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A PRO-LIFE INTRODUCTION TO POPE BENEDICT XVI

 

Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, of the Rome Office of Human Life International.

Christ has granted us a new vicar on Earth, a pastor who would lead His Church with a firm commitment to preach the only truth that saves and the defend life and family in accordance with the loving plan of the Creator. A man that has a profound prayer life. I was deeply moved as I contemplated him knelling in prayer on Monday April 25th in front of the tomb of St. Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls in Rome. Already in his youth in 1953 when he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine's doctrine of the Church", we can see his concern with the family because seeing the Church as the House of God, leads to the very ancient view of the Church as the Family of God.

The concern of Cardinal Ratzinger to defend life and family was clearly manifested in all the years that he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Perhaps one of the most serious moral problems within the Church is the disobedience to the teachings on contraception. For that reason on February 16th he needed to publish the Note regarding "The moral rule of "Humanae Vitae" and the pastoral duty." The brevity of this article does not permit an in depth analysis, but it should be pointed out the very important precessions that this document makes showing the serious moral obligation that all Catholic couples have of following the teachings of the Church in this matter. The Instruction Donum vitae, on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation, of February 22, 1987, constitutes a milestone in the defense on the holiness and sacred of life and gives a response to the challenge of the new biomedical technologies. To these impressive documents other fundamental pronouncements can be added like, the declaration on Euthanasia and the Declaration Concerning Sexual Ethics.

With clarity and courage Cardinal Ratzinger has made important precessions on the duties of Catholic political leaders on the Doctrinal Note, On some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life. In this document of January 16th, 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger reiterates the traditional teaching of the Church that a political leader has to be always coherent with his faith in the political decisions he takes. Some months afterwards, in July 31st, 2003 another important directive was issued against different initiatives that tend to legalize unions between homosexuals. The legalization of this type of unnatural unions is one of the new war fronts of the culture of death and both Catholic leaders and all man of good will should take this menace seriously.

 The Holy Father in his best seller of 1985, The Ratzinger Report, written with the leading Italian journalist Vittorio Messori, denounced with prophetic tones the evils of our times and many of the problems that have invaded the Church. He showed how the separation of sexuality from procreation leads to all forms of moral corruptions. In this work he also had some pointed comments to make about the problems of feminism. In another interview that Card. Ratzinger published in 1996 written with Peter Seewald, which was published with the title Salt of the Earth, he notes with concern the mounting problems that affect the Church and the world at large. In his work he underlines how the tragic separation of sexuality from procreation leads to see the child as product that lies completely under the control of reason. As consequence he prophesies that this approach leads to "the self-destruction of man." With regards to abortion he states with pointed words that: 

"In the death penalty, when it is legitimately applied, someone is punished who has been proved guilty of the most serious crimes and who also represents a threat to the peace of society. In other words, a guilty person is punished. In the case of abortion, on the other hand the death penalty is inflicted on someone who is absolutely innocent." 

In his last day as Cardinal Ratzinger, in the morning of April 18, I had the privilege to be present at the Mass for the election of the Pope, which he celebrated. In his homily he expressed some fundamental concepts that I cannot refrain from included in this brief article:  

"How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth.

Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true.

Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires.

We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth.

We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."   

If we read both the documents that Benedict XVI has prepared as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, or his works as a theologian or his interviews we can see that he has an profound knowledge of the faith united with a keen intellectual perception of the problems of our times that goes together with the prophetic approach of man of deep prayer life. So that gives us a reasonable hope that he will be one of the great popes of the history Church, starting a process of recovery that will reverse more than forty years of crisis and decadence. 

 

 

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