18 March 2018

Like getting blood out of a stone

Who would have thought that there would be yet another complete paragraph in that letter of Pope emeritus Benedict which Mgr Vigano tried to conceal. A paragraph revealing that Ratzinger, happily, has not become mentally soft and helpless in old age; that he doesn't quite see why he should be kicked around by sniggering enemies, even though he is no longer pope. [Settimo Cielo blog]

He is astonished that he was expected to provide a polite puff for (among others) a theologian who was a noisy and persistent anti-papal nuisance during the last two pontificates.

As well he might be.

I know little about other countries and their political and cultural standards and how they operate. I do know that my own country is far from perfect and that its public life is frequently degraded by people who will get away with whatever they can until they are found out. Sexually, financially ... you name it. But ...

But in my country, an episode like this would, beyond any possibility of doubt, have ended up with a resignation or sacking in a context of public disgrace. Will any of my fellow-countrymen contradict me in my assertion?

Perhaps that will indeed be how this episode will end up. We shall see.

If this man Vigano were to be kept in office, it would be the final detail in the unfolding public demonstration of the moral corruption right at the heart of this failed pontificate. In politics, it is often not the big issues that bring a crisis to its head, but something that starts off by being insignificant to the point of pettiness. During this Bergoglian era, the two major disasters have been the shiftiness, accompanied by unbecoming bluster, in the area of paedophilia and coverups and cronyism; and attempts to get away with perverting the Church's moral teaching by stealth. Those things matter infinitely more than the current silly and minor episode.

But 'Lettergate' provides such a vivid snapshot of dirty little men involved in dirty little plots for thoroughly dirty purposes. Even anti-Ratzinger veterans among the Commentariat like Robert Mickens are saying that Vigano should resign or be sacked.

If PF cannot be made to understand the need to clean out his own Augean Stables, surely he should be made to go. Not next week, but this week.


mark wauck said...

I think it's become apparent that Ratzinger's letter, as I said, was very carefully written. It's polite but firm throughout and demonstrates an awareness of all ramifications of the request that was made to him, as well as how it all reflects on the papacy as an institution. That the Bergoglians should nevertheless have attempted to glean the positive from it while concealing the negative reveals remarkable bad judgment. One assumes that friends of Ratzinger made sure that the press would continue to dig, would demand answers to the right questions, etc. In other words, that Bergoglio wouldn't get away with this.

Anonymous said...

Taken all together, the letter now reads like Mark Anthony's funeral oration in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I write to praise this pontificate not to bring it down (I am aware that I hold a delicate and unprecedented position in the Church), for they are honourable men. Nonetheless I am, as it happens, sadly unable to endorse their little plan - and they are all, all honourable men - which was intended to oppose and react to (vuoleopporsi e reagire) the characterisation of PF as a man without deep intellectual formation and myself as an theorist without pastoral awareness. That is a ridiculous thought, for there must be, there always should be, an inner continuity between one Pope and the next. How could it be otherwise? It is not my place to pronounce otherwise. Let the facts be judged by honest observers. And they honourable men, are they not? The differences between my successor and I are surely only of style and temperament. And yet, only as an aside you understand, I am puzzled, by the enlisted support for this project by someone who was a bitter enemy of my own and my sainted predecessor's pontificate on so many levels, and of the Church magisterial tradition especially on matters of moral theology. Surely this cannot indicate the true character of this pontificate? Are they not, after all, honourable men?

philipjohnson said...

Amen Father,amen!!

Andreas Meszaros said...

Now the Vatican news website provides some comments, such as this (abbreviated from a longer paragraph):

The Secretariat for Communication takes note of polemical statements in the press suggesting censorship of a letter by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. The decision to omit comments by the Pope emeritus regarding certain contributors to the series was motivated by discretion and not by any intent to censor the former pontiff. In order to dispel any doubts it has been decided to publish the letter in its entirety. The letter can be seen in the photograph above.

The “photo above” shows the letter, in Italian, so tiny, that it is barely legible.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Bravo. If only we had a Prelature that could learn from your fortnight commentary.


Upton Sinclair observed : It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

Applying Sinclair's observation to the Prelature's silence about the Heteropraxis of Our Pope and Our Cross, we could say

It is difficult to get a Prelate to object to heteropraxis when his position depends on his silence.

