29 May 2016

Two popes? More UPDATE

More Update: Perhaps I should have been more explicit about the complete wrongheadedness of the sort of speculations which could be triggered by Archbishop Gaenswein's piece.

We believe in the Monarchia of "the one God and Father". That is to say: the Father is the arkhe, pege theotetos ... the source and fount of the Godhead which He shares with Son (by filiation) and Spirit (by procession). All Fatherhood derives its "Name" from him. So the Fatherhood expressed in each particular Church by the one Bishop is the One imaging and embodiment of the One Fatherhood of the One Father. This is as true of the Roman Church as it is of every other particular Church.

A literate Byzantine might be forgiven for wondering whether we Latins are really Dyotheists who believe in two Principia Deitatis.

Vide Ephesians 3:14 and 4:6 and the Epistles of S Ignatius.

We have quite enough doctrinal disorders floating around at the moment without 'traditionalists' inventing new heresies of their own.

ORIGINAL POST: Since someone has asked me, I will express the view that Archbishop Gaenswein did not mean to say that there were two popes; nor to say that the papacy subsists in two individuals.

There can only be one Pope, and that pope is Francis. There can only be one Bishop of any diocese, but when a Coadjutor is appointed, he does acquire a close relationship with the One, Single, diocesan whom he is assisting. But, at least until recently, coadjutors retained the titular see in partibus which they already had. Perhaps having an emeritus pope is a bit like being a coadjutor bishop. By the way, 'emeritus' does mean 'having given up the job'.

As I said at the time of the Abdication, I felt it would have been more appropriate for Joseph Ratzinger to be given some such style as episcopus ad Sanctum Petrum, rather like the auxiliaries to the Saxon Archbishops of Canterbury who had their Cathedra in the old church of S Martin and were styled episcopus ad Sanctum Martinum.

I am a little uneasy, frankly, about anything that gives any impression whatsoever that the Papacy is anything other than the bishopric of Rome. As Fr Eric Mascall pointed out, the Papacy is not a sacramental rank in the Church such as to confer an indelible character. The purely administrative act of electing a man Pope does not change him in the same way as the ordination of a man to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate changes him. Being elected pope does not mean that through all eternity you will be, in some mystical mysterious sort of way, a pope. When you die or abdicate, you cease being a pope.

Joseph Ratzinger is not Pope; nor a Pope; not half a Pope; not in any sort of way whatsoever.


mark wauck said...

"Archbishop Gaenswein did not mean to say that there were two popes; nor to say that the papacy subsists in two individuals."

Would that it were that simple! Regardless of what Gaenswein meant to say, this is what he did in fact say (my translation):

"There are not therefore two Popes, but in fact an expanded ministry with an active member and a contemplative member. For this reason, Benedict has not given up either his name [i.e., he still calls himself Benedict XVI, not Joseph Ratzinger] or the white [papal] cassock. Therefore, the proper name by which we must address him is still 'Holiness'. Moreover, he has not retired to a monastery in isolation but [remains] within the Vatican, as if he had just stepped to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy that he, with that step, has enriched with the centrality of prayer and compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens."

Clear as ... mud? Elsewhere he speaks of a "new institution" of emeritus pope, which, however, appears to lack any canonical basis.

Bear in mind that Gaenswein's major academic training was as a canon lawyer, so one must assume that he knows what it means to frame his words carefully. And before becoming B16's private secretary he worked for the then Cardinal Ratzinger at the CDF, so one must assume that he's aware of the theological issues that some might raise. Nor should we assume that Ratzinger/Benedict himself has no appreciation for legal subtleties--his entire career suggests the contrary. Finally, one must assume that Gaenswein and His Holiness Benedict XVI (as Gaenswein says we must address him) communicate about these issues and that Gaenswein isn't simply free lancing.

