Cardinal Ratzinger Sees "Weakness of Faith" Behind the Crisis

Warns of the Anonymity of Bishops’ Conferences

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IRONDALE, Alabama, AUG. 24, 2003 ( For Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the crisis the Church is going through, particularly in the United States, is «a weakness of faith» that calls for conversion and «clear moral teaching.»

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith expressed this conviction in an interview with EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo, in Rome, for the news show «The World Over Live.» The complete interview, in English, will be aired by Alabama-based EWTN on Friday, Sept. 5, at 8 p.m. (U.S. Eastern time).

The cardinal answered far-ranging questions posed by Arroyo on, among other topics, the root causes of the sexual abuse crisis in the United States, the Vatican official’s estimation of the Church’s future, and a comment on his possible retirement.

On the latter, Cardinal Ratzinger said, «Yes, I had the desire to retire in 1991, 1996, 2001, because I had the idea I could write some books and return to my studies as Cardinal Martini did. But, on the other hand, seeing the suffering Pope, I cannot say to the Pope, ‘I will retire, I will write my books.’ I have to continue.»

Asked what he identifies as the root cause of the sexual abuse crisis, Cardinal Ratzinger said, «The general element is a weakness of human beings, even of priests. Temptations are present also for the priests. I think the essential point is a weakness of faith.»

«So, two things are essential: Conversion to a profound and deep faith, with a life of prayer and sacraments, and clear moral teaching and awareness of the teaching that the Church has the Holy Spirit and can give us the way,» the cardinal said.

Arroyo asked: «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 today, among the faithful in their episcopacy, do you believe the bishops’ conference to be the best instrument of that healing at this point?»

Cardinal Ratzinger replied, «Coordination between the bishops is certainly necessary because the United States is a great continent. From the outset it is clear that the personal responsibility of the bishop is fundamental for the Church, and perhaps the anonymity of the bishops’ conferences 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.»

On another issue, Arroyo asked: «You’ve discussed often the nature of sexuality and that it finds its 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 where we now have homosexual marriages being legalized, in vitro fertilization and technologies of reproduction outside of the marital act? How do you bring this teaching to the culture?»

Cardinal Ratzinger answered, «It is always essential that the nature of a human being is a given, and we understand that men and women were created one for the other. So I think even if our culture is against marriage as an essential form of relations between women and men, I think our nature is always present and we can understand it if we will to understand it.»

«I hope,» he said, «it is possible in a sincere and open dialogue with the people to understand even today that our nature is this: Man and woman are created one for the other.»

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