May 12, 2005

From the latest National Review

Michael Potemra on Pope Benedict's false reputation:
He shows a sensitive appreciation of developments in other denominations, applauding what he sees as “a new vitality” in Protestantism: “The Evangelicals and fundamentalists always used to be typical leaders of the opposition to the papacy. But there have been astonishing changes there, because they can see that the Pope is actually the Rock who asserts before all the world exactly what they confess in opposition to modern versions of watered-down Christianity. So, from a certain point of view, they see the Pope as their strong ally, even though their old reservations have not been cleared away. . . . What we dare to hope for we should await confidently, but with great patience.” Lest this be misinterpreted as a belief that Protestants will be simply absorbed into Roman Catholicism, Ratzinger says, “The formula that the great ecumenists have invented is that we go forward together. It’s not a matter of our wanting to achieve certain processes of integration. . . . [The Catholic Church] will allow herself to be educated and led by the Lord.”...

He shows the same basic generosity of spirit in miniature, when he discusses Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin leader who condemned Jesus and has been presented as a pure villain throughout much of history: “As high priest, Caiaphas is responsible for the faith of Israel. Naturally it doesn’t occur to him that he might really be condemning the living Son of God to death. He sees in Jesus someone who has done injury to the very heart of the Jewish creed, the belief in one God, by the presumptuous claim to be himself God’s Son. And, certainly, he does this in a state of blindness, unable to perceive the mystery; his faith is encapsulated in a formula. We ought not to be too ready to condemn him, since in some way he believes, of course, that he is acting responsibly on behalf of religion.”...

After making his way through these books, the reader may be hungry for graduate-level Ratzinger — for example, his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity, a meditation on the Apostles’ Creed. Here he writes of an adult faith in which doubt and belief coexist:
Both the believer and the unbeliever share, each in his own way, doubt and belief, if they do not hide from themselves and from the truth of their being. Neither can quite escape either doubt or belief; for the one, faith is present against doubt; for the other, through doubt and in the form of doubt. . . . [Man exists] in this unceasing rivalry between doubt and belief, temptation and certainty. Perhaps in precisely this way doubt, which saves both sides from being shut up in their own worlds, could become the avenue of communication. It prevents both from enjoying complete self-satisfaction.

No comments: