Pope Benedict XVI - a Flawed Pontiff

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
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Benedictus XVI; born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger on 16 April 1927) is Pope emeritus of the Catholic Church, having served as Pope from 2005 to 2013.
In that position, he was both the leader of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State. 

Benedict was elected on 19 April 2005 in a papal conclave following the death of Pope John Paul II, celebrated his papal inauguration Mass on 24 April 2005, and took possession of his cathedral, the Arch-Basilica of St. John Lateran, on 7 May 2005.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Background and Youth (1927–1943)

Joseph Alois Ratzinger
Marktl am Inn - Bayern
Joseph Alois Ratzinger was born on 16 April (Holy Saturday) 1927 at 11 Schulstrasse, his parents' home in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria and baptised on the same day .
He was the third and youngest child of Joseph Ratzinger, Sr., a police officer, and his wife, Maria (née Peintner), whose family were from South Tyrol.
His father served in both the Landespolizei and the Ordnungspolizei, before retiring in 1937 to the town of Traunstein.

Georg Ratzinger
Remarkably, his elder brother Georg, who also became a priest, is still alive as of 2013.
Their sister, Maria, managed Joseph's household until her death in 1991, fulfilling a promise she made to their parents to take care of her brothers.
She never married.
Their great uncle Georg Ratzinger was a priest and member of the Reichstag.
According to his cousin Erika Kopper, Ratzinger had no desire from childhood to be anything other than a priest.

Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber
At the age of 15, she says, he announced that he was going to be a bishop, whereupon she playfully remarked, "And why not Pope ?".
An even earlier incident occurred in 1932, when Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber, Archbishop of Munich, visited the small town in which the Ratzinger family lived, arriving in a black limousine.
Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber
The future pope, then five years old, was part of a group of children who presented the cardinal with flowers, and later that day Ratzinger announced he wanted to be a cardinal, too.
"It wasn't so much the car", Georg Ratzinger told a reporter from the New York Times. "It was the way the cardinal looked, his bearing, and the knickerbockers (?) he was wearing that made such an impression on him.

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Michael von Faulhaber (March 5, 1869 – June 12, 1952) was a Roman Catholic Cardinal who was Archbishop of Munich for 35 years, from 1917 to his death in 1952. Faulhaber rejected the Weimar Republic as rooted in treason, and opposed democratic government in general. Faulhaber publicly recognized the National Socialist government of the Third Reich as legitimate, required Catholic clergy to remain loyal to the Third Reich, and maintained bridges between National Socialism and the Church. He ordained Joseph Ratzinger as a priest in 1951, and at his death he was the last surviving Cardinal appointed by Pope Benedict XV.

In 1939, aged 12, he enrolled in a minor seminary in Traunstein.
This period lasted until the seminary was closed for military use in 1942, and the students were all sent home.
Ratzinger returned to the Gymnasium (High School) in Traunstein.
During this period in the seminary, following his 14th birthday in 1941, Ratzinger was enrolled (by whom ?) in the Hitlerjugend, as membership was legally required in effect beginning 25 March 1939.
Following the seminary closure he continued required attendance with the Hitlerjugend.

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The Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) was the youth organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. It was made up of: the Hitlerjugend proper, for male youth aged 14 to 18; the younger boys' section, Deutsches Jungvolk (German Youth), for those aged 10 to 14; and the girls' section, the Bund Deutscher Mädel (the League of German Girls).

Military service (1943–1945)

In 1943, when he was 16, Joseph Ratzinger was drafted, with many of his classmates, into the Luftwaffenhelfer program.

Flack Gun
   Luftwaffenhelfer Badge
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They were posted first to Ludwigsfeld, north of Munich, as part of a detachment responsible for guarding a BMW aircraft engine plant.
Next they were sent to Unterföhring, northwest of Munich, and briefly to Innsbruck.
From Innsbruck their unit went to Gilching to protect the jet fighter base and to attack Allied bombers as they massed to begin their runs towards Munich.
At Gilching, Ratzinger served in a telephone communications post.
On 10 September 1944, his class was released from the Corps.

