Sandro Magister, Italian Vaticanista, has a thought provoking piece today which deals with criticisms of Pope Benedict XVI and what he said offered by his supporters.
I’ll include here just the first part. Go to Magister’s site for the whole thing.
But this part speaks to something I have been repeating all along.
It is one thing to have concerns about whether Pope Benedict should have said what he said in an interview, and it is another to say that what he said was wrong. My position is that, properly understood, what the Pope said was correct. I have strong doubts about whether or not he should have said it. I know that the Pope isn’t naive, but… he isn’t just a working theologian anymore.
My emphases and comments.
Friendly Fire on Benedict XVI. And a Condom’s to Blame
The pope’s openness to the use of condoms is provoking lively reactions from some fervent “Ratzingerians.” They include Jesuit Fr. Joseph Fessio, his publisher in America, and authoritative members of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Here are their criticisms
by Sandro Magister
ROME, December 1, 2010 – As was to be expected, Benedict XVI’s comments on condoms in the book-length interview “Light of the World” have ignited a very lively discussion within the Catholic Church.In two previous articles, www.chiesa presented the pope’s words in a way that prompted immediate reactions from prominent Catholic figures in the field of sexual morality.
The criticisms are not focused only on www.chiesa and on Professor Martin Rhonheimer, the theologian of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross whose essay was reprinted.
Nor only on “L’Osservatore Romano” or on Fr. Federico Lombardi, accused of fostering a misunderstanding of the pope’s thought.
At the end of it all, the real target of the criticism is Benedict XVI himself.
“Our Holy Father should stop talking about aberrant sex and talk more about Jesus,” [whew!] was the peremptory comment sent to us by Christine Vollmer, president of the Miami-based Alliance for the Family and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Another authoritative member of this academy, Professor Luke Gormally, former director of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics in London and a professor at the Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan, castigated the pope for wanting to speak as a mere theologian on matters “in which he possesses no particular competence.” [He has a point, no?] With these results:
“It seems to many people I know that it is both irresponsible (because it creates confusion in the general populace about the exercise of the papal magisterium) and self-indulgent; self indulgent because it is a case of the Pope retreating to his ‘comfort zone’ of writing and talking while neglecting urgent tasks of governance.” [Ouch! Again, it is hard to say that this is off base.]
Christine Vollmer and Luke Gormally were, in the spring of 2009, among those who accused Archbishop Rino Fisichella, at the time president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, of nearly [NB: nearly] going so far as to justify in “L’Osservatore Romano” the double abortion that had been procured for an underage Brazilian mother. The two, together with other members of the academy, appealed to the pope against Fisichella and obtained a note of clarification from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
But this time, in their judgment, it is Benedict XVI who is opening up cracks of “ambiguity” in Catholic morality.