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Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga gave an interview to the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which was published yesterday.
Cardinal Rodríguez, before the presidential election in Honduras, the Caritas representatives from the Catholic Church have complained that the lives of 70 percent of the poor have not improved in 32 years of democracy, but deteriorated. Do you share this view?
The population has grown rapidly, the level of social programs has not. There are improvements in health care, which is why the infant mortality rate has declined. However, in the education and training system, it still looks bad. Without improvements in education, there is no way out of poverty. The biggest problem remains inequality.
What went wrong after the end of military rule in 1980?
A class of politicians returned, which had previously rotated in power. The calculus remained the same: A
politician invests in the election campaign, collects the dividend during the time in government and is so enriched that he or she will be taken care of financially for the rest of their days. The idea that politics should be serving the common good has not yet got around.
Honduras is not only one of the poorest countries in Latin America, meanwhile, it is also considered the most dangerous. How did this come about?
The root of the problem lies in the tolerance of the "narconegocio", the business with drugs. Between 2007 and 2009 (note, under the presidency of Manuel Zelaya,) fake flying permits were issued. Moreover, in the Mosquitia region, there was no radar. Every night undetected aircraft landed from a country to the South (note, he means Venezuela) with drugs on board. Honduras became a battlefield of the cartels of the North and the South. The number of murders has increased by leaps and bounds, the security forces have been corrupted, and youth gangs are massacring each other and obtain for this from the poor, a so-called war tax.
What needs to change under the new president, Juan Orlando Hernández?
They promised the people that the security forces would be reformed and the violence decreased. The corruption of the judiciary must stop, because otherwise there is no end to impunity. One can only hope that the new President delivers on his promises and continues to operate programmes that alleviate
poverty, improve education and create jobs.
In his letter “Evangelii gaudium “Pope Francis gives the impression that he is disappointed in democracy in Latin America and many other countries of the southern hemisphere. Are you obliged to him? The Pope speaks about what many think. So far, democracy means to go and vote and then watch as everything remains as it was. One of the causes of this development is that business owns politics and it has been put at the service of certain individuals or a few smaller groups. The common good
is forgotten about it.
Have the political and economic elites failed who from Mexico to Argentina have over many years been educated in Catholic universities?
I do not think it is a failure of education at Catholic universities. The problem is rather that many earn their degrees at colleges that are committed to neo-liberalism and a barbaric capitalism. There, behind the mask of pragmatism, the ground has been laid there for corruption, tax fraud and mismanagement.
In Latin America, both absolutely and relatively more people belong to the Catholic Church than in any other region of the world. Is the Church perhaps more a part of the problem of Latin America than part of the solution?
If the church does not continuously take action for the values of the Gospel and defend the social doctrine, with its principles of personality, solidarity and subsidiarity, the so-called democracy would have collapsed long ago. Since full meetings of the Latin American Bishops in Medellin in 1968, the constructive criticism of the General assemblies of Puebla, Santo Domingo and Aparecida runs like a red thread through to the present.
In the context of Latin America, what does the statement of Pope Francis that he wanted a “poor church in the service of the poor” mean?
The Catholic Church in Latin America is poor and is supported by the poor. You must serve them even more. We do not need "clericalised" laity in the sacristy, but as Catholics at the centre of politics, economics and culture. Then the "preferential option for the poor” must cause change to the world economic order. The highly acclaimed globalization has only been a globalization of the markets. Behind it lies a tendency towards monopolies and to increasingly powerful companies that operate worldwide.
What does “poor church” mean in the context of Europe, especially in Germany?
It all depends on how you define wealth. The history of Europe has brought it about that there are many ecclesiastical possessions, and even church tax. I am convinced that the Catholic Church in Germany is not only one of the richest in the world but also the most generous. Many churches help the poorest of the poor, but none can compete with the German. For more than 50 years, the Episcopal Relief and Works Agency,
Adveniat has been the biggest donor to the Latin American continent in all areas of pastoral care. Misereor, Missio, ACN and Renovabis speak for themselves, it would be a shame if the achievements of so many years would be overshadowed by events in a single diocese in Germany. I believe that the Catholic Church in Germany is at the service of the poor.
