Pope in damage control mode

At today’s weekly general (public) audience, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in with remarks aimed at distancing himself from the Holocaust denials of one of the recently un-excommunicated ultra-right “Tradical” bishops. Here’s the AP account:

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he feels “full and indisputable solidarity” with Jews and warned against any denial of the full horror of the Holocaust.
Benedict spoke days he revoked the excommunication of a bishop who says no Jews were gassed during the Holocaust. The decision provoked an outcry among Jews.
“As I renew my full and indisputable solidarity with our brothers,” Benedict said, “I wish that the memory of the Shoah prompt humanity to reflect on the unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the hearts of men.” Shoah is a Hebrew word for the Holocaust.
“May the Shoah be a warning to everyone against oblivion, denials or reduction,” the pope told thousands of pilgrims at a weekly audience at the Vatican.
The Vatican had already distanced itself from comments by bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied that 6 million Jews were murdered during World War II. The Holy See said that removing the excommunication by no means implied the Vatican shared Williamson’s views.
But these were the first comments on the issue by the pope since the controversy erupted.


I’m not sure that goes far enough for the Jewish community–or many others–in light of the many other sore points out there. What is interesting is the clear pattern that has developed: Benedict says or does something that upsets a community, there is an outcry, then the generic statements of reassurance from the Vatican. There are better ways to do this, if one cares to.

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Brian Coyne

posted January 28, 2009 at 5:43 pm

I expect few people wish to deny any minority group within the umbrella of the universal church to freely follow their particular liturgies or explore their theologies (the understanding of their relationship with God and what they believe God is calling them to) without impediment from others. Most liberals, and apolitical people (those who don’t see their spirituality primarily through a political lens), I know do extend that wish to so-called conservatives and traditionalists. Most people don’t want to see anyone “shut out” of the Catholic Church. But are those sentiments reciprocated? That’s the fundamental issue here?
When Benedict and the Vatican begin showing as much concern for the roughly 86% of Catholics around the Western who today have absented themselves from the Church quietly because they no longer take what the Church says seriously — or they have this sense that the pastoral leaders of the Church show not the slightest concern for their needs — perhaps some goodwill might be extended to conciliatory gestures towards the trads and ultra-conservatives. The recent record though from the highest echelons of the Church has been this constant litany of heart-on-sleeve concern for this tiny minority and the rest of Catholic civilisation can go “jump in the creek” or “go to Hell” as far as the leaders in the Vatican are concerned. It is time for this farce to end.
When are these leaders going to learn that this constant appeasement of the 5% who believe they alone are the only ones who are “saved, or they alone are the only ones who can read “the mind of God”, is not going to re-evangelise those who have left the Church? Nor is it going to evangelise the world that has never known Jesus Christ? Nor does it live out the command of Christ given to all of us to “make disciples of ALL nations”? Where did Christ command that we should only have some concern for a tiny remnant who believe they alone are the chosen ones and the only ones who know “truth”?
When will these leaders learn? When Hell freezes over? When they only have a congregation made up of these people numbering around 5% of the potential Catholic population of the Western world? Or when they finally have to rock up and account for their stewardship and leadership of the Church to Almighty God himself?
Brian Coyne
Editor & Publisher, Catholica

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Gerard Nadal

posted January 29, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Your post is quite thought provoking, and I’d like to respectfully respond. As for background, I’m Roman Catholic, born in 1960, and old enough to have seen the changes take place in the Liturgy with the resultant alienation of many. I’ve never been to a Latin Mass and don’t know if I’m all that interested either. I grew up playing guitar at Mass and yet am respectful of the Church’s Teaching Authority, The Magisterium.
That said, I see the great common ground between the traditionalists and those others whom you say have quietly absented themselves as being a rejection of the Magisterium, though for very different reasons. The traditionalists believe that the Council Fathers in Vatican II broke with Sacred Tradition, and see themselves as the faithful remnant. In their eyes, the Magisterium polluted itself. They see themselves as actually the conservators of the Magisterium.
The others, commonly characterized as being on the ‘left’ (whatever that is) reject Magisterial teaching, mainly around secular feminist issues: contraception, abortion, gay and lesbian sex and marriage, equal rights (women’s ordination), as well as reproductive issues such as in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. Apart from the issue of women’s ordination, the rest of these issues represent a rejection of the Magisterial teaching authority regarding morality. This isn’t, to my knowledge, the case with the SSPX.
It, therefore, seems to me that it is easier to heal the schism with the SSPX, given that the Church never repudiated the Tridentine Mass in the first place. The motu proprio has gone a long way to suck the oxygen out of the schismatic fire. As Benedict has said to the Bishops throughout the Church in a 2007 letter,
“As for the use of the 1962 “missale” as a “forma extraordinaria” of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”
Rome, therefore, yielded nothing to the SSPX.
How does Rome court those who reject the moral law, without yielding on truth? This seems to me to be a more pernicious form of rebellion, as it strikes at the heart of marriage and the family.
As with the prodigal son, I believe that Rome needs to wait it out and let the wayward come to their senses. The schismatic Bishops have been coming to Joseph Ratzinger with their suffering over the schism for years, first as Cardinal, and now as Pope. It is good that he has lifted the barrier to Sacramental healing for these folks.
For those on the ‘left’, full communion is as close as the nearest Confessional.

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