Reporting on the Pontificate of Benedict XVI

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Yesterday, I offered that we need some good slogans for Pope Benedict at WYD and other big crowd events. HMSBlog has been hard at work:
B16--He's really keen.
Or if he doesn't travel much: B16--He's rarely seen.
A slogan for our new pope? How about
Benny and the Prêtres (French for priests and pronounced prets--more or less)

Roustabout in the comment section suggested
you're so mean

I guess he doesn't think so highly of the Holy Father.

Poll: U.S. Catholics likely to follow 'conscience'

Poll: U.S. Catholics likely to follow 'conscience'
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 Posted: 5:27 AM EDT (0927 GMT)
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Nearly three-quarters of American Catholics say they are more likely to follow their own conscience on "difficult moral questions," rather than the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll.

Pray Pope Benedict can help inform some consciences.

Pope May Color Debate in U.S. Over 'Life'

Pope May Color Debate in U.S. Over 'Life' Issues Like Abortion

WASHINGTON, April 20 - The election of an unstintingly conservative pope could inject a powerful new force into the intense conflicts in American politics over abortion and other social issues, which put many Catholic elected officials at odds with their church.
Pope Benedict XVI ascends to power at a tumultuous time for his church in American politics: Catholic voters, long overwhelmingly Democratic, have become a critical swing vote. Republicans have become increasingly successful at winning the support of more traditional Catholics by appealing to what President Bush calls the "culture of life" issues, including abortion, euthanasia and research on embryonic stem cells. Mr. Bush carried 56 percent of the white Catholic vote in 2004, up from 51 percent in 2000 - a formidable part of his conservative coalition.
At the same time, some American bishops have become more assertive in urging their congregations to vote in accord with Catholic teachings on those issues - and in moving to chastise Catholic officials who disagree, in a few cases by threatening to deny them Communion. The bishops acted with the support and encouragement of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new pope, who at the time headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
This standoff has pitted church leaders against some of the leading Democrats in the country, and came to a boil last year around the presidential candidacy of Senator John Kerry. He is a Catholic who supports abortion rights, and argued that he could not impose "my article of faith" on others who did not share it.
Analysts on the right and the left say it is impossible to predict a papacy, and on Wednesday Benedict XVI was clearly seeking a softer, more inclusive tone than some had expected. But they say he shows all the indications of wanting to preserve a bright line around orthodoxy, around what is an acceptable position for a Catholic and what is not.
"I hate to pre-judge, but based on the record I would say Ratzinger is a very serious Catholic and he's going to say things like, 'Beware of falsehood in advertising,' " said Michael Novak, an expert on the Vatican at the American Enterprise Institute. "If you say you're a Catholic, be a Catholic."
Senator Rick Santorum, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate and a conservative Catholic, said: "If you're an active Catholic in America, you know the name Cardinal Ratzinger. He's known as very much in line with the doctrine of the church and a strong enforcer of that doctrine."
But, Mr. Santorum added, "the question is how much emphasis will he put on it" as pope, noting that such matters are often left to local bishops.
Many Catholic Democrats are still angry over the treatment by some bishops of Mr. Kerry and some other prominent Democrats last year. A generation of Democrats still traces its political approach to religion back to John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president of the United States, who declared during the 1960 campaign, "I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me."
But John Green, a specialist in religion and politics at the University of Akron, noted that the social and values-related issues that roil American politics today were simply not on the agenda in 1960.
Mario M. Cuomo, the former governor of New York, says that in the current climate, Catholic Democrats cannot shrink from a debate over values, even if it means debating their bishops.
"You say to the bishops, look, I respect you, I want to stay in the club, I try to live by your rules, but let's not be selective." He noted that church teaching also includes opposition to the death penalty and the war in Iraq, as well as a strong agenda of social justice for the poor, and he asserts that Catholic Republicans ought to be judged by those standards.
Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and prominent Catholic, agreed: "American bishops always have been involved in politics and been very selective. If you are a Republican who is for the death penalty, that is O.K., but if you are a Democrat for choice, that is not O.K."
Conservatives counter that such Democrats cannot have it both ways: claiming to be good Catholics and being staunch supporters of abortion rights. They say the "life" issues - led by abortion - occupy a central place in church teaching.
Professor Green said the new pope was unlikely to disappoint those conservative American Catholics. "The new pope is very much likely to continue the policies of the late pope," he said. "This developing alliance of religious traditionalists will continue, with the blessing of the Catholic hierarchy. Also, I think we'll see the Catholic hierarchy continue to be very visible and active on political issues, with the 'life' issues and the marriage issue front and center."
Some Catholic liberals say such an aggressive approach risks a backlash. Many Catholic voters, they say, dislike the idea of having their clerics weigh in too heavily on how they should vote, particularly since polls indicate that many American Catholics disagree with church teaching on a range of issues, including birth control and the legality of abortion.
For now, though, liberal Catholics say they are hoping for the best.
"I will give him the benefit of the doubt," said Terry McAuliffe, a Catholic who is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and was a sharp critic of the treatment of Mr. Kerry last year. "He was the enforcer before. He's not the enforcer now. Now he has to be the unifier around the world, and it's a different role."
But the Rev. Richard McBrien, a liberal theologian at Notre Dame, said in an interview conducted by e-mail that he wondered how much the new pope understood the more liberal strain of American Catholicism represented by leaders like Mr. Kerry or Mr. Cuomo. "I doubt if he understands it as well as he should, but then, whom does he speak with who might enlighten him, without giving a conservative spin to the explanation?" Father McBrien asked.
David D. Kirkpatrick contributed reporting for this article.

Vatican Spins Off U.S. Catholic Church

From Scrapple Face of course.

Vatican Spins Off U.S. Catholic Church
by Scott Ott
(2004-04-20) -- In one of his first official moves, Pope Benedict XVI today announced that the Vatican would "spin off" the U.S. division of the Roman Catholic church, but retain a 49-percent stake in the new entity, called R.C. Lite.
The partial divestiture of its holy-owned subsidiary comes as a new CNN poll reveals that 74 percent of U.S. Catholics say they're more likely to follow their own conscience than the teachings of the church.
R.C. Lite will elect its own leader to the largely cermonial post of New-World Pope. Thorny moral questions in the new religious sect will be decided by Internet polling, the results of which will provide non-binding guidance to church members.
To counter Pope Benedict's dogmatic conservatism, several church sources said America's leading Roman Catholic politician, Sen. John F. Kerry, D-MA, is considered a shoo-in for the New-World Papacy.
"We need a pope with nuanced ideas," said one unnamed U.S. Bishop. "He needs to be a uniter, not a divider. He can't be afraid to change his deeply-held convictions in light of shifting public opinion. He must be courageous enough to keep his beliefs separate from his behavior and decision making."
If Mr. Kerry accepts the R.C. Lite leadership post, insiders say he will assume the name Benadryl XIII.

Peggy Noonan

Why They Ran The new pope speaks to the inner adult in all of us. Thursday, April 21, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT
There were many moving and dramatic moments in Rome two days ago, but this is the one I think I'll remember: the sight of them running.
Did you see them running to St. Peter's Square as the bells began to toll?
They came running in from the offices and streets of Rome, running in their business suits, in jeans with backpacks over their shoulders. The networks kept showing it in their wide shots as they filled time between the ringing of the bells and the balcony scene.
So many came running that by the end, by the time Benedict XVI was announced, St. Peter's and the streets leading to it were as full as they'd been two weeks ago, at the funeral of John Paul II.
Why did they run? Why did this ancient news--"We have a pope"--representing such irrelevant-seeming truths and such an archaic institution--send them running?
Why did they gather? Why did they have to hear?

The faith is dead in Europe, everyone knows that. So why did they come?
You say, "They just wanted to be there. It's history. People are experience junkies. They wanted to take pictures with their cell phones."
That would be true of some. But why did so many weep as the new pope came out? Why did they chant "Benedict, Benedict" as he stood at the balcony? Why were they jubilant?

More at

Roe's Birth and Death

The NYTimes. Wow!
David Brooks
Justice Harry Blackmun did more inadvertent damage to our democracy than any other 20th-century American. When he and his Supreme Court colleagues issued the Roe v. Wade decision, they set off a cycle of political viciousness and counter-viciousness that has poisoned public life ever since, and now threatens to destroy the Senate as we know it.
When Blackmun wrote the Roe decision, it took the abortion issue out of the legislatures and put it into the courts. If it had remained in the legislatures, we would have seen a series of state-by-state compromises reflecting the views of the centrist majority that's always existed on this issue. These legislative compromises wouldn't have pleased everyone, but would have been regarded as legitimate.
Instead, Blackmun and his concurring colleagues invented a right to abortion, and imposed a solution more extreme than the policies of just about any other comparable nation.
Religious conservatives became alienated from their own government, feeling that their democratic rights had been usurped by robed elitists. Liberals lost touch with working-class Americans because they never had to have a conversation about values with those voters; they could just rely on the courts to impose their views. The parties polarized as they each became dominated by absolutist activists.
Unable to lobby for their pro-life or pro-choice views in normal ways, abortion activists focused their attention on judicial nominations. Dozens of groups on the right and left have been created to destroy nominees who might oppose their side of the fight. But abortion is never the explicit subject of these confirmation battles. Instead, the groups try to find some other pretext to destroy their foes.
Each nomination battle is more vicious than the last as the methodologies of personal destruction are perfected. You get a tit-for-tat escalation as each side points to the other's outrages to justify its own methods.
At first the Senate Judiciary Committee was chiefly infected by this way of doing business, but now the entire body - in fact, the entire capital - has caught the abortion fight fever.
Every few years another civilizing custom is breached. Over the past four years Democrats have resorted to the filibuster again and again to prevent votes on judicial nominees they oppose. Up until now, minorities have generally not used the filibuster to defeat nominees that have majority support. They have allowed nominees to have an up or down vote. But this tradition has been washed away.
In response, Republicans now threaten to change the Senate rules and end the filibuster on judicial nominees. That they have a right to do this is certain. That doing this would destroy the culture of the Senate and damage the cause of limited government is also certain.
The Senate operates by precedent, trust and unanimous consent. Changing the rules by raw majority power would rip the fabric of Senate life. Once the filibuster was barred from judicial nomination fights, it would be barred entirely. Every time the majority felt passionately about an issue, it would rewrite the rules to make its legislation easier to pass. Before long, the Senate would be just like the House. The culture of deliberation would be voided. Minority rights would be unprotected.
Those who believe in smaller government would suffer most. Minority rights have been used frequently to stop expansions of federal power, but if those minority rights were weakened, the federal role would grow and grow - especially when Democrats regained the majority.
Majority parties have often contemplated changing the filibuster rules, but they have always turned back because the costs are so high. But, fired by passions over abortion, Republican leaders have subordinated every other consideration to the need to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Democrats, meanwhile, threaten to shut down the Senate.
I know of many senators who love their institution, and long for a compromise that will forestall this nuclear exchange. But they feel trapped. If they turn back now, their abortion activists will destroy them.
The fact is, the entire country is trapped. Harry Blackmun and his colleagues suppressed that democratic abortion debate the nation needs to have. The poisons have been building ever since. You can complain about the incivility of politics, but you can't stop the escalation of conflict in the middle. You have to kill it at the root. Unless Roe v. Wade is overturned, politics will never get better.
E-mail: dabrooks@nytimes.com

through freerepublic so I don't have to register

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

B-16 in the house...

