He is a Jesus who struggles against injustice. So he also opposes the "lies" and "damage" of the encyclical by Paul VI prohibiting artificial contraception. So writes the former archbishop of Milan in his latest book. But in the meantime, in another book, two scholars take a different approach to the spirit of that document
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, November 3, 2008 – In his latest book-interview, published first in Germany and now also in Italy, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini calls himself not an anti-pope, as he is often depicted by the media, but "an ante-pope, a precursor and preparer for the Holy Father."
But according to the book, there are many points on which Cardinal Martini seems fairly distant from the reigning pope and his most recent predecessors.
If one compares, for example, "Jesus of Nazareth" by Benedict XVI and the Jesus described by Cardinal Martini in this book, the distance is striking. This is expressed well by the German Jesuit interviewer, Fr. Georg Sporschill, who does not hide which side he takes:
"The pontiff's book is a profession of faith in the good Jesus. Cardinal Martini puts us in front of Jesus from another perspective. Jesus is the friend of the publican and the sinner. He listens to the questions of young people. He stirs things up. He fights with us against injustice."
That's just it. In the words of the cardinal, the Sermon on the Mount is a charter of rights for the oppressed. Justice is "the fundamental attribute of God," and "the criterion of distinction" by which He judges us. Hell "exists, and is already on the earth": in the preaching of Jesus, it was "a warning" not to produce too much hell down here. Purgatory is also "an image" developed by the Church, "one of the human representations that show us how it is possible to be spared from hell." The ultimate hope is "that God will welcome all of us," when justice gives way to mercy.
As always, Martini's style is subtle and opaque, beginning with the title of his latest book: "Nighttime conversations in Jerusalem. On the risk of faith." About priestly celibacy, for example, he says and doesn't say. The same about women priests. And about homosexuality. And contraception. And when he criticizes the Church hierarchy, he doesn't give names, of persons or things.
But this time, there is an exception. In one chapter of the book, the explicit target is Paul VI's encyclical "Humanae Vitae," on marriage and procreation. Martini accuses it of causing "serious damage" by prohibiting artificial contraception: "many people have withdrawn from the Church, and the Church from people."
Martini accuses Paul VI of deliberately concealing the truth, leaving it to theologians and pastors to fix things by adapting precepts to practice:
"I knew Paul VI well. With the encyclical, he wanted to express consideration for human life. He explained his intention to some of his friends by using a comparison: although one must not lie, sometimes it is not possible to do otherwise; it may be necessary to conceal the truth, or it may be unavoidable to tell a lie. It is up to the moralists to explain where sin begins, especially in the cases in which there is a higher duty than the transmission of life."
In effect, the cardinal continues, "after the encyclical Humanae Vitae the Austrian and German bishops, and many other bishops, with their statements of concern followed a path along which we can continue today." It is a stance that expresses "a new culture of tenderness and an approach to sexuality that is more free from prejudice."
But after Paul VI came John Paul II, who "followed the path of rigorous application" of the prohibitions in the encyclical. "He didn't want there to be any doubts on this point. It seems that he even considered a declaration that would enjoy the privilege of papal infallibility."
And after John Paul II came Benedict XVI. Martini does not name him, and does not seem to have much confidence in him, but he hazards this prediction:
"Probably the pope will not revoke the encyclical, but he might write one that would be its continuation. I am firmly convinced that the Church can point out a better way than it did with Humanae Vitae. Being able to admit one's mistakes and the limitations of one's previous viewpoints is a sign of greatness of soul and of confidence. The Church would regain credibility and competence."
That's Martini's view. But those who read only his latest book will learn nothing of the letter, much less the spirit, of that highly controversial encyclical.
Much more instructive, from this point of view, is the address that Pope Joseph Ratzinger dedicated to "Humanae Vitae" on May 10 of this year. Illustrating its contents, he affirmed that "forty years after its publication this teaching not only expresses its unchanged truth but also reveals the farsightedness with which the problem is treated."
Even more interesting, for understanding the immediate and historical context in which "Humanae Vitae" took shape, is the reading of a book published in Italy shortly before the one by Cardinal Martini.
The book is entitled: "Due in una carne. Chiesa e sessualità nella storia [Two in one flesh. Church and sexuality in history]." The two authors were both militant feminists during the 1970's and are both historians, one of them secularist, the other Catholic: Margherita Pelaja and Lucetta Scaraffia.
