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The torment of Pope Benedict Joseph Ratzinger retired to watch the dismantling of his legacy

The two popes. Credit: Maurix/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

The two popes. Credit: Maurix/Gamma-Rapho/Getty


December 31, 2022   5 mins

It might seem perverse to describe the death of a painfully frail 95-year-old man as a uniquely sad event. But in the case of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI we have to consider the poignant and unsettling circumstances in which he died.

I was in St Peter’s Square on 10 April, 2005, when the words “Josephum Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Ratzinger” boomed out from the loudspeakers. It was an electrifying surprise. Pope John Paul II’s Bavarian-born doctrinal chief was on everybody’s shortlist, but his reputation as the old pope’s “Rottweiler” marked him out as a partisan candidate. Not for one moment did I think the cardinals would choose him.

Well-informed Catholics knew that Ratzinger was, in fact, one of the most important theologians in the 2,000-year history of the Church. His argument that acts of sacramental worship transcended time and space emerged from an imagination endlessly refreshed by art and philosophy. But his mission to refresh the Church by recovering sacred traditions was not compatible with any change of teaching on women’s ministry or sexual minorities. Therefore many liberal Catholics — including those who were uncomfortably aware that the new Benedict XVI was the most intellectually gifted pope for centuries — made apocalyptic predictions about the coming Rottweiler papacy.

Benedict did not oblige them. Having been obliged to play the role of doctrinal enforcer by Pope John Paul, he decided to govern as a pastor and scholar. Indeed, there’s no doubt that his passion for writing interfered with his effectiveness as pope. He retreated into his study to write a biography of Jesus of Nazareth while senior curial officials swanned around the Vatican like elderly playboys in Dubai, using the contents of the world’s collection plates to buy sex and launder money. He did not attempt to conceal the activities of sex abusers in the Vatican, but his disciplinary actions were ineffective. When he discovered that the retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington was a serial abuser of seminarians, he told him to retreat to a life of prayer and then did nothing when “Uncle Ted” ignored him.

The lapidary beauty of Benedict’s encyclicals, in which he sought to capture the purifying essence of Christian love, was hard to reconcile with the debauchery of some of the world’s most influential cardinals, described in a torrent of leaks to the media.

At some point in 2012 Benedict decided that he did not have the physical strength to reform the Vatican. On 11 February 2013, he gathered together his cardinals and told them — characteristically in Latin — that he was resigning the See of Peter. He was the first pope to resign since Celestine XVI in 1294.

The shock was overwhelming, especially for traditionalist Catholics. They believed that, by removing restrictions on the celebration of the ancient Latin Mass in 2007, Benedict XVI had healed wounds created by the infantile worship forced on them since the Second Vatican Council. Ratzinger had been a theological adviser to the Council. He never repudiated its emphasis on a more accessible and open-minded evangelisation, but he came to loathe the ‘Year Zero’ philosophy of progressive Catholic who seemed to believe that Christianity itself had been reinvented at the Council.

Benedict must have been confident that his successor would develop what he called his “hermeneutic of continuity”, which reintegrated the Latin Mass and its music into the life of the Church. This rebalancing of Catholicism was essential, he believed, as a corrective to the political and cultural fashions that increasingly preoccupied liberal Catholics after the Council.

But the pope-scholar miscalculated. He seems to have hoped that the See of Peter would be occupied by Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, a moderate conservative committed to dialogue with other faiths but firmly opposed to changes to Catholic teachings on sexual morality. Instead, the cardinals — sickened by revelations of cocaine-fuelled orgies and Mafioso bribery inside the Vatican — voted for the Jesuit Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, who promised (but never delivered) fundamental changes to the Church’s government.

The new Pope Francis ostentatiously dispensed with some of the papal trimmings that Benedict loved; there would be no more red shoes, and he swiftly withdrew his hand from anyone who tried to kiss the ring on his finger. He cultivated Left-wing journalists who obligingly portrayed him as a humble yet charismatic reformer.

Meanwhile, Benedict shut himself away in a monastery in the grounds of the Vatican, no longer pope but still wearing a modified version of his white cassock and adopting the deeply confusing title of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus. On rare occasions he would write an essay or book introduction that appeared to criticise some innovation, such as the abolition of compulsory celibacy for Latin-rite priests, that Francis was encouraging the world’s bishops to debate.

But for the most part he kept his promise of silence, and there is not a single recorded instance of Benedict criticising Francis. Therefore we can only guess how the former pope reacted when his successor began to dismantle his legacy.

