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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pope Benedict Spouts More Private Opinion

Much as I hate to link to the National Catholic Distorter, there's no way around it this time. John Allen reports that a private theologian thinks we shouldn't be evangelizing the Jews.

The problem is, this particular private theologian is the Pope.

Now, keep in mind that - in the entire history of the Church - we have had only two Popes who have ever written books for the general public as private theologians.

Historically, a Pope writes two kinds of communications - either he writes a Church document (encyclical, papal bull, constitution, etc.) to the universal Church, in which case he is infallible, or he writes a private letter to one or more people as a private theologian, in which case he is not infallible. In the latter case, he's as likely to make a fool of himself as anyone.

Only two Popes - Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict - have turned their hands to writing books for the general public. These books are not Church documents, they're just ways for some publishers to make money and for these two Popes to make their private theological opinions known. As if anyone cares what the opinions of a private theologian might be.

Private theological opinion is not part of the Magisterium, and it bears no more necessary weight than this post.

In this man's private theological opinion, we shouldn't be evangelizing the Jews:

"For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles." ~Galatians 2:8

Does this mean Peter was NOT an apostle to the Jews?
Or does it mean the apostle to the Jews has decided he shouldn't do that anymore?

In the same book, he said violence has no place in Christianity.

"Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favorite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be," Benedict wrote. "It serves, not humanity, but inhumanity."
Hmmm... now, what are we to do with Jesus in the Temple with a whip, overturning the tables of the sellers?

Were the Popes who called for Crusade all doing the work of the anti-Christ?
Lots of people say they were.
Indeed, lots of people would say the office of the Pope is the anti-Christ, and this fruit is one example.

What do we do with the literally dozens of Catholic religious orders whose vows or training included military practice, like the Knights Hospitaller or the Knights Templar? Were the numerous Popes who approved their vows and their work all wrong? Did the orders do the work of the anti-Christ?

Was the Council of Constance, which denounced John Hus as a heretic and degraded his status so that the Emperor Sigismund could burn him at the stake, was that council in error?

We already know his opinion on condoms.

As a Pope, when he teaches as the Pope, Pope Benedict is infallible.

As a private theologian, who is teaching as any simple person might, the man Benedict does not seem to be measuring up.

We have had popes with problems in the past - Pope Honorius was even declared by the Church (though after his reign) to have been a heretic during his reign.

We have had two men simultaneously claim to be Pope, each elected by the same set of cardinals, each supported by a doctor of the Church.

It's not unusual for the Church to experience a Pope that has certain problems.
The current Pope is not nearly as bad as some we have had in the past.
But he certainly could explain himself better.


Matheus F. Ticiani said...

Sad...but hopefully the damage won't be as big as in the condom affair, because this time the Catholic Celebrities and their publishing companies don't need to add fuel to the fire because they don't have a frickin' book to sell.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Au contraire, mon frere.

Ignatius Press has sole rights to publish Benedict's works in the US. They have a book to flog, and flog it they will.

Ignatius is not the kind of organization to leave money on the table.

I am saddened to find myself in a position where I cannot recommend the private theological works of a modern Pope, lest people be led astray by the conclusions drawn therein.

Flambeaux said...

But it does clarify why he thinks Nostra aetate is compatible with Tradition.

Between this kind of nonsense, and all the other rot floating around on questions of lying, definitions of torture, acceptability of war, etc. one doesn't have to look very far to wonder how, for example, sedevacantists come to the conclusion that the Gates of Hell have prevailed.

I suspect the best thing to do is simply stop paying attention, pray more, and move on with life.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

Yes, my bad! Sheesh...and it's from an awaited book from the Pope himself, not from an unknown gossip journalist.

I only glanced through the NCR article and thought it was just another load of crap to come from that birdcage lining nobody really gives a fig about.

Now I remember having heard a buzz about the pope's book about a week ago, but frankly I'm tired about all this stuff I didn't bother to check it out.

Despite my gaffe, I won't go back to the Blogger dashboard and dump my previous comment because I sincerely hope the usual suspects handle the issue and the scandal to come from it better this time.

Kevin said...

I think it would be wise to point out the actual context:

benedict still thinks the Jews will be converted. He just thinks it is in "God's time"

I suppose, but at the same time, every conversion is "God's time." And He uses man to further that conversion.

At least that's what Allen quoted. Will read the book tonight, but I'll reiterate my position the last time this came around: Popes should stop publishing books as Popes.

Though i will actually read the work before formulating any opinion on what he did or didn't say.

Steve Kellmeyer said...


Please let us know what the book says. For my part, I refuse to buy it. I've become far too leery of this Pope's private theological opinions. Between the remarks on condoms, the remarks on violence and these remarks, I am waiting for someone to bring forward evidence that he hasn't flubbed it.

Kevin said...

