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In new biography, Benedict XVI laments modern ‘anti-Christian creed’

The biography, written by Peter Seewald and issued by Munich-based publisher Droemer Knaur, is available only in German. An English translation, “Benedict XVI, The Biography: Volume One,” will be published in the U.S. in November.

Pope Benedict XVI uses a cane as he arrives for an audience with priests of the Diocese of Rome in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring; Feb. 14
Pope Benedict XVI uses a cane as he arrives for an audience with priests of the Diocese of Rome in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring; Feb. 14, 2013)

CNA Staff, May 4, 2020 / 11:45 am (CNA).- Modern society is formulating an “anti-Christian creed” and punishing those who resist it with “social excommunication,” Benedict XVI has said in a new biography, published in Germany May 4.

In a wide-ranging interview at the end of the 1,184-page book, written by German author Peter Seewald, the pope emeritus said the greatest threat facing the Church was a “worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies.”

Benedict XVI, who resigned as pope in 2013, made the comment in response to a question about what he had meant at his 2005 inauguration, when he urged Catholics to pray for him “that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

He told Seewald that he was not referring to internal Church matters, such as the “Vatileaks” scandal, which led to the conviction of his personal butler, Paolo Gabriele, for stealing confidential Vatican documents.

In an advanced copy of “Benedikt XVI – Ein Leben” (A Life), seen by CNA, the pope emeritus said: “Of course, issues such as ‘Vatileaks’ are exasperating and, above all, incomprehensible and highly disturbing to people in the world at large.”

“But the real threat to the Church and thus to the ministry of St. Peter consists not in these things, but in the worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies, and to contradict them constitutes exclusion from the basic social consensus.”

He continued: “A hundred years ago, everyone would have thought it absurd to speak of homosexual marriage. Today whoever opposes it is socially excommunicated. The same applies to abortion and the production of human beings in the laboratory.”

“Modern society is in the process of formulating an ‘anti-Christian creed,’ and resisting it is punishable by social excommunication. The fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist is therefore only too natural, and it truly takes the prayers of a whole diocese and the universal Church to resist it.”

The biography, issued by Munich-based publisher Droemer Knaur, is available only in German. An English translation, “Benedict XVI, The Biography: Volume One,” will be published in the U.S. on Nov. 17.

In the interview, the 93-year-old former pope confirmed that he had written a spiritual testament, which could be published after his death, as did Pope St. John Paul II.

Benedict said that he had fast-tracked the cause of John Paul II because of “the obvious desire of the faithful” as well as the example of the Polish pope, with whom he had worked closely for more than two decades in Rome.

He insisted that his resignation had “absolutely nothing” to do with the episode involving Paolo Gabriele, and explained that his 2010 visit to the tomb of Celestine V, the last pope to resign before Benedict XVI, was “rather coincidental.” He also defended the title “emeritus” for a retired pope.

Benedict XVI lamented the reaction to his various public comments since his resignation, citing criticism of his tribute read at the funeral of Cardinal Joachim Meisner in 2017, in which he said that God would prevent the ship of the Church from capsizing. He explained that his words were “taken almost literally from the sermons of St. Gregory the Great.”

Seewald asked the pope emeritus to comment on the “dubia” submitted by four cardinals, including Cardinal Meisner, to Pope Francis in 2016 regarding the interpretation of his apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

Benedict said that he did not want to comment directly, but referred to his last general audience, on Feb. 27, 2013.

Summing up his message that day, he  said: “In the Church, amid all the toils of humanity and the confusing power of the evil spirit, one will always be able to discern the subtle power of God’s goodness.”

“But the darkness of successive historical periods will never allow the unadulterated joy of being a Christian … There are always moments in the Church and in the life of the individual Christian in which one feels profoundly that the Lord loves us, and this love is joy, is ‘happiness’.”

Benedict said that he treasured the memory of his first meeting with the newly elected Pope Francis at Castel Gandolfo and that his personal friendship with his successor has continued to grow.

Author Peter Seewald has conducted four book-length interviews with Benedict XVI. The first, “Salt of the Earth,” was published in 1997, when the future pope was prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was followed by “God and the World” in 2002, and “Light of the World” in 2010.

In 2016, Seewald published “Last Testament,” in which Benedict XVI reflected on his decision to step down as pope.

Publisher Droemer Knaur said that Seewald had spent many hours talking to Benedict for the new book, as well as speaking to his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger and his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein.

In an interview with Die Tagespost April 30, Seewald said that he had shown the Pope Emeritus a few chapters of the book before publication. Benedict XVI, he added, had praised the chapter on Pope Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge.

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  1. Fear of the Wolf that takes shape in deceptive form. “Fear of this spiritual power of the Antichrist” that excommunicates the reactionary Catholic or otherwise. It’s difficult to perceive how the otherwise can resist the glamour of secular humanist evil drawing in some of our brightest minds creators of Facebook, Google, Microsoft. And Amazon? Mogul G Soros behaves as if master puppeteer. Although Benedict amazingly astute is prophetic in discerning the good of Christ in the world and also the Demon behind the scenes. Antichrist may well be an invisible ghost rather than a visible man. Fathers of the Church seemed somewhat divided on which. If we ask which direction our current Romanus Pontifex leans our response likely ambiguous. Ambiguity is as ambiguous does. What a Romanus Pontifex Benedict was what an amazing Emeritus at 93 he is. Most emeriti are put to bed in a nice diocesan retirement home. Not this one. Seems providential.
    Thanks be to God.

    • As long as Benedict lives and remains at the Vatican he reminds us, all that was proclaimed of Christ who calls Man to repentance for the forgiveness of sins and Metanoia is antithetical to a gospel of accommodation.

  2. ‘Ein Leben’ – A life. This speaks of Pope Benedict XVI, whose life is well known, but it also brings to mind the film – ‘A Hidden Life’ , which is equally important to our Lord.

  3. At the end of “God and the World” (2000/Ignatius 2002), Sewald asked about the Church in the future, and Ratzinger/Benedict replied, in part:

    “[…]essentializing [italics]–one of Guardini’s words–is in my opinion what is fundamental. This is not so much a matter of making imaginative constructions of something in advance, which will then turn out to be quite different and not something we could have constructed artificially, as of turning our lives toward what is essential, which can then be embodied and represented anew. In this sense, a kind of simplification is important, so that what is truly lasting and fundamental in our teaching, in our faith, can emerge. So that the basic constant factors, the questions about God, about salvation, about hope, about life, about what is fundamental in ethics, can be made visible in their basic elements and by available for the construction of new systems” (p. 446).

    Can’t help but wonder where we stand (or don’t “stand”)after the past seven years and where we will be in seven more years, after the “imaginative” (or embodying?) Polygon Church has been floated and now hijacked as a halfway-house in both Amazonia and Germania. The syncretic marriage of pre-Christian Pachamama paganism with the post-Christian “tyranny of relativism.”

    The news is that Pope Francis is beginning a series of audiences on the Nicene Creed….

  4. Very succinctly and accurately, the Pope uses the term Anti-Christ in speaking of this ideological empire of rationalism and secularism. Like all empires, any kind of compromise with them is seen by them as just a step on the way to totally crushing the opposition — in this case, authentic Christianity.

  5. B-16 has served the Church with dedication and distinction. May the Pope Emeritus be blessed with good health. God bless.

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