Greatest Pope that should have Been
Pope Benedict died this
morning at 9:34 A.M (CET) December 31st, 2022.
Please pray for him in the Communion of
Saints in which we, as Catholics, live our lives in Christ.
Pope Benedict was undoubtedly one of the great intellects and luminaries
of our age — a brilliant mind only exceeded by his genuine humility.
He embraced all his children ... in stark contrast to Francis
who embraces only those who find favor with him, who share his ... ideology.
In this sense Pope Benedict XVI was a father to all his spiritual children.
Gentle, kind, and courteous in a way foreign to this age; in this respect
he was an exemplar to all of us.
This is not to say that his pontificate was flawless. On the one hand,
he gave us the motus proprio
that restored to us the Mass of the Ages as it had been celebrated
in Latin for 2000 years. That it had been torn from us in a fiat
by Pope Paul VI and Vatican II was, in our estimation, tantamount to
ecclesiastical suicide; if not, then at the very least a criminal and
sectarian coup by Modernists.
Restoring what had been illegitimately taken from us was an act of
justice. That it would later be torn from us yet again
by Bergoglio (Francis) was an unconscionable act of pontifical pillage.
It was unjust and remains unjust. But after the madness and the almost
universal desecration of all things historically and intrinsically Catholic,
it was for a brief time the restoration of sanity to the Mass. And how
it thrived! But this was to the consternation of Francis ... who famously
argued that his predecessors had failed to vigorously implement the
“effluence” (no, not influence) of Vatican II, and that he alone
the humility and ambition to do so” — failing to recognize that
humility and ambition are not compatible.
The gift was great but not irrevocable.
What is more, Pope Benedict had fallen into the same ecumenical nonsense
that his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had fallen into on Oct. 27,
1986, as we witnessed, yet again, the pan-ecumenical scandal in
Assisi on June 19, 2011.
Two years later, we would be astounded to find that Pope Benedict had
tendered his resignation from the papacy on February 11, 2013, and his
subsequent — and never-before-conferred title as “pope-emeritus” — was
and disheartening for many, many Catholics. To further confuse the
faithful, he was still addressed as “Your Holiness”, the title reserved
for a reigning pontiff. For the first time is history since the Avignon
papacy and the Great Western Schism in the 14th century when
there were two claimants to the papacy, we apparently had two popes
living in Rome. The confusion and disappointment was compounded each
year — for 10 years — by Benedict’s remaining a “pope-emeritus”; time
he could have spent correcting the wayward course of the Church
instead of abandoning it (and her children) to what he surely must have
known would be a Modernist successor. And when that successor — Francis
—emerged from the shadows of the dark logia there was, according to
more than a few who witnessed it, an almost instinctual aversion to
After many, many, episodes in which Francis found himself contradicting
historical Church teaching — and Holy Scripture — and subsequently bringing
scandal upon the Church, Benedict apparently did nothing to correct
him; something many had seen as a dereliction of duty, especially in
light of Saint Paul’s example in correcting Saint Peter when he failed
to be forthright, and temporized with the Jews in Jerusalem 1.
The only other pope in history to voluntarily abdicate the Seat of Saint
Peter was Pope Celestine V in 1294, over 700 years ago. In a word, it
was unthinkable —and apart from Pope Celestine, unheard of.
Many see it, in some sense, as “Throwing the Church to the Lions” when
she was most in need of defending. Pope Benedict certainly had the mental
acuity, and, as we have seen, the physical stamina required by a
Defensor Fidei (a Defender oif the Faith) but for reasons unknown
to us, chose drop the sword and leave the arena.
Francis and Fixation, the denouement
That his reckless successor (Francis/Jorge Bergoglio) deliberately disdains
to be called “the Vicar of Christ” — or even the “Patriarch of the West,”
says much about the concept of the “hermeneutic of continuity” so often
bandied about in today’s post-Modern Church. Instead, Jorge chose to
be listed merely as “the bishop of Rome” (in what Cardinal Gerhard Müller,
called an act of “theological barbarism.)” in what is known as the
Annuario Pontificio, as
Catholic Culture points out. He eschews every identifiably Catholic
title attached to all his predecessors, including “Successor of the
Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate
of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman province, Sovereign
of the Vatican City-State.” Why such a disdainful break with the pontifical
history of the 265 popes before him? The Vatican’s explanation is entirely
in keeping with the present papacy, and the four papacies that preceded
it? In their words, doing so “could prove useful to ecumenical dialogue.”
The much-vaunted notion of the concept of the “hermeneutic of continuity”
(which purportedly connects the Church present with the Church
past — and failed to do so) is, apparently, no longer in favor.
