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May 2 17 4:44 AM
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.“..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. As Traditional Catholics we now seem to be watching much of the hierarchy and our Neo-Catholic brethren drift beyond mere serious disagreement with Tradition into a fantasy world where Tradition, common sense, and logic itself are jettisoned for hallucination and illusion. They are indeed headed towards a realm into which we can no longer follow them or hope to reach them. As Dr. John Senior said, “It is not that they have committed an error; they have abandoned intelligence.”So, as the Conciliar Church continues to float this absurd self-refuting novel proposition as if it were serious, and as the Neo-Catholics begin writing their tomes of sophistic defense of this anti-reality, we are left like the man Dr. Senior referred to as “The poor lost functionary in the fabricated world of 1984.” As Orwell said:“It was as though some huge force were pressing down upon you -- something that penetrated inside your skull, battering against your brain, frightening you out of your beliefs, persuading you, almost, to deny the evidence of your senses. In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense…The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command...And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! …Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth's center. With the feeling … that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote: Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
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.“..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.”
May 2 17 4:57 AM
The post-Benedict Church has only just begun to deal with the newly created institution of the “Bishop-emeritus of Rome”. The “Benedict complex” tends to pit Pope Francis against his predecessor in a rivalry, if not a hostile relationship, which ends in a zero-sum game.A recently released book called The Benedict Option urges Christians of our age to strategically retreat from modern culture. Neo-traditionalist blogger and author Rod Dreher cites St Benedict of Norcia as the inspiration for this proposal.It’s not clear what impact this book will have on individual believers, but there is no question that Catholicism has currently developed a peculiar “Benedict complex”. However, the Benedict, in this case, is Benedict XVI - the Bishop-emeritus of Rome who abdicated the papal office on February 28, 2013, and was succeed the following March 13th by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the man we know today as Pope Francis.This “Benedict complex” is twofold.On the one hand, there is a “journalistic-industrial complex”, akin to the “industrial-military complex” that US President Dwight D. Eisenhower decried in his famous farewell speech in January 1961.The papacy today is a very complex machine. Compared to just a few decades ago, there is a much bigger merchandising business and journalistic apparatus that surround the pope and the Vatican. Handling and delivering the pope’s words and image is a complex and potentially profitable enterprise. In this sense, a TV series like The Young Pope, where the fictitious Pius XIII (Jude Law) seeks to withdraw from the public eye, has captured a certain fascination with the mechanics of the modern papacy.In fact, the journalistic-industrial complex surrounding Benedict XVI did not cease when he retired. Instead, there are those who have continued to make constant reference to him, their favorite pope, as if very little has changed in his official role. Joseph Ratzinger and his followers should not necessarily be blamed for this. It is likely that it would have happened with any other pope who may have resigned. And it’s probable that it will happen in the future should another pope step down and retire within the Vatican walls.Even though some in Benedict XVI’s entourage have used the “pope emeritus” to further their own personal agenda (and this is a serious issue), the “theological-industrial complex” is not primarily a product of the theology of Ratzinger or his followers (the Ratzingerians). It is actually more about how the papacy works via social media in today’s media-friendly, global Church. It is also about the unintended consequences of the coexistence of a pope and a retired predecessor who has chosen to remain at the Vatican.The extraordinary transition from Benedict to Francis - which is still ongoing and far from over - is the first transition of papal power to take place in the age of electronic social media.This is the very media that changed the daily habits of many believers precisely during Benedict’s pontificate (2005-2013).Recall that Facebook expanded between 2007 and 2011. Then Twitter, which was launched in 2006, grew exponentially between 2007 and 2008. This helped connect many believers with strong opinions while isolating them from those with whom they disagree. Some influential Catholics (bloggers known for their vitriol) have used social