The remarks on violence I don't have much a problem with Steve. One has to remember, those religious orders which included military training, were for defensive purposes. The Crusades as a whole were a defensive excercise. That was mainly the point of Benedict's initial Regensburg address, pointing out how Islam has had an explicit doctrine of spreading faith via the sword, which Christianity has always lacked. (While certain temporal princes such as Charlemagne may have engaged in forced conversions, they were temporal princes, not religious authorities, such as with the Rashudian Caliphs, who were temporal as well as spiritual leaders.)

As far as the statement about Jews.... there's actually precious little that is said about it. From what I can tell, NCR is referring to page 45, which talks about the significance of the "Time of the Gentiles" and Paul's preaching.

He makes the point that if we look at things with the mind of Paul, he was not neglecting Jews for the Gentiles. Yet rather, he was converting the Gentiles so his brethren would be saved, since after "the time of the Gentiles" we would reach the point of "all Israel shall be saved."

He believes we are still in the "time of the Gentiles." From a certain perspective, his works make sense. Why haven't the Jews converted? Would this not prove that Jesus' mission had failed, since he failed to save "his people?" Benedict's point was that there's more to it than just this, and that as for the Jews, following St. Bernard, we must trust that in God's time they will be converted.

I may agree with you that a Pope probably shouldn't weigh into such a matter in a private theological reflection, but he isn't advancing some novel position, it is a position that is in the works of the patristics and St. Bernard.

Am downloading the citation Benedict gives from St. bernard to gain a deeper understanding, but that appears to be the gist of it.

Kevin said...

As far as the remarks on violence Steve, sorry, but you've really pulled a Christopher West on this one.

The quote you cite, it helps when you know the overall context. He actually IS talking about the cleansing in the temple, and how we are to understand it.

He points out one interpretation that Christ, in cleansing the temple, was acting in fulfillment of the law, was removing the impurities of man from the sanctuary. (interestingly enough, one could say that the Eucharist does this, removing the impurities of man from the sanctuary of our hearts and the temple of our bodies.)

He contrasts this understanding with the political revolutionary idea: That Christ's cleansing was rather a political statement against the Jewish aristocracy and Roman rule. he clearly rejects this.

He then points out that this interpretation has almost disappeared from serious modern theological works. The idea that is no longer in vogue is that in the name of religion, violence becomes a first end towards building a better world.

How any Catholic can disagree with such an exegesis is beyond me. Christ wasn't a political revolutionary or of the school of the "Zealots." When given the chance to identify with that crowd, he publicly refused to do so.

Do you think the Templars, Hospitlaers, and other orders that had military training were for revolutionary purposes? If not, then mentioning them is irrelevant.

You probably should get the book before commenting on it. Or at the very least reference the context.

Kevin said...

PS, the discourse on the temple takes place from pages 11-24.

dcs said...

I would have to see the actual context, and not depend upon John Allen's analysis. I remember a few years ago one of the SSPX bishops claimed that then-Card. Ratzinger professed heresy in one of his books and it turned out that he was quoting His Eminence out of context. The Pope has a habit of quoting a theologian with which he disagrees, then refuting that quote, even though the initial quote seems to be somewhat approving.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"One has to remember, those religious orders which included military training, were for defensive purposes."

Kevin, a few months back, when the Pope was making his condom remarks, I pointed out that those remarks could only be acceptable if he were talking about homosexual prostitution.

I also pointed out that he hadn't actually SAID his point was restricted to homosexual prostitution, and that concerned me.

We all know how that turned out - he doubled down, and said the sex of the participants didn't matter. In short, he was wrong.

Here, he talks about violence without modifying it with the adjective defensive. It smells strongly like the condom remarks.

Perhaps we can read in "defensive" but it isn't clear to me that Benedict (the man) is making that distinction.

Given the condom remark fiasco, unless this man formally and explicitly makes the necessary distinctions, I am no longer going to conclude that he means to make those distinctions, since I have evidence from past interactions that he doesn't make necessary distinctions.

Indeed, he has actively thrown away necessary distinctions in the past, and thus fallen into error. Given the remarks that have been made public so far, I see no basis on which to defend the remarks.

Estase said...

What do you think about B XVI's relationship with the so-called "Nouvelle Theologie" movement? Do you think this has something to do with the Pope's ideosyncracies?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I have no idea.

I've heard at least one FSSP priest opine that today's Jews aren't "real" Jews because they don't do Temple sacrifice.

That opinion cannot be correct because, according to the CCC, the Parousia occurs when the last of the Jews are gathered into the Church.

If today's Jews aren't "real", then there are no more Jews to gather in and Jesus' Second Coming happened about 1950 years ago.

On the other hand, if we AREN'T meant to evangelize the Jews, then we sound suspiciously like Quietists who don't need to do anything at all. Unfortunately, that's a condemned heresy.

Now, maybe the Holy Father meant we are only to pray for the Jews, and not give them the Evangel, but Christ said to "preach to all nations" not "preach to all nations except the Jews."

Quoting a doctor of the Church doesn't help - during the Great Western Schism, when two men both claimed to be Pope, each man had a doctor of the Church defending his claim.