Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What does the Pope think about that? Well, just ask him!

Wanna know what the Pope thinks about the place of women in the Church? About the AIDS epidemic in Africa? About the situation in the Middle East? About gay marriage? Well, forget the speculation, because a bunch of interviewers have just got it all straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak). They just asked him, and he told them. Not always the answers that they expected, but he told them. For the full transcript of the August 13 interview with the pope by German television’s ARD-Bayerischer Rundfunk, ZDF, Deutsche Welle, and Vatican Radio, just go to the www.chiesa site of Sandro Magister.

Here are my favourite bits:

“The basic theme is that we have to rediscover God, not just any God, but the God that has a human face, because when we see Jesus Christ we see God.”

“Then again, today the West is being strongly influenced by other cultures in which the original religious element is very powerful. These cultures are horrified when they experience the West's coldness towards God.”

“Reawaken the courage to make definitive decisions: they are really the only ones that allow us to grow, to move ahead and to reach something great in life.”

“Of course we have no political influence and we don't want any political power.”

“Everyone knows that the Pope is not an absolute monarch but that he has to personify, you might say, the totality that comes together to listen to Christ.”

“Of course, then we have to witness to God in a world that has problems finding Him, as we said, and to make God visible in the human face of Jesus Christ, to offer people access to the source without which our morale becomes sterile and loses its point of reference, to give joy as well because we are not alone in this world. Only in this way joy is born before the greatness of humanity: humanity is not an evolutionary product that turned out badly. We are the image of God.”

“If in all our single communities we try not to live the faith in a specific fashion but always start from its deepest basics, then maybe we still won't reach external manifestations of unity quickly, but we will mature towards an interior unity that, God willing, one day will bring with it an exterior form of unity too.”

“Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option.”

“The African continent, the African spirit and the Asian spirit too, are horrified by the coldness of our rationality. It's important for them to see that's not all we are.”

“And it's also important that the seat of the Successor of Peter be a place of encounter, don't you think?”

“As you know, we believe that our faith and the constitution of the college of the Apostles, obliges us and doesn't allow us to confer priestly ordination on women. But we shouldn't think either that the only role one can have in the Church is that of being a priest…. And we will have to try and listen to God so as not to stand in their way but, on the contrary, to rejoice when the female element achieves the fully effective place in the Church best suited to her, starting with the Mother of God and with Mary Magdalene.”

“They can do it through catechesis, preaching, or through the presentation of a film, perhaps. I can imagine some wonderful films. Of course, I only know well the Church Fathers: a film about Augustine, or one on Gregory Nazianzen who was very special, how he continually fled the ever greater responsibilities he was given, and so on. We need to study: there are not only the awful situations we depict in many of our films, there are also wonderful historical figures who are not at all boring and who are very contemporary.”

“I'm not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it's very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I'd also say it's necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don't take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn't think we were so important.”

“I've been taken apart various times: in my first phase as professor and in the intermediate phase, during my first phase as Cardinal and in the successive phase. Now comes a new division. …Let's say that my basic personality and even my basic vision have grown, but in everything that is essential I have remained identical. I'm happy that certain aspects that weren't noticed at first are now coming into the open.”

Question: “Would you say that you like what you do, that it isn't a burden for you?”
Pope Benedict XVI: “That would be saying a bit too much, because it really is tiring. But in any case, I try to find joy here too.”

Thank you, Holy Father, our prayers are with you and for your strength to bear with this tiring but inspiring work!

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