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from issue no. 05 - 2005

The testimonies of twenty-one cardinals on the new Pope

Twenty-one cardinals on the new Pope. Part II

Justin Francis Rigali

Justin Francis Rigali


by Cardinal Justin Francis Rigali
Archbishop of Philadelphia

In his first speech the Holy Father expressed two sentiments. On the one hand his inadequacy, his being humanly anxious; on the other he confessed his trust: «in Te speravi, Domine», and he admitted that his trust was greater than his fear. Pope Benedict trusts that it was the Lord who called him through the cardinals, but I would say also through all the prayers of the Church, of the people who supported the cardinals with the solidarity of their prayer.
He is very confident that the Lord will help him, that He will begin a good work in him, according to the words of Saint Paul.
The Church is full of hope, the Lord has called, the Lord will give the grace, He will help Pope Benedict to bring to a conclusion the work he began in his life, in his priestly ministry. Who can establish for how many years it will be?
The Pope has already expressed his desire to continue along the path of Vatican Council II, and this is lovely, because it was Pope John XXIII himself who stated what the purpose of the Council was. I was present on 8 October 1962 when Pope Roncalli said that the Council was convoked principally «so that the sacred deposit of faith could be more efficiently safeguarded and presented». There were other purposes, most important certainly, but this was primary.
Pope Ratzinger has great experience, because John Paul II appointed him as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and in all these years he has worked for the faith of the Church, with the solicitude of safeguarding and presenting it more efficiently. As Pope he can now continue to safeguard the faith, and it is easy for him to promise fidelity to the Council, because in these years he has lived through the actualization of the Council. This is the task to which he has been dedicated up until now. And as far as ecumenism is concerned the reality of the visible unity in the faith and love of all Christians, will be the object of his concern; and under the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Pope must bring to a conclusion what was so dear to the heart of John Paul II and Paul VI: we remember the testament of Pope Montini in which he asked that the work of ecumenism go ahead.
The new Pope is aware of being the Bishop of Rome, he knows that his task is to be «episcopus catholicae Ecclesiae», bishop of the Catholic Church, which signifies bishop of all the bishops: here, therefore, is the collegiality, that he has already mentioned. Well aware that is, that, as the successor of Peter he indeed possesses the fullness of sacred power, and however, in a mysterious way, this full power is also shared by the bishops. Because the Lord entrusted His Church to Peter along with the bishops, the power is exercised “cum Petro et sub Petro”.
His concern, following tradition from the origins, also before the Council, will be to preside in charity. The Pope has this idea, to preside in charity, and the affective collegiality with the bishops is very important. We will see the continuity, we will see what the papacy is, because the recent popes have shown us what it means to preside in charity, to receive the bishops and receive the People of God, for which millions and millions of Catholics feel at home here in Rome. But it is up to the bishop of Rome to embrace all in faith and in charity. And he will.
And all the challenges of the world? We will see that the Pope will continue to preach the social magisterium of the Church, because this is what Jesus taught. But Jesus also went everywhere doing good, and the Church received this heritage from Him. John Paul II said that man, with all his needs, with all his being, is the way for the Church, and that the Church exists so that all men can have the fullness of human and Christian life.
Pope Benedict reminded us that he begins his ministry in this year dedicated to the Eucharist, a year, according to John Paul II, in which all of us can understand more and renew our faith in the Eucharist, which the Church proclaims the sacrifice of Christ, the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. And then the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II also said, and certainly Pope Benedict XVI is also aware of this, is not only a sacrifice, our nutrition and company, but also a challenge, because it is the person of Jesus Himself who says to us: «Love one another, as I have loved you». It has to do with a universal dimension. This is why the Church goes toward mankind and toward all men, because it is close to all the difficulties and pains of the individual, as well as of the communities and nations.
This is the work of the Roman Pontiff, who is called John XXIII, John Paul I, John Paul II, or Benedict XVI: to preach Jesus Christ, in an absolute continuity.
How lovely, when the Pope was elected! After he had, according to the rite, chosen his name, and we prayed for him, the first thing, there in the Sistine Chapel, in fulfillment of the plan of God, the cardinal proto-deacon places himself in front of the Pope and proclaims the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16. In that instant there is a return to the origins, so that the Pope immediately knows clearly what awaits him. Peter’s confession of faith to Jesus is read: «You are the Christ, the Son of the living God»; and the reply of Jesus: «You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church». How beautiful, everything is clear right from the first moment: Peter must proclaim Christ and it is Christ Who calls him and who gives him the grace of being able to carry out the mission of His Vicar.
Yes, we are full of hope, and we are full of confidence. Certainly, Jesus told his apostles that they would suffer tribulations in the world; but he said: «Confidite», have confidence, because «I have overcome the world […] and the gates of hell will not prevail». Because Peter is built on a rock, and all of the church, as the Acts of the Apostles says, is faithful in praying for Peter, and … we don’t have anything else. We must confront everything, however, the problems and the dangers, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, a strength the Lord inspires in the heart of the Pope but also in all the faithful. Their prayers count greatly, as those of the community around the Pope, the bishops.
Prayer: the Lord could not do more, this is His plan of salvation, and all of this exists so that we can find salvation, can live full satisfaction and joy in this world, in preparation for eternal life.

Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân

Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân


by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân
Archbishop of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh

I hope the new Pope Benedict will be: 1) an indefatigable messenger of the Good News of Christ, to help the Church be witness to the love of God for all of humanity; 2) a pastor who encourages and guides the flock of God, confronting with the culture of materialism, of pragmatism and of consumerism present in the life of modern society, toward the richness of the life of Christ; 3) a spiritual leader who serves God and society humbly through wise efforts to construct a new human society that lives in truth and holiness, in the love and peace of Christ.
The perspectives and future guidelines of the new pontificate are traceable in the homily of the first mass as Pope celebrated in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday 20 April.
The Church continues its pilgrimage on the way shown it by Vatican Council II, by the light of the Spirit of Christ: communion in the light of a greater unity in a globalized world; dialogue finalized toward a more efficient commitment to a richer life and greater human dignity in a world that, if it looks to the future, sees itself afflicted by uncertainties and anxieties.
Communion and unity give a richer life and greater strength to the Church. Dialogue and service help the Church to fulfill its mission in the modern world in a more efficacious way.

Péter Erdö

Péter Erdö


by Cardinal Péter Erdö
Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest

Among the Catholic faithful of Hungary, but also throughout all of Hungarian society, the news of the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to the See of Saint Peter was received with great joy. The intellectuals of my country know many of the works of the new Pope also in Hungarian translations. His writings were best sellers. Many of them were talked about both in public and private gatherings. Because of this some years ago the then Cardinal Ratzinger received the “Stephanus” award of the society of Saint Stephen, the oldest and most prestigious association and publishing house in the country. I sent his last book-interview as a Christmas gift to all the priests in our diocese.
My fondest memories of the person of the Pope have to do with his activities in the different Congregations and Commissions of the Holy See. As a most highly regarded cardinal he always listened with attention to the opinion of everyone else and at the end, in his contribution, he offered an elegant synthesis, appreciating all the positive elements that had emerged in the discussion. And he didn’t limit himself to giving a summing-up of the discussion, but also indicated with maximum clarity the way to a solution of the problem.
Crescenzio Sepe

Crescenzio Sepe


by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

The pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI is in its first stages, but the expanse it has indicated to the Church is vast and leads afar.
It took just a gesture, the pause in prayer at the tomb of the apostle Paul, to indicate the great direction of the march and, at the same time, the roots of the Petrine ministry that is today the sign of hope for all of humanity.In Saint Paul’s Basilica, Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage as brief in distance as it was significant in its extraordinary profundity. At the tomb of the apostle of the Gentiles, the Pope went to «revivify» the «grace of the apostolate» in order to be better able to serve a Church that, at the beginning of the third millennium, «feels with renewed vividness that the missionary mandate of Christ is more than ever relevant». To take the path of Saint Paul’s Basilica was, for the Holy Father, as if taking for himself and for the Church that missionary path along which no fear exists that even one grain of the fidelity to Christ will be dispersed. It is often, as the two apostle founders of the Church of Rome show, also the path of martyrdom; that which «irrigated this land» and «made it fruitful» placing it at the head of «the universal communion of charity». The pilgrimage to Saint Paul’s showed the urgency of Benedict XVI wish to re-awaken, in the wake of the Fathers and in the light of Vatican Council II, the missionary character of the Church and, at the same time, to outline the characteristics of his pontificate. See of the Chair of Peter, Rome itself is the first cornerstone of a wide-ranging missionary vision. Before reaching it physically, Paul presented himself to the capital of the Empire with the most important of his letters, introducing himself to the community of Rome as «the servant of Jesus Christ, apostle by vocation» (Rm. I,I).Benedict XVI has helped us to read, in the open – and often unexplored - book of our own testimonies, old and new pages of an ecclesial reality that has always recognized as it’s principal task the need of proclamation.«Vatican Council II», Pope Benedict observed at Saint Paul’s, «dedicated to missionary activity its decree Ad gentes that recalls how the apostles, following the example of Christ, “preached the word of truth and generated the Churches”».To evangelize was the first commitment – I would say the apostolic anxiety - of John Paul II – who introduced the Church to the third Christian millennium.Pope Benedict XVI, in a creative way, is in his footprints. The missionary Church is now in movement under his guidance. And the horizons are wider than ever.
José Saraiva Martins