Another canon lawyer (Stephen Violi) put it this way, after studying Pope Benedict's "Declaration":

"(Benedict XVI) declares that he renounces the 'ministerium'. Not the Papacy, according to the wording of the rule of Boniface VIII; not the 'munus' [office] according to the dictates of can. 332 § 2, but the 'ministerium', or, as he specified in his last audience, the 'active exercise of the ministry'... ".

Violi then continues:

"The service to the church continues with the same love and the same dedication, even outside the exercise of power. The subject of the irrevocable waiver is in fact the 'executio muneris' [exercise of the office] through action and speaking (agendo et loquendo) not the 'munus' [office] entrusted once and for all."

I won't pretend to know what's going on here, nor engage in speculation.

Paul Goings said...

"Joseph Ratzinger is not Pope, nor a Pope; not in any sort of way whatsoever."

Unless his abdication was made under duress of any kind, even occult.

Anonymous said...

To the extent that the comments meant that Ratzinger has established a precedent for popes emeritus to serve as contemplatives in service to the Pope, I think it's uncontroversial. It is in opposition to the idea that a Pope would resign, jet back to the pampas and serve as executive director of a vaguely heterodox Institute of the Spirit in Modern Life. Now ... that Ratzinger sees and intends his contemplative role to be a model for future popes emeritus I get -- but one point is not a trend, much less a rule.

Ganswein repeatedly refers to the "Petrine ministry" -- is this term a way of maintaining that the Pope is the Pope and that's that but the emeritus is co-pope in the sense of cooperating in his ministry? - similar to the confusion many have with the title Co-redemptrix.

From Pentin's write-up:

Drawing on the Latin words “munus petrinum” — “Petrine ministry” — Gänswein pointed out the word “munus” has many meanings such as “service, duty, guide or gift”. He said that “before and after his resignation” Benedict has viewed his task as “participation in such a ‘Petrine ministry’.

Deacon Augustine said...

I totally agree with your analysis of the reality, Fr. H.

However ++Ganswein seemed to indicate that although BXVI intended to resign from the office of the papacy, he nevertheless intended to maintain a "role" in an "expanded Petrine ministry." If that is truly a reflection of BXVI's intent, then would that not cast some doubt on the validity of his resignation, as he would have been inending to do something which it was impossible to do? The office of Pope and the Petrine ministry are both vested in the person of the (one) Bishop of Rome and it would not be possible to divide them in the way suggested.

If his intention was defective - by intending to do that which was not possible to do - then that might cast doubt on the validity of his resignation with all the pursuant consequences...

Han said...

"Active member" "Contemplative member"? Part of me gets a kick out of the idea of an Insei Vatican but that is because I am into Japanese history and conspiracy theories.

More seriously, this seems to me a manifestation of what I like to call the Spirit of Vatican I. The the promulgation of a doctrine of papal infallibility, is it any wonder that Catholics would think that election to the see of Rome works some ontological change upon the office-holder such that he is now a superarchbishop? I like to think that Benedict's retirement was one of the most Orthodox acts he did as Pope. It seems to me that it was supposed to be a lesson in Ecclesiology, but the Catholic world missed the point. Retirement was suppose to demonstrate that the Papacy is a particular job that is to be done by the Bishop of Rome, but yet, Catholics still functionally believe that the Pope is the source and summit of the Catholic Faith. That Abp. Gänswein can only see ministry in papal terms is evidence of this mindset as well as the sad fact the the lived reality of Catholic ecclesiology is that the Roman Catholic Church has but a single bishop who delegates administrative functions to a bunch of mitred archpriests who neither are seen nor see themselves as successors to the Apostles. Sad.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your view about the fact that there cannot be two Popes and that "the Papacy" is not a reality that can somehow transcend or extend beyond the man who is currently the one and only Bishop of Rome. But I must admit it does appear to be what Archbishop Ganschwein was suggesting: one Pope who carries out the active side of the Papal ministry and one who has donned the mantle of its contemplative side. He even emphasised that this is why the emeritus holy father made a point of keeping his regnal name, title and white garb. So I found this intervention quite puzzling, even disturbing. Surely better simply to say that Joseph Ratzinger naturally remains very close to and concerned for the Papacy, not only through his personal insight and understanding of the challenges of the job, but in his dedication to a hidden life of prayer at the very heart of the Church. Anything more than that is surely going to create confusion.

