Thursday, September 8, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI on why the new Catechism

My apologies for not posting more this week. I'm currently in Des Moines, Iowa, having a great time (and working!). I should be back in Hillsdale tomorrow night. Regardless, I wanted to post a few quotes, all taken from then-Cardinal Ratzinger's (now Pope Benedict XVI) explanation of the motives behind publishing the new catechism.

The following quotes are taken from the pope's 1997 book, Gospel, Catechesis, Catechism: Sidelights on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (San Francisco, Calif: Ignatius Press, 1997).

“In the Apostolic Constitution that introduces the Catechism, the Pope [JPII] rightly speaks of the text’s many-voiced harmony, noting that it truly ‘expresses what could be called the ‘symphony’ of the faiths.’” (9)

“The Catechism is about morality, but about much more, too. It deals with man, but its treatment reflects the conviction that it is impossible to separate the question of man from the question of God. . . . For the Catechism’s fundamental anthropological proposition is that man is created in God’s image and is thus like God. Everything the text says about the rectitude of human behavior rests upon the recognition of this central truth. This truth also grounds those rights that are inherent in man from conception to the final moment of his existence. No one has to give man these rights, no one can take them from him: he has them of himself. It follows that the image of God is also the basis of human dignity, which in every man is inviolable simply because he is man. Finally, man’s Godlikeness also implies the unity and equality of men. As creatures of the one God, all men are of the same rank, are related to one another as brothers, are responsible for one another and are called to love their neighbor, no matter who he may be.” (14-15)

“On this point, the Catechism clearly favors the Augustinian conception of morality, whose basic approach is very simple.” (15)

“Moral conduct is therefore in the deepest sense of the word conduct in harmony with creation.” (16)

“We discover love as the heart of all morality, and if we then delve more deeply into this love, we meet Christ, the incarnate love of God.” (17)

“The sacraments are the Church in action. All the religions of history have had sacred signs. Man can touch the eternal only in sensible realities, but the things of this world are also intrinsically designed to mediate contact with God.” (18)

“From beginning to end the Catechism is, among other things, a dialogue with all other Christian traditions.” (21fn3)

“Faith is not maintained automatically. It is not a ‘finished business’ that we can simply take for granted. The life of faith has to be continually renewed.” (23)

“Faith is an orientation of our existence as a whole” (25)

“We touch upon the question of how we encountered God, hence, the question of the liturgy, of the sacraments, of prayer and morality. But I do not want to develop all of these points in detail now; my chief concern has been precisely to get a glimpse of the intrinsic unity of faith, which is not a multitude of propositions but a full and simple act whose simplicity contains the whole depth and breadth of being. He who speaks of God, speaks of the whole; he learns to discern the essential from the inessential, and he comes to know, albeit only fragmentarily and ‘in a glass, darkly’ (1 Cor 13:12) as long as faith is faith and not yet vision, something of the inner logic and unity of all reality.” (29)

“To be handed over into the doctrine is to be handed over into Christ. We cannot receive his word as a theory in the same way that we learn, say, mathematical formulas or philosophical opinions. We can learn it only in accepting a share in Christ’s destiny only where he has permanently committed himself to sharing in man’s destiny: in the Church. in the language of this Church we call this event a ‘sacrament’. The act of faith is unthinkable without the sacramental component.” (30)

“That is, the faith that comes to us a word must also become a word in us, a word that is simultaneously the expression of our life. To believe is always also to confess the faith. Faith is not private but something public that concerns the community. The word of faith first enters the mind, but it cannot stay there: thought must always become word and deed again.” (31)

“We must accustom ourselves to God, just as in the Incarnation God accustomed himself to us men. . . . Catechesis should always be such a process of assimilation to God.” (32)

“Equally apparent is that the Catechism is wholly structured according to the principle of the hierarchy of truths as understood by the Second Vatican Council.” (33)

Evangelism doesn’t mean imperial takeover--it means “purely the hope-generating power of Jesus’ message.” (35)

And, remember, Ratzinger/Benedict reminds the reader in the end.  It is always better to be opposed than ignored (37)

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