Previous reports of Benedict’s “attacks” on gay marriage may conceivably have been exaggerated, misrepresentation, or misinterpretation of his dense theological language. There can be no mistaking this one. My response is based on a verbatim English translation by the Catholic news agency Zenit of the transcript carried on the Vatican website, of remarks made to the new German envoy (not to fellow theologians).
The point of departure was a reflection on the Nazi Holocaust. The English speaking Catholic world right now is focused on the imminent beatification of Cardinal Newman, but the Germans are more interested in their own:
Many Christians in Germany are looking forward with great attention to the imminent celebrations of the beatifications of several martyr priests of the time of the Nazi regime. This Sunday, Sept. 19, Gerhard Hirschfelder will be beatified in Munster. During the coming year ceremonies will follow for Georg Hafner in Wurzburg, in addition to those for Johannes Prassek, Hermann Lange and Eduard Muller in Lubeck. Commemorated also with the chaplains of Lubeck will be Evangelical pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink. The attested friendship of the four ecclesiastics is an impressive testimony of the ecumenism of prayer and suffering, flowering in several places during the dark period of the Nazi terror. We can see these testimonies as luminous indications for a common ecumenical path.
Contemplating the figures of these martyrs, it seems ever clearer and exemplary how certain men are willing, given their Christian conviction, to give their own life for the faith, for the right to exercise freely their own creed and liberty of speech, for peace and human dignity. Today, fortunately, we live in a free and democratic society.
Democratic, that is, except inside the Church itself. Read the rest of this entry »