media to undermine the global vision on which social media is based, but - even more so - on which Catholicism is founded. These idiosyncratic worldviews have helped create a post-modern version of the late medieval situation of split “obediences” to different popes and anti-popes.The second aspect of the “Benedict complex” is theological and psychological. The Oedipus complex is a stage in the normal developmental process of the child, and in a similar way the “Benedict complex” is a stage in this new chapter in the history of the Church in its relationship with the papacy.The post-Benedict Church has only just begun to deal with the newly created institution of the “Bishop-emeritus of Rome”. The “Benedict complex” tends to pit Pope Francis against his predecessor in a rivalry, if not a hostile relationship, which ends in a zero-sum game.The coexistence of a reigning pope and a Bishop-emeritus of Rome is already complex enough. This is true, for example, at the symbolical level, where the emeritus is actively present (or not) in certain important moments in the life of the Church. And it is also true at the level of magisterial authority, where reference is continuously made to the opinions of the emeritus and of his appointees. This is a process with no codified tradition. We are only beginning to create it now.On top of this, there is sometimes an obsession to measure the legitimacy of Pope Francis’s pontificate in terms of continuity or discontinuity with his German predecessor. Catholics can appreciate what is new and what is not in a newly elected pope, but the constant comparison of a recently elected pope with his still-living predecessor is something entirely new.The “Benedict complex” is also linked to the role Joseph Ratzinger and his theology played in the pontificate of John Paul II.Some might say nostalgia for Benedict XVI is connected to “infallibilism”. But this cannot be true because Vatican Council I (1869-70) defined papal infallibility in narrow and precise terms. And also because any pope since Vatican I can implore papal infallibility, though it is interesting that Francis speaks of infallibility only in term of “infallibility of the faith of the people”.More typical of the “Benedict complex” might be called “definitivism”. This is where the most important characteristics of Catholicism are magisterially defined in a clear and propositional way. John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI definitively and canonically defined a number of them once and for all. According to this definitivism, it is impossible to develop any Catholic teaching beyond John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is something like the famous (and failed) thesis of political scientist Francis Fukuyama about the “end of history”, but applied to the Catholic Church.TThis is something new, and it speaks volumes about how some Catholics have reacted to the end of the most important post-Vatican II period to date - the 35 years of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. This “Benedict complex” highlights the fact that the Church sometimes loses the very Catholic idea that truth consists of both-and and is not based on either-or.In other words, the difficulty in accepting Pope Francis in his differences from John Paul II and Benedict is a symptom of the difficulty that some Catholics have (especially those recently converted from scientific atheism, Marxist materialism or the Protestant tradition) with the paradoxes typical of Catholicism.American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald (who was raised a Catholic) said: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”This can be applied to the situation of the papacy today. There is only one pope, but there are clearly two (at least two) different theological cultures at work in the body (especially in the hierarchy) of the Church.The important thing to keep in mind is that the Church receives (and embraces) papal teaching in the long term. This takes time. And none of us will be around when the theological issues currently on the table are finally settled by the tradition of the Church.
May 2 17 2:38 PM
May 2 17 9:50 PM
May 3 17 5:10 AM
I've never understood why professed admirers of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. could have such a problem with the "pope emeritus" title.
May 3 17 8:11 AM
... it wasn't THAT absurd and ridiculous for Archbishop Gänswein to speak of an "expanded Petrine ministry" - though it might have been ill-advised. It's what I myself pictured in my mind after Benedict's last GA....However, there was never any doubt in my mind that Francis was and is the truly elected pope, who was and is in possession of ALL the powers and duties of the papal office.
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. 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.” 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.
I must confess I've never understood why professed admirers of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI. could have such a problem with the "pope emeritus" title.
