Pravda’s “Faith” section features a “difference of opinion” on Pope Ratzi today. On the one hand there’s Thomas J. Reese.
“Some people think that being pope means “never having to say you’re sorry,” or “never having to say you made a mistake,” or even “never having to explain.” Pope Benedict XVI has displayed refreshing candor in admitting mistakes, apologizing and explaining.”
“Refreshing” isn’t a word I’d use to describe this former Hitler Youth. But Reese is just getting started.
Most recently, he wrote a letter to all the bishops in the world to explain the lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X who were illegitimately ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988. He acknowledges that his decision “caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion more heated than any we have seen for a long time.” Even “many bishops felt perplexed” by the decision, he wrote.
He acknowledges that the lifting of the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson appeared as “as the repudiation of reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the [Second Vatican] Council had laid down in this regard to guide the Church’s path.” This was not his intention.
Well it’s like the line from The Wild Bunch: “I know what you meant to do, it’s what you did that I don’t like!”
At the time he lifted the excommunication, the pope did not know that Williamson was a Shoah denier. He acknowledges that “this unforeseen mishap” could have been prevented if his staff had consulted sources easily available on the Internet. “I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will have to pay greater attention to that source of news.”
Oh yeah we all buy that one. A Hitler Youth wouldn’t keep up on the voluminous press coverage of holocaust-deniers worldwide. If that’s your story you stick to it, dear.
The pope was clearly unhappy with the work done by the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which has been the lead Vatican agency for dealing with the schismatic Society of St. Pius X. They were the ones who did not warn him of possible problems. They did not do their homework.”
PASS THAT BUCK!
“As a result, the pope clipped the commission’s wings and put it under the control of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where Cardinal William Levada, an American, will supervise its work and “ensure the involvement of the prefects of the different Roman congregations and representatives from the world’s bishops in the process of decision-making.” This demotion and reigning in of the “Ecclesia Dei” commission will please many bishops who have long considered it a loose canon staffed by arch-conservatives in the Vatican curia.”
But it won’t fool anyone with half a brain.
“”Another mistake,” acknowledged by the pope, “which I deeply regret,” was that the lifting of the excommunication was “not clearly and adequately explained at the moment of its publication.” He attempts to explain that an excommunication is a punishment aimed at “calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity.” After 20 years, that has obviously failed, so he was willing to try something else after the bishops “had expressed their recognition in principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the authority of the council.” He then explains that excommunication has to do with ecclesiastical discipline not doctrine, and that it applies to individuals not institutions.
Whether anyone except canon lawyers can understand these legitimate but technical distinctions is an open question. But the bottom line is clear: “until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers – even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty – do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.” Such as clear statement could have avoided false headlines using words like “welcomes back,” “embraces,” “rehabilitates,” etc.
In explaining the lifting of the excommunication, I have compared it to a “ceasefire.” A ceasefire is not a peace treaty, even less an alliance. It allows for negotiations, it is not the end of negotiations. Whether these negotiations will succeed, is uncertain.”
IOW, it’s a PR problem. Isn’t that obvious?
“While admitting that the staffing and communication of the decision was flawed, the pope defends the decision itself. “Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church?” “Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?” “Was it, and is it, truly wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who ‘has something against you’ (cf. Mt 5:23ff.) and to seek reconciliation?”
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
“I agree with the pope’s analysis of the Williamson crisis. The decision making process was flawed and the roll out of the decision was a disaster. As I said earlier, lifting the excommunication was a prudential decision which the pope had every right to make and it did not mean an endorsement of the views of Williamson or of the Society of St. Pius X.
The one criticism that the pope does not answer in his letter is from those who feel he reaches out to dissenters on the right but not on the left. Could we take the same conciliatory language and apply it to those who reject the church’s teaching on birth control, married clergy and women priests? Can there be another commission whose responsibility is to reach out and negotiate with these factions in the church? “Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity?”
Hey, you forgot the gays!
But then again, maybe you didn’t. You remembered not to mention them.
What is encouraging is that the pope acknowledges to his critics that “Of course there are more important and urgent matters” facing the church than the Society of St. Pius X. “In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God who spoke on Sinai; to that God whose face we recognize in a love which presses ‘to the end’ (cf. Jn 13:1) – in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.”
A consequence of this, the pope writes, is the need for unity of all Christians, with which the pope is especially charged as the successor of Peter. “Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue.”
These have been priorities of the pope since the beginning of his papacy. Hopefully, the Vatican has learned from this crisis that different views need to be part of the decision making process and a communication’s strategy has to be part of every decision. Otherwise the real priorities of the pope will continue to be buried in bad headlines.”
Oh there’s more than just headlines at stake here, as Robert S. McElvaine notes in his dissent.
“Enough! No–Too much!
Amid all the justified outrage we all feel at Bernie Madoff and the AIG bandits, let us save some intense outrage for Pope Benedict XVI.
After insulting Muslims by declaring in 2006 that Muhammad had brought “things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached,” after reiterating (through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) in 2008 that the subject of the ordination of women is not even open for discussion and declaring that anyone involved with the ordination of women will be automatically excommunicated, after lifting in January of this year the excommunication of Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson, now Benedict XVI opens a visit to Africa by telling the people of a continent decimated by AIDS that the distribution of condoms “increases the problem” of the spread of AIDS.”
Well now you’re talkin’
More or less.
“I am a Catholic and the idea that such a man is God’s spokesperson on earth is absurd to me.”
You’re scarcely alone in that the fastest growing religious denomination in America is “None of the Above.”
“There are, of course, no provisions in the hierarchical institution set up, not by Jesus but by men who hijacked his name and in many cases perverted his teachings, for impeaching a pope and removing him from office. But there ought to be.
As I detail in my latest book, “Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America” (Crown), the cardinal sin of the Catholic Church — a literally deadly sin, if ever there was one — is its opposition to birth control. Far from being, as the Church contends, part of its moral doctrine, this policy is, plainly, the immoral doctrine of the Church. The use of condoms is a pro-life position.
Why does the Church persist in such a manifestly immoral doctrine? One suspects that it must be the usual twisted thinking about sex and women. The Church’s opposition to birth control is largely an outgrowth of its all-male composition and those males’ attempts to degrade women’s physical powers by asserting that women and the intercourse into which they supposedly tempt men are necessary evils (“It is well for a man not to touch a woman,” Paul instructed the Christians of Corinth), the only purpose of which is procreation.”
Well that’s a very important sin, but there are others. One in particular.
Are you up to dealing with it?
“Misogyny may not be “the Church’s one foundation,” but it is a major part of the base on which it was constructed.
It should be obvious that the sin in an over-populated world is not attempting to control birth, but attempting to control birth control.
And now for the pope to go so far as to indicate that condom use worsens the spread of AIDS — there’s an outrage that tops Madoff and AIG!
Let’s start a movement within the Catholic Church to impeach Pope Benedict XVI and remove him from office. While we’re at it, let’s replace him with a woman.
He reversed the excommunication of a Holocaust denier. Will he excommunicate me for pointing out that he is a misogyny denier?
If this be heresy, make the most of it.”
Well apparently not, so — HERE!
The Catholic Church is nothing more and nothing less than the world’s largest, richest, most influential and most thoroughly lawyered pedophile cult. And no one’s going to get anywhere without dealing with that fact first. For Ratzi’s not about to leave the limo
or the boytoy ensconsed within. And he has, despite all the bleatings of his apologusts, no regrets.
So take it away Captain Jack!