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May 25 16 3:55 PM
Edward Pentin of the National Catholic register reported the following on May 23:Speaking at the presentation of a new book on Benedict’s pontificate at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome May 20, Archbishop Gänswein also said that Pope Francis and Benedict are not two popes “in competition” with one another, but represent one “expanded” Petrine Office with “an active member” and a “contemplative.”Archbishop Gänswein, who doubles as the personal secretary of the Pope Emeritus and prefect of the Pontifical Household, said Benedict did not abandon the papacy like Pope Celestine V in the 13th century but rather sought to continue his Petrine Office in a more appropriate way given his frailty.“Therefore, from 11 February 2013, the papal ministry is not the same as before,” he said. “It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed by his exceptional pontificate.”…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’.“He left the Papal Throne and yet, with the step he took on 11 February 2013, he has not abandoned this ministry,” Gänswein explained, something "quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005.“.. (This in not the case - the charism of papacy is in the office and not in the individual after he has laid down that office)He therefore stressed that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member.” He added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.”“Therefore he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican — as if he had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.” With that step, he said, he has enriched the papacy with “his prayer and his compassion placed in the Vatican Gardens.”No matter how much Archbishop Ganswein wants to delude himself, Christ did not build His Church on a “ministry” or an “office.” He chose to build the Church on a man, Peter. Until today, I don’t think any Catholic writer in history has ever had to point out that Peter was one individual human being. Yet this is the level of detachment from reality we are dealing with in our time. Churchmen today, learned in the make-believe modern philosophies, see reality as something subjective that can be toyed with. The entire teaching of the Church is like a large linguistic sandbox they play in. By reinterpreting the meaning of words, these men have made a living out of creating a false theological world that has no existence except in their own minds. Thus, it is really no exaggeration to say that the intellectual state of these men mimics mental illness. If what Ganswein says is true, then Benedict XVI believes he possesses the power to fundamentally change what Christ laid down as if the papacy were his own personal plaything. What is truly frightening is that anyone would take this transformation seriously.. The papacy is the pope and the pope is the papacy. The papacy is not a job that can be separated into two sets of duties to be performed by two people. It is rather an institution which is inseparably bound to one individual at a time.Therefore, Benedict the XVI is either the pope, or he is not. The same goes for Francis. Benedict has absolutely no authority or power to abdicate “some” of the papacy and outsource the rest to another. Yet Ganswein says “the papal ministry is not the same as before” and that Benedict XVI has “profoundly and lastingly transformed” it! Does he think us fools? Nobody, not even a pope, can change or alter one iota what Christ has established. To admit otherwise, is to accept the absurdity that for 2,000 years there has always been a latent ability for multiple individuals to be “members” of the papacy. Is this yet another novel doctrine that was discovered in the inner workings of Benedict’s mind in the year 2013? Regardless, it is not true. It is a false non-reality. Nevertheless, we are now living in a frightening situation where our own prelates are no longer bound by reason or common sense much less Catholic doctrine. That the personal secretary of Benedict XVI could feel comfortable stating this abhorrent deformation of the papacy publicly and proudly is a clear sign that the crisis in the Church is reaching a fever pitch. ( more likely that Ganswein is feeling invincible and bold enough to express his vision).......
May 26 16 2:12 AM
Archbishop Georg Gänswein’s recent remarks are always interesting, (that's one way of putting it, especially when he is slamming Pope Francis) his recent interview is of particular interest. Gänswein, (yes, it claims the papacy has been modified - by stealth!) like his master Pope Benedict, is a subtle creature (Blake has got to be kidding. Ganswein is a coarse creature and his intentions are perfectly clear) and should not be underestimated. (Very true! )I have always admired Ratzinger, especially as over the years his thought has developed. It is unlikely that Gänswein speaks with out Ratzinger knowing what he will say. ( If that is the case, then either Ratzinger was duplicitous and less than honest with the faithful at the time of his resignation - and he was untruthful to two highly respected journalists - or he is unable to control his celebrity secretary. Either way, it looks very bad for him)It is fascinating what Gänswein says about the two rival groups before the last Conclave, it is also fascinating what he leaves us to speculate about the election of Pope Francis in the light of these rival factions. (No more than it leaves us to speculate about Ratzinger's own election when he had a powerful group advocating for him. That is what happens in conclaves)People have been pondering what the Archbishop meant by an 'expanded Papacy'. (In my opinion he meant that his man is still in control and he - Ganswein - is therefore very important indeed) I think that we need to start with Pope John Paul's Et in Unum Sint 88ff - a document which seems to be as much the work of Cardinal-Prefect Ratzinger, as Pope Wojtyła. (Oh! JP II had a ghost writer and ghost thinker too! Imagine that!) It recognises the role of the Pope today. it goes beyond the teaching of Vatican One's Pastor Aeternus, where the Pope is seen as the locus of the authentic Church, and the ultimate judge, or rather definer. of where authentic Christianity ends and heresy begins. It is role well suited to a non-travelling Pope, with a limited staff, whose concern was essentially doctrinal, with a Secretariate of State, whose role was essentially concerned with relationships Catholic princes, and few other Cardinal's with a tiny staff who held particular offices.Mass communications above all have changed the role of the Papacy, today he is no longer the prisoner of the Vatican. We are more likely to be familiar with the image, actions and words of the Bishop of Rome than we are with our own Bishops. The Pope is no longer 'just for Catholics', he has another role, that of pre-eminence not only among Christians but among 'faith leaders' too. As a 'world leader' he has a moral authority which goes beyond that of any other leader. He is also the head of one of the largest and most active NGO in the world.I think Benedict has always wanted to reform the Papacy, ( He never did and moreover he never said anything about wishing to do so) it is not unconnected with his attempt to reform the Liturgy. His writings recognise the rootlessness both in scholarship and tradition of Paul VI's liturgical reforms,(Here we go - back to gold and lace arguments again) which rather than being a popular movement was something imposed from above through Papal authority. (Gosh! A pope could do that?) Vatican II, I am sure he welcomes but he has spoken and written about the Council of the Documents and the Council of Media. He has spoken of course of two hermeneutics, of rupture and continuity. Most especially in regard to the liturgy the Papacy itself has been the source of the hermeneutic of rupture, (For this writer who wants a way to get Benedict back in the picture!) a rupture in the liturgy would for Benedict be a rupture in the entire fabric of the Church.My personal feeling is the Archbishop is right that neither Vatileaks or conspiracies were responsible for Benedict's resignation, his devotion to Pope Celestine, his his symbolic leaving of his pallium on his shrine happened as early as April 2009, in retrospect it was an obvious sign of his intention to resign. (Rubbish! That was a sign that the old pallium was over and done with. Not orchestrated by Benedict either.) I am sure his increased tiredness and difficulty in walking hastened it somewhat. ( Of course that was the reason he resigned. He could hardly move by the end of 2012!)His resignation has changed the Papacy, more than any other event could have done. It has 'de-mystified' it. It has taken away the sense that the Pope is in some sense a sacred person, rather than a human being, brilliant or otherwise, fulfilling a sacred role. (Whoever believed anything else - even though the secretary went to great lengths to ensure the public never saw Benedict doing anything as human as drinking water) It strikes me as being highly unlikely that Pope Benedict was blind and deaf to "the so-called St. Gallen group” that included “Cardinals Danneels, Martini, Silvestrini or Murphy O’Connor”, what is perhaps interesting is that the Archbishop should mention them by name, (breaking the seal of secrecy?) and it is unlikely that he was unaware of who was their preferred candidate and where he would take the Papacy. (So what? People are entitled to their own choices)So what are we to make of the idea of an 'expanded' papacy? (The idea is inadmissible. A construct by Ganswein) I cannot help see that it is significant that in the light of Amoris Laetitia and the confusion that it has created that Archbishop Gänswein should point out that the Pope Emeritus is still alive and able to comment,The confusion has been created by Ganswein) albeit by his choice through the Archbishop. (Does this man truly think Benedict has much "choice" in what Ganswein does?) The 'expanded papacy' is presumably a reference to the fact that as long as Benedict is alive Pope Francis has to take his legacy into account. ( Wow - Benedict has organised it so that he can keep his successor in check? That is certainly a new one in history of the papacy! What a sly little manipulator he must have been when planning his retirement) In the past once a Pope was safely in his grave his successor had the freedom to make use of his predecessor's legacy as he wished, this is not an option for Francis. (Newsflash - Yes it is!) Benedict still has the capacity to cry out from his cloister, as we have seen recently over a misrepresentation of his words about Fatima. ( Except the priest in question stands by his statement and we have since heard no more! In my opinion, if Benedict wants to cry out he should do so over the outrageous statements of his out of control celebrity secretary)Gänswein, by this speech has rather clearly shown himself to be one of the chief custodians and defenders of the Ratzingarian legacy. ( In my opinion destroyer is a more accurate description) It is not by chance that he reminded the world that Ratzinger was elected after his sermon on the evils of Relativism. Perhaps when Pope Benedict is dead we will see what those who keep legacy which has perhaps grown rather and will grow rather than fade, will do and are capable of doing.(That sounds like a threat, and that Benedict's presence is the only thing keeping these cons in check)
May 27 16 10:20 PM
The Vatican has always been a hothouse for conspiracy theories, and a new controversy over the so-called Third Secret of Fatima is showing just how persistent such fixations can be — to the extent that the latest episode even forced Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of seclusion to refute claims that he once shaded the truth about the mysterious prophecy.At the same time, however, the new Fatima saga has overshadowed what could be a much more problematic bit of Vatican intrigue: how Benedict’s presence as the first ex-pope in more than six centuries is continuing to raise questions about the nature of the papacy, and the authority of Francis, the current pope.So far, most of the media attention has been focused on the three Fatima “secrets” that the Catholic Church believes were vouchsafed by the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in Portuguese town of Fatima in 1917.Two of the prophecies were published back in the 1940s but the Third Secret – supposedly too dangerous to reveal – remained sealed in the Vatican archives.That silence naturally inflamed the religious imaginations of true believers in the secret prophecy.So to calm the fevers, Saint John Paul II ordered the Third Secret published in full in 2000. He also had his top theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issue an accompanying explanation of the prophecy’s graphic descriptions of persecution and murdered popes and bishops.But conspiracy theories die hard. And this year, shortly after the May 13 feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a traditionalist blog published claims that Ratzinger – who was elected Benedict XVI after John Paul died in 2005 – told a friend that there was more in the secret than had been published.The blog also suggested that the hidden bits were dark predictions about the current papacy of Pope Francis and the turmoil, and even heresies, that some conservatives believe Francis has encouraged.The charges were so explosive that the Vatican press office on May 21 issued a forceful denial directly quoting the frail, 89-year-old former pope. Benedict called the reports “pure inventions, absolutely untrue” and confirmed that “the publication of the Third Secret of Fatima is complete.” (However, the priest who made the claim stands by his story)Of course, not all Fatima devotees were convinced, and some argued that the denial was just part of the conspiracy – and so it goes.From Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” to rumors of rigged conclaves, from the medieval legend of “Pope Joan” to whispers of Masonic plots and papal assassinations, Rome’s secretive culture sprouts intrigues like mushrooms.But just as the Fatima story was making headlines, Benedict’s longtime personal aide, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, delivered a surprisingly candid speech that reignited the equally potent issue of whether there are two popes or one, or whether the papacy itself has been redefined.Speaking at a May 20 event at Rome’s Gregorian University for the launch of a book dedicated to Benedict’s pontificate – and a day before Benedict’s Fatima statement gained so much attention – Ganswein said that the papacy “remains the foundation of the Catholic Church” but he said “the papal ministry is not the same as before.”Benedict, he explained, “left the papal throne and yet, with the step he took on February 11, 2013, he has not abandoned this [papal] ministry.” Ganswein said quitting in that sense would have been “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005” (Ganswein is confusing the indelible sacrament of ordination with election. The two are not the same. He surely knows this, but it suits him to make more of papal election than is correct. In my opinion it is manipulative and dishonest. The mystery is why Ratzinger allows him to get away with this) when the conclave of cardinals elected Benedict pope.Ganswein went on to say that Benedict intentionally “built a personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a communal ministry.” (Except Benedict never made such an intention clear, something which surely ought to have been known before his successor was elected)Consequently, he said, there are “not two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry – with an active member and a contemplative member,” referring to Francis and Benedict.The emeritus pope “had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.”