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With the Church, beside the Pope

· Interview with Cardinal Sodano ·

“It is by now a cultural contrast: the Pope embodies moral truths that are not accepted so that priests' failings and shortcomings are used as weapons against the Church”, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano. The Dean of the College of Cardinals, at the beginning of the Easter Day Mass, in addressing Benedict XVI expressed the affection and fidelity of all Catholics. He emphasized: “Behind the unjust attacks against the Pope, there is a perception of the family and of life that are contrary to the Gospel. The accusation of paedophilia is now being brandished against the Church. First battles of modernism were waged against Pius x, then came the offensive against Pius XII's conduct during the last World War, and finally, against Paul VI, for his Humanae Vitae ”.

Can your Easter morning address be interpreted as a reaction to the smear campaign against the Pope, which in the past few days has been intensified by spurious accusations of not having mentioned the victims of sexual abuse during the Easter rites?

In the face of these unjust attacks we are told that we are on the wrong track, that we should react differently. The Church has her style and does not resort to the methods that are being used against the Pope today. The only strategy we have comes to us from the Gospel.

In your opinion how is the Christian community experiencing this trial?

It feels justifiably injured when an attempt is made to involve the majority of its members, in the affairs of certain priests – as grave as they are painful – and transforming individual sins and responsibilities into collective sin, with a truly incomprehensible insistence.

In my address I did no more than give a voice to the People of God; in the first place to the College of Cardinals which is one with the Roman Pontiff; but also to the Bishops and to the 400,000 priests. Yes, I expressly wished to mention the pastors who spend their lives serving God and the Church. If some ministers have been unfaithful one cannot and must not generalize. We suffer from their infidelity, of course, and Benedict XVI has asked forgiveness on several occasions. But it was not Christ's fault that Judas betrayed him. It is not a Bishop's fault if one of his priests sullies himself with grave sins. And of course it is not the Pontiff who is responsible.

The whole Church is with the Pope: is this your message?

My words were spoken during the Easter Liturgy. It is logical that at the most important feasts of the year a family should cluster round its own father. I therefore considered that this would be a suitable opportunity to reaffirm the profound bonds of unity which gather all the Church's members around the One whom the Holy Spirit has placed at the head of the community of believers.

For my part, as Dean of the College of Cardinals, I deemed it only right to make that discourse. Like every Cardinal, my mission is to be beside the Pope always and to serve the Church usque ad effusionem sanguinis. I feel it is only right to be grateful to Benedict XVI for the apostolic dedication with which he carries out his daily service to the Church. My words were also prompted by a personal need, by my deep affection for the Vicar of Christ.

What inspired you to speak?

In addition to bearing a witness of closeness to the Pope, my intention was to propose serenity. It is the appeal that the Pope himself, first and continuously, addresses to the Church and to the world, in the wake of his great Predecessors on the Chair of Peter. We should not be surprised by persecution for Jesus told his Apostles: “‘A servant is not greater than his master’. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also”, as we read in the Gospel according to St John.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 22, 2019

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