CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 18 August 2018

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Pope Benedict’s insight relevant and urgent today Pope Francis writes

VATICAN (CNS): For more than 50 years, the writings of retired Pope Benedict XVI on the relationship between faith and politics have insisted that the measure of human freedom is the extent to which each person acknowledges being dependent on the love of God, Pope Francis writes in the preface to a new book, Liberating Freedom: Faith and Politics in the Third Millennium.
 
The book is a collection of essays over the course of several decades, including during Pope Benedict’s eight-year pontificate.
 
Pope Francis writes that his predecessor’s “direct experience of Nazi totalitarianism led him from the time he was a young academic to reflect on the limits of obedience to the state in favour of the freedom of obedience to God.” 
 
He remarks that when then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger worked alongside Pope St. John Paul II, “he elaborated and proposed a Christian vision of human rights capable of questioning on a theoretical and practical level the totalitarian claim of the Marxist state and the atheist ideology on which it was based.”
 
Pope Francis said the contrast Cardinal Ratzinger saw between Christianity and Marxism or communism was definitely not the focus on the poor and the need to fight inequality.
 
Pope Francis quotes the cardinal as writing: “We must learn—once again, not only at the theoretical level, but in the way we think and act—that alongside the real presence of Jesus in the Church and in the sacrament, there exists that other real presence of Jesus in the little ones, in the trampled of this world, in the last, in whom he wants us to find him.”
 
He notes that the key difference between Marxism and Christianity for Pope Benedict, is how each views the relationship between redemption and liberation.
 
“Does redemption occur through liberation from all dependence or is the only way to liberation the complete dependence on love, which would then also be true freedom?” he quotes Pope Benedict as writing.
 
Pope Benedict’s insight is relevant and urgent today. “In fact, today more than ever there is the same temptation to refuse any dependence on love that is not a person’s love for his own ego, for ‘the I and its desires,’ and, consequently, the danger of the ‘colonisation’ of consciences by an ideology that denies the basic certainty that humankind exists as male and female to whom the task of the transmission of life is assigned,” he says.
 
Pope Francis writes that as Pope Benedict has pointed out, a new set of human rights are actually leading to the self-destruction of humanity. These self-destructive attitudes “have a single common denominator that consists in a single, great denial: the denial of dependence on love, the denial that man and woman are creatures of God, lovingly made by him in his image and for whom they yearn as the deer longs for running water.”
 
Pope Francis writes, “When we deny this dependence between creature and creator, this relationship of love, we renounce the true greatness of the human being (and) the bulwark of human freedom and dignity.”
 
He says reading Pope Benedict’s essays “can help all of us not only to understand our present and find a solid orientation for the future, but they also can be a real source of inspiration for political action that, by placing the family, solidarity and equality at the centre of its attention and planning, truly looks to the future with foresight.”

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