(Elements of Ganswein’s talk were reported by various outlets but the National Catholic Register has the most complete version.)It’s an open question as to whether Ganswein clarified or confused the concept of what the papacy is today, and in what sense there could be two popes at the same time.But the archbishop – who, in addition to looking after Benedict, also plays a largely ceremonial role in Francis’ administration – continued to make his case. In the talk, for example, he sought to distinguish Benedict’s resignation from that of the last pope to quit the office, Celestine V.Celestine was an elderly hermit, Pietro da Marrone, who was chosen as pope in 1294 by cardinals who had been deadlocked for two years over a successor. Celestine was overwhelmed by the job and the intrigue, and abdicated after five months, reverting to his original name.He was imprisoned by his successor, Boniface VIII, who feared that some might rally around Celestine as an antipope; Celestine languished in jail and died in 1296.In his speech, Ganswein said Benedict’s resignation was not akin to Celestine’s because unlike Celestine, Benedict did not return to using his baptismal name, Joseph Ratzinger, after he stepped down, nor did he stop wearing the distinctive white papal cassock.Yet Ganswein’s assertions actually seem to run counter to some of Benedict’s own words. The pope emeritus, after much speculation about why he kept the papal title and white cassock, told an interviewer in 2014 that “there were no other clothes available” when he resigned – an explanation that many found odd, to say the least.He also said that he wanted to be addressed as “Father Benedict” in retirement rather than “Pope Emeritus” or even “Benedict XVI,” but he said “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.”Benedict himself has always stressed that Francis is the one legitimate pope but Ganswein’s remarkable argument for a “transformed” papacy and an “expanded ministry” with two popes working in tandem raises all manner of questions given the Catholic Church’s clear teaching on the supreme authority and central role of the pope, the successor of Saint Peter.Indeed, from the moment Benedict stunned the Catholic world, and especially his tradition-minded allies, there was a debate over whether a pope could in fact resign, or abdicate, or retire. (Benedict himself used the term “renounce.”)In his infirm final years, Saint John Paul II declared that such a resignation was impossible – “Did Christ come down from the cross?” he reportedly said. Ganswein seemed to be trying to thread the needle by noting that while Benedict did resign, Benedict is also in some sense still pope, or at least a pope.Not everyone was convinced. Ganswein’s “claims that we have two popes are clearly absurd and ridiculous” tweeted Massimo Faggioli, a church historian and theologian at Villanova University.From the other side of the spectrum, the blogger known as Augustinus, who writes for the traditionalist website Rorate Caeli, responded to Ganswein’s speech by arguingthat “the idea that the papacy itself has now been transformed in its very depths, and that to effect this transformation Benedict XVI’s will and actions in February 2013 were enough, raises extremely sensitive, nay, disturbing questions about the very theology of the Church.”Rocco Palmo, who writes a clerical insider’s blog called “Whispers in the Loggia,”called Ganswein’s model a “Papal Diarchy” — as opposed to a monarchy – a meme that was already being championed in the Italian media two years ago by fans of Benedict.Under that reasoning, Benedict renounced the governance aspect of the papacy, but shares the other powers, and he remains in a monastery in the Vatican itself to express that shared authority.Now, that’s a recipe for a Vatican conspiracy as big as the Third Secret of Fatima, and the flames don’t need much fanning, given how Francis has shaken conservatives. (Which, in my opinion, is precisely Ganswein's motivation)Benedict was in fact already a rallying point for Catholics unhappy with Francis, and the retired pope’s disciples continue to launch initiatives to promote Benedict’s legacy.Moreover, while the emeritus pope pledged to stay “hidden from the world” following his stunning resignation, he has periodically appeared at Vatican events – often at the behest of Francis, who encourages him to be a “grandfatherly” figure to the church. He also regularly speaks and writes to faithful followers to convey his views on various issues. (Living under the cupola of St Peter;s and receiving a stream of conservative devotees who then publish pictures of him on FB and elsewhere hardly fits in with that intention. Neither does living with a full papal household and a celebrity secretary who is also supposed to serve his successor. It is bizarre and Benedict/Ratzinger should put a stop to this nonsense as only he can.)All of that has sparked the dry kindling of conspiracy.Now Benedict’s own right-hand man has thrown gas onto the fire, and it seems unlikely to die down anytime soon.In his speech at the Gregorian, Ganswein expressed regret for comments he made in March describing Benedict – who was about to turn 89 – as “a candle that is slowly, serenely fading.”That remark sent jolts of panic through many in the church, and not a few obituary writers.Ganswein said, however, that his comment “was stupid.” (not nearly as stupid as this latest stunt) Benedict, while frail, is mentally sharp, he said, and continues to receive visitors and deal with correspondence. ( But all people and post are first filtered by the celebrity)Ganswein also said that Benedict may make a major public appearance at the Vatican on June 29, which will mark the 65th anniversary of his ordination as a priest. “[T]his may present an opportunity to show that Benedict XVI is well,” he said. ( It is also an opportunity for him to speak about the nature of his role, what his intentions were, who pressured him into the title "pope emeritus", and why he wears white and lives with a full papal household. It would also be sensible to appear without the troublemaker glued to his side. Always appearing with Ganswein is tantamount to admitting he is Benedict's mouthpiece. Allowing him to stay in a dual role is, in my opinion, extremely foolish)It may also be an opportunity of touch off another round of speculation about who is really the pope, or if there are two popes.And if that weren’t enough, the Vatican has announced that Francis (the other pope) is planning to visit Fatima next year for the centenary of the Marian apparitions.At this point the plot lines could write themselves.
May 28 16 8:05 AM
Benedict’s longtime personal aide, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, delivered a surprisingly candid speech that reignited the equally potent issue of whether there are two popes or one, or whether the papacy itself has been redefined.
Ganswein said quitting in that sense would have been “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005” when the conclave of cardinals elected Benedict pope.
"If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns his office, it is required for validity that the resignation is made freely and properly manifested but not that it is accepted by anyone."
Ganswein went on to say that Benedict intentionally “built a personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a communal ministry.”
I declare that I renounce 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.
The emeritus pope “had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.”
But the archbishop – who, in addition to looking after Benedict, also plays a largely ceremonial role in Francis’ administration – continued to make his case. (Italics and emphasis supplied.)
May 31 16 6:43 AM
When Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned as pontiff three years ago, he added a new dimension to the papacy, (there, in the first sentence, is the title which Benedict himself said he did not want but was too weak to resist) said his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein recently.Gänswein remains prefect of the Pontifical Household, and he works closely with both Benedict and Pope Francis.The archbishop spoke about Benedict’s pontificate and its wake at a May 20 book presentation of Oltre la crisi della Chiesa (“Beyond the Church’s Crisis”) by Father Roberto Regoli, an historian and professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The book aims to be the first history-based evaluation of Benedict XVI’s pontificate.Gänswein stressed that there is only one legitimate Pope – Francis. However, for the last three years, Catholics have lived “with two living successors of Peter among us.” He said Benedict and Francis “are not in competition with each other, though they have an extraordinary presence.”For Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement on Feb. 11, 2013 marked the introduction of a new institution into the Catholic Church: the Pope emeritus. ( This is the key point - for Ganswein there was a new institution and it looks increasingly as if it was concocted by him and not the exhausted Benedict XVI)Pope Benedict, he said, used a key phrase in his resignation speech: “Munus Petrinum.” This phrase is often translated “Petrine Ministry.” According to the archbishop, the Latin word “munus” has many meanings: service, commitment, guide, gift, even wonder.“Benedict XVI thought of his commitment as a participation in that Petrine ministry,” the archbishop said. “That means that he left the papal throne, but he did not abandon this ministry.”Benedict XVI now acts “with a collegial and synodal dimension” and a “common ministry” that appears to echo his episcopal and papal motto: ‘cooperatores veritatis,’ ‘cooperators of the truth’,” he said.Hence, “since Pope Francis’ election, there are not two Popes, but there is a de facto enlarged ministry, with both an active and a contemplative member.”The archbishop said that this is why Benedict did not renounce his papal name, or give up his white cassock. (This is NOT what Benedict himself said. It is time he spoke up and spoke for himself)“This is the reason why the correct appellation for him is ‘Your Holiness.’ This is finally the reason why he did not retire to an isolated monastery, but within the Vatican walls, as if he just took a step aside to make space for his successor and for a new step in the history of the papacy,” Gänswein said.This is how Benedict XVI has “profoundly and lastingly transformed” the papal ministry during his “exceptional pontificate.”Gänswein also reflected on the meaning of Benedict XVI’s election. He said that the election was “certainly the outcome of a clash” whose key interpretation had been given by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger himself in his homily for the pre-conclave Mass on April 18, 2005.Then-Cardinal Ratzinger reflected on the clash of two forces. He criticized “a dictatorship of relativism” that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desire.”With this, Gänswein said, Ratzinger contrasted Christians’ goal of Jesus Christ, the Son of God and “the true man.” This is “the measure of true humanism.”This clash is epitomized in what Gänswein described as “the dramatic struggle” between two parties in the conclave. He labeled one the “Salt of the Earth” party after the name of a book-length interview with Cardinal Ratzinger, gathered around Cardinals Lopez Trujillo, Ruini, Herranz, Rouco Varela and Medina Estevez.Then there is the so-called “St. Gallen group” gathered around Cardinals Daneels, Martini, Silvestrini and Murphy-O’Connor. This is the group, Gänswein noted, that Daneels “himself amusedly described as ‘a sort of Mafia-club’.”Gänswein said that “the dictatorship of relativism” is now being channeled through the new media that could barely be imagined in 2005. ( In 2005 nobody imagined that the papacy could become first, a visually bizarre double act with a possessive secretary glued to the Pope in almost every picture, not that the same secretary would later actually attempt to redefine the papacy)Once and for all, Gänswein rejected the notion that Benedict XVI resigned because of the scandals or following the “black year” of 2010.That year was marked by new clergy sex abuse scandals in Europe, and followed controversies such as that of Lefebvrist Bishop Richard Williamson, whose excommunication was lifted without knowledge of his remarks minimizing the death toll of Jews in the Holocaust.Gänswein said there were more personal reasons for the pope to consider 2010 “a black year.”That was the year of the death of Manuela Camagni, one of four consecrated lay women belonging to Memores Domini, part of the broad Communion and Liberation movement, who were part of the pontifical household. She died after she was struck by a car.“The media sensationalism of those years, from the Williamson case to escalating attacks on the pope, did not strike the pope as much as Manuela’s death did,” Gänswein said. (If this is true Ganswein ought to have kept quiet. The death of the housekeeper was a tragic accident but Benedict was responsible for the Universal Church which, in 2010, was overshadowed by enormous and deplorable scandals - including revelations of widespread clergy abuse of children in Europe. Added to that was the scandal of the odious Holocaust denier Williamson. If those events did not upset Ratzinger as much as those is in his papal household perhaps it would have been better if he had retreated to private life much sooner. Ganswein's arrogant assertion here is an insult to the children who suffered abuse and it does nothing to enhance Ratzinger's reputation and papacy. It is disgraceful. This man does not understand the value of discreet silence)The papal butler, Paolo Gabriele, was then exposed as the source of confidential information about the papacy, which news stories have labeled “Vatileaks.”The archbishop stressed that “as the Pope was shocked by Manuela Camagni’s sudden death, he then suffered a lot from the betrayal of Paolo Gabriele.” (Gabriele could surely say much more about the hermetically sealed household around Benedict, and who was actually in charge of it)But he said that Benedict did not resign due to these factors, or due to other “spicy news.” Rather, as the former pontiff said in his resignation announcement, his decision was based on his advanced age and declining strength, which led him to believe that he could no longer exercise the ministry entrusted to him.“No betrayer or any journalist could push the pope to that decision,” Gänswein stressed, as “that scandal was too tiny” compared with the “well-pondered historical step” Benedict XVI made with his resignation.
