Browse Our Articles & Podcasts

Benedict XVI Admits Qualms of Conscience about Vatican II

After the German publisher Droemer Verlag first released it on 9 September 2016, much has already been deeply discussed and variously reported about Benedict XVI’s new interview-book, Benedikt XVI. Letzte Gespräche (Benedict XVI – Last Conversations) which so far has only been published in the German language. It has been shown, for example, how the former pope supports whole-heartedly Pope Francis’ papacy and how he still defends his decision to leave his Petrine office, not calling it a flight, but, rather, a calm, fearless move on his part. It has now also been reported that the former pope insists that the Church was in a good state when he himself decided to leave his office.

Another part of the book, however, will also be of much interest to the Catholic world, inasmuch as Joseph Ratzinger discusses in that section his own role at the Second Vatican Council and even the often destructive consequences of this Church event. Only recently, in March of 2016, he had already made some critical remarks about the Council which soon attracted world-wide attention. For, Ratzinger had described a “two-sided deep crisis,” especially with regard to the Church’s own missionary work following the Second Vatican Council. Now in his new book, he seems to admit that he has qualms of conscience with regard to his own involvement as a peritus at the Council, even if he still insists that the Council itself was necessary. In the following, I shall present some larger portions of the new book’s chapter on the Second Vatican Council, inasmuch as this Council still haunts the Catholic Church and still repeatedly stirs much debate. This chapter is entitled:Konzil: Traum und Trauma” (“Council: Dream and Trauma”) and can be found on pages 142-167 of the book. I will make intermittent references to some of the pages.

In the text, Benedict XVI admits to have been a “Progressive” at the time of the Second Vatican Council. As the journalist Peter Seewald shows with the help of his somewhat leading questions, Ratzinger also had a leading role in the preparatory work of the Council. He had gotten to know Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany, who himself was member of the Preparatory Commission of the Council. Frings at some point invited Ratzinger to write down his own comments and criticisms on each of the schemata (drafts) that he himself had first received from the Commission. As Seewald points out, Frings even used Ratzinger’s own texts which he later presented during those sessions of the Council at which Ratzinger himself was not present.

Der K?Âlner Kardinal Joseph Frings (r) nahm den jungen Theologieprofessor Joseph Ratzinger als Berater mit zum Konzil nach Rom (undatiertes Foto). Ratzinger war am Dienstag (19.04.2005) in Rom zum neuen Papst gew?ñhlt worden. Er nennt sich Benedikt XVI. dpa/lby (nur s/w) +++(c) dpa - Report+++ [ Rechtehinweis: Verwendung weltweit, usage worldwide ]
Fr. Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Josef Frings
Again, through Seewald’s searching questions, we learn that it was Fring’s speech on 19 November 1961 in Genoa, Italy – almost a year before the official start of the Council in October of 1962 – that thus “gave a new orientation to the Council.” (p. 143) As Seewald says: “He [Frings]  gave the speech, but it was your text.” Pope John XXIII, as Seewald recounts it, invited Cardinal Frings for a conversation in which he told the cardinal: “Your Eminence, I have to thank you. This night, I have read your speech [of 19 November 1961]. What a happy concordance in the way we think.” Ratzinger confirms that he heard of this meeting with John XXIII from Cardinal Frings personally. Ratzinger himself was not to meet the pope personally, because “then he [John XXIII]  was already seriously ill.” (p. 145)

The former pope also recalls how he was always present at the meetings at the Villa Mater Dei which were organized by Bishop Hermann Volk. Ratzinger says: “That is also where I then met Lubac….” When asked, how this first personal meeting was with de Lubac, Ratzinger answers: “It was dazzling for me to finally see him in person. He was very simple, very humble, and very gracious. It was immediately as if we were old friends.” Ratzinger adds that “he was always very heartfelt and truly brotherly. Daniélou also was a blithe and convival man (Jean Daniélou, a French cardinal).” In the former pope’s eyes, de Lubac was a very industrious man – just like the French Cardinal Yves Congar who “always continued to work without break at the Theological Commission.”

When asked whom of all the theologians he cherishes most, Ratzinger answers: “I would say Lubac and Balthasar.” He adds that it was “utmost exciting” to meet and speak “with such great figures” as Lubac,  Daniélou and Congar. He himself then participated at the sessions at St. Peter’s “from the moment when I became an official Council Theologian [appointed by the pope directly; Ratzinger was to become an official Council Theologian beginning at the Second Council Session (Sep.-Dec 1963) and remaining thereafter].” When coming first to Rome in these years, Ratzinger admits to having had

a sort of an anti-Roman sentiment. Not in the sense that we denied the primacy – the obedience toward the pope – but, rather, that one had, after all, a certain inner reserve with regard to the theology made in Rome. In this sense, there was a certain distancing. I myself, however, never went so far as my fellow student who said: “If at all, then I rather travel to Jerusalem than to Rome!”

However, Ratzinger admits to not having had “a special urge to go to Rome.” When finally arriving in Rome on Easter of 1962 for the first time in his life, he stressed how much he was impressed with seeing the sites of “early Rome,” the catacombs, the Necropolis under St. Peter’s, the early churches – because “there was the origin palpable.” Again, he stresses his attentiveness to the “continuity stemming from its origin.” This attitude will be found also in Ratzinger’s own work during the Council, namely: to return to the origins and to bypass the Thomistic theology. But, we shall come to that later.

First, Ratzinger describes how he was impressed with Pope John XXIII when talking about his first trip to Rome and about the Council itself:

There was already inherent in it the enthusiasm which John XXIII had awakened. He fascinated me from the beginning with his complete lack of conventionality. I liked that he was so direct, so simple, so human.

When asked whether he was a follower of John XXIII, the former pope answers: “Yes, that I was.” And he insisted on that when he was further asked whether he was a “real fan”: “A real fan, one can say that.” Ratzinger recounts how it was “a moving moment” when the Council was announced, and it caused “great hopes.” He himself participated in all four sessions, from beginning to the end. Ratzinger admits to not having been too well-versed in Latin at the time of the Council. (Later, a priest friend assured us, Ratzinger was to become even an excellent speaker of Latin.) “I never studied theology in Latin,” says the German theologian, “we made everything in German.” (p. 153)

The former pope also tells Seewald that, during the Council, he himself was part of the “Progressives,” even though “then ‘progressive’ did not yet mean that one breaks out of the Faith, but, rather, that one learns to understand it better and lives it more correctly, out of the origins.” Ratzinger continues:

At that time, I was of the opinion that that is what we all want. Famous Progressivists like Lubac, Daniélou et cetera thought alike. The change was palpable already during the second Conciliar year [1963], but it became clearer only in the course of the following years.

It is worthwhile at this point to quote another question by Seewald since it is, in itself, very informative. The German journalist says:

New research shows that your contribution at the side of Cardinal Frings has been much greater than you yourself have shown it. We already mentioned the Speech of Genoa. Additionally, before the opening of the Council, there was a first speech for the the German-speaking bishops at the Anima [the Collegio Teutonico di Santa Maria dell’Anima, the historic Pontifical College for German Priests], as a kind of briefing. Then follows the instruction for Frings to torpedo the election of the [members of the]  ten Conciliar Commissions which was planned for 13 October [1962]; and which would have favored the candidates chosen by the Roman Curia.

