conflicts in the Church

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Cardinal Cottier on Conflicts in the Church

90-Year-Old Prelate Offers Perspective on History, Advice to Youth

By Jose Antonio Varela Vidal

VATICAN CITY, JULY 16, 2012 ( At age 90, Cardinal Georges
Cottier has a rich perspective on the developments of the past and the path
of the future.

In this third part of his dialogue with ZENIT, he speaks about the sins of
today for which future generations will ask forgiveness, and also offers
advice for youth.

The first portions of this interview can be read here and here.

ZENIT: We have spoken of the public forgiveness desired by Blessed John Paul
II. What is humanity doing today for which it will have to ask for
forgiveness tomorrow?

Cardinal Cottier: The whole problem of the trivialization of abortion, and
also diving without respect into some fields involving the human embryo.
These are great sins, for which we run the risk of having to pay. As you
know, now there is the opportunity to see the sex of a baby in the mother’s
womb, and in some countries there are those who prefer boys to girls, and
they now have a serious demographic imbalance. I would also say
permissiveness in the realm of sex, this ends up by being a crime against
the person, in this case women and even children.

ZENIT: And other issues?

Cardinal Cottier: There is another issue, the arms trade. Efforts are being
made but the process as such has not ended. When there are wars in Africa,
they are in fact very harsh and affect many innocents, but all the armaments
are made in our factories of the West, and also in China and Russia. After
all this, there is also the situation of today’s economy, tolerance of some
miseries and so many other things. The future will be severe with us.

ZENIT: And how does the Catholic Church answer this?

Cardinal Cottier: All these are sins against which the Church has always
fought, but she fights with the evangelical means of preaching and with some
initiatives. And I would also say, “good is more effective than
evil,” though appearances seem to say the contrary. Because the good
is not seen; it is done in silence, it is like the image that Jesus uses of
the seed that falls to the ground and matures slowly; but evil makes much
noise and leaves traces of death and also spiritual death in souls. We have
made great progress since the last War, where the experience was so terrible
that we now have a peaceful attitude, open to dialogue, which is the result
of Vatican Council II. This changes things.

ZENIT: The Council also changed the attitude to war, no?

Cardinal Cottier: Before the last two World Wars, theologians had a theology
of just war, which is a heavy issue, including monstrous things and also the
power of the means, such as the atomic bomb, etc. Now we see that war is no
longer a solution. I am referring to the modern war. But, what happened? The
Council opened and immediately with Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in
Terris, and then with Paul VI’s great address at the United Nations during
the Council, the Church began to develop a doctrine of peace and no more
war, which we see in all the [papal] addresses of January 1, [the World Day
of Peace]. There is a whole complex of reflections on peace which is
beautiful, and this is a modern contribution.

ZENIT: Do you think that there are some sectors of the Church whose attitude
is mistaken again, and who will have to ask for forgiveness later?

Cardinal Cottier: Yes, we are about to see it, it might happen. I wouldn’t
say a Church as Christ wants her, but of members or sectors of the Christian
world. There are, certainly, prejudices, for example, indifference to the
poor on the part of rich environments – this isn’t just. The division
of goods, tolerance of some unjust laws, and the use of violence as we have
seen, but which is not the Church. And in recent documents, for example,
there is insistence on democracy. But, what does democracy mean? It’s not
only voting, but the participation of men as persons.

ZENIT: We see disobedience in some sectors, for example, in northern Europe.
Why does all this arise? Is it a manner of thinking that in this way more
people will go to churches?

Cardinal Cottier: No. I think that these movements of contestation in the
Church have always existed, and they became more frequent after 1968 in
Europe and North America. There are groups with claims that are exceedingly
foolish. And some also want women priests. So the Church must do much to
evaluate masculine and feminine gifts, but in each one’s vocation. It’s
interesting to see that these claims are often accompanied by a rejection of
human nature. All these “gender” stories, in which in the end
sexual difference is a cultural not a natural fact. Nature is a path for
one’s vocation, whether man’s or woman’s.

ZENIT: The Church has already spoken about this, no?

Cardinal Cottier: From the tradition that comes from Christ, John Paul II
was clear; he said: [women’s ordination] cannot be done, because the Church
does not feel capable of touching something on which Christ himself gave the
example. Then they answer that Christ adapted himself to his time, but I
think it’s an argument that is not worth much, because the Virgin, who has
always been central, never had priestly functions; it’s another vocation.
It’s interesting that many feminists who want women priests are really
thinking in the language of power, and this is false, which has led the Pope
to repeat many times recently that it is a service, which changes things
very much.

ZENIT: There are other “burning” issues, no?

Cardinal Cottier: Yes, the marriage of priests, which is an issue that stems
from the first demands of the Protestant Reformation, which allowed married
priests. But the Gospel isn’t easy; it is exacting, ad it is exacting
because it leads us to a great end. Evangelical joy is not the consumer
society, it is the joy of God. There is a very profound spiritual
convenience with this intention of celibacy in the Church of Latin rite,
which bears many spiritual fruits that we must not lose.

ZENIT: Because a married priest is not only a husband but also father of a

Cardinal Cottier: The vocation of father of a family is not a small
vocation. Today it uses much of the spirit, and I don’t know if it’s always
compatible. At least the Church believes that when a bishop is consecrated,
he is considered the spouse of his Church. And I would say there is
something analogous in the diocesan clergy. Thus, there is a spiritual
treasure in this that the Church cannot give up. Some bishops bring up the
topic, and it is not a sin to do so. It must be studied, you understand.
These are issues that must be addressed in the New Evangelization.

ZENIT: Finally, what is your message to the younger generations that are
beginning their journey in the Church, for example, priests, nuns, persons
who offer their life as you offered yours?

Cardinal Cottier: I would say what the Holy Father says at present, and it
is a word that is repeated frequently in his addresses: it is
“joy.” I would say the same thing to them. Do this with joy,
enthusiasm and fidelity to the Gospel, because their task of service is also
a testimony. And the testimony is the evangelical life; there is nothing to
invent, the Gospel gives us everything.

[Translation by ZENIT]

— — —

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Part 1:

Part 2:

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