José Saraiva Martins


by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints

The centrality of Christ is one of the themes that emerges from the first speeches of the new Pope Benedict XVI. Profound theologian that he is, he sees the Petrine ministry, to which he was called by Providence, in the light of the Lord, from which he asks the strength to be a «courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always amenable to the inspirations of His Spirit». In preparing himself to undertake this service for the universal Church, it is, in the first place, to Christ that he renews his «full and complete adherence», repeating the words: «In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum».
The Christ to whom the Pope addresses himself is the risen Christ, constantly present in the Eucharist, «who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate at the table of His Body and of His Blood. From full communion with Him every other element in the life of the Church issues, in first place the communion between all the faithful, the commitment to the proclaiming and witnessing of the Gospel, the ardor of charity toward all, especially toward the poor and the wretched». Precisely because the Eucharist is the “fount and summit” of the life and the mission of the Church, the new Pope, in the tracks of his immediate predecessor, asks to intensify, especially in the next months, the love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus.This centrality of Jesus Christ, underlined in the speech at the end of the Eucharistic celebration with the cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel, we find again in his following speeches. And so in his homily at the mass for the beginning of his Petrine ministry as Bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI says that «the Church is alive, because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen»; that «the holy restlessness of Christ must animate the pastor»; that the Church in its totality, with the pastors at its head, as Christ «must set itself in motion, to lead men out of the desert, toward the place of life, toward friendship with the Son of God, toward Him Who bestows life in its fullness on us»; that one of the fundamental characteristics of the pastor must be that of loving mankind entrusted to him by God, «just as Christ loves them, in Whose service he finds himself».Only by meeting in Christ the Living God, the Pope goes on to say, do we know true life; and he continues by affirming that «there is nothing more beautiful than being reached, surprised by the Gospel, by Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than knowing Him and communicating to others that friendship with Him». And Pope Benedict finishes his homily recalling the unforgettable and programmatic words of his immediate predecessor: «Don’t be afraid, open, open wide the doors to Christ», making them his own and addressing them, in particular, to the young: «Dear young people: don’t be afraid of Christ! He doesn’t take anything away, and gives everything. Whoever gives himself to Him, receives a hundredfold. Yes, open, throw open the doors to Christ, and you will find true life». Words, these, that certainly the hundreds of thousands of young people who are preparing to participate in the World Day of Youth, to be held next August in Cologne, will not forget.The same Christocentric line is emphasized by the new Pope in the homily delivered during his visit, on 25 April, to the Basilica of Saint Paul’s without the Walls. A visit that the Pope himself described as «a pilgrimage, so to say, to the roots of the mission, to that mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter and the apostles and, in a particular way, also to Paul». It was the love of Christ that transformed the existence of the latter and urged him to announce the Gospel to the Gentiles. And it is this same love that the Pope asks also for himself, «so that it does not let me have peace in the face of the urgencies of evangelical announcement in today’s world». And Benedict XVI recalls the motto that Saint Benedict gave to his Rule, exhorting his monks to «place absolutely nothing before the love of Christ».Pope Benedict returns to this thought in his first general audience, on 27 April last, in Saint Peter’s Square. He asks the father of Western monasticism «to help us to maintain steadfast the centrality of Christ in our existence. May he always be in the first place in our thoughts and in all of our activity». Words, these, that are a true compendium of the spiritual and pastoral theology of the new successor of Peter.
Jean-Louis Tauran