Ratzinger responds with some reserve to this question, saying that this “instruction for Frings” was “fully his [Frings’]  own initiative.” He continues:

I did not enmesh myself in these bureaucratic, technical, or political things. That was truly his idea that the Council first should get to know each other in order to elect the members of the Commissions out of its own midst.

The former pope also describes how people were surprised by Frings’ effectively “revolutionary” initiatives and leadership, saying that this cardinal was then certainly “known to be very conservative and strict.” Frings himself explained once to Ratzinger that he considered that there is a difference between ruling one’s own diocese in obedience to the pope and being invited by the pope to “co-govern” the Church at the Council and thus “to take up one’s own responsibility.” Ratzinger thinks that Frings did not have a clear plan of reform when arriving at the Council, but that he had shared all the schemata with Ratzinger ahead of time. The former pope comments on the schemata which he himself

did not judge so negatively as they have later been assessed to be. I then had sent him [Frings] many corrections, but the structure as a whole – except for the decree on Revelation – I did not touch. We [Frings and Ratzinger]  agreed that the fundamental orientation was there, but that there was still much to improve. That is to say, that the current Magisterium had to be less dominant and that the [Holy]  Scripture and the [Church]  Fathers were to have more weight.

Here again, Seewald’s own searching question is worth mentioning. He says that Ratzinger is said to have had “a decisive role at the ‘insurrectionary assembly’ [Putschversammlung]  at the German Priest’s College Anima on 15 October 1962.” At that meeting, according to the German journalist, a text was produced as an alternative to the Roman Draft which then was 3000 times copied and distributed among the Council Fathers. Ratzinger demurs somewhat in his response: “To call it an ‘ insurrectionary assemby’ is too much. But we were of the opinion that, especially with regard to the topic of Revelation, one had to speak differently from how it was then transpiring there.” He continues, further showing his own intellectual distance from Thomistic Scholasticism: “The [original]  draft had been written in the neo-scholastic style and it did not take sufficient account of our own insights.” Since Revelation was his specialty, Ratzinger admits to having played an active role in that debate, “but all of it was at the invitation of, and under the eyes of, His Eminence [Cardinal Frings].” When he was later accused of having “duped” Frings, he rejected it. “We were both convinced that we had to serve here the cause of the Faith and of the Church,” explains Ratzinger. He then adds:

Also, in order to clarify the true relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium – both with new notions and in a new way to approach the matter so that it can truly be more understood and justified. And that way was then also later  adopted [by the Council].

For the former pope, he – together with his progressive colleagues (mostly cardinals) – was merely developing new ideas. “I do not know how this then spread into the whole Council,” he admits. “Of course we were then to be showered with polemics. That this [innovation]  was a typically freemasonic text and such things.” (p. 156) When asked whether this is true, Ratzinger confirms it even with some laughter, saying: “Yes, yes. Even though I really should not be under suspicion of being a freemason.”

Again, Seewald shows the continuation of Ratzinger’s influence on the Council: “They were your arguments and your text which Cardinal Frings thus presented on 14 November 1962” and which then “made everything tumble.” With it, the original draft and plan was “off the table,” the ones that would “have blocked everything”; and now “everything could be discussed freely” – according to Seewald. In his additional response to Seewald’s question, the former pope describes how there was at the vote only a slight majority for the conservative schemata. He adds: “But then Papa Giovanni saw that this majority was too thin to be sustainable, and thus he decided that it shall be redone all over again.” Ratzinger makes clear that he was glad about this decision:

We were then all very interested in seeing what the pope would do [after the vote]. And very glad that he said we will start all over again, even though the pure legal situation would have allowed us to preserve the old state.

Seewald’s own follow-up question shows once more Ratzinger’s own important role at the Council when he points out that only seven days later, on 21 November 1962, the Council Fathers rejected the schema on the “’Sources of Revelation’, which you [Ratzinger]  had so heavily criticized.” Seewald says to Ratzinger:

You wrote at the time that the text was “influenced by the anti-modernist way of thinking.” It had a tone which was “frigid, yes, nearly shocking.” You yourself then saw this removal [of the original schema on Revelation]  as the real turning point of the Council.

In a laughing tone, the former pope responds, saying that “I am now astonished myself with what boldness I spoke in those days.” He confirms that “this was a true turning point – that is to say, it removed one of the presented texts and there was a complete new start of the discussions.”

When asked about his collaboration with Karl Rahner, Ratzinger reveals that it was easy to work with Rahner – who was twenty-three years older than he – because he was willing to encourage younger theologians. The former pope adds:

When working with him [Rahner]  on the text, however, I realized that we were coming from two different worlds of thought. He came fully out of Scholasticism, which was a great advantage for him, because he was thus able much more to enter into the common context of discussion. While I myself, after all, came from the Bible and from the Fathers.

Ratzinger also explains that he mostly worked with Rahner in 1962 and that it was easy to write together their various texts because they had “a common basic idea and basic intention.” (This was left unspecified.)

In another context, Seewald asks Ratzinger about the incident in which he himself strongly contradicted Pope Paul VI when “he not only stopped the Old Missal, but also at the same time forbade it.” (An expression which stands in contradiction to Pope Benedict’s own words in 2007 according to which the Old Mass “never has been abrogated.”) The former pope objects to this question, saying that “’strongly’ is a little bit too much.” He explains that the pope did not punish him for his criticism because “he was certainly convinced that I, all in all, followed fully his own line – which was true.” (What “his own line” was is again left unspecified.)

At the end of this important chapter which shows Cardinal Ratzinger’s own involvement in the Second Vatican Council in detail, Peter Seewald raises the idea that Ratzinger later started having doubts about those innovative developments during, and then right after, the Council; and he asks him whether “it is part of the tragedy of the Council that here started a new split within the Church which, essentially, continues even until today.” The former pope confirms this description, saying:

I would say, yes. The will of the bishops was to renew the Faith, to deepen it. However, there were, more and more, other forces effective – especially journalists – who interpreted the things in a fully new way. At some point, people started to ask: “If the bishops can change everything, why can we not do the same?” The liturgy started to crumble and to slide into randomness. In this regard, one could see that that which had been positively willed was then being pushed into another direction. Since 1965, I felt it to be my mission to clarify what we truly want and what we do not want.

Seewald subsequently asks the former pope an important and piercing question: “As a participant, as a co-responsible person, did one not also have some qualms of conscience?” Ratzinger answers:

One does indeed ask oneself whether one did it the right way. Especially when the whole thing went off the rails, this was certainly a question that one raised. Cardinal Frings later had very strong qualms of conscience. But I always had the consciousness that what we had factually said and implemented was right and that it also needed to happen. In itself, we acted correctly – even if we certainly did not correctly assess the political effects and the factual consequences. One was thinking too much in a theological way and one did not consider what consequences the things would have.

