One thing Martini was not doing was offering himself as a candidate in the next conclave. But anyone he backed would stand a good chance. Martini criticizes me, too: for being too kind to him. □
( December 4, 1992) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was taking no chances with his Catechism for the Catholic Church issued last week. Two months before the translations were due, he issued an information pack explaining how it came about and what it is for.
Although the catechism makes claims to universality, the word universal does not appear in its official title. Ratzinger describes it as "an instrument for the transmission of the essential and fundamental contents of the Catholic faith and morals in a complete and systematic manner."
You use an "instrument" if it helps toward the aim, which is the in-depth evangelization of Catholics. While remaining "a point of reference for national and diocesan catechisms," it still needs adaptation to local cultures. Ratzinger insists on the need for this "mediation" by local bishops. It seeks to assist, not replace, the work of catechists on the ground.
At the same time it is an authoritative work and a "magisterial" text, in the sense that "it was suggested by a world synod of bishops, desired by the Holy Father, written by bishops and the fruit of consultation with the episcopate, and approved by the pope in his ordinary magisterium."
Although Ratzinger does not admit it, the desire of the Holy Father both inspired the project and drove it along. Cardinal Bernard Law, who first proposed a universal catechism at the 1985 Extraordinary Synod, was a nonelected papal nominee. Had he been brought along specifically to make this proposal, which had surfaced in an Opus Dei magazine?