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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Pope's brother slams Cardinal Danneels

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The "theologians", Eugen Drewermann and Hans Küng
And post-conciliar liturgical reform
But spares Cardinals Lehmann and Kasper

Translation of an interview which appeared in Junge Freiheit.

The Belgian press is in uproar over the criticisms of Cardinal Danneels – highlights to follow- saying that he is infected with the "Cardinal Joos syndrome".

"My brother and my Pope"

Georg Ratzinger on Pope Benedict XVI, the crisis of Faith and the false direction of "modernisation" of the Church.
19 August 2005


Interview by Moritz Schwarz
Reverend Father, in April your brother, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II. This week, Pope Benedict XVI returned to Germany for the first time. Do you think of your brother in the first instance, as your brother or as the Pope?

GR: He is both my brother and the Pope. There is a scholastic axiom which states, "Grace does not destroy nature". Natural reality also stays unchanged with respect to Faith.

MS: How does this personal relationship work?

GR: We are brothers but when in his capacity as Pope, Benedict XVI declares a message to the Church, I will accept it just like any other priest.

MS: Pope Benedict XVI comes to Cologne in the context of the World Youth Day. As many young people are aware, Pope John Paul II had been in office since 1978. For as long as they could remember, "he had always been there". A few months ago, however, they have experienced how a "simple" Cardinal and normal human being suddenly was elected to be the Representative of Christ on earth.

GR: Of course, the Pope is the Representative of Christ on earth, but he is at the same time, undoubtedly a human being like all others- Grace does not destroy nature! Most Faithful do not understand the "change of feelings" of public opinion which fluctuates between rash and arrogant critique of the Pope on the one hand and mounting emotions of deep reverence on the other hand. I don't criticise this but I only point out that our relationship is different.

MS: But the "rank", Representative of Christ is more than a title.

GR: Of course, but even as a Bishop one belongs to the Apostolic College. The change, that you address has not just started with his Papal election. The simple priest in the Catholic Church is not only an office holder but a representative of the Bishop. This means he has been chosen and he is ordained to the service of Christ. The thought of the functionality which modern circles would like to introduce parallel to the protestant church, shows their deep misunderstanding of the Catholic Church.

MS: Whom do you have in mind?

GR: For example, there are groups like "Church from below" or "We are Church".

MS: You don't consider these groups a renewal but instead see them as transgressions of Catholicism.

GR: A transgression of the spiritual structure of the building blocks of our Faith.

MS: Is this then still the Church?

GR: Not in my opinion, because the expectations of these groups are so far removed from the actual ecclesial reality that one has to recognise a divide in the religious substance.

MS: Where do you think these tendencies are coming from?

GR: It is a sign of the time in which we live.

MS: You have in mind the typical western problem to use intellect too much in matters of Faith and to try to functionalise it, instead of honouring God for his very Self.

GR: The problem is, in fact, one the one hand the domination of reason and on the other the tendency to transfer the models that we meet on a daily basis to other areas, for which they are not suited, for example, the Church.

MS: Like transferring democratic models from politics and society onto the Faith and the Church?

GR: Yes. But one fails to recognise that a constituent element of Faith is God's Truth and those who think that they can vote on Faith will loose its mystery.

MS: So you advocate more emotion than reason.

GR: Yes, but the problem goes deeper. I was speaking about the "signs of our time". We in the west are confronted with a total secularisation. Any reference to the sacred, any realisation of the otherworldly has been lost for many people.

MS: The Enlightenment as a curse, as a "life-threatening disease of the human spirit", as Joseph Ratzinger has written in his book, "Faith, Truth and Tolerance", when he was still a Cardinal.

GR: The surrounding world occupies us to such an extent that any understanding of God's world has been lost with many people. Understanding for the inner truth of the Faith has been slowly disappearing even among the Faithful. Even practicing Christians no longer understand the decisive bases, they no longer understand them nor recognise them. This is the expression of a truly deep crisis.

MS: Your brother is supposed to have said what Cardinal Kasper is representing, has no longer anything to do with Catholicism.

GR: I don't know about that. I cannot imagine it however. I think of Cardinal Kasper differently. But it is true that there are Cardinals who are taken over by the loss of substance. For example, the Brussels' Cardinal, Cardinal Danneels whose remarks, according to my opinion, are no longer in accord with a Catholic understanding.

MS: Cardinal Lehmann has also been controversial, who according to the opinion of some critics is apparently not willing to confront such tendencies with some serious resistance.

GR: No. I believe that this image has been projected onto Cardinal Lehmann from a tendentious over-sensitivity. It is true that he is a man for quiet sounds but this circumstance is in no way to be misunderstood as an abandonment of the Faith. The critics are unjust.


