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Religious Fundamentalism? This is not what Ratzinger thinks …

From the Editor’s Desk (Wednesday, August 22, 2018, Gaudium Press) Considering the religious crisis and the confusion of doctrines that reign in the world today, those who seek to live their faith rooted in Christ and in his Church, time and again are unjustly mistaken as fundamentalists. In order to clarify the issue, we are pleased to present some considerations of pope emeritus Benedict XVI delivered in his homily at the mass Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice, on April 18, 2005, shortly after the death of St. John Paul II.

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On that occasion, the then Cardinal Ratzinger said that there is a “measure of the fullness of Christ”, “that we are called to attain if we are to be true adults in the faith”, because we must not remain children in the practice of this virtue. He added: “what does it mean to be children in faith? St Paul answers: it means being ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine'” (Eph 4: 14).

In the same homily, future Pope Benedict XVI demonstrates his assertion: “How many winds of doctrine have we known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of the thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – flung from one extreme to another: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and so forth. Every day new sects spring up, and what St Paul says about human deception and the trickery that strives to entice people into error (cf. Eph 4: 14) comes true. Having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism.”

At the same time, with great insight, he detected the philosophy that leads some to utter this pejorative classification: “Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

Hence, which should be the correct criterion to be used by a Christian faithful in order to distinguish truth from error, especially when confronted by this dictatorship of relativism which qualifies as fundamentalists those who have a clear faith according to the Creed of the Church? John Paul II’s successor continues: “We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An ‘adult’ faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth. We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith – only faith – that creates unity and is fulfilled in love.”

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Let us keep these wise considerations in mind, keeping our distance from the “dictatorship of relativism”, as there is a requirement for every Catholic to put the “foundations” of his house on a safe and secure place: the Holy Catholic Church. The Church, as the Constitution Dei Verbum of the Second Vatican Council teaches, was entrusted with “a single sacred deposit of the word of God”, constituted by the “Sacred Tradition and the Sacred Scripture” (DV 10). The task of an authentic interpretation “was entrusted only to the living magisterium of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This magisterium is not above the word of God, but rather at his service, teaching only what was transmitted” (DV 10). In this unity which the Holy Spirit established between Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church, there is such a reciprocity that the three cannot subsist independently (cf. DV 10).

In sum, the truths of the Catholic Faith cannot be transmitted throughout the centuries in their apostolic integrity and purity, without these three foundations. Otherwise the house falls as in the parable of St. Luke’s Gospel (Lk 6, 49). Grounds without foundation or shifting sands are not good to build on. Do relativists know this?

By José Manuel Jiménez



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