May 31 16 7:01 AM
Archbishop Georg Gänswein recently raised eyebrows by stating that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation had expanded the nature of the Petrine ministry and revolutionized the papacy.According to an article last week in the National Catholic Register, the Prefect of the Pontifical Household, who is also Benedict’s personal secretary, told a conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University on May 20 that there are not two popes, but “de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member."“This is why Benedict XVI has not given up either his name, or the white cassock,” Gänswein said. “This is why the correct name by which to address him even today is ‘Your Holiness’; and this is also why he has not retired to a secluded monastery, but within the Vatican — as if he had only taken a step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy which he, by that step, enriched with the ‘power station’ of his prayer and his compassion located in the Vatican Gardens.” Gänswein, who was speaking at the presentation of a new book by Roberto Regoli entitled Beyond the Crisis of the Church — The Pontificate of Benedict XVI, also spoke of a “dramatic struggle” in the 2005 conclave that elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope, and acknowledged the existence of a so-called “St. Gallen Group,” which Cardinal Danneels of Brussels jokingly called “a kind of Mafia-club” opposed to Benedict’s election.Gänswein’s speech.
Eminences, Excellencies, dear Brothers, Ladies and Gentlemen!During one of the last conversations that the pope’s biographer, Peter Seewald of Munich, was able to have with Benedict XVI, as he was bidding him goodbye, he asked him: “Are you the end of the old or the beginning of the new?” The pope’s answer was brief and sure: “The one and the other,” he replied. The recorder was already turned off; that is why this final exchange is not found in any of the book-interviews with Peter Seewald, not even the famousLight of the World. It only appeared in an interview he granted to Corriere della Sera in the wake of Benedict XVI’s resignation, in which the biographer recalled those key words which are, in a certain way, a maxim of the book by Roberto Regoli, which we are presenting here today at the Gregorian.Indeed, I must admit that perhaps it is impossible to sum up the pontificate of Benedict XVI in a more concise manner. And the one who says it, over the years, has had the privilege of experiencing this Pope up close as a “homo historicus,” the Western man par excellence who has embodied the wealth of Catholic tradition as no other; and — at the same time — has been daring enough to open the door to a new phase, to that historical turning point which no one five years ago could have ever imagined. Since then, we live in an historic era which in the 2,000-year history of the Church is without precedent.As in the time of Peter, also today the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church continues to have one legitimate Pope. But today we live with two living successors of Peter among us — who are not in a competitive relationship between themselves, and yet both have an extraordinary presence! We may add that the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger had already marked decisively the long pontificate of St. John Paul II, whom he faithfully served for almost a quarter of a century as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Many people even today continue to see this new situation as a kind of exceptional (not regular) state of the divinely instituted office of Peter (eine Art göttlichen Ausnahmezustandes).But is it already time to assess the pontificate of Benedict XVI? Generally, in the history of the Church, popes can correctly be judged and classified only ex post. And as proof of this, Regoli himself mentions the case of Gregory VII, the great reforming pope of the Middle Ages, who at the end of his life died in exile in Salerno – a failure in the opinion of many of his contemporaries. And yet Gregory VII was the very one who, amid the controversies of his time, decisively shaped the face of the Church for the generations that followed. Much more daring, therefore, does Professor Regoli seem today in already attempting to take stock of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, while he is still alive.The amount of critical material which he reviewed and analyzed to this end is massive and impressive. Indeed, Benedict XVI is and remains extraordinarily present also through his writings: both those produced as pope — the three volumes on Jesus of Nazareth and 16 (!) volumes of Teachings he gave us during his papacy — and as Professor Ratzinger or Cardinal Ratzinger, whose works could fill a small library.And so, Regoli’s work is not lacking in footnotes, which are as numerous as the memories they awaken in me. For I was present when Benedict XVI, at the end of his mandate, removed the Fisherman’s ring, as is customary after the death of a pope, even though in this case he was still alive! I was present when, on the other hand, he decided not to give up the name he had chosen, as Pope Celestine V had done when, on December 13, 1294, a few months after the start of his ministry, be again became Pietro dal Morrone.Since February 2013 the papal ministry is therefore no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and yet it is a foundation which Benedict XVI has profoundly and permanently transformed during his exceptional pontificate (Ausnahmepontifikat), regarding which the sober Cardinal Sodano, reacting simply and directly immediately after the surprising resignation, deeply moved and almost stunned, exclaimed that the news hit the cardinals who were gathered “like a bolt from out of the blue.”It was the morning of that very day when, in the evening, a bolt of lightning with an incredible roar struck the tip of St. Peter’s dome positioned just over the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. Rarely has the cosmos more dramatically accompanied a historic turning point. But on the morning of that February 11, the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, concluded his reply to Benedict XVI’s statement with an initial and similarly cosmic assessment of the pontificate, when he concluded, saying: “Certainly, the stars in the sky will always continue to shine, and so too will the star of his pontificate always shine in our midst.”Equally brilliant and illuminating is the thorough and well documented exposition by Don Regoli of the different phases of the pontificate. Especially its beginning in the April 2005 conclave, from which Joseph Ratzinger, after one of the shortest elections in the history of the Church, emerged elected after only four ballots following a dramatic struggle between the so-called “Salt of the Earth Party,” around Cardinals López Trujíllo, Ruini, Herranz, Rouco Varela or Medina and the so-called “St. Gallen Group” around Cardinals Danneels, Martini, Silvestrini or Murphy-O’Connor; a group that recently the same Cardinal Danneels of Brussels so amusedly called “a kind of Mafia-Club.” The election was certainly also the result of a clash, whose key Ratzinger himself, as dean of the College of Cardinals, had furnished in the historic homily of April 18, 2005 in St. Peter’s; precisely, where to a “dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires” he contrasted another measure: “the Son of God, the true man” as “the measure of true humanism.” Today we read this part of Regoli’s intelligent analysis almost like a breathtaking detective novel of not so long ago; whereas the “dictatorship of relativism” has for a long time sweepingly expressed itself through the many channels of the new means of communication which, in 2005, barely could be imagined.The name that the new pope took immediately after his election therefore already represented a plan. Joseph Ratzinger did not become Pope John Paul III, as perhaps many would have wished. Instead, he went back to Benedict XV — the unheeded and unlucky great pope of peace of the terrible years of the First World War — and to St. Benedict of Norcia, patriarch of monasticism and patron of Europe. I could appear as a star witness to testify that, over the previous years, Cardinal Ratzinger never pushed to rise to the highest office of the Catholic Church.Instead, he was already dreaming of a condition that would have allowed him to write several last books in peace and tranquility. Everyone knows that things went differently. During the election, then, in the Sistine Chapel, I was a witness that he saw the election as a “true shock” and was “upset,” and that he felt “dizzy” as soon as he realized that “the axe” of the election would fall on him. I am not revealing any secrets here, because it was Benedict XVI himself who confessed all of this publicly on the occasion of the first audience granted to pilgrims who had come from Germany. And so it isn’t surprising that it was Benedict XVI who immediately after his election invited the faithful to pray for him, as this book again reminds us.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by TeadsRegoli maps out the various years of ministry in a fascinating and moving way, recalling the skill and confidence with which Benedict XVI exercised his mandate. And what emerged from the time when, just a few months after his election, he invited for a private conversation both his old, fierce antagonist Hans Küng as well as Oriana Fallaci, the agnostic and combative grande dame of Jewish origin, from the Italian secular mass media; or when he appointed Werner Arber, the Swiss Evangelical and Nobel Prize winner, as the first non-Catholic President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Regoli does not cover up the accusation of an insufficient knowledge of men that was often leveled against the brilliant theologian in the shoes of the Fisherman; a man capable of truly brilliantly evaluating texts and difficult books, and who nevertheless, in 2010, frankly confided to Peter Seewald how difficult he found decisions about people because “no one can read another man’s heart.” How true it is!Regoli rightly calls 2010 a “black year” for the pope, precisely in relation to the tragic and fatal accident that befell Manuela Camagni, one of the four Memores Domini belonging to the small “papal family.” I can certainly confirm it. In comparison with this misfortune the media sensationalism of those years — from the case of traditionalist bishop, Williamson, to a series of increasingly malicious attacks against the pope — while having a certain effect, did not strike the pope’s heart as much as the death of Manuela, who was torn so suddenly from our midst. Benedict was not an “actor pope,” and even less an insensitive “automaton pope”; even on the throne of Peter he was and he remained a man; or, as Conrad Ferdinand Meyer would say, he was not a “clever book,” he was “a man with his contradictions.” That is how I myself have daily been able to come to know and appreciate him. And so he has remained until today.Regoli observes, however, that after the last encyclical, Caritas in veritate of December 4, 2009, a dynamic, innovative papacy with a strong drive from a liturgical, ecumenical and canonical perspective, suddenly appeared to have “slowed down,” been blocked, and bogged down. Although it is true that the headwinds increased in the years that followed, I cannot confirm this judgment. Benedict’s travels to the UK (2010), to Germany and to Erfurt, the city of Luther (2011), or to the heated Middle East — to concerned Christians in Lebanon (2012) — have all been ecumenical milestones in recent years. His decisive handling to solve the issue of abuse was and remains a decisive indication on how to proceed. And when, before him, has there ever been a pope who — along with his onerous task — has also written books on Jesus of Nazareth, which perhaps will also be regarded as his most important legacy?It isn’t necessary here that I dwell on how he, who was so struck by the sudden death of Manuela Camagni, later also suffered the betrayal of Paolo Gabriele, who was also a member of the same “papal family.” And yet it is good for me to say at long last, with all clarity, that Benedict, in the end, did not step down because of a poor and misguided chamber assistant, or because of the “tidbits” coming from his apartment which, in the so-called “Vatileaks affair,” circulated like fool’s gold in Rome but were traded in the rest of the world like authentic gold bullion. No traitor or “raven” [the Italian press’s nickname for the Vatileaks source] or any journalist would have been able to push him to that decision. That scandal was too small for such a thing, and so much greater was the well-considered step of millennial historical significance that Benedict XVI made.The exposition of these events by Regoli also merits consideration because he does not advance the claim that he sounds and fully explains this last, mysterious step; not further enriching the swarm of legends with more assumptions that have little or nothing to do with reality. And I, too, a firsthand witness of the spectacular and unexpected step of Benedict XVI, I must admit that what always comes to mind is the well-known and brilliant axiom with which, in the Middle Ages, John Duns Scotus justified the divine decree for the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God:“Decuit, potuit, fecit.”That is to say: it was fitting, because it was reasonable. God could do it, therefore he did it. I apply the axiom to the decision to resign in the following way: it was fitting, because Benedict XVI was aware that he lacked the necessary strength for the extremely onerous office. He could do it, because he had already thoroughly thought through, from a theological point of view, the possibility of popes emeritus for the future. So he did it.The momentous resignation of the theologian pope represented a step forward primarily by the fact that, on February 11, 2013, speaking in Latin in front of the surprised cardinals, he introduced into the Catholic Church the new institution of “pope emeritus,” stating that his strength was no longer sufficient “to properly exercise the Petrine ministry.” The key word in that statement is munus petrinum, translated — as happens most of the time — with “Petrine ministry.” And yet, munus, in Latin, has a multiplicity of meanings: it can mean service, duty, guide or gift, even prodigy. Before and after his resignation, Benedict understood and understands his task as participation in such a “Petrine ministry.” He has