From the moment he became pope, Francis encouraged the Church to debate sensitive and divisive topics. As a result, the world’s cardinals were dragged into factional infighting over questions — such as women’s ordination and blessings for gay couples — that Popes John Paul and Benedict had assured them were settled for all time.

Curiously, Pope Francis always stepped back from the brink of changing the Church’s teachings, though he allowed Catholics to infer that the official line could be ignored in practice. But, eight years into his papacy, he did make one ruling that could have been designed to inflict acute humiliation on his frail predecessor. In 2021, without warning, Francis issued a partial but arbitrary and savage ban on many celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass.

Benedict said nothing, just as he remained silent while evidence accumulated that his “reforming” successor had a track record of protecting his personal allies from allegations of sexual abuse. He could not do so without breaking his vow of silence and thereby encouraging Catholic conspiracy theorists who believed that Benedict had never really resigned.

Of course, Benedict had only himself to blame for this rumour. Even among conservative cardinals there was a consensus that he should have reverted to his original name and dressed in black, not white. There was an even stronger consensus that Pope Benedict should not have resigned as early as he did. But that, of course, was informed by the wisdom of hindsight.

Few people expected Bergoglio, a front-runner in 2005, to succeed in 2013, and even fewer expected Francis’s pontificate to re-open so many of the wounds that Benedict tried to heal in an unexpectedly gentle and tactful manner. (If Catholic journalists had done some detailed research into Bergoglio’s oddly tormented relationship with the Church in Argentina, they might have predicted some of the ensuing chaos, but they chose not to.)

The sorrow at Benedict XVI’s death and the celebration of his pontificate will therefore be muted; many conservative Catholics will be distracted by their efforts to suppress their anger at what they have come to think of as the self-pitying folly of his resignation.

In 2005, they witnessed an apparent miracle. The author of a series of intellectual masterpieces that offered Catholics a luminous glimpse of restored worship was elected Supreme Pontiff. Eight years later this same theological genius left the See of Peter in a helicopter, having allowed himself to be crushed by the responsibilities of his office. And then the Catholic Church fell apart. Whose fault was that?

We can be certain that Joseph Ratzinger asked himself that question many times; perhaps every day during a retirement that lasted almost a decade. What we will never know is how he answered it.


Damian Thompson is a journalist and author

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Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

“he gathered together his cardinals and told them — characteristically in Latin”.
Latin has been the lingua franca of the west for centuries and even in my youth schoolboys we’re expected to learn the basics of Latin together with the classical culture that came with it. Today it’s use marks the speaker out as a man of a past world.

Although I managed to fail my Latin O level I regret it’s passing as its use amalgamated the classical, ecclesiastical and early scientific eras leading to the classical liberal world view. We now seems to be heading into the barbarism of progressive liberalism and the return of secular dogma without the benefit of an artistic culture grounded in the celebration of some higher purpose beyond material comfort that is soon to be diminished by the demonisation of oil and the multiple benefits it has brought in that respect.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I can’t agree with you about your characterisation of our artistic culture. Superficially, yes, the arts appear to be captured by the current dogmas – as they always have been. But i can assure you, as one who practises and participates in one of the arts, there’s an underlying continuation of our spiritual exploration of what it is to be human. These aspects of current artistic practise will surface in time, and will last beyond the fads we see exhibited today. Of course, it depends whether you define “higher purpose” in terms of human spirituality or supra-human beliefs.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Unfortunately one of our best informed primary sources had this to say: “Nihil aliud inveni quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.”

Although he spoke in the early second century of the Christian Era he was all too obviously correct.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

Do you admire Pliny? Here is what else he wrote:
Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persevered I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.
Rather a murderous, bigoted brute, wouldn’t you agree? I’m not sure I would trust his judgment.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

You should devote more time to studying Roman Provincial Administration before making such an asinine comment.
It only makes you look stupid, which I am sure is NOT the case.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

You should devote more time to studying Roman Provincial Administration before making such an asinine comment.
It only makes you look stupid, which I am sure is NOT the case.

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago

If one must assert that something is “obvious,” the reader can be sure it isn’t. And “all too obvious” has the whiff of descendental moonshine

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

“descendental moonshine”
What in God’s name is that may I ask.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Alan B

“descendental moonshine”
What in God’s name is that may I ask.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

Do you admire Pliny? Here is what else he wrote:
Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persevered I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.
Rather a murderous, bigoted brute, wouldn’t you agree? I’m not sure I would trust his judgment.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago

If one must assert that something is “obvious,” the reader can be sure it isn’t. And “all too obvious” has the whiff of descendental moonshine

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I can’t agree with you about your characterisation of our artistic culture. Superficially, yes, the arts appear to be captured by the current dogmas – as they always have been. But i can assure you, as one who practises and participates in one of the arts, there’s an underlying continuation of our spiritual exploration of what it is to be human. These aspects of current artistic practise will surface in time, and will last beyond the fads we see exhibited today. Of course, it depends whether you define “higher purpose” in terms of human spirituality or supra-human beliefs.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Unfortunately one of our best informed primary sources had this to say: “Nihil aliud inveni quam superstitionem pravam et immodicam.”