Fleck Boy
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Returning home, Ratzinger had already received a new draft notice for the Reichsarbeitsdienst.

The Reichsarbeitsdienst (translated to Reich Labour Service, abbreviated RAD) was a major organisation established in the Third Reich as an agency to help mitigate the effects of mass unemployment on German economy. From June 1935 onwards, men aged between 18 and 24 had to serve six months before their military service. During World War II compulsory service also included young women and the RAD developed to an auxiliary formation which provided support for the Wehrmacht armed forces.

He was posted to the Hungarian border area of Austria which had been annexed by Germany in the Anschluss of 1938.
When Hungary was occupied by the Red Army Ratzinger was put to work setting up anti-tank defences in preparation for the expected Red Army offensive.
On 20 November 1944, his unit was released from service.
Joseph Ratzinger again returned home.

Traunstein - Bayern
After three weeks passed, he was drafted into the German army at Munich, and assigned to the infantry barracks in the centre of Traunstein, the city near which his family lived.
After basic infantry training, he served at various posts around the city with his unit.
They were never sent to the front.
In late April or early May, shortly before Germany's surrender, he deserted.
Desertions were widespread during the last weeks of the war, although deserters were subject to death if caught, however, diminished morale and equally diminished risk of prosecution from a preoccupied and disorganized German military contributed to the growing wave of soldiers looking toward self-preservation.
He left the city of Traunstein and headed for his nearby village.
When the Americans arrived in the village, "I was identified as a soldier, had to put back on the uniform (?) I had already abandoned, had to raise my hands and join the steadily growing throng of war prisoners whom they were lining up on our meadow.
Ratzinger was briefly interned in a POW camp near Ulm and was released on 19 June 1945. 
He and another young man began to walk the 120 km home but got a lift to Traunstein in a milk truck. 
The family was reunited when his brother, Georg, returned after being released from a POW camp in Italy.

Priestly formation (1946–1951)

Following repatriation in 1945, both Ratzinger brothers entered a Catholic seminary in Freising, and later studied at the Herzogliches Georgianum of the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.
Ratzinger and his fellow students were particularly influenced by the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Theodor Steinbüchel, Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger (September 26, 1889 – May 26, 1976) was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being". Heidegger is known for offering a phenomenological critique of Kant. He wrote extensively on Nietzsche and Hölderlin. Heidegger's influence has been far reaching. Heidegger is a controversial figure, largely for his affiliation with National Socialism, for which he neither apologized nor expressed regret.

The young Ratzinger saw the last three in particular as a break with the dominance of Neo-Kantianism, with the key work being 'Steinbüchel's Die Wende des Denkens'.
By the end of his studies he was drawn more to the active Saint Augustine than to Thomas Aquinas, and among the scholastics he was more interested in Saint Bonaventure.

Ordination Mass - 29 June 1951
Ordination Mass - 29 June 1951
On 29 June 1951, the brothers, along with other seminarians from Traunstein seminary, were ordained in Freising by Cardinal Faulhaber of Munich.
Ratzinger's dissertation (1953) was on Augustine, entitled "The People and the House of God in Augustine's Doctrine of the Church", and his Habilitationsschrift (a dissertation which serves as qualification for a professorship) was on Bonaventure.
It was completed in 1957 and he became a professor of Freising college in 1958.

Academic Career: 1951–77

Ratzinger became a professor at the University of Bonn in 1959, his inaugural lecture was on "The God of Faith and the God of Philosophy".

University of Münster
In 1963, he moved to the University of Münster.
During this period, he participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962–65) and served as a peritus (theological consultant) to Cardinal Frings of Cologne.
He was viewed during the time of the Council as a reformer, cooperating with theologians like Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx.

