Silent No More: Benedict XVI Joins Debate over Communion for Adulterers
[UPDATE 03-DEC-2014: Ratzinger’s revised text now available online (click here)]
Approximately four weeks after the close of part one of the infamous Synod on the Family, the retired “Pope” Benedict XVI now adds some fuel to the inferno. Though he once promised to withdraw completely from ecclesiastical affairs, he somehow always manages to make himself heard whenever he so chooses, even if usually in an indirect or even cryptic way.
This time, Joseph Ratzinger has chosen to weigh in on the debate over whether public adulterers (the “divorced-and-remarried”) should be allowed to receive the Novus Ordo sacraments, which is one of the core issues currently under discussion in the Novus Ordo Sect’s ongoing synod of bishops, part two of which is scheduled to take place in October 2015.
Earlier this year, we had revealed that in 1972, the same Fr. Ratzinger had published an essay arguing that public adulterers could be admitted to the sacraments without giving up their adultery, under certain restrictive conditions:
- Ratzinger ’72: Communion for Adulterers Not Impossible
(Sept. 19, 2014 — revision of Mar. 2 original post)
In fact, “Cardinal” Walter Kasper, when addressing his fellow Novus Ordo “cardinals” in February of this year to kick off debate on this topic, made reference to this Ratzinger essay from 1972.
In Germany, the multi-volume Gesammelte Schriften (“Collected Works”) of Joseph Ratzinger are currently being published, and the most recent volume to be released is Vol. 4, which includes the infamous 1972 essay. But now it gets interesting: The essay has been revised from its original form and now draws a different conclusion, though leaving the original arguments the same.
The German Süddeutsche Zeitung has written an interesting article on Ratzinger’s reworking of his original essay. We present it in translation and also offer some more commentary, below.
The Opposing Pope
by Matthias Drobinski
It sounds as if one of those progressive theologians were writing about the Vatican’s 2014 synod on the family, where the bishops of the Catholic world just finished arguing about whether and under what conditions people who are divorced and have remarried can be admitted to the sacraments.
Yes, marriage remains indissoluble, the theologian writes. When, however, “a second marraige, over a longer period of time” has “proven itself as a moral reality” and been “lived in the spirit of the Faith”, when in the new relationship there are “moral obligations” towards the children and the wife, then “the admission to communion after a period of probation appears to be no less than just and fully in line with the Church’s Tradition.” Quite courageous, this Joseph Ratzinger from Regensburg. At least in 1972, when he wrote this essay.
Pope Benedict has revised his Conclusion
Now the article is in print again. Volume four has just been released of the collected works of the professor who became Archbishop, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and eventually Pope Benedict XVI. The essay begins on page 600 – and is completely different from the 1972 version. The Pope Emeritus has revised the conclusion, to now say the opposite, even though the preceding arguments have remained the same.
The sentence about the reception of communion by the divorced-and-remarried is gone. Instead, Benedict recommends that the Church expand the annulment process — which might determine that a marriage was invalid from the very beginning due to psychological immaturity; a second marriage would then no longer be a problem. Even without such a process the divorced should be allowed to take active roles in church committees and be permitted to become godparents.
Why Benedict’s Utterance is highly Political
Of course, Joseph Ratzinger is by no means the only person who sees things differently today than he did 40 years ago, so why shouldn’t he say so? In the case of the Pope Emeritus, however, the matter is highly political: Benedict XVI is getting involved in the present dispute about the question how the Catholic Church should deal with the faithful who have gotten a divorce. Because what he wrote in 1972 sounds almost like what Cardinal Walter Kasper, at the invitation of Pope Francis, submitted to the cardinals in the spring of 2014: In individual cases and after a period of penance, Catholics who live in a second marriage are to be admitted to the sacraments. The revision now reads like a response to his colleague and rival Walter Kasper.
This would mean that the Pope Emeritus has broken his promise not to meddle in church politics anymore. To draw a line for Pope Francis? The Freiburg theologian Eberhard Schockenhoff, who is analyzing Ratzinger’s revisions for the latest edition of the professional journal Herder-Korrespondenz, views Benedict as proposing a compromise: The admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments on a case-by-case basis does not stand “in contradiction to the general norm of the Church” for him; rather, he is merely drawing different conclusions as regards pastoral practice. This would serve to “de-amplify” the current debate.