Ben of the Bayou said...

Dear Father,

You write, "The purely administrative act of electing a man Pope does not change him in the same way as the ordination of a man to the diaconate, presbyterate, or episcopate changes him." While the clear thrust of this observation is unassailable, may I be permitted one plea for a(n) (essential) distinction?

It seems to me that the election of the Bishop of Rome is not "purely" administrative. The Bishop of Rome, while equally possessing the special grace conferred by Episcopal consecration as other Bishops, nonetheless holds an Office that they do not. Namely, the Bishop of Rome is Successor Petri. Inasmuch as Peter received from Our Lord a mission given to him uniquely among the other Apostles, and since the Church's Tradition and dogmatic Magisterium (both Papal and Conciliar) has repeatedly reaffirmed that this mission is inextricably linked to the Petrine Office, then the selection of the Bishop of Rome does have a real specific difference from the selection of other Bishops.

And, since the Petrine Office relates to the very Constitution of the Church, divinely so willed, it seems to me that it cannot be "purely" administrative.

Certainly, though, once the Office is lost, so is that Mission.

Kind regards,


mark wauck said...

De Mattei and the various other commentators are certainly right about the confusion surrounding this situation. Be it noted, however, that this confusion isn't new. It was already being discussed in very specific terms shortly after the event by knowledgeable and responsible parties. Further, the anonymous Don Pio Pace at RC is surely correct in characterizing Gaenswein's words as a "message sent by the monastery intra muros Vaticani,"--not merely Gaenswein's personal words. Pace's view that this message "weakens even more the legitimacy of the 'active Pope'" among Benedict's "nostalgic friends" is not unreasonable, and surely had to be part of any calculation that went into the decision to deliver this message.

Paul Goings raises the issue that's on many minds: if these words reflect the reality that some pressure was involved in B16's action, then would that reality affect the actual canonical status of the two members of this "expanded ministry of Peter" (whatever that is)?

It's true that Gaenswein specifically denies that any "pressure" or "deal" was involved in whatever B16 actually did, but then he also specifically states that Ratzinger didn't seek the papacy--an obvious untruth, given the several high profile speeches that Ratzinger made leading up to the conclave, which laid out a programmatic vision.

kiwiinamerica said...

Could there possibly be a more potent and eloquent symbol of the confusion which currently besets the Church than a debate about the number of popes who currently occupy the Petrine office?

Does it get any worse than an argument about how many popes we have? Who could ever have imagined such a farcical situation?

We've reached the nadir.

Unknown said...

Speculating on potential consequences, one could see the seeds being laid for something else down the road. These are not spontaneous formulations for the here and now but rather groundwork being done. If you have an "extended Petrine ministry" in which one member of this elite club could be the active member and the other "the contemplative" you could have a Petrine ministry shared by Peter and his wife. Mr and Mrs Pope, with Mr Pope being the "active" and Mrs Pope being the "contemplative" exerciser of the Petrine ministry in its new, extended form. Of course, two become one flesh and should the "active" member lose his ability to be so 'active" due to weakness or health, then it would be up to the "contemplative " member of the extended Petrine ministry to take an active role. Mrs Pope could then be the Supreme Petrine Minister. And for variations sake, "Mrs. Pope" could be either male or female, ordained or not. As long as Magisterial authority is maintained in the "contemplative" Mr. Pope, Mrs. Pope (male or female) could exercise all of the power of the office either legislatively or create the illusion of a proxy magisterium.

Banshee said...

I think we're having a problem here because we don't have the full context, just a quote. (Plus all the attendant language problems.)