Hans Küng
Hans Küng (born 19 March 1928) is a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and author. Since 1995 he has been President of the Stiftung Weltethos. Küng identifies himself as "a Catholic priest in good standing", but the Vatican has rescinded his authority to teach Catholic theology. In 1979, he had to leave the Catholic faculty, but remained at the University of Tübingen as a professor of ecumenical theology, serving as an emeritus professor since 1996. Although Küng is not officially allowed to teach Catholic theology, neither his bishop nor the Holy See have revoked his priestly faculties.

Ratzinger became an admirer of Karl Rahner, a well-known academic theologian.

Karl Rahner, SJ
Karl Rahner, SJ (March 5, 1904 – March 30, 1984), was a German Jesuit priest and theologian who is considered one of the most influential Roman Catholic theologians of the 20th century. Before the Second Vatican Council, Rahner was associated with an emerging school of thought called the 'Nouvelle Théologie', elements of which had been condemned in the encyclical 'Humani Generis' of Pope Pius XII. Subsequently, however, the Second Vatican Council was much influenced by his theology and his supposed understanding of Catholic faith.

In 1966, Ratzinger was appointed to a chair in dogmatic theology at the University of Tübingen, where he was a colleague of Hans Küng.
In his 1968 book 'Introduction to Christianity', he wrote that the Pope has a duty to hear differing voices within the Church before making a decision, and he downplayed the centrality of the papacy.
During this time, he distanced himself from the atmosphere of Tübingen and the Marxist leanings of the student movement of the 1960s that quickly radicalised, in the years 1967 and 1968, culminating in a series of disturbances and riots in April and May 1968.
Ratzinger came increasingly to see these, and associated developments, (such as decreasing respect for authority among his students) as connected to a departure from traditional Catholic teachings.
Despite his reformist bent, his views increasingly came to contrast with the liberal ideas gaining currency in theological circles.
Some voices, among them Küng, deem this a turn towards conservatism, while Ratzinger himself said in a 1993 interview, "I see no break in my views as a theologian over the years".
Ratzinger continued to defend the work of the Second Vatican Council, including 'Nostra Aetate', the document on respect of other religions, ecumenism, and the declaration of the right to freedom of religion.
Later, as the Prefect for the 'Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith', Ratzinger most clearly spelled out the Catholic Church's position on other religions in the 2000 document 'Dominus Iesus', which also talks about the Roman Catholic way to engage in "ecumenical dialogue". 

Bibliothek der Universität Tübingen
Paul Bonatz
During his time at Tübingen University, Ratzinger published articles in the reformist theological journal 'Concilium', though he increasingly chose less reformist themes than other contributors to the magazine such as Küng and Schillebeeckx.

Universität Regensburg
In 1969, he returned to Bavaria, to the Universität Regensburg, and co-founded the theological journal 'Communio', with Hans Urs von Balthasar, Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper and others, in 1972.
'Communio', now published in seventeen languages, including German, English and Spanish, has become a prominent journal of contemporary Catholic theological thought.
Until his election as pope, he remained one of the journal's most prolific contributors.
In 1976, he suggested that the 'Augsburg Confession' might possibly be recognised as a Catholic statement of faith.

\Wappen Heiliges Römisches Reich
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Lutherische Kreuz
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The Augsburger Konfession is the primary confession of faith of the Evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, and one of the most important documents of the Lutheran Reformation. The Augsburger Konfession was written in both German and Latin and was presented by a number of German rulers and free-cities at the Reichstag zu Augsburg on 25 June 1530. The Heilige römische Kaiser Karl V had called on the Fürsten und freien Gebiete in Deutschland to explain their religious convictions in an attempt to restore religious and political unity in the Holy Roman Empire and rally support against the Turkish invasion. It is the fourth document contained in the Lutheran 'Book of Concord'.

Several of Benedict's former students became his confidantes, notably Christoph Schönborn, and a number of his former students sometimes meet for discussions.
He served as Vizepräsident of the Universität Regensburg from 1976 to 1977.

