ROME, FEB. 13, 2003 (Zenit.org).- It is not possible to remove God’s judgment and punishment from the Christian faith, because to do so would mean that God is indifferent to evil, says Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
According to the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “God combats evil and for this reason, as judge, he must also punish to do justice.”
Cardinal Ratzinger clarified this point when directing a “lectio divina” (sacred reading) in the Church of Santa Maria in Transpontina on the Via della Conciliazione, near the Vatican. The newspaper Avvenire published extensive passages of the cardinal’s meditation Tuesday.
The reflection was focused on the biblical Book of Jonah, the prophet who refused to preach in Nineveh, as God had requested. When Jonah set sail for Tarshish, he was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a great fish. Three days later, he was delivered alive on dry land.
According to Cardinal Ratzinger, one of the great errors of believers today is to “feel at ease with sin.”
As a result, the heart “becomes blind, ceases to seek God, does not desire grace, and does not feel any repentance.” Malice follows, which explains the outrages of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and their cohorts, the cardinal said.
It must not be forgotten that “Christ did not come because everything is good and is under the reign of grace, but because the call to goodness and repentance is totally necessary,” the cardinal stressed.
In order to be credible in proclaiming God, “Christians must be the first in the path of penance,” which is a sign of conversion, Cardinal Ratzinger continued.
He added: “Conversion never ends,” since it entails a constant struggle against one’s sins: sloth, self-complacency, the quest for power, conformism, aggressiveness and arrogance.