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Pope Benedict’s SOS

Cardinal Joachim Meisner was a doctrinal conservative, and one of the four cardinals who signed the dubia questioning the orthodoxy [1] of parts of Pope Francis’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia. Hours after the conservative Cardinal Gerhard Müller phoned to let the older German cardinal know that Francis had cashiered him at the CDF, the Vatican’s doctrinal office, Cardinal Meisner died. As Ross Douthat writes in his column this week [2], the death of Meisner was one of several events that removed significant opposition to Francis’s agenda among conservatives at the senior level of the Catholic Church.

At Cardinal Meisner’s funeral in Cologne today, a representative of the retired Pope Benedict XVI read a short message from him [3]. (The original German statement is here [4].) It included this stunning paragraph:

We know that this passionate pastor and shepherd found it particularly difficult to leave his post, especially at a time in which the Church stands in particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age [Zeitgeistes] and who live and think the faith with determination. However, what moved me all the more was that, in this last period of his life, he learned to let go and to live out of a deep conviction that the Lord does not abandon his church, even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.

Keep in mind that Catholics think of the Church as the “barque of Peter” — a boat, captained by Peter. Benedict XVI is saying here that the Church appears to be going down, capitulating to the Zeitgeist. He is praising Cardinal Meisner for living with serenity, confident that come what may, Jesus will not abandon the Church.

I had to re-read that statement from Benedict several times to quite believe it. This is a staggering remark, one whose power is amplified by the fact that it was delivered at the requiem mass for a cardinal who challenged Pope Francis directly. I cannot read it as other than Benedict’s judgment of the state of the Catholic Church under Francis. If you have a more plausible reading, let’s hear it.

If I’m correct, contained within these few lines is Benedict’s counsel to the Catholic faithful who wish to resist this dictatorship of the Zeitgeist: you are not wrong; things really are as bad as they seem — but stand fast in the faith, and fear not.

What’s interesting too is that things may not seem that bad far from Rome. But Benedict XVI is at the summit of the Church, and has been for most of his long clerical career. He knows what’s going on in the Vatican. He knows what has been going on in the Vatican. He sees what few people outside of Rome can.

(By the way, Christians in the West outside the Roman fold who think this is purely a Catholic problem are whistling past the graveyard. We all live under the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist. There is no place completely safe from it.)

In the opening chapter to The Benedict Option [5], I characterized the contemporary situation as a catastrophe for Western civilization in general and faithful Christians in particular. I cited Benedict XVI’s likening of our time to that of the West in the fall of the Roman Empire [6] (the then-pope was speaking specifically of Europe, but Europe is only slightly ahead of the United States in these matters). It is indeed an alarming scenario, one that some critics have derided as “alarmist”. I wonder if those same people would criticize Joseph Ratzinger for being “alarmist” in his statement today.

The thing is, Father Joseph Ratzinger, in 1969, predicted all of this would happen.   [7] “The real crisis has scarcely begun,” he said then. And here we are today. We are not nearly at the bottom. Ratzinger predicted a great trial and a winnowing. And after that:

The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

Again, we non-Catholic Christians are by no means free from these trials. Any non-Catholic Christian who sees the agonies of the Catholic Church and feels a surge of triumphalism is a fool — as is any Catholic who feels triumphalistic over the rest of us. Open your eyes! Look around! All of us Christians who refuse to submit to the post-Christian Zeitgeist are in this together. This crisis is why I wrote The Benedict Option [5]But there is hope, real hope, not happy-clappy optimism. As I write in the book:

In this book, you will meet men and women who are today’s Benedicts. Some live in the countryside. Others live in the city. Still others make their homes in the suburbs. All of them are faithful orthodox Christians—that is, theological conservatives within the three main branches of historic Christianity—who know that if believers don’t come out of Babylon and be separate, sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally, their faith will not survive for another generation or two in this culture of death. They recognize an unpopular truth: politics will not save us. Instead of looking to prop up the current order, they have recognized that the kingdom of which they are citizens is not of this world and have decided not to compromise that citizenship.

What these orthodox Christians are doing now are the seeds of what I call the Benedict Option, a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church to embrace “exile in place” and form a vibrant counterculture. Recognizing the toxins of modern secularism, as well as the fragmentation caused by relativism, Benedict Option Christians look to Scripture and to Benedict’s Rule for ways to cultivate practices and communities. Rather than panicking or remaining complacent, they recognize that the new order is not a problem to be solved but a reality to be lived with. It will be those who learn how to endure with faith and creativity, to deepen their own prayer lives and adopting practices, focusing on families and communities instead of on partisan politics, and building churches, schools, and other institutions within which the orthodox Christian faith, can survive and prosper through the flood.

