Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Amid JPII Institute controversy, Benedict XVI meets with recently dismissed professor Catholic News Agency 08/05/19:
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI met last week with a recently dismissed professor of moral theology at Rome’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute, amid ongoing controversy regarding recent changes to the Institute.

    Benedict XVI invited Monsignor Livio Melina to meet with him in on August 1, a source close to Melina told CNA.

    The pope emeritus “wanted to receive Prof. Mons. Livio Melina at a private audience. After a long discussion of the recent events at the Pontifical Institute John Paul II, he granted his blessing, expressing his personal solidarity and assuring him of his closeness in prayer.”

    Melina, who was president of the John Paul II Institute from 2006 until 2016, was dismissed from the institute after the recent promulgation of new statutes, or rules of order, for the graduate school, and a decision to eliminate the chair of moral theology which Melina held.

  • Benedict XVI takes short trip outside Vatican, visits towns outside Rome, by Claire Giangravè. Crux 07/27/19:
    ... While it was heartening for people to see Benedict, 92, outside the Vatican walls, the wheelchair that followed him around wherever he went served as a constant remainder of the emeritus pope’s advanced age.

    Archbishop Georg Ganswein, longtime secretary to the retired pontiff, made sure that Benedict was always well hydrated during his evening escapade.

    The pope’s last stop was in Frascati, yet another small town in the Castelli Romani area, where he was welcomed by the local bishop, Raffaello Martinelli, for a private meeting and light supper.

  • "Pope em. Benedict XVI is Surberg's first honorary citizen" Traunsteiner Tagblatt 07/05/19:
    Benedict recently received a delegation from the village on Surberg, near Traunstein, when he was made an honorary citizen. Benedict spent his formative years in the hamlet of Hufschlag, near Trainstein. He regarded it as his hometown.

    The Mayor, Mayor Josef Wimmer, presented him with the honorary citizenship certificate at Mater Ecclesiae. Benedict spent half an hour chatting with him and a small group in his sitting room.

  • Pope Benedict XVI speaks in new interview: ‘There is one pope, he is Francis’, by Gerard O’Connell. America 06/28/19:
    “The adversaries of Bergoglio, often conservatives desperately seeking a word of Benedict that would sound as a criticism of Bergoglio, have unfailingly heard [from Benedict] that ‘There is one pope, he is Francis.’”

    That sentence contains one of only a small number of quotations from the 92-year-old Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI found in a long article in the weekly magazine Corriere della Sera, Italy’s best-selling daily, published on June 28.

    The other significant quotation from Benedict regards church unity, in which he says: “The unity of the church is always in danger, for centuries. It has been throughout its entire history. Wars, internal conflicts, centrifugal pushes, threats of schism. But in the end, the consciousness that the church is and must remain united has always prevailed.

  • “The Pope” brings drama of Benedict and Francis to stage, by Charles Collins. Crux 06/14/19. Anton Lesser as Pope Benedict XVI and Nicholas Woodeson as Cardinal Bergoglio in "The Pope", at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton, England.

  • Benedict XVI turns 92, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic Herald 04/16/19.

  • How Joseph Ratzinger saw past the Church’s established structures, by Fr. Raymond Souza. 12/13/18.

  • Pope urges continued studies of the writings of Pope Benedict XVI 11/17/18:
    Pope Francis this morning met with members of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation on the occasion of the eighth Ratzinger Prize.

    In his address, he highlighted the need to continue to study the writings of Pope Benedict XVI and appreciate the contributions of women in theology and “Christianly inspired arts”.

    The winners of this year’s prize are: German Catholic theologian Marianne Schlosser, a medieval specialist of Saint Bonaventure and professor of the theology of spirituality in the Faculty of Catholic Theology at the University of Vienna since 2004; and Swiss architect Mario Botta who built many sacred buildings and various churches.

    Addressing an "affectionate and grateful thought to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI", Francis said that "his is a spirit that views the problems of our time with awareness and courage, and knows how to draw, from attention to Scripture in the living tradition of the Church, the wisdom necessary for a constructive dialogue with today’s culture."

    As for the Ratzinger Prize going to a woman, the pontiff noted that "it is very important that the contribution of women to the scientific field of theological research and that of the teaching of theology — for so long considered almost exclusive territories of the clergy — be recognized more and more.

Upcoming Books

The Theology of Benedict XVI: A Protestant Appreciation

There's no doubt about Benedict XVI's theological legacy. He's been at the center of every major theological controversy in the Catholic Church over the last fifty years. But he remains a polarizing figure, misunderstood by supporters and opponents alike.

