AP, which unprofessionally has declared open season on Pope Benedict – engaged in a relentless ad hominem – has a piece which cites as the mainstay non other than Richard McBrien. They drag in a "conservative" for reasons of ballast, but they crack on upon their course.
My emphases and comments.
Pope’s ivory tower past adds to his detachment
By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer Vanessa Gera, Associated Press Writer [AP's correspondent in Poland] – Sun Apr 11, 1:41 pm ET
VATICAN CITY – Long before entering Vatican life, Pope Benedict XVI won renown as a theologian and a German university professor, penning more than 40 books and winning a devoted following of students who respected his prodigious memory and brilliant mind.
One thing absent from his resume? Significant time as a parish priest. [I think what we are about to see here is a common liberal trope: when you want to discredit someone or something, say that it or he isn't "pastoral". Personal anecdote: I was once told by a chancery hack in a diocese where an ultra-liberal bishop was in charge that their concern about me was that I was conservative but I was intelligent. I am not making this up. If I were "less intelligent", and, say, more "pastoral", well... then.... First, liberals only think liberals are really intelligent. But when they run across [FILL IN BLANK] on the other side which is smart, effective, successful, etc., they label that thing or person "not pastoral". A perfect example is what Bp. Trautman says about the new translation. I already have the sense that that is what you are going to see in this article.]
Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, only worked 15 months tending to a flock in the 59 years since taking his vows, [First, Ms Gera, diocesan priests don't "take vows". They make promises. Also, when he was a diocesan bishop he tended to a flock. Third, I'll bet that Fr. Ratzinger also did what you think are pastoral things on campus with those students and on weekends in parishes. Furthermore, who are you to suggest that teaching isn't pastoral?] instead closing himself in the ivory tower of academia [He closed himself in the tower... nice, huh?] — a background that may help account for his troubled handling of the sex abuse crisis engulfing the church. [Hmmm... you know... John Paul II was Pope when Ratzinger was Prefect. But you don't hear this person suggesting that he didn't have "pastoral experience"... even though he was clearly also an academic. Of course... she is working in Poland. That false suggestion would be worth her life.]
For one, it adds to the impression of an out-of-touch pontiff [Get that? "adds the impression".... Whose impression? Your impression, Vanessa? The impression you and your editors are purposely trying to create? Would the word "smear" be better than "impression"? ] who simply doesn’t grasp the enormity of the fury [He is brilliant, but he doesn't grasp this. Good. Good.] around the world over mounting evidence [Incessantly desperate attempts to create "evidence" ...] of sex abuse by priests, and inaction on the part of the Vatican and Benedict himself.
Benedict’s very legacy will be shaped by whether this aging pontiff, who turns 83 on Friday, [Watch this move. This reveals what the AP's editors, and the powers behind them, actually want. They are trying to force a change to the Catholic Church. Watch this:] can embrace a new openness and express remorse in straightforward language free of the stilted defensiveness of many Vatican pronouncements to date. [AP hasn't read the letter to Ireland or anything this Pope has said in public about the Church's sorrow over clerical sexual abuse? Do these people not use Google? Or look at their own archives? Do they think you are so stupid that you don't use Google?]
"Pope Ratzinger, more lucid than many of his defenders, must keep from being suffocated by Professor Ratzinger," Marco Politi, a [very liberal] veteran Vatican reporter, wrote in a column last week in the daily Il Fatto.
But in his native Germany, the prominent [liberal] Der Spiegel magazine has already declared his papacy a failure, [there's journalistic objectivity for you]speaking in its most recent issue of "the tragedy of a man who had set out to write books and, only near the end of his life, was summoned to assume the Herculean office at the Vatican."
Even the pope’s staunchest admirers say he’s not the best manager. [Even the Pope has admitted that he isn't a great administrator.]
"Benedict XVI is only infallible as an authoritative teacher of the faith, not as an administrator," noted the Rev. Joseph Fessio, [Who certainly knows Pope Benedict well.] who wrote his doctoral dissertation under Ratzinger and participates in the annual "student circle" discussions Benedict hosts each summer with his former students.
Some of Benedict’s critics, however, say the pope’s real problems lie mainly with a practice of surrounding himself with unqualified advisers. [His supporters say that too, btw.]
"He doesn’t have grade A types around him — but he picked them," said the [extremist liberal] Rev. Richard McBrien, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame and frequent critic of the pope. [And someone who doesn't in any way know Joseph Ratzinger.]
McBrien noted that although Ratzinger served only a short time as a parish priest, his five years as archbishop of Munich and Freising gave him ample real-world experience. [Note the contradiction. At the top, the Pope is said to have had little experience. But it is better for McBrien, who is a little sharper than the writer, knows that he can hurt the Pope's reputation more if he admits that the Pope did have adequate experience.] He said Ratzinger engaged fully with even the small details of administration [He simply made that up out of whole cloth. There is no way that McBrien could possibly know that. The fact is that the contrary is true. Ask anyone who worked with him or knew him in his years as Prefect of the CDF. The Holy Father is the opposite of a micro-manager. But that doesn't help AP and McBrien smear the Holy Father.] there and later as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church’s doctrine office.
