In the following text, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger is quite clear regarding his adhesion to the false theory of the 'anonymous Christians' proposed by Karl Rahner. Ratzinger's notion that the Catholic Church - which he calls 'a system' - is not necessary for salvation also becomes clear.
Rahner thesis of "anonymous Christianity" in essence affirms that every man is already a "Christian," even if he does not know it, by the simple fact of loving something other than himself: his neighbor, humanity, some value, etc. Such love would already be a true love of God and would merit him eternal salvation. This concept opened the door for the most diverse ecumenical encounters, not excluding with the pagan and demonic. Obviously, this conception is opposed to Catholic doctrine.
It seems useful to present this text to expose what is behind the "conservative" ecumenical and inter-religious aims of Benedict XVI.
Top right is a facsimile of the book cover; at right , a photocopy of the Italian text. Below, we present our translation.
"The New Covenant gives two answers to the question: What does man need to save himself? The two answers form just one in an apparent contradiction. They simultaneously affirm that only love is necessary and that only faith is necessary. Both, nevertheless, express the same disposition of overcoming oneself, by which man begins to abandon his own egoism and move toward his neighbor. This is why his brother, his fellow man, is the true touchstone of this disposition. In the 'you' of the brother, the 'You' of God remains unknown to the man.
"If, therefore, we consider our neighbor primarily as an 'unknown believer,' we should consider that he can appear under different 'clothing'....
"Men never save themselves through systems or by their obedience to systems, even if these systems contain the noblest things that exist, for example, the great religions of the world. The system is always an appeal turned toward the individual, and for this reason often takes the shape of an appeal 'against' [one's enemy]. At any rate, God does not invite us to be 'against,' but always to be 'for' that which the Bible calls 'agape' [spiritual love].
"In this respect, we should attentivelly examine the saying - correct in itself - that each one should live according to his own conscience. The conscience does not say different things to each one; rather it says the same to all: love without self-sufficiency. This is equivalent to those basic Christian dispositions that the New Covenant calls 'pistis' [faith] and 'agape [love].' It is the presence of these dispositions that distinguishes the 'anonymous Christians' (Rahner) from the pagans, while the absence of these dispositions characterizes hidden pagans from many Christians. One who has these dispositions has the 'essence of Christianity' and saves himself."
(Joseph Ratzinger, 'Necessita della missione della Chiesa nel mondo,' in La fine della Chiesa come Societa Perfetta, Verona: Mondatori 1968, pp. 72-73).