left the papal throne and yet, with the step made on February 11, 2013, he has not at all abandoned this ministry. Instead, he has complemented the personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, as a quasi shared ministry (als einen quasi gemeinsamen Dienst); as though, by this, he wanted to reiterate once again the invitation contained in the motto that the then Joseph Ratzinger took as archbishop of Munich and Freising and which he then naturally maintained as bishop of Rome: “cooperatores veritatis,” which means “fellow workers in the truth.” In fact, it is not in the singular but the plural; it is taken from the Third Letter of John, in which in verse 8 it is written: “We ought to support such men, that we may be fellow workers in the truth.”Since the election of his successor Francis, on March 13, 2013, there are not therefore two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member and a contemplative member. This is why Benedict XVI has not given up either his name, or the white cassock. This is why the correct name by which to address him even today is “Your Holiness”; and this is also why he has not retired to a secluded monastery, but within the Vatican — as if he had only taken a step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy which he, by that step, enriched with the “power station” of his prayer and his compassion located in the Vatican Gardens.It was “the least expected step in contemporary Catholicism,” Regoli writes, and yet a possibility which Cardinal Ratzinger had already pondered publicly on August 10, 1978 in Munich, in a homily on the occasion of the death of Paul VI. Thirty-five years later, he has not abandoned the Office of Peter — something which would have been entirely impossible for him after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005. By an act of extraordinary courage, he has instead renewed this office (even against the opinion of well-meaning and undoubtedly competent advisers), and with a final effort he has strengthened it (as I hope). Of course only history will prove this. But in the history of the Church it shall remain true that, in the year 2013, the famous theologian on the throne of Peter became history’s first “pope emeritus.” Since then, his role — allow me to repeat it once again — is entirely different from that, for example, of the holy Pope Celestine V, who after his resignation in 1294 would have liked to return to being a hermit, becoming instead a prisoner of his successor, Boniface VIII (to whom today in the Church we owe the establishment of jubilee years). To date, in fact, there has never been a step like that taken by Benedict XVI. So it is not surprising that it has been seen by some as revolutionary, or to the contrary as entirely consistent with the Gospel; while still others see the papacy in this way secularized as never before, and thus more collegial and functional or even simply more human and less sacred. And still others are of the opinion that Benedict XVI, with this step, has almost — speaking in theological and historical-critical terms — demythologized the papacy.In his overview of the pontificate, Regoli clearly lays this all out as never before. Perhaps the most moving part of the reading for me was the place where, in a long quote, he recalls the last general audience of Pope Benedict XVI on February 27, 2013 when, under an unforgettable clear and brisk sky, the pope, who shortly thereafter would resign, summarized his pontificate as follows:“It has been a portion of the Church’s journey which has had its moments of joy and light, but also moments which were not easy; I have felt like Saint Peter with the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee: The Lord has given us so many days of sun and of light winds, days when the catch was abundant; there were also moments when the waters were rough and the winds against us, as throughout the Church’s history, and the Lord seemed to be sleeping. But I have always known that the Lord is in that boat, and I have always known that the barque of the Church is not mine, it is not ours, but his. Nor does the Lord let it sink; it is he who guides it, surely also through the men whom he has chosen, because he so wished. This has been, and is, a certainty which nothing can obscure.”I must admit that, rereading these words can still bring tears to my eyes, all the more so because I saw in person and up close how unconditional, for himself and for his ministry, was Pope Benedict’s adherence to St Benedict’s words, for whom “nothing is to be placed before the love of Christ,” nihil amori Christi praeponere, as stated in rule handed down to us by Pope Gregory the Great. I was a witness to this, but I still remain fascinated by the accuracy of that final analysis in St. Peter’s Square which sounded so poetic but was nothing less than prophetic. In fact, they are words to which today, too, Pope Francis would immediately and certainly subscribe. Not to the popes but to Christ, to the Lord Himself and to no one else belongs the barque of Peter, whipped by the waves of the stormy sea, when time and again we fear that the Lord is asleep and that our needs are not important to him, while just one word is enough for him to stop every storm; when instead, more than the high waves and the howling wind, it is our disbelief, our little faith and our impatience that make us continually fall into panic.Thus, this book once again throws a consoling gaze on the peaceful imperturbability and serenity of Benedict XVI, at the helm of the barque of Peter in the dramatic years 2005-2013. At the same time, however, through this illuminating account, Regoli himself now also takes part in the munus Petri of which I spoke. Like Peter Seewald and others before him, Roberto Regoli — as a priest, professor and scholar — also thus enters into that enlarged Petrine ministry around the successors of the Apostle Peter; and for this today we offer him heartfelt thanks.
May 31 16 3:03 PM
There was yet another hubbub a couple weeks back about the Third Secret of Fatima, one that involved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and claims that he did not reveal all of the secret -- claims that set Fatima devotees abuzz and forced the former pope himself to deny the assertions.But that neverending topic overshadowed what I think was a much more important assertion regarding the former pope, namely that he is not quite a former pope but continues to serve in an "expanded" Petrine ministry alongside the actual pope, Francis.Those claims, and numerous others, were made in a speech at the Gregorian University by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Benedict's longtime aide and confidante and increasingly the man responsible for speaking on behalf of the emeritus pontiff and promoting his legacy and, it seems, his ongoing authority.As I wrote in a piece for Religion News Service over the weekend (forgive the detailed Fatima framing, which can be dispensed with), Ganswein argued:... [T]hat the papacy “remains the foundation of the Catholic Church” but he said “the papal ministry is not the same as before.”Benedict, he explained, “left the papal throne and yet, with the step he took on February 11, 2013, he has not abandoned this [papal] ministry.”Ganswein said quitting in that sense would have been “quite impossible after his irrevocable acceptance of the office in April 2005” when the conclave of cardinals elected Benedict pope. Ganswein went on to say that Benedict intentionally “built a personal office with a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a communal ministry.”Consequently, he said, there are “not two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry – with an active member and a contemplative member,” referring to Francis and Benedict. The emeritus pope “had taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.”Gaswein went on to distance Benedict's action from that of the last pope to resign, Celestine V back in 1294, and he also defended Benedict's decision to keep his papal name and title and mode of address ("Your Holiness") and to live in the Vatican, as a successor of Peter must do, he argued.Now there seem to be numerous problems with this thesis, some of which I, and others, pointed out ...For one thing, Benedict himself said he kept the white cassock because he had nothing else to wear (yeah, I know...) and he wanted to be called simply "Father Benedict."Others noted the many theological and ecclesiological problems here -- it's been the rare issue that has found agreement between our own Massimo Faggioli and the traditionalists at Rorate Caeli.Those problems seem obvious to me, and others, but not to many of Benedict's fans, and therein lies the real problem, which is that intentionally or not, Ganswein is helping to make his boss a focal point of opposition to Francis -- an opposition that hardly needs much prodding.Some have already been saying the current papacy should be viewed as a "diarchy" rather than a "monarchy" (a model I thought was dispensed with by Paul VI). To which many say simple, "Malarkey."The final irony is that Ganswein also makes the claim that Benedict did the papacy and the Church a great good with his resignation because he "de-mythologizied the papacy."I would agree, to an extent. A papal retirement is a very salutary thing, and this action by Benedict could be his chief legacy, and should be applauded without the liberal schadenfreude about a conservative pope being forced to step down etc. The problem, as I see it, is that by creating (ex nihilo and with no consultation) the office of "pope emeritus," and by keeping his name and white cassock and honorifics, Benedict undercut the effort to show that the office of the Bishop of Rome is an episcopal office that at its heart is like other such offices in the church.And now Ganswein, by arguing that Benedict never really resigned, and that he remains a pope in some transformed and expanded papal ministry, is further undermining that "de-mythologization" because he is saying, basically, that once a pope, always a pope.Here's a vote for a future pope -- perhaps Francis, though not as soon as some would like -- will retire with a black cassock and the title Bishop Emeritus of Rome, perhaps returning to their home country and their baptismal name.
Jun 1 16 6:29 AM
Jun 8 16 6:47 AM
There aren't "two popes" in any way, shape or formLife, even Catholic life, is full of ambiguities, but some things either are or aren’t. It’s a ball or a strike. It’s a Toyota or a Ford. You’re baptized or you aren’t.The papacy would seem to be one of these you-are-or-you-aren’t realities. According to the law of the Church, a man becomes pope the moment he accepts election (assuming he’s a bishop; if not, he becomes pope after he’s immediately ordained to the episcopate). A man ceases to be pope when he dies or when he abdicates the office by a clear and free manifestation of his will to do so. So there are never “two popes.” Whatever else a “pope emeritus” may be, he is emphatically not “the pope.”Ever since Pope Benedict XVI’s abdication, there have been voices insisting that Pope Benedict didn’t really mean to abdicate, or didn’t do so canonically, or simply laid down the burden of governance while somehow remaining “pope,” or some other such foolishness—and this despite Benedict’s insistence that, yes, he meant to do exactly what he did. To date, these voices have been limited to the woolier fringes of Catholic commentary, where conspiracy theories abound; to academics with too much time on their hands; and to columnists (chiefly Italian) with space to fill. A few weeks ago, however, this entirely unnecessary brouhaha was exacerbated by Benedict’s longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, now the Prefect of the Papal Household.In a lecture in Rome, Gaenswein said (according to a report in the National Catholic Register) that Benedict had “left the papal throne” but had not “abandoned [the] ministry” he had accepted “in April 2005,” such that, while there are not “two popes,” there is “de facto” an “expanded” [Petrine] ministry—with an active member [i.e., Pope Francis] and a “contemplative member [i.e. Pope Emeritus Benedict].” That is why, Gaenswein continued, Benedict XVI “has not given up his name or the white cassock,” and why “he has also not retired to a monastery in isolation but stays within the Vatican—as if he has taken only one step to the side to make room for his successor and a new stage in the history of the papacy.”So, do we have one who is Simon and another who is Peter?No, we do not. The Petrine Office is not divisible in any fashion, nor can it be a dyarchy in which one exercises the mission of governance and another exercises a mission of prayer. The entire Church welcomes the prayers of Joseph Ratzinger, for the Body of Christ, for the world, and for Pope Francis. But these prayers do not constitute some sort of extension of the Petrine ministry Benedict XVI laid down as of 8 p.m. Central European Time on February 28, 2013. These prayers are the prayers of a great and good man; they are not, since that date and time, the prayers of a pope or a kind of demi-pope.Archbishop Gaenswein’s reference to title and vesture confirms what many of us thought three years ago: the decisions about these matters made in 2013 were mistaken. (Hence the question, who made those decisions? Because if it had really been Joseph Ratzinger, he would definitely not have made such mistakes.) Yes, the former bishop of a diocese is its “bishop emeritus” while he lives, for he retains the indelible character of episcopal ordination; but there is no such character to the Petrine office. One either holds the Office of Peter or one doesn’t. And it thoroughly muddies the waters to suggest that there is any proper analogy between a retired diocesan bishop and a pope who has abdicated.The former Benedict XVI ought to have reverted to being Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, or perhaps simply “Bishop Joseph.” (He actually wanted a far more humble name: Padre Benedetto.) And with all respect to a man I esteem and who showed me many kindnesses over almost two decades, he ought not have kept even a modified form of the vesture proper to a pope. In a world of images, the white cassock and zucchetto worn by the man who is no longer pope sends the wrong signal.A papal abdication, no matter what the circumstances, involves renouncing the Office of Peter, not reconceptualizing it. No good end is served by suggestions that the Petrine ministry in our day has been redefined or expanded. (Not that Ganswein cares, apparently.)
