My View For Awhile: Maternal Edition

Having just returned from a fast assault on Chicago’s fare…

… and to work out details of the portable altar and sacristy for the upcoming pilgrimage, I’m off to the depths of the south.

I’ve been getting texts from Rome since I arose (at 3:15) about the splatter of front page coverage of Benedict XVI claiming that Francis thought is consistent with his own.

This is rather interesting. That’s just a few of the photos I got. Lot’s of coverage. Probably coordinated.

Remember this?

And so we board, yawning and reading tiny print in photos of newspapers sent from the other side of the pond.

And this… in case you forgot where you are…

More later.


I’m in Atlanta, waiting for another flight.  Meanwhile, I’m reading the coverage of Benedict’s letter.   Liberal Leftist La Repubblica says that Benedict several things:

ROMA – Benedetto XVI esce dal silenzio, per scrollare via bruscamente le frange tradizionaliste[anyone who believes in God is “traditionalist fringe” for this paper] che tentano di trascinare il suo nome nelle beghe contrarie all’attuale pontefice. Il Papa emerito scrive una lettera alla vigilia del quinto anniversario del conclave che ha eletto Bergoglio. E contesta lo “stolto pregiudizio per cui papa Francesco sarebbe solo un uomo pratico privo di particolare formazione teologica o filosofica, mentre io – aggiunge Ratzinger – sarei stato unicamente un teorico della teologia che poco avrebbe capito della vita concreta di un cristiano di oggi”.[Strange.] Un cenno – quest’ultimo – con il quale il pontefice tedesco sembra rivendicare una considerazione diversa anche per il magistero e l’opera che lui ha portato avanti negli 8 anni trascorsi sul soglio di Pietro. E infatti nella lettera viene ribadita “una continuità interiore” tra i due pontificati “pur con tutte le differenze di stile e di temperamento”.

What I find so odd is that phrase, that it’s a, “stupid (stolto… foolish, moronic, idiotic) prejudice by which Pope Francis would be only a practical man, without specific theological or philosophical formation, whereas I would merely a theoretician of theology who would little understand the concrete life of a Christian today.”   First, the style of the language is … how to put this… looser than what one might expect from Ratzinger.  Second, it is self-referential… which anyone who has read Ratzinger over the years will recognize as something which he would vigorously avoid.  As a matter of fact, there is a full doctoral thesis available in the topic of “self-referentiality in the writings of Joseph Ratzinger”.   He abhors it.   He doesn’t abhor his own experience as a starting point.  In the past, I would have opined that he would avoid such a self-defensive reference.

In any event, they’ve changed my gate, so I have less time in the lounge than I originally thought.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. JonPatrick says:

    Cuisine wise, I always associate Chicago with Polish Sausage and Deep Dish Pizza. Looks like an interesting take on the steak sandwich.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Are we entirely sure those bruises on his head a few months ago were from a fall? I’m not a Benedict expert, although of course I recall him as pope and read some of his work, but does this even sound like him? So many times since he abdicated, things have been written about what he has supposedly said, that don’t even sound like something he would say, nor the way he would say it. Perhaps he needs to be removed from the Vatican. Something is not right here and time’s a wastin.
    Happy travels Father Z.!

  3. LarryW2LJ says:

    Damage control …….. too little, too late.

  4. HighMass says:

    I am with Kathleen! Leads you to believe the Holy Father’s hand was forced to promote the liberalism now ruling the Vatican.

    Vatican Mafia, at work again? We Pray for Pope Benedict for he has suffered much, and that God Grants him peace all his days

  5. chantgirl says:

    Agreed that this does not come across as “Benedictine”. I still remember the weird message Benedict supposedly wrote to Francis about Francis being his safe, happy place. Bizarre.

    One of these things is not like the other. Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, slapped down the Kasperian heresy. Francis is trying to undo that. Ratzinger and JPII were also pretty hard on the liberation theologians. Francis has given them new life. Ratzinger and JPII were pretty clear about contraception, end-of-life, and abortion. The new regime has taken, how shall we say it, a divergent path on life issues.

    Either Benedict didn’t write this, or we never understood him to begin with, or he is declining mentally ( I don’t believe this as he has written some very lucid letters over the last couple years).

  6. Canonist says:

    Has anyone noticed how the Pope Emeritus omitted reference to the editor Roberto Repole’s title of “Don”, despite him referencing a priest in his correspondence? My gut tells me that the letter of March 11 was drafted by someone else, and put to the Emeritus to sign, by compulsion dare I say it, or because “Papa Francesco desidera che Lei firma qui…”. The letter is not at all Benedict’s style…

  7. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Doesn’t sound like him, doesn’t sound like his thinking.

    Of course, this Curia is perfectly capable of providing a “translation” that is extremely non-literal, or even of dictating a statement for him to copy. This Curia is very big on forcing holy obedience, while not themselves showing any deference to Jesus’ authority and His magisterium.

    Shrug. I’m not into conspiracy. I’m pretty sure that “annoying bureaucracy pushing people around” will explain everything.

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    PS. For those who don’t read a lot of Church historical material, it used to be customary that one’s superiors in the Church could tell one to copy out dictated statements and give them as one’s own. Sort of a scholarly version of Mother Superior telling you to scrub the hallway on your knees.

    For some reason, “liberals” love this stuff.

  9. Colm says:

    @JonPatrick That’s an Italian Beef sandwich, a Chicago classic. (Next time you’re in Chicago, Father, check out Johnnie’s Beef on North Ave.) Deep dish is just for tourists really. Chicagoans don’t eat it. Chicago style thin crust (also called tavern style) is what we eat.

