Pope Benedict XVI

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Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Ratzinger, is the current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He was elected April 19, 2005 to succeed Pope John Paul II.

On Europe and the Church

  • In the hour of its greatest success, Europe seems to have become empty inside, paralyzed by a life-threatening crisis to its health and dependent on transplants."
    • Values in Times of Upheaval, 2005
  • "The fact that the church is convinced of not having the right to confer priestly ordination on women is now considered by some as irreconcilable with the European Constitution."
    • from Zenit.org, April 11, 2005.

On Other Belief-Systems

  • "It is true that the Muslim world is not totally mistaken when it reproaches the West of Christian tradition of moral decadence and the manipulation of human life. ... Islam has also had moments of great splendor and decadence in the course of its history."
    • from "Ratzinger denies Christianity 'superior' to Islam," Zenit.org via Catholic News, March 6, 2002.
  • "That the Jews are connected with God in a special way and that God does not allow that bond to fail is entirely obvious. We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ, but we know that it has a special mission in history now ... which is significant for the world."
    • from Ratzinger's book, God and the World, published October 2000, as reported by National Catholic Reporter.
  • "Our Christian conviction is that Christ is also the messiah of Israel. Certainly it is in the hands of God how and when the unification of Jews and Christians into the people of God will take place."
    • from God and the World, published October 2000, as reported by National Catholic Reporter.
  • "Deeper understanding of the matter is bound to recognize that the Temple, as well as the synagogue, entered into Christian liturgy."
    • The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000
  • If Buddhism is attractive, it is because it appears as a possibility of touching the infinite and obtaining happiness without having any concrete religious obligations. A spiritual auto-eroticism of some sort. Someone had rightly predicted in the 1950s that the challenge to the Church in the twentieth century would not be Marxism, but Buddhism.
    • Interview for the French newspaper L'Express (20 March, 1997).
  • "I think we must reflect more on what democracy in the exercise of authority would mean. Is truth determined by a majority vote, only for a new 'truth' to be 'discovered' by a new majority tomorrow?"
    • The Public Square, by Richard John Neuhaus, First Things 1996

Sex Abuse Scandals

  • "How much filth there is in the church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to Him. How much pride, how much self-sufficiency."
    • At a Good Friday Mass in 2005, seen by many as a statement about the clergy sex abuse scandal
  • "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 percent 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."
    • from "Cardinal Ratzinger Sees a Media Campaign Against Church," Zenit.org, December 3, 2002.
  • "I think the essential point is a weakness of faith."
    • from an interview with EWTN news director Raymond Arroyo in August 2003 as reported by Zenit.org, Aug. 24, 2003.
  • "We have such difficulty understanding this renunciation today because the relationship to marriage and children has clearly shifted. To have to die without children was once synonymous with a useless life: The echoes of my own life die away, and I am completely dead. If I have children, then I continue to live in them; it's a sort of immortality through posterity. ...
  • "The renunciation of marriage and family is thus to be understood in terms of this vision: I renounce what, humanly speaking, is not only the most normal but also the most important thing. I forgo bringing forth further life on the tree of life, and I live in the faith that my land is really God - and so I make it easier for others, also, to believe that there is a kingdom of heaven. I bear witness to Jesus Christ, to the Gospel, not only with words, but also with this specific mode of existence, and I place my life in this form at his disposal."
    • from "Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the end of the Millennium: An interview with Peter Seewald," by Ratzinger, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.
  • "... Celibacy is not a matter of compulsion. Someone is accepted as a priest only when he does it of his own accord."
    • from "Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the end of the Millennium: An interview with Peter Seewald," by Ratzinger, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.