A deeper understanding of Benedict's theology reveals a man dedicated to the life and faith of the church. In this collection of essays, prominent Protestant theologians examine and commend the work of the Pope Emeritus. Katherine Sonderegger, Kevin Vanhoozer, and Carl Trueman―among others―present a full picture of Benedict's theology, particularly his understanding of the relationship between faith and reason and his pursuit of truth for the church. The global Christian faith can learn from Benedict's insight into the modern church and his desire to safeguard the future of the church by leaning on the wisdom of the ancient church.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse"

"The Church and the Scandal of Sexual Abuse" - a previously unpublished essay from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
On February 21 to 24, at the invitation of Pope Francis, the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences gathered at the Vatican to discuss the current crisis of the faith and of the Church; a crisis experienced throughout the world after shocking revelations of clerical abuse perpetrated against minors.

The extent and gravity of the reported incidents has deeply distressed priests as well as laity, and has caused more than a few to call into question the very Faith of the Church. It was necessary to send out a strong message, and seek out a new beginning, so to make the Church again truly credible as a light among peoples and as a force in service against the powers of destruction.

Since I myself had served in a position of responsibility as shepherd of the Church at the time of the public outbreak of the crisis, and during the run-up to it, I had to ask myself - even though, as emeritus, I am no longer directly responsible - what I could contribute to a new beginning.

Thus, after the meeting of the presidents of the bishops' conferences was announced, I compiled some notes by which I might contribute one or two remarks to assist in this difficult hour.

Having contacted the Secretary of State, Cardinal [Pietro] Parolin and the Holy Father [Pope Francis] himself, it seemed appropriate to publish this text in the Klerusblatt [ a monthly periodical for clergy in mostly Bavarian dioceses].

My work is divided into three parts.

In the first part, I aim to present briefly the wider social context of the question, without which the problem cannot be understood. I try to show that in the 1960s an egregious event occurred, on a scale unprecedented in history. It could be said that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely, and a new normalcy arose that has by now been the subject of laborious attempts at disruption.

In the second part, I aim to point out the effects of this situation on the formation of priests and on the lives of priests.

Finally, in the third part, I would like to develop some perspectives for a proper response on the part of the Church.

Reactions and Commentary

  • Benedict and His Critics, by Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller. First Things April 2019:
    At age 92, Benedict XVI is capable of deeper theological reflection than his critics, who lack respect and are ideologically blinded. He is able to get closer to the source of the fire that has set the Church's roof ablaze. The catastrophic fire in Paris, in one of Christendom's most venerable houses of God, also has a symbolic meaning: It makes us appreciate again the work of good firefighters, instead of blaming them for the water damage done in the course of extinguishing the flames. Rebuilding and renewing the whole Church can only succeed in Christ—if we get our bearings by the Church’s teaching on faith and morals.
  • The Ratzinger Diagnosis, by George Weigel. Catholic World Report 04/24/19. "Have any of the progressive critics engaged Ratzinger’s argument? No."
  • Editorial: Benedict XVI’s essay is both insightful and incomplete, by Carl E. Olson. Catholic World Report 04/11/19. "The essay titled “The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse” contains several perennial themes but sidesteps the elephants in the Church."
  • How Benedict’s Essay Supports Francis’ Call For ‘Zero Tolerance’ – Analysis, by Ed Condon. Eurasia Review 04/12/19:
    ... Some prominent bishops have insisted on distinguishing between the sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct between adults, arguing that potentially consensual sexual misconduct by clerics should not be accorded the status of a major crime. In light of Benedict’s essay, some are likely to see in that approach the juridic framework that Benedict described as guarantorism ["in which the rights of the accused seemed to be afforded the central concern of the canonical process, often at the expense of victims, restorative justice, and the public good"].
  • Benedict Speaks, by R.R. Reno. First Things 04/10/19:
    ... The tone of the document is his usual one, that of calm and matter-of-fact statements. Overall, it’s more testimony than analysis, testimony from a man who lived through cultural convulsions and theological betrayals. And it’s a faithful man’s testimony of God’s enduring love.
  • Benedict and the Scandal, by Charles J. Chaput. First Things 04/11/19:
    Toward the end of his own 1970 essay, Augusto Del Noce noted that “an enormous cultural revision will be necessary in order to really leave behind the philosophical processes that have found expression in today's sexual revolution.” The bad news is that too many of today’s Catholics seem to lack the will and ability to pursue that task. The good news is that some of our leaders still have the courage to speak the truth.
  • More thoughts on Benedict XVI’s 6000K word essay on The Present Crisis, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. 04/12/19:
    Apart from all the business about pedophilia and crises, etc., Benedict gets down to it, I think, when writes of the loss of Mystery, the Mystery in liturgical worship and the Mystery of the Church. For Ratzinger, and he even from the years I had the privilege to speak often with him, and for me, everything comes from and flows back to our sacred liturgical worship, which must bring us into transforming contact with Mystery, much as Moses left the tent of meeting shining so brightly his face could not be looked at. If we recognize the connect of Cult, Code and Creed, then even reflection on law reveals the Mystery of God, as does more obviously doctrine. Encountered rightly, they transform. However, after lamenting a loss of Mystery, Benedict poignantly turns inside out a phrase of his perennial spiritual guide, Romano Guardini, a phrase which in his earlier writings Ratzinger called a “standard quotation in German Catholicism”. Mind you, just as Christ’s quotes of the prophets were instantly recognized by 1st century Jews, the German clergy, Benedict’s immediate audience will get this. Guardini, writing between the wars and during the rise of the Liturgical Movement wrote positively, “An event of incalculable importance has begun; the Church is awakening in [people’ s] souls.” On the contrary, Benedict herein mourns that a negative event of incalculable importance has begun, namely, “The Church is dying in [people’s] souls.”

