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 Blooming Stars

Papal Dynamics – 2

            In his early priestly years Fr. Joseph Ratzinger is reported to start as a liberal. Cardinal Ratzinger functioned as an arch conservative all the important years of his active life. He was the chief spokesman for conservatism, traditionalism, and fight against liberalism, relativism, and modernism. His papacy was still born. He did not have any bold initiative to solve the problems facing the Catholic Church. He re-cycled the same issues that confronted Pope John Paul II and himself as the Pope’s right hand man. Pope Benedict was a spent man as a Cardinal in the papacy of John Paul II. He spent his energy spinning his wheels going nowhere around the same issues.

            He was not able to lay to rest the clergy child sexual abuse. Of course the news-starved media and the anti-Catholic elements tried to keep it alive and get the most mileage out of it. But Benedict’s lack of decisive action together with the controversy surrounds dealing effectively with it as a cardinal did not help. In the initial unearthing of the abuse, he was, perhaps, unaware of the enormity and extent of the abuse that damaged the Church’s very credibility as a safe, secure, and spiritual haven for children. But the inner workings of the unaccountable authoritarian Church governance shrouded in secrecy was also responsible for the mess. They thought they were divinely appointed, and hence above any civil laws. They did not take into confidence civil authorities at critical junctures. A very important principle that some Church officials in high position forget is that the Church the bride of Christ needs to be as self-transparent as Christ himself.

            The Society of St. Pius X was founded by the rebel French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to fight the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. He was a strong defender of Tridentine Mass, certain beliefs and pious practices, and religious discipline before the Second Vatican Council. He was explicitly reprimanded by Pope Paul VI for his obstinate disobedience and on-going persistent defiance. This reprimand was an unusual act for a pope. Lefebvre was forbidden to ordain priests and bishops. Against the explicit orders of Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Lefebvre ordained four bishops who incurred automatic excommunication together with Lefebvre on account of the defiant act. The archbishop’s schismatic act was condemned by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI remitted the excommunication of the four bishops.

            One of the bishops even denied the holocaust. The Pope also resurrected the Tridentine Mass, a symbol of the rejection of the Second Vatican Council according to Pope Paul VI (Refer National Catholic Reporter, December 8, 2012). Pope Benedict XVI bent backward so far to accommodate the schismatic prelate and his bishops that, I must say, he fell down. These acts of his needs to be viewed in the light of several progressive theologians who were silenced or forced to leave their prestigious positions or ministries in the Catholic Church on account of his intolerance. During his and Pope John Paul II’s regime progressive theologians were oppressed and emasculated as he was supposed to be the guardian of the Catholic doctrine and as he had the power and resources to reward those who toed his lines. The Church as a community in a representative council needs to come to the decision as to what is orthodoxy and what is a vital doctrine. It is not the prerogative of a pope or his appointee to decide that. It is high time that the notion embedded in the minds of most Catholics that the Pope and his Curia (equivalent to a cabinet) are the Church and their decisions with regard to the universal Church are undisputable needs to be rooted out. The Pope and all his officials are subject to the same admonition of St. Paul of working out their salvation, as any other Catholic, with fear and trembling.


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