PopeWatch: Pope Emeritus v. Pope

Sandro Magister notes the conflict that the recent essay by the Pope Emeritus has brought into the open between him and Pope Francis:

In the week that followed the explosive publication of Joseph Ratzinger’s “notes” on the scandal of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, there are at least seven essential elements that have come into the open, which are to be kept in mind in view of future developments.


The first concerns the genesis of the publication of the “notes.” In the introductory paragraphs, Ratzinger says that he wrote them “in the hiatus between the announcement of the meeting of the presidents of the episcopal conferences and its real and proper beginning,” or between September 12 2018, the day of the announcement, and February 21 2019, the opening day of the summit.

But Ratzinger also says that he wrote them to “contribute one or two remarks to assist in this difficult hour.”

From which one deduces that he wrote them in order to offer them, first of all, to the leaders of the Church gathered at the Vatican by Pope Francis to discuss the question.

This was confirmed on April 13 by “Corriere della Sera,” the most widely read secular Italian newspaper, one of the press outlets that two days before had published the full text of the “notes”:

“Benedict sent the eighteen-and-a-half pages on pedophilia ‘to the gracious attention’ of the secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, before the global meeting of the episcopal conferences, to make them known also to Francis.”

What happened however is that none of the participants at the summit received Ratzinger’s text. Francis thought it better to keep it to himself, locked away in a drawer.

And no one would have known anything about it if Ratzinger himself, about forty days later, had not decided to make it public, formally in a little-known Bavarian magazine, “Klerusblatt,” but practically in a dozen major publications, Catholic and not, all over the world and in several languages, after alerting the highest Vatican authorities to this, as he himself has revealed:

“Having contacted the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the Holy Father himself, it seemed appropriate to publish this text in the Klerusblatt.”


A second element is the initial reaction of the Vatican media. Frosty.

The official portal “Vatican News” covered Ratzinger’s text several hours after it had been made public, among the second-class news items, with a brief and bureaucratic summary and with no link to the complete text.

And the same was done by “L’Osservatore Romano” printed on the afternoon of April 11, with the same concise summary buried at the bottom of page 7, without any lead on the front page and beneath a much more prominent article by the Jesuit Antonio Spadaro, director of “La Civiltà Cattolica” and the main adviser and ghostwriter of Pope Francis.

Since it is known how close the pope is to the highest officials of the Vatican media – prefect of the dicastery for communication Paolo Ruffini and editorial director Andrea Tornielli, in addition to Fr. Spadaro – this chill in registering the publication of the text by Ratzinger cannot help but reflect strong irritation on the part of Francis.


A third element is the behavior of the Vatican media over the following days, entirely taciturn on the contents and repercussions of Ratzinger’s text and instead bent on giving distracting and justifying emphasis – with two successive editorials by Tornielli and by “L’Osservatore Romano” director Andrea Monda – to a concomitant gesture of Francis that was as disconcerting as it was spectacular, his kissing the feet of the two rival leaders in the ferocious war between tribes in South Sudan that has already claimed 400,000 lives.


A fourth element is the silence of Francis. Not only practiced, but also theorized. In the homily for Palm Sunday, on April 14, the pope took as a basis for comparison the “silence of Jesus throughout his Passion,” a silence that “overcomes the temptation to answer back, to act like a ‘superstar’.” Because “in moments of darkness and great tribulation, we need to keep silent, to find the courage not to speak, as long as our silence is meek and not full of anger. The meekness of silence will make us appear even weaker, more humble. Then the devil will take courage and come out into the open.”

Silence is the typical reaction of Jorge Mario Bergoglio every time he is seriously put to the test. He adopted it with the “dubia” of the four cardinals, with the uncomfortable questions of ex-nuncio in the United States Carlo Maria Viganò and now with the contribution of the pope emeritus.

That Francis, with this last apologia of silence of his, should allude “to the tensions and poisons connected to the ‘notes’ of Benedict XVI” is not the fruit of fantasy, seeing that it has been set down in black and white by a reporter very close to Santa Marta like Domenico Agasso, the current coordinator of the website “Vatican Insider” directed until a few months ago by Tornielli and still under  his supervision.

