Selected quotes from new book by Pope Benedict

November 21, 2010

pope massHere are some quotes from the English translation of Pope Benedict’s new book, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times”. The book, in question and answer format with the German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald, is due to be published on Tuesday in several languages.

(Photo: Pope Benedict at Mass at the Vatican November 21, 2010./Tony Gentile)

On condoms to fight the spread of AIDS:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralisation, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanisation of sexuality.”

“She (the Church) does not regard it (the use of condoms) as a real or moral solution, but, in this case, there can nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality”.


On the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis:

“Yes, it is a great crisis, we have to say that. It was upsetting for all of us. Suddenly so much filth. It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too.”


On the possibility of resigning one day instead of reigning for life:

“When the danger is great one must not run away. For that reason, now is certainly not the time to resign. Precisely at a time like this one must stand fast and endure the difficult situation. That is my view. One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it”.

“If a Pope clearly realises that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right and, under some circumstances, also an obligation, to resign”.


On the Church’s position on against women priests and homosexual activity:

“When, for example, in the name of non-discrimination, people try to force the Catholic Church to change her position on homosexuality or the ordination of women, then that means that she is no longer allowed to live out her own identity and that, instead, an abstract, negative religion is being made into a tyrannical standard that everyone must follow. That is then seemingly freedom — for the sole reason that it is liberation from the previous situation.”

“The Church has no authority to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying that we don’t want to, but that we can’t. The Lord gave the Church a form with the twelve (male apostles) and, as their successors, with the bishops and the presbyters, the priests. This form of the Church is not something we ourselves have produced. It is how he constituted the Church”.

“The issue at stake here is the intrinsic truth of sexuality’s significance in the constitution of man’s being. If someone has deep-seated homosexual inclinations — and it is still an open question whether these inclinations are really innate or whether they arise in early childhood — if, in any case, they have the power over him, this a great trial for him, just as other trials can afflict other people as well. But this does not mean that homosexuality thereby becomes morally right. Rather, it remains contrary to the essence of what God originally willed.”


On the use of Muslim full face veils:

“As for the burqa, I would see no reason for a general ban. Some say that many women would not wear the burqa voluntarily at all and that it is actually a violation of women. One can, of course, not agree to that. But if they want to wear it voluntarily, I do not know why it must be prohibited”.


On dialogue with Protestants:

“We must recognise the fact that Protestantism has taken steps that have led it farther away from us, rather than closer to us; women’s ordination and the acceptance of homosexual partnerships are just two of many similar examples. There are also other ethical positions, other instances of conformism with the spirit of the present age, that make the dialogue more difficult”.


On whether he feels intimidated by succeeding the enormously popular Pope John Paul II:

“I simply told myself that I am who I am. I don’t try to be someone else. What I can give I give, and what I can’t give I don’t try to give, either. I don’t try to make myself into something I am not. I am the person who happens to have been chosen — the cardinals are also to blame for that — and I do what I can.”


On wartime Pope Pius XII

“At the present time, we have new, clever people who say that, while he did save many lives, he had old-fashioned ideas about Jews that fall short of Vatican II (the 1962-65 Church Council). But that is not the question. The decisive thing is what he did and what he tried to do, and on that score we really must acknowledge, I believe, that he was one of the great righteous men and that he saved more Jews than anyone else”.

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