Cardinal hits out at 'secular Europe'
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, a close adviser to Pope John Paul II and widely tipped as a possible successor, has made a strong attack on ësecular Europeí, which he sees as increasingly anti-God in attitude.
ìSecularism is no longer neutral,î the Cardinal said in an interview with the influential Italian daily La Repubblica. ìIt is beginning to transform itself into an ideology that imposes itself through politics and does not leave any room for the Catholic and Christian vision.î
Ratzinger, a powerful conservative voice in the Roman Curia, has also talked of European ëdecadenceí, ëintoleranceí towards Christianity and ëostracismí towards God.
The German Cardinal heads the Vaticanís Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which seeks to enforce traditional teaching and to defend ideas under attack because of ìnew and unacceptable doctrinesî. It was formerly known as the Inquisition.
In the recent past Cardinal Ratzinger led the attack on liberation theology, which used the message of the Bible to question church power and support social change.
Among those dissident Catholic theologians who have been disciplined or sanctioned by the Sacred Congregation are Hans Kung from Switzerland, Leonardo Boff from Brazil and Tissa Balasuriya from Sri Lanka.
Recent debate on the role of Christians in Europe has been heightened by the row over Rocco Buttiglione, the Italian politician rejected by the European Parliament as EU Human Rights Commissioner because of his castigation of homosexuality and his ultra-conservative views on the role of women.
The Vatican failed in its recent attempts to get prominent mentions of God and Christianity in the main text of the European Constitution.
Catholic and a number of Protestant and Orthodox churches have regarded a ëChristian basisí for European governance as important. But other Christians have argued that the idea of Christendom undermines authentic witness by accommodating the Gospel message to secular power.