Scaraffia dedicates a full chapter to "Humanae Vitae," reconstructing its origin, content, and development. Here is the concluding part:
Cardinal Martini and the false theology promoting homosexuality
BY JOHN-HENRY WESTEN
Tue Mar 27, 2012 14:31 EST
ROME, March 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cardinal Carlo Martini, who at the conclave of 2005 was a favorite of ‘social justice’ Catholics to be elected Pope, has penned a book wherein he supports homosexual relationships. The powerful Cardinal who was Archbishop of Milan until his retirement in 2002 at age 75, now lives in Jerusalem and suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
Given Cardinal Martini’s prominence in the Catholic Church (some sources suggest that he had quite a few votes to become Pope in the 2005 conclave) his statements on homosexuality point to a powerful counter-ideology that has made significant inroads into the Church’s teaching on the matter of homosexuality. It is an ideology or theology that was warned about already in 1986 by Martini’s contemporary Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
In his newly released book, Credere e conoscere (Faith and Understanding), Cardinal Martini posits his disagreement with the Catholic teaching against homosexual civil unions. “I disagree with the positions of those in the Church, that take issue with civil unions,” he wrote. “It is not bad, instead of casual sex between men, that two people have a certain stability” and that the “state could recognize them.”
Cardinal Martini says that he can even understand (but not necessarily approve) gay pride parades. He says he agrees with the Catholic Church’s promotion of traditional marriage for the stability of the human species, however he adds, it is “not right to express any discrimination on other types of unions.”
In his 1986 ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons,’ then-Cardinal Ratzinger outlined the “causes of confusion regarding the Church’s teaching” on homosexuality. He described a false “new exegesis of Sacred Scripture which claims variously that Scripture has nothing to say on the subject of homosexuality, or that it somehow tacitly approves of it, or that all of its moral injunctions are so culture-bound that they are no longer applicable to contemporary life.”
Cardinal Ratzinger laid out the false theology and counters it with a true Biblical exegesis which seeks, he says, to “speak the truth in love.”
He warned that “increasing numbers of people today, even within the Church, are bringing enormous pressure to bear on the Church to accept the homosexual condition as though it were not disordered and to condone homosexual activity.”
“The movement within the Church,” he explained, is made up of “those who either ignore the teaching of the Church or seek somehow to undermine it. … One tactic used is to protest that any and all criticism of or reservations about homosexual people, their activity and lifestyle, are simply diverse forms of unjust discrimination.”
Most importantly he said, “No authentic pastoral programme will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral. A truly pastoral approach will appreciate the need for homosexual persons to avoid the near occasions of sin.”
He added: “But we wish to make it clear that departure from the Church’s teaching, or silence about it, in an effort to provide pastoral care is neither caring nor pastoral. Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral. The neglect of the Church’s position prevents homosexual men and women from receiving the care they need and deserve.”
Monday, September 03, 2012
Martini and the Left
Pray for the soul of Cardinal Martini.
There has been a bit of media hype about the late Cardinal.
The problem for Martini, as for the left in general, is that he was well able to present a critique of the Church's problems but not to offer any realistic solutions, unless criticism itself can be deemed a solution. The posthumously published interview is hyperbolic, in the "something must be done" style but there actually no answers or solutions. In areas of the admission of the "some" divorced people to Holy Communion, of the perception of those outside the Church to its teaching on sex and sexuality, practically everyone with a heart would agree that there is problem, Pope Benedict himself has often spoken on such issues. The problem is dealing with these particular and personal problems through the general and universal law of the Church; difficult cases do not make for good law. On evangelisation, on the involvement of the laity in diocesan government or diocesan bishops in the universal Church are issues that Pope Benedict has addressed. Solving the problems are a little more difficult than merely identifying that there is a problem.
There are many contradictions in Martini's thought, on the one hand he speaks about the "loss of future generations of Catholics", he seems to mean cultural Catholics and yet he demands a radical following of the Gospel. He seems unable to understand that the radical break with traditional Catholicism also breaks the connection of cultural Catholics.
There is a Marxist sense of cultural struggle, or even low level war, in Martini's writings, which marks out the left (left in both the theological and political sense). There is need to attack, an attempt to destroy "the institution" of presenting the "institutional" Church in opposition to the Church of the masses. Once those things which are attacked are destroyed, they are replaced by another left leaning institution that is far tyrannical than that which went before. In classic Marxist terms there is a continuous process of purification that goes on until such time as perfection is achieved. In the case of the Church of course, until such time as the institutional Church is destroyed and replaced by a perfect human society, which of course will be something quite contrary to Church of the Gospel or Revelation.