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[Catholic Caucus] "The Death of Benedict XVI: The Failure of the Hermeneutic of Continuity"
Rorate Caeli ^ | January 27, 2023 | Côme de Prévigny

Posted on 01/27/2023 8:06:57 AM PST by ebb tide

[Catholic Caucus] "The Death of Benedict XVI: The Failure of the Hermeneutic of Continuity"

Much has been said about Benedict XVI in recent weeks. The major newspapers, not very complacent, have recalled that he was called "panzercardinal" when he was the Pope's guarantor of dogma. The more conservative media hailed him as the architect of liturgical pacification, the one who had the merit of publishing the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. Perhaps we forget that with his death, a real page in the history of the Church is being turned, since with him the last great actor of Vatican II has disappeared. Even the last six surviving Council Fathers (almost one hundred years old), out of the two thousand five hundred, did not play the outsized role that he did as an expert. He attended the debates as a theological consultant to Archbishop Joseph Frings of Cologne and on many occasions lent his pen to this leading prelate. With Joseph Ratzinger also dies the last cardinal appointed under Paul VI, a key figure who took part in the great papal decisions of the last half-century, one of the eminent figures of the contemporary Church, whose role was to apply the decisions of the Fathers and then to interpret them.

An undeniable evolution

A certain discomfort, clearly visible in the evolution of his clothing, emerges in this long journey that led Benedict XVI from the enthusiasm of the reception of the aggiornamento in the 1960s to the mastery of post-conciliar excesses in the 1990s and 2000s. Originally, the man who emerged from obscurity to become the right-hand man of the very reformist Cardinal Frings longed for change in the Church. Among other things, he wrote a letter that his master addressed to Cardinal Ottaviani to strongly criticize the functioning of the Holy Office, as well as a draft conciliar text on the sources of Revelation that he elaborated with Father Karl Rahner. He collaborated with Fathers Yves Congar and Hans Kung in the editorial staff of Concilium before joining the committee of Communio, two avant-garde journals particularly critical of the Curia. He was even called by the last of these theologians to become his collaborator for some time at the University of Tübingen.

Clearly, a rupture occurred in Joseph Ratzinger's life during the 1960s and 1970s, and it is no coincidence that the man who was presented as a reformer was later perceived as a conservative. He was eager to open the Church to the world, yet he tried to limit the damage of this orientation to the point of condemning, in the name of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, some of his former theologians. He himself confided in his various works that he had been shaken by the crisis of 1968, when many of his fellow travelers lost their way in the meanders of heterodoxy.

The rest of Benedict XVI's life consisted of repairing the damage of the most radical progressivism. Obviously, his office as prefect of the dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith, heir to the Holy Office, invited him to warn against the errors of the present time, and he did not hesitate to denounce the spirit of the world that had particularly invested the Catholic ranks during the second half of the 20th century. In 1983, he published a declaration condemning Freemasonry and, the following year, an instruction warning against the dangerous deviances of liberation theology. In 2000, with the declaration Dominus Iesus, he recalled that "there is only one Christ, he has only one Body, one Bride: the one and only Catholic and Apostolic Church", thus directly counteracting the openings of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate.

A misguided council?

Joseph Ratzinger's past involvement in the work of the Council and the authority of Vatican II certainly made it impossible to question this assembly in depth, no matter how honest the German theologian's observations on the fruits of the post-Council period were. So, in order to reconcile the past and the present, he developed the thesis of a betrayed council, whose intentions had been misused, which had not explicitly wished for the damage that followed and which had been hijacked by the media. This is the famous explanation that he repeatedly presented to Rome. It probably did not take sufficiently into account the fact that the reforms of Vatican II were implemented not by journalists but, within the dioceses, by the bishops who knew full well what they had voted for in the conciliar aula.

