Monday, 22 November 2010

Excerpts from that interview

Sandro Magister  here reproduces some excerpts from the forthcoming book length interview with Pope Benedict entitled "Light of the World."

I'm only going to copy two (and no, not on the issue which is whipping everyone into an unnecessary media-feeding frenzy at the moment). The first is on the nature of priesthood and the ordination of women, perhaps an understandable preoccupation of some of us at present:

"The formulation of John Paul II is very important: "The Church does not have in any way the faculty to confer priestly ordination on women." It is not a matter of not wanting, but of not being able. The Lord has given a form to the Church with the Twelve and then with their succession, with the bishops and the presbyters (the priests). We were not the ones who created this form of the Church, but rather its essentiality comes from him. Following it is an act of obedience, and in the contemporary situation perhaps one of the most burdensome acts of obedience. But precisely this is important, that the Church show that it is not an arbitrary regime. We cannot do what we want. There is instead the Lord's will for us, to which we adhere, even if this is wearisome and difficult in the culture and civilization of today. Besides, the functions entrusted to women in the Church are so great and significant that one cannot speak of discrimination. This would be the case if the priesthood were a sort of dominion, while on the contrary it must be complete service. If one looks at the history of the Church, one realizes that the significance of women – from Mary to Monica all the way to Mother Teresa – is so eminent that in many ways women define the face of the Church more than men do."
As we would expect from this Pope, this is a reflective and thoughtful restatement of the tradition, giving the lie to claims that those who oppose women's ordination on traditional grounds are motivated by prejudice and fear of the feminine. Still, as we know from the Anglo-Catholic perspective in the wake of all the debates and particularly the publication of  'Consecrated Women?',  it won't stop the accusations coming thick and fast. Modern secular understandings of progress and of human nature brook no opposition.
And the second excerpt is in direct relation to that:
"The real threat that we are facing is that tolerance may be abolished in the name of tolerance itself. There is the danger that reason, so-called Western reason, may maintain that it has finally recognized what is right, and in this way make a claim of totality that is the enemy of freedom. I believe that it is necessary to denounce this threat forcefully. No one is forced to be Christian. But no one must be forced to live according to the "new religion," as if it were the only and true religion binding for all humanity."
We should read it all - one for the Christmas list!

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