  10. Emilio says:

    My first thought wasn’t that this didn’t sound like Benedict XVI, and now I’m almost convinced that it doesn’t. I don’t buy it. Then I saw a tweet from Ed Pentin earlier today, that Archbishop Gänswein has not replied to his message to him asking for clarification. I’m under the impression that the Archbishop is quick to clarify things concerning his patron.

    This is all little more than 24 hours old, and people are running with it in every which way. There are even some ridiculous comparisons of Benedict XVI to Neville Chamberlain by some of our traditionalist brethren. Let’s let the truth have enough time to get its pants on, as my beloved pastor liked to say, and let’s give our Pope emeritus the full benefit of the doubt.

  11. NickD says:

    Ah, Father, we just missed each other, I think… I’m currently sitting in ATL’s Terminal D for my 90-minute delayed (Delta, of course) flight. I would’ve liked to track you down and ask for your blessing, not that you’d see me in the Delta club; not on this student’s budget.

    Maybe if you’re flying through Atlanta on Saturday.

  12. Thomistica says:

    The inimitable Sandro Magister weighs in about the letter from Pope Benedict to Pope Francis, for which he provides the full text:

    Masterful understatement by Magister:
    “And he who wishes to understand, let him understand.”

  13. Traductora says:

    I just read the final paragraph that was omitted when the letter was published. It was not written for Francis’ 5th horrible anniversary, but in response to those eleven slender volumes that had been sent to him by Viganò. The books were sent in January and the letter from BXVI was sent at the beginning of February. So this has been held (by Viganò, presumably) until now.

    And it was not released in its entirety. In the last paragraph, BXVI makes it clear that he has not read any of the books, and in fact, because of the other commitments (?), he doesn’t know when he’ll have time to do so.

    This changes it in a big way.

  14. Antonin says:

    Likely from Benedict or Benedict supported…not the first …remememner Benedict believes in the institution of the Church and wants to see its historical,preservation …..all that said, I agree with larryw2LJ above

  15. Neal says:

    I don’t see how that last paragraph changes the overall meaning of the letter significantly, except that now we are more certain of the letter’s authenticity.

  16. christopherschaefer says:

    Here in the USA the first publication to announce this was the often-heretical Jesuit magazine ‘America’. ALSO NOTE that the sodomy-promoting Fr. James Martin SJ is editor-at-large of ‘America’ AND a consultant to the Vatican’s ‘Secretariat for Communications’. A “coordinated” press release?…

  17. Fr. Kelly says:

    Neal, Traductora is right.
    The last paragraph makes the context clear and makes clear that paragraphs 2 and 3 simply will not bear the interpretations that some are trying to give them..

    In effect the Papa Emeritus is saying to Monsignor Vigano, in the most respectful way,
    ‘I have not read these books. I will not read these books and so I have nothing to say about the content of these books.’ It stops just short of being a slap down for the impertinence of asking him to comment on them.
    The other stuff reads likef a blurb appropriate for the jacket or back cover of a book, in which he reasserts his faithfulness to the Church and her divine governance.

  18. Fr. Kelly says:

    As an example of this kind of writing, look to Fr. Z’s post on March 9th on books received. Compare what Fr. Z has to say about the Rowland book on Theology and the Collins Liturgical Manual compared to what he says about the other books received but not read.
    (He recommends those two, but beyond giving them space in the blog, he does not recommend the others, because he has not read them.)
    Pope Emeritus Benedict goes one step further. He says that he has not read the 11 pamphlets and, in his own gentle but unmistakeably firm way, he says that he will not be reading them in the foreseeable future either.

  19. Aquinas Gal says:

    Now even the NY Times is reporting that the Vatican deliberately obfuscated the last paragraph.
    Benedict says he can’t endorse the volumes since he hasn’t read them and cannot read them. Very inconvenient for those who want to promote the letter as if Benedict is fully behind all of Francis’ theology.
    I think that Benedict is well aware of all the confusion that’s brewing in the Church, and his remarks on Francis are in hopes of avoiding a schism.

  20. Neal says:

    Fr Kelly: with respect, in the letter the Pope Emeritus literally (pun intended) says that he fully supports Pope Francis and sees him as his philosophical and theological successor. Not reading the pamphlets would only be material if that was the only way to know Francis’ thought, but surely no one is claiming that.

  21. Fr. Kelly says:

    I am afraid you have misread the letter. Benedict does note say here “that he fully supports Pope Francis and sees him as his philosophical and theological successor.” much of the puff pieces about it have said something like that, but Benedict did not.

    Each discipline has its own jargon and way of speaking. Pope Emeritus Benedict has written this letter in such a way that its meaning is unmistakable to anyone who has worked in an academic field that involves publication of books and reviews of books. This is not just my take on it. Look back at Sandro Magister’s piece, also Fr. Hunwicke over at Mutual Enrichment has a short piece on this as well. The date of the letter as well as the closing paragraph leaves this eminently clear.

    Benedict very gently but firmly refuses to write a review on books he has not read. He has not read these books nor does he intend to. His comments on Pope Francis refer to Francis’ deep Philosophical and Theological Formation and to the different style and temperament he shows from that of his predecessor which has perhaps given occasion for the foolish prejudice ” according to which Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of particular theological or philosophical formation, while I would be solely a theoretician of theology who could understand little of the concrete life of a Christian today”.

    Benedict then reaffirms the interior continuity between them (which of course must be present, since the Church is indefectible)

    None of this addresses the contents of the books or of Francis’ teachings (The books as I understand it, do not contain any of Francis’ teaching, they are booklets written by others about Francis)

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