Vatican responds to German press, says Pope had no knowledge of theologian’s confessional identity


Earlier today Vatican Press Director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls responded to certain German press reports, which suggest that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, had full-knowledge of theologian Klaus Berger’s dual membership in both Catholic and Protestant churches when he oversaw the Vatican’s office for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In a formal announcement, Navarro-Valls said that, the Vatican is now able to address the “discussion concerning the confessional identity of the exegete Klaus Berger of Heidelberg…”

Heidelberg, he wrote, “claims to be a Catholic and - according to what has now been made public - in 1968, participating in the Protestant Supper, became a 'member of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church,' the assertion has been made that 'Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope,' had precise knowledge of 'the matter in its formal aspects' and 'raised no objections.'“

He said that "This assertion is false. Until the current discussion arose, no information beyond what was commonly known reached the cardinal, now Pope; there was no knowledge of a dual confessional identity.”

The press director said that because of this fact, “the cardinal had no reason to take up a position on the question of Mr. Berger's confessional identity and, indeed, he never pronounced himself on the subject."

“Obviously,” he continued, “the norms of Catholic canon law, which exclude dual membership of the Catholic Church and of a Protestant 'Landeskirche,' remain in full force without exception, and are therefore also valid in this case.”

“The Church cannot obtain any dispensation from this rule, not even in the Sacrament of Penance," Navarro-Valls wrote.