    The last 50 years have borne that out and, in fact, the necrotic effects are accelerating, which makes them daily more obvious.

    What could be the take away from this somewhat rambling collection of observations and Ratzingerian tropes? This may be Benedict’s prophetic call to those who are listening. We are seeing the Church experience a Job-like testing. If Christ endured a Passion, the Church must endure a Passion as well. The Passion reveals the radical, unfathomable depths of God’s love. We must learn to recognize this love, and manifest it. We are going to experience painful but purifying down-sizing. We must creatively form places where the Faith and love can “dwell”, habitats of Faith.

  • Benedict's letter about sex abuse crisis is a regrettable text, by Michael Sean Winters. National Catholic Reporter 04/11/19.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought, by Elio Guerriero

Benedict XVI: His Life and Thought, by Elio GuerrieroBenedict XVI: His Life and Thought
by Elio Guerriero.
Ignatius Pr (November 6, 2018). 715 pgs.

In these pages Benedict XVI shares his story for the first time since his retirement from the papacy. Joseph Ratzinger is widely recognized as one of the most brilliant theologians and spiritual leaders of our time. Born in Germany in 1929, he lived through Nazism, war, and Communism, like John Paul II, who after his surprising election in 1978, insisted on having Ratzinger at his side for his whole twenty-seven-year pontificate.

When Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, he took the name Benedict XVI. He opened a path of purification for the Roman Catholic Church at a time when it was shaken by financial and sexual scandals. He has repeatedly said that Europe must return to its Christian roots and build a new humanism for the twenty-first century.

Benedict XVI was misunderstood by many, and in 2013, he astonished the world by resigning from the papacy. Many saw this gesture as a sign of the decline of Catholicism, but it was the opposite: it was a seed sown in the hope of bringing the Church a younger, more vigorous leadership in the face of so many daunting challenges.

Elio Guerriero, who for many years has had an ongoing relationship with the Pope Emeritus, presents a thorough, well-rounded portrait of the brilliant intellectual and humble man of the Church whom many more have come to love and respect since his resignation. This book includes a Foreword by Pope Francis, and contains the first interview of Benedict XVI since the end of his pontificate.

Elio Guerriero, theologian, philosopher, and historian, is the longtime director of Communio, and editorial manager at Jaca Book and Edizioni San Paolo. He edited the Italian edition of the History of the Church directed by A. Jedin. His other books include Hans Urs von Balthasar, The Drama of God, and Saint Giana Molla: Wife, Mother, and Doctor.

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Benedict XVI defends resignation and title ‘pope emeritus’ in private letters Catholic News Agency 09/01/18:
    In newly-surfaced letters from Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus has defended his abdication, and warned that continued anger at his decision risked undermining the papal office. The private correspondence, excerpts from which were carried in a German newspaper, was reportedly addressed to Cardinal Walter Brandmüller.

    According to the letters, Benedict said he understood "the deep-seated pain" the end of his papacy caused the cardinal and others. At the same time, the pope emeritus wrote, he recognized that for some people the pain had “turned into an anger that no longer merely concerns my resignation, but increasingly also my person and my papacy as a whole.”

    [...]

    Addressing the ongoing dissatisfaction some individuals had with both his resignation and his subsequent life as "pope emeritus" - a title not previously used - Benedict cautioned that these sentiments were undermining the effectiveness of the petrine ministry.

    "In this way the pontificate itself is being devalued and conflated with the sadness about the situation of the Church today," he wrote

  • Bond between Benedict, Francis runs through Italy’s ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’, by John Allen, Jr. Crux News 06/07/18:
    As Tantardini ministered to the youth he helped to convert, he realized the vast majority had absolutely no background in religious practice at all, so in 2001 he decided to put together a brief collection of the simplest Christian prayers along with everything somebody needs to know to make a good confession. The result, Chi prega si salva (“Who Prays is Saved”), went on to become the Italian equivalent of Chicken Soup for the Soul – one of the most popular brief spiritual books ever published, though in Tantardini’s case arguably with greater substance.

    One admirer of Tantardini and his book was Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who wrote a preface for a new edition of Chi prega si salva in early 2005, shortly before his election to the papacy. Benedict is actually a big fan of the ciellini, as members of Communion and Liberation are known – he celebrated Giussani’s funeral Mass, and members of a related group of consecrated lay women, Memores Domini, nicknamed the German pontiff’s “guardian angels,” still run his household.

