I thought Professor Ratzinger's latest was rather good. Not being germanophone, I did pause for just a moment at the bit about public disorders being stimulated in airliners by naked thighs. Then I realised that, pretty certainly, this was a piece of Bavarian humour. He, after all, was the pontiff who wrote with such approval about the Risus Paschalis. God bless him. The images evoked in my mind by his little quip were, indeed, diverting. How on earth would all those sweet little grandmothers who do the bulk of the stewarding on American Airlines have coped with the lust-filled hordes ...
His thesis, essentially, was that if, after a long period of no-exceptions ethical teaching, you suddenly spring on seminarians, not to mention on the world, the idea that there are no moral absolutes, there is a high a priori probability that ethical restraints, among people of all 'orientations', are more likely to be weakened rather than to be reinforced. There came into my imagination a picture of an enterprising urban fox sniffing with interest around the edges of a suspected tautology. Is there a technical term among the Intelligentsia for a Statement of the Bl**d*ng *bv***s?
We now know that the Ratzinger 'notes' were sent to PF and Parolin before the Vatican Meeting on Abuse as a contribution to the debate, but were suppressed until the Pope Emeritus himself later made them public. I am surprised that anybody should be surprised. This, after all, is the pontificate in which PF with shameless mendacity claimed that the dubia had never actually been sent to him; that nobody had ever given him the facts about episcopal abuse in Latin America. In which the Filial Correction received no reply. In which the Vigano revelations merely elicited a load of c*dsw*ll*p about the virtues of Silence, subsequently given a noisy reprise during Holy Week.
Is the term 'c*dsw*ll*p' current in North American English?
This is not a pontificate in which Telling the Truth has a high priority. Or any discernible priority. Happily, however, the former Roman Pontiff has not quite allowed mellow old age to blunt his capacity for deft sharpness. Equally happily, Cardinal Mueller has demonstrated the good sense of the old political advice about keeping your enemy close to your chest. Traddies who complain that "Nobody ever speaks up about the current crisis" should pay more attention to Gerhard Mueller's words. He gives no quarter and he doesn't give it so beautifully.
The delightfully deadpan way in which he demolishes PF actually makes me laugh aloud.
Ah, these Germans!! The Graf, on the other hand, just makes me cry. Don't talk to me about Viennese Charm ... but if you insist I won't say No to another pastry ...