I would have kept it a lot simpler, like "Some popes, like Pope St. Gregory the Great, were able to balance the active parts of the job by also doing a lot of contemplative support of the Church. Modern popes have trouble with this. So did Pope Celestine.

"Just like Pope Celestine, the current Pope Emeritus gave up the job and all the special infallibility powers of the office; but he still serves the Church by doing all the contemplative stuff he wasn't able to do as Pope, and that Pope Francis can't get done. The Pope Emeritus is the Pope's bedesman, specially qualified by his knowledge of the job."

Woody said...

Is it just me, or are others also asking themselves, what will come next in this matter? Was ++Gaenswein's address intended to further some specific agenda, perhaps preparing for a substantial,pronouncement from His Holiness Benedict XVI? And in that case, or even if not, will there be unwelcome news about a turn for the worse in his health, God forbid?

One intuits from this episode, as from many others, that the current papacy has a certain contingent aspect.

Unknown said...

Archbishop Ganswein's words were considered, pondered over and, indeed, argued. He was making a case and was appealing not just to canonical legal categories nor even to philosophical and formal categories. He was even making something more than a theological argument - he was making a doctrinal argument, touching on revealed truth.
And what he said was - irony of ironies given the whole premiss of the Benedictine pontificate of a "hermeneutic of continuity" - something akin to the most radical rupture in our understanding of the Petrine Office since, well, ever.
Amoris Laetitia might well be radically rupturing the Church's Tradition on sin and Divine Mercy: evil as somehow a good in certain circumstances - but the Archbishop's arguments are just as revolutionary on an ecclesial level.
Leaving aside one moment that utter governmental imprudence of the Archbishop making this argument at a time of widespread confusion within the Church and uncertainties on a global level without, the arguments are just wrong. How could the Archbishop possibly advance them? It is a scandal.
Benedict XVI WAS Pope. He abdicated. He no longer is Pope. End of. He exercises no function qua Pope. He shouldn't be called Your Holiness. He shouldn't be called Pope Benedict and he shouldn't dress in white. This is all an equivocation that betrays a theological innovation that is not consonant with the Church's tradition. Bishop at St Peter's is an eminently sensible and fitting suggestion and it is a pity that this wasn't chosen. Instead we have this confusion-inducing situation. That it has now received a spurious theological rationalisaton by ++Ganswein is beyond unfortunate and suggests quite simply that the Modernist heterodoxy is far from being over...

John Vasc said...

Archibishop Gaenswein seems to be suggesting that Benedict XVI is both Pope and not-Pope, i.e. a sort of Schroedinger's Pope...

Janol said...

As much as I love Ratzinger/Benedict (and I had been hoping for decades for him to become Pope after JP2) and admitting the puniness of my mind, I am stupified by Gaenswein's discourse, as I have been since the time of the"abdication", of the reasoning/explanation of Ratzinger's/Benedict's new role and his manner of dress, etc.

One question here: "If his intention was defective - by intending to do that which was not possible to do..." (Deacon Augustine, above) in abdicating, might not his intention in accepting the Papacy also have been defective?

PaoloP said...

I cannot understand how it is possible for a Pope to validly resign.
If it is possible, saint Peter should have been in this position as well; but exactly this appears impossible to me.

PaoloP said...

I can't understand how it is possible for a Pope to validly resign.

If that is possible, the same should have held for saint Peter himself - but this appears utterly incredible to me: it belongs to the petrine office to remain bound to each elected Pope until his death.

Can anybody help?

mark wauck said...

@ John Vasc

It's true that he (Benedict) is said to be very fond of cats.

mark wauck said...

"We have quite enough doctrinal disorders floating around at the moment without 'traditionalists' inventing new heresies of their own."

While ArchB Gaenswein did attend the SSPX seminary at Econe for several years, that was a long time ago and he was ordained by a bishop in Germany. I know of no reason at all to suspect that either he or Ratzinger are "traddies"--and several reasons to believe quite the opposite. He and and/or Benedict appear to be the only ones presenting new theories of a bi-papacy--Gaenswein explicitly said that Benedict had been "thinking deeply" about this whole "pope emeritus" idea for a long time. So I can't think of any reason to lay this controversy at the feet of "traddies."

