There is a spectacular examination of the recent attacks on Pope Benedict – the Pope of Christian Unity – and on the Church by a LUTHERAN theologian on a Lutheran site, Logia, a Lutheran theological journal.
It is long but worth it. Here is a bit of the beginning with my E & C.
The dictatorship of relativism strikes back—and goes nuclear
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:43
Some ecumenical thoughts at Holy Week 2010 from John Stephenson
The secular press has had it in for Joseph Ratzinger for going on three decades. Before his election as Pope in the spring of 2005, he was routinely derided in his homeland as the Panzerkardinal (“tank cardinal”) and caricatured in North America as the “Enforcer” or even the “Rottweiler.” The roots of this negative reputation stretch back at least as far as the book-length interview he granted to the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori that catapulted him to global fame when published as The Ratzinger Report in 1985. [He dared to question to liberal, modernist grip on the narrative of Vatican II and how things were going as a result of the misapplication of the Council.] Prior to that juncture, as a heavyweight German academic who had leapfrogged over a major episcopal see (Munich-Freising) to become a leading official in the Roman curia (as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) under the still new John Paul II, Ratzinger’s was hardly a household name.
But shrewd observers must wonder about [get this…] the startling disproportion between the enormous hue and cry artificially whipped up by the media and the softly spoken real life figure who seems always to have avoided hyperbole like the plague. [One of the best sentences on this controversy yet.] Even though the curial department over which he presided for almost a quarter century is the direct heir to the 16th-century Inquisition, the disciplinary measures dealt out by Ratzinger against barely a score of wildly Modernist (actually mostly apostate) theologians over more than two decades add up to a string of fairly mild censures, gentle slaps on the wrist in most cases. Hans Küng [ultra-discontinity agent and star theological punchline] lost the right to teach theology as an accredited representative of the magisterium (as his missio canonica was stripped from him), but (despite his clear disavowal of the divinity of Christ!) retained his status as an incardinated (=rostered) Roman Catholic priest, and he has, well, greatly profited in fame and fortune from his much trumpeted role as Rome’s chief dissident. Had he rather than Ratzinger landed in the chair of cardinal prefect back in the early 1980s, the media would have shown no sympathy for the advocates of traditional Christianity that a totalitarian liberal such as Küng [excellent… “totalitarian liberal”. Right! Liberals are those with whom you are “free” to agree!] would have hounded to the remotest margins of Church life; ironically, there is no more illiberal force on earth than a liberal with his hands on the levers of power. [POW! BIF!]
Moreover, when someone takes the trouble to examine Ratzinger’s huge opus over close to six decades as a professional theologian, they make the discovery that he occupies a centrist position in the constellation of modern Roman Catholic theology; he is at most mildly “conservative”, the “ultra-conservative” label routinely affixed to him by most sections of the press being sheerly laughable. [Folks… I didn’t write this… I promise you, I didn’t. I wish I had, however.]
As I set forth the Roman Catholic reality in our St. Catharines Religious Bodies (Comparative Symbolics) course, I point out the current uneasy coexistence of three groupings in that vast church body.
[I will cut this off soon… but… here is a little more.]
Modernism on the rampage (or the elephant actually destroying the living room)
In the one corner are the media-supported Modernists, those who do not acknowledge the definitive quality of God’s unsurpassable self-revelation in Christ, and who thus regard faith and practice not as givens to be handed down intact but as man-made constructs to be refashioned at whim according to the capricious desire of succeeding generations. Roundly condemned and solemnly proscribed by Pius X (1903-1914) and still held back to a great extent by Pius XII (1939-1958), the Modernists crawled out of the woodwork during the reign of John XXIII (1958-1963), and Modernism swiftly rose to a dominant position in Roman Catholic theology in, with, under, and around the (sixteen) officially promulgated documents of Vatican II (1962-1965). [OORAH!]
As a young theologian, Ratzinger attended Vatican II as a peritus (=expert) of somewhat “progressive” tendencies. By Council’s close he was uneasy over the tone and content of its last document, Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World. Shocked to the core by the virulently anti-Christian positions embraced even by theology students (led by such figures as the radical Tübingen exegete Ernst Käsemann) in the student uprisings of 1968 (Achtundsechziger [“68ers”] is an actual word in modern German), Ratzinger firmed up his centrist credentials and switched his support from the left-leaning magazine Concilium (the house organ of Küng & Co.) to the middle of the road Communio (the substitute publication of von Balthasar and friends).
Clearly, the Modernists who surged forth to theological dominance in the wake of Vatican II have never forgiven Ratzinger for his “betrayal” of their cause; in their books (literally, in the case of Küng’s interminable memoirs) he is and remains a cross between Brutus and Judas Iscariot. At least some of his media woes are attributable to the Modernists’ insatiable thirst for revenge for, say, his pointed critique of Gaudium et spes written ten years after the close of the Council. But these pages of sober commentary are surely sweet music to orthodox Lutheran ears. [Are you itching to read more?] Yes, Vatican II was infected by the dementedly schwärmerisch optimism of the Kennedy era (Principles of Catholic Theology, 372; 383). Yes, Gaudium et spes considers the “world” a positive entity, with which it seeks dialogue and cooperation with a view to building jointly with it a better global state of affairs (Principles, 379f.). Had he lived much longer, Hermann Sasse, who was careful to register both the strengths and the weaknesses of Vatican II, would surely have added his Yea and Amen to Ratzinger’s analysis of Gaudium et spes.
As they still pretend that everything in the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic garden is fine and dandy, the Modernists undoubtedly continue greatly to resent Ratzinger’s telling Vittorio Messori in the early 1980s how “we must speak …of a crisis of faith and of the Church” (Ratzinger Report, 44; “the gravity of the crisis,” 62; “in this confused period, when truly every type of heretical aberration seems to be pressing upon the doors of the authentic faith,” 105). Later in the same decade I headed the first chapter of CLD’s Eschatology volume “General Apostasy: the Sign of our Time.” Guess what? Ratzinger, the GAFCON Anglicans, and I are spot on. Might there be something slightly fishy in the direction ELCA, ELCiC, TEC (the US Episcopalians), and the Anglican Church of Canada have been heading lately? The Modernists and their media allies would much prefer that no one notice these developments.
[Fantastic…. here are his other headings.]
- The traditionalist rump
- In the centre receiving shots from both (all) sides
- By the way, the world still hates, loathes, & detests Christ and His Church!
- Christendom as a whole is under attack
- Not in the same ballpark as Leo X & Co.
HUGE WDTPRS KUDOS to John Stephenson and Logia!