In “Vatican Insider” this exegesis of the papal homily followed, on Sunday April 14, two other articles by Agasso with very eloquent titles:

> Francis and the shadow of Ratzinger, the coexistence that weighs on the Vatican

> Coexistence between the two popes is possible only if the emeritus is able to remain invisible


And with these two articles there came into the open a fifth element of the story: the radically negative judgment that Pope Francis has developed on the publication of Ratzinger’s “notes.”

Francis is keeping this judgment of his to himself. But the striking vocal harmony of persons very close to him allows an interpretation of what he thinks.

The most diligent in taking a position has been Stefania Falasca, an editorialist for the newspaper of the Italian episcopal conference, “Avvenire,” but above all a longtime friend of Bergoglio, together with her husband, Gianni Valente, director of the Vatican agency “Fides” and another leading writer for “Vatican Insider.”

It is useful to recall that Bergoglio’s first telephone call after his election as pope, on the very evening of March 13 2013, was to none other than Stefania Falasca. And a good two times, in the days that preceded that conclave, the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires had been to dinner at her house, where Tornielli was also present.

So then, with two tweets shortly after the publication of Ratzinger’s “notes” Falasca accused the pope emeritus of having violated two requirements that the 2004 directory “Apostolorum Successores” imposed on all bishops emeritus: “not to interfere in any way” with the reigning bishop, and not to “even hint at some kind of parallel authority.”

Go here to read the rest.  If Pope Francis does eventually resign, PopeWatch expects  him to maintain a respectful silence as to his successor—for about a month.

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  1. I think Pope Benedict has been at war with Pop (?) Francis since day one in his very quiet way. First of all by staying at the Vatican and dressing as a Pope he has raised questions about Francis legitimacy. (My guess Francis is not legitimate as Benedict was forced out.) Second by his failure to lend his authentic and full support to anything Francis has written or said. And now with his “notes” he directly condemns the very theological basis for Vatican II (subjective ism) and it’s situational moral principles along with the rampant and rabid growth of homosexuality in the Church.

  2. Not one of the mob who demanded the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, including but especially Pilot, who as procurator ought to have known better, addressed Jesus Christ as a sovereign person, as all sovereign persons are addressed as “WHO”. “Pilot asked Jesus: “What is truth?” Had Pilot asked Jesus Christ: “WHO is TRUTH?” Jesus would have answered him correctly saying: “I am the TRUTH.”
    Jesus responded correctly to every sovereign person who addressed Him, ever and always, including Satan, Legion.
    There was no silence in Jesus Christ about His Father in heaven, about the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven at hand even about Gehenna. Jesus Christ is Teacher.
    All the books in creation cannot contain all that Jesus Christ taught.
    To renege on proclaiming the TRUTH as Francis is doing is denying the TRUTH as Pilot and the mob did during Holy Week, no less. Happy Easter.
    Denying Jesus Christ by not proclaiming the TRUTH is worthy of Satan, the Father of Lies.

  3. I don’t know what the story is with Pope Benedict. But we don’t need the meows of kittens. We need the roar of lions. I liked what Benedict’s recent notes said. But we need a strong denunciation and rebuke of Pope Francis. We need a St. Paul to tell St. Peter to his face what a hypocrite he is. The good Francis’ soul and the good of the Church depend on this.

  4. Morality and God’s law are no longer acceptable to the powers that be for the sake of being politically correct – right? Must be they think the sheep and especially the lambs don’t know whether they are lost because these keep sending $upport.
    ‘What happened however is that none of the participants at the summit received Ratzinger’s text. Francis thought it better to keep it to himself, locked away in a drawer.’

  5. I’m a solid detractor of Pope Francis, but I firmly believe that an Emeritus must remain silent-you gave it up so you lose your say.

    Francis,”as long as our silence is meek and not full of anger.”-I’m not buying it.

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