Thursday, April 28, 2005

Suprise! the Pope is Catholic, redux

Benedict XVI, as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, believes in Just War Doctrine, God and Church

Perhaps those Roman Catholics that most celebrate him may be the ones in time that feel most disappointed by him. Some of them see in him a man that will finally "shake up" the Church. They seize upon excerpts from his interviews like "creative minority" and "smaller Chruch" and assume that showing dissidents the door is on the agenda.

I don't believe that is the man Benedict XVI is. More importantly, I don't think that's the man Jesus Christ wants him to be. If He did, Benedict XVI would not be Pope.

I know it sounds suspiciously like circular reasoning. Bare with me.

Benedict XVI introduced himself to the world as a "humble servant in the vineyard of the Lord." He takes seriously his responsibility as the Pastor of the Universal Church. That means he looks to the care of all God's children. Caring, if it means anything at all, means staying with. Consider this excerpt from the interview:

Q: Your book ["God and the World"] came out in Italy two days after the terrorist attacks in the USA. If it had come out a little bit later, what would you have added in hindsight?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I would probably say that abusing the name of God would have been the problem, because these attacks were carried out in the name of God. Religion here is being abused for other ends; it has been politicized and made a factor of power.

On the other hand, perhaps I would have spoken more about the need to know God's human face. If we see Christ's face, our Lord who suffers for us and showed how much he loved us in dying for us, we have a vision of God that excludes all forms of violence.

And so it is Christ's face that seems to me to be the perfect answer to the abuse of a God who is turned into an instrument of our power.

His answer to those that would turn the abuse of God into an instrument of power is to demonstrate the face of Christ. This is a mystic's response. This is the response of a shepard. This is the response of a man whose heart is so filled with the love of the Lord that he must Love every man and woman in his path. This is not the shepard who drives off the spotted sheep, or the bleting sheep, or the sheep too interested in snuggling with the others to determine the shepards first hundred days. This is the shepard who will leave the ninety-nine and go after the lost. The dissidents may leave him; he will not leave them.

Need more convincing?

Consider this:

Q: An expression that is sadly used today is "God yes, Church no." In this book you respond to that with a note of concern. Can you clarify this?

Cardinal Ratzinger: Yes, because by saying "God yes, or perhaps even Christ yes, Church no," I create a God, based on what I want him to be, based on my own ideas and desires.

The true God, the real judge of my being and the true light of my life, lives in me. God is not changeable according to my ideas or desires. If I can change this God according to my needs and wishes, it means I don't take him seriously -- and I find this artificial.

Q: You speak in the book also about a tendency to agree with the expression "God no, religion yes."

Cardinal Ratzinger: This is another aspect of the problem today: We look for something religious, something religious that gives us a certain degree of satisfaction. Humanity wants to understand the infinite, to have the answers about that other dimension, that "other side" that exudes the sweetness and hope that material things cannot give.

I really think this is a big trend today: separating yourself from the need of faith, from a concrete "yes" to God that is full of meaning.

People are looking more for immediate satisfaction without the need to truly commit themselves. While it can be very nice to enter into this mystical dimension -- without any commitment -- you end up merely satisfying immediate wants and you are imprisoned in your sense of self.

These are not the words of a Judge about to deliver a sentence of exile. This is the diagnosis of a doctor, a master surgeon, as Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete descibed him. He understands what the poison of relativism has done to humanity. He sees how it has affect Christians, even Roman Catholics--perhaps especially us. He makes it clear that he knows what the disease is. If this drives the sick away because they are in denial, that is their choice. It is not his intention.

Keep in mind. These were his words as cardinal and prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when Zenit interviewed him a few days after 9/11.

Consider his homily during his installation mass. How about his words to the cardinals?

The good news about all this" It is as it should be.

Who doesn't get frustrated at inane liturgies? Who isn't tired of the likes of Curran and Kung and Fox and all the other ninnies that won't stop naying long enough to learn some authentic theology? Who hasn't nearly stained their shoes after another groaner homily that either ignored or stomped on the Faith? That frustration is real.

It is not a reason to relish showing others the door.

Are there not those relatives that you can't stand to visit? Are you looking forward to kicking them out of your family?

Like it or not, the Foolable are part of our family. Christs' first apostles included Peter ("I do not know the man!") and Judas (6 pieces of silver and Satan). Not to mention doubting Thomas. He threw none of them out of His fellowship. Judas was the only one that left and never returned.

The great disappointment of John Paul the Greats magnificient papacy was to not see the day when Christianity would breathe with two lungs again. Are we who revere him to now praise the possibility of new schism within Christ's body on earth? Are we to hope for, and perhaps even demand, that our new Holy Father initiate such harm?

If we do, how long until we are the dissenting ones that are asked to leave?