December 3-9, 2001
volume 12, no. 159

Strange bedfellows?!

Why do conservatives not acknowledge that Cardinal Ratzinger is buying into the progressivism of a radical like retired Archbishop John Quinn?

    I would respectfully ask the conservative milieu to pay particular attention to the following. Please, if you are part of this circle, ask yourself if what you're reading is correct, and be sure that the source is faithful. You may be surprised because the words I will report comes from the mouth of the man whom conservatives have put such hope in, whom they trusted was sincerely seeking to conserve Catholic perennial values in an unbalanced progressivist Church. I am speaking of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The enthusiasm for Ratzinger varies, depending on how strongly the conservative is committed to his cause. I can classify the different degrees of adhesion by some simple slogans: Cardinal Ratzinger: the hope. Cardinal Ratzinger: the solution. Cardinal Ratzinger: the hero. Cardinal Ratzinger: the infallible…

    Now, let me report some facts.

    While the Papacy is an essential element of the Church, there are many possible ways to decentralize governing functions in the Catholic Church, said Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican Congregation of Doctrine. "Undoubtedly, regional forums which take on even some of the functions until now carried out by Rome are necessary," the Cardinal said in a book-length interview with journalist Peter Seewald. The book God and the World by Ratzinger was published in German in October 2000 and was set for a late September release in Italy. In its September 13 edition the Italian Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana published the book's chapter on the Papacy.

    Seewald asked Ratzinger if he thought St. Peter would recognize today's exercise of the papal office as having anything to do with his own exercise of authority over the infant Church. For instance, being head of the Vatican State, being a global voice for morality, writing encyclicals, naming Bishops throughout the world, how can a Pope find time for the prayer that must inspire his ministry? Seewald asked.

    "Many of the things you listed can be changed," the Cardinal responded. "One could discuss the ways in which forms of decentralization could lighten papal functions," he stated, adding that in 1995 Pope John Paul II called for an ecumenical discussion on the exercise of the papal office. "Various voices already have been raised," Ratzinger said. "Retired Archbishop [John R.] Quinn of San Francisco has vigorously argued for the need for decentralization. Certainly, much can be done in this area" (National Catholic Reporter, September 28, 2001).

    If my reader is not familiar with the theses of Archbishop Quinn he can read a booklet in which I analyzed his Oxford lecture The Claims of the Primacy and the Costly Call for Unity, 1996, and his book The Reform of the Papacy, 1999. (My booklet, titled Petrine Primacy Challenged is available from Tradition in Action - PO Box 23135 - Los Angeles - CA - 90023 - $ 6.00 + $ 3.00 shipping & handling).

    For the blind-conservatives who still think that Ratzinger must be obeyed in everything he says, now there is this new repugnant plate: they have to swallow retired Archbishop John R. Quinn's theses with Ratzinger's approval. Will the conservatives be able to digest the plate and remain obedient servants of the "infallible" Cardinal? I hope not. Will they finally suffer an indigestion that will make them realize the bad food they have been eating for some time now? I can only hope they will come to realize where true obedience ends and blind obedience begins. For once they are able to begin to make these distinctions, it is a signal that their blindness is being cured. I sincerely hope for their full recovery of sight and invite my readers to pray for it.

Atila Sinke Guimarães

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For past columns by Atila, see Archives of On the BattleLine

December 3-9, 2001
volume 12, no. 159
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