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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cardinal Meisner ""Holy Father, you have to dismiss Cardinal Bertone! "

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How can it be that a Pope retires?

In an exclusive interview, Cardinal Meisner admits to being shocked by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Nevertheless, he understands the decision of the Pope. The cardinal of the Germans is disappointed how often the Pope was ridiculed in his homeland.

Your Eminence, you are considered to be a close confidant of the pope. Were you kept in the picture about the resignation?

I was absolutely surprised and thought that the news was a joke from the Carnival on Shrove Tuesday. To be honest, I'm shocked really.

Shocked?

Such a step was beyond my imagination. Previously not even priests and bishops resigned. This has a very deep meaning: The ministry is indeed a kind of fatherhood. Father and one remains a father throughout life. Then, as the age limit for bishops and priests was introduced, I have for a long time thought: lucky that at least the Pope officiates for life. Then the continuity of this paternity is assured. However, I notice it in myself, that with the years I am more and more clinging to the ropes. And in as far as it makes sense, that you can also withdraw from matters. Not because you do not want to do anything any more. But one is freed from the "you must" and should instead say: "I can"

Did the Pope ever indicate anything to you?

Never. And if so, then I would not have understood. Because I had never held an abdication possible. I have recently told my nieces and nephews when they asked me what things would be like at Christmas after my 80th Birthday, "There are so many things that I no longer need to do. For example, I never have to go back into a conclave. "

What was your last meeting with the Pope like?

I met him in November during the Synod of Bishops and spent an evening with him. He was wide awake and on the mark. Also at the synod he held at the beginning of a 40-minute presentation – given without notes without equal in spiritual and intellectual depth. That is for him the elixir of life. And yes, he once told me: "If there comes a time when I cannot go on ..." Apparently he had at that moment a feeling of weakness.

In farming families, there is for the old farmers the farm outhouse in which after full time work they can enjoy the autumn of their days? Is the possibility of a resignation not a similar act of charity?

From my viewpoint especially a thought went through my head: How will things move now? A Pope retired! Reasonably considered, it is certainly appropriate that the Pope gives the office to another when he comes to the end: he can no longer continue with the necessary force. As a good father, he knows his responsibility to take care of his house. A building with a billion Catholics and endless stories to manage, is a burden that I do not wish to imagine. Especially when one is so smart and honest as the Pope who wants to think through everything important and is even more aware of the risks of his actions.

Are you stalked by the belief that he flees from office?

Not for a second! The claim that the Lord of the Church makes on us, we cannot escape. The Pope tries to do justice to the claim of the Lord when he says now: I have to recognize my inability to perform well the service entrusted to my care.


Did the Pope really know about the revision of your position on the "morning after" pill that you now have declared to be ethical after cases of rape?

My statement was agreed with the Congregation of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life. I have also talked about it with the secretary of the Pope, Archbishop Gänswein,. He told me: "The pope knows. It's all right. "

You pushed in 2005 for the choice of Joseph Ratzinger. Has he met your expectations?

So, besides me there were also a few others who were for Ratzinger. What surprised me was his ability to grow into the new office. Shy as he is by nature. I found this on his first major trip back to Cologne for World Youth Day on the ship when I kept telling him: "Holy Father, you must now wave to the youngsters! And not only right, but also to the left, to all sides, "Until he once replied:" you constantly criticise me about it " Yes, "I said," until you have learned to be Pope ". The Pope tolerated such familiarity. He stayed really quite natural.

How does he go down in history?

As Pope, who with great intelligence analyses the present and set the course for the future. I had actually hoped he would still write a great encyclical on the "human condition", the problems of humanity in our time. No moralizing, but an unfolding of the Christian image that is now often called into question.

Contrary to what you said to your nieces and nephews another conclave is upon you. What sort of Pope do you want to vote for with the other cardinals?

For an answer, the news is still too fresh. First comes the 28th February, and I'm curious how this will happen in Rome: Will the Cardinals be there when the Pope leaves office? Is there a retirement party? But if I take a first look at this moment out into the future, the new pope would certainly a man of similar high education to Joseph Ratzinger, with great human experience, and - be of vital health – especially. No older than 70, I'd say. John Paul II once said to me in a face-to-face meeting: "The theological profile of my Pontificate I owe Joseph Ratzinger." The two complemented each other wonderfully. So a mixture of Wojtyla and Ratzinger would not be bad. But I've made really no idea about an appropriate candidate.

Did Benedict XVI miss the counterpart, which he himself was for his predecessor?

The Cardinal Secretary of State did not secure this role. During the Williamson affair, I even once, on behalf of a number of cardinals, went to the Pope and said: "Holy Father, you have to dismiss Cardinal Bertone! He's in charge - as would be the responsible minister in a secular government, "He looked at me and said," Listen to me carefully! Bertone remains! Basta! Basta! Basta! "After that I never brought up the subject again. Incidentally, this is typical: The Ratzingers are loyal. That makes life for them not always easy. The Pope has basically taken his closest collaborators from the CDF when he took over the new office, Cardinal Bertone as well as his secretary, the present Archbishop Gänswein. But the former prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Levada, did not play for Ratzinger a role in the way that he played for John Paul II. And the new prefect, Archbishop Müller of Regensburg, is only just in the office and must find out about his own role. He is a clever man, yet different to Ratzinger himself

The relationship of Germans to "their" Pope was very mixed. What is your assessment?

It has always hurt me how dismissively, even maliciously the Pope was spoken about in Germany. . What many lacked was a sense of self-awareness, even of pride that for the first time in nearly 500 years, again a German held such an office with this global responsibility. This was completely ignored.



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