“The pope? Oh, you mean the guy down the street?” It has become barbaric,
It may have been otherwise for the Church, but God in His inscrutable
wisdom — which does, in fact, exceed our understanding — in His permissive
will has allowed this. Even from a merely human perspective, we are
deserving of Francis, a man after our own hearts and minds, ever cleaving
more closely to the world ... and other things. We wanted holiness without
sacrifice, a god conformed to our image and articulated in terms of
the lowest common denominator — terms equally accessible to children
and adults with cognitive impairment. We have dumbed down even Dumb.
We wanted to sit in the pews with our arms lazily draped over the the
back of the pew (or perhaps stroking the back of a loved one) as though
only tolerating what was otherwise extraordinarily stupefying
— because it was. We wanted to wear our athletic uniforms, our team-shirts,
our shorts and “distressed” (torn-to-the-flesh) jeans to Mass because,
after all, we are not there for God, but God is there for us ... and
only at our leisure.
All this was a direct consequence of the perilous course that Vatican
II would subsequently take; a course for which — in collaboration with
the dissident theologians Rahner, Küng, Schillebeeckx, and de Lubac
— then Father Ratzinger was also responsible as an influential and “progressive”
Peritus, or Theological Consultant. Often in a business suit
and tie, in many ways he embodied the Nouvelle Theologie (new
theology) together with the failed project, Ressourcement (“a
return to the sources”) then in vogue, which attempted to “invigorate”
what all five theologians saw as a stale Church in need of “updating”.
Peritus as (Mr.) Ratzinger, Vatican II
(Fr.) Ratzinger and Dissident Theologian (Fr.) Karl Rahner
On the other hand, it was also entirely consistent with Benedict’s
own contribution to the replacement of the Latin Mass during Vatican
II. This may come as a surprise to many who saw in Pope Benedict a champion
of the “Tridentine Mass” and Tradition. Regrettably, he was not. Indeed,
in 1967 Ratzinger wrote the following in his volume Problemi
e risultati del Concilio Vaticano II in the Journal of Italian Theology:
“Additions [to the liturgy]
of the late Middle Ages … was linked to a set authority, which
worked in a strictly bureaucratic way, lacking any historic
vision and considering the problem of the liturgy from the sole
viewpoint of rubrics and ceremonies, like a problem of etiquette
in a saint's court, so to speak.”
“There was a complete archeologization
of the liturgy, which from the state of a living history was
changed into that of pure conservation and, therefore, condemned
to an internal death. Liturgy became once and forever a closed
construction, firmly petrified. The more it was concerned
about the integrity of pre-existent formulas, the more it lost
its connection to concrete devotions.”
“The solemn baroque mass,
through the splendor of the orchestra's performance, became
a kind of sacred opera, in which the songs of the priest had
their role as did the alternating recitals. .... On the
ordinary days that did not allow such a performance,
devotions that followed the people's mentality were often added
to the mass.”
By the time he became
pope, however, and well into the aftermath of Vatican II, he apparently
glimpsed the devastation it wrought — but by then the horse was already
out of the barn; indeed, as we have recounted, he had been instrumental,
much earlier, in building the barn and opening the door.
In many ways, Joseph
Ratzinger was the surpassing and ultimately heroic pope ... that
should have been.
Requiem aeternam dona
ei Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei.
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Comments? Write us:
1 Galatians. 2.11-15
https://www.queriniana.it/libro/problemi-e-risultati-del-concilio-vaticano-ii-1792 Our grateful acknowledgement to
Tradition in Action for the translation into English (https://traditioninaction.org/ProgressivistDoc/A_068_RatzMass.htm)
By the time he became pope, however, and well into the aftermath
of Vatican II, he apparently glimpsed the the devastation it wrought
— but by then the horse was already out of the barn; indeed, as we have
recounted, he had been instrumental, much earlier, in building the barn
and opening the door.
In many ways, Joseph Ratzinger was the surpassing and ultimately heroic
pope ... that should have been.
Requiem aeternam dona ei Domine, et lux perpetua
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
Write us: email@example.com
1 Galatians. 2.11-15
Totally Faithful to the
Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to the Holy
See in Rome
opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum
Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum”
know your works ... that you have but little power, and
yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name.”
Copyright © 2004 - 2023 Boston Catholic
Journal. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, permission
is granted by the Boston Catholic Journal for the copying
and distribution of the articles and audio files under the
following conditions: No additions, deletions, or
changes are to be made to the text or audio files in any
way, and the copies may not be sold for a profit. In the
reproduction, in any format of any image, graphic, text,
or audio file, attribution must be given to the Boston Catholic