Although he spoke in the early second century of the Christian Era he was all too obviously correct.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 year ago

“he gathered together his cardinals and told them — characteristically in Latin”.
Latin has been the lingua franca of the west for centuries and even in my youth schoolboys we’re expected to learn the basics of Latin together with the classical culture that came with it. Today it’s use marks the speaker out as a man of a past world.

Although I managed to fail my Latin O level I regret it’s passing as its use amalgamated the classical, ecclesiastical and early scientific eras leading to the classical liberal world view. We now seems to be heading into the barbarism of progressive liberalism and the return of secular dogma without the benefit of an artistic culture grounded in the celebration of some higher purpose beyond material comfort that is soon to be diminished by the demonisation of oil and the multiple benefits it has brought in that respect.

Steve Lynott
Steve Lynott
1 year ago

It is mildly disappointing for me to discover, via these comments on Benedict, that UNHERD seems to attract many erudite agnostic conservatives who have little depth and experience in matters of faith. I would have hoped that those who could not understand Benedict’s commitment to truth, beauty and reality. would at least have some respect for him as a human being, struggling to steer his church through the muck and absurdity of the early 21st century.

Great article, Damien.

Steve Lynott
Steve Lynott
1 year ago

It is mildly disappointing for me to discover, via these comments on Benedict, that UNHERD seems to attract many erudite agnostic conservatives who have little depth and experience in matters of faith. I would have hoped that those who could not understand Benedict’s commitment to truth, beauty and reality. would at least have some respect for him as a human being, struggling to steer his church through the muck and absurdity of the early 21st century.

Great article, Damien.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago

I confess I’m among those angered by Pope Benedict’s resignation–more than a folly, a disaster of this brilliant and holy man.

The Church in some respects might be “falling apart.” But this could be setting the stage for a regeneration. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

In fact Pope Benedict famously predicted this. He said “from a more simplified and spiritualized church, will flow great power.” And by the way “man in a totally planned world will find himself unspeakably lonely”.

Speaking of plans, despite what one reads about Pope Francis filling the ranks of the Cardinals with his allies, somehow I expect a much different sort of man will replace him. Cardinal Sarah, one hopes.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Very likely he thought he would have been long dead by now, and had he still been pope, his last few years (probably at least 6-7) would have been purgatory on earth, JPII all over again.
Hindsight is a great thing.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

I also would like Cardinal Sarah to succeed Francis. But he is already quite elderly, so I hope, if it is to happen, he will not have to wait too long.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

Very likely he thought he would have been long dead by now, and had he still been pope, his last few years (probably at least 6-7) would have been purgatory on earth, JPII all over again.
Hindsight is a great thing.

Francis Phillips
Francis Phillips
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul Hendricks

I also would like Cardinal Sarah to succeed Francis. But he is already quite elderly, so I hope, if it is to happen, he will not have to wait too long.

Paul Hendricks
Paul Hendricks
1 year ago

I confess I’m among those angered by Pope Benedict’s resignation–more than a folly, a disaster of this brilliant and holy man.

The Church in some respects might be “falling apart.” But this could be setting the stage for a regeneration. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

In fact Pope Benedict famously predicted this. He said “from a more simplified and spiritualized church, will flow great power.” And by the way “man in a totally planned world will find himself unspeakably lonely”.

Speaking of plans, despite what one reads about Pope Francis filling the ranks of the Cardinals with his allies, somehow I expect a much different sort of man will replace him. Cardinal Sarah, one hopes.

Heidi M
Heidi M
1 year ago

An excellent article of a life not often discussed and a fair look at a beloved theologian (but a poor politician). It seems most writing these days only seem to relish (gleefully) in the priest scandals of the past decades that finally came to air during his term and his inability to layout timely reforms.

Heidi M
Heidi M
1 year ago

An excellent article of a life not often discussed and a fair look at a beloved theologian (but a poor politician). It seems most writing these days only seem to relish (gleefully) in the priest scandals of the past decades that finally came to air during his term and his inability to layout timely reforms.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Surely the greatest churchman of his generation, and beatification must take place without delay.