    Another big admirer of Tantardini is Pope Francis, who considered him a close friend in Rome when the future pope was the archbishop and cardinal of Buenos Aires. For his part, Tantardini told friends he was carrying Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina “in his heart” as his candidate for pope in 2005. When Tantardini was ailing before he died in 2012, Bergoglio performed a confirmation Mass as a favor and urged everyone to pray for his good friend.

  • Analysis: Benedict XVI’s unpublished letter- God is key to understanding human rights, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Catholic News Agency (05/14/18).

  • Even as pope, my teacher Joseph Ratzinger always wrote back, Elisabeth Haggblade shares fond memories of corresponding with the Pope Emeritus in America Magazine, 06/11/18. "He never left a note I sent unanswered."

  • Pope praises retired Pope Benedict's writings on faith and politics, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service (05/07/18):
    "Liberating Freedom: Faith and Politics in the Third Millennium" is a collection of essays written over the course of several decades, including during Pope Benedict's eight years as pope. It is scheduled to be published in Italian by Cantagalli in May 11. The website Vatican Insider posted Pope Francis' preface May 6 and Vatican News posted an English translation the next day.

    Pope Francis said that when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger worked alongside St. John Paul II, "he elaborated and proposed a Christian vision of human rights capable of questioning on a theoretical and practical level the totalitarian claim of the Marxist state and the atheist ideology on which it was based."

    Pope Francis said the contrast Ratzinger saw between Christianity and Marxism or communism definitely was not the focus on the poor and the need to fight inequality.

    "We must learn — once again, not only at the theoretical level, but in the way we think and act — that alongside the real presence of Jesus in the church and in the sacrament, there exists that other real presence of Jesus in the little ones, in the trampled of this world, in the last, in whom he wants us to find him," Pope Francis quoted the cardinal as writing.

  • And last but not least (even though it's from last year), New ‘Pint-ifex’ beer honours Benedict XVI (11/1/17):
    An Ohio brewery has produced a specially-commissioned beer in honour of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. The Bavarian-style hefeweizen, called Beer-nedict XVI: Pint-ifex Maximus, was launched at the conference of the Society for Catholic Social Scientists in Steubenville

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Vatican doctors photo of Benedict's praise for Francis, by Nicole Winfield. 3/13/18:
    The Vatican admitted Wednesday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.

    The Vatican's communications office released the photo of the letter on Monday on the eve of Francis' five-year anniversary. The letter was cited by Monsignor Dario Vigano, chief of communications, to rebut critics of Francis who question his theological and philosophical heft and say he represents a rupture from Benedict's doctrine-minded papacy.

    • The real story behind Pope Benedict’s strange letter, by Phil Lawler. LifeSiteNews.com. 03/14/18:
      First, Msgr. Dario Vigano sent the former Pope a set of new books on the theology of Pope Francis, asking for a favorable comment. That was in January.

      The former Pope declined to comment on the books. In fact he declined to read them, explaining that he was too busy. That was in February.

      But a month later, the Vatican press office made public the letter from Benedict, leading reporters to believe that Benedict had essentially endorsed the theological approach of Pope Francis, just in time for the 5th anniversary of his pontificate. ...

    • Vatican Reveals Full Text of Benedict XVI’s Letter to Msgr. Viganò National Catholic Register:
      Benedictus XVI

      Pope Emeritus

      Most Reverend Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò

      Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications

      Vatican City

      February 7, 2018

      Most Reverend Monsignor,

      Thank you for your kind letter of 12 January and the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

      I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice in which Pope Francis is just a practical man without particular theological or philosophical formation, while I have been only a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete life of a Christian today.

      The small volumes show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation, and they therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences of style and temperament.

      However, I don’t feel like writing a short and dense theological passage on them because throughout my life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books I had read really well. Unfortunately, if only for physical reasons, I am unable to read the eleven volumes in the near future, especially as other commitments await me that I have already made.

      Only as an aside, I would like to note my surprise at the fact that among the authors is also Professor Hünermann, who during my pontificate had distinguished himself by leading anti-papal initiatives. He played a major part in the release of the “Kölner Erklärung”, which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendour”, virulently attacked the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of moral theology. Also the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft”, which he founded, was initially conceived by him as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Later, the ecclesial sentiment of many theologians prevented this orientation, allowing that organization to become a normal instrument of encounter among theologians.

      I am sure you will understand my refusal and I offer you cordial greetings.

      Yours,
      Benedict XVI

  • Shirtless statue of Pope Benedict causes art sensation in Rome Crux 02/21/18:
    ... the technically remarkable sculpture has been the object of both criticism and praise, with some viewing it as desecrating the image of the emeritus pontiff while others judge it as an honest portrayal. For Jago, the work of art was never meant to be “derisive,” but rather a celebration of Benedict XVI, whom he considers to be a model for what every pope should be. "I consider this man to be the greatest theologian alive," he told Crux in a phone interview.