Archbishop of Munich and Freising: 1977–82

Palais Holnstein
Residenz des Erzbischofs von München
On 24 March 1977, Ratzinger was appointed Erzbischof (Arch-Bishop) von München und Freising.
He took as his episcopal motto 'Cooperatores Veritatis' from 3 John 8, a choice he comments upon in his autobiographical work, 'Milestones'.
In the consistory of the following 27 June, he was named Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria Consolatrice al Tiburtino by Pope Paul VI.
By the time of the 2005 Conclave, he was one of only 14 remaining cardinals appointed by Paul VI, and one of only three of those under the age of 80.
Of these, only he and William Wakefield Baum took part in the conclave.

Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: 1981–2005

Ratzinger as Cardinal
On 25 November 1981, Pope John Paul II named Ratzinger as the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the "Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office", the historical Roman Inquisition.
Consequently, he resigned his post at Munich in early 1982.
He was promoted within the College of Cardinals to become Cardinal Bishop of Velletri-Segni in 1993 and was made the college's vice-dean in 1998 and dean in 2002.
Just a year after its foundation in 1990 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger joined the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in Salzburg in 1991.
Ratzinger defended and reaffirmed Catholic doctrine, including teaching on topics such as birth control, homosexuality and inter-religious dialogue.

Leonardo Boff - 'Marxist'
The theologian Leonardo Boff, for example, was suspended, while others were censured.

Leonardo Boff is a Brazilian theologian and writer, known for his active support for the rights of the poor and excluded.  Authorities in the Roman Catholic Church did not appreciate Boff's criticism of the Church's leadership.  They also accused him of Marxism. In 1985, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith silenced him for a year for his book Church: 'Charism and Power'.He later, quite unjustifiably. accused Ratzinger of "religious terrorism".

Anthony de Mello
Other issues also prompted condemnations or revocations of rights to teach: for instance, some posthumous writings of Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello were the subject of a notification.

Anthony de Mello (4 September 1931, Bombay, British India – 2 June 1987, New York City) was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. A writer and public speaker, de Mello hosted many spiritual conferences. Eleven years after de Mello's death, in 1998, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith conducted a review of de Mello's work and released a lengthy comment expressing their theological concerns, stating that some of his positions were 'incompatible with the Catholic faith'.

Ratzinger and the congregation viewed many of them, particularly the later works, as having an element of religious indifferentism (i.e., Christ was "one master alongside others").
In particular, 'Dominus Iesus', published by the congregation in the jubilee year 2000, reaffirmed many recently "unpopular" ideas, including the Catholic Church's position that "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
The document angered many Protestant churches by claiming that they are not actually churches, but "ecclesial communities".
Ratzinger's 2001 letter 'De delictis gravioribus' unwisely clarified the confidentiality of internal church investigations, as defined in the 1962 document 'Crimen Sollicitationis', into accusations made against priests of certain crimes, including sexual abuse.
This became a target of controversy during the sex abuse scandal.
As a Cardinal, Ratzinger had been for twenty years the man in charge of enforcing the document.
Archbishop Ngo Dinh Thuc
While bishops hold the secrecy pertained only internally, and did not preclude investigation by civil law enforcement, the letter was often seen as promoting a cover up.

Later, as pope, he was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to cover-up the molestation of three boys in Texas, but sought and obtained diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
On 12 March 1983, Ratzinger, as prefect, notified the lay faithful and the clergy that archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc had incurred excommunication 'latae sententiae' for illicit episcopal consecrations without the apostolic mandate.
In 1997, when he turned 70, Ratzinger asked Pope John Paul II for permission to leave the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith, and to become an archivist in the Vatican Secret Archives, and a librarian in the Vatican Library, but Pope John Paul ll refused to give his assent.

