On Benedict XVI's 100 Days

Interview with Marco Tosatti of La Stampa

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ROME, JULY 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of Benedict XVI’s 100-day mark as Pope, La Stampa’s Vatican correspondent comments on the prudent, subtle style of the current Bishop of Rome.

In this interview with ZENIT, Tosatti, who recently published, in Italian, “The Dictionary of Pope Ratzinger: Guide to the Pontificate,” comments on the papacy of Benedict XVI.

Q: What are the best known, most original and important thoughts of “The Dictionary of Pope Ratzinger”?

Tosatti: I very much like his reflection on the Chair of Peter — hard and uncomfortable — and on Judaism in Jesus’ time. The New Testament is no more than an interpretation of Judaism, beginning with Jesus’ history of “the law, the prophets and the writings,” which in Jesus’ times had not reached their mature form as a definitive canon, but were still open and were therefore presented to the disciples as a testimony in favor of Jesus himself, as Sacred Scriptures that reveal his mystery.

Q: It seems like one part of Europe and the Western world is oriented to legislating against the natural law and Christian teachings. A confrontation on moral topics and Church-state relations seems inevitable. What is your opinion?

Tosatti: This danger is certainly present. Natural law and natural right seem to be in danger in the Western world. But certain cases, I am referring to the position of many and significant “secular” thinkers in Italy in the last months, lead one to hope that at least a part of the world that defines itself as Christian will understand the risks derived from individualism, from the dictum “every desire is a right.”

Q: Do you think that Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the first German Pope in centuries, might influence the political and cultural changes of his native country?

Tosatti: I don’t think so, I don’t think the country of his birth is at the center of his concerns. I have the impression that he regards it as a piece of the Western world, in which new forms of paganism are gaining ground and in which there is a re-emergence, as a consequence of the lack of faith, of superstition. However, I think the election of a German Pope might increase the interest of his compatriots in his figure and message, as a long-term effect.

Q: As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and as an intellectual, Joseph Ratzinger intervened in a clear manner against moral and religious relativism. What have you discovered in this connection when writing your book?

Tosatti: I have dedicated two ample passages to the topic of relativism. I quote at the beginning: “Relativism has become … the fundamental problem of our days.” In another passage he says: to believe in Jesus Christ “is considered as a fundamentalism which appears as a genuine attack against the modern spirit.”

Q: As a Vaticanist, could you make a synthetic commentary on these first days of Benedict XVI’s pontificate?

Tosatti: I don’t dare make a commentary, but rather share impressions. He moves with patience, prudence and delicacy, but he moves and does much more than we perceive. He is not afraid of saying things with courtesy, but also with the greatest clarity.

Little by little he is letting his human side show, which is extremely rich, and which is never easy for a timid person. He knows how to speak with simple people and philosophers and to make himself understood, and this is an uncommon ability. I think he will do much good for the Church and the world.

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