As Joseph Ratzinger embarks on a new closet Papacy, now is a good time to review his contribution over the last thirty odd years, first as Chief Inquisitor under John Paul II, and then in his own rite as Benedict XVI.
His main positive contribution may turn out to have been his inspiring my blogger ID for my religious blogging, which I started in April 2006 soon after he assumed the Papacy.
The Pope rejoices in the title Pontifex Maximus, which means the greatest bridgebuilder of them all. However, that is one title he did not live up to. He has blown up every bridge built by Vatican II and the only new ones he has built himself have been to regressive fascist abuser cults like Opus Dei, Legionnaires of Christ and Communion and Liberation.
My original blog Bulls was mistakenly deleted by Blogger just over a year ago. I then set up this blog in its place, but subsequently succeeded in getting Bulls restored. So the two are really the one. Not quite the Blessed Trinity but we're getting there.
If Ratzinger's period in charge of the Inquisition and subsequently as Pope had to be encapsulated in a single headline, then that would be A Thirty Year Reign of Terror.
Some of the reasons for saying this are outlined below.
- The most significant feature of this period was the consolidation of the betrayal of Vatican II, which had been commenced by Paul VI.
- The primacy of individual conscience, promulgated by Vatican II and agreed by Ratzinger in an earlier phase of his ministry, has been replaced by the traditional informed conscience, meaning that the Church can teach no wrong and if you do not agree with the Church you are not adequately informing your conscience and are in bad faith.
- Collegiality was promulgated by Vatican II but no mechanisms were put in place to deliver it with the result that the Curia and the two Popes could manoeuvre themselves into positions of absolute power, accountable to nobody but God. And who interpreted the will of God? Nuff said.
- Liberation Theology which had the potential to reform the Church from below, and fulfil some of the promise of Vatican II, was ruthlessly suppressed as it challenged the absolute power of the reactionary centre.. Flocks were abandoned to secular dictators and the Church became identified with the excesses of dictatorships, imperialism and resource depletion.
- Creation Spirituality, which was totally in keeping with Vatican II and the Holy Spirit expressing itself through the people, was also ruthlessly suppressed as it too challenged the absolute power of the centre.
- Theologians and clerics who questioned or challenged the current narrow orthodoxy were ruthlessly silenced, defrocked and spat out into a world where many were unable to make their way.
- Fanatical right-wing cults within the Church were not only given free rein but encouraged, corrupting the Church's mission and distancing it even more from its Founder. Some of these cults were even given control of parishes as part of a strategy to deal with the depletion of clergy caused, at least in part, by the Vatican's own destructive stance referred to above.
- The Vatican's erroneous stance on collegiality, sexuality, women priests and married priests contributed to a fall off in vocations and to many ministers leaving, or being ejected from, their ministry.
- The Vatican, part of whose responsibility was to protect children, nevertheless condoned the moving around of clerical abusers by bishops and even sheltered, protected and encouraged at least one horror merchant (Maciel).
- The new translation of the missal may seem a trivial matter to be raising in the midst of the above horrors, but it completely illustrates the Vatican's approach to its mission. Vatican II moved away from Latin, a language the laity did not understand - whatever about its mystical appeal, towards the vernacular, not just out of fashion, but to bring the liturgy closer to the people. The new missal has unilaterally gone back to a transliteration of the old Latin, supposedly in the interest of theological orthodoxy, but actually creating a further barrier between the laity and the liturgy. (As an aside, I had reason recently to read from the King James version of the Bible from a local Protestant altar and I was very taken by the power of the text. It was certainly far superiorer to the current liturgical language in the Roman Catholic Church.)
In the Irish context, we only recently found out about the 15 year old supergag order on Fr. Seán Fagan, for what God knows.
In more recent times there has been a spiteful spate of silencings of first class priests, generally because they had the temerity to suggest that certain questions, on which the Pope had summarily pulled down the shutters, are not actually closed.
These are people who loved their church and have given it a lifetime of service. They are now cast aside as chaff, not for the greater glory of God (AMDG!) but for the supposedly greater security of tenure of an overcentralised, abusive, pompous and self-serving hierarchy in Rome.
And I could not leave this post withut referring to the abusive, self-serving, buck-passing and cowardly letter from the Pope to the people of Ireland in March 2010. I have set out my reaction to this in extenso elsewhere.