Election to the Papacy

Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected the 265th pope at the age of 78.
He is the oldest person to have been elected pope since Pope Clement XII (1730–40).
He served longer as a cardinal before becoming Pope than any Pontiff since Benedict XIII (1724–30).
He was the ninth German pope, the eighth having been the Dutch-German Pope Adrian VI (1522–23) from Utrecht.
The last pope named Benedict was Benedict XV, an Italian who reigned from 1914 to 1922, during World War I (1914–18).
While Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger repeatedly stated he would like to retire to his house in the Bavarian village of Pentling near Regensburg, and dedicate himself to writing books.

Papal Conclave - Sistine Chapel - Rome
In 2005 an Conclave was convened to elect a new Pope.
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a new Bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope.
The pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican serves as the location of the election.
Popes have often fine-tuned the rules for the election of their successors: Pope Pius XII's 'Vacantis Apostolicae Sedis' of 1945 governed the conclave of 1958, Pope John XXIII's 'Summi Pontificis Electio' of 1962 that of 1963, Pope Paul VI's 'Romano Pontifici Eligendo' of 1975 those of 1978, and John Paul II's 'Universi Dominici Gregis' of 1996 that of 2005.
Under 'Universi Dominici Gregis', the cardinals are to be lodged in a purpose-built edifice, the 'Domus Sanctae Marthae', but are to continue to vote in the Sistine Chapel.

Fumata bianca
The fumata nera is the announcement to the outer world by a conclave that a Papal election was not decisive, by means of burning the ballots together with straw or chemicals to produce black smoke.
Fumata bianca announces that the conclave is over because a Pope was elected.
The Cardinal Dean then asks the pope-elect if he assents to the election, saying in Latin: "Acceptasne electionem de te canonice factam in Summum Pontificem ?" 
There is no requirement that the pope-elect do so, and he is free to say "non accepto
On 19 April 2005, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger was elected on the second day, after four ballots.
Ratzinger had hoped to retire peacefully, and said that "At a certain point, I prayed to God 'please don't do this to me'...Evidently, this time He didn't listen to me."
19 April is also the feast of St. Leo IX, the most important German pope of the Middle Ages, known for instituting major reforms during his pontificate.
Before his first appearance on the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica, he was announced by Jorge Medina Estévez, Cardinal Proto-Deacon of the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI 
Cardinal Medina Estévez first addressed the massive crowd in Italian, Spanish, French, German and English, with each language receiving cheers from the international crowd, before continuing with the traditional 'Habemus Papam' announcement in Latin.

At the balcony, Benedict's first words to the crowd, given in Italian before he gave the traditional 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing in Latin, were:

'Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side.'

On 24 April, he celebrated the Papal Inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square, during which he was invested with the Pallium and the Ring of the Fisherman.

Arch-Basilica of St. John Lateran
Then, on 7 May, he took possession of his cathedral church, the Arch-Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Ratzinger chose the pontifical name Benedict, which comes from the Latin word meaning "the blessed", in honour of both Pope Benedict XV and Saint Benedict of Nursia.
Pope Benedict XV was pope during the First World War, during which time he passionately pursued peace between the warring nations.
St. Benedict of Nursia was the founder of the Benedictine monasteries (most monasteries of the Middle Ages were of the Benedictine order) and the author of the Rule of Saint Benedict, which is still the most influential writing regarding the monastic life of Western Christianity.
The Pope explained his choice of name during his first general audience in St. Peter's Square, on 27 April 2005:

'Dictatorship of Relativism'

Continuing what he said in the pre-conclave Mass about what he often referred to as the "central problem of our faith today", on 6 June 2005 Pope Benedict also said:

'Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism, which, recognising nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.
And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own ego.

He said that "a dictatorship of relativism" was the core challenge facing the church and humanity.
At the root of this problem, he said, is Kant's "self-limitation of reason".

Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant ( 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher who is widely considered to be a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human concepts and categories structure our view of the world and its laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics. Kant's major work, the 'Kritik der reinen Vernunft', 1781), aimed to bring reason together with experience, and to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics.

