NEWS:  April 29, 2006

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

IS BENEDICT WEAKENING THE PAPACY?   –   Last March Pope Benedict XVI convoked a formal meeting of the Cardinals of the Curia to decide different matters. In principle, the Cardinals exist to counsel the Pope, so, from this point of view there was nothing new about such a gathering. The Pope, however, decided to give a different slant to that meeting. When the group issued its final “collegial decision,” Ratzinger announced that henceforth the great decisions of the Church would be made in this way. “Benedict XVI announced that he will continue to meet with all the world's Cardinals, as he did last week, to address key questions in the life of the Church” reported Zenit agency (March 27, 2006).

It seems that we are heading toward a more democratic type of government in the Church, with Benedict XVI setting aside the Papal Monarchy in which the Roman Pontiff always had the last word in important matters. To advance more democratization (alias collegiality, synodality, or koinonia) would be the implementation of another point of the progressivist agenda.

Pope Ratzinger

Der Spiegel,   Internet photo

Soon afterward, in early April, Pope Ratzinger renounced the title of Patriarch of the West, which was one of the prerogatives of the Papacy. According to Msgr. Michael Magee, an expert on the meaning of these titles, the Pope as Patriarch of the West signifies that he is the one who oversees the whole Latin Church, with its own liturgy and discipline. For example, notes Msgr. Magee, as Patriarch of the West, he directly chooses the Archbishops of Paris, New York, or Vienna. But he only “confirms” the election of a Maronite Bishop by the local synod or a Bishop in the Greek Catholic Church in the Ukraine (National Catholic Reporter, April 7, 2006). When Benedict XVI renounced the title Patriarch of the West, his intent could well be to renounce this way of governing the Catholic Church, which would be another step toward finishing with the Papal Monarchy.

What comes next? John Allen (NCR, ibid.) points out that some theologians consider that this abdication opens the door for the establishment of new patriarchates in the West. One could be established in each continent in order to share the power of the Pope (ibid.). It makes sense. Again, it is more democracy being implanted in the Church. I also raised that possibility a while ago (click here). At any rate, it would seem we are moving faster toward one of the major goals of Progressivism: breaking the monarchy in the Church.

RATZINGER, ONE YEAR LATER   –   On April 19, Benedict XVI ended his first year as Pope. It is curious to see how most of the illusions of the traditionalists and conservatives have faded. In April 2005, we witnessed people of both milieus shedding emotional tears and giving enthusiastic thanks to heaven for the election of that “lion of conservatism.” How naïve this opinion was.

One year later we can read Fr. Richard McBrien’s editorial mocking those milieus for their hopes, and explaining how, to the contrary, progressivists are increasingly encouraged by the steps taken by Benedict XVI (The Tidings, April 21, 2006). He explicitly analyzes three of these actions: the choice of Archbishop William Levada to head the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the choice of the “gay-friendly” Bishop George Niederauer for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and the extremely cordial four-hour reception Benedict gave to Fr. Hans Kung, followed by a lunch and a common statement to the press.

McBrien certainly could add other points to those three. Here are several:
  • The complacent document regarding the admission of homosexuals in seminaries;

  • The visit to the synagogue of Cologne;

  • The encyclical Deus caritas est, unanimously applauded by the liberal media for not mentioning the most burning topics regarding morals – an omission that speaks of complacence with present day wrongdoings.
If one adds to this picture the lifting of the ban against condoms, admitting its use as a “lesser evil,” which seems to be coming from the Vatican, one sees that progresssivists should be increasingly happy with Ratzinger, as McBrien reports.

Fr. Hejmo, a communist spy

Fr. Hejmo, an acquaintance of JPII was named as a former communist spy by government officials - Washington Post online
TIP OF THE ICEBERG   –   In mid-March the Polish Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an official request of forgiveness to the faithful because it came to light that more than 10% of the Catholic priests acted as Communist informers in Poland, although larger numbers have been reported in some dioceses (America, April 17, 2006, p. 7). The request of forgiveness can be interpreted as an attempt to quickly hush the inconvenient question. If media investigations would mount, more names could surface revealing higher ecclesiastics who were involved. In the case of pedophile priests in the United States, we have seen how many high Prelates were covering for what was at first presented as nothing but the individual sins of priests.

It seems that in Poland an analogous cover-up of Communist informers by Prelates may have taken place, since it is known that generally speaking all the Polish Hierarchy was collaborating with the Communist regime for more than 30 years until 1989. This would explain why as soon as the Bishops acknowledged the problem, they asked Catholics to forgive and forget it. Indeed, they wrote: “But we also stress that the Christian attitude is to extend mercy and forgiveness to those who show repentance and offer recompense.”

Of course we all agree that forgiveness should be given to those who repent and make penance. But I am not sure whether this is all that the Polish Bishops are concerned about.


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