Vatican Secretary of State: Dissident Catholics More Worrying than Atheists

By John-Henry Westen

  VATICAN CITY, December 11, 2006 ( - The new man in the position of Secretary of State in the Vatican, a position second only to that of the Pope himself, has said that dissident Catholics are more worrisome than atheists.  Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s comments were published in the December 7 edition of L’Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

  Italian journalist Gianni Cardinale, asked Bertone about atheists who may support the Pope on certain issues such as his stance on Islam.  “If I can put it in a sound-bite,” Bertone said as translated by Vatican reporter John Allen, “the church doesn’t really worry about atheists, however devout, because they’re out of her spiritual jurisdiction, so to speak. Much more worrisome are those inside the church who work to distort its faith and moral principles, or who oppose the pope and his design for renewal of the church.”

  The new Secretary of State is, with these sentiments, very much in line with Pope Benedict.  The Pope has paid special attention to Catholics who work to distort the faith and moral principles.  Time and time again in meetings with bishops, especially those from the West, the Holy Father has insisted that they pay special attention to Catholic politicians who violate Church teaching on matters of life and family. 

  In April of this year the Pope signalled the loving way of dealing with dissidents in the Church - “drastic severity.” Addressing a crowd of 30,000 the Pope pointed to the Apostle of love, St. John.  “No voice in the New Testament rises with greater force to highlight the reality and the duty of fraternal love between Christians,” he said, “yet the same voice addresses itself with drastic severity to the adversaries who were members of the community but are so no longer.”

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