- Writing for the Jewish World Review, Suzanne Fields calls Pope Benedict "A Good Egg", recalling the time when her son-in-law was a teenager and was tutored for 15 days by Joseph Ratzinger:At the retreat, the boy was sworn to a fortnight of silence except for talking with his tutor. He remembers Joseph Ratzinger vividly, the most brilliant mind he had ever encountered before and since that time. Joseph Ratzinger had been through World War II, had been in the Hitler Youth and knew firsthand the irrational evils of fascism. Marxism was alive and well in the Soviet Union and behind the Iron Curtain and Joseph Ratzinger understood the dangers that emanated from the ruthless materialism of Communism in the Cold War.
But he didn't talk to the boy about such things. Instead he had him read Aristotle and Plato, the novels of Thomas Mann, the philosophy of Heidegger, and the most critical think piece of all, "The Grand Inquisitor," that powerful legend embedded in a single chapter of The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevski. . . .
- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: On the 40th Anniversary of Gaudium Et Spes. Homily at St Peter's Basilica. Friday, 18 March 2005, with commentary by my brother at Ad Limina Apostolorum.
- "White Smoke" a 'Wide Angle' PBS television special on the Conclave, as presented from a largely liberal standpoint (the show closes with a Bill Moyers' interview with James Carroll, if that tells you anything). To their credit, they include a few brief interviews with some token faithful, sorry, CONSERVATIVE Catholics.
- "Pope in Talks with Traditionalist Anglicans" -- Anglican blog titusonenine on the news that "THE new Pope has established links with a faction of discontented Anglican traditionalists seeking to form their own church affiliated to the Vatican." The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) represents some "400,000 Anglicans around the world who have either left their church or are protesting against its liberal policies. It is estimated that 400-500 Church of England parishes may support the group in the long term."
Readers might recall back in October 2003, Cardinal Ratzinger had sent a letter to the American Anglican Council, conveying his personal support to another network of traditional-minded Anglicans. You can read about the conference, and the text of Cardinal Ratzinger's letter to them, here.
- "Ratzinger on Benedict", courtesy of Bill Cork (Ut Unum Sint), with reference to Ratzinger's interview God & The World: Living & Believing In Our Time (Ignatius Press, August 2002). Bill also spies a not-too-subtle "time bomb" regarding "the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970."
Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus' April 21 Rome Diary @ First Things:. . . On the basis of his copious writings as Ratzinger, we know that Benedict is robustly skeptical of sociological depictions and analyses of the Church. The general media, as well as many scholars, are obsessed with statistical assessments of the Church's fortunes and misfortunes in history. For Pope Benedict these assessments are almost beside the point. The media will have a hard time adjusting to this. They do not want to talk about revealed truth or the redemption worked by Jesus Christ. Benedict insists that to speak of the Church is to speak of Christ. Which may result in the secular elites in control of the commanding heights of culture declining to talk about either.
The circumstance was nicely summed up by a comment of Ted Koppel on Nightline the night of the election. The subject turned to interreligious dialogue, and I had referred to the radical Christocentrism of the new pope. "So which is it, Father," Koppel asked, "Christ or interreligious dialogue?"
But, of course, it is interreligious dialogue because of, and upon the premise of, Jesus Christ as the redeemer of the whole world, including the world's religions in which, as Catholic teaching holds, elements of truth and grace are to be discovered. The same confusion arises with respect to Dominus Iesus, a document issued by Ratzinger's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a few years ago, which is regularly cited as claiming that "Catholicism is more true than other religions and even other Christian churches." But of course. There is but one Christ and therefore, at the deep level of theological understanding, there can be only one Church, and the Catholic Church claims to be that Church most fully and rightly ordered through time. That is not in tension with ecumenism; it is the foundation of the ecumenical quest for full communion among all Christians.
The argument that Ratzinger has tried to make through these many years, and the argument that Benedict will undoubtedly be making, is that there is no tension, never mind conflict, between truth and love. The caricature is that liberals are big on love while conservatives are big on truth. As Ratzinger said in his homily before the conclave, love without truth is blind and truth without love is empty. Without truth, love is mere sentimentality and, without love, truth is sterile.
This is, of course. in perfect continuity with John Paul's favored passage from Gaudium et Spes that Christ--who is the way, the truth, and the life--is the revelation of man to himself. If Christ is the truth about everyone and every thing, then the way forward is by following the way of Christ. This is the genuine progressivism proposed to the Church and the world by John Paul and by Benedict. The Church does not seek to be counter-cultural, but it is unavoidably counter to the modern mindset in proposing that fidelity and continuity, not autonomy and novelty, are the paths toward a more promising future.