Liam Ronan said...

Perhaps, Father, the Vatican has been awaiting a good day to bury bad news.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Will Vigano be gone-o?

Prolly not.

Mr. James Larson made an interesting observation years ago about the Church having so many crummy Cardinals and Bathetic Bishops and how Trent toiled to take out the trash but The Catholic Authority did not such thing, it simple promoted the wolves, made them more powerful and, thus, proportionally more wicked and destructive...

The same holy council, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding, wishing to restore a very much collapsed ecclesiastical discipline and to reform the depraved morals of the clergy and the Christian people, has deemed it proper to begin with those who preside over the major churches [bishops], for unblemished character in those who govern is the salvation of those governed." (
Decree Concerning Reform, Session VI, Chapter I)

Finally, the same holy council, moved by so many very grave afflictions of the Church, cannot but call to mind that nothing is more necessary to the Church of God than that the holy Roman pontiff apply that solicitude which by the duty of his office he owes the universal Church in a very special way by associating with himself as cardinals the most select persons only, and appoint to each church most eminently upright and competent shepherds [bishops], and this the more so, because our Lord Jesus Christ will require at his hand the blood of the sheep of Christ that perish through the evil government of shepherds who are negligent and forgetful of their office."

(Decree Concerning Reform, Session XXIV, chapter I)


Dear Father this is additiona material to think abut vis a vis the infallibility of Canonistaions.

One can't reasonably be expected to accept the Vatican Two Popes didn't know about the Faith, or lack of Faith, and the scandalous (yes, Virginia, sodomy is both a sin and a scandal) behavior of those they promoted.

Liam Ronan said...

I realize this is ever so slightly off-topic, but it does pertain to the retrospective takes of priest-theologian Joseph Ratzinger in 1972 on the topic of irregular unions and the circumstances under which these parties may be able to partake in the reception of Holy Communion. I read it and found his conclusions/thoughts seem to mirror those of Francis (link below):

Joseph Ratzinger - "On the Question of the Indissolubility of Marriage (Remarks on the dogmatic-historical state of affairs and its significance for the present) 1972

[Originally published in German: "Zur Frage nach der Unauflöslichkeit der Ehe: Bemerkungen zum dogmengeschichtlichen Befund und zu seiner gegenwärtigen Bedeutung" in Ehe und Ehescheidung: Diskussion unter Christen, Kösel-Verlag, München, 1972, pp. 35-56.]

This 45-year old work of Joseph Ratzinger was translated by Joseph Bolin on March 25, 2011


Liam Ronan said...

You perhaps might want to skip to the 'Conclusions' of the Ratzinger brief I just have submitted.

E sapelion said...

I will take the bait Father.
I will venture to suggest you consider the case of Selwyn Lloyd. He lied to the House of Commons about the conspiracy with the French and Israeli governments over the attack on Egypt in 1956. Whatever view you take about the 'neccessity' of the deception, he neither resigned nor ever made a clean breast of it. (In contrast with Jim Callaghan over devaluation, admittedly a much less momentous event). Ultimately he became Speaker of the House, the man in whom the Honour of the House is embodied.
I have held politicians, as a class, in contempt for over 70 years now.

Pulex said...

This all sad affair has succeeded to show in bad light Msgr. Vigano, Pope Francis, and Pope emeritus Benedict as well. The newly revealed 3rd paragraph concerns, after all, Benedict's former co-author and the curator of the German edition of Denzinger. Are the rest of the eleven authors more orthodox than P. Hunermann?

Stephen said...

The lemonade being made by this lemon of a pontificate is - one can only hope - a truly deep and longlasting understanding among the faithful, and perhaps a few clerics, of the true limits, rationale and duties of the papacy and the Bishop of Rome.

Let's face it - the modern Papacy has become a instrument of power of a type and degree quite different from anything that existed heretofore. If you're going to say that something has immediate, supreme and universal power, how do you put a check on that? How do you say, "Oh no, my conscience says that his actions/word/diktats are outside of the boundaries of his power" without yourself assuming that mandate? How does anyone know "This is not in the Catholic tradition" if he to whom you MUST acknowledge is the final arbiter as a matter of faith says, "But it is."