B-16 in the house... and how we got there
Jonah Goldberg (archive)
April 20, 2005 Print Send

Habemus Papem!
That's Latin for "We have a pope!" With those words the College of Cardinals announced that the world's Catholics have a new spiritual leader, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
As the Vatican's chief defender of theological doctrine, it's no surprise he's already being condemned as a "traditionalist" and a "hardliner." Of course, if some of the modernizers had their way, a new pontiff would be announced with the declaration, "We got pope!" Or maybe "The pizzy is in the hizzy!" Then Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake would bump and grind a bit before His Holiness rolled out in a newly pimped-out Pope-mobile.
But my guess is that won't be happening any time soon, and not just because Ratzinger's the new pope. Some believe there is a radical left wing in the Catholic Church that seeks to unravel the teachings of John Paul II, but this is an exaggeration of the Western - particularly, the American - press. The notion that you could find any cardinal eager to change church policy on abortion, for example, is simply a fantasy concocted by liberal journalists. Excepting, perhaps, the issue of distributing condoms in Africa, it's hard to think of a hot-button social issue that divides the church's leadership a fraction as much as American editorial pages seem to suggest.
If a committee made up of Andrew Sullivan, Gary Wills, Andrew Greeley, Paul Begala and Nancy Pelosi were given the power to select a pope from the current College of Cardinals, we would still have a pope opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
The issues that truly divide the church have to do with questions of local autonomy, global economics and the like. It takes the solipsism of American liberals to imagine that simply because America is divided over certain issues, the Vatican must be, too. And it takes the ignorance of the American media to think that a "liberal" in America is a liberal in Rome, Buenos Aires or Lagos.
That said, there's still a good lesson for the American right and left to draw from Ratzinger's election. One of the most interesting aspects of his story is that he was, by all accounts, a liberal until the year 1968. But during student riots at Tubingen University, where he was teaching, he looked into the soul of the New Left and saw a deep void. "For so many years," he said in an interview years ago, "the 1968 revolution and the terror created - in the name of Marxist ideas - a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human."
Again, Americans tend to think of 1968 as a uniquely American upheaval during a uniquely American decade of unrest. Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and all that. But the reality is a bit different. The 1960s saw student uprisings not only in America but in France, Britain, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Germany, Senegal, Argentina, Indonesia and Mexico. Obviously, each had its own unique flavor, but there was also something in the global water in the 1960s. What it was, exactly, is still hotly debated today. But the violence of '68ers surely had something to do with the comfort and guilt that comes from being the prosperous offspring of the World War II generation.
Not everyone in the so-called New Left was physically violent, and by no means was every young person alive then a member of the New Left, but almost everyone in the so-called "generation of '68" was intellectually violent - to tradition, to old-fashioned notions of decency, to truth, etc. And a great many of them refused to draw principled distinctions between rhetorical violence and the real thing.
In America, students took over schools like Cornell University with rifles and threatened to kill professors they considered to be "reactionary." Many older liberals had minds so open, their brains fell out. Others recognized the threat posed by the new barbarians and almost instantaneously became "conservatives" or - shudder - neoconservatives because they chose to stand firm in support of American liberal institutions - institutions that, in the new climate, were defined as right wing and oppressive. Clinton Rossiter, the decent, humane liberal scholar of American politics, tried to reconcile these competing forces, and his failure made suicide all the more attractive as an option.
Cardinal Ratzinger is a veteran of similar struggles. Whether you think Pope Benedict represents a move toward steadying the civilizational pendulum or a major counter-swing depends on your own spot on the ideological spectrum. And while it is too soon to know whose version of Ratzinger Pope Benedict XVI will become - the radical Inquisitorial "enforcer" of cold steel doctrine or the humble and curious teacher - the lesson remains the same. Civilization is a balancing act. When you lose your balance on the tightrope, you must make great swings in your stance just to get centered again. And even then, the odds are you fall off. The real trick is avoid making sudden moves in either direction.
Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a Townhall.com member group.

Cardinal Keeler Statement

Statement of Cardinal William H. Keeler on the Election of Pope Benedict XVI
Cardinal Keeler
Sistine Chapel, April 19, 2005
Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore, issued the following statement from the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy, at 4:45 p.m. EDT.
“Today, Pope Benedict XVI began his service as Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter. After the election we cardinals went to him, one by one. I conveyed to him the love of the people of Baltimore and he responded in English, ‘We must keep praying for each other.’
Since 1983, the first time I went to Rome as a bishop, I have known him, but in 1989, when Pope John Paul II invited the archbishops of the United States and the officers of our bishops’ conference to Rome, our relationship has grown closer. When I served as Vice-President and then President of our Conference (1989-1995), I met with him several times each year and found him to be understanding and supportive in many situations. His command of English- and of Italian- is excellent.
Please join me in praying that the Lord bless his ministry as he did today, in the enthusiastic and faith-filled response of God’s people in Rome to their new Bishop.
I look forward to celebrating a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on May 1 at 11 a.m., in which I can reflect further on the gifts which our new Holy Father brings to his ministry to the whole Church.”

Edward Cardinal Egan Statement

"The crowd in the Piazza San Pietro this evening, which extended from Saint Peter’s
Basilica all the way to the Tiber River, was exultant. Over and over men, women, and
children shouted "Viva Benedetto!" As I stood at the window looking out at the crowd,
my joy matched theirs. The Lord has given us a kind and holy Bishop of Rome who is,
as well, one of the great theological minds of our time. The Church has been blessed, and
for this blessing I will express my gratitude to the Lord tomorrow in the Sistine Chapel as
I join my brother Cardinals in celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with His
Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.
When I went up to him after the election, along with the other Cardinal-electors, I assured
of the support, loyalty, and affection of the bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and
faithful of the Archdiocese of New York. He was very pleased, and I had an opportunity
to greet him again on behalf of the People of God of New York this evening after dinner.
He knows he is in the prayers of us all."

Statement- Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I. (Chicago)

RE: THE ELECTION OF POPE BENEDICT XVII am grateful to God for giving us the gift of a new Supreme Pastor for the Catholic Church. I am sure that the people of the Archdiocese of Chicago join me in rejoicing today at the election of our new Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. As the 264 th successor to St. Peter, Pope Benedict XVI has our love, our prayers and our support as he begins his ministry of leading the Catholic Church and proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. I am grateful to the many people who prayed for the Cardinals who gathered to elect the Pope. Your prayers for us were deeply appreciated and sustained us through our time of discernment. I will return to Chicago on April 25 th and look forward to working with and under Pope Benedict XVI in caring for the Catholics of the Archdiocese.

Pope's Agenda by Sandro Magister

Read the Whole thing.

Here are some highlights:

ASSISI. This is an unforgettable symbol of the pontificate of Karol Wojtyla: the representatives of the world’s religions praying side by side in the city of Saint Francis. But it is also one of the more destabilizing symbols: if every religion is itself a path to salvation, the Catholic Church can close its missions throughout the world for lack of reason to exist.
BISHOPS. The Catholic Church governs itself through the pope and the bishops. But the latter of these, already reeling from the uncontrollable turbulence of John Paul II, have been suffering for some time from another restriction: that of the national bishops’ conferences.
CHINA. This represents a double threat for the Church of Rome. The first is the absence of liberty for the millions of Chinese Christians, whether clandestine or belonging to the “patriotic” Church set up by the regime. Not only was John Paul II unable ever to set foot in China, he didn’t even succeed in obtaining a guarantee that he would be able to nominate the country’s bishops.
CURIA. This is the pope’s executive branch. John Paul II paid little attention to it, and the ordinary governance of the Church suffered quite a bit as a result. But after a pontificate as charismatic as his, one made up of spectacular symbolic gestures, it is natural that his successor should take more closely in hand the rudder of the institution.
DEMOCRACY. Within the Church, and outside of it. Within, it is properly called “collegiality.” And it is the particular balance that is struck between papal primacy and the college of bishops. John Paul II almost always made his principal decisions alone, and against the opinion of many others. Every year or two he convened a synod of the bishops of the whole world, but then, once again, he made his own decisions. The next synod has already been convened, and is scheduled for October.
EUROPE. The new pope takes on a task ripe with fresh defeat: the lack of recognition of the Judaeo-Christian roots of Europe in the preamble of the new constitution for the European Union.
EXCOMMUNICATIONS. The pontificate of John Paul II, from this point of view, was one of the mildest ever. The only theology professor who incurred a temporary excommunication was an obscure priest from Sri Lanka, Tissa Balasuriya, found guilty of having denied the virginity of Mary and of having doubted the divinity of Jesus, but he recanted and was pardoned.
HUMANAE VITAE. The encyclical of Paul VI forbidding artificial contraception produced one of the most serious ruptures between the papal magisterium and the practice of the faithful in recent decades. But today the focal point of the Church’s preaching has shifted: more than the pill and the condom, the Church’s attention is concentrated on the defense of every life from the moment of conception.
INDIA. The immense country of Gandhi is an important frontier for the Church in Asia, and preoccupies the Roman papacy for at least three reasons. The first is that the Christians who live there are frequently the victims of extremist Hindu aggression and the intolerance of the civil laws themselves, which in many states forbid proselytism, or the missionary activity of the Church, and punish it severely. The second fear is connected with the foreseeable rise of India as a great power.
ISLAM. Up until now, the Church of Rome has reacted very cautiously to the attacks unleashed against the West by extremist Islam. Rome’s primary objectives include that of protecting the Christian minorities in Muslim countries. And the means it has adopted include friendly dialogue with Muslim exponents, some of them radicals, and realistic acceptance of the dictatorships that dominate many of these countries.
JEWS. Pope John Paul II performed extraordinary gestures of reconciliation with Judaism. Benedict XVI has the no less difficult task of rendering these a constant practice for the Church as a whole.
LIFE. This word can be found in the title of the most famous and most widely discussed of the encyclicals of Paul VI and John Paul II: “Humanae Vitae” of 1968 and “Evangelium Vitae” of 1995. But it will also be a key word for Benedict XVI. Or rather, it will be so to an even greater extent, because in the meantime the life sciences have made gigantic strides, and have become the new word for modernity.
LITURGIES. The grandiose mass celebrations so dear to pope Wojtyla cannot be repeated, as such, by his successor. And this will modify the external image of the Church that the worldwide media will transmit. Another critical point, and one even more important, regards the manner of celebrating the mass in all the large and small churches throughout the world, the central act of Christian worship and the classical barometer of the adhesion to the Church on the part of the faithful. This October, a worldwide synod of the bishops will discuss precisely this issue together with the new pope.
MEA CULPAS. The reservations among the Church’s leadership that always accompanied John Paul II’s requests for forgiveness for Christianity’s faults throughout history make it seem likely that the new pope will distance himself from his predecessor on this point. The interesting thing will be to see how he does this. One hypothesis that attracts the hopes of many is that Benedict XVI will concentrate his attention on the faults of Christianity today, and ask pardon for these. The difference is substantial. The past can be branded with infamy, but it can never be changed. The present can.
PEACE. Contrary to many current opinions, John Paul II was by no means a pacifist. He
RUSSIA. The fact that the new pope does not come from Poland, the historical adversary of Moscow, has removed a great obstacle. But the prohibition that kept John Paul II from setting foot in Russia remains far from being overturned.
SAINTS. One of the new pope’s first decisions will regard his own predecessor: whether or not to begin an accelerated process for his beatification. But more generally, he will need to decide whether, and how, to put the brakes on the frenetic pace
WOMEN. John Paul II placed a total ban on women priests, which is also valid for future popes. He formulated it with the words of infallible proclamations, “ex cathedra.” But leaving holy orders aside, the room in the Church for women is wide open, in theory. In practice, we’ll see.
YOUTH. World Youth Day is scheduled for this August, in Cologne, with the pope expected at the culminating moment. The previous meetings were a highly personal invention of John Paul II, and from them was born a collective typology of young people, the “papaboys,” closely connected with his persona.