- Lest we forget . . ." - Chris Burgwald has a roundup of a few "radtrad" (radical traditionalist) reactions to the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Whew . . . if you thought the left was hysterical over the prospect of the PanzerPope, guess again!
- Seminarian recounts experience at installation of Benedict XVI, by Joseph Previtali, who is currently studying in Rome (in a letter to InsightScoop).
- Ithillien has been dipping into Cardinal Ratzinger's various addresses and articles since the election, and posts his reflections on what he's learned:The central and consistent theme of Ratzinger's thought is communion. Not authority, not law, not order, not even tradition. Human beings are created for communion with God and one another. The Church is the fellowship in which this communion takes place--a fellowship that sums up God's work of creation throughout the aeons, and God's work of revelation throughout the centuries. The purpose of doctrine and liturgy and discipline is to shape this fellowship of communion. All the history of the universe and the human race is pointing toward the eschaton, in which the creation to which God has given freedom will freely return to communion with Him. The Church exists as a sign of that final goal of all creation. This is the context which Ratzinger's critics repeatedly miss. And without it nothing he says or does makes sense.
The new Pope's abhorrence of relativism stems from its threat to this doctrine of communion. If the truth is changing and uncertain, then the history of the universe lacks a goal. Communion is not simply a matter of warm feelings or of tolerance. It involves a deep spiritual unity, and this requires a shared vision of the truth. . . . READ MORE
- From Off The Record, discussion of the article "The Document That Put Ratzinger on Top", by Marco Tosatti La Stampa April 22, 2005 -- and a look at Cardinal Ratzinger's thoughts on a "crisis of faith" in the priesthood prior to the conclave, as expressed in the first reflection of The Way of the Cross:The first of the series took place during his reflections accompanying the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, the reflection on Jesus' third fall under the weight of the cross. The Pope's theologian-friend wrote: "Ought we not call to mind how much Christ has to suffer in His own Church? . . . How many times we celebrate only ourselves without so much as taking Him into consideration! . . . How much filth there is in the Church, even among those who, by virtue of their priesthood, ought to belong entirely to Christ! How much vainglory, how much self-complacency! How little respect we show the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which He awaits us to raise us up again every time we fall!"
It was a reflection in which he spoke of the Church as a "boat on the point of sinking, a boat taking in water on all sides. And also in Your field we see more darnel than wheat. To see the vesture and visage of Your Church so filthy throws us into confusion. Yet it is we ourselves who have soiled them! It is we who betray you time and time again, after all our lofty words and grand gestures."
Two days later, near the Vatican, Cardinal Ratzinger met on the street a retired curial monsignor who asked him the reason for giving what seemed a discouraging reflection. "We must pray much, we must pray much," answered Benedict XIV, "You weren't born yesterday; you understand what I'm talking about; you know what it means -- We priests! We priests!" he concluded in a tone of pleading, adding, "Remember the prayer to the Sacred Heart, in which we ask particular pardon for the sins of priests. I know it hurts to say the boat's taking in water from every side, but it's true, it's true. We priests . . . "
Struck by the manner in which Ratzinger said, "we priests, we priests," the monsignor recognized his inner suffering and asked him nothing further.
- Rich Leonardi responds to the Dennis Doyle's criticism of Ratzinger's assessment of Paul Knitter in Truth & Tolerance. (Book review: National Catholic Reporter April 22, 2005).
- "The Moor" on Pope Benedict's Coat of Arms, some helpful informational resources from Ono Ekeh.
- Behind the Rage at Benedict XVI, by Pat Buchanan. Chronicles April 22, 2005.
- Why Pope Benedict XVI is not wrong about relativism, by Dr. Philip Blosser (Pertinacious Papist). Responding to an article by Okezie Chukwumerije titled -- guess what? -- Why Pope Benedict XVI is wrong about relativism. NigeriaWorld.com. April 29, 2005.
- "You Have to Love A Pope Who Loves St. Augustine" says Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page (Wall Street Journal April 22, 2005).
- Cardinal Ratzinger's favorite beer? - From the New York Times April 24, 2005:. . . The new pope is not, however, a teetotaler: Cardinal Bertone said he occasionally allows himself a glass of "excellent" wine from Piedmont. Manuela Macher, co-owner of the Cantina Tirolese, a Bavarian restaurant near the Vatican where he is a regular, said he also liked an occasional German beer, Franziskaner Weissbier. Which raises a question: Does he order the large size or the small?