When asked whether it was a mistake to convoke the Council at all, Ratzinger insists:

No, it was certainly right. Well, one of course could have asked whether it was necessary or not. And there were from the beginning people who were against it. In itself, however, there was a moment in the Church where one simply expected something new, a renewal, a renewal coming out of the whole – not only coming from Rome – unto a new encounter for the Universal Church. In this regard, the hour was simply there. (p. 167)

The former pope also confirms that, later, when he was himself pope, he indeed tried to incorporate some special elements of the Council – such as (in Seewald’s words) “a new physiognomy of the primacy which should lead more to a ‘togetherness’ of pope and bishops,” and also the fostering of a “spirit of simplicity.” He then responds to Seewald’s implicitly interrogatory comment (“Is this description correct?”) with only two simple words: “Yes, absolutely.”

Thus the former pope again seems to show that, despite certain reservations, he is still essentially a man of the Council – though some qualms of conscience may yet remain.

174 thoughts on “Benedict XVI Admits Qualms of Conscience about Vatican II”

  1. “No, it was certainly right. Well, one of course could have asked whether it was necessary or not. And there were from the beginning people who were against it. In itself, however, there was a moment in the Church where one simply expected something new, a renewal, a renewal coming out of the whole – not only coming from Rome – unto a new encounter for the Universal Church. In this regard, the hour was simply there.”

    I don’t think that was much of an endorsement. In light of the chaos, decay, and dissent that followed, one finds much irony in BXVI defense. Both Saint JPII and BXVI were heavily involved in VII. JPII, went as far as saying he was a VII priest. The expectations were high. But, the results were disastrous.

    • Something is not right here. Why would our Holy Father, Benedict, not continue with the split, if that was intention from the start? He knew the results were disastrous and tried to do something about that until the lobby decided to intervene.

      • NDaniels, Fr. Ratzinger was not a Council Father, but a young peritus – a theologian adviser – to a Council Father, Cardinal Frings, at that time. So it’s not clear how he could have moved the direction of the Council except through Frings.

        The irony, of course, is that Pope Benedict is the last remaining attendee of the Council – everyone else has died – and the fact that he later became pope places a burden on his shoulders to explain what happened at the Council, how it happened, why it is so flawed, and should he take a part of the blame?

        I believe that as pope, Benedict tried very hard to square the circle but he could only go so far, i.e., his “hermeneutic of continuity.” After all, Vatican II met all the requirements of a valid and legitimate council of the Church in the sense that it was attended and approved by all the bishops of the world and the pope(s) – John XXIII’ and Paul VI.

        It might not have been possible for him to amend, much less, revoke Vatican II. Might not. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. “In this regard, the hour was simply there.”

    This is an almost anti-Ratzingerian phrase. It lacks the force of clarity he usually has when explaining complex topics. It’s more of a disembodied accusation towards a general spirit of things. He is describing a presence, one that turned out to be unrefusable. “Spirits” have to be invited, every exorcist will tell you plainly. It seems to me the spirit of Vatican II was hostile and invited at the same time: “Oh, you want change? Well you can have it, but you have to accept something else I won’t tell you about, but don’t worry about. That is deal. Sign here”.

    This is the most naive thing I have heard him say, ever. It’s so contradictory though, it’s hard to process. He is describing a demonic peer pressure that was both welcome and unwelcome, it seems.

    “Why did you participate in this council?”…”It’s not my fault, it’s the council you gave me, and it deceived me”.

    That is what I hear. The deception of Vatican II is archetypal, garden-like.

  3. The more I read this man the more I find him to be weak, chaotic and confused of thought. Admittedly he is 90 years old, but he is speaking of his condition {with clarity} of some 50 years ago and it appears to be then as now.

    We all know he is the champion of “No Rupture” and yet he goes on to say that in effect {as if we need any proof…} that there HAS been a rupture in terms of the practice and internal struggles inside the Church today. Can the current Pope be said to reign in continuity with the spirit {and at times, the letter} of the perennial Magesterium? Just try affirming that with a straight face…

    Ratzinger also seems, to me, to be a man who shirks responsibility for his own actions. This troubles me, as I was attracted to the Church partly by this man. Admitting things did not go well, but dodging the obvious; they didn’t go well because he and his allies in no uncertain terms led the Church at least partly down the wrong trail.

    I also am struck, as if with a hammer like the next steer in the butcher chute…at his statements of how he came from a position of the Bible and Fathers and not from a position of Thomism. His implications are curious. Now, his lack of Thomistic loyalty may be obvious, but it his notion that there was an “us” that clung to the Bible is laughable in light of the fact that we all know; that those who were Progressives at V2 were the first to dump the teachings of Scripture in favor of modernism, Freemasonry, and flatout immorality. Maybe HE personally didn’t want to go there, but certainly those who favored his approach did. I guess I am myself in confusion as to what he means by asserting that his {and their} approach was “more Biblical” than that taken by the Conservatives… In the final analysis, judged by WHAT standard?

    I’d submit, that in today’s world, in the aftermath of the Council, it is precisely those who supported the other approach, the Thomistic approach, whose goals have been far more Biblical and far more in keeping with the Fathers, in short, with the entire perennial Magesterium of the Church! I don’t buy the notion that the Church’s Thomistic approach is inherently UNBiblical, which Ratzinger seems to imply, especially when his “Biblical” approach has produced men like Pope Francis who misquote Scripture directly. {EG para 1621, etc}.

    No, folks, we have problems. Real problems.

    We need men of character who are willing to lead the Church with clarity.

    A question for Pope-Emeritus {whatever that is…} Benedict: If yours was such a Biblical approach, then why is the fruit of your tree so clearly rotten? Why is the fruit of your tree Francis and others who play so fast and loose with the Bible AND the Magesterium?

    Nah, I don’t buy it. I don’t buy the “we were more Biblical” assertion. So much chaos.

    I think what the Pope-Emeritus really means is not that his approach was “Biblical” but rather, that by using that term as a euphemism, what he really means is that it was more “Protestant”.

    If a tree produces apples, it’s an apple tree. I am tired in the Catholic Church of being told to see something other than what is right in front of my eyes. Complying with such demands is not seeing with faith, it is succumbing to delusion.

    Much to think about here.

    Thank you Maike, again.

    And, as always; God Save the Catholic Church.

    • Now, his lack of Thomistic loyalty may be obvious, but it his notion that there was an “us” that clung to the Bible is laughable in light of the fact that we all know; that those who were Progressives at V2 were the first to dump the teachings of Scripture in favor of modernism, Freemasonry, and flatout immorality.

      It makes sense, though, when you understand that the liberal camp at the Council was in reality TWO camps: a more aggressive “Aggiornomento” liberal camp, more eager to embrace new theologies; and a more “Ressourcement” camp, which drew more from patristic sources (which it felt had become too obscured through the heavy commentatorial tradition filters employed by the dominant neo-Thomism of the day) as its starting points. At the time, these divisions only became fully clear at the end of – really, after – the Council, especially when the former camp (Kung, Schillebeecks, Rahner, Metz, Congar et al) established itself in the new Concilium journal, and the latter (Ratzinger, Wojtyla, Balthasar, de Lubac et al) later moved off to found the journal Communio.

      So who is “us?” I think when Ratzinger use the term, I think he thinks mainly in terms of the Communio camp. Some of them felt a sense of betrayal when, indeed, things rapidly moved off in a clear direction of rupture that seemed indifferent even to patristic starting points, not just Thomistic ones. And it was the Concilium camp, which embraced the Bologna School reception of the Council as a rupture, which quickly came to dominate Catholic discourse and control of the intermediate institutions of the Church in most of the world by the late 60’s, with even the Ressourcement/Communio faction increasingly marginalized.