Cardinal Adam Maida's Statement (Detroit)

April 19, 2005
Statement of Cardinal Adam Maida regarding the election of Pope Benedict XVI:
The experience of participating in the conclave was deeply spiritual; you could sense the
movement of the Holy Spirit among us as we came to a strong consensus in favor of Cardinal
Ratzinger, our new Holy Father. He is a brilliant theologian and has experience as a bishop of a
large Archdiocese—Munich, Germany. He understands the needs of the Church throughout the
world and will be a voice of continuity building on the many themes and teachings of his
predecessor, Pope John Paul II. We thank God for the vitality of the Church and are confident
that Pope Benedict XVI will continue to teach and inspire us in the ways of the new

Latin Mass is Back!?!

Move To Revive Latin Mass Reflects Deep Vatican Concerns On Liturgical Abuse
By Michael H. Brown
The move by the Vatican toward permitting wider use of the Latin Mass can be seen as a reflection of views long held by officials like Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, widely thought to be the Pope's closest official adviser. As such, they also may be viewed as a reflection of the pontiff's own thinking and an indication of his serious questions about abuses with the new or Novus Ordo Mass in the wake of Vatican II.
Earlier this month the Vatican allowed the first celebration of the Latin or "Tridentine Rite" Mass at St. Peter's in twenty years and is widely expected to issue a document (with an "indult") before Christmas permitting priests around the world to celebrate the old rite without the express permission of bishops. In that rite, which dates back to the Council of Trent in 1570, the priest says high Mass facing east with his back to the congregation, intoning the Latin liturgy. Up to now, such Masses have been few and far between, with many bishops frowning upon or outright quashing them.
The Vatican still views the new Mass as possessing significant advantages but has been concerned by the way many priests have taken liberties with it -- in many instances stripping the liturgy of its mystery. Cardinal Ratzinger, who meets privately with the Pope for several hours each Friday, has long expressed discontent with the way Masses are now handled. In a book called The Ratzinger Report, the Cardinal -- prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- said that he "shudders at the lackluster face of the post-conciliar liturgy as it has become, or one is simply bored with its hankering after banality and its lackluster artistic standards." He lamented that "many treasures that were intact have been squandered away."
"The liturgy is not a show, a spectacle, requiring brilliant producers and talented actors," he said in interviews with Italian journalist Vittorio Messori. "The life of the liturgy does not consist in 'pleasant' surprises and attractive 'ideas' but in solemn repetitions."
As for the need for active participation on the part of those in the pews, Ratzinger has remarked that "the concept is no doubt correct. But the way it has been applied following the Council has exhibited a fatal narrowing of perspective. The impression arose that there was only 'active participation' when there was discernible external activity -- speaking, singing, preaching, reading, shaking hands. It was forgotten that the Council also included silence under actuosa participatio, for silence facilitates a really deep, personal participation, allowing us to listen inwardly to the Lord's word."
While the new Mass allows for more contact between priest and congregants, and presents the liturgy in native language (the removal of which would be opposed by many Catholics), the rite has been abused by clerics who have relaxed reverence toward the Eucharist, introduced clanging music, stripped altars of their statues, and relocated or even removed the tabernacle. Those who sought to attend the Latin Rite, noted Ratzinger, have been treated as "lepers."
"The most important thing today is that we should regain respect for the liturgy and for the fact that it is not to be manipulated," he wrote in a second book, God and the World, adding that "unauthorized fabrication" should "vanish." He said that priests should perform their ministries as a service to the mystery of the liturgy "and not want to invent and manufacture something better, like experts who are almighty in and of themselves."
While on at least one occasion Cardinal Ratzinger has virtually expressed his wish the the liturgy had never been so radically changed, he cites advantages to the Novus Ordo. When Messori asked him if Masses should be said in Latin again, the prefect replied, "That is no longer going to be possible as a general practice, and perhaps it is not desirable as such. At least it is clear, I would say, that the Liturgy of the Word should be in people's mother tongue. But otherwise I would be in favor of a new openness toward the use of Latin." That openness will now be expressed in the expected indult, which may in its turn reverse the Church's course and bring elements of the older rite back into the liturgy.


Pope Walks through Rome

Surprise! New Pope takes a walk through Rome
Rome, Apr. 20 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI made his first public appearance on the streets of Rome on Wednesday afternoon, April 20, as he visited his old apartment near Vatican City to transfer some belongings to his new home in the apostolic palace.
The newly elected Pope, clothed completely in the distinctive white vestments of the papacy, caught onlookers by surprise when he chose to travel on foot, walking the few hundred yards to the apartment in the Citta Leonina where he had lived for years. When the news spread that the Pontiff was walking through the city, hundreds of people quickly gathered, and he spent some time in front of the apartment building, greeting the people and blessing young children. Italian police and Vatican security officials did their best to control the crowd, preserving some breathing room for the Pontiff.
After a short stay in his old apartment, the Pontiff reappeared, entering a black car that was waiting for him at the entrance of the building. He paused again to wave to the crowd, turning slowly from one direction to another so that he could greet as many as possible. The crowd burst into cheers of "Long live the Pope!" and the chant that has already become familiar: "Benedetto!" Pope Benedict later commented that he was "very moved" as he resumed direct contact with the faithful.
Pope Benedict had occupied the apartment in Citta Leonina until moving into the Vatican's St. Martha residence, along with all the other cardinal-electors, to begin the conclave on April 18.
Earlier in the day, the new Pope had taken possession of his new apartments in the apostolic palace. He was accompanied by Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo (bio - news), the camerlengo, who had sealed off those apartments after the funeral of Pope John Paul II (bio - news).

More Political Viewpoints

Feminist and Homosexual Groups Give Thumbs down on New Pope (my title)
20 April 2005 Susan Jones
(CNSNews.com) - American Catholics who want major changes in the church are not happy with the election of a "hard-line" pope who backs longstanding Catholic doctine.
The Women's Ordination Conference, a Catholic feminist organization working for the ordination of women priests, said the church desperately needs a healer, but the cardinals have elected a divider: "This is another example of how the hierarchy is out of touch with Catholics in the pews," said Joy Barnes, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference.
According to the WOC, recent polls show that over two-thirds of U.S. Catholics support women's ordination, yet Ratzinger has repeatedly stated his firm opposition to women priests.
"Cardinal Ratzinger's election as pope will galvanize faithful Catholics

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Christianity Today's take

Upright But No Panzer PopeWhy he was chosen—and why he's no narrow-minded blockhead.by Uwe Siemon-Netto, UPI posted 04/20/2005 09:30 a.m.
Now that Josef Ratzinger, the erstwhile "Panzerkardinal," has become the leader of the Catholic Church, some will doubtless be tempted to call him the "Panzerpapst," or panzer pope—just for alliteration's sake.
But those who know him and his work well have an entirely different image of Pope Benedict XVI, as he will now be known after his speedy election Tuesday.
To be sure, he will be a counterrevolutionary, just like John Paul II, whose closest collaborator Ratzinger was. His blunt condemnation of the "tyranny of relativism" in his last sermon before joining 114 colleagues in the conclave that eventually opted for him, indicated as much.
This "tyranny of relativism" is in part the consequence of the youth rebellion of the 1960s, a phenomenon that has turned him from a liberal to a staunch voice for Christian orthodoxy.
It was during his liberal phase as a theological adviser to Cardinal Josef Frings, the hugely popular archbishop of Cologne after World War II, that he called the Inquisition a "scandal to the world." Later John Paul II would make him prefect of this very office now called Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
Ratzinger bemoaned the relegation of Christianity to a ghetto since the 19th century; he wrote sadly against the "leaden loneliness and inner boredom of a world emptied of God."
Germany, his own country, is more affected by this gloomy state of affairs than most others. He has watched and fought its decline into godlessness since its darkest hour when he was drafted into the Hitler Youth, the Nazi boy scouts, and had the guts to resign his compulsory membership in this organization—and then to desert from the German army.
You don't have to be a soothsayer to guess why Ratzinger was chosen over Italian, Latin American, and African candidates to lead the church. As the Rev. Anthony Figueirero, an Indian-born former papal adviser, said Tuesday prior to Ratzinger's elevation, "Let the Church in the Third World continue its growth—it is the global North that has to be re-evangelized," meaning it is that part of the globe the pope must be particularly familiar with.
Hence a pope from an almost post-Christian country was needed to continue the missionary dynamism John Paul II gave top priority to during his long ministry. John Paul, even as an old man, was stellar in the eyes of young people. He had promised to travel to Cologne, Germany, in August to be with the hundreds and thousands of young people attending World Youth Day in that ancient Roman city on the Rhine.
Now Ratzinger, as Benedict XVI, will undertake his first journey abroad since his election to that very place where he was once a priest. And there he will address his fellow Germans—and others—not in the snarling tone of a Panzer officer but with the mild and melodious voice that always seems to surprise those who meet him for the first time.