“… some in Benedict XVI’s entourage have used the “Pope emeritus” to further their own personal agenda (and this is a serious issue) …
May 3 17 2:23 PM
May 4 17 6:41 AM
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization, does not agree with Benedict XVI’s choice of being called “Pope Emeritus” after his resignation. The prelate said during the presentation speech of “Il Papa del coraggio”, (literally, The Pope of Courage), a book written by Vatican journalist Mammo Muolo, of Italian daily Avvenire, published by Ancora editions, “I do not agree with the expression "Pope Emeritus ", which theologically creates more problems than it solves." Fisichella added, “I respect it, but I will not use it” and I will wait for “another expression” which is less problematic from a theological point of view. (There is no doubt that Benedict would respect the opinion of Rino Fisichella who is an intellectual like himself. Benedict must surely agree with him and this title was not his choice. In my opinion it damages Ratzinger and makes it appear that he wanted to cling to a modicum of influence and power in retirement.) The Archbishop, who is the head of the dicasterium that Benedict XVI set up to promote the new evangelization, joins others who have already expressed doubts and perplexity about the choice of the title “Pope Emeritus”. Among them, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, who asserted “the uniqueness of the Petrine succession does not allow within it any further distinction or duplication of offices, even if they are not able to be exercised.” Or like that of Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, who called for “necessary and urgent legislation to define and regulate” the status of a Pope after his resignation". During the presentation of Muolo’s book, Fisichella emphasized how Ratzinger’s courageous decision opened a “new horizon” for the future of the Apostolic See, with the possibility for other Pontiffs to do the same. The archbishop also pointed out that while everyone lived very emotionally through the groundbreaking and historic choice of Benedict to renounce, for Benedict XVI, it was decision reached after much thought and prayer. Fisichella also mentioned his attempts to convince Pope Ratzinger to complete the trilogy of encyclicals dedicated to the three theological virtues: after those on charity (”Deus caritas est”) and hope (”Spe salvi”) the one faith was missing. “While preparing for the Year of Faith, Fisichella recalled that in the meetings with other heads of offices, Cardinal Levada, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that the Pope did not intend to write the third encyclical. I tried to convince Benedict XVI, pointing out that he had already made many speeches and interventions on the theme of faith and that there was enough material. I could have not known then that he had already decided to resign.” The encyclical “Lumen fidei”, as it is known, was written “with four hands” and signed by Francis in 2013. After Fisichella, Father Federico Lombardi, President of the Ratzinger Foundation and former director of the Vatican Press Room and spokesperson for Pope Benedict took the floor. Lombardi praised the depth of Muolo’s book especially on some interpretive keys, such as that of a reason “widened” or “open” to the possibility of the transcendent, or on the theme of faith,which was central to the Ratzinger pontificate. Furthermore, Father Lombardi emphasized the author’s sharp observation about the infamous Vatileaks issue. On one of the most painful events of the pontificate, “Mimmo Muolo noted that no paper or document that came out at that time has cast the slightest shadow of discredit on the Pope. In all the documents, there was no insinuation or criticism of the person of Benedict XVI. “
May 4 17 10:45 AM
May 4 17 11:27 AM
When he accepted the "guillotine"descending on him, did he so because he didn't have the strength to cut short the at once possible career ambitions of his secretary?
May 4 17 1:24 PM
May 4 17 3:46 PM
May 5 17 4:43 AM
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, has said he does not agree with calling Benedict XVI “Pope Emeritus’.Speaking at a presentation of the book Il Papa del coraggio (the Pope of courage) by Italian journalist Mammo Muolo, the archbishop said the title “theologically creates more problems rather than solving them”.“I respect it, but I will not use it,” he added, saying he would wait for “another expression” to describe the former pontiff.In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Benedict XVI said he wanted simply to be known as “Father Benedict” after stepping down as Pope but felt too weak and tired to push the decision through.Last year, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, a close confidant of the former pope, also said he did not agree with the title.“The uniqueness of the Petrine succession does not allow within it any further distinction or duplication of offices, albeit no longer free in exercise,” he said in an interview with La Stampa.Despite his reservations over the title, however, Archbishop Fisichella said Benedict XVI’s decision opened a “new horizon” for the papacy, and could lead to future popes doing the same.
May 5 17 9:21 AM
May 5 17 10:26 AM
May 5 17 2:55 PM
May 5 17 8:37 PM
May 18 17 5:17 AM
