Delightful interview of Pope Benedict XVI by several German media last week. The interview was conducted in German and held at Castelgandolfo, the summer residence outside of Rome. Some excerpts:
On the situation of the Catholic Church in Germany today
"...in the western world today we are experiencing a wave of new and drastic enlightenment or secularization, whatever you like to call it. It's become more difficult to believe because the world in which we find ourselves is completely made up of ourselves and God, so to speak, doesn't appear directly anymore.... Humanity has rebuilt the world by itself and finding God inside this world has become more difficult. This is not specific to Germany: it's something that's valid throughout the world, especially in the West."
Messages to young people
"...I am very happy there are young people who want to be together, who want to be together in faith and who want to do something good. The tendency to do good is very strong in young people, just think of the many kinds of volunteer work they do....Go ahead! The world needs this desire to do good! Then another message might be this: the courage to make definitive decisions! Young people are very generous but when they face the risk of a life-long commitment, be it marriage or a priestly vocation, they are afraid. The world is moving dramatically: nowadays I can continually do whatever I want with my life with all its unpredictable future events. By making a definitive decision am I myself not tying up my personal freedom and depriving myself of freedom of movement? Reawaken the courage to make definitive decisions: they are really the only ones that allow us to grow, to move ahead and to reach something great in life."
"...we have to witness to God in a world that has problems finding Him, as we said, and to make God visible in the human face of Jesus Christ, to offer people access to the source without which our morale becomes sterile and loses its point of reference, to give joy as well because we are not alone in this world. Only in this way joy is born before the greatness of humanity: humanity is not an evolutionary product that turned out badly. We are the image of God."
Marriage and family
"Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option....We've heard so much about what is not allowed that now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer, that man and woman are made for each other, that the scale of sexuality, eros, agape, indicates the level of love and it's in this way that marriage develops...and then the family, that guarantees continuity among generations and through which generations are reconciled to each other and even cultures can meet... it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this."
Christianity in the world
"There's a great danger that these places where Christianity (Middle East) had its origins will be left without Christians. I think we need to help them a lot so that they can stay. .....Europe definitely became the center of Christianity and its missionary movement. Today, other continents and other cultures play with equal importance in the concert of world history. In this way the number of voices in the Church grows, and this is a good thing."
What role does humor play for a pope?
"I'm not a man who constantly thinks up jokes. But I think it's very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I'd also say it's necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don't take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn't think we were so important."
What a great pope he is! Learned, compasionate, a great moral thinker and humanist. I hope he makes it to New York next year, as earlier rumors suggested. More pope pics here. Hat tip to The Cafeteria is Closed.