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Gregory XII, in 1415, convoked the Council of Constance and announced to it his abdication. I retirement, he was made Bishop of Frascati and Dean of the Sacred College. Incidentally, he had been under some fair degree of pressure ...

All bishops are successors of the Apostles. THE POPE IS NOT A MEMBER OF SOME ORDER WHICH IS SUPERIOR TO THAT OF BISHOP. If any bishop can resign, so can a pope.

Janol said...

Pope Pontian, John XVIII, Benedict IX, Gregory VI, and Celestine V also abdicated.

mark wauck said...

@ Fr Hunwicke:

"If any bishop can resign, so can a pope."

I agree, of course, and yet ...

The Code of Canon Law #331 Law does draw a distinction between bishops generally and "The bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter," and so it also provides separately #331.2 for the Roman Pontiff to "resign his office."

And thus arises the problem that the canon lawyers are wrestling with. CCL provides for a Roman Pontiff to "resign his office," whereas by the terms of Benedict's DECLARATIO Benedict doesn't declare that he resigns the office but instead declares that he renounces "the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."

By these terms, Benedict renounces the ministry of Bishop of Rome, yet doesn't resign the "office" of a bishop per se--if that is, indeed, the proper way to put such a resignation. Moreover, why introduce--or seemingly so--the distinction between "ministry" and "office". We all know Benedict is far from stupid, so we can't presume this was unintentional. In fact, we have ArchB Gaenswein's word for it that Benedict thought about the matter of an Emeritus Pope for "a long time"--and that "deeply"--before he took this step. Indeed, Gaenswein contends that this is a "new institution!" This resonates with Socci's contention that his sources assert that this event--whatever it was--was in the works for at least a year.

Which feeds the rumors that this event was brokered in some way. That it was negotiated. That raises questions of fact. If the "resignation" event was in fact negotiated, is it possible to question it's voluntariness and, thus, it's validity? In such a case there would NOT be two popes, but the question would arise: just who IS the pope? Further, if the "resignation" event was negotiated, does Gaenswein's statement--which was certainly extraordinary--represent Benedict's feeling that the terms of that negotiated settlement were somehow being violated? All this would be entirely irregular and uncanonical, or so it seems to me. But it would not change the principle of one pope.

Unsettling times.

mark wauck said...

Re Gregory XII, am I right in assuming that he didn't continue to swan about in a white cassock, demand to be addressed as "Your Holiness," and didn't maintain that he continued to be part of a "Petrine ministry"? Gregory's abdication appears to have been a clean break, whereas in the current situation there are clear ... ambiguities?

mark wauck said...

Here's an article that puts the case for Benedict's clear intention to abdicate/resign the papal office as strongly as possible, and from the horse's mouth, so to speak: Ratzinger: “My resignation is valid. Speculations are simply absurd”. And yet we see as well the confusing reference to a "Petrine Ministry" ...

Donna Bethell said...

During World War II, when Hitler was threatening to over run Vatican City, Pope Pius XII wrote, signed, and delivered to the Cardinals in the Vatican a letter of resignation, effective upon his capture. He said that the Germans would never hold the Pope captive because as soon as he was seized he would cease to be Pope. Thus he preemptively deprived Hitler of his prize. He seemed to be intending a very clean and total break.

Victor said...

@mark wauck: According to Wikipedia, Georg Gänswein studied in Freiburg from 1976-1979 and in Rome from 1979-1980. During this time, he attended the diocesan seminary Collegium Borromaeum in Freiburg. He considered becoming a Carthusian monk, but eventually was ordained a deacon by the archbishop of Freiburg and thus incardinated in the clergy of Freiburg.
I don't see where and when he should have had the time to "attend the SSPX seminary at Econe for several years", as you claim. Do you have proof that says otherwise?