George is right, Georg is wrongGeorge Weigel has an excellent critique of Abp. Georg Gänswein’s weird theory of, of—of what, exactly?—a Janus-like, bifurcated, co-papacy featuring Francis as the ‘active’ member and Benedict XVI as the ‘contemplative’ member. It’s nonsense, of course, and I have little to add to Weigel’s call for firmly rejecting such malarkey.But may I note, too, a passage from Bl. Pius IX: “Pax et unitas ipsius Ecclesiae in grave discrimen facile adducerentur, si, Apostolica Sede vacante, in electione novi Pontificis quidquam fieri contingeret, quod eam incertam ac dubium reddere posset.” Pius IX, const. Cum Romanis Pontifibus (4 Dec 1869), Gasparri’s Fontes III: 39-41, at 39.Granted, when writing these words Pius had in mind the dangers to ecclesial stability potentially arising from shenanigans during a papal vacancy and/or conclave but I suspect he would have offered the same sort of warning in the wake of a scenario he could scarcely have imagined: a pope resigning and then sitting quietly by while the man on earth probably closest to him provokes confusion about the finality and consequences of his resignation. (Then perhaps it is time that Ganswein was pried away from his place in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, because for someone who claims that he shall be faithful "in life and in death" to Joseph Ratzinger, he's so far done a bang-up job of causing trouble in the name of that gentle and gracious old man who, in all probability, has absolutely no idea of the ludicrousness being spewed by his so-called "closest collaborator". With a collaborator like Ganswein, who needs enemies?)Francis is pope, God bless him. And us.
Jun 8 16 1:14 PM
Jeff Mirus rejects the theory-- tentatively (not tentatively it was a declaration!) suggested in an interview by Archbishop Georg Gänswein-- that Benedict XVI continues to serve in the Petrine office, albeit now in a quiet, contemplative way. There can be only one Pope, Jeff argues. George Weigel emphatically agrees. And Ed Peters chimes in with a quote from Bl. Pius IX about the "grave danger" that could arise if the faithful had any question as to the identity of the true Roman Pontiff.Agreed. Clarity is vital. There is one Pope: Francis, and one former Pope: Benedict. However, while Archbishop Gänswein has caused some mischief by floating his odd theory of a Martha-and-Mary papacy, he may have a partial excuse-- or at least he may have had a good motivation for making an imprudent statement. (Oh Please!) The archbishop may have been trying to make the point that Pope-emeritus Benedict has not retired in the same sense that most men retire; he has not sloughed off his moral responsibilities. Having set his hand to the plow, the former Pontiff evidently sees that he has dedicated his life entirely to the service of the Church. So in his remaining days, he has undertaken to serve the Church through prayer. Thus he does continue to serve in his own way. But not as Pope; he has-- clearly, freely, and finally-- resigned that office.A few commentators have suggested that the confusion arising from Archbishop Gänswein's words can actually be attributed to the former Pope, since he chose to remain at the Vatican, wearing white vestments and taking the awkward title of "Pope-emeritus." But remember that Benedict himself did not want that title; he has said that he would have preferred to be known simply as "Father Benedict" but others opposed that suggestion and “I was too weak at that point to enforce it.” (A crucial point which has been largely ignored since December 2014 when Benedict made this statement himself in an interview with FAZ)It would be useful, at this point, to be able to identify those individuals-- influential Vatican officials, presumably-- who persuaded then-Pope Benedict that he should adopt the new title of "Pope emeritus" despite his misgivings. Those people bear responsibility for the continuing confusion. (Indeed they do - although the number may be remarkably small and, in my opinion, Ganswein is likely to be the prime mover among them. It is he who tirelessly promotes the papal persona of Benedict XVI and even insists on referring t meeting with him as "audiences". It is all too obvious)They may turn out to be the same people who prompted him to resign-- because he felt that he lacked the strength to overcome the constant resistance of a recalcitrant and overweening Vatican bureaucracy. (Lawler is going up a gum tree here. In my view, the person or persons pressuring Joseph Ratzinger were, in my opinion, close to home and overbearing)
Jun 17 16 3:24 AM
It is the unprecedented innovation that Ratzinger seems to want to put into practice. It has been announced by his secretary, Georg Gänswein. Redoubling the already abundant ambiguities of the pontificate of Francis The revolution of Pope Francis is turning the Church upside-down. But his meek predecessor named Benedict is not to be outdone.The resignation of the papacy was not his last act. Already in his withdrawal from the see of Peter, in that memorable February of 2013, Joseph Ratzinger made sure to say that in his election as pope there had been something that would remain “forever.”In fact, he continues to wear the white tunic, continues to sign himself “Benedictus XVI, pope emeritus,” continues to use the coat of arms with the two Petrine keys, continues to live “in the enclosure of Saint Peter,” continues to have himself called “Holiness” and “Holy Father.” (And none of those things were his idea!)And most recently the archbishop in closest contact with him, (Yes,That us point. In my opinion, Ganswein has him under his control) Georg Gänswein, has told us that Benedict “has by no means abandoned the office of Peter,” but on the contrary has made it “an expanded ministry, with an active member and a contemplative member,” in “a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a shared ministry”:These staggering statements from Gänswein, made on May 20 in the aula magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, have sown dismay among Ratzinger’s admirers themselves. Because no one doubts that they correspond to his thought and were authorized by him. But no one would have expected from him such an unheard-of act of rupture in the history of the papacy, totally without precedent, “a sort of exception willed by Heaven,” as Gänswein himself has called it, after a pontificate that is also “exceptional,” an “Ausnahmepontifikat.”The absolute innovation is not the resignation, but the sequel.When on December 13, 1294 Celestine V announced his abandonment of the pontificate, as the story goes “he came down from the throne, took the tiara from his head and put it on the floor; and mantle and ring and all he took off in front of the astonished cardinals,” after which he went back to being an ordinary monk, in complete withdrawal from the world.This is what even the most authoritative of Catholic canonists, the Jesuit Gianfranco Ghirlanda, envisioned in “La Civiltà Cattolica” immediately after the resignation announcement of Benedict XVI: that he would indeed remain a bishop, more properly “bishop emeritus of Rome,” in that sacred ordination is an indelible act, but would “lose all his power of primacy, because this did not come to him from episcopal consecration but directly from Christ through the acceptance of legitimate election.”But then Ratzinger’s behavior contradicted this order of things.And right away appeared some who justified him theoretically. Like the other canonist Stefano Violi, who maintains that Benedict XVI did not by any means renounce the office of Peter, but only his active exercise of governance and magisterium, keeping for himself the exercise of prayer and compassion. Precisely what Gänswein gave as fact one month ago: a double papacy “with an active member and a contemplative member,” Francis and Benedict, “almost a shared ministry.”Now, that there could be two popes in the Catholic Church, of different profiles but still more than one, is something that expert theologians and canonists like Geraldina Boni and Carlo Fantappiè judge as not only unheard-of but “aberrant,” as well as being a source of conflicts.But there is more. Violi even theorizes the hypothetical superiority of the “contemplative” pope over the “active,” in that he is closer to the example of Jesus who despoiled himself of everything, even his divinity. And then it is not at all true that the distinction of roles between Francis and Benedict is so clear.Ratzinger has repeatedly contradicted his promise to withdraw in silence after his resignation. Roughly ten times already he has said or written something in public, each time requiring the study of what is or is not in accord between him and the magisterium of the “active” pope.For example when, in the interval between the two synods on the family, Ratzinger retracted his youthful ideas in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried and rewrote the exact opposite, in a sort of preemptive contestation of “Amoris Laetitia.”In the magisterium of Francis ambiguity triumphs, but the “papacy emeritus” of Benedict is an unsolved enigma, too.
Jun 17 16 7:00 AM
These staggering statements from Gänswein, made on May 20 in the aula magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, have sown dismay among Ratzinger’s admirers themselves. Because no one doubts that they correspond to his thought and were authorized by him.
There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry.
I continue to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for purely practical reasons.
The name of a person written with his or her own hand to signify that the writing which precedes accords with his or her wishes or intentions.
But then Ratzinger’s behavior contradicted this order of things.
At least part of the reason for wanting his new title to simply be “Father” rather than Pope Emeritus or Benedict XVI is to put more space between him and the role of the pope, so that there is no confusion as to who the “true Pope” is, Bremer reported. (Italics and emphasis supplied.)
Jun 27 16 12:39 AM
Elisbetta Piqué, La Nacion: Congratulations for the trip, first of all. We wanted to ask you: we know that you are the Pope and Pope Benedict, the Pope Emeritus, is also there, but lately some statements from the prefect of the pontifical household, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, have come down, who suggested that there is a shared Petrine ministry, if I’m not mistaken, with one active Pope and one contemplative Pope. Are there two Popes?Pope Francis: There was a time in the Church when there were three! (laughs) I didn’t read those declarations because I didn’t have time to see those things. Benedict is a Pope Emeritus, he said it clearly that February 11th when he was giving his resignation as of February 28th when he would retire and help the Church with prayer.And, Benedict is in the monastery praying. I went to see him so many times… or by telephone. The other day he wrote me a little little letter. He still signs with his signature, wishing me well for this trip, and once, not once but many times, I’ve said that it’s a grace to have a wise grandfather at home. I’ve also told him to his face and he laughs, but for me he is the Pope Emeritus. He is the wise grandfather. He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer.I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, “among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.” And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh – I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character – that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.He is the Pope Emeritus. Then, I don’t know if you remember that I thanked him publicly. I don’t know when but I think it was on a flight, Benedict, for having opened the door to Popes emeriti. But, 70 years ago bishops emeriti didn’t exist. Today, we have them… but with this lengthening of life, but can you run a Church at this age, with aches and pains or not? And he, courageously, and with prayer and with science, with theology decided to open this door and I believe that this is good for the Church.But there is one single Pope, and the other… maybe they will be like the bishops emeriti, I’m not saying many but possibly there could be two or three. They will be emeriti… They are emeriti.The day after tomorrow, the 65th anniversary of his episcopal (Fr. Lombardi says something to the Pope), sorry, priestly ordination will be celebrated. His brother Georg will be there because they were both ordained together. There will be a little event with the dicastery heads and few people because he prefers a … he accepted, but very modestly, and also I will be there and I will say something to this great man of prayer, of courage that is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope, who is faithful to his word and a great man of God, is very intelligent, and for me he is the wise grandfather at home.
Jun 27 16 8:36 AM
Benodette: It is clear from these comments that Pope Francis regards Ganswein's opinions as completely unimportant. he must be a real embarrassment to Joseph Ratzinger.
I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, “among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.” And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh – I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character – that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.
I will say something to this great man of prayer, of courage that is the Pope Emeritus, not the second Pope, who is faithful to his word. (Emphasis and italics supplied.)