      I’m not saying this as a full-throated defense of Ratzinger, because I too live on a different theological planet than he does – I think Thomism has to be essential to any firm grounding of the faith. But the differences between Ratzinger and some of these more radical theologians and bishops are there, even in 1962-65.

      • I think your assessment makes very, very good sense of the history and of Ratzinger’s words in this article. Your name list highlights the pretty clear split as it existed, and among their “descendants”, as it still is today.

      • Thank you for this post. I don’t remember reading about the “two camps” in Amerio’s Iota Unum (from a long time ago). But your explanation does make sense and feels strangely comforting.

        • Amerio’s book is an indispensable book to read, of course, for those wanting to understand the crisis in the Church.

          He doesn’t really go into this factional question, because he only spends about 20 pages on the course of the Council, and he’s mainly interested in how the documents ended up, and what procedural abuses were needed to get there.

          For a more in-depth history of the Council, I would recommend Roberto de Mattei’s The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story.

          • Thank you, Richard. I’m sure I’ve read De Mattei’s book, too, but as with the Amerio book, it, too, has disappeared. Sometimes I could not tell anymore between Amerio and De Mattei. They’re both towering Vaticanistas.

            Thanks again and God bless.

          • Glad to be of help, Mara.

            Most traditionalists, of course, don’t really accept the Communio/Ressourcement approach, seeing the Council as a rupture with the tradition – but unlike the Bologna School, they think it is a bad thing. They also tend (as I do) to see the rejection of so much of the Thomistic tradition in the Nouvelle Theologie figures of the Communio movement as more problematic. (And within the Communio movement, there are differences as well.)

            Nonetheless, it’s important to understand these distinctions, which can be too easy for a traditionalist to overlook or elide. The party that “won” at Vatican II, defeating the traditionalists, was really a grouping of different parties (and a fair number of bishops who went along with the flow, or because they thought the Pope wanted it). What brought them together was a restless sense of dissatisfaction with the theological terrain as it existed by the 1950’s. But those dissatisfactions weren’t always from the same motives or premises.

            I am glad at any rate that you brought up Amerio, who presented what was, arguably, the first serious scholarly critique of the Conciliar project from a traditional Catholic perspective. It does not answer all of these questions, but it remains an essential starting point.

      • The Communio school of thought does not reject St. Thomas in any way. The Ressourcement movement is not about rejecting Thomas, but about drawing on all the sources of Tradition, as Ratzinger highlights in this interview (he specifically mentions Scripture and the Fathers of the Church). What the Communio thinkers were against was not Thomism, but a tendency to reduce the whole Tradition to Scholasticism and sometimes to Thomas personally, in a way that (ironically) was not in keeping with the Angelic Doctor’s own thought or approach to theology.

        St. Thomas himself was steeped in Scripture, doing extensive commentary/exegesis, and he was extremely well-versed in the Fathers of the Church. He also read pagan philosophers (Aristotle), Jews (Maimonides), and Muslims (Averroes, Avicenna). Thomas never watered down the Faith, and he did not allow his thought to be corrupted by error, but he was not afraid to read a wide variety of sources, including authors hostile to Christianity, in his theological work. A major point of the Communio authors is that if we want to be truly Thomist, we must do theology as Thomas did. He is a model not only in terms of the content of his doctrine, but in terms of the method by which he approached the science of theology.

        John Paul II, himself a Communio-type thinker, devotes a large portion of Veritatis splendor to St. Thomas, challenging theologians to look to his example and strive to unite faith and reason as excellently as Thomas did. The Communio thinkers do not ask us to move away from Thomas, but to read him always in the context of the whole Tradition.

        As for the Council, Ratzinger seems to be acknowledging that the Communio-type thinkers were naive in how they approached the Council. The Communio-type participants allied themselves with men who ultimately proved to be led not by the Holy Spirit but by “the spirit of Vatican II,” united by what they thought was a common desire to correct some exaggerations of Neo-Scholasticism. But the “spirit of Vatican II” group intended not only to move away from Neo-Scholasticism, but to move away from the whole Tradition. The fault of the Communio thinkers was not in a bad theology (their theology is not Modernist), but in failing to anticipate the earthquake that the “spirit of Vatican II” faction was about to unleash in the Church. They founded the journal in the 70s in an effort to correct course, but by then much of the biggest damage had already been done.

        • I would simply say that the Communio school was a broad group, with a particular focus on retrieving patristic sources (usually on what was assumed to be their own terms, rather than expressly scholastic ones).

          Some worked in Thomistic frameworks – Wojtyla (who represents more of a Thomist-personalist fusion) springs to mind. Others were expressly working in other traditions – Ratzinger himself has always been clear that he is preeminently an Augustinian. Balthasar is even harder to categorize.

    • I’d submit, that in today’s world, in the aftermath of the Council, it is precisely those who supported the other approach, the Thomistic approach, whose goals have been far more Biblical and far more in keeping with the Fathers, in short, with the entire perennial Magesterium of the Church!

      Bang on comment, RTHEVR. This whole “ressourcement” movement of which Ratzinger was a key player is redolent of Protestantism, as in “We have to get back to true Christianity by peeling back all those ugly medieval accretions…” Which explains, for example, why Benedict XVI could not countenance the idea of a confessional state, though this was clearly taught by the very Thomist Leo XIII, in line with the whole Aristotelian-Thomist conception of God and the State.

      • It was already condemned by Pope Pius XII as the heresy of Antiquarianism is the encyclical Mediator Dei. All these ressourcement theologians were under suppression by the Holy Office in the 1950’s.

      • “This whole “ressourcement” movement of which Ratzinger was a key player is redolent of Protestantism..” This is patently false, as the resourcement was about going back directly to the Bible and the Fathers, long before Protestantism ever existed. Besides, whilst in the 16th century Luther & Co thought they were going back to the ancient Church, they didn’t have the tools to really make a historical study of the early Church and they thought that the true Church of Christ had disappeared at some time, perhaps with Constantine. In this, I think it is important to go back to Cardinal Newman’s Essay on the Development of Doctrine. Tradidtion is not about remaining stuck in earlier periods of the life of the Church, but the Church as a living organism grows and deepens its understanding of Revelation guided by the Holy Spirit. By the way, he also went back to the Fathers and Ratzinger is a great Newman fan. There has always been theological pluralism in the Church and there should be. Whilst St. Thomas is considered the Common Doctor, that doesn’t mean that he is the only one or that only he should be followed. Imposing Thomism as the only possible theological school in the Church is not a good idea, although one cannot do theology without him, as one cannot do theology without St. Augustine or the Greek Fathers. One thing doesn’t exclude the other. Vatican II did not intend to produce any new dogma, so it didn’t need to use technical theological language.

      • Hi Margaret, Here is to hoping that you are right! A huge, massive, gigantic U turn back to the truth of the faith couldn’t happen quick enough.

