Initial reaction to Benedict XVI’s latest essay: a cri de coeur

Benedict XVI has released a three part essay address, firstly, it seems, to the clergy of Germany. It is a scolding. However, it is also clearly for the whole watching world.

The MSM will be excited about the title: The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse

The MSMS will latch on to his criticism of the oh-so-golden-halcyon 60’s, which, for Benedict were the turning point.

Benedict doesn’t give specific, curiosity pleasing solutions and he left a lot of things unsaid… that he could have said. He approached a few issues, such as homosexuality in formation of priests in seminaries. He doesn’t make explicit connections, which will leave some unsatisfied and others delighted.

However, there is a poignant cri de coeur in this piece, which leads the attentive reader to his point. He describes the Church as going through her Job period of testing and purification and serious down-sizing. I wonder if he had an experience like Leo XIII, who overheard God and the Devil dickering over the Church for a century of trial. Benedict points to the loss of the sense of Mystery in worship, especially regarding to Eucharist, and the Church. He underscores the importance of natural law in moral theology and the connection of doctrine and law. Hence, he interconnects, Cult, Code, and Creed. His underlying foundation is lex orandi, lex credendi and lex vivendi. It has to be. But these are out of sorts, because weeds in the field and evil fish in the nets have disconnected them and tried to rebuild the Church in human terms. I especially liked his shot: “What must be done? Perhaps we should create another Church for things to work out? Well, that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed.”

Against those who would tear everything down, he contextualized the genesis of Veritatis splendor and then defends it against the German attacks on theology which would have resulted in disaster.  He has, surely, the papalotrous in mind.

Benedict includes in this piece, which rambles in and out of his familiar tropes, a poignant cri de coeur. And he calls for radical recovery of the love of God, our love for him and our recognition of His for us, and the establishment of “habitats of faith”, where Faith can dwell.

As I read it, I sensed Benedict’s great pain.

More tomorrow.

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  1. Clinton R. says:

    Oh how we have missed the papacy of Benedict XVI! What a zinger to the “spirit of Vatican II” he gives by stating “…Perhaps we should create another Church for things to work out? Well, that experiment has already been undertaken and has already failed.” Only be returning to sound doctrine and praxis and most of all, sound worship (TLM), can the Holy Church be restored in her splendor to nations where she has been allowed to fade away.

  2. Pingback: Full text of Benedict XVI: ‘The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse’ | Catholicism Pure & Simple

  3. Bellarmino Vianney says:

    He appears to still approach God’s Church as if it is some sort of political entity in this new document.[I don’t accept your premise. Quite the opposite.] God’s Church, the Roman Catholic Church, is not a political entity. God’s Church is The Church. Every other false religion/”church” else are frauds. Stark, but true. [You should read the whole thing.]

    Also, he appears to neglect the most common error and/or intentional omission at the present time: many people think (assume or presume) they are going to end up in heaven, when the reality is that God Himself says that these same people will end up in hell.

    God says this explicitly in more than one place in His Book that He wrote (the Bible), but He specifically says it in Luke 13:23-28:

    “And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out.”

    Or, Matthew 7:21-23:

    “Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'”

    The Will of God is the Ten Commandments along with belief in and worthy reception of The Most Holy Eucharist. Pretty simple: if you break the Ten Commandments and/or reject/unworthily receive The Most Holy Eucharist and do not repent, repair damage done, and resolve to sin no more, then you end up in hell.

    False Christians and false Catholics end up in hell, folks. These people include those government/law enforcement persons that abuse the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as a means of surveillance, harassment, and intimidation (this is very likely presently occurring in the U.S.). This also includes those priests and laity that collaborate with such government entities to enact pre-planned skits, schemes, etc. during the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass).

    The so-called “crisis” at the present time stems from the lack of interiorizing the doctrine that many people end up in hell, and many people go through life thinking they are going to get to heaven but will only find out when it is too late that they are going to end up in hell.

    For a list of those people likely to end up in hell, see Revelation 21:8 (among many others) – but particularly Revelation 21:8 which says that “deceivers of every sort” or “all liars” end up in hell. There are different types of deception/lies. One particular clergyman with a heavy online presence regularly participates in a type of deception that will lead him to hell. Several others do the same and they should be aware that if they continue without repentance and change of life, they will likely end up in hell. God is not partial – even if a person does a lot of good, if they commit evil on the side, they still end up in hell.

    BXVI appears to ignore that particular topic in his new document.

