Newsletter of the District of Asia

 December 1998

The Church Near the Year 2000
in the Mind of Cardinal Ratzinger

            The Church near the year 2000 in the mind of Cardinal Ratzinger was the title of the lecture given by Bishop Tissier in a conference Conference in Dublin on May 10, 1998.  In it, he compared views expressed by Cardinal Ratzinger in his recent book – ‘Salt of the Earth’ – with traditional teaching on the 4 distinguishing Marks of the Catholic Church.  What follows is a brief summary of the Bishop’s address.


            The Catholic Church is ONE in her Faith, Worship and Government.  All its members believe the same truths, possess the same sacraments and sacrifice and are under one visible head – the Pope – who is the Vicar of Christ and the successor of St. Peter.

            But according to Cardinal Ratzinger, who is Prefect of the Pope’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Church no longer has the crystalline form it previously possessed and is now, necessarily, diversified to suit the different cultures which exist throughout the world.  This view of the Cardinal can only mean that, having been accommodated to suit different cultures, the Catholic Faith has changed in different parts of the world.  In other words, the Unity or oneness of the Church has been violated.

            The Cardinal further asserts that there is a hierarchy in the truths of things, thus implying that some truths are more important than others (which is true), that minor truths merit less attention and that the most important need is to grasp the heart of the Faith.  This is not true, because the denial or neglect of the smallest article of Faith can lead to the collapse  of the whole structure and the loss of the Faith.  Sad to say, the Cardinal’s attitude seems to encourage men and women to lose the Faith as it suggests that a divided Faith is acceptable and that unity of Faith is no longer necessary for the unity of the Church.  Catholics must reject the Cardinal’s assertion and persevere in their belief that the Catholic Faith is indivisible.


            The Church is able to produce constantly and increasingly new Saints in every century.  It is of her very nature to do so. 

In his book, the Cardinal puts forward some new ideas about the sanctity of the Church.  For example, he regards Catholics who have divorced and re-married as “poor people who cannot go to Communion like the others”.  His concern seems to be more that of a sociologist than of a Shepherd of souls.  Those he calls ‘poor people’ are living in sin; they must abandon their sinful liaisons and regain the state of grace through the Sacrament of Penance.  Then they may go to communion ‘like the others…’  One is forced to conclude that, in the eyes of Cardinal Ratzinger, the sanctity of its members is no longer so important in the Church.  But, if the Church were to tolerate ‘living in sin’ she would no longer produce Saints.


            The Church is Catholic because of the Mission entrusted to Her by Her Founder, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  He sent His Apostles to teach all nations, “Baptising them in the Name of the Father  and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.  And behold!  I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (Mt. xxviii, 18-20)  The Divine Mission remains  and must remain until the end of time.  All peoples are called to be members of the Catholic Church in what may be described as human diversity in a supernatural unity. 

Again, Cardinal Ratzinger has put forward other ideas in his book for he writes that we must perhaps renounce the idea of one Church that embraces all peoples.   He says we live in a New Age where the Church is becoming like the tiny mustard seed mentioned in the Gospel, consisting of little groups spread around the world – a Church comprising minorities of committed and concerned Christians.  Surely this concept of the Catholic Church is at variance with Our Lord’s commands to His Apostles.  Let us remain faithful to that command and reject the Cardinal’s false concept.  That concept is, in fact, evidence of the ruinous state of the Conciliar Church and yet another proof that the Christian virtue has been lost by many within that Church.


            The Church is Apostolic because it is the Church which Jesus Christ founded on His Apostles; the Popes of these days are the successors of St. Peter; the Bishops of these days are the successors of the other Apostles; the Faith of today is the same as the Faith of the Apostolic times. 

Concerning the teaching power of the Church, her Magisterium, the Cardinal writes … “our power is very thin nowadays”, thus implying that the power of both Pope and Bishops has ebbed away to a great extent.  He goes on to say that the Bishops of the world must appeal to their Theologians.  Does this mean that Bishops can no longer teach the Catholic Faith without consulting their Theologians?  If so, is this not contrary to Our Lord’s entrusting the office of teaching to the Apostles and their successors, the bishops?  The Cardinal’s words to strengthen what has been described as the Dictatorship of the Theologians, which began at Vatican II and has not ceased to injure the Church.  His calling Bishops the ‘representatives of the faith of their Dioceses’ is very strange.  It suggests that a Bishop must now follow his flock (what if the flock should stray into heresy?) instead of leading it and feeding it with sound doctrine.  These views of Cardinal Ratzinger are also unacceptable and another manifestation of the failure of the Conciliar Church.  Let us reject them and remain faithful to the Catholic Faith which, by the grace of God, has been defended successfully by Archbishop Lefebvre and those loyal to the Church’s Tradition in Ireland and elsewhere.

(From St. John’s Bulletin, No. 54)

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