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Ratzinger denies Rome wish to crush local churches

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has said that the Roman Curia does not seek to question the authority or "submerge the charisms" of the local churches, but instead works to enrich unity between the local and the universal Church "because Christ is one".

However he said that while Rome should not be involved with issues that could be better treated by the local Church, individual dioceses should not "live in an autonomous manner".

The cardinal was speaking to the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, which publishes a wide-ranging interview in its 8 February issue to publicise his latest book, which focuses on the understanding of communion within the Church.

He said that the task is not simply to cultivate good relations between the Curia and the local churches, but instead one of promoting the unity and multiplicity that is the Church.

The cardinal said that he is pleased when local churches conduct their own investigation into the teaching of allegedly dissident theologians, rather than leaving the job to his Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But he said that "often they tell us that the questions go beyond the limits of the local Church, touching upon the debate within the universal Church, and they look for us to help them."

Cardinal Ratzinger said to understand the workings of the Church properly, it is essential to realise that "the Church is a theological, rather than sociological, fact." It would be a serious error, he said, to transform the idea of communion into a "purely sociological" notion.

Other subjects touched on in the interview include the Pope's health, which he suggested has improved markedly since Christmas. He remarked that while consideration of a limited-term papacy is not relevant to that of Pope John Paul II, he would not rule out term limits in the future.

Cardinal Ratzinger reflects on authority, diversity (Catholic World News 4/2/04)
Top cardinal: Pope's health has improved (Dominion Post 5/2/04)

Cardinal Ratzinger: Vatican II Recovered Public Dimension of Christianity (Zenit 4/2/04)
Famiglia Cristiana (Summary 8/2/04)
Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club

6 Feb 2004