  4. Gab says:

    What a joy to read something by a contemporary and intelligent Pope who has sound theology, despite the topic causing great sadness.

  5. anna 6 says:

    Great pain indeed…
    What is interesting is that he must have been compelled to write this because its content is not otherwise being expressed. If it had been, I’m imagine he’d have preferred to remain in his self-imposed silence.

  6. Jennifer Roback Morse says:

    Clinton, I didn’t think of Vatican II as the attempt to invent our own church, although I could see how someone could think that. I just assumed he was thinking of an earlier attempt: Martin Luther. Ratizinger is German after all. The long arm of Luther and his revolution has to be everywhere in his environment.

  7. gretta says:

    Jennifer – I agree with you. I don’t think he’s talking at all about Vatican II, he’s talking about the Reformation and the splintering of Western Christendom into the various protestant sects. We don’t solve our ecclesiastical problems by starting our own church.

  8. Uxixu says:

    Pains me to say this, though seeing this release makes me question and regret his abdication all the more. Moreover, he allowed way too many consecrations of bad bishops and made way too many opponents of his programs as cardinals to not bear a huge measure of this blame himself. His reputation from the CDF definitely did not translate to his papacy. I’ll forever be grateful to him for Summorum Pontificum and pray for him.

  9. JesusFreak84 says:

    Uxixu pretty much said everything I’m thinking. I apply the same to JPII; they don’t get a pass in any of this because how many of these wicked prelates became Bishops and Cardinals under JPII? Under Benedict? Would it not have been entirely (or very nearly so) JPII- and Benedict-created Cardinals that gave us Francis?

  10. Clinton R. says:

    Jennifer Roback Morse & gretta, I do feel Benedict XVI was referring to the “spirit” of Vatican II. By not adhering to the documents of the Council, we have seen a de facto new church invented. Look at Germany for instance, the bishops allow such liturgical abuse, the Mass is disfigured and unrecognizable. Additionally, the novelties of Communion in the Hand and female altar servers were the result of those promoting a liberal agenda under the guise of Conciliar reform, not to mention every type of heterodox teaching that has been foisted upon the faithful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church promulgated by Pope John II was a move to counteract the heterodox approach to the Council. Benedict XVI strived to bring the Church in adherence to the actual intent of the Council during his pontificate.

  11. taylorhall95 says:

    Really happy to see Benedict XVI speak about the impact of the 1960s and the sexual revolution on the Church.

    I still wish I knew why he likes Hans Urs von Balthasar so much. A theologian who invented the complete novelty of Christ experiencing the pains of hell and the deprivation of the Beatific Vision, in direct contradiction with Scripture, the Church Fathers, St Thomas Aquinas, etc.

  12. JRP says:

    I also felt the obscure pain in this missive, although how much was due to translation is unclear.

    I honestly wish I could tell him that he was fighting against the same current of will that started the protestant schism (Scotus v. Aquinas), and did not root itself in his lifetime – and by extension – that any of the culpability accrues to him. That he couldn’t overcome it shouldn’t be surprising. That he definitely helped those of us who have – in the final accounting, it will be shown my salvation (should I persevere) was definately mediated by his Principals of Catholic Theology – should be more than cold comfort.

  13. Jerome Charles says:

    Clergy abuse in the Catholic Church can be traced back to the 1940s and 1950s, and numbers increased in the 1960s. It has probably been going on far longer than that. Bishops, cardinals, and popes tend to be intent on protecting the Church from scandal, including BIX and JPII. Instead of treating pedophilia as the disease (of both homo- and heterosexuals) and crime that it is, it was treated as a sin. Confess, forgive, move on, keep it secret. Some of that, likely, was due to ignorance. More, I fear, was blatant cover-up.

    Our Church is a hot mess. If you truly believe that scapegoating homosexual seminarians and clergy is the answer, I think you’re fooling yourself. We need to be more honest than that, for the sake of our children presently and in the future, and to make it right for the ones who suffered this crime in the past and are still deeply impacted by it.

  14. Pingback: More thoughts on Benedict XVI’s 6000K word essay on The Present Crisis | Fr. Z's Blog

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Taylorhall95 — It is his custom to quote people he disagrees with, whenever they say something striking that he _can_ agree with. A genial practice, but also very good for surprising those who might disagree with him but would like the person quoted.

  16. Pingback: Benedict XVI’s Letter on Sex Abuse Crisis: Highlights & Reaction Roundup | Defensor Blog

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