  • Simple advice from Benedict XVI on how to be a better mom or dad, by Kathleen N. Hattrup. Aleteia 10/31/17. An exhortation from a homily of Pope Benedict XVI at the 2012 World Meeting of Families. It’s worth reading a second time.

  • Pope Francis Makes Christmas Visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 12/27/17. Pope Francis visited Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Thursday afternoon to personally give his Christmas greetings to the Pontiff Emeritus at his residence.

  • Benedict XVI hails Cardinal Müller for defending ‘the clear traditions of the faith’ Catholic Herald 12/28/17:
    Marking the 70th birthday of German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, retired pope Benedict XVI has said that, even though the cardinal is no longer prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he will continue to have a public role of serving the Church.

    The retired pope wrote the introduction to a book of essays honouring Cardinal Müller on his 70th birthday on December 31 and in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of his priestly ordination in February.

  • Resigned pope creates ‘multiplied and divided’ authority, author says, by Claire Giangrave. Crux News, 10/16/17. "While many Catholics have easily adjusted to the dual existence of Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, undeniably another portion cannot help but compare the two papacies, or even express a preference for one style over the other."

  • Benedict XVI is weak but still following concerns of Church, says bishop Aleteia 10/03/17. A Coptic Catholic bishop of Egypt says Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is now very weak at age 90, but still "aware of everything."

  • "On a word with Benedetto" FOCUS Magazine. 06/25/17. "Quiet and almost invisible, Benedict XVI spends his days in the gardens of the Vatican. FOCUS correspondent Eva Kallinger could speak with the pontiff off duty. Not about God - more about the world. About Mozart, green parrots and Beirut. And she learned that even a pope has homesickness." [Translated from German].

  • Pope Benedict’s Great Restoration, by Michael Brendan Dougherty. National Review 07/07/17. "Ten years ago today, Pope Benedict XVI issued a document that vindicated the arguments that Catholics like Buckley and me had repeated in safe company for years: that the Latin Mass that was common to almost all of Western Catholicism for centuries was never abrogated."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today by Joseph Ratzinger. Introduction by Gerhard Cardinal Müller. Forward by Pope Francis.

Ignatius Press (August 1, 2017). 392 pgs.

This inspiring collection of homilies delivered by Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) over six decades offers deep theological and historical insights on the meaning of the life and the witness of a Catholic priest.

When Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the Year for Priests in 2009, he did so in conjunction with celebrating the 150th anniversary of the death of John Vianney, the patron saint of all parish priests. Benedict's purpose for that special year is the same purpose of this book of homilies -- to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world. As St. John Vianney would often say, "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus." This touching expression makes us reflect on the immense gift that priests represent, not only for the Church but for all mankind.

Contemporary men and women need priests to be distinguished by their determined witness to Christ. These homilies are meant to illuminate and to inspire priests to renew their commitment to "teaching and learning the love of God". The homilies cover a wide variety of important topics on the priesthood, all deeply rooted in Scripture, including acting in persona Christi, becoming an offering with Christ for the salvation of mankind, being there for God's mercy, and witnessing Christian joy.

"Every time I read the works of Joseph Ratzinger, it becomes clear to me that he pursued theology 'on his knees' and still does: on his knees, because we see that he is not only a preeminent theologian and master of the faith, but a man who really believes, really prays. We see that he is a man who embodies holiness, a man of peace, a man of God. And so he embodies in an exemplary way the essence of all priestly work: that deep rootedness in God."

--Pope Francis, from the Foreword

"In this volume, Joseph Ratzinger shows a path that leads out of the crisis into which the Catholic priesthood had fallen for lack of suitable theological and sociological rudiments and motivations. A rewarding reference work, not only for the scholarly theological definition of the sacrament of Holy Orders, but also for more in-depth, spiritual reflection on the vocation to the priesthood, for spiritual exercises for priests, and for preaching about the 'ministry of a new covenant', the 'ministry of the Spirit and of life' (cf. 2 Cor 3:6–8)."

--Gerhard Cardinal Müller, from the Introduction

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Pope Benedict Roundup

  • Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI to wish him a happy birthday Catholic News Agency. 04/15/17:
    On April 12 Pope Francis visited his predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI at Vatican City’s Mater Ecclesiae monastery to honor two joyous occasions: the occurrence of Benedict XVI’s 90th birthday and the celebration of Easter which this year fall on the same day, April 16.
  • As Benedict turns 90, a rare glimpse into his joy-filled life, by Elise Harris and Martin Rothweiler. Catholic News Agency. 04/16/17. In a lengthy interview with EWTN's German television branch, Benedict XVI's closest aide describes how the retired pontiff is doing as he turns the milestone age of 90, giving a rare look into what life is like for the Pope Emeritus.