Letter from Rome: Who’s Responsible for the Benedict Complex?A couple of weeks ago La Croix International published an important article by Massimo Faggioli under the title, “The Peculiar Benedict Complex.” It explored some of the psychological and ecclesiological effects that Benedict XVI’s resignation from the papacy has had on the Church.Faggioli, an LCI featured columnist and Commonweal contributing editor who now teaches historical theology at Villanova University in Philadelphia, wrote:“The post-Benedict Church has only just begun to deal with the newly created institution of the ‘Bishop-emeritus of Rome’. The ‘Benedict complex’ tends to pit Pope Francis against his predecessor in a rivalry, if not a hostile relationship, which ends in a zero-sum game.”A prominent member of the so-called “Bologna School” of ecclesiastical history (especially of the reforming nature of the Second Vatican Council), Faggioli argued that this new “Benedict complex” was being advanced by certain journalists and—my words now, not his—Catholics nostalgic for a rigid doctrinal conformity and black-and-white clarity that they, rightly or wrong, identify with the theology of the former pope.“Even though some in Benedict XVI’s entourage have used the ‘pope emeritus’ to further their own personal agenda (and this is a serious issue), the ‘theological-industrial complex’ is not primarily a product of the theology of Ratzinger or his followers (the Ratzingerians),” Faggioli wrote.Yes. And no.Long before serving as Bishop of Rome (2005-2013), Joseph Ratzinger steadily consolidated his mark in contemporary ecclesiastical history as arguably the single most influential theologian in the post-Vatican II Church.Beginning in late 1981 when John Paul II appointed him prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger’s carefully circumscribed theological views gradually became all but normative for the rest of the Catholic world. The Bavarian prefect was, in all but a few important areas, the theological spinal cord of the long, restorationist pontificate of the now-sainted Polish pope.Then, during his own eight-year pontificate, Benedict XVI went even further to impose some of his most controversial positions on the entire Church. One of the most serious was the publication of the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which gave priests unfettered permission to celebrate the Eucharist and the other sacraments in the Tridentine Rite.One effect of this motu proprio has been the deepening of divisions between reform-minded Catholics who have embraced Vatican II and the self-described traditionalists who have contested many of the reforms that followed the Council.But another consequence of the document has been the legitimization of the neo-Tridentinists (some who are quasi-Lefebvrists)—priests and entire religious orders that had been on the fringes of the Church in the decades following the council they so dislike.But once he was pope Benedict gave them new prominence, even appointing some of their most ardent supporters to key posts. There is no better (or worse) example than the American ultra-traditionalist, Raymond Burke. The former pope made the man who today is one of Pope Francis’s most prominent critics head of the Vatican’s top court in 2008. Benedict then made him a cardinal two years later.And this is where one must begin to politely disagree with Massimo Faggioli when he seems to exonerate Ratzinger and his devotees from any responsibility for creating the “Benedict complex.”In fact, responsibility lies squarely with the former pope. And if Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ had not been elected Bishop of Rome in 2013, this “complex” would likely be even worse today.Let’s refresh our memories.When Benedict XVI abdicated the papacy at the end of February that year he unilaterally made a series of decisions that had the real potential of inhibiting the pontificate of his then still-unknown successor.Before the conclave even got started, he decided to take the title “Pope-emeritus”. Almost every respected canon lawyer, theologian and Church historian immediately voiced perplexity at the choice. They noted that the proper title should be Bishop-emeritus of Rome.Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who continues to head the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization that Benedict created, is the latest to contest the use of pope-emeritus.“I’ll respect it, but will not use it,” he said recently. “Theologically, it poses more problems than it resolves,” said Fisichella, who is considered one of Italy’s leading theologians and was a close aid to the former pope.Etymologically, the term “pope”, or the Italian papa, simply means “dad” or padre. It is not even one of the seven official titles of the man whose first and most important title (and function) is Bishop of Rome. And at least two Orthodox Churches (the Egyptian Copts and the autocephalous Turks) also call their top leaders pope. But, again, these are forms of address, not proper titles. Using the term pope-emeritus would be like calling your retired parish priest, “monsignor-emeritus.”Benedict XVI also decided to continue wearing the white papal cassock, modifying it only slightly by eliminating the white shoulder cape. This, his supporters argued, was a sign that he had renounced his juridical power as Roman Pontiff. However, the retired pope did retain the gold ring, pectoral cross and white zucchetto, giving up only the red papal slippers that Pope Francis does not even wear.Significantly, Benedict even chose to remain inside the Vatican after retirement. He refurbished a former monastery just a few hundred yards from the Apostolic Palace and the papal apartment where his successor was destined to live.But, most importantly, once he had decided to abdicate the papacy he appointed his personal secretary, Msgr. Georg Gänswein, as prefect of the Papal Household. The one who holds this key post has customarily acted as “gate-keeper,” deciding who gets into to see the pope and who does not.Benedict told journalist Peter Seewald (in the 2016 book, Last Testament) that it was in the weeks following the papal visit to Mexico and Cuba in March 2012 that he definitively decided to resign. In the autumn of 2012 he quietly ordered major restorations to the Mater Ecclesia Monastery inside the Vatican Gardens that would be his future retirement home.It was in December 2012, just two months before