Cardinal Ratzinger Answers Contraception Advocates in New Book

«God and the World» Follows Interview Format of 1996 Work

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SAN FRANCISCO, California, SEPT. 13, 2002 ( Blaming the world’s perceived population problems on the Church’s anti-contraception stance is «complete nonsense,» says Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in a new book.

«God and the World: Believing and Living In Our Time» (Ignatius Press) is the newest book presenting the insights of the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church’s top doctrinal official.

The work is based on three days of interviews between journalist Peter Seewald and Cardinal Ratzinger at the Italian Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino.

The 460-page collection of questions covers a wide range of topics, such as the existence of heaven and hell, God’s mercy, the crisis of faith, and whether Jews should acknowledge Christ as the Messiah.

On this last point, Cardinal Ratzinger says: «[I]t remains part of Christian belief that Christ is the Messiah of Israel» and that God has not retracted his covenant with the Jewish people. He explains that though Christians should not force their faith upon the Jews, they should «try to live their life together [with the Jewish people] in such a way that it no longer stands in opposition to them … but facilitates their own approach to it.»

Regarding population-growth problems in the Third World and the blame that is laid on the Church’s teachings against contraception, Cardinal Ratzinger responded, «This, of course, is complete nonsense.»

«The misery is the result of a breakdown of the moral sense that once gave order to life,» he said. That moral sense, in fact, «prevented the great misery we can see nowadays,» he added.

Later the cardinal said: «The misery comes not from large families, but from the irresponsible and undisciplined procreation of children who have no father, and often no mother, and who, as street children, have to suffer the real distress of a spiritually distorted world.»

The book’s interview format is similar to that of 1996’s «Salt of the Earth,» which appeared in 14 languages and sold 150,000 copies.

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