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Tuesday, November 8, 2005


VATICAN CITY, NOV 8, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls released the following declaration:

  "In light of certain items of news that have appeared in the German press, we are in a position to be able to give the following information: In the discussion concerning the confessional identity of the exegete Klaus Berger of Heidelberg, who claims to be a Catholic and - according to what has now been made public - in 1968, participating in the Protestant Supper, became a 'member of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church,' the assertion has been made that 'Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope,' had precise knowledge of 'the matter in its formal aspects' and 'raised no objections.'

  "This assertion is false. Until the current discussion arose, no information beyond what was commonly known reached the cardinal, now Pope; there was no knowledge of a dual confessional identity. Thus, the cardinal had no reason to take up a position on the question of Mr. Berger's confessional identity and, indeed, he never pronounced himself on the subject.

  "Obviously, the norms of Catholic canon law, which exclude dual membership of the Catholic Church and of a Protestant 'Landeskirche,' remain in full force without exception, and are therefore also valid in this case. The Church cannot obtain any dispensation from this rule, not even in the Sacrament of Penance."

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