    • “I am tired in the Catholic Church of being told to see something other than what is right in front of my eyes. Complying with such demands is not seeing with faith, it is succumbing to delusion.” AMEN

    • Thank you RTHEVR for your comment. I share your thoughts. My delusion with Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI started with his abdication. I could not understand how he could leave the flock, now that he was so needed. I came to the conclusion, it was weakness. Therefore, he will never contradict Pope Francis. In other words, the Truth is at stake.
      It was thanks to Divine Providence that two years ago I came across the Society of St. Pius X and with it, got deeply interested in the history of the V2 from the point of view of Archbishop M. Lefebvre. I came to the conclusion that he was right and his prophetic warnings of the consequences of V2 for the Church have come true.
      In search of the Truth through prayer and the guidance of Our Lady it became clear to me, that I become a member of the Society St Pius X. I have never regretted this decision. On the contrary, it is in this small flock of rejected and criticised Catholics that the Truth of the Catholic Church is still taught, the perennial Magisterium is kept and the Traditional Holy Mass is celebrated to offer God a sacrifice of expiation and reparation for the sins of the world. It is this small flock who daily prays for the Church and the Pope, for the poor souls in Purgatory and the poor sinners, following the wishes of Our Lady in Fatima. I can only recommend you all to find the way to the Society St Pius X and be guided by the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God bless you!

    • You might do well to read some history of theology to clear up the doubts you have. I cannot explain the matter in a short comment. He is not against St. Thomas and if you read his works, he does quote him. Theological pluralism is legitimate and has always existed in the Church. Protestants had been critically studying the Bible since the 18th century in Germany. Some Catholics bought too much into some of their errors in the first decade of the 20th century and this was perhaps rejected by Pope Pius X, with perhaps excessive severity, creating a situation of fear and even spying on theology professors. In 1943, Pope Pius XII in Divino Afflante Spiritu invited Catholic biblical scholars to apply the new methods to the study of the Bible and this was a very postive thing. Likewise, from the year 1909, the Liturgical Movement began and in 1947 Pope Pius XII published an important encyclical called Mediator Dei, which took on some of the postive results of this movement, and in the early 50s he reformed the celebration of the Paschal Triduum. In those decades there was also a renewed study of the Fathers of the Church. So, Pope Pius had taken on some of the fruits of the renewal in theology, Biblical Studies and Liturgy.

      • Well, since I hold an advanced degree in Theology I’ll just add that my study of the history of theology is EXACTLY WHY I have made the statements I have made. You might want to read them over and mull them over to boot. The rest of your statement here is irrelevant.

  4. I think Pope Benedict XVI’s explanation is very confusing. That confusion could be put down to the fact that he is 90 yrs old and his recollection of events 52 years earlier is bound to be not wholly accurate. Regardless, he must recognise the fall the Church has taken since Vatican II and therefore his qualms are understandable. Like the rest of us, Pope Benedict will have to account for his role in this life. I would not like to have to try to justify Vatican II in that circumstance.

  5. Benedict is showing himself to be someone who attention should not be paid. Time better spent would be to read ‘Iota Unum’ by Romano Amerio–A study of changes in the Catholic Church in the XXth century. Vatican II has been a catastrophic disaster for the Catholic Church and Benedict was part of it. As Pope he did little to turn the ship around. Now we have Francis. God help us all.

    • Toward the end of Iota Unum, there is a brief mention where some participants were having a meal at a restaurant [?] and Fr. Ratzinger was heard to have said that the Council (or parts of it?) could have been done better.

      I’m sorry my copy has been borrowed by some friends whom I can’t even remember, but I do recall that portion, if vaguely. Could you check it out for us? Thank you.

      • Yes, on page 731 Cardinal Ratzinger said at an interview in the summer of 1984
        “The results of the Council seem to cruelly contradict the expectations everybody had beginning with John XXIII and Paul VI: it was expected to produce a new unity among Catholics, but instead has moved from self criticism to self destruction…and thus helped to discredit the Council in the eyes of many people, etc.”

        • Thank you, Michael.

          So, okay, Ratzinger was already a cardinal when he said it. “…cruelly contradict the expectations…”; “but instead has moved from self criticism to self destruction…”

          Michael, why am I feeling so sad rereading this? Couldn’t Ratzinger, when he became pope, have done anything to remedy it (outside of Summorum Pontificum)? As pope, he was the supreme legislator of the Church.

          He could have called a synod to amend/rewrite some of the controversial and ambiguous Vatican II documents. He could have called another Council (!) – No kidding. If John XXIII had done it, why not Benedict XVI?

          Papa Bene could have abrogated the Novus Ordo Mass, just as Paul VI suppressed the Tridentine. I will forever be grateful to Benedict XVI for his Summorum Pontificum, but really, placing the Extraordinary Form alongside the Ordinary Form does not quite foster unity, does it?

          Why did he not do these things? Why did he resign?

          • My guess is lack of courage and confidence. Benedict is a bit of a mysterious figure. This whole business of dressing up like a Pope and living at the Vatican is weird. Resigning was weird. Francis is very weird.
            I would guess the devil has had a lot to do with all of this as all of it is confusing and crooked, trademarks of the evil one.

    • Whatever his faults, we do owe Benedict for the gift of Summorum Pontificum, which I think history will record as his most important act as pope – an act which, however modest it seems, was only carried through by him over massive opposition, and was an act which only he, of all possible papabili, could and would have attempted. We shouldn’t be blind to his faults, but we shouldn’t overlook this gift.

      Summorum is not the long term answer to the liturgical crisis (or the larger one of which the collapse in the liturgy is but a part). But it is an important step along the road to finding and implementing that answer.

      • Summorum Pontificum was never abrogated in the first instance so PB didn’t actually give it to us, and as he never mandated it only a very small number of Catholics worldwide have benefited. There is so much antipathy towards the Old Rite by NO Bishops that any restoration (& the consecration of Russia) will have to be mandated to get it back on the statute books.

        • You can mandate it, but it doesn’t mean that bishops will actually follow through. Even St. Pius X was heard to complain that his decrees were regularly ignored by ordinaries.

          But I agree: the traditional Roman Rite was never abrogated. Summorum was just a welcome confirmation of that (controverted) fact by the Supreme Pontiff. Modest as this was, it still opened a door through growing numbers of clergy and laity have walked since 2007 (more than in all the post-conciliar years before it).

          Any real restoration will require more than papal decrees. It will require clergy and laity actually willing to follow through on the program on the ground. And for the most part, that doesn’t exist, outside certain pockets.

          Don’t get me wrong: I would decree requiring instruction in the traditional Roman Rite in seminary instruction for all dioceses, no exceptions, along with Latin instruction. I would even require that at least one regular TLM be celebrated in every diocese. I wish Benedict had done this. But I also know it would be a brutal fight to actually implement it, and most bishops would drag their feet or even openly fight it.

          • I’m afraid the CC has lost most of its title. it is no longer One, Holy or Universal & wont’t be until TLM is brought back unreservedly. I am sure that a lot of the grave maladies enveloping the CC stem from the annihilation of the Old Rite along with the sacraments & devotions it promoted. We can only trust in Our Saviour to right the wrongs enforced upon us, as we can do nothing but pray.

  6. He tries to absolve himself (without repentance) from the disastrous outcome of VII in which he had a huge input & therefore responsibility. He is every bit a Council man as PPVI, JPII & PF. Between them all they set out to demolish the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic Church & build a new one to their own agenda. They should have known better than to take on Jesus Christ whose Church it is, founded on St. Peter & the First Apostles. They were & still are so imbued with their own feelings of superiority they don’t give a toss for God’s Law or His sheepfold. The first question Mr. Seewald should have put to him – With hand on your heart do you unreservedly believe in the Creed?

    • Don’t you think that assessment is a bit harsh? I find it hard to believe that these men actually intend to destroy the Church, to make their own Church, to “take on Jesus Christ”. Even Francis I don’t believe is desiring to destroy the Church… we need to be careful, for our own and others’ sakes. What happened in the wake of the Council and during the Council is unquestionably awful… but was this the intention of these men? PPVI, JPII, BXVI… I think they tried, honestly, to implement what the Council desired, believing that to genuinely be the will of God, to curb the excesses that came from it, to bring health to the Church. What they failed to see, or perhaps was simply to painful to see and admit, was that the Council was rotten.

      Francis I don’t think has the Council in mind so much, but has something else… Does he honestly desire to destroy the Church? No, I don’t think so… But he certainly has an agenda.

      • With the sole exception of transubstantiation, the only way you can change the substance of a thing is by destroying it and then attempting to remake it. As most of these buffoons who have been running the Church for the last 50 years are not Thomists, they probably don’t realize that they are indeed trying to destroy the Church.

        • I would say they know exactly what they are doing & as time is running out for them they are getting more hardened & deliberate in their actions in order to get the job over & done with before they pass on.

      • Regardless of motives the utter devastation of the faith is a sucking chest wound that dates from the council. One would think there would be a bit more hand wringing if the results were not intended or forseen in some way. Of course they’ve had decades to turn things around, yet haven’t. Church leaders have doubled down on stupid, in fact.

        • I think the reason the Council Fathers could not walk back Vatican II (even if they knew it too be flawed) is that having been participated in by the pope[s] and all the bishops of the world, Vatican II is a valid and legitimate council and therefore a part of the deposit of the faith that can’t be revoked.

          It may also be the reason why Benedict XVI ruled that SSPX’s lack of canonical stature is not simply a question of discipline but of doctrine.

          But maybe I’m wrong.

          • Wait. What? If error is to be considered as valid because of the mere men who spoke it, wrote it, and agreed to it at V2, then how can that be legitimate? How is that authentic?

          • Indeed.

            Many bishops were a passive bunch, in large part. And for many of them, a papal endorsement of the project bulked large. Paul VI wanted these things, and so they felt obliged to approve them. A century and more of ultramontanist agitation had left its mark.

            Of course, there were deeper reasons for many, too. There was a profound restless in the air at that point; the world wars had destroyed (what remained of) the old Catholic World, and the Cold War world was racing ahead into strange new territory shaped by two relentless and powerful materialist philosophies (Anglo-American liberalism and Soviet communism) which seemed inhospitable to a Church which refused to update itself.

            Of course, the updating they opted for turned out to be just about fatal for the patient. Just as it has been (even more so) for the liberal Protestant denominations who tried variations of it before us.

          • Using the same approach, but at a lesser degree as Amoris Laetitia (AL) – Ambiguity. In England only one bishop defied Henry VIII. How many bishops speak out against AL? Same, same.

          • Dear Eyes opened, I’m not in England, however my place of birth is Portsmouth, England and as far as I’m aware the Bishop of Portsmouth did speak out to say clearly nothing has changed. the restoration of the faith will come from a few in England as did the establishment of our faith came from 12.

            God’s faith is never a numbers game.

      • Haven’t you read Bella Dodd’s testimony admitting that she placed a thousand communist agents in CC seminaries in order to infiltrate & subvert the One Holy Catholic & Apostolic faith? Our Blessed Lady also predicted that Rome would lose the faith & the one who should speak will fall silent. In 1972 Pope Paul VI also referred to the ‘Smoke of Satan’ entering the CC.

        These men who have been running the show for the past sixty or so years are carrying out their instructions. It is impossible to believe they ever held the True Faith, as they have made the Church of Christ on earth into a political arena with man-made policies taking the place of the Ten Commandments & Sacraments. The Holy Mass they trashed long ago as that was anathema to them & since PF came to power there is no Sin, no Hell, No Catholic God (i.e. No God) but harsh words for those who believe in God & that there is Sin, Hell, Heaven, the elements of salvation in the Ten Commandments, Sacraments & Holy Mass. Dialogue, mercy without repentance, all welcome to receive Holy Communion even heinous sinners, sodomite priest dressed in rainbow colours dancing in the sanctuary, football placed in front of the Tabernacle, Light Shows on Vatican, environmental matters before salvation of souls, etc. It is quite obvious they intend to overthrow all semblance of belief in God & life after death & their snubbing of Our Lady’s requests in regard to the Consecration of Russia & Third Secret of Fatima just uphold my belief that these are Satan’s men dressed up to look like God’s apostles. Cruel, calculating & demonic.

          • Yes & as that was sixty-three years ago you can imagine that they are holding down all the important posts by now. Truly diabolical!

          • So Bella Dodd put a communist agent into the seminary, and he became a bishop, yet she never named who that bishop was? Yeah, not really buying that. Why in the world wouldn’t she say who it was?

          • I read that she told Archbishop Sheen who told her not to divulge it. He was much involved in her case at the time & was the catalyst for her reversion to Catholicism. I have no idea why he would not get her to publicly disclose this information as part of her penance, as something could have been done about the situation if out in the open.

    • Dear Ana, I thought that Benedict was an excellent Pope as he helped both my wife and I revert back to the faith. Obviously there were other more direct catalysts involved namely our parish Priest, a trip or two to Lourdes and a superb film about Saint Padre Pio. My wife and I accepted approx 18 months of mass and adoration without confession or communion because we were living together and the explanation that our Priest gave to us made 100% sense. We received the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, all was made straight in the eyes of the Church and Faith. AL for us was and is a continuing disaster I have conviction that today under the existing pontiff if we were in the same position as we were in 6-7 years ago the path back to the faith may not have happened. Never had a problem with John Paul II either, however Vatican II did allow many errors to filter into the faith and destroy the truth. Personally, I would like to see a return of the altar rail, the restoration of the Saint Michael the Archangel Prayer at the end of mass, to never see another extraordinary eucharistic minister, no female servers, the “I confess” be restored to it’s original form, the full creed being said, mass in Latin and the Priest being able to celebrate AD.

      • Hi Christopher,
        You can see I cover most of my doubts about post VII Popes in my reply to Jaffin. I cannot believe that any Catholic – be he lay or ordained – would have the nerve to snub Our Blessed Lady in her request to have Russia consecrated to Her Immaculate Heart & to reveal the Third Secret of Fatima at the given time. It just doesn’t add-up. Assisi was a total disaster & is still being promoted. I am old enough to remember the CC well prior to VII & I can tell you the difference is unrecognisable. The younger generation cannot comprehend what they have missed out on but we still continue to trust in Our Lord that He is still with His Church & that we shall witness Our Lady’s triumph when all seems to be lost. Christ resurrected from the dead on the third day. He will also resurrect His Bride when the time comes – I only hope & pray I live long enough to see it happen.