This, he said, is contradictory to the modern acclamation of science, whose excellence is based on the power of reason to know the truth.
He said that this self-amputation of reason leads to pathologies of religion, such as terrorism and pathologies of science such as ecological disasters.
Benedict traced the failed revolutions and violent ideologies of the 20th century to a conversion of partial points of view into absolute guides.
He said "Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism."
In an address to a conference of the Diocese of Rome held at the basilica of St. John Lateran 6 June 2005, Benedict remarked on the issues of same sex marriage and abortion:
The various forms of the dissolution of matrimony today, like free unions, trial marriages and going up to pseudo-matrimonies by people of the same sex, are rather expressions of an anarchic freedom, that wrongly passes for true freedom of man...from here it becomes all the more clear how contrary it is to human love, to the profound vocation of man and woman, to systematically close their union to the gift of life, and even worse to suppress or tamper with the life that is born.

"Beauty of the Liturgy"

The core project of Benedict's pontificate was his counter-reform of the liturgy.

Beauty of the Liturgy

Even at his first World Synod of Bishops, debate centred on the chronology, form and sequence of the Eucharist.

For Benedict, the church crisis is a crisis of the liturgy as well.
He is trying to preach a message, not sell it.
He is more interested in establishing the truth than marketing the doctrine in a glitzy campaign. 

Beauty of the Liturgy

As a child, he himself had found faith in the "beauty of the liturgy," back when people still prayed on their knees, and the children rattled off responses in Latin.

If the Latin Mass (which - please note, was never formally prohibited) is now resurrected, this should not be done solely to win back the traditionalists.
The dramatization of the sacred - Gregorian chants, billowing incense, ritual formulas murmured in Latin, the whole marvellous mystery play - is a unique, and should not be thoughtlessly cast aside.
The second reform concerns ostpolitik in its ecumenical guise.
A dialogue with the Eastern Orthodox Christians was far more important to Pope Benedict than debating with the Anglicans or the Protestants - not least because Patriarch Alexi II, for one, now presides over a veritable national church.

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Theology of Pope Benedict XVI

The theology of Pope Benedict XVI, as promulgated during his pontificate, consists mainly of three encyclical letters on love (2005), hope (2007), and "charity in truth" (2009), as well as apostolic documents and various speeches and interviews.
Benedict's theology underwent developments over the years, many of which were characterized by his leadership position in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (see above), which is entrusted with preserving the Catholic faith in its entirety.
His theology originated in the view that God speaks to us through the Church today, and not just through the Bible.
The Bible is not a natural science textbook, but rather it is the essential testimonial of God’s revelation.
One cannot get from it a scientific explanation of how the world arose; one can only glean religious experience from it.
Thus Scripture would not wish to inform us about how the different species of plant life gradually appeared or how the sun and the moon and the stars were established.
Its purpose ultimately would be to say one thing: 'God created the world'.
The world is not a chaos of mutually opposed forces; nor is it the dwelling of demonic powers from which human beings must protect themselves, rather, all of this comes from one power, from God's eternal Reason, which became - in the Word - the power of creation.
All of this comes from the same Word of God that we meet in the act of faith.
The Bible was written to help us understand God's eternal Reason.
The Holy Scripture in its entirety was not written from beginning to end like a novel or a textbook.
It is, rather, the echo of God's history.
The Bible is constantly re-adapting its images to a continually developing way of thinking.
In this way, a gradual and interactive process reveals something deeper and greater. 
Ratzinger held that God reveals and revealed himself in history, and throughout history, and not just once to the authors of the Bible.
His theology on revelation was discussed during Second Vatican Council.
In Rome he continued the view that revelation, meaning God communicates with us, is always more than can be expressed in purely human words.
God’s revelation is not a big cold stone fallen from heaven many years ago, a stone which only needs to be dissected and analyzed.
God has a living message to us.

