2 September 2010

Ratzinger's Infallibility (1)

Before his election as Bishop of Rome, the media had fixed on to Joseph Ratzinger a public image which went plain contrary to the facts: of an old style inquisitor who knawed his fingernails in his fury that he could no longer burn his enemies.

This never did fit the truth. During his stint at the CDF excommunications were few and far between, and he let it be known how irritated he was that local episcopates, despite their assertions of their own almost autonomous status, were curiously unwilling to discipline their own heretics, prefering to send a case to Rome so that they could then themselves play Mr Nice: "Terribly sorry, I'm your friend; but Rome has said ...". That sinister old reprobate Hans Kueng even retains his celebret. Has even been to tea (and has responded with renewed malevolence).

Since his election, Papa Ratzinger has shown no inclination - despite an erudition which even his enemies to not dispute - to dash off encyclicals putting everybody right on details of dogma and with a cheerful anathema ever at the ready. The media have been hugely perplexed by the Encyclicals that he has published; victims of their own propaganda, journalists are completely at a loss as to how to fit them in to the image of the man which they had themselves created. His admirers were as completely perplexed by his appointment of Cardinal Levada to his own old job at CDF. It quite simply occured to nobody that, after his own experiences, he wished to rescue that dikastery from the parodic misdescriptions which had in his time been attached to it.

What he has done has been to attempt to revitalise and retraditionalise the Church by teaching spirituality, by a brilliant series of catecheses on the Fathers and theologians of East and West, and by his liturgical example: in each case, mending the discontinuities which in the life de facto of the Western Church had cut us off from our roots. Frustrated of their desire to attack him as a persecuting bigot by his innate unwillingness to play that game, his enemies have naturally thanked whatever gods they worship for the gift of the pedophile scandal.

Long before he became Sovereign Pontiff, I was an avid reader and admirer of his books. For me, his election was rather like someone who always bets on the red suddenly getting a big win. I can honestly say that his exercise of his Pontificate has panned out just as I expected; although I did not foresee the eruption of the pedophile scandal threatening to derail his programmatics, and I expected him to get a new grip on episcopal appointments earlier than he did.



Sue Sims said...

Actually, it was like someone who's always bet on, say, three or seven having it come up. The chances of red/black are, after all, one in two, but we wouldn't have rejoiced as we did for half the qualified cardinals, if you see what I mean.

(I still remember jumping up and shrieking, much to the perplexity of my family, when Cardinal Estévez said 'Josephum' - gaudium magnum indeed.)

GOR said...

Unlike you Father, I had not kept up with then Cardinal Ratzinger's writings and was still influenced by the dubia with which he had been viewed by assorted Gregorian professors in the 60s. Not to mention the 'media image' of him which was put about for years in his capacity at CDF.

But it did contrast with the impressions of him that people had who had actually met him - quiet, unassuming and very gracious. However, to make up for lost time, upon his election I sought out everything I could find that he had written and discovered the real Ratzinger and the Holy Spirit at work.

I'm sure the Holy Spirit is pleased that I agree with His choice...!