Homosexuality

  • The obscuring of the difference or duality of the sexes has enormous consequences on a variety of levels. This theory of the human person, intended to promote prospects for equality of women through liberation from biological determinism, has in reality inspired ideologies which, for example, call into question the family, in its natural two-parent structure of mother and father, and make homosexuality and heterosexuality virtually equivalent, in a new model of polymorphous sexuality."
  • Among the fundamental values linked to women's actual lives is what has been called a 'capacity for the other.' Although a certain type of feminist rhetoric makes demands 'for ourselves,' women preserve the deep intuition of the goodness in their lives of those actions which elicit life, and contribute to the growth and protection of the other. . . . But, in the final analysis, every human being, man or woman, is destined to be 'for the other.' . . . Therefore, the promotion of women within society must be understood and desired as a humanization accomplished through those values, rediscovered thanks to women. Every outlook which presents itself as a conflict between the sexes is only an illusion and a danger; it would end in segregation and competition between men and women, and would promote a solipsism nourished by a false conception of freedom."
    • Doctrinal document On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World, July 31, 2004
  • "According to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies must not be accepted. They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is by our law an abomination and homosexual practices are 'sins gravely contrary to chastity.' " . . .
  • "In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection."
    • Doctrinal document Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, July 31, 2003

Ratzinger's "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons," 1986, as reported by National Catholic Reporter

  • "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."
  • "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church's pastors wherever it occurs... The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in work, in action and in law."

"Cardinal Ratzinger on Laicism and Sexual Ethics," Zenit.org, Nov. 19, 2004:

  • "...Men and women were created to be jointly the guarantee of the future of the humanity — not only a physical guarantee, but also a moral one."
  • "Above all, we must have great respect for these people who also suffer and who want to find their own way of correct living. On the other hand, to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people."
  • Because God loves us, because He wants us to grow into truth, He must necessarily make demands on us and must also correct us

On his papacy

  • ""I too hope in this short reign to be a man of peace."
    • Explaining to the cardinals his choice of name after Pope Benedict XV who worked against World War I.

On popular culture

  • "Rock" [music]. . . is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defenses torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe."
    • The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000
  • It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly.
    • Letter to Gabriele Kuby author of Harry Potter- good or evil? signed by Ratzinger, but which he now claims was written by a subordinate, March 7, 2003

On relativism

  • "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. ... Whereas relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching,' looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards.
  • "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires... The church needs to withstand the tides of trends and the latest novelties.... We must become mature in this adult faith, we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith.""
    • At a Mass at St. Peter's Basilica before the conclave of cardinals


World Youth Day 2008, held in Australia

Young Pilgrims (13/07/08)

  • "Many people today lack hope. They are perplexed by the questions that present themselves ever more urgently in a confusing world, and they are often uncertain which way to turn for answers. They see poverty and injustice and they long to find solutions. They are challenged by the arguments of those who deny the existence of God and they wonder how to respond.. Where can we look for answers? The Spirit points us towards the way that leads to life, to love and to truth. The Spirit points us towards Jesus Christ. In him we find the answers we are seeking."

Government House Ceremony (16/07/08)

  • "Through the Spirit's action may the young people gathered here have the courage to become saints! This is what the world needs more than anything else."

Inter-religious Meeting (17/07/08)

  • "A harmonious relationship between religion and public life is all the more important at a time when some people have come to consider religion a cause of division rather than a force for unity. In a world threatened by sinister and indiscriminate forms of violence, the unified voice of religious people urges nations and communities to resolve conflicts through peaceful means and with full regard for human dignity."
  • "The religious sense planted within the human heart leads us to meet the needs of others and to search for concrete ways to contribute to the common good. Religion has a special role in this regard, for it teaches people that authentic service requires sacrifice and self-discipline, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, temperance and a moderate use of the world's goods."
  • "By reminding us of human finitude and weakness, religion also enjoins us not to place our ultimate hope in this passing world."
  • "The true source of freedom is found in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Christians believe it is he who fully discloses the human potential for virtue and goodness, and it is he who liberates us from sin and darkness."
  • "You might think that in today's world people are unlikely to start worshipping other gods. But sometimes people do worship 'other gods' without realizing it. False 'gods' are nearly always associated with the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power."