        • Dear Ana,

          At the moment maybe we are not that far from Our Lady’s triumph, it’s interesting to see the word “seem” as to me it implies that we will have the impression that all is lost but there will be pockets of resistance still worshiping and following Christ in truth.

        • Dear Ana, A little add on for you. What you are writing is not falling on deaf ears, my ears are open to many people that post here. It’s such a relief to see posters that have a true sense of indignation at the situation today based on their knowledge and experiences but fundamentally they have truth written on the hearts and are fighting back against the KUMBYA cause. Kudos to you all.

          People such as yourself are helping the youngsters like myself see the reality and I know that you and others are fighting the good fight and this will most probably be the greatest fight in history.

          Please remember that even at the time of Saint Joan of Arc there was most probably someone within the church that was in a position of power to sign her death warrant in Rouen, which indicates that even then, there were Catholics and catholics.

          I cannot go against JP11 and Benedict because they were as you are catalysts that helped a poor revert come back.

          Finally, I’m grateful to God for hopefully having faith that will endure until my last breath, I’m grateful that I’m neither muslim, hindu, buhdist, atheist or protestant or anything else that apes the one true God.

          • JPII certainly reached out to the youth & that was very much needed. In my young days no-one cared about the young or their opinions which was a stupid decision as the youth of to-day are the adults & parents of to-morrow. He did however lose touch with what was happening on the ground in the Vatican because of his constant trips abroad but endured his debilitating illness to the end, unlike PB who I feel abandoned the Petrine Office & made way for PF.

            We just have to be patient & await God’s intervention. No one person or group has the answer to these dire times – there is no magic wand we can wave. Prayer & contemplation can lead us to the knowledge of what is happening around us. Satan is very active so we need to be on our mettle.

    • Ana,

      I don’t ‘have the first Seewald/Ratzinger book now and can’t
      even remember the title – I think it’s “Salt of the Earth.”
      Seewald was a young German journalist interviewing Cardinal Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation of Doctrine and the Faith.
      I remember clearly the very first questions (or words to the effect) that Seewald asked because I was taken aback by its bluntness and was quite amused:

      “Your Eminence, is it true that the Pope is afraid of you? It seems that whenever a new theologian’s theory was presented to him, he answers, ‘My goodness, I wonder what Cardinal Ratzinger would say to that?”’

      (From which I gathered that Ratzinger’s faith was as solid and as orthodox as can be.)

      Seewald also asked how often Cardinal Ratzinger met with
      Pope John Paul II, and the answer was everyday. Did they speak to each other in Latin? No, they talked in German. Not Polish? No, just German.

      Seewald also reported that even in the middle of winter, Cardinal Ratzinger would go to the Teutonic cemetery at the back of Saint Peter’s to feed the stray cats.

      It was a very engaging book. I’m just sorry to think how heartbreaking the series of interviews seem to have ended.

  7. Assuming I am missing a whole lot of this picture, can anyone explain how
    you can have qualms of conscience over something you did a half century ago and
    simultaneously an enthusiasm for the cataclysm you perpetrated upon one billion
    Catholics three and a half years ago?
    Is geriatric dementia going viral at the Vatican?

    • Are there audio/video recordings to prove these are actually Pope Benedict’s words? Sorry, nothing from this Vatican hierarchy makes me want to trust them with anything.

      • J, I’ve read all the other Seewald/Ratzinger interviews (they are in the Q&A format) and can tell you, Seewald is a topnotch journalist. The fact that he, like Pope Benedict, is German, tells you he understands Benedict’s temperament and is able to delve deeply into his thought processes.

        Seewald’s interviews are so thorough, he was a perfect match to Benedict’s intellect in those early books.

        Seewald was a non-believer at the start. It was his encounter with Benedict that converted him to the Faith. He came to admire Benedict so much, it was a pleasure to read even just his questions. Now I’m wodering if Seewald is just as disappointed as I am with this last interview according to Maike.

          • Maike, don’t trust him either.. I believe nothing from this crew in Rome based only on their own actions. How about we go to the fake “3rd secret” they released. All balderdash. Plus several prophecies (yes, I’m a kooky prophecy reader) speak of a pope as prisoner.
            I’m not saying Pope Benedict isn’t capable of such statements in the interview, the poor guy was wearing suits back in the day instead of a roman collar. But he is the Pope and still has the power which is why it’s important for the Francis crew (from what I can gather) to keep him under lock and key.

  8. When Joseph Ratzinger became Pope, I read all I could about the man. His writings and what was written about him. John Allen’s book “Cardinal Ratzinger” was a great insight into the man. My own personal opinion was that ultimately he was a weak man. By his abdication, he proved he was who I thought he was.

    Joseph Ratzinger has always been a mix of Modernism and Tradition. Modernist in theology, Traditionalist in liturgy, and mix all around in his Catholicism. He was a Modernist before and during Vatican II. Under Cardinal Ottaviani, the Holy Office had a file on him for suspicion of heresy, in the mid 1950’s when he was a priest. After Vatican II, he drifted to a more conservative direction looking for a way synthesize everything.

    He is essentially Hegelian. Thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. He always was looking for that magic synthesis of Modernism and Tradition together. Hence his “hermeneutic of continuity.”

    • Thank you for your comments regarding Hegel. The thesis, antithesis and synthesis process was mentioned by Pope B16 in the context of Liturgy in that he thought the NO could gain from “exposure” to the extraordinary form. But I guess that assumes that both liturgies are treated as equally valid. Maike’s essay has been so penetrating because of her commentary, that I believe this same Hegelian ‘project’ is operating under PF. Hence his hands held out to SSPX that at a future date with everyone under the same tent, over time, some synthesis will develop! If we accept that the Faith is Revelation before all else in that God spoke first, how could something Divine in its changeless truths undergo a synthesis with human subjectivity! Did’nt Eve do this in the Garden ? Didn’t she put her own opinion about the Tree in the middle of the Garden on the same level as God’s command? The Ten Commandments seem to be under Hegelian processing at the moment!

  9. The reference to the Spirit of Vatican 2 and the “foggy” answers That Benedict the emeritus gives reminds me of what the true Roman spirit of Vat 2 was. It is Janus the two way facing Roman God. I too find Aquinas hard to bear and yet some of the Fathers both byzantine and Latin I find exhilarating.

  10. I am confused by the paragraph mentioning freemasonry. When he laughs that the texts were accused of being aligned to freemasonry, is he admitting that indeed they were, or they they were just accused of being so?

    I am quite disheartened, and may not be up to reading the book when it’s released in English.

    • Ratzinger laughs because they were accused of it, not because they indeed were freemasonic. As he says, he was not a freemason and thought it was ridiculous to accuse him of it. I hope this helps.

    • As for reading,leave the book on the shelf.

      You will be a heck of a lot LESS disheartened and in fact quite empowered if you do what I do:

      1} Read 1 historical Papal Encyclical per week.
      2} Read the Scriptures every day or as many a days a week as you can. There’s an indulgence given for it!
      3} Read other documents from the perennial Magesterium.

