Cardinal Ratzinger Proclaims …
The Faith Is In Crisis Around the World
Following is a review by Father Miceli of the widely reported interview by Vittorio Messori with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which first appeared in the Italian magazine Gesu. Father Miceli's review is of the interview as published in book form in Italian under the title of Rapporto Sulla Fede (Report on the Faith) published by Edizioni Paoline. The interview has been published as a book in English by Ignatius Press titled The Ratzinger Report.
Since Cardinal Ratzinger's book was first published it has sold over one million copies worldwide. It has been published in various languages. His book is also available from the Fatima Crusader Book Service.
This reprint is taken from THE LAITY Vol. XIV No. 8, published by Victor Kulanday in Madras, India.
by Father Vincent P. Miceli, Ph. D.
This book is the complete text of an exclusive interview which Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, granted to the journalist Vittorio Messori for the Italian magazine, Jesus, during His Eminence's vacation at Bressanone, Italy. The magazine article was entitled, Why the Faith Is in Crisis Today.
The book has created a tremendous intellectual and emotional uproar. It had hardly hit the bookstores when 30,000 copies were snapped up, and it is still selling briskly in the Italian edition. Still other language editions are eagerly expected. The neo-Modernists are ululating in agony over the contents of the book. The true believers, on the other hand, are ecstatic. It appears that the book is a sign of contradiction, destined to be the occasion for the rise and fall of many. It vividly contrasts the stability of those Christians whose faith is founded on the Rock of Peter with the fickleness of those whose faith is tossed about on the trendy waves of time. Let the Cardinal's reflections speak for themselves.
We are living in a world where skepticism has infected many Christians. Many Catholics are scandalized by the insistence of the Church that there is only one definable truth of Revelation, and that this truth is taught with precision and exactness solely by the Catholic Magisterium. Many theologians and faithful have lost sight of the supernatural structure of the Church. They would reduce it to being merely a natural human organization without any Deposit of Faith to define, explain, defend, and share with all men. The Catholic mind, which was accustomed to think with the Church, seems to be disappearing. This is due to the hidden, aggressive, polemical, centrifugal, revolutionary forces that are misleading Christians to adhere, under the guise of being set free, to a liberal-radical individualistic, rationalistic, hedonistic interpretation of the Gospel message.
False Ecumenism and the Increase of Satanism
Then, too, the missionary spirit of the Church is being undermined by the heretical doctrine of "the anonymous Christian", which states that no matter what religion a person belongs to, as long as he remains faithful to himself, he will be saved. Thus, non-Christian, even pagan religions are presented as an ordinary way to salvation, not even an extraordinary way. The inevitable conclusion is: why disturb non-Christians to convert them to Catholicism through Baptism and faith in Christ? In their culture, their religion is for them the way to salvation. Thus the whole apostolic, evangelistic mission of the Catholic Church to the world is rendered meaningless, indeed, it is accused of being uncharitable and divisive. Christians have forgotten St. Paul's teaching: "God our Savior wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth," which, he adds immediately, "consists in accepting only One as God and One as the sole Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who has given Himself up as a ransom for all."
The atheistic culture of our modern era continues to spread thanks to the denial of demons. There follows a loss of the sense and fear of demons, of the evil of sin, of supernatural death. This was a healthy fear which Christianity had inserted into pagan societies to deliver them from slavery to sin and satan. Now, since this redeeming light of Christ is being extinguished — despite all the wisdom and the superb technology thus far achieved by man — his modern world is falling back into the terror and despair of the ancient idolatrous pagan civilizations. There are already alarming signs of the return of the forces of darkness as satanic cults are escalating everywhere in this secularized atmosphere which is corrupting the womb of society.
The Cardinal goes on to specify four areas of the crisis of faith in the Church today.
1. The Crisis of Faith in God the Father
Why? Because the humanity of Christ is over stressed. His divinity is called into question, or is at least downgraded. This is the modern return to Gnosticism and Arianism. Freud downgraded every father and all paternalism as being sex-dominating. As a reaction to this, feminism is on the rise. God as Father has become God as Mother, as Woman. The idea of God as an Almighty Father has been reduced to God as partner, as pal, as an equal to man. Thus, reverence and adoration for the Mysterium Tremendum, for the majestic holiness of God has disappeared. Christ is seen not so much as God but as just another great man. But with the Father denied, and the Son as mere man, the virginity and divine maternity as well as the Immaculate Conception of Mary are also questioned. In an evanescing faith, even the Resurrection is no longer a real, concrete, historical truth, nor will men rise from the dead. All Catholic doctrine and morality is now up for re-examination, theological skepticism becomes the rampant trend of the day; there seems to be a general apostasy, reminding us of the Lord's disturbing question about conditions in the world at His second coming: "Will I find faith when I return?"
2. The Crisis of Faith in the Church as God's Mystery
Theologians today see the Church as a Protestant model. Everywhere they are advocating a free, popular, democratic, non-hierarchical Church. The Church is stressed as a human organization whose members are free to restructure her to their own pleasure and to the trends and desires of the times. Faith as being also a divine institution is disappearing. A secularized, non-hierarchical, democratic Church is sought. Thus, authority in the Church is seen as coming not from God through Christ, the God man, and then to Peter, the Apostles, and their bishop successors down through the ages. But authority is seen as coming from the people. Hence, there is no reason to obey the autocratic leaders who pose as legitimate rulers in the Church. Matters must be decided in the Church by the consensus of the people. Here is a model of the laicized French nation begotten by the French Revolution. The new Church is now pulled down from its transcendental divine origin in God and is reduced to being the banal horizontal religious Babel where a cacophony of dissident tongues creates the disunity, darkness, and wickedness of the modern world.