This is not just about our own survival. If we are going to be for the world as Christ meant for us to be, we are going to have to spend more time away from the world, in deep prayer and substantial spiritual training—just as Jesus retreated to the desert to pray before ministering to the people. We cannot give the world what we do not have. If Israel had been assimilated by the world of the ancient Near East, it would have ceased being a light to the world. So it is with the church.

The reality of our situation is indeed alarming, but we do not have the luxury of doom-and-gloom hysteria. There is a hidden blessing in this crisis, if we will open our eyes to it. Just as God used chastisement in the Old Testament to call His people back to Himself, so He may be delivering a like judgment onto a church and a people grown cold from selfishness, hedonism, and materialism. The coming storm may be the means through which God delivers us.

I also write, in the book’s acknowledgements:

I also want to express my gratitude for the life and work of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, who I consider the second Benedict of the Benedict Option.

I am not (or rather, no longer) a Roman Catholic, but I look up to Benedict XVI. He has shown us the way. He is still doing so. As he once wrote, in an essay collected in this book [8]:

[F]aith is fundamentally a particular kind of passion, or, more correctly, a kind of love that seizes a man and points the way he must go, even if that way is wearisome. That way may turn out to be a mountain ascent that seems folly to the comfortable and narrow-minded middle-class citizen but, to the one who has committed himself to the adventure, the one and only way, which he wouldn’t not wish to exchange for all the comfort in the world.

Precisely. Things are terrible. There’s nothing but trouble ahead. If we’re going to sail through it without capsizing, there are things we need to be doing right now. Not five years from now, but right now.

I see that a fellow Orthodox Christian, Abbot Tryphon, who heads the Orthodox monastery on Vashon Island, Washington, is sounding a similar note of warning and of hope. [9]Excerpt:

Many of us see the battle front as on the political side, and have committed ourselves to fighting for a return to the standards of the past. If we can just get honest Christians back in the saddle, all will be saved. Yet if we be honest, the signs abound that we have lost the battle.

Perhaps the answer is to be found in a sort of “circle the wagons” approach, where we build stronger parishes, and create safe havens for ourselves, and our children. Rather than continue the losing battle to return our nation to her Christian past, we build, like the early Christians, a nurturing place of spiritual support, and preserve what has always been within the walls of our churches and monasteries.

Like Saint Benedict, who built his monastery as a place of refuge and safety, preserving Christianity during a dark period in the history of the West, we create a place where the best of our Christian values and spiritual strength grow deeper and stronger. This holy place not only becomes our fortress against the sickness and perversion of a culture gone mad, but becomes the sought after place for others, when they’ve finally reached the end of their endurance.

As the corrupt society around us disintegrates into the cesspool of atheism and sensual abandon, our churches offer the safety and security of a God protected place of sanctuary, where we can be fortified as warriors battling the darkness of a world that has lost its way. And when the time comes, others will see what we have, and join us in the Ship that is the Church, and travel with us into that safe harbor, which is the Kingdom of God.

As Benedict XVI said in his statement today, even the Ship is taking on water — but we must know by faith that it will not sink. What are we doing to make it seaworthy, though? The Church is not only the institution or the clergy. The Church is also us. The longer we pretend that this catastrophe is not happening, the harder it is going to be to resist the forces that would pull us all under.

UPDATE: A reader comments:

Before you get too excited, the translation you are using is wrong and misleading (in contrast to the different version you are linking to). The German says: “und immer mehr aus der tiefen Gewissheit lebte, dass der Herr seine Kirche nicht verlässt, auch wenn manchmal das Boot schon fast zum Kentern angefüllt ist.”
The important word is “manchmal”, meaning “from time to time” or “at times”:
“and he lived more and more in the certainty that the lord will not leave his church, even when from time to time the boat is so full it is close to capsize.”

Maybe the old pope has more actual faith than the alarmists who are in constant panic.

I appreciate the clarification, as I don’t speak German, but I hardly see that as much different.

UPDATE.2: Reader Old West writes:

I do speak German, and the fact that manchmal means “sometimes” or “from time to time” doesn’t change the meaning of what you quoted.