Ben of the Bayou said...


Do you recognise any specific difference between the munus et ministeria of Bishops in general and that of the Bishop of Rome?

mark wauck said...

@ Victor

My "several" was an exaggeration. It should have been "a couple of" or perhaps even, more cautiously, "at least one." The point remains that he began his studies for the Priesthood under SSPX tutelage. If I had to guess I'd guess that he left Econe either after SSPX was "dissolved" (5/75) or after Lefebvre was suspended (7/76).

My proof? The source you cited.


"Gänswein began his seminary training at the International Seminary of Saint Pius X in Switzerland.[4] He has said that he decided to become a priest in 1974 when he was 18. In 1976 at the age of 20 he began his seminary training for the Archdiocese of Freiburg, for which he was ordained on 31 May 1984 at 28.[5]"

Also in the sidebar listing brief details of his life:

"Education: SSPX Seminary, Écône, Switzerland"

Fr John Hunwicke said...

A correspondent submitted a very good and well-researched comment; but concluded by demanding, in heavy type, the demand that another commenter on this blog should "retract his slanderous statement". This is not really quite the sort of manner I want to encourage on this blog. I am very anxious to enable that comment if it can be resubmitted without the bellicosity.

Sadie: the plots of the Rhineland Conspiracy to bin the draft schemata at Vatican II, and to pack the committees with their own "suggested list", is too well documented to be dismissed. I wonder if you misunderstood what I was saying.

Sadie Vacantist said...

@Father John

Yes, the conspiracy is well documented and I have read Heenan's unconvincing (and incoherent) description of events.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, writing recently in the Telegraph in response to Obama’s ‘Brexit’ intervention, made the point about the role of the USA in the development of the EEC. What he fails to mention is the role of American Catholics working with European Catholics such as Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi and Robert Schuman to consolidate Western Europe as an America hegemon after the war. Even Wikipedia gets it right in respect of the polyglot De Gasperi:

“De Gasperi enjoyed considerable support in the US, where he was considered able to oppose the rising tide of Communism – in particular the PCI, which was the biggest communist party in a Western European democracy. In January 1947 he visited the US. The chief goals of the trip were to soften the terms of the pending peace treaty with Italy, and to obtain immediate economic assistance. His ten-day tour, engineered by media mogul Henry Luce – the owner of Time magazine – and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce - the future ambassador to Rome - was viewed as a media "triumph," prompting positive comments of a wide section of the American press.”

The Luce family are a good starting point to understand the events and ‘atmosphere’ of the period. Clare was a Catholic convert of course.

My advice is to forget the infantile “Rhine flows into the Tiber” conspiracy.

Victor said...

Indeed, the English version of wikipedia states: „Gänswein began his seminary training at the International Seminary of Saint Pius X in Switzerland.“ Following the footnote, one finds in an article in the french journal „L'Express“ from 2009 the following passage: „Moins connu, son actuel secrétaire personnel, Georg Gänswein, a fréquenté le séminaire fondé par Mg Lefebvre à Ecône, en Suisse.“ („Less well known, his current private secretary, Georg Gänswein, visited on a regular basis the seminary founded by Msg Lefebvre in Ecône, Switzerland.“) Please mind that „fréquenter“ means „to frequent, to visit on a regular basis“. It does not mean „to attend“.

(The German wikipedia btw, which I quoted, does not say anything about Gänswein „frequenting“ Ecône.)

Furthermore, according to German author and journalist Hanspeter Oschwald's book „Im Namen des Heiligen Vaters: Wie fundamentalistische Mächte den Vatikan steuern“ („In the name of the Holy Father: how fundamentalistic powers steer the Vatican“ - don't bother buying it; you can read the relevant passages on books.google.com) Gänswein himself told him: „Ich hatte nie und habe auch gegenwärtig keinerlei Kontakte mit Ecône oder mit Anhängern von Ecône. Wer das behauptet, will mir schlichtweg schaden.“ („I never had, nor have I currently, any contact with Ecône or its adherents. Whoever says that simply wants to damage me.“)

The whole thing is an untruth, concocted by enemies of Pope Benedict to make him look bad. We should not propagate it.

