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Friday, May 20, 2005

Bad Reporting Explained

Most everyone's probably heard about this:
 In 1997 Ratzinger called Buddhism an "autoerotic spirituality" that offers "transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations." Hinduism, he said, offers "false hope," in that it guarantees "purification" based on a "morally cruel" concept of reincarnation resembling "a continuous circle of hell." At the time, Cardinal Ratzinger predicted that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the Catholic church's main enemy.
Apparently that was from a rabbi from San Francisco, editor of Tikkun, a Jewish magazine. Supposedly this same rabbi is/was one of Hillary Clinton's advisers. My sincere gratitude to Joseph Marshall, writing on his blog to clarify what turns out to be gross misrepresentation in the quote above. Read his emergency post that examines the actual interview with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. What he actually said was:
 Do you fear that Catholics might lose their souls while dialoging with other religions, like Buddhism? Dialogue between religions is necessary in a world becoming more unified. But the danger is that of a superficial dialogue. This is because relativism, which today has taken hold in the world, leads to a moral and intellectual anarchism where people do not accept a single truth anymore. To assert truth is now regarded as a mark of intolerance. However a true dialogue does not exist in a vacuum. It has as its goal a common search for the truth. A Christian cannot give up his knowledge of revealed truth, that Jesus Christ is the only son of God. If they are attracted to Buddhism, this is because it offers a possibility of happiness by touching the infinite, without having concrete religious obligations. It is, to some extent, a spiritual self-absorption. Somebody predicted in 1950, that the challenge to the Church in the 20th century would not be Marxism, but Buddhism. What would you say to a Catholic tempted to believe in reincarnation? This has a particular meaning in the Hindu religion, it means a path leading to purification. Out of that context, reincarnation would be morally cruel, because endless lives would be an endless hell.
Clears things up, doesn't it? There are, of course, those who are nonetheless disappointed by the Holy Father's obvious preference for the Catholic faith. One must understand that man is simply being honest -- he is Catholic, after all. Besides, how can he be a leader of anything if he does not hold some beliefs above others? If, as the silly claim goes, every faith is true, then nothing is true, or truth loses its meaning. It is acceptable to say that every system of faith contains some truth, and that's what both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul the Great have said in the past. It is a wholly Catholic world view to say that shadows of God's truth can be observed in everything, e.g., the natural universe. On the other hand, we firmly believe that Christ is the Truth. To say otherwise is to relinquish any privilege to speak for the Catholic faith. Furthermore, to say otherwise would probably prompt a Buddhist or a Hindu to ask you: are you sure you're Catholic?
Thanks to The Anchoress and Amy Wellborn, who led me to Joseph's blog.

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