Yet his tenure in Munich provides precisely one of the more damning cases of sex abuse that have swirled around the pope himself: ["around the Pope himself"! Oooo. As a dog returns to its vomit, so AP returns to a story that has been explained and explained and explained.] In the 1980s, Ratzinger approved therapy for a suspected pedophile priest, [Is Vanessa serious? He wasn't "suspected"... he was in fact a child molester!] but the prelate was allowed to resume pastoral work while in therapy.
The Vatican has insisted that Ratzinger’s vicar [Vicar General] took full responsibility for letting the Rev. Peter Hullermann resume pastoral work and that the future pope was unaware. Hullermann in 1986 was handed a suspended sentence for molesting a boy. [In German dioceses the VG handles personnel.]
In addition, while running the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger resisted pleas from a California diocese to laicize [Note what has happened. They have dropped the vague word "defrock" and are now using "laicize". "Laicize" is also an incorrect term, of course. A priest is a priest forever and never a layman in a strict sense. But he can be dismissed from the clerical state or dispensed from its obligations. But, in emergencies, such as the case of a person dying, he would automatically have faculties to absolve in case of need. Anyway, perhaps AP can be taught after all.] a priest who had pleaded no contest to lewd conduct for tying up and molesting two boys, according to correspondence obtained by The Associated Press.
The Vatican’s lawyer [They changed their language here, also. No longer is he a "Vatican lawyer".] has insisted the California bishop was responsible for making sure the priest, the Rev. Stephen Kiesle, didn’t abuse while Rome processed his case to remove him from the priesthood. [And that is indeed the case. The Oakland Diocese was responsible also for allowing him to work with youth after the facts about him emerged.]
"The pope’s background as a professor of theology has little or nothing to do with the present controversy. It is simply one of the excuses offered by his well-intentioned defenders," McBrien told the AP. [Okay... a line from Fessio, who actually knows the Pope. But now we are back to McBrien. Was he ever chairman of the theology department at Notre Dame?]
Despite Benedict’s missteps [Get that? "Missteps"? When is AP going to talk about the other part of the story? The part where Card. Ratzinger lead the charge in getting the Holy See's procedures and the Church's laws changed so that these cases could be handled swiftly? You would think that a professional might mention that.], there are a few signs that some understanding of the outrage is starting to penetrate the Vatican’s medieval walls. [In AP speak "medieval" is a bad thing.]
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, long a bastion [First "medieval walls"and now bastion. What prowess.] of protecting Vatican secrecy , [HUH? The CDF is focused on the open teaching of the truth. The CDF imposes secrecy when there is a case open and the rights of people and their good names have to be protected.] is seeking greater openness with plans to post on its Web site Monday a concise and simply written guide to how it handles sex abuse allegations. [Ummm... what they will do is put it into baby-useful form and spoon feed it to you. The essentials are already known.] And in his recent letter to the Irish bishops, Benedict urged greater cooperation with civil authorities in cases of pedophile priests and said he’d meet with more victims.
In a way, the scandal may be bringing Ratzinger full circle back to his short term as a parish chaplain. [Here is another example of the writer perhaps not understanding what she is writing about. That word "chaplain" is simply an anglicized rendering of the German "Kaplan" which is the term for a parish assistant, or associate priest.] Ratzinger served as chaplain at the Precious Blood church in Munich for just over a year, teaching religious instruction, hearing confessions and running a youth group. [Saying Mass might also have been included... sick calls, etc.] In his memoirs, Ratzinger said he felt unprepared for such practical work, [I think a lot of priests feel unprepared in some ways for some of the things they encounter in a parish setting.] yet once back in academia, said he missed the day-to-day contact with people that it entailed.
Peder Noergaard-Hoejen, a Danish theologian on a Catholic-Lutheran commission [Perhaps not on the Catholic side of the commission?] seeking to forge better understanding between the two faiths, [Remember: all these AP articles have a greater objective: they are trying to apply pressure, through gullible readers, to force changes to the Catholic Church. Any change.] sees some movement toward a more modern approach. [Because the Church has "medieval bastions" .. or something else that's bad.]
"A new openness and a turn away from secrecy mark a break with a tradition going back centuries," he told the AP. [So... effectively Vanessa gets her main points from a Lutheran Dane and Richard McBrien as well as already debunked AP articles. Right?]
Still, he admits Benedict lacks the ideal credentials for his current job. [Remember that the CDF under Ratzinger shot down a joint Lutheran-Catholic declaration on justification.]
"I think he was very good for the position he had before he became pope because this was an intellectual position," Noergaard-Hoejen said. "It is of course important that the pope be able to think, but Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, is no politician. His type is that of a German professor." [And so we have come full-circle. They say he is "smart" and then juxtapose that to "pastoral".]
Again, AP shows that its writers are half-informed about their topic and that they have an objective beyond the simple reporting of facts. Furthermore, they are not doing much homework.