  • Scholars offer Pope Benedict birthday tribute, by Carol Glatz. Catholic News Service 04/14/17:
    Cards and letters have been pouring in, the German archbishop added, and certainly there will be some presents, including a “Festschrift” — a collection of essays celebrating the work of a well-known scholar on an important occasion — in this case Pope Benedict and his 90th birthday. …

    This year, the Vatican publishing house and the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation pieced together a “Festschrift” titled after the pope’s episcopal motto, “Cooperatores Veritatis” (Co-workers of the truth).

    It was written by all 13 winners to date of the “Ratzinger Prize,” an award to distinguished scholars in theology or related studies. They are an Anglican Biblicist, an Ambrosian priest, a French philosopher, a Polish theologian, a U.S. Jesuit, a Brazilian Jesuit, a Spanish theologian, a Cistercian abbot in Austria, a Lebanese scholar, a Greek Orthodox theologian, a French theologian, a German theologian and an Italian historian.

  • The Ratzinger revolution, by Tracey Rowland. Catholic Herald 04/13/17. "… This is just a short account of the many elements of an embattled Catholic culture that can be found in the mountains of publications by Ratzinger."

  • New book shows interest in Pope Benedict XVI is here to stay, by Claire Giangrave. 04/17/17:
    Interest in the retired pope shows no sign of slowing down as his essential contributions to the Church and theology continue to be relevant today.

    Three new biographies on the German pontiff have been published in Italy this week alone. Three collections of essays by the pope emeritus are also in the works. Italy’s public television, Rai, will air two one-hour documentaries on Benedict celebrating his life.

    Enthusiasm over the figure of Benedict XVI is not limited to Italy. All over the world symposiums, meetings and events take place focusing on the pope’s legacy. …

  • In Rome, a new generation of Benedict XVI scholars is on the rise, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Crux 03/02/17. "The theological legacy of Benedict XVI continues, four years after his pontificate came to an end."

  • Aide says Benedict in perfect ‘mental and spiritual’ health, by Ines San Martin. 02/11/17.

Commentary

  • Benedict XVI’s new text about Sacred Liturgy – The Russian Preface, by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf. Fr. Z's Blog 04/17/17.

  • A Child of Holy Saturday: Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Turns 90, by Matthew Bunson. National Catholic Register 04/15/17:
    Understandably, a great deal of focus has been paid over the years to the reflections, homilies and writings of Pope Benedict on Easter. But not only is there something deeply personal about Holy Saturday for Joseph Ratzinger the man, that day — when Our Lord was behind the massive stone at the entrance of the tomb, in utter darkness, his broken body stretched upon cold and unforgiving rock — brings essential hope to the Christian confronting the challenges of the modern age. That is a truth that Joseph Ratzinger has spent decades trying to impart.

  • Father Benedict XVI is a Friend of Jesus Christ, by Fr. Maurice Ashley Agbaw-Ebai. Crisis 04/17/17:
    As Benedict XVI, Joseph Ratzinger developed this theme of friendship with Jesus Christ especially in his homilies at priestly ordinations in which he presided as Bishop of Rome. To be a friend of Jesus Christ invites one into a greater intimacy of knowledge and communion, for friendship demands intimacy and knowledge. Father Benedict’s new ministry of prayer on behalf of the whole Church certainly mirrors to us his fondness and intimacy with Jesus of Nazareth, the love of Benedict’s life.
  • Homage to Benedict XVI, Misunderstood Prophet of Our Times, by Andrea Gagliaducci. MondayVatican.04/17/17:
    Since Benedict ascended the mountain to live out the time of his prayerful intercession on behalf of the Church, the bitterness he felt during his pontificate when he spoke of the Second Vatican Council has been forgotten. Nevertheless, he felt the need to clarify that period of Church history since the beginning of the pontificate. In his first Christmas speech to Roman Curia back in 2005, he stressed that the Council have to interpreted through the lenses of continuity. That is: the Council was not a destructive spring, but a spring called to harvest new fruits. It was a renewal within continuity, not a genetically modified organism of faith, just as every year nature is renewed in spring. At the end of the pontificate during his last meeting with the clergy of Rome, he wanted to return to the notion once more, as if that was the thread of the whole pontificate. He said that there was a media Council and a real Council. And he noted that the media Council overtook the real Council. …
  • Benedict XVI at 90: Why his theology still matters, by Fr. Robert Imbelli. "Father Robert Imbelli takes a closer look at the thought of Joseph Ratzinger, and how for him the central fact of the Resurrection is Jesus Christ does not rise a disembodied soul, but bodily. Body not self-contained, but totally relational, totally gift, really present in Eucharist, poured out to embrace a humanity called to transfiguration."