This was the challenge facing Arb. Lefebrve. And here is Paul VI's answer. Is there anything here from Paul VI that would indicate that Pope Francis operates outside his mandate?

GOR said...

The depravity in the Vatican beggars belief. Sexual immorality is allowed to proliferate with no correction or even admission of there being a problem. Rarely is anyone held to account and then only after the civil authorities or the secular media force the issue.

Financial impropriety is tolerated and anyone who tries to correct it is summarily fired. Cardinals involved in dubious financial affairs (Sodano, Bertone, Maradiaga - to name a few) are not held to account. ‘Friends of Francis’ can do no wrong, apparently. Outright lying and falsification have become so commonplace that one cannot trust anything that is put out by the Vatican PR machine.

RichardT said...

Would such behaviour have resulted in a sacking in Britain? It certainly should do, but remember that it took an actual death (of the weapons inspector Dr. Kelly) to build up a sufficiently strong sense of scandal to force Alastair Campbell out.

I fear revelations from the Vatican may have to get even worse before they can try to get better.

RichardT said...

Is it just my imagination or does Mgr Vigano, head of Vatican communications, actually look very like Alastair Campbell, who did the same job for Tony Blair?

Michael Dowd said...

Doubt that PF departure would affect the trend towards the Protestant and diabolical except to install a much slicker and slipperier heretic. The question is how many of the Cardinals still maintain the Catholic faith.

Unknown said...

There is an interview in Commonweal (sorry to mention such a rag)with Peter Hunermann. It seems to me to suggest that PH has been quite an influence on PF. And not only for AL.

A Daughter of Mary said...

What puzzles me is that Cardinal Ratzinger, having resigned his office as Pope, continues to refer to himself as Pope, dresses as Pope, and allows others to do this. He is not the pope, present or future - he is pope-past if we can refer to him in any way regarding the papacy. We must stop referring to him in that way. He is now Cardinal Ratzinger.

He may be going along with this charade because he wants to obey Pope Francis, and he may not see the danger. But this is getting dangerous. Every word Cardinal Ratzinger speaks is scrutinized and analyzed because he is "still Pope." Bad.

Anonymous said...

A Daughter of Mary - The title "pope emeritus" may or may not have been the wisest choice, and perhaps Bishop of Rome emeritus could make as much sense with less confusion, though few might wish to be considered a BORE. But clearly he was pope, and is now emeritus. He remains a priest and bishop, but not, as I understand it, a cardinal, as Ratzinger or Benedict or anything else.

RichardT said...

A Daughter of Mary said... "He is now Cardinal Ratzinger."

Actually, he isn't. Whatever he is, and however he should be addressed, he isn't a Cardinal.

Cardinal is not an order in the same way as a priest or bishop; it is not a thing in itself; instead technically the cardinals are the senior clergy of Rome. So to be created a cardinal one has to be appointed to one of the historic churches or suburban sees of Rome; it is the appointment to that post that makes one a Cardinal,not the other way around.

It's rather like being "made a Monsignor"; that's what we say, but that isn't what happens in canon law. What actually happens is that a priest is appointed to a specific role (Chaplain of His Holiness, Protonotary Apostolic, etc.) that carries with it the title of Monsignor.

Cardinal Ratzinger was Cardinal because he was Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni (and before that because he was Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino). When he became Pope he relinquished those posts and so ceased to have a qualifying post that made him a Cardinal. (Other people now hold those posts; currently the Bishop of Ouagadougou is Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino, and Francis Cardinal Arinze is Cardinal-Bishop of Velletri-Segni).

(The only exceptions to this are Patriarchs of Eastern Churches, who become Cardinals in their own right without being appointed to a Roman church, but that does not apply in the West)

My view is that it might be a good idea for the Pope Emeritus to automatically be a Cardinal (as Bishop of Rome Emeritus, without being appointed to a Roman church, as we do for Patriarchs of Eastern Churches), or at least have the status of a Cardinal, but that would need a change of Canon Law, which has not been done.

Fred W. said...

Pulex wrote: "This all sad affair has succeeded to show in bad light Msgr. Vigano, Pope Francis, and Pope emeritus Benedict as well."

How does this show Pope Emeritus Benedict in a bad light ?