MS: The crises in the Church are easily overcome if one were to believe the internal church critics who appear in the media. The Church must simply modernise herself.

GR: This demand is popular but ludicrous. What is true however is that the Church representatives are not always courageous enough and that due to insecurity, there is a tendency out of insecurity to tolerate without sufficient resistance every mischief from everyone who spread themselves in the Church.

MS: Who is responsible for that?

GR: This is not about naming a guilty party; this would be too simple. The spirit of the modern age has found space in the Church and one has to understand that not everybody can resist it. In Christianity, this responsibility is with each individual. But it is only human that many are not equal to the responsibility.

MS: The Church has tried to respond to this crisis with the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Why has it failed?

GR: The Council was an enormously multilayered event. There is a lot of critique today about the Council. The reaction to the Second Vatican Council is in accord with the reaction to previous Councils. On the one hand, there is enthusiasm and convinced acceptance. On the other hand, there is sharp rejection. The problem is that most critics but also most supporters do not know the Council's texts but only talk about a constructed "spirit of the Council". Everybody who wants to change something in the Church according to his taste is talking about "the spirit of the Council"….. it does not matter even if it has not the remotest connection to the Council. This is misusing the Council itself and the "spirit of the Council" is in reality in the "spirit" of those who refer to it which has nothing to do with the authentic contents of the Council. The Council has a bad reputation even among conservative critics.

MS: How would you describe the Council truthfully.

GR: The Council stands fully on the fundamental of the Faith. The Council has formulated the Faith impressively. I believe that the Council has been an opportunity that has even now not been fully utilised.

MS: Joseph Ratzinger who had at the time supported the Council later said that expectations were raised and much has been a mistake.

GR: I don't think that he would have declared the authentic Council texts as deficient. The post-conciliar difficulties are above all in the area of the liturgy but the Council texts cannot be held responsible for that. But it is the responsibility of the post-conciliar liturgical reform.
MS: Which was implemented in the general modernisation after the Council.

GR: This was the spirit of the time. Open the windows! Some of them could not wait to get rid of the old ways.

MS: Would the Council have to be revised in some aspects?

GR: A Council is not a parliamentary decision. It is the voice of the Church that speaks under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is important to have a responsible understanding of the Council for its authentic interpretation of the Faith. The central point must be a growth in the spirit of the Faith, an authentic understanding of it and to learn to lead a life in the sign of Faith. All modernisations become outmoded in a few years time. In this way, the Church surrenders her transcendental treasure and transforms herself into an institution like any other. Going forward is not going back but it is a return; a return to follow Christ.

MS: Has the Church got the courage to do that?

GR: It is clear that a fair amount of misunderstanding is risked and that "enemies" will be made. Those who go against the spirit of the time have to be prepared for the wind to blow into their face. But the Church must stand firm and must have the courage for decisions which are unpopular in the public media. The Church must not forget that she not only considers "today" but she must prevail in eternity.

MS: With respect to your encouragements, but this "return" has not even once been mentioned in the public debates, let alone been practiced. If you follow the debates in the media, for example, in conjunction with the World Youth Day, you will find that they only raised the question of "modernisation".

GR: The problem is that the choice of participants and topics for the debate seemed to be determined by the journalists. The journalists are naturally to a large extent more interested in a modernisation debate than in a debate on the return to unpopular but fundamental truths of the Faith. In addition, it is unfortunately only popular to comment on the outer experience of the Church and not on the content, because such aspects are of interest which reflects our modern society.

MS: The example of the celibacy debate as a projection of sexualisation or the oecumene as a projection of the multiculturalisation of our society.

GR: Exactly. These reveal their true interests and conceals the truly important, namely questions of Faith. Bu they all have in front of the eyes the warning of the fate of the protestant church where these "reforms" have progressed further and despite that the situation became much worse. I don't know what men like Drewerman and Kueng think about this…. The fact is that neither of them have, in the meantime, recognised the obvious weaknesses of their ideas, because their ideas are still beloved by the media.

MS: This means that not only is one still far away from the correct answers but even far removed from asking the write questions. Where is the hope?

GR: This exactly the point.

MS: What has to be done?

GR: I don't wish to make false promises and but I also don't wish to conceal how desperate I consider the situation to be. On the other hand, I have gained a considerable amount of courage when I saw the reaction on the death of Pope John Paul II. It was encouraging to see how popular a Pope can be in reality. A Pope who in so many instances was considered to be non-contemporary and has been subjected to strong attacks again and again. Even if I have no reply to your question, I find that the recognition that this Pope had commanded gives hope for the future.
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