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Text of Pope Benedict's First Mass

VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2005 (VIS) - Following is the complete text of the first message of Pope Benedict XVI which he delivered in Latin at the end of this morning's Mass with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the 264th successor to St. Peter in early evening yesterday.
"Grace and peace in abundance to all of you! In my soul there are two contrasting sentiments in these hours. On the one hand, a sense of inadequacy and human turmoil for the responsibility entrusted to me yesterday as the Successor of the Apostle Peter in this See of Rome, with regard to the Universal Church. On the other hand I sense within me profound gratitude to God Who - as the liturgy makes us sing - does not abandon His flock, but leads it throughout time, under the guidance of those whom He has chosen as vicars of His Son, and made pastors.
"Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'
"The death of the Holy Father John Paul II, and the days which followed, were for the Church and for the entire world an extraordinary time of grace. The great pain for his death and the void that it left in all of us were tempered by the action of the Risen Christ, which showed itself during long days in the choral wave of faith, love and spiritual solidarity, culminating in his solemn funeral.
"We can say it: the funeral of John Paul II was a truly extraordinary experience in which was perceived in some way the power of God Who, through His Church, wishes to form a great family of all peoples, through the unifying force of Truth and Love. In the hour of death, conformed to his Master and Lord, John Paul II crowned his long and fruitful pontificate, confirming the Christian people in faith, gathering them around him and making the entire human family feel more united.
"How can one not feel sustained by this witness? How can one not feel the encouragement that comes from this event of grace?
"Surprising every prevision I had, Divine Providence, through the will of the venerable Cardinal Fathers, called me to succeed this great Pope. I have been thinking in these hours about what happened in the region of Cesarea of Phillippi two thousand years ago: I seem to hear the words of Peter: 'You are Christ, the Son of the living God,' and the solemn affirmation of the Lord: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven'.
"You are Christ! You are Peter! It seems I am reliving this very Gospel scene; I, the Successor of Peter, repeat with trepidation the anxious words of the fisherman from Galilee and I listen again with intimate emotion to the reassuring promise of the divine Master. If the weight of the responsibility that now lies on my poor shoulders is enormous, the divine power on which I can count is surely immeasurable: 'You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church'. Electing me as the Bishop of Rome, the Lord wanted me as his Vicar, he wished me to be the 'rock' upon which everyone may rest with confidence. I ask him to make up for the poverty of my strength, that I may be a courageous and faithful pastor of His flock, always docile to the inspirations of His Spirit.
"I undertake this special ministry, the 'Petrine' ministry at the service of the Universal Church, with humble abandon to the hands of the Providence of God. And it is to Christ in the first place that I renew my total and trustworthy adhesion: 'In Te, Domine, speravi; non confundar in aeternum!'
"To you, Lord Cardinals, with a grateful soul for the trust shown me, I ask you to sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration. I also ask my brothers in the episcopacy to be close to me in prayer and counsel so that I may truly be the 'Servus servorum Dei' (Servant of the servants of God). As Peter and the other Apostles were, through the will of the Lord, one apostolic college, in the same way the Successor of Peter and the Bishops, successors of the Apostles - and the Council forcefully repeated this - must be closely united among themselves. This collegial communion, even in the diversity of roles and functions of the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, is at the service of the Church and the unity of faith, from which depend in a notable measure the effectiveness of the evangelizing action of the contemporary world. Thus, this path, upon which my venerated predecessors went forward, I too intend to follow, concerned solely with proclaiming to the world the living presence of Christ.
"Before my eyes is, in particular, the witness of Pope John Paul II. He leaves us a Church that is more courageous, freer, younger. A Church that, according to his teaching and example, looks with serenity to the past and is not afraid of the future. With the Great Jubilee the Church was introduced into the new millennium carrying in her hands the Gospel, applied to the world through the authoritative re-reading of Vatican Council II. Pope John Paul II justly indicated the Council as a 'compass' with which to orient ourselves in the vast ocean of the third millennium. Also in his spiritual testament he noted: ' I am convinced that for a very long time the new generations will draw upon the riches that this council of the 20th century gave us'.
"I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II, in the wake of my predecessors and in faithful continuity with the millennia-old tradition of the Church. Precisely this year is the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of this conciliar assembly (December 8, 1965). With the passing of time, the conciliar documents have not lost their timeliness; their teachings have shown themselves to be especially pertinent to the new exigencies of the Church and the present globalized society.
"In a very significant way, my pontificate starts as the Church is living the special year dedicated to the Eucharist. How can I not see in this providential coincidence an element that must mark the ministry to which I have been called? The Eucharist, the heart of Christian life and the source of the evangelizing mission of the Church, cannot but be the permanent center and the source of the petrine service entrusted to me.
"The Eucharist makes the Risen Christ constantly present, Christ Who continues to give Himself to us, calling us to participate in the banquet of His Body and His Blood. From this full communion with Him comes every other element of the life of the Church, in the first place the communion among the faithful, the commitment to proclaim and give witness to the Gospel, the ardor of charity towards all, especially towards the poor and the smallest.
"In this year, therefore, the Solemnity of Corpus Christ must be celebrated in a particularly special way. The Eucharist will be at the center, in August, of World Youth Day in Cologne and, in October, of the ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which will take place on the theme "The Eucharist, Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church.' I ask everyone to intensify in coming months love and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus and to express in a courageous and clear way the real presence of the Lord, above all through the solemnity and the correctness of the celebrations.
"I ask this in a special way of priests, about whom I am thinking in this moment with great affection. The priestly ministry was born in the Cenacle, together with the Eucharist, as my venerated predecessor John Paul II underlined so many times. 'The priestly life must have in a special way a 'Eucharistic form', he wrote in his last Letter for Holy Thursday. The devout daily celebration of Holy Mass, the center of the life and mission of every priest, contributes to this end.
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel stimulated to tend towards that full unity for which Christ hoped in the Cenacle. Peter's Successor knows that he must take on this supreme desire of the Divine Master in a particularly special way. To him, indeed, has been entrusted the duty of strengthening his brethren.
"Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism.
"Theological dialogue is necessary. A profound examination of the historical reasons behind past choices is also indispensable. But even more urgent is that 'purification of memory,' which was so often evoked by John Paul II, and which alone can dispose souls to welcome the full truth of Christ. It is before Him, supreme Judge of all living things, that each of us must stand, in the awareness that one day we must explain to Him what we did and what we did not do for the great good that is the full and visible unity of all His disciples.
"The current Successor of Peter feels himself to be personally implicated in this question and is disposed to do all in his power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism. In the wake of his predecessors, he is fully determined to cultivate any initiative that may seem appropriate to promote contact and agreement with representatives from the various Churches and ecclesial communities. Indeed, on this occasion too, he sends them his most cordial greetings in Christ, the one Lord of all.
"In this moment, I go back in my memory to the unforgettable experience we all underwent with the death and the funeral of the lamented John Paul II. Around his mortal remains, lying on the bare earth, leaders of nations gathered, with people from all social classes and especially the young, in an unforgettable embrace of affection and admiration. The entire world looked to him with trust. To many it seemed as if that intense participation, amplified to the confines of the planet by the social communications media, was like a choral request for help addressed to the Pope by modern humanity which, wracked by fear and uncertainty, questions itself about the future.
"The Church today must revive within herself an awareness of the task to present the world again with the voice of the One Who said: 'I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.' In undertaking his ministry, the new Pope knows that his task is to bring the light of Christ to shine before the men and women of today: not his own light but that of Christ.
"With this awareness, I address myself to everyone, even to those who follow other religions or who are simply seeking an answer to the fundamental questions of life and have not yet found it. I address everyone with simplicity and affection, to assure them that the Church wants to continue to build an open and sincere dialogue with them, in a search for the true good of mankind and of society.
"From God I invoke unity and peace for the human family and declare the willingness of all Catholics to cooperate for true social development, one that respects the dignity of all human beings.
"I will make every effort and dedicate myself to pursuing the promising dialogue that my predecessors began with various civilizations, because it is mutual understanding that gives rise to conditions for a better future for everyone.
"I am particularly thinking of young people. To them, the privileged interlocutors of John Paul II, I send an affectionate embrace in the hope, God willing, of meeting them at Cologne on the occasion of the next World Youth Day. With you, dear young people, I will continue to maintain a dialogue, listening to your expectations in an attempt to help you meet ever more profoundly the living, ever young, Christ.
"'Mane nobiscum, Domine!' Stay with us Lord! This invocation, which forms the dominant theme of John Paul II's Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, is the prayer that comes spontaneously from my heart as I turn to begin the ministry to which Christ has called me. Like Peter, I too renew to Him my unconditional promise of faithfulness. He alone I intend to serve as I dedicate myself totally to the service of His Church.
"In support of this promise, I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, in whose hands I place the present and the future of my person and of the Church. May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, also intercede.
"With these sentiments I impart to you venerated brother cardinals, to those participating in this ritual, and to all those following to us by television and radio, a special and affectionate blessing."

Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Today with joy and gratitude to God, in thanksgiving with the Cardinal electors including our own Cardinal Roger Mahony, we are pleased to share with you the news that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, taking the name of Pope Benedict XVI was brought to the Chair of Peter.
In the days and months ahead, the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will unfold under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and for the service of the Universal Church.
As we begin this new chapter in our Church’s history, we encourage all of you to pray this special prayer:
Lord,source of eternal life and truth,give to your shepherd Pope Benedict XVIa spirit of courage and right judgment,a spirit of knowledge and love.By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his caremay he, as successor to the apostle Peter and the vicar of Christ,build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world.We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spiritone God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Cardinal McCarrick on Pope Benedict XVI

April 19, 2005
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, spoke briefly from Rome this evening about the election of Pope Benedict XVI:"With Catholics throughout the world, we rejoice at the election of Pope Benedict XVI. What an enormous privilege it was to be a part of his election. Since I've known Cardinal Ratzinger for many years, I was privileged to be able to greet an old friend as our new Holy Father."We can thank God for a brilliant theologian and a man who not only understands the theology of the Church, but lives and loves it, and will be a sure and faithful guide and shepherd for us all in the years ahead."I also thank all of the faithful who joined in prayer for the Cardinals during the conclave. Finally, we are grateful to the media for the great respect they have shown during this important time in the life of the Catholic Church."