I can see where someone wishing to minimize Benedict’s statement would leap on a poor translation in order to deflect from his point. But to do so is pedantic sophistry in action.

91 Comments (Open | Close)

91 Comments To "Pope Benedict’s SOS"

#1 Comment By Paul Ashley On July 17, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

This falls in with another article I read today concerning church leaders falling in line with the spirit of the age.

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#2 Comment By Bugg On July 17, 2017 @ 5:18 pm

“…even when the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.” A retired pope saying the Church is on the verge of collapse is remarkable. Clearly if subtly he is questioning Francis’s leadership. And fair to note every time Francis opens his mouth his deposits his foot therein. The greatest pope in our lifetime, John Paul II, made a point of criticizing not only the materialism run amok of the the West but also the liberation theology of the Left. Francis has abandoned all that; he is in fact a very bad shepherd.

#3 Comment By Billy On July 17, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

But if Christians withdraw, as you describe it, won’t they need more than the strength of faith to survive? Where will that strength be found, what institutions of the society that is vacated will come to the defense of Christians should the very imaginable happen and other groups tell Christians either they convert and succumb, or they will literally be destroyed?

#4 Comment By KO On July 17, 2017 @ 6:42 pm

I don’t think one needs to speak German fluently to understand that this statement could have referred to any number of crises the Church has faced in the last half-century (the sex abuse scandal comes to mind quite readily, for example). Considering Pope Benedict and Meisner were by all accounts very close friends, it is not difficult to imagine that Benedict was in fact discussing an earlier scandal, perhaps any number Meisner may have advised Benedict on during the latter’s own papacy.

Given the total vagueness of the message, of course, it is impossible to rule out the interpretation presented here. That Pope Benedict would hijack a dear friend’s funeral to get a dig in at Francis, however, seems rather eisegetical to me, especially considering Benedict’s rather lavish praise for Francis in numerous other venues.

#5 Comment By TG On July 17, 2017 @ 7:03 pm

Rod is still Catholic. He’s just on vacation for a while. I did the same thing for a period in my life. Once Catholic, always Catholic. The only way out is to send your bishop a letter denouncing the faith and asking him to be excommunicated.

The simple truth is this: Without the papacy you have chaos and anarchy. Orthodox believe that each bishopric is a complete catholic church. Nice idea but what happens when two bishops disagree on a point of doctrine? Without a pope to decide, you have schism and ultimately chaos, which is exactly what we have in the modern world. 40,000 denominations and counting each with a different interpretation of teaching and no one to settle the dispute. I don’t think Jesus envisioned the mess we have today. That’s why he gave Peter the keys to Heaven. God never did that before. Not even to Moses. He didn’t give them to the other apostle either. Only Peter. Jesus put one guy in charge for a reason.

The Catholic Church will be here until the end of time. How do I know? Because Jesus said so. It’s survived far darker times than this and far worse popes than Francis. The Church is protected by the Holy Spirit and will not fall. I’m actually kind of interested to see if Pope Francis is crazy enough to try and change traditional teaching. If he does, the Holy Spirit will stop him cold. Guaranteed. That’s why he issues encyclicals and not ex-cathedra statements. I wonder if that is because the Holy Spirit is already working on him or if he is afraid of what might happen to him?

For encouragement I have been reading the lives of the saints lately. Not much has changed in 2000 years. The Church has been infested with heretics starting with Judas. Every heresy in our history was proposed by a priest or bishop. None of that will change until the second coming. One thing is for sure though, the Bride of Christ will be here waiting for Him.

#6 Comment By Kevin E Kelly On July 17, 2017 @ 7:28 pm

Are you suggesting that these conservative parishes actually break with the Holy See? Where would the priests come from? Will these parishes develop their own priestly orders? How can you change the Church by leaving her?
I am that middle class do the least I can kind of person. The least meaning lowered resistance to the mountain of changes I’ve seen and been part of for over 50 years. In the interest of keeping everyone happy. Apparently many of us here in the West were downright miserable so we tried to fix it.
We went beyond way too far about 15 years ago. Do I get discouraged? Sometimes but I do hold on because I remember 1975. We here in middle class US suburbia anticipated a trade off; that the Church would certainly condemn Roe v. Wade but allow contraception. Pope Paul VI took a hammer to those hopes. As a result Churches emptied and here we are today. Fractured and corrupt as all get out. There’s no denying what’s been going on inside the Apostolate.
I won’t allow myself the destructive emotional reaction I had in 1975 to repeat itself today. Mass is too important to my life, to my very existence so I won’t allow the day to day runnings of the Church diminish or distract me from Mass. I will not do it under any circumstances. My advice? Get back to Church and behave yourselves.

