Society absent of God self-destructs, says Ratzinger, points to current political, legal and sexual culture


In an interview published in Italian newspaper "La Reppublica" today, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said that “a society in which God is completely absent self-destructs,” and talked about the political, legal and cultural consequences of the marginalization of God from public life, and those of the loss of the meaning of human sexuality and the family.

Pointing to the example of a Protestant pastor in Sweden “who had preached about homosexuality, based on a line from Scriptures,  and went to jail for one month,” the Cardinal indicated that "there is an aggressive secular ideology,” a distorted “laicism,” which no longer “opens up spaces of freedom for all,” but rather imposes itself through politics.

This ideological laicism “does not give public space to the Catholic or Christian vision, which runs the risk of becoming something purely private and thus disfigured.”

Therefore he said “we must defend religious freedom against the imposition of an ideology which is presented as if it were the only voice of rationality, when it is only the expression of a 'certain' rationalism."

Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that a “just laicism,” on the other hand, “ is religious freedom; the State does not impose religion but it gives space to religions with a responsibility toward civil society, and therefore it allows these religions to be factors in building up society."

He said that the true essence of Christianity is "a history of love between God and men. If this is understood in the language of our times, the rest just follows."

In modern society however, God “has been put on the sidelines. In political life, it seems almost indecent to speak of God, as if it were an attack on the freedom of those who do not believe.”

He said that the sidelining of God can be seen in the worlds of politics, of business and the economy, of private life. “To me,” said the cardinal, “it seems necessary to rediscover, and the energy to do so exists, that even the political and economic spheres need moral responsibility, a responsibility that is born in man's heart and, in the end, has to do with the presence or absence of God.”

“A society in which God is completely absent self-destructs. We saw this in the great totalitarian regimes of the last century."

Sexual ethics and law

Asked about the gap that had opened up between the Magisterium and the faithful following the publication of Pope Paul VI’s  encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which definitively affirmed the Church’s ban on artificial contraception, the prefect of the CDF said that “it is clear that we must continue to reflect,” and indicated that we must look towards the person-centered vision of the relationship between man and woman developed by Pope John Paul II.

“The pill,” said Cardinal Ratzinger “has changed the vision of sexuality, the human being and the body itself. Sexuality has been separated from fecundity and in this way it has profoundly changed the concept of the human life.

He explained that “the sexual act has lost its purpose and finality which before was clear and specific, so that all forms of sexuality have become equivalent. Above all…the equalization between homosexuality and heterosexuality.”

On the question of the Church’s position on homosexuality, Card. Ratzinger said that “above all, we must have great respect for these people who also suffer and who want to find their own way of correct living. On the other hand, to create a legal form of a kind of homosexual marriage, in reality, does not help these people."

He said that the law presented for debate by the Spanish government which would completely legalize homosexual marriage “is destructive to the family and society, because “the law creates morality or a moral form, since people habitually think that what the law affirms is morally allowed.”

“If we judge this union to be more or less equivalent to marriage,” he posited, “ we have a society that no longer recognizes either the specific nature of the family, nor its fundamental character, that is to say, the nature of man and woman which is to create continuity - not only in a biological sense - for humanity.”

The Cardinal said that “the Spanish decision does not provide a real benefit” to homosexuals, “since in this way we are destroying the fundamental elements of an order of law."

More in Vatican

He stated further that even institutionalization and legal recognition of civil unions between two members of the same sex, “whether the lawmaker wants it or not - would necessarily appear in public opinion like another type of marriage that would inevitably assume a relative value.”

“With these choices, to which Europe tends today - shall we say - in decline, we make a break from all the great cultures of humanity that have always recognized the very meaning of sexuality,” said Cardinal Ratzinger, “that men and women were created to be jointly the guarantee of the future of humanity. Not only a physical guarantee but also a moral one."

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