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.