Shock! New Pope a Catholic

Gerard BakerPinning a conservative label on Benedict XVI is absurd. His mission transcends Left and Right
WHAT HAS been most enjoyable about the stunned reaction of the bulk of the media to the election of Pope Benedict XVI has been the simple incredulousness at the very idea that a man such as Joseph Ratzinger could possibly have become leader of the universal Church.
Journalists and pundits for whom the Catholic Church has long been an object of anthropological curiosity fringed with patronising ridicule have really let themselves go since the new pontiff emerged. Indeed most of the coverage I have seen or read could be neatly summarised as: “Cardinals elect Catholic Pope. World in Shock.”

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World Youth Day

Planned for August of this year in Cologne Germany. Pope Benedict just said at his first Mass since being elected, that he is looking forward to going to WYD 2005. This will be heavily attended. I think that it is likely Pope B-16 is less personable than JP2. Still I think the kids will give more of a chance than the media seems to be giving thus far. Trying to come up with chants. 'Jp2, we love you', has served well for a number of years. Now we have to think of good slogans for B16.

Initial Blessing

Text of the speech delivered by Joseph Ratzinger, elected pope Tuesday, from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.
``Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me - a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. ``The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. ``In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary his very holy mother stands by us.''

Politics vs prayer.

Okay, this is a blog. Therefore I will not merely pull together links related to Pope Benedict. Every once in awhile (or more frequently) I will make comments. So, this is my first such post. Most of the commentary on Pope Benedict XVI has been political. Some has been focused on internal Church politics, others have focused on global politics. I would hope that Catholics and others would evaluate this man in terms of his actual role in the world. HE is NOT here to solve this world's political problems, primarily. He is here to "go to the whole world and preach the gospel to the whole creation." Now admittedly there are some political implications to this, but that is not the PRIMARY end. The Pope exists to bring the world to Christ and Christ to the world. These days it seems all commentary is primarily politicaland everything else is secondary. This, too me is backwards. There will clearly be differences from Pope John Paul II to Pope Benedict XVI, in personality, interests, and yes, politics. Both should have the same mission.

NYT: Third World Loses

April 20, 2005
In Selection of New Pope, Third World Loses Out
IO DE JANEIRO, April 19 - Not this time, not yet. Though a majority of Roman Catholics now live in Latin America, Africa and Asia, those among the faithful who were openly hoping for a pope from the developing world were disappointed.
But that sense of popular disappointment stood in contrast to the notable enthusiasm for the selection of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger among the episcopal conferences in every country in this region, which speak in the name of Latin America's hundreds of bishops.
Dominated by theological conservatives whom Pope John Paul II appointed, the conferences can now expect increased Vatican support in their efforts to counter two important challenges: evangelical Protestantism and the remnants of liberation theology.
At the popular level, the initial response to the designation of Cardinal Ratzinger as the new pope was muted throughout Latin America, where 480 million of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics live.
Television networks that had been covering the conclave live from Rome in anticipation that someone from this region might be chosen as pope quickly returned to their normal programming after the announcement. Newspapers and radio stations recalled that the new pope's nicknames include Cardinal No and the Grand Inquisitor, references to his former role as enforcer of church doctrine. "They were never going to elect a pope from Latin America or Africa," Guilherme Marra, a salesman here, lamented Tuesday afternoon. "The church is frozen in time," Mr. Marra, 37, complained. "Imagine electing a radical pope who is against condoms!"
But among the church hierarchy, at least here in Brazil, which has the world's largest Roman Catholic population, the prospect of an even more doctrinaire and conservative successor to John Paul II has already emboldened traditionalists. Last week, for example, two cardinals criticized President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, saying that his beliefs were "not Catholic but chaotic" and that he was "not a model Christian."
Like the leaders of several other Latin American countries, Mr. da Silva has taken positions that differ from church teachings on abortion, homosexuality, contraception and stem cell research. Cardinal Ratzinger's support for an unyielding stance on those and other issues would seem likely to increase the prospect of conflicts between church and state.
It is not clear how Pope Benedict XVI intends to respond to the growth of Islam in Africa and Asia, where most of the increase in the number of Catholics during the papacy of John Paul II occurred. But the Catholic flock in those places tends to be more doctrinally conservative than in Latin America, and expressed fewer reservations about the choice of Cardinal Ratzinger.
"You need a man of values," said Alfred Jantjies, a South African truck driver. "It's no good to have a man in the church who lets in wrong ideas, like women priests or priests getting married. A man of God must know he has taken a tough life and stick to it without trying to be all modern. The new pope sounds like a man who understands what worked in the past and won't try and change it."
In the days before the conclave, some priests and bishops in Latin America made public their doubts about Cardinal Ratzinger's willingness to bring about the change that they thought the church needed. As John Paul II's right-hand man, he was often seen as the standard-bearer of what some critics in the region are calling "Wojtylism without Wojtyla," a reference to Karol Wojtyla, who became John Paul II.
"I don't think he has the charisma of John Paull II with the masses, because he has always been an intellectual," said the Rev. Jesús Vergara, the director general of Centro Tata Vasco, a Jesuit institution in Mexico City. "For example, the trips of John Paul II throughout Latin America. Well, Latin America is going to feel a lot of grief because I don't think Ratzinger has the personality to win over most of the people in Latin America as John Paul did."
As leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger has been very much a known quantity to all cardinals and bishops and to many priests. In that capacity, he has played an important role in suppressing liberation theology, which draws on Marxism in its call for the church to follow a "preferential option for the poor" and transform unjust structures that perpetuate social inequality and poverty.
"It seems to me that we need not a theology of liberation, but a theology of martyrdom," he said in 1997.
In 1984, for instance, it was Cardinal Ratzinger who oversaw the Vatican decree that forced Leonardo Boff, a former Franciscan friar and a leading theoretician of liberation theology, to silence himself for "an opportune period." Dr. Boff, once a student of Cardinal Ratzinger, was deemed to lack "serenity" and "moderation" in his writings, which were said to be guided not by faith but by "principles of an ideological nature."

Coworker of the Truth

Cardinal Ratzinger chose for his episcopal motto: "Coworker of the Truth," in reference to the third letter of John verse 8. It is definitely the motto of an intellectual. What is his new motto?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


He is fascinated by Herman Hesse's novel Steppenwolf, with its portrait of the self-isolating man. Because today egotism is exalted rather than the love of God, "this destruction of the capacity to live gives birth to deadly boredom. It is the poisoning of man. If it carried the day, man, and with him also the world, would be destroyed".
That destruction will be avoided, Benedict XVI believes, not by the Church trying to recover worldly power, but by renewing, as Benedict did, its intellectual and moral reverence for the truth.

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A Beautiful Personality

‘A Beautiful Personality’
The Pontificate of Benedict XVI Begins
An interview with an American priest who
worked with His Holiness.

National Catholic Register
May 1-8, 2005
Father Augustine Dinoia has worked with Cardinal Josef Ratzinger for three years.
As undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith — the congregation Pope Benedict XVI headed before he became pope — the Dominican priest knows the new Pope well. He spoke with Register Correspondent Edward Pentin in Rome.
What is your reaction to the news?
I am absolutely ecstatic. It was clear after he gave the funeral Mass for John Paul II and the Mass before the beginning of the conclave that he had moved into another realm. He had moved into this new role. This was also a very quick election and shows that the cardinals probably realized this, too.
You know him well from working closely under him. Could you give us some insight into what he is like as a person?
He has a beautiful personality and when that begins to shine through and becomes evident, people will love him. One hundred percent of the staff in the office — including the ushers — are absolutely ecstatic.
He is a kind, extremely humble and extraordinary human being. He’s also a fun man with a good sense of humor — we’ll miss him. He’s the whole package — he’s holy and knows how the Church works and how to run the Church. I have prayed for him to become Pope — so many of us have. I’ve never prayed harder!
We know, of course, that he’s thoroughly Catholic on doctrine. But more generally what will his pontificate be like, in your view?
He spent 24 years working for the Pope so he knows just what the Church needs. And although his main role has been to keep the Church right on doctrine, he is not just about orthodoxy but personifies two very important Christian qualities — truth and love. . .


Dictatorship of Relativism

EJ Dionne reacts to Pope Benedict XVI:

Cardinal Ratzinger's Challenge
By E. J. Dionne Jr.Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A19
ROME -- The words broke like a thunderclap inside St. Peter's Basilica. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, addressing the world's cardinals just hours before they sequestered themselves Monday to choose the next leader of the world's 1 billion Catholics, decided to define this conclave.
"We are moving," he declared, toward "a dictatorship of relativism . . . that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure."