[My apologies to Fr Hunwicke and Mark Wauck for an earlier version of this post. A zealous defence of Pope Benedict, me being carried away, and the fact that English is not my mothertongue, are very weak excuses. Thank goodness Fr Hunwicke moderates the comments!

mark wauck said...

@ Victor

As you'll see from the speed of my response, I assumed from Fr Hunwicke's comment today that he was referring to the matter of Gaenswein's alleged--as I must now say--attendance at Econe.

First let me say, if Gaenswein did in fact attend Econe, I see no shame in that. And I say that as one who has never attended an SSPX mass. Moreover, the whole point of my reference to Gaenswein's attendance at Econe was precisely to point out that it was so long ago--the years would have been 1974-1975--that no one should assume that his views as to an alleged "Petrine Ministry" reflect in any way a "traditionalist" background. As I went on to say, I can see no canonical or theological basis for a sort of "Petrine Group Ministry." Indeed, Gaenswein himself clearly regards this as an innovation, and I would strongly maintain that it is an unwarranted innovation. If you wish to engage in a zealous defense of Benedict, go ahead and argue that this whole "new institution" (Gaenswein's words) of "Pope Emeritus" has a solid canonical or theological basis, but I very much doubt that you will find any zealous defenders of Catholic tradition arguing on your side.

For the rest, I suppose I should simply take ArchB Gaenswein's words at face value--as you can see from the above, it makes no difference to me or my argument whether or not he did in fact attend Econe. Nevertheless, a few words on that topic ...

While I don't personally regard such an alleged connection to SSPX as anything shameful, I certainly understand why ArchB Gaenswein might view this as an attempt to smear him. That being the case, I would think that Gaenswein should make a greater effort to debunk the statement that first appeared in L'Express. For example:

He might explain what he was doing during the two years between his graduation from secondary school and his entry to the seminary, when he is alleged to have attended Econe.

He might insist that the Wikipedia entries in the English and French versions be corrected, since they both cite the L'Express article.

He might demand a correction/retraction from L'Express.

He might address the issue on his personal web site, in the biographical section.

These are all simple steps. I wouldn't expect him to go to greater lengths, such as tracking down commenters on internet blogs who claim that they attended Econe with him (at least one exists), or who claim that Bishop Fellay has confirmed the story and thinks highly of Gaenswein and says that Gaenswein says the "TLM" daily (yes, that also exists). If nothing else, it would save me and others a bit of trouble.

As for that L'Express article, I don't find it unsympathetic to Benedict. To my mind, it attempts to deal even handedly with what were, after all, matters of public controversy at the time. Also, bear in mind that L'Express is considered "right wing," so one would have to presume that there was no intent to defame either Ratzinger who is mentioned nor Gaenswein--as I think is borne out by this slightly longer extract:

"Grandi dans la foi classique et pieuse de sa Bavière natale, Ratzinger partage avec les lefebvristes le goût de la tradition et de la "belle" messe. Son frère Georg est de sensibilité traditionaliste. Moins connu, son actuel secrétaire personnel, Georg Gänswein, a fréquenté le séminaire fondé par Mg Lefebvre à Ecône, en Suisse. Mais la tradition telle que la conçoit Benoît XVI est une tradition vivante, contrairement à celle, figée dans le marbre du temps, des intégristes."

One final note. The French verb fréquenter can, in fact, mean "to attend a school."

Unknown said...

@mark wauck
I can confirm that in French "a fréquenté le séminaire fondé par Mg Lefebvre à Ecône" means that he was at the seminary in Ecône. Indeed, in this context, that's the only way such a statement can be read.

