Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Episcopal Consecration of Archbishop Ratzinger in 1977

This year Pentecost is Sunday, May 23, 2010.

May 28th is also the 33rd anniversary of the Episcopal consecration of the Pope. He was consecrated Archbishop of Munich and Freising on 28th May 1977, the vigil of Pentecost.

Apparently his confessor had to persuade him to accept the offer of the episcopacy from Pope Paul VI.

The video below shows part of the consecration ceremony in 1977.

On 28 May 1977 (on the vigil of Pentecost) he was consecrated Bishop in the Cathedral at Munich. His principal consecrator was Bishop Josef Stangl, the Bishop of Würzburg. The two other co-consecrators were Bishop Rudolf Graber and Bishop Ernst Tewes, C.O.

He has written on several occasions of his episcopal ordination:

Writing of his calling to Munich, he noted:

“I felt that . . . at this period of my life—I was fifty years old—I had found my own theological vision and could now create an oeuvre with which I would contribute something to the whole of theology.” Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger with Peter Seewald, Salt of the Earth: Christianity and the Catholic Church at the End of the Millennium, trans. Adrian Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1997), , 81

On the kneeling and prostration of the bishop he wrote:

"At ordinations prostration comes from the awareness of our absolute incapacity, by our own powers, to take on the priestly mission of Jesus Christ, to speak with His "I". While the ordinands are lying on the ground, the whole congregation sings the Litany of the Saints. I shall never forget lying on the ground at the time of my own priestly and episcopal ordination. When I was ordained bishop, my intense feeling of inadequacy, incapacity, in the face of the greatness of the task was even stronger than at my priestly ordination. The fact that the praying Church was calling upon all the saints, that the prayer of the Church really was enveloping and embracing me, was a wonderful consolation. In my incapacity, which had to be expressed in the bodily posture of prostration, this prayer, this presence of all the saints, of the living and the dead, was a wonderful strength — it was the only thing that could, as it were, lift me up. Only the presence of the saints with me made possible the path that lay before me."
(From The Spirit of the Liturgy )

He took as his episcopal motto Cooperatores Veritatis (Co-workers of the Truth) from 3 John 8 reasoning:

"For one, it seemed to be the connection between my previous task as teacher and my new mission. Despite all the differences in modality, what is involved was and remains the same: to follow truth, to be at its service. And because in today's world the theme of truth has all but disappeared, because truth appears too great for man, and yet everything falls apart if there is no truth." [Milestones, p. 153].

The reference to Truth was not the academic Professor`s search for Truth.

The devotion to Truth is of course integral to the Romantic temperament.

The search for authentic Truth is seen in the Pope`s Third Encyclical,Caritatis in Veritate (29th June 2009) which was inspired partly by the Encyclical of Pope Paul VI Populorum Progressio (26th March 1967)

In Caritatis in Veritate, he wrote:

" 1. Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity. Love — caritas — is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.

Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:32).

To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, “rejoices in the truth” (1 Cor 13:6). All people feel the interior impulse to love authentically: love and truth never abandon them completely, because these are the vocation planted by God in the heart and mind of every human person.

The search for love and truth is purified and liberated by Jesus Christ from the impoverishment that our humanity brings to it, and he reveals to us in all its fullness the initiative of love and the plan for true life that God has prepared for us. In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth (cf. Jn 14:6).

...Hence the need to link charity with truth not only in the sequence, pointed out by Saint Paul, of veritas in caritate (Eph 4:15), but also in the inverse and complementary sequence of caritas in veritate.

Truth needs to be sought, found and expressed within the “economy” of charity, but charity in its turn needs to be understood, confirmed and practised in the light of truth. In this way, not only do we do a service to charity enlightened by truth, but we also help give credibility to truth, demonstrating its persuasive and authenticating power in the practical setting of social living. This is a matter of no small account today, in a social and cultural context which relativizes truth, often paying little heed to it and showing increasing reluctance to acknowledge its existence.

3. Through this close link with truth, charity can be recognized as an authentic expression of humanity and as an element of fundamental importance in human relations, including those of a public nature.

Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived.

Truth is the light that gives meaning and value to charity.

That light is both the light of reason and the light of faith, through which the intellect attains to the natural and supernatural truth of charity: it grasps its meaning as gift, acceptance, and communion.

Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word “love” is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite.

Truth frees charity from the constraints of an emotionalism that deprives it of relational and social content, and of a fideism that deprives it of human and universal breathing-space. In the truth, charity reflects the personal yet public dimension of faith in the God of the Bible, who is both Agápe and Lógos: Charity and Truth, Love and Word."