  • Ratzinger on the Dialogue of Religions, by Eduardo J. Echevvaria. The Catholic Thing 04/06/17:
    My of us have been eager to forget the video where Pope Francis urges a dialogue among the religions present – Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist. That video leaves the impression of a leveling out of the fundamental differences between these religions, suggesting a muting of the primary call to evangelize and proclaim the Gospel. Still, I think we can honor the pope’s motives here for dialogue, namely, encouraging the “maintaining of good fellowship among the nations.” (1 Pet 2:12) And, if possible, “as far as depends on one, to live at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18)

    Joseph Ratzinger takes a very different stance regarding the question: “What, in concrete terms, is Christianity’s position in the dialogue of religions?”

  • Gospel and Law according to Ratzinger, by Eduardo J. Echeverria. The Catholic Thing 03/21/17.

  • How Pope Benedict XVI dealt with disagreement, by Dr. Edward Feser. 12/22/16:
    … This willingness to allow for diverse opinions wherever that is consistent with orthodoxy, and as far as possible to engage those who are critical of papal policy and teaching non-polemically and at the level of rational argumentation rather than by authoritative diktat, plausibly stem from Benedict’s high regard for reason.
  • James Carroll’s Ratzinger, by Paul Baumann. Commonweal 11/29/16.
    "As a gifted writer himself—and a theologically literate one—Carroll might be expected to appreciate Ratzinger’s gifts as a theological writer of uncommon power and lucidity. Yet that aspect of Ratzinger’s “moral perception” is ignored. Rather, what is most striking about Carroll’s depiction of Ratzinger and the church is how it is pitched to satisfy every prejudice his largely liberal, secular New Yorker readership presumably has about Catholicism. … For Carroll and his audience, the institutional church is simply an authoritarian bogeyman, an enduring source of anti-Semitism, a corrupt patriarchy, an anachronism. Except for Pope Francis, of course.
  • Benedict’s ‘Last Conversations’: Reshaping the Ratzinger Legacy?, by Massimo Fagioli. dotCommonweal 09/14/16:
    A trio of sympathetic books published since May hint at the effort to shape the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI. While the portrayal emerging may appeal neither to those who’d hoped for the pope emeritus to reclaim traditionalism nor to those seeking a fuller embrace of the current pope, it might yet help consolidate support behind Francis while isolating the worst of the para-schismatic fringes.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Conference: "Pope Benedict XVI’s Theological Testament"

Pope Benedict XVI’s Theological Testament
Tuesday 8th November 2016, 10:00am

Date: Tuesday 8th November 2016

Time: Conference – 10am-5pm, Book Launch – 6pm

Location: The Waldegrave Drawing Room, St Mary’s University, Twickenham, TW1 4SX

Speakers:

  • The Revd Canon Prof Richard Burridge, King’s College London, winner of the Ratzinger Prize 2013
  • Dr Jacob Phillips, St Mary’s University and translator of Last Testament
  • Dr Christopher R. Altieri, Collegium Augustinianum Graduate Institute of Philosophy and Theology, Rome
  • Dr Mary McCaughey, The Priory Institute Dominican Centre for Theological Studies, Dublin.

The St Mary’s Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society and the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible present Pope Benedict XVI’s Theological Testament.

A day conference exploring the theological legacy of Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Ratzinger to celebrate the release of his final published work Last Testament, which will be launched after the conference. Please join us as we investigate four aspects to the Pope’s intellectual legacy; with presentations on Scripture, Theological Anthropology, Political Theology, and Theological Method.

Please register by email: kathryn.penny@stmarys.ac.uk

Conference Timetable and Additional Info

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pope Benedict XI: "The Last Testament: In His Own Words"

The Last Testament: In His Own WordsLast Testament: In His Own Words
by Pope Benedict XVI, Peter Seewald (interviewer)

Bloomsbury Continuum (November 15, 2016) 224pp.

Pope Benedict made history by being the first Pope in over 700 years to resign from office. The Catholic Church the world over was stunned. Worn out by corruption in the Church and by an endless series of clerical sex scandals, he decided that the resolution of all these problems was outside his power for a man of his age.

Last Testament is nearest to an autobiography from the shy and private man who has remained “hidden to the world” in a former convent in the Vatican gardens. He breaks his silence on issues such as:

  • The “Vatileaks” case in which his butler leaked some of his personal letters that alleged corruption and scandal in the Vatican
  • The presence of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican and how he dismantled it
  • His alleged Nazi upbringing
  • His attempts at cleaning up the “dirt in the church” (clerical sexual abuse)
  • The mysterious private secretary “Gorgeous George”
On a more personal level he writes with great warmth of his successor Pope Francis, who he admits has a popular touch, a star quality which he has lacked. Much controversy still surrounds Pope Benedict`s Papacy--in this book he addresses these controversies and reveals how at his late age, governing and reforming the Papacy and particularly the Vatican, was beyond him.