One way or another, Benedict has discontinued his silence. The consequences remain to be seen.
[Matthias Drobinski, “Der Dagegen-Papst”, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nov. 17, 2014; our translation.]
Novus Ordo Watch Commentary:
Joseph Ratzinger has long been an extremely slick and sly enemy of the Catholic Faith. It was he who “consecrated” the hardcore liberal Bruno Forte a bishop in 2004, for which The Remnant denounced Ratzinger as “perhaps the most industrious ecclesial termite of the post-conciliar epoch, tearing down even as he makes busy with the appearance of building up” (Christopher A. Ferrara, “Ratzinger Personally Consecrates Neo-Modernist Bishop”, Feb. 2005). Forte has now played a crucial role in the synod, being the author of the controversial passages on homosexuals.
By using a veneer of orthodoxy, tradition, and intellectualism to inject the poison of Modernism into the veins of the unsuspecting, Benedict has impressed not a few well-meaning people who seek to be genuine, good, and faithful Catholics. What we see here in this latest move — the revision of his 1972 essay — is simply more of the same tactic that has proven so successful for him countless times in the past.
To revise the conclusion of his theological argumentation, without at the same time changing the arguments or the premises themselves, is disingenuous; for if the conclusion follows with necessity, it still follows, even if he tries to disguise it. On the other hand, if the conclusion does not follow with necessity but with some probability, then the conclusion is legitimate and people can still draw it today, regardless of his revision. And finally, if the conclusion does not follow at all from his arguments, he must repudiate it and explain why he made people believe for 42 years that it was an acceptable opinion.
In addition, just what is the revised conclusion Benedict now offers? According to the above article, he “recommends that the Church expand the annulment process — which might determine that a marriage was invalid from the very beginning due to psychological immaturity”! In other words, more annulments, easier annulments, are being offered as the “great solution” lest we admit adulterers to the sacraments?! This would only exacerbate the current epidemic of annulments, most of which are de facto divorces anyway, and therefore a de facto blessing of adultery. Clearly, this “solution” is no solution at all, and particularly odious to God as it seeks to cloak great evil (attacking the marriage bond) under a veil of justice and holiness (declaring the marriage bond to never have existed).
This latest maneuver on Ratzinger’s part — which is poised to get plenty of positive and one-sided coverage by the “Father” Zuhlsdorfs [ha! see here!] and Michael Vorises of the world — is yet another piece in the phony Francis-vs-Benedict war, which seems orchestrated by the Vatican II Sect in order to deliberately incite a schism or at least cause great confusion among its adherents. Somehow it appears that Benedict XVI always finds a way to make his voice heard in public at just the right time to add fuel to an already-all-consuming conflagration.
We have predicted a schism in the New Church for a while, and it seems to be coming closer to being realized with each day that passes. A “Francis Church” vs. a “Benedict Church” would lend itself to being an ideal scenario for such an intra-Novus-Ordo schism. The Bergoglian wing of the Novus Ordo Sect for the hardcore liberals; the Ratzingerian wing for the “conservative” and “Tradition-minded”. A shrewd plan, really: It would keep people inside the false Vatican II Church either way, for whether they choose the Francis or the Benedict version, they are guaranteed to unwittingly find themselves in the same anti-Catholic institution still.
In 1861, in a sermon on the deceptions of the Antichrist, the great Fr. Frederic Faber warned:
We must remember that if all the manifestly good men were on one side and all the manifestly bad men on the other, there would be no danger of anyone, least of all the elect, being deceived by lying wonders. It is the good men, good once, we must hope good still, who are to do the work of Anti-Christ and so sadly to crucify the Lord afresh…. Bear in mind this feature of the last days, that this deceitfulness arises from good men being on the wrong side.
This is why it is so absolutely essential to go by genuine Catholic principle and traditional Catholic teaching at all times, not by emotion, convenience, or wishful thinking.
“Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Mt 26:41).
UPDATE 19-NOV-2014: Publisher of Ratzinger’s Collected Works says the timing of the release of the revised 1972 essay is “pure coincidence” — see here (German)