[NFR: No, I’m not suggesting that. — RD]

#7 Comment By Mia On July 17, 2017 @ 7:29 pm

“I begin to question more and more the wisdom of having two popes, even when one is designated as an “emeritus.” Imagine what it’s going to be like if Francis retires before B16 dies, and there are three of them. And Francis continues to talk, making insinuations about the current pope and the state of the church.”

At a time when terrorists have been threatening to hit the Vatican and have been ravaging the Middle Eastern churches and the Western world has been working hard to marginalize them, is it really a bad idea to have two popes? It would be easy to bring things to a grinding halt by just preventing some or all of the cardinals to travel to Rome for a conclave, and having a incapacitated pope would make it easy for the crazy curia to govern completely freely in his name. Democratic nations don’t have much of a memory of the ways that monarchies could be compromised to realize this.

Resigning was a smart choice, and I think given the possibility that Francis is isolated (he may not have as much power as people assume) otherwise in the Vatican, it’s good Benedict is nearby to consult with and have as emotional support. But by the way, Lifesite News had a few articles last week quoting Benedict when he took office praying that he have the strength to “not flee the wolves” once he took office and that he resigned after being given the huge report on the gay underbelly at the Vatican, so clearly something bad is going on there that he couldn’t cope with. But if he couldn’t cope with it, I don’t know why any other man in the office of Pope would either. Some of the suggestions over at that website are cringeworthy laughable. No country in the world would allow any pope to act that way, especially with the global news cycle in place.

Furthermore, you have to remember this is Italy. Don’t forget that the mafia is very strong there, as it has gotten strong globally, and I would guess that curia members who are native Italians could have connections to them and be involved in far worse than we’ve heard. Do you know what it’s like fighting the mafia? You don’t just get up and wave your magic wand, and everything comes up roses and turns out the way you want. Both of these popes are outsiders to Italian politics, which I think is good, but any do-gooder pope may find formidable, deadly opposition in such a context. Daunting for anyone, so I’m not going to make matters worse by jumping to conclusions about either pope. I like both men and find their statements to be usually good with a few bad days and personal blind spots here and there.

#8 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 17, 2017 @ 7:39 pm

The Catholic Church will be here until the end of time. How do I know? Because Jesus said so.

No he didn’t. (See how easy that is?)

#9 Comment By Uncle Billy On July 17, 2017 @ 8:06 pm

All this hysteria about Pope Francis. We have had worse. Julius III had a teenage boy for a mistress, Other Renaissance Popes had a thing for nuns, boys and who knows what else. Francis is rather mild compared to these perverts.

Francis is our first Jesuit Pope. Since one of my degrees is from a Jesuit University, I am pleased. Finally, we have a Pope who can think critically, not just a cop intent on cracking the whip and enforcing the rules, no matter how stupid they are. Bravo Francis.

#10 Comment By LS On July 17, 2017 @ 10:01 pm

KO, I think you’ve got it just right. It’s definitely not Benedict XVI’s style to do what is suggested. It would be an extraordinary step for certain.

#11 Comment By Bryan On July 17, 2017 @ 11:10 pm

Very broad statement. Benedict is not and would not disagree with his successor precisely to avoid undermining him. I can see many ways to interpret as both support for Francis and giving a Meisner the benefit of the doubt in his misguided efforts because he was decieved in being “right”. Saying there are only a few faithful doesn’t mean that FRANCIS Isn’t in fact one of the few misunderstood by both the left and right. There are truly very few that fall in the category who don’t see this as a battle with the left vs right. Rather a few see both sides have faults in extreme. Disobedience on the left and arrogance on the right. The fact is most are not willfully disobedient…just poorly formed. Then when they meet a priest or layman who is at least aware of “the rules” they get blown out by a the message these guys communicate which is: “we are getting it right and you are wrong.” Dale Carnegie 101 mistake. But pride and self righteousness can do that.

#12 Comment By Francis McMahon On July 18, 2017 @ 12:37 am

I’m a convert to Catholicism.I think that Pope Francis is not a good Pope and in my opinion he is turning a lot of Catholics away from the church. He says a lot of stupid things. He criticizes President Trump and America. He should keep his nose out of politics. He says Islam is a peaceful Religion. He is obviously very ignorant about Islam. To me he is a false Pope and should retire immediately.