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago

Not sure about that but we learnt with sadness of the death of the “dowager Pope” (as a priest I know used to call him). May he rest in peace.

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago

Confused by your 2 comments which seem completely at odds with each other.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob N

Guess he was trying to be ironic.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob N

Guess he was trying to be ironic.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Perhaps he can become the patron saint of cancellers? He was pretty good at ‘silencing’ or sacking theologians he disagreed with.

Yola Miryam Hurwitz
Yola Miryam Hurwitz
1 year ago

YES!!!

Mark Gourley
Mark Gourley
1 year ago

Not sure about that but we learnt with sadness of the death of the “dowager Pope” (as a priest I know used to call him). May he rest in peace.

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago

Confused by your 2 comments which seem completely at odds with each other.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

Perhaps he can become the patron saint of cancellers? He was pretty good at ‘silencing’ or sacking theologians he disagreed with.

Yola Miryam Hurwitz
Yola Miryam Hurwitz
1 year ago

YES!!!

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Surely the greatest churchman of his generation, and beatification must take place without delay.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

I find it hard to feel sympathy for a man who seemed happy to turn a blind eye or brush under the carpet the stories of abuse committed by his Priests personally. Maybe if he’d made more of an effort to tackle it I’d have some sympathy for his “legacy” being dismantled

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 year ago

I find it hard to feel sympathy for a man who seemed happy to turn a blind eye or brush under the carpet the stories of abuse committed by his Priests personally. Maybe if he’d made more of an effort to tackle it I’d have some sympathy for his “legacy” being dismantled

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago

Seems trite to emphasize the language of worship when there are so many other issues at play, and yet it is the litmus of whether the Church is historic or progressive. Its suppression says more about the direction of travel than whether a handful of churches still offer a Latin Mass.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago

Seems trite to emphasize the language of worship when there are so many other issues at play, and yet it is the litmus of whether the Church is historic or progressive. Its suppression says more about the direction of travel than whether a handful of churches still offer a Latin Mass.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

“[His election] was an electrifying surprise.”

What? His election was widely predicted, and the fact that he was elected straight away confirmed that.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Not quite that simple a matter. He was a leading contender, but there were many at the time who were opining that the choice would be backward-looking, even Inquisitorial (see Damian’s reference to Ratzinger’s “Rottweiler” reputation), and therefore an insufficiently “forward-thinking” selection.

Mark Thomas Lickona
Mark Thomas Lickona
1 year ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Not quite that simple a matter. He was a leading contender, but there were many at the time who were opining that the choice would be backward-looking, even Inquisitorial (see Damian’s reference to Ratzinger’s “Rottweiler” reputation), and therefore an insufficiently “forward-thinking” selection.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 year ago

“[His election] was an electrifying surprise.”

What? His election was widely predicted, and the fact that he was elected straight away confirmed that.

0 0
0 0
1 year ago

“Indeed, there’s no doubt that his passion for writing interfered with his effectiveness as pope.”
Excellent point. And it tells us all we need to know about his qualifications to serve as Pope. He seemed more of a fish out of water than fisher of men and linear descendent of the original “Big Fisherman.”
Sad…sad. RIP and leb wohl, Brother Joseph. 

Last edited 1 year ago by 0 0
0 0
0 0
1 year ago

“Indeed, there’s no doubt that his passion for writing interfered with his effectiveness as pope.”
Excellent point. And it tells us all we need to know about his qualifications to serve as Pope. He seemed more of a fish out of water than fisher of men and linear descendent of the original “Big Fisherman.”
Sad…sad. RIP and leb wohl, Brother Joseph. 

Last edited 1 year ago by 0 0
Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
1 year ago

The actual tragedy is that, after the ‘most important’ theology accumulated over 2000 years, we are none the wiser. As any wild animal would tell you if it could, there is no end to suffering and ‘contradictions’ as long as there is life. If the lion were to lie down with the lamb in the garden of Eden, either both would starve or there would soon be no garden. But (as Tom Shakespeare mentioned today on BBC radio) every living thing has what the Japanese call Ikigai – a deeper more primal urge than the Cowardly Lion’s answer to the question “what puts the ‘ape’ in apricot?”. The individual ‘ikigais’, often in conflict, add up to an ‘ikigai’ of the whole. That, I think is the nearest we we will get to ‘natural’ theology, and we won’t find any theology that makes sense in our narratives, based on interests that are frequently imaginary or perverse (think of the example playing out right now in east Europe). What begins as an innovation, whether by the reported words of a prophet or the directives of an emperor, evolves into a ‘sacred’ tradition whose relevance is entirely in the number of its followers, because it cannot change except by following the herd. Yet by its nature it will resist that change, and as long as the followers are numerous or powerful enough the resistance will be effective. Inertia ensures that the next innovation, when it comes, will not arrive through tinkering.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
1 year ago

The Catholic Church died when priests could abuse children with ease and without sanction.

