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In Depth

The Pope

The quotable Pope

June 1, 2006

On Auschwitz:

To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible — and it is particularly difficult and troubling for a Christian, for a pope from Germany.

In a place like this, words fail; in the end, there can be only a dread silence, a silence which itself is a heartfelt cry to God: Why, Lord, did you remain silent? How could you tolerate all this?

During his visit to Auschwitz, Poland on May 28, 2006

On Pope John Paul II:

Today we bury his remains in the earth as a seed of immortality. Our hearts are full of sadness, yet at the same time [full] of joyful hope and profound gratitude.

Homily during Pope John Paul II's funeral, April 8, 2005.

On rock music:

"Rock" . . . is the expression of elemental passions, and at rock festivals it assumes a cultic character, a form of worship, in fact, in opposition to Christian worship. People are, so to speak, released from themselves by the experience of being part of a crowd and by the emotional shock of rhythm, noise, and special lighting effects. However, in the ecstasy of having all their defences torn down, the participants sink, as it were, beneath the elemental force of the universe.

From The Spirit of the Liturgy, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, (translated by John Saward); San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000.

On voting for a candidate who supports a woman's right to choose abortion:

A Catholic would be guilty of formal co-operation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material co-operation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.

National Catholic Reporter, 2004.

On faith:

If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.

From the decree Dominus Iesus, signed by Ratzinger and issued by his office, Aug. 6, 2000.

On Islam:

It is true that the Muslim world is not totally mistaken when it reproaches the West of Christian tradition of moral decadence and the manipulation of human life. ... Islam has also had moments of great splendour and decadence in the course of its history.

From Ratzinger denies Christianity 'superior' to Islam, Zenit.org via Catholic News, March 6, 2002.

On Judaism:

That the Jews are connected with God in a special way and that God does not allow that bond to fail is entirely obvious. We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ, but we know that it has a special mission in history now ... which is significant for the world.

From Ratzinger's book, God and the World, October 2000.

On the ordination of women:

The fact that the church is convinced of not having the right to confer priestly ordination on women is now considered by some as irreconcilable with the European Constitution.

April 11, 2005.

On sex abuse scandals:

In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than one per cent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts.

Dec. 3, 2002.

On celibacy:

Celibacy is not a matter of compulsion. Someone is accepted as a priest only when he does it of his own accord.

From Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the end of the Millennium: An interview with Peter Seewald, by Ratzinger, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997.

On homosexuality:

Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.

From Ratzinger's Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons, 1986.

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