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Pope, Ratzinger shake hands on War against Relativism

Pope John Paul II has urged Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to be more proactive in fostering a courageous proclamation of truth in a world "marked by both a widespread relativism and the tendency to a facile pragmaticism".

The Holy Father received Cardinal Ratzinger on Friday, along with participants in the biennial plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He said it is the Congregation's "delicate duty to promote and defend the truth of the Catholic faith in service to the Magisterium of the Successor of Peter".

The Pope spoke of a cultural context which demands a "renewed evangelising impetus". He promised that relativism would be replaced by freedom.

He said: "Full adherence to the Catholic truth does not diminish, but rather exalts human freedom and draws it towards its fulfillment, in a love that is free and filled with concern for the good of all men."

The Holy Father said the faithful should pay more attention to documents of the Magisterium. He regretted that Catholics are often "disorientated more than informed" by the media's kneejerk reactions and unhelpful interpretations.

He said: "It is a question in fact of an authoritative word that shines light on a truth of faith or on several aspects of Catholic doctrine that are contested or distorted by particular currents of thought or action."

The Pope asked Cardinal Ratzinger to plan "opportune methods of transmission and diffusion of the document itself which allows for full awareness, above all, by the pastors of the Church."

In addition, he urged the Congregation to focus on the teaching of natural law, which underlies traditional moral theology. He said this should be accomplished in a manner that seeks "convergence with representatives of different denominations, religions and cultures".

The Holy Father's third major point related to the "fair" judgment of priests accused of sex abuse. He said the "predominant" need in such adjudications is to protect the faithful.

He said: "It is necessary to consider thoroughly the just principle of proportionality between guilt and punishment, as well as the predominant need to protect the people of God."

He also called for seminaries and church authorities to do a better job of training priests to be celibate.

"I invite your Congregation to ... assure that priests live in conformity to their call and to their commitment to perfect and perpetual chastity for the Kingdom of God."

Faithful asked to welcome, live teachings of Magisterium (Vatican Information Service 6/2/04)

Pope Calls for Fair Treatment of Priests (Associated Press/Herald-Sun 6/2/04)
Pope Says "Balanced" Formation Will Help Avoid Future Scandals (Zenit 6/2/04)
John Paul II Laments Media Distortion of Magisterial Documents (Zenit 6/2/04)
Pope asks officials to ensure priests understand chaste lifestyle (Catholic News Service 6/2/04)
Pope instructs CDF on doctrinal, sex-abuse roles (Catholic World News 6/2/04)
Pope Says "Balanced" Formation Will Help Avoid Future Scandals (Zenit 6/2/04)
Pope Calls for Fair Treatment of Priests (Associated Press/Yahoo 6/2/04)
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

9 Feb 2004