#13 Comment By Cjones1 On July 18, 2017 @ 12:57 am

Ah the sinner on reflection that I am, has me praying as often as I can. An ignorant youth rebelling often, became an older one justifying actions, now I plead for God to understand.
Was Benedict XVI run out too?
Part of the problem with the Catholic Church is that they failed to clean out shepherds who were abusing the flock. Becoming part of the neo-moral paradigm will not solve the loss of faith in the institution. The socialist radicals of society are always trying to replace God and declare themselves ultimate authorities in cults of personality. Mobs of Alinsky inspired, Maoist imitating “Four Olds, Anti-Rightists”, Hundred Flowers, Cultural Revolution campaigns promise dialogue and change, but only impose sloganed immorality.
Pope Francis, concerned about the poor, seems to have succumbed to a type of burdened Liberation Theological perspective…zeitgeist fits appropriately.

#14 Comment By john abbott On July 18, 2017 @ 2:17 am

I’m a Protestant Christian, but I believe the Pope is an important leader. When I read of the things he says it seems like he is contradicting basic Christian beliefs. And when he said,”who am I to judge?”, he sounds like a wordly non-believer. He doesn’t sound like he knows the scriptures.He doesn’t sound like a good Christian leader.

#15 Comment By William Tighe On July 18, 2017 @ 6:11 am

“Finally, we have a Pope who can think critically”

First prize for the most absurd statement on this thread.

#16 Comment By Newry On July 18, 2017 @ 9:03 am

Stay with the basics of the faith. The voices now seem to be that of the Fowler. Keep watch, it could save your soul. These leaders are not with our souls in mind.

#17 Comment By Kyle On July 18, 2017 @ 11:59 am

Am I to understand from this that, like myself, you are a convert from the Church of Rome to Eastern Orthodoxy? If so, may I ask to which tradition? I follow the Antiochian traditions myself.

[NFR: OCA. — RD]

#18 Comment By Clair On July 18, 2017 @ 1:13 pm

Beware of those clergy who are always praising Francis. They are trying to bail the water out of the boat with leaking buckets.

We are an ancient Church and a true shepherd will preserve with integrity the faith handed down to us.

Pray, Pray, Pray and “Be not afraid”.

#19 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 18, 2017 @ 1:41 pm

I’m a convert to Catholicism.I think that Pope Francis is not a good Pope … To me he is a false Pope and should retire immediately.

Spoken with the zeal of an ex-smoker who doesn’t want anyone around them to light up, ever. Baptist ministers who focus on saving prostitutes, drug dealers and thieves have a rule that “they can’t sing in the choir for the first five years.”

#20 Comment By Charles Merrill On July 18, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

Ratzinger’s distress would be unrelated to his brother being cited for enabling child abuse at Domspatzen choir school I suppose.

#21 Comment By JonF On July 18, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

Re: Nice idea but what happens when two bishops disagree on a point of doctrine? Without a pope to decide, you have schism and ultimately chaos, which is exactly what we have in the modern world.

The Church faced that situation several times ion its first millennium. Councils were held and chaos was avoided. (Yes, I am eliding a lot of detail, some of it pretty nasty stuff, but in the long run it did work out).

Re: Without the papacy you have chaos and anarchy.

And with it you can get global corruption and schism and rebellion.

#22 Comment By Rose On July 18, 2017 @ 6:06 pm

Firstly, this is written by a non Catholic who is assuming a lot from the outside. Our Pope is supposed to represent the teachings of Christ and nothing else. Pope Francis does this extremely well. Many right wing Catholics want him to represent the right and hold to rigid, unforgiving views. Not the teachings of Christ. And I am also sure that Pope Benedict is fond of and has respect for Pope Francis. Please do not interpret what is going on in the Catholic Church without having any first hand knowledge. The problem is that many Catholics have political agendas they want the Church to further, but that will not happen. Our Pope, like Christ, is humble and loving and that is what he is supposed to be.

[NFR: Bless your heart. — RD]

#23 Comment By Rose On July 18, 2017 @ 6:10 pm

cjones1 – was it not Christ who said regarding the woman about to be stoned for adultery – “he who has never sinned, cast the first stone.” Was that not saying do not judge? We are all sinners, that is the message of Christ. Love one another. Pope Francis is an excellent representative of Christ Himself. He taught us not to judge.

