ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
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 (Zenit.org).- At age 90, Cardinal Georges
has a rich perspective on the developments of the past and the path of
In this third part of his dialogue with ZENIT, he speaks about the sins
today for which future generations will ask forgiveness, and also
The first portions of this interview can be read here and here.
ZENIT: We have spoken of the public forgiveness desired by Blessed John
II. What is humanity doing today for which it will have to ask for
Cardinal Cottier: The whole problem of the trivialization of abortion,
diving without respect into some fields involving the human embryo.
great sins, for which we run the risk of having to pay. As you know,
is the opportunity to see the sex of a baby in the mother's womb, and
countries there are those who prefer boys to girls, and they now have a
demographic imbalance. I would also say permissiveness in the realm of
this ends up by being a crime against the person, in this case women
ZENIT: And other issues?
Cardinal Cottier: There is another issue, the arms trade. Efforts are
made but the process as such has not ended. When there are wars in
are in fact very harsh and affect many innocents, but all the armaments
made in our factories of the West, and also in China and Russia. After
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
fought, but she fights with the evangelical means of preaching and with
initiatives. And I would also say, “good is more effective than evil,”
appearances seem to say the contrary. Because the good is not seen; it
in silence, it is like the image that Jesus uses of the seed that falls
ground and matures slowly; but evil makes much noise and leaves traces
and also spiritual death in souls. We have made great progress since
War, where the experience was so terrible that we now have a peaceful
open to dialogue, which is the result of Vatican Council II. This
ZENIT: The Council also changed the attitude to war, no?
Cardinal Cottier: Before the last two World Wars, theologians had a
just war, which is a heavy issue, including monstrous things and also
of the means, such as the atomic bomb, etc. Now we see that war is no
solution. I am referring to the modern war. But, what happened? The
opened and immediately with Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in
then with Paul VI's great address at the United Nations during the
Church began to develop a doctrine of peace and no more war, which we
all the [papal] addresses of January 1, [the World Day of Peace]. There
whole complex of reflections on peace which is beautiful, and this is a
ZENIT: Do you think that there are some sectors of the Church whose
mistaken again, and who will have to ask for forgiveness later?
Cardinal Cottier: Yes, we are about to see it, it might happen. I
a Church as Christ wants her, but of members or sectors of the
There are, certainly, prejudices, for example, indifference to the poor
part of rich environments – this isn't just. The division of goods,
of some unjust laws, and the use of violence as we have seen, but which
the Church. And in recent documents, for example, there is insistence
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
Why does all this arise? Is it a manner of thinking that in this way
people will go to churches?
Cardinal Cottier: No. I think that these movements of contestation in
Church have always existed, and they became more frequent after 1968 in
and North America. There are groups with claims that are exceedingly
And some also want women priests. So the Church must do much to
masculine and feminine gifts, but in each one's vocation. It's
see that these claims are often accompanied by a rejection of human
these “gender” stories, in which in the end sexual difference is a
a natural fact. Nature is a path for one's vocation, whether man's or
ZENIT: The Church has already spoken about this, no?
Cardinal Cottier: From the tradition that comes from Christ, John Paul
clear; he said: [women's ordination] cannot be done, because the Church
not feel capable of touching something on which Christ himself gave the
example. Then they answer that Christ adapted himself to his time, but
it's an argument that is not worth much, because the Virgin, who has
been central, never had priestly functions; it's another vocation. It's
interesting that many feminists who want women priests are really
the language of power, and this is false, which has led the Pope to
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
from the first demands of the Protestant Reformation, which allowed
priests. But the Gospel isn't easy; it is exacting, ad it is exacting
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
intention of celibacy in the Church of Latin rite, which bears many
fruits that we must not lose.
ZENIT: Because a married priest is not only a husband but also father
Cardinal Cottier: The vocation of father of a family is not a small
Today it uses much of the spirit, and I don't know if it's always
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
that the Church cannot give up. Some bishops bring up the topic, and it
a sin to do so. It must be studied, you understand. These are issues
be addressed in the New Evangelization.
ZENIT: Finally, what is your message to the younger generations that
beginning their journey in the Church, for example, priests, nuns,
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
same thing to them. Do this with joy, enthusiasm and fidelity to the
because their task of service is also a testimony. And the testimony is
evangelical life; there is nothing to invent, the Gospel gives us
[Translation by ZENIT]