What Are Some Cardinals Thinking About?
Dr. Robert Moynihan
DC Editor's Note: Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne confided some things to Inside The Vatican on Monday. Keep in mind he is the same red-hat who early in January lacked the conviction of Catholic truth and backpeddled by apologizing for comparing abortion to the Holocaust. He also didn't realize the scandal of recanting truth. Evidently that wasn't important to Meisner, just making sure he was accepted as a tolerant Novus Ordophile. Here there was hope with his assimilating abortion to the horrors of Hitler and Stalin. But that offended man; never mind God. Evidently the Germans didn't like such comparison even though it is the unmitigated truth. Do they really want another Fuhrer? Why would Germans be upset at comparing Stalin to the horrors of abortion? It doesn't make sense and yet it does in this topsy-turvy world where cardinals haven't a backbone nor moral sense to uphold Catholic truth and be a "contradiction to the world." Ah, there's the rub for they have embraced - thanks to the aggiornamento of ecumenism and modernism - mammon. Has anyone alerted the cardinal of Cologne that what he denied has a fragrance that rises putrified to Heaven? Evidently not. Meisner regrets his holocaust remarks. We regret he was ever elevated to the episcopate, let alone the red-hat, but then we have come to expect lukewarmness and uncatholicity from the German prelates. Can you say Cardinals Walter Kasper, Karl Lehmann, and, yes, Joseph Ratzinger? Why is it that the only time these men employ Gestapo tactics is against Traditional Catholics? Good question, and don't bother to file an offense complaint for that remark because it's the truth, it's documented and we stand by it. We will not regret stating the horrors of the Holocaust in the Womb. What we will regret - and every Catholic must realize this as well - is if we don't sound the clarion for the innocent the consequences will be dire at each person's Particular Judgment for we all have a far, far superior Authority to answer to. Now Meisner is one who will vote in conclave. With that calibre there's not a lot of hope for the Holy Ghost to work within. Nevertheless, Meisner is one who agreed to sit down with Robert Moynihan of Inside The Vatican Magazine. We present it here because at least Moynihan is credible compared to the secular media.
"When I asked whether the next Pope will necessarily be one of the present College of Cardinals, he said, 'No, not necessarily.' 'Then it might be a man who is only a bishop?' I asked. 'Why not?' he said. 'It is permitted. There is nothing in canon law against it.'"
Exclusive NEWSFLASH from Inside the Vatican!
VATICAN CITY, April 5, 2005 -- Never has Rome been so filled with words, and yet so silent. Never have so many major world news organizations devoted so much time and energy to chronicling, minute by minute, the events surrounding the death and funeral of a Pope.
And never have such crowds of people waited in a line on the via della Conciliazione to enter St. Peter's Basilica.
And yet, the predominant quality of the evening was silence.
Despite occasional prayers and hymns played over loudspeakers, and sung by groups in the long line, the essential impression I had was of silence. People were waiting for three hours, four hours, five hours, to walk into St. Peter's Basilica and glimpse the corpse of Pope John Paul II for just a few minutes.
The cardinals who have already arrived in Rome met this morning and clarified two puzzles: Pope John Paul's funeral will be Friday morning, April 8, at 10 am in St. Peter's Square; and his body will be buried in the crypt beneath the main altar of the basilica, not in Poland.
During the evening, by chance, I met Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud walking on via della Conciliazione with two of his assistants. I asked him a question which the BBC had asked me earlier in the day, and I had been unable to answer: "What other decisions did the cardinals make today?"
"To speak with one voice," he said. "That is, to refer all questions to Monsignor Marini (the Master of Papal Ceremonies under John Paul II)."
I persisted for a moment, "But are there particular issues you still must resolve?"
"Many," he replied. And then he told me that he could not discuss further the work of the cardinals.
Earlier in the day, I had been received by Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, Germany. Meisner had not attended the morning meeting of the cardinals. We met at 4 p.m. in the very simple pension where he is staying, just near the offices of Inside the Vatican magazine.
Meisner agreed to speak about the general principles which are guiding his thinking and reflection as he prepares to enter the papal conclave which will come a few days after John Paul's funeral.
We began by speaking about the centrality of the message of Fatima for John Paul II. Meisner has himself been to Fatima five times in the past 15 years. The first time was just after the fall of communism. Mesiner had experienced communism as the bishop of Berlin, in communist East Germany, before he became bishop of Cologne. It was Pope John Paul who ordered him to visit Fatima, saying "You are from a communist country yourself, go to Fatima. Before the light of the faith was extinguished in Eastern Europe, the light of faith was lit in Portugal just half a year before. Blessed be Portugal!"
Meisner attributed the fall of communism to Pope John Paul. "The Pope pulled the carpet out from under the feet of communism," he said. "Only the one who knows God, knows man."
But the Pope also became very critical of Western societies, Meisner said.
"I made two great intellectual errors in my life," he said. "The first was thinking that communism would end only after 100 years; the second was thinking that when communism fell, all our problems would be solved. That has proven false."
He said, "Western hedonism, as communism, will also someday collapse, and perhaps even quite soon, in four weeks."
Regarding the question of collegiality: "Cardinals from the East agree on the fact that collegiality under John Paul II was great," he said. "There is a danger of relativizing the See of Peter. This would go down the wrong path. It is naive to think that this would work. During my 10 years in Berlin, living in the East and the West at once, the communists once told me: 'If we don't learn from the Catholic Church -- the tight leadership under the See of Peter -- we will fail. We can deal with the Protestants as a national religion. But the Catholics are under the leadership of this tiny man in Rome who dresses in white, a Church of a billion and more....' This means: Rome saved us!"
Regarding relations with the Orthodox: "The Orthodox see no difference between the year 1054 and 2004. For them the events of 1,000 years ago are as recent as yesterday. From a human perspective, it may take a very long time to heal this schism. But, as it says in the Psalms, God can jump over walls."
Then he spoke about the task he now faces, of entering a Conclave and choosing a successor to Pope John Paul. "Until the death of the Pope, I refused to speculate about a possible successor, out of respect for the Holy Father. Yesterday, I began to think. There are two things I know for certain: that it won't be me, and that it will be someone else. The one I have in mind is as intelligent as a dozen professors and as devout as a child receiving its first communion."
Meisner said the quality that marked the man he was thinking about was "joyfulness" in his faith. He said the college of cardinals is not a homogenous body, and that he hopes and trusts that the Holy Spirit will be among them and guide them. He said he hopes that the cardinals will clearly express their views, but also that they will be flexible.
When I asked whether the next Pope will necessarily be one of the present College of Cardinals, he said, "No, not necessarily." "Then it might be a man who is only a bishop?" I asked. "Why not?" he said. "It is permitted. There is nothing in canon law against it."