'I refer to what might be called Christian positivism. Christian belief is not merely concerned with the eternal, the “totally other”, … on the contrary, it is much more concerned with God in history, with God as man. By thus seeming to bridge the gulf between eternal and temporal, between visible and invisible, by making us meet God as man, the eternal as the temporal, as one of us, it knows itself as revelation.'
Joseph Ratzinger, 'Introduction to Christianity', 1979, p. 27

The ongoing revelation of God is also the reason why Pope Benedict XVI puts so much emphasis on sacred liturgy, and why he abhorred often tasteless experiments with it.
To him the crisis of the Church is a crisis of the liturgy, in which clergy and community too often back-slap and celebrate each other and themselves, almost as if God did not exist.
There is more and more a tendency today, to resolve the Christian religion completely into brotherly love, fellowship, and not to admit any direct love of God or adoration of God... 

'It is not difficult to see, ... how this at first sight very attractive conception fails to grasp not only the substance of Christianity but also that of true humanity. Brotherly love that aimed at self-sufficiency would become for this very reason the extreme egoism of self-assertion.
Joseph Ratzinger (1979)

To Pope Benedict XVI, liturgy means openness to God, community of faith, worldwide unity with the Church and its history; it means “celebrating the mystery of the living God”.
To get there, Ratzinger calls for a revolutionary liturgical movement.
Pope John Paul II and Benedict have strongly opposed liberation theology as a political movement.
Benedict is a theologian in an orthodox vein.
His theology aims at a synthesis of Thomism, philosophical personalism (with such proponents as Martin Buber, John Paul II - tempered however by phenomenology, and, more recently, Leon Kass) and the 'Nouvelle Théologie' of Henri de Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

Saint Thomas Aquinas
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, his disputed questions and commentaries on Aristotle are perhaps his most well-known works. In theology, his 'Summa Theologica' is one of the most influential documents in medieval theology, and continues to be the central point of reference for the philosophy and theology of the Catholic Church. In the encyclical 'Doctoris Angelici' Pope Pius X cautioned that the teachings of the Church cannot be understood without the basic philosophical underpinnings of Thomas' major concepts.

This is a sharp contrast with the school of thought, until recently ascendant in the theological academies of Europe and the United States, represented by the now outmoded Karl Rahner, (see above) Hans Küng (see above), and Edward Schillebeeckx.

Edward Schillebeeckx
Edward Cornelis Florentius Alfonsus Schillebeeckx (12 November 1914 – 23 December 2009) was a Belgian Roman Catholic theologian born in Antwerp. He taught at the Catholic University in Nijmegen. He was a member of the Dominican Order. His books on theology have been translated into many languages.  Despite three investigations with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the writings of Schillebeeckx were never condemned, although they are extremely suspect.

Karl Marx
With regard to politics, Ratzinger has condemned Communism, Marxism, and unbridled capitalism by saying, "We must coordinate the free market with the sense of responsibility of one towards the other."

Marxism is a method of socio-economic analysis and world-view based on a materialist interpretation of historical development, a dialectical view of social transformation, and an analysis of class-relations and conflict within society. Marxist methodology informs an economic and socio-political enquiry applying to the analysis and critique of the development of capitalism and the role of class struggle in systemic economic change. Marxism is incompatible with orthodox Roman Catholic doctrine

He has repeatedly criticized the materialization of life and the "greed society".


Benedict has been described as prissy and fastidious, with an effeminate voice, a fixation on liturgy and ritual (see above), and clothing accessories which seem to be somewhat 'camp.. 
In addition, some have suggested that his theology seems to be crafted from solitary introspection into a perfect, abstract unity of belief.
It is so perfect, that it reflects a life of withdrawal from the world of human relationship, rather than an interaction with it.
Of course, this kind of work is not inherently homosexual; but it is a fact that many repressed gay men can only live without severe pain in the world if they create a perfect abstraction of what their world it is, and what their role is in it.
Unfortunatel to many Benedict appears as a geriatric clothes horse, and some have even asserted that he is “simply the most repressed, imploded gay in the world.
And of course Ratzinger’s command that gay priests should actively lie about their orientation makes many of these rumours seem credible.

