Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ratzinger on Synods, Communion for the "Divorced" and "Remarried", and Relativism

Below are a few relevant excerpts from an 2004 Interview which first appeared in the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana and was later translated and posted on Zenit: Part 1 and Part 2. The interview touches on some of the issues of Cardinal Ratzinger's then new book "Communion in the Church" ("La Comunione nella Chiesa"), published in Italy by St. Paul's.

Q: You mentioned the synod as one example of progress in collegiality. Do you like the present method of synodal assemblies?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I would say, although it is a totally personal opinion, that it is a somewhat ritualized method. It guarantees an agile rhythm in the working sessions, but it has the disadvantage that a genuine discussion between the bishops participating is not possible.

It is certainly necessary to safeguard the speed of work. But time must also be found for a real and fruitful discussion.

Q: In regard to divorced persons who have remarried, do you think that the situation of exclusion from receiving Communion will continue to be in force?

Cardinal Ratzinger: If the first marriage was valid and they [the new couple] live in a union that is opposed to the sacramental bond, the exclusion remains in force.

It seems to me to be necessary, however, to enlarge the discussion so as not to reduce all the painful reality of this condition strictly to access to Communion. It is necessary to help these persons to live in the parish community, to share their suffering, to show them that they are loved and that they belong to the Church and that the Church suffers with them.

I think this common responsibility must be extended, to help one another reciprocally, to carry one another's burdens, in a very fraternal way.

Q: What are the problems of the Church that concern you most at present?

Cardinal Ratzinger: I would say simply the present difficulty to believe. [There's] relativism, which is already spontaneous for the human being of our times.

Today it is regarded an act of pride, incompatible with tolerance, to think that we have really received the truth of the Lord. However, it seems that, to be tolerant, all religions and cultures must be considered equal. In this context, to believe is an act that becomes increasingly difficult.

In this way we witness the silent loss of faith, without great protests, in a large part of Christianity. This is the greatest concern.

So it is important to ask ourselves how we can reopen the doors to the presence of the Lord, to the revelation that the Church makes of him, in this wave of relativism. Then we will really open a door to tolerance, which is not indifference, but love and respect for the other, reciprocal help on the path of life.
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