Jul 18 16 11:58 AM
The German cardinal, an authoritative historian of Christianity, weighs in on the ever more incandescent question of the resignation of Benedict XVI. Which in his judgment has not been good for the Church The dispute, ever more fiery, over the absolute innovation of “two popes” in being at the same time, one reigning and one “emeritus,” the former “active” and the latter “contemplative,” now has a new contender of absolute prominence, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, who has taken the field with an article in the authoritative online juridical journal “Statoechiese.it":Brandmüller, 87, a German, is an authority on the subject. He was for many years a tenured professor of Church history at the university of Augsburg. At the Vatican he headed the pontifical committee for historical sciences from 1998 to 2009. And he was made a cardinal by Benedict XVI in 2010.He was one of the most resolute supporters of Joseph Ratzinger’s pontificate. But he did not take his resignation of the papacy well. It is his conviction, in fact, that such resignations are possible, but not all of them are morally licit, meaning directed to the “bonum commune” of the Church.Much less does Brandmüller accept that the post-resignation should take the form that it is assuming today with the entirely unprecedented figure of a “pope emeritus,” with the very grave risks, including that of schism, which in his judgment it entails.In his article, Brandmüller does not even use the formula of “pope emeritus.” On the contrary, he calls “necessary and urgent a legislation that would define and regulate” the status of one who has been pope.Reproduced below almost in its entirety is the fifth and final part of the cardinal’s article, with five proposals for the regulation of the figure of the ex-pope.A figure - as will be seen - radically different from the one that is taking shape today, especially after the explosive presentation made last May 21 at the Pontifical Gregorian University by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Ratzinger’s secretary:And with all the more reason is Brandmüller very far from sharing the enigmatic definition of “pontificate of exception” (Ausnahmepontifikat) that Gänswein has applied to that of Benedict XVI precisely by virtue of his resignation, with a formula that refers to the ideas of Carl Schmitt on the “state of exception” as a suspension of the ordinary rules of governance and as innovation of these at the exclusive initiative of the sovereign, in this case the successor of Peter.See in this regard the following two commentaries by the canonist Guido Ferro Canale and the vaticanista Aldo Maria Valli:> La rinuncia di Benedetto XVI e l'ombra di Carl Schmitt> Ratzinger, Schmitt e lo "stato d'eccezione"Pope Francis as well, responding to a journalist during the return flight from Armenia on June 26, demonstrated that he rejected the idea of “almost a shared ministry” between the two popes. On the contrary, he claimed the exercise of primacy for himself alone; he remarked on “the obedience” promised by the pope emeritus to his successor; and he did not hold back from picking up and spreading even on his part the “gossip” according to which “some people have gone [to Ratzinger] to complain about ‘this new pope…’ and he has sent them packing”:And then, in an interview with the Argentine newspaper "la Nación" of July 3, he asserted that the abdication of Benedict XVI “had nothing to do with anything personal,” in apparent contrast with what Benedict himself said in his act of resignation, which he justified with his loss of strength:The question, in short, is more incandescent than ever. ( But it is being "swept under the carpet" because what is really explosive in Ganswein's speech is that he attributed intentions to BenedictXVI which were never his. It is clear that Ratzinger's retirement arrangements were accepted under some duress. The fact that very little was said about Benedict's sad declaration in to FAZ that he wanted to be called Father Benedict but did not have the strength to resist is disgraceful. Someone needs to ask serious questions about who is managing Ratzinger's life - his every move is controlled.)The fact is that at the end of his essay, Cardinal Brandmüller’s conclusion is peremptory: “The resignation of the pope is possible, and it has been done. But it is to be hoped that it may never happen again.”A law is needed to define the status of the ex-popeby Walter BrandmüllerA future juridical regulation of the papal resignation [. . .] is all the more difficult in that the figure of a pope emeritus is extraneous to the whole canonistic-theological tradition.The resignation of the pope is possible (can. 332 § 2). That does not mean it is also certain to be morally licit. Liceity requires objective institutional reasons, directed to the “bonum commune Ecclesiae,” not personal reasons. One example of resignation is that of Gregory XII, made in 1415 to put an end to the schism. Pius VII and Pius XII also prepared bulls of resignation in case of imprisonment by Napoleon or Hitler.From the pastoral point of view, however, it seems particularly urgent to combat the error - widely diffused in the situation created with the resignation of Benedict XVI - of maintaining that, through the resignation, the ministry of successor of Peter is stripped of its unique and sacred character and put on the same level as temporary democratic functions.Today there is an urgent danger that this secular-political understanding of the papacy could lead to the point that from then on a pope could be issued, as are the occupants of secular positions, requests to resign when the person of the pope or his exercise of the office may meet with opposition.Intense reflection is required on what conventions of language and/or symbolic gestures etc. may be necessary to address the evident dangers and for the sake of Church unity. Perhaps it would not be useless to refer in some form to this particular point in a future legislative text.As has already been said, the resignation of a pope presupposes - and at the same time creates - a very dangerous ecclesial situation. At this moment there is no lack of persons or groups that follow the retired pope and that, dissatisfied with what has happened, could threaten the unity of the Church and even provoke a schism. It seems, therefore, that a future juridical regulation of the papal resignation might not exclude this perspective.In any case, in the precarious situation of a papal resignation, the choice of the “via tutior” is necessary. Leaving the substantial “lacuna legis” unresolved, however, means nothing other than increasing the uncertainties at a dangerous moment of vital importance for the Church.The first necessity is the integration of can. 332 § 2, which establishes only that the pope’s resignation of office “libere fiat et rite manifestetur.” The reference - an obvious one - to canons 185 and 186 that generally regulate the resignation of an ecclesiastical office is not suited for the exceptional case of the resignation of the pope. Moreover, the simple declaration of free resignation on the part of the person in question is not enough, because depending on the circumstances that statement could easily be forced, and the resignation therefore be invalid.Such situations could lead to a schism. It is therefore indispensable to establish the procedure for certifying the effective freedom of the act. It is not enough to say that the act is valid until the contrary is proven because - since the pope is involved here - the resignation must be followed immediately by the election of the successor. If, in this case, after the election there should emerge evidence of the lack of freedom in the resignation, the consequences would be disastrous. The freedom of the act of resignation would have to be confirmed, for example, by a declaration of the heads of the three orders of cardinals.In fact, in this context there also arises the question of the participation of the college of cardinals in the papal resignation. Already in the case of Saint Celestine V the canonists were discussing this problem. [. . .] The very decree “Quoniam” of Boniface VIII stresses the role of the cardinals in the resignation of the pope, emphasizing that Celestine made the decision to resign “deliberatione habita cum suis fratribus cardinalibus… de nostro et ipsorum omnium concordi consilio et assensu.”This role of the cardinals finds part of its foundation even in the practice of the popes, who since the eleventh century in many important documents used the formula “de fratrum nostrorum consilio.” To this would correspond the practice of having the cardinals sign the relative documents “qui actui interfuerunt.” Even today - for example - before canonizing saints the individual cardinals are invited to express their votes in this regard.Saint John Paul II himself instead spoke even - something that is problematic, or rather impossible - of submitting a potential resignation to the judgment of the cardinals. Certainly in the case of a potential resignation, the proposal of a consultation - in a form to be established - could not be a “conditio sine qua non” for the validity of the act of the pontiff. But even if this were a matter of a venerable custom or practice, it could not be easily overlooked.Because of all of this, complementary legislation is urgently required to define and regulate: The status of the ex-pope. In history it is possible to find, if not precisely precedents, then analogous cases for a solution. The antipopes John XXIII (Baldassare Cossa) and Felix V (Amedeo di Savoia) after their reconciliation were immediately made cardinals. Analogously, after his resignation an ex-pope could be made a cardinal immediately, but certainly without active or passive electoral rights. The title of the resigner must also be defined. To avoid the appearance of the existence of two popes, it seems appropriate for him to take his family name back. His clothing would be regulated under the same profile. It is also of no little importance to consider the housing and wherewithal to be provided for the resigner. One particular problem is the regulation of his possible social and media contacts, in such a way that his personal dignity be respected on the one hand while one the other every threat to Church unity be excluded. (In my opinion, all of the above - title, clothing, residence, visitors, media coverage - were not and are not freely chosen by Ratzinger himself) Ultimately there would also need to be a ceremony for the deceased resigner that could not be the one provided for a pope.These would be the points to be clarified “de lege ferenda.” There would need to be, in any case, an extensive theological and canonistic vision of the Petrine ministry capable of prompting within the faithful a true veneration of the ministry and person of the supreme pontiff and successor of the apostle Saint Peter, motivated by authentic faith.After all, revisiting the aforementioned judgment: the resignation of the pope is possible, and it has been done. But it is to be hoped that it may never happen again.
Jul 26 16 5:24 AM
The biting criticism of the resignation of Benedict XVI formulated a few days ago by cardinal and Church historian Walter Brandmüller has brought out into the open the risks of the “terra incognita” into which the papacy has slid after February 11, 2013, all the more so with the imposition of the unprecedented and enigmatic figure of the “pope emeritus” beside that of the reigning pope:> Brandmüller: “The Resignation of the Pope Is Possible, But May It Never Happen Again”What provoked the cardinal to come out into the open were above all the staggering statements of Archbishop Georg Gänswein made on May 20 in the aula magna of the Pontifical Gregorian University, during the presentation of a book by the historian Roberto Regoli on the pontificate of Benedict XVI:Gänswein - with the weight of one who is in the most intimate contact with the “pope emeritus” in that he is his secretary - (This is a big problem because Gannswein can claim authority by proximity, when in fact Ratzinger may know nothing about what is being said in his name) had said that Joseph Ratzinger “has by no means abandoned the office of Peter,” but on the contrary has made it “an expanded ministry, with an active member and a contemplative member,” in “a collegial and synodal dimension, almost a shared ministry.” (But Benedict never made any such claim - he didn't even want to be called Pope Emeritus. It is a scandal that these claims are being made in his name)But that's not all. The resignation of Benedict XVI, in the judgment of his trusted secretary, (misplaced trust in my opinion) also marked a revolution for this other reason:“As of February 11, 2013, the papal ministry is no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and nonetheless it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed in his pontificate of exception (Ausnahmepontifikat).”The formula, emphasized by Gänswein with the use of the German word, is not accidental. It contains a transparent reference to the “state of exception” theorized by one of the greatest and most talked-about political philosophers of the twentieth century, Carl Schmitt (1888-1985).According to this theory, a “state of exception” is the dramatic hour of history in which the ordinary rules are suspended and the sovereign - in this case the successor of Peter - imposes new rules on his own.Surprisingly, however, this description of “pontificate of exception” as applied to the pontificate of Benedict XVI precisely by virtue of his resignation has not yet received the attention it deserves, nor has it raised particular controversies.But it is precisely this that is the focus of an analysis by Guido Ferro Canale, a brilliant young canonist. With an expertise and an acuteness that are out of the ordinary.His contribution has already appeared in Italian on the blog Settimo Cielo. But now it is offered here in English, French, and Spanish, to a worldwide readership, as it rightly should be.A word to the wise. Where Gänswein, citing the book by Regoli, refers to the “group of St. Gallen” and its role in the conclaves of 2005 and 2013, the reference is to the cardinals who used to gather periodically in the Swiss city of St. Gallen and who first opposed to the election of Ratzinger and then supported the election of Bergoglio. (Here is Magister's dubious motive)The group included the cardinals Carlo Maria Martini, Basil Hume, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Achille Silvestrini, Karl Lehmann, Walter Kasper, and Godfried Danneels, the last two of these being particularly dear to Pope Francis, in spite of the fact that Danneels was proven to have attempted in 2010 a cover-up of the sexual offenses of the then-bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, against his young nephew. (And Muller's record on handling abuse was not stellar either. Why doesn't Magister mention him?)
