Praise in Germany for Benedict's first encyclical

25th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

25 January 2006, MAINZ, GERMANY - Catholics in Germany, whose applause last year at the election of cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope was sometimes muted by concern that he would be too doctrinaire, cheered the first encyclical by Benedict XVI Wednesday.

25 January 2006

MAINZ, GERMANY - Catholics in Germany, whose applause last year at the election of cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope was sometimes muted by concern that he would be too doctrinaire, cheered the first encyclical by Benedict XVI Wednesday.

The chairman of the German Conference of the 27 Catholic bishops, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, said it was worth a close reading and added that the public should not trust media summaries of it.

He said that just picking out the passages of "Deus Caritas est" that refer to sex was a distortion of Benedict's message.

"It's a profound inspiration for the people of today in theological, spiritual, pastoral and social-welfare terms," he said.

Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Ratzinger's successor as archbishop of Munich, hailed the encyclical as "a call to resist the evils of revenge, hatred, terrorism and violence". Catholic relief groups also hailed the special importance Benedict attached to charity.

"It is a special praise for service for one's fellow man and for all those devoted to this," said Baron Johannes Heeremann, acting president of the Knights of Malta relief services in Germany.

Retired Catholic theology professor Hans Kueng, who met Benedict for a long lunch last year that appeared to resolve some of their old dispute, said the encyclical avoided pessimism about the state of culture, and added: "It's a good signal."

He said he wished Ratzinger would write another encyclical that was loving towards couples using contraception, and he still hoped Benedict would usher in profound change in the church.

"Joseph Ratzinger would be a great pope if he were to draw from these true and important words on love the courageous consequences for church structures and canon law," said Kueng, suggesting in whimsical fashion that the church needed a "department of love."

Such a congregation for love would work alongside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to ensure that every pronouncement by the Curia was not only in line with Catholic teaching but also in line with Christian love, he explained.

A determined critic of the church, Christian Weisner, who runs a group called "We are the Church", said: "The new encyclical cannot undo the fact that the Church was hostile over many centuries to the body.

"But if this encyclical does succeed in opening the way to a more positive attitude to human sexuality, it will be an historic step."

DPA

Subject: German news

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