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Visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to Croatia - Set

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Technical details
  • 04.04.2011
  • Ariana Noršić, designer, Samobor
  • Zrinski - Čakovec
  • Multicolor Offset Printing
  • 4 Colours
  • 48,28 x 29,82 mm
  • 0.42
About Visit of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to Croatia

What does Pope Benedict XVI teach us? By putting the above title I have imposed on myself a task hardly possible to accomplish since Pope Benedict XVI is still very agile, exceptionally creative and intellectually active. Now, as I am writing this text, in Vatican the second volume of his book Jesus from Nazareth is being issued; however, in front of us is his huge theological opus, encyclicals, motu proprio, apostolic letters, Wednesday catechesis, sermons and speeches. Therefore, the intention of this writing is primarily to recall and forebode the directions and basic determinants of the teachings and instructions of Pope Benedict XVI and not to provide any kind of final qualifications. One of the characteristics of Pope Benedict XVI regularly mentioned in public media, but also in expert circles, is surely connected with the statement that he is a great theologian and one of the greatest intellectuals. The Pope who is to pay us a visit on 4th and 5th June 2011 enjoys this reputation not only from the moment when he became the 265th follower of St. Peter; he gained this reputation, immediately after finishing his theological studies at the Munich University, where he also continued his career. He became much in demand, and already at that time had a reputation of a „progressive" theologian. His scientific ascent after Munich took place at best German universities and theology faculties in Bonn, Münster, Tübingen, and in the end Regensburg. As theologian he is considered a follower of St. Augustin, and his potential was fully noticed in his engagement at the Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965), at which he participated as a consultant of Cardinal Joseph Frings. In co-operation with Hans Urs von Balthasar and Henry de Lubac - leading theologians of the 20th century, and other important theologians of the time, he started in 1972 the periodical Communio. Already from the Second Vatican Council he reviews thoroughly its all four sessions, at the same time writes papers in theology, gives lectures explaining the spirit and the text of the Second Vatican Council and publishes several books. Very prominent among them and still to date considered one of his best and most in demand books is the Introduction to Christianity. Ratzinger himself considers Eshatology - written as the 9th volume of catholic dogmatics, edited by J. Auer, his fundamental and best work. Though 20 of his works have been translated to Croatian, this last one has not been translated yet. However, he distances himself from "progressivism" already in the time of student unrests in 1968 when he fences himself off from what he considers to be too leftist student demands, and since then is considered moderate and later more conservative theologian but always one of the best and a well-argumented and fruitful writer and lecturer. Pope Paul VI appointed him in 1977 the Archbishop of Munich, and later that same year also Cardinal. Already a year later he participates in Conclaves when first John Paul I and after 33 days of his pontifical service also a new Pope John Paul II is elected. It was just John Paul II who appointed him Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at which position he succeeded the Croatian Cardinal Franjo Šeper. Some time later he also became a counsellor for theology matters to John Paul II. They became close friends. He was elected Master of the Catholic Church on 19 April 2005. At the beginning of his mandate the expectations were different. The media generally gave him an unfriendly welcome. However, it seems that by the time he still gained sympathies of the believers, what was first noticed in their always greater presence at audiences on St. Peter’s Square in Rome. As Pope, he published four encyclicals: Deus caritas est – God is Love, Sacramentum caritatis – The Sacrament of Charity, Spe salvi – Saved in Hope and Caritas in veritate – Love in Truth, and several occasional writings, i.e. apostolic letters, and gave also hundreds of speeches among which probably the best remembered is his speech in British Parliament as well as the speech not given but still published at La Sapienza in Rome. Like his predecessor he also publishes a book - Jesus from Nazareth during his pontificate, and as opposed to all popes to date, he also publishes a book of conversations – The Light of the World. Benedict XVI speaks ten languages, is an excellent piano player, adores Mozart, loves animals, reads a lot and according to publishers’ data is also the most read author in the world. Particularly intellectuals and infidels enjoy reading his texts since they want to see themselves in the light of his theology and his deliberations. What does then Benedict XVI teach us? First of all here is his intention to orientate the Church more firmly and thoroughly toward the truths of Christian faith. In this regard, and as opposed to his predecessor who was more focused on morality and social aspect of the Catholic faith, Benedict XVI wants to point out the fundamental theological reality which antecedes morality - like freedom, love, God and Jesus Christ. His encyclicals very clearly prove it. Further, almost as a lonely fighter, despite neoliberal social concept and philosophy of the time he stands up against the "dictatorship of relativism“ and - when the mission of the Church is concerned, he defends it from the "dictatorship of laicism" and advocates independence of Church and religion from the profane world’s reaching for it. Besides, Benedict XVI wishes to widen the horizons of reason (especially important is his speech in Regensburg - though somewhat disputed, and even more important his speech in British Parliament) giving it a particular legitimacy and a prominent position in search and cognition of the truth of faith; and besides with reason he also wants to connect the faith with the heart in order to make space for the announcement of truth. Pope points out that Church documents and its doctrine must be seen in the light of Apostolic Constitution, since they present live legacy. Actually Benedict XVI has very quickly shown that the Second Vatican Council was in no respect a discontinuity. By some of his decisions, especially the one from 2009 by which he received into the Catholic Church community the four so called Lefebvre bishops, by allowing the celebration of Mass in Latin according to the Ceremonial of John XXIII, i.e. Pius V and then also by the choice of his papal cane and to wear camaura, by reintroducing the hat etc. he showed that he wanted to give the hundred year old tradition the right to go public, which was sometimes after the Second Vatican Council denied to it. In this way – which sometimes can even appear bizarre – this Pope wants to impose a discussion on continuity. Besides, though in opposition to expectancy, he strongly points out the ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue. In this respect especially important are his visit to Turkey and also his continual efforts to develop closer relationship with Orthodox Church. Above all expectations and evaluations his visit to England was an incredible success. However, during his now already six year pontificate, Benedict XVI also showed that he is willing to learn and correct his standpoints (e.g. his speech in Regensburg, followed immediately by his prayer together with Grand Mufti in the mosque in Istanbul). Also, having to carry the inherited heavy burden of priest’s paedophilia, he showed zero tolerance for such priests and expressed his human and sincere christianly attested sympathy with the victims. In this regard, as also in his major theological work, and especially in his encyclicals, Benedict XVI has marked a clear development direction for the Church in the 21st century. It is going to be very interesting and, even more, very important and stimulating to hear what the Pope has to tell us during his visit in June. Anton Šuljić

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