Not accommodating enough to the Talmudists…
Benedict XVI and the Jews:
New Ratzinger Essay on Judaism causes Controversy
In his self-created role as the “contemplative member” of an “expanded papacy”, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger — aka “Pope Emeritus” Benedict XVI — has a lot of time on his hands these days, and he uses some of it to write on theological matters.
Back in 1972, Fr. Ratzinger was very busy with a lot of things, such as arguing for the permissibility of public adulterers to receive Holy Communion in “individual cases”. At the time he also co-founded the theological journal Communio, together with such unsavory characters as Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar, Fr. Karl Lehmann, and others.
Last year, the “Pope Emeritus” penned a theological essay on apostate Judaism which he sent privately to “Cardinal” Kurt Koch. Koch is currently the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, meaning he is the head of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, which, interestingly enough, also oversees the Novus Ordo Sect’s interreligious efforts with regard to the Jews. Although it was not meant for public consumption, Koch persuaded Ratzinger to submit his article for publication in Communio, where it was printed in the July/August 2018 issue (pp. 387-406).
The Austrian Novus Ordo press agency kathpress was among the first to publish a report on the Ratzinger monograph, which is available in German here. It is entitled Gnade und Berufung ohne Reue, which basically translates as “Irrevocable Grace and Calling” or “Grace and Calling without Repentance”. These words are an allusion to Romans 11:28-29: “For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance”, meaning, God does not revoke (repent of) His promises and gifts. The Vatican II Sect has long hijacked these sacred words and distorted their true meaning to promote their apostate theology in favor of the Old Covenant as being more or less still valid for the Jews in our day; but more on that later.
The following is our translation of portions of the kathpress report about the new Ratzinger essay, providing a good summary of what the “Pope Emeritus” is saying:
…The aim of Benedict’s text is to provide a reflection on the post-conciliar rejection of the so-called “substitution theory” and the talk about the “convenant never revoked [by God]”.
Indeed the text, signed with “Joseph Ratzinger – Benedict XVI” and dated October 26, 2017, presents quite a critical reflection on previous “standards” in Jewish-Christian dialogue, or rather, in post-conciliar theological thought concerning the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. In concrete terms, Benedict XVI sees a need for greater precision with regard to the two key phrases “substitution theory” [aka “Supersessionism”] and “never-revoked covenant”: “Both theses — that Israel has not been replaced by the Church and that the [Old] Covenant has never been revoked — are basically correct, but they are too imprecise in many ways and must be critically reflected on further”, Benedict writes in his essay.
Thus, there “never was, as such, a substitution theory” — in other words, the idea that the Church has taken Israel’s place — the retired Pope observes, pointing to pertinent encyclopedias. Rather, from the Christian point of view Judaism has always enjoyed a special status insofar as Judaism is not “one religion among many” but “is placed in a special situation and therefore must be recognized as such by the Church”. As a result he explains his thesis by means of the remaining differences between Judaism and Christianity, namely, in view of the temple worship, the ritual laws, the place of the Torah, the Messianic question, and the Promised Land.
Likewise, the question of the “never-revoked covenant” between God and the Jews — a statement that goes back to John Paul II and is today part of the obvious horizon of interpretation for Judaism from a Christian point of view — requires that distinctions be drawn, according to Benedict XVI. Although in principle the statement is “to be regarded as correct, in its details it still requires many clarifications and much deepening”: in the sense, for example, that there wasn’t just one covenant between God and His people but there were many covenants. In addition, Benedict says, the expression of a covenantal revocation is not part of the theological vocabulary of the Old Testament, and similarly the idea conveyed thereby of a contract between two equal partners does not correspond to biblical theology.
“The formula of the ‘never-revoked covenant’ may have been helpful in a first stage of the new dialogue between Jews and Christians, but it is not adequate in the long run to express the magnitude of the reality in a way that is passably appropriate.” This is Benedict’s final verdict.
(“Benedikt XVI. veröffentlicht Text zum christlich-jüdischen Dialog”, kathpress.at, July 6, 2018; our translation.)
In Ratzinger’s native country of Germany, the new monograph has created a firestorm of outrage. According to a report in the July 26, 2018, edition of the national Novus Ordo weekly Die Tagespost (p. 11), the “Pope Emeritus” has been criticized by journalists, theologians, and rabbis for his latest theological contribution. Even the official web site of the German conference of Novus Ordo bishops published a critical review by Felix Neumann. A fairly dispassionate commentary was provided by Prof. Thomas Söding in the the Aug. 2018 edition of Herder Korrespondenz.
Now that a few weeks have passed, some reactions in English have poured in as well:
- “German bishops’ website sharply criticizes Pope Benedict for new essay on the Jews” (Maike Hickson)
- “Benedict on the Jews: Criticism richly deserved” (Louie Verrecchio)
- “Benedict XVI criticised for new article on Jewish-Christian relations” (Christa Pongratz-Lippitt)
- “Benedict XVI’s article on church and the Jews ‘will create reaction’” (Anne-Bénédicte Hoffner)
Meanwhile, “Cardinal” Koch himself has joined the debate, trying to placate the Jews and other critics with these rather unmistakable words: “It is important to me not to engender any misgivings on the Jewish side but [instead] to clarify the Catholic position and to ensure that no one on the Christian side will get the idea that there could be any justification for Anti-Semitism or Anti-Judaism or that there must or should be a Christian mission to the Jews” (“Vatikan: Keine Infragestellung des Dialogs mit den Juden”; katholisch.de, Aug. 13, 2018; our translation).
