Benedict XVI answers questions from priests of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso dioceses

Source: FSSPX News

The Holy Father is accustomed to such informal meetings with the priests of the Italian dioceses in which he stays. He does not give them an address, but answers questions. Besides his meetings with the clergy of Rome, he had also met the priests of the diocese of Aosta in the little church of Introd, during his first vacations in 2005. He did the same with the clergy of the diocese of Albano, south of Rome, where is located Castel Gandolfo, the popes’ summer residence.

Though the meeting in Auronzo di Cadore took place behind closed doors, the report by Fr. Federico Lombardi, the spokesman of the Holy See, and a transcript of the exchanges published by the Vatican Press Bureau enabled us to know the content of the pope’s answers to the questions asked.

 About the Second Vatican Council

To a priest who was explaining that he had lived the Second Vatican Council with enthusiasm and who was telling him about his fatigue and disappointment several years later, Benedict XVI recalled that after all the Councils, “times had not been so easy.” “I, too,” the pope confessed, “I lived the time of the Council with great enthusiasm and the hope of a new meeting between the Church and the world, but we all had the experience that things were still difficult.”

Benedict XVI also pointed out that there had been “two great historical hiatuses” after the Second Vatican Council: “1968, as a significant moment in the crisis of Western culture and 1989, with the fall of the communist regimes.” After the Council, the Church had thus to live in a context affected by two great cultural fractures and new situations, independent of the Council, but which the Church had to face up to, he explained.

Nevertheless, “the Council gave us a great indication as to the road to follow,” declared the sovereign pontiff. “The great heritage of the Council remains. It opened a new path for us. It is still the great, essential and fundamental document mapping the way for the Church,” he insisted. Rejecting “erroneous progressivism” and “anti-conciliarism”, he considered that “we have now found the way and upon this way we find the new world.” However, “we must renounce any triumphalism which would claim that now is the birth of the great Church of the future,” he stressed, adding that the Church must be “humble.”

Yet, “it seems to me very important that we can now see, with our eyes wide open, all that developed positively after the Council, in the renewal of the liturgy, in the Synods, in the parish structures, in the collaborations, in the new responsibilities of the laity, in the great intercultural and intercontinental capacity for exchange, in the new experience of Catholicity in the Church,” Benedict XVI insisted.

 About the relationships with Islam

A priest from Treviso pointed out to the pope that the region of Venice was a land of migrations and asked him about the relations of the Church with the other religions. Benedict XVI recalled that the primitive Church had also been a minority. The pope centered his answer on the words of the Epistle of Saint Peter: “being ready always to satisfy every one that asketh you a reason of that hope which is in you.” He invited the faithful to acquire a formation concerning the truths of the faith. He also asked  Christians to be close to the non-Christians.

“A uniform world no longer exists,” the pope declared and to the priests confronted with the new communities of immigrant he advised  “declaration and dialogue.” For Benedict XVI, “Muslims have a certain knowledge of Christ, which denies His divinity but, at least, recognizes him as a great prophet.” “They also have a love for Mary.” “So there are common elements in the faith which are common points for dialogue,” the pope affirmed, even if “to go on to the great Mysteries seems to be a difficult level which cannot be reached during the first meetings.” “What we must do is to seek a consensus on the basic values, expressed in the Ten Commandments, and summed up in the love of neighbor and of God,” he concluded.

 Concerning priestly ministry

The pope invited the priests to “remain pastors and not to become bureaucrats of the sacred”, and this by “delegating” tasks to collaborators as far as possible. “It seems to me that this is an important and positive point of the Council: corresponsibility in the parish.” The role of the priests remains first of all to “pray, heal, and announce.”

Answering a question on “the human dimension of the priests,” Benedict XVI insisted on the importance of “living with one’s feet on the ground and one’s eyes turned to heaven.” The pope also invited the priests not to lose contact with the faithful and insisted on the importance of the pastoral of the sacraments as occasions for deep and meaningful encounters.

Asked about the manner of presenting God to the men of today, Benedict XVI expressed the wish that Christianity be not presented “as a bunch of complex dogmas, but as a simple announcement: God exists and Jesus Christ is near us.”

The pope also spoke about the issue of the youth, and deplored the significant number of those who find it difficult to discern the meaning of life in today’s culture. “A world without God becomes an arbitrary world,” he warned.

 The doctrine of evolution

Returning to the debate between creationism and evolutionism, Benedict XVI considered that “to believe that the Creator could not think of evolution and conversely that he who believes in evolution rejects God” is “an absurdity.” “There are so many scientific proofs in favor of evolution,” he affirmed. Yet “the doctrine of evolution does not answers all questions, especially the great philosophical question: but where does all this come from?” “Obedience to the voice of the earth, of the being is more important for our future happiness than the voices and desires of the moment,” he declared, explaining that “the administration of God’s creation” is achieved through “respect for the laws of the body, of sexuality and love, the value of faithful love, of the family, of life, and community life, of the just sharing of the resources of the earth.”

“Not only we must care for the earth, but we must respect each other,” he continued. “Either the other as a person, as my neighbor, or the others as a community which lives in a world in which we must live together.”

(Sources: apic/imedia/ami)