Papal Welcome (17/07/08)

  • "There is something sinister that stems from the fact that freedom and tolerance are so often separated from truth. This is fuelled by the notion, widely held today, that there are no absolute truths to guide our lives. Relativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made 'experience' all-important."
  • "Life is not governed by chance; it is not random. Your very existence has been willed by God, blessed and given a purpose! Life is not just a succession of events or experiences. It is a search for the true, the good and the beautiful. It is to this end that we make our choices; it is for this that we exercise our freedom; it is in this - in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy."
  • "Do not be fooled by those who see you as just another consumer in a market of undifferentiated possibilities, where choice itself becomes the good, novelty usurps beauty, and subjective experience displaces truth."
  • "Christ offers more! Indeed he offers everything! Only he who is the Truth can be the Way and hence also the Life."

Disadvantaged Youth (18/07/08)

  • "Material possessions in themselves are good. We would not survive for long without money, clothing, shelter and food. Yet if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, we make of our possessions a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death."
  • "Authentic love is obviously something good. When we love we become most fully human. But people often consider themselves loving when actually they are possessive or manipulative. People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs. How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality into human relationships! This is worship of a false god; instead of bringing life, it brings death."
  • "All through the Gospels, it was those who had taken wrong turns who were particularly loved by Jesus because once they recognized their mistake, they were all the more open to his healing message. It was those who were willing to rebuild their lives who were most ready to listen to Jesus and become his disciples. You can follow in their footsteps; you too can grow particularly close to Jesus because you have chosen to return to him."

Mass with the Clergy (18/07/08)

  • "We can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries."
  • "Walk in Christ's light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God.. Make the daily celebration of the Eucharist the center of your life."
  • "Celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God's service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need."

Youth Day Vigil (19/07/08)

  • "Society today is being fragmented by a way of thinking that is inherently short-sighted because it disregards the full horizon of truth - the truth about God and about us. By its nature, relativism fails to see the whole picture. It ignores the very principles that enable us to live and flourish in unity, order and harmony."
  • "The Holy Spirit! This is the Spirit's role: to bring Christ's work to fulfillment. Enriched with the Spirit's gifts, you will have the power to move beyond the piecemeal, the hollow utopia, the fleeting, to offer the consistency and certainty of Christian witness!"
  • "Love has a particular trait: it has a task or purpose to fulfill - to abide. By its nature, love is enduring. The Holy Spirit offers our world love that dispels uncertainty; love that overcomes the fear of betrayal; love that carries eternity within; the true love that draws us into a unity that abides!"
  • "The Holy Spirit is God eternally giving himself; like a never-ending spring he pours forth nothing less than himself. In view of this ceaseless gift, we come to see the limitations of all that perishes, the folly of the consumerist mindset. We begin to understand why the quest for novelty leaves us unsatisfied and wanting. Are we not looking for an eternal gift? For the spring that will never run dry?"
  • "Dear young people, we have seen that it is the Holy Spirit who brings about the wonderful communion of believers in Jesus Christ. True to his nature as giver and gift alike, he is even now working through you. Let unifying love be your measure; abiding love your challenge; self-giving love your mission!"
  • "You are called to exercise the Spirit's gifts amidst the ups and downs of your daily life. Let your faith mature through your studies, work, sports, music and art. Let it be sustained by prayer and nurtured by the sacraments."
  • "To be truly alive is to be transformed from within, open to the energy of God's love. In accepting the power of the Holy Spirit you can also transform your families, communities and nations. Set free the gifts! Let wisdom, courage, awe and reverence be the marks of greatness!"

Closing Mass (19/07/08)

  • "As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love that binds us to the Lord and to one another, and the light that opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace."
  • "We have to let God's love break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church."
  • "Dear young people: What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations? Are you living in a way that opens a space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the 'power' that the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you?"
  • "A new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished-not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty - a new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption that deaden our souls and poison our relationships."
  • "Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity."
  • "The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading interior emptiness, unnamed fears, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give?....The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit!"
  • "Do not be afraid to say 'yes' to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!"
  • " 'There is more joy in giving than in receiving.' Never doubt the truth of our Lord's promise that whatever we give him of our creativity, our resources, our persons, will come back to us in abundance."