#24 Comment By Kenneth J. Wolfe On July 18, 2017 @ 7:02 pm

Rod Dreher wrote: “I am not (or rather, no longer) a Roman Catholic,”

Um, yes you are. You were baptized a Roman Catholic, and you will be judged as a Roman Catholic. Think about that, my brother.

[NFR: Actually, I was baptized a Methodist as a baby. Think about that, my brother. — RD]

#25 Comment By kath On July 18, 2017 @ 8:12 pm

Those who thought Pope Francis with his liberal ways would bring many back to the Church must be disappointed for in the last 5 yrs the numbers in the west continue to drop significantly. It is only in holding firm to the truth’s of the Church and not trying to change them that the Church will be strong and vibrant.

#26 Comment By Martina On July 18, 2017 @ 10:28 pm

Let me see if I understand this. Rod is unhappy with Francis and sympathizes with his conservative critics who are not in favor of his purported feelers towards allowing divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. However, he belongs to a Church which allows divorce and remarriage. Mmmm, OK. What’s up with that?

[NFR: I already explained this. — RD]

#27 Comment By Joe Beavers On July 19, 2017 @ 12:18 am

….not presuming upon a political mandate…

I’m still waiting.

#28 Comment By John Germain On July 19, 2017 @ 8:14 am

Mia said:
“I begin to question more and more the wisdom of having two popes, even when one is designated as an “emeritus.” Imagine what it’s going to be like if Francis retires before B16 dies, and there are three of them. And Francis continues to talk, making insinuations about the current pope and the state of the church.”
There is prophesy that pertains to the papacy, in it there is a pope who goes into exile which I believe to be Benedict XVI. Francis was elected by what some consider the “Vatican Mafia” by what amounts to “politicking” which invalidates the vote. I guess I need to look that prophesy up again in light of what is happening today.

#29 Comment By Wake On July 19, 2017 @ 8:57 am

To James C

Thank you for the link to the letter. It is a good letter and I will comment below. First though as to my point and your charge of calmuny.

On the decline of caltholic church attendance in Ireland, pope Benedict noted it himself and I think the fact that at least partial cause was abuse is uncontroversial

On cardinal ratzinger’s role, well, he specifically asked and obtained from pope John Paul the global mandate to handle abuse. How many priests were arrested under his leadership? How many convicted? How many parishes had outreach from church leadership to find abusers? How many priests were allowed continued communion while shielding or committing these acts (and thereby failing to hold true repentance)

None of that touches the direct accusation in a single or handful of cases of Ratzinger directly shielding a child abuser.

Some priests were defrocked.

As to the letter, is is direct and well written. But raping children deserves a stronger response than a firmly worded letter.

What material investigative support did he lend to the Irish church? How many priests were arrested after the letter? I don’t know the answer but I would guess zero. What would you guess?

On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, “to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes

#30 Comment By Wake On July 19, 2017 @ 9:05 am

This just out yesterday

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#31 Comment By John Germain On July 19, 2017 @ 10:42 am

Mia said:
“I begin to question more and more the wisdom of having two popes, even when one is designated as an “emeritus.” Imagine what it’s going to be like if Francis retires before B16 dies, and there are three of them. And Francis continues to talk, making insinuations about the current pope and the state of the church.”
There is prophesy that pertains to the papacy, in it there is a pope who goes into exile which I believe to be Benedict XVI. Francis was elected by what some consider the “Vatican Mafia” by what amounts to “politicking” which invalidates the vote. There are many prophesies in fact,in light of what is happening today, this: ( [12] ) will outline some of them.

#32 Comment By Kenneth J. Wolfe On July 19, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

“[NFR: Actually, I was baptized a Methodist as a baby. Think about that, my brother. — RD]”

Ha — I forgot about your pre-1993 life; sorry for the error. You know what I mean, though, regarding your conversion into the Roman Catholic Church. Those sacraments do not disappear at the will of man. Regards.

#33 Comment By G Harvey On July 19, 2017 @ 2:16 pm

Pope Francis is a disaster, for everything but Liberalism.

