This is some great stuff from an interview with the then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in September 2003. (HT to Hugh) The context is discussing what the faithful of the Catholic Church should do in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals in the USA. To say these comments are encouraging would be understatement. One of the things that I have heard comment on most often from protestants about liturgical tradiations is the lack of emphasis on and acknowledgement of "personal relationship" with the Divine. Against that compare these comments from the new Pope. Pretty exciting I say.
Raymond: You, I know, have been closely involved with the continuing crisis in the United States, trying to bring closure a healing in the wake of terrible sexual abuse in the United States. My question is, “What do you identify as the root causes of this crisis that we continue to live through in the United States?”
Cardinal: I will distinguish perhaps between 2 different elements – a general element and a specific element of this time and of this scandal of today. The general element is, as I said, is a weakness of human beings, even of priests. Never will we have all this end, but always the temptations of human beings are present also for the priests. So always we have to accept that. Even in the communion of priests and bishops, we have to know that these things can happen. The second point is more specific, why at this time it was so often and it was more than in past times. And I think the essential point is the weakness of faith, because only if I am really in confidence personally with the Lord; if the Lord is for me, not an idea, but the Person of my deepest friendship; if I know personally the Lord and be in contact of love everyday in the Lord, if for me faith is the reality. It is the ground of my life; it is a most sure of reality, and not some possibility – in this case, if I am really convinced and really in contact of love with the Lord, the Lord will help me in these temptations and I can even win what seems impossible. If the faith is not everyday realized, if the faith is weakened and begins only to be an hypothesis, so it’s not a fundamental of your life and so begins all these problems. So, I would say the essential point is for me, weakness of the faith and not a sufficient presence of the faith in the Church. I think it was the problem of the last 40, 50 years. That the idea was we have common ideas with all the world and that faith is very personal and a universal gift of the Lord was not so present. So, I think the first point is re-learn, re-convert to a deepened faith and education in the faith. I think also that in the last perhaps 40, 50 years, it was not so clear the validity of the moral teaching of the Church. We had so many masters in the Church that teach in other ways, and said, “No, this is not a sin. This is not a sin. This is common and what is average of doing is also permitted.” And with this idea, we do not have a clear moral teaching. We have to learn from the normal actions of human beings. So, we also will be in the normal actions and even …
Raymond: Fall prey unto the things of the world.
Cardinal: Yes. Yes. Yes. So, I think that 2 things are essential – conversion to a profound and deep faith with the life of prayer and the sacraments, and clear moral teaching and conviction of these teachings that the Church, has the Holy Spirit and can give this way.
Raymond: What would you say to the faithful, who in the United States are so despondent at this hour, and not sure who to look to? What would you say to them?
Cardinal: Yes. On the one hand, look to the Lord is the first point. He is always present and He’s always near to us. Look also to the saints of all the times, and so find in our times the saints. The humble, faithful persons are present, perhaps not so visible because they are not appearing on the television. But the humble, praying people are present today and this is a confidence of the Church and of all our people find these people, finds that with all the problems of today, the Church has not disappeared; but is continuing, especially in not so visible personalities. So, I think this is essential – find the Lord, find the saints of the times, but also find the not canonized, simple persons who are really in the heart of the Church.
The Entire Interview