Friday, April 2, 2010

Ratzinger is a better Pope.

Some of you might have been following the controversy over Ratzinger's tenure as Pope.  Did he do enough to stop molestation?  Some say no- nevertheless, he was apparently far more aggressive than JPII in wanted to go after priestly offenders and also some Cardinals and Bishops.  In fact, JPII apparently block some of his efforts- which it seems might put his sainthood in jeopardy.  

I find this a particularly interesting revelation because the media and a lot of Catholics I know hate Ratzinger, but loved JPII.  

Now I certainly admire JPII helping free eastern Europe- even if this isn't really part of the job description of a minister of the Word.  I also admire his hardline on abortion and homosexual practice.  Nevertheless, if you read about his tenure as pope, in many respects it wasn't great.  He was an actor as a young man and a lot of his appearance were bizarrely staged and would cost the local bishops so much money that they would go into debt for years.  Also, from a the time he was a young boy, JPII had a extremely devotion to the virgin Mary, who his father told him (after his own mother died) was his "mother now."  Lastly, JPII showed far too much deference towards non-Christian religions- in so far as he showed some at all as far as I'm concerned!  But even in light of the post-Vatican II Catholic teaching (that people can be saved if they have will the good, but are ignorant of the truth of the gospel) he went to extremely.  The most famous example is the Koran-kissing incident.

By contrast, Ratzinger is far more serious.  He's a better theologian.  One thing I admire about his theology is its Christocentricity.  No obsession with the virgin Mary.  He's also been more serious about fighting corruption.  Beyond that, he's of course the author of Dominus Jesu, which reaffirmed the uniqueness and sole truth of the Christian faith.  No Koran kissing for him!  

Irony is of course that he has far worse press- but that's the theology of glory and the cross for you.   A person who just does their job well and does create flashy impressions is much worse off in our society (well, in basically all human societies) than someone who makes a show.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting your helpful comparative comments.

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  2. That's the central irony of this torrent of bad press: decades of pent-up invective is being directed at B16 by virtue of the fact that he doesn't wish the Roman Catholic Church to be the custodian of dirty secrets any longer. Because of this, I expect a steady stream of new outrages to come to light for a while: we've seen that Benedict doesn't like unfairly negative press coverage, but he's not afraid of it as many bishops have been (and still are), allowing them to rationalize the cover-up of an epidemic of grave sin under the pretext of protecting the church's good name. It is an extremely courageous, and yes, Christlike, posture of the current Pope to invite the heaping of others' well-deserved shame on himself as he deals with this.

    Honestly, I've been impressed by the few works of theology I've seen by Ratzinger, but I'd never thought of Benedict as a pastor until I read his letter to Ireland and heard about his planned visits there. The letter was very impressive (and the visits seemed quite courageous, a personally risky move), and what I've read since then has only increased my opinion of him.

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