In other words, when Jesus Christ told the Chanaanite woman, “I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel” (Mt 15:24), He actually meant that He was sent to everyone except for the Jews. Likewise, when our Blessed Lord instructed His disciples: “Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned” (Mk 16:15-16), He really meant to exclude the Jews — it’s just that St. Mark forgot to put a little asterisk beside “every creature”, or perhaps he did and it got deleted with its corresponding footnote.
The very fact that the Jews act as though they had a right to weigh in on what Christian theology ought to be, what may and may not be said with regard to them, as though they ruled over the Catholic Church, is an unparalleled impertinence. It is also a frightful testimony to how much the Novus Ordo Sect has humiliated Christ before His declared enemies and made itself subservient to them — all under the label of “Catholic Church”.
It is both infuriating and tragic that it would never occur to such “Catholic authorities” as Mr. Koch to tell the Jews, lest there be any illusion on their part, that of course there will be a Catholic mission to convert them as much as anyone else, since their souls too are precious in the sight of God and Christ and the Church desire their salvation no less than that of anyone else. This would be exercising true charity towards the disciples of Annas and Caiaphas, who, as long they persist in their blindness, will never see the face of God — for it is a dogma of the Catholic Faith that “those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life” (Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino; Denz. 714).
It is manifest that the false “Catholics” of the Vatican II Church are in plain denial of Divine Revelation, and yet after nearly six decades they can still get away with it. No one will make a big fuss about this, however, because it doesn’t involve sins against the Fifth or Sixth Commandment. It is only when it comes to abortion, adultery, unnatural vice, and so forth, that the “conservative Catholics” come out in bulk and protest; when it comes to the very essence of the Christian Faith being denied — that all must convert to Jesus Christ and His Church to be saved — they all fall silent. No petitions, no dubia, no interviews, no appearances on EWTN, no Rosary processions, no special web sites, nothing. It’s just not stimulating enough of a topic.
A visual representation of how fundamental a rupture there exists between the authentic (i.e. pre-Vatican II) Catholic understanding of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the apostate Jews can be found in the famous medieval statue set Ecclesia et Synagoga (“Church and Synagogue”), and its post-Vatican II “updated” version. Have a look at both pairs (click each picture to enlarge):
The first image shows the Catholic version of Ecclesia et Synagoga: Both the Church and the Synagogue are represented by women, but the Church is shown as reigning in triumph (triumphalism!), with a crown on her head, confident as to her place and mission, for Christ has overcome the world. The woman representing the Synagogue, on the other hand, is shown blindfolded, her crownless head drooping, in an apparent state of confusion.
Contrast this with the second picture, which shows Synagoga et Ecclesia in our Time, as it is called. Both women are shown as equals, each one wearing a crown, and each one looking at the scripture of the other, as though attempting to read from it. The Synagogue is placed to the right of the Church, which is a reversal from the traditional depiction. The new version expresses a “mutual dialogue” between the Catholic Church and the apostate Jewish remnant, as though the latter, called the “synagogue of Satan” in the New Testament (Apoc 3:9), had anything to teach the former, which is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15) that is enligthened by the Holy Ghost (see Jn 14:16; Jn 16:13; 1 Jn 2:27).
This striking difference in the two ways of representing Ecclesia et Synagoga sums up very well the essential disparity between the traditional Catholic teaching on Judaism and the Novus Ordo/ Modernist teaching. Whence this change in doctrine? As always, the answer is the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).
Joseph Ratzinger is a man of the council through and through; he was, indeed, one of its primary movers and shakers. A suit-and-tie priest like his friend Karl Rahner, he participated in it as theological advisor to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne and did much work behind the scenes. His new article on Judaism is simply the latest fruit of the same rotten Modernist mind that was already quite active so many decades ago.
The Background to Ratzinger’s Article
Ratzinger’s primary motive in writing this essay was to overcome the contradiction between, on the one hand, the genuine Catholic (“pre-Vatican II”) understanding of the New Covenant as having superseded the Old and thus the Catholic Church as having supplanted the Synagogue; and on the other hand, the Novus Ordo mantra of the Old Covenant never having been revoked by God, an expression based on a distortion of Romans 11:29 that was first used by “Pope” John Paul II in Mainz, Germany, on Nov. 17, 1980: “The first dimension of this dialogue, namely, the encounter between the People of God of the Old Covenant never revoked by God and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time a dialogue within our church, between the first and the second part of her Bible, so to speak” (Meeting of John Paul II with Representatives of the Jewish Community; our translation).
Here John Paul II makes believe that today’s apostate and Talmudic Jews have a valid covenant with God, the same covenant that the true Chosen People had over 2,000 years ago before the arrival of Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice of Calvary. This is a blasphemous lie, as we have demonstrated several times before.
Nonetheless, this blasphemous lie is very popular in the Vatican II Sect and is part of its official Catechism: “The Old Testament is an indispensable part of Sacred Scripture. Its books are divinely inspired and retain a permanent value, for the Old Covenant has never been revoked” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., n. 121). “Pope” Francis, likewise, repeats this damnable lie in his “Apostolic Exhortation” Evangelii Gaudium: “We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29)” (n. 247).
A few years earlier, before he styled himself Pope, Francis had stated the same thing in a book he co-authored with a rabbi friend: “The Church officially recognizes that the People of Israel continue to be the Chosen People. Nowhere does it say: ‘You lost the game, now it is our turn'” (Jorge M. Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka, On Heaven and Earth [New York: Image, 2013], p. 188). Apparently he had never come across Mt 21:43: “Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof.”
On Dec. 10, 2015, the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, headed by Mr. Koch, released an anti-Catholic document entitled “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable” (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of “Nostra Aetate” (No.4). Our elaborate blog post on the release of this heretical document can be found here:
This document declares in one point: “A replacement or supersession theology which sets against one another two separate entities, a Church of the Gentiles and the rejected Synagogue whose place it takes, is deprived of its foundations” (n. 17). Although there is of course no “Church of the Gentiles”, properly speaking, since in the New Covenant there is “neither Gentile nor Jew” (Col 3:11), this statement is overtly heretical.
The Catholic Church has most definitely and definitively replaced the Synagogue, and this truth is divinely revealed, quite ironically, in the very same chapter from which the Modernists claim to get their teaching of that covenant “never revoked by God” that the apostate Jews apparently enjoy. In this eleventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, St. Paul speaks about how the Gentiles have supplanted the Jews in the New Covenant, and he warns them not to become proud on account of it. Taking an olive tree with its branches as a metaphor, St. Paul writes:
For if God hath not spared the natural branches, fear lest perhaps he also spare not thee. See then the goodness and the severity of God: towards them indeed that are fallen, the severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God, if thou abide in goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the wild olive tree, which is natural to thee; and, contrary to nature, were grafted into the good olive tree; how much more shall they that are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief; so these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all.
(Rom 11:21-32; underlining added.)
The Novus Ordo Sect has hijacked this text and twisted it to mean that somehow the Jews can be saved without accepting Christ, yet also somehow with and through Christ, whom they deny. This they call a great mystery and claim God is the author of it. This is their justification for not evangelizing the Jews.
What rubbish! The text is actually not all that difficult to understand: St. Paul warns the Gentiles that even though they (and any believing Jews) have now been chosen instead of the (unbelieving) Jews, nevertheless they too are just as much in danger of falling away as the Jews did. He then makes clear that the Jews, too, can still be saved, but only under the condition that they “abide not still in unbelief”, and he notes that God has permitted this blindness on the part of the Jewish people for the sake of the Gentiles, and only “until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in”, that is, until the appointed time comes when all the Gentiles predestined by God have entered the true Church. Then the veil will be lifted from the Jews’ hearts, and they will convert to the Catholic Faith, to the true Church, and thus “all Israel will be saved”. It really isn’t that difficult.
The traditional Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture confirms this interpretation. On Rom 11:25-32 it notes:
From the present, [vv.] 1-24, St. Paul turns his attention to the future. The time will come when the present problem of Israel’s exclusion from the salvation of the Messias will cease to exist because of her conversion, which will follow upon the conversion of the Gentiles.
(Dom Bernard Orchard et al., A Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture [London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1953], n. 859i, p. 1072; underlining added.)
The matter is quite clear: At some point before the end of the world, the unbelieving Jews will convert to Catholicism and thus be saved — that is the Divine Mystery which St. Paul speaks of in v. 22, not salvation without conversion, which the Novus Ordo Church is putting forward.
In 1928, the Holy Office of Pope Pius XI reaffirmed the only true Catholic position on Judaism when it suppressed the Amici Israel (“Friends of Israel”) association:
…the Catholic Church has always been accustomed to pray for the Jewish people, who were the depository of divine promises up until the arrival of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding their subsequent blindness, or rather, because of this very blindness. Moved by that charity, the Apostolic See has protected the same people from unjust ill-treatment, and just as it censures all hatred and enmity among people, so it altogether condemns in the highest degree possible hatred against the people once chosen by God, viz., the hatred that now is what is usually meant in common parlance by the term known generally as “anti-Semitism.”
(Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, Decree Cum Supremae; underlining and italics added.)
The true Catholic position is not difficult to grasp, and the only reason why Vatican II began to tamper with it is because it wanted to find a way to reject this detested teaching.
The fact that Ratzinger’s article on the Old and New Covenants has created such backlash shows just how effectively the Novus Ordo Sect has been communicating the heretical idea that the Old Covenant is still valid for the apostate Jews — any kind of softening or relativization of it is immediately detected and vociferously condemned, not only by Jews but also, as we saw, by “Catholics”. The reason for such a reaction is actually unwittingly attested to by Ratzinger’s very opening sentence in the essay: “Since Auschwitz it has been clear that the Church must rethink the question of the nature of Judaism” (Seit Auschwitz ist klar, dass die Kirche die Frage nach dem Wesen des Judentums neu bedenken muss; p. 388). Such a statement is not only foolish and false but also highly dangerous, as its underlying assumption is the idea that theological truth is dependent on, and essentially conditioned by, historical occurrences after the close of public revelation. This, too, is very Hegelian as far as philosophy is concerned. Theologically, it is Modernism:
A typical Modernist error is the talk about the historicity of truth. By this is not meant the (explicative) development of dogma which is guided by the Holy Ghost, but the abandonment or redefinition of dogmas. The binding (and unchanging) faith of the Church is passed off as the product of a historical period which has been overcome, and thus the faith has to adapt itself to the changed social conditions. The standard for modifying what is preached is to be the spirit of the age (Zeitgeist). The thesis about the historicity of truth provides the apparent basis for reformulating the truths of the Christian faith, to make them “acceptable” to contemporaries. One speaks so much about the [historical] circumstances of a [dogmatic] definition and the changed conditions until the original sense of a dogma is no longer recognizable. An example of this mode of procedure is the constantly repeated attacks against the sacrosanct term of Transubstantiation.
(Fr. Georg May, 300 Jahre gläubige und ungläubige Theologie [Bobingen: Sarto Verlag, 2017], p. 913; our translation.)
The nature of Christ-rejecting Judaism is what it is; it does not change, regardless of who does what in history: It is a false religion, and as such its members must become Catholics in order to be saved. This does not, indeed cannot, change, for it is a divinely revealed truth of the God who can “neither deceive nor be deceived” (Act of Faith).
An Analysis of Select Highlights
In his recent monograph on Judaism, Fr. Ratzinger does not mention evangelizing the unbelieving Jews at all. As stated above, his main objective is to find a way to reconcile the Catholic and the Modernist position on the Jews. Because the synthesis he proposes does not sufficiently accommodate the Jews, his critics are up in arms.
But just what does Ratzinger argue? Let’s look at some highlights now of what he wrote.
Early on, the old Modernist Benedict XVI distorts the truth about what is today known as Judaism. He claims that in her condemnation of the heretic Marcion, the Catholic Church “clarified that Christians and Jews adore the same God” (p. 390; all quotes from the article are our translation). But this is misleading. At least as far as the present author is aware, the Church simply clarified that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the God of the New Testament, something which Marcion denied (he believed they were two different gods). This is a far cry from saying that the post-Messianic Jews, who explicitly reject the dogma of the Most Holy Trinity and adore a god who is one in substance but not three Divine Persons, nevertheless adore the true God (cf. Jn 4:23-24).
Similarly, Benedict claims that the Church stated that “the faith of Abraham is also the faith of the Christians” (emphasis added), when in truth it is only the Faith of the Christians and not that of the Jews (see Jn 8:39-47), unless we mean the Jews who lived before the arrival of the Messiah, which Ratzinger, however, does not have in mind here because he is speaking in the context of the Jews who rejected their Savior.
Further on, Ratzinger explicitly (and quite correctly) mentions the doctrine of Supersessionism in connection with the Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus authored by Pope Pius XI, which refers to the apostate Jews in the following loving petition: “Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of the race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life” (source).
Regarding this “substitution theory”, as he calls it — as though it were merely a theory –, the old Modernist claims that to say that Israel was not superseded by the Church is “basically correct”, he just maintains that this position is not “precise” enough (p. 392). The fact that the apostate Jews occupy a “unique place” in salvation history, as Ratzinger says, can readily be granted, since they are the former Chosen People, whom God has disowned for their infidelity and who are prophesied to eventually convert back to the true religion, as mentioned earlier.
Having rejected the substitution view as a whole, Benedict XVI continues by breaking it down into various elements: the temple worship, the ritual laws, the place of the Torah, the Messianic question, and the Promised Land. In each of these, he claims to find various elements of continuity and discontinuity which he then tries to synthesize in the fashion of his philosophical master, the 19th-century German idealist Georg Hegel: “There is indeed, then, no real ‘substitution’ but a journey [Unterwegssein] which eventually turns into a single reality, and yet there is the disappearance of the animal sacrifices, which are replaced (‘substituted’) by the Eucharist” (p. 394).
Ratzinger’s Hegelianism is epitomized in the sentence that concludes his reflection on the temple cult: “What takes the place of a static view of substitution or non-substitution is a dynamic consideration of all of salvation history, which finds its ανακεφαλαίωσις [summation] in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10).” Here we see his reconciliation of the thesis (substitution) with the antithesis (non-substitution) in a higher synthesis (dynamic view of history culminating in Christ), exactly in accordance with the Hegelian method, about which we will say more later.
With regard to the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments), Ratzinger says that in the New Covenant it “continues to be valid, even if in new situations it must undergo a re-reading” (p. 395). Yet this “new reading” of the Decalogue is neither abrogation nor substitution, says Ratzinger, “but a deepening in unchanged validity.” We can summarize this bizarre thesis in one simple word: whatever.
There is really no profound mystery here: The Ten Commandments express the natural law established by God, and this law has permanent validity for human beings. Christ Himself reinforced the validity of the Commandments (see Mt 5:17-20; Mt 19:17; Mk 10:19; cf. Mt 22:36-40), making clear that they are valid also for the New Covenant, with this difference, however, that in the New Covenant, God bestows grace through the merits of Christ to make the keeping of the commandments possible (cf. Rom 7:24-25; Rom 8:1-5; 1 Cor 15:56-57; 1 Jn 5:3). We must agree with Benedict here that there is indeed no substitution when it comes to the Decalogue; but then, the Church before Vatican II never claimed otherwise.
With regard to the Messianic question, the Antipope Emeritus asserts that our Blessed Lord took a “critical view” of the “title of ‘Messiah’ and the ideas that were generally associated with that” (p. 396). Although it is clear that our Lord took great pains to reject the prevalent notion of an earthly kingdom people had associated with the rule of the Messiah (for example, see Jn 18:36), to propose that our Lord took a disapproving position with regard to the title of “Messiah” is absurd and blasphemous.
As far as blasphemy goes, however, the old Modernist Ratzinger is only getting warmed up. In the subsequent paragraph, he claims that Christ has not yet fulfilled the following Messianic prophecies:
And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.
And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into spades: nation shall not take sword against nation: neither shall they learn war any more. And every man shall sit under his vine, and under his fig tree, and there shall be none to make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken.
Concerning these passages, the Emeritus says verbatim: “It is clear that these words have not been fulfilled but remain a future expectation” (p. 397). This is an outrageous thing to say for someone who claims to be a Roman Catholic, a follower of Christ!
These passages have indeed been fulfilled, but we must naturally first learn how to understand them. This we can do by consulting their interpretation by the Church in her magisterial documents and the approved writings of her theologians. For instance, Pope Leo XIII, in his magnificent encyclical on the unity of the Church, writes as follows concerning Isaias 2:
That the one Church should embrace all men everywhere and at all times was seen and foretold by Isaias, when looking into the future he saw the appearance of a mountain conspicuous by its all surpassing altitude, which set forth the image of “The House of the Lord” – that is, of the Church, “And in the last days the mountain of the House of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of the mountains” [Is 2:2].
But this mountain which towers over all other mountains is one; and the House of the Lord to which all nations shall come to seek the rule of living is also one. “And all nations shall flow into it. And many people shall go, and say: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths” [Is 2:2-3].
Explaining this passage, Optatus of Milevis says: “It is written in the prophet Isaias: ‘from Sion the law shall go forth and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ For it is not on Mount Sion that Isaias sees the valley, but on the holy mountain, that is, the Church, which has raised itself conspicuously throughout the entire Roman world under the whole heavens….The Church is, therefore, the spiritual Sion in which Christ has been constituted King by God the Father, and which exists throughout the entire earth, on which there is but one Catholic Church” (De Schism. Donatist., lib. iii., n. 2). And Augustine says: “What can be so manifest as a mountain, or so well known? There are, it is true, mountains which are unknown because they are situated in some remote part of the earth But this mountain is not unknown; for it has filled the whole face of the world, and about this it is said that it is prepared on the summit of the mountains” (In Ep. Joan., tract i., n. 13).
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 4; italics given.)
In other words, Benedict XVI’s claim “that these words have not been fulfilled but remain a future expectation” is false. This prophecy has been fulfilled in the Catholic Church. The following commentary on the parallel passage in Micheas 4:1-5 will make this even clearer:
The last days are the final stage of revelation. They run from the time of the last great intervention of God in human history, when all types and shadows have been fulfilled, when no more revelation will be added, when the New and Eternal Testament is in force: from the foundation of the Church to the end of the world. 1. Under the image of a Jerusalem towering above the surrounding hills, Micheas sees the divinely appointed source of light and holiness revealed to all men. It is ‘prepared’, that is, ‘established‘, high above the hills, supreme and conspicuous as it is enduring. 2. It is only from the New Sion that God will teach men his truth and the way of life: here appears the Church Visible with all the notes of Universality, Uniqueness and Divine Authority. 3-4. There too God arbitrates and gives judgement for the destinies of nations; by the heavenly light of which Sion is the centre, all can direct their actions. The crude appeal to force is outlawed. No happy age of universal disarmament and mutual trust has ever in literal fact graced the pages of history. But the prophecy does not speak of material good things. The promise of the New Testament is Eternal Life, and the spiritual blessings which lead to it. And in fact the Church is in glad and quiet possession of infallible truth which no error can endanger, and of sanctifying graces which neither unworthy ministers can impede nor human frailty exhaust. Thus in the indefectible holiness of the Church of Christ, each Christian finds that heavenly peace which the world can neither give nor take away. And this is promised by the ‘Lord of Hosts’, as if solemnly invoking all his power and majesty. 5. The call to the Kingdom is universal; though as yet the peoples are still serving their idols, they are bound to follow the example of Israel and worship the one true God.
(Orchard et al., Catholic Commentary, n. 535b, p. 674; italics and bold print given; underlining added.)
The universal kingdom of justice and peace that the Messiah would bring is the Catholic Church, her teachings, her rule, and especially the divine and sanctifying grace she has been commissioned by God to dispense to sinners. Ratzinger, being a Modernist, interprets the passage in a carnal sense (cf. Jn 6:64), like the Jews, and therefore says it still awaits its literal fulfillment. How ironic that he does this in the very same text in which he points out that Jesus Christ rejected “the ideas that were generally associated with” an earthly Messianic reign!
With regard to the Promised Land, the passive-contemplative part of the current “expanded papacy” asserts that the modern-day state of Israel founded in 1948, although it “naturally cannot be directly deduced from Holy Writ, nevertheless can express, in a broader sense, God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel” (p. 401). Incredible! After their rejection of the true Messiah, God exiled the apostate Jews and destroyed Jerusalem in punishment for their blindness (as predicted in Mt 23:38 and Lk 19:41-44; cf. Ez 20:23-24). The Old Testament prophecies concerning the New Jerusalem refer either to the Catholic Church or to our heavenly homeland, and the only prophecy that remains for the apostate Jews themselves is their mass conversion to the Catholic Church towards the end of the world, as already discussed.
Ratzinger closes his thoughts on the Promised Land issue in Jewish-“Catholic” dialogue by claiming that the apostate Jews have, precisely by their “definitive dispersion throughout the world” — get this — “opened the door to God” (!) for the nations so that their “diaspora is not merely and not primarily a state of punishment but has a missionary meaning”. That’s it: The apostate Jews have a mission to the world! Words fail at the blaspheming audacity of this Modernist!
Lastly, the retired Antipope returns to treating of the “never revoked” Old Covenant as such. He says that it is basically correct to say that God never revoked the Old Covenant and that the word “revoke” (or “annul”, “cancel” for the German kündigen) “is not part of the vocabulary of divine action” (p. 405). He does, at least, concede that the Old Covenant was broken again and again by man and that its nature was always one of promise rather than fulfillment. He asserts that instead of the New Covenant being a replacement that supersedes the Old, it is really an Umstiftung of the Old into the New Covenant. The word Umstiftung is not easy to translate, but one could render it as “re-founding”, “trans-founding”, or “re-institution”; it means to denote a transformation from the one into the other. For the purpose of the following quote, we will render it as “transformation”.
Benedict tries to reconcile the Catholic teaching of Supersessionism with the post-Vatican II “never-revoked” doctrine in the following way: “The transformation of the Sinai Covenant into the New Covenant in the Blood of Jesus, that is, in His love that has overcome death, gives the Covenant a form that is new and valid forever.” Once again we see Hegel.
Using what is called the “Hegelian dialectic”, Ratzinger synthesizes the thesis (“the Old Covenant has been superseded by the New”) and its antithesis (“the Old Covenant is still valid”) into a blend of different elements from each. He did the same, for example, with regard to the traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Missae (“New Mass”) of 1970, when he argued in Summorum Pontificum that they were not two separate rites nor one identical one but rather, “two usages of the one Roman rite” (duo usus unici ritus romani). Now it seems we have “two usages of the one Covenant”. Nothing is too sacred for Ratzinger’s theological stencil of thesis-antithesis-synthesis!
Hegel’s dialectic idealism was one of the systems condemned by Pope Pius XII in 1950, one year before Ratzinger was ordained a priest:
While scorning our [scholastic] philosophy [of St. Thomas Aquinas], they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism, or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Humani Generis, n. 32)
Modernists love to use the Hegelian method because it makes them appear as mature, sophisticated thinkers who “transcend” the “simplistic” and “outdated” notions of traditional Catholic theology, which they have the intellectual wherewithal to overcome in an “advanced” and “higher” theology, while at the same time not going so far as to contradict them outright. This modus operandi has been very effective for Novus Ordo theologians in the past, and Ratzinger’s essay on the Jews is simply the latest manifestion thereof.
Clever though he may be in his attempts to overcome the two opposing views with regard to the Old and New Covenants — substitution and non-substitution — the fact remains that Supersessionism is indeed the doctrine of the Catholic Church, as can fairly easily be verified by checking Catholic theology books from before Vatican II.
For example, we read in Fr. Joachim Salaverri’s De Ecclesia Christi that “Christ not only preached a religious and universal Kingdom … but he also said that the religious economy of the O.T. [Old Testament] was going to be abrogated, and for it he substituted a new religious order” (Sacrae Theologiae Summa, vol. IB, n. 84; italics added).
In his beautiful encyclical letter on the Church, Pope Pius XII likewise enunciated the Supersessionist position:
And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area — He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the house of Israel — the Law and the Gospel were together inn force; but on the gibbet of his death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees, fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human race. “To such an extent, then,” says St. Leo the Great, speaking of the Cross of our Lord, “was there effected a transfer from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from many sacrifices to one Victim, that, as our Lord expired, that mystical veil which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret was rent violently from top to bottom.”
