MURCIA, Spain, DEC. 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger suggests that a campaign is under way against the Catholic Church, judging by the way scandals involving priests have been reported in the United States.
The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith shared these views when he met last weekend with a group of journalists, including a ZENIT correspondent. The occasion was the congress “Christ: Way, Truth and Life,” over which the cardinal presided, at the Catholic University of St. Anthony.
The first part of this interview appeared Sunday. Another part will appear Wednesday.
Q: This past year has been difficult for Catholics, given the space dedicated by the media to scandals attributed to priests. There is talk of a campaign against the Church. What do you think?
Cardinal Ratzinger: In the Church, priests also are sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower.
In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1% of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the Church. It is a logical and well-founded conclusion.
Q: There is a debate over the inclusion of the word of God and references to Europe’s Christian past in the preambles of the future Constitution. Do you think there can be a united Europe that has turned its back on its Christian past?
Cardinal Ratzinger: I am convinced that Europe must not just be something economic [or] political; rather, it is in need of spiritual foundations.
It is a historical fact that Europe is Christian, and that it has grown on the foundation of the Christian faith, which continues to be the foundation of the values for this continent, which in turn has influenced other continents.
It is imperative to have a foundation of values and, if we ask ourselves what that foundation is, we realize that, beyond the confessions, there are no others outside the great values of the Christian faith. And this is why it is imperative that in the future Constitution of Europe mention is made of the Christian foundations of Europe.
I do not wish to fall into the error of constructing a political Catholicism. The faith does not provide political recipes, but indicates the foundations. On one hand, politics has its autonomy, but on the other there is no total separation between politics and faith. There are foundations of the faith that later allow for political reasoning. The question, therefore, is what are these foundations that will enable politics to function? What are the aspects that must be left free?
In the first place, it is critical to have an anthropological moral vision, and here faith enlightens us. Is the person of God necessary to have this anthropological vision, which guarantees the freedom of political reasoning?
A morality that dispenses with God, fragments, and, therefore, at least the great intuition that there is a God who knows us and who defines the figure of man as an image of God, belongs to these foundations. Moreover [to mention God] is not an act of violence against anyone, it does not destroy anyone’s freedom, but opens to all the free space to be able to construct a truly human, moral life.
Q: There are seminary professors of the Basque region who go so far as to justify ETA’s terrorism, or who don’t condemn it categorically. There seem to be connections between these priests and liberation theology. There is even talk of an indigenous Basque church. What decision can be made against this?
Cardinal Ratzinger: In this case, one simply applies what the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said between the years 1984 [see “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of Liberation'”)] and 1986 [see “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation”] on liberation theology.
Christianity is certainly related to liberty, but true liberty is not political liberty. Politics has its autonomy; this was emphasized above all by the Second Vatican Council and must not be constructed by faith as such; it must have its rationality.
One cannot deduce from sacred Scripture political recipes and much less so justifications of terrorism. I think that in regard to this specific case everything has been said in the two Instructions of our congregation on liberation theology.
The novelty of Christian messianism consists in the fact that Christ is not immediately the political messiah, who effects the liberation of Israel, as expected. This was the Barabbas model for the liberation of Israel, which they wanted to achieve immediately, including with terrorism.
Christ created another model of liberation, which was achieved in the apostolic community and in the Church exactly as it has been constituted, conformed and witnessed in the New Testament. However, as mentioned, everything has already been said in those two Instructions.
Q: If we made an evaluation of Pope John Paul II’s extraordinary activity, what would be this papacy’s most important contribution? How will Christianity remember this Pope?
Cardinal Ratzinger: I am not a prophet; that is why I do not dare say what they will say in 50 years, but I think the fact that the Holy Father has been present in all areas of the Church will be extremely important.
In this way, he has created an extremely dynamic experience of catholicity and of the unity of the Church. The synthesis between catholicity and unity is a symphony — it is not uniformity. The Church Fathers said it. Babylon was uniformity, and technology creates uniformity.
The faith, as seen at Pentecost where the apostles spoke all languages, is symphony: It is plurality in unity. This is manifested with great clarity in the Holy Father’s pontificate, with his pastoral visits, his meetings.
I think some documents will be important forever: I want to mention the encyclicals “Redemptoris Missio,” “Veritatis Splendor,” “Evangelium Vitae,” and also “Fides et Ratio.” These are four documents that will really be monuments for the future.
Lastly, I think he will be remembered for his openness to the other Christian communities, to the other religions of the world, to the secular world, to the sciences, to the political world. In these areas he has always made reference to the faith and its values, but at the same time he has also shown that the faith is able to enter into dialogue with everyone.
Q: What is John Paul II’s contribution to interreligious dialogue?
Cardinal Ratzinger: The Holy Father sees his own mission as a mission of conciliation in the world, a mission of peace. Whereas in the past, unfortunately, there were religious wars, the Holy Father wishes to show that the right relation between religions is not war, nor violence, it is dialogue, and the attempt to understand the elements of truth that are found in the other religions.
The Holy Father does not want to relativize the uniqueness of Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life, but he wants to show that this truth about Christ cannot be proclaimed with violence or with human power, but only with the force of truth. And for this, a human contact of dialogue and love is necessary, as the apostles showed in the great mission of the early Church: without making use of worldly power, using the force of conviction.
The testimony of suffering, of charity, and of dialogue, convinced the ancient world. The Holy Father simply tries to nurture this force of dialogue and love of the first centuries in the relation with the religions.