02 November, 2007

What Cardinal Biffi said at the conclave

I thought these things weren't supposed to be revealed, but Cardinal Giacomo Biffi has recently published in Italy a book wherein he sets down excerpts from a speech he gave at the conclave that elected Benedict XVI. The story comes from Sandro Magister's weblog www.chiesa; you can find this article here, or here in English.

I thought the following passage was apt (my translation, possibly bad):

3. A few days ago I was watching an interview with an old, devout sister who gave this reply, "This pope who has died has been great above all because he taught us that all religions are equal." I am not so sure that John Paul II would have appreciated this eulogy.

4. In conclusion, I would like to point out to the new pope the incredible experience of Dominus Iesus: a document explicitly endorsed and approved by John Paul II; a document for which I am pleased to express my vibrant gratitude to Cardinal Ratzinger. That Jesus be the one necessary Savior of all is a truth that in twenty centuries—beginning with Peter's speech after Pentecost—it was never felt necessary to recall. This truth is, so to speak, the lowest step on the ladder of faith; it is the primordial certainty; among believers it is a simple fact that is absolutely essential. In two thousand years no [Christian] ever placed this in doubt, not even during the Arian crisis, not even on the occasion of the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. That this fact had to be remembered provides us with some measurement of the seriousness of the situation.

Yet this document that recalls the simplest, most essential, primordial certainty, has been disputed. It has been disputed at all levels: at all levels of pastoral activity, of theological instruction, and of the hierarchy.
The Cardinal is not exaggerating. I have known a number of priests who have disputed this once fundamental teaching of faith; my time as a seminarian led me to meet a few more. At the time the document was published, I lived in the Raleigh diocese, and I recall how the diocesan priest in charge of ecumenism wrote an article for the News and Observer expressing to non-Catholics and non-Christians his dismay over this document, and apologizing for its grave mistakes.

Perhaps. Dominus Iesus was published with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's signature, as he was the prefect of the Congregation. Ratzinger was subsequently elected pope Benedict XVI.

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