German Catholics no longer have a common point of view on moral and religious issues, the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, has said in a press interview. "Everyone can have his own thoughts about religion and his own subjective feelings", the cardinal said in an interview published in the Berlin weekly paper Welt am Sonntag and quoted by the London Tablet.
    The cardinal, who was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981, when he took up his present post, said that Germany was going through a religious crisis, and faced such issues as abortion with political correctness rather than moral consideration. "This creates the possibility that God will be considered a remote hypothesis in Germany, and that everything concerning religion will be pushed into the realm of the subjective." Germany was facing the same challenge as the rest of the West, the discrepancy between technical know-how on the one hand and the capacity to make moral judgements on the other.
    Cardinal Ratzinger felt that the Church's standing had changed with the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. Although reunion had been positive, he said, it gave agnosticism and atheism more influence than either had had before the end of the Cold War.
    One issue the united Germany had had to face was how to reconcile the liberal East German abortion law with the more conservative and restrictive one in the west. Debate throughout the Nineties led to a High Court decision that women should be able to obtain abortions after visiting state-approved counselling centres. The cardinal thought the process that led to this ruling had been unduly shaped by political correctness. The German bishops have now put forward a plan, but details are to remain secret until the Pope has decided. "The German bishops have appealed to the Pope", Cardinal Ratzinger said. "They want to hear from the Pope himself and from no one else."

9:38am 15/4/99 / The Tablet


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