Monday, September 3, 2018

The One Name I Don't See Mentioned

The international media sensation around Archbishop ViganĂ²'s allegations against the Vatican and Pope Francis has managed to bring unexpected light to the dark homosexual ring around the upper clergy in the United States, especially among certain cardinals who have influenced the selection of other bishops and cardinals. Oh, if only Cardinal Bernardine could see this day! His name would be all over the papers with her spiritual children, Uncle Ted McCarrick, the Girl Donna Wuerl, some dotty Irishman named Kevin Farrell—once bishop of Dallas, and their patron, the Roman Ordinary himself, who also has his own patrons whose interests he serves.

There is one name, which I have seen a few times in passing, but which I do not see mentioned prominently in any of the articles on the Uncle Ted scandal and Bergoglio-cover up. It is a name that will not figure into prosecutions, because its bearer veiled no crime. It is a name which does not fit into the personal narrative, because that person did not commit any of the lascivious acts alleged. It is a name, however, which will become more and more dubious as the history of the late 20th and 21st century Church crystallizes, a name which will be associated with half-hearted effort, good intentions, and failure. The name is Benedict XVI.

One writer has already alluded to Lateran V in comparison to Vatican II, a council which nominally met to address the contemporary problems in the Church and which ended failed miserably because of confirmation bias on the part of its participants. The Reformation broke out and two generations later the "Petticoat Pope", Paul III, a simoniac himself, finally convened the Council of Trent and confirmed the Society of Jesus.

The name of Benedict XVI lends itself more neatly in analogy with Lateran V than any other historical parallel in this vicious saga. Lateran V met under the aegis of Julius II, the "warrior pope", when Martin Luther was still in a German monastery mismanaging his hormones. Five years before Doctor Luther's theses [dis]graced the door of a cathedral, a general council met to consider the same forces of corruption which would lend the ears of an otherwise pious populace to Luther and his successors. Rather than deal with the problems of simony, embezzlement, and the newfangled issue of book printing, Lateran V confirmed a few political treaties, advocated another crusade against the Turks, and agreed everything else was well and good. To us today, Lateran V looks like a wasted opportunity in the backward mirror that is history. Could they have known the extent of the problems at the time? Perhaps not that huge segments of Christendom would leave the Church for a novelty version of Christianity, but anyone in the know, especially after the Avignon Schism and Jan Hus, could be expected to know the bishops were trying and failing to deal with the brewing issues of the day. It was a failure. It should have been Trent two generations and a major schism earlier, but instead it was a failure.

Benedict XVI knew the Jan Hus and Avignon crises of his time, having battled John Paul II over the matter of Marcial Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ when he ran the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. John Paul refused to believe that a priest, much less a priest with such public fidelity to the Apostolic See, could be a pervert. Ratzinger knew and, when he replaced John Paul as Pope of Rome, made a very visible and public example of Maciel, leaving the future of the Legionaries in limbo, although they endure somehow. During his pontificate, Benedict XVI quietly removed sexually predatory priests from ministry across the world, but without the same dramatic quality as the Legionary founder. A parish priest found in scandal is a problem in a town, but perhaps not on several continents, and hence not worth the inevitable perception that the Church had an institution problem of sexual abuse. The case of Theodore McCarrick, however, much more resembles the case of Maciel than of Fr. Mustache.

Archbishop ViganĂ² alleges that Benedict XVI knew about "Uncle Ted" and his way with seminarians, and saw fit to impose a life of penance on Mr. McCarrick. On a related note, in his 2013 book length interview with Peter Seewald, the same Benedict XVI ran victory laps over having vanquished the "gay mafia" of four or five people who were influencing affairs at the Vatican. Aside from lacking what sorority girls call a "gaydar", the Bishop of Rome emeritus failed to perceive the larger gay presence in the Vatican clergy and the opportunity to make an example of Theodore McCarrick in the same way he made an example of Marcial Maciel. Instead, he read the playbook of Lateran V and executed it in his own time: quiet regret, press management, a reshuffling and a replacement, and a silent punishment.

He did not leave McCarrick on active ministry, but he did not really punish the man by not letting him go to China either. One could plead ignorance for Benedict XVI by saying this seminar room academic, out of place as Pope of Rome, neither understood the extent of the "gay mafia" nor held the power to do anything about it. One could almost believe it if not for the knowledge that, like the bishops at Lateran V, he should have known better. Benedict XVI will not be a particularly memorable pope in history, just as Lateran V was not a particularly memorable council, but like Lateran V the few people who glean his name in history primers will read the short summary and roll their eyes in regret.


