Pope Emeritus Comments - are we focusing on the wrong bit of the speech?



There has been a whirlwind of comment surround Pope Benedict's words at Cardinal Meisner's Requiem as I briefly reported here.

One of the most interesting things from purely an English perspective, was that the Bishop of Lancaster made his own translation of the speech and posted it on his blog (I linked to it here).

One has to wonder why he did this? Some said it was a slightly softer translation, but if his idea was to soften the words of the Pope Emeritus, why bother to draw attention to the speech in such an overt way?

Everyone latched on to the idea that the Pope Emeritus considered the Barque of Peter to be shipping too much water at present. Some prominent commentators, including the infamous @Pope_news anonymous Twitter account, accused Benedict XVI of a bit of back seat driving!




But the account's main attack was directed at the Prefect for the Papal Household:


Suggesting that Archbishop Gänswein is filtering and manipulating the Pope Emeritus to appear at odds with Pope Francis.

Of course, anyone with eyes to see knows that Pope Francis pontificate, recently described by George Neumayer as"temporally-minded", is vastly different in substance and approach. Where it seemed every word from Benedict's lips was a rich spiritual banquet that fed the faithful in abundance and will be pondered and discussed a hundred years from now, Francis is uniquely concerned with appearance (washing the feet of Muslim women & prisoners for example) and tittle-tattle (his determination to "use" Scalfari, for example). I have to agree with Deacon Nick Donnelly:
This same point was made by Damian Thompson in the recent Holysmoke podcast.

Archbishop Gänswein has tried to mitigate the accusations saying "It’s a ‘fantasy’ and ‘stupid’ to use him against Francis" a bit like Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "For Brutus is an honourable man - so are they all - all honourable men." As pro-Francis @Pope_news points out several times, how could Gänswein not know this is exactly how Pope Benedict's words would be received given the unparalleled turbulence of this papacy?

Much of the context and inference of the Pope Emeritus' words are unpacked by Thomas Peters here.

Regarding the "zeigeist" comment, Peters' notes that Cardinal Meisner was someone who valiantly opposed the spirit of the age, and the Cardinal was known by Pope Benedict to have doubts about the majority interpretation of AL. Peters' thinks this presents the conclusion that Pope Benedict shares Cardinal Meisner’s view regarding the dubia.

In Ratzingerian thought, the “dictatorship of the zeitgeist” is something deeply pernicious: it is the effort to use the pressures of the progressive, secular establishment to force the Church to abandon the truth. When Pope Benedict says zeitgeist, he means something specific: the spirit of the age which attempts to change the Church’s teaching so that it mimics the shape of secular culture and loses its distinctive qualities, which are always traceable back to the biblical teaching of Christ and revelation itself.

Peters remarks:
On the question of AL and its interpretation, it is simply a given fact that the progressive view has far more in common with the zeitgeist of the age than does the historical, perennial teaching. It is unquestionable that a church which allows more publicly divorced-and-remarried people to receive Communion is a church that looks less like the historical Catholic church and more like progressive, lower-c christian churches and … most notably, looks more like the German Catholic church.
Is the Pope Emeritus calling for resistance?

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