Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A good place to discover the heart and mind of Benedict XVI

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, granted an extended interview to Peter Seewald, a journalist who had left the Church and was wrestling with questions about the Faith. Significantly, Seewald himself returned to the Church sometime after the interview. In a recent newsletter Steve Wood, President of Family Life Center International, comments on this interview:
Sweewald's interview became the book, Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millenium: An Interview with Peter Seewald [Ignatius Press]. This book is one of the best places to start discovering what is inside the heart and mind of our new Holy Father. I highly recommend it. There are so many good things Cardinal Ratzinger says in this book it would be impossible in a newsletter to begin mentioning them all. My copy of the book is highlighted, underlined, and filled with asterisks. Here are just a few of the many things I found encouraging in Salt of the Earth:

Seewald: (P.114)
"In one of the documents bearing your signature you recalled the admonitions of the Apostle Paul: 'Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry'" [2 Tim 4:2-5].
Cardinal Ratzinger:
"I don't want to overreach myself, but I would say that this expresses the essence of what I consider to be my standard at this time."
Seewald (p. 82) -- Inquiring about his concerns as a bishop about the dissolution of tradition and authenticity and how he denounced the forces spinning everything into confusion.

Cardinal Ratzinger:
"The words of the Bible and of the Church Fathers rang in my ears, those sharp condemnations of shepherds who are like mute dogs; in order to avoid conflicts, they let the poison spread. Peace is not the first civic duty, and a bishop whose only concern is not to have any problems and to gloss over as many conflicts as possible is an image I find repulsive. Even today I am glad that in Munich I didn't dodge conflicts, because letting things drift is - as I have already said - the worst kind of administration.
Seewald (p.113)
"One often has the impression that you have been trying to preserve something, like a father who wants to preserve the inheritance created with so much hard work, if not for his own children, who apparently can't do credit to it or use it, then at least so that his grandchildren can still have access to it."
Cardinal Ratzinger:
"I like that idea of preserving something even for one's grandchildren. For what I really have at heart is keeping this precious treasure, the faith, with its power to enlighten, from being lost."
Seewald (p.166 & 168) -- Asking if the Church should be relaxing its standards to become more attractive to those with "modern" lifestyles:

Cardinal Ratzinger:
"More and more frequently we observe that young people are underchallenged. In fact, the increasing membership in sects with radical internal demands can be partly explained by the fact that, first, young people are looking for certainty, they want a secure shelter, but then also they want to be challenged. Somewhere deep down man knows: I have to be challenged, and I have to learn to form myself according to a higher standard and to give myself and to loose myself."
(Ignatius Press is in the midst of reprinting Salt of the Earth).
Apparently Ignatius Press has been inundated with orders for books by Ratzinger since he became Pope. [Gratia tibi, Steve Wood]

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