VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The 12th volume of the collected works of Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Benedict XVI, was presented in the Vatican.
On Wednesday the Vatican press office hosted a meeting with journalists to present the German-language volume of Ratzinger’s “opera omnia,” titled, “Kunder des Wortes und Diener eurer Freude — Theologie und Spiritualitat des Weihesakramentes” (Heralds of the Word and Servants of Your Joy).
The press conference was also called to publicize the upcoming Nov. 10-13 plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The assembly will focus on the theme, “The Culture of Communication and New Languages.”
Several Church leaders took part in the press conference: Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Regensburg, Germany, member of the same pontifical council and curator of Joseph Ratzinger’s opera omnia project; Monsignor Pasquale Iacobone, head of the Department of Art and Faith of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and Richard Rouse, head of the Department of Communication and Languages of the same dicastery.
In his intervention, Bishop Muller said that the theme of the latest volume of Ratzinger’s complete works is about the theology and spirituality of the sacrament of holy orders.
He noted that, as Benedict XVI affirmed June 11 at the closing of the Year for Priests, the priesthood is “not simply a ‘job’ but a sacrament: God makes use of a poor man in order to be, through him, present for men and to act in their favor.”
The prelate explained that the text is divided in three parts. In section A, titled “Theology of the Sacrament of Holy Orders,” Ratzinger “illustrates positively the biblical foundation and the coherent historical-dogmatic development of the sacrament of holy orders.”
In section B, titled “Servants of Your Joy,” there is a “collection of meditations” on “priestly spirituality, already published before as a single work with the same title.” Section C gathers several sermons given on the occasion of priestly and diaconal consecrations, first Masses and jubilees.
“It’s not so much about religious lyricism as it is the rediscovery of the spiritual sources to which every priest attains daily to be a good laborer of the Lord and an enthusiastic servant of the Good News of Christ,” said Bishop Muller, “a shepherd who does not feed himself, but rather, as Christ, the supreme Shepherd, sacrifices his own life for God’s flock.”
The prelate continued, “Wherever the dogmatic foundation of the Catholic priesthood collapses, not only is the source extinguished from which an existence is fed in the following of Christ, but the motivation to give up marriage for love of the Kingdom of Heaven also fails.”
He added, “If the symbolic relation inherent in the sacrament is neglected, priestly celibacy declines to a mere wreckage of a past hostile to the body, and is singled out and opposed as the only case for the lack of priests.”
The bishop explained that the crisis of the priesthood that has hit the West in the last decades is also “the result of a fundamental disorientation of the Christian in face of a philosophy that transfers the profound meaning and ultimate objective of history and of every human existence into a worldly dimension, barring in this way the transcendent horizon.”
In this context, he said, only by “placing every expectation in God and founding one’s whole existence on him who in Christ has given us everything” can there be “the logic of a choice of life that places itself with absolute dedication in the following of Jesus and participates in his mission of Redeemer of the world.”
Bishop Muller said: “The true essence of the sacramental priesthood consists in the fact that the bishop and the presbyter are servants of the Word who carry out the service of reconciliation and pastoral care of the flock of God entrusted to them.
“In the measure in which they fulfill the mandate of Christ, through their acts and words, Christ himself becomes present.”
In his intervention, Monsignor Iacobone spoke about the upcoming plenary assembly and noted that the aim is to “turn attention to an essential aspect of contemporary cultures,” namely, “the use of language and of communication, to study the present situation and propose lines of action for the evangelizing mission of the Church.”
The Church “has a long tradition of using different linguistic forms in its communications addressed either to its interior or to the outside,” he affirmed.
The assembly participants will review “these and other languages used today to involve the person,” the priest reported, especially “the characteristics of interactivity and of participation, of clarity and simplicity — avoiding, however, simplification — and the figurative and narrative languages to be able to transmit better to our contemporaries in a comprehensible way what we have received.”
Rouse then stated that the sphere of communication “constitutes an essential part of anthropology and is a fundamental dimension of the person, as it is of culture.”
“The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, is at the origin of interpersonal relations,” he said, “of the social community and of the culture and has several ambits of membership and of identity.”
Given that “the systems of languages and of communication evolve,” Rouse added, “to evangelize in this ‘environment’ requires a continual updating of our capacity to understand and to interpret the languages, especially the cultural values that they represent.”
He noted that “the need emerges to arouse cultural stimuli to put oneself at the service of the ‘digital natives’ in their interactive world, without forgetting the other more traditional means — magazines, books, newspapers, television, radio, telephone, cinema.”
Rouse concluded, “It’s not our concern to promote the use of the more modern techniques, but to analyze and highlight the ‘humanum’ in them.”