Monday, January 26, 2009

the real Ratzinger slowly reveals himself

The current pope was an object of suspicion among many of the Religious Studies faculty at Catholic University back when he was just Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The prevalent fear was that Ratzinger, if made pope, would roll back many of the conciliatory steps taken by his friend and predecessor, Pope John Paul II (affectionately known as "JP2" in Catholic circles). Are we seeing such a rollback in slow motion? Get Religion offers some speculation as they ponder why the Pope would pardon excommunicated LeFebvrian bishops, at least one of whom is a Holocaust-denier. The situation has interreligious implications: just imagine what all this looks like from a Jewish point of view.



Nathan B. said...

I think the reaction of the professional "Jewish" associations has been ridiculous. The Pope lifted an excommunication order, which means that the bishops in question will not be going to hell now (according to Catholic belief). It's small-minded of the Jewish groups to be protesting this--at the narrowest level, it's not about anti-Semitism or even the Holocaust--it's about the "salvation" of four men's "souls." Furthermore, they were originally excommunicated for reasons that had nothing to do with their Holocaust-denial.

I *do* think that the Pope would do well to strip the bishops of their rank for this, but that would more or less defeat the whole point of bringing their traditionalist followers, who are lovers of the Tridentine Mass, back into the fold, which is the broader meaning of this action.

Jewish groups would do better to take the lesson of Fitna to heart, and defend themselves from people who are plotting another Holocaust--a much worse crime than merely denying the last one.

Kevin said...


I'm not sure we can evaluate the small-mindedness of the Jewish groups who, quite rightly, have cause for alarm when they see a Holocaust-denier being brought back into the fold, whatever the reason for his/their original ouster. I suppose a lot depends, too, on whether the denier is now contrite, i.e., a denier no longer. If I were Jewish, I'd be all over this situation, scrutinizing it minutely.

I also think that some of the same arguments surrounding the controversy over Dominus Iesus apply here. When that document was promulgated in 2000, the Catholic stance was that it was meant for Catholics only. This was seen by non-Catholics as disingenuous, though, because the document had obvious interreligious implications and was published on several public forums, automatically making it part of a larger conversation.

The same applies here, I think. Your comment makes perfect sense from a Catholic point of view, but I'm not sure that non-Catholics are under any obligation merely to see the situation in a Catholic way.

Ultimately, though, I think the forgiveness of these bishops is at least an opportunity for interreligious dialogue, and it would be too hasty for the Jewish community simply to write the Catholics off as untrustworthy or Holocaust-hungry or whatever.