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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Benedict XVI: Faithful to the Word of GOD

The New Pope on the Issues

On Secularism

"We have moved from a Christian culture to aggressive and sometimes intolerant secularism," Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in November 2004 in an interview with the daily La Repubblica. "A society from which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw that in the major totalitarian regimes of last century."

On Other Religions

He has repeatedly condemned "religious pluralism" and relativism, the idea that other religions can hold the way to salvation, and he has been instrumental in blocking the advance of priests who support such views. In 2000 the Vatican document "Dominus Jesus," in which Cardinal Ratzinger was the driving voice, called for a new Catholic evangelism and described other faiths as lesser searches for the truth.

"This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world," the document said, "but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that 'one religion is as good as another.' "

The Sex Abuse Scandal

The new pope has often denounced immorality within the church. He wrote the meditations read aloud during the Good Friday procession this year that condemned "filth" in the church. He has been scathing, however, about news coverage of the scandal. In December 2002, Zenit News Services quoted him as saying that fewer than 1 percent of priests were abusers and that American news coverage was a campaign against the church.

"One comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church," he said.

Women in the Church

Cardinal Ratzinger wrote the church statement in August 2004 that repeated the prohibition against women as priests and criticized feminism as ignoring biological differences. It also called on governments to "manage conditions so that women do not need to neglect their families if they want to pursue a job."

Sexuality and Marriage

He has been a leading voice in the church for enforcing traditional doctrine on homosexuality, extramarital sex and artificial birth control, writing a letter to American bishops in 1988, for example, criticizing their acceptance of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS, saying the American view supported "the classical principle of tolerance of the lesser evil."

He has condemned efforts to legalize same-sex marriage as "destructive for the family and for society" and as a dangerous separation of sexuality and fertility. A church statement in July 2003 in which he was listed as principal author said: "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."

Abortion and Euthanasia

Benedict has insistently spoken out against abortion, euthanasia, stem-cell research and cloning. In his book "God and the World," published in October 2000, he painted a grim picture of the results of genetic research, writing, "There is a last boundary that we cannot cross without becoming the destroyers of creation itself."

In July 2004, the magazine L'Espresso released part of an unissued memorandum to American bishops in which he gave guidelines for denying Communion to politicians who supported abortion rights.

Published: April 20, 2005
New York Times


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