      The jury is still out on this pontificate. Don’t get “down” in your faith because we have a freak heresy-supporter in the Vatican. In history, weird things happen. I seriously wonder at times if this guy is going to be condemned in the future and his writings condemned as well.

      I think God is sifting His Church, testing us. Do we REALLY believe in Jesus and His promises?

      Or do Catholics just believe vicariously thru a guy called the Pope?

      Maybe God got a little jealous about all the leaning on Popes the last few generations of Catholics have been doing, and gave us this character to wake us up.

      Oh, and read Francis for one main reason; the topics he messes up are great starting points for the study of actual and valid and wholesome and encouraging Catholic Truth! It’s actually fun. Pope Francis starts the ball rolling with puking this or that about, say, communing public adulterers? So take that topic and study it.

      This guy has in that fashion contributed more to my understanding of God’s truth than any decent Pope ever could have!

      Remember: Lemonade from Lemons.


  11. “We were both convinced that we had to serve here the cause of the Faith and of the Church,” explains Ratzinger. He then adds: Also, in order to clarify the true relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium – both with new notions and in a new way to approach the matter so that it can truly be more understood and justified. And that way was then also later adopted [by the Council].” (justified eh?)
    There’s that word Tradition again! Unless ‘the Council’ could come up with a new interpretation of the meaning of Tradition, lots of things would have been off the table by way of change. There were 3000 participants there at the Council. Who was it who thought they would be able to make a break with the Tradition which is in fact the interpretation of the Faith passed down from the Apostles themselves to the Early Church Fathers, and yet still control what would happen next following the Council! Archb. Fulton Sheen speaks of the euphoria at the Council in his autobiography in which he himself was caught up. Perhaps young Periti were expectant, inexperienced and naïve about controlled change (which requires obedience just as much as no change does) and did not realise the much stronger forces present there who knew exactly where they wanted to take the program. Once the role and meaning of Tradition was being questioned, the “authority” was being cast aside.

  12. Former pope or emeritus pope? Well anywho here are some statistics below, seems like we need some more tradition and more abrasiveness.

    Priests. After skyrocketing from about 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States dropped to 45,000 in 2002. By 2020, there will be about 31,000 priests–and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests aged 80 to 84 than there are aged 30 to 34.

    Ordinations. In 1965 there were 1,575 ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent. Taking into account ordinations, deaths and departures, in 1965 there was a net gain of 725 priests. In 1998, there was a net loss of 810.

    Priestless parishes. About 1 percent of parishes, 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priestless parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.

    Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700–a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002.

    Sisters. 180,000 sisters were the backbone of the Catholic education and health systems in 1965. In 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, with an average age of 68. By 2020, the number of sisters will drop to 40,000–and of these, only 21,000 will be aged 70 or under. In 1965, 104,000 sisters were teaching, while in 2002 there were only 8,200 teachers.

    Brothers. The number of professed brothers decreased from about 12,000 in 1965 to 5,700 in 2002, with a further drop to 3,100 projected for 2020.

    Religious Orders. The religious orders will soon be virtually non-existent in the United States. For example, in 1965 there were 5,277 Jesuit priests and 3,559 seminarians; in 2000 there were 3,172 priests and 38 seminarians. There were 2,534 OFM Franciscan priests and 2,251 seminarians in 1965; in 2000 there were 1,492 priests and 60 seminarians. There were 2,434 Christian Brothers in 1965 and 912 seminarians; in 2000 there were 959 Brothers and 7 seminarians. There were 1,148 Redemptorist priests in 1965 and 1,128 seminarians; in 2000 there were 349 priests and 24 seminarians. Every major religious order in the United States mirrors these statistics.

    High Schools. Between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786. At the same time the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000.

    Parochial Grade Schools. There were 10,503 parochial grade schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students went from 4.5 million to 1.9 million.

    Sacramental Life. In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms; in 2002 there were 1 million. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms—–converts—–in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. In 1965 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.

    Mass attendance. A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.

    • Very interesting stuff.

      The collapse of the Catholic faith can be blamed on its leadership {partly correct} but largely on 2 other things:

      1} A deadness of fake religion that has become a substantial component of Catholic culture in the USA. The so-called faithful, which are increasingly better-called “faithless” seem to exist in substantial numbers these days. Liberal, “faithless”, social-Gospel, Marxist “Catholicism” is sterile in terms of membership growth, just as membership growth is nonexistent among the liberal mainstream Protestants. {All are going backward for all are poisoned by the same Marxist toxins.} Vatican 2 shoulders some of the blame here.

      2} PEOPLE are rejecting Christ and His Church. Yes, our world today is rejecting Christ. This isn’t something that can be blamed on the prelates or on Vatican 2. Reality is this: PEOPLE are rejecting God’s Truth and God’s Church in HUGE numbers.

      There is no sense in contrasting Protestantism with Catholicism and feeling bad about the supposed vitality of Protestantism with the deadness of Catholicism as some do, as if to say “Since folks go there they must be the Real Deal”. Wrong: PROTESTANTISM IS NOT TRUTH! Of COURSE it is going to sell in some markets and being easy and comfy “Christianity” it is going to appeal to “Catholics” who don’t want to follow the truth but still want to feel good about being “Christian”. And let’s remember, Protestantism is having its share of problems, too. Lots of them.

      Blaming those who continue to “endure to the end” in Truth and in spirit is, of course, fruitless.

    • No doubt, we are living in a time of a Great Falling Away. One can only be an apostate from The True Church, Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, The Church that Christ Was Baptized into, and promised never to leave us as orphans.

  13. The problem with Pope Benedict is that he would never admit that the council was a mistake and so he was never willing to restore the Church, instead he kept trying to maintain the essence of VII, which is to make peace with the modern world, in spite of the increasingly obvious failure that venture has encountered.
    I guess he is just completely convinced of his VII ideology so much so that in the face of a total collapse of the Church, decided to step-aside instead of admit he and his buddies were wrong.

    • I think you are mistaken. The evidence does not add up. The Cardinals should insist that our Holy Father be moved to a safe haven for the sake of Christ, His Church, all who will come to believe, and those prodigal sons and daughters, who, hopefully, will soon return to Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The Faithful have the right to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us, God.

    • Ratzinger was a bad, bad man !!! Threw the underground Church in Communist China directly under the bus. Actions speak louder then words !!!

  14. I have enjoyed all the other Seewald/Ratzinger books so much that I have overlooked a gap in my understanding of Fr. Ratzinger’s role as
    peritus to the progressive Cdl. Frings during Vatican II. Now the gap is being filled and I’m not sure I’m liking it. I don’t think I’ll buy this last testament book.

  15. “When asked whom of all the theologians he cherishes most, Ratzinger answers: ‘I would say Lubac and Balthasar.'” There’s the problem in a nutshell.

    I think history will judge Benedict as an extremely confused/confusing personage.

  16. I don’t think he was against St. Thomas Aquinas himself, but the kind of neoscholastic theology which was being practiced at the time and which began in the middle of the 19th century.

  17. In his choosing a bear for his bishopic coat of arms lies the key, I believe. The bear destroyed the saint’s horse and then was obliged to carry the saint’s possessions all the way to Rome


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Popular on OnePeterFive

Share to...