Cardinal Ratzinger Highlights Power of Prayer

BELLUNO, Italy, OCT. 21, 2004 ( Far from being limited to something private, prayer has a “social sense,” explained the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

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The German Cardinal traveled to Belluno, in northwestern Italy, last weekend to present his book “Faith, Truth, Tolerance: Christianity and the Religions of the World,” at the Pope Luciani Center of Col Cumano. The Center is the nucleus of initiatives for the cause of canonization of John Paul I, who governed the Church for only 33 days.

Cardinal Ratzinger concelebrated Mass last Sunday in the Cathedral of Belluno, at the foot of the Dolomites.

“We think that prayer is something private. We no longer believe, I think, in the real, historical effect of prayer,” he explained after the Mass to journalists.

“Instead, we must be convinced and learn that this spiritual commitment, which unites heaven and earth, has an inner force. And a means to arrive at the affirmation of justice is to commit oneself to prayer, because in this way it is transformed in my and others’ education for justice. We must, in brief, re-learn the social sense of prayer.”

The Cardinal was asked if the power of prayer is more pacifying than that of weapons. “Yes, I would say it is the power we have, because we see that even with the most powerful weapons the flame of terrorism cannot be extinguished. Violence breeds violence.”

“Of course, defense is necessary, but we cannot extinguish these flames only with counter-violence. We need a spiritual force which is born, precisely, from prayer,” Cardinal Ratzinger explained.

Given his willingness, the Cardinal was also asked about the European Constitution, which does not recognize the Continent’s Christian roots.

“A referendum will be held in numerous countries. We’ll see what the people say. In any event, I don’t think we should consider this problem eliminated, because it isn’t about a marginal issue, just an ornament, but about the very definition of our identity,” he stressed.

Because “Europe cannot be only a community of interests and strategies, or trade. We need a more profound identity. And this identity calls for a definition,” he concluded.

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