The modern world, Ratzinger insisted, has jumped "from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, up to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism and on and on."
Those are fighting words. They guaranteed that Ratzinger, who was Pope John Paul II's enforcer of orthodoxy, will either set the church's course -- or offer his fellow cardinals the ideas they choose to react against. Decades from now many conservative Catholics will see the war against the "dictatorship of relativism" as their central mission. It's not a line you forget.
What makes this papal election so unusual is not the normal disagreement over specific issues. The odd part is that the cardinals disagree fundamentally over what the election is really about because they differ in their judgments of what are the most important issues confronting the church.
Ratzinger, who is German, spoke for the conservative side of a culture-war argument that is of primary interest to Europe and North America. When Ratzinger said on Monday that "to have a clear faith according to the church's creed is today often labeled fundamentalism," his words were undoubtedly welcomed by religious conservatives far outside the ranks of the Catholic Church. One can also imagine that liberals of various stripes shuddered.
But for the many cardinals here from the Third World -- 20 of the 115 voting are from Latin America, 11 from Africa, 10 from Asia -- the battle over relativism is far less important than the poverty that afflicts so many of their flock. Some of these cardinals -- Claudio Hummes of Brazil is a representative figure -- may share points in common with Ratzinger on doctrine. But for them the struggle against suffering and social injustice is part of their lives every single day.
Many of these same cardinals, and some in Europe and the United States, place a higher priority on Christianity's rekindled competition with Islam and the urgency of Muslim-Christian dialogue. It's not clear where Ratzinger's approach would take these efforts.
Ratzinger, in other words, is now central to two very different dynamics inside the conclave. Cardinals will be asked to decide -- by voting for or against him or someone he favors -- whether Ratzinger's theological approach is right. And they will decide whether Ratzinger's priorities involve the things that matter.
It makes perfect sense that Ratzinger would be the decisive player in defining the church after the papacy of John Paul II. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Vatican spokesman, once said that John Paul's choice of Ratzinger as his doctrinal chief was "one of the most personal choices of his pontificate."
Ratzinger is a brilliant, tough-minded intellectual who started out as moderately liberal and -- like so many American neoconservatives -- developed a mistrust of the left because of the student revolt of the 1960s. He once said that "the 1968 revolution" turned into "a radical attack on human freedom and dignity, a deep threat to all that is human." The pope knew what he was getting with Ratzinger, and he got what he wanted.
With Ratzinger playing the tough cop against dissent, John Paul was free to be more expansive. Rocco Buttiglione, a philosopher who was close to the late pope, captured their division of labor perfectly in an interview some years ago. "The pope has more the gift of synthesis, because of his office," Buttiglione said. "Cardinal Ratzinger has more the gift of polemic."
There was also the matter of their personalities. Where John Paul was sunny, Ratzinger was serious -- and a worrier. Walls in Rome are plastered with memorial posters to John Paul that carry his famous quotation, "Be not afraid." Cardinal Ratzinger declared yesterday that the church has much to fear.
Ratzinger now carries on his battle without the charismatic support of his friend. He is proposing that the church take one aspect of John Paul's synthesis -- the battle against relativism reflected in doctrinal rigor -- and make it the late pope's central legacy. The cardinals who marched solemnly into the Sistine Chapel yesterday afternoon will be deciding if that is the right fight for the future.

New Oxford Review Blog on Pope Benedict XVI

edited by Michael Rose

Question: was this blog originated before today?

Also see the Pope Blog

EWTN --Arroyo interview

Raymond Arroyo with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
The following is a transcript of the interview by EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, which first aired on EWTN on 5 September 2003. Cardinal Ratzinger is the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office to which he was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1981.
Raymond: I’m Raymond Arroyo. He may have the toughest job in the Church. He is the Vatican's chief protector and promoter of Catholic doctrine, second in power only to the Pope, and certainly one of the most important men in the Roman Catholic Church today. Yet, after 22 years, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has assiduously avoided interviews. But tonight, for the first time in an exclusive interview, he sits down with me to discuss the future of the Church, the clerical sexual abuse scandal, and the papacy of John Paul II. He also talks for the first time about the persistent rumors that he may retire. We talked with the Cardinal several weeks ago in Rome.
Raymond: First of all, Your Eminence, thank you for having us here. It’s a great honor to be with you. In your book, God And The World, you talk about a crisis of faith. And you, more than anyone, should know the state of this Church. You get reports every day. Where does this crisis of faith stand now? Are things improving?
Cardinal: Yes, it’s improving in a certain sense. Also, our situation generally, I think the situation of the Western World, is an increasing of relativism, the idea all is equal and we do not know anything clear about God; and so, all faiths are equal and so on. This is a general impression in the world of today and this also is temptation for us as Christians. But, I think on the other hand, in many people there is a real desire to have concrete contact with Christ, with the presence of Our Lord. So, I would say the youth of the Church is improving the situation because they will not simply do what all people are doing; so really be in contact with the Lord and sharing the faith of the Church. So, I would say, generally the situation of the Western World is not improving about the faith, but in the Church, the youth of the Church, we can see that there is a new beginning.
Raymond: Signs of hope there that are being planted.
Cardinal: Yes.
Raymond: Let's talk for moment about the Second Vatican Council, and particularly the implementation of the Council. You have written so much about this, and talked so much about this. For people of my generation, I suppose the thing that most stands out from the faith too of our fathers and grandfathers is the liturgy, the Mass. You've spoken about the reform of the reform, reforming the reform. How do you see that actuating? How do you see it concretely taking shape as we move forward?
Cardinal: Generally, I would say it was not well implemented; the liturgical reform, because it was a general idea. Now, liturgy is a thing of the community. The community is representing itself and so with the creativity of the priest or of the other groups they will create their own liturgies. It is, more the presence of their own experiences and ideas than meeting with the Presence of the Lord in the church. And with this creativity and self-presentation of the community is disappearing the essence of liturgy. Because in essence we can go over our own experiences and to receive what is not from our experience, but is a gift of God. And so, I think we have to restore not so much certain ceremonies, but the essential idea of liturgy – to understand in liturgy, we are not representing ourselves, but we receive the grace of the presence of the Lord with the Church of the heaven and of the earth. And the universality of the liturgy, it seems to me, is essential. Definition of liturgy and restoring this idea would also help to be more obedient to the norms, not as a juridical positivism, but really as sharing, participating what is given to us from the Lord in the Church.
Raymond: And that sense of sacrifice and worship that you’ve talked about so eloquently . . .

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Father Fessio

Numerous links

He [Father Fessio] received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., and his master’s in theology from Gonzaga in 1967. He also received a master’s in theology from Lyons, France, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Regensburg, West Germany, in 1975.
His thesis director was Cardinal Ratzinger, now the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Father Fessio’s thesis topic was "The Ecclesiology of Hans Urs von Balthasar." During his doctoral studies, Father Fessio developed a lasting friendship with Cardinal Ratzinger that continues to this day.

From John Allen's profile:
The year was 1987, and Jesuit Fr. Joseph Fessio was not in the best frame of mind for a reunion in Rome with his mentor and old friend, Joseph Ratzinger.
Fessio had sought out Ratzinger when the latter was a professor of dogmatic theology in Regensburg, Germany, in the 1970s, and under his direction wrote a dissertation on Hans Urs von Balthasar (a Swiss Catholic philosopher/theologian, and a hero to those who believe that liberals hijacked the church on a false reading of Vatican II).
The two men stayed in touch after Fessio returned to the United States and began working at the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco. Fessio’s pugnacious style did not always endear him to his colleagues, and by 1987 he had been canned as the director of the university’s St. Ignatius Institute.
Fessio was still director of the Ignatius Press, a publishing house. Its signature title was The Ratzinger Report, which sold 50,000 copies for the press.
The university had previously decided it didn’t want to be affiliated with Ignatius Press, which likewise had no ties to the San Francisco archdiocese. That left Fessio to explain to Ratzinger that his publishing house -- the one to whom the cardinal had signed over all his American rights -- had no structural ties to the Catholic church at all.
Ratzinger, according to Fessio, listened sympathetically to the story, including Fessio’s decision to incorporate separately from both the university and the archdiocese. At the end, Ratzinger’s eyes twinkled as he said: “Ah, because of this double independence, you can remain orthodox.”
As a joke, the remark works better in German, but it speaks volumes about Ratzinger the man: his graciousness, his quick wit and, clearly, his concern with orthodoxy.

Fr Joseph Fessio's highly successful lecture tour of Australia culminated in Melbourne on July 24, 1996, with 1,500 present at a packed Camberwell Civic Centre to hear his address and to welcome the newly-appointed Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr George Pell, who was present to give the vote of thanks to Fr Fessio. His lectures were also well-attended in Brisbane and Sydney (with about 500 at each) and in Armidale, Ballarat and Bendigo. Fr Fessio had been invited to Australia by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy as a featured speaker at their annual conference in Brisbane. The Thomas More Centre sponsored Fr Fessio's talks in the other centres.
To those familiar with Fr Joseph Fessio's work in publishing, higher education and liturgy, the success of his lecture tour of Australia last July would have come as no surprise (see July AD2000). His most recent initiative has been to help promote a new liturgical movement designed to "reform the reform" of the Catholic liturgy to accord with the intentions of the Second Vatican Council. This has emerged through a new organisation, and journal of the same name, Adoremus.
Reflecting his current priority, Fr Fessio's lectures concentrated on the question of authentic liturgical renewal as an area of central importance for a recovery of Catholic faith and practice in Western nations. Central to this liturgical renewal should be a widened use of Gregorian chant in parish life, something which Vatican ll's liturgy document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, had clearly called for.
Fr Fessio noted that whereas the majority of complaints from American Catholics up to ten years ago had related to defective catechetics, today the area of greatest concern had become liturgy. For example, Mother Angelica and her cable television network EWTN were receiving thousands of calls every month about liturgical abuses from across the US.
Fr Fessio then referred to a talk given last year by Fr Brian Harrison, Dean of Theology at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico, at a conference in Colorado Springs. This talk, titled "On the Reform of the Reform of the Roman Liturgy" was, said Fr Fessio, not only "a perfect representation of the problem," but also offered "reasonable solutions".
Fr Harrison had argued that any comprehensive return to the "preconciliar" Mass was not an ultimate solution to the present problem, even if a continued and widespread exercise of this option, as allowed for by the Pope, was to be desired. To seek this as a long-term solution would be to bypass the Council and its key statement on liturgical reform - signed even by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre - which sought more than a mere continuance of the 1962 Missal (the Tridentine Mass).
On the other hand, equally unsatisfactory as a long-term solution was a mere reliance on a tightened observance of the present regulations governing celebrations of the Novus Ordo Mass. For certain aspects of the approved post-Vatican II liturgical changes needed serious re-evaluation.
Fr Harrison proposed as the best course to follow that the Church re-read and reflect upon the Vatican II liturgical document in the light of both the old Mass and what has occurred since the Council and then consider what the Vatican II document would really have envisaged for today's liturgy: what should a truly reformed liturgy be looking like today?
Fr Fessio revealed that he had sent a copy of Fr Harrison's proposals to Cardinal Ratzinger in 1995 and received a reply indicating complete agreement with what the Cardinal called "the way to true reform of the reform," which would require "a new liturgical movement." He strongly endorsed Fr Fessio's proposal to found a new organisation to advance this "movement".
Armed with this mandate from Cardinal Ratzinger, Fr Fessio launched Adoremus, an organisation which now has 15,000 members worldwide and continues to grow rapidly.
Fr Fessio next turned to what he believed Vatican II had actually called for in liturgical renewal. The overriding principle, he said, was that "before all else" there should be a "full and active participation" in the liturgy. But this "positive goal" was meant to be constrained by par 23 of Sacrosanctum Concilium which directed that "no innovations" should be introduced "unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them" and that any "new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing".
It is quite clear that these two limiting principles have been almost totally overlooked since the Council.
The expression "active participation," said Fr Fessio, had appeared in a number of earlier Church statements on liturgy, ranging from Pope St Pius X in 1903, through Pope Pius XI and Pius XII. It was clear from these, that "active participation" involved dispositions of reverence and awe in the face of heavenly mysteries and the sacrificial character of the Mass. And such participation necessitated use of the Church's musical heritage, particularly Gregorian chant. Vatican II had said (par 116): "... other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services."
Jewish roots
It is, he said, difficult to see how the Church can be faithful to the Council without "some effort to restore chant." Its almost complete absence in today's churches was a "glaring example" of a failure to implement the Council's liturgical reforms.
According to an expert on Jewish temple liturgy at the New York Hebrew Academy whom Fr Fessio consulted, the psalms sung at the time when Jesus and Mary were on earth would have sounded very much like Gregorian chant. "You got it from us," was the expert's comment. Far from being "medieval," it had its roots in "Jewish hymnody and psalmody."
With recent CDs of Gregorian chant selling in the millions it was difficult to sustain the view that this type of music was remote and unpopular for today's Catholics. No 'modern' Catholic hymns could boast of such commercial success.
To prove his point, Fr Fessio concluded his address by asking the audience to stand and sing portion of a Gregorian Kyrie after him. The task was carried out with relative ease.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 9 No 8 (September 1996), p. 4

