The Benedict Enigma

The Benedict Enigma


8th December, 2015: Francis and Benedict embrace at St. Peter’s Basilica.

[Hat-tip to Canon212: “Which one’s the fraud: creepy, emeritized nuBenedict or old Benedict the Pope?”]

From Torch of The Faith News on Monday 21 November 2016

One of the most disturbing and mystifying elements in the midst of the escalating attempt to deconstruct Catholicism is the behaviour of Pope – Emeritus – Benedict XVI.

It seems, at least at face value, that he is more than happy with the present Francis-led deconstruction of the Catholic Church.

Such seeming acquiescence in the new order has been communicated primarily through: various smiling, and highly choreographed, public exchanges with Pope Francis; the release of a purported book-length interview with Peter Seewald which makes no deep engagement with the most grave controversies of recent times; and Dr. Maike Hickson’s claim that a source in Rome has told her that Benedict has ”made up his mind to remain quiet” in the face of all this major confusion in the Church.

As I have alluded through a couple of recent ”creative writings” here, this seeming collusion and quietness is hard to make sense of.

Whilst a great many Traditionalists contend that Benedict’s overall trajectory has always been essentially Modernistic, I would argue that there nevertheless remains a qualitative difference between his previous approach and his present, seeming, acquiescence in Francis’ overall project.

For example, the Francis-led deconstruction also subverts, by extension, a number of the central agendas which Benedict had so painstakingly pursued for decades.

Examples of these include his resistance to the dictatorship of relativism and his dogged pursuit of the hermeneutic of continuity, the reform of the reform and the key non-negotiables regarding the protection of life, marriage and family.

In light of all of this, I can see why thinkers such as Canon 212’s Frank Walker can write in trademark terms of a ”FrancisGroupie” described as ”nu-Benedict”.

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To!

One of the key moments when this ”novus-Benedictus” seemed to emerge more fully – I hesitate to say more clearly – was during the celebrations in Rome of his 65th-anniversary of priestly ordination during the summer.

Not a few people found that whole event to be a strangely choreographed encounter; which was televised with highly co-ordinated camera angles and followed up with reports in the media that can only be described as gushing.

Again, many Catholics could not reconcile the touchy-feely speech that Benedict made to Francis that day, with the deeply rational and nuanced articulation that had for decades typified his actions, speeches and copious writings.

Not only that, but given his famous request for Catholics to pray that he would not flee for fear of the wolves, his words took on a positively creepy quality, when he said to Francis: ”Thank you, thank you everyone! Thank you Holy Father – your goodness, from the first day of your election, every day of my life here moves me interiorly, brings me inwardly more than the Vatican gardens… Your goodness is the place in which I live and where I feel protected.”

In addition to the general un-Ratzingerian squishyness and philosophical improbability of that whole utterance, it also raises a legitimate question: from what, or from whom, does the Emeritus feel protected?

At the time, I wondered aloud how it could possibly be that Pope Benedict could say and act as he did that day, even when his own 1994 Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried was being so systematically undermined by Francis and his various minions.

Just for the record, that important letter from the CDF, written when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, upheld the constant teaching of the Magisterium by stating: ”In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognized as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s Law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists.”

As I quipped in June, trying to apply a hermeneutic of continuity between the approaches of the former Ratzinger/Benedict and his latest laissez faire approach, would be like attempting to hoop-la! the aerial of an Austin Mini as it performs a hand-brake turn.

Perhaps I had a misspent youth.

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4 comments on “The Benedict Enigma

  1. Benedict always was a modernist. He was more moderate than most of them, but he was still a modernist. His writings are a mish-mash of orthodoxy (sometimes beautifully stated) and complete clap trap modernism: exactly how Pius X described this synthesis of all heresies. Benedict was as responsible for creating the New Order of the religion of man as anyone.

    Some were praying that he was seeing his way through the murkiness of the 50 years of his veering from the traditional Faith. But that was never the case. The Council psychologically has defined him since its summons and completion. He founded Communio as a protest and break with the further left Consilium. But it was all a matter of degree, not authentic counter-reform (or anything even approaching it).

    His Good Friday talk of 2005 “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves…” was sincere; but Benedict never had a true grasp of the identity of the wolves, or what made a wolf a wolf.

    The “Benedict Altar” that was so applauded as a sign of the return to liturgical tradition was bogus, and a total misread. Benedict is an aesthete. That was all the altar alteration was about. Nothing any more substantial.

    All in all, Benedict was (like so many of his generation) scarred by the experience of WW II. That was the catalyst for seeking to change the Church, which whether or not he would ever admit it, he held partially responsible for the loss of faith which he believed was at the heart of the both world wars of the 20th century. Reforms WERE needed; but it wouldn’t have taken a Council to accomplish them.

    If he truly believes in the Two Branch Papacy (as his long time secretary has enunciated), Benedict is threatening the indefectability of the Church Herself.

    His embrace of Bergoglio is the final proof of his essential commitment to the modernist heresy. He knew that Bergoglio was Martini’s stalking horse in the 2005 Conclave that elected him. His embrace of Bergoglio is an embrace of Martini and his ideas.

    This is no mystery.

  2. Well and fairly stated, minimus. I’d only suggest that indefectibility is perhaps not brought into question by what is, at bottom, a political civil war – something on the order of the “badly formed” vs. the “really REALLY bad” ideologues duking it out now.

    Innovations, a la conciliarism itself and all its absurd pomps and works, are not part of the Church. Call them extra-ecclesial or even extraterrestrial, if you wish. It does not matter.

    The Catholic Church of the Latin Rite still retains all her monuments.

    She stands.

    Your point about Fr. Ratzinger in his early days as product of the German seminary system in the midst of WW II is well taken. I’ve mentioned it myself in the past.

    He and Wojtyla-as-seminarian (not!) survived in the midst of chaos of a sort the world had never previously seen. The scars inflicted are lifelong.

    Nevertheless, here is an encouraging conference by a traditional priest on the monuments of the Church.

    • Thanks, gp. I think the indefectability issue is a bit more serious because what they are proposing (or whatever they’re doing!) is an alteration of an Office established in a particular way by Our Lord Himself. Even articulating such a position threatens this foundational concept.

  3. One of the most disturbing and mystifying elements in the midst of the escalating attempt to deconstruct Catholicism is the behaviour of Pope – Emeritus – Benedict XVI.

    It’s only “disturbing and mystifying” to those who continue to employ the meaningless term “pope emeritus” and the no longer existent name “Benedict.” He’s Fr. Ratzinger, bishop Ratzinger, — maybe cardinal? He made a terrible mistake in abdicating the Throne, but what is done is done. Now he has no more authority than any retired priest, and we shouldn’t pretend that he does.

    And no, he’s not going to “save” the Church. He’s not going to do anything because his pusillanimity precedes him and defines him. He’s a zombie, a relic, and he should just disappear.

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