Reactions to Last Testament: In His Own Words

  • Between the End of the Old World and the Beginning of a New One: Benedict XVI’s reflections, by Andrea Gagliarducci. Monday Vatican 09/12/16:
    Benedict XVI’s “Last Conversations,” the recently published book interview with journalist Peter Seewald is not only a sort of final chapter of the Pope Emeritus’s biography – he will soon turn 90 – the book is a clue to interpreting the Church that shows once more just how few people really understand the revolutionary impact of the pontificate that preceded Pope Francis’s. It was a quiet revolution, based on a unique awareness: how necessary it is today to announce and preserve the Faith. ...
  • Benedict says he did not expect papacy, accepted it as duty to cardinals, by Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Reporter 09/08/16.
  • Benedict: Pope Francis Better at Reforming Curia, by Cindy Wooden. Catholic News Service. 09/08/16:
    "My weak point perhaps is a lack of resolve in governing and making decisions," he said. "Here, in reality, I am more a professor, one who reflects and meditates on spiritual questions. Practical governance was not my forte and this certainly was a weakness."

    Pope Francis, on the other hand, "is a man of practical reform," the retired pope said. His personality and experience as a Jesuit provincial and archbishop have enabled him to take practical organizational steps.

  • In new book, Pope Benedict XVI exudes a rare humility, by John Allen, Jr. Crux 09/08/16. "In a new book-length interview, presumably his last, with German journalist Peter Seewald, emeritus Pope Benedict XVI projects a humility rare for any world leader by candidly conceding that government was not his strong suit, despite the fact that he actually authored historic reforms."
  • Benedict reveals dissatisfaction with Paul VI's 'Humanae Vitae' National Catholic Reporter :
    "In the situation I was then in, and in the context of theological thinking in which I stood, Humanae Vitae was a difficult text for me," Benedict says in the book, to be published in the U.S. Nov. 3 by Bloomsbury under the title Last Testament: In His Own Words.

    "It was certainly clear that what it said was essentially valid, but the reasoning, for us at that time, and for me too, was not satisfactory," Benedict states.

    "I was looking for a comprehensive anthropological viewpoint," he continues. "In fact, it was [Pope] John Paul II who was to complement the natural-law viewpoint of the encyclical with a personalistic vision."

  • How Pope Francis' 'new joy' surprised Benedict XVI Catholic News Agency. 09/12/16:
    Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has said he is satisfied with the papacy of Pope Francis and sees “no contradictions” between their pontificates.

    "Yes, there is suddenly a new freshness in the Church, a new joy, a new charisma that addresses the people, which is something beautiful. Many are thankful that the new Pope now approaches them in a new style. The Pope is the Pope, it doesn’t matter who it is," Benedict said in his newly published collection of interviews.

Pope Benedict Roundup

Regensburg Revisited - The 10th Anniversary

  • Benedict the Brave: The Regensburg Address Ten Years Later, by James Day. "On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI took to the dais of the University of Regensburg’s Aula Magna to offer a few “memories and reflections.” Contrary to the resulting rebukes, the 79-year-old pontiff knew exactly what he was doing."
  • On anniversary, can we finally catch Benedict’s point at Regensburg?, by John Allen Jr. Crux 09/12/16:
    Lost in the noise, however, is the central thing to know about the Regensburg speech, to wit: It’s not really about Islam at all.

    In the 4,500-word address, Benedict devoted barely three paragraphs to the remark quoted above from Manuel II Paeologus, which he used to set up his reflections on the topic, which was “Faith, Reason and the University.” He was trying to make a point about the importance of religion never parting company with reason, and could just as easily have taken his cautionary tale from Hinduism, Buddhism, or, for that matter, Christianity.

    Benedict’s real target in the speech is the West, identifying two worrying trends he saw (and no doubt still sees) in Western thought - one inside the Christian church, and the other in the broader culture.

  • Regensburg, Ratzinger, and Our Crisis of Reason, by Dr. Samuel Gregg. The Public Discourse 09/12/16:
    Those who write the histories of the twenty-first century will, I suspect, list an address delivered at a German university on this day ten years ago as one of this century’s most important speeches. In just 4,000 words, what we now call the “Regensburg Address” managed to identify the inner pathology that is corroding much of the world, how this malignancy emerged, and what can be done to address it.

    The fact that it was the Roman Pontiff who showed how a collapse of faith in full-bodied conceptions of reason explains so much of our world’s evident disarray probably made Voltaire roll over in his grave. But Benedict XVI’s analysis—which enraged many Muslims but also drew scorn from some secular and religious progressives—didn’t emerge from a vacuum. The need to defend an understanding of reason that goes beyond the natural and social sciences has long featured in Joseph Ratzinger’s writings.

  • Regensburg Revisited: Ten Years Later, A West Still in Denial, by Samuel Gregg. Catholic World Report 08/04/16. "Irrationality not only manifests itself in violence but also in an inability to apply authentic reason to the many pressing challenges of our age."
  • Is Dialogue with Islam Possible? Some Reflections on Benedict XVI's Address at the University of Regensburg, by Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ. Ignatius Insight Editor's note: This essay was originally published on Ignatius Insight on September 18, 2006. It is republished here on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address.

Commentary