Jean-Louis Tauran


by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church

To participate in a conclave as a cardinal elector is, first of all, a profound spiritual experience. Personally I had the awareness that the voter is, in reality, an instrument of the action of God in His Church, a Church that appeared to me more than ever alive and daring.
The choice of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the successor of Pope John Paul II is certainly the expression of a continuity; the new Pontiff has recalled this many times. But all of us, indeed I would say the whole world, have understood that Benedict XVI, humble and smiling, could be the Pope who proclaims the eternal tenderness of God. In the hard, sometimes merciless, world that we have built, the new Pope reminds us, through his mildness, of the power of love capable of opening up new roads to humanity. For the rest, choosing the name Benedict, in memory of Benedict XV, he himself wanted to indicate that he will place his ministry at the service of reconciliation and peace.What I heard from many Romans also struck me: «This Pope who is so profound says things so well, that we understand everything!»Yes, the Church once again has shown that, alive and young, it is capable of surprising and of saying to the world along with Benedict XVI: «Don’t be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and gives everything».There is no better news for the world of today and tomorrow.
Renato Raffaele Martino

Renato Raffaele Martino


by Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Along with Pope Benedict XVI, I concelebrated the mass of the inaugural ceremony in Saint John Lateran, Saturday 7 May. Among the passages of the admirable speech the one that struck me most, and that I think interprets the Department over which I preside, was that concerning the defense of man from all the tyrannies that have root in «attempts at adapting and watering down the Word of God» and in «mistaken interpretations of freedom». Resuming the firmness of John Paul II in this respect, he added with unequivocal clarity: «The freedom to kill is not a true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces man to slavery». And this obviously has to do not only with abortion or euthanasia, but also with war, the death penalty, terrorism, exterminations through famine or because of improvident devastation of the natural ambience.
From the beginning of his apostolic ministry, by the choice of name, in his first speeches and through the first gestures of the pontificate, Benedict XVI has unequivocally manifested his own commitment to the defense of the human person, to the promotion of his inalienable rights and the realization of justice and peace in the world.During the first general audience, Wednesday 27 April, explaining the reasons why he wanted to be called Benedict - «to refer conceptually again» to the venerated predecessor Pope Giacomo della Chiesa who was «a courageous and authentic prophet of peace» - the Pope said clearly: «In his footsteps I wish to place my ministry at the service of reconciliation and harmony between men and peoples, profoundly convinced that the great good of peace is first of all a gift of God, a fragile and precious gift to invoke, protect and construct day by day through the contribution of all».Furthermore, in the homily of the mass for the solemn beginning of the Petrine ministry, in Saint Peter’s Square on 24 April, he denounced in strong words the injustices that threaten peace when «the treasures of the earth are no longer at the service of the construction of the garden of God in which all can live, but are subjugated to the powers of exploitation and destruction».All words, these, confirmed by the first gestures of great humanity, cordiality and openness. The new Pontiff showed himself immediately open to dialogue with the separated brethren, with the Jews, the Muslims, with the believers of other religions and all people of good will.Encouraged, sustained and guided by the Supreme Pastor, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace resumes again with renewed impetus and enthusiasm its initiatives of ecclesial promotion of these ends, multiplying publications, meetings and study seminars, conventions, encounters, qualified participation at international arenas, and especially this year illustrating and circulating the Compendio della Dottrina sociale della Chiesa [The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church], recently published, as a precious instrument for the correct discernment and efficacious presence and action of Catholics in the vast world of social relations.

Javier Lozano Barragán

Javier Lozano Barragán


by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán
President of the Pontifical Council for Health Workers