Founded Adoremus

Now Chancellor at Ave Maria Univversity in Naples Florida

Of course, Ignatius Press, which is the English language publisher of our Pope's writings
Ignatius Press bio of Cardinal Ratzinger

An Answer to John Allen


A question of fairness
By Vincent Twomey
Cardinal Ratzinger is perhaps the most controversial figure in the Church today, a subject awaiting an author. Various articles about him have appeared, but no book, until the recent appearance of that by John L. Allen, Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.1 Is it fair to Ratzinger? As a former student of the Cardinal, I must admit to having some serious misgivings.
This book, Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith (Continuum, 2000), is a strange mixture, part early biography (ch. 1-3), part chronicle of some major controversies (4-6), part judgment on Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’ s performance as “enforcer of the faith” and his chances at becoming future pope (7-8). Towards the end of the book, Allen describes the Cardinal as “in most ways the best and brightest the Catholic church of his generation has to offer, a musician and man of culture, a genteel intellectual and polyglot, a deep true believer” (p. 313). Yet, Allen adds, he has left in his wake a fractured Church. The “yet” (or its equivalent) well typifies Allen’s account of Ratzinger’s position on various theological and ecclesiastical issues, which is often concise, though lacking any great depth or insight, but in the final analysis is negated by some “fault” or other. In his concluding chapter, he also offers his readers a succinct summary of the main points of what he considers to be of enduring value that remained with him after reading Ratzinger for over a year (pp. 303-6). Anyone skeptical of Allen might first read this to be assured of his good faith. So too, Allen’s accounts of various major controversies, in particular the chapter on liberation theology, are invariably interesting. How accurate they are is another matter, but the author generally tries to be fair and balanced. The crucial question is: to what extent does he succeed?
For Ratzinger, in the final analysis, remains for Allen the bogeyman that frightens most liberals, the main source of division and demoralization in the contemporary Church. He is the power-wielding churchman whose later theological views, in contrast with his earlier “liberal” stance, has had the effect, inter alia, of “legitimizing the concentration of power in the hands of the pope and his immediate advisors in the Roman curia” (p. 309). In other words, despite all his efforts to be fair, and Allen does make considerable efforts in that direction, the Cardinal remains the ogre.
Take, for example, Allen’s account of the liberation theology saga culminating in its effective defeat as a result in large measure of Ratzinger’s theological analysis and, more importantly, it is claimed, his ecclesiastical, political machinations. This account is not without its merits, but one’s confidence in Allen’s historical judgment is placed under severe strain, when he blames the Cardinal for the failure of Latin American Catholicism to create a social order that better reflects gospel values, namely less inequality between rich and poor (cf. p. 173). One could reasonably argue that more might have been accomplished at the political level in Latin America, if liberation theologians had at the outset not been so skeptical of either Catholic social teaching or the political potential of indigenous cultural traditions of piety they later rediscovered, but that is another issue.
Allen claims that Ratzinger’s attitude to other religions is negative, yet he fails to note, for example, that the Patriarch of Constantinople awarded Professor Ratzinger the Golden Cross of Mount Athos for his contribution to a greater understanding between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Later on, as Cardinal, he joined his former students at the Orthodox center near Geneva for a most amicable and fruitful discussion with representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, whose tradition he frequently cites. Allen seems not to know anything about the Cardinal’s role in helping to establish diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel. And not a word is heard of his defense of Islam from the blanket charge of fundamentalism (cf. A Turning Point for Europe?, p.165-70) or his appreciation of the significance of primordial religious rituals and myths, as found, e.g. in the Hindu tradition (cf. ITQ 65/2, 2000, 257).
But it is above all in Allen’s attempt to write a life of Cardinal Ratzinger (ch. 1-3), that the distorting effect of what seems to be the liberal’s underlying fear of the bogeyman can be seen. The main tendency in these opening chapters, it would appear, is to find an explanation for the transmutation into the “enforcer of the faith” of the earlier “liberal” Ratzinger, the young and promising theologian, who as peritus to Cardinal Frings, played such an important role at the Second Vatican Council.
Joseph Ratzinger grew up in the shadow of Nazi Germany within a family that was decidedly anti-Nazi and a Church that was hostile to Hitler — though perhaps not as publicly defiant as a later generation, that did not live in those circumstances, might claim that it should have been. That experience undoubtedly had an influence on Ratzinger, as he himself expressly said. But the claim that “Ratzinger today believes that the best antidote to political totalitarianism is ecclesial totalitarianism” (p. 3), however appealing as a sound bite, does not stand up to scrutiny. It is, however, the leitmotif of the whole book. According to Cardinal Ratzinger himself, on the contrary, the best antidote to totalitarianism is the upright conscience typically associated with the poor and the weak (cf. Church, Ecumenism and Politics, p. 165-80). And the role of the Church, he once affirmed, is primarily educational — understood in the spirit of the Greek philosophers who sought “. . . to break open the prison of positivism and awaken man’s receptivity to the truth, to God, and thus to the power of conscience. . . .” (A Turning Point for Europe?, p. 55). Though of central importance to Cardinal Ratzinger, both as a man and as a theologian, the primacy of conscience is not even mentioned by Allen.
More serious are insinuations about the supposed failure of Ratzinger’s own family to show more overt opposition to Nazi terror. Such a judgment shows little understanding of what living in a reign of terror involves, especially for a policeman and his young family (one is reminded of the film Life is Beautiful). Failing to note the fleeting and sketchy nature of such recollections, and unaware of other autobiographical references to that time (cf., e.g., Dolentium Hominum, no. 34, 1997, p. 17), Allen claims that Ratzinger tends to be selective in his own memory of those times. To prove that Ratzinger’s positive appraisal of the role of the Catholic Church at the time was “one-sided and even distorted in its emphasis on the moral courage of the church, at the expense of an honest reckoning with its failures” (p. 30), Allen claims that “Hitler came to power on the back of Catholic support” (p. 27). This is a serious misinterpretation of events. Allen gives no source for this or similar doubtful interpretations of events. (Indeed, his failure to give his sources is a major weakness of the book.) It would seem that here Allen is following some very biased reading of the historical events. But the reader is left with the vague, overall impression that Cardinal Ratzinger must be hiding something, or at least temporarily repressed it. And so, a shadow is cast over his youth in preparation for the emergence of the full-blown ogre in later life.
It is a cliché in popular theological circles to distinguish between the early and the late Ratzinger. He himself maintains that there is a basic continuity in his theology, a continuity that is not inconsistent with significant changes in perspective, even at times contradicting isolated claims he made in his theological youth. He has acknowledged, for example, a significant development in his eschatology. After all, “[T]o live is to change. . . .” Is it too much to suggest that the changes in his thinking might best be interpreted as signs of maturity, of further reflection due to changing circumstances and broader experience, especially as Prefect of the Congregation? His youthful enthusiasm for collegiality, for example, led to a reappraisal of the institution of national Episcopal Conferences in the light of his own personal experience in such conferences and as a result of his further theological reflection. He also noted the failure of the German bishops during the Nazi period to act more decisively and effectively because of collective responsibility.
Instead, Allen attributes a radical change from “erstwhile liberal” to the conservative “enforcer of the faith” to four causes: the 1968 student unrest, perceptions of decline in church attendance and vocations, too much exposure to Catholic faith at its most distorted, and, finally, power. The student unrest in the late ‘60s did have a profound effect on anyone who lived through that turbulent period, and he himself has on occasion referred to this, though it seems to me that his reflections on this period make use of ideas he had already formed in his earlier writings. It is doubtful if the decline in church numbers could have had such a radical effect on him. At a discussion of precisely this topic during a meeting of his former students, he once remarked that the sin for which David was most severely punished by the Lord was not his adultery or the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, but the census, the king’s attempt to number the people of God. Thirdly, his exposure as Prefect to the “pathology of the faith,” as Allen calls it, is more than offset by his own wide reading in the Fathers, contemporary theology, and philosophy, not to mention literature. His scholarly disposition to read and research finds due expression in various scholarly and general publications, the most recent being The Spirit of the Liturgy earlier last year (also not mentioned by Allen). And so one is left with the final “cause”: power. To suggest that the lust for power played a central role in any supposed “change of heart” that Professor Ratzinger revised his theology to advance his career, is (to put it mildly) mistaken, since his theological shift was manifest long before he went to Rome.
It should be mentioned that Ratzinger was never a student of Rahner, as Allen, quoting Wiltgen, claims. Nor was his move to Regensburg made in order to separate himself “intellectually from hitherto close colleagues like Küng and even his old ally, Rahner,” as Adrian Hastings in a review of this book claims. Rahner at the time was at Münster, not Tübingen. The main reason for Ratzinger’s decision to leave such a prestigious university was to escape the turmoil among students and on the faculty in Tübingen, and thus be able to devote himself completely to scholarship in his native Bavaria. This was told to me by Professor Kevin McNamara, Maynooth, in 1970 — information that led to my going to Regensburg for postgraduate studies instead of Tübingen. Later, some of Ratzinger’s doctoral students and assistants at Tübingen confirmed this. (He also had personal, more familial reasons.) Incidentally, Rahner was invited by Ratzinger to be a guest speaker at one of the end-of-semester doctoral colloquia in Regensburg. To the best of my knowledge, their theological differences (which were profound) predate Ratzinger’s appointment to Tübingen. Such differences did not dull his respect for Rahner.
His so-called “change of heart” in theology, it is claimed, is reflected in the two Schülerkreise (not Studentenkreise, the term Allen uses) he is supposed to have built up: those from his years in Bonn, Münster, and Tübingen and those from his years in Regensburg, “the latter group theologically at odds with the former” (p. 104). This division “underlines the gap between Ratzinger before and after the Council.” I am mentioned as an example of the latter group. Allen seems to have conducted fairly extensive interviews with two students of the “earlier Ratzinger,” but only spoke briefly on the phone to one of the “later Ratzinger”, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J. Considering the number of postgraduate students who studied under Ratzinger (somewhere between 40 and 50), this is slim evidence on which to base such a far-reaching thesis. It is a pity that the author did not consult the comprehensive report on the doctoral colloquium and the later Schülerkreis by his former Assistant, Professor Stephan O. Horn, SDS (cf. Alla scuola della Verità, Milan, 1997, pp. 9-26). Allen is wrong on several details, such as describing me as a spokesman for the Archbishop of Dublin (untrue) and citing extracts from my writings, especially that from my thesis, without any regard for the context. And he erroneously makes Cardinal Schönborn a student of Ratzinger’s, devoting several pages to the present Archbishop of Vienna to illustrate the “later Ratzinger” (While a visiting scholar in Regensburg, Schönborn joined our colloquium for two semesters, as did other visitors. It was only after Ratzinger’s elevation as Archbishop of Munich, that Professor Schönborn became one of a number of regular guests at the annual meetings of the Schülerkreis.
