otwierania się i przezwyciężania różnic zbudowanych przez historię, co wymaga czasumożemy mieć nadzieję na nową wiosnę chrześcijaństwa.
Caly wywiad (in Polish only) na http://serwisy.gazeta.pl/kosciol/1,64807,2194949.html
(6 stron)


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.
Full text on http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/RATZINTV.HTM
(11 pages)

The Problem of Christian Prophecy

30Giorni, No 1 - 1999

Christianity always carries within it a structure of hope "It is increasingly urgent that the authentic structure of promise and fulfilment inherent in the Christian faith be presented in a comprehensible and liveable way".
Interview with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger by Niels Christian Hvidt
Full text on http://www.tlig.org/ratzfull.html
(11 pages)

Memories of a destructive mind

Joseph Cardinal Ratzingers Milestones

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger published an in-depth interview of himself titled Salt of the Earth and in 1997 an autobiography called Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977. These books are important if we consider the high post the Cardinal holds in the Vatican. In this article, which will be printed in two parts (Part II to appear in The Angelus, May, 1999), we will review Milestones to better understand the current crisis in the Catholic Church [Reviews]
Part 1: http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1999_March/The_Memories_of_a_Destructive_Mind.htm
Part 2: http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/1999_May/The_Memories_of_a_Destructive_Mind.htm
(23 pages in total)


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