Cardinal Bertone on the Brazil Trip, and More
Interview With Vatican Secretary of State
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2007 (Zenit) - Benedict XVI's trip to Brazil received wide attention from the press, which oftentimes highlighted controversy. But the Vatican secretary of state says the media failed to cover more positive elements.
In this interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire on Sunday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone fielded questions precisely on the points from the trip that the media deemed controversial.
The secretary of state also commented on U.S. President George Bush's upcoming visit to the Vatican and the forthcoming papal documents on China and the Latin Mass.
Q: [You have] already made it known that [you were] displeased with the way some members of the media treated the [Brazil trip]. And above all that there was talk of a low turnout on the trip.
Cardinal Bertone: They also told me that when John Paul II went to Brazil in 1991. There was no lack of people who counted the number of faithful to be less than the number that welcomed him in 1980 when, for the first time, a Pope visited that marvelous country. So, there is nothing new under the sun.
Q: The trip started with a press conference that provoked some polemics, above all after the publication of a transcript that did not reflect, word for word, what the Pope said.
Cardinal Bertone: There is nothing scandalous in the fact that the Pontiff's press conference was transcribed in a slightly different version from the original. Even the texts of the Wednesday audiences are sometimes published after an accurate revision.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, too, in its definitive edition, the "editio typica" of 1997, differs in many points from the first edition published in 1992. Those who read the recent document on limbo of the International Theological Commission can see that the "editio typica" of an encyclical -- in this instance, Pope John Paul II's "Evangelium Vitae" -- presents a different and more precise formulation on a certain point than the version that was originally published.
Q: What can you say about the excommunication of legislators who have approved abortion?
Cardinal Bertone: It seems clear to me that the Pope recalled that it is the responsibility of individual bishops to decide whether and when to excommunicate, that it is a penalty foreseen in the Code of Canon Law, and in this case it is a matter of "ferendae sententiae" [a non-automatic excommunication].
Q: And in regard to the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero? Why does the published text not mention the fact that the Pope said he has no doubts that Archbishop Romero merits beatification?
Cardinal Bertone: It is evident that the Pope wants to be very respectful of the work of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the prefect of which was also present on the Pope's flight.
Q: After this experience, do you think it is likely that there will be other press conferences with the Pope?
Cardinal Bertone: That is for the Pope to decide. But everyone knows that Cardinal Ratzinger never had any fear of the press and he always kindly offered answers to journalists who stopped him on the street.
Q: The Pope also met with President Lula. In general, how is the relationship between the Church and Brazil?
Cardinal Bertone: The relationship between the Church and the great state of Brazil are substantially positive. Right now, there is a sort of general and basic agreement that is being worked out to give direction to the Church and state, the Church and the political community, which the Council defined as "a healthy cooperation" for the good of each person -- and also to resolve problems that might still exist.
Q: You told Vatican Radio that you hoped that the agreements would be signed within the year. But some statements attributed to the Brazilian ambassador to the Holy See have been interpreted as less optimistic ...
Cardinal Bertone: I spoke with the papal nuncio to Brazil, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, and I am optimistic. Let us hope that it is a well-founded optimism.
Q: The Pope also received the elderly retired archbishop of São Paulo, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, in audience. The theologian Jon Sobrino, in criticizing his notification by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that his writings have been judged positively by Cardinal Arns. Was this spoken about during the audience as well?
Cardinal Bertone: It was a necessary audience, even if brief. I am not aware that Sobrino's case was discussed.
Q: The Pope's address to the Brazilian bishops and some points of the homily for the canonization of Frei Antônio de Sant'Ana Galvão received much attention from the press, which judged them quite harshly.
Cardinal Bertone: The ...
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