  1. Back in the day we used to burn the sodomitic bastids in a public square in Rome.

    It is irksome that Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger did not laicise McCarrick and the turn him over (along with apt documentation) to the secular authorities for punishment. He is an international sex criminal.

    The punishment was meted out the way it was why?

    It can't be simply dismissed out of hand that had Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger turned over McCarriick to the state that by doing so, Ratzinger would have placed his own liberty in legal jeopardy as there are credible allegations he also hid/protected sodomites in Germany and the state could subpoena all relevant Church documents dealing with sodomites.

    One recalls reading that one reason Cardinal Law was whisked away to Rome was to protect Pope Saint John Paul II from legal jeopardy as there were claims that a document exists that he authored that advised the AmBishops to clam-up about these cases.

    Even if the claims/rumors are not rue, what \sort of Justice is served by the silent punishment?

    What about the victims of these sodomitic bastids?

    Who speaks for them, the weak, those whose lives were ruined, those whose Faith and perhaps even souls were destroyed?

    The Catholic Church has for a very long time mentally and spiritually cleaved Christ and has tried to pit Him against Himself by speaking of Mercy absent Justice. Francis has done this repeatedly.

    Jesus Christ is both Justice and Mercy and we require the whole Christ, especially now.

    1. Back in the day an Emperor would have invaded Rome and put an end to this nonsense. As embarrassing as it might be, a special prosecutor might accomplish the same effect today. It’s miserable that it has come to this point, though.

  2. Why do trads use the names "Ratzinger" and "Bergoglio"? Is it out of disrespect? An attempt to flatten the hierarchy? To elevate the self and dissociate with the leaders they dislike?

    1. It could be any number of reasons. In Italy people refer to pope's by their surname as an endearment. There is also the desire to avoid mundane repetition in an article that has no scholarly aspirations.

    2. Once he abdicated, he became Bishop Emeritus Ratzinger.

      He is no longer Pope, or part-Pope, or Pope past participle (He is no longer Poping) and, thus, he is not deserving of the use of his papal name.

    3. He deserves it more than Antipope Bergoglio!

    4. I take it you believe Benedict XVI is still pope?

  3. Even knowing what I do know of the dynamics of the Conclave of 2005 (and Cardinal Bertone's role in it), one judgment of mine at the time has not changed: How unlikely and marginal was Joseph Ratzinger's election. Out of not merely the papabile but even the entire pool of voting age cardinals, Ratzinger represented the outermost optimum possibilities in terms of not just his friendliness to Tradition, but also personal probity. A rare case of an incorrupt Curial prelate in 2005, he was also the only cardinal (save for the ancient Stickler) who as pope could have promulgated Summorum Pontificum or Anglicanorum Coetibus - as weak, inadequate, and decades late as they really were.

    What *has* changed is my sense of the context of that choice, and therefore, how very paltry that "optimum" turned out to be. Which was, essentially: a highly introverted and very elderly Communio theologian with good taste, more virtuous than Julius II or Leo X to be sure, but also a good deal less recognizably Catholic and not remotely as energetic. The available "optimum" was, in short, simply inadequate to the crisis at hand.

    But perhaps it had to be this way. Just as, perhaps, we needed a Bergoglian pontificate to bring the crisis to a fine edge and a wider popular consciousness.

    1. Dear Athelstane. That observation illustrates the problem of Latin Traditionalism- he had become legalistic.

      Try to imagine telling an E.O. Priest he could no longer offer the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.

    2. Hello ABS,

      Indeed - it is hard to improve upon Geoffrey Hull's argument on this point.

    3. One fact of the 2005 conclave that requires no conjecture or judgment at all is that there was exactly ONE cardinal elector nominated by a pope other than JP2, and that was Ratzinger. In other words, in 27 years as pope, JP2 appointed NO ONE better than the "paltry optimum" who got elected.

      The real issue as I see it is how earth-shatteringly incompetent JP2 was at selecting bishops and cardinals. For all his courage and personal virtue and charisma, he was an abject failure at what is arguably the most important job of any Bishop of Rome. One of the worst popes of the last 200 years in my opinion, and the church is reaping the consequences now.