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Card. Ratzinger: The Teachings of the Popes Against Modernism are Obsolete

Presenting to the press the document Instruction on the Theologian's Ecclesial Vocation composed by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Card. Joseph Ratzinger affirms that the teachings of the Popes against Modernism, Liberalism and Evolutionism are obsolete. According to him, they were only valid for the times for which they were written, for pastoral purposes. This is positively a modernist statement.

At right, a picture of L'Osservatore Romano (June 27, 1990, page 6), where Ratzinger's statements are published; below right, photocopies from the Italian original; below left, our translation of the yellow parts.


The text [of the document Instruction on the Theologian's Ecclesial Vocation] also presents the various types of bonds that rise from the different degrees of magisterial teaching. It affirms - perhaps for the first time with this clarity - that there are decisions of the magisterium that cannot be the last word on the matter as such, but are, in a substantial fixation of the problem, above all an expression of pastoral prudence, a kind of provisorial disposition. The nucleus remains valid, but the particulars, which the circumstances of the times influenced, may need further correction.

In this regard, one may think of the declarations of Popes in the last century [19th century] about religious liberty, as well as the anti-Modernist decisions at the beginning of this century, above all, the decisions of the Biblical Commission of the time [on evolutionism]. As a cry of alarm in the face of hasty and superficial adaptations, they will remain fully justified. A personage such as Johann Baptist Metz said, for example, that the Church's anti-Modernist decisions render the great service of preserving her from falling into the liberal-bourgeois world. But in the details of the determinations they contain, they became obsolete after having fulfiled their pastoral mission at their proper time.


(Joseph Ratzinger, "Instruction on the Theologian's Ecclesial Vocation," published with the title "Rinnovato dialogo fra Magistero e Teologia," in L'Osservatore Romano, June 27, 1990, p. 6)


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Posted on November 10, 2007


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