Benedict XVI as seen by Cardinal Ruini

Source: FSSPX News

The vicar of the diocese of Rome, Camillo Ruini, considered by several Vatican experts as one of the principal electors of Benedict XVI, gave his opinion on the challenges which the Church will have to face, in an interview given to Corriere della Sera on 29 April. He said: “We have to get used to a Church which speaks in a loud voice because the situation calls for it, because it is her duty, even more than her right.”

 He also indicated how much the role of the Church in Italy was important for Europe, “with reference to the Christian identity.” When asked about the consequences of a second non-Italian pope, the cardinal replied that “the problem of an Italian or non-Italian pope no longer exists.” “I see an affective continuity between the moment the Italians took John Paul II to their hearts, and the fervor with which the crowd rushed to Saint Peter’s Square for the election of Benedict XVI, or when they hurried to Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls on Monday evening.” “And then,” he added, “Ratzinger the pope has been in Italy since 1981, he has been a great presence in the Church and in Italian cultural life.”

 Cardinal Ruini also emphasized the relationship “of the Italian bishops with the pope,” which has always been characterized “by an absolute support and affective closeness.” And he stated clearly: “Such will be our links with the new sovereign pontiff.”

 According to the Vicar of the diocese of Rome, this German pope is “a great recognition for Germany.” “I am happy for this nation, which has made such a great contribution to European culture and civilisation.” “Benedict XVI is a sign that the aftermath of World War II is well and truly behind us,” he said, adding that he nurtured the hope that “the Germany of today is one of the decisive places for the challenge which Christianity has to face, and it may be providential that the pope is from there and would therefore be particularly qualified to witness to the faith in this human and cultural context.”- It is known that Germany has a very strong Turkish Muslim community and that its Catholic population is very committed to ecumenism with protestants. That is, to say the least, a double challenge for the Catholic Church, ad extra and ad intra.

 Asked about the role of “defender of the faith” of Benedict XVI before his election, Cardinal Ruini replied that he had been “a great defender of the faith, but with a great capacity of discernment and proposition.” “A defender and at the same time a witness, and thus we have a pope ready to face, in the best way, the biggest challenges for Christianity today, which is to conserve the faith incarnate in modernity,” he stressed. “He is not simply a hard-line defender of the faith: he has a creative mind, and has done much to rethink the Christianity of our times,” he continued. “In my opinion, the deeper one’s faith, the more creative one can be.” – In speaking of the challenge of “conserving the faith incarnate in modernity” and of “creative mind” does the senior Roman prelate envisage this teaching with which the Church, mother and mistress, traditional doctrine in a way adapted to every epoch: vetera noviter dicta ? Or does he dream of a creativity which would be/concerned with not only the manner of preaching but with the object itself of the preaching? How should the expression “rethink the Christianity of our times” be understood? Does modernity, that of the Enlightenment and the Revolution, correspond with Faith in the One and Triune God? Before rising to the challenge, a precise definition of terms is required.

 According to the Italian cardinal, “Benedict XVI has lived through three major experiences: up to the age of 50, he studied and taught.” “Then for 4 years he was in charge of the large diocese of Munich, in Bavaria.” “Finally he was, for 23 years, one of the closest collaborators of John Paul II, which gave him a thorough knowledge of the global issues of the Church.” For sure, “the charisms and life histories of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are different,” but, according to Cardinal Ruini, they both “adhere to Christ and the profound vision of the contemporary world.”

Concerning the suggestion that Benedict XVI would be a pope of transition, the cardinal stated that he would be a pope who “will leave his mark,” and “a profound sign.” “From everything that he has said, we can discern his awareness of the Church’s mission and how determined he is to promote it to the very end.”

 In answer to the question of whether, as has been written, Benedict XVI is allied to the neo-conservatives and President Bush, Cardinal Ruini prefered to reformulate the question: “The significant factor seems to me, above all, this one: there is in the world, and particularly in the United States, a movement of Christian renewal which goes beyond the bounds of the Churches and which emphasizes a Christian momentum which cannot be ignored.” “It is a Christian spirit which encourages witness and proposal of faith in Christ and mankind’s Christian vision.” He confirmed that he did not believe that a pope “would be able to or even wish to play a geopolitical role between States.” “But he can certainly direct the religious and cultural potential of the Church in order to maintain and relaunch the historical role of Christianity in a changing context.” “The instruments are those of mission, ecumenism, and dialogue between the religions for the promotion of peace,” he explained. “The Church knows no frontiers: for that she always demands religious liberty, in every context.” – The role which the cardinal wishes the Church to play, based on mission, but also on ecumenism and interreligious dialogue ‘for the promotion of peace’ is totally in keeping with the previous pontificate. Will Benedict XVI feel committed by the reflections  of one of his electors? The nomination of his successor at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will give an indication. His first encyclical will also tell us.