Georg Gaenswein, and Benedict
Shortly after his 1992  Ratzinger met Georg Gaenswein, a young Bavarian priest who would become his personal secretary.
Gaenswein unfortunately, is a remarkably handsome, typically and ideally 'Aryan' individual
Gaenswein and Benedict, both Bavarians, apparently are in each others company almost  all day; -  they even take an afternoon nap at the same time.
They eat together and pray together, so one speculates whether they share a chaste love for each other as well.
Gaenswein has said, “I know who the Holy Father is and so I know how to behave appropriately. There are always some situations, however, when the heart beats a little stronger than usual.”

Wappen der Titular-Erzbischof von Urbs Salvia
Georg Gänswein
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013
Georg Gänswein (born 30 July 1956) is a German Archbishop of the Catholic Church, Chaplain of His Holiness, Prefect of the Papal Household and the personal secretary of the pope-emeritus, Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Gänswein is fluent in both speaking and writing Italian, Spanish, German and Latin. Gänswein was born in Riedern am Wald, Waldshut, Baden-Württemberg, a village in the Black Forest and part of Ühlingen-Birkendorf municipality in Germany, as the eldest son of Albert Gänswein, a blacksmith and his wife Gertrud. He has two brothers and two sisters. In January 2007, Italian artist and fashion designer Donatella Versace used Gänswein as the inspiration for her Fall 2007 "Clergyman Collection", therein boosting popular recognition of Gänswein's nickname as being 'Bel Giorgio' (Gorgeous George)

But perhaps this is all just vicious innuendo.


Such rumours should not, however, affect our assessment of this outstanding Pope.

Benedict should be remembered for his espousal of traditional Roman Catholic doctrine, his support for the orthodox Roman liturgy, and his attempts to preserve the sacred traditions

of the Universal Church.
So why has it been suggested that he was a flawed Pontiff ?
Undoubtedly, his greatest mistake was his resignation.
The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI occurred on 28 February 2013.

The resignation was first announced on the morning of 11 February 2013 by the Vatican.
Benedict's decision to step down as leader of the Catholic Church made him the first pope to relinquish the office since Pope Gregory XII in 1415 (who did so in order to end the Western Schism), and the first to do so on his own initiative since Pope Celestine V in 1294.
The move was unexpected, given that the modern era popes have held the position from election until death.
The Pope stated that the reason for his decision was his declining health due to old age, (although even now he appears to be in perfectly good health for a man of his age).
The conclave to select his successor began on 12 March 2013 and elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina who took the name of Francis.
Pope Benedict XVI will not have the title of Cardinal upon his retirement, and will not be eligible to hold any office in the Roman Curia.
Upon the Pope's resignation his style and title are His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff Emeritus or Pope Emeritus.
He will keep wearing his distinctive white cassock, without the mozzetta, and without the red papal shoes, opting to wear a pair of brown shoes he received during a state visit to Mexico. The Cardinal Camerlengo destroyed the 'Ring of the Fisherman' and the lead seal of the pontificate.

Castel Gandolfo
Swiss Guard
Benedict took up residence in the Papal Palace in Castel Gandolfo immediately following his resignation.

As the Swiss Guard serves as the pope's personal body guard, they terminated their service at Castel Gandolfo with the coming into effect of Benedict's resignation.
The Vatican Gendarmerie, ordinarily providing for the security of the Papal summer residence, became solely responsible for the personal security of the former Pope.
Following a renovation, Benedict moved permanently to Vatican City's 'Mater Ecclesiae', a monastery previously used by nuns for stays of up to several years at a time, on 2 May 2013.
By resigning Bebedict has deprived the Roman catholic Church of his invaluable leadership, and may well have opened the way for disruptive elements to further destabilise the Church in terms of doctrine, organisation and liturgy.
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2013

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