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April 15, 2010



Fr. O'Leary,

Many of us are wondering if you have become an apologist for Pope Ratzinger.

Please, PLEASE, tell us that you are more open minded than Ratzinger and that you consider the feudal nature of Rome to be th ultimate problem when it comes to proper administration.

Spirit of Vatican II

I think the system represented by Ratzinger must be deconstructed or overcome (in the direction of an ecclesiology of communion and collegiality along the lines pioneered by Vatican II). But I think that on the sex abuse front he has not been more errant than the average bishop and has been on a distinct learning curve. So I am against the personalized scapegoating spiral directed at him, which seems to me to have so far produced only damp squibs, more smoke than fire. I am also against the extreme proposals of those who want to jettison every Catholic doctrine on the presupposition that the whole structure has been shown to be rotten.

Vicky Silvers


This is Vicky Silvers, Asst. Editor for Christian.com which is a social network made specifically for Christians, by Christians, to directly fulfill Christian's needs. We embarked on this endeavor to offer the ENTIRE christian community an outlet to join together as one (no matter denomination) and better

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God Bless,

Vicky Silvers


Fr. O' Leary,

I think you underestimate the anger directed at Ratzinger and the Vatican.

For decades, the direction of the Vatican has been to deny the tremendous change in ecclesiology and theology initiated by Vatican II. It's been a systematic denial. It's been an attempt to regress to the past. The rise of such organizations as Opus Dei and the Legionnaries has been encouraged. Those advocating Vatican II's call have been silenced or exiled. Constantly, one heard about the holiness of "the Church" but rarely about its structural faults. One heard constantly about the fixation on sexuality, from celibacy to abortion to homosexuals, but one never heard about the complexity of the problems, only to obey "Mother Church". The intrusion of Catholic bishops into national politics was urged and supported, denying the concept, admitted by Vatican II, of the need to separate Church and State. The intrusion always seemed to be directed at "liberal" causes never "conservative" causes, ( communion was never denied to dictators such as Pinochet but against democratically elected politicians representing more than Catholics).
I could go on with more but I hope you get the drift.
Now, with the abuse scandal, the hypocrisy of the Vatican is exposed. When the current Pope was a Cardinal, he spent more time and energy on doctrinal "heretics" than what I would call physical heretics. This was clearly a mistake.

Part of the anger is deconstructing the edifice. It cannot result in just destruction, however. But I have yet to see any indication that the Vatican and its bumbling bishops have any idea of what to do.

Spirit of Vatican II

The bumbling Bertones and Ruinis are exposed as incompetent, and that is good. The anger against ultramontanism is indeed profound, and justified. The Vatican will have to change. But the present anger about pedophilia and the Pope's alleged role is destructive, not deconstructive.

I agree that Pope and bishops do not know what to do. Alberto Melloni wrote recently, "In normal times we need hierarchy, in times of crisis we need communion." Benedict should call a Council.

Liberal theologians like Curran have always tried to avoid making a scapegoat of Ratzinger himself. Cardinal Kasper has deplored Kung's recent personalized comments as disloyal. Kung sees Ratzinger as master-minding a conspiracy for twenty years. In fact Ratzinger had very little involvement with child abuse issues until 2001 and we know that they then became his heaviest task (he talked of the day devoted to them once a week as a time of penance), and it seems that there has been less abuse and more determined action to curb it since Ratzinger took command.

From 1982 to 2001 Ratzinger busied himself with doctrine as his chief responsibility -- in a manner that enraged theologians and liberal Catholics. That happened to be his job (he should have recalled Paul VI's prescriptions about the CDF; but Ottaviani had long buried them.) No one ever told him during all that period: "quit fussing about doctrine and focus on child abuse instead!"

People say that Ratzinger acted speedily in the Curran case. But in fact Curran was being gunned at since 1968, so one could hardly call the final decision speedy. The decision itself, of course, ranks with the Galileo affair as a monument of church stupidity.

Spirit of Vatican II

An Irish theologian (Sean O'Riordan) said when John Paul II began the restoration: it is something that needed to be tried, to prove that it cannot work. Well Benedict is learning that now, in a bitter way. The anger is more against his and his predecessor's restorationism than against the presenting issue of alleged failure to fight sexual abuse. As the following essay argues, the latter point is actually unfair to Benedict: http://www.ncregister.com/register_exclusives/change_in_vatican_culture/ With Kung, we can only hope that the tsunami of rage will somehow be channeled into bringing the church back into the creative and dialogal mode of Vatican II.

Spirit of Vatican II

I think the French Appel is meritorious: http://www.appelaverite.fr

Bernard Brandt

Dear Fr. O'Leary (Father, bless!):

I would like to thank you for the thoughtful and measured stance which you have taken as regards the present attacks on the current Pontiff. While it is obvious that you have no particular liking for him, and while it is also obvious that you would prefer a different ecclesiology than the one he espouses (and to be quite frank, while I myself admire the man, I also would prefer a more conciliar ecclesiological polity in the RC Church), you refrain from joining the biased attacks of the media. While I may disagree with you on some matters, it is refreshing as it is rare to find a man of your intellectual honesty and integrity.

Again, my thanks. It is always a pleasure to read your weblog.

Very truly yours,

Bernard Brandt

Spirit of Vatican II

This gets it right, I think: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/0417/1224268540832.html

Absolute monarchs set themselves up to be decapitated, but the revolutionary mob may decapitate us all.

The Shipwreck of the JP2-B16 restoration is a glorious spectacle -- but what comes next? Another Vatican II springtime -- a surprise of the Spirit? Or turbulence and chaos?


What comes next?

Perhaps some courageous bishops.

More likely a courageous laity.

Brian Gallagher

"but the revolutionary mob may decapitate us all."

We're not talking about the logic of the Revolution necessarily killing Robespierre. We're talking about millions of hurt people who would like from their leaders nothing more than the compassion of Jesus.

I understand your position, Joseph, but I believe that you overstress the identity of critics as a bloodthirsty chorus.

You quote O'Riordan on the restorationist efforts of JP2- "it is something that needed to be tried, to prove that it cannot work." If he was right, what will follow the failed restoration if the Church doesn't radically reform? Turbulence and chaos might at least demonstrate that Catholicism is not moribund and obsolescent, but has life and spirit within it still.

Spirit of Vatican II

We have had very few courageous bishops for a long, long time -- what hope is there that they will suddenly show courage now?

Courageous laity have been discouraged; will they find a platform now?

Theologians have signed their own death warrants by their conformism and lack of courage.

Spirit of Vatican II

Gruber now denies that he was pressurized into taking responsibility, and says he shares the responsibility with the late Fr Fahr and not with Ratzinger. http://www.sueddeutsche.de/25438M/3318119/Ex-Generalvikar-wehrt-sich.html


Fr. O'Leary-

So...what are you advocating?

If silenced and conforming theologians, cowardly bishops and discouraged laity are all there is, then from whom will any response come from?

Spirit of Vatican II

Evagrius, I advocate a Council, in which bishops take the back seat and the best lay voices and theological ones in the Church are recruited. The Spirit can make these bones live.

But since this is not going to happen anytime soon I predict turbulence and more trauma.


From recent developments I believe, perhaps wishfully, that the Holy Father and other members of the hierarchy are beginning to realize that they are responsible for much of the prolonged suffering that so many Catholics the are experiencing. Also unless members of the hierarchy have a change of heart, I do not see how a house cleaning or a new council will do much good.

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