A First Things article recommended, about Pope Benedict

VATICAN-RELIGION-POPE-US-CANADA-SAINTSBe clear before reading: It is not complimentary toward Pope Francis (which might bother some) or toward Card. Kasper (which shouldn’t bother anyone).

That aside, the useful piece includes background on the dispute between Card. Ratzinger and Card. Kasper with his notions of the “‘data’ of experience” back in the 90’s over the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  Some here might not know about that, or remember it well.

You can also see in the piece the pernicious role that Jesuit-run America Magazine had during that debate.

One thing in the piece that caught my attention was the line: “There would be no Anglican-style diversity for Catholics—not under John Paul.” Doesn’t it seem that that is what libs want?

In any event, the piece is worth reading.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Nathan says:

    Thanks, Father–this is a thought-provoking article. I would suggest one addition to the sentence “There would be no Anglican-style diversity for Catholics–not under John Paul.” I would add, “and under John Paul I, Paul VI, John XXIII, Pius XII, Pius XI……and St Peter.”

    In Christ,

  2. RWG says:

    As a former Anglican I have first hand experience with the damage that “Anglican-style diversity” can bring and folks, it ain’t pretty.

  3. LarryW2LJ says:

    In my mind, it boils down to this, there is either one immutable Truth, or there isn’t. Either Jesus Christ, who is that One Immutable Truth, said what He meant, or He didn’t.

    For some 1500 years, that Truth was accepted, universally by the faithful. Then some persons got grandiose ideas in their heads that Jesus really didn’t mean what He said; or that He was speaking in a manner that us ordinary folk just couldn’t understand. But yes, THEY knew better and would benefit all the rest of us with their superior knowledge.

    The Apostles and the other disciples, and particularly the authors of the Gospel believed what Jesus said and they took pains to write it down, for future generations. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they recorded it faithfully and neither added to it or subtracted from it. If it was good enough for them – and many of them stood behind those words until the point of death – then it’s good enough for me.

    And personally, I don’t care how much pastoral experience Cardinal Kasper thinks he has. Our Lord had more and as far as He was concerned, the original law (which He authored, after all) was what we were to go by – not accommodations for the hardness of men’s hearts.

  4. Henry Edwards says:


    The final paragraph caught my attention:

    “And so the two popes, active and emeritus, speaking and silent, remain at odds. In the end, it does not matter who comes last or speaks most; what matters is who thinks with the mind of a Church that has seen countless heresies come and go. When Benedict’s enraptured words are compared to the platitudes of his successor, it is hard not to notice a difference: One pope echoes the apostles, and the other parrots Walter Kasper. Because this difference in speech reflects a difference in belief, a prediction can be made. Regardless of who dies first, Benedict will outlive Francis.”

  5. benedetta says:

    I found this piece from First Things fascinating in many respects, and I am continuing to think it through along with a follow up piece published today at Catholic World Report written
    by Carl E. Olson.

    It is a bit revelatory and also somewhat disturbing to learn through this short piece of some backstory and drama which would seem to amount to inside ball to the rest of us. That premiere audience alluding to Cardinal Kasper which set off the “Pope’s Theologian” moniker now appears to be a bit of code extended for a select few elite illuminati or coterie and not of course for the masses who would have little clue of his select cause in the Church’s doctrine.

    Even with this background, one is not particularly persuaded that just for his advocacy one ought to care, that much, or further, as the CWR piece by C. Olson suggests today, that one ought to just obey and shut up after thusly inspired by the Holy Spirit, progress marches on after a “decisive vote”. To put it that way, the Holy Spirit’s presence, well…it reminds of Flannery O’Connor’s famous comment. We are told that the Holy Spirit “goes ahead of us” which sounds like Progress! but not, descended, imbues, and accompanies us, which seems to carry to my mind an image of greater and more complete fullness. And is not as minimizing or comparable to a charismatic totalitarian leader of modern eras. At any rate.

    Fr. Z has often said here that “liberalism makes you stupid” and after so many years of pondering and reading and listening to others and laboring on others’ behalf, I have come to really accept this maxim and even am known to teach it to other more impressionable minds (!) at opportune times. The Wall Street Journal had a blurb just last weekend that scientifically established that journalists’ cognitive abilities were in fact compromised in many respects.

