Southern Religion

Papal fear of schism

Pope Benedict’s obsessive “horror” of schism may have lit the un-excommunication wildfire, suggests Martin E. Marty of the University of Chicago Divinity School.

Certainly papal efforts to damp the fire following his Jan. 24 un-excommunications of four right-wing bishops have made it hotter, especially now in Germany.

Today Bild reported:

Theologian Hermann Haering went so far as to say that the Pope should resign: “If the Pope wants to do something good for the church, he should step down.”
But Hamburg bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschke told BILD:
“A mistake was made and it was in his name. He was probably badly advised. There is now a need for damage limitation, the rehabilitation process should be stopped. People want to hear clear words. If he had known what the unenlightened Williamson had said, he would not have undone the excommunication. The matter was badly dealt with.”

Marty approaches it tongue in cheek, asking:

How and why did he get into this situation?
Theories abound, as they did when the Vatican-Muslim flap occurred.
This time is different, says Father [Edwart T.] Oakes, [writing in the Jan. 30 Wall Street Journal], since the offenders are not medieval Byzantine rulers (as in the Muslim case) but living, breathing excommunicated schismatics for whom the pope will do anything, including offend the whole Jewish world and millions of bystanders, among them those who do remember the Holocaust, in order to reincorporate Bishop Williamson and his three Episcopal leaders in the Pius X society.
Put simply, as Father Oakes and numerous Catholic commentators have thus put it:
Benedict XVI has such a horror of schism that he and his team can let almost anything else go – including Pius X Society’s insults to the Vatican II bishops and their successors, and interpretations of Catholicism which the previous pope and team adjudged to be heretical – in order to stall or demolish schismatic movements.

Unlike Bishop Jaschke, Marty doesn’t lay blame at the feet of Vatican curia who should somehow have better advised their pope. Instead Marty asks:

“Is Benedict XVI” too much the history-preoccupied German scholar, driven by the memory of Martin Luther and “other 16th century ‘schismatics'” and consumed by “an inordinate fear of repetition?”

“We’ll wait and see,” he teases, leaving us with the contingent vision of an irrational, obsession-driven pope. Very much the man who should, as Haering said, “step down.”


Vatican demands holocaust-denier repudiate his positions.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Papal fear of schism

U.S. Bishops demand a stern standard for full reconciliation

The price of full reconciliation of the four disastrously un-excommunicated, right-wing Catholic Bishops?

A full-throated end to their anti-Semitism and holocaust denial, demanded the The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday.

Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, the president of the group, also “called the statements by Bishop Richard Williamson ‘deeply offensive and utterly false’ and called the outrage from Jews and Catholics ‘understandable.'”

Specifically about full reconciliation, reported the Boston Globe, George said:

The Holy Father’s lifting of the excommunications is but a first step toward receiving these four bishops, and the priests who serve under them, back into full communion with the Catholic Church. If these bishops are to exercise their ministry as true teachers and pastors of the Catholic Church, they, like all Catholic bishops, will have to give their assent to all that the Church professes, including the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Mention of the Second Vatican Council is important here. because it resulted in the church’s renunciation of anti-Semitism and led to a historic warming of relations between Catholics and Jews.

Until Tuesday the U.S. Catholic bishops were largely silent on the matter, thus provoking criticism.

Now, they are apparently pushing back against any real or perceived Vatican impulse to give the bishops of the Society of Saint Pius X any but the most exacting path to full reconciliation.

Pushing back is what service of their church requires, given the pope’s refusal to invest more heavily in quieting the waters he has whipped into an unrelenting storm.


Vatican demands holocaust-denier repudiate his positions.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | anti-Semitism, Catholic, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment