In the next few weeks there will be a whole litany of accusations against the Papacy of this retiring Pope, most of which I agree with. We all know what they are. There is no need to waste ink on them. Instead I would like to present the unique contributions of his Papacy that will probably go unnoticed even by the most astute Catholic scholars. So here goes.
Since this Pope came to power I heeded the words of Hans Kung, “Let’s wait and see”. Kung was silenced and reduced to an Ecumenical theologian by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became the Pope. But what did Kung know about Ratzinger that I was missing when he made that famous remark. I call it “the second chance remark”. Well, it has taken me many years to see and understand that second chance statement.
One must first understand that Pope Benedict is one of most brilliant intellectuals in the world. Of course brilliance and ethics don’t always go together. However, he has done an end run around some of the most vexing philosophical issues of our time. He has used a three prong approach to the world of intellectuals to effect the world of the common man. The first is to the non-believer. The second is to the Protestant. And the last is to the Catholic. I will give each one an example in that order.
First to the non-believer he hits the ground running after being ordained the Bishop of Rome with an unusual book entitled, Jesus of Nazareth. Why is it so unusual? It is unusual because he does not even mention the Church in it. A Pope writing a book and not even mentioning the Church? What is going on here? It is fascinating that he makes the case that the spiritual explosion in the ancient world did not happen at Pentecost, but rather when Christ himself showed up on the scene. This is a pre-ressurection theology. And get this: The evidence he uses about Jesus being the promised Messiah is from Jewish sources who rejected him. He states categorically that the proof positive that Jesus is the ONE, is that the Jews rejected Him. How is that for a socio-philosophical twist? He subtracts the entire Gentile world from the gospel, and places Christ and his claims back into its original Judaic controversy.
Secondly, he addresses the Protestant problem with the Church of Rome by giving a speech in Vatican Square on Origen of Alexandria being a true teacher of God. What? Origen was considered a heretic. Origen’s heresy according to the Church of Rome is this: All human beings will be saved, including the devil and his fallen angels. This is called the doctrine of Trinitarian Universalism. Now what in the world is a rightwing reactionary Pope doing defending Origen? Because despite Origen’s heresy, he always remained loyal to Rome. In other words he was called a “faithful dissenter”. What this Pope is doing is out Protestant the Protestants by stating that one can have ideas even as far out as Origen, and yet remain faithful to the Rite of Rome.
Last but not least is Benedict’s emphasis on one line in the ancient Ambrosian Mass. This one line counters of all of the rotten fruit of Modernism that sought to reduce man to an animal, and not a spirit. In the Antiphonal the priest says, “The Lord be with you”. And the Responsorial coming from the parishioners used to be “and with you also”. Instead, now it is “and with your spirit”, affirming that man is a spirit, with dignity created in the image and likeness of a loving Creator, not a bunch of accidental protoplasm.
So, despite all my complaints about this Pope, somehow he has managed to pull off these 3 things of vital historical importance. It is just too bad that the rest of his Papacy was a travesty and failed miserably.
Next pope could come from outside Europe
AlJazeeraEnglish·Feb 11, 2013
With the news that Benedict the 16th is stepping down, thoughts are now turning to who his replacement might be.
A new Pope is expected to be elected by the end of March, ahead of the feast of Easter.
Some of the most likely successors come from Africa and Latin America.
Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands reports.
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