    But here with these two pieces I kind of see it a bit more magnified even compared to lately in that one can only really sigh and offer a prayer when the interlocutor Kasper comes down to basing his proposal to change doctrine on “listening and dialoguing with others” as opposed to the role he assigns then Cardinal Ratzinger as “theoretical abstraction” apparently devoid of human interaction. This is laughable; but also it seems to the lowly mother in me a gravely sinful deception even calumny of then Cardinal Ratzinger, whose years of teaching young people and years of dialoguing and listening with the learned of all walks of life really shines a light on what people may be up to in this doctrine switcheroo which is a foregone conclusion for the rest of us because the vote is voted and the progress marches on, apparently, with little dialogue or listening with, the rest of us.

    Truth be told if one puts the bios of Pope Benedict alongside his 1993 interlocutor and now theologian Cardinal Kasper (he kind of like clerked for Kung for a few years — does that make him a theologian?) it just insults our intelligence to advocate and pretend to use reason and dialogue and data for this when it really just amounts to a fallacy that even a middle schooler would howl at. Those employing fallacies in order to play to our hearts and minds do more than just insult us: they render us stupid. That some assume that we would accept all of this doesn’t really improve upon the situation.

    As I am a person who listens and dialogues with others, for a living, and accumulates this data like nobody’s business, I will conclude here with the other strangeness that struck me reading First Things and then the second piece in CWR today. The second buried or hidden fallacy in all of this is the presentation (and this is where propaganda kind of gets its reputation I suppose) of the notions that 1.) pastoral practice can and should divide from magisterium and 2.) these practices in pastorality are always informed by grass roots supply and demand for sacraments given a certain way and as such are in the privileged place to speak for all in the Church and that 3.) the pastoral theologian (if any) is one who merely dispenses the sacraments upon the demand and nothing more. I do not have time to go into all of these which better minds and personalities than mine can sort through. However, from the data borne of my experience with respect to all of those suppositions and particularly no. 3.) above, the reality is that the practice of “omission” of doctrine and sacraments and preparation for both very aggressively if not violently in these USA these last 50 years will give the lie to the idea that this was somehow of the people and demanded from them. That it was wholly manipulated ideology force fed on them, from above, with omission serving to provide doctrine in chaos and vacuum and very much alternative magisterium is of course what is behind the big hippo propaganda machine here. Happy trails, all!

  6. Curley says:

    It’s a shame that those evangelizing the barbarians back in the old days didn’t take into account their diversity about things. Ok for vandals to vandalize, but not Gauls. That rigidity!

  7. Joy65 says:

    I pray for Our One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, for our priests & religious brothers and sisters, our Pope, our Bishops and Cardinals, seminarians, deacons and any young man or woman who has a discernment to the priesthood or religious life.

  8. surritter says:

    I must be missing something… how are we to read the article? I don’t see a link given.

  9. samwise says:

    An additional contrast between Kasper and Ratzinger is a differing understanding of the Marks of the Church, especially of Universality. Per the America magazine links in the FirstThings article: Kasper thinks that local Bishops are autonomous and should not have to answer to a centralized Rome, Ratzinger insists that the Bride of Christ must be One! This to me, is even more important than the question of divorce/remarriage. Viewing the Body of Christ as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic is key

  10. benedetta says:

    samwise has a good point — the alternative dogma via omission that was force fed for so many years included an expansive justification for ignoring the pontiff — that popes were authoritarian, hierarchical structures, and that the pope of rome was merely a collegial co worker among others whose views could be taken or left upon whim or rationalization, whether articulated or not, to anyone including the souls in their care. It is rather weird and kind of smacks of desperation at this point that having seized control, this same group now far from a “live and let live” philosophy is very much running a severe authoritarian gambit with the foot coming down for all time under the banner of “mercy” which everyone must obey unquestioningly lest they be labeled and humiliated as abstractionists, or worse…

  11. samwise says:

    @benedetta: well said, that was my experience growing up in 90s. I never saw a papal flag until I was in University, never heard about Encyclicals from St. John Paul II or even attempts of intellectual assent to his teaching or any of his predecessors (esp. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae). While subsidiarity is important to Catholic Social teaching, I argue that it should not be emphasized to the point of blinding local parishes to unity with Rome: whether Eastern or Latin Rite. Now, it seems like everyone (even in Corporate America where I am gladly to no longer be) knows Pope Francis and how much more “merciful” he is than his predecessors, but this doesn’t result in unity with Apostolic Tradition, it just results in modernism.

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