officially announcing his resignation, that he appointed Gänswein head of the Papal Household (normally an initial five-year term) and ordained him to the episcopacy with the title of “archbishop.” One could argue that Benedict, perhaps only subconsciously, made a calculated choice to ensure a seamless transition between his pontificate and that of his yet-unknown successor. In hindsight it sure seemed to be at least a precautionary measure.In Last Testament the now-retired Benedict said he was surprised that the cardinals had elected Bergoglio. And in the run-up to the 2013 conclave most observers thought the next Bishop of Rome would be one of the following Ratzinger loyalists: Angelo Scola of Italy, Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil, Marc Ouellet of Canada or Péter Erdő of Hungary.Had the Holy Spirit descended on any one of these four, Archbishop Gänswein would have been the go-between and guarantor of continuity, since he would be living with former pope and running the household of the current one. And, certainly, if one of these had become pope he would have found it difficult not to continuously seek guidance from his nearby predecessor.Pope Francis, however, has steered a clear, but respectful distance from Benedict. This required him to do something dramatic—right from the start—that was unthinkable to most people. Seeing that these pre-established living arrangement for him and his predecessor were potentially fraught with all sorts of difficulties, the newly elected pope decided to live at the Santa Marta Residence. In essence, he pulled the rug from beneath the feet of Benedict and Gänswein and secured his complete independence from them.Between the time he decided he’d resign and the moment he shocked the world by officially announcing it, Benedict XVI made other personnel moves that he could have just as easily (and probably should have) left to his successor.One of them was his appointment on July 2, 2012 of a new prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). He chose then-Archbishop Gerhard Müller of Regensburg (Germany), the same man Benedict personally picked in 2008 to oversee the publication of the sixteen-volume Collected Writings of Joseph Ratzinger.In effect, Benedict foisted the keeper of his theological flame on the pontificate of the man who would succeed him as Bishop of Rome. Pope Francis had no real choice but to make Müller a cardinal, then just a year into his five-year appointment at the CDF, if he didn’t want further opposition from Benedict’s loyalists. And it is these loyalists, especially the neo-Tridentinists who owe their rehabilitation to the former pope, who have been the most strident promoters of what Faggioli calls the “Benedict complex.” They have used the “hermeneutic of continuity,” which they disingenuously attribute to the former pope, as a sort of infallible defense against any and all changes or developments proposed by Pope Francis.This hermeneutic, for them, means nothing can ever change in Church practice or teaching—especially, it seems, when it concerns the liturgy or sexual morality. But Benedict XVI never used the narrow term, which his enthusiasts have purposely twisted.In his pre-Christmas address to the Roman Curia in 2005, his first year in office, the former pope spoke (some would say over-simplistically) of the two ways the Second Vatican Council has been interpreted.“On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call ‘a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture’; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology,” Benedict said.“On the other, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God,” he added.The two hermeneutics Benedict spoke of are one of “discontinuity” and one of “reform.” He never used the term “hermeneutic of continuity.” The only place it shows up in his pontificate is in a footnote in a 2007 apostolic exhortation that he did not even write. (It was actually penned by a ghostwriter chosen by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.)And yet this moniker has been the banner under which Benedict’s supporters have tried to block any change or development in the Church that is not a mere adding on to things that already exist. Not surprising, the “hermeneutic of reform” (Benedict’s phrase) is not found in the arsenal of their crusade to turn back the clock to some nonexistent golden age of Catholicism that they locate somewhere in the 1950s.But there is something even more troubling. Benedict XVI is well aware that his devotees attribute the “hermeneutic of continuity” to him and yet he has never publicly said or written anything to correct this abuse.Why?What other possible conclusion could there be other than the fact that he is not opposed to its usage. And since it is a concept attributed to him, he must believe it is a valid interpretation of his thought.And if that is the case, then Benedict XVI is more responsible than anyone else for the deleterious effects of the “Benedict complex.” Fortunately, it has not deterred the pope: Francis, that is.
“The post-Benedict Church has only just begun to deal with the newly created institution of the ‘Bishop-emeritus of Rome’. The ‘Benedict complex’ tends to pit Pope Francis against his predecessor in a rivalry, if not a hostile relationship, which ends in a zero-sum game.”
May 18 17 7:39 AM
Before the conclave even got started, he decided to take the title “Pope-emeritus”.
Benedict XVI also decided to continue wearing the white papal cassock, modifying it only slightly by eliminating the white shoulder cape. This, his supporters argued, was a sign that he had renounced his juridical power as Roman Pontiff. However, the retired pope did retain the gold ring, pectoral cross and white zucchetto ...
Benedict even chose to remain inside the Vatican after retirement.
May 19 17 4:10 AM
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