Monday, April 07, 2014

Bergoglio’s Gig: Distancing Himself from the Old Nag

Sandro Magister reports that there is a new book out about the life of “Pope Emeritus” Joseph Ratzinger a.k.a. “Pope Benedict XVI”.

It wasn’t long ago that Hans Küng was suggesting he would be a “shadow pope”:

It is very dangerous to have a former pope living in the actual Vatican. … He will have the same secretary, Father George [now “Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the pontifical household and secretary of the pope emeritus”]. He wants to remain in contact with cardinals and with the new pope. I was afraid of a “shadow pope” in the Vatican. Now it seems confirmed. He is certainly interested in prolonging his line, otherwise he would not have done it like this.

. . .

He is not exactly going on a mountaintop to pray. Rather, he will have the possibility to intervene constantly. It is a dangerous situation. I see many conflicts… Ratzinger says, “I’m out, but I am in the center of the Vatican.” So, that’s not good. Of course, he will not have official communications, but infinite private meetings. How is it possible, for example, that Father George Gaenswein, who was the former pope’s secretary, is also prefect of the current papal household? With control over the antechamber and decisions on audiences. He will represent a continuous communication between the papal palace and the former pope.

Well, we know that “Pope Francis” perhaps feared that very situation and has moved himself out of the papal household, distancing himself as much as possible from that political situation.

However, it appears, from this new work on “the Pope Emeritus”, that Ratzinger is keeping busy.

“Joseph Ratzinger’s decision to remain ‘near the Lord, in the precincts of Saint Peter’ in the capacity of ‘Roman pontiff emeritus’ legitimates a new juridical and ecclesiological configuration for the ‘renuntiatio papae.’

“It is the opening of a real and proper ministeriality, which in the figure of the pope takes on the traits of an authentic mysticism of service. The perspective, if one looks carefully, is Christological even before it is historical and juridical. It is the institutional regeneration of ‘kènosis,’ newness in continuity, a new beginning.” …

… for pope emeritus Ratzinger as well now is not only a time of contemplation, but of conversation. His successor Francis has confirmed this: the “wisdom” and “advice” of the pope emeritus - he said in a recent interview - “bring strength to the family” of the Church.

In some cases, Benedict XVI has spoken openly and to all. For example, in the few dazzling pages with which he shed light on the pontificate of John Paul II, which he said remains to be studied and assimilated today:

The Pope Emeritus Prays, But Also Advises. Here’s How

In other cases, he has advised his [successor] in strictly confidential terms. For example, after the publication of the summertime interview with Francis in “La Civiltà Cattolica.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio had sent Ratzinger a copy of the interview and had asked him to jot a few notes down in the space between the title and the text.

But the pope emeritus did more, he filled and sent to Francis four whole sheets, too many to have written nothing but compliments.

In an interview last March 15 with the German television channel ZDF, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the pontifical household and secretary of the pope emeritus, said:

“Benedict XVI granted the request of his successor, offering a few reflections and observations on particular observations or questions that he believed could be developed further on another occasion. Naturally I will not tell you about what.”

Of course, with Ratzinger’s resignation the figure of the pope emeritus has entered into history for the first time, And day after day this figure also contributes to “making” history, in an unprecedented dialectic relationship with the pope in office.

What do you suppose a “dialectic” between Ratzinger and Bergoglio has been like? “Four whole sheets,” commenting on just one interview, “too many to have written nothing but compliments.” “A few reflections and observations on particular observations or questions that he believed could be developed further on another occasion”, according to Ratzinger’s secretary, who’s motivated to put the best possible spin on the occasion.

Bergoglio had time to review the article before publication. But he only sent it to Ratzinger after publication. Sounds to me like Ratzinger, too, thinks Bergoglio is straying off the farm – making “observations” for “further development” later.

Keep in mind Bergoglio never really moved into the papal household. Rather, it sounds like Bergoglio took Küng’s advice seriously and is distancing himself from the old nag.

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