3. The Crisis of the Loss of Faith in Catholic Dogmas and Morals
Today, single, isolated theologians or scholars are accepted as creators of authentic theological and moral doctrine. No longer is the Catholic community in union with the Holy Father and the Magisterium accepted as the orthodox source of doctrine and morals. Hence, a pluralism of theologies has been created. The pluralism leads to latitudinarian subjectivism, individualism, and relativism which have no foundation in the traditional roots of Catholicism. These pluralisms fragment the Faith into opposing schools, adversary currents of dissenting thought and conduct producing scandal and confusion among the faithful. It follows that the vision of service in doctrine and morals for the faithful is lost, for the faithful are left to fend for themselves. Indeed, because of the revolutionary spirit among theologians, the authentic truths in the fields of dogmatic and moral theology are considered to be out-of-date, no longer to be tolerated by a society come of age. For they are too restrictive, too rigid for a freethinking and free-doing mature society. Thus, the teaching authority established by Christ in the Church is no longer seen as the valid defender of the Faith, its authentic expounder, but it is now viewed as a tyrant determined to curtail freedom of thought and of moral conduct. This explains the variety of catechisms continually changing the Deposit of Faith, seeking not truth, but the advancement of interesting, convenient, novel ideas and practices in harmony with the pagan trends of the times and the prevailing cultural permissive atmosphere. Moreover, the diverse theologies of liberation reduce the Faith to being a program for politics and the establishment of a natural, economic Utopia on earth, denying or downgrading the supernatural mission and destiny of the Church in the here for the hereafter.
4. The Crisis of the Loss of Faith in Understanding the Scriptures the Way the Magisterium Understands Them
An attempt has been made to break the bond of the Scriptures with the Church. The historical critical interpretations of the Scriptures have made the Scriptures a reality independent of the Church, a reality no longer beginning and ending under the Church's guidance as to their meaning. Instead, one gets their meaning from the latest method used in deciphering them, pretending to be "scientific" and claiming that this is the only possible way of understanding them. This independence has set itself up as an adversary to the Church, challenging the Church's dogmas and morals as being obstacles to the correct understanding of the Scriptures. This hostile separation is emptying the Church of the faithful, and the Scriptures of divine meaning. Thus the Church without the Scriptures is reduced to being an accidental product of history, no longer the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the God-man, but a mere human organization.
Then, too, the Bible without the Church is no longer the Word of God, but a collection of many sources of history from which man tries to get something useful for his life. Thus, the ultimate meaning of the Word of God no longer comes from legitimate pastors, no longer from the Magisterium, but from the experts. The magic of the word "scientific" will clear away all doubts from the faithful. In reality such a conditioned reading of the Scriptures arises from the philosophical prejudices against the truths of the Catholic Church as she received, preserved, and still teaches them as given to her by Revelation, in Christ and the Apostles. The new heretical secularized magisterium of the experts, supposedly updated for the needs of the times, prejudiced in origin from the evolutionistic theory about the world and man, must be rejected by the faithful.
"Many Wrest the Scriptures Unto Their Own Destruction"
For the rule of faith comes from following the teachings of the authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church, not from studying the discoveries of the sources of the Bible and the regions from which these books were written, useful though this study may be. The Bible was put together by the official teaching Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It has always been interpreted correctly by the same Magisterium from the days of Christ, the Apostles, the Fathers of the Church until the present. Without the teaching and guidance of the Church's Magisterium there would be no Bible today. There would exist just a series of disconnected manuscripts left for interpretation to the private reckoning of each person who would decide which were the word of God and which were not. But left to themselves, as St. Peter testifies, "many wrest the Scriptures unto their own destruction". Many today, following the interpretations of the dissenters, the experts, the scientific new exegetes, are on the road to that same tragic end.
The Cardinal treats of the abuses in the liturgy of the Mass, of the need for the return of the sense of the sacred, and of a renewed love for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. He strongly endorses devotion to Mary through the frequent recitation of the Rosary. He sees this as one cure for the disease of feminism. He studies the maladies of religious life and points out the sure spiritual remedies. He defends private, frequent confession.
Bishops Not Infallible
On the important topic of Episcopal Conferences, the Cardinal clearly outlines the rights and duties of bishops to teach and govern as shepherds in their own dioceses. They teach infallibly as long as they teach in union with the Holy Father who alone enjoys personal infallibility in matters of faith and morals. But he warns bishops to beware of obscuring, belittling, or suffocating their own authority in the club atmosphere of Episcopal Conferences. These conferences have no mandatum docendi and the bishops may not shift to their "bureaucratic pressures" the personal responsibilities of their apostolic office. The Cardinal states clearly, "Episcopal Conferences as such do not have the mission of teaching. Their documents in themselves have no other specific value than the value which each bishop attributes to their consensus."
The Cardinal discusses in depth the errors of the theology of liberation, exposing its Marxist roots and practices, and, above all, its dream of establishing an economic Utopia as a substitute for the kingdom of God. These and many other crucial problems are treated with clarity, profundity and graciousness. To those who have misrepresented the Second Vatican Council as having given mankind a new Church, the Cardinal proclaims: "There is only One Catholic Church, not a 'pre' or 'post' Council Church."
To all Catholics who are concerned over the hurricane of heresies which are attacking the Church, the Cardinal gives this sage advice:
"In every case, in the presence of problems which are becoming ever more complex, of dangers which are becoming ever more insidious for orthodoxy, Christians have one sure remedy, a prescription for revitalization they have always had. It is that today more than ever they can be assured that in the end only Christ can save His Church and provide for her. Yet each Catholic has the noble responsibility to work to the best of his or her ability, without excessive anxiety, indeed with serenity, as an honored yet useless servant to serve in the cause of God and His Church. Fidelity is their vocation. Success is God's guarantee." Without Him we can do nothing, but with God all things are possible.