On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a bearer of death, in order to give way to the New Testament of which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers….
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis, nn. 29-30; underlining added.)
And, of course, we find very clear expressions of the substitution doctrine in the New Testsment itself. Earlier we already looked at our Lord’s words in Mt 21:43 and at the beautiful passage in Romans 11:21-32. Another example is given in St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, where he writes with regard to the two covenants: “…[God] taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth” (Heb 10:9). Two chapters earlier, the Apostle had explained:
But now he hath obtained a better ministry, by how much also he is a mediator of a better testament, which is established on better promises. For if that former had been faultless, there should not indeed a place have been sought for a second. For finding fault with them, he saith: Behold, the days shall come, saith the Lord: and I will perfect unto the house of Israel, and unto the house of Juda, a new testament: Not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they continued not in my testament: and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the testament which I will make to the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord: I will give my laws into their mind, and in their heart will I write them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me from the least to the greatest of them: Because I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more. Now in saying a new, he hath made the former old. And that which decayeth and groweth old, is near its end.
(Heb 8:6-13; underlining added.)
We see the replacement of the Old Covenant by the New also foreshadowed in the Old Testament itself, for example, in the supplanting of the elder brother, Esau, by his younger brother, Jacob, which is a type of the Gentiles supplanting the Jews. Having realized that his brother Jacob had received his father Isaac’s unique blessing in his stead, Esau cried out, but to no avail:
Esau having heard his father’s words, roared out with a great cry: and being in a great consternation, said: Bless me also, my father. And he said: Thy brother came deceitfully and got thy blessing. But he said again: Rightly is his name called Jacob; for he hath supplanted me lo this second time: my first birthright he took away before, and now this second time he hath stolen away my blessing. And again he said to his father: Hast thou not reserved me also a blessing? Isaac answered: I have appointed him thy lord, and have made all his brethren his servants: I have established him with corn and wine, and after this, what shall I do more for thee, my son?
If only Fr. Ratzinger had been around back then to tell Esau that he had not really been supplanted by his brother, that instead there were elements of continuity at work as part of a dynamic transformation!
Many more scriptural passages and other Catholic proofs of Supersessionism can be found in the following post from 2013:
Another great resource to consult here is the tract Adversus Iudaeis by the Church Father Tertullian (d. 245), which is available as a little booklet in English under the title For the Conversion of the Jews. It is an exposition of the fulfillment of the Old Covenant prophecies in the New Covenant, specifically those pertaining to Christ and the Church.
But enough of the highlights of the Ratzinger text. The man is a Modernist, and all his work tries to do is find a way to make the Novus Ordo position on the Jews look a little more Catholic. As we say in North America, it is lipstick on a pig: It may look better, but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.
Do not be hoodwinked, therefore, by any attempts to make Ratzinger look traditional or orthodox with regard to the relationship between the Old and New Covenants. Ratzinger’s heretical position on the Jews has long been known, as a brief review of his past utterances confirms.
Joseph Ratzinger and the Jews
In 2002, during the reign of “Pope” John Paul II, then-“Cardinal” Ratzinger approved a document of the so-called Pontifical Biblical Commission entitled “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible”, which heretically declared that “Jewish messianic expectation is not in vain”. Not only did Ratzinger, then in his function as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approve the document, he even penned its preface.
The Jews knew how to understand what was being told them. After Ratzinger’s election in 2005, a leading rabbi lauded the theology of the new “Pope”:
He argued that this position [of Jewish rejection of Jesus Christ] is also part of the divine plan, and the fact Jews don’t accept Jesus must not be seen as an act of rejecting God [!], but as part of God’s plan to remind the world that peace and salvation for all humanity has not yet come. This is amazing. He took something that has been the source of major condemnation of Judaism and the Jewish people down the ages and twisted [!] it into something of a positive theological nature.
(Rabbi David Rosen, qtd. in Peter Hirschberg, “New pope seen continuing relations with Israel, Jews”, Haaretz, Apr. 20, 2005.)
Twist it he did indeed, for the idea that rejecting Christ does not mean rejecting God is diametrically opposed to the divinely inspired sacred text: “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father. He that confesseth the Son, hath the Father also” (1 Jn 2:23).
Recall Benedict XVI’s blasphemy at the Cologne synagogue during World Youth Day on Aug. 19, 2005: “In considering the Jewish roots of Christianity (cf. Rom 11: 16-24), my venerable Predecessor [John Paul II], quoting a statement by the German Bishops, affirmed that ‘whoever meets Jesus Christ meets Judaism'” (source). Considering that for Benedict and the Vatican II Church as a whole, the Judaism of the Old Covenant before the arrival of the Messiah is found in the apostate Judaism of our times, this is nothing short of blasphemous, for it associates Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ with His declared enemies. No, he who meets Jesus Christ does not meet the Judaism that rejects Him!