I met the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger twenty-five years ago. Thus, when I went to give obedience after the Conclave, Pope Benedict XVI said to me before I could speak: «We have known each other since 1980…». At that time, in fact he was in charge of the Synod for the Family and I instead special secretary. And precisely so we could get down to our work he invited me to Munich where he was cardinal archbishop. I remember many things about that first encounter, his extreme amiability, but also his great perspicacity. At that time here in Europe there was a lot of discussion about liberation theology. I well recollect that he asked me «But what is this liberation theology?» It was one of his first questions. In that year of 1980 we worked together a lot, and for at least three or four months in continuous manner. And then during the the Synod our meetings were daily. I remember very well that he said to me: «You do this part of the work and I’ll do the other». He had, that is, complete confidence in my work and didn’t expect me to write the simple outlines that he would then have to review afterwards. That way we saved time: in fact we didn’t have a computer then, we had nothing, everything was written by hand. Also he didn’t speak Italian well at the time and so we spoke German to each other. I hope I am not being presumptuous in saying that thanks to that work side by side in 1980 we became friends. For me it was a very great privilege to work with him on that occasion.
I then returned to Mexico and Cardinal Ratzinger was called to Rome to lead the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that period I made a special study of liberation theology and wrote some books. Every time that I happened to be in Rome, I went to visit him and brought my books. I remember in particular that I brought him the one dedicated to liberation theology, entitled The Church of the people, theologies in conflict, and then the one dealing with the sects, called Why I am a Catholic, a reply to the sects. He was always courteous and amiable, and our talks were always of great intellectual and spiritual stimulus for me.Afterwards John Paul II did me the honor of calling me to the Vatican to preside over the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Work of Health. And he also nominated me a member of the Congregation for the Bishops. And so I had the fortune of being able to meet Cardinal Ratzinger frequently. At times I also had the opportunity of confronting, along with him, problems that were also in my sphere of competence, such as bioethics. Together we discussed the question whether it was lawful for deacons to be ministers of Extreme Unction, a usage widely spread throughout such countries in Europe as Germany and France, or in Latin America such as Brazil. Recently then we were in contact to study the benefit or not of collaborating with the Global Fund to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and then in the setting up of the Good Samaritan Foundation, conceived by John Paul II in our department, for the purpose of helping neediest sick people in the world, especially those stricken by the HIV virus. In this regard I am very happy that Cardinal Angelo Sodano recently communicated to me that Pope Benedict had approved per integrum the presentation for the World Forum on Health to be held in Geneva in mid May at the headquarters of the WHO, where the above mentioned Foundation is also approved.I would like to finish my brief testimony with an amusing anecdote that goes back to the day after the election of Benedict XVI. Along with two other cardinals I was coming out of the refectory of Casa “Santa Martha”, after breakfast, when we met the Pope all dressed in white. I said to him: «But what a coincidence, Holy Father!» and added: «Holy Father were you able to sleep last night?». And he replied: «Yes… I think there will be worse nights…». The second cardinal who was with me said to him: «we have to get used to seeing you dressed in white…», and he replied with a smile. The third cardinal at the end said: «But you too must get used to seeing yourself in white…». And he replied: «Thanks be to God I can’t see myself!»

Georges Cottier

Georges Cottier


by Cardinal Georges Cottier
Pro-theologian of the Pontifical Household

What was striking about Cardinal Ratzinger was his simplicity. I saw him many times walking in the street of Porta Angelico reciting the rosary, wearing his beret. That is the first image of him that comes to mind, so far removed from that of Panzerkardinal which they put around, and which is completely false. Certainly, when he, in conscience, felt he had to take a decision, he did so without hesitation. But that is a positive quality.
For many years I was Secretary of the International Theological Commission, and every year there was a plenary assembly week, during which we did intensive work on different topics suggested by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith or chosen by the Commission itself. During these days I always noted a great freedom of discussion. Cardinal Ratzinger was always with us, he followed all the stages of the work, and one saw that, given his experience of theology and theologians, he was moving, so to speak, in his natural element. On those occasions we were able to experience his human qualities, such as his affability and ability to listen, and also his intellectual ones, such as his skill in summing up. Now that the cardinals have chosen him as the successor of Peter, we have a wise man as Pope, one who knows that theology is part of Christian knowledge, and that there is no theologizing without the life of faith. When in his first general audience he reminded us of the rule that Saint Benedict gave his monks of not putting anything before Christ, it can be said that we can glimpse that same criterion in his person, also in his way of doing theology. And that is a most beautiful thing. It made me very happy when he presented himself to the world as a humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. And when, in his homily at the mass for the beginning of his pontificate, he said that his program will not be the affirmation of his own ideas, but submissiveness to the inspiration of Jesus and His Gospel. Pope Benedict XVI is a vir ecclesiaticus, a man of the Church. He has always borne in mind that a Catholic theologian engages in theology not on his own behalf, but as a son of the Church. This is how he has conducted his own theological activity. In complete humility, without giving in to the temptation of pride that often makes the profession of theologian risky, a dangerous job. I also think that God prepared him for his present task, because Pope Ratzinger was not just the great theologian he is, but the long period lived as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith guaranteed him an experience of the life of the Church of vast extent, in the continuous contact with so many bishops. He is a Pope who has a truly comprehensive vision of the problems. The big problems are now global, they touch all mankind, and from his observatory, by his meditation, by his prayer, Cardinal Ratzinger was prepared to confront all of this.

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