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The question of God

At his third Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals Benedict XVI decided to honour with the Cardinalate several of his collaborators in the Roman Curia and other Bishops, “chosen from the different parts of the world”. Today they are even closer to the Successor of Peter in his one irreplaceable service to Catholic communion.

According to a collegial dimension which is certainly not an innovation in the Church of Rome but is more clearly perceptible at meetings of the College of Cardinals — such as the one which opened today's Consistory with prayer and reflection — and, in recent decades in the many Assemblies (Ordinary, Extraordinary and Special) of the Synod of Bishops.

The mandate entrusted by the Lord Jesus, Domine Iesus, to the first of the Apostles, his current Successor said, is “to unite the peoples with the solicitude of Christ’s love”.

In a universal, hence properly Catholic dimension, complying with a logic of governance that is certainly not that of the world. Consequently, the world often fails to understand and claims to represent the Church in accordance with plans and stereotypes that are generally of very little help in understanding her true nature.

Nevertheless, imperfections and shortcomings persist, inevitably and fatally linked to every human being, and therefore also to members of the Church.

Thus the exercise of authority according to Christ's word, the “mentality of God”, the Pope said, must look at the way the Teacher took, which means — for those who have encountered him in their life — being able to abandon themselves to God's Providence in accordance with decisions that are “never the result of one's own plans or personal ambition” but instead involve the logic of the Cross. The Cross, among other things, is evoked by the cardinatial purple which expresses their willingness to serve the Lord and his Church even to martyrdom, pouring out their blood, usque ad effusionem sanguinis , in communion with the Successor of Peter.

And for them all the stakes are truly high, far above interpretations or exploitation for political purposes. Benedict XVI, explained this to Peter Seewald simply and clearly in a long interview now being published in a book which, from its title “Luce del mondo”, confirms that Joseph Ratzinger's gaze has always been fixed on Christ, the only One who illuminates “the Pope, the Church and the signs of the times” as the evocative subtitle states.

Paul VI and then, several times, John Paul II formerly confided his thoughts to intellectuals, writers and journalists. And Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did the same on at least three occasions, attracting considerable editorial interest, choosing effective communication adapted to modern times, which Benedict XVI has since radically renewed with his work on Jesus of Nazareth.

It is not difficult to foresee that this book will also receive wide distribution. In it the Pope presents himself unpretentiously and without recourse to the special strategies of communication so dear instead to many commentators.

And the merit belongs totally to Benedict XVI. He is able to present with new words and without avoiding any question especially the issue of God. The One who in Christ — as he emphasizes, using biblical language in the last answer to his interviewer — “he came so that we might know the truth. So that we might touch God. So that the door might be opened. So that we might find life, true life that is no longer “submission to death”.




St. Peter’s Square

June 17, 2019