In some ways, this vision is reminiscent of the liberal thesis that predominated in the historiography of the French Revolution in the nineteenth century, under the pen of François Auguste Mignet or Adolphe Thiers. Their idea was to say that the Revolution, good in its beginnings, virtuous in its intentions, had finally gone awry with the Terror, the popular masses having betrayed the noble ideals of the bourgeois elites. The republican and counter-revolutionary schools countered this vision by reminding us that the Revolution constituted one block whose bloody consequences had been in view since the summer of 1789. Of course, Vatican II may not have shed blood like the guillotine did, but tears were certainly wiped away all over the world, and Cardinal Suenens, an eminent figure of the Council, would not deny the analogy, he whose formula has become universally famous: "The Council is 1789 in the Church". To the balancing act of Benedict XVI in trying to harmonize the different schools of thought, however, it seems that his successor now wants to give a fairly clear answer.

An incomplete work of justice

Within the work of conciliation, we also find, in the personality of Pope Ratzinger, a desire to repair the condemnation of the traditionalists. Participating himself in the talks between the Holy See and Archbishop Lefebvre, he endeavored, from the beginning of his pontificate, to lift the condemnations that weighed on the Tridentine Mass and on the Society of Saint Pius X, as if he had disapproved of the heaviness with which the prohibitions had fallen, as if a concern for justice required these reparations. "What was sacred for previous generations remains great and sacred for us, and cannot unexpectedly find itself totally forbidden, or even considered harmful," he affirmed to the bishops of the world. On the liturgical question, it could even be said that this was the point on which he initiated the most advanced backtracking. In his 2003 letter to Dr. Barth, he explained that the juxtaposition of two rites could only be temporary and should eventually return to the tradition of the ancient rite, as if he had realized, without explicitly stating it, the limits of the reform: "In the future, the Roman Church should have only one rite; the existence of two rites is difficult for bishops and priests to manage. The Roman rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or in a popular language, but based entirely in the tradition of the ancient rite. It remains a mystery, however, why the pontiff never bothered to celebrate the traditional Mass as pope, which would have confirmed such intentions.

But on the other subjects on which the Council innovated, such as the ends of marriage, collegiality, religious freedom, ecumenism, Benedict XVI endorsed the reforms to the point of pursuing interreligious dialogue, not hesitating to renew the famous meeting of Assisi, though judged as one of the most questionable expressions of his predecessor's pontificate. On the subject of the founding principles of Catholicity, he also justified the abolition of Catholic states, turning his back on the principle of Christ's social reign over societies, as it had been understood for fifteen centuries. Yet it is this same principle of the Christian States which, in the beginning, made it possible to emerge from the era of persecution, to evangelize the world, to build belltowers in all the villages established under the gentle yoke of Christianity. And it is its abolition that has given rise to a scent of relativism marked by a generalized de-Christianization of societies and a galloping disaffection of churches. If we maintain the principles of the Council, there is therefore every reason to fear that their most disastrous consequences, as we have seen them over the past sixty years, will continue to work in the Church.

As for efforts at conciliation, the answer has been given by Pope Francis himself. By asking that the traditional missal be completely abandoned in the near future, by convening a synod on synodality to make it impossible to go back, the current pontiff wants to definitively destroy the principle of the hermeneutic of continuity that broke down on the day Benedict XVI gave up. Instead of seeking such continuity, the present Pope is rooting for the phenomenon of rupture, which is becoming perceptible in all areas of the Church. Everything that is rooted in tradition is mocked, presented as sclerotic, accused of clericalism or immobilism. Yet, all changes, all upheavals are justified, not in the name of the Tradition of the Church, synonymous with perennity, but in the name of Vatican II, symbol of creativity. It is this era of tabula rasa, initiated sixty years ago, that must be interrupted. From now on, we must pray that a pope, definitively freed from the Council and the issues linked to it, will be able to write a new page of the Church, by reaffirming the eternal principles of Catholicism.

[Originally published at Renaissance catholique]

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: benedict; hermeneutic; modernists; vcii

1 posted on 01/27/2023 8:06:57 AM PST by ebb tide
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To: Al Hitan; Fedora; irishjuggler; Jaded; kalee; markomalley; miele man; Mrs. Don-o; ...


2 posted on 01/27/2023 8:07:46 AM PST by ebb tide
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