Pope Francis has entrusted you with the task of coordinating the work of the commission of eight cardinals who advise him in the reform of the Curia and the management of the universal Church. Which signal is connected to the choice of your person?
Another expression of the option for the poor. My Church is one of the smallest and poorest in Latin America.
In October the Commission advised on the Role of the Bishops' Synod, soon after a questionnaire in preparation for the Family Synod next year became public. Why all at once is there interest in what Catholics worldwide think about contraception, divorce and gay marriage?
In 1980, a synod was held on the theme of family, from which the letter “Familiaris Consortio " emerged. 34 years later, the reality has completely changed. Furthermore, the Church wants to be clear. Obviously the Christian vision of the family is no longer relevant. In place of what was family before, today you will find many life partnerships. Suffer especially the children. It hurts me to see that they are flying back and forth almost like ping-pong balls, a week with one parent, the next week with the other. Many wish certainly do not wish to have children anymore, to the point that other family models should be “patented”.
Will the perception of reality change the Church's teaching?
Some things in the Church cannot be changed, because they go directly back to the will of its Divine Founder. Other things are the work of man and can, indeed must, change. The Pope speaks in plain words about mercy. This is the new perspective on the concerns and needs of humanity.
The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Müller, believes that major changes to the teaching and practice of the Church is ruled out, even in the field of admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments. Is there a risk of conflict between the CDF and the Pope and his confidants?
The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a very competent man with very respectable views. So I do not think there is a conflict. The Synods of Bishops, in which the collegiality of the bishops expressed, is going to debate issues like this and to make clarifications. Pope Francis is orientated towards the founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius. He asks for advice, he seeks dialogue, he prays and he is trying to discern the spirits.
With the words, "wholesome decentralization”, Pope Francis has made the demand his own in “Evangelii gaudium”, which has long come from Cardinals, such as Walter Kasper. What will such ad decentralisation look like?
In recent years, centralization has led to injuries and suffering. As long as the wounds have not healed, the Church is not at peace with itself. What the Pope thinks about it, he has laid out in “Evangelii gaudium “. The task of the Commission of Cardinals is to make these ideas specific in conversation with the Pope. Francis wants to strengthen collegiality.
The Pope presents the Episcopal Conferences as "subjects with specific areas of expertise ... including some authentic teaching authority."
What is new?
The Church has always known the teaching office of the bishop. The Bishops' Conferences are one of the best fruits of the Second Vatican Council. A teaching office also derives from them. However, it is not only about what to teach but also about taking decisions. It seems to me that it is a matter for the Pope to decide what things can be decided at the level of Episcopal Conferences, rather than being constantly submitted to the Curia.
In “Evangelii gaudium” it says that the Catholic Church could learn from the churches of Orthodoxy in order to fill the terms “synodality” and “collegiality” with life. Can the Catholic Church learn from the churches that emerged from the Reformation?
The Catholic Church has no monopoly on the Holy Spirit. This “blows where it wills." From this spirit of humility and openness, the Pope promotes the idea that the Church does not cease to build bridges of unity. Seen in this way, we can learn from what the Spirit has wrought in the churches of Orthodoxy and the Reformation, above all, from their “synodality”.
What are the primary objectives in the reform of the Vatican Curia?
There are several matters: On the one hand there is anything that relates to administration and finance, ie with regard to the Vatican bank, IOR, the Administration of the Goods of Church, APSA, the administration of the Papal States and the Governorate. Somewhat different are Curial agencies, such as the Secretariat of State, the Departments of the Pontifical Councils. Third, the relations with the States and the Nunciatures. At the moment, we are collecting proposals from all areas of the church. We are on a good path.
In “Evangelii gaudium”, Pope Francis speaks of a “pastoral realignment of the Papacy." As Pope John Paul II said, "One has to find a way of exercising the primacy which, while in no way renouncing what is essential to its mission, is nonetheless open to a new situation." What is meant?
Pope Francis has struck a new tone on the day of his election with that "Good evening” and later with the repeated requests,"Pray for me." It is a simple and warm-hearted style which shows what it means to be a shepherd who smells like his sheep. In the dialogue and in the distinction will turn out, as the concern of Pope John Paul II can be implemented to develop new forms of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. In the Commission of Cardinals, we will talk about these issues, as the outlines of a reform of the Curia emerge.