Jul 26 16 6:45 AM
The statement on May 20 by Georg Gänswein on the resignation of Benedict XVI from the pontificate has stirred up both noise and reflection, above all because it seemed to offer support for the theory of the “two popes.” Without entering into the debate over this aspect, or over the problematic distinction between the active and passive exercise of the Petrine ministry, I would like to draw attention to a different point of the statement of Joseph Ratzinger’s secretary, the implications of which seem worthy of elaboration.Allow me to begin by pointing out, in the first place, the title selected by the illustrious author for his speech: “Benedict XVI, the end of the old, the beginning of the new.”He justifies this from the outset, stating that Ratzinger “has embodied the richness of the Catholic tradition as no one else; and that - at the same time - he was so audacious as to open the door to a new phase, through that historical turning point which five years ago no one could have imagined.”In other words: Gänswein does not see the “beginning of the new” in any of Benedict XVI’s many acts of governance or magisterium, but precisely in his resignation and in the unprecedented situation that it creates.A situation that he does not describe only in terms of the dichotomy between active and contemplative exercise of the ministry. He also uses - although in a much less evident way - another category the state of exception.He introduces this in an oblique manner, as if referring to the opinion of another: “Many continue to perceive this new situation even today as a sort of state of exception intended by Heaven.”Nonetheless, however, he makes it his own, as if extending it to the whole Ratzinger pontificate:“As of February 2013, the papal ministry is no longer what it was before. It is and remains the foundation of the Catholic Church; and nonetheless it is a foundation that Benedict XVI has profoundly and lastingly transformed in his pontificate of exception (Ausnahmepontifikat), with respect to which the sober Cardinal Sodano, reacting with immediacy and simplicity right after the surprising declaration of resignation, profoundly moved and almost in the grip of dismay, had exclaimed that the news had resounded among the gathered cardinals ‘like lightning from a clear blue sky’.”The analysis seems fairly clear: that of Benedict XVI becomes a “pontificate of exception” precisely by virtue of the resignation and at the moment of the resignation.But why does Gänswein present the expression - in a speech he gave in Italian - also in German, as “Ausnahmepontifikat”?In Italian, “pontificate of exception” simply sounds like “out of the ordinary.” But the reference to his mother tongue makes it clear that Gänswein has no such banality in mind, but rather the category of “state of exception” (Ausnahmezustand).A category that any German with an average education immediately associates with the figure and thought of Carl Schmitt (1888-1985).“The sovereign is the one who decides on the state of exception. [. . .] Here by state of exception must be understood a general concept of the doctrine of the state, and not any sort of emergency ordinance or state of siege. [. . .] In fact, not every unusual exercise of authority, not every emergency measure or police ordinance is in itself a situation of exception: to this there pertains instead an authority that is unlimited in line of principle, meaning the suspension of the entire established order. If such a situation is in place, then it is clear that the state continues to exist while the rule of law declines” (C. Schmitt, "Teologia politica", in Id., "Le categorie del politico”, Il Mulino, Bologna, 1972, pp. 34 and 38-9).“Aus-nahme” literally means “out-law.” A state of things that cannot be regulated a priori and therefore, if it comes about, requires the suspension of the entire juridical order.An “Ausnahmepontifikat,” therefore, would be a pontificate that suspends in some way the ordinary rules of functioning of the Petrine ministry, or, as Gänswein says, “renews” the office itself.And, if the analogy fits, this suspension would be justified, or rather imposed, by an emergency impossible to address otherwise.In another essay, “The guardian of the constitution,” Schmitt glimpses the power to decide on the case of exception in the president of the Weimar republic, and maintains that it is instrumental for the protection of the constitution. Perhaps this aspect of Schmittian thought is not pertinent, but it certainly gives the idea of the gravity of the crisis required by a state of exception.Is it possible, then, that a concept with such implications should have been used frivolously, in an imprecise way, perhaps only in order to allude to the difficulty of framing the situation created with the resignation according to the ordinary rules and concepts?It does not seem possible to me, for three reasons.1) Inaccuracy of language is not to be presumed, for all the more reason since this is one of the best-known concepts of a scholar who, at least in Germany, is known “lippis et tonsoribus,” even to purblind and barber.2) The emphasis, evident right from the title, on the effects and scope of the resignation, which is certainly not considered a possibility of rare occurrence but is tranquilly anticipated by the code of canon law (one should consider that it is called, among other things, “a thoroughly pondered step of millennial implications”);3) The possible references to the critical concrete situation that it seems to me can be glimpsed in the remarks of Gänswein.One should consider what he says about the election of Benedict XVI “following a dramatic struggle”:“It was certainly the result even of a clash, the key to which had been furnished by Ratzinger himself as cardinal dean, in the historic homily of April 18, 2005 at Saint Peter’s; and precisely there where to ‘a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires’ he had opposed another measure: ‘the Son of God, the true man. as ‘the measure of true humanism’.”A clash where, if not in conclave, in the heart of the Church?Gänswein also indicates the protagonists of the clash, in the wake of the book by Roberto Regoli, professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, on the pontificate of Benedict XVI. And it is not a mystery for anyone, by now, that the cardinals of the “group of St. Gallen” went back into action in 2013.How many of the difficulties of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, in fact, can be explained precisely with this clash, perhaps underground but incessant, between those who remain faithful to the evangelical image of the “salt of the earth” and those who would like to prostitute the Bride of the Lamb to the dictatorship of relativism? (Here his objectivity falls apart. This piece is nothing more than an attempt to show that Ratzinger was somehow forced to resign and therefore the election of Francis is invalid. It is rubbish.This clash, which is not just a power struggle, but if anything a supernatural struggle for souls, is the main reason why those on the one side have loved Benedict XVI and those on the other have hated him.And we continue with the analysis made by Gänswein:“In the Sistine Chapel I witnessed that Ratzinger experienced the election as pope as a ‘true shock’ and felt ‘uneasiness,’ and that he felt ‘as if dizzy spells were coming on’ as soon as he understood that ‘the axe’ of the election would fall upon him. (Almost any normal man, especially of that age would feel the same) I am not unveiling any secrets here, because it was Benedict XVI himself who confessed all of this publicly on the occasion of the first audience granted to pilgrims from Germany. And so it comes as no surprise that Benedict XVI was the first pope who immediately after his election asked the faithful to pray for him, (because Ratzinger is a humble and pious man) another fact of which the book by Roberto Regoli reminds us.”But more than the “above all I entrust myself to your prayers” pronounced immediately after the election, do we not perhaps recall the dramatic invitation at the Mass for the beginning of the Petrine ministry: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves”? In the parable of the Gospel the bad shepherd does not run away out of fear. He runs away because “he is a hireling, and the sheep do not matter to him.”I believe, therefore, that Benedict XVI was confessing a concrete fear. And that he was thinking of very concrete wolves. I also think that this explains the shock, uneasiness, and dizziness. (Perhaps the writer would like to name the wolves stalking the AP in Rome. especially as the secretary controlled all access. But again, he was not attentive enough to spot Gabriele photocopying copious documents. Not good management)And perhaps another reference can be found in Gänswein’s reference to a rather frequent criticism:“Regoli does not omit the accusation of a lack of understanding of men that was often lodged against the brilliant theologian in the garments of the Fisherman; capable of evaluating difficult texts and books in a brilliant way and who in spite of this confided to Peter Seewald how difficult he found it to make decisions about persons, because ‘no one can read into the heart of the other.’ How true that is!” (Yes, and unfortunately Ratzinger's personnel choices of those with greatest access to him were not, in my opinion, good for him. They continue not to be good for him, as this entire article indicates)When the wolves are disguised as lambs, or as shepherds, and when their thoughts are not printed on paper and subject to refined theological analysis, how can they be unmasked? How can one know whom to trust, and to whom to entrust part of the authority over the flock of the Lord? Because of this, it seems to me that even the phrase “Benedict XVI was aware that he was losing the strength necessary for the most burdensome office” takes on a meaning that is less neutral and, perhaps, more sinister. The office would be most burdensome not because of the multiplicity of external obligations, which are certainly tiring, but because of the exhausting internal combat. So exhausting that, no longer feeling oneself capable of enduring it. . .Perhaps I am reading too much into this text. Perhaps Gänswein loves colorful images or soundbites. Certainly there will be some who will not fail to say so. And I am the first to admit that the taste for analysis can get me carried away.But if I may be mistaken in the reconstruction of the concrete emergency, I do not believe it is possible to free the resignation from the shadow cast on it by that expression as heavy as a boulder: “Ausnahme.” I am not the one who has evoked the shadow of Carl Schmitt: I have limited myself to indicating the point at which Gänswein has made it visible, I would even dare to say palpable.One question remains open, however: in what way, in what terms would the resignation, with the introduction of the “pope emeritus,” constitute an adequate reaction to the emergency?One could think of the spiritual power of the example of detachment from power, or more simply of the fact that the army of Christ would have a new commander, no longer worn out by the struggle in question and able to lead it better. But these reasons apply to the resignation, not to the “emeritused.”Perhaps one hint could emerge from Gänswein’s statement that Benedict XVI has “enriched” the papacy “with the ‘headquarters’ of his prayer and compassion set up in the Vatican gardens.”Compassion - in this day and age it bears repeating - is not mercy. In ascetical or mystical theology, it is uniting oneself with the sufferings of Christ crucified, offering oneself for the sanctification of one’s neighbor.A service of com-passion on the part of the pope is made necessary - in my judgment - only when the Church appears to be experiencing Good Friday in the first person. When there must reecho the most bitter words of Luke 22:53: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”Correctly understood, with this I am not denouncing conspiracies or formulating accusations: the state of exception could very well be “intended by Heaven,” since the darkness would have no power at all without divine permission. And we know that there also exists a mysterious necessity of the “mystery of iniquity”: “It is necessary that he be taken out of the way who restrains it until now” (2 Thes 2:7). For all the more reason, therefore, does the plan of God include the lesser Antichrists and the hours of darkness.I do not possess nor can I offer sure answers on the concrete causes of Benedict XVI’s resignation,(He gave them himself! He was 85 years old and could barely walk. His exhaustion was clear for anyone who actually saw him. Is this writer calling him a liar?) nor on the theological or personal reasons that may have induced him to call himself “pope emeritus,” (That is the point on which this whole construct falls. Ratzinger DID NOT WANT TO BE CALLED POPE EMERITUS!0 The person who forced that on him has created this mess, perhaps intentionally, right from the start) even less on the supernatural plans of Providence. But that today the Antichrists have been unleashed - above all those who should feed the flock of the Lord - seems to me incontestable. (And who is this man's Antichrist?)So, however we may have arrived here, this is certainly a time of com-passion.It is a time to offer Christian hope in opposition to the “religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth,” to the “pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675).It is a time to hasten with Christian suffering, the most potent spiritual weapon that has been given us to use: the moment in which God will intervene, in the way known to him “ab aeterno,” to reestablish truth, law, and justice.Kyrie, eleison! ( That's just how Richard Williamson - ex SSPX - ends his diatribes)English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.