Likewise, we will not forget Benedict’s blasphemous taking out of context our Blessed Lord’s words in John 4:22, again confusing the true Judaism of the Old Covenant with the apostate Talmudic Judaism of our day, as related by Vatican journalist Paul Badde: “…he had reminded the Jewish community … that for Christians, ‘salvation comes from the Jews'” (Paul Badde, Benedict Up Close, trans. by Michael J. Miller [Irondale, AL: EWTN Publishing, Inc., 2017], p. 183). No, for Christians salvation does not come from the Jews, certainly not from those who reject Christ! “No man cometh to the Father, but by me,” says our Lord (Jn 14:6); and being summoned before Annas and Caiaphas, St. Peter boldly declared with regard to His Master: “Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
We remember also a young Ratzinger’s impious thesis that after two world wars in the 20th century, after Auschwitz and Hiroshima, we can no longer refer to the age that began with the birth of Christ as a time of salvation. A man who utters, nay teaches, such blasphemous nonsense has no business speaking on matters of Christian theology. It is no wonder that upon his resignation in 2013, Jewish leaders heaped praise upon Ratzinger. No, it wasn’t because he was such a faithful teacher of the Gospel!
We recall, too, “Cardinal” Ratzinger’s wicked and clearly heretical claim that the Old Testament can legitimately be interpreted in such a manner that it does not point to Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah:
It is of course possible to read the Old Testament so that it is not directed toward Christ; it does not point quite unequivocally to Christ. And if Jews cannot see the promises as being fulfilled in him, this is not just ill will on their part, but genuinely because of the obscurity of the texts and the tension in the relationship between these texts and the figure of Jesus. Jesus brings a new meaning to these texts — yet it is he who first gives them their proper coherence and relevance and significance.
There are perfectly good reasons, then, for denying that the Old Testament refers to Christ and for saying, No, that is not what he said. And there are also good reasons for referring it to him — that is what the dispute between Jews and Christians is about….
(Joseph Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, trans. by Henry Taylor [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2002], p. 209)
What a stunning blasphemy! Christ Himself scolded the Pharisees for their stubborn unbelief, for their refusal to accept the scriptural testimony concerning Him: “And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him you believe not. Search the scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me. And you will not come to me that you may have life” (Jn 5:38-40). His own disciples, too, our Lord rebuked for being slow in their understanding of the prophets: “Then he said to them: O foolish, and slow of heart to believe in all things which the prophets have spoken” (Lk 24:25).
Finally, we must not forget what the “Pope Emeritus” said about his modification of the traditional Good Friday Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews, a change which had become “necessary” after the universal permission for the use of the 1962 Missal (“traditional Latin Mass”) was granted on July 7, 2007, in the “Apostolic Letter” Summorum Pontificum. (For the background to the Good Friday prayer controversy and how the Novus Ordo version differs essentially from the traditional prayer from before Vatican II, please see our post, “The Crucified Christ Betrayed.”) Thus, on Feb. 4, 2008, Benedict XVI released his own version of the prayer for the Jews, which was to be used exclusively in the Good Friday liturgies celebrated under Summorum Pontificum. The Ratzinger text was basically a compromise between the traditional formula and the Novus Ordo version.
Regarding the introduction of this new prayer, the Antipope Emeritus wrote in his final interview book:
I was of the opinion that one cannot let that go on [the praying of the traditional Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews], that even those using the old liturgy must change at this point in time. One had to have a form of the prayer created that fitted with the spiritual style of the old liturgy, but which was at the same time consonant with our modern understandings of Judaism and Christianity….
I’m still happy today that I managed to change the old liturgy for the better at that moment. If one withdrew this new formulation of the supplication, as is always demanded, this would mean that the old, unacceptable, text with the perfidi Iudaei [“faithless Jews”] would have to be prayed…. Until then the old intercession was prayed, and I replaced it with a better one for this circle of people [i.e. traditionalists in union with the Modernist Vatican].
(Benedict XVI, Last Testament: In His Own Words, trans. by Jacob Phillips [London: Bloomsbury, 2017], Chapter 12; underlining added.)
This is Joseph Ratzinger on the Jews. As is evident, he may be a lot of things but a Roman Catholic is not one of them.
What must we conclude from all these facts? The tragic truth is that for decades, Joseph Ratzinger has been confirming Jews in their blindness and unbelief! For him to be portrayed now, as he no doubt will be, as some kind of ultra-conservative bulldog on the grounds that he has relativized some of the Vatican II Sect’s more openly heretical theses with regard to the Jews, is absurd. But, alas, in our strange times people are willing to consider someone orthodox simply for not denying all dogmas — rather than for not denying any!
One of Ratzinger’s fundamental errors is his failure to draw an essential distinction between the Jews who lived at the time of the Old Covenant, who were indeed God’s Chosen People then (see Deut 7:6; Jn 4:22), and the Christ-rejecting Jews and their progeny, who “say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Apoc 2:9; cf. Rom 9:6).
To think that conservative Novus Ordos consider this man the great orthodox alternative to the clearly heterodox Francis, is a sad testimony to how frighteningly far the Great Apostasy has already advanced.
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