Friday, April 15, 2005

Ratzinger Roundup!

Cardinal Ratzinger in the News:

  • Opponents rail at Ratzinger, by Denis Barnett in Vatican City. (Herald Sun April 14, 2005) -- a rather provocative headline for a somewhat muted article, according to which "Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – nicknamed 'God's Rottweiler' during a long tenure as the late pope's guardian of Catholic doctrine – is a polarising influence on the pre-conclave negotiations," with opposition to the CDF Prefect forming around "the scholarly Carlo Maria Martini", a former archbishop of Milan.

    Fr. Greeley cashes in on the speculation with a look at the very different views of the "papal contenders," expressing his personal preferance for Martini.

  • "Pope's hard-nosed enforcer in lead: Conservative cardinal hit Beatles, opposed women as priests" screams hysterical Charles W. Bell and Corky Seimazsko of the New York Daily News. Honestly, I don't think the Cardinal has ever met a Beatle in person, much less laid a hand on him. Perhaps he took offense at Lennon's "more popular than Jesus' remark?"

    The Daily News echoes Hans Kung's charges of subversive manipulation, attributing a role to 'Ratzinger's [unidentified] surrogates' in "creating a buzz" around Rome: "allies of the German cardinal who ordered the other 'red hats' to clam up about who might succeed Pope John Paul II are actively campaigning to make him the next pontiff."

  • Opposition Mounting to Ratzinger as Pope Deutsche-Welle April 14, 2005
    La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, both respected Italian dailies with close contacts with the Vatican, say two powerful German cardinals, Karl Lehmann of Mainz and Walter Kasper, who is based in Rome, have lined up against their fellow German who has been the Catholic Church's controversial doctrinal watchdog.

  • Handicapping the conclave. "Italian newspapers, like nature, abhor a vacuum, and hence in reaction to the press blackout imposed this week by the College of Cardinals, all manner of speculation and rumor has been appearing in the local press," says John Allen Jr, who dismisses much of the rumors as "little more than guesswork," spotting "'trends on the basis of two or three chance encounters." However,
    "The push for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger . . . is for real. There is a strong basis of support for Ratzinger in the college, and his performance in the period following the death of the pope, especially his eloquent homily at the funeral Mass, seems to have further cemented that support. One Vatican official who has worked with Ratzinger over the years said on April 13, “I am absolutely sure that Ratzinger will be the next pope.”

    On the other hand, several cardinals have said privately that they’re uncomfortable with the prospect of a Ratzinger papacy. It’s not just that some don’t believe his strong emphasis on the protection of Christian identity in a secular world ought to be the guiding light of the next papacy, but there’s also a real-world concern about the election of a figure with his “baggage.” Fairly or unfairly, Ratzinger is to some extent a lightning rod for Catholic opinion, and in a church that’s already divided, some cardinals worry about exacerbating those divisions. One said April 12: “I’m not sure how I would explain this back home.”

    More discussion of John Allen's article at Amy Welborn's Open Book.

  • Also from John Allen, Jr. - speculations as to what a Ratzinger papacy might look like. (National Catholic Reporter April 14, 2005):
    In the main, it would likely take shape along predictable lines. Ratzinger would mount a strenuous defense of Catholic identity, resisting enticements from secular culture to water down church teaching and practice; he would stress “Culture of Life” issues, doing battle against gay marriage, euthanasia and stem cell research; he would ensure that theological speculation is contained within narrow limits. He would likely travel less, and project a more ethereal style reminiscent of Pius XII. Ratzinger’s governing metaphor for the church of the future is the mustard seed – it may have to be smaller to be faithful, what he calls a “creative minority.”

    One can also, however, anticipate elements of a Ratzinger pontificate that would come as a surprise, and that would mark a departure from the policies of John Paul II. . . . READ MORE

  • Papal contender's calls for European return to Christian roots April 15, 2004.CBC News reports on Cardinal Ratzinger's new book, Values in a Time of Upheaval, published this past Wednesday.:
    Europe needs a new - certainly skeptical and humble - acceptance of itself, if it wants to survive," the German-born Ratzinger wrote in excepts published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

    "The ever more passionately demanded multiculturalism is often above all a renunciation of what is one's own, a fleeing from what is one's own."

    He said people can respect the faith and culture of others only when they remain true to their own, "only when what is holy, God, is not alien to us ourselves."

    European integration as represented by the European Union has become a mostly economic project, he wrote, "with far-reaching exclusion of the spiritual foundations of such a society."

  • Analysis: At 78, Ratzinger a rising star, by Uwe Siemon-Netto (UPI). The Washington Times offers a defense of the Cardinal from a Protestant theologian, howbeit anonymously:
    . . . Ironically, the strongest resistance against Ratzinger's elevation seems to hail from his fellow German cardinals, most of who rank among the most liberal church leaders. In all, there are six German prelates of that rank. But Vatican insiders report that Ratzinger also has many opponents among the 11 U.S. cardinals who consider him too doctrinaire.

    In truth, though, this soft-spoken Bavarian, who was consecrated priest at age 24, "is not so much doctrinaire as he is committed to the truth and sound doctrine," a leading Protestant theologian told United Press International Friday.

    "He is arguably the Catholic Church's finest theologian, in addition to being a very humble and deeply religious man.

    "If he is to be the next pontiff, we may expect extraordinary surprises of him," said this scholar who knows Ratzinger well but asked to remain anonymous.

  • Papal hopeful is a former Hitler Youth, screams the UK's Sunday Times, April 17, 2005. As if this were a sudden revelation, a magnificent triumph of investigative journalism . . . guess again, folks. From our Ratzinger FAQ: :

    Was Cardinal Ratzinger a Nazi?

    The story that Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth is true. It's a biographical fact that seems to have circulated on many a mailing list, and seems to surface at precisely opportune times when the Prefect finds himself in the media's spotlight. From the way it has been presented, one might assume this is one of those skeletons the Cardinal keeps tucked away in his closet (next to his executioner's axe and the token heads of Hans Kung, Matthew Fox, Leonardo Boff & Charles Curran).

    The truth is that as Ratzinger mentions himself in Milestones: Memoirs: 1927 - 1977, he and his brother George were both enrolled in the Hitler Youth (at a time when membership was compulsory), and discusses family life under the Third Reich in chapters 2-4 of his autobiography.

    Likewise, John Allen Jr., journalist for the National Catholic Reporter and author of 2002's biography of the Cardinal The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith, supplies the historical details sorely lacking in other reports:

    As a seminarian, he was briefly enrolled in the Hitler Youth in the early 1940s, though he was never a member of the Nazi party. In 1943 he was conscripted into an antiaircraft unit guarding a BMW plant outside Munich. Later Ratzinger was sent to Austria's border with Hungary to erect tank traps. After being shipped back to Bavaria, he deserted. When the war ended, he was an American prisoner of war.

    Under Hitler, Ratzinger says he watched the Nazis twist and distort the truth. Their lies about Jews, about genetics, were more than academic exercises. People died by the millions because of them. The church's service to society, Ratzinger concluded, is to stand for absolute truths that function as boundary markers: Move about within these limits, but outside them lies disaster.

    Later reflection on the Nazi experience also left Ratzinger with a conviction that theology must either bind itself to the church, with its creed and teaching authority, or it becomes the plaything of outside forces -- the state in a totalitarian system or secular culture in Western liberal democracies. In a widely noted 1986 lecture in Toronto, Ratzinger put it this way: "A church without theology impoverishes and blinds, while a churchless theology melts away into caprice." *

    For more details of the Cardinal's life, click here.


    * "The Vatican's Enforcer", National Catholic Reporter, April 16, 1999.


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