Cardinal: Tribunal Calls Christians to Interiority

Symposium Analyzes History of Apostolic Penitentiary

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2009 ( Without God there is no drama capable of giving substance to human freedom, says the major penitentiary.

Cardinal James Stafford affirmed this in a symposium of the Apostolic Penitentiary that ended today, about the history and purpose of that oldest Vatican dicastery.

This tribunal deals with all questions of conscience and reconciliation, as well all that refers to the subject of indulgences.

The cardinal said that after being named as major penitentiary, he dedicated some weeks to understanding his new mission through «intense meditation and prayer about the ontology of forgiveness and of reconciliation in the Catholic Church.»

Cardinal Stafford pointed out, «The words and the language of forgiveness are central in the mystery of Christian reconciliation. The faculty of speech alone makes possible the communication of reconciliation between us.»

He explained that the development of thought and understanding of the internal judgment of the human person «has been key for the understanding, exclusively Western, of the human being as a person.»

He continued: «Gradually, I realized how the theology of reconciliation has the cross of Christ in its center. It is the very contradiction of evil.

«I lingered especially on [the thought of] Jesus abandoned by the Father. The illogic of sin was ‘seized by the logic of the love of the Trinity.’ For me it would have been impossible to understand the mystery of hell and the forgiveness of the Father, accepting the commercium admirabile [admirable exchange] of Jesus, without penetrating the mystery of the abandonment of Jesus by the Father on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.»

Cardinal Stafford affirmed that the spirit behind the Penitentiary springs from the knowledge that «the penitent is called to recognize that he is a debtor» and must give «his humble and indivisible service, only to the Lord God.»

The cardinal concluded, «The Church always has been convinced that the penitent cannot approach conversion by himself. Human freedom always is enveloped in a dialogue with divine freedom.»

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