It is, further, misleading to say that Ratzinger “built-up” two distinct circles of students. There was never more than one, though its composition evidently changed with its members. Indeed, some of his students from his time in Bonn, Münster, and Tübingen might well be considered to number among his more “conservative” students, while others who started their studies while he was in Regensburg are held to be among his more “liberal” students. However, it is true to say that his critical views on postconciliar developments tended in time to attract students more sympathetic to such views. More significant is the fact that all students, irrespective of their basic standpoint, felt at home in the colloquium. This is because of Ratzinger’s evident respect for each member, his quite remarkable ability to promote dialogue and discussion, and his tolerance of diverse viewpoints. I have never encountered anyone who could engender such a free and frank discussion as Professor Ratzinger could. And he gave his students total academic freedom in the choice and treatment of their topic.
It is therefore simply untrue to claim that it was at Regensburg “that Ratzinger began educating a generation of students who would go on to play a leading restoration role in their own national churches” (p. 92). He never set out to indoctrinate any group of students, as seems to be implied here. The seminars and colloquium in Regensburg were places of intense debate and disagreement — and, it should be added, of wit and humor. It was also a time of intensive ecumenical activities for Ratzinger, including his pioneering lecture on the future of ecumenism at the University of Graz in 1976, his support for the various Regensburg Ecumenical Symposia, and the end-of-the-year doctoral colloquia with the Lutheran theologians Pannenberg and Joest, none of which Allen mentions. What Professor Ratzinger taught us at Regensburg, primarily by his example, was to search for the truth with scholarly rigor, to be objective and respectful in debate, to risk unpopularity, and to give reasons for one’s convictions. I even heard the reproach that he had failed to form his own distinct “school,” so diverse were his students and so open was the atmosphere he cultivated. In this, he has not changed with the years, as evidenced by the yearly meeting with his former students.
This characteristic of openness and dialogue is perhaps the key to understanding Ratzinger then as now: it is expressive of his concern for truth, which, he is convinced, will always prevail in the end (cf. p. 286). and explains both the primacy of conscience and the complementary role of the Church in his writings. This in turn involves the greatest possible objectivity, the continual (personal and collective) search for what is in fact true, and so openness to the opinions of others, and the courage to speak the truth in love. As a result, Ratzinger manages to preserve a certain distance from all the controversies that embroil him and his office. Contrary to what is claimed in this book he is ready to listen, is in fact a consummate listener, who once said that “All errors contain truths” (A Turning Point for Europe?, 108).
Consistent with this thinking is the statement in the Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian that a judgment of the Church on theological writings “does not concern the person of the theologian but the intellectual positions which he has publicly espoused” (my emphasis). For this reason it is strange for Allen to claim that when “Ratzinger denounces a theologian, he also implicitly rejects his theology” (p. 242). On the contrary, he, as Prefect, disciplines theologians because of their theology, not the other way around, and can only do so if they are recalcitrant in their refusal to accept the authoritative judgment of the Church, unpleasant though that may be. For Allen to underline the personal charm of Charles Curran, whom “virtually no one who knows him could construe as an enemy of the faith” (p. 258) is to miss the point completely.
Equally misleading is the claim by Curran (and others) that the methods of the congregation are “a violation of the most basic notions of due process” (p. 271). Such a comparison is invidious. The process used in determining the objective orthodoxy of a theologian must of its nature be different from the process used in a court of law, which judges the subjective guilt of the criminal. Likewise, the various penalties he has imposed on theologians disciplined by the Congregation are, no doubt, very much out of tune with the temper of the times, though to compare them — as has been done — with the penalties meted out to dissidents by totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century is grotesque, and deeply offensive to the dissidents. Those penalties are of course regrettable but, sadly, unavoidable. They do, however, underline the significance the Church accords to theology. Ratzinger is simply fulfilling his responsibility as Prefect of the Congregation with which he has been entrusted, scrupulously adhering to the approved procedures. Theology reflects on the revelation of ultimate human truth as handed on by the Catholic Church. It is concerned with our spiritual health, and is not a value-free academic discipline. In that regard, of course, it is in the same boat as any other serious human endeavor such as, for instance, medicine or law. If someone wishes to practice alternative medicine, he or she is free to do so, but outside the canons of traditional medicine. Mutatis mutandis, that is what is at stake in Ratzinger’s disciplining of certain theologians in recent years.
In passing judgment on the “enforcer of the faith” — itself a loaded term — Allen fails to appreciate the extent to which the Cardinal Prefect has in fact made the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conform in the letter and spirit to the reform inaugurated by Pope Paul VI. This was symbolized most recently, when he opened the archives of the Congregation to scholarly research (not mentioned by Allen). It is also evident in the way he takes considerable pains to give the reasons for each decision taken by the Congregation. Few of his predecessors have provided anything like the close argumentation to be found in documents such as Donum Vitae or the two Instructions on Liberation Theology.
Though on two occasions Allen quotes from papers read by Ratzinger to meetings held between officers of his Congregation and presidents of episcopal doctrinal commissions on various continents, he misses the real import of such meetings. They were attempts to enter into dialogue with the Asian, African, and American Churches, to bring the center to the periphery, as it were, to listen, to promote debate. That Ratzinger did listen was clear to us, when at the annual meeting of his Schülerkreis, he spoke informally about various events of the previous year involving his Congregation. While in Zaire, he evidently appreciated the adaptation of the Mass to African culture, including the incorporation of ritual dance in that liturgy. He was impressed with the caliber of the Asian theologians he experienced at first hand in Hong Kong.
Apart from the seminars on papal primacy, Allen seems unaware of various other seminars organized by the Congregation under his direction to listen to and learn from experts from around the world on controversial questions, for example, in moral theology and bioethics. Neither is there any mention of the publication by the Pontifical Biblical Commission (under his direction) of the important document on biblical interpretation. In addition, Cardinal Ratzinger has continued to lecture and publish in his own name as a theologian, inviting criticism. The bibliography of his publications (including secondary literature) up to 1997 covers some 101 pages. And he continues to publish. Last year alone, for example, saw the publication of two major books, one an extended interview with a German journalist. That he listens and responds to serious objections is illustrated by his readiness to enter into public debate, as in his extensive interview (covering two full pages) with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (22 September 2000) on hostile reactions to Dominus Iesus.
Finally, far from trying to centralize power in Rome, he has been heard to complain that, because the local bishops fail to act (or feel powerless to act when faced with a theologian who has built up his own international network), his Congregation is often reluctantly drawn into the controversy. Allen’s account of the case of Fr. Tissa Balasuriya would have been more credible, if Allen had taken the trouble to investigate the way this particular case ended up in Rome.
Allen describes a book quoted by Ratzinger (in a discussion of the pluralist theology of religions) as having a reputation for being “tendentious and error-prone, down to small details such as citing the wrong page” (p. 240, again no source is given for this serious accusation). This is really the kettle calling the pot black. As I have briefly described, Allen’s book is error-prone, down to small details of German spelling. It is certainly tendentious, illustrated not only by its subtitle but above all by the uncritical way he quotes accusations made by hostile witnesses, such as Hans Küng, without ever questioning their objectivity or veracity. And, apart from those gaps already mentioned, there are other serious lacunae.
There is, for example, no appreciation of Ratzinger’s writings in areas such as spirituality, politics, and ethics. Many of his sermons, meditations, and retreat talks have been published, even in English, but his rich spirituality does not merit Allen’s attention. Neither is there any treatment of his substantial body of writings on politics and ethics. International recognition of his unique contribution to the field of politics and ethics came when he was appointed a “membre associé étranger” at the “Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques” of the “Institut de France” on 7 November 1992 in Paris, taking the seat vacated by the death of the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov. One searches in vain for any reference to this significant fact in Allen’s book.
Allen is neither a theologian nor a historian. And yet, despite its drawbacks, his book gives the reader who otherwise might not even glance at any of Cardinal Ratzinger’s writings a little taste of their richness. He conveys something of the importance of this largely underestimated theologian holding one of the central offices in the Church at this tempestuous yet exhilarating time in history. But the price to be paid is a rather black and white approach to a man who is far more subtle, charming, and courageous than the man portrayed here. The book is unable to convey the richness and diversity of Ratzinger’s theology, which is not “derivative,” as some anonymous theologian quoted by Allen claims, but highly original and seminal, covering a vast range of subjects with refreshing clarity, insight, and, yes, optimism. Hopefully, its publication may prompt others to study his original writings, to judge for themselves — and so to enter into dialogue with one of the truly great contemporary thinkers.
1 Cardinal Ratzinger. The Vatican’s Enforcer of the Faith, by John L. Allen, Jr. (New York/London: Continuum, 2000).
Reverend Vincent Twomey, S.V.D., was ordained in 1970. He completed his doctorate at the University of Regensburg, Germany (1971-78) under the supervision of the then Professor Joseph Ratzinger. He taught theology first at the Regional Seminary of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands then at the SVD Faculty at Modling, Austria, and is at present Lecturer on the Faculty of Theology, Pontifical University, Maynooth, Ireland. This is his first article in HPR. October 2001