04/20/2005, 00.00
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Indian Bishops: Ratzinger's profound faith in young people's thirst for God

by Nirmala Carvalho
Enthusiastic comments from bishops and theologians about the election of Benedict XVI: great news which will encourage inter-religious dialogue. The widespread desire for spirituality needs clear-cut direction.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – A man in touch with ground realities but who possesses a profound faith rooted in the Gospel. This is how Mgr Oswald Gracias – president of the Indian Episcopal Conference (CBCI) – defined Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI.

"The election of this pope is the most suitable choice for the Catholic world," he said. "Benedict XVI is the answer to a need of modern times, even as a means of continuity following the pontificate of John Paul II. The new pope worked with pope Wojtyla for years, and he played a fundamental role in the preparation of many theological and doctrinal documents." Mgr Gracias is certain that the new pontiff will be of great help to the Catholic church in India. "I met Cardinal Ratzinger several times and in one of our last meetings – around a year ago – he expressed a great interest in our country. His exact words were, 'India's spiritual values are in keeping with Gospel values'." The Indian prelate does not consider Benedict XVI as a conservative: "The truth is that Benedict XVI has a profound faith rooted in the Gospel; at the same time, I consider him a man in close contact with ground realities. The election of this man to the papacy is great news for the Catholic Church in India."

Mgr Thomas Dabre, president of the Doctrinal Commission and bishop of Vasai – a diocese north of Bombay – said: "I count myself lucky as I met Cardinal Ratzinger on a number of occasions. I consider him as a very reflective person, gifted with great spirituality. As president of the Doctrinal Commission of the CBCI, I feel very supported by his election. He is a theology scholar endowed with a strong faith. He will lead the Catholic Church as a gentle and ardent pastor. The love of Benedict XVI for Christ and for his mission is evident in the words he spoke after his election, 'God knows how to work even with insufficient instruments'."

Mgr Dabre also talked about the danger of relativism, denounced by the new pope on several occasions. "Mankind cannot be happy if it follows the dictates of its own will. Relativism is the cause of the spiritual and moral degradation of modern times," he said. For the prelate, "the only thing which will save Christianity is the authentic and official teaching of doctrine. I am sure the pontiff will help us to follow doctrine joyfully." Accusations of narrow mindedness and fundamentalism leveled against the Holy Father do not hold water. "The conviction – emphasized by Benedict XVI – that Jesus Christ is the only saviour of the world does not exclude dialogue in any way."

The Reverend SM Michael SVD is professor in sociology and anthropology at the University of Mumbai. He said of Benedict XVI: "I am thrilled by this election. This German pope will be able to challenge Europe, which is experiencing a faith crisis." For the lecturer, the crisis comes from "the impact of Islam – which has made itself felt throughout the European continent – and from atheistic trends which are infiltrating everywhere."

"Anyhow, there is a longing and searching for God in the psyche of all mankind, especially among youths. Only a man with the intellect and scholarship of Benedict XVI could respond to such a need. Mankind is awakening, recalled by its conscience, and it is searching for answers to many questions. There is a deep desire for faith. Mankind is searching for a path with a clear-cut direction and it cannot but respect the firm positions of this intellectual giant.".

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