I have no dog in this fight.
Traditionalist, Conservative, Liberal. Whatever, frankly.
On their own terms, however, the Archbishop's argument is just balderdash.
There is no solace in looking back to the pontificate of Benedict XVI if, as ++Gänswein claims, the theological/doctrinal elements in his argument come from his Pontifical Meister because it's reprehensible twaddle from start to finish.

Like I said above, it's all rooted in the Modernist Crisis from over 100 years ago. In one way or another all the Popes since then, to greater or lesser extent, have been touched by it.

Come back P. Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange OP, all is forgiven!

Unknown said...

@mark wauck
I can confirm that in French "a fréquenté le séminaire fondé par Mg Lefebvre à Ecône" means that he was at the seminary in Ecône. Indeed, in this context, that's the only way such a statement can be read.

I have no dog in this fight.
Traditionalist, Conservative, Liberal. Whatever, frankly.
On their own terms, however, the Archbishop's argument is just balderdash.
There is no solace in looking back to the pontificate of Benedict XVI if, as ++Gänswein claims, the theological/doctrinal elements in his argument come from his Pontifical Meister because it's reprehensible twaddle from start to finish.

Like I said above, it's all rooted in the Modernist Crisis from over 100 years ago. In one way or another all the Popes since then, to greater or lesser extent, have been touched by it.

Come back P. Réginald Marie Garrigou-Lagrange OP, all is forgiven!

mark wauck said...

@ Richard Plant

I very much agree with your general idea. I would want to go back even further and trace the origins of the Modernist Crisis to the rise of Nominalism in the late Middle Ages. Any way you slice it, it's a much longer and more complex story than most people understand, as you say. Ironically, in modern scholarship there is an increasing understanding of the connection between nominalism and modernity, even as general educated awareness sinks ever lower. Just google some combination of modernism and nominalism and start reading almost at random.

Victor said...

@Mark Wauck et al:
I don't regard attendance of a traditionalist seminary as something to be ashamed about per se - however, imagine Archbishop Gänswein is appointed to a German bishopric, and the press finds a quotation stating that he attended Ecône. Can you imagine the reactions? We all remember what happened when Pope Benedict appointed an auxiliary bishop for Linz... So, while it is not shameful, we shouldn't say it if it is not true.

Since in Germany, pupils leave school after 13 years (or at least they used to when Gänswein was in school), he would have been 19 when he left school. He might have gone to the military (compulsory at that time), which would add another year-and-a-half. Or he might have entered school late (at the age of 7)... there are many possible explanations for the purported gap. I don't see why Archbishop Gänswein would have to explain himself. Sometimes it is the best strategy to let a lie die a quiet death.

Concerning the translation of "fréquenter", I (and my dictionary) stand corrected. I will ask my French friend Benoît about it though...

I am not saying anything about the Archbishop's arguments - I still have to make up my mind about it. But we have to fight lies and must not propagate them - willingly or unwillingly.

mark wauck said...

@ Victor

I certainly understand your concerns, and there's no doubt that the brief reference in the L'Express article was used by some--The Tablet, in the UK--to attack Benedict and Gaenswein. However, in context, it seems clear that the reference to Gaenswein in the article is a simple statement, not an allegation, and that the article itself was not intended as a smear. So from that standpoint I would be loathe to call it a 'lie'--as best as I can discern it lacks the requisite intent. Inaccuracy would seem to fit the case a bit better. And, yes, of course, inaccuracies of any sort should be corrected wherever and whenever possible. I also agree that ArchB Gaenswein should not be expected to spend his waking moments tracking down inaccuracies re his bio, although a clarification in the main languages which carried the story--French and English--would be helpful, given that he is clearly aware of them. Still, as long as people act as if an "attachment" (Benedict's word, I believe) to Catholic tradition is something to be a bit ashamed of, a charge that needs to be refuted or that needs to be justified or explained (away), the battle for tradition will remain one that is being fought steeply uphill. Best.