In a new interview with Fr. Jacques Servais, Pope Emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI proclaiming his faith in God said, “Faith is a deeply personal communication with God, which touches my very core and places me in direct contact with the living God so that I can talk to Him, love Him and enter into communion with Him.”
The interview granted to Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, had the former Pope reflect on issues concerning faith of the Christian community.
Retired Pope Benedict commended Pope Francis’ willingness to demonstrate God’s mercy and compassion saying, “Mercy is what moves us towards God, while justice makes us tremble in his sight.” Pope Francis, he said, “is in complete agreement with this line. His pastoral practice is expressed precisely in the fact that he speaks continuously of God’s mercy.”
The attention Pope Francis and many Christians are giving to the theme of divine mercy is a “sign of the times” that shows how, deep down, people still experience a need for God.”
In many ways, Pope Benedict noted, the focus on divine mercy is a modern way of speaking about “justification by faith,” knowing how important God’s mercy is.
Speaking to Fr. Jacques Servais, the Pope Emeritus continued, “For people today, unlike at the time of (Martin) Luther and from the classical perspective of the Christian faith, things have been turned upside down in a certain sense: Man no longer thinks he needs to be justified in God’s sight, but rather he is of the opinion that it is God who must justify himself because of all the horrendous things present in the world and in the face of human misery.”
The extreme synthesis of such an impression, he said, could be formulated as: “Christ did not suffer for the sins of men, but in order to cancel the faults of God.”
Why should a Christian be bound to the necessity of the Christian Faith and its morality?” he asked. “But if Faith and Salvation are not any more interdependent, even Faith becomes less motivating.”
Another profound consolation that Christians have is the “sensation that God cannot simply allow the perdition of the majority of humanity,” he said.
Yet, he continued, there still exists a general perception that “we need grace and pardon. For me it is one of the ‘signs of the times’ that the idea of God’s mercy is becoming increasingly central and dominant” in Christian thought.
Reiterating the words of his predecessor St Pope John Paul said, ” mercy is the only true and ultimately effective reaction against the power of evil. Only where there is mercy does cruelty end, only there do evil and violence stop.”
Like Pope Francis, Pope Benedict ushers us into the life of communion with God and a return to the sacrament of reconciliation.
That is where, he said, “we let ourselves be molded and transformed by Christ and continually pass from the side of one who destroys to that of the one who saves.”