Angelus following the Closing Mass (19/07/08)

  • "For [the Virgin] Mary there were many struggles ahead as she lived out the consequences of the 'yes' she had given to the Lord. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. When Jesus was twelve she experienced every parent's worst nightmare when for three days the child was missing. And after his public ministry she suffered the agony of witnessing his crucifixion and death. Throughout her trials she remained faithful to her promise, sustained by the Spirit of fortitude. And she was generously rewarded."
  • "We too must remain faithful to the 'yes' we have given to the Lord's offer of friendship. We know that he will never abandon us. We know that he will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord's' proposal' in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship God has established with each one of us."
  • "The time has come for me to say good-bye-or better, 'arrivederci!'. World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another, and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world."

Various

  • "If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists. This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion: '. . . If these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage'."
    • Letter to bishops, Sept. 14, 1994
  • "After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West. In fact, the First Vatican Council had in no way defined the pope as an absolute monarch. On the contrary, it presented him as the guarantor of obedience to the revealed Word. The pope's authority is bound to the Tradition of faith, and that also applies to the liturgy. It is not "manufactured" by the authorities. Even the pope can only be a humble servant of its lawful development and abiding integrity and identity. . . . The authority of the pope is not unlimited; it is at the service of Sacred Tradition. . . . The greatness of the liturgy depends - we shall have to repeat this frequently - on its unspontaneity."
    • The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000
  • "Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attraction fades quickly - it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation."
    • The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000
  • "Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. This is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control."
    • The Spirit of the Liturgy, 2000
  • "The ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church."
    • Dominus Jesus declaration, 2000
  • "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons."
    • 2004 memorandum to Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, D.C.
  • "We can be sure our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the father's house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will now guide you to the glory of her son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. "
  • "Today we bury his remains in the earth as a seed of immortality. Our hearts are full of sadness, yet at the same time (full) of joyful hope and profound gratitude."
    • homily during the Requiem Mass of the funeral of Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.
  • "There really is an ideological, secular aggressiveness that gives cause to worry. Recently in Sweden a Protestant parson was put into jail for one month because - referring to biblical texts - he preached about homosexuality. Laicism is not any longer that element of neutrality that opens fields of freedom for everybody. It’s now turning into an ideology, which – with the help of politics – forces itself into the public and leaves no space for the Christian and Catholic conception – thereby turning it into a merely private and essentially mutilated concern. In this sense a fight has really begun in which we have to defend the religious freedom against the pretension of an ideology, that acts as if it were the only voice of reason – whereas it is only the expression of “a certain” rationalism. ... ... A society that is not at all concerned with God destroys itself. We saw that in the totalitarian experiments of the last century."
    • in an interview in the German newspaper "Die Welt", April 20, 2005
  • "Dear brothers and sisters after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the resurrected Lord, we go on with his help. He is going to help us and Mary will be on our side. Thank you"
    • Full text of his first public speech as pope, upon his presentation as Pope Benedict XVI
  • "As the trend in the ballots slowly made me realize that — in a manner of speaking the guillotine would fall on me — I started to feel quite dizzy. I thought that I had done my life's work and could now hope to live out my days in peace. I told the Lord with deep conviction, 'Don't do this to me. You have younger and better (candidates) who could take up this great task with a totally different energy and with different strength.' Evidently, this time he didn't listen to me."
    • Comments on his election during his first audience with German pilgrims, original comments given in German.
  • "The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we were not created for comfort, but for greatness, for good."
    • Comments during his first audience with German pilgrims
  • Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.
    • Inauguration homily, April 24, 2005
  • Unlimited trust should only be placed in the real Word of the Revelation that we encounter in the faith transmitted by the Church.
    • During interview by Niels Christian Hvidt in 1999
  • We do not seek a Christ whom we have invented, for only in the real communion of the Church do we encounter the real Christ.
    • unidentified source
  • "A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God."
    • expressing the views of atheism in the Encyclical Letter SPE SALVI of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI to the Bishops Priests and Deacons Men and Women Religious and All the Lay Faithful On Christian Hope, November 30, 2007

External links

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