#34 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On July 19, 2017 @ 4:18 pm

I’m glad Pope Benedict leans toward the view that Pope Francis is a heretic–which, when I expressed it myself in blog comments, made me feel like a (social) heretic. Kudos to the man whose *Ratzinger Report* did a lot to make me later join the Catholic Church. I’m now in arrears and don’t know what I am, other than a “mere Christian.” To be fair to the current Pope, I started leaving the Roman Catholic Church long before he was elevated to the papacy.

#35 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 19, 2017 @ 5:58 pm

You know what I mean, though, regarding your conversion into the Roman Catholic Church. Those sacraments do not disappear at the will of man. Regards.

Rod no longer believes the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church established by Christ and his Apostles. You do. Thus, the statement is valid in your eyes, not in Rod’s eyes. And what will God say? We will find out when we get to the other side.

#36 Comment By J Danabal On July 19, 2017 @ 10:45 pm

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict XVI’s personal secretary, said that those trying to use the words the pope emeritus sent for the funeral of one of the “dubia” cardinals as an attack on Pope Francis are “stupid.” In his message for the July 15 funeral of German Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Benedict alluded to the Church being near “capsizing,” which is a familiar image in his writing.
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#37 Comment By Rich On July 20, 2017 @ 10:33 am

We pray You,
O almighty and eternal God!
Who through Jesus Christ
hast revealed Your glory to all nations,
to preserve the works of Your mercy,
that Your Church,
being spread through the whole world,
may continue with unchanging faith
in the confession of Your name.

#38 Comment By JM On July 20, 2017 @ 11:38 am

“I begin to question more and more the wisdom of having two popes, even when one is designated as an “emeritus.”

Amen. No one will condemn Benedict XVI’s decision because we like him, but it seems like a Very. Bad. Decision. The Lord wins in the end, but the lead up may be quite a bear.

[NFR: I love Benedict XVI, but it’s clear that his was indeed a Very Bad Decision. — RD]

#39 Comment By James C On July 21, 2017 @ 4:06 am

There is prophesy that pertains to the papacy, in it there is a pope who goes into exile which I believe to be Benedict XVI. Francis was elected by what some consider the “Vatican Mafia” by what amounts to “politicking” which invalidates the vote.

The irregularity is not so much the conclave. In the past there have been all sorts of shenanigans (bribes, threats, murder, armies beating down on the city of Rome) to get a favoured man elected pope. So the St Gallen mafia is indeed insidious, and I do believe there was plenty of politicking with Bergoglio beforehand.

But that is that. If you invalidate Francis’s election based on that alone, then you would have to invalidate some other messy conclaves in the past.

Where the “Francis ain’t Pope” people have a stronger argument is with the Benedictine abdication. It is highly unusual having taken place at all (for the first time in 8 centuries). So we have a pope abdicate, then continue to live in the Vatican, continue to dress like a pope, call himself the absolutely novel title “Pope Emeritus”, and keep his secretary (Archbishop Ganswein) as a spokesman, who last year proposed that we have now a sort of two-headed papacy, with Francis exercising the “active” part and Benedict the “contemplative” part.

Ganswein also said a major reason why Benedict abdicated was because he didn’t feel up to going to World Youth Day in Brazil! A novelty created by John Paul II, and one Ratzinger never liked much!

And then there’s that gay mafia dossier that came onto the scene just before Benedict stepped down. Hasn’t been heard from since.

Truly bizarre, unusual and irregular. What’s behind it? Benedict (or rather his handlers who speak for him) isn’t saying.

Now despite all this I consider Francis the Pope (even if I deem him possibly the worst of modern times), but I can respect those who may have a different view based on what I’ve imperfectly sketched above.

#40 Comment By John Smith On July 21, 2017 @ 4:45 pm

Here: [13]

I suggest you read the book length interview with BXVI.

Peddling this stuff is harmful to the Church.

#41 Comment By Phyllis Schabow On July 22, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

All the teachings of the Church have been defined, so we do not need to wonder when Bishops oppose Bishops and Cardinals oppose Cardinals, as Our Lady warned at Akita. We have the 7 Sacraments, the 10 Commandments and the 3 Creeds of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Next, finding the Mass of all ages where we may receive the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior is the problem we all face. I drive past clown masses, balloon masses, mariachi masses and other despicable displays to attend the Mass codified by Pope St. Pius V, the Latin Tridentine Traditional Mass of all ages. Finding these throughout the world is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Strive to live in the Holy Blessed Trinity, asking daily for guidance through the instrumentality of the Daughter of God the Father, Mother of God the Son and Spouse of God the Holy Ghost.