The Catholic meaning of the church

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI



In an interview in 1985, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – to his interviewer:


“My impression is that the authentically Catholic meaning of the reality ‘church’ is tacitly disappearing, without being expressly rejected. Many no longer believe that what is at issue is a reality willed by the Lord himself. Even with some theologians, the church appears to be a human construction, an instrument created by us and one that we ourselves can freely reorganize according to the requirements of the moment. In other words, in many ways a conception of church is spreading in Catholic thought, and even in Catholic theology, that cannot even be called Protestant in a ‘classic’ sense. … Thus, without a view of the mystery of the church that is also supernatural and not only sociological, Christology itself loses its reference to the divine in favor of a purely human structure, and ultimately it amounts to a purely human project: the gospel becomes the Jesus-project, the social-liberation project, or other merely historical, immanent projects that can still seem religious in appearance, but which are atheistic in substance.”

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