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Just Married ... by Cardinal Ratzinger

Interview With Marta and Anthony Valle

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2005 (Zenit) - When Marta and Anthony Valle were married last June by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, they did not imagine that their marriage would be blessed by the future Benedict XVI.

In this interview with us, Marta and Anthony speak about their personal experiences with the cardinal, and their admiration for the man who married them.

Both students at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Marta is from Germany and studies bioethics, and Anthony is from New York and studies theology.

Q: How did it come about that you two were married by Cardinal Ratzinger?

Anthony: We were just lucky, better yet, providentially lucky. We asked him after one of his public Masses and he said "Well, let's see what we can do. Give me a few dates and times in writing."

Being good students we had done our homework and handed the cardinal a letter that we prepared the night before with all the necessary information. Within a week Marta received a response: a yes!

We were married by him in St. Peter's Basilica on June 24th, 2004. He is truly a man of the people. Although he was the second most important man in the Church, he took his time out for us on that Thursday morning for one hour and a half so that we could receive the sacrament of marriage. And that is essentially what the priest's charism is -- to give the sacraments to the people, because the sacraments are the means of salvation that Christ gave to us.

Q: What did you feel when his name was announced as the new Pope?

Anthony: We were so thrilled and overjoyed that tears were running down our cheeks.

Marta: We were shouting so, so much!

Anthony: It is amazing that he was elected in only four ballots and within less than 24 hours. That shows that there was a definite unity among the cardinals. They knew he was the right man. We are very happy that we have such a holy and humble man as our new Pope.

As Pope John Paul II did so well, Pope Benedict XVI will continue to lead the Church, preserve her tradition and bring the Church forward into the new millennium with the New Evangelization. Yes, he is old, but God will give him the necessary graces. If you remember, the first thing he said when he came out on the balcony: "The Lord knows how to work and act even with insufficient instruments, and I especially entrust myself to your prayers." He is very humble. I can't emphasize this enough.

However, he is often unfairly stereotyped as being a very strict and stern enforcer. Nothing can be further from the truth. Such stereotypes are absurd and laughable. He is such a mild and unassuming man, perhaps even a little shy.

As we know, his former job as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith required him to preserve the bi-millennial teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, whoever had or has this duty, will get a negative image precisely because so many of the teachings of the Catholic Church do not conform to the ideological mind-set of modern secular humanism and to so many of the other fashionable and false "isms" of our historical epoch.

Q: Some say that he has a very hard face.

Anthony: If you ever have the chance to meet him, as we had on several occasions, you will immediately see how sweet, kind and pastoral he is. In fact he has been the most accessible cardinal in the Church. For example, he has celebrated Mass in a little chapel open to the public every Thursday morning for the past 20 or so years.

Furthermore, he celebrates Mass so beautifully and reverently, truly entering into its redemptive mystery. Moreover, after he says Mass, he takes his vestments off in a very recollected way in the sacristy, while clearly still meditating on the tremendous mystery that just took place.

He then exits the sacristy to greet the crowds of people who have come to meet him. This is where you see his true self, who he really is. He takes his time to greet each individual person, looking into their eyes, shaking their hand, asking their name, why they are here, what diocese they are from, signing his autograph, taking pictures with them, etc. He really gives you all of his attention and talks to you person to person. This is what a priest should be, this is what a Pope should be: a shepherd, a pastor of the people, and this is precisely what Pope Benedict XVI is, and this is what the world needs to know and will know.

Q: What advice did he give you in the homily of your wedding Mass?

Anthony: Marta knows better since the homily was mostly in German.

Marta: We were married on the feast of St. John the Baptist, so only the second reading was specifically for our wedding. We chose the fifth chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Ephesians, which talks about how the husband and wife should be. Cardinal Ratzinger said that we need to model ourselves according to Christ's example of love, which is a love that manifests itself very concretely in acts of service and sacrifice.

Anthony: The then cardinal emphasized how both the husband and the wife should be subordinate to each other. Today, however, everyone over-focuses on the one verse that speaks of how the wife should be subordinate to the husband. But they forget that later on St. Paul emphasizes -- and this was one of the cardinal's main points -- that a husband should love his wife as Christ loves the Church, that is to the point of sacrificing his own life for her. This is what it means for the husband to be the head of the family: to imitate Jesus Christ as head of the Church.

Although he is the Lord, the first one, he manifests his lordship by being the last one, by putting himself in the last place, by becoming the servant of all, by washing the feet of his disciples.


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Pope, Benedict, Marriage, Society, Mass, Vatican, Ratzinger

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