Jul 26 16 12:15 PM
Transfers of power can be messy, maybe even more so when they play out over time. Pope Benedict XVI resigned more than three years ago and Francis is undeniably the only pope. Yet in some ways the transition is ongoing, and it continues to affect the Church.That’s in part because the resignation itself isn’t really finished. With Benedict living his quasi-monastic retirement in the Vatican (though some may dream, his resignation cannot be rescinded), those who might be thought of as closest to the theological, spiritual, and cultural agenda of that pontificate still seem to be feeling its effects. It was clear back on that unforgettable February day in 2013 that the ones most shocked by the decision were the biggest fans of the pope-theologian Joseph Ratzinger. For some that shock manifested very early as opposition to Pope Francis (an opposition thus in place a full year before the first discussions that led to the Synods of October 2014 and 2015 and finally to the exhortation Amoris Laetitia). But for other prelates and ecclesiastical “creatures” of Benedict XVI, that initial shock yielded to the realization that Francis was the legitimate successor to Benedict XVI and that all was going according to God’s plans. This can be seen in certain cardinals, bishops, and lay intellectuals, among them Rocco Buttiglione, an Italian philosopher and conservative Christian-Democratic politician who was extremely close to John Paul II and who wrote a very strong defense of Amoris Laetitia in L’Osservatore Romano last week. This is notable because it’s the first significant sign of the loyal realignment to the Church of Francis by many who were for a long time identified as “JP2 bishops” or “Ratzingerian.” This can’t be easily or cynically dismissed as someone just jumping ship or going whichever way the wind blows. Another interesting element is that during these last three-and-a-half years it has become clear that the process of the reception of Francis’s pontificate is related to the process of the evaluation of the pontificate and pre-pontificate period of his predecessor—even while that predecessor is still alive. This process of embracing a new pope usually takes place after the burial of the predecessor. The current situation is obviously different. What’s interesting is that for some the emotional and intellectual attachment to Benedict XVI seems to be incompatible with the embrace of the new pope, while others seem to be more at ease with the situation.There are clearly different receptions of Benedict XVI’s resignation. We can see a gap not only between those who “like” Pope Francis and those who “do not like” him, but also a gap between those who regarded Benedict XVI’s decision as a good one for the Church (that is, for the Church they had in mind) and others who basically have not accepted it yet. One could say that the two camps are almost identical (the pro-Francis and the pro-resignation on one side vs. the skeptics of Francis and those who feel let down by the resignation on the other side). But the picture is more complicated within the Catholic circles that feel attached to a Ratzingerian idea of Catholicism.Two recent examples are an article published by Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and an interview of the personal secretary to Benedict, Monsignor Georg Gänswein (who is now giving interviews almost every week). Both are personally and theologically close to Ratzinger-Benedict XVI, but there are differences. Brandmüller is a German Church historian, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences (from 1998 to 2009—the period when members of the Roman Curia actively engaged against the historiography of Vatican II), and a scholar of conciliarism, that fifteenth-century period of the Church when the coexistence of pope and anti-pope gave rise to the power of the bishops and the councils. Brandmüller is not only a skeptic of a progressive interpretation of Vatican II, but also of the resignation of Benedict XVI. In this article by Sandro Magister, Brandmüller says the Church needs clearer norms and procedures to deal with the resignation of the pope and with the status of the former pope after the resignation. But he also says that the resignation of Benedict XVI is something that has not been good for the Church; it happened, but it would be much better if it did not happen again.As for Gänswein, his interviews on and comments about the status of Benedict XVI since the resignation are too numerous to be listed, and it is not clear if he has changed his position after the backlash against his statements delivered in May about the “de facto enlarged [papal] ministry, with both an active and a contemplative member." He has not repeated his theory of the double papacy, but neither has he ceased in his attempts to undermine Pope Francis. Most recently, Msgr. Gänswein, who is still (unbelievably) the prefect of the papal household, told a German newspaper: “The certainty that the pope was considered a pillar of strength, the last anchor, has started to slip in fact. Whether this perception corresponds to reality and reproduces correctly the image of Pope Francis, or if this is more a media portrayal, I cannot judge. Uncertainties, confusions, and chaos, however, have grown” (my translation from German).Brandmüller and Gänswein embody two different reactions to Benedict’s resignation. Brandmüller sees in the resignation the creation of a complicated and potentially dangerous situation, but he accepts the decision as a legitimate one that created a new situation in which there is a pope, Francis, and a former pope, Benedict XVI. The most interesting point Brandmüller makes is about the need to regulate “his possible social and media contacts, in such a way that his personal dignity be respected on the one hand while one the other every threat to Church unity be excluded.”Msgr. Gänswein (whose official role in the Roman Curia should be “at the service of the Supreme Pontiff, both in the Apostolic Palace and when he travels in Rome or in Italy” – John Paul II, constitution Pastor Bonus, 1998, art. 181) took Benedict XVI’s decision in a way that has resulted in constant attempts to discredit the pontificate of Francis—a situation that is difficult to believe. (Absolutely correct!) One could almost think that when Cardinal Brandmüller was writing his suggestions, he had Gänswein’s constant media presence and attempts to interfere with the pontificate of Francis in mind.This leads me to three considerations.The continuing attempts to delegitimize Francis’s pontificate are based on the assumption that his pontificate amounts to a coup against the tradition of the Church, because of Francis’s new emphasis on marriage, Catholic social doctrine, etc. The fact is that if there was a coup, it was Benedict XVI’s decision to resign, certainly not Francis’s election. The “state of exception” (to use Carl Schmitt’s terminology) in which the Church is right now was created by Benedict, not by Francis. Ecclesiologically speaking, if there is someone who broke tradition and created a new one, it’s Benedict XVI, not Francis. The Second Vatican Council, for all the accusations of having de-structured the Church, never said anything—not in the final documents or the debates—about the possibility of a pope resigning. What at Vatican II was taboo became reality with Benedict XVI.This unprecedented situation presents historians and theologians with interesting methodological and hermeneutical challenges. September will see the publication of a volume of “last conversations” of Benedict with the German journalist Peter Seewald. That will be the most public attempt of the pope emeritus to shape his legacy in the time since the end of his pontificate (the end of his pontificate does not coincide with the end of his public life and his influence on the Catholic Church). Like most academics, Benedict is in active retirement. It is therefore worth asking when Benedict XVI’s pontificate really ends—not from a juridical-canonical perspective, but from a historical point of view. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to write a history of the Francis pontificate if not in some way synoptically with Benedict’s post-resignation life, and most importantly, with an eye on the activity of Benedict XVI’s followers and entourage in the Roman Curia and elsewhere. While Benedict is still shaping his legacy as a pope, oftentimes the followers of “pope emeritus” (Gänswein, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Sarah) do not consider the impact their actions will have on the perception of the legacy of Benedict XVI. ( And it is not a positive one)The longer Benedict XVI lives as “pope emeritus”—the longer he distances himself chronologically from the pontificate that ended on February 28, 2013—the more we understand Ratzinger–Benedict XVI and especially the differences within his entourage and acolytes. Furthermore, as time goes by, there is a possibility that we will know and understand more about what really happened in those months leading to Benedict XVI’s decision to resign. One of the things that we may discover is that there were other reasons for the resignation: not health and age, but something different, perhaps having to do with the conditions of the Roman Curia at that time, with his perception of his own pontificate in the Catholic Church, and with his perception of the pontificate of John Paul II and the situation of the Church at that time (Maciel, the sex abuse crisis). Benedict said that he kept a diary during the pontificate but that he wants to destroy it. Church historians would be very curious (to say the least) to read that diary. (And it Ratzinger's responsibility not to destroy it)
Nov 8 16 3:44 PM
Congratulations for the trip, first of all. We wanted to ask you: we know that you are the Pope and Pope Benedict, the Pope Emeritus, is also there, but lately some statements from the prefect of the pontifical household, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, have come down, who suggested that there is a shared Petrine ministry, if I’m not mistaken, with one active Pope and one contemplative Pope. Are there two Popes?Pope Francis: There was a time in the Church when there were three! (laughs) I didn’t read those declarations because I didn’t have time to see those things. Benedict is a Pope Emeritus, he said it clearly that February 11th when he was giving his resignation as of February 28th when he would retire and help the Church with prayer.And, Benedict is in the monastery praying. I went to see him so many times... or by telephone. The other day he wrote me a little little letter. He still signs with his signature, wishing me well for this trip, and once, not once but many times, I’ve said that it’s a grace to have a wise grandfather at home. I’ve also told him to his face and he laughs, but for me he is the Pope Emeritus. He is the wise grandfather. He is the man that protects my shoulders and back with his prayer.I never forget that speech he made to us cardinals on February 28th, “among you I’m sure that there is my successor. I promise obedience.” And he’s done it. But, then I’ve heard, but I don’t know if it’s true, this, eh - I underscore, I heard this, maybe they’re just rumors but they fit with his character - that some have gone there (to him) to complain because of this new Pope… and he chased them away, eh, with the best Bavarian style, educated, but he chased them away. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s welcome because this man is like that. He’s a man of his word, an upstanding, upstanding, upstanding man.He is the Pope Emeritus. Then, I don’t know if you remember that I thanked him publicly. I don’t know when but I think it was on a flight, Benedict, for having opened the door to Popes emeriti. But, 70 years ago bishops emeriti didn’t exist. Today, we have them… but with this lengthening of life, but can you run a Church at this age, with aches and pains or not? And he, courageously, and with prayer and with science, with theology decided to open this door and I believe that this is good for the Church.But there is one single Pope, and the other… maybe they will be like the bishops emeriti, I’m not saying many but possibly there could be two or three. They will be emeriti... They are emeriti.He is the Pope Emeritus. Then, I don’t know if you remember that I thanked him publicly. I don’t know when but I think it was on a flight, Benedict, for having opened the door to Popes emeriti. But, 70 years ago bishops emeriti didn’t exist. Today, we have them… but with this lengthening of life, but can you run a Church at this age, with aches and pains or not? And he, courageously, and with prayer and with science, with theology decided to open this door and I believe that this is good for the Church.But there is one single Pope, and the other… maybe they will be like the bishops emeriti, I’m not saying many but possibly there could be two or three. They will be emeriti... They are emeriti.
Mar 9 17 3:50 PM
President Barack Obama had to deal with the “birther” issue, Pope Francis has had to deal with something similar: theories according to which international machinations forced Benedict XVI to resign or that the conclave of 2013 was rigged. Some Italian Catholic journalists, close to the right in Italy (such as Antonio Socci), began voicing these theories not long after Francis’s election. Then, just on March 7, Monsignor Luigi Negri, since 2012 the archbishop of Ferrara (the diocese where I spent thirty years of my life until I moved to America) added a new twist: that on top of it all, the Obama administration was involved.In an interview given to the online newspaper Riminiduepuntozero, Negri said: “It is no coincidence that in the United States, on the basis of what has been published by Wikileaks, some Catholic groups have asked President Trump to create a commission of inquiry to investigate whether the administration of Barack Obama has lobbied Benedict XVI into the resignation. It remains for now a serious mystery, but I am sure that [those responsible will be identified]… When the time comes, the first question I will ask St. Peter’s will be on this issue.”Efforts to delegitimize Francis seem reminiscent of attempts to delegitimize ObamaYou’d think that the press office of the Holy See would have some reaction to this. But, as with the resignation of Marie Collins from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it was once again silent. A charge like Negri’s, suggesting that the resignation of Benedict XVI was not free and therefore not valid and thus implying that Francis is not the legitimate pope, would typically be met with a statement from the press office, regardless of how reluctant the Vatican might be to discipline a sitting archbishop (just for a few more weeks: Francis accepted his resignation soon after Negri turned seventy-five). On March 8, a day after Negri’s comments, former press office director Fr. Federico Lombardi issued his own long and Jesuitically witty statement denying the allegations.After Negri’s interview was analyzed by other Catholic news media outlets, Breitbart News in Rome ran a story mixing the archbishop’s comments with details related to the WikiLeaks releases on the U.S. Democratic Party. One day after that, Breitbart’s man in Rome, Thomas Williams, reported the only statement from anyone in any way affiliated with the Vatican—that is, the denial from the retired Lombardi.Negri’s charges say something about the circle of prelati and journalists who feel orphans of the previous pontificate, yet nevertheless among whom it’s hard to tell who the real friends of Joseph Ratzinger are. Moreover, one can imagine that an American journalist like Greg Burke, the present director of the Holy See press office, understands the importance of countering conspiracy theories, yet apparently not those coming from an archbishop who has direct access to Benedict XVI and tries to undermine the legitimacy of the conclave and Francis.Also worth considering: If there is no systematic alliance between Steve Bannon in the White House and the opposition to Francis in the Vatican and the United States, there are the shared tendencies toward Islamophobia and a fondness for conspiracy theories. The extreme wing of Francis’s opposition has raised the spectre of missing ballots at the conclave; of secret maneuvering to ensure that Benedict’s was a short-term pontificate; of a rigged bishops’ synod in 2014-2015 (see the book by the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin). And now Obama is said to be behind it all.Monsignor Negri clearly speaks for himself and a few others only. But it’s difficult to consider the traditionalist opposition against Pope Francis without also considering the constant attempt to delegitimize Obama—not just the conspiracy theories, but also the “I want my country (my Church) back” sentiment. I am not inclined to see political-ideological alignments between American politics and Church politics, especially for a pope like Francis. But it’s hard to deny that the opposition against the first African-American president has a lot in common with the opposition against the first Latin American pope.
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