ROME Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, the dean of the College of Cardinals, made a last public appearance at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica before entering the conclave to vote on the successor to John Paul II. In his homily, the Cardinal who served the Church as the guardian of doctrine for 24 years warned the Cardinals that the Catholic Church must not become prey to modern moral relativism or ideological trends. Continuing a theme Ratzinger has been developing in books, articles, and interviews over the last yew years, he warned again of the advance of anti-Catholic secularism both outside and within the Catholic Church.
He said, “A dictatorship of relativism is being formed, one that recognizes nothing as definitive and that has as its measure only the self and its desires.”
The Pro-Eligendo Romano Pontefice (to elect Roman pontiff) Mass is traditionally celebrated just before the Cardinal electors go into seclusion. Cardinal Ratzinger, who has been labeled by the secular media as a ‘rigid archconservative’ for his unyielding defense of Catholic religious assertions, said in his homily that the Church must not be subject to the changing winds of ideological fashion. He said, “Having a clear faith, according to the Creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism.”
In recent decades, Ratzinger said, the Catholic Church has been “thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so on. Every day new sects arise.”
The Cardinal’s homily illustrates the Catholic Church’s most serious problem, that of heresy and apostasy within its own ranks. Since the end of the Second Vatican Council, Cardinals, bishops, and innumerable priests have freely ignored, re-defined, or even denied some of Catholicism’s most essential doctrines, including those regarding the nature of God and Jesus Christ.
Ratzinger’s surprisingly frank exposition of this threat to the Catholic Church is a warning and a reminder to the Cardinal electors that only a fully believing Catholic can be elected as Pope. Many of the Cardinal electors themselves, however, identify themselves with the so-called liberal camp in the Church.
In Catholic teaching, Liberalism was a movement that arose in theological circles in the wake of the French Revolution and its teachings were condemned as heretical by a succession of popes. By the beginning of the 20th century, it had coalesced into the heresy known as Modernism which was suppressed by Pope Pius X. After the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, however, the dormant liberal heresies in the Church reappeared, especially in Europe and North America.
Among the Cardinals are a number of liberals who have at least implicitly repudiated a number of key Catholic doctrines such as the inerrancy of the scriptures, the reservation of the priesthood to men, the necessity of the Church for salvation, or even the bodily resurrection of Christ. Papal documents dating to the 16th century confirm that the election of a heretic would invalidate a papal election. Heresy is defined as the formal denial or doubt by a baptized person of any truth of the Catholic faith.
Speaking, perhaps, to the “liberal” faction, Ratzinger told the Cardinals, “An 'adult' faith does not follow the waves of fashion and the latest novelties; an adult and mature faith is profoundly rooted in friendship with Christ. … We must bring this adult faith to maturity, to this faith we must lead Christ's flock.”
Ratzinger has written that the Catholic Church of the 21st century must likely reconcile itself to being smaller and less powerful in geopolitics while leaving less room for internal dissent.
(This update courtesy of LifeSiteNews.com.)