Every single act ever by the church in the absence of wholesale crucifixion of paedeophile priests is a hollow farce.

julianne kenny
julianne kenny
1 year ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Every institution has its abusers, we are seeing more and more. Does that mean all institutions are lost..? Benedict was an easy scapegoat. He was a servant of the church not its police. That job lay elsewhere. His mission was in part forgiveness and guidance – not judge and jury. Much as we might wish one elderly pope could sweep away all the rot in a few short years.

julianne kenny
julianne kenny
1 year ago
Reply to  Ri Bradach

Every institution has its abusers, we are seeing more and more. Does that mean all institutions are lost..? Benedict was an easy scapegoat. He was a servant of the church not its police. That job lay elsewhere. His mission was in part forgiveness and guidance – not judge and jury. Much as we might wish one elderly pope could sweep away all the rot in a few short years.

Ri Bradach
Ri Bradach
1 year ago

The Catholic Church died when priests could abuse children with ease and without sanction.

Every single act ever by the church in the absence of wholesale crucifixion of paedeophile priests is a hollow farce.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

“this same theological genius left the See of Peter in a helicopter, having allowed himself to be crushed by the responsibilities of his office. And then the Catholic Church fell apart.”

Seriously, the author doesn’t think the Catholic Church was falling apart long before Ratzinger retired? Doesn’t think that Ratzinger, and his predecessor, hadn’t been major contributors to the falling apart?

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s been falling apart ever since the time of Leonardo, whose design for the first helicopter was prescient of the revolution that was to follow the Reformation in terms of our understanding of the universe. Meanwhile, his contemporary artists found ways to circumvent the commissioned requirements of corrupt popes such as Julius II. Their depictions of humanity became increasingly viewed not through the lens of religion but the eye itself – an extension of the brain.
My reaction to the death of Benedict is therefore no more than it would be for any other very old man; a simple acknowledgement of our mortality.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

It’s been falling apart ever since the time of Leonardo, whose design for the first helicopter was prescient of the revolution that was to follow the Reformation in terms of our understanding of the universe. Meanwhile, his contemporary artists found ways to circumvent the commissioned requirements of corrupt popes such as Julius II. Their depictions of humanity became increasingly viewed not through the lens of religion but the eye itself – an extension of the brain.
My reaction to the death of Benedict is therefore no more than it would be for any other very old man; a simple acknowledgement of our mortality.

Russell Hamilton
Russell Hamilton
1 year ago

“this same theological genius left the See of Peter in a helicopter, having allowed himself to be crushed by the responsibilities of his office. And then the Catholic Church fell apart.”

Seriously, the author doesn’t think the Catholic Church was falling apart long before Ratzinger retired? Doesn’t think that Ratzinger, and his predecessor, hadn’t been major contributors to the falling apart?

alex Clelland
alex Clelland
1 year ago

The author seems to think closing debates is to be welcomed when it is this refusal to think and engage with the modern world that is leading to the decline of the church here. Francis is helping by starting debates that need to happen and a long overdue synodal process that focuses on what matters to the world. And it’s not the Latin Mass.
Ratzinger was out of step and out of touch with the world. Theology does not save people, dialogue does.

alex Clelland
alex Clelland
1 year ago

The author seems to think closing debates is to be welcomed when it is this refusal to think and engage with the modern world that is leading to the decline of the church here. Francis is helping by starting debates that need to happen and a long overdue synodal process that focuses on what matters to the world. And it’s not the Latin Mass.
Ratzinger was out of step and out of touch with the world. Theology does not save people, dialogue does.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Ratzinger and his equally revolting brother probably did more damage to the Catholic Church than anyone since TomĂĄs de Torquemada.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

That’s beyond Trumpian scale exaggeration.
But, of course, you think you know better.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

At the risk of breaching the old stricture of ‘self praise is no recommendation’, in this particular case I DO know better.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Terry M

At the risk of breaching the old stricture of ‘self praise is no recommendation’, in this particular case I DO know better.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

That’s beyond Trumpian scale exaggeration.
But, of course, you think you know better.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Ratzinger and his equally revolting brother probably did more damage to the Catholic Church than anyone since TomĂĄs de Torquemada.