The testament book of Benedict XVI — a confirmation – Voice of the Family

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

A media circus has accompanied the publication of several volumes which have appeared since the passing of Benedict XVI. In addition to the two interview books — Saverio Gaeta’s with Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Nothing but the truth: my life beside Benedict XVI;1 and Franca Giansoldati with Gerhard Cardinal Müller, In good faith: religion in the twenty-first century2 — there now appears a collection of Benedict XVI’s writings (published as well as unpublished) during his ten years of post-pontificate: What is Christianity? edited by Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Elio Guerriero.3

These books are certainly useful for understanding the personalities of their subjects, all of whom are prominent figures in ecclesial affairs, and constitute in this sense a useful historical contribution, but it is doubtful whether they can offer guidance in the confusion of our time. Above all, a halo of ambiguity shrouds the figure of Benedict XVI, who is presented as the ideal reference point for a conservative front opposing the doctrinal drift of Germany’s progressive bishops. Yet it is well known that Pope Benedict came from that same milieu. How and when did his “conversion” occur?

In a 1993 interview, Josef Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, “I see no disruption, over the years, in my views as a theologian”4 There is no reversal of positions between the 1955 doctoral student, accused by his professor Michael Schmaus of “dangerous modernism”, and the bold theological adviser to Josef Cardinal Frings at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965); between the co-founder of Communio (1972) and the professor at the University of Tübingen and Regensburg (1966–1977); between the Archbishop of Munich (1977–1981) and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (1981–2005); between the 256th pope of the Catholic Church (2005–2013) and the “pope emeritus” (2013–2022) who continued his work in the monastery of Santa Marta until his death. His theological vision was rich and refined, but the common thread remained the attempt to find an intermediate way between traditional theology, to which he never adhered, and radical modernism, from which he always distanced himself. What changed in Benedict’s long life is not his own ideas but his judgment on the situation in the Church, especially after the Second Vatican Council and the Revolution of 1968.

Josef Ratzinger was struck, almost traumatised, by the moral collapse of Western society and the post-conciliar Church. In his final book, he recalls:

“In several seminaries, homosexual ‘clubs’ were formed that acted more or less openly and clearly transformed the climate of the seminaries. In one seminary in southern Germany, candidates for the priesthood and candidates for the lay office of pastoral referral lived together. During communal meals, seminarians were together with married pastoral representatives, some accompanied by their wives and children, and in some cases, by their girlfriends… One bishop [in the United States], who had previously been a rector, had allowed pornographic films to be shown to seminarians, presumably with the intention of empowering